Monday, January 31, 2011

The Woes of Packing Light

Advice: Pack everything you think you want to bring with you. Then, cut that in half.

Reality: 5 Target bags, a full closet, lots of underwear, a mountain of books, and an over-packing gene that I am convinced runs in the family.....Pretty sure cutting it in half won't be enough.

See, who would want to leave this?
4 days to go, people. Pick up that chin from the floor because I need you to pick up MY chin from the floor. I can't believe it's almost here. Kinda freaks a girl out when something that you have been dreaming about for a few years is 4 days away. All my time thinking about it, I was pretty sure that leaving would be all sweet (hold the bitter). Especially for the independent social butterfly my mom says I turned into once I entered kindergarten. However, now that it's here, I am experiencing quite a bit of bittersweet feelings. I am leaving a lot of things behind for four months. A new niece/nephew's birth, a few weddings, friends and family, birthdays, graduations, people leaving (seemingly forever! you know who you are) before I return....only to name a few. On top of what I am leaving behind, I know that I am going to be accosted with seriously wonderful but realistically intense things when I arrive.
Or leave this?!

All this on my emotional plate, I realized that I am packing a lot more than just walking shoes and a whole bunch of hand sanitizer and wet wipes (thanks Mom). I'm packing all my fears, excitement, goodbyes, and sadness. That's gotta put me over the 50 pound weight limit for baggage.

So, here in front of you all, I vow to pack light. Not only physically, but emotionally. I see that I am leaving many wonderful things behind and going towards many fantastic things, but these things will only strengthen what was left behind and bolster what is to come. Right now, I am unpacking every unnecessary item and replacing it with the small, travel size box of trust in the Lord. Oh how many more the blessings.

The vow has been the challenge of actually packing begins. Ah, the woes of packing light.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Girlfriends, Grab Your Rosaries.

How does one begin to prepare oneself for 4 months in another country? Even more, how does one begin to prepare oneself for 4 months of living in close quarters with 30+ other people? Further, how does one begin to prepare oneself for 4 months in the heart of the Catholic Christian faith?! If you're like me, your answer is probably something like "uhhh buuhhhh...". But that is exactly what makes preparing for my 4 month trip to Rome, Italy so exciting.

Although these past 12 months of "preparing" for Rome have been filled with endless advice, countless to-dos, oodles of to-don'ts, and infinite well wishes, I still am living in a cocoon of the unknown. While having both parents, 3 siblings, and many friends who have lived in Rome for an extended period of time, their stories and advice really only can take me so far on my own experience. Even though I have had to tell my family to stop talking about Rome to me a couple times these past couple months, their advice has helped to prepare me for what is to come. But back to my first paragraph, how does one truly prepare for such an intense experience? Uhhhh buuuuhhhh? That's right!

So here I am, less than 10 days to go, with all the advice in my pocket that I could possibly carry. But one of the best pieces of advice I have received sits at the bottom of my pocket all crumpled up and forgotten amidst the whirlwind of to-dos and to-don'ts: "Monica, create your own adventure." And that is exactly what I intend to do.

While I know I can't really fully prepare myself for what is to come, I hope to dive deeply into the heart of Jesus and feel the pulsing beat of His Church on earth. I will surrender my time in Rome for the Lord, and can't wait for the difficulties to sandpaper the heck out of me (sandpaper imagery is owned by my dad...gotta love papa Joe).

Oh, boy! My own adventure with the Lord! Can't wait, can't wait!!

But, I'm not stupid (and I know that's what some of you might be thinking). I realize I can't do such a task on my own. This is where I need your help. I need your prayers. I want to strip myself of everything holding me back from becoming more like Christ, but (like the Beatles sang) I gotta get by with a little help from my friends! So, as our dear friend Alyssa Bormis says, "Girlfriends, grab your rosaries!" (Or, if you're a boy, boyfriends, grab your rosaries...but, I think you get the idea). I have been praying a rosary everyday for the preparation of my heart for Rome, and I'd love nothing more for those prayers to be continued, doubled, and not only for me, but for all my other brothers and sisters going to the Eternal City with me this coming semester. No doubt, we all need them. So whether the rosary is your weapon of choice or some other form of prayer, simple prayers are really what I am after. Oh, and of course, please give me any prayers that you want me to pray for you for. I mean, I will be in a pretty holy place and surrounded by saints' bodies, walking on the same stones as martyrs, and being close to walking saints (holla at you Papa Bene!). Whatever. No big deal....Oh, but my point is, I'd love nothing more than to return the favor :)


And so begins the arduous task of packing and getting physically prepared to leave. Woof. This is gonna be a lot of work. Not to mention attempting to begin homework for Dr. Coulter's (our faculty advisor) class before I go. Oh and the small task of trying to say goodbye to people. Yippee! 4 months. That's a blink of an eye. Remember that all those who'd rather tie me down than let me go across the ocean for 4 months (you know who you are....*cough* Mom *cough*).

I wish I could bring you all in my suitcase, but alas, there is a 50 pound bag weight limit.

Much Love.

God bless you.