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

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

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

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

Family visiting

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

Meditation

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

This gyro recipe

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

Obedience

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

This quote

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

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

xo

Miranda

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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: Surprise parties & other things I’m excited about this week

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I know in a lot of places today isn’t a great day…so many storms doing so much damage! Here in Charleston we are getting a tiny bit of Hurricane Irma, it’s stormy and windy and the power has already cut out once. Praying for all those areas that have been so seriously affected!

That being said, I think finding the silver lining is so incredibly important, especially on days like today. That’s why I decided to go ahead and have my Monday 5 go out today, I’m sorry I missed last week because of the holiday!

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I know writing this brought me a little hope and peace and hopefully will do the same for you, or at least remind you to make a list of things that bring you some hope and peace.

Here are some things I’m excited about on this stormy Monday.

Sway

I came across this song on Spotify and have been listening to it on repeat for the past four days. It’s so cute!!! I love the laid back, relaxed vibe that makes you want to just dance barefoot in your kitchen. A perfect pick-me-up song that you can listen to after a long day of work or hanging out on a lazy Saturday (or on a hurricane day).

Paddle boarding

Nicholas finally got a paddle board last weekend after searching the many secondhand selling sites for months. We picked it up last Saturday afternoon and took it out for our first ride Sunday morning! It was definitely precarious with the two of us on there but we managed to stay on. Nicholas paddled while I sat in the front, it was a beautiful and peaceful way to start the day. It is such a relaxing hobby and perfect for a town that is surrounded by water, it definitely doesn’t require the skill that surfing necessitates and is something you can easily go do with others or on your own. It is a good workout, though, since it requires a fair amount of strength to stay balanced (as I found out the hard way). We’ve gone twice in the morning so far and have gone on one sunset ride as well…so fun!! It’s great for us to get 45 minutes where we can talk or just enjoy each other’s company quietly while admiring all the beauty of Shem Creek.

Oyster roast season

One thing that is pretty popular here in Charleston is the oyster roast. I went to my first one a few years ago and now I get excited about them too. Typically you go someplace that has long tables and the roasted oysters come out and are thrown unceremoniously on the tables still steaming hot. From there you use shucking knives to break them open (or in my case ask someone to do it for you) and then use crackers and/or cocktail sauce if desired. It’s fun to dress in fall gear and get a group together to stand around and chat. Charleston has several oyster roasts throughout the season and I’m excited to make it to one soon!

British-themed surprise parties

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Our friend Lucia (shout out!) spent the summer in England (Cambridge, no less) working at an elite summer camp for high schoolers. We decided to welcome her back with a taste of her summer days. I made scones (from a mix), had a bowl of goldfish and potato chips (fish n’ chips), crown shaped sugar cookies (from scratch), and some ‘wine gummies’ I found in the British section of Publix (very authentic…as you can imagine). We had champagne and a slew of British decorations I had found around my house (we are all anglophiles). Nicholas put up a British flag made from streamers. It was a fun night, we had a few good friends of Lucia come and enjoyed chatting for a few hours. I of course loved planning and putting together the small event and am already scheming for the next one!

Lettering

Since third grade when I went to an all girls’s school in Venezuela, I’ve taken a lot of pride in good handwriting. I think it is such a nice, small detail that can make a big difference! Whether it’s on an invite, a letter, your personal notes or a sign, pretty handwriting can be such a game changer! Recently I’ve been working a little more on lettering, I don’t completely follow the models I find on Pinterest but I combine them with my cursive. It’s a fun, relaxing project to work on while listening to music and can come into use for gifts and decorating! I’m excited to continue to improve.

I hope everyone is safe and dry this weekend! Here’s to finding the silver lining on a very cloudy day.

xo

Miranda

 

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