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

Monday 5: ‘Modern Romance’ & other things to be excited about this week

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I hope your Mother’s Day weekend was filled with quality family time and (if you’re a mom) some well-deserved rest. Friday night we met up with some friends at one of my favorite spots in Charleston, The Vendue Hotel, which has a sweet rooftop bar. My go-to drink there is called Takes Two to Mango which is yummy and just a little bit spicy.

Saturday entailed of some Mother’s Day preparation (and a long-awaited visit to the gym) as well as some volunteer work with the Charleston Food Bank.

Sunday was mostly dedicated to Mother’s Day celebrations, including waffles and a trip to the beach.

Regardless of whether you are ready for Monday or not, here are some things to be excited about this week.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Blue Away!

I borrowed this nail polish from my mom and loved it. The color is such a perfect summer shade and as someone who hates to sit around, I really appreciate the Insta-Dri part.

Article on self-compassion

One of my favorite sites for good reading is called Mind Spirit. Here they combine psychology with spirituality  with a really wholesome perspective. I get so much good advice and inspiration from this site and especially appreciated this recent article on self-compassion. As someone who can be pretty critical of myself (and sometimes others), I think this article really hit the nail on the head with the idea of self-compassion. It’s hard to extend kindness to others when you don’t show it to yourself first.

The Giver

This weekend we watched The Giver, a YA post-apocalyptic movie based on a book. It takes place in a ‘Utopian’ world where people can no longer experience emotions, see colors or have memories. I liked the movie because it depicted well the importance of accepting the good with the bad. With all the struggles, hardships, pain and suffering, there is also redemption, joy, beauty and of course, love. While sometimes not feeling anything seems preferable, life is good because it is an adventure, which includes adversity. I also appreciated that the hero was motivated by fatherly love for an infant he grew close to. He endured much suffering and gave up a lot to save the baby. This was a nice change from a lot of the other YA books/movies out there which focus on the romantic love a lot more. While not ground breaking cinematography, I thought the movie was well done and especially appreciated the message it conveyed.

White jeans

Saturday also included a trip to Goodwill during which I found a pair of white jeans which I’m really excited about. While I’m definitely more of a dress person, I think white jeans during the summer can be such a good look that is super versatile. You can easily dress them up or down depending on your top or shoes. And even more exciting is when they only cost you $5…right?!

Aziz Ansari’s ‘Modern Romance’

This book was loaned to me a while ago by a friend who suggested I might find it interesting (shout out to Mark if you’re reading this). He was right. Aziz poses a lot of good questions a lot of us have about dating today and his responses are definitely food for thought. While I don’t agree with some of his stances, I think he largely represents the average dating millennial today and it is always good to  know how people are thinking and feeling about a topic before confronting it.

What are you excited about this week?

xo

Miranda

 

 

 

 

 

Maxi-nista

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I mentioned this maxi in my Monday 5 and promised a pic…so here you go!

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I came across it at T.J. Maxx so of course it was a steal! I love how flowy the maxi style is…so fun and feminine!

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My favorite part of it is probably how soft it is…so comfy! When cute and comfy can describe one outfit I’m a happy girl.

What’s your favorite maxi dress?

xo

Miranda

The ‘safe space’ we actually need

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As I mentioned in this week’s Monday five, I went to the University of South Carolina on Saturday to attend a chamber music competition. Beforehand, we were exploring the music department and came across a room that was labeled as a ‘safe space.’

While I had read and heard of these before, it felt a somewhat surreal to come across one in real life; it took seeing one in person to realize that this is something that is really happening…not just a story the media is making up. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I think the concept of ‘safe spaces’ is a little silly. Not because anxiety or stress isn’t real or trivial, but because of the idea that somehow a room – like the one we found at USC – can somehow fix our emotional or psychological distress.

How is that room different from any other? Because no one can challenge you or tease you? Because it is a designated space where you can break down? How is that helpful?

If we think that four walls that protect us from the outside world will solve our problems, we are sadly mistaken.

We shouldn’t need an office at our school to hide from our problems…which are most likely not caused by our peers anyway.

The fact is though, we are distressed. More and more of us are starting to take medications for anxiety and depression. The fact that a ‘safe space’ is becoming commonplace on college campuses is indicative of how our generation is feeling.

The reality is, we do need a safe space. But it isn’t a room in the music department of a college campus with bad lighting and gray carpet…it’s our home; it’s our family.

Mothers and fathers (or other primary caretakers) play an irreplaceable role in not only teaching us good habits, but also our temperament, our ability to be in relationships with others, our proficiency at interacting with the outside world and our emotional and psychological health.

This has become more and more clear to me, especially taking a human growth and development class in which these formative relationships are especially emphasized. There is so much evidence which demonstrates that distant relationship between children and their parents is strongly associated with personality disorders (including anxiety), drug and alcohol abuse and delinquency.

The home is where we are formed…physically, emotionally, psychologically and intellectually. When we come from a strong, loving, supportive family, we are able to go out into the world confident in our ability to face the challenges that inevitably will come our way. When we don’t have that stability in our lives early on, our skill to interact with the outside world and develop close relationships with others is stunted…we are immature and therefore unable to deal…hence the need for a ‘safe space.’

When we look at the importance of the family and how many of ours are broken today, it really shouldn’t be surprising that levels of anxiety, depression, alcoholism and drug abuse are increasing more and more. That safe space that a close, loving family provides is essential. Of course even the healthiest of families has it’s problems, the difference is the family that remains close despite them, instead of allowing them to separate or distance them.

I think as Americans we pride ourselves in being independent. We started off as a nation of independent thinkers who strove for freedom. However, the idea of the self-made man just isn’t true…just ask their mother. We were made in, for and to love; and that is something we can’t teach ourselves. How can we possibly love if no one teaches us how or what that looks like? We don’t expect a five year-old to teach themselves how to read…the same logic applies to this. We are born dependent on others and that doesn’t really change as we get older. You may know how to feed yourself (thankyouverymuch) but there is probably nothing more detrimental to the human person than loneliness. We need others and that is not a weakness, it is the beauty of being relational creatures.

We all have dreams and goals that we want to achieve, and that is perfectly healthy. However we have to remember that close relationships with others – love, essentially – is really what gives our lives meaning. That starts at home. Family is where we learn to love and be loved…it is the sanctuary of life. What do you think of when you think of sanctuary? Maybe some place sacred…certainly some place safe, a refuge. Nothing can replace the safety that family provides and we are seeing the consequences of it’s loss with the increasing levels of distress, especially in our young adults (who should be the most lively!).

It isn’t silly that we need a safe space, we do. But a college campus can’t provide it, and the sooner we realize this the better off we’ll be.

 

 

Monday 5: Cleveland edition

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Happy Monday! Do people ever ask you what you did over the weekend and you completely blank? That happens to me all the time and even now I’m having trouble recalling all that happened…and it’s not even over!!

The highlight of the weekend was certainly a concerto competition we attended at University of South Carolina in Columbia. There were eight quartets composed of high school students from various states in the Southeast, they were all so talented! The music was lovely and watching teenagers master a skill that takes so much dedication was pretty inspiring.

Last week I promised to share a few things about my trip to Cleveland that I’m excited about…so here they are! It really was a fun couple of days and I was impressed with how picturesque some of the areas of Cleveland are…and how big Lake Eerie is!!!

Barrio Mexican restaurant

On Monday night we ate dinner at a local chain called Barrio which had really good (and inexpensive) tacos. What really stood out especially to me was their Tuscan guacamole which had a balsamic vinaigrette, pine nuts, goat cheese (my fave!) and sun-dried tomatoes..among other things. It was seriously so good. The environment is also cute and fun, a little different from your average Mexican restaurant. We went to the location downtown but they also have one in Tremont area, Lakewood and Cleveland heights. Highly recommend a meal there! Don’t. Forget. The Guac.

Rooftop bar at Hilton hotel 

This hotel is new to the downtown Cleveland area and I’m so glad we stopped by because they have a sweet rooftop bar. It’s called Bar 32 and is (conveniently) located on the thirty second floor. The view it pretty incredible; you can really see how massive Lake Eerie is and so much of the city! It’s the perfect spot for a delicious gin and tonic (and a cool pic for Insta).

Westside market

We ate lunch here and it was probably one of my favorite parts. Walking around to see all the different vendors and eating lunch on a bench on the second floor overlooking the whole place was awesome. You can come here to grab lunch or a snack or even buy some groceries. We saw several bakery stands, meat vendors and various types of international cuisine (we chose Judy’s oasis gourmet middle eastern food where we bought some yummy Baba Ganoush, tabouli and pita bread to share). The building itself is very picturesque with incredibly high arched ceilings and huge windows that let sunlight in. This is a fun place to walk around if you’re downtown, and the amount of sweets they had was incredible.

Buckeyes 

I had heard rumors about this Ohioan dessert and was eager to try one for myself while I was in Buckeye Nation. It turns out you can’t really go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter (who knew?!). We bought a few at Westside market and they were delicious. I tried both milk and dark chocolate and somewhat preferred the milk chocolate but both were good. I really want to learn how to make these now, they seem like a fun, simple dessert to bring to a party or have people come over!

Saint John the Evangelist 

We went to Mass Monday evening at the cathedral downtown called St. John the Evangelist. It was such a beautiful church, definitely worth stopping in for a few minutes to look around. The artwork and organ are so impressive! There’s something so romantic and therapeutic about admiring beautiful churches, you kind of feel in awe of the grandeur, a little smaller. I think it’s a healthy way to focus on something larger than life (or whatever we’re currently worried about at the moment) for a few minutes…to be reminded it’s not really all about us (which is actually kind of a relief).

I hope this comes in handy if there are any upcoming trips to the Cleveland area. I’ll admit I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and hope to go back soon 😉

Happy Monday!

xo

Miranda

 

Unoffendable: The importance of living in truth in a culture of offense

As a general rule, we’re not nice in our family. Snide remarks and brutal honesty prevail, and if you receive a compliment, it’s probably sarcastic (‘you’re a genius’ is one I get pretty frequently).

Being sensitive, this dynamic caused me a lot of angst growing up. Storming off to my room in tears was not uncommon and I still feel the need to warn people before they come over about any harsh words they may hear while visiting.

While I did get hurt often and felt envious of the families where “I love you” was not responded to with an “ew”, I am very appreciative of this idiosyncrasy now.

On a regular basis I hear people talking about being offended, or how they (accidentally) offended others, or are worried they might offend someone. We tread lightly and tiptoe around the feelings and beliefs of others, not wanting to offend someone, or come across as offensive. We live in a culture of offense, where we are fearful of being considered offensive and looking to be offended by someone else.

Having grown up in the family that I did, I am often perplexed at the comments/jokes/media that people find offensive…like you should spend thirty minutes at my house and see how you feel.

The reason I’m now grateful for the tough (and highly offensive) love I received growing up, is that it has made me a lot stronger than I would be otherwise. Being offended easily is a weakness, it makes us a victim.

You made me feel this way. Your comment had this effect on me. My feelings are hurt by what you said.

This mentality causes us to hand over our happiness (and long-term, our well-being) to someone else. We are no longer responsible for how we feel but rather reliant on the words of others.

There is a psychologist who lived in a concentration camp during WWII who talks about this phenomenon (can you think of anything more offensive that what happened to the concentration camp refugees?). What he assures us, is that between someone’s comment and our reaction is choice. We can choose to not allow someone’s comment/joke to offend us. Furthermore, we do so because we live in truth.

If someone says something about you that you don’t like, there are always two options: either it’s true or it’s not. If it is true then you’re upset because you don’t want them to bring it to light or comment on it; if it’s not true you’re upset that they’re saying a false statement about you.

Both of these rationalizations for our feeling offended are understandable. We don’t like it when someone points out a flaw or shortcoming and we also don’t like it when someone says something about us that is not true. However, if we live in truth, the appropriate response isn’t offense, it’s acceptance. Because if the comment is true, then it’s true! And we should be okay with that. When I make cookies and my sibling says ‘these aren’t very good,’ I don’t like it, but I also know that they aren’t that good (if that is the case…I have about a 70% success rate with baking), so them pointing that out isn’t offensive, it’s just a truth…that I don’t like.

But if the comment is untrue, (like when I make cookies that are really good and someone says they’re not) then the fact that they say it shouldn’t bother us. It’s not true, so who cares? What is the purpose of getting upset over something other than reality?

This acceptance of what is true and what is not brings so much freedom. We don’t have to be upset because someone said something that we don’t like or agree with, our emotions aren’t determined by a passing comment or joke.

I used to spend way too much time upset over careless words or jokes I did not find amusing. Even though I am often affected by the words of others or the media I take in, I know better now than to waste time and energy wallowing or allowing anger and resentment to build up inside of me. I can move on knowing and accepting what is true (and what isn’t).

After all, the truth will set you free (from living offended and second guessing everything you say)!

xo

Miranda