If I could write a love song: My response to Maren Morris


When I was seven or eight, I had an altercation with my BFF (shout out to Maria in NYC!) and decided to write a song to her explaining how I felt.

It didn’t end well. Unlike Mozart or Lil Romeo I was not a young musical genius and so my music writing efforts didn’t result in much.

However, I’ve always enjoyed music and loved expressing myself that way. I played violin through college and have always loved listening to music too. Early on Taylor Swift was my girl (she sings about boys, what else do you care about in middle or high school?). Even now I love coming across a song with lyrics I relate to and a sweet tune.

Recently, country singer Maren Morris’ song ‘I could use a love song’ has been stuck in my head. I think she really hits the nail on the head as to how a lot of us feel today in regard to relationships. Despite overwhelming cynicism in our generation, a part of us longs for romance and the kind of love that lasts a lifetime. As much as we fill our lives with work and friends and hobbies and a date or two, part of us is longing for more.

Having been in a committed relationship for the past few months, I’ve learned a LITTLE bit (just a tiny bit) about what it really means to love someone…and unfortunately it’s not in any of T-sizzle’s catchy tunes. If I could write a love song, Maren Morris, I would. But I can’t because it would be terrible. But if I could, here are some things I would want to say:

Love doesn’t feel good.

Okay, sometimes it does. Sometimes you’re smiling and laughing and feeling warm and fuzzy. But a lot of times it’s a lot less like the Notebook and a lot more like a documentary that’s a little too real or even slightly boring. Loving someone isn’t just a feeling, it’s choice that you make over and over…even when it’s hard. There are times when you’re both really tired and just sitting there next to each other has to be enough. There are times where you go out with their work friends and feel a little awkward and left out. There are times where you disagree on sensitive topics or even really little things like whether gages are cute or not (they’re not…just so we’re clear). There are times where the person will disappoint you; whether it’s something they did now or yesterday or when they were in college…none of those times feel good. But the good news is that love isn’t a feeling. That is good because when these discomforts arise – which they will because we’re HUMAN and not a Hollywood film – we can still choose the other person.

Love takes work.

Somehow movies tend to end when the couple gets together…we never see what happens after the ‘happily ever after.’ Falling in love is just the beginning. A lot of divorces happen because people stop ‘feeling it.’ They slowly move farther and farther apart as they get caught up in other priorities (work, children etc) and neglect their relationship. Regular date nights, reconnecting daily, playing together, sharing in each other’s interests…these are all necessary to maintain a healthy and loving relationship with your significant other. Also things like keeping a lark journal or photo album are helpful. I think it’s easy to get comfortable with the ones we love and then complain when the ‘spark’ is gone. Fortunately the ‘spark’ is something we can work on. It just takes…work. Love needs to be nurtured and protected, not taken for granted.

Love is healing.

We all have wounds from loved ones. Whether it’s our imperfect parents, previous romantic relationships or some traumatic event, we have hurt that stays with us. Love is healing. In healthy and loving relationships we re-learn (or un-learn falsehoods) about what it means to love and be loved. Today a big movement out there is telling us to be independent; as counter cultural as it may seem, I’m saying you’re not and never have been. We’re born reliant on others and though we may learn to provide for ourselves, love is something we can only learn in relation to others. That doesn’t mean it has to be a romantic relationship; we can learn this from family or friends as well, but it does mean we need others. To trust and be trusted, to give and receive, to be vulnerable, to be intimate…these are only things we can learn outside ourselves, regardless of your ability to feed yourself.

Love demands sacrifice.

It just does. Loving someone requires time and energy and effort. You can’t continue to live your life exactly how you want. You begin to take the other person into consideration and think about how your decisions affect them. You think about what makes them happy instead of only what pleases you. You eventually begin to put the other person before you…that is what love does, it makes you selfless. We’re born inherently selfish, (did you as an infant ever think about whether it was convenient for your mom to feed you or not?) out of necessity. Our goal as we grow up is to unlearn that. Loving another person is a wonderful wake up call that can sometimes feel like a slap in the face. We’re no longer just looking out for ourselves and it’s painful. Every instinct tells us to focus on self-preservation, meanwhile we know that we don’t have room for selfishness in relationships. Love is ultimately gift of self, a sacrifice.

Maren Morris could use a love song and I think a lot of us are in that boat. Maybe they aren’t being written as much because we’ve lost sight of what love really looks like. How can we write (or sing) about something we’re not familiar with? Love is hard, and we don’t want that. We’re looking for the easy way out and coming up empty; empty hearts and empty playlists. But we’re missing out, because love is wonderful and absolutely worth fighting for…maybe if someone would come out with a song we would realize that.




Monday 5: Savannah edition


Happy Monday! I hope this weekend was a good one! We enjoyed our day trip to Savannah, GA. I’ve been to Savannah a few times before and have especially enjoyed it the past couple of times. It is such a lovely city with lots of historical sites and very welcome to visitors. Only two hours away from Charleston, it’s an easy drive which makes it perfect for a weekend getaway.

The weather wasn’t great, there was actually a pretty heavy storm for a little bit in the afternoon but luckily we were inside for a tour so we were spared the rain! It was super humid and warm though, just a heads up. I think next time I’d like to go in the Spring or Fall.

In any case, it’s definitely worth a visit if you ever get the chance, here are the top 5 things I’m excited about in Savannah, GA!

City squares


Every block or so in the historic downtown, Savannah has lovely squares with beautiful trees and some sort of historic monument or fountain. It was refreshing to be in a city where you almost see more green than concrete. The squares are nice too because they offer shade, and you might even learn something if you pause to read the text on the landmarks! Also, there are specific ‘ambassadors’ who work for the city who usually hang out in the squares to hand out helpful information for tourists. This is how we found out about the free trams that you can get a ride from and the free boat rides!

Cafe M


I’m very wary of touristy spots whenever I go to a new city. It’s hard to tell online whether a restaurant/shop is actually cute or just a tourist trap! I was a little nervous about Cafe M because it’s on the water which is where most touristy places tend to be, but it turned out to be great! It’s honestly adorable inside and the sandwiches we had were very yummy. Granted, I think locals don’t probably frequent that spot too much, but even so it’s a place I’d happily return to.

St. John the Baptist Cathedral

We were lucky enough to make it in time for daily Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Regardless, just walking around the church would have been a treat. It is seriously gorgeous. This is probably one of the more beautiful cathedrals I’ve been to in the states, so pretty! Definitely well worth a stop if you’re in the area – it was also a nice break from the extreme heat/humidity we had that day!

The childhood home of Flannery O’Connor

As I mentioned a few Monday 5’s ago, we’ve been reading a couple of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories recently. Flannery’s childhood home is in the heart of downtown Savannah close to the cathedral so we decided to stop by. It was a great tour, and free! We learned so much about Flannery, her family and different cultural differences of the time period! It was really cool to see original furniture pieces from her house and to learn about how she got started. Even if you haven’t read her work, just learning about her quirks and tenacity when it comes to writing was super interesting!


We ran into a couple of these oyster shell wreaths, so neat!


A slightly rundown courtyard we ran into…Nicholas made me pose even though I’m not a fan of getting my picture taken…I always feel so awkward in front of the camera!

The Paris Market


This was probably one of my favorite spots. I’ve been a handful of times before and each time just love it. It’s a two story French boutique with a coffee shop attached. They do such a good job of arranging their products in an incredibly creative and beautiful way. Upstairs they have smaller items like candles, creams, scarves, candy and greeting cards (my favorite). Downstairs it’s larger items like furniture, plates, cookbooks and other home items. You could easily spend way too much money here but walking around is so fun and inspiring! I definitely walked away with some craft ideas that I want to try.



Despite the less than ideal weather and the one moment of panic where we thought we had forgotten where the car was, the trip was super nice. We wanted to get in some quality time before Nicholas starts his more intense rotation this week and going to Savannah was such a nice opportunity for that! Adventure is an essential part of relationships and one that is easy to forget about!


Here’s to mini getaways and a new week!



Monday 5: Food & like one other thing I’m excited about this week


Another rainy Monday here in Charleston. Although to be fair (will TBF ever be a thing?!) we got our share of sun Saturday and Sunday morning. But it has rained a lot this summer…the plants are excited about it. This weekend I spent some time with my family; we went to the movies, went to the beach, and had some friends over for brunch Sunday morning.

Nicholas and I went with my brother and a few other friends to play tennis on Sullivan’s Island (they played, I practiced) yesterday afternoon and then we went for a short-lived beach trip since the weather wasn’t ideal.

Hopefully this weather doesn’t last too long, although it is good to get some rainy day activities in (anyone have any suggestions?!).


For our latest ‘monthaversary’, Nicholas gave me a massage (apparently he thinks I’m tightly wound…) and I’m so excited about it. I’ve been thinking of going to get a massage for a few months now but was never able to actually get myself to schedule an appointment. I have my appointment Friday and am definitely looking forward to it. Yay for thoughtful gifts!

Wine & cheese night

Nicholas has been wanting to start a weekly/bi-weekly tradition of some sort of ‘wine night’ for a little bit now and we finally had the first one last night. It was pretty low-key with a few bottles of wine and an assortment of cheeses (thank you to our friend Sara who brought the great spread!). A few people came over and we chatted for a couple of hours. It was nice to have friends over in a smaller group and more laid back environment. I think hosting people is such a nice practice that we don’t see as often anymore. It always feels a lot easier to meet up for drinks or food. Having people over invites a deeper level of intimacy and trust in friendships and gives us an opportunity to practice hospitality (plus you have to clean up a little).

Greek food

I’m not a good cook, as anyone in my family will attest. However, I do like cooking for other people and would like to improve. We’ve decided to try a few recipes together that belong to a certain culture. This week we’re going Greek and hoping to do a little research on the country itself while trying out some of their typical dishes. This way we expand our repertoire, learn a thing or two about other cultures and (hopefully) eat some yummy food.

Homemade brunch

As I said in my intro, Sunday morning we had a few people come over for brunch at our house. My stepdad Ruben made Venezuelan arepas and we had eggs, chocolate croissants and avocado as well. Our house it remarkably small so it was fun to have nine people fit in our snug living room. Everyone loves brunch and there’s something fun about dressing up and going out; however having it at our home was a cool way to bring people together (and a little cheaper for everyone).


Saturday we went to go see Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Even though I had my eyes closed a fair amount, the movie was really well done. The movie depicted what the soldiers went through who had been cornered by Hitler and how they were rescued. We see the soldiers on the island, the air force and the role they played as well as civilians and how they came to the rescue. It was especially impressive how they worked together to bring about relief and how essential each role/person is. It was also incredible to see how much the soldiers went through and to witness the emotional/psychological trauma they experience (in addition to the obvious physical hardships). It was a good movie that is thought provoking and inspiring (and Harry Styles is in it, in case you’re into that sort of thing).

Here’s to another great week!



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


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.


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.



11 things I would tell my younger self


I still know most of the words from Taylor Swift’s ‘Fifteen’ by heart; seven years after I turned 15 and listened to it on the bus heading to school my sophomore year. There’s something really powerful about looking back on life and being able to share a thing or two that you’ve learned with people coming after you.

In her tune, T-Sizzle tells us that when you’re fifteen you might get your heart broken, or you might not like a lot of your peers…which are fair points. I always wished I had an older sister, someone to give me advice about boys and if you can wear white after Labor Day (which I’m still not sure about..). Unfortunately I didn’t have that privilege, but I was lucky enough to learn from other women who have come into my life and who have been kind enough to share some wisdom both through words and example.

Whether you have a big sis or not, these are some things I would tell my younger self…and often remind myself of today. They may or may not be helpful, but hopefully they will at least get you thinking of the many (many) things you’ve learned since you were fifteen.

Find things you love

Whether it’s something athletic (for those of you who are coordinated), or something domestic, or something technological (Netflix doesn’t count) or something else, having things you love to do and doing them is an essential part of who you are. For me, baking, crafting (poorly, but still) and especially recently, swimming are things that I really enjoy and do my best to make time for them. These things are integral to our person and are great and easy ways to de-stress and bring joy into our lives.

Sensitivity is not a weakness

Sometimes us girls (and maybe some guys too) can get flack for being emotional or ‘sensitive…’ even from other girls. As the epitome of a ‘Sensitive Sally,’ I can attest to the frustration that comes from being labeled that way and perceiving that as a disadvantage. I’ll be the first to admit that I am sensitive; but as frustrating as it can be, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Vulnerability and sensitivity are beautiful and necessary things this world desperately needs. Empathy, compassion, sympathy, acts of kindness…these are often brought about by sensitivity to what is going on around us. If we bluntly go through life trying to be the tough guy, we miss out on a lot of opportunities to love and grow.

Your desires are important

We may dismiss what we want as daydreams and try to focus on what is ‘realistic’; but there are few things as real as our authentic desires. Whether it’s in relation to career, state of life or just a goal, our desires exist for a reason…to be fulfilled. Obviously this doesn’t apply to trivial things like the desire for more ice cream (although that’d be nice too), but the real, important dreams like managing your own company or starting a family. Those desires didn’t come from nowhere, and they certainly aren’t there to be ignored.

Goodness is attractive

I’m not saying green eyes aren’t dreamy…but they aren’t the most important thing to look for. Undeniably, striving to be a good person trumps all other qualities we might think matter. This means we not only look for goodness in others, but others look for goodness in us too; and we can’t expect something from others we ourselves don’t have or at least strive for.

Appreciate the good things, like really

It can be easy to take the good things in life for granted. The people we love, our work, time off…we often don’t express the gratitude we should have. Being grateful is possibly one of the best remedies for any sort of sadness or frustration we may be experiencing.

Relationships don’t solve your problems

As Romeo and Juliet so vividly demonstrated, relationships don’t always fix our struggles. In fact, relationships often have the opposite effect where our problems surface. Insecurities we’ve had, fears we’ve suppressed, bad habits we’ve developed…they all come up in the process of growing close to someone. It can be highly unpleasant…but also incredibly important for our personal growth.

People have different body types

For years I wanted Julie Bowen’s figure (she’s like 5’10 and weighs 120 lbs). It took a lot of discussion and reflection to come to the realization that no matter how hard I tried, I would never look like that; I’m just not built that way. Being healthy is essential; part of that is understanding that people have different genetics which affect our body types…the sooner you embrace yours the better off you’ll be.

Boys are kind of dumb

I mean this way in the most endearing way possible. Men have so many strengths and wonderful qualities…but often they aren’t relational. Especially when they’re younger (and maybe a little immature), they can be oblivious when it comes to girls. If we understand this, we can give them the benefit of the doubt when it feels like they’re doing something to hurt us. Sometimes they really are just clueless. This doesn’t excuse being treated poorly, but it does allow us to help the good guys out and forgive the occasional relationship misstep.

Community is a must have…even if you’re an introvert

This is definitely one I wished I had learned earlier. We need people, we need friends and we need meaningful relationships. Becoming close to people in high school, college and after is vital to our well being. If you’re like me and don’t love meeting new people, I know this can be challenging. But the initial discomfort is well worth it when later on you have the love and support from the people you’ve invested in.

Thrift shopping is fun and practical

For a while I turned my nose up at secondhand shops. Today, most of my clothes come from Goodwill or other thrift stores. I enjoy so much the hunt for a quality buy and appreciate it so much more because of the effort I put into the search (as opposed to $$$). It’s a fun thing to do with friends and a lot more practical financially. Every now and then a full priced, new item isn’t a bad thing; but taking advantage of secondhand buys is really fun and smart.

Have faith.

Despite the suffering, hurt, bad days, frustrations, challenges…good is still real. Living a virtuous (patient, humble, loving, hopeful, joyful, prudent) life is possible and the best way to find happiness. Having faith in these things is not only helpful; it’s also the most appropriate response because the good is so tangible.

Don’t let the muggles get you down.



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


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.


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!




3 reasons the risk is worth it


I’m a planner. If I want to see you on the weekend, I’ve typically already reached out by Wednesday night. When I travel, I have a list of places to go, things to do and restaurants to try long before I leave. ‘We’ll play it by ear‘ is one of my least favorite phrases and if I don’t have plans for Friday by Thursday I get a little panicky.

I like to plan because it’s safe. Having a plan means having certainty. I know what I’m doing, where I’m going and (most importantly) who I’m going to be with. Of course, plans change or go awry and I don’t always handle that well, but I’d rather have a plan and have it go wrong than to just not have one…that’s unthinkable.

The flaw in my plan about always having a plan is that there are certain things you can’t plan for.

But honestly, the world we live in today is very conducive to my (slightly) obsessive planning tendencies. Smart phones allow me to check the weather, find directions to my next destination, know how long it’s going to take me to get there, get information on any restaurant or shop I want to go to, message friends instantly, shop, put things in my schedule and invite other people to events, have the lowdown on the happenings near me (and find out who that I know is interested)…it’s a lot of information that leaves little room for ‘what if’s’ and ‘maybe’s’ and especially, ‘I don’t know’s.’

I do know; and I’m very okay with that. We’re very okay with that. As a culture, we don’t like uncertainty…it makes us uncomfortable. We’d rather say ‘no thank you’ than to say ‘yes’ and then be disappointed if it doesn’t go as planned.

The challenge arises with those few but important things in which planning doesn’t work. Namely, relationships of any kind.

The night Nicholas and I met I was not planning on going out. It was a slightly impulsive, very unlike me, last minute decision to meet my friend who was showing him around downtown – instead of going to the weekly dinner I usually go to on Monday nights.

I didn’t know that Nicholas was seriously considering living here when I reached out to interview him for my blog. We weren’t sure where he would be placed for residency when we started dating (he had 1 in 12 chance of landing Charleston). Today, we can’t guarantee that we will continue to choose each other day in and day out…but we move forward despite the uncertainty.

Whether you’re starting a relationship, ending one or have been married ten years, here are some reasons love is worth choosing over and over…despite the risk.

  1. Adventure

    Committed relationships often are associated with ‘settling down;’ we think that after the initial whirlwind is over, that all fun and excitement leaves with it. If that were true I’m not really sure why anyone would want to date someone seriously, much less get married. I don’t think relationships should be boring; in fact,  I would say learning to love someone and sharing your life with them is the ultimate adventure. With the risk involved, the challenges faced and the growth that often results, there isn’t much ‘settling’ involved. Sometimes it doesn’t feel as exciting, and that’s where we are reminded to pursue fun things together and continue to learn about each other since there is always more to discover.

  2. Growth

    Relationships challenge us. No matter how good things are at first, how much you love the other person or how much you consider yourself to be a healthy person…difficulties are inevitable. Sometimes love can be really painful, which is why so many people don’t choose it. But for better or for worse, it is through challenges that we grow. Single life can be tough in it’s own way, but I have found the difficulties faced in relationships to be a lot more trying and a lot more fruitful. Learning to be vulnerable, to trust and to put others before yourself are all important lessons we can only pick up in relation to other people.

  3. Reward

    We’ve all heard the saying, ‘no risk, no reward.’ Risk often leads to failure, failure that can be unbelievably painful. But risk can also result in something more beautiful than we could have imagined. There’s nothing comparable to or more powerful than the love that lasts. If you’re like me and you’re in your twenties, chances are you’ve already been stung by love- or the lack there of. It’s also possible that it happens again, but if we don’t keep trying, we lose it all – the chance to understand why it really is worth it.

    Here’s to embracing uncertainty and the risk that is inevitable in love.



Monday 5: “All in” & other things I’m excited about this week


Happy Monday! If you’re lucky, you’re like me and you have today off. If not, then you have something to look forward to tomorrow!

This weekend the Rodriguez siblings ventured to North Carolina to visit our dad for the long weekend. We’ve enjoyed spending time with him and other good people we know in the area. Yesterday we visited Raleigh, NC, the capital of North Carolina. Raleigh is a fun city, Nicholas and went there in March and enjoyed the places we went and walking around downtown. It has several good restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques. The downtown area itself is clean and has several squares with lots of green and pretty architecture. I hope to keep going back and checking out new places each time I return to NC.

Here is this week’s five, which doesn’t include the short work week but that is also super exciting!

Strawberry dessert

I made these cheesecake stuffed strawberries for the guests we had over this weekend and really loved it. I think it’s great to find sweets/snacks/decorations that are in theme with whatever holiday is going on and if they’re simple- that much better! This is definitely easy and requires only a few ingredients. Also, it only has a little bit of the cheesecake mixture so you don’t feel too guilty (even if you’re like me and eat five in a row).

Ben Shapiro podcast

Ben Shapiro has a podcast called the Daily Wire which I’ve found helpful for understanding what is going on in the political world today. It can get pretty confusing/frustrating for someone like me who doesn’t enjoy that scene to begin with. Ben Shapiro has a way of breaking things down that even the most uninformed person can get a grip of and come away feeling a little more aware of what’s going on in our political system. He also has a good sense of humor and good values…which help me stay tuned in even though I don’t love the subject matter.

Eye masks

This may seem like a silly thing to get excited about (I tend to get excited about pretty minor things) but for someone who struggles to sleep well, anything that helps is pretty darn exciting. I’ve started wearing an eye mask to sleep the past week or so and have slept really well since. I’ve still woken up several times but have managed to fall asleep quickly and return to sleep soon after waking up in the middle of the night. I’m not really sure what it is about the eye mask that helps, certainly it blocks out light which is useful, but I think there’s also a mental part of “it’s time to sleep” that comes with the eye mask since it does block out everything.

“All in”

At Clemson (where I went to undergrad), a big tagline was “All in.'” I struggled to relate to this and didn’t understand what it had to do with our school where the mascot was a tiger. A few years later, I think I know better what they were talking about. There’s always a temptation to keep a distance, to do things halfway, to not give something our everything. There can be different reasons for this: laziness, uncertainty or distraction being a few. I definitely didn’t go ‘all in’ during undergrad unless you count trying to get out of there as soon as possible. I understand now more the value of going as far as you can and giving something 100%, in other words being fully present to where you are, what you are doing and giving it your full effort. This is essential because the way we do things and how much heart we put into it will largely determine the outcome and how much satisfaction we get out of it. Even if we do fail or don’t get it quite right, we know we gave it our best; and that is something to stand by.

4th of July

Holidays are always something to get excited about. Time to spend with family and friends, good food and leisure activities remind us all the good things in life and why celebration is so important. The 4th of July has it’s own charm as we commemorate the great country we live in and enjoy all the summer things like cookouts, pool parties, beach time and barefoot-ness. Feels good to live in the USA.

Happy Monday!




What we’ve learned so far


To say it’s been a learning experience would probably be an understatement. Relationships have a way of challenging us in ways we never would have expected. Suddenly all the insecurities we have, hurts we’ve held on to, perspectives that have gone unchallenged…they all rise to the surface in a somewhat unpleasant and overwhelming manner.

That is why relationships are so important. They help us to grow and teach us to love. While uncomfortable and even painful at times, relationships are where rubber meets the road in terms of our formation. Being nice to friends and even strangers is easy, having a strong disagreement with someone you’re really close to is not. Putting yourself first is easy, letting someone else take priority is not. Relationships are challenging; and because of that they have a lot to teach us.

Here are some of the things we’ve learned from our relationship thus far (Nicholas tried to make it a list of things he’s taught me but I thought I’d spare you the various hipster bands he’s introduced me to):

  1. Ohio isn’t so bad
    Ohio gets a lot of bad rap here in South Carolina, especially in Charleston. I jumped on the bandwagon blindly a few years after I moved here feeling confident that people knew what they were talking about. Turns out the mob mentality isn’t always the wisest; both in Sandusky and Cleveland Nicholas showed me some truly beautiful spots that were a lot of fun to explore.
  2. Assuming the worst isn’t helpful
    This is especially true for texting. Being long distance, texting was huge for us. However sometimes it’s easy to read something and assume the most negative interpretation. While tempting, this is really unhelpful. I don’t think the worst case scenario has ever been the case, and assuming it was just led to unnecessary stress and discontent. More generally, giving people the benefit of the doubt is so important. Yes, they could let you down, but thinking that way won’t protect you and often your loved ones really do have your best interest at heart.
  3. It’s important to celebrate
    We celebrate the day we started dating, the day we went on our first date and the date of our Ask Him Interview Maybe not always with a fancy dinner, but little things like listing ways we appreciate each other, writing in our lark journal and maybe going to a cool spot to spend time together. Really big moments happen rarely, that is why it’s important to make a big deal out of small things.
  4. We can kind of salsa dance
    Learning to dance was something we both have wanted to do. It’s been fun to work on it together. We’re both awkward and I’m especially bad but overcoming the discomfort together has been humbling and brought us closer together. And now we can kind of salsa dance!
  5. It’s not just about us
    A huge lesson for us has been the importance of having a relationship that is open to others (which is different from an open relationship, just fyi). We want it to be a positive thing for our friends, family and the community; not just something we enjoy personally. When we strive to think of others and how we can help them, we feel more at peace with ourselves and the relationship.
  6. Long distance forces you to work on your communication
    Are we glad long distance is over? Um, yeah…yeah you could say that. Are we glad we did it? Yes, yes we are (in Phineas’ voice). What was really helpful about long distance was that we couldn’t do fun things like go out for drinks or swim at the beach; we had to talk. And that’s it. We had to get to know each other strictly through talking and couldn’t break the tension with a game or fun outing. Communicating wasn’t always easy (especially when someone was upset/hurt/tired/frustrated) but we learned that things like honesty, listening and just putting the time in can be really helpful.
  7. Teamwork brings you closer together
    Some of our favorite moments have been taking care of the girls I nanny or babysitting our friend’s kids. When we work together for a larger cause we stop thinking about what we want as individuals and instead about what we can do for the sake of our goal (mainly surviving and keeping the kids alive).
  8. Friendships really do make the best relationships
    For several months we stayed in touch as friends. This made the transition into dating so much smoother and those low-key times helped us to get to know each other in a more relaxed way.
  9. Love is a choice
    When in the face of hardship, love doesn’t feel good. It’s not warm and fuzzy. Day in and day out we choose each other, regardless of how we feel that particular day. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not…but it’s a lot more beautiful because of it. We’re not here because we always felt like it, we’re here because we chose to be…and that is so much more meaningful.
  10. All relationships require a significant level of risk
    In a world where all the information is at our fingertips, uncertainty is not something we’re comfortable with. But in relationships there is none of that. We started dating not knowing where Nicholas would be for the next three years, this could have turned out very differently; and we knew it. But we thought that the risk was worth it and even though we know we have a lot to lose, we still do. No relationship is a sure thing, but if you don’t take a risk you will surely gain nothing.Here’s to learning a lot more in the days to come!



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


Baby breath flowers

I bought these for the first time yesterday and was blown away at how much I loved how they looked. They remind me of flowers you would pick on a field and add such a simple elegance to any room. Fresh flowers are one of those simple pleasures that can make a big difference and make me smile every time I look at them. Baby breath reminds us that you don’t have to be fancy to be beautiful.

This Hawaiian Chicken and Pineapple skewers recipe

I tried this recipe over the weekend and definitely plan on doing a repeat. It’s a relatively simple process and they were still good even without cooking them on the grill. I like that it includes protein and vegetables and fruit in one yummy dish. It’s also easy enough to double and make for several people; good for hosting or bringing to an event!


This weekend we were able to go sailing around the Charleston harbor with the other first year pediatric residents (rough life, right?). It had been quite a while since I had been out on the water and it felt incredible. There’s something so simple and mindful about sailing; there aren’t really a lot of things to distract you from the beauty of the ocean and the people you’re with. It’s not something I get to do very often but I hope to do a little more in the years to come here in Charleston; it seems like such a good way to take advantage of the surrounding water.


Being in the same place as Nicholas has been such a treat for the past few weeks. While long distance was fruitful in it’s own way, being together has helped us grow more and face various challenges head on that were easier to avoid when we were apart. It’s tempting to get caught in the trap of thinking that relationships should be easy – and if they aren’t it’s wrong. But good things require effort; that’s what makes them good…and not just easy. One thing that has been great is being able to do so much more together than we could before. Things like going swimming or running, getting drinks with friends, having people over, cooking, going to Mass, praying, salsa dancing [or attempting to], even just working…it has been truly wonderful. Chores like grocery shopping are a lot more fun when you’re with people you love. Today we place a lot of emphasis on the individual and our independence; but I think there’s a lot of beauty on sharing your life with someone and working toward something together (even if it’s a little more inconvenient sometimes).

This quote

Love between two people is unthinkable without some common good to bind them together. – Saint John Paul the Great

I listened to a good podcast this weekend about love and how it’s more than just ‘I like you, you like me.’ While that is certainly an important part of it, we have to remember that there’s something bigger taking place. The speaker on the podcast gave the example of a professional sports team: they are a group of men or women working toward something great. That is what separates them from just a group of men or women kicking a ball around. They aren’t just there for their personal enjoyment; they’re working toward a higher good – winning. The same applies for couples. It’s not just about the pleasure or even joy that we get out of it (and that will come and go anyway); it’s more importantly about growing together and serving each other and your friends and family. In other words, it’s about being fruitful. We want to be better people and help others; those are the goals we strive for and that is what keeps us together when being alone seems more appealing.

Hope your Monday is enjoyable and fruitful (even if you’re like me and feeling a little sleepy).