A new beginning

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“New year, new you.”

Wouldn’t that be nice?

The idea of a blank page is definitely enticing.

Over the years I’ve become more wary of the New Year’s Resolutions concept. It seems that, more often than not, these lofty goals we set for ourselves in light of the new year fall flat by mid-February – if not before.

At the same time, I can’t deny that the idea is incredibly pervasive and attractive.

I think that’s because we do long for that – a new beginning.

We crave change, growth, newness.

We long for things to be better: our finances, our health, our relationships… New Year’s Resolutions are – I think – simply the most popular manifestation of this universal desire for a new beginning – a resurrection.

The challenge is that human nature is unhelpfully stubborn. Any change we accomplish is typically hard-earned over quite a bit of time.

Looking back over this year I wonder if I changed. It’s hard to say, really.

I went through a lot – externally there was a plenty of change.

But a new leaf isn’t as easy as moving to a different state. Especially when I reflect on the mistakes I made, the things I did that I’m not proud of (to say the least), the hurt I experienced… and caused.

Those things are hard to shake.

However, I think it is necessary that we do so. While I don’t think we should try to run away from our past or pretend it never happened, I think it is important that we don’t let it define us, that we see the potential for change and growth in ourselves.

Man have I messed up, big time. I’ve dropped the ball, loudly, and watched it fall a long, long way down.

I’ve hurt people I love, myself, I’ve said things I regret and can’t take back, I’ve done things that can’t be undone. I guess that’s the reality, you can’t really undo much once you’ve done it.

“It is finished.”

Do I want to? My instinct is yes of course, but then who am I to say all I’ve done isn’t somehow part of the plan? I think what I’ve done and all that I will do – good and bad – has already been accounted for.

“Everything is grace.”

I’m not sure. I don’t know if to be sorry for something is the same thing as regretting it.

Being sorry demands an apology.

What does regret demand? Taking it back… but you can’t.

I know that much. I also know we’re not bound by our past, by what has happened to us, by who we were last year or even yesterday. The seasons themselves prove that change is possible; just like the trees shed their leaves and then bloom again months later, so too, I think, we can let go of the past and begin anew. The only really necessary thing, is hope…and time.

I know I’m probably not dramatically changed from last year – but I think it’s impossible to look back and say I’m exactly the same. I think – if we allow it – our experiences are constantly teaching us, and we are continuously given opportunities to be even slightly different than who we were before… better.

We are made new.

In essence we remain the same, just like a tree doesn’t stop being a tree. But our choices, accompanied by the trappings of grace, can change us – over time.

I can’t look back and say I’m remotely proud of all I’ve done, and I’m sure there are people who would agree wholeheartedly that I have made poor choices – choices that affected others as much as myself.

But I also cannot be chained to them. I can, with Help, change the course and choose one that will help me arrive at my destination – a more loving, whole, and repentant person.

So, yes, I will make New Years resolutions – even though it is highly possible they be forgotten in a few weeks. But even more importantly, I do hope to grow more in 2019: to give more, to forgive more, to love more.

It is a new beginning. Not because it’s New Year’s but because any day can be one if you let the past be just that – the past, and accept the possibility that the path before you has not been set; rather, it is being made as you go, and you can change directions by simply moving your feet or asking for a little help if they get stuck.

I know I have made mistakes, and that I will continue to make them, but that won’t stop me from continuing on my crooked path, not knowing where it will lead me but trusting all the same.

Hold on Loosely: What I learned in 2018

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2018 was a year of limp hands.

Fists clenched so tightly, were forced open – forced to let go.

While a painful lesson, there is a lot of freedom that comes from losing what you thought you couldn’t live without. Because I now know that I can – in fact – live without it. And I can, now, love more freely.

With palms open, not only can we receive much more than when they are closed, we can also allow what should no longer be there – to leave.

Goodbye stranger, goodbye stranger, I wish you all the best.

Ultimately, nothing really belongs to us. Life itself is a gift – something we received through no fault of our own – and something which can be taken from us at any moment; and will be gone inevitably, eventually.

Therefore, each day is a gift. Each day we are allowed to breathe and smile and cry and laugh, is something given to us and something we cannot hold on to too tightly….because it really wasn’t ours to begin with.

We are not our own. We didn’t have a say in when or how we got here and we won’t have a say in when or how we go.

Just as we are not our own, others – even more so – are not ours for the taking.

I learned that to those we come to know, we come to love, our hearts are much like our homes.

We can open the door and let them in, we can show them around and make them feel welcome. Some may stay only momentarily, so when they leave it is easy to go back to business as usual. Some, however, may stay for a while. Make themselves comfortable and become at home in ours.

We may become accustomed to their presence, attached to it. And even in those moments, we have to remember that most people will leave, eventually. Very few people come into our homes to stay forever. And even those who make themselves at home, who leave an imprint during their extended stay, will most likely show themselves out, at some point.

Down the highways, and the byways, may something bring you rest.

Their emptiness will be noted – we may grieve our loss for a while – look around at the house and find that it is not the same, maybe that it doesn’t even feel like home anymore. We may notice a scratch here or spill there caused by them at some point – and while we may resent it now that they are gone, this imperfection is proof that our house was lived in – that it was a home.

We cannot undo their visit, nor should we, as it is an important part of the history – and ultimately – identity of the place. A place that is not merely our own, a place that we had the courage to share with someone else – knowing that they could likely cause damage, that they would make it different by their presence – we are changed because of it.

You see, we could close off our homes to outsiders. We could lock the door and remain inside for the duration of our lives. We could glance out the window from time to time and wonder what it would be like if we threw the door open, but never take the risk.

However, to me an empty home is very dissatisfactory. Not a home, really. I think a home is at it’s best when full. To be a ‘home’ requires that someone be ‘at home’ there. And that is what I think our hearts are…homes.

And so, we can close the blinds and lock the doors – refusing anyone entrance for the sake of our own safety; or we can open the door to whomever knocks, and enjoy their stay – however long – seeing it as a gift, an opportunity to love without reservation or expectation of something in return.

So 2018 was a year of learning this hard-earned lesson. Of realizing that just because you let someone in, doesn’t mean they will stay. And just because they don’t stay, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have let them in.

I ain’t easy, but I ain’t cold

Come back my way if you’re feelin’ low.

Goodbye stranger

AB

2018 was a year of limp hands.

My hope for 2019 is that it will be a year of receptivity. A year of open hands, ready to receive whatever lands in them.

Whether it be for a brief visit, or an extended stay, or even a guest who decides to make my home theirs, I hope to be open and responsive to whomever shows up at my doorstep.

If this life is a gift – I think it is a gift that is best shared with others. Otherwise it ceases to be a gift and instead turns into a mere act of self-preservation.

This song, ‘Hold on Loosely’ was introduced to me months back while I was still grappling with my clenched fists. While at first it didn’t quite sink in, I have come to realize the wisdom that these lyrics hold.

It’s a song about the understanding that your loved ones are not an extension of yourself. They are ‘other’ and deserve to be treated as such. We can respect differences, admire their person and leave them plenty of room to breathe; room to choose us – freely.

I hope, in 2019, to have the courage to open the door. To make my home beautiful and keep it so, not for my own sake, but for the person who seeks rest and refuge there some day.

Because otherwise my home will be an empty one, which really isn’t a home at all, only a house.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

C.S. LEWIS

2018 had definitive highs and lows. But I guess that is life, and really how we grow. ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.’

2019 is to be a year of hope. It’s a new beginning, a new chapter. We must be emptied before we can be filled, and in 2018 my hands were emptied.

There are good things ahead, dear friends.

What did you learn in 2018? And what are your dreams for 2019?

Hopefully,

Miranda 

Being at peace right where you are

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I think we probably all have dreams. At least I hope we all do.

Dreaming is an integral part of our humanity, as far as I can tell. In fact I think it’s one of our strongest assets. I don’t think we would have accomplished half the things we have as a race if we couldn’t dream.

Beautiful churches, music, technological advances, delicious food, a well-organized home, cities, books and stylish clothing…all of it requires some sort of vision first; these things don’t happen by chance, they require intention and forethought to be put into action.

Dreaming may seem to be something of a luxury – for those with too much time on their hands and not enough practicality, but I would argue that it is a necessary part of life.

I think dreams don’t necessarily come out of nowhere, I think in a very real way we receive dreams. When we have the time and patience to sit still for long enough, something comes to us that lights a fire inside of our hearts. Suddenly we feel excited, hopeful, motivated, inspired.

It’s easy as we get older to dismiss dreams as not ‘realistic’ or even childish, but I don’t think Martin Luther King Jr was being outlandish or immature when he wrote his “I have a Dream” speech.

Even someone like JK Rowling or JRR Tolkien, in a way their dreams were outlandish and childish but they brought their dreams to life in the perfect way and we all have benefited as a result.

I think dreams are part of our identity, from them we glean a better understanding of what we are called to do, of our purpose, our mission. You see, while dreams are dreams for a time, they are not meant to stay dreams.

Dreams give us direction, inspiration to act. The kind of life we want to live, the things we want to accomplish – big or small – the relationships we want to have…they stem from our ability to envision something and then bring it to life. 

Our ability to dream is one of our greatest gifts.

On the other hand, it doesn’t do to dwell on our dreams and not enjoy the now. The present moment is also a gift, one we would not do well to let slip through our fingers.

Something I greatly resent about technology – as wonderful as it is in many other ways – is how it robs us of the present moment. How many times I’ve looked up to see my friends looking at their screens, or have caught myself responding to a text instead of to the person I’m physically with.

Sometimes I get caught up in the vision I have of how things could be and give up on the time I’m given as a bad job.

This isn’t really fair as while dreams are beautiful, wonderful and necessary, they can only come to reality one moment at a time. We have to learn to be completely immersed in present moment awareness – reveling in the goodness and realness of it all – to then enjoy the dreams that later may come to fruition.

Being at peace with exactly where we are is a skill that will bring so much joy and ease of being to our lives. Of course it is also a hard-earned one since anxieties, frustrations, and doubts creep into our minds at any given moment. It seems that if I’m not being plagued by potential, dreadful ‘what-if’s’, I’m wallowing in the ‘should be’s’ and wishing away my current time and place.

It is not our dreams that are unrealistic, rather it is these unhelpful and unhealthy trains of thought which are far removed from reality. Our brains are hardwired to do, to race and summon thoughts unceasingly. This interferes with our more important call to be.

If we have any desire to live a good life and to realize our dreams, we must first learn to be content with where and how we are, now. While we may be suffering, while there may be difficulty and imperfection, the present moment is how and where life happens, and if we miss it, we miss our own beautiful and important lives.

It can be difficult to reconcile our ability to dream with the real, present moment, but I find that this can be helped by setting aside time to to dream. I realize this may not lie high on your priority list, but I think without this clarity of where we want to go and who we want to be, we run the risk of letting our lives pass us by, instead of seizing them and living them fully.

When we take time to dream, we can then spend the rest of the time fully present to our current reality. We can cherish the moments in front of us and search for the goodness and beauty which unquestionably lie inside of them. We can take concrete steps toward achieving our dreams which we have intentionally set upon. Dreaming is the beginning of living life as it is: an adventure.

Having been off of it a month now, I can also say that stepping back from social media has helped immensely in my quest to live a more authentic, present life. As much as I do recognize the good in it – I think it may be time for us to weigh the pros and cons of social media and consider greatly moderating our time on it – if not ridding ourselves of it completely.

Social media can often intensify our idea of what life should be, rather than how it is, and interfere with the very specific, personal dreams we are meant to embark on…as opposed to those others have set for themselves.

As we get closer to Christmas and then a new year, I encourage you to set aside time to let your imagination run wild: what do you want to do, who do you want to be, what do you want your life to consist of? These are questions we are meant to ask. I have a feeling if we consistently take time to do so, these questions will be answered and the answers will take us on a beautiful, incredible journey.

I also challenge you to be present: to where you are and who you are with. There will be upsets, there will be imperfection…but there will be goodness and you can find it if you decide to do so and embrace fully the gift of now.

Here’s to a dreamy, lively end to 2018.

With love,

Miranda

Year 23 (things I learned)

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Friday (Pearl Habour Day) I turned 24. Not sure if I’m ready to be in my mid-twenties…on the other hand I feel as though I’m finally aging into my personality; ‘born middle-aged,’ this one.

Plus my sister says I dress like a 70-year-old detective…or like a detective from the seventies (can’t recall which). So I’m getting closer to that – at least the former – being acceptable…not sure if it ever will be okay to dress like a detective from the seventies.

Much happened this year, I always think I learn a lot and then realize how little I actually know. But I like to think that between one thing and another this past year, I did learn something. 

The move, ‘starting over’, taught me how dependent we really are – even as adults. We like to think that as we get older and take on more responsibility we become independent, but my move to Cincinnati showed me that we’re always going to need other people. 

Whether it’s for simple things like moving a mattress upstairs (thank you, Grace), or to start your car when the battery dies (Sean), or getting around when your car isn’t working (SB), or for help hanging pictures on the wall (Bridgette & Carrie)…there are so many things I simply couldn’t do on my own. And then there are the bigger, less obvious things, like a laugh or consoling word, a good hug or encouraging text, a home-cooked meal…friendship, community – we need it. And I can’t help but be completely in awe of how that has manifested itself in my life – without any merit on my behalf. The kindness and generosity others have shown me is quite humbling.

This brings up the fact that our weakness is truly a beautiful thing. I mean yes, it is painful and inconvenient and frustrating, but this dependence we have on each other is what allows vulnerability to exist and us the opportunity to respond with love. Often it isn’t until someone shows themselves to be weak, to be vulnerable, that we soften our hearts to them. Often it isn’t until we ourselves feel weak and vulnerable that we allow others to ‘come in’.

I always feel tempted to do things alone, to withdraw and ‘proceed with caution’, but really there isn’t much to life without the goodness and challenge that ‘others’ present. And are they really all that ‘other-ly’, anyway? We’re all one body, ultimately. But I forget that, often. For some reason there is a glamour of an ‘independent life’ to me, a siren’s call, I’m sure. My weakness is a good wake-up call when I get far down the rabbit hole of self-centered existence.

And yet, while I rely quite heavily on others, I have come to see how important it is that we spend time alone. I used to dread being alone for any period of time, I avoided it as much as I could. And when I was alone I played some sort of entertainment in the background, constantly. I still do this. But I also have times where there isn’t anything…just life – as it is, unfiltered, unedited and without distraction. I really want to step into the fullness of the present moment without always needing something to add – whether that be a show or music or podcast or a phone call.

I think this is important because in order to receive we need first to be emptied. We’re so eager to overflow our lives with noise and I think this gets in the way of being able to receive – insight, healing, self-knowledge, love… in order to become ‘whole’ we must first not be – and not think we are – which can only happen in true moments of attention and awareness, not distracted or encumbered by things.

In this vein, I’ve fallen in love (again) with a simpler time. When I was young I read the American Girl stories about different heroines from various periods of time. I loved learning about these girls who lived in the 1800s, the early 1900’s the 30’s and 40’s…

I am not quite sure why I am so drawn to the ‘olden days’, but I think there are certainly things we can learn from previous generations. Things like just doing one thing at a time, even if it just means sitting to listen to a beautiful song instead of playing it in the background while doing something else. Or being present to those you are with instead of jumping between them and people you’re texting or that you follow on social media. Things like reading good books, instead of only watching television. Or thinking in the car instead of scrolling through Instagram at every red light.

Reading more has been a great habit for my life, as well as listening to classical music – something I hadn’t done in years – and staying off Instagram.

There are good things about technology and certainly about the age we live in – don’t get me wrong. I also think there are things – a charm and a loveliness – to times before us, things I’d like to re-enact in my own life.

I guess this takes me into what I’d like for 24. I want 24 to be a year of pulling back in many ways. I want to focus on the few people I’m close to and not the 200 people I vaguely know. I want to finish the books I’m working on and start new ones soon. I want to write more letters and spend less time texting. I want to spend more time alone so that the time I spend with others is not something I take for granted. I want to be okay with silence and not forcing small talk. I want to ask more questions instead of talking about myself. I want to listen to music and do nothing else. I want to write more – and about things that matter.

I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful about 24. I have no clue where life will take me from here but if there’s anything I got better at during 23, it’s trusting. I no longer have excuses not to. All the good that has taken place this past year is more than sufficient evidence that things will be well.

Even when you don’t know how, even when it doesn’t feel like it…they will.

What did you learn at 23?

With love,

Miranda

An attitude of gratitude

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How different things are now.

To be independent – at least to the extent a human can be. I’m no longer looking to someone else, for money, security – of any kind…

I used to be unable to stand a second alone, now I find myself craving time away from others.

My anxious thoughts are still there; they continue to harass me, yet I’m able to dismiss them more easily.

I feel a deeper sense of ‘peace’, even in the midst of uncertainty and disruptions. I have become more and more convinced of the importance of a deep interior life. We’re so focused on the material and give little thought to our inner selves. This week as I went to the gym and regretfully acknowledged some weight gain, I wondered what would happen if we gave the same attention we do our physical lives to our spiritual lives.

There are so, so many ‘things’ – classes, exercises, techniques, books, machines – dedicated to this passing flesh and bones. Yet finding ten minutes for me to sit in silence and restore my soul feels like nothing short of herculean. It’s all integrated – what affects one aspect necessarily affects another – and so to give less importance to or completely dismiss a part of our person is to deny our most ‘whole’ self.

I want to be healthy – in every sense of the word. And I want to always give my interior life at least the equal amount of care as I do my physical one.

Something to work on, I guess.

I’ve become more and more enchanted with the ‘days of old’. The style, the manner of being (polite), the interactions between men and women, and between family members, the traditions and simplicity. I’m idealizing it all of course (it’s what I do), but I want to recreate some of that in my life.

I’m trying to text less, as well as take a step back from social media (I deleted my dearly beloved Instagram app for the time being). It has been – in a word – freeing. To live my life without regards to how it looks or how I can make it seem better…I want to accept my life as it is, not only as what I want others to think of it.

What’s next?

I have no idea. For the first time in a long while, this week I was overwhelmed with the familiar sense of loneliness. More than that even, it’s the fear, a question I rarely care to dwell on; most of the time it sits nice and quiet beneath the noise I create to distract myself.

Can I love? Can I be loved?

Looking back there are so many times I failed entirely to love in my previous relationship. I wonder if I’ll be given another chance, and if I’ll be able to stop myself from falling into old habits. Most of that relationship – the difficulty, its acrimonious ending – points to a resounding ‘no.’

Maybe it’s me idealizing again, but it seems hard to believe there’s someone out there who is ‘better’.

I feel like I missed my shot.

And often I feel like I don’t even want another chance. I’m okay, I’m comfortable, I’m skeptical.

And then part of me yearns to know someone the way only marriage allows. To belong to someone entirely and live a life of continuous surrender to each other.

It’s just hard to imagine, at this point.

Whether or not it will ever happen isn’t up to me. Learning to embrace this, to trust where I am and hope for where I’m headed…it is very difficult indeed.

But to me it’s a lot easier than the alternative; to despair, give up and resent. There are good things in my life right now. I am truly grateful for the friends I have, the place I live and the work I get to do. I’m grateful for quiet mornings and good books and blankets. I’m grateful for brunch with friends, beer, pretty things and beautiful music. I’m grateful for family and the time I have with them. I’m grateful for the person I have become – with very little credit to myself – and the countless opportunities for continued growth. I’m grateful for the seasons, especially this one, and all the cheer ahead.

I am grateful.

With love,

Miranda Kate

 

 

Monday Five: Okay-ness & other things I’m excited about this week

I sat down to write this last night and found myself unable to. Then the other post just…came out. So, I’m trying this again.

It was a good weekend. My roommate (hi SB) was in town for the first time in a while and she humored me with an all day roomie outing. She got her hair done, we went to the mall (turns out I’m not a mall person), we saw Gosnell…that was a doozy. And ate soup at one of my favorite bars in Cincinnati, The Blind Lemon.

Yesterday we went to Mass and then had some girls over for a Fall indoor ‘picnic’ (the weather was gross) which was cozy.

We also went to Trader Joe’s for the first time since I moved here (it’s a bit out of the way) – I forgot how much I love that place. It’s such a lovely shopping experience and their products are so fun! We got #alltheFallthings for our picnic (I think my favorite were the pumpkin biscotti) + truffle cheese which is incredible.

Anyway, it was a good weekend.

It’s a bit difficult to muster up much excitement early on a Monday morning but I know if I’m struggling chances are you may be too so hopefully we can get through this together – #teamwork.

Here are five things I’m excited about on this dreary Monday morning.

Cold weather

If I had a dollar for every time someone had warned me about the Ohio winter….I’d be sitting ‘somewhere on a beach’ right now (as Dierks Bentely would say). It nonetheless came as a shock when suddenly I woke up one morning to 50 degree weather – it’s in the 80’s right now in Charleston. Additionally, it stays pretty gray here, which has possibly been more of an adjustment than the cold. Regardless, I’m attempting to embrace this change. I want to make the most of it. It’s been fun trying different ‘Fall’ foods (there is such a thing as Pumpkin Spice popcorn), lighting alllll the candles, wearing big sweaters,  listening to indie music and cozying it up with blankets and a book. I’m not necessarily thrilled about this shift but I think there are ways to make it pleasant and even to have fun with it, and I’m determined to do just that.

Indie/folk music

I’m not sure if it is just the rain or what, but recently I have been listening to a lot more indie and folk music and have found it soothing and meaningful. In the past I didn’t really have time for this genre, I didn’t have the patience to discern the meaning behind their lyrics or to get past some of the dissonance they tend to use. I preferred songs that were less subtle and more harmonious. Yet through various playlists (and a little help from my friends) I’ve come across several songs that I really love. Some of my favorites are:

Meaningful Market

Something I’ve tried to do with our apartment is to be really intentional about decorating it. There are a lot of cute things out there to choose from (so so many), but I wanted to choose things that meant something to me. This brand helped me do just that. I bought one of their prints and framed it to put over the mantle. It’s one of my favorite parts of our home and has so grateful for shops that make products that are thoughtful and beautiful.

Okay-ness

The past couple of years have provided many a trial for me. It honestly felt for a long time that I was barely surviving, it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve started to feel okay. I realize ‘okay’ isn’t exactly a high standard to have for well-being but I think ‘okay’ is a good place for growth. Once out of survival mode – but still keenly aware of all the room for improvement – we can actually start to take steps toward betterment –  instead of just getting by. I know I have a long ways to go in so many areas of my life, but I finally have a profound sense of peace with exactly where I am. It’s a peace that coexists with anxiety, because it’s deeper than the fears that like to follow me around. There is distress but it’s overwhelmed by a confidence that I am where I need to be and that all will be well. For the first time in a while I can say ‘I’m okay’ and it feels good.

This Quote

“The beauty that will save the world is the love that shares the pain.”

I’m not sure who said it, Alanna quoted the line in this video and I realized that it is something I have suspected for so long without being able to articulate it; finally these words brought a newfound clarity.

All this time I understood this at a level I wasn’t consciously aware of: the reality that  empathy and sharing in the suffering of others brings an incredible amount of healing. That’s why I write what I do. It’s hard, honestly. As much as ‘vulnerability’ online may feel like a joke, it is difficult to share thoughts and feelings that are so close to me. I do it because the hope is that someone, somewhere will be affected by what they read in a way that brings about understanding to their own thoughts and feelings. This understanding may help with alleviating some pain, too. Every once in a while I’ll get a comment or message in which someone shares that what I wrote deeply resonated with them, it is these few instances that bring meaning to what I do and encourage me to keep doing it. Because of one person is helped in some regard by this, then of course it is worth it.

Well it’s still Monday and it’s still dreary but at least you have a few songs to listen to now, have a good week!

xo
Miranda Kate

The Night He Left

His retreating back, always the last thing I see.

Was it me?

I remember it clearly, that is the problem: the night he walked out the door.

The most horrific scene, I wish I had never witnessed before.

It for some reason takes place at night. As if the darkness outside could hide the events taking place.

It can’t. And they cannot stay.

One instant lasts forever – history repeats itself, much too often.

They’ll never know, will they?

The damage they do is unbeknownst to them.

What glorious ignorance.

This little heart is left to carry it, day in and day out.

An undeserved wound, a terrifying doubt.

Was it me?

Too little, much too little.

Too heavy, much too heavy.

The wake they leave is a difficult one. I mourn deeply someone who never died.

If they had they would not have chosen to leave.

But they did, they do.

Is it me?

His retreating back is always the last thing I see.

That Girl

“She’s a little too much, but she’s not quite enough. She’s a little too hot but she’s too cold to touch – he’s told her himself with his dying eyes.”

A keen observer

A deep feeler

Will he be able to understand?

Her intricate heart, her burning doubt

Will he be able to hold?

Her delicate frame, her questioning gaze

Will he be able to see?

Her tender wounds, her immeasurable worth

He be able to know?

Her darkest thoughts, her worst mistakes

Will he be able to receive?

Her gentle touch, her warm embrace

Will he be able to ease?

Her greatest fears, her worrisome dreams

Will he be able to love?

Her world of hurt, her broken seams

A miserable sinner

A beautiful woman, that girl

Monday Five: Is back (& other things I’m excited about this week)

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February 5th.

That’s the last time I wrote one of these.

Eight months. I can’t tell if it feels like more or less… I think more, just because of all that’s happened since then; my goodness.

I thought about it sporadically throughout this time, I told myself I’d start the segment back up when I moved; and then I didn’t really think about it again until this week.

I realized that everything I’ve been writing since, well, for the past eight months, has been quite heavy.

Which, to be honest, makes sense because life is just heavy sometimes.

The past eight months have included a lot of change, of lot of hurt, a lot of reflection, a lot of goodness.

I don’t think heavy is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just…heavy.

SO.

I’m starting this up again. A – because I do get excited about many different things and I do like to share them in hopes that you may also feel excitement, and B – as heavy as things can be and still are, there’s also a lot of goodness and I want to share that with you too.

Here we go!

Fiction:

I’ve been reading a bit more since moving. It’s been awesome. I tend to stick to spiritual reading for the most part since there are SO many good books on those sorts of topics out there and I feel that they help me grow so much. BUT – I finally decided to dive into some fiction again (for the first time in a whiiiiile) and have found it incredibly refreshing and fruitful. I started with Alice in Wonderland – SUCH A GOOD BOOK – and am now working on Gone with the Wind, which is also incredible. The language in classics like these is rich and beautiful. They also kindle our imagination, something we can be complacent about as adults. It’s been really cool to be a part of a different world for periods of time, and learning from and relating to them in tangible ways. Finding the truth and beauty in pieces that don’t explicitly lay it out for you the way non-fiction tends to do, is challenging in a whole new way but also really rewarding. I love the subtlety of it. I think fiction invites us to search for truth and goodness more creatively and intentionally in our own lives – while also offering wholesome entertainment and authentic joy.

Alllllll the Alanna:

You probably knew it was coming. Her newest album ‘Goodbye Stranger’ came out my first or second week here and I have yet to go a full week without listening to at least part of it…again.

It’s so good.

She’s so darn talented and the lyrics in this one are especially powerful – beautifully raw. My favorite is ‘What Beatrix Read,’ which when I first listened to it had no idea what the title meant but the song just spoke truth to my soul. I listened to a podcast (Love Good Culture) episode about it and she explains how it’s based off a book about a serial adulterer’s conversion and Beatrix is the one who reads her journal about the journey. Now I really want to read that book so it’s next on my list!

Music is vitally important to me. I find it therapeutic, healing, consoling, moving and life giving. Alanna is someone who has a gift for understanding the human condition and some of the experiences that many (if not all) have had to some degree. She can relate them in a beautiful way that brings about a new level of self-awareness and creates a cathartic experience for us – at least for me.

Regardless, all her music is amazing and if you haven’t heard it before, do yourself a favor and look up Alanna Boudreau and download her albums.

Do it.

Now.

Crossfit:

I know…who is this girl? Crossfit of all things. I went to my first class this week, invited by a co-worker, and was pleasantly surprised and how much I enjoyed it. Not ‘enjoyed’ it the way I enjoy hanging out with my friends or a good meal, but found it difficult – not to the point that I was discouraged – and healthy. Even though I was tired after, my body had that pleasant drained feeling one has after exerting yourself; when you know you worked hard and can now go lay on the couch without feeling guilty. The workout itself went by pretty quickly: it included a good variety, which I appreciate. In any case, I will be returning Wednesday morning bright and early and am hoping to make this a regular occurence. I need to exercise often – I think most of us do – and I’m pretty darn good at squirming my way out of it week after week. This gym offers exercise that I ‘enjoy’ and I know is making me stronger. It has class times that work with my schedule and an encouraging community. So, no more excuses.

Hosting:

I was blessed enough to find a truly beautiful place to live here. I have loved decorating it. It’s been amazing to see it all come together, without spending much money (our couch was a whopping $22) or much time on Pinterest.

It has taken time, but I finally hosted my first get together last week and it made me so happy. Hosting has been something I’ve been wanting to do for a while but for a few reasons had not been able to. I think there is something so beautiful about inviting people into your home. Hospitality is a real form of love, a love that invites and comforts. It’s kind of like fostering people for a couple of hours; they come in from the harshness of the cold world with whatever is weighing on them, whatever brokenness they are carrying and are welcomed to be in a warm and safe place.

I’m having one or two people over tonight to cook for them (poor souls) and am hoping to have people over weekly. I have the perfect place to do it and want to make the absolute most of that.

Acceptance:

Of myself, of others, of where I am – in all it’s difficulty and beauty. These past eight months have made me painfully aware of much of the darkness that lives inside me. All that needs healing and just how far I have to go. There’s something incredibly powerful about being able to see your own brokenness, and that of others, without flinching, without fleeing. Of course I want to change, I want to grow, but it takes so much time and patience and compassion. I’m not necessarily exactly where I want to be in life. But I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. And embracing that and searching for the beauty and meaning in it is a lot more helpful than wishing your way out of it. I think life is rarely exactly what we want, it generally takes us by surprise – and often in ways we’d rather not be – but it’s good. And the more we can just accept the reality of where and how we are, the more we can experience it, and experience it with gratitude and awe.  

So, there you go. A list of things I’m excited about. What about you? What are you excited about this week?

 

Xo

 

Miranda Kate

 

The Ache

Someone asked me today if all my posts on social media were an accurate representation of my life.

I had to think about that.

To an extent, yes. I don’t ever lie on there. I just post whatever I’m doing, or sometimes things that relate to how I’m feeling at a particular moment.

I guess the hesitancy about answering the question lies behind the reality that social media only portrays a very small part of the truth.

I couldn’t possibly post everything that was going on all the time, or every little thing I did (I think I would bore people to death), much less all I’m experiencing interiorly.

So to an extent, no. It’s not an accurate representation of my life.

I mean yeah, I do fun things. I am with people, I go new places and spend a lot of time outside. I have a beautiful apartment and live close to a park and enjoy reading…I have a good life.

But what I don’t post, what you can’t see is this constant feeling that follows me around. Wherever I go, whatever I’m doing, it stalks me like an unwanted suitor.

It’s an ache, a longing, a dull pain that never quite goes away. Even while I do the fun things, spend time with good people, work, move from one thing to the next…it never quite goes away.

It’s this mysterious, heavy suspicion that something is missing.

Sometimes it threatens to overwhelm me with pain and frustration; such a horrible feeling. Made even worse by the fact that I do have a good life, that I have nothing (or at least very little) lacking.

What is it?

Some may say it’s depression, or spiritual desolation. Some people would recommend seeing a psychologist (I do), or praying regularly (check).

So why doesn’t anything work? Why does this ache continue to haunt me? Why, when I have friends and family and a fulfilling job and physical health and material wealth and spiritual nourishment – am I still suffering?

I’m not sure, honestly.

I think part of it is just the reality that we’re made for more than this life, and because of that we will never quite be fulfilled here…we’re not supposed to be.

I also think, maybe, possibly, that part of it is longing for my vocation.

I believe we’re called to something. We’re here, not just because we are wanted – willed into existence – but also for a purpose. In other words, we’re here to do something. This something is for our good. Our peace, our joy, our fulfillment.

Again, not complete – not the way we will be After – but to a degree. And the way we know we have a purpose, is that we long for it.

Otherwise, if someone came up to us and said ‘hey you’re supposed to do this,’ we’d probably just reply ‘I’m good.’

Right now, I’m living for myself – and it is wholly unsatisfying, empty. I long to be a gift of self, to live for others in the most meaningful – to me – way. I don’t want to be my own. I want to belong, to serve, to love. I want to have the best friend, the companion to do life with. I want to love them entirely and be known and seen. I want to have a home and to be a home. I want someone to adventure with. I want someone to pray with and to laugh with.

Desire is – at its purest – a good thing.

But it hurts.

Every time I think I’ve gotten a step closer to having this desire met, I’ve been unceremoniously shoved back to where I was. No explanations, no glimpses of what is to come…just hurt and crushing disappointment.

I often get angry. I don’t want to want this. It seems unfair that I have no choice in the matter.

I have to sit, and wait. And I don’t like waiting. I’m incredibly impatient. I like living. I like doing and experiencing. And I desperately want to do all the things I do in peace, without this ache that no number of outings and adventures and fun nights and shopping sprees will ease.

It’s infuriating, and heartbreaking.

I fall into this cycle of attempting to convince myself I’m fine, and then feeling angry that I’m not and then desperately sad because I feel so helpless and confused.

Why why why.

I have to believe it is for a reason. I have to believe that this desire is so strong because it is inevitably going to be fulfilled.

I don’t know when, I don’t know how.

And honestly, I could be wrong.

Maybe I’ll live my whole life waiting for this ache to go away.

But there’s nothing I can do about it. I have to surrender to the reality that I’m a creature, I am not in control of everything.

And I’m not giving up, either.

At least for now, I am holding on to the hope that this ache – this longing – doesn’t exist to make me miserable; it is there as an indicator of why I’m here – a reminder of what I’m meant for: to be loved and known, deeply and intimately.

I doubt this constantly and often talk myself out of this way of thinking, but as of right now I’ve continued to come back to this conclusion.

In any case, I want to make the most of where I’m at, here and now. I know I can’t make this ache go away. But life is still good, it’s still worth living fully.

I think a good antidote to the hopelessness I often feel is gratitude. Overwhelming awe at the fact that I’m here, I’m alive, I’m healthy, I can love, I can laugh and run and cry and sing and travel and read and write.

That’s worth celebrating, I think.

So no, social media isn’t the most accurate representation of my life. It doesn’t show this deep yearning, the stubborn ache I live with or the suffering that accompanies me day in and day out.

But now you know, and I’m still here, I still have a good life. And I think if I can trust that this longing exists to be fulfilled – how beautiful and wonderful it will be when it finally, finally is.

My eyes are open,
My heart is beating,
My lungs are full,
And my body’s breathing.
I’m moving forward.

Dear God, grant me honesty.

xo

Miranda Kate