Monday 5: Togetherness & other things I’m excited about this week

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Baby breath flowers

I bought these for the first time yesterday and was blown away at how much I loved how they looked. They remind me of flowers you would pick on a field and add such a simple elegance to any room. Fresh flowers are one of those simple pleasures that can make a big difference and make me smile every time I look at them. Baby breath reminds us that you don’t have to be fancy to be beautiful.

This Hawaiian Chicken and Pineapple skewers recipe

I tried this recipe over the weekend and definitely plan on doing a repeat. It’s a relatively simple process and they were still good even without cooking them on the grill. I like that it includes protein and vegetables and fruit in one yummy dish. It’s also easy enough to double and make for several people; good for hosting or bringing to an event!

Sailing

This weekend we were able to go sailing around the Charleston harbor with the other first year pediatric residents (rough life, right?). It had been quite a while since I had been out on the water and it felt incredible. There’s something so simple and mindful about sailing; there aren’t really a lot of things to distract you from the beauty of the ocean and the people you’re with. It’s not something I get to do very often but I hope to do a little more in the years to come here in Charleston; it seems like such a good way to take advantage of the surrounding water.

Togetherness

Being in the same place as Nicholas has been such a treat for the past few weeks. While long distance was fruitful in it’s own way, being together has helped us grow more and face various challenges head on that were easier to avoid when we were apart. It’s tempting to get caught in the trap of thinking that relationships should be easy – and if they aren’t it’s wrong. But good things require effort; that’s what makes them good…and not just easy. One thing that has been great is being able to do so much more together than we could before. Things like going swimming or running, getting drinks with friends, having people over, cooking, going to Mass, praying, salsa dancing [or attempting to], even just working…it has been truly wonderful. Chores like grocery shopping are a lot more fun when you’re with people you love. Today we place a lot of emphasis on the individual and our independence; but I think there’s a lot of beauty on sharing your life with someone and working toward something together (even if it’s a little more inconvenient sometimes).

This quote

Love between two people is unthinkable without some common good to bind them together. – Saint John Paul the Great

I listened to a good podcast this weekend about love and how it’s more than just ‘I like you, you like me.’ While that is certainly an important part of it, we have to remember that there’s something bigger taking place. The speaker on the podcast gave the example of a professional sports team: they are a group of men or women working toward something great. That is what separates them from just a group of men or women kicking a ball around. They aren’t just there for their personal enjoyment; they’re working toward a higher good – winning. The same applies for couples. It’s not just about the pleasure or even joy that we get out of it (and that will come and go anyway); it’s more importantly about growing together and serving each other and your friends and family. In other words, it’s about being fruitful. We want to be better people and help others; those are the goals we strive for and that is what keeps us together when being alone seems more appealing.

Hope your Monday is enjoyable and fruitful (even if you’re like me and feeling a little sleepy).

xo

Miranda

 

Why ‘I do’ is bigger than you

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Did you ever wonder what happened to Cinderella’s stepsisters after she married the prince and left to live happily ever after in the castle?

Yeah me either.

Love stories tend to focus only on the people inside them. Which makes sense…it’s a love story, not the Proud Family.

However, to say that relationships don’t affect people outside of them is just not true. This is especially important when it comes to marriage. The idea that marriage is supposed to last forever isn’t a silly fairy tale or a random rule an uptight monk decided would be a good idea; it’s the foundation for family life.

Love is meant to be eternal…not just to last as long as it feels good. The family unit depends on this. The security that comes from a couple that stays together provides their children with the opportunity to learn what it means to love and be loved. Love entails permanency; anything less is insufficient and breaks the most essential player in loving relationships: trust.

This isn’t just my opinion: we know that parental divorce leads to lower trust in future relationships of the children.

In other words, something that is already difficult (entrusting yourself completely to someone else) is made exponentially more challenging.

Trust is everything. Self-gift necessitates a surrender of control that can’t happen without faith in the other person.

When trust is broken in a vital relationship – the one that sets the example for all the relationships to come – we are left impaired for life. This may seem like an exaggeration, I thought so too until I experienced the ramifications in my own relationship.

Facing my trust issues has been one of the biggest hurdles I’ve faced thus far and not one I would wish on my worst enemy. The pain, confusion and helplessness that arises when you feel you can’t trust someone you care deeply about is overwhelming and has often threatened what I know to be a really good thing. When there is betrayal in a formative relationship (as what happens in divorce), our outlook on intimacy and relationships becomes skewed…unnatural.

Despite the normalcy of divorce, I know I’m not the only person suffering it’s severe consequences. The marriage rate in the U.S. is at an all time low. An important reason given for this is the fact  that millennials’ ‘don’t think it’s likely to last.’ (Deseret News, 2015). We are also getting married a lot later in life (at the age of 27 for women and 29 for men compared to the ages of 20 and 23 in 1960, according to Bentley.edu). We are experiencing a ‘cultural retreat’ from marriage…and it is no bueno.

What we’ve resorted to is cohabiting – or living together outside of marriage. We think that this kind of relationship is preferable to making a vow and then breaking it later. While understandable, this idea couldn’t be further from the truth. This type of relationship is dramatically less stable and has a much lower rate of success than those of married couples (Deseret News, 2015). But, we think we’re smart so…here we are.

We also take part in what’s being called ‘serial dating’; where we go on multiple dates with multiple different people over a short span of time. Apps like Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Happn and others are all out there to help us find dates quickly. The convenience of it makes us more detached from the outcome: ‘hey if it doesn’t work out with this person, there are 1,569 other matches I can reach out to.’

There’s nothing wrong with meeting someone over the internet; the problem arises when we treat dating like we’re flipping through TV channels as opposed to what it should be: a genuine effort to discover another person and find out if you can see yourself marrying them.

Marriage and family have been pushed aside in the name of practicality and as a result we’re becoming even more self-centered. The thing is, it’s not just about us. Love is necessarily other focused: the person we marry and the children we have have everything to gain from our unconditional love. We can’t afford to just look out for ourselves; there’s too much at stake.

It’s not glamorous or exciting to think about Cinderella and prince Charming’s children or how their relationship affected their community, but that’s really everything. After all, we can tell a tree by it’s fruit!

What we do in life matters, but nothing matters more than the close relationships we have with the people we love. Love (like trust) is learned and it can’t be learned if we’re focused on just our own needs and desires…it’s bigger than that.

We may say ‘I do’ at the altar, but really it is so much more than just about us; if we take this seriously we can love others fully and allow them to then do the same…and isn’t that quite the privilege?

 

 

 

Monday 5: Endurance & other things I’m excited about this week.

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This weekend was a good one. Friday evening we hosted Nicholas’ medical themed housewarming party and it was a good night. I had so much fun working on the preparations (white balloons with red crosses, candy as ‘prescription meds’, sangria as ‘type O negative’ wafers as ‘tongue depressors’, medical wristbands for guests) and I think people appreciated the thought (and even if they didn’t I still had a blast). It got a little hectic right before, we were running around trying to get everything together right until the first person showed up; but the chaos, if a little stressful, was also exciting.

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Saturday was more relaxed, we attended a recital for the Charleston International Music Festival where I played with a chamber music group. It was a really good concert, I was so impressed with these high school and college students who play at a professional level!

Later we had a barbecue with the players and teachers. Sunday we went out to lunch with my brother and one of his friends and then enjoyed a laid back evening before the work week started.

Not every weekend is going to be super exciting, but I think a little thought and planning can help us make the most of those two precious days. I hope yours was a good one too!

Regardless, Monday’s can be tough so here are a few things that might help make it a little more exciting!

This TED talk

Recently I’ve been trying to listen to more podcasts. I love music, but I think podcasts can offer a good alternative that is a little more informative and gives you something to think about. This TED talk I heard was certainly thought provoking; given by a doctor who had lost her husband (also a doctor) to cancer, she talks about what makes life worth living in the face of death. One of her key points I thought was very important was the idea that living fully includes accepting suffering. And suffering together makes it more meaningful and less painful; or as she put it: “it makes it okay; even if it’s not.” I enjoyed her refreshing perspective on what is really important in life and how to persevere during difficult times – definitely worth a listen!

Miniature saints

Last year I won a key chain that had the miniature images of saints Louis and Zelie Martin – the first married couple to be canonized. I thought they were so adorable and have love having them on my key chain since. I looked them up and was even more excited to find that they are only $5! With shipping it comes to about $7. I think this is such a good gift idea, they are so cute and inspiring! They have a ton to choose from so there’s really something for everyone.

Scrapbooking

I think photographs are so important. While having pictures on your phone or computer can be helpful, to me sitting down and looking through photos is one of the simple joys in life that I think can also be really fruitful. That’s why I decided to print a bunch of pictures and put them in a scrapbook. I bought a photo album but instead of slipping them in the plastic sleeves, took the sleeves out and glued the photos directly to the paper underneath so I could write quotes around the edges. On the sides I wrote the date and little comments about the photo (like what we were doing, the context, fun memories) and then around the margins I wrote quotes that pertained to what was going on and that were also inspirational. It has been such a fun project and there’s something really beautiful about flipping back through the moments while reading quotes about why they matter.

Endurance

When I think of endurance, I think of someone who has run a marathon (or even more than 2.5 miles) or a Gatorade commercial. But I think endurance is also really important outside the context of sports. When you work out, your muscle fibers break down because of the stress, but instead of collapsing completely and leaving you incapacitated, they build back up stronger than they were before. In life we often encounter strenuous challenges; these can feel like they’re breaking us and leave us weary and disheartened. But just like those squats or an uphill run, that strain actually makes us new…it makes us stronger. Strength isn’t an absence of weakness, it’s the result of enduring suffering or strain. I think this is really important to keep in mind as we face the various difficulties -some worse than others- the tough times are preparing us to be more…and they don’t last forever.

Quotes

More and more I’ve been realizing the importance of surrounding yourself with inspiration. The music we hear, the words we speak, the movies we watch…they all have an influence over us, whether we’re aware of it or not. That’s why I’m becoming such a big advocate of keeping a stash of good quotes around that you can refer to frequently. I have a notebook, in addition to the ones I put in the scrapbook and the snapshots I have of quotes I come across on Instagram. Reading them often gives me a little dose of truth and beauty that reminds me what life is really about and why the things that stress me out aren’t worth it.

Hope your week is full of inspiration!

xo

Miranda

Monday 5: Themed parties & other things I’m excited about this week

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Happy Monday! I hope you are starting off the week without too much despair. I am actually pretty excited because Nicholas moves here today! It has been a lot of anticipation in the past few months, first because we weren’t sure where he would even be placed (he could have been heading to New Hampshire right now) and then because of the wait for him to finish school and move.

Needless to say, we are both excited about being in the same place.

This weekend was more relaxed, I enjoyed some time on the beach, my friends and I hit a few bars downtown (including a sweet rooftop bar called The Watch) and we went to brunch this afternoon at a lovely restaurant called 82 Queen! Highly recommend it if you are in the area, it really is a lovely atmosphere (you feel like you’re in a secret garden in Europe), and the prices for brunch aren’t too bad. They also have a delicious pomegranate mimosa.

Here is this week’s 5, I hope it inspires you to make a list of your own excitements this week!

Themed parties

To welcome Nicholas in style, we’re having a medically themed housewarming party and I’m so excited! Just looking up ideas has been so fun and I can’t wait to put some of them into action. Some of them include sangria labeled as ‘blood type O negative’, medical wristbands for guests with their names on them and a ‘numbing station’ with various adult beverages. Planning is something I love to do already and the fact that we’re creating an experience for others makes it that much more fun. I will definitely post pics of the end results!!

Swimming 

Exercising more has been something I have been struggling with for the past few months and since it has gotten so hot, running (which is typically my go-to) has become a lot less viable. I’m a fan of incorporating exercise into activities outside the gym when possible so this weekend I went for a swim in the ocean. It was a beautiful day that I didn’t want to spend indoors and swimming is an exercise I actually enjoy. I wasn’t out there for super long but I’m hoping to make it more of a habit this summer and get more exercise that way.

Missing – William Michael Morgan

I have my sister to thank for this one. This weekend she introduced my family to this song which we all instantly loved. He talks about getting away and unplugging for a bit and we all sighed at the really lovely idea. Sometimes going on a impromptu outing and turning off our phones for a little bit can bring a lot of much needed peace and joy that just isn’t as attainable in front of a screen or in your office. I love this song and the reminder that sometimes it’s okay to take a break from the rat race.

ALDI supermarket

Mount Pleasant recently got an Aldi’s and we’re thrilled! I hadn’t gone often before but had heard good things and have enjoyed checking it out. While it definitely doesn’t have everything on my grocery list, it definitely has the basics at good prices. They also have a superb rosé for $10! I was super impressed. I appreciate that Aldi is smaller than other grocery stores so it’s a little less overwhelming; plus they check you out super fast. More time to drink rosé!

SoundSleeper App

I recently read an article on the importance of sleep hygiene; which sounds a little weird (is sleeping typically unhygienic?) but has actually helped me a lot. The idea is basically that there are little things you can do when it comes to your bedtime routine that help you sleep better. Things like ensuring your room is dark, making it a little cooler and using a white noise app can actually make a huge difference. Since I read the article and started making these small changes I’ve been sleeping noticeably better. The SoundSleeper app is probably my favorite. There are so many sounds to choose from and it’s free! I think silence makes me more aware of the fact that I’m not asleep, noise helps that reality not seem so oppressive. Sleep is so essential and any tip that is helpful at all is a huge win in my book!

Here’s to a lot of more exciting things coming up.

xo

Miranda

 

 

 

Monday 5: Waiting & other things I’m excited about this week

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This weekend was another fun one in Charleston. Friday evening we watched an interesting documentary on Medjugorje. Saturday we had some people over for hot dogs and bonfire and yesterday a few of us made it out to the beach! Tourist season can be a little overwhelming here but if you know where and when to go, it’s not so bad.

It’s gray and rainy here in Charleston and it’s supposed to rain most of the week, which I’m not excited about. But thinking up my weekly list helped me perk up a little.

What are you looking forward to this week?

Waiting

Waiting can be really hard. Especially when you really want something and it’s not 100% in your control…waiting feels painful and can get old real fast. I’m not a patient person to begin with, so waiting for anything, even to pay at the checkout line or for the light to turn green can frustrate me quite a bit. However, I do think patience is a good quality to have and I think there are a few ‘tricks’ to help us more antsy people. One idea came from one of the Blessed is She women and I thought it was very wise, which is to focus on others. There’s something really stress relieving about thinking of ways that you can be helpful to someone else, as opposed to keeping the focus on ourselves. Of course we need to do what we need to do, but when we go out of our way to think and do for others, I find my own stress is lessened at least a little.

Another aspect of waiting I have been thinking about is excitement. While enjoying the present moment is essential, there’s also something to be said about looking forward to things you are hopeful about. Sometimes that can carry us through times that aren’t as fun and remind us why we’re still pushing through.

Crafts

I am not a crafty person. While I love art and have a sincere appreciation for beauty and creativity, bringing those to life has never been a strong suit for me. Even in grade school I remember being so frustrated that the art projects we had to work on didn’t turn out how I wanted them to. It wasn’t something that came naturally to me. Playing violin is probably as close as I have ever gotten to that; the difference is that with something like violin you can practice the same piece over and over until it’s perfect. With crafts, you usually have to go from start to finish and then if it doesn’t turn out, start over. Last week I decided to try a craft for the first time in a long time and I remembered why I tend to avoid them…I definitely became frustrated when it wasn’t exactly how I had envisioned it in my head. However I ended up finishing the project and using it to decorate my room anyway. I’m now working on a different craft; I genuinely enjoy it when I’m not being critical of my work. I think the tendency toward perfectionism shouldn’t stop us from doing things we’re not great at…and hopefully improvement will come with time.

Journaling

I’ve kept a journal consistently since I was twelve or so. It’s crazy to look back on entries when you were in a completely different stage of life and how much things have changed since then. Since I’ve gotten older I definitely am not as dedicated as I used to be, I even went a month or so without writing anything when my last journal ran out of room. This weekend I finally got around to buying a new one – I really like these by Studio Oh! – and I’m already glad I did. Not everyone finds journaling helpful, but I think for some of us it can be a great way of working through thoughts in a healthy way as opposed to letting them run in circles inside your head. And then years later it’s really entertaining to look back on how much you had to say about the 16 year old boy with blond hair in your homeroom class.

Summer bucket lists

My best friend and I did these while in college for a few years and even though I don’t have a summer break like we used to, I think it’s a good tradition worth keeping. Time can go by so fast and those things you want to do and say you will ‘one day’ go undone. Bucket lists for specific time periods I think are easier to accomplish, summer is especially cool because there tends to be so much going on!

Perseverance

I think perseverance is such an underrated quality. It’s not as glamorous as courage or as intimidating as humility, but I think it is so important. Even if it’s something relatively insignificant such as learning how to cook, perseverance can get us far. It becomes even more essential in things like relationships where difficulties aren’t resolved overnight. I think I’ve found perseverance especially helpful because I’m not super skilled. While I love a lot of things, I can’t say that many of them come super easily to me (writing could be an exception). When it comes to running, cooking, baking, crafts…I certainly have had my fair share of failures and frustrations, but haven’t wanted to stop trying either. So even when I can’t say I’m good at something, I can say I persevered despite that. I think when it comes to the real challenges in life (not cupcake decorating), you really don’t mean much more than to keep trying.

I hope this week holds things you’re excited about!

xo

Miranda

Serena Williams & faithfulness: Why it isn’t always what we think it is.

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You may have heard that Serena Williams recently won the Australian Open…while pregnant.

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I can’t even stay on the court long enough to make it through one point…and I’m not pregnant.

Recently I listened to a TED talk podcast where Serena was interviewed about being a mom and on her recent win in Australia.

Serena is obviously super talented. But she’ll tell you (at least she said it in the interview) that her success isn’t due to the fact that she’s gifted…it’s the time and effort that she has put into her craft over years and years.

If you’re like me, when you think of being faithful you probably think of fidelity within a relationship, or being faithful to certain religious beliefs. These are certainly important contexts for faithfulness, but I think it can be extended outside of just those two instances.

I think a lot of us struggle today with being pulled in several different directions. From a young age we’re encouraged to be ‘well-rounded’ and as we get older we work hard to balance a career, a social life, our health, our family and any other activities or groups we’re a part of. I know it’s not uncommon for me to feel overwhelmed trying to balance various commitments.

While I think it is good to be apt at more than one thing, I think there’s something to be said about doing a few things well – as opposed to several things half-way. I know I tend to be more of the type of person who likes to do a lot; but I also have come to appreciate the idea of doing my best at fewer things and not trying to do everything and falling short.

Being faithful is showing up – but not just being physically present, also emotionally and intellectually. In other words, being present to your commitments wholeheartedly. I think this has especially become difficult because of our phones. I know it’s hard for me to focus on anything without being distracted by a text or other alert every few minutes.

The benefit of faithfulness is it allows you to value what is important to you. When we choose family dinner over a night out or homework over Netflix, we are faithful to what is more essential to us. Obviously going out and watching Netflix aren’t bad things, but we can’t do it all…all the time. In practicing faithfulness we demonstrate where our priorities lie, which largely determine the person we are.

If you value health and fitness you probably are faithful to your weekly workouts; if you you value good grades you are most likely faithful to your study time…our lives are largely determined by our choices, which show you and others what is really important to you.

We can’t be 100% faithful to a million different things…that’s why it matters. If you could be everywhere and do everything then you wouldn’t have the opportunity to demonstrate that something is important to you. It is because of our scarcity that our time is so valuable.

Serena obviously learned this lesson pretty early on. She says that she wants “to be the best” and I know she didn’t do that without much sacrifice. The world knows tennis is important to Serena because of the fruit of her hard work (namely winning pretty much everything tennis related). Similarly, our lives reflect what we value…what we are faithful to.

That’s not to say that we can’t value more than one thing; we can have several priorities like our family, our friends, our work…but these priorities are only reflected to the extent that we show up to and are fully present to them.

Serena also has a strong appreciation of family. She repeatedly talks about how close she is to her sisters and how excited she is to be a mom (instead of seeing it as a burden or threat to her career). Her family of origin and now her new family are clearly things she very much values as well and I’m sure her time also reflects that…if not so publicly as with her tennis.

The point is, we don’t have to do everything. Inevitably there will be a party we can’t go to, a skill we won’t have, a book we don’t finish, an outing we can’t make…but as long as we know what we really care about and are faithful to those things, we can live at peace knowing our lives reflect where are hearts truly lie.

So if you drop everything else and win a tennis championship after this, feel free to give me a shout out during your TED talk interview. 😉

xo

Miranda

*Image via The Odyssey Online

Monday 5: Memorial Day edition

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Don’t you wish every Monday was a long weekend Monday? Holidays are the bomb (and definitely something to be excited about).

The past two days had some fun outings that included a pops concert put on by Charleston Symphony Orchestra downtown Charleston (the perfect weather and free entry were definitely perks), a violin recital for my little violin students and a game night on Saturday evening.

The pops concert was part of the annual music and art festival held in Charleston this time of year called Piccolo Spoleto. Over a couple of weeks a plethora of dance, music and art events take place – all open to Charleston public and visitors. The pops concert is great because it’s outdoors, FREE, and you can bring a picnic (including wine/champagne etc) and just sit and enjoy the music. It’s very family (and young, financially struggling millennial) friendly.

Sunday I came to Cleveland where we met up with some of Nicholas’ friends a played a really fun game called The Game of Things (I’m typically not good at games/intimidated by them but this one is easy and low-key which I appreciated). This morning we came downtown where we will ride bikes in the afternoon and then go to an Indians game (#thingsI’dneverthoughtI’dsay)!

In honor of this holiday, I came up with 5 things that I’m excited about regarding the great country we live in…U.S of A. I hope your long weekend is lovely and restful and at least a little patriotic.

Safety

I know not every nook and cranny of the U.S. is super safe. But I think compared to a lot of other countries the U.S. has a pretty strong security system- locally and at the national level. I’ve never been particularly worried walking around town – even at night- or remotely thought about something horrible happening to myself or someone in my family. On the other hand, my home country Venezuela is experiencing some extreme security threats where the average person is scared to wear a watch when they leave the house lest they be mugged or worse. Seeing what people are experiencing there has made me especially grateful to live somewhere so well protected that I can walk out of the house – wearing all the jewelry I want – and not worry about it being stolen or getting hurt. Living somewhere safe really is a privilege that is easy to take for granted.

Country music

I used to not enjoy country music at all. In fact, if anything I had a fair amount of disdain toward it. However a few years ago due to the efforts of my sister (mainly her refusal to listen to anything other than country music in the car) I am now an avid country listener. I love how clean most of the songs are, the themes behind the songs and how they often tell a story. Catchy, laid back and definitely very American.

Diversity

One of the really cool things about living in the ‘melting pot’ that is the U.S. is that we can enjoy a variety of food, music, art and people without leaving our hometown. I love meeting people from different countries and learning a little about their culture. I think every country has something to teach us and a way to enrich our own lives and culture. Living in a place where so many different cultures are immersed into our own is such a unique feature and definitely something I am grateful for.

Equality

I think most of us know this already, but the U.S. really is one of the best places to be a woman. Things like voting, driving a car, choosing who we marry, working, wearing what we want…we may take these for granted (I know I do) but the reality is that many women in other places don’t have any of these rights. We have laws that protect us and grant us equal status as men. This may seem like a no-brainer but the freedom we have definitely isn’t something all women enjoy. I’m excited to use these rights we have to make a positive difference and make the most out of our freedom.

Baseball

I know baseball isn’t strictly an American thing (in fact, Venezuelans are huge on baseball). However, I think there is something very patriotic and All-American about baseball. It has a charm and nostalgia that is kind of unique. I am not remotely a sports person; I regularly confuse teams and have little idea of what the major premises of most sports even are. BUT since I started going to Riverdog’s games in Charleston, I’ve really come to appreciate the ambiance of a baseball game and the fun social event that it can be. I think it is more laid back than football games (which scare me) and the perfect scene for a cold drink, fun conversation and spending time with friends/family. I’m excited for the Indian’s game this afternoon and more baseball games happening this summer and in years to come.

Happy short week everyone!

xo

Miranda

What the Beast teaches us about our wounds

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Even if you haven’t seen the newest rendition of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, you’re most likely familiar with the fairy tale that has been around for quite a while.

Fairy tales are powerful, not necessarily because of the beautiful protagonists, singing animals or happy endings but also because of the truths they relate. When a story tells us something about human nature, we know it shouldn’t be discredited (despite other, more unrealistic aspects like fairy godmothers and dancing teapots).

An example that I can think of starts with this quote I came across this week on Instagram via Made in His Image:

The broken will always be able to love harder than most. Once you have been in the dark, you learn to appreciate everything that shines.

– Zachary K. Douglas

These words really struck a chord with me; I’m not sure if it’s completely true (how can you really know something like that) but I think there is a lot of wisdom in it.

I always see traumas, past hurt and lasting wounds as disadvantages. They get in the way of peace, joy and most importantly, love.

For example, the Beast is cursed years before Belle meets him and is still affected by the consequences of the curse. Obviously there are the physical effects – mainly his Beastly-ness – but there is also a deeper hurt caused by a fear that he won’t be loved again. His ability to relate to and become intimate with others is inhibited by his physical disfigurements that resulted from the curse.

Similarly, when we are hurt by a person or situation in a deep way, we become something unnatural…we’re wounded.

The Beast struggles to become close to Belle and has occasional outbursts of anger because his fear of being unloved and unwanted rears it’s ugly head. This then pushes Belle away…causing a vicious cycle.

Going back to the quote, the important takeaway to me from that is the idea that our hurt can be used to make the world a better place. Once in the dark we have a fuller understanding of how good and how important the light is. We can try harder to be in and experience the light which we know is so good and so essential.

We see the Beast use his strength and beastliness to protect Belle; we see him overcome his fear and move closer to her and we see Belle respond lovingly. I wonder if part of the Beast’s ability and choice to cherish Belle comes from intimate experience with crippling loneliness?

I think when bad things happen there are two responses: despondence/apathy or passion.

It’s easier to not care and to withdraw…but it is also unnatural, it goes against the heart of man.

Injustice also has the power to instill great hope and aspiration for how things should be. We know how disordered it can be and we know how important it is so we strive so much more for the ideal. Once we’ve seen the bad we love the good more.

I don’t know if it’s fair to say that people who have been hurt deeply are more capable of loving…but it is possible that we try harder. Part of that is out of necessity because of anxiety that has been created which affects our ability to love and be loved…our relationality. But part of it too is out of sheer appreciation of the light. It’s also possible that we don’t try at all, because we don’t think there’s a way out of the darkness.

The Beast could have locked himself away forever and sent Belle home because of fear of rejection…fear that the underlying belief that he was unlovable was true. But he didn’t; and I think (even though it is a fairy tale…I do know that) we should learn from this. Most people won’t leave life unscathed, and while painful, we can use this to build an even stronger world by striving for and being the light. In a way, we have a responsibility to others to avoid putting them through whatever we have been through. If we don’t use our hurt for good then it’s just hurt. If we use it to help ourselves and others it becomes redemption.

I’m probably reading too much into it but…who knew so much could be found in a children’s story, right?

Monday 5: Teamwork & other things to be excited about this week

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This weekend was a blast. Crazy, poop-filled, lots of screaming…and really fun. Friday evening Nicholas and I biked through old Mount Pleasant (one of my favorite areas of Charleston) and then walked the Ravenel Bridge. I had never been there at night and it was cool to see the water and the city all lit up after dark.

Saturday was the long-awaited wedding of our friends Anthony and Kaitlyn. Nicholas and I were charged with the care of six-month-old baby James for the day. I was there in the morning watching the brides and bridesmaids get ready which was really fun; I had never been on that side of the preparations before and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were a few hair and make-up artists present, Chic-fil-a and champagne…what else do you need?

We had James during the ceremony (which we left after twenty minutes when James decided he no longer could stand it), as well as during the reception afterward. We got to eat good food, dance a little and take a walk around downtown with James when he became frustrated…not a bad gig.

Sunday was more relaxed, Nicholas headed back to Ohio for the final stretch before his move here and I got to catch up on some housework and (much needed) nail painting.

I hope you had a fun weekend, this one was definitely one for the books! And after that suuuper long intro, here is this week’s Monday 5.

Biking

Friday afternoon we biked from Mike’s Bikes in Mount Pleasant over to Sullivan’s Island and then to Isle of Palms. It was truly a gorgeous ride and it made me remember the joy of leisurely biking (no hardcore cycling for me, thank you very much). Even though it was really warm, the breeze made the heat bearable. I love how mindful biking is, you get to enjoy the views without checking your phone or worrying about traffic (although you should be careful with cars). It’s such a simple pleasure, plus you get some exercise. It’s something you can enjoy alone or with someone else, and in a place like Charleston there really is no shortage of beautiful rides to enjoy. I don’t own a bike, but this weekend made me seriously consider investing in one.

Printing photos

Over the past few months, the alert that I am short on storage has showed up about once a day on my phone. As much as I try to keep photo storage to the minimum, delete texts and unnecessary apps, somehow it still adds up. I’ve considered upgrading to a newer phone with more storage, I know I may need to eventually but I am very reluctant to do so while this phone still works perfectly. I decided a good solution (at least for now) is to print more of my pictures and actually put them in photo albums as opposed to keeping them stored in my phone or computer. Pictures can seem overrated with how many we take today, but they really are important. There are so many fun, sweet moments that we experience and pictures are a great way of reminding us of the good times we’ve had and the people we spend them with. That’s why I printed a bunch through Shutterfly (you only have to pay for shipping if you print 4X6) and am looking for the best way to store them this week. I’m excited to have more concrete mementos and to find a cute way of displaying them (ideas welcome!).

Farmer’s Markets

Tuesday evening we made dinner together for my family and we stopped by the Mount Pleasant Farmer’s Market to buy some of the ingredients. It was fun to look around, be outside and enjoy the laid back environment. It’s such a different feel from the sterile grocery store and it gave me an appreciation for local farmers. We got coffee and a few vegetables for our dish; I think our chicken tostadas turned out a lot more fresh-tasting then they would otherwise (PS the avocado sauce is amazing). The Farmer’s Market is a really fun way to spend a little bit of time outside and support our community while getting some delicious goodies.

Wedding celebrations

I can be a little skeptical of the wedding industry as it seems to have become so over the top and almost too elaborate. I definitely feel that it’s about the marriage…not the wedding. However, celebrating with Kaitlyn and Anthony this weekend, I understand a little more now how attention to detail and effort can make for a beautiful celebration of a really important day. Even though it isn’t just about the dress, or the cake, or the flowers, it really is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate something really wonderful (two lives becoming one) with people who love you and led you to where you are today. We had so much fun at the Ragghianti-Elliot wedding and I know it wasn’t without much time, effort, and money that it was able to happen. We loved celebrating the union of these two people and now I understand more why the Big Day is big (although I’m still an advocate of being financially savvy when possible).

Teamwork

This weekend Nicholas and I really had to make a joint effort. While I probably could have made it through the day without him, having him there made a huge difference and made something that could have been really stressful actually enjoyable. I love kids, but taking care of someone else’s child on a really important day that involves a lot of transportation and moving parts isn’t a small matter. At one point James was screaming while I was trying to change him in the back of my car, the heat was making both of us sweat bullets and Nicholas was on the phone trying to figure out where we needed to go for the pictures. While not highly pleasant, both of us were laughing because of how ridiculous it all seemed and knowing it was going to work out. It’s one thing to deal with a situation like that on your own, it’s quite another to have someone there offering help and supporting you. It’s good to remember that we don’t have to do it all alone; and asking for help and approaching things as a unit if often a lot more fruitful.

What Coldplay & co. got right in ‘Something Just Like This’

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As I mentioned in this week’s Monday 5, recently I’ve been perusing Aziz Ansari’s ‘Modern Romance.’ I’m only a few chapters in but it has definitely been an interesting read so far. In his funny-but-serious book, Aziz addresses some of the questions and challenges we are facing in today’s dating world.

Aziz starts out by comparing our dating habits to those of the generations before us. He brings up the fact that with our dating apps and the internet and just how much easier traveling has gotten, our pool of options is much greater than that of our parents or grandparents. The funny thing is, despite the plethora of choices, we are taking longer to get married and divorcing a lot more than previous generations.

Aziz attributes this to a few things including the phase of life that has become more important called emerging adulthood and the fact that we are now more picky about our choice of partner.

Aziz goes on to explain that our parents and grandparents largely simply wanted someone to settle down with, whereas we want much more…we want a soulmate.

Because we are looking for true love, it takes us longer to find the right person.

While I am certain that there are people before us who got married for the wrong reasons (financial security, social norms…etc), I don’t think it’s fair to assume that all marriages before us were somehow inferior to our generation’s relationships.

The concept of a soulmate is a tricky one and definitely one I grapple with. Believing there is one right person out there for us can be a comforting thought…but as our generation is discovering, it can also be a daunting one. What if we choose wrong? And how do you know if someone is your soulmate? Is it because they make you laugh? Or you never fight? Is it because you have the same hobbies? Or because you have the same values? Or maybe it’s more of an ‘opposites attract’ thing?

Lot’s of questions.

It’s no wonder we’re being plagued with analysis paralysis. There are so many people at our fingertips and any of them could be the right one…but only one is. Yikes.

I certainly don’t advocate for getting married for reasons other than love. Love is where it starts and should be a primary motivator. However, I do want to challenge the idea that there is only one person we could possibly love for the rest of our lives…that there is only one ‘right’ individual out there that you have to find.

And by this, I am not advocating an open marriage/relationship (love means exclusivity + permanency), however I am saying we can like, chill, a little bit.

We don’t have to find the perfect person.

As Coldplay says in their new song ‘Something Just Like This’ (along with The Chainsmokers). We don’t need a superhero, we don’t need Hercules or Achilles or some other mythical character that somehow completes us. We want someone we have a connection with, someone we’re attracted to and someone who shares our goals (especially that of becoming a better person).

Butterflies are nice, attraction is good, commonalities are good. Ultimately, though, we choose to love someone. Sometimes we’re gonna feel it and sometimes we’re not. The ‘right’ person doesn’t mean that it won’t be hard at times, that there won’t be times we’re not feeling it, that there won’t be hurt or fear.

That is inevitable, unfortunately.

But the good news is that we don’t have to wait for the stars to align to love someone. We can find someone who isn’t quite perfect and love them anyway. Someone we can “turn to”, someone we can miss, someone we can kiss…that is a lot easier to find than someone with the “superhuman gift” of being our perfect match.

I’m not saying to grab the next person off the street and marry them, but I do want to help a generation a little bit by saying it’s okay to not know if someone is your soulmate…I’m not sure if that is a real thing anyway. We’re not lowering our expectations by not looking for that, we’re admitting that love involves choice…not just fate.

Coldplay and the Chainsmokers got something right when they said there is a risk…love by nature is risky. The idea of a soulmate can make it feel less so, however the truth is that ‘perfect’ person could still reject or hurt us.

I challenge the idea Aziz presents that generations before us had it wrong and we know what’s up. I think we just face different challenges than those before us. However what remains the same is love. Love involves gift of self, which involves choice. That much we can always count on and that is what we should remember next time we feel overwhelmed by all the choices out there and the pressure to find the perfect match.

Love is patient, kind and often unglamorous…but it is not perfect; and that is kind of a relief to me.