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

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

 

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.

 

 

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

High Standards: why I have them and why you should too

High standards: why I have them and why you should too.

I’m going to go ahead and give you the key takeaway from this post:

You should have high standards for yourself, your relationships, your career and your life because you deserve them.

I just saved you five more minutes of reading; so, you’re welcome.

Here’s the deal: high standards and being a perfectionist are NOT the same thing. I already wrote a post about the dangers of being a perfectionist and I stand by what I said.

Having high standards doesn’t mean you, or everything you do, is perfect. It doesn’t mean you’ll never mess up, it doesn’t mean you’ll never fail or never disappoint yourself or someone else. You will oversleep, you’ll miss the gym, you’ll eat too much, you’ll forget something important for work and you’ll wear your shirt inside out. (Hopefully all of this won’t happen on the same day, but, you get what I’m saying).

Having high standards means having goals for yourself and your relationships that are worthy of who you are.

Having high standards means taking care of yourself. Always aiming to get enough to sleep, stay active and eat well, even if that doesn’t always happen.

Having high standards means dressing in a way that reflects your personality, your love of beauty and most importantly, your dignity.

Having high standards means only being friends with people who love, care and respect you and treat you in a way that reflects that.

Having high standards means knowing your talents and pursuing a career that enables you to use them.

Having high standards means knowing your worth as a person and not allowing any relationship in your life question, undermine, or contradict that.

The thing about our standards is that you only live up to the standards you setMeaning if you are afraid to go for what you really want and work hard to get it, you won’t get it. In order to achieve something we have to first recognize that it’s possible. Unfortunately people often close the doors on their dreams because they tell themselves it’s unrealistic and that’s that. I know that you are completely capable of achieving whatever you want, but to do so, you have to raise your standards to the level you ultimately want to reach.

People will challenge you. People want to feel better about their decisions, so they try to make yours more like theirs. This is an important reason why I always have surrounded myself with friends who inspire me to be better. Look around, are the people you spend time with encouraging you or bringing you down? It can be hard to face but letting go of the people who affect us negatively is crucial to success.

What do you really want? What kind of lifestyle do you want to have? What kind of relationship do you want to be in? Take the time to think about what it is you want, it can be scary to admit because it seems so out of reach; but I’m here to tell you that it is completely possible, you just have to raise your standards and start working to reach them.

Joy

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Do you ever find yourself putting off happiness? It sounds like a weird thing to do, (probably because it is), but I also know that it is not uncommon. I’ll feel happy when…I lose weight, graduate from college/high school/, have a boyfriend…the list can get very long. We create our own paradox by wanting to be happy while simultaneously putting specific conditions around it that delay us from achieving it.

Recently it’s been occurring to me, why can’t I just feel happy now? Why am I procrastinating being happy? How does that even make sense? I think the reason we do this is because we always feel we need a reason to be happy. We feel happy because we got asked out on a date or because we finally got those shoes that are super cute and comfy (plus they were on sale!)…that joy we feel is always preceded by a ‘because’.

But most days we don’t get asked out on dates, or get new shoes or get a raise, so we don’t experience joy because we don’t feel we have reason to. We feel tired because we had to stay up studying the night before or upset because we want to lose ten pounds but it’s so hard…so we put off feeling joy until we have what we consider to be a valid reason.

What if we didn’t need a reason? What if we just felt joy right now? Just because we’re alive and probably have a million things to be grateful for already. I know it can be difficult to  experience joy when we feel there isn’t a ‘good reason’ to do so, it’s illogical!

I’ve begun to challenge myself to feel joyful right now. Even though I’m just sitting at work and nothing special has happened and I have a million things to do and I don’t want to study…I want to feel joyful; because day to day, work, school, this is what makes up our lives. And yes, those special moments that happen are parts of our lives too but why save joy for a handful of rare occasions? If most of our lives will be spent in ordinary days doing ordinary things shouldn’t we try to enjoy them?

It may seem counter-intuitive and I know it hasn’t been easy but it has made a difference. Maybe just once a day this week or even once this week, consider choosing joy. Even if nothing ‘special’ is going on, choose to feel good right now! I believe that those who achieve success are able to make happiness a mindset, not a place to get to.

A helpful hint: it makes it a million times easier to access those feelings of joy and happiness when you are well-rested, nourished and stress-free. Take care of yourself! It makes all the difference in the world, promise. If you need some tips on how to do so check out this article.


 

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Buddha 


 

Good luck!

Miranda