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

IMG_6146

This weekend was definitely an adventurous one. I went camping for the first time since high school with four men in the mountains of Brevard, North Carolina.

To be fair, the camp site was pretty nice; we had grills, showers, wifi…the guys called it ‘glamping,’ but I slept outside so I didn’t see anything glamorous about that, #thankyouverymuch.

There was a fair amount of apprehension going into the camping trip on my end but all in all I had a really great time. I struggled with the sleeping part (I couldn’t stop thinking about bears and serial killers and there was a bug-in-the-tent incident). But I really enjoyed the hiking and spending time with Nicholas and some friends in the beautiful outdoors.

IMG_6176

It did rain our last day which made our packing up highly unpleasant, but the boys were troopers and got it all done quickly and without complaining (I helped a tiny bit).

I am excited to have a bed to sleep in again but I do hope to go camping again some time. I hope you had a good weekend without any thoughts of bears or serial killers, hopefully you have something to be excited about…if not, here are some thoughts to get you started!

Masculinity

 

It was really interesting to spend so much time with only guys. Even though I grew up with a brother and spend a great deal amount of time with Nicholas, I feel like this weekend I grew to understand men and how they operate a little better this weekend.

I noticed that they were all upset when they heard the camp site was as nice as it was, they really wanted to ‘rough it’ in nature…something about being able to survive in wilderness is really important to them, an instinct I have trouble relating to.

IMG_6136

They felt so much accomplishment from getting the fires started (which is actually pretty difficult), and putting up the tents, and taking them down after. That challenge of conquering the outdoors seems to really speak to their identity. I was so impressed with how they worked together to make camping possible, the leadership they demonstrated and the sweat they put into all the necessary tasks. I think it’s really important to let be men be men. Today we have an unfortunate tendency of wanting to suffocate masculinity in the name of civility and equality, but I think that is causing more damage to men and women.

IMG_6209

Women are frustrated because men won’t act like men and men are frustrated because they feel they can’t. I felt protected this weekend because the men I was with stepped up, and I don’t think that makes me weak or the guys chauvinistic; it’s just part of how we complement each other. Men aren’t just like women and women aren’t just like men, and thank goodness for that.

IMG_6163

Biscuit Head

We stopped here for lunch per the recommendation of my friend Rachel (shout out!) and were really impressed. I think living in Charleston spoils us sometimes with the plethora of excellent cuisine and therefore are often disappointed when eat out in other cities. However, Biscuit Head was a notable exception. It’s a chain started in Asheville that sells gourmet biscuits that are super tasty. They also have a wide variety of jams and butters to try which were equally delicious. I ordered ‘The Classic’ which was a biscuit with egg and cheese, while Nicholas ordered the pulled pork biscuit, both were exceptional. The biscuits are enormous, and if you get the Classic it comes with a side. The more substantial ones don’t come with a side, but you definitely don’t need it. I highly recommend this restaurant if you visit Greenville, SC or Asheville!

Table decor

Last weekend was my mom’s birthday and we celebrated with a France themed get together Tuesday evening (can you tell I love themed parties?). One of my favorite ideas that I stole from one of our books on entertaining (I’ll list it in next week’s 5) is one for table setting. All you do is buy a bouquet of flowers and use a stem for each napkin. You put the napkin in a napkin ring, make a name card and tie it with twine or ribbon and then slip the flower into the napkin ring. It’s so pretty! And simple and cheap. Love love love.

IMG_6119

Challenge

What I learned this weekend about camping is that it requires a ton of work. From the planning to the packing to the setting up to just getting in your tent (freaking zippers), nothing comes without effort. While frustrating at times, there is something really important and rewarding about working hard. I know our lives can be so easy, so comfortable, which can often lead to complacency. Camping was a wake up call to all we have to be grateful for that I often take for granted and why it’s important to keep striving even if it seems unnecessary. Challenge, whether physical or emotional, helps us grow and become better, more compassionate people…something this world really needs.

Friendship

Our friend Brent (shout out #2!) told us this weekend that every time he saw me with Nicholas I was laughing: ‘I’m always like, what did Nick do this time?’ – Brent

IMG_6204

This weekend was great not only because we got to spend time together and with friends, but also because the time gave us the opportunity to work on our friendship. It’s really important to be friends with your significant other and for it not to be a purely romantic relationship. By this, I don’t mean that you have to be just like your s/o or have everything in common. I respect Nicholas when I accept his differences in thought, habits or preferences. We can still get along and have good discussions and enjoy each other’s company. Our differences challenge us to love each other for who we are and to see things from a different perspective. I think laughing together is one of the best things about our relationship and that can exist whether we both have all the same hobbies or not (we don’t).

Here’s to honoring the differences in the people around us this week (especially between men and women).

xo

Miranda

Advertisements

What we can learn from the evolution of Taylor Swift

IMG_5650

I still remember where I was when I heard one of Taylor Swift’s songs for the first time. I was riding in the back of a neighbor’s minivan and my friend showed me the CD case of her debut album as we listened to ‘Teardrops on my Guitar.’ I liked her music right away and from then on was an enthusiastic ‘Swiftie (Swifty?).’

Most of Taylor’s early tunes involve her liking someone, longing for them, enjoying and admiring them, or breaking up with them. As a fourteen year old, I related to her thoughts quite a bit. Even as I got older I continued to enjoy her songs and got so excited each time a new single or album was released. I remember freshman year of college gushing about ‘Red’ with my friends and two years later listening to ‘1989’ on repeat.

Over the years, you can definitely notice a shift away from the country style she started out with to a more pop sound. Not only that, but as Taylor got older, her lyrics also lost some of their hopefulness and sweetness that are so prevalent in her early songs like ‘Love Story’ or ‘Fearless’ or ‘Hey Stephen.’

Her song ‘Blank Space’ made this especially evident as she mocks the reputation given to her by the media of being a psycho man eater who preys on a guy any chance she gets. I remember watching the music video in a music class junior year of college and being in awe of the dark humor we hadn’t really seen before.

This change of tone was also clear in her song ‘Bad Blood’ with a threatening music video to accompany it; now the difference is especially vivid with her newest release, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ which would give a younger me nightmares.

Taylor Swift certainly knows what she’s doing as an artist. Everything she does she does very well, she clearly has a vision and carries it out faithfully. Her tunes are catchy and communicate clearly what she wants to say with each song and video…it is admirably intentional. Not only that, but especially the last two albums have been sensational, meaning they have created a sensation. People talk about it, whether you like her, hate her, think she’s overrated…you’ve probably had a conversation about her newest release.

While I admire her work and can enjoy her latest hits, this last album especially has made me nostalgic for the sweet, romantic Taylor we first met. I think growing up in the spotlight has to be really tough, and I think her experiences have made Taylor Swift a lot more jaded. Even behind the scenes you see her joking around, playing it cool, not wanting to take anything too seriously.

Seeing her change you could say that this is what happens to all of us as we get older. We realize that life isn’t always peachy, we get hurt, we learn from it, we become more realistic…we grow up.

Maybe you can say that 27 year old T-Sizzle is a lot more mature than her 16-year-old self, and I’m sure you’re right; but I wouldn’t say that her outlook on life is somehow superior now than it was 10 years ago.

Her songs now express a hurt that has been caused by friends who turned on her, criticisms she’s received and repeated heartbreak. We see this in her lyrics that denounce romance and instead pronounce relationships as little more than games to be played (Are You Ready For it).

I think to an extent we all experience these sort of wounds over the course of our lives, but I guess I’m not sure becoming hard and cynical is the answer. I think as children we’re really good at trusting, we’re highly dependent on others. As we get older we become more independent and often reluctant to rely on others for anything. We have our own dreams, our own goals, our own needs and wants that don’t require someone else’s help. As long as we can get the job, buy the house, run the marathon, travel…we’re satisfied, complete, invulnerable.

I wonder, though, if those ‘acquisitions’ are enough to fulfill our desire for intimacy. I wonder if we let someone in, we could someday prove that the new Taylor Swift isn’t 100% right in denouncing love. I wonder if our dreams and goals are things we can share and work toward with another person. I wonder if maybe the young Taylor had it right and just got a little misguided on her rise to fame. I wonder if that’s what happens to all of us (minus the fame).

Maybe Taylor Swift isn’t as cynical as her new songs imply, I hope that is the case. Being open to loving and being loved by other people is possibly the most important part of our lives, hurt is inevitable but I don’t think we would ever want heartbreak to have the final word.

Recently I’ve been listening a lot to singer/songwriter Alanna Boudreau. In her song ‘I’ll be your Woman’, she says:

“Keep your affection in boxes, keep your heart free, that’s what they told you those sly foxes but that don’t faze me.”

Isn’t that so true though? We are told that, whether it’s by Taylor Swift, media, our friends or family or even our own experiences…we’re told to be on guard and I think that may be causing more harm than good. If we’re always looking out for ourselves we’ll miss the opportunity to experience the joy that comes from deep communion with others, from self-gift and from really knowing and being known by another person.

I may sing along with Taylor Swift’s newest, catchy hits, but I hope I live my life a little more like the teenager who sung about dancing in the rain and eyes that are like the jungle.

 

 

*Picture taken on our way to Sullivan’s Island while listening/singing along to some old school Taylor*

Monasteries & other things I’m excited about this week

IMG_6113

Happy Monday! This week is finally starting to feel like Fall in Charleston and I’m so excited. I feel like I can start to actually do Fall things and wear Fall clothes without feeling silly.

This weekend we celebrated the first cooler weather with a bonfire and s’mores, so fun! Yesterday we ventured out to a monastery called Mepkin Abbey about 45 minutes away and it was so beautiful. Both the Mass we attended and the grounds where we picnic-ed and walked around were beautiful.

IMG_5773

IMG_6016

Nicholas hosted a few of us over for ‘Sipping Sunday’ to top off the weekend in what is becoming a fun tradition.

I hope your weekend was lovely and restful, hopefully you have some things you’re excited about this week…in case you need ideas here is my list!

IMG_5772

Monasteries

We really did have a lovely time at Mepkin. It was such a peaceful, beautiful, restful place; it felt like we were so removed from everything even though we were less than an hour outside of town. It was wonderful to have quality time without any distractions. Nicholas brought a little picnic and we ate and rested and read and then walked around and had fun taking pictures. It was cool to see the monks in Mass and walking around the grounds too! They do have retreats for the general public you can register for and I think Nicholas and I may try to do one in the Spring. In any case it’s definitely worth a visit if you live in the Charleston area! We’re hoping to make it a point to visit more monasteries in the area or if we travel to in the future.

IMG_6103

Be vs. Do

I’ve talked about mindfulness before and I still am working on becoming more present and learning to enjoy the moment. Mindfulness training has been shown to help significantly with anxiety, depression and just everyday stress. The idea is that our brains like to do do do. We like to plan, visualize, rationalize…we like to think. While this is very good and useful a lot of the time, there are also a lot of times when we need to just be. Instead of thinking about what we are experiencing, it’s so important to simply experience it. My busy mind can get in the way of my enjoying a beautiful paddle board ride or walk around outside because I’m worrying about what is going on next weekend instead of enjoying the moment right in front of me. I can be impatient with the three-year-old I nanny because I’m stressed about the blog post I need to write instead of being present to her in that moment. We rob ourselves of our lives if we spend our time thinking about it. We can also allow our brains to spiral dangerously into thought patterns that are distressing to us. That’s why I’m making a special effort to be present and be aware of when my mind starts to wander, bringing it back to the now. The present is all we have, it is therefore essential we nurture and cherish it.

The Heroic Minute

There is something I think (someone correct me if I’m wrong) Jose Maria Escriva talked about called the ‘heroic minute.’ The idea is that by simply not pressing the snooze button on our alarms, we can become heroic. This effort we make first thing in the morning disciplines us in a healthy way and starts us off saying ‘yes’ to everything that day has to offer (instead of saying ‘no thanks’ by staying in bed thirty more minutes). Nicholas and I decided for the next two weeks to (individually) really make an effort to avoid hitting the seductive snooze. This morning I didn’t press it but did stay in bed for 8 more minutesbaby steps, right?

Camping

I can add this to the list of #thingsineverthoughtidsay. I like being outside, I just don’t like being outside for extended periods of time. I went camping once in high school and was miserable the entire time (probably because I was sorely under prepared and therefore cold and uncomfortable). In any case, we decided to go camping with some friends this weekend and I have come around to actually being excited about it (for a while I hoped something would happen and we wouldn’t be able to go…). I think it’s really important to go an adventures. Whether it’s small things like riding bikes somewhere new or something bigger like this, experiences such as these keep us invigorated and are excellent for relationship building. I’m excited to be in nature, unplug some and spend quality time with friends (and explore Greenville, SC where we’re going on Sunday). Yay for expanding our comfort zones!

Google Photos

I recently discovered this application from Google and am really loving it. The app automatically stores all the photos in your phone and all the photos you take with it into the Google Photo drive. It’s great because then you can delete pictures on your phone without worrying about never seeing them again. You can also edit the pictures and access them from anywhere. As an avid photo taker I really appreciate having both the photos from the nice camera and from my phone in one place. I also love that I can make simple edits easily and can access them from my phone, computer or pretty much anywhere! You can also make photo books with the app which I haven’t tried yet but definitely plan to. It’s also super easy to share pictures from here with anyone!

I hope you have a great week and take advantage of all the beautiful moments life has to offer you this week.

xo

Miranda

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

IMG_5304

Happy Monday! I hope this weekend was lovely and restful. I certainly got a lot of sleep which was wonderful! We also caught up over dinner with some friends Saturday evening and yesterday I got to go to the Fun Nun bowl fundraiser which was a great time. I also went to one of my favorite breweries in Charleston called Revelry, such a great rooftop! I’m really excited for the upcoming week/month/season for a number of reasons, hopefully you are too!

Fall

Of course I have to talk about the new season. Despite the warm weather we still have and will probably continue to have for another month, there are nevertheless things to be excited about for the Fall months. I made a list of them on a board to make sure we check off the list and don’t let the time pass us without taking advantage of all the season has to offer. Bonfires, s’mores, apple picking, pumpkin everything, crisp mornings…definitely a lot to look forward to!

IMG_5770

Schedule change

For the past two months Nicholas has been on a very demanding schedule that has him working 6-6 most workdays and weekends. While certainly tougher on him, it also has been difficult for us to have more limited time together while also dealing with the fact that he is often worn out from the long day. However, this coming month his rotation is a lot easier and will typically be 9-5 (he may even get off earlier than that) and he gets weekends off. Needless to say we are both extremely excited and plan on taking full advantage of the extra time.

Alanna Boudreau

Nicholas introduced me to this singer/songwriter and recently I’ve been enjoying listening to her music a great deal. She has a pretty unique voice and her songs are both beautiful and meaningful. I really like her style and lyrics. Unfortunately, she isn’t on Spotify yet. However you can check out her new album CHAMPION here or listen to one of my favorites of hers on Youtube.

Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix Original

I’ve never been a huge Seinfeld fan, mostly because when I started watching TV it wasn’t on as often so I’ve never been able to really give it a chance. Now having seen his Netflix original over the weekend I think I would probably really like it! I love his dry sense of humor and keen observations on ordinary life. I thought his stand up was pretty clean and it was cool to see how he made it to be one of the most well known comedians…it takes a lot of work! Definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a good laugh and some interesting stories.

This meme

Having been a nanny for more than a year now (where does time go??) I can say that I love the two girls I nanny so much and feel so grateful to take care of them! Nicholas also loves spending time with them and loves it when I send funny videos or pictures throughout the week. This one I sent him earlier this month and he rightly said it should be made into a meme! So after much brain racking this was the result…hope it makes you laugh as much as we did!

IMG_0264

 

 

Unprotected: Why contraception isn’t enough

IMG_5701

Today we we’re generally very safety oriented. Speed limits, hand sanitizing stations, screen protectors, phone codes, childlock, birth control…prevention prevention prevention.

All these precautions have the good intention of protecting us from potential danger, and most do this effectively. Birth control is somewhat of an anomaly in that it does prevent (generally) women from getting pregnant, but it doesn’t really protect us. In fact, it actually has the opposite effect.

The reason is that there are ramifications to sex that aren’t pregnancy, or even STD’s, and a pill or condom is simply not enough to cover all the bases.

The weird thing about sex is that even though it’s a physical thing, it very much affects us emotionally and psychologically as well.

The human person is so integrated that it’s impossible to separate the physical from the emotional or the emotional from the psychological. Think about how much better you feel when you are working out regularly and eating well, your mood improves and you think more clearly. When you’re sleep deprived you’re a lot more likely to break down in tears because you feel stressed and overwhelmed than when you’ve had a good night’s rest.

Sex is an excellent example of how united we really are. There is a connection or bond that forms in sex that lasts beyond the act itself – a bond that isn’t merely physical. We know this because it has been studied a fair amount.

In the book that is linked we learn how a campus counselor witnessed the damage ‘safe sex’ is doing to our young women. Intelligent, driven, beautiful women are being overwhelmed by depression and anxiety that is largely due to the attachment resulting from detached sex. Birth control does not provide safety from the pain resulting from the tearing apart a unity made in a sexual act by someone who is not truly committed to that unity.

Just to be clear, the attachment itself is in actuality a very good thing because within marriage, that bond is essential. If we are to be with someone for the rest of our lives we certainly want to be connected to them in an intimate way emotionally and physically. We don’t just want to chat with them the way we share with our girlfriends, it has to be more than that, more complete.

Sex is inherently a wonderful thing, it is also extremely powerful. But like any good thing, it can also be dangerous (similar to a jar of Nutella in the pantry).

The problem arises when we form this bond with someone who is not around for the long term. As a necessary result of sex we can feel intimately connected with someone, and when they are no longer in our lives, we suffer a deep loss as a result. Our judgement can become clouded because we feel so close to someone and will do just about anything to protect that relationship (again, something that is so essential in marriage); without knowing if they will choose us for the rest of our lives or whether we should really be with them.

Birth control makes this attachment outside of marriage a lot more feasible. If we’re not worried about getting pregnant the ‘risk’ of having sex is seemingly minimal. And you may say that people sleep with their boyfriend or girlfriend and break up down the road and survive…no damage done.

Humans have the ability to become desensitized; to weird smells, annoying background noises and even to the powerful effects of sex. And unfortunately, though you may think this solves the problem, it actually creates a different one. The reason is that when someone who has had past attachments repeatedly broken, if they then do get married, that bond which is so necessary in a spousal relationship isn’t as effective. 

If someone makes a promise to you and then breaks it, you’re less likely to believe them the second time around. Similarly, our bodies intelligently form a defense mechanism to protect us from suffering that can result from bonding. Therefore, when we really need that bonding to come into play, we have difficulty forming that deep bond because it has been broken so many times before.

Yes, birth control ‘protects’ us from pregnancy, but it doesn’t prevent us from attaching to someone that maybe we shouldn’t have that level of attachment with. And it doesn’t stop that bond from losing it’s strength when we most need it. Contraception is considered to provide us with ‘safe sex’, but to me the safest sex is the kind that is with the one person you have vowed to be with ’til death do you part.

To most of us the idea of waiting util marriage to have sex is outdated at best and comical at worst. We have become increasingly cynical of marriage and so we resort to sleeping and living together as a pseudo-married life. I wonder what would happen if as as individuals and as a society we started to value sex as something beautiful and necessary, something precious to our families. I wonder if we would have more faith in marriage if more of them lasted because we’re bonded to our spouse in a special way.

I wonder if we saw that contraception just isn’t enough to save us from the risks of something as powerful as sexual intimacy, how we would benefit from treating it as the incredible gift that it is.

Monday 5: Relationships edition

IMG_0376

The first picture I ever posted of Nicholas and me was shortly after our first date when we met up in Raleigh, NC six months ago. It was a great date, especially considering we had only hung out a total of 3 or 4 times before then and hadn’t seen each other in three months.

While cute, the picture didn’t quite depict the whole…picture. On the way to the train station (where the pic was taken) I had broken down into tears when Nicholas told me he was excited about our relationship…#irrational. Moments after we took the pic, I got on the wrong train…oops.

As an avid social media user, I can be the first to admit that our Instagram or Facebook posts can make everything look so peachy and mysteriously leave out the messy or unpleasant parts of our lives. I don’t post photos of my crying when I take something Nicholas says or does the wrong way, there’s no Instagram story of the stony silences that occur when we’re upset with each other, no captions voice the concerns or doubts or disagreements we’ve had.

I say all this not to give the impression that our relationship is actually awful but because it’s real…warts and all (figurative warts of course…we both have perfect skin thankyouverymuch).

In celebration of the past six months, here are the top 5 things I’m excited about regarding our relationship (and relationships in general). Not all of it is ‘Instragram worthy’, but that’s kind of the point.

Forgiveness

At least four or five times a week I have to sincerely apologize to Nicholas for something. Whether it’s being too quick to judge, or not giving the benefit of the doubt, or assuming the worst, or being a little too brutally honest…there have been plenty of occasions for me to gulp down my humble pie and for Nicholas to practice the virtue of forgiveness. Similarly, I have had to forgive Nicholas when he makes a careless comment or hurts my feelings in some fashion which happens frequently since I am the most Sensitive Sally. It’s been cool to see us forgive each other over and over again. Reconciliation has become one of our strong suits and I have a feeling it will come in handy often.

Selflessness

‘You do you’ has become such a common saying today, and despite it’s casual nature, I think it can be a dangerous mindset. We really shouldn’t just do us. If love is willing the good of the other then there isn’t room for us to simply pick what we prefer…someone else’s well-being is at stake. There are so many times that I have to choose what is best for him over what I want in that particular moment. Whether it’s something trivial like talking to him in the car when I really want to just listen to music, or something more serious, I often have to give up what I want for him. As ‘woe is me’ as that may sound, where rubber meets the road in love is sacrifice and self gift…and I know he often has to do the same. I also think it comes more naturally over time…fingers crossed.

Celebrations

Each month Nicholas and I celebrate our ‘monthaversary’ as well as the day we became exclusive without having gone on any dates – we call it Charleston-Cleveland (or CC for short) Alliance Day. On those days we make sure to do something special, whether it’s wearing our Ohio Against the World t-shirts, or going to dinner or just grabbing a beer. I keep pictures of random days we spent together as well as special occasions in a scrapbook to commemorate our good times. I think celebrating these little, seemingly meaningless milestones adds so much joy to our lives and reminds us to focus on the good.

Growth

An important goal for the two of us from the beginning has been that of personal growth. It’s so easy to get comfortable and become complacent in our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual lives; so we try to avoid that by reading stimulating/inspiring books together, exercising, making time for prayer….things that are easy to let slide if we don’t hold each other accountable. When we have this goal that is bigger than ourselves, it adds meaning to our relationship and helps guide our decisions in a healthy way.

Sharing

One of my favorite parts of our relationship is our shared life together (in the context of what’s appropriate for dating). We started texting each other every couple of weeks or so when we first became friends, then texting every week, then almost every day. From there we moved to daily phone calls (often 2-3 a day) and Facetime sessions. Finally we got to visit each other and spend time together for days at a time. Now living in the same town, we aim to see each other every day; whether it’s visiting friends or family, working out, grabbing a beer, eating dinner…we strive to stick together. There are things we can’t do together (coffee dates with my girlfriends, tennis with his buddies) but generally we try to make each other a priority and share in our thoughts, memories, opinions, hopes and experiences.

I feel incredibly grateful for every minute of the past few months (even the painful, crying ones). The photogenic moments of our relationship are vastly outnumbered by the hard, painful, uncomfortable, tense, awkward and boring ones, but it brings me a lot of peace knowing that we are not choosing this because it is easy, but because we both genuinely hope it could be worth it.

Here’s to relationships that aren’t nearly as perfect as the pictures that depict them.

xo

Miranda

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

IMG_5606

I know in a lot of places today isn’t a great day…so many storms doing so much damage! Here in Charleston we are getting a tiny bit of Hurricane Irma, it’s stormy and windy and the power has already cut out once. Praying for all those areas that have been so seriously affected!

That being said, I think finding the silver lining is so incredibly important, especially on days like today. That’s why I decided to go ahead and have my Monday 5 go out today, I’m sorry I missed last week because of the holiday!

IMG_5632

I know writing this brought me a little hope and peace and hopefully will do the same for you, or at least remind you to make a list of things that bring you some hope and peace.

Here are some things I’m excited about on this stormy Monday.

Sway

I came across this song on Spotify and have been listening to it on repeat for the past four days. It’s so cute!!! I love the laid back, relaxed vibe that makes you want to just dance barefoot in your kitchen. A perfect pick-me-up song that you can listen to after a long day of work or hanging out on a lazy Saturday (or on a hurricane day).

Paddle boarding

Nicholas finally got a paddle board last weekend after searching the many secondhand selling sites for months. We picked it up last Saturday afternoon and took it out for our first ride Sunday morning! It was definitely precarious with the two of us on there but we managed to stay on. Nicholas paddled while I sat in the front, it was a beautiful and peaceful way to start the day. It is such a relaxing hobby and perfect for a town that is surrounded by water, it definitely doesn’t require the skill that surfing necessitates and is something you can easily go do with others or on your own. It is a good workout, though, since it requires a fair amount of strength to stay balanced (as I found out the hard way). We’ve gone twice in the morning so far and have gone on one sunset ride as well…so fun!! It’s great for us to get 45 minutes where we can talk or just enjoy each other’s company quietly while admiring all the beauty of Shem Creek.

Oyster roast season

One thing that is pretty popular here in Charleston is the oyster roast. I went to my first one a few years ago and now I get excited about them too. Typically you go someplace that has long tables and the roasted oysters come out and are thrown unceremoniously on the tables still steaming hot. From there you use shucking knives to break them open (or in my case ask someone to do it for you) and then use crackers and/or cocktail sauce if desired. It’s fun to dress in fall gear and get a group together to stand around and chat. Charleston has several oyster roasts throughout the season and I’m excited to make it to one soon!

British-themed surprise parties

IMG_5637

Our friend Lucia (shout out!) spent the summer in England (Cambridge, no less) working at an elite summer camp for high schoolers. We decided to welcome her back with a taste of her summer days. I made scones (from a mix), had a bowl of goldfish and potato chips (fish n’ chips), crown shaped sugar cookies (from scratch), and some ‘wine gummies’ I found in the British section of Publix (very authentic…as you can imagine). We had champagne and a slew of British decorations I had found around my house (we are all anglophiles). Nicholas put up a British flag made from streamers. It was a fun night, we had a few good friends of Lucia come and enjoyed chatting for a few hours. I of course loved planning and putting together the small event and am already scheming for the next one!

Lettering

Since third grade when I went to an all girls’s school in Venezuela, I’ve taken a lot of pride in good handwriting. I think it is such a nice, small detail that can make a big difference! Whether it’s on an invite, a letter, your personal notes or a sign, pretty handwriting can be such a game changer! Recently I’ve been working a little more on lettering, I don’t completely follow the models I find on Pinterest but I combine them with my cursive. It’s a fun, relaxing project to work on while listening to music and can come into use for gifts and decorating! I’m excited to continue to improve.

I hope everyone is safe and dry this weekend! Here’s to finding the silver lining on a very cloudy day.

xo

Miranda

 

Monday 5: Childlike-ness & other things I’m excited about this week

IMG_5223

This weekend we tried out a new brewery called Two Blokes with our friend Stephen. We had some good beer and discussion before Nicholas had to go back since he had to be at the hospital at 6:30 the next morning! Saturday I enjoyed some beach time with friends and Nicholas and I walked on Pitt Street Bridge (one of my favorite spots) when he got off work that evening. Yesterday we rode bikes, attended Mass and had friends over at his place for wine and cheese! We tried two new ones from Aldi’s – one a mango Habanero gouda and the other a truffled cheddar…so good! I have to give credit to Nicholas for picking those out since I was advocating to go to Trader Joe’s instead.

We’ve finally gotten some cooler weather here in Charleston, I don’t expect it to last but I did take advantage and wear jeans for the first time in a while!

Here are some things I’m excited about this week, hopefully you have some on your list too!

Relax Melodies App

If you’ve been reading my blog for any extended period amount of time, you may already know that I struggle quite a bit with sleeping well. Recently that has improved as I’ve been working on my sleep hygiene. One thing I’ve recently added to this list of improvements is using a sound machine app. Relax Melodies is a FREE app that has a host of sounds you can play all night. I’ve been using the ‘ocean’ track for a few weeks now and seriously love it. As silly as it sounds, this little addition helps me so much to relax at night and fall asleep faster!

7 ways to live in the present moment

Along with more typical health habits like working out and a bedtime routine, mindfulness has been shown to have an enormous impact on stress alleviation as well as helping with depression and anxiety. It’s a healthy alternative to medication that helps you rewire your neural pathways. As helpful as it is, I struggle so much to put it into practice as it is so much easier for me to allow myself to be run by my thoughts. This article helped me by giving me some concrete, simple ways to practice mindfulness and live in the present moment. I really can’t emphasize what a good habit this is (said the pot)!

Goodwill hunting 

This one is a little play on words, I actually have included the movie ‘Goodwill Hunting’ in my Monday 5 before (it’s an excellent film) but this time I’m talking about hunting…at Goodwill – as in the thrift shop. I’ve been a firm believer in thrift shopping for the past few years, finding some excellent buys; however recently I’ve departed from only shopping for clothes there and actually been on the lookout for decorations and small furniture pieces to fix up. I’ve been getting more and more into crafting and really love the idea of finding something to make beautiful. It’s crazy what you can find at some of these stores! My most recent project was a glass bottle that I painted and distressed a little, nothing super serious but fun and simple to do!

Scrapbook done!

I’ve been working on a scrapbook with photos, descriptions and quotes for the past couple of months and yesterday I finished it! It certainly is far from perfect but I think it will definitely serve it’s purpose of reminding us of some the good times and inspiring us with words of wisdom from other, smarter people. I’m looking for ideas on storing the next set of photos in a pretty, inspiring way so if you have any ideas please share!

Childlike-ness

Today we talk a lot about #adulting. What it means, why we need to do it and whether or not we’re excited about it. I certainly am an advocate of growing up and taking on more responsibilities – learning to provide for ourselves and others, maturing, thinking more than just about what we want right now…these are important milestones. However, even as we take on new challenges (figuring out taxes, learning what the heck an affidavit is, saving money), I think it’s important to also maintain that trusting nature we see in children. It’s easy to get more experience in life and become cynical and try to control as much as we can, but I think part of growing up is realize how little we truly are in control. Life throws things our way, good and bad, and what we can decide is how to react to it and make the best of any situation. Even children (if you’re a parent) aren’t little robots, they have free will and that can be something that is difficult to come to terms with. I think returning to our childlike trust in something greater than ourselves and hopeful optimism is incredibly important…even if we can swim in the deep end now.

IMG_0209

Ask Her: My s/o interviewed me about men and relationships

IMG_5174

To celebrate a year since the first Ask Him interview, we decided (Nicholas convinced me) he would ask me the same questions (and a few of his own additions) I asked him a year ago.

I definitely felt awkward, I’m much more comfortable when I’m asking the questions. But we pushed through so you get to read my responses! There was a lot of nervous laughter and ‘um’s and silences that I did not include…so, you’re welcome.

So we have the first, the one and only Ask Her series with the first, the one and only, Miranda Kate Rodriguez. How are you feeling Miranda, you ready?

I just want to get this over with.

Well, me too, so.

OK, Miranda what is your favorite color?

This should be an easy question…so when I was little, for the longest time it used to be yellow. When I was in high school my room was bright yellow – it was like walking into the sun. So I still have an emotional attachment to yellow, but I think I’m now more partial to light green.

Why, green, Miranda?

I think it’s calming.

So, Miranda, what do you do?

I’m a nanny, three days a week, for two little girls – a one year old and a three year old. And I just started translating for a school. And I’m getting my Master’s degree in psychology.

What is the difference between translating and interpreting?

Translating is in written- so documents. Interpreting is in person, or vocal.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I don’t know. Maybe a counselor.

Why a counselor, what makes you want to be a counselor?

I like talking to people, I like asking them questions. I like trying to give advice and helping them understand themselves.

What do you do for fun?

Recently I’ve been doing more artsy things, like little crafts. I like to go out with my friends…get coffee. I like to explore all the pretty spots in Charleston.

What are some qualities you look for in a guy?

What if I say a quality that you don’t have? Like, really short and brunette.

That’s fine, it’s your loss.

I think sense of humor is good. Not necessarily that they’re super hilarious, but more that they get my sense of humor. I can be kind of goofy so if that’s off-putting for them then it’s kind of awkward.

I mean you can probably say a lot of things, what you’re attracted to physically, or personality or intellectually…I like people who think about things that are important and are okay talking about them.

But I think what it comes down to is character. Even if they have all the other qualities you’re looking for, if they’re not going to be good, if they’re not going to try to stick it out and make it work then it doesn’t really matter if they’re funny and super attractive and super smart. I think it’s important to be willing to make it work when it’s tough or not fun…make the sacrifices you need to make. I think all of that is a matter of character, I think that’s probably the most important thing.

Is this virtue you speak of something that can be developed?

Yeah I don’t think it’s something innate necessarily. If you have good parents and come from a good family you definitely have an advantage, but if you don’t it’s something you work on and you grow…it just requires a willingness really. If you want to work at it, want to make it work, it’s a choice that you make. I don’t think it’s a talent or a skill.

How do you show interest?

I think what you said was going out of your way to talk to the person, I think that’s fair. I think there can be so much confusion between men and women…but I think if you just try to make someone your friend and see where it goes from there, that seems the healthiest way to me. Then if it doesn’t work out, you don’t have to “ghost”, it doesn’t have to be awkward…you’re still friends. And maybe you don’t hang out or talk all the time but you know someone new. That’s why I think going out of your way to make that person your friend is a good way to go about it.

What is something important to you to have in a relationship and why?

Being at ease with the other person. When you date someone you reveal yourself little by little to the other person and you can’t do that if you feel you’re going to be rejected or mess up somehow. I guess trust is what I’m really getting at. I don’t think you can have a healthy relationship without trust, I don’t think that’s feasible. I think you have to trust the person, trust that they’re going to do their best to make it work. I don’t think you can love someone if you don’t trust them first.

What is something you admire about men in general?

I think leadership…not that that women can’t be leaders. It’s very feminine to be led, that requires a lot of patience. Leading can be a masculine quality, that dynamic can be good. There’s a lot of hesitancy today, we struggle with equality and what that means. But I think it’s natural…I think leadership is hard and I think it’s good when there’s a guy that can make decisions in a way that is careful and thoughtful, but also trusting. I think men tend to be natural leaders and I think that’s a good characteristic that they have.

Would you say women lead in a different way?

I think women lead in a more subtle way. I think men can rise to the standards women set for them. So if women set certain expectations of what she expects from him, the man will strive for that. But if we don’t set high expectations, I think it makes it easier for men to fall short of all they can be because we’re accepting less. I think men and women should challenge each other. Women lead in regards to morality, the way the culture goes, I think women play a big role in setting what’s okay and what’s not okay. So if we set a standard the man is kind of like ‘ok, I’m not going to mess with this, I’m not going to fight you on it.’ I think when a women says ‘this isn’t good, this isn’t acceptable’, the man is more likely to follow that judgement.

So, we’ve been dating for 5 months now, has this relationship changed what you would recommend other women look for in a significant other? Has it changed your priorities, the criteria in what you look for in a guy?

No, I think the reason I was attracted to you was because we talked about these things that are important and based on that conversation it showed me something about your character. You wanted to be with someone who challenged you, who helped you be a better person…that’s why I liked you. Based on the interview, I thought that you could be a good person. that interview was what triggered any desire to date, I thought you could be someone of good character, someone I could respect. I think that’s really important- women should respect the man they’re with. I think I had a lot of respect for you based on those answers. So I don’t think it has changed.

What are some things you’re looking forward to in the near or distant future?

I’m looking forward to starting my classes again in October. I’m excited to figure out what else I’m called to do right now. I’m excited for Fall and all the fun things that come with that. I’m excited to be here with you.

Well, Miranda I just want to thank you for coming on to my show, it’s special moment –

You don’t have a show.

You’re welcome back any time.

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_5369

Happy Monday! I want to first and foremost apologize for the lack of Monday 5 last week! I make an effort to not miss one but every now and then it just happens! Hopefully your Monday wasn’t too traumatic despite the usual post ;).

This weekend we checked out a spot called Palmetto Brewery with some of Nicholas’ residency friends. I actually really liked it! It’s mostly an outdoor venue with only some seating inside and several picnic tables and a stage for live music outside. I really enjoyed the low key atmosphere and the beer was good. We tried a few different ones but my favorite was the Brose, a shandy that is very tasty!

Saturday I caught up with a few of my friends and then had some people over for hot dogs and good discussion! Those are some of my favorite nights, hanging outside with a few people just chatting and enjoying each others’ company.

Sunday I got to go to brunch with my brother and sister, we had a great time at the Granary in Mount Pleasant which we had heard from a friend that their brunch was great. It was super yummy (I ordered waffles with banana, nutella and blueberries) and the service was excellent.

Sunday Nicholas got off work a little early and we were able to go to the beach for a quick swim which we hadn’t done in a while! It was really great to be in the water again.

Before we got in we were sitting on the beach and a four year old named Clara approached us and asked us if we had any birthmarks…#thingskidssay.

After a super long intro, here are 5 things I’m excited about this week:

Photography

While my dad was in town last week, I borrowed Nicholas’ camera to take pictures that would be a little better than we what I can take with my phone. It was super fun and I’m excited to hopefully learn more about how to take good pictures! It’s amazing how differently pictures turn out on a ‘real’ camera, especially if you know what you’re doing! I think photos are such a great way to cherish what is important to us.

Yoga

When I was in college I took advantage of the extensive gym to go to some yoga classes. After that I never really returned to it, I wasn’t eager to spend the money and I preferred the ‘high’ I got after doing something like running. Recently I’ve been re-thinking this because yoga seems like such a good way to practice mindfulness. I went to yoga class with mom and we enjoyed it! It wasn’t too difficult but still stretched us out and we definitely felt more relaxed after. There’s also something cool about just setting aside an hour a week where you’re just focusing on what you’re doing right then. I’m hoping mom and I will continue to build this practice and reap the benefits of stretching and just being for a little bit each week.

Messy Parenting

I came across the podcast a few weeks ago and just love it. It’s hosted by a married couple who have 10 children (can you imagine?). They talk about parenting, marriage and general topics that relate to family life. One of my favorite episodes so far has been their wedding story, it’s possibly the most chaotic day in anyone’s life and reminds us of how little the wedding really matters in comparison to the marriage. They are so fun to listen to and very wise. I love their outlook on raising children and married life in general. As a young, single person, I don’t get to spend time with married couples too often, but I think it’s so important to do so! We have so much to learn from people in different stages of life.

Poetry

I am not a remotely poetic person. As much as I like to read and write, I struggled so much in high school and college to decipher the authors we read. A lot of time symbolism is lost on me and I remember being completely shocked when people would come to conclusions about the meaning of our readings that were entirely over my head. For one of our ‘monthaversaries’, Nicholas gave me a book that interpreted TS Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets’ (a poem from a book we both love). This week we started reading the poem along with the breakdown from the book. It was really nice to read something with such rich language (we had to look up like every other word) and with such deep meaning. Even though we struggled (a lot), it’s been cool to read beautiful literature together and I’m excited to continue to work on it!

Spray stock flowers

These cost $2.99 at Trader Joe’s and are so cute. They are kind of whimsical without being over the top and last a fair amount of time! They also are pretty voluminous on their own so can be a centerpiece by themselves. I think they are just so pretty and love the look they bring to the home!

I hope this gets you excited, or at least thinking about what you are excited about this week!

xo

Miranda