Monday 5: 8 months & other things I’m excited about this week

What a lovely, lovely weekend. My dear friend Olivia (shout out!) got married this weekend to another friend of ours, Jackson. It was such a beautiful service and reception. They had a small, intimate wedding with so much heart! What made it even better was that Nicholas was able to get off work and come too! We didn’t think he’d be able to make it so when we found out Friday afternoon that he’d be off, I was so, so excited.

It was the most beautiful (70 degrees and sunny), fun day and I’m so happy for the newly weds! We were so fortunate to be a part of the celebration. We also had a bonfire Saturday evening which is always a good time (although  I did go to bed at 10pm because I was so exhausted!)

This week will be a short one since Thanksgiving is Thursday! My siblings and I will be headed to visit dad in NC. Aside from some time off, here are some things I’m excited about this week.

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Baby Christmas tree

For part of his 8 month gift, Nicholas gave me a little tiny Christmas tree for my room. I love it! I think plants inside the house can give such a refreshing look to any room. They are a simple, inexpensive way to decorate and bring life to your home. What I have to figure out now is how to decorate it!

Christmas lights

Speaking of Christmas….it’s almost a month away! I try to hold off from getting too excited about Christmas until after Thanksgiving (gotta take it one holiday at a time) but I came across Christmas lights for $2.99 at Wal-mart last week and without hesitating bought some and put them up as soon as I could. Christmas lights bring me so much joy. I think they are so cozy and such an easy way to enjoy the season! I plan on going back and buying some more if they still have that deal.

Family time

One of the great things about Charleston is that there is so much to do. Even when it’s chilly, there are so many places to eat/drink/shop/visit. Additionally, most of my friends live here so there’s typically always someone for me to go do something with. On the other end of the spectrum is where my dad lives, in rural NC with the closest grocery store a good 12 minutes away. It’s always hard for me to adjust to the much slower pace of life and embrace being a homebody whenever I visit my dad. However, I think it’s a good thing for all of us to do every once in a while, disconnect and appreciate the down time. Busy-ness can be addicting and taking a break from it every once in a while helps us take a step back and appreciate all that life has to offer outside of the to-do list. Spending time with family without an agenda is a necessary and important thing to do and I’m excited that this week will allow me to do so!

Pork schnitzel

So this Friday we went back to a spot called Warehouse. I was so pleased with the environment, drinks and food. Last time we only got drinks which were definitely tasty. But this time we ordered the pork roll and it was honestly one of the better meals I think I’ve had in Charleston. The fried pork came in a pretzel roll (so yum) with broccolini and a honey mustard sauce. The ambiance is local neighborhood bar with exposed brick, cement floors and ladders hanging from the walls; they also have a pool table! It’s a great spot to take friends on a Friday night!

8 months

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What a ride. It’s crazy how you can not know someone at all and then a few months later they are this huge part of your life! Nicholas and I have had our fair share of struggles because we both bring our ‘garbage’ into this relationship. Love isn’t easy but it really is beautiful. We have had so many good times intermingled with difficulty, and that has made it all the more precious to us. We know that the effort is worth it and want to grow and learn from it! Maybe our culture glorifies detachment and freedom, but what can be more freeing that choosing to love someone in spite of the challenge it can pose? We are so blessed to have these 8 months and I’m really looking forward to many more to come.

Genuine love is demanding, but it’s beauty lies precisely in the demands it makes. -Saint John Paul the Great

I hope everyone enjoys this time of thanksgiving!

xo

Miranda

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

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What a fun Fall weekend. It was definitely a chilly one but we got to spend time with friends, celebrate birthdays, check out new stores and have dinner on the water! It was nice too because we got to spend time with different groups of friends that we don’t see as often. I always feel so blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with friends, community is so important!

Nicholas had his first recruitment dinner last night (a dinner for current residents to meet with candidates who are considering joining the program) and for that we went to a spot called Fleet Landing. It is one of the few restaurants in downtown Charleston that is on the water. It’s cool because it is nice abut not too ritzy. The vibe is very nautical and no-frills. The food was very good, I got a shrimp salad and Nicholas got the shrimp and grits, I have to say I think his dish was better- so yummy!

It’s crazy that this is the last week before Thanksgiving! This season is flying by. Here are some things I’m looking forward to this week, I hope you take a minute to make your own list too!

Southern Living Store

We happened to go to the shopping center in Mount Pleasant where Southern Living opened a store. I honestly had no idea Southern Living had stores, much less that there was one in the town I live in! We ventured inside Saturday morning and it was so fun! They really have beautiful things, lots of smaller items like dishtowels and hand creams, water bottles, cookbooks etc. And they have larger items to decorate your home as well. I loved the style (simple and comfy) and we had so much fun reading funny sayings on much of the merchandise like “crazy is the new black” or “I think my guardian angel drinks” or “in queso emergency”. It’s a great place to get fun, cute gifts or to just look around and get some inspiration for your own home!

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Spiked hot chocolate

We had a friend’s birthday Saturday evening (shout out to Juliana!) and we weren’t sure what to bring, I don’t remember which one of us came up with the idea but we decided to bring spiked hot chocolate! Nicholas found this recipe on Pinterest and it was so good. The only change I made was add the peppermint schnapps. It was really delicious. It is also very rich, so you and your guests probably won’t want more than a cup or two. I think it’s a great option to bring to a party or for having family over the holidays! It’s so yummy and warm and comforting.

Candles

In the vein of hygge, which I talked about last week, I’ve been lighting a lot of candles recently. When it’s cold outside, and especially if it’s cold and gloomy, a candle can make such a difference. It really makes the whole room feel so much more cozy and comfortable. We have so many candles that we rarely use, it’s been nice to finally actually use them. I think I feel like there has to be a special occasion for us to light candles, but that really isn’t true (at least, the candle police hasn’t said anything so far). I think little things like that can lift our mood so much and it’s important to make the most of them! If anyone has any other little things that make them feel better during the day, please share!

This quote:

My brother sent me a bit by a comedian about the ‘gender war.’ It was a really funny segment on how men and women think differently. For example, for women a comment such as ‘it’s cold in here’ is really a request that the temperature be changed, and if it is ignored, the man may find himself being asked questions like “do you even love me?” before too long. One of my favorite lines was this:

“Men and women need each other. Because women bring life into this world, we need them. And women, women can’t reach all the shelves, so they need us too.”

Vulnerability

Nicholas sent this quote yesterday and I think it’s definitely worth sharing:

“There is no intimacy without vulnerability and no vulnerability without surrender.”

In relationships, whether friends, family or our significant others, vulnerability is a requirement of intimacy. Obviously in different relationships there should be different levels of vulnerability. You shouldn’t be as vulnerable with a girlfriend as you are with your spouse, for example. However, regardless of the degree, pretending to have it all together and never admitting any weakness prevents us from achieving a higher level of closeness. Especially in our closest relationships, vulnerability is so essential. We all carry our own wounds, struggles and shortcomings. We all have times of our lives that are especially difficult for some reason or another. To admit that we have been hurt, to admit that we mess up, to admit that we need the other person’s support is not needy, it is human and invites the other person to a deeper understanding of who we are. When we are vulnerable, we express trust and we allow the other person to love us more completely, brokenness and all. When we do the same for the other person, we have the opportunity to practice empathy and compassion and to love the person unconditionally. Learning to be vulnerable is really tough, but it’s good for us to keep in mind that the next time we’re struggling with something, the next time we’re acutely aware of a weakness, we can share it with the person closest to us. In doing so we deepen the intimacy and lighten our load just a little.

Happy Monday!

xo

Miranda

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

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Weekends are just the best. Especially ones when you’re not sick and can do things! Friday night I went out with a couple of girlfriends to a spot called Gene’s Haufbrau (oldest bar in Charleston!) and then to a wine and cheese restaurant in West Ashley. We enjoyed some much needed girl time.

Saturday after getting some housework done, Nicholas and I rode bikes to our friend Sara’s house to watch part of the Clemson game. After halftime we left to ride more around Old Village. That night we enjoyed a bonfire on the beach with some friends. Sunday we went to Mass at the cathedral (such a beautiful service!) and then went to a coffee shop called Kudu to get some work done. Sunday evening we helped out with the high school youth group.

It was such a lovely weekend with an extra hour of sleep!! I hope you were able to take advantage and get some rest.

Here is this week’s five, I hope they put some pep into your Monday or at least help you think of your own five!

Gratitude jar

Of course November is a good month to recall all we are grateful for. To make this a little easier, I made a mason jar our ‘gratitude jar’ where we put in post-it notes with what we are grateful for that particular day. At the end of the month we’ll read them out loud to remind us of all that we have to be thankful for!

Hygge

Last week I got to catch up with my friend Bernadette (shout out!) who is living a couple hours away from me with her husband and new baby! One concept she introduced me to is called ‘hygge’, (pronounced huggah) it’s a danish term that means ‘cozy’ or ‘charming’. The idea is to find ways to make your home (or work place) warm and inviting. Whether it’s changing how you arrange your furniture or something as simple as lighting a candle or turning on a lamp, we can make adjustments to bring ‘hygge’ into our everyday lives. I love this concept and am so excited to implement it. I think coziness is such a lovely attribute that brings so much joy and comfort!

Lifestyle changes

For any of you out there who struggle with anxiety, I am right there with you. It really has been tough to battle the distressing thoughts and sometimes overwhelming fears that take over. Nicholas and I have discussed extensively what to do about it and this week we’ve decided to work on making some lifestyle improvements that are supposed to also help with anxiety. Of course, it’s mainly for me but he’s willing to do it with me in order to have some accountability. Some of those changes include getting 8.5 hours of sleep a night, exercising every day (*gulp*) and reducing caffeine intake (!!!). I’m really hoping some of these changes will help and will let you know if they are effective! If anyone has some other tips out there please share!

Boundaries

On the note of anxiety, another helpful tool for me has been the idea of having boundaries with your thoughts. That may seem a little weird, to have boundaries with yourself; but the idea is that when a fear comes to mind, instead of letting it loose and it then wrecking havoc in your head, choosing to set a boundary by simply dismissing the fear altogether. Right off the bat, just saying ‘nope, not gonna go there.’ Shutting down the fear instead of exploring it can be really helpful. The trouble isn’t so much the thoughts themselves as much as what we do with them.

Forgiveness

Something I’m coming to realize more and more is the number of times we have to forgive and be forgiven. It happens so often that I have to let something go, whether I feel like it or not. Even more often is the number of times I have to sincerely apologize for saying or doing something I know I shouldn’t have. Forgiveness is really difficult sometimes, but it’s easier when we remember how many times we have messed up and relied on someone else’s willingness to let it go. This week I want to be me proactive about letting the small things go and giving people the benefit of the doubt, especially since I know the same has been done for me over and over.

xo

Miranda

Monday 5: Self-compassion & other things I’m excited about

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This weekend was another action filled one with both family on my side and on Nicholas’ side in town. After a quick trip to Sullivan’s Island with the Cundiffs, my brother, my sister, her boyfriend and I all picked up my dad from the train station and had dinner together.

The next morning my brother prepared us a Venezuelan brunch (so good!) and we explored a historic site called ‘McLeod Plantation’. it was a beautiful, peaceful place and the weather was perfect. We also stopped on the pumpkin patch on our way!

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We also went to the movies to see Tom Cruise in ‘American Made’, it was a movie that was very well done with a pretty crazy story (based on real events) about a pilot and the American government’s involvement with the drug cartel. Note: it is not family friendly.

Saturday evening we had dinner at one of our family’s favorite restaurants in Mount Pleasant, The Granary. Sunday morning we all said goodbye to dad and then I went to the 11:15 service at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist with the Cundiffs and after we went to brunch at Hominy Grill!

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It was a nice weekend filled with quality time with family, one of my favorite things!

Hopefully your weekend was fun and relaxing and you have things to look forward in the week ahead! In case you need some ideas, here are some things I’m excited about this week.

Meet the fam

Thursday evening we had the Cundiffs over for dinner at my house. While Nicholas had met my family before and I his, they had never met each other. Since the Cundiffs live at least a 12 hour drive away, the chances for them to meet my family not been many (read 0) so it made sense to take advantage of this rare opportunity. There’s something scary about families meeting, you really can’t control how they are going to act or if they are going to get along or not. I think most of tend to avoid this encounter for as long as we can, but it really is important. Our families know us the best, they are an incredibly important part of who we are and including them in our intimate relationships is not only healthy, but necessary. It’s easy to isolate ourselves as we get older and keep our different ‘lives’ separate, and while I understand why that’s attractive (believe me, I really do) there is something really wholesome about inviting others, especially those you are close to, into your relationship and not closing yourself off. I think the dinner went as well as we could have hoped for, and I feel at peace knowing that my family knows Nicholas just a little bit better now.

Self-compassion

We all have our weaknesses, some which at times can get the best of us. Whether it’s a bad habit, a difficulty in a certain area, or strong fear we have, it’s easy to get down on ourselves for being/having/doing something we dislike. However, I think criticizing or begrudging those parts of ourselves that we struggle with is actually counter productive. While it’s certainly helpful to have awareness of those things we want to work on, I’m not sure that condemning them is. We want to allow room for us to be compassionate towards those parts of us that are lacking, the same way we would toward a friend or family member who is going through something. I think compassion is a much better starting place for healing or improvement than disparagement. It’s a hard habit to break, but I think working toward a understanding of our shortcomings is an outlook worth developing that will be more likely to lead us to progress.

The King’s Speech

I hadn’t seen this movie in a while but when we watched it over the weekend I was reminded of how excellent it is. Talk about weakness, to see the soon-to-be king of England absolutely grapple with his speech impediment is straight up painful. I liked too, how his speech therapist (Logan) recognizes that the physical problem is really just a symptom for a deeper, emotional and psychological trauma. He treats the wound itself and not merely it’s manifestation. I loved the King’s wife (played beautifully by Helen Bonham Carter) and what an important role she had too. Her encouragement, support, faith and gentleness kept His Royal Highness sane and grounded when he felt tempted to give up. It is a beautiful dynamic that demonstrated how we can be loved despite our worst problems. If you haven’t seen the movie, or haven’t seen it in a while, I think it is well worth your time.

Halloween costumes

How the heck did Halloween come so fast?! This Friday we are going to a couple’s house who throw an epic Halloween party party every year and I’m so excited. The problem is, I’m not good at Halloween and have no idea what to dress up as! It would be fun to do a couple’s costume too, but it has to be something that isn’t too cheesy. I love the idea of doing something clever or well thought out (without spending much money on a costume, of course). I’m really excited to look at some more ideas, but suggestions are welcome!!!

This quote

Life itself is a haphazard, untidy, messy affair.

-Dorothy Day

Love love love! Such a good, true, beautiful statement. I want to remind myself of this every day.

Hope you have an untidy, messy, haphazard week!

xo

Miranda

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

‘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