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

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

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

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

Family visiting

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

Meditation

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

This gyro recipe

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

Obedience

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

This quote

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

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

xo

Miranda

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‘All the feels’: What 40 days without music taught me about the emoticoaster

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So 40 days without music might be a slight exaggeration. What it really was is 40 days without music…in the car. As I mentioned when it started, in Christian tradition we have a period of 40 days before Easter when we often make some sort of sacrifice and/or add in some sort of spiritual practice in preparation for the celebration. This time is called Lent and it isn’t the most fun but I’ve always found it to be helpful and a good learning experience.

Listening to music in the car isn’t a bad thing by any means. In fact, singing along to the radio has been one of those daily joys that enlivens my routine and lifts my spirits without fail.

Why give it up then?

Lent is meant to be a more somber time – hopeful, yes – but a little toned down. To me, giving up music in the car (I drive a fair amount) would give me the opportunity to be a little more contemplative and present to this time period while also maintaining some of the seriousness (singing along to Dierks Bentley’s ‘Drunk on a Plane’ doesn’t help maintain a somber attitude).

It was hard. I love music and this was the first time since I was 13 or so (whenever front seat privileges started) that I couldn’t reach out to turn on the radio while in the car.

However even though it didn’t get easier, I did learn from the absence of music day in and day out.

My main takeaway was this: the ‘feels’ aren’t everything.

I noticed that a large part of my frustration with not being able to listen to music was that I was left alone with my often anxious and uneasy thoughts and/or unpleasant emotions. For the longest time I had been able to avoid that by turning on 103.5 WEZL (‘the weasel’…yeah) and listen to the upbeat tunes that helped me not think and feel good. Now I didn’t have the option and it was upsetting to say the least.

Music affects the way we feel. The same thing can be said about a movie, tv show, or even the book you’re currently reading. Media feeds our emotions and people who create it are aware of that. We have increasingly become a culture that is focused on how we feel.

We don’t want to think about the objective reality behind something, but rather how it makes us feel. We judge things as good or bad based on how it makes us feel. We rely on our feelings and emotions to guide us.

In a way, this is helpful. Emotions are meant to be a sort of guide, a compass. We know it’s not okay when someone is mean to us because we feel upset…our sense of justice has been violated and our emotions reflect that.

Being hurt by someone feels bad, therefore we are less likely to put ourselves in a similar situation again. We learn and grow from our feelings.

The problem with emotions is their fleeting nature…I’ve heard it referred to as the ‘emoticoaster.’

One minute you’re cheerful and excited about the day ahead of you, the next you’re livid someone cut you off in traffic on the way to work. Should you act on that emotion? Will it help to yell at the car in front of you or cut someone else off later on?

Not likely.

Like everything, moderation is important when it comes to being guided by our emotions. Not only do they change frequently and easily, they also can be marred by past experiences and hurts. Someone who has been hurt in a serious way before is likely to continue to be affected by that over the course of time. We often develop filters that cause us to interpret things in a way that isn’t in accordance with reality, causing our feelings to also be faulty and potentially lead us astray.

Sitting in the car with nothing but my own thoughts for company, I learned that it’s okay if I don’t feel excited or cheerful or even loving all the time. That doesn’t mean that I will act on those feelings. We aren’t our thoughts and we are not our emotions.

While emotions can be helpful in certain contexts, remember that there is more to us than what we feel. We have our reason, we have experience and we have the reality of right and wrong.

‘All the feels’ can be nice, but to maintain that over the course of time is unrealistic. Acting solely based on how we want to feel isn’t helpful because there is more to us and more to life than how we feel. I love listening to music in the car, and I’m certainly glad I can do so again now that Lent is over. I’m also aware that it shouldn’t be a ‘fix’ to emotions that don’t feel good. Those will typically come and go on their own…and that’s okay.

To live fully means to embrace all of life. Our emotions (including the bad ones) are part of that…but not the whole picture. It’s kind of nice knowing that a bad mood or passing fear doesn’t define you.

Unoffendable: The importance of living in truth in a culture of offense

As a general rule, we’re not nice in our family. Snide remarks and brutal honesty prevail, and if you receive a compliment, it’s probably sarcastic (‘you’re a genius’ is one I get pretty frequently).

Being sensitive, this dynamic caused me a lot of angst growing up. Storming off to my room in tears was not uncommon and I still feel the need to warn people before they come over about any harsh words they may hear while visiting.

While I did get hurt often and felt envious of the families where “I love you” was not responded to with an “ew”, I am very appreciative of this idiosyncrasy now.

On a regular basis I hear people talking about being offended, or how they (accidentally) offended others, or are worried they might offend someone. We tread lightly and tiptoe around the feelings and beliefs of others, not wanting to offend someone, or come across as offensive. We live in a culture of offense, where we are fearful of being considered offensive and looking to be offended by someone else.

Having grown up in the family that I did, I am often perplexed at the comments/jokes/media that people find offensive…like you should spend thirty minutes at my house and see how you feel.

The reason I’m now grateful for the tough (and highly offensive) love I received growing up, is that it has made me a lot stronger than I would be otherwise. Being offended easily is a weakness, it makes us a victim.

You made me feel this way. Your comment had this effect on me. My feelings are hurt by what you said.

This mentality causes us to hand over our happiness (and long-term, our well-being) to someone else. We are no longer responsible for how we feel but rather reliant on the words of others.

There is a psychologist who lived in a concentration camp during WWII who talks about this phenomenon (can you think of anything more offensive that what happened to the concentration camp refugees?). What he assures us, is that between someone’s comment and our reaction is choice. We can choose to not allow someone’s comment/joke to offend us. Furthermore, we do so because we live in truth.

If someone says something about you that you don’t like, there are always two options: either it’s true or it’s not. If it is true then you’re upset because you don’t want them to bring it to light or comment on it; if it’s not true you’re upset that they’re saying a false statement about you.

Both of these rationalizations for our feeling offended are understandable. We don’t like it when someone points out a flaw or shortcoming and we also don’t like it when someone says something about us that is not true. However, if we live in truth, the appropriate response isn’t offense, it’s acceptance. Because if the comment is true, then it’s true! And we should be okay with that. When I make cookies and my sibling says ‘these aren’t very good,’ I don’t like it, but I also know that they aren’t that good (if that is the case…I have about a 70% success rate with baking), so them pointing that out isn’t offensive, it’s just a truth…that I don’t like.

But if the comment is untrue, (like when I make cookies that are really good and someone says they’re not) then the fact that they say it shouldn’t bother us. It’s not true, so who cares? What is the purpose of getting upset over something other than reality?

This acceptance of what is true and what is not brings so much freedom. We don’t have to be upset because someone said something that we don’t like or agree with, our emotions aren’t determined by a passing comment or joke.

I used to spend way too much time upset over careless words or jokes I did not find amusing. Even though I am often affected by the words of others or the media I take in, I know better now than to waste time and energy wallowing or allowing anger and resentment to build up inside of me. I can move on knowing and accepting what is true (and what isn’t).

After all, the truth will set you free (from living offended and second guessing everything you say)!

xo

Miranda

Why Elle King shocked with ‘It’s Different for Girls’

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About six years ago I moved to the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina. For those unfamiliar with the area, Charleston has all the enchantment of an old city (cobblestone streets, picturesque buildings, etc.) combined with the beauty of the water (we’re about ten minutes away from the beach) and excellent cuisine (so many good restaurants). However, a significant flaw about the area which I discovered pretty quickly was that every person I knew loved country music.

Not me.

Six years later, I humbly admit (is it actually humble if you say it’s humble?) that I have come to enjoy country music quite a lot and listen to it frequently. I’m not really sure how the conversion happened, but here we are.

A song that came out a few months ago that especially caught my attention was one by Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King called ‘It’s Different for Girls’ (which incidentally was nominated for a Grammy this weekend). The reason why it shocked me is pretty obvious when you listen to the lyrics:

“It’s different for girls, nobody said it was fair: When love disappears, they can’t pretend it was never there.”

The song goes on to describe the differences between how men and women cope with break-ups:

“A guy gets drunk with his friends and he might hook up. Fast forward through the pain, pushing back when the tears come on…it’s different for girls.”

My first thought when I had heard the song was: “this is going to get a lot of backlash.”

In today’s hook-up culture that especially encourages women to put themselves out there and not get too attached, this song contradicts the popular notion that women can and should pursue casual encounters with men, becoming both physically and emotionally intimate without any commitment.

Not only that, but even more surprising was Ms. King agreeing with him, echoing the song’s controversial message with her lines:

“She don’t sleep all day and leave the house a wreck. She don’t have the luxury to let herself go…”

This is coming from the woman who is behind the hits: Ex’s and Oh’s and ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ both of which have very different perspectives from this country tune.

While I certainly am an advocate of all people being created equal, I do see where Dierks is coming from; after all, though men and women are equal, we are also different.

This is especially evident in our relationality (the importance we place on our relationships) and the way closeness with another person affects us deeply. We largely define ourselves by our relationships: with our family, our friends and our boyfriends/husbands.

That is not to say that men are unaffected by intimacy, rather because of the way we are made, even ‘casual’ intimacy (physical or emotional) touches women deeply, whether we want it to or not.

Part of that is due to a chemical called oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ that is released after having sex, having a baby and even during more casual physical contact. This hormone is called the ‘love hormone’ because it creates a feeling of affection and trust in the person it is attached to.

Think of having a baby, how incredible of a miracle that is, the level of attachment that exists between mother and child. You don’t have to have experienced it personally to know that there is nothing more powerful than the love of a mother for her child. Safe to say, oxytocin is a powerful hormone. And in the right context, it’s an amazing thing. Oxytocin bonds people. So, even when you’re mad at your husband or frustrated with your daughter, there’s a deeper connection that goes beyond how you feel for them at the moment…it’s a chemical, biological bond.

However the trouble starts with the words we hear in Dierks Bentley and Elle King’s song.

We can’t just “fast forward through the pain, pushing back when the tears come on.”

We don’t say “it’s okay, I never loved him anyway.”

We might try; we might go out, drink too much, go home with another guy, max our credit cards, tell our friends we’re ‘over it’…but the truth lies in the tears that come when we’re alone, the unwanted memories, and the longing for the phone to ring.

Not only are we sad the person is gone, we’re frustrated that we aren’t okay about it. Days, weeks, months go by; we should be over it but we’re not. Why? Because we’re physically wired so that intimacy matters; is has a deep impact on our lives.

This is actually a pretty cool thing because we’re made to love and be loved; and love by definition has two components: exclusivity and permanency.

Therefore, anything less than that, for example  a one night stand or a five year marriage that ends in divorce…isn’t going to cut it. It’s not supposed to.

So what does this mean for us?

Emotionally, psychologically and physically we’re made for more…and that is what we should look for. Not a fling, not a rebound, not a guy who doesn’t know what he wants or isn’t ‘ready’ to commit. That is going to end in heartbreak, it’s not what we are made for.

Love is ultimately a gift of self…how can we give ourselves to someone who isn’t going to stick around? It’s similar to pouring money into an investment that is going to fail…not a smart decision.

We have to start expecting more from our relationships. There’s a lot of cynicism out there because of the high divorce rate and fewer and fewer people committing to each other for the long-term…it’s up to us to turn that around.

Romantic love can start from a healthy friendship, it can grow and flourish when we push through the fear and risk encountering someone and becoming close to them, not just using them for a more favorable relationship status or fleeting pleasure. But it starts with our expectations. If we expect a healthy, committed relationship, that is what we will attract. Of course this is harder to come by than a hook up but I think good things are worth waiting for.

As women we should honor ourselves by only accepting the kind of love we were made for…not anything less. I suspect more often than not, men respect that. They may not be able to always come through for us, but one day one will…and that’s all you need.

I know Valentine’s Day can be a sore subject for many of us, but I like to look at it hopefully. True romance is a beautiful gift and when we have the patience and courage to wait for it, we experience firsthand how powerful and wonderful it really is.

After all,

“There is no greater force against evil in the world than the love of a man and woman in marriage.” – Raymond Burke

Elle and Dierks may have caught us off guard with this song. I wouldn’t be surprised if some listeners were offended by their message; but Elle’s contribution adds credibility to what is already scientific fact. She sings from her personal experience as a woman which has taught her that it is different girls. And thank God it is, because our desire for authentic love is what centers us and men and is a reminder of what really matters.