The comeback kid

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My mom loves to remind me of the day I learned to ride a bike. There was a big hula balloo because the Rodriguez siblings had gotten new bikes! Oh, happy day! My new bike was sans training wheels which only added to my excitement.

Unfortunately, as six-year-old Miranda soon realized, learning to ride a bike is like…learning to ride a bike; it’s difficult at first. So, long after the initial eagerness had faded and my brother and sister had gone inside, I could be found in the driveway, angry and frustrated but resolutely determined to figure the darn thing out, now.

I fell over and over, tears brimming in my eyes, my hands and knees stinging from scraping the pavement – yet I kept getting back on.

You can probably guess how this story ends…fifteen years later I still don’t know how to ride a bike.

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Of course, the reason my mom loves that story is because my “determination” – aka stubbornness – came to my aid, I didn’t give up.

Those of you who have been following my blog to some extent can guess that it has been a tough year for me – even more difficult than learning to ride a bike with only two wheels (if you can imagine).

This past year I fell in love with a man that surpassed my (very high) expectations. It was wonderful – like a chapter out of someone else’s life. We had so many lovely, sweet, fun, beautiful times it often felt surreal to me.

Obviously that wasn’t the difficult part. The difficult part was all the fear that accompanied this relationship. It was absolutely impossible to understand why I had such a difficult time trusting someone so good – someone who clearly cared about me. It was incredibly painful to constantly question him and his love. It was torture to be bombarded by doubts and insecurities about the relationship every day. Together or apart, no matter what he said or what I told myself or what others shared, fear plagued me as I struggled to love and trust someone and be loved by them for the first time in my adult life.

The joy of finding someone that until that point I had only dreamed of was tainted by my deeply rooted fears – fears that came true when Nicholas finally bowed out in February.

“I told you.”

That awful voice in my head which so often had urged me to make a run for it rang in my ears months after the fact.

It was right.

This year was also dramatically humbling. Amidst my turmoil and angst I came to the startling conclusion that I am one of the least qualified people to speak on the topics of love, relationships or familyThe fact that this has been my main source of content is almost laughable.

Almost.

Who am I to speak on the subject of love? When I fail so often to practice the thing in my own life. I am still the obstinate girl who falls over and over again – broken and bruised – only now the fall is emotional, spiritual and psychological, in addition to physical.

I barely understand what love is really meant to be – if anything I know better what it is not meant to be.

I guess that’s something.

The thing is – much like myself all those years ago – I have a streak of stubbornness that refuses to give up.

This became especially clear to me on this break, my mini sabbatical from publishing. It was a lovely and painful time. I did some travel (nowhere exotic but still fun), lots of bike riding/exploring, took lots of pictures, caught up on some reading and spent a good bit of time just reflecting. Even though I enjoyed all of this, it was difficult to face the reality of losing someone I had cared about so deeply. A reality not made any easier by our regular crossing of paths. Every day I had to accept all over again my loss and look ahead at the murky future with only wisps of hope to hang on to. 

On a particularly difficult day during this time I grappled with the tough question of why the heck am I doing this?

What’s the point? Loving only leads to bitter disappointment. People are too imperfect, too broken and too difficult to love (most especially myself). Why bother? I could be content doing my own thing; traveling, writing, enjoying casual friendships and relationships without commitment or difficulty. 

I had my chance and I blew it, who’s to say there will be another one?

Yet here I am.

I guess the reason for that is the reality that everyone else at some point in their life has also been faced with this question. If you haven’t yet, you will be. And the people I most look up to, I’m most inspired by and desire to be like, they chose to love. Not because it was easy, not because they didn’t get hurt, not because it always felt wonderful or rewarding, but (I think) ultimately because at the core of their being, they felt it was worth it. It was a calling too beautiful, too precious, too valuable to turn down.

Love makes us better people, it challenges us to grow and change in the most beautiful of ways. It heals and gives us strength to move forward, day in and day out.

Love is why we are here and what makes this treacherous, incredible, awesome life worth living. It’s an adventure in and of itself; the most fulfilling and challenging one. 

There is still a part of me – the wounded, guarded, angry part that taunted me after Nicholas and I broke up – that doesn’t believe a word of this. But I’m hoping to prove this side of me wrong in time.

I’ve fallen down, and I will continue to do so. But I won’t give up. I’m back and I’m in it for the long haul.

Here’s to the kid who got back on the bike one too many times, and to everyone who has dared to choose love – even when it hurts. 


On another note, there are two, more practical things I’d like to share with you.

  1. I’m changing the setup of this site just a little so that it can become more of a community and less of me ‘talking’ at you. To help me make it more collaborative, Some incredibly talented people agreed to write for you here and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Keep an eye out for some contributor articles coming soon.
  2. As of last week I have agreed to take a position as content lead at Dynamic Catholic. I will be moving to Cincinnati, Ohio this summer!

I want to sincerely thank all of you who have prayed for me and encouraged me during these past few months – it has done more than you can know.

And of course, to my readers..this wouldn’t mean much without you.

xo

Miranda Kate

“For what is life without love?”
Pedro Silva

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

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Happy Monday! I hope your week is off to a great start. Mine has been a little sleepy so far but that’s what coffee’s for, right?

This weekend I was so excited to visit my college friend Bernadette, her husband Conor and their baby Veronica! They live in Bluffton, SC and it’s only a two hour drive from Charleston so easy enough to go for a weekend.

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We had an awesome time exploring Bluffton, Beaufort and Savannah! There’s nothing like new places with old friends. Bernadette and Conor were excellent hosts, showing me around all the cool places near where they live, although hence why today I’m a little tired!

It turns out there are a lot of cool things in that area of SC so I’ll talk a little more about that in today’s 5. All in all we had such a good time and I think the Beaufort area is certainly worth a visit if you live in the state (I definitely want to go back).

Palmetto Bluff

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The first spot Bernadette and Conor (and Veronica) took me to was a neighborhood (it’s really more of a town) called Palmetto Bluff. It’s definitely an exclusive place. I was so impressed that this existed in such a small town (although apparently Bluffton is growing quite a bit). The area was truly beautiful. Driving in is a long corridor of old oak trees with Spanish moss hanging from pretty much every limb. The houses are spectacular and the little town in the center is charming. The style is made to imitate the old South and it does so very well. They have a post office, chapel, a few boutiques and a nice restaurant – all of which are right by the water where some boats are docked.

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We had so much fun walking around, admiring it all and scheming of ways to get a house there.

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Bluffton Oyster Co

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Being on the water, fresh seafood is one of the great parts about this area. We actually drove to an oyster company (where they fish for and distribute oysters) which was so neat (and a little smelly)!

I love the boats they use to catch the oysters.

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There were oyster shells everywhere.

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I love places like this because they are so authentic. They aren’t trying to be touristy or compelling and something about that is truly refreshing.

Downtown Beaufort

On my way out we stopped by downtown Beaufort so they could show me around a little (Conor used to live there). It is an absolutely adorable town with lots of history and natural beauty.

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The houses are from the old South period and so pretty. There are oaks with Spanish moss everywhere as well as beautiful views of the water.

Beautiful landscaping, old houses, waterfront views, quaint shops…what more could you want?

Mini adventures

I think getting out of your normal routine, a change of scenery and doing some exploring are all very important. It would be nice if I could fly to Europe for a few days every couple of months but unfortunately that is not the case. I think trips don’t have to be cross-Atlantic to be fun (or worth it). There are towns just a couple hours away that we haven’t seen before worth venturing to. We can have adventures that aren’t super expensive or in far away places but still invigorating and enriching. Beaufort and Bluffton are great examples of towns that aren’t as famous or exotic as Paris or NYC but still very beautiful. Adventures don’t have to be grand to be worthwhile, my weekend a couple of hours away from where I lived proved that.

Young families

Bernadette is one of my only friends that is already married. I typically spend time with young adults like me that haven’t yet started families of their own. Being with a married couple and their young baby was such a nice change of pace. It was beautiful to witness up close the life they have started together and how much they love each other and especially their baby girl.

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Their lives are no longer about themselves but about complete self-donation to their spouse and child. In a sense their freedom is limited because they can’t just head out to a bar or to a social outing, but what they have instead is potentially more valuable than the ability to go wherever whenever.

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I appreciate them opening their home to me for a weekend and allowing me to see the beauty of family life that they are living so gracefully.

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Aren’t they cute?

xo

Miranda

Monday 5: Needlepoint hats & other things to be excited about this week

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Happy Monday! I hope the time change didn’t throw you off too much (why can’t we just pick one time and stick to it?), although I’m not complaining that the days are now an hour longer!

This weekend my family and I went to Atlanta to visit some relatives who live in the area. I got to visit some of my favorite spots which I talk about in my Atlanta edition of the Monday 5. The list includes a fantastic bakery/restaurant with an amazing shrimp po’ boy, an adorable stationary store with hilarious greeting cards and the best upscale thrift shop I’ve ever been to.

I know the time change can be a little disconcerting, here are some things I’m excited about that might help you think of your own list instead of how sleepy you are.

 

The Book of Virtues

I’ve had this book in my bookcase for years and for some reason last week I was inspired to pick it up and see what it was all about. This compilation is written by William J. Bennett, who worked for the Reagan administration as head of the department of education before retiring and publishing this book. He separates the book into the various virtues (courage, honesty etc) and groups various poems, short stories, songs and excerpts from books that relate to it. I have enjoyed perusing this book so much, it is a great reminder of what we should really be working on and all the charming literature that is out there that Netflix often distracts us from. Some of what I’ve read so far includes Greek myths, a letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his daughter and Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a dream.’ It isn’t a book that you need to read cover to cover, but it’s really worth checking out if you haven’t before. All I’ve come across is lovely and inspiring, and great to read to children as well!

 

Macaroon Boutique croissants

I absolutely love chocolate croissants. They are one of those simple (if caloric) pleasures that every now and then are such a treat! Most bakeries and many coffee shops have them, but there is one bakery downtown Charleston owned by a French couple who have some of the best croissants I’ve had in the states. Friday before we left for Atlanta we bought a few of them and so were able to enjoy some delicious croissants over the weekend. If you like croissants and ever are in Charleston, I highly recommend the Macaroon Boutique on John street! So yummy.

 

Needlepoint hat

One of the stops we made this weekend in Atlanta was a shop owned by another husband and wife called Steve Mackenzie’s. They have a little bit of everything from home furniture to tassel earrings. Their store is incredibly well-decorated and so much fun to look around in! They have those adorable things you don’t strictly need but fall in love with anyway (like emoji embroidered napkins for cocktails). While there, I came across these canvas hats that were had various embroidered details. I’ve been looking for a good hat (cute, fits well) for a while now and am so glad I found these! They are a brother and sister who make and design unisex baseball caps, the company is called Harding-Lane and you can check out their hats here. The one I bought is a faded red with a sailboat on it. So cute!

 

Upcoming mini-adventures

Before the trip to Atlanta this weekend, a few months had passed since my last travels over the holidays. It was refreshing to get out of the routine and explore some new (and some old favorite) spots and I’m excited for a few other short trips I have coming up! This coming weekend I will be traveling to Eastern North Carolina and I have another trip in early April as well! I think in general even the smallest of trips can be seen as an exciting experience to look forward to and break us out of the same old same old. You can be on the lookout for new special editions of the Monday 5 coming soon!

 

Anticipation

Speaking of looking forward to things, I’ve recently learned about the importance of anticipation and how it is more meaningful to some than others. A part of traveling that I very much enjoy is the planning beforehand. Finding the perfect place to stay, fun places to go and where to eat is almost as enjoyable to me as the trip itself. I love to get an idea of what it will look and feel like before I actually experience it, and often going in person feels more fulfilling when I had gotten a glimpse of what it would be like in advance. This pretty much goes for everything I do, whether it’s just a normal Monday or a trip or a night out, thinking about it before makes it that much better to me when it actually takes place. Not everyone is this way. Some people much more enjoy the spontaneous, unexpected or unprecedented kind of events or travel without the hassle of planning. While I see the positives to that, I have come to terms that anticipation is important to me. Knowing this, I make an active effort to plan for and let my imagination wander (just a little bit) to things I’m excited about.

 

I hope your week is a good one and you get to enjoy the newly extended hours of daylight.

xo

Monday