I’m not ready for marriage, but I’m doing it anyway – a man’s perspective.

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Last week I proposed to my girlfriend and, amazingly enough, she said yes. If you knew me, you would know that is nothing short of a miracle.

As I began to share the news with family and friends, a trend developed among my male cohorts. Their response took some form or another of the sentence, “Wow, dude, that’s a huge step, I didn’t know you were ready for that.”

My response was: “Well, I’m not ready, but that’s not really the point.”

They weren’t expecting that answer.

My friends were expecting something like what we hear in movies or from guys who are unwilling to be vulnerable with one another: “Yeah man, trust me, when you meet the one, then you’ll just know!” As if you know your love is real when you experience this magic voodoo feeling of clarity that will just overwhelm you when you meet the right person.

But if I were to say something like that, I’d be lying. And I usually try not to lie.

This outlook which is expected from us is in fact the soul crushing myth perpetuated by those who claim that love is nothing more than a feeling.

So why do my fellow men ask that question? Why have I asked that question of others in the past? Because for most guys, this phantom thing we call being “ready” is our bulletproof excuse to delay doing the best thing in exchange for the easy thing.

Just look at the three hallmarks of how the current culture does romantic relationships and it’s easy to see how good men have gotten at delaying commitment.

  1. Safe Sex: The reasoning goes something like this, “Well, we need to know if we are sexually compatible right? It’s a huge part of a relationship! But we aren’t ready for kids. Instead, we use contraception which allows us to have safe sex and know if we are compatible. Win win!
  2. Live together before marriage: “How else are we supposed to know that our relationship can work before making a lifelong commitment? We have to be sure, and living together is practical. It makes sense. It’s safe.”
  3. We should get a dog before we get a kid: “We don’t know if we want to have kids yet. We want to travel and just do us for a while. We’ll just get a dog and see how that goes. After all, with divorce rates being so high, we should practice being parents together before bringing kids into the world. It’s the safe thing to do.”

All of this is nonsense. Safe sex is a myth. People who live together before getting married actually have higher rates of divorce than those who don’t. And having a pet is NOTHING like having a child of your own.

If the wise people in my life, the ones who have been married for 25+ years, have taught me anything, it’s that you can never be ready for something as big and beautiful and incredible as a lifelong commitment to another person. Being ready isn’t the point. Freely and willingly choosing to give your significant other everything you’ve got, for as long as you’ve got it, is.

The real tragedy is that when men delay doing the best thing in exchange for the safe thing, we deny ourselves the ability to thrive. When a man defends, protects, uplifts, glorifies, loves, and serves a woman, yes he gives up his independence, but in return his life is elevated to an entirely new level. He goes from coasting to thriving. From passive to passionate. From selfish to courageous. From a good man to the man of your dreams. And that’s not by some uncontrollable fairy magic, that’s the power of love as choice.

Unfortunately, what women have failed to realize is that they are complicit in this. Women set the standard for the relationship. Not men. And most women let men off the hook. Ladies, if you really loved him you would challenge him to be more than a safe bet. You would challenge him to reclaim the power of choice. And you would challenge him to love you the way Jesus loved the world in his time on earth.

In the hours before he was arrested, Jesus said something to his disciples that really knocks me out. He asks God, if possible, to spare him of the immense impending suffering. He essentially says, “I don’t want to do this. It would be much easier for me to open the gates of heaven without having to suffer so please don’t make me do it.”

Now, I am no scripture scholar. Nothing even close. But, what I read here is that Jesus identifies the complex surge of emotion humanity experiences when we are faced with the hard choices. It’s this feeling that, we know we are meant for something and we know we desire it deeply, but we don’t want to do it because our fears are yelling things at us like, “what if it’s really hard?” or “what if I fail?” or “what if I am not good enough?” or “what if it doesn’t work out!”

Jesus knew his mission in life was to destroy the power of death and save the world. And he had a truly deep desire to do it. But he also had a moment of gut wrenching hesitation before doing what was required to accomplish his mission. However, contrary to what our culture might say, the solution wasn’t for Jesus to feel better or find some safe way out. The solution for Jesus was to stare directly into the eye of his fears and choose the better path anyway.

The same goes for all of us. Especially men in relationships.

The honest truth is, I am not ready for marriage. Marriage scares the crap out of me!  

I’m afraid of committing my entire life to one person. Terrified of accepting this incredible person’s love knowing that there is a really good chance that I will do something massively stupid that will hurt her. And, of course, scared of exchanging my independence for a life devoted to someone other than myself.

That kind of fear doesn’t get vanquished by some magic clarity that comes with “the one”. It’s still there and it will remain there even after I say “I do.” But that’s ok. It’s natural.

I didn’t propose because I was ready. I proposed because deep down in my soul I know God created me for marriage. I proposed because my future wife is an incredible woman and the life partner I don’t deserve but got anyway. I proposed because I love her more than I love myself. I proposed because she challenges me every day to become the man God created me to be. And I proposed because I want nothing more in life than her eternal happiness.

And that, my friends, is the point.

By Jack Beers

Marriage is an adventure – like going to war.
GK Chesterton

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.

Jk Jk

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

Love is/Love does

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“If my inward coldness has burned you some way, please know, please know I’m sorry.”

Alanna Boudreau


Love is difficult
Love is beautiful
Love is sacrificial
Love is tender
Love is heroic
Love is forgiving
Love is painful
Love is miraculous
Love is sweet

Love is thoughtful
Love is vulnerable
Love is delightful
Love is meek
Love is intentional
Love is steadfast
Love is humble
Love is strong
Love is attentive
Love is grateful
Love is fruitful
Love is powerful
Love is obedient
Love is merciful
Love is receptive
Love is mysterious
Love is docile
Love is fierce
Love is gentle
Love is courageous
Love is free
Love is a choice.

Love commits
Love heals
Love gives
Love grows
Loves cherishes

Love submits
Love perseveres
Love protects
Love reveals
Love admires
Love accepts
Love dotes
Love affirms
Love corrects
Love assures
Love endures

Love consoles
Love laughs
Love moves
Love fights
Love trusts
Love resists
Love mourns
Love misses
Love understands
Love respects

Love disciplines
Love listens
Love stays
Love unites
Love transforms
Love prevails
Love never gives up.


As someone who tries to love and fails quite often and in the most clumsy of ways, sometimes it helps me to think about what love really means.

This list isn’t comprehensive, I’m sure you can think of more items to add (help a sister out and share a few!). But it’s a start. The important thing is to never, ever, ever give up. If we keep trying, we will eventually, haphazardly, brokenly achieve something that looks like that ⇑.

Just don’t try to do it alone, that was my mistake. Rely on Grace, it’s the only way…I promise.

Who’s the greatest Lover? You said You are I Am.

Alanna Boudreau

#alltheAlannaquotes #fangirl

Most importantly, please, please remember that you were made to love and be loved.

xo

Miranda

My kind of broken

img_1069Kelly Clarkson has this song called ‘Dark Side’ that I really love. It’s not as well known as some of her other hits but I think it has a lot of truth to it.

The gist of the song is that we all have a ‘dark side’ and she wonders if we can be loved despite that.

“Everybody’s got a dark side, do you love me? Can you love mine? Nobody is picture perfect, but we’re worth it, you know that we’re worth it.”

I think there’s this subconscious myth out there that in order for us single people to meet someone and have it work out, we are required to have it all together.

Emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically we have to be ‘good enough’.

We are told by well-meaning individuals to use this time to work on ourselves.

Accomplished, in shape, out of debt, well-traveled, an excellent cook…there’s a long litany of things we can (and ‘should’) achieve during our singlehood. Until then we are vastly insufficient, which is why Mr. Wonderful is nowhere to be found.

Okay so yeah, I think self-improvement is a good thing – scratch that – an essential thing.

Isn’t the point of life pretty much to be a  better person day in and day out?

What I would like to challenge is this misconception that you’re single because you’re not good enough…You need this time to become better. Everyone else has already obediently achieved perfection (gee, what’s taking you so long?).

Not so, you want to use this time to become better. And all the time – even long after the right person has wandered into your life (took them long enough!).

No matter how hard you work right now on yourself, you will never be “done”.

Kelly Clarkson knew what she was talking about when she said we all have a dark side.

Insecurities that run as deep as our blood, hurts that still sting, jealousy, greed, vanity, selfish tendencies…these are vices we will be fighting our whole lives. And as soon as we feel we’ve improved in one area, ten other places that need some help will make themselves evident.

In fact, I believe that a lot of our “garbage” isn’t even apparent until someone tries to get a little too close. Struggles we didn’t even know we had come out of nowhere and slap us across the face as someone attempts to know us intimately.

Yes, we should certainly and continually strive for self-improvement – but this isn’t what makes us lovable or worthy of being in a relationship.

We’re already there, friends.

The question isn’t, ‘are we good enough?’ The question is the one KC poses: “Can you love me, even with my dark side?”

Sometimes the answer will be ‘no’, and that’s okay; it is heartbreaking and devastating too, I know. However dating is a discernment, and the question of ‘can I carry this person’s wounds?’ is one much better asked before marriage than after.

We only need one person to say this for the rest of our lives.

We all deserve to be with someone who will see us – brokenness and all – and say:

“this is my kind of broken.”

There are wounds that take a lifetime to heal, bad habits that we are perpetually ridding ourselves of.

The right person won’t ‘fix’ us, they will support and understand our journey toward healing and growth.

We have a responsibility to work on ourselves, to try and try and try again even if we fail 100 times before seeing a minuscule amount of progress. But this responsibility doesn’t go away once we are in a committed relationship – if anything it increases since we now want to be better not only for our own sake but for this person so dear to us.

You are not single because you need to work on yourself; you need to work on yourself, that’s it.

And, so does the person you date/marry.

The beautiful thing is that we are lovable right now, in our brokenness. And for the right person, we will be the right kind of broken (as odd as that may sound).

I know that there is so much that I want to work on, my dark side is dark. I also know that doesn’t stop me from being able to be loved and known intimately.

“Love is never defeated”

Saint John Paul the Great

Love, love and keep loving

xo

Miranda

The Breakup

*deeeep breath*

Oh how I wish this post was about the movie with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaugh and not my own life right now.

The downside about blogging about your life is that you can’t just post about the fun/happy/photogenic moments (I mean I guess you could but it wouldn’t be very honest).

My worst nightmare became reality a few weeks ago when Nicholas and I sat down to have what became our final conversation as boyfriend and girlfriend.

And no, it did not end in engagement.

I’m a sensitive person (to put it mildly). I don’t date a lot and when I like someone, I really like them.

The hardest part right now is that I couldn’t really tell you why it didn’t work. I could give you a few reasons that may have contributed, but not really a good enough reason that would cause us to part ways. Unfortunately the reality is that -for whatever reason- it wasn’t working.

I could say that maybe one of us wasn’t trying hard enough, but I think we both tried as much as we could.

In any case I think in general we don’t understand a lot of things until much later.

The weekend following the breakup was brutal. It’s kind of funny because immediately after both of my breakups I’ve had some sort of youth group event. This time it was a weekend retreat with a group of eighth graders and as much as I desperately wanted to contact the leader and tell him I couldn’t make it, I reluctantly went.

In retrospect it was truly a blessing in disguise. Assisting lead a retreat for forty thirteen-year-olds forced me out of my head and shifted my focus. It also helped that the retreat center itself was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in SC. Not only that, but one of my best friends and my brother both came as well, a huge game changer. Even though I had some pretty tough moments, I pulled through and I think the worst is over.

There is no point in trying to pretend that I’m okay, over it or have moved on. I’m not and I haven’t. It’s heartbreaking, confusing, frustrating and just plain sucks. I wish I could skip this part and go to when I start being okay again. I wish I couldn’t remember all the good times, or that I didn’t have to run into him around town. It hurts a lot and there is just no way around it. Unfortunately the only way through is through and there are thankfully some things that have helped me in this painful, painful time.

Moral support

Honestly I am one of the most blessed girls in the world. My friends and family are so true and so good to me. Everyone who knew what was going on has reached out to me, prayed for me and offered to talk or hang out if I wanted to. They’ve also followed up with me days after the fact and given me their consolation. I will tell you right now that friendships -close ones- are invaluable. People to celebrate the good and commiserate the bad with are an absolute necessity in your life. If you haven’t reached out to a good friend in a while or maybe you just moved to a new area, make the effort, reach out, do it. Life means very little without people on your team to share it with.

Self-care

It’s amazing how much a shower, a face mask, a new conditioner, getting your nails done, A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP, even cleaning your car will do for you. Seriously. I know that in rom-coms the girls going through breakups look like they haven’t showered in days but letting yourself go only makes it worse. Pick yourself up, be kind to yourself and show yourself some TLC (this is a good rule of thumb for any time of life, but especially difficult ones).

Social media fast

One of the first things that I did after the breakup (after crying, obviously) was delete the Instagram and Facebook apps off my phone. I knew the temptation to look for him on there, post something angry or dramatic or just scroll through old pictures of us would be overwhelming. Just give yourself a break. You can live a week or two without knowing what your friend from college that you haven’t talked to in five years is up to. You don’t need to see the engagement photos, the baby pics, the #mancrushmonday posts…you really don’t. That doesn’t mean you’re not happy for everyone else or that you’re somehow bitter, it just means that you need to experience what is going on without also comparing it to the highlight reel of everyone else you know.

Hope

The absolute worst thing you can do if you’re going through a hard time is despair. In breakups it’s easy: ‘no one will ever love me,’ ‘is there a guy out there for me’ ‘I’m not good enough’… these thoughts will consume you and take you down a deep, dark hole if you let them. Don’t. This isn’t it, there is more to come. No, it doesn’t make sense, no it’s not easy, but holding on to hope amidst the absolute most painful times is what will get you through it. Look at all the people that went through breakups and survived. Not only that, but the vast majority people who are happily married now experienced heartbreak at some point before. I haven’t given up on love, or men, or dating.

As difficult as it is, I trust that there is a bigger, better plan in place. I don’t know what it is right now and I don’t understand but that’s okay. Part of our creaturely-ness is that we’re not always in control of everything the way we’d like to be. We were created, we did not will our way into existence. Things will happen to us, good and bad, that we cannot control. We only have power over how we react. I do believe that we were made to love and be loved and that as long as we remember and are open to it, we will experience it. Keep hoping, keep trusting, keep fighting the good fight.

Courage, dear friends.

xo

Miranda

“We were legends
Loving you baby, it was heaven.
What everyone wondered we never questioned
Closed our eyes and took on the world together, do you remember?”

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

For possibly the first time in over a year, this past Friday night I made zero plans. I went to bed at 9pm and woke up almost twelve hours later. It was amazing. Saturday was also very restful with a tiny bit of productivity mixed in there (yay for errands). My friend Juliana came over and we made empanadas (a Latin American dish similar to enchiladas…but not the same. It’s not the same, people).

We had so much fun catching up (she lives in Connecticut during the school year) and we went dancing after! Nicholas joined us for that which made it even better.

Sunday was fun since my sister was home briefly so the gang was back together for brunch before church. Love love love.

I hope your weekend was fun and restful! Oh! And happy MLK day!!! Hopefully most of you have Monday off and will enjoy that too.

Apart from a long weekend, here are a few other things I’m excited about this week.

Dance classes

I am so glad I can finally talk about this! For weeks I’ve had to keep it a secret and now I can finally share! For Nicholas’ Christmas gift I got us dance classes! We went to our first private lesson Tuesday and Wednesday we had a group class and a ‘social’ afterward. I was a little nervous at how he would react (I don’t think many guys ask Santa for dance classes with their girlfriend) but he was pleased! It was fun (if a little awkward) and super helpful to have someone give us instruction. I think dancing is a good analogy for relationships in general. Sometimes it is awkward and it takes a lot of practice. Learning to navigate the steps with someone is really similar to learning to navigate the ins and out of being in relationship with another person. It is a skill that can be acquired if one is willing to put forth the time and effort necessary; and the result can be beautiful. We have another lesson this week which will be our last, hopefully our increased confidence will encourage us to go and dance more often!

Sleep spray

This may seem a little silly, but one of my Christmas gifts this year was a ‘Deep Sleep Pillow Spray‘ that I’ve been using and love it. It smells soo good! And relaxing. My sleeping recently has gotten a lot better (such a relief) and this spray has made me look forward to bedtime even more. I am a huge advocate of good rest and I think anything that makes it more enjoyable/attainable is a great thing.

Afternoon tea

Mom and I are planning a mother/daughter date to go to high tea! Growing up it was such a treat when we went to one of the nicer hotels that hosted an afternoon tea and I’ve been wanting to do so again for a while now. Dressing up, eating tiny sandwiches and drinking hot tea is such a nice way to spend an afternoon every now and then. I started watching the Crown too which has rekindled my love for everything British..including afternoon tea!

Zumba

A rather humbling experience I had this weekend was attending my first Zumba class. I was so lost 99% of the time but enjoyed it nonetheless! I have basically zero hand/eye coordination but I’m hoping this will help me improve as well as get a better feel for feeling the beat of the music (another eternal struggle). I love the instructor at the class we go to and the Latin music makes it even better. It’s a fun, different way of getting exercise and I’m really excited to keep going Saturday mornings!

Year of Grace

Pope Francis declared 2018 the Year of Grace and I am so grateful. Something I’ve become uncomfortably aware of this past year is how often I need others to extend grace to me. And how often I need to show grace to myself. Making mistakes -sometimes the same ones over and over- is an inevitable part of life. The faster and more lovingly we can forgive ourselves and others, the more we can empathize and show compassion, the more our capacity to love grows. I can do very little without supernatural grace; especially loving myself or others. 2018 is going to be the year for us to practice receiving and sharing the grace that is available to us; something that improved our lives immeasurably.

Here’s to being just a little more grace-full today.

xo

Miranda

Monday 5: 8 months & other things I’m excited about this week

What a lovely, lovely weekend. My dear friend Olivia (shout out!) got married this weekend to another friend of ours, Jackson. It was such a beautiful service and reception. They had a small, intimate wedding with so much heart! What made it even better was that Nicholas was able to get off work and come too! We didn’t think he’d be able to make it so when we found out Friday afternoon that he’d be off, I was so, so excited.

It was the most beautiful (70 degrees and sunny), fun day and I’m so happy for the newly weds! We were so fortunate to be a part of the celebration. We also had a bonfire Saturday evening which is always a good time (although  I did go to bed at 10pm because I was so exhausted!)

This week will be a short one since Thanksgiving is Thursday! My siblings and I will be headed to visit dad in NC. Aside from some time off, here are some things I’m excited about this week.

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Baby Christmas tree

For part of his 8 month gift, Nicholas gave me a little tiny Christmas tree for my room. I love it! I think plants inside the house can give such a refreshing look to any room. They are a simple, inexpensive way to decorate and bring life to your home. What I have to figure out now is how to decorate it!

Christmas lights

Speaking of Christmas….it’s almost a month away! I try to hold off from getting too excited about Christmas until after Thanksgiving (gotta take it one holiday at a time) but I came across Christmas lights for $2.99 at Wal-mart last week and without hesitating bought some and put them up as soon as I could. Christmas lights bring me so much joy. I think they are so cozy and such an easy way to enjoy the season! I plan on going back and buying some more if they still have that deal.

Family time

One of the great things about Charleston is that there is so much to do. Even when it’s chilly, there are so many places to eat/drink/shop/visit. Additionally, most of my friends live here so there’s typically always someone for me to go do something with. On the other end of the spectrum is where my dad lives, in rural NC with the closest grocery store a good 12 minutes away. It’s always hard for me to adjust to the much slower pace of life and embrace being a homebody whenever I visit my dad. However, I think it’s a good thing for all of us to do every once in a while, disconnect and appreciate the down time. Busy-ness can be addicting and taking a break from it every once in a while helps us take a step back and appreciate all that life has to offer outside of the to-do list. Spending time with family without an agenda is a necessary and important thing to do and I’m excited that this week will allow me to do so!

Pork schnitzel

So this Friday we went back to a spot called Warehouse. I was so pleased with the environment, drinks and food. Last time we only got drinks which were definitely tasty. But this time we ordered the pork roll and it was honestly one of the better meals I think I’ve had in Charleston. The fried pork came in a pretzel roll (so yum) with broccolini and a honey mustard sauce. The ambiance is local neighborhood bar with exposed brick, cement floors and ladders hanging from the walls; they also have a pool table! It’s a great spot to take friends on a Friday night!

8 months

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What a ride. It’s crazy how you can not know someone at all and then a few months later they are this huge part of your life! Nicholas and I have had our fair share of struggles because we both bring our ‘garbage’ into this relationship. Love isn’t easy but it really is beautiful. We have had so many good times intermingled with difficulty, and that has made it all the more precious to us. We know that the effort is worth it and want to grow and learn from it! Maybe our culture glorifies detachment and freedom, but what can be more freeing that choosing to love someone in spite of the challenge it can pose? We are so blessed to have these 8 months and I’m really looking forward to many more to come.

Genuine love is demanding, but it’s beauty lies precisely in the demands it makes. -Saint John Paul the Great

I hope everyone enjoys this time of thanksgiving!

xo

Miranda

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

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What a fun Fall weekend. It was definitely a chilly one but we got to spend time with friends, celebrate birthdays, check out new stores and have dinner on the water! It was nice too because we got to spend time with different groups of friends that we don’t see as often. I always feel so blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with friends, community is so important!

Nicholas had his first recruitment dinner last night (a dinner for current residents to meet with candidates who are considering joining the program) and for that we went to a spot called Fleet Landing. It is one of the few restaurants in downtown Charleston that is on the water. It’s cool because it is nice abut not too ritzy. The vibe is very nautical and no-frills. The food was very good, I got a shrimp salad and Nicholas got the shrimp and grits, I have to say I think his dish was better- so yummy!

It’s crazy that this is the last week before Thanksgiving! This season is flying by. Here are some things I’m looking forward to this week, I hope you take a minute to make your own list too!

Southern Living Store

We happened to go to the shopping center in Mount Pleasant where Southern Living opened a store. I honestly had no idea Southern Living had stores, much less that there was one in the town I live in! We ventured inside Saturday morning and it was so fun! They really have beautiful things, lots of smaller items like dishtowels and hand creams, water bottles, cookbooks etc. And they have larger items to decorate your home as well. I loved the style (simple and comfy) and we had so much fun reading funny sayings on much of the merchandise like “crazy is the new black” or “I think my guardian angel drinks” or “in queso emergency”. It’s a great place to get fun, cute gifts or to just look around and get some inspiration for your own home!

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Spiked hot chocolate

We had a friend’s birthday Saturday evening (shout out to Juliana!) and we weren’t sure what to bring, I don’t remember which one of us came up with the idea but we decided to bring spiked hot chocolate! Nicholas found this recipe on Pinterest and it was so good. The only change I made was add the peppermint schnapps. It was really delicious. It is also very rich, so you and your guests probably won’t want more than a cup or two. I think it’s a great option to bring to a party or for having family over the holidays! It’s so yummy and warm and comforting.

Candles

In the vein of hygge, which I talked about last week, I’ve been lighting a lot of candles recently. When it’s cold outside, and especially if it’s cold and gloomy, a candle can make such a difference. It really makes the whole room feel so much more cozy and comfortable. We have so many candles that we rarely use, it’s been nice to finally actually use them. I think I feel like there has to be a special occasion for us to light candles, but that really isn’t true (at least, the candle police hasn’t said anything so far). I think little things like that can lift our mood so much and it’s important to make the most of them! If anyone has any other little things that make them feel better during the day, please share!

This quote:

My brother sent me a bit by a comedian about the ‘gender war.’ It was a really funny segment on how men and women think differently. For example, for women a comment such as ‘it’s cold in here’ is really a request that the temperature be changed, and if it is ignored, the man may find himself being asked questions like “do you even love me?” before too long. One of my favorite lines was this:

“Men and women need each other. Because women bring life into this world, we need them. And women, women can’t reach all the shelves, so they need us too.”

Vulnerability

Nicholas sent this quote yesterday and I think it’s definitely worth sharing:

“There is no intimacy without vulnerability and no vulnerability without surrender.”

In relationships, whether friends, family or our significant others, vulnerability is a requirement of intimacy. Obviously in different relationships there should be different levels of vulnerability. You shouldn’t be as vulnerable with a girlfriend as you are with your spouse, for example. However, regardless of the degree, pretending to have it all together and never admitting any weakness prevents us from achieving a higher level of closeness. Especially in our closest relationships, vulnerability is so essential. We all carry our own wounds, struggles and shortcomings. We all have times of our lives that are especially difficult for some reason or another. To admit that we have been hurt, to admit that we mess up, to admit that we need the other person’s support is not needy, it is human and invites the other person to a deeper understanding of who we are. When we are vulnerable, we express trust and we allow the other person to love us more completely, brokenness and all. When we do the same for the other person, we have the opportunity to practice empathy and compassion and to love the person unconditionally. Learning to be vulnerable is really tough, but it’s good for us to keep in mind that the next time we’re struggling with something, the next time we’re acutely aware of a weakness, we can share it with the person closest to us. In doing so we deepen the intimacy and lighten our load just a little.

Happy Monday!

xo

Miranda

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

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Weekends are just the best. Especially ones when you’re not sick and can do things! Friday night I went out with a couple of girlfriends to a spot called Gene’s Haufbrau (oldest bar in Charleston!) and then to a wine and cheese restaurant in West Ashley. We enjoyed some much needed girl time.

Saturday after getting some housework done, Nicholas and I rode bikes to our friend Sara’s house to watch part of the Clemson game. After halftime we left to ride more around Old Village. That night we enjoyed a bonfire on the beach with some friends. Sunday we went to Mass at the cathedral (such a beautiful service!) and then went to a coffee shop called Kudu to get some work done. Sunday evening we helped out with the high school youth group.

It was such a lovely weekend with an extra hour of sleep!! I hope you were able to take advantage and get some rest.

Here is this week’s five, I hope they put some pep into your Monday or at least help you think of your own five!

Gratitude jar

Of course November is a good month to recall all we are grateful for. To make this a little easier, I made a mason jar our ‘gratitude jar’ where we put in post-it notes with what we are grateful for that particular day. At the end of the month we’ll read them out loud to remind us of all that we have to be thankful for!

Hygge

Last week I got to catch up with my friend Bernadette (shout out!) who is living a couple hours away from me with her husband and new baby! One concept she introduced me to is called ‘hygge’, (pronounced huggah) it’s a danish term that means ‘cozy’ or ‘charming’. The idea is to find ways to make your home (or work place) warm and inviting. Whether it’s changing how you arrange your furniture or something as simple as lighting a candle or turning on a lamp, we can make adjustments to bring ‘hygge’ into our everyday lives. I love this concept and am so excited to implement it. I think coziness is such a lovely attribute that brings so much joy and comfort!

Lifestyle changes

For any of you out there who struggle with anxiety, I am right there with you. It really has been tough to battle the distressing thoughts and sometimes overwhelming fears that take over. Nicholas and I have discussed extensively what to do about it and this week we’ve decided to work on making some lifestyle improvements that are supposed to also help with anxiety. Of course, it’s mainly for me but he’s willing to do it with me in order to have some accountability. Some of those changes include getting 8.5 hours of sleep a night, exercising every day (*gulp*) and reducing caffeine intake (!!!). I’m really hoping some of these changes will help and will let you know if they are effective! If anyone has some other tips out there please share!

Boundaries

On the note of anxiety, another helpful tool for me has been the idea of having boundaries with your thoughts. That may seem a little weird, to have boundaries with yourself; but the idea is that when a fear comes to mind, instead of letting it loose and it then wrecking havoc in your head, choosing to set a boundary by simply dismissing the fear altogether. Right off the bat, just saying ‘nope, not gonna go there.’ Shutting down the fear instead of exploring it can be really helpful. The trouble isn’t so much the thoughts themselves as much as what we do with them.

Forgiveness

Something I’m coming to realize more and more is the number of times we have to forgive and be forgiven. It happens so often that I have to let something go, whether I feel like it or not. Even more often is the number of times I have to sincerely apologize for saying or doing something I know I shouldn’t have. Forgiveness is really difficult sometimes, but it’s easier when we remember how many times we have messed up and relied on someone else’s willingness to let it go. This week I want to be me proactive about letting the small things go and giving people the benefit of the doubt, especially since I know the same has been done for me over and over.

xo

Miranda

Monday 5: Self-compassion & other things I’m excited about

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This weekend was another action filled one with both family on my side and on Nicholas’ side in town. After a quick trip to Sullivan’s Island with the Cundiffs, my brother, my sister, her boyfriend and I all picked up my dad from the train station and had dinner together.

The next morning my brother prepared us a Venezuelan brunch (so good!) and we explored a historic site called ‘McLeod Plantation’. it was a beautiful, peaceful place and the weather was perfect. We also stopped on the pumpkin patch on our way!

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We also went to the movies to see Tom Cruise in ‘American Made’, it was a movie that was very well done with a pretty crazy story (based on real events) about a pilot and the American government’s involvement with the drug cartel. Note: it is not family friendly.

Saturday evening we had dinner at one of our family’s favorite restaurants in Mount Pleasant, The Granary. Sunday morning we all said goodbye to dad and then I went to the 11:15 service at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist with the Cundiffs and after we went to brunch at Hominy Grill!

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It was a nice weekend filled with quality time with family, one of my favorite things!

Hopefully your weekend was fun and relaxing and you have things to look forward in the week ahead! In case you need some ideas, here are some things I’m excited about this week.

Meet the fam

Thursday evening we had the Cundiffs over for dinner at my house. While Nicholas had met my family before and I his, they had never met each other. Since the Cundiffs live at least a 12 hour drive away, the chances for them to meet my family not been many (read 0) so it made sense to take advantage of this rare opportunity. There’s something scary about families meeting, you really can’t control how they are going to act or if they are going to get along or not. I think most of tend to avoid this encounter for as long as we can, but it really is important. Our families know us the best, they are an incredibly important part of who we are and including them in our intimate relationships is not only healthy, but necessary. It’s easy to isolate ourselves as we get older and keep our different ‘lives’ separate, and while I understand why that’s attractive (believe me, I really do) there is something really wholesome about inviting others, especially those you are close to, into your relationship and not closing yourself off. I think the dinner went as well as we could have hoped for, and I feel at peace knowing that my family knows Nicholas just a little bit better now.

Self-compassion

We all have our weaknesses, some which at times can get the best of us. Whether it’s a bad habit, a difficulty in a certain area, or strong fear we have, it’s easy to get down on ourselves for being/having/doing something we dislike. However, I think criticizing or begrudging those parts of ourselves that we struggle with is actually counter productive. While it’s certainly helpful to have awareness of those things we want to work on, I’m not sure that condemning them is. We want to allow room for us to be compassionate towards those parts of us that are lacking, the same way we would toward a friend or family member who is going through something. I think compassion is a much better starting place for healing or improvement than disparagement. It’s a hard habit to break, but I think working toward a understanding of our shortcomings is an outlook worth developing that will be more likely to lead us to progress.

The King’s Speech

I hadn’t seen this movie in a while but when we watched it over the weekend I was reminded of how excellent it is. Talk about weakness, to see the soon-to-be king of England absolutely grapple with his speech impediment is straight up painful. I liked too, how his speech therapist (Logan) recognizes that the physical problem is really just a symptom for a deeper, emotional and psychological trauma. He treats the wound itself and not merely it’s manifestation. I loved the King’s wife (played beautifully by Helen Bonham Carter) and what an important role she had too. Her encouragement, support, faith and gentleness kept His Royal Highness sane and grounded when he felt tempted to give up. It is a beautiful dynamic that demonstrated how we can be loved despite our worst problems. If you haven’t seen the movie, or haven’t seen it in a while, I think it is well worth your time.

Halloween costumes

How the heck did Halloween come so fast?! This Friday we are going to a couple’s house who throw an epic Halloween party party every year and I’m so excited. The problem is, I’m not good at Halloween and have no idea what to dress up as! It would be fun to do a couple’s costume too, but it has to be something that isn’t too cheesy. I love the idea of doing something clever or well thought out (without spending much money on a costume, of course). I’m really excited to look at some more ideas, but suggestions are welcome!!!

This quote

Life itself is a haphazard, untidy, messy affair.

-Dorothy Day

Love love love! Such a good, true, beautiful statement. I want to remind myself of this every day.

Hope you have an untidy, messy, haphazard week!

xo

Miranda