That Awesome Moment When…..

***UPDATE: since I am no longer doing the online dating thing, I decided it would be dishonest of me to maintain that title. So I got a new title, which I am actually kind of proud of. I realized over the last two years that life’s unexpected moments usually turn out to be our best experiences, and while they seem serendipitous to us, they are part of a master plan for our lives. There are no accidents, only the Hand of God working in our lives. We just have to be open to the adventure. Also, I just like the word Serendipity.***

In answer to your questions: no, I did not die. I was just very, very, VERY busy. In a nutshell (because it’s bedtime and this poor nurse needs to get her beauty rest), here’s my year.

May: I moved back to Virginia.

Later in May: Started working at a local doctor’s office.

July: Left the doctors office (classic case of “not a good fit”), and entered a quarter-life crisis in which I had to decide what I really wanted to do with my life, and started working in a coffee shop. Honestly it’s extremely liberating to work in a job where a simple mistake messes up someone’s coffee, not their life.

August-September: not much exciting happened, except that I determined that I really, REALLY missed nursing and that I needed to get another nursing job.

October: Okay, not much exciting happened until the end of the month when there was this guy who I’d known for a while (and kind of had a little crush on — SHHH! don’t tell anyone!) who got back from a deployment and started hanging around an awful lot….

November: ….And I mean A LOT. And by a lot, I mean we were dating. “Unofficially.” I think that entire month was a blur of giggles and giddiness. And then of course there were the holidays. I love the holidays! 🙂 Oh, and I started a new nursing job! I got back into pediatric home health, which I think I have determined now is my niche.

December: And then we made it official, and we were really REALLY dating. And CHRISTMAS!!

January: One month-iversary! Yay! And a totally new New Year’s Eve experience.

And that’s a very large nutshell, but that’s been my year. And now that it’s mellowed out a little bit, I will be around a bit more. I promise.

And Happy New Year!!

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Announcement!!

Dear Readers,

 

I have an announcement to make (and before you jump to conclusions, this is NOT an announcement of another online dating success story….no, not at this point anyway).

 

I want to let you all know that starting April 1, I will be much less present on this blog, as I will be beginning a new blogging adventure. My sister, the keeper of Lifeinthegap (which can be found here), has invited me to her blog as a tag team effort. And since this new blog is amazing and is centered around the themes I’ve been writing about lately, I gladly accepted her invitation. I definitely think you should keep reading my work though, on this new and better blog, where you’ll get not only mine but also her writing! And she’s a professional writer, so it’s like it’s legit and all. This blog will remain active, but it will revert to its original topic of online dating and will be posted less frequently.

 

And don’t forget to “Like” Lifeinthegap’s Facebook page, which can be found here!

 

See you on the other blog, folks! 🙂

Learning to Be Like God

Every morning my alarm goes off at 04:45AM. I’ll let you pick your jaws up off the floor….. We good? We cool? Okay. Moving on.

So anyway, I currently have my alarm set to my area’s Christian music station, KSBJ, and when I wake up they’re having their daily Focus on the Family show.

This morning something that they said struck me particularly: we are not naturally God-like. We have to train ourselves to be God-like.

Now I know this, and I’ve always known this, but today for some reason it got me thinking. On the one hand it made me hopeful, because it’s true that we are not naturally holy people. It takes work. And our shortcomings in this aspect are not always reflections on us personally, but reflections on our human natures which have briefly taken over.

On the other hand, however, as we age and progress in our journeys toward holiness, it does become more personal. As with learning anything, the gradual and constant practice of overcoming our human natures should become more habitual and second-nature. At that point, if we constantly fail in holiness and blame our human-ness, how is that anything but falling down the slippery slope of the Evil One?

Being God-like takes work. A LOT of work. It’s hard! But the good news is that anyone can achieve it if they try. And we can never stop practicing. We will never be perfect, but you know what? That’s okay. God only requires that we try. Success is very subjective, and my level of holiness at any point in my life cannot be compared with yours or anyone else’s. As long as we strive always to be perfect, we’re headed in the right direction. And when we fail, we can be assured of God’s infinite and unfathomable mercy to welcome us back to the path toward Him, and His endless graces to serve as our strength for the journey. Two things are absolutely certain: that God always has and always will love you, and that He will always forgive you and welcome you back to Him with open arms when you ask it.

So then that got me thinking: what am I doing right now, at this point in my life, and at this very moment, to be God-like? Am I giving everything I have to the goal of making myself holy and perfect in God’s sight? Is my life an uphill climb to God? Do I long for God so intensely that I would literally climb through fire for His sake?

Are you?

Because if not, we are failing at our basic task in life. God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him one day in Heaven.

I don’t know about you, but think those instructions sound pretty clear.

I shrank.

*(This post is about pure, unadulterated narcissism. I’m going to admit that right away. But like I’ve said before, this is my blog so I can post what I want, right?)

The other day I arrived at a friend’s house for a Super Bowl Party, and her husband (whom I guess I had not seen in longer than I thought) answered the door and the first words out of his mouth were: “What happened to you?!”

Now while at first glance this might sound harsh, it was the nicest compliment ever. Because it made me realize that 35-pound weight loss for me had been a gradual change, and I am impatient to lose the other 30. But to others, 35 lbs is a big difference. I had forgotten that the change would be unmistakeable for those who haven’t seen me in a while.

Then this morning I was reading through my older posts and saw in one that I mentioned that I had lost 12 pounds but I’d post pics at 25 pounds. Well 25 pounds came and went, and I forgot. So now I’m posting 35-pound pictures.

The funny thing about losing weight is that all of a sudden it makes weight nothing more than a number, and it gives you no qualms with sharing the readings on the scale. Mainly because if you’re losing successfully, you are no longer the embarrassing weight you were trying to hide before, and because a this point it becomes a bragging right. I am extremely proud of my 180 pounds right now. I don’t want to stay here by any means, but I’m so proud that I am here right now. Because it is progress.

So here are my progress pictures, posted for my bragging purposes and possibly to be an inspiration to you, my readers, that with a bit of determination and hard work (okay, A LOT of determination and hard work) you, too, can be on your way to a healthier, slimmer you. 🙂

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Because I couldn’t figure out how to put captions on the photos using the WordPress app on my iPad, I’ll tell you right now that the first pic was my starting point of 215 pounds. The pic was taken in April 2012, however I didn’t start my weight loss journey until September.

The second pic is 205 lbs, the third is 195 lbs, the fourth is 190 lbs, and the last pic is the most current pic I have (but is still about 5 pounds off), and it was taken at about 185. I’ve lost 2 pants sizes so far, and one dress size.

So yeah, I’m pretty pleased with my progress. 🙂

Be My Valentine?

Any of my friends or family will tell you that I abhor Valentine’s Day. And they’re partly right. I’ve said so every single year since….ever….

But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this year. It’s just a day. One day out of 365 days on the calendar. It’s the feast day of a great Catholic martyr, St. Valentine. And it’s a day to celebrate love, which is a beautiful thing. So why on earth am I so vehemently against it?

After some serious introspection and personal reflection and prayer, I’ve come to the conclusion that the feelings I have against it are purely selfish: I am bitter.

I’m bitter about never having gotten flowers or chocolate or gifts from anyone (other than my Mom, who is the best Mom in the world!).

I’m bitter about never having been on a romantic dinner date with the love of my life.

I’m bitter about the fact that while my friends are out having love showered upon them I am at home (or usually at work covering for them so they can go on their dates) feeling lonely and unloved.

And then I had a major catharsis: I am the biggest hypocrite that ever lived. I am wallowing in self pity because I feel unloved, but what am I doing to love others? How can I expect to feel loved if I am unwilling to give love away? The funny thing about love is this: the more you give, the more you receive In return. My personal hero, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said it best: “I have found the paradox: that we must love until it hurts; then there is no more hurt, only love.”

And a further cathartic moment led to this realization: I may not have received Valentines from human men, but every single day I am blessed with the gift of life and the ability to see the beauty of the world I live in.

I may not go on romantic dinner dates, but every single day I have the ability and blessing to attend Holy Mass and receive Christ, the King of my Heart, into my very body, into my soul.

I am alive and I am healthy. I like to think I’m intelligent, and I know that I am beautiful because I am exactly how my Creator made me. I am surrounded by family and friends. I’d say all of that is reason enough to believe that I am loved.

So with all these amazingly lovely feelings welling up inside me, I made a decision: this year I won’t let Valentine’s Day get me. I will go on a “date” with Jesus in the form of Holy Mass and a Holy Hour. I will get dressed up for no reason other than to make even more beautiful the physical body God gave me and delights in. I will go and see a movie, even if it is by myself. And I will make sure to tell my friends and family how much I love them regardless of the Valentine’s well-wishes I get.

Because at the end of the day it matters not what others do for me, but what I do for them. Isn’t that what loving others is really about? It’s not the emotions or the warm fuzzy feelings associated with those we love, it’s the decisions we make to place them before ourselves and to think of their needs and desires first.

So to all my friends and readers, and especially those of you who are also single, let’s try to make this a selfless holiday, in which we embrace the true meaning of love and make a conscious effort to give that love to those around us.

It’s like your own personal Valentine’s Day challenge.

I dare you.

Happy New Year!

As I sit here partaking in my favorite New Year’s Eve tradition, watching It’s A Wonderful Life, I find myself reminiscing over the past year — it’s ups and downs, highs and lows, blessings and hardships.

It really has been quite an eventful year…

It started just as any other year — I went to bed before midnight on December 31st as I always do, and woke up early on January 1st to go to work and spend the first day of the New Year caring for sick people.

My month plugged on uneventfully until the very last day of the month, when quite to my surprise, I found myself without a job. I went home heartbroken and absolutely certain that my life was over, that I was a failure, and that the next month I would be living on the streets eating out of dumpsters. (Okay, I have an amazing family and I know that my life will never resort to that as long as they are around.)

But God is always good and is faithful to us, even — nay, ESPECIALLY — in our troubled times and in our scariest moments, and within two weeks of losing my job I had a job offer. Through the amazingness of my best friend who vouched for me and sang my praises, I was offered a job as a pediatric home health nurse for a company in Houston, Texas. And because it seemed that this was probably the window that God opened for me after closing all the doors in Virginia, I accepted the job. I packed up my things, loaded my Honda Accord to the brim with what it would hold, and set off on my 24-hour drive across the southern United States.

Two days later I arrived in Houston, the next day I signed New Hire paperwork with my company, and two days after that I met the family for which I would be working. Let me just say that this family is utterly amazing. No joke.

So my next few months in a nutshell: got used to my job, helped my best friend with finishing touches to her wedding, stood beside her in her wedding as her Maid of Honor, moved into my own new apartment, switched from working nights to working days, began volunteering with Life Teen at my parish, joined a gym, lost 23 pounds (working towards my goal of 60 pounds), and in all other ways tried to build my life in Texas.

I also adopted a cat.

And I don’t regret any of it. My pride is still a little bit wounded when I think about having lost a job, but it’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I like to think that I came out of this a stronger person, and probably a better nurse because of it. God obviously wanted me here in Houston for a reason; I still don’t know why, and I’m still having to remind myself to bloom where I have been planted and that I make my own happiness. But overall, I have absolutely no reason to complain. I have a job. I have food on my table, good clothing on my back, and the best friends and family anyone could ask for.

While it has been a rough year at times, it has also been a good year. I have been blessed abundantly, time and time again, and when looking back, that’s what matters, right?

I also got a new nephew, I spent a week in Hawaii, and I made new friends. I definitely can’t complain about any of that.

So here’s to 2013. A new year, filled with new adventures, new blessings, new friends, new experiences with old friends, and new beginnings.

Let’s make this the best year ever, shall we?

Christmas in Paradise

The funny thing about getting older is that siblings start to move away eventually. At this point in my life, my family is spread out between Virginia, Texas, Michigan, and Hawaii.

But sometimes this works out in my favor — like getting to spend Christmas in Honolulu, Hawaii. I mean who WOULDN’T want to spend Christmas in Paradise?

Of course being with my family was my favorite part, but also fantastic was the shopping, sightseeing, beach-going, leis, and sunshine. Basically, it was a great Christmas. But again, because I don’t want to bore you, I will let you see for yourselves.

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Packing 101

I know, I know, I know. This post has absolutely nothing at all to do with dating or being online. None whatsoever. But I do have a reason for posting it. Several, in fact…

1) I have several friends who are incredulous that I am planning to travel to Hawaii for a week this Christmas and will only be bringing a 21″ carry-on suitcase. I will prove how I can do it.

2) I am proud of myself for being able to pack so well.

3) Maybe you want to learn how to pack as amazingly as I do!

So when you’re packing light for a trip, there are several rules that must be followed.

  • You don’t need to pack shampoo, conditioner, lotion, sunscreen, etc. Plan to buy those at your destination, and then leave them there. It makes packing so much easier, and best of all there are no messes to contend with!
  • Make a list, and stick to it! And put some thought into it; think of the clothes you frequently wear, the clothes you are comfortable in, and the clothes you know you won’t regret bringing. Don’t use your travel time as an opportunity to wear combinations of clothes you haven’t tried before. Then if you don’t like it, you’re stuck with it. Pack what you like.
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This was my packing list, and you’ll see all the items I added were on this list.

  • Find a good, sturdy suitcase. Part of packing light is having a bag you like! I know it sounds funny, but I bought my bag at a Black Friday sale for this trip, knowing that it was a good month away, and all I wanted to do when I got home was to pack it.
My brand-spanking new Ricardo Elite 21" upright spinner making it's travel debut, and my Anne Klein computer bag.

My brand-spanking new Ricardo Elite 21″ upright spinner making its travel debut, and my Anne Klein computer bag.

  • Don’t pack in a hurry. I usually try to pack two days before my trip; that way if I find items that are missing, used or worn out, etc. I have time to replace them without stressing.
  • When you start packing, gather all the items on your list and lay them out in an organized fashion so that you can see what you have, what you have forgotten, what you need, what you don’t need, etc. It is easier to make sure that you have everything you will need if you can see it all laying out flat in front of you.
All my clothes, toiletries, shoes, and accessories laid out.

All my clothes, toiletries, shoes, and accessories laid out.

  • Once you’ve got all your things gathered, then you’re ready to start packing. And there is some strategy involved here. First, I rolled the dresses individually and lined them up neatly on one side of the top half of the suitcase. Next came the shirts on the other side, followed by my exercise clothing in the middle.
The first layer of clothing.

The first layer of clothing.

  • Next I added another layer by adding my bathing suits, camisoles, and pajamas to fill in the section, and zipped it up. That’s the bulk of the clothing, all in one half of the suitcase!
Another layer.

Another layer.

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Will it fit?? *nail biting suspense*

Will it fit?? *nail biting suspense*

IT FITS!!

IT FITS!!

  • Okay, the next big tip is this: if you’re packing shoes, remember that the space in the shoes is perfect for stuffing small items, such as scarves and underwear. So I took all 7 pairs of panties and rolled them up in tissue paper and stuffed them into one tennis shoe, and in the other one I stuffed my slip and all 6 pairs of socks.
Under-hoo-has rolled in tissue...

Under-hoo-has rolled in tissue…

And stuffed in a shoe.

And stuffed in a shoe.

Socks and slip ready to be stuffed into the other shoe...

Socks and slip ready to be stuffed into the other shoe…

And both shoes packed in the suitcase.

And both shoes packed in the suitcase.

  • Okay so now you’re on to packing all the toiletries and accessories. The best thing to do is to organize all the toiletries into individual cosmetic cases. And as you pack each one, fit it in the suitcase like a puzzle.
Yeah, I said it was like a puzzle. I wasn't joking.

Yeah, I said it was like a puzzle. I wasn’t joking.

  • Jewelry: you know how when you travel it always gets all tangled? I found the solution. It’s from Target, and it’s only $17. It’s a travel jewelry wallet which, if you were into really big jewelry or a lot of jewelry, probably wouldn’t work for you. However, I am bringing neither too big nor too much. So it’s perfect.
My selection of jewelry for the week.

My selection of jewelry for the week.

The total size once the clutch is closed!

The total size once the clutch is closed!

  • Now you’re ready to zip it up!
And this is without the 1" extension!

And this is without the 1″ extension!

  • You’re probably going to have a “personal item” as well as your suitcase. So again, it’s always good to lay everything out, for the same reasons as before. You want to see what you have and know what you’ll need before you head out to the airport.
My "personal item"

My “personal item”

  • And in case you’re wondering why on earth I have both an iPad and an iPod (and an iPhone, too, but I had to take the picture with something!), I’ll tell you: neither the iPhone nor the iPad battery will last the entire 12-hour flight if I use it to listen to music continuously. The iPod will last easily both 12-hour flights to and from Honolulu.
  • And last but not least, you can also use your travel attire to your advantage. For instance, my travel outfit includes a shirt I’ll definitely wear again, another cardigan to add to the one I packed, my jeans (which are the only pair of jeans I’ll be bringing, since I can do laundry as needed throughout the week), my versatile and oh-so-comfortable black flats which I will wear with everything else I am bringing, and a large white scarf which will serve as a beach/pool cover up during the week, and will be a nice wrap while on the plane.
My practical, comfortable, and stylish travel outfit. :)

My practical, comfortable, and stylish travel outfit. 🙂

And there you have it! That, my friends, is how you pack for a week in a carry-on. So now you can save that money that you would have used to check a bag, you can rest assured that your bags will not be destroyed or delayed, and you no longer have to wait for a bag at baggage claim. And it’s so much easier to transport a small, manageable bag than a huge suitcase. Sounds like a win-win, right? You probably wouldn’t have used everything packed in a bag that big anyway. 🙂

Too bad I’m not leaving for another 38 hours.

Summer. It’s over already.

Well, summertime has come and gone, and like any decent, self-respecting human being, this occasion brings with it feelings of joy in anticipation of Autumn and therefore Christmastime, as well as feelings of sadness and even a little regret, thinking of all the things that I wanted to do but didn’t. Granted, I didn’t really have a whopping summer planned out, so the feelings of disappointment are low, thankfully!

I think my regret though, is that I waited until the END of summer to finally start trying to get involved in my new parish. There were probably many summer activities I would have loved to have gotten involved in. However, the plus side to neither being in school nor having children in school is that activity-wise, summer is fairly identical to the rest of the year!

And no, I did not find that proverbial “Summer Love” that pretty much every young woman dreams about….. admit it! We all enter summer saying “Maybe THIS summer I’ll meet the man of my dreams, and we’ll start off with a blissful summer romance which will lead into a delightful Holiday season meeting families, a New Year’s engagement, and a summer wedding next year!” Wait……am I the only one who’s ever thought about that? (Perhaps it’s important to mention that I have a very active, very vivid imagination, and I tend to play out every possible scenario in my head before they even happen — and most of them don’t actually happen, but in  my mind they are fantastic!)

But you will be glad to know, dear reader, that despite the glaring lack of romance, I did have a wonderful, blessed summer! Have a look!

 

I had an awesome afternoon photo shoot in Houston with my sister during her visit.

 

 

I worked a lot. As you can see, I have a very, very difficult job.

 

 

 

 

I drank cappuccinos at outdoor cafes.

 

 

 

I went to antique stores. Lots and lots of antique stores.

 

 

 

I learned to fly! Well….almost.

 

 

 

I worked some more. I mean seriously, I get to hang out with this little beauty all day long!

 

 

 

I found the love of my life! Too bad he doesn’t even know I exist….. ❤

 

 

 

And, oh, look!! I worked some more. Sometimes we go to  the park.

 

 

 

I saved my friend Natalie from being eaten by the giant shark jaw. No joke, it was a gruesome battle. But I came out victorious!

 

 

 

I watched an awesome live piano performance.

 

 

 

I visited some more of Houston, checking some more sights off my list.

 

 

 

Again, I visited Houston.

 

 

 

I found the most amazing pair of cowgirl boots. However, they were almost $300. So I shall simply have to imagine wearing the most amazing pair of cowgirl boots.

 

 

 

We hugged a tree. And then afterwards we got attacked by the fire ants who lived in the tree, and apparently didn’t like us being there. So sorry, dear Ants!!

 

 

 

 

I found the $38,000 ruby and diamond ring that will one day grace my finger when I have married a millionaire or won the lottery. Whichever comes first.

 

 

 

I hung out with my pal the gorilla.

 

 

 

I was almost eaten by a lion. I was afraid. For my life. I almost died.

 

 

 

 

And then after the lion ordeal, I was chased by this…….thing……who knew the Houston Museum of Natural Science could be so dangerous!!

 

 

I saved another friend from being eaten by this thing. I’m just an awesome friend, I guess.

 

 

 

No explanation necessary (or possible).

 

 

 

I had a conversation with a Woolly Mammoth, although I kind of felt the conversation was very one-sided.

 

 

 

I ate Tex-Mex, because that’s what Texans eat.

 

 

 

 

And it’s even better if you eat it with friends, if possible!

 

 

 

Oh, and don’t forget the alcohol. Tex-Mex is ten times better with alcohol.

 

 

 

I explored Galveston, and realized that it only made me miss my Virginia Beach so much more.

 

 

 

I tried on a $1200 dress, and wondered what life would be like if I had that much money to spare on a dress…..

 

 

 

And of course Mary had to try on a ridiculously expensive dress as well!

 

 

 

I tried on shoes that would make Lady Gaga proud…

 

 

 

…And and Mary tried on shoes that would make Kate Middleton proud. Because who WOULDN’T want to wear a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes?

 

 

 

I discovered that at Gucci, a woman must pay $3,750.00 for a leather jacket.

 

 

 

I went tubing for the first time, and despite that smile on my face, it hurt like the dickens!!! Those waves are PAINFUL!

 

 

 

I got a speeding ticket in Natalie’s neighborhood for driving at the breakneck speed of 32mph. I know, I’m such a wild child. However, it was from the homeowner’s association, so does it even count? It’s not even a real ticket!

 

 

 

I made cookies!!

 

 

 

And I spent a fantastic day at the lake with Natalie and her family.

 

 

 

And I think I have more pictures, but you’re probably already sick of seeing me, so I’m going to let you get back to your lives (or whatever else it was that you were doing before you stopped by to read my ramblings……). But there you go, my amazingly adventurous summer of no romance.

Ciao!

 

 

 

 

Writer’s Block. It happens!

Okay guys. I know, I know. It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve posted anything, and that puts me in the “horrible blogger” category. Or at least it makes me an extremely lazy one…Take your pick!

However for some reason I just haven’t felt that I had anything good to write about! And as I value quality over quantity, I haven’t written anything. I am ashamed.

But sadly I still have nothing substantial to write about. I have writer’s block. Trust me, it’s a real affliction. I don’t know how authors do it.

The end.