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

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This weekend was another fun one in Charleston. Friday evening we watched an interesting documentary on Medjugorje. Saturday we had some people over for hot dogs and bonfire and yesterday a few of us made it out to the beach! Tourist season can be a little overwhelming here but if you know where and when to go, it’s not so bad.

It’s gray and rainy here in Charleston and it’s supposed to rain most of the week, which I’m not excited about. But thinking up my weekly list helped me perk up a little.

What are you looking forward to this week?

Waiting

Waiting can be really hard. Especially when you really want something and it’s not 100% in your control…waiting feels painful and can get old real fast. I’m not a patient person to begin with, so waiting for anything, even to pay at the checkout line or for the light to turn green can frustrate me quite a bit. However, I do think patience is a good quality to have and I think there are a few ‘tricks’ to help us more antsy people. One idea came from one of the Blessed is She women and I thought it was very wise, which is to focus on others. There’s something really stress relieving about thinking of ways that you can be helpful to someone else, as opposed to keeping the focus on ourselves. Of course we need to do what we need to do, but when we go out of our way to think and do for others, I find my own stress is lessened at least a little.

Another aspect of waiting I have been thinking about is excitement. While enjoying the present moment is essential, there’s also something to be said about looking forward to things you are hopeful about. Sometimes that can carry us through times that aren’t as fun and remind us why we’re still pushing through.

Crafts

I am not a crafty person. While I love art and have a sincere appreciation for beauty and creativity, bringing those to life has never been a strong suit for me. Even in grade school I remember being so frustrated that the art projects we had to work on didn’t turn out how I wanted them to. It wasn’t something that came naturally to me. Playing violin is probably as close as I have ever gotten to that; the difference is that with something like violin you can practice the same piece over and over until it’s perfect. With crafts, you usually have to go from start to finish and then if it doesn’t turn out, start over. Last week I decided to try a craft for the first time in a long time and I remembered why I tend to avoid them…I definitely became frustrated when it wasn’t exactly how I had envisioned it in my head. However I ended up finishing the project and using it to decorate my room anyway. I’m now working on a different craft; I genuinely enjoy it when I’m not being critical of my work. I think the tendency toward perfectionism shouldn’t stop us from doing things we’re not great at…and hopefully improvement will come with time.

Journaling

I’ve kept a journal consistently since I was twelve or so. It’s crazy to look back on entries when you were in a completely different stage of life and how much things have changed since then. Since I’ve gotten older I definitely am not as dedicated as I used to be, I even went a month or so without writing anything when my last journal ran out of room. This weekend I finally got around to buying a new one – I really like these by Studio Oh! – and I’m already glad I did. Not everyone finds journaling helpful, but I think for some of us it can be a great way of working through thoughts in a healthy way as opposed to letting them run in circles inside your head. And then years later it’s really entertaining to look back on how much you had to say about the 16 year old boy with blond hair in your homeroom class.

Summer bucket lists

My best friend and I did these while in college for a few years and even though I don’t have a summer break like we used to, I think it’s a good tradition worth keeping. Time can go by so fast and those things you want to do and say you will ‘one day’ go undone. Bucket lists for specific time periods I think are easier to accomplish, summer is especially cool because there tends to be so much going on!

Perseverance

I think perseverance is such an underrated quality. It’s not as glamorous as courage or as intimidating as humility, but I think it is so important. Even if it’s something relatively insignificant such as learning how to cook, perseverance can get us far. It becomes even more essential in things like relationships where difficulties aren’t resolved overnight. I think I’ve found perseverance especially helpful because I’m not super skilled. While I love a lot of things, I can’t say that many of them come super easily to me (writing could be an exception). When it comes to running, cooking, baking, crafts…I certainly have had my fair share of failures and frustrations, but haven’t wanted to stop trying either. So even when I can’t say I’m good at something, I can say I persevered despite that. I think when it comes to the real challenges in life (not cupcake decorating), you really don’t mean much more than to keep trying.

I hope this week holds things you’re excited about!

xo

Miranda

The ‘safe space’ we actually need

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Monday 5: Being steadfast & other things to be excited about this week.

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Another weekend come and gone! Friday evening my sister came into town for the weekend, we had a nice time exploring Fort Moultrie with a couple of her friends Saturday morning. I love doing the touristy things when people come to visit!

We also went to one of my favorite restaurants here in Mount Pleasant, called Vickery’s which is by the water and has delicious seafood.

This past week was a restful one as I had not one but two days off unexpectedly! Pretty sweet. I could have been a lot more productive with my time off but it was certainly nice to have time that I could make for those things that normally don’t fit in your schedule (like talking to your grandma and attempting homemade bread).

I hope this week is a good one, here are five things I’m excited about that I wanted to share!

Kale and pasta recipe

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to stray (just a little) from my Pinterest tendencies and explore recipes from cookbooks and magazines. This was one I found in the February issue of Bon Appetit and loved it! It’s pretty simple, the main ingredients are a thick pasta and kale with a fair amount of black pepper. I like that it did include kale (which I’m not a huge fan of) and that it used a type of pasta that I hadn’t tried before. I think it’s a great dish for a weekday that you don’t have a lot of time but want something that is yummy and semi-nutritious.

Something I’m good at

Okay I know I put a song in last week’s Monday 5 but I couldn’t help myself…I’m obsessed with Brett Eldredge’s newest release ‘Somethin’ I’m Good At.’ It’s so funny! And catchy and just a happy tune that makes me smile. It’s different from most country songs on the radio right now and I just love how upbeat and happy-go-lucky it is.

Party hats

Last week I went to Old Navy and while waiting in line to pay I saw these adorable party hats by Meri Meri. Hosting a good party is a skill I hope to nurture and develop more over time and I think it is often all about the details. These hats are definitely one of those fun, cutesy things that add more flavor and character to events. The colors are really pretty and I love the sparkle at the bottom! It turns out Meri Meri has some pretty great party favors, definitely worth a look before your next event!

Homemade bread!!!

Okay if the exclamation points didn’t give it away, I’m really excited about this one. A goal I recently set for myself is learning how to make delicious homemade bread. Growing up my grandmother had the best homemade bread and eating it when we went to visit her was an absolute treat. I feel like making bread is one of those lost arts that people don’t make time for anymore and I think it’s too bad. There’s something really rewarding about putting time and effort (kneading is hard!) into something special to share with others. After chatting with my grandmother for about half an hour just about the directions in the recipe she uses, I felt more confident going into my project (wouldn’t it be great if we could do that with Martha Stewart?!). I didn’t have super high expectations but I was really pleased with the results. While not as good as my grandmother’s, the bread I made was yummy and had a great texture. I hope to keep refining this skill and share some of the love with people I know!

Steadfast-ness

So it turns out steadfast isn’t meant to be a noun…just an adjective. But steadfast is such a great word. It means ‘resolutely or dutifully unwavering’ (definition courtesy of Google). I know I can often be driven by a momentary emotion or thought; so for example, if I think in the morning, ‘it would nice to have smoothie today,’ I’ll often go out of my way to get a smoothie, whether I really should or not. Or if I get irritated by something small or feel uncertainty about something, I’ll make my next decision based on what I feel at that moment…as opposed to allowing the feeling to pass before acting. This can become unhealthy especially when it comes to strong emotions like fear and big decisions. I like the idea of being steadfast because I think of it as a more integrated way to be. Instead of acting based on one feeling or thought, you take into consideration the whole picture and use logic in addition to emotion. I guess something I’d like to work on is being more steadfast, allowing a thought to be just a thought and a feeling to be just a feeling before making decisions based on things that aren’t necessarily the whole truth.

Happy Monday!

xo

Miranda

Lizzie McGuire and what she got right about our thoughts

What are you thinking about right now?

I’m sure part of you is focused on this article and wondering where this is going. You may also be simultaneously asking yourself if you’re hungry enough to eat the rest of your breakfast, or if you should stop reading this and do something more productive (definitely not), or regretting not going to the gym this morning, or worrying about work/school/your family…

My point is you’re probably not just thinking one thing at any point in time. Our thoughts tend to jump around from one thing to the next so quickly and often overlap so that we can do one thing while thinking about at least one other thing that is completely unrelated.

If you grew up in the 90’s, you most likely came across a show called Lizzie McGuire. Just your typical teen girl, Lizzie struggled with all the things normal teen girls go through like buying your first bra, the dreamy (but sadly oblivious) guy and the mean girl who somehow was super popular despite her mean-ness.

In the show, Lizzie had a cartoon counterpart- we’ll call her Cartoon Lizzie. So when Lizzie was in the middle of a conversation or event we would get insight into what was really going on in her head through Cartoon Lizzie’s (much more honest) reaction.

Often I feel that I have my own Cartoon Lizzie living in my head who talks and reacts relentlessly. In fact sometimes I feel more in tune to my inner voice than what is going on around me.

I became more aware of this tendency recently when I started reading ‘Mindfulness: An 8-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world‘ (highly recommend it, btw). I’ve increasingly noticed my ability (or vice) to be having a conversation with someone while thinking about something or someone else entirely.

While this may seem harmless (if slightly rude), the chaotic stream of thoughts is what often causes the anxiety and uneasiness we experience in our day-to-day lives. Instead of focusing on what is currently happening we live inside our heads, controlled by a constant, frantic stream of thoughts that is often unrelated to reality.

As hard as it may be to wrap our heads around, our thoughts are not truth. And you are not what you think. This is crucial to grasp because I think too often we accept our thoughts as matters of fact instead of what they really are: just thoughts.

This can be dangerous when you have thoughts like…

I look like crap right now.

I’m not good enough for him.

I shouldn’t feel this way…why do I feel this way

I shouldn’t have eaten that

She’s prettier than I am

This is not going to go well

Whether they’re anything like these or completely different, we often have thoughts that are pessimistic and self-defeating that we quickly accept without question.

Thoughts ≠ Truth

If we don’t learn to live in the present moment and forgo the constant stream of thoughts, we leave ourselves to the mercy of something that will never serve us or allow us to enjoy our lives.

While Cartoon Lizzie certainly added humor and even some honesty to Lizzie McGuire, I don’t think we should let our inner cartoon run our lives. Staying grounded to (the often less dramatic) reality and living the moment instead of thinking about it is definitely something I want to learn through mindfulness.

After all, I’d rather live my life than just think about it. Wouldn’t you?

xoxo

Miranda