Catholic Women’s Almanac No. 56

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Outside my window::

A lovely, deep blue sky morning. I slept with the bedroom window open last night. Do I need to tell you how great that was, after the winter that we had?

I feel like it’s that line from the Song of Solomon:

For see, the winter is past! The rains are over and gone. 

Wearing::

my pjs–a red tank top and Boden PJ pants.

Reading::

City of God (forever and ever, I swear); Orphan Train (I’m late to this party, I know); Pickwick. Really need to speed this one up. Also re-reading the Michael Vey series and still deep in St. Faustina’s Diary.

In the CD player::

L’Angelus, Sacred Hymns

Around the house:

Today: sweeping, vacuuming, mopping the kitchen floor, dusting, taking out the trash. That sort of stuff.

In the kitchen::

I met with the transplant nutritionist last Friday, and she is actually going to send me recipes/meal plan ideas today or tomorrow. So yay! She asked me what I liked to eat, and I said basically everything, except eggplant and big squash, because I can’t cut them up in my kitchen. 🙂 So I’m excited to see what she gives me.

Healthy::

Rehab work MWF, per usual. 🙂 Going to get to yoga class this week, probably tomorrow night.

Goals::

So I filled out all my power sheets (laracaseyshop.com, if you want them!) so I am ready. I have my five goals for the next six months plotted out:

  • Send the book proposal out
  • Organize my finances
  • Create a calm, clean, welcoming home with only the things I love and use
  • Create a healthier, stronger body by eating better and exercising consistently.
  • Creating a deep, focused prayer life.

I am so ready. As Anna says, “I was born ready!”

Plans for the week::

MWF: Rehab at 3:00.

Friday-Sunday: Silent retreat! Yay silent retreat! This starts Friday evening and goes until Sunday lunchtime. Yay!!!!

Throwing open the doors of Mercy

“It’s easy to feel warm and fuzzy about God when we’re flying high and filled with gratitude for His mercy, but the truth is He loves us no less when we have thrown that loving mercy back in His Sacred Face by out sins.”

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Pope Francis goes to confession, Friday March 28th, 2014. Last week Pope Francis asked the universal Church to join him in “24 Hours for the Lord”, a time when each diocese should throw the confessional doors wide open and encourage the faithful, and the not-so-faithful, to take full advantage of the loving mercy of God by going to confession. Our archbishop responded by opening St. Francis of Paola Church for 24 hours of confessions , beginning yesterday evening and ending today at 6:30pm. (There’s still time to go if you haven’t been to confession lately.)

Confession heals our blindness, it helps us to “see” God rightly: merciful, loving, eager to forgive. Yet, just as I can’t accept an apology from someone if I don’t first admit they’ve hurt me, so too, God can’t forgive us until we acknowledge our sinfulness. Like the man born blind in today’s Gospel, we need healing of our sight – or rather our insight…

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Who sinned, this man or his parents?

As Jesus passed by He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, “Neither he not his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God may be made visible through him.”

–John 9:1-3

 

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This is my life verse; it’s my favorite verse in my favorite Gospel.

Many times, I’ve had people tell me that I haven’t been “healed” or “cured” (pick a word) because I haven’t prayed enough. I haven’t had enough faith. I haven’t whatever. They haven’t used Old Testament terminology and said I (or my parents) sinned, but it’s implied that there is something deficient about my faith, or my life, or my prayers. I haven’t tried hard enoughI have not been enoughI am being punished.

To put it succinctly: Bosh.

I love this verse, because it refutes all those thoughts. The works of God can be displayed in infirmity and in imperfection.

I know of a few times in my life this has been true. My college boyfriend was sort of areligious, but I got him to go to Mass with me. I know he kept a rosary in his pocket sometimes, and I know he prayed it for me, when things were in dire straits. I know he and another friend went to Mass at at the Dominican church in Zanesville (without me), to just take it in, and maybe pray. I haven’t seen him in many years now, but I sort of hope those seeds bore fruit, in some way.

I’ve had people tell me that I’m some sort of miraculous being. Maybe so. I don’t know. I get uncomfortable when people call me a hero or whatever, because heroes are other types of people, not me. But if my life is some sort of example or help to them, well, OK. I’ll take it.

I have no idea all of what God wants to do with me, and that’s OK. But I hope that the works of God might be seen through me, and in my life. I do want people to see that those of us who aren’t perfect aren’t useless. We’re not bad or less than or not worth a life.

God has a plan for this. He has a plan for all of this. Even in imperfection, loss, less-than-ness. There is such grace.

 

 

To Boldly Go

….where few medical peeps have gone before… 🙂

Sorry, we need some Jean Luc here.

Sorry, we need some Jean Luc here.

(Sorry, my dad’s a Trekkie. The trekiness emerges from me unbidden sometimes.)

So, as I sort of hinted at the end of Seven Quick Takes, my lungs are showing some signs of chronic rejection. What this means is that there’s some areas of scarring, which leads to loss of function in those areas. While my areas are small, if it spreads, it can lead to lots of other issues, up to and including needing another transplant. We’re not there. Thankfully.

We don’t know a whole lot about rejection, as a whole. We sort of understand what causes it–the lungs aren’t the same genetic material as the rest of my body, so my immune system sees them as foreign objects which must be attacked. That’s why we’re on so many immunosuppression drugs, to trick our bodies into liking the organs they need to survive. However, we haven’t solved the rejection issue.

There are two types of rejection: acute and chronic. Acute must be dealt with quickly–usually with increased meds. Chronic is a slower-moving type, and is harder to detect. There’s really no “gold standard” for finding it. We aren’t always sure what causes it. We know that several episodes of acute rejection, antibodies in the blood, non-compliance, several acute rejection episodes and reflux are things that can cause it, and the only one of those I have is the last one, and that’s pretty well controlled. (That’s what all the GI testing was for this week–to see if it’s not controlled).

Lung transplants are tricky, because lungs are the only organs that come in contact with “the outside world” on a regular basis. So there is a much higher potential for problems with the organs. We’re still learning a lot about transplant and rejection as a whole.

So–as I hinted, again, in quick takes, this means I just have to be very, very aware of what my body is telling me, always. I have to treat it nicely. I have to listen to it, even when I may not want to.

We’re not in “Danger, Will Robinson!” stage yet, so no panic. But–prudence.

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 43

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I.

It’s a hockey night! Tonight I’m going to the Penguins/Jackets game with my dad. It’s my first Jackets game this season, so I’m really excited to go. I love hockey. Dad took me to my first game when I was about seven or eight and I was hooked. (If you’re a hockey fan: that was so long ago, Hartford still had a hockey team….) We are Pens fans, originally, but we love the Jackets too. So we usually split our team spirit gear for both teams. 🙂

II.

Rehab goes well. I did 8 miles on the bike on Wednesday and not sure what’s up today, other than meeting with nutrition after my workout time. Yeah nutrition…sort of. As I’ve done more reading on food and good ways to eat, I’ve been inclined to go for a whole food diet as opposed to Weight Watchers/etc., which is mostly processed stuff (at least the pre made foods they have), and the recipes require things that are generally altered. I like to cook, so I might as well do it, right? With real foods? That’s my thought process.

III.

In CCD this week, I’m teaching the kids about the second coming, the Four Last Things, and Purgatory. In case you were a poorly catechized Catholic (or not Catholic at all): The Four Last Things are Heaven, Hell, Death and Judgement. So yes, we’ll be talking about those things with the kids. Yes, Hell is real, guys. I’ll try not to scare them too much. 🙂 (We’re watching a video about the Fatima apparitions in a few weeks–The Day The Sun Danced–and it has a scene of Hell, since Mary showed the children a vision of Hell. So they’re gonna get the picture in an age-appropriate way.)

IV.

Back to yoga with a vengeance. I know I need to be. I can do it at home and there’s a great center nearby. The body needs it, I need it, so that’s that. Full stop. 🙂

V.

Next weekend: Silent retreat! YES! So excited. I love silent retreats and can’t wait to go on this one. How can I pray for you? Leave an intention in the com box, if you have one. 🙂 This will be my first one in a few years, and I need it!

VI.

I’m in the midst of Elizabeth Foss’s brilliant RESTORE workshop. I am loving every second of it. I have to lay down routines and plans and habits so I can have the life I want, and a life that will promote/preserve my health. This is especially important since I got my CT scan results back Thursday and I appear to be in chronic rejection, which means there is scarring happening in my lungs and we want that to stop. Sometimes this scarring can lead to a second transplant, sometimes you can live for decades with it. We’re not sure exactly how it starts or what it is or how to fix it. We’re on the cusp of modern medicine here. So: I need to really, truly focus on what is important to me and make it happen. I have to do these things and not waste words, breath, or pixels. I gotta do it. RESTORE is so helping me get there, providing me with great essays, community, and tools. Because it’s pedal to the metal time. No more messing around with things that waste brain cells and induce frustration.

VII.

So, the book proposal is going out. It is. I’m finishing it, printing it, and mailing it. We’re gonna get it done.

Thanking Shawn for saving my life

Thanking Shawn for saving my life

Amazing thoughts about a fairly amazing person. I never met Shawn, but his witness is something we should all aspire to reach.

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Several of Shawn’s closest friends paid tribute to him during his memorial service. Mike Foss met Shawn in 2005 while playing for D.C. United’s U-17 team. Mike reflects on their relationship below.

I’ve been sitting here trying to think of what Shawn would make of all of this. The whole thing. The attendance, the speeches. You know, I write for a living but this has been the hardest deadline to meet in my career. Not because I lacked content, but because every time I went to write, I could feel Shawn in my ear.

The fact of it is, throughout our friendship, Shawn was pushing me to always do more. Just go big, Mike. Just don’t worry about it, just go big. Don’t get caught up in the details, trust yourself.

Go big. Huge. Just go for it.

Whatever it was, Shawn wanted it to be the greatest size possible.

I…

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Movies that are better than the books

I know, I know–normally it’s the other way ’round, right? But I saw a friend’s post on Facebook today about books being better than the movies, and I thought about it in reverse. So here’s what I think.

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Wizard of Oz (1939): Yes. It’s my favorite movie ever. And it’s better than the book. After the Wizard flies back to Kansas there’s all this other stuff Dorothy and Co. have to do to get Dorothy home. It’s tedious (even though I like the China country). Movie is better. Wizard exits, Glinda enters. Boom!

 

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Gone With the Wind (1939): In the book, Scarlett has a child with each husband. She’s married to Rhett for a lot longer, and there’s all this stuff with Rhett and the child she had with Charles, who was a boy (I think. It’s been awhile since I read the book). The book is so much longer and the movie cuts a lot of that down–and the movie is still long. But, better than the book. There’s also all this stuff about Tara and her sister Sue Ellen getting married and blah blah.

 

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007): The movie is SO much better than the book. I think we can all generally agree this is the weakest of the books in the series, yes? All Harry going around being mean to everyone and yelling a lot. The movie is much better and much, much shorter. I was so disappointed in the book.

 

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Prince Caspian (2008): The book is a lot of wandering around and talking. Movie is much better. Yes, they added stuff. I know. It makes it better. Otherwise it’s just walking around and talking. Not cinematic.

 

Catholic Woman’s Daybook No. 55

catholicwomansdaybookOutside my window::

Well it’s not “my” window, it’s the hospital’s window–I’m hanging out here all day, first with tests and then with pulm rehab crew at three. I’m in the hospital’s “magic forrest”, sitting right behind this guy’s tail:

Squirrel!

Squirrel!

This guy, coincidentally, is also the “mascot” for the transplant floor. Each floor has an animal mascot that greets you when you come off the elevator.

It’s crazy sunny, so I can’t complain about that , especially after being in a dark room in Nuclear Medicine for the past two hours.

Wearing::

Jeans, black flats, and a green and blue stripped sweater.

Reading::

A Dance With Dragons, City of God, and St. Faustina’s Diary. I made good progress on Dragons over the weekend. Sometimes I’ve found the Game of Thrones books a little hard to start, but once I’ve started, I’m sucked in.

Lent::

Went to confession on Saturday, so I’m glad I got that done. I will never be someone who loves confession, so yeah, I talk about “getting it done.” However, I did have the best confessor my parish has, so that’s a definite plus. For my lectio, I’m working my way through the Gospel of Matthew in the Ignatius Study Bible.

Around the house::

Today it’s the normal stuff, like taking out the trash and dusting and vacuuming. This week’s focus is in the living room, according to the Fly Lady plan I’m valiantly attempting to follow. So the idea is to do some serious cleaning in that room this week. I also have to change the sheets when I get back to the house today.

In the kitchen::

Making cock-a-leekie soup tonight from the Unofficial Harry Potter cookbook. It just sounds fun. And it’s sort of chilly, so soup is good! Not sure what else this week. I have ideas, so I need to do that later today too. I might reprise the potato salad from last week, because that was crazy good.

Plans for the week::

Tomorrow: Lunch at my alma mater with one of my favorite people. 🙂

Wednesday: Back here for a CT scan and more rehab.

Thursday: Stuff with mom–lunch and making a fleece blanket

Friday: Rehab and Pens/Jackets game with my dad (wheee!)

Sunday: Teaching the kids in CCD about Jesus’ second coming and the four last things.

And also, I’m doing this crazy awesome workshop called Restore, which, I gotta tell you, is really exciting. The whole idea is to, well, restore. To slow life down to a manageable pace and not be all frantic and all over the place, like, oh, my life has been for the past four months or so?

Seven Quick Takes Friday No. 42

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I.

The madness has started! And I love it. Thank God Pitt won yesterday. I was a bit surprised OSU lost to Dayton but I had OSU losing in the next round anyway, so not too sad about it. 🙂 We’re Pitt peeps in my family! (Dad did his undergrad there) They play again (against Florida) on Saturday.

II.

I watched some of the games at the home of two of my friends who, coincidentally, are married–I was friends with each of them before that, however. 🙂 They have a gorgeous little girl (she’s almost 1 1/2) and I got to read Madeline to her, which was fun. I love reading books to kids–I do voices. Some of my favorites are the Llama Llama books, Go Dog Go! and Fish Out of Water (probably because my mom read the last two to my brother and me).

III.

First week of Pulm Rehab ends today–five more weeks to go! Today I have my sessions with my PT and with nutrition. Really, the problem with nutrition is I am hungry. A lot. Sometimes all the time. That’s a med thing, and I’m not sure what we can do to fix it. But we’re gonna try! I also have a CT scan with contrast at 2:15 before my pulm rehab session at 3:00. That means–peripheral IV time! YAYYYY! 🙂 (NOT)

IV.

But before I get poked with 20 gauge needles, I’m having lunch with one of my favorite people, who is also a student at my alma mater, so I get to eat in the Main Dining Hall (MDR) again. I really loved my college years and I”m glad I live so close so I can go back and visit. 🙂 (I cannot believe my ten year class reunion is this year….gulp!)

V.

I want to see Divergent soon. Loved the first two books. The third–eh.

Also, I am not happy with The Giver trailer. Not at all. Ages are all wrong. Sets are wrong. Costumes are wrong. IT’S A LOT OF WRONG, peeps.

VI.

Read a great book this week: Girl at the End of the World. People, you need to read this. It’s a real, honest, moving account of a woman’s escape from a fundamentalist cult founded by her grandparents.

VII.

Going to confession tomorrow. Have you been yet this Lent? Maybe you should go too? 🙂 (Friendly Catholic reminder!)