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

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This weekend was definitely one for the books. My stepdad turned 50 and we had quite the celebration. We decked out the backyard with tent, tables, chairs, heaters and an enormous bonfire. It was a lot of work (my brother did not stop all weekend) but it was a lot of fun. It was good to see family I hadn’t seen in a while (and introduce Nicholas to them) and to meet new people as well.

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Most of Saturday was spent getting ready for the party but Sunday Nicholas and I finally got to go sailing! One of the first conversations we ever had was about Nicholas’ love of sailboats so it was exciting to bring that dream to fruition. It was a beautiful day and sailing around the Charleston harbor was so relaxing. We didn’t know any of the people we were sailing with (Nicholas had exchanged a couple of emails with the boat owner) but they were very warm and welcoming. We were only out for a few hours but we really enjoyed it. Later that afternoon we had a Christmas party with the teens from youth group and Pope Francis was in attendance! (Ok not really but yesterday was his birthday).

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Cannot believe Christmas is a week away, eek! I hope everyone has had a chance to get some shopping done and reflect on all the blessings we have! Other than that, here are some other things I’m excited about this week.

Birchbox

I’m not a makeup person. I always get so overwhelmed anytime I need to buy new mascara or BB cream that I put it off for way too long. When I do finally get around to buying some I’m often disappointed because it isn’t really what I was looking for or doesn’t do everything it says it does. That’s why I was excited when my mom got me a Birchbox subscription for my birthday. This way I get some samples every month so I’m mostly stocked and when I do find something I really like I can buy it knowing that it’s a sound purchase. Plus I get to try things I normally never would like sparkly eyeliner. It’s also so fun to have some mail to look forward to each month! I think this is a great gift idea for any girl (even if it’s just a gift from you to you ;)).

Sailing 

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I was so excited to finally go sailing and it really was a great experience. I love the clothes associated with sailing (stripes, boat shoes, lots of white and navy) and the boats themselves are so pretty. There is something about being on the water that makes it really difficult to be stressed or anxious. It was liberating and calming to be away from everything for a little bit and just enjoy our beautiful surroundings. It was a little chilly but luckily I was pretty bundled up so it wasn’t a huge problem. There is actually quite a bit to sailing; lots of terms to learn and all that goes into getting the boat to move. I learned a tiny bit yesterday but am excited to keep understanding more. I loved getting some pictures of Charleston from this standpoint, we live in such a photogenic area! I know Nicholas really enjoys sailing so I’m hopeful we’ll be able to do this somewhat regularly.

Homemade brunch

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Brunch is the ‘thing to do’ these days. We love brunch. Especially in Charleston, we’re so lucky to have so many charming, delicious options! For Nicholas’ birthday we decided to switch it up a little and do brunch at his apartment. It was a great time. He made shrimp and grits that were incredible and we really enjoyed being able to host people instead of meeting someplace else. There’s something about inviting people into a home that is very intimate and welcoming in a way that eating out just isn’t. It’s definitely something that requires more work (and $ on the part of the host), but I think doing it every once in a while is totally worth it. It was especially cool to bring people together like our young adult friends and my family…worlds colliding!

All things Christmas

This week is it! I can’t believe how fast this season has gone by. I feel like there’s still so much to do! I’m excited to go all out with gifts, Christmas music, cookies and especially taking some time to reflect on what is coming. I think now is especially a good opportunity to remember all the blessings we have, to count them one by one. Gratitude is the antidote to hopelessness and dejection. When we realize how much we truly have to be grateful for (ex: family, health, work, friends, a car…) we can have hope for what is to come knowing all that we’ve already received. I hope everyone has a truly merry Christmas!

9 months

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It feels like yesterday I was writing the post about our 6 month milestone. Time just goes by so darn fast! It really has been #miracholas. No one really tells you how truly messy relationships can be. It makes sense though, when we think about how complex the human person is. We all have hurt and fears and insecurities and difficulties that haunt us and surface when someone gets close. It is the beauty of intimacy, being known and loved deeply…despite our evident imperfection. I can see how the challenge has helped us grow and how good that is. I’m so grateful for all that we’ve gone through – the good and the difficult – and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us!

Have a wonderful last week before Christmas!

xo

Miranda

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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

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: November & other things I’m excited about this week

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After all the anticipation for Halloween weekend, I ended up getting sick and was in bed for most of it.

But, I will say it was nice to actually do nothing for an extended period of time for the first time in a while. That is an upside of getting sick, it forces you to rest – whether you want to or not.

We were able to go to a Halloween party Friday evening for a bit which was really fun. The couple who hosted had a beautiful house on Daniel Island and had converted the basement into a haunted maze! It was really fun (and spooky), we were really impressed! They even had a selfie station for us to commemorate our night with!

Thank you to everyone who gave me costume suggestions, there were some awesome ideas! We ended up going with Elliot & JD from the TV show ‘Scrubs’. Nicholas spray painted his hair black, I wore a blonde wig and we both wore scrubs and stethoscopes. We were a little apprehensive since it didn’t seem as obvious as we had hoped, but we had fun regardless.

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It is a little harder to feel excited about things when you’re sick, however these are some things that are helping me to feel a little better about this week despite being a little under the weather.

All Saints Day

I really love this feast day taking place on Wednesday that celebrates all the holy men and women that have gone before us. Learning about the saints is always so inspiring, not only because of what they accomplished, but also because of the struggles they faced. Celebrations are such an important part of life! And this is an especially good reason to do so. I’m especially excited since this year we’re having an All Saints Day party, which I’ve had a lot of fun planning. Although if anyone has any food ideas, please let me know!! So far I mainly have games and decorations figured out.

Homemade donuts

Making donuts was on my Fall to do list and we were able to do so with Nicholas’s family last week. They were so good! And so easy to make. All you need is some vegetable oil, biscuit dough and whatever you want as toppings (we used powdered sugar, cinnamon and brown sugar and a glaze). You separate the dough into the ‘biscuits’ and then using something about the size of a quarter, make holes in the center (we used the top of the cinnamon container…very orthodox). You can set aside these small pieces of dough to make donut holes. You then heat up the oil to about medium high and then when it is hot place the donuts in the oil until golden brown. After you can put the toppings desired on top. So yummy!! Good for breakfast the next day too.

November

To me, the holiday season really starts in November. It finally gets chilly here in Charleston, we know Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away and Christmas shortly after that!!! I really love to take advantage of this season to make our homes beautiful, spend more time with friends and family, and of course, eat good food. I certainly don’t want to rush through this time or stress out about all there is to do, simply enjoy it! November is also a great opportunity for us to remember all that we have to be grateful for, something we should do more often…but now is as good as a time as ever ;).

Old-school movies

Saturday my brother and I watched the original, 1978 Superman (his choice, not mine). It’s crazy how much the film industry has changed since then. Especially in the area of special effects, the difference is incredible. There were certainly moments I cringed at the cheesy-ness of the movie and there were definitely aspects that were not entirely realistic (it is a superhero movie made in the 70s, after all), but what I really did appreciate about the movie was how innocent it was. There was no graphic sex scene, no crude humor, nothing that would make me embarrassed to watch it with my parents or around younger kids. Even the bad guys weren’t as bad as the villains today seem to be. I’m not sure what led to our movies being so different in that regard than those made 30-40 years ago, but it was quite refreshing to take a break from the often discouraging Hollywood scene we have today.

Greatest Love Story

I think this may be the second time I put a LANCO song on my Monday 5, but this one definitely merits it! I heard this song for the first few times without finishing it and was disappointed thinking that it was another ‘has been love story’ songs that seem to be everywhere. But one day I actually finished the whole song and it had a really sweet, happy ending! It made me so happy and it’s honestly a good song too, not only because of the message. I get so excited every time it comes on! Love.

Anyway, hope you have a Happy Halloween and All Saints Day!

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

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This weekend was definitely an adventurous one. I went camping for the first time since high school with four men in the mountains of Brevard, North Carolina.

To be fair, the camp site was pretty nice; we had grills, showers, wifi…the guys called it ‘glamping,’ but I slept outside so I didn’t see anything glamorous about that, #thankyouverymuch.

There was a fair amount of apprehension going into the camping trip on my end but all in all I had a really great time. I struggled with the sleeping part (I couldn’t stop thinking about bears and serial killers and there was a bug-in-the-tent incident). But I really enjoyed the hiking and spending time with Nicholas and some friends in the beautiful outdoors.

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It did rain our last day which made our packing up highly unpleasant, but the boys were troopers and got it all done quickly and without complaining (I helped a tiny bit).

I am excited to have a bed to sleep in again but I do hope to go camping again some time. I hope you had a good weekend without any thoughts of bears or serial killers, hopefully you have something to be excited about…if not, here are some thoughts to get you started!

Masculinity

 

It was really interesting to spend so much time with only guys. Even though I grew up with a brother and spend a great deal amount of time with Nicholas, I feel like this weekend I grew to understand men and how they operate a little better this weekend.

I noticed that they were all upset when they heard the camp site was as nice as it was, they really wanted to ‘rough it’ in nature…something about being able to survive in wilderness is really important to them, an instinct I have trouble relating to.

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They felt so much accomplishment from getting the fires started (which is actually pretty difficult), and putting up the tents, and taking them down after. That challenge of conquering the outdoors seems to really speak to their identity. I was so impressed with how they worked together to make camping possible, the leadership they demonstrated and the sweat they put into all the necessary tasks. I think it’s really important to let be men be men. Today we have an unfortunate tendency of wanting to suffocate masculinity in the name of civility and equality, but I think that is causing more damage to men and women.

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Women are frustrated because men won’t act like men and men are frustrated because they feel they can’t. I felt protected this weekend because the men I was with stepped up, and I don’t think that makes me weak or the guys chauvinistic; it’s just part of how we complement each other. Men aren’t just like women and women aren’t just like men, and thank goodness for that.

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Biscuit Head

We stopped here for lunch per the recommendation of my friend Rachel (shout out!) and were really impressed. I think living in Charleston spoils us sometimes with the plethora of excellent cuisine and therefore are often disappointed when eat out in other cities. However, Biscuit Head was a notable exception. It’s a chain started in Asheville that sells gourmet biscuits that are super tasty. They also have a wide variety of jams and butters to try which were equally delicious. I ordered ‘The Classic’ which was a biscuit with egg and cheese, while Nicholas ordered the pulled pork biscuit, both were exceptional. The biscuits are enormous, and if you get the Classic it comes with a side. The more substantial ones don’t come with a side, but you definitely don’t need it. I highly recommend this restaurant if you visit Greenville, SC or Asheville!

Table decor

Last weekend was my mom’s birthday and we celebrated with a France themed get together Tuesday evening (can you tell I love themed parties?). One of my favorite ideas that I stole from one of our books on entertaining (I’ll list it in next week’s 5) is one for table setting. All you do is buy a bouquet of flowers and use a stem for each napkin. You put the napkin in a napkin ring, make a name card and tie it with twine or ribbon and then slip the flower into the napkin ring. It’s so pretty! And simple and cheap. Love love love.

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Challenge

What I learned this weekend about camping is that it requires a ton of work. From the planning to the packing to the setting up to just getting in your tent (freaking zippers), nothing comes without effort. While frustrating at times, there is something really important and rewarding about working hard. I know our lives can be so easy, so comfortable, which can often lead to complacency. Camping was a wake up call to all we have to be grateful for that I often take for granted and why it’s important to keep striving even if it seems unnecessary. Challenge, whether physical or emotional, helps us grow and become better, more compassionate people…something this world really needs.

Friendship

Our friend Brent (shout out #2!) told us this weekend that every time he saw me with Nicholas I was laughing: ‘I’m always like, what did Nick do this time?’ – Brent

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This weekend was great not only because we got to spend time together and with friends, but also because the time gave us the opportunity to work on our friendship. It’s really important to be friends with your significant other and for it not to be a purely romantic relationship. By this, I don’t mean that you have to be just like your s/o or have everything in common. I respect Nicholas when I accept his differences in thought, habits or preferences. We can still get along and have good discussions and enjoy each other’s company. Our differences challenge us to love each other for who we are and to see things from a different perspective. I think laughing together is one of the best things about our relationship and that can exist whether we both have all the same hobbies or not (we don’t).

Here’s to honoring the differences in the people around us this week (especially between men and women).

xo

Miranda

What we can learn from the evolution of Taylor Swift

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I still remember where I was when I heard one of Taylor Swift’s songs for the first time. I was riding in the back of a neighbor’s minivan and my friend showed me the CD case of her debut album as we listened to ‘Teardrops on my Guitar.’ I liked her music right away and from then on was an enthusiastic ‘Swiftie (Swifty?).’

Most of Taylor’s early tunes involve her liking someone, longing for them, enjoying and admiring them, or breaking up with them. As a fourteen year old, I related to her thoughts quite a bit. Even as I got older I continued to enjoy her songs and got so excited each time a new single or album was released. I remember freshman year of college gushing about ‘Red’ with my friends and two years later listening to ‘1989’ on repeat.

Over the years, you can definitely notice a shift away from the country style she started out with to a more pop sound. Not only that, but as Taylor got older, her lyrics also lost some of their hopefulness and sweetness that are so prevalent in her early songs like ‘Love Story’ or ‘Fearless’ or ‘Hey Stephen.’

Her song ‘Blank Space’ made this especially evident as she mocks the reputation given to her by the media of being a psycho man eater who preys on a guy any chance she gets. I remember watching the music video in a music class junior year of college and being in awe of the dark humor we hadn’t really seen before.

This change of tone was also clear in her song ‘Bad Blood’ with a threatening music video to accompany it; now the difference is especially vivid with her newest release, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ which would give a younger me nightmares.

Taylor Swift certainly knows what she’s doing as an artist. Everything she does she does very well, she clearly has a vision and carries it out faithfully. Her tunes are catchy and communicate clearly what she wants to say with each song and video…it is admirably intentional. Not only that, but especially the last two albums have been sensational, meaning they have created a sensation. People talk about it, whether you like her, hate her, think she’s overrated…you’ve probably had a conversation about her newest release.

While I admire her work and can enjoy her latest hits, this last album especially has made me nostalgic for the sweet, romantic Taylor we first met. I think growing up in the spotlight has to be really tough, and I think her experiences have made Taylor Swift a lot more jaded. Even behind the scenes you see her joking around, playing it cool, not wanting to take anything too seriously.

Seeing her change you could say that this is what happens to all of us as we get older. We realize that life isn’t always peachy, we get hurt, we learn from it, we become more realistic…we grow up.

Maybe you can say that 27 year old T-Sizzle is a lot more mature than her 16-year-old self, and I’m sure you’re right; but I wouldn’t say that her outlook on life is somehow superior now than it was 10 years ago.

Her songs now express a hurt that has been caused by friends who turned on her, criticisms she’s received and repeated heartbreak. We see this in her lyrics that denounce romance and instead pronounce relationships as little more than games to be played (Are You Ready For it).

I think to an extent we all experience these sort of wounds over the course of our lives, but I guess I’m not sure becoming hard and cynical is the answer. I think as children we’re really good at trusting, we’re highly dependent on others. As we get older we become more independent and often reluctant to rely on others for anything. We have our own dreams, our own goals, our own needs and wants that don’t require someone else’s help. As long as we can get the job, buy the house, run the marathon, travel…we’re satisfied, complete, invulnerable.

I wonder, though, if those ‘acquisitions’ are enough to fulfill our desire for intimacy. I wonder if we let someone in, we could someday prove that the new Taylor Swift isn’t 100% right in denouncing love. I wonder if our dreams and goals are things we can share and work toward with another person. I wonder if maybe the young Taylor had it right and just got a little misguided on her rise to fame. I wonder if that’s what happens to all of us (minus the fame).

Maybe Taylor Swift isn’t as cynical as her new songs imply, I hope that is the case. Being open to loving and being loved by other people is possibly the most important part of our lives, hurt is inevitable but I don’t think we would ever want heartbreak to have the final word.

Recently I’ve been listening a lot to singer/songwriter Alanna Boudreau. In her song ‘I’ll be your Woman’, she says:

“Keep your affection in boxes, keep your heart free, that’s what they told you those sly foxes but that don’t faze me.”

Isn’t that so true though? We are told that, whether it’s by Taylor Swift, media, our friends or family or even our own experiences…we’re told to be on guard and I think that may be causing more harm than good. If we’re always looking out for ourselves we’ll miss the opportunity to experience the joy that comes from deep communion with others, from self-gift and from really knowing and being known by another person.

I may sing along with Taylor Swift’s newest, catchy hits, but I hope I live my life a little more like the teenager who sung about dancing in the rain and eyes that are like the jungle.

 

 

*Picture taken on our way to Sullivan’s Island while listening/singing along to some old school Taylor*

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