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

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February 5th.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO.

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

Here we go!

Fiction:

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

Alllllll the Alanna:

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

It’s so good.

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

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

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

Do it.

Now.

Crossfit:

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

Hosting:

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

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

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

Acceptance:

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

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

 

Xo

 

Miranda Kate

 

The Ache

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

I had to think about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is it?

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

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

I’m not sure, honestly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Desire is – at its purest – a good thing.

But it hurts.

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

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

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

It’s infuriating, and heartbreaking.

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

Why why why.

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

I don’t know when, I don’t know how.

And honestly, I could be wrong.

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

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

And I’m not giving up, either.

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

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

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

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

That’s worth celebrating, I think.

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

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

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

Dear God, grant me honesty.

xo

Miranda Kate

Life update: Cincy & how I’m really doing

It’s been a while since I really wrote..about me.

It hasn’t come as naturally recently for some reason. Getting the words out has just been difficult. But I do want to share a bit about the new adventure…so I’m going to try.

Bottom line: I’m doing okay.

At first there was kind of a ‘high’ of sorts. While the first nights were difficult, it was so distracting to be in a new place and start a new job…I didn’t really have room to feel much more than just excitement at the newness of it all.

I’ve managed to keep myself pretty busy. Obviously there are ‘house’ things (it’s SLOWLY coming along) that need to get done. But also meeting with people I had met before who live here and getting to know others I’ve met at work. I didn’t have much down time at all my first month.

I’ve gotten better at being alone. I’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring the city, checking out some bars, churches and parks on my own. It’s been nice. I’ve found a few favorites and go back to them often.

I’ve gotten some reading done (mostly in the mornings) – I finally finished ‘story of a soul’ (HIGHLY recommend it) and am working on ‘consoling the heart of Jesus’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland.’

I have especially enjoyed the latter..I see so much of myself in her, but maybe that’s for another post.

I like Cincinnati. It has it’s rough areas but generally I think it has a charm of its own that is unpretentious. I like all the hills a lot more than I anticipated (hills = views).

I actually live across the river in Kentucky. I’m about 15 minutes from downtown Cincinnati, and I LOVE where I live. I like the place itself and the area. It’s a quiet, suburban neighborhood with neat yards and lots of green. My favorite park is a five minute drive away and there are two Catholic Churches also within that distance – and a coffee shop with DONUTS just a few minutes down the road.

The people here have been very kind. It’s been especially comforting knowing a few people inside AND outside of work. I want to have a good balance.

Of course it’s hard, being the new kid. People have their own lives and routines, breaking into that gracefully takes quite a bit of grit and patience. There’s also the initial discomfort that comes just from not knowing each other very well, familiarity is not something to take for granted.

In any case, while sometimes it does feel difficult, I feel very grateful to all the people who have reached out and made me feel welcome – it has been such a gift.

It still sucks not knowing the area that well. I’ve gotten lost approximately 500,000 times and it gets old. Every time I’m able to get to a new place without a GPS I feel incredibly victorious.

It’s been difficult too, I think there’s something about being in a new place that makes old wounds and emotional/psychological challenges more prominent for some reason.

It’s like the comfort of home provided a shelter I wasn’t aware of. There has been a lot of inexplicable sadness and anger that seems unrelated or disproportionate to what is in front of me. I’m hoping that it’s surge means that there will be healing soon.

This has probably been the most challenging part. Grappling with demons on my own without the support of family or close friends. Just keeping it together at work has been difficult some days.

But the weird thing is, I do feel at peace. As much as there are days I am angry and resentful toward the struggles I’m facing, I don’t feel the need or urge to really change anything.

I think I’m in the waiting room right now: waiting to be attended to, feeling frustrated and impatient but hopeful nonetheless.

Something I’ve really embraced since moving here is just the adventure that life is. There’s no ‘tomorrow’ or ‘one day’, this is it…now. And even the really sucky parts have a lot to teach us and great beauty and grace to offer. We may not see it, but I believe it to be there. ‘Adventure’ doesn’t imply smooth sailing. If anything, it signifies difficulty, challenge, growth and victory. You can’t win if there’s no battle first.

I’m just determined to make the most of every second – to live a life that is honest – because it’s just too damn short to do anything other than love and be loved (you knew it was coming). To love fiercely, with abandon and without pretense.

So I’m going to try. I fail a lot but I’m going to keep trying. I hope you will too.

In any case, I’m okay. I’m grateful and I’m peaceful…joy will come (like a birdie in the morning sun).

Thanks for reading and for all the support.

Oh! And I got a nose ring!! Mom was NOT happy.

xo

Miranda Kate

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