31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Self-Care (Day 24)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Self-Care (Day 24)

Today’s guest post was written by my friend Melissa Cecilia, and is about something I’ve struggled with over the years, even before I became a wife and mother: self-care. Taking the time to nurture one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual being is key to a balanced life, yet it’s so easy for one – or all – aspects to be neglected, and, before you know it, everything’s out of whack. I hope you enjoy Melissa’s insight and tips on how to create everyday joys! Please feel free to share in the comments what you do to care for yourself.

After experiencing a rough summer and bumpy start of graduate school, it would’ve been easy for me to say, “Well, there’s nothing to be joyful about with everything that’s happened.” However, I know better than to go down that route.

I have a little rule for my life: do something you enjoy every day. It can be as simple as closing your eyes and not thinking about the stress while you listen to your favorite song. Don’t believe that it can help? Allow me to show you how it helped me.

I was in and out of the hospital for most of the summer. Yes, a pain (sometimes quite literally) but nothing that I couldn’t get through. During one late E.R. visit I was able to go outside around midnight and just look at the stars. There wasn’t too much light pollution so I was able to sit outside and marvel at the beauty that surrounded me. It was so wonderfully peaceful to simply sit outside, by myself, feeling the cool air as I tried to look for constellations and shooting stars.

Post-surgical procedure down time is hard for someone as active as I am. I don’t like sitting for more than half an hour. I don’t like not having something to do. I was in so much pain and was unable to do much physical activity for weeks at a time. Instead of dwelling on it, I occupied my mind. I read some of my favorite books (as well as re-read my own novels). I worked on a gorgeous summer-themed jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes even watching a favorite movie would help bring a smile to my face when I wasn’t feeling that great.

Those were just some things I did for myself; how I find joy in the little things. Are you feeling stressed out and stuck? Take a walk in one of your favorite places. This could be around your neighborhood, a park, or even a shopping mall. The idea is to physically remove yourself from the thing that causes you to stress out.

Unable to go out and finding it hard to think of something to do? Make yourself a cup of tea (or the beverage of your choice), go on Spotify or Pandora and discover new music. Have a mini dance party and don’t care about what anyone says. Sing along to your favorite song. Not big into music? Re-read your favorite book – or at least your favorite parts of your favorite book. Even painting your nails can have a positive effect on you. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Self-care is so often neglected, mostly because it can feel like you’re feeling lazy or unproductive. I believe it contributes to our inability to see the good things in our lives. If you’re a busy lady, don’t feel bad about taking five minutes to yourself every day. Sometimes you have to create your own little moments of joy, and that’s perfectly okay.

Heather’s note: Want more? Check out The Visitation Project’s audio episode about self-care here.

About today’s guest writer:

Melissa “Emmy” Cecilia is a Young Adult / New Adult author and freelance writer living in Los Angeles, CA. She holds a B.A. in Religious Studies and is currently studying towards an M.A. in Biblical Theology from John Paul the Great Catholic University. She enjoys swing dancing, hiking, being a budding photographer, and getting lost in the world of literature. In her spare time you can find her blogging over at Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer.

Emmy ogiti

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: The Alphabet Version (Day 9)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: The Alphabet Version (Day 9)


Today’s unexpected joy is brought to you by Seven Quick Takes Friday (aka SQTF) and The Visitation Project (aka TVP). Specifically, this post is a SQTF re: TVP. Hence, the alphabet version.

Annnnd before I lose (even more of) you, away we go!


TVP on itunes (2)

That’s right – The Visitation Project is now on ITunes! I can barely believe it myself … it took quite a bit longer than I planned, but I am so grateful that we’re up and running and will be even more satisfied when all our previously broadcast shows are available for y’all to hear whenever and wherever you are. Woo hoo! So! much! yay!


My diligent co-host, Bonnie, has been burning the midnight oil getting individual episode notes up for your reading pleasure on the TVP website. If you have a chance to thank her, please do. It’s an awful lot of work, but she has stuck it out. Here’s one of the “extras” you’ll see when you hop over to visit.




I love this picture of the three of us co-hosts, and it’s not just because I look so tan and rested (I am really, really not tan, nor am I every actually rested in real life, so while I dunno exactly what happened with this shot #amazinglighting #supersweetfilter, I like it). Anyway, Bonnie, Rebecca, and I were so ready to rock and roll our first round of recording, and I love the looks of enthusiasm, excitement, and sheer joy on our faces.



Flash forward two days. By the time we completed our first marathon recording session, it was time for a much-deserved break. At our celebratory wrap dinner, I convinced the gals to join me in taking an oyster shot. I don’t remember exactly how I talked them into it, but I can promise that little to no alcohol or bribery was involved. My first oyster shot was at this place during college (which, by the way, is still, I believe, the only public bar located on government-owned land), and they sort of grew on me. Not a hard thing to do when you’ve had a couple of drinks. Anyhoo, I hadn’t had one in quite a long time because my husband is, I think, grossed out (as is, admittedly, any number of the general population), but I thought it was good. Fun times!


In the studio

This shot, from our second recording round in August, is incredible because a) Rebecca is wearing a Wonder Woman t-shirt #rad and b) we all have smiles on our faces. What’s the big deal with all of you smiling? you might ask. Well, consider: poor Bonnie was suffering from incredibly difficult morning / all day sickness; Rebecca had a weird bug that had her puking on the plane home to Dallas; and I was still recovering from the worst case of bronchitis I’ve ever had. So, smiling was hard but we did it.


We’re hoping to have some TVP products in the store in time for, dare I say, Christmas shopping?? Maybe? Please don’t hold me to it #bigdreams, but so far we have promotional bookmarks. Let me know if you want one. LOL 😉

TVP Bookmark


Methinks we reallllly need a TVP newsletter. Yes? Yes. We do. I need to quit procrastinating and just make that puppy happen. Yes? Yes.

Okay … that is enough SQT / TVP JOY for one day, IMHO. I pray you have a fabulous evening and I’ll see y’all again tomorrow! Oh, and PS – Catch up with all the other alphabet people over at the magnanimous Kelly Mantoan’s link-up!


31 Days of Unexpected Joy: The New Evangelization (Day 7)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: The New Evangelization (Day 7)

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, y’all!

Many of you may not know that I owe much of my understanding of the Catholic faith to what I learned through the excellent programming of Catholic radio, specifically, Mater Dei Radio, based in Portland, OR. It is in no small part because of what I heard and learned on this station that I not only fell back in love with and reverted to the Faith, but am now doing whatever I can to be a small part of the Church’s efforts in the New Evangelization, including blogging, organizing the local women’s conference, producing and co-hosting The Visitation Project, leading retreats, speaking at events, etc.


Today, my Visitation Project co-hosts Rebecca and Bonnie and I are honored and blessed to appear live (eek!) on-air at 9 a.m. PST to help raise money to keep Mater Dei fully funded. We’ve supported their bi-annual sharathon pledge drive once before, but this is our first appearance as a team! As TVP is produced through the facilities of Mater Dei, we owe them a debt of gratitude and are proud to joyfully support them in their efforts to bring the Truth of the Catholic faith to the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Godless city meme

We hope you will be a part of the New Evangelization, too, and support Mater Dei by calling in your pledge of support: 1-888-823-5286. Please be as generous as you are able … you never know whose life will be changed by what they hear on Catholic radio!

TVP social media (2)

Joyfully yours until tomorrow,


{SQT} The busy+lazy+wanted to post anyway version

{SQT} The busy+lazy+wanted to post anyway version

Yes. This is me. And this is the picture up over at CatholicMom.com, too. Woo hoo!
Yes. This is me. And this is the picture up over at CatholicMom.com, too. Woo hoo!

Hey, everyone – sorry it’s been a while. I didn’t even get over here to post a link to my latest Blessed is She post (boo, Heather – bad blogger!). And I haven’t written my personal recap of Edel 2015 yet, either, although I did do this one last year, and I did do a sort of “rallying cry” post about women’s conferences in general for my girl Rebecca over at Patheos.

My last post here was about being sick. And, while I’m better (it wasn’t consumption – it was bronchitis), I am still pretty wiped out a lot of the time But the wiped-out-edness might also be because the TVPCrew and I are recording our next round of episodes beginning tomorrow (15 episodes in all) AND I’m co-hosting the first Blessed Brunch Wednesday, and, overall, scrambling trying to advertise, promote, fund, organize, and generally deliver the women’s conference I hadn’t planned on being responsible for this year.

Is that seven things yet? Well, it should be if it isn’t. So, while all these other things are swirling about (and my husband’s starting a new job in a week – NBD), I had a chance to write my latest post for CatholicMom.com, aptly titled, “When Mama doesn’t have time to be sick.”

Okay – who *does* have time to be sick, anyway? Not many people I know, that’s for sure. But for busy Moms hoping to enjoy summer vacation with their families while simultaneously tackling a “to-do” list the length of a pro-NBA player’s arm, now, sweet Baby Jesus, is not the time to be sick. Perhaps, like me, you’ve been struck with a pesky illness during these hot summer days, and wonder how to take care of yourself amidst the loads of laundry and bickering siblings and phone calls that need returning.

Please read the whole thing and love it and hold it and call it George here.

Until next time, y’all, take GOOD CARE of yourself. You are worth it!


{SQT} All the things, man. All the things. #TVPLaunch #CWR2015 and more

{SQT} All the things, man. All the things. #TVPLaunch #CWR2015 and more


Without further ado, ALLLLLL the things:


TVP social media (2)

So … it’s true … it’s really happening. The Visitation Project premieres THIS SUNDAY on the all-new Mater Dei Radio at 7:30 p.m. PST. I can’t even. Simcha Fisher herself has an EXCLUSIVE AUDIO CLIP today, and our friend Nell with Whole Parenting wrote about it, as did Cari from Clan Donaldson. Miss Dwija from House Unseen ‘Grammed it … Oh – and Sr. Patricia reviewed it over at Patheos. How could I forget Sr. Patricia? HILARIOUS!! Please let me know if we are missing anyone! (Why does this feel like the Oscars?) And … Thanks to all our friends and family for their support. Now we just hope that someone will actually listen … and then actually listen again. And still. The listening. ALLLLL the listening. Check out posts from my amazing co-hosts Bonnie and Rebecca, too!


TVP hearts Catholic Radio giveaway winner

Another radio-related note: the TVP crew converged upon the Catholic Broadcasting NW facilities in Portland, OR, to record earlier this spring, and they just launched their new name – Mater Dei Radio – along with a spiffy new website, and schedule (including TVP! Squee!) today. So, so much good stuff. Last week was their Pledge Drive, and they raised about 91% of their goal. Looking for something to do for the New Evangelization, but not sure where to start? Supporting Catholic radio is always a good bet, and I am 100% positive they would still accept donations of any size if you’re willing and able. My friend Cajun Texas Mom (also our TVP Giveaway winner! WOOT!) does a great job explaining why.


Ain't no party like a Catholic party and the Catholic party don't stahp
Ain’t no party like a Catholic party and the Catholic party don’t stahp

What else? Oh, yes! Tickets for Catholic Women Rejoice featuring Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary + the Edel Gathering and Catholic Evangelist Kelly Wahlquist and yours truly went on sale Monday! We decided to change up the event a bit this year, so it’s going to kick off with Vigil Mass at 5, beer + wine + yummies, speakers, and then … a party. How awesome would it be to get the women in your life a ticket for Mother’s Day? Really. How awesome? Mark your calendars for SATURDAY, AUGUST 29, 2015, and come rejoice with us!


My blog title may or may not have been inspired by The Blues Brothers.
My blog title may or may not have been inspired by The Blues Brothers.

I had a devotion up at Blessed is She yesterday. Being part of this team is always incredibly edifying. I hope you’ll check out the #projectblessed stuff happening over on Instagram and Twitter, too. It’s soul-fulfilling!


My second post is up at CatholicMom.com on Monday. It's a doozy.
My second post is up at CatholicMom.com on Monday. It’s a doozy.

My second article for CatholicMom.com is out Monday, May 4th. I’d really love to know what you think. It’s a bit different for me (who normally dwells squarely in raw, truth-teller-ville) to delve into fictitious fable-land, but it was all for the greater glory of God so we can welcome the stranger in our midst. I’ll post a link here when it’s live.


The Instigator left me and the kids to go to visit all the people in Alabama this week. Boo, hiss. I plan on spending most of Sunday in the Adoration Chapel to recover and I’m not even kidding.


I keep thinking I’m missing something. But that’s probably because the rent is due and the kids need to be picked up from school and, as usual, I have too many things going on at once.

Y’all, that’s probably what I’m forgetting: will you PLEASE pray for me? I could surely use your prayers. There are some things going on behind the scenes that aren’t ready to be shared here, but definitely can still be prayed over. I would be SO incredibly grateful! And … please do leave me a comment … how may I pray for you? I promise I will. After all, we are in this crazy thing called life together.

Until next time,



Linking up with the super cool Kelly Mantoan at This Ain’t the Lyceum. I would challenge her to a dance-off, but I’d lose.