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

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

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Happy Monday everyone! I hope your week is off to a great start.

This weekend was really a good one. Friday evening I had the privilege of hearing Immaculée Ilibagiza speak and it was truly inspiring (more on that later).

Saturday morning my brother and I hit up the local upscale thrift shop and a little later I got my hair cut!! There’s nothing like leaving the hair salon afterward, I always feel like a movie star. #bestdayever.

Saturday afternoon the Charleston pipe band played at a brewery near my house and it was so cool (and so loud). They were wearing kilts and everything, it was awesome (also, Ghost Monkey Brewery is my new favorite).

Saturday evening the Cundiffs went with me to their first oyster roast! We went to the Sullivan’s Island one that supports the fire station. It was a little chilly but not too bad. The oysters were so good and it was fun to watch the Cundiffs as they experienced it all for the first time.

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Sunday was the Superbowl, obviously. We watched it with the youth group teens and even though I didn’t watch the game that much, had a great time. We played multiple games of foosball and ate a lot.

All in all a wonderful weekend.

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Having said all of that, here are some things I’m excited about this week!

Seafood soup recipe

I tried this last week and it was delicious. The chef Nancy is a friend of my mom and my aunt Carrie’s and her recipes have been hits in our family. Her goal is to make healthy eating yummy which is good for me since I’ve been known to have chocolate chip cookies for lunch. Anyway, this South American inspired seafood soup was easy and yummy, I highly recommend it.   

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Retreat

This weekend my brother and I are helping lead a teen retreat together! It’s been a bit since I did this kind of weekend venture and I’ve definitely never done it with him. I’m excited to get away for a couple of days (we’re going to a retreat center called Camp Saint Christopher) and to have a weekend of service, which is always refreshing (and exhausting at the same time). It’s nice to have opportunities like this to be involved in the community, and to do so with family!

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Perspective

In Immaculée’s talk, she shared her story about surviving the Rwandan genocide. She spent 91 days in a 3X4 foot bathroom with 7 other women; not knowing if the that day would be her last. She came out three months later only to learn that her family and friends had all been killed. It was an incredible story of faith, strength and willingness to forgive. Sometimes I get so caught up in my struggles, my problems and difficulties that I forget how good I really have it; we all go through tough times, but they certainly aren’t all as bad as what Immaculée Ilibagiza had to go through. This kind of perspective is really necessary when you feel especially frustrated and discouraged. If she can survive 91 days of agony, waiting to meet her end, the death of her friends and family and the journey to forgiveness, then I think I can get through my own trials too. It could be so much worse; and even in the worst of it we know ‘this too shall pass.’

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Breweries

I’ve really been on a brewery kick recently. This weekend I went to two new ones I hadn’t been to before. The first was a brand new brewery on Daniel Island called Dockery’s. It is huge, which is kind of a nice change of space from the often crowded, smaller spots in Charleston. The beer was great and I loved the chic, rustic vibe. On Saturday I checked out Ghost Monkey which was awesome. It’s the opposite of Dockery’s in that it’s a tiny spot on the outskirts of Mount Pleasant. It has a very down-to-earth, no frills atmosphere that invites people to just have a good beer and a good time – no sophistication necessary. I’m not sure what it is about breweries that I like so much, I think they have a bit of a different feel than bars – they just seem more wholesome and cozy to me. In any case, I’ve very much enjoyed trying the different spots in the area.

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Corinithians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Recently this verse has been on my mind a lot. To me it kind of answers the question of ‘what is love?’ Is it a feeling? A sentiment? A chemical reaction? Regardless of whether or not you are religious, I think these few sentences are a good starting point, something to keep in mind when we struggle with what it really means to love. It’s not always easy and it definitely doesn’t always feel good, we just have to hope that the effort will be worth it in the end.

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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: (Pro) Life & other things I’m excited about this week

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It was another relatively quiet weekend in the Rodriguez household. Friday afternoon Nicholas and I played with Sally and Anne Louise (more on that later) and that evening even though we had planned to go out with some resident friends, ended up staying in and watching ‘This is Us’.

Saturday I got together with my friend Domi who just got engaged! So exciting! And that afternoon I said goodbye to Sister Kathleen who is being transferred to Miami! It was nice to catch up but also a little sad to part ways for now.

Saturday evening I spent time with my family and Sunday youth group and Mass were my main events. I also got to catch up with my friend Lizzie at a new oyster restaurant called Nico in Mount Pleasant! We had some delicious baked oysters and tasty cocktails.

All in all it was a nice weekend and I feel so blessed to have good friends to catch up with!

Here are some things I’m excited about this week..what’s on your list?

Docility

I feel like I associate docility with people who get walked all over. However, when I came across the term in this book I’m reading, it made me question that definition. It turns out docile actually refers to someone who is ‘easy to teach.’ I’m probably not one of the most docile people (ask any violin teacher I’ve had). But I think it is a good quality to have. In life things happen that we don’t want. People say things we don’t agree with. We are charged with tasks we don’t like. One option is to be grumpy about it and meet these challenges with a bad attitude, another is to be downright rebellious and avoid them altogether. A third possibility is to learn from whatever is happening to us. A break-up, being let go, an unpleasant encounter…certainly these things are not enjoyable and sometimes even heartbreaking, but being angry over time turns into bitterness and resentment. Maybe a better option is looking at it as a learning experience. What is life trying to teach us from this? How can we grow from it? It’s not easy, but this docile attitude is actually a much lighter load than anger, trust me.

Support system

We all experience suffering at one point or another. Sometimes it can be especially difficult, like just-make-it-through-the-day difficult.

Not fun.

But when times like these arise, we have the opportunity to be especially grateful for those who love and support us. Those who text us to check in because they know we’re going through something. Those who call just to listen. Those who open their homes to us to console and advise us. These people too, will be there for us when the joy comes. They will celebrate with all the authenticity in the world because they genuinely care for our well-being and are happy for us. These people should not be taken for granted and I am in so much debt to my support system. We need people like this in our lives and if you try to convince yourself otherwise you’ll find out to be dead wrong. Developing deep, meaningful friendships with people, especially those who share our values is essential to our well-being. It’s helpful to have friends who are peers (people around the same age, state in life etc). But it’s also great to be friends with people who are at different points in their life. For example Sister Kathleen is much older than I and she is a nun but I always learn so much from our meetings together. My friend Sarah is married and has a son close to my age and I also have learned much from her. My friend Bernadette is my age but married and with a baby…reaching out to people that have different perspectives and experiences can be incredibly valuable. I’m so grateful to all these people who have given me so much guidance and support, especially when tough times creep up on me.

This quote

I’ve never been a huge Lord of the Rings fan (I’ve only seen the movies), but as I’ve come across more and more of JRR Tolkien’s quotes I’m having a bit of a change of heart. They are so beautiful and true! This one I found to be especially wonderful and appropriate for this time.

“‘But where shall I find courage?’ Asked Frodo. ‘This is what I chiefly need.’
‘Courage is found in unlikely places,’ said Gildor. ‘Be of good hope! Sleep now!”

Love.

I’m not sure what those ‘unlikely places’ Gildor refers to are, but I hope I find them.

Reunion

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It was so nice to spend some time with Sally and Anne Louise again. Being with children is so nourishing to me. There is something so infectious and refreshing about their innocence, enthusiasm and light-heartedness. To see Nicholas running around with Sally and Anne Louise was very entertaining (although exhausting for him). We had an absolute blast running around a park close to their house and I am so grateful I still get to see them every now and then.

Life

Speaking of babies…today marks the anniversary of the infamous Roe v Wade decision that made abortion legal in the US. Even amidst difficulty and suffering, life is so precious. It makes me so sad that we take the opportunity of life away from unborn children. While I certainly can understand extenuating circumstances that often surround unwanted pregnancies, I think there is no difficulty that should prevent us from giving the person a chance. Hope is a very important virtue that we need to hang on to, for our sake and those of others. How on earth could we determine that a person we haven’t even met yet should not live? I am encouraged by all the mothers that have chosen life (including my own!), even when it wasn’t easy. They knew that they their rights were not meant to infringe on that of the child inside of them but rather to allow them to exercise the privilege that is partaking in the creation of another person. How amazing that we can do that!

Thank you to everyone who has chosen life for us.

xo

Miranda

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: New Year’s Edition

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Happy 2018! Can you believe it?? 2017 flew by, especially the last few months. I hope you had a wonderful holiday season with friends and family! My siblings and I spent a quiet Christmas with our dad in North Carolina. For New Years we were back in Charleston and my mom suggested going to a party at a new hotel downtown called the Dewberry. My aunt Carrie (shout out to Neatsmart) came to visit which made it even better! It was a fun evening full of (somewhat reluctant) dancing, people watching and very expensive drinks.

The first week back to work ended up being one day since Charleston got hit by a ‘snowpocalypse’ (which for us is about four inches). It was such a lovely gift to have unexpected time off to just chill with my family. I read, wrote in my bullet journal (more on that to come) and walked around the snowy streets. I’m typically not a fan of sitting around for extended periods of time but those two days were wonderful.

Nicholas got stuck at the hospital for two days which was kind of unfortunate but he got a long weekend out of it so that helped ease the annoyance of having to sleep at the hospital! We had a lot of fun walking around some neighborhoods in the snow and taking pics. We went on a double date Friday night with our friends Lucia and Kevin and then they came over to play cards for a little bit. Saturday we went to a bar in West Ashley to meet up with some people and watch the James Madison football game and then later made a yummy dinner for my fam! Nicholas made a whipped feta dip with honey that was delicious.

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That evening we had some people over to celebrate the feast of the Epiphany (when the three Magi visited baby Jesus). We made Lamb’s Wool, a drink traditionally made on that day and everyone shared a moment in nature that they were particularly impacted by God. It was a fun night.

Sunday we went to Mass at the Cathedral and then to brunch after (like the stereotypical millennials we are). Later we explored Daniel Island some which had some incredible houses; and then ended the weekend with watching a couple episodes of This is Us (such a good show!).

It’s been a beautiful start to the new year, I love new beginnings! To start your week (and year) off on the right foot, here are some things I’m excited about that you might enjoy too.

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Bullet journal

One of the highlights of the time at my dad’s house was getting to catch up with one of my best friends Maria. She was the one who recommended I start a bullet journal. A bullet journal is like an agenda that you make yourself. The idea is that you can completely customize it to your needs while simultaneously being a creative outlet. You can get an empty notebooks with the little dots (mine is Moleskine) and those become your guide to mapping everything out. In addition to having a monthly calendar, a weekly and daily view, you can also have sections such as books you want to read, parties you want to host, goals you want to accomplish, people you want to pray for or reach out to and have them each marked with tabs. It is time consuming but so fun. And creative and mindful. I am not an artsy person but there are so many cute ideas out there on Instagram and Pinterest that you really don’t have to be! I’m also hoping this might improve my art skills a little. Agendas can get really pricey and I tend to think it’s worth it if you use it and enjoy it a lot, but this is a fun, cheap alternative that can stretch us a little and make it more suitable to what we need! Love love love.

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Early mornings.

I love mornings. But I also love sleep. Waking up is often a struggle between my strong desire to sleep and my motivation to get up and get going. One of my resolutions this year is to read more. There are so many good book out there and I’m tired of adding to my reading list without making any progress! So, I’ve decided to harness my love of mornings and books and combine them with a little morning reading. I usually am guilty of getting up as late as I can and then rushing to get ready before sprinting out the door. This morning I was able to sip my coffee, read a few pages and take some time to just sit before getting dressed and heading out. It was so nice. It does require getting to bed a little earlier but I think it is so worth it. Starting your day calmly and intentionally is so much better than running around! How do you start your day? Any tips for making sure you get up when the alarm goes off?

Drinking with the Saints

I got Nicholas this book for his birthday and now I feel like I unconsciously got it as a gift for myself. I love it so much! I am a huge fan of celebrating things and this book is a great tool for that. Each month has the various feast days with some background information and a drink that is relevant. I am no bartender but I ‘m excited to explore it a little more and hopefully save money in the long run by not going out as much! It also makes it so easy to invite a few people over and celebrate a feast day with other people; I think this is awesome for keeping the liturgical year at the front of mind and sharing it with others.

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Affirmations

I can be pretty sarcastic. My family loves to poke fun at each other and tease a lot. While I love this dynamic, I’ve come to learnt the value of giving sincere compliments. Relationship and marriage psychologist John Gottman explains that each negative interaction is worth the same as five positive ones. Really what he’s saying is that we tend to focus more on the bad than the good, which makes sense from a biological standpoint since bad things are threats to our survival and therefore should be dealt with. For that reason, it is really important to pepper in those affirming and loving moments as often as we can. That way, when something negative inevitably occurs, it is just a drop in the bucket compared to all the positive interactions that have taken place prior. Both with my family and with Nicholas, I’m trying to make an effort of pointing out their strengths, their achievements and just reminding them how much I love them. We think that good relationships just happen, but the reality is that they require thought and work!

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Walks

We got out to go on long walks over the past few days and I really enjoyed it. Something I miss about college is just how you typically walk everywhere. I think taking time to get outside and move is so important and beneficial. It is especially helpful if we do it with friends or loved ones because it forces us to chat in an intentional way. There are so many things that distract us at home (phones, TV, chores etc) and walking helps keep us focused on only what is around us. I think this is a great way of building emotional intimacy while also staying active and healthy. I’m hoping to get out and walk some more this week.

What are you excited about this week?

xo

Miranda

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

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This weekend was definitely one for the books. My stepdad turned 50 and we had quite the celebration. We decked out the backyard with tent, tables, chairs, heaters and an enormous bonfire. It was a lot of work (my brother did not stop all weekend) but it was a lot of fun. It was good to see family I hadn’t seen in a while (and introduce Nicholas to them) and to meet new people as well.

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Most of Saturday was spent getting ready for the party but Sunday Nicholas and I finally got to go sailing! One of the first conversations we ever had was about Nicholas’ love of sailboats so it was exciting to bring that dream to fruition. It was a beautiful day and sailing around the Charleston harbor was so relaxing. We didn’t know any of the people we were sailing with (Nicholas had exchanged a couple of emails with the boat owner) but they were very warm and welcoming. We were only out for a few hours but we really enjoyed it. Later that afternoon we had a Christmas party with the teens from youth group and Pope Francis was in attendance! (Ok not really but yesterday was his birthday).

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Cannot believe Christmas is a week away, eek! I hope everyone has had a chance to get some shopping done and reflect on all the blessings we have! Other than that, here are some other things I’m excited about this week.

Birchbox

I’m not a makeup person. I always get so overwhelmed anytime I need to buy new mascara or BB cream that I put it off for way too long. When I do finally get around to buying some I’m often disappointed because it isn’t really what I was looking for or doesn’t do everything it says it does. That’s why I was excited when my mom got me a Birchbox subscription for my birthday. This way I get some samples every month so I’m mostly stocked and when I do find something I really like I can buy it knowing that it’s a sound purchase. Plus I get to try things I normally never would like sparkly eyeliner. It’s also so fun to have some mail to look forward to each month! I think this is a great gift idea for any girl (even if it’s just a gift from you to you ;)).

Sailing 

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I was so excited to finally go sailing and it really was a great experience. I love the clothes associated with sailing (stripes, boat shoes, lots of white and navy) and the boats themselves are so pretty. There is something about being on the water that makes it really difficult to be stressed or anxious. It was liberating and calming to be away from everything for a little bit and just enjoy our beautiful surroundings. It was a little chilly but luckily I was pretty bundled up so it wasn’t a huge problem. There is actually quite a bit to sailing; lots of terms to learn and all that goes into getting the boat to move. I learned a tiny bit yesterday but am excited to keep understanding more. I loved getting some pictures of Charleston from this standpoint, we live in such a photogenic area! I know Nicholas really enjoys sailing so I’m hopeful we’ll be able to do this somewhat regularly.

Homemade brunch

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Brunch is the ‘thing to do’ these days. We love brunch. Especially in Charleston, we’re so lucky to have so many charming, delicious options! For Nicholas’ birthday we decided to switch it up a little and do brunch at his apartment. It was a great time. He made shrimp and grits that were incredible and we really enjoyed being able to host people instead of meeting someplace else. There’s something about inviting people into a home that is very intimate and welcoming in a way that eating out just isn’t. It’s definitely something that requires more work (and $ on the part of the host), but I think doing it every once in a while is totally worth it. It was especially cool to bring people together like our young adult friends and my family…worlds colliding!

All things Christmas

This week is it! I can’t believe how fast this season has gone by. I feel like there’s still so much to do! I’m excited to go all out with gifts, Christmas music, cookies and especially taking some time to reflect on what is coming. I think now is especially a good opportunity to remember all the blessings we have, to count them one by one. Gratitude is the antidote to hopelessness and dejection. When we realize how much we truly have to be grateful for (ex: family, health, work, friends, a car…) we can have hope for what is to come knowing all that we’ve already received. I hope everyone has a truly merry Christmas!

9 months

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It feels like yesterday I was writing the post about our 6 month milestone. Time just goes by so darn fast! It really has been #miracholas. No one really tells you how truly messy relationships can be. It makes sense though, when we think about how complex the human person is. We all have hurt and fears and insecurities and difficulties that haunt us and surface when someone gets close. It is the beauty of intimacy, being known and loved deeply…despite our evident imperfection. I can see how the challenge has helped us grow and how good that is. I’m so grateful for all that we’ve gone through – the good and the difficult – and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us!

Have a wonderful last week before Christmas!

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: 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