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

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This weekend included the first lazy Saturday I’ve had in a while and it was amazing. We also got drinks with friends Friday evening, I had my first bachelorette party Saturday night and yesterday we paddle boarded all the way to Shem Creek! It took us a couple of hours, between the ride there, the drink we got there and our ride back. But it was so cool paddleboarding at night under the stars! Nicholas admitted he was worried about sharks for the last bit, but we made it safely without running into any finned friends.

We also decided to try Husk Sunday evening, one of the more well known upscale restaurants in Charleston but backed out at the last minute (it was so fancy) and decided to just try the bar food instead (like the peasants that we are). We ordered a basket of 6 pieces of fried chicken (which ended up being double of what we needed) and a side of lima bean salad. It was very good and we both enjoyed the outdoor patio scene, but it wasn’t amazing. Next time we’ll have to try the real deal and see if it’s actually worth the hype.

In any case, it was a great weekend and I feel a lot more well rested than I have in a while, and that is definitely something to be excited about! In addition to that, here are five more things I’m excited about this week.

Family visiting

Nicholas’ mother, sister and brother arrive here tonight! We are so excited (Nicholas especially, obviously) to see them and to show them around Charleston. We spent a fair amount of time yesterday afternoon putting together a tentative schedule of fun things to do while they are here! Additionally, my sister comes back from school for her Fall break Wednesday, and my dad will be here this weekend! I love when family gets together, especially when you live in a place that has so many opportunities for outings. The weather is supposed to be a little cooler too, so that is exciting!!

Meditation

Anxiety can be super tricky. It creeps up on us and convinces us that are worst fears are becoming reality. It also becomes habitual, making it harder and harder to see things clearly. Our bodies become addicted to the chemicals released by the sympathetic nervous system when we feel fearful. This complicates matters further when we want to overcome anxiety because our bodies crave that rush of norepinephrine and adrenaline. There are medications out there I know are helpful for dealing with this, however I’m really trying to avoid that by relying on meditation instead. Mindfulness meditations have been shown to be successful in healing people of anxiety and increasing health and well-being. While I initially hated making time to do even just an 8 minute meditation, I’ve grown to really appreciate that time to just be and I’m hopeful that it is helping me make progress in my goal of being a calm, peaceful person. If you struggle with anxiety at all or are remotely interested in this, I highly recommend reading this book and doing the guided meditations that come with it.

This gyro recipe

Nicholas and I have been talking for a while about trying some Greek recipes, and last week we finally did! I loved this recipe for chicken gyros, it was simple and delicious. I will say gyros involve several steps, it was great doing it together but I know if I had done it alone I would have needed more time, so just a heads up. But it was so good! And a cool variation from our typical meals. I doubled the recipe for the five of us (three of which were men) and there were leftovers, which is always exciting. I plan on trying more recipes from this site soon!

Obedience

As adults, obedience may not be something we think about often. After all, we’re adults, we do what we want…isn’t that the point? We don’t have to listen to teachers, parents, or older siblings who want to tell us what to do! However, I think obedience is actually still highly relevant even as we get older, especially in relationships. This article gave some interesting perspective on obedience in marriage and how it actually helps us to love more. It’s not about being a doormat or being walked all over, but it is about sacrifice and gift of self. Mutual obedience can actually lead to a deeper, more beautiful love than if we are constantly trying to push our own agendas…who would have thought?!

This quote

A couple whose family I spent vast amounts of time with for a few years in my childhood recently celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary. I love this family, not only for inviting me into their home, but also because of the example they set for marriage and parenthood. They were very well known in our community, partly because with 6 kids they were hard to miss, but also just because of their strength as a family unit. It was awesome to see a family so involved and so fun. I think there is such stigma with ‘settling down,’ but this family showed us that family life is supposed to be just the beginning of an amazing adventure, not what you resort to when you’ve checked everything else off your bucket list. For their 23rd anniversary, the wife posted this quote which I thought was so beautiful and so true! Something to think about as we move forward this week.

“We all bring our ‘garbage’ into this union, but if we have the courage and the heart to love even the weakest parts of each other, well, what happens is nothing short of miraculous!”

xo

Miranda

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‘Promises’: Demi Lovato & what I wish I had known about my parents’ divorce

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For at least a month (up until last week) I was driving around with no radio. I know…the horror. My car radio (intelligently) locked me out after I had the battery replaced and even though I looked and looked, could not find the code for it. I finally called Honda a few weeks ago and they attempted to help but after a little bit on the phone were also unsuccessful.

Resigned to the worst, I was preparing myself to visit the Honda dealership in person when Nicholas rode with me one day and – as I was telling him the radio malfunction saga – he pressed a button that miraculously turned on the radio for the first time in weeks.

I wish I could say that I was surprised, but things like that happen to him all the time…and I’m not bitter about it at all.

Having had a fair break from the current radio stations, I was eager to catch up on the latest releases. One that stuck out to me was by Demi Lovato called ‘Promises.’ The gist of the song is that love is difficult and so even though I care about you, ‘promise me no promises.’

I was a little disappointed at this message, especially because it’s not the first or second or tenth time that I’ve heard it spoken to me from various sources recently. I think my generation has become very guarded and as I’ve gotten older I’m starting to understand why.

From 1960 to 1980, after the no-fault divorce bill was passed (saying that you could get a divorce without proving spousal wrongdoing), the divorce rate more than doubled.

A lot of us millennials and some from those in the previous generation (gen x) were born to those parents.

Ex: my mother and myself. We were both born into families whose parents went on to get divorced.

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What has occurred as a result of this breakdown in the family, is that we are terrified of making a promise that could later on be broken. What we have learned is that a vow doesn’t mean anything, it is unsafe. I can say ‘I love you’ and still walk away. Marriage, therefore, has lost it’s place in society as an outdated and ineffective tradition.

We treat relationships lightly and avoid getting attached at all costs.

The problem with this, is that family is the foundation of society. We learn to love in the home. The best example we’ll ever have of love is that which our parents show us through their love for each other. That is why we are falling short today, we don’t know how to love.  It is something we have to learn, we are not born on an island; our ability to love, our identity and sense of self are all things we develop in relation to others.

I wish I had known all of this earlier; my dating relationships have been made dramatically more difficult because of my own experience of what happens when we fail to keep our marital vows. We make a vow for a reason, it is not meant to be broken. Not merely because of the heartbreak that happens to the individuals who were married, but because of the damage it does to the children affected and society at large. The children of divorce live with that for the rest of their lives.

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Distrust, skepticism, and overwhelming fear often get the best of me, leading to strife between myself and the person I love. These thoughts and feelings aren’t things that come from nowhere, they are leftover from the reality that I’ve seen what happens when our love falls short and the pain that it causes. It honestly has gotten between us over and over again. I am constantly battling the voices in my head telling me to run…I am wary of being hurt and willing to do just about anything to avoid it. At times it is excruciating, exhausting and entirely discouraging for both me and my s/o. Experience and the fear it causes are powerful forces, more than I’d like to admit, however it is evident in myself and the culture around us.

This secondhand effect of divorce is rampant in people my age who refuse to ‘settle down’ and avoid family life altogether. We have, instead, become concerned with career achievement and having a good time. While these are good things, they are not the best things. The most convincing lie out there today is that you can’t have a good job, have fun and be married with children. It is either one or the other. If that were true, then I wouldn’t blame anyone for not ever wanting to get married, that sounds awful!

The reality, however, is that family life doesn’t steal our joy, it increases it. The studies concerning singles vs. married couples shows us that married couples tend to be happier.

This makes sense, because we are made to be in relation to others. We are born into families for a reason. Our deepest joy doesn’t come from getting drinks with friends (again, not a bad thing), it comes from loving and being loved deeply.

I know how discouraging it can be when people left and right are leaving their marriages. I know what it’s like to grow up convinced that family life is for the sitcoms and love doesn’t work. I know how hard it is to love when all you know is what happens when we don’t love.

However, Nicholas reminded me in a moment of frustration that hope is a virtue because it only makes sense in the context of hopelessness. If things are just fine, we have no need for hope. We need it when we are most tempted to despair.

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As millennials get older, I hope we realize the absolute necessity for family life. I hope we’re brave enough to give it our all, even if we’ve seen others who haven’t. I hope we learn to prioritize what is truly important and to overcome the fear that tells us to run the other way…because if we don’t, I guess I’m not sure who will.

It’s up to us to undo the cycle of broken promises and give the generations after us the opportunity to be learn what it means to love and to love others themselves.

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Monasteries & other things I’m excited about this week

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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!

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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!

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

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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.

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

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Happy Monday! It’s another rainy one here in Charleston…definitely going to need some extra enthusiasm to make it through the day. This weekend we had some good times meeting up with friends, beach bumming and spending time with my family.

We made it to brunch at a spot called Butcher and Bee downtown Charleston which was quite good. The vibe was very hip and we got to sit at a bar overlooking the kitchen, which was pretty sweet. The food was delicious and we ordered way too much. We started with a chocolate ‘babka’ which was similar to a croissant and equally yummy. We also had anchovy stuffed, fried olives with pesto, whipped feta with hummus and bacon covered dates. The feta was probably my favorite. We also ordered a sandwich which came back with us because we were way too full by that point.

As always, the weekend went by way too fast. But these are some things that I’m excited about this week that hopefully will help today feel less dreary.

Checkieday.com

This website is fun, and especially useful to make the work week more exciting. It tells you all the national ‘holidays’ that we don’t really know about like ‘National Respect Canada day’ and ‘National Get out of the Doghouse day’ (which is today, incidentally). I think this is so great to celebrate the little, random things. Putting a small effort into celebrating whatever is happening on a given day is an easy way to brighten our week and break out of the routine. Whether it’s making a drink, buying a certain food or just giving someone a hug (today is also National Hug your Kid day), taking a little time and effort to celebrate weekly is important (and so fun).

Salsa dancing

A few weeks ago we went to salsa dance for the first time. The friends who were supposed to teach us weren’t able to come so we were left to our own devices on the dance floor, which was a little scary. We mainly watched other people dance and ventured out eventually to give it a shot. We didn’t really salsa dance (because we didn’t know how) but still enjoyed our less-than-impressive effort. Later that week we went salsa dancing at a different spot and actually did our research beforehand (aka watched YouTube videos). It was definitely awkward at first but we had fun and improved by the end of the night. We’re supposed to go again this week; I’m excited to develop a new skill together that we can also share with friends who come out with us. *dancer emoji*

Flower arrangements

Recently I’ve been making an effort to have flowers in the house. Taking a few minutes to stop by Trader Joes to buy a bouquet is both fun for me and brings a little joy to the rest of the fam. I really think it’s little details like that which make life so much better. This week my mom and I are attending a flower arrangement class which I’m really excited about. I don’t intend on making hugely elaborate bouquets regularly but I think it would be a fun thing to do every now and then…and hopefully I’ll at least improve the simple arrangements I’ve been doing so far.

Flannery O’Connor

In a few weeks, a couple of Nicholas’ friends I met in Ohio during my last visit are coming down to do a pilgrimage to various sites where Flannery O’Connor spent time in Savannah. For those of you who don’t know, Flannery O’Connor was a young author during the 1950’s and 60’s who wrote stories about the South. She was diagnosed with lupus in her twenties and spent much of her illness writing and attending lectures to read her essays and short stories. She’s known especially for the reflections on ethics and morality in her writing. We enjoyed reading her short story called ‘The Barber,’ and are hoping to read more before going to Savannah. It’s definitely not what you find today, but the style is a welcome challenge and definitely thought provoking.

Provoking discussions

Speaking of provoking…recently I’ve found myself in many discussions with friends and loved ones about sensitive topics in politics, morality, theology…I’m not someone who enjoys debate, mainly because I take things too personally and tend to get emotional. However, I’ve come to appreciate how important it is to have discussions like this. As a culture, we tend to shy away from anything that might be remotely controversial and do our best to keep things light; but these conversations -while difficult- are where rubber meets the road in our beliefs and values. To challenge and be challenged, to search for truth and ultimately learn from each other….this doesn’t happen if we always talk about what show we’re watching or the newest restaurant we tried out. I hope to continue to have these somewhat difficult conversations and learn to not see it as an argument, but rather a group effort to find what is true.

Here’s to conversations that matter.

xo

Miranda

11 things I would tell my younger self

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I still know most of the words from Taylor Swift’s ‘Fifteen’ by heart; seven years after I turned 15 and listened to it on the bus heading to school my sophomore year. There’s something really powerful about looking back on life and being able to share a thing or two that you’ve learned with people coming after you.

In her tune, T-Sizzle tells us that when you’re fifteen you might get your heart broken, or you might not like a lot of your peers…which are fair points. I always wished I had an older sister, someone to give me advice about boys and if you can wear white after Labor Day (which I’m still not sure about..). Unfortunately I didn’t have that privilege, but I was lucky enough to learn from other women who have come into my life and who have been kind enough to share some wisdom both through words and example.

Whether you have a big sis or not, these are some things I would tell my younger self…and often remind myself of today. They may or may not be helpful, but hopefully they will at least get you thinking of the many (many) things you’ve learned since you were fifteen.

Find things you love

Whether it’s something athletic (for those of you who are coordinated), or something domestic, or something technological (Netflix doesn’t count) or something else, having things you love to do and doing them is an essential part of who you are. For me, baking, crafting (poorly, but still) and especially recently, swimming are things that I really enjoy and do my best to make time for them. These things are integral to our person and are great and easy ways to de-stress and bring joy into our lives.

Sensitivity is not a weakness

Sometimes us girls (and maybe some guys too) can get flack for being emotional or ‘sensitive…’ even from other girls. As the epitome of a ‘Sensitive Sally,’ I can attest to the frustration that comes from being labeled that way and perceiving that as a disadvantage. I’ll be the first to admit that I am sensitive; but as frustrating as it can be, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Vulnerability and sensitivity are beautiful and necessary things this world desperately needs. Empathy, compassion, sympathy, acts of kindness…these are often brought about by sensitivity to what is going on around us. If we bluntly go through life trying to be the tough guy, we miss out on a lot of opportunities to love and grow.

Your desires are important

We may dismiss what we want as daydreams and try to focus on what is ‘realistic’; but there are few things as real as our authentic desires. Whether it’s in relation to career, state of life or just a goal, our desires exist for a reason…to be fulfilled. Obviously this doesn’t apply to trivial things like the desire for more ice cream (although that’d be nice too), but the real, important dreams like managing your own company or starting a family. Those desires didn’t come from nowhere, and they certainly aren’t there to be ignored.

Goodness is attractive

I’m not saying green eyes aren’t dreamy…but they aren’t the most important thing to look for. Undeniably, striving to be a good person trumps all other qualities we might think matter. This means we not only look for goodness in others, but others look for goodness in us too; and we can’t expect something from others we ourselves don’t have or at least strive for.

Appreciate the good things, like really

It can be easy to take the good things in life for granted. The people we love, our work, time off…we often don’t express the gratitude we should have. Being grateful is possibly one of the best remedies for any sort of sadness or frustration we may be experiencing.

Relationships don’t solve your problems

As Romeo and Juliet so vividly demonstrated, relationships don’t always fix our struggles. In fact, relationships often have the opposite effect where our problems surface. Insecurities we’ve had, fears we’ve suppressed, bad habits we’ve developed…they all come up in the process of growing close to someone. It can be highly unpleasant…but also incredibly important for our personal growth.

People have different body types

For years I wanted Julie Bowen’s figure (she’s like 5’10 and weighs 120 lbs). It took a lot of discussion and reflection to come to the realization that no matter how hard I tried, I would never look like that; I’m just not built that way. Being healthy is essential; part of that is understanding that people have different genetics which affect our body types…the sooner you embrace yours the better off you’ll be.

Boys are kind of dumb

I mean this way in the most endearing way possible. Men have so many strengths and wonderful qualities…but often they aren’t relational. Especially when they’re younger (and maybe a little immature), they can be oblivious when it comes to girls. If we understand this, we can give them the benefit of the doubt when it feels like they’re doing something to hurt us. Sometimes they really are just clueless. This doesn’t excuse being treated poorly, but it does allow us to help the good guys out and forgive the occasional relationship misstep.

Community is a must have…even if you’re an introvert

This is definitely one I wished I had learned earlier. We need people, we need friends and we need meaningful relationships. Becoming close to people in high school, college and after is vital to our well being. If you’re like me and don’t love meeting new people, I know this can be challenging. But the initial discomfort is well worth it when later on you have the love and support from the people you’ve invested in.

Thrift shopping is fun and practical

For a while I turned my nose up at secondhand shops. Today, most of my clothes come from Goodwill or other thrift stores. I enjoy so much the hunt for a quality buy and appreciate it so much more because of the effort I put into the search (as opposed to $$$). It’s a fun thing to do with friends and a lot more practical financially. Every now and then a full priced, new item isn’t a bad thing; but taking advantage of secondhand buys is really fun and smart.

Have faith.

Despite the suffering, hurt, bad days, frustrations, challenges…good is still real. Living a virtuous (patient, humble, loving, hopeful, joyful, prudent) life is possible and the best way to find happiness. Having faith in these things is not only helpful; it’s also the most appropriate response because the good is so tangible.

Don’t let the muggles get you down.

xo

Miranda

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

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This weekend was another fun one in Charleston. It was nice to be back home since last weekend I was out of town visiting family. On Friday we met up with some of Nicholas’ residency friends at a spot called Cooper River Brewery. It had a laid back environment with cement floors inside and some picnic tables in a courtyard outside. The drinks were well priced and I enjoyed the chill atmosphere!

Saturday I rested since I wasn’t feeling too great, although we did have a fun date night that evening. We checked out a restaurant/hotel/bar called Circa 1886. The vibe was very luxurious and old school classy and we enjoyed tasty drinks at a table by the bar (only $5 during happy hour).

We then went to an upscale Mexican restaurant also downtown called Minero. They have excellent drinks, tacos and churros in a bag!

Yesterday I did some more productive things like running errands and we then went to Nicholas’ first River dogs Game! It was a really fun evening with friends made even better by the fact that we won!

While the weekend went by way too fast, here are some things that have me excited about the work week.

This song by Ruelle

I heard ‘I get to love you‘ for the first time in my friends Anthony and Kaitlyn’s wedding video and immediately loved it. I think it is such a sweet song with a really good message. It’s a nice change from a lot of what is on the radio today. I have never head of Ruelle before but am now kind of interested to hear more of her stuff!

This is Us

I rarely watch television but since this weekend I was feeling a little run down, Nicholas suggested watching this show which he really loves called ‘This is Us.’ Although I’m only a couple of episodes in, I am really looking forward to continuing the series. It centers around a family and relates the various struggles the individuals have and how they cope with them. I love that the show focuses on the family dynamic and relates good values. While definitely not ‘kid friendly’, it’s a good show that has a more wholesome outlook than much of what is on TV today.

Salads

It’s hard to admit that I’m excited about this one, but yesterday I made a couple of salads for the week to bring for lunch and I’ve honestly gotten excited every time I’ve thought about it. I usually just wing lunch and end up having something quite unsubstantial and not very healthy like some crackers and a granola bar. Having a healthy, yummy lunch to look forward to has brought a surprising amount of relief and enthusiasm to my Monday and it’s a habit I hope to get into more.

Baseball games

I really do love going to baseball games. As someone who is not remotely sporty, this may seem surprising, but I think it is one of the most fun outings to make during the summer. While it is hot, sitting outside with friends, enduring the uncomfortable heat and chatting without any pressure makes for a relaxed and bonding evening. It’s also typically cheaper than getting dinner or a movie. Yesterday we were lucky enough to find some spots in the shade and even sit close to home base; which even though I understand very little of what is going on, makes it more exciting.

Stretching my comfort zone

I typically don’t like to do anything that is new to me. ‘Openness to experience’ was I think my lowest score of all the personality traits and to anyone who knows me, this is not surprising. Part of it is fear of the unknown, and part of it is also fear of failure. When you do something you’re familiar with, the chances of not doing it well or messing up are a lot lower. While understandable, this mentality can cause you to miss out on a lot. Recently I’ve had to try things like riding a bike after not doing so for years, swimming in the ocean, clams, meeting new people…all of these were accompanied by a fair amount of tension on my part as well as less than ideal results. But the fact is that I’m still here and feel more confident about going back to try again. It’s amazing how much you learn from failure and how important and valuable new experiences can be. It’s not easy, but I know I want to continue to stretch my comfort zone despite the ‘ugh’ of it all.

Happy Monday!

xo

Miranda

 

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

 

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