If I could write a love song: My response to Maren Morris

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When I was seven or eight, I had an altercation with my BFF (shout out to Maria in NYC!) and decided to write a song to her explaining how I felt.

It didn’t end well. Unlike Mozart or Lil Romeo I was not a young musical genius and so my music writing efforts didn’t result in much.

However, I’ve always enjoyed music and loved expressing myself that way. I played violin through college and have always loved listening to music too. Early on Taylor Swift was my girl (she sings about boys, what else do you care about in middle or high school?). Even now I love coming across a song with lyrics I relate to and a sweet tune.

Recently, country singer Maren Morris’ song ‘I could use a love song’ has been stuck in my head. I think she really hits the nail on the head as to how a lot of us feel today in regard to relationships. Despite overwhelming cynicism in our generation, a part of us longs for romance and the kind of love that lasts a lifetime. As much as we fill our lives with work and friends and hobbies and a date or two, part of us is longing for more.

Having been in a committed relationship for the past few months, I’ve learned a LITTLE bit (just a tiny bit) about what it really means to love someone…and unfortunately it’s not in any of T-sizzle’s catchy tunes. If I could write a love song, Maren Morris, I would. But I can’t because it would be terrible. But if I could, here are some things I would want to say:

Love doesn’t feel good.

Okay, sometimes it does. Sometimes you’re smiling and laughing and feeling warm and fuzzy. But a lot of times it’s a lot less like the Notebook and a lot more like a documentary that’s a little too real or even slightly boring. Loving someone isn’t just a feeling, it’s choice that you make over and over…even when it’s hard. There are times when you’re both really tired and just sitting there next to each other has to be enough. There are times where you go out with their work friends and feel a little awkward and left out. There are times where you disagree on sensitive topics or even really little things like whether gages are cute or not (they’re not…just so we’re clear). There are times where the person will disappoint you; whether it’s something they did now or yesterday or when they were in college…none of those times feel good. But the good news is that love isn’t a feeling. That is good because when these discomforts arise – which they will because we’re HUMAN and not a Hollywood film – we can still choose the other person.

Love takes work.

Somehow movies tend to end when the couple gets together…we never see what happens after the ‘happily ever after.’ Falling in love is just the beginning. A lot of divorces happen because people stop ‘feeling it.’ They slowly move farther and farther apart as they get caught up in other priorities (work, children etc) and neglect their relationship. Regular date nights, reconnecting daily, playing together, sharing in each other’s interests…these are all necessary to maintain a healthy and loving relationship with your significant other. Also things like keeping a lark journal or photo album are helpful. I think it’s easy to get comfortable with the ones we love and then complain when the ‘spark’ is gone. Fortunately the ‘spark’ is something we can work on. It just takes…work. Love needs to be nurtured and protected, not taken for granted.

Love is healing.

We all have wounds from loved ones. Whether it’s our imperfect parents, previous romantic relationships or some traumatic event, we have hurt that stays with us. Love is healing. In healthy and loving relationships we re-learn (or un-learn falsehoods) about what it means to love and be loved. Today a big movement out there is telling us to be independent; as counter cultural as it may seem, I’m saying you’re not and never have been. We’re born reliant on others and though we may learn to provide for ourselves, love is something we can only learn in relation to others. That doesn’t mean it has to be a romantic relationship; we can learn this from family or friends as well, but it does mean we need others. To trust and be trusted, to give and receive, to be vulnerable, to be intimate…these are only things we can learn outside ourselves, regardless of your ability to feed yourself.

Love demands sacrifice.

It just does. Loving someone requires time and energy and effort. You can’t continue to live your life exactly how you want. You begin to take the other person into consideration and think about how your decisions affect them. You think about what makes them happy instead of only what pleases you. You eventually begin to put the other person before you…that is what love does, it makes you selfless. We’re born inherently selfish, (did you as an infant ever think about whether it was convenient for your mom to feed you or not?) out of necessity. Our goal as we grow up is to unlearn that. Loving another person is a wonderful wake up call that can sometimes feel like a slap in the face. We’re no longer just looking out for ourselves and it’s painful. Every instinct tells us to focus on self-preservation, meanwhile we know that we don’t have room for selfishness in relationships. Love is ultimately gift of self, a sacrifice.

Maren Morris could use a love song and I think a lot of us are in that boat. Maybe they aren’t being written as much because we’ve lost sight of what love really looks like. How can we write (or sing) about something we’re not familiar with? Love is hard, and we don’t want that. We’re looking for the easy way out and coming up empty; empty hearts and empty playlists. But we’re missing out, because love is wonderful and absolutely worth fighting for…maybe if someone would come out with a song we would realize that.

xo

Miranda

 

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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: 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

Monday 5: Being steadfast & other things to be excited about this week.

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Another weekend come and gone! Friday evening my sister came into town for the weekend, we had a nice time exploring Fort Moultrie with a couple of her friends Saturday morning. I love doing the touristy things when people come to visit!

We also went to one of my favorite restaurants here in Mount Pleasant, called Vickery’s which is by the water and has delicious seafood.

This past week was a restful one as I had not one but two days off unexpectedly! Pretty sweet. I could have been a lot more productive with my time off but it was certainly nice to have time that I could make for those things that normally don’t fit in your schedule (like talking to your grandma and attempting homemade bread).

I hope this week is a good one, here are five things I’m excited about that I wanted to share!

Kale and pasta recipe

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to stray (just a little) from my Pinterest tendencies and explore recipes from cookbooks and magazines. This was one I found in the February issue of Bon Appetit and loved it! It’s pretty simple, the main ingredients are a thick pasta and kale with a fair amount of black pepper. I like that it did include kale (which I’m not a huge fan of) and that it used a type of pasta that I hadn’t tried before. I think it’s a great dish for a weekday that you don’t have a lot of time but want something that is yummy and semi-nutritious.

Something I’m good at

Okay I know I put a song in last week’s Monday 5 but I couldn’t help myself…I’m obsessed with Brett Eldredge’s newest release ‘Somethin’ I’m Good At.’ It’s so funny! And catchy and just a happy tune that makes me smile. It’s different from most country songs on the radio right now and I just love how upbeat and happy-go-lucky it is.

Party hats

Last week I went to Old Navy and while waiting in line to pay I saw these adorable party hats by Meri Meri. Hosting a good party is a skill I hope to nurture and develop more over time and I think it is often all about the details. These hats are definitely one of those fun, cutesy things that add more flavor and character to events. The colors are really pretty and I love the sparkle at the bottom! It turns out Meri Meri has some pretty great party favors, definitely worth a look before your next event!

Homemade bread!!!

Okay if the exclamation points didn’t give it away, I’m really excited about this one. A goal I recently set for myself is learning how to make delicious homemade bread. Growing up my grandmother had the best homemade bread and eating it when we went to visit her was an absolute treat. I feel like making bread is one of those lost arts that people don’t make time for anymore and I think it’s too bad. There’s something really rewarding about putting time and effort (kneading is hard!) into something special to share with others. After chatting with my grandmother for about half an hour just about the directions in the recipe she uses, I felt more confident going into my project (wouldn’t it be great if we could do that with Martha Stewart?!). I didn’t have super high expectations but I was really pleased with the results. While not as good as my grandmother’s, the bread I made was yummy and had a great texture. I hope to keep refining this skill and share some of the love with people I know!

Steadfast-ness

So it turns out steadfast isn’t meant to be a noun…just an adjective. But steadfast is such a great word. It means ‘resolutely or dutifully unwavering’ (definition courtesy of Google). I know I can often be driven by a momentary emotion or thought; so for example, if I think in the morning, ‘it would nice to have smoothie today,’ I’ll often go out of my way to get a smoothie, whether I really should or not. Or if I get irritated by something small or feel uncertainty about something, I’ll make my next decision based on what I feel at that moment…as opposed to allowing the feeling to pass before acting. This can become unhealthy especially when it comes to strong emotions like fear and big decisions. I like the idea of being steadfast because I think of it as a more integrated way to be. Instead of acting based on one feeling or thought, you take into consideration the whole picture and use logic in addition to emotion. I guess something I’d like to work on is being more steadfast, allowing a thought to be just a thought and a feeling to be just a feeling before making decisions based on things that aren’t necessarily the whole truth.

Happy Monday!

xo

Miranda

Why Elle King shocked with ‘It’s Different for Girls’

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About six years ago I moved to the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina. For those unfamiliar with the area, Charleston has all the enchantment of an old city (cobblestone streets, picturesque buildings, etc.) combined with the beauty of the water (we’re about ten minutes away from the beach) and excellent cuisine (so many good restaurants). However, a significant flaw about the area which I discovered pretty quickly was that every person I knew loved country music.

Not me.

Six years later, I humbly admit (is it actually humble if you say it’s humble?) that I have come to enjoy country music quite a lot and listen to it frequently. I’m not really sure how the conversion happened, but here we are.

A song that came out a few months ago that especially caught my attention was one by Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King called ‘It’s Different for Girls’ (which incidentally was nominated for a Grammy this weekend). The reason why it shocked me is pretty obvious when you listen to the lyrics:

“It’s different for girls, nobody said it was fair: When love disappears, they can’t pretend it was never there.”

The song goes on to describe the differences between how men and women cope with break-ups:

“A guy gets drunk with his friends and he might hook up. Fast forward through the pain, pushing back when the tears come on…it’s different for girls.”

My first thought when I had heard the song was: “this is going to get a lot of backlash.”

In today’s hook-up culture that especially encourages women to put themselves out there and not get too attached, this song contradicts the popular notion that women can and should pursue casual encounters with men, becoming both physically and emotionally intimate without any commitment.

Not only that, but even more surprising was Ms. King agreeing with him, echoing the song’s controversial message with her lines:

“She don’t sleep all day and leave the house a wreck. She don’t have the luxury to let herself go…”

This is coming from the woman who is behind the hits: Ex’s and Oh’s and ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ both of which have very different perspectives from this country tune.

While I certainly am an advocate of all people being created equal, I do see where Dierks is coming from; after all, though men and women are equal, we are also different.

This is especially evident in our relationality (the importance we place on our relationships) and the way closeness with another person affects us deeply. We largely define ourselves by our relationships: with our family, our friends and our boyfriends/husbands.

That is not to say that men are unaffected by intimacy, rather because of the way we are made, even ‘casual’ intimacy (physical or emotional) touches women deeply, whether we want it to or not.

Part of that is due to a chemical called oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ that is released after having sex, having a baby and even during more casual physical contact. This hormone is called the ‘love hormone’ because it creates a feeling of affection and trust in the person it is attached to.

Think of having a baby, how incredible of a miracle that is, the level of attachment that exists between mother and child. You don’t have to have experienced it personally to know that there is nothing more powerful than the love of a mother for her child. Safe to say, oxytocin is a powerful hormone. And in the right context, it’s an amazing thing. Oxytocin bonds people. So, even when you’re mad at your husband or frustrated with your daughter, there’s a deeper connection that goes beyond how you feel for them at the moment…it’s a chemical, biological bond.

However the trouble starts with the words we hear in Dierks Bentley and Elle King’s song.

We can’t just “fast forward through the pain, pushing back when the tears come on.”

We don’t say “it’s okay, I never loved him anyway.”

We might try; we might go out, drink too much, go home with another guy, max our credit cards, tell our friends we’re ‘over it’…but the truth lies in the tears that come when we’re alone, the unwanted memories, and the longing for the phone to ring.

Not only are we sad the person is gone, we’re frustrated that we aren’t okay about it. Days, weeks, months go by; we should be over it but we’re not. Why? Because we’re physically wired so that intimacy matters; is has a deep impact on our lives.

This is actually a pretty cool thing because we’re made to love and be loved; and love by definition has two components: exclusivity and permanency.

Therefore, anything less than that, for example  a one night stand or a five year marriage that ends in divorce…isn’t going to cut it. It’s not supposed to.

So what does this mean for us?

Emotionally, psychologically and physically we’re made for more…and that is what we should look for. Not a fling, not a rebound, not a guy who doesn’t know what he wants or isn’t ‘ready’ to commit. That is going to end in heartbreak, it’s not what we are made for.

Love is ultimately a gift of self…how can we give ourselves to someone who isn’t going to stick around? It’s similar to pouring money into an investment that is going to fail…not a smart decision.

We have to start expecting more from our relationships. There’s a lot of cynicism out there because of the high divorce rate and fewer and fewer people committing to each other for the long-term…it’s up to us to turn that around.

Romantic love can start from a healthy friendship, it can grow and flourish when we push through the fear and risk encountering someone and becoming close to them, not just using them for a more favorable relationship status or fleeting pleasure. But it starts with our expectations. If we expect a healthy, committed relationship, that is what we will attract. Of course this is harder to come by than a hook up but I think good things are worth waiting for.

As women we should honor ourselves by only accepting the kind of love we were made for…not anything less. I suspect more often than not, men respect that. They may not be able to always come through for us, but one day one will…and that’s all you need.

I know Valentine’s Day can be a sore subject for many of us, but I like to look at it hopefully. True romance is a beautiful gift and when we have the patience and courage to wait for it, we experience firsthand how powerful and wonderful it really is.

After all,

“There is no greater force against evil in the world than the love of a man and woman in marriage.” – Raymond Burke

Elle and Dierks may have caught us off guard with this song. I wouldn’t be surprised if some listeners were offended by their message; but Elle’s contribution adds credibility to what is already scientific fact. She sings from her personal experience as a woman which has taught her that it is different girls. And thank God it is, because our desire for authentic love is what centers us and men and is a reminder of what really matters.