Ask Him: Feat. Kevin

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Kevin is an interesting one. I met him through our young adult group this summer after he had recently left seminary (a type of “school” men go to discern priesthood) where he lived for fourteen years.

Not four, fourteen.

Through a long and arduous process of attempting to understand what he felt called to, Kevin discovered that marriage was one thing he couldn’t let go of and deeply desired. Even more importantly, he realized it was what would lead him to become the best man he could be.

He was excited and super relieved. As beautiful as the priesthood is, he knew it wasn’t for him and that this is okay.

“God doesn’t just want me to be useful, he wants me to be full of joy and at peace.”

So he left seminary and is now headed to grad school this Fall at Notre Dame to study business.

His goal is to be an “evangelizing businessman”. He wants to form relationships with executives and invite them to achieve greatness not only financially, but also spiritually and morally.

He hopes to find “twelve guys with a ton of cash to make a difference.”

#goals.

Go Kev!

What are some qualities you look for in a woman?

“My biggest fear leaving seminary was becoming girl-crazy…so I actually made a list of qualities to look for in a woman to help keep me grounded.”

  1. Christ-centered: “Not just prayer-centered…I want a woman who is in love with Christ. That’s a non-negotiable for me. I guess my fear was falling for appearances without that spiritual foundation.”

  2. Selfless: “A woman who will put Christ first, me second and herself third. Just as I will put Christ first, her second and myself third.”

  3. Honest: “She isn’t afraid to tell me what upsets her, how she feels…I don’t want to date/marry someone who expects me to read between the lines or constantly read her mind. I’m a pretty upfront and empathetic guy; I delicately say what I think. I can’t handle relationships where I feel like the other person is hiding something from me, or is dissatisfied with me in some way but won’t tell me what it is…so I’m hurting them without knowing what I’m doing wrong. That is important to me, not that you’re pleased with me but that you’re upfront with me.”

  4. Affectionate: “That’s really important to me because due to my mother passing away when I was young, there were a few years where I didn’t receive that feminine touch. I definitely could not handle someone who withholds affection as punishment or is constantly asking me to prove myself. To me personally, being affectionate is a quality that I really look for in a woman.”

How do you show interest in a woman?

“First thing is just saying ‘Hey, I’d like to know you better.’ If I’m interested in a girl the first thing I do is spend time with her. I usually take it one step at a time and to me that first step is friendship.”

What do you admire about women in general?

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman…I don’t just mean that physically. A woman’s ability to love without limits is incredible. My mom had cancer and they told her that she had something like 4-6 weeks left to live and she basically said ‘forget it, I have kids and I’m going to make sure they’re okay.’ She fought a year and a half. To me that’s incredible. Her ability to give of herself was truly beautiful and inspires me to this day.

And then I see women who flaunt their bodies and it’s kind of a shame really. They’re putting forth their ‘best selves’ and if that’s what they see as their true beauty…it’s too bad. An immodest woman is either looking for something I can’t give or turning me into a man I don’t want to be.

Not that women have to be frumpy, but an immodest woman turns me off because they don’t see what’s really beautiful about themselves, which is that selfless love of a woman that goes way beyond I think the way a man can love.”

You think women can love more than men?

“Yes. Men are naturally protectors, defenders, whereas women are much more relational…women are really the bond that holds the family together. Women are willing to suffer for the love of their husband or kids…it shows how strong women truly are. I think we’re all called to love as we’re able but I think that there’s something very particular about the way women love.

When a woman knows that she is loved and is sure of herself she can love in a way that a man can only admire.”

So what does man have to offer?

“I think a woman has more of a nourishing, bonding love and man has more of a sacrificial and practical type of love.”

Do you think it’s important for a man to ask a girl out?

“Yes. Choices are always about deciding which good thing you want. So for a guy to work up the courage to walk across a room and ask a girl out is a sign that he is willing to overcome obstacles (such as fear) to choose her. For a man to pursue a woman proves that he really cares about her…it’s not a casual thing. The more a guy pursues and proves in his actions that he really wants the girl, the better it is for the relationship. It’s important for a girl to know that he truly cares about her.”

Is it important for him that he ask her out?

“I think it’s important for him to test his own desire. Things that come easy aren’t really worth having. I’m not saying a woman should just blow a guy off…women have a deep desire to be pursued and know that they are truly beautiful. A man is on a quest to achieve something great for someone beautiful. Those are two complementary desires. There is something to the whole Rapunzel story, a man doing something to prove that the women is worth it. If she has someone by her side that fought for her it is so grounding.

If a woman were to come up to me and start a relationship I would be asking myself, ‘Do I really like this girl? Or am I just going out with her because she’s offering me things that I want?’

If you’re really sure that you are beautiful and worthy, why would you sell yourself so cheap? And the guy wants the challenge.”

Kevin’s thoughts on self-worth:

If a woman isn’t satisfied with herself she’s not ready to date. She doesn’t need a boyfriend to assure her – that will never work. She needs time alone to be at peace with herself. If I recognize a woman is struggling with her own self-worth, I feel dating her would be almost taking advantage of her. She needs time apart from someone – she is in a vulnerable state and if you insert yourself at that moment she’ll always need you…I wouldn’t want to do that to her or set myself up to fill a hole I’ll never be able to fill. It would be an act of selfishness for a guy to start a relationship with a girl who he knows is struggling with self-worth.

What are you looking forward to in the near or distant future?

When I left seminary I was totally starting over and I was happy because I knew I was where I needed to be…spiritually what I’ve learned after 14 years of seminary is that happiness and holiness isn’t about achieving some holy-goal. It’s about listening to where you’re called and throwing everything you have behind that calling. My hope and dream – more than a successful career or finding the perfect woman – has more to do with my relationship with Christ, having the strength to leave aside whatever is interfering with that relationship and live His will day by day.

Did I mention Kevin’s Catholic?

I was so impressed with his thoughts, a HUGE thank you to him for taking the time to sit down and chat with me about these things.

To good men.

xo

Miranda

A good man is hard to find?

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You may recognize this title as one of Flannery O’Connor’s most famous short stories. I read it for the first time in my AP literature class in high school and being sixteen and more interested in boys, didn’t think too much about it. This fall I read it again and was a lot more taken by her writing – and this story in particular. If you haven’t read it before I highly recommend it.

Toward the end of the story the protagonist notes, ‘a good man is hard to find.’

Her circumstances are very different from mine (as you’ll note when you read the story), but her observation is one that I’ve found highly relevant many years later in the real world.

I state it as a question because I’m not sure if it’s true:

Is a good man hard to find?

Is a good man hard to find?

I have met some really great men in my life. I’ve also found plenty of men who fall short. I think at my age (23 going on 100), it really isn’t the ‘good’ part I’m concerned with as much as the ‘man’ part.

By this I don’t mean that there are more good women out there than men. Rather, it seems as though guys are taking longer and longer to mature…they’re not really men. Most of the good men that come to mind are a good eight or more years older than I am.

Okay so what am I basing these statements on. To me masculinity can’t really be boiled down to a few qualities like physical strength or aggressiveness – do those really matter that much anyway?

It’s more about man’s purpose.

‘Miranda, you are clearly not a man, what do you know about this?’

Not much, however I have read a little about this topic and rely on other, smarter people who have done their research for my information.

Some men who have taken the question of how to define masculinity very seriously found that there are:

  …“continuities of masculinity that transcend cultural differences.” While every society’s idea of what constitutes a “real man” has been molded by their unique histories, environments, and dominant religious beliefs, Gilmore found that almost all of them share three common imperatives or moral injunctions — a male who aspires to be a man must protectprocreate, and provide.

– Brett, The Art of Manliness

Okay, so it’s not about big muscles or deep voices or how many bar fights they’ve been in.

Good to know.

We can break this down a little to understand what these really mean:

Protect

The only requisite to this is courage. This doesn’t mean running off to battle, picking a fight etc. It is merely a disposition of putting others’ safety in front of your own. Walking a girl to her car at night [even if she insists ‘it’s fine’], walking on the side of the street closer to the cars, getting up in the middle of the night when you hear a weird noise…it really doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. Of course, some men do live this out in very drastic ways such as protecting their country which is of course good too, however it doesn’t have to be that. There are plenty of opportunities for men to live this out on a daily basis in your average city.

Procreate

“The imperative to procreate essentially requires that a man act as pursuer of a woman, successfully impregnate her, and thus create a “large and vigorous family” that expands his lineage as much as possible.”

Um, so yeah.
I realize this sounds a little…antiquated. The reality is that today sex is unattached to pregnancy, if anything pregnancy is mostly avoided at all costs. Not only that, but for men to be the ‘pursuer’ is considered outdated at best and disgustingly sexist at worst.
However, before we condemn this notion as old-fashioned and insulting, I think we should take a second look at what it really means.

When a man pursues a woman (in a healthy, appropriate way) he is conveying the message that she is worth attaining, despite potential difficulty in doing so. In other words, she is desirable. While men desire to be needed, women really want to be wanted. When men pursue us, this desire of ours is fulfilled in a much more satisfactory way. Not only that, but men are inspired and motivated by a challenge. The pursuit then fulfills their own innate desire as well.

Ok so about the ‘create’ part of this. Sex today is rarely about ‘creating’ anything other than, um, sensations. Ultimately we know that the purpose of sex is twofold: expressing authentic love and bringing new life. For this reason, we should never separate one of these fundamental aspects of sex from the act itself. If we do, sex is shortchanged and something that should be completely selfless becomes selfish. Sex should be preserved for the occasions when both individuals a) love each other and are committed to each other for life and b) are open to life (this doesn’t mean what you think…look up natural family planning).

Okay so what does this mean to men? Basically sex for it’s own sake is not what motivates men (or shouldn’t be). Instead, sex that communicates love and could create life is what they seek (and that distinction is how you separate a boy from a man).

Provide

This one is probably the easiest one to understand but also a little tricky. Obviously men need to provide for themselves. What about for us?

DON’T HURT ME IT’S JUST A QUESTION

I realize this is a sensitive topic. I think the answer is that men don’t need to provide for us. Generally women work both before and after getting married (if we marry at all). However that doesn’t mean that men don’t want to provide for us. Whether it’s paying for a dinner or being the sole breadwinner this could mean something different for each person. I don’t think we should shut down the concept of men wanting to do this for us in the name of equality. To say that our equality boils down to our financial contribution is completely inadequate. Women and men can bring different things to the table and still be entirely equal.

Anyway, I feel that a lot of guys my age today have lost sight of these principles of masculinity. I keep hearing of breakups that happen seemingly without good reason…other than he’s just not ready.

He’s not sure, he doesn’t know, he can’t commit, he needs more time…they are not the least bit concerned with protecting, provided or procreating, and it’s a shame because it is through this that they will feel fulfilled and competent as men.

Why they’re struggling with this is a question that would take me a million years to explore, however while maintaining an outlook of compassion and empathy, I know that I’m kind of done accepting less from men. I love them too much to set low expectations.

I don’t want a ‘nice guy’, I want a good man.

A good man is hard to find, but they shouldn’t be.

“I ask you brothers, I ask you men, for the love of all that’s holy, release the stallion trapped in it’s pen, gain a thirst for who you should be. “

Alanna Boudreau

Men, what do you think about this? I invite your thoughts on this (you all know better than I do!).

xo

Miranda

Queens Don’t

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For the past three or four days I’ve basically been listening to RaeLynn’s new song, Queens Don’t, on repeat.

#fangirl

It’s funny because this is a message I’ve been thinking about for a while but just haven’t been sure about how exactly to put it into words, and then she did…perfectly.

“I wasn’t raised in a castle
I grew up on the outskirts of town
No dresses with golden tassels
The rings on my hand are handed down
But I’m gonna find the one that needs me, sees me
And treats me like I’m already royalty
There ain’t nothing priceless on my wrist
I might not fly private, but that don’t mean I ain’t a queen.”

If you detest country music or can’t understand southern accents, the gist of the song is that she (RaeLynn) is a queen and expects to be treated accordingly. Not only that, but she realizes that there are also expectations on her end regarding her behavior as a ‘royal’:

“Queens don’t hate, queens don’t fight
Queens don’t stay unless their king treats her right, oh
Every jewel on my crown you better believe I earned it
Won’t keep people around that don’t believe I deserve it
No, queens ain’t fake
A queen’s gonna rule just the way she was made, oh
I ain’t ’bout to let nobody come and take me off this throne
Some girls might, but queen’s don’t.”

If it’s hard for you to take country music lyrics seriously, I understand. Another way of looking at it is thinking about the Netflix series ‘The Crown’.

Queen Elizabeth knew that there were exceedingly high standards on both sides because of her status. Being waited on and treated with the utmost respect was the norm for Elizabeth. However her status not only required others to treat her a certain way, it also meant there were extremely high demands being made from her. She had to look, dress and behave in accordance with her title. Even if she was not wearing a crown people needed to know she had one.

I know that we aren’t all royal in the sense that people address us as ‘her majesty’ (although I’m not opposed to that), and I know that RaeLynn isn’t ‘royal’ either (or that she thinks she is). The truth that she is sharing with us is a little less conspicuous than ballgowns or diamond headpieces.

It has more to do with our innate dignity: (noun) the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

As women we have great worth. It’s something that is hard to put a finger on… is it our beauty? Our ability to bring life into the world? Our contributions to the workplace?

I think in general it has to do with less about what we do and more of who we are… in other words, our femininity. Which includes all of this but certainly not exclusively.

I’ve always detested these kind of messages (which is why I have been so reluctant to write about it): You’re so worth it; you are worthy; you are enough; believe in yourself, you deserve so much more…

Ugh, gag. Cringe cringe cringe.

I really hate talking about those things or hearing sentences like that. No thanks.

The unfortunate thing for me is that they (like RaeLynn) are right. Having a little more experience under my belt, I actually have come to realize that knowing this and living in a way that reflects it is of the utmost importance.

Why? Because it’s true; and because men need to be reminded of it…by us (unfortunately GQ and Men’s Health have yet to write an article about this).

Unless they happen to listen to RaeLynn’s music.

There’s a reason men get down on one knee before they propose, there’s a reason we are given flowers, there’s a reason chivalry is a thing (and if you think it’s dead then you need to hang out with better guys). It’s not superficial, it’s not an outdated tradition, it’s not silly or sexist…it’s vital. Why? Because we are absolutely the most beautiful and wonderful thing on this Earth (I can’t speak for other planets) and we should be treated like it, our nature demands it.

Guys don’t get addicted to looking at pictures of fancy cars. You don’t see billboards of beautiful trees advertising sweet smells or promises of luxury. It’s us.

There is nothing more beautiful than a woman, there’s just not. Part of our calling is to reveal beauty. And – this is important – we don’t do so by wearing clothes that are seductive or mountains of make-up. We do so by our demeanor, our words, our actions and how we love. There is nothing like it, and therein lies our absolute and unquestionable worth.

Our gentleness, tenderness, sweetness, receptivity, docility, hospitality, warmth, our strength, our loveliness, faithfulness, resiliency, vulnerability…so feminine, so wonderful, so life giving.

And let me just say, this doesn’t mean that you have to be the ‘nice girl’. I find the ‘good girl’ stereotype a little repulsive. It absolutely diminishes us. I don’t consider myself one. Nice is on the surface, these qualities run much deeper.

I don’t believe many guys intentionally think ‘yeah this girl is worthless’, but like most things our value is not necessarily an innate belief either: they need to be taught (or at least reminded…often).

Men should delight in us, adore us.

If we live and act in a way that says ‘hey, I’m pretty priceless’, others will typically follow our lead.

Okay so how?

You act as if you were the most precious thing in the whole world, because you are.

We take care of ourselves, physically, emotionally, spiritually…we nourish our friendships, we develop our gifts, we find joy in our lives. We are aware of what we say and treat others with the same care. 

Goodness is attractive.

I don’t mean being perfect. Goodness I don’t mean that. I get angry, I drop the ball, I wear my shirt inside out and backwards…but I know. Ultimately, I remind myself over and over and over that I am invaluable and the man who gets close to me will need to know that too.

Precious and sought after, we find comfort in the man who treats us accordingly and love him fiercely.

We don’t let him in until we know (or at least strongly suspect) that he is worthy. It’s okay for us to ask him to prove himself, to show his interest, to pursue. It’s not too much to ask, because the prize is priceless. We should not be asked to leave our throne, we allow them to approach it while watching attentively.

It’s not a chase, it’s not a game. Men’s hearts are not to be toyed with, but sometimes we have to be our own security guards. Really patting the person down (figuratively, ladies) before we let them through the gates. There is too much at risk. If we communicate our own value in how we act, how we treat others and how we expect to be treated, it’s a lot easier to narrow down the field to only a few contenders who are willing to rise up to our standards – because they desire us and they understand that it is worth it.

Honestly, everything I am struggling to tell you has already been said by a very wise man a few years ago.

“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

Bishop Fulton Sheen

So, yeah. That’s it basically.

We expect great things from men, but from ourselves first and foremost. When the temptation to ‘settle’ sneaks up on us, we don’t. Some girls might, but queens don’t.

xo

Miranda

Phil Dunphy & what we actually want from men

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If you’ve ever seen Modern Family you probably know and love Phil Dunphy.

He is the sweet, hilarious, goofy, loving father and husband in the Dunphy family with some pretty amusing lines. As an example, here are a few of his ‘Phil-osopohies’

And:

Or my favorite favorite:

Phil is so endearing, one of the qualities that makes him so is his…cluelessness. He can be a little naive sometimes and Claire (his Type A and at sometimes scary wife) often has to step in and well, take control.

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While I laugh a lot at Phil’s antics and think he’s the sweetest dad/husband, I struggle a little bit with the dynamic between him and Claire.

I think today the media often portrays fathers/husbands as these clueless, goofy and kinda dumb caricatures that are entertaining but not really functional as head of a family.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love goofy guys. Love them. Like, they’re my favorite. But, I think what women need (and want) even more is men who step up (note: these aren’t mutually exclusive, keep reading).

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Now, you may be thinking, ‘why does the head of the family need to be Phil? Claire is a strong, intelligent, competent woman, why can’t she have that role?’

Good question.

I think an even better question could be, ‘what does Claire (or any woman) really want?’

Do we want to constantly have to take the lead? Do we want to call all the shots? Do we want to have to be the ones who initiate always? Because in taking away man’s ability to lead, that is what we are communicating.

I think women sometimes allow our desire for control get a little out of hand. To the point where our husbands/boyfriends are little more than accessories or people to pose with for Instagram pics. We’re only happy with them when they do exactly what we want them toWe often take decisions out of their hands and eagerly initiate interactions or make judgements for them.

We text them first, we plan all the dates, we plan everything for that matter, we take charge, we lead.

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This isn’t always healthy, because where does the need for control really come from?

The answer is fear.

We ‘need’ to control because the man can’t handle it/won’t do it/will fall short. So, instead of facing rejection/a poor result, we take matters out of their hands.

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Unfortunately, what happens when we perpetually take over is that we deny men the opportunity to be decisive, to take action, to pursue us, to show us they care.

As a result, we eventually start to feel frustrated and resentful that these men we love aren’t showing their love, aren’t doing their part. Doubts and insecurities start to creep in, do they really love us? Are we wanted? Do they appreciate and value us?

What we really need from men is for them to step up, to take action, to be men.

I don’t want to spend my life chasing after a guy. I don’t want to have to make big decisions by myself. I don’t want to feel resentful or unappreciated.

I want to trust him, to rely on his judgment and to know that my family and my heart are in good hands.

I love Phil, I love goofy guys. I also am type A, like Claire.

I think we can have both and. It doesn’t have to be either he’s goofy or he’s a leader. Either I’m laid back (ain’t happening) or I let him lead.

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I think that as women we can help this dynamic out by letting go of the reigns a little and relinquishing some of our control.

Just see what happens over time if you don’t make plans, if you don’t reach out first, if you let him decide where to go/what to do.

The reason we should do this is to allow room for a give and take in the relationship. By that I mean allow us as women the opportunity to be receptive. Receptivity can be very feminine (as reflected in our bodies). However I think a lot of times we override our natural inclination toward receptivity because it requires us to trust and just be. ‘Doing’ feels so much better because we think we’re in control, we know what the outcome will be; there is no room for ‘what ifs’ or disappointment. But if we never give ourselves the chance to be receptive to our man’s love, how will we know it’s really there?

Trust is a requisite of loving relationships, and trust necessitates uncertainty. Otherwise it wouldn’t be trust, it would just be knowing.

This doesn’t mean we can’t ask for what we want, share how we feel or that we somehow have to become something we’re not (for example trying to be ‘chill’ when we’re just not). It really only means that we can relax.

He’s got this, it will be okay. 

Maybe you will be let down at times – a normal part of life and relationships-, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when your man steps up to the plate.

Isn’t that what we really want anyway?

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Dear Fathers: What I wish my dad had known before he left

Until recently I used to always roll my eyes when I heard the term ‘daddy issues.’

To me it was just an excuse girls used to wear dresses that are too short and sleep with men they knew didn’t care about them. After all, my dad moved out after my parents got divorced and I didn’t go around in skimpy dresses hooking up with guys I barely knew.

I was convinced that I had been unaffected; that ‘daddy issues’ was just a made up term by Hollywood or a misguided psychologist.

In fact, it wasn’t until over ten years afterward that I started to suspect that maybe, possibly I was wrong (there’s a first time for everything!).

I had always been anxious around men and very distrustful of them, something I never questioned. To me that was normal. Why would you think a guy was good? They might be cute, or funny, or charming, or talented…but not trustworthy. And I was more than okay with that. To me thinking any differently was just being naive.

I watched as my friends got hurt over the years while patting myself on the back for not making their same mistakes. I knew better than to try ‘putting myself out there.’ ‘Miss Independent’ was my theme song and I was proud of it (Kelly Clarkson’s version, not Ne-Yo’s).

Of course I did get hurt – heartbroken- in fact. I liked guys and was disappointed by them; but I mostly kept this to myself. It never got far enough that many others knew or that I was particularly invested. When it finally did go wrong, I felt oddly satisfied that I had been right about them all along. Guys couldn’t be trusted, not even the ‘good’ ones. Not even the ones that said ‘I love you.’

That is what I believed. Until I actually met and really liked a good guy, and then I was in trouble.

Big time.

The problem wasn’t him. The problem was that I treated him like every other guy I had known (or thought I had known). Suspicious, questioning, doubting, accusing, undeserving of my trust or the benefit of the doubt…not at first, obviously; but the more I got to known him the more I felt comfortable expressing anger toward him, even when he most definitely did not deserve it.

I became more and more frustrated with myself as I tried to trust and failed repeatedly. Why couldn’t I just have a little faith? Why was I sabotaging this relationship that was so precious to me? Why was I hurting the man I loved so much?

The answer that kept coming up and that I persistently dismissed was this: maybe it was because dad left.

Fathers teach their daughters how to be loved. They are meant to cherish and dote on us. They tell us we’re beautiful and smart and set the standard of how we are meant to be treated by men. They are our rock, a figure of strength and stability amidst the chaos that is growing up in today’s world.

But that’s not what I learned.

What I learned was that men leave, and that it might be my fault. Something about me could be innately unlovable. Because if I was lovable, he would have loved me; and if he loved me, he would have stayed.

Cognitively, at the age of 23 I understand that his leaving had little to nothing to do with me. I also understand that my dad had his own demons that were instrumental in his decision to leave, and that he did not mean to hurt me. But the damage was done. To undo 10 years of deep hurt that was pushed down and strong defenses that were built up is a monumental task. I had to become something unnatural to survive, tough and angry, something not compatible with my naturally sensitive demeanor.

Experience is the most powerful teacher and my parents’ divorce and my father moving back overseas afterward is probably the most defining moment of my life so far. As much as we try to tell ourselves it’s not, divorce is traumatizing and destroys families and the individuals within them.

I’m lucky enough that my dad calls me almost every day. He cares about me, certainly. But unfortunately, phone calls will never replace the presence of a strong, loving father, day in and day out.

‘Daddy issues’ are real (even though I still hate that term). I say all this, not to evoke sympathy, but as a plea to any men out there. If you are married, or thinking about marriage – especially if you are a father – understand that your role is irreplaceable and that you are needed more than you will ever truly know. Your marriage is not just about you, if you have children, regardless of whether or not they are aware of it, they want to be loved by you; and your leaving will affect them for the rest of their lives.

I suffered a lot at the age of 12 when my parents separated. 10 years later it continues to haunt me as I attempt to navigate my way back to trust with someone who actually deserves it. It has been immensely difficult for both of us and not something I would wish on my worst enemy. No one should have to deal with this, but I know many do. Two Christmases, Thanksgivings, weekends shuffling back and forth between houses, step-parents…it’s not normal. As a culture we’ve convinced ourselves that it is, and twelve-year-old girls everywhere are being completely heartbroken by the one man that is supposed to love them the most, by the one man that was supposed to know better.

I wish dad had known that before he left.

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

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This weekend was definitely an adventurous one. I went camping for the first time since high school with four men in the mountains of Brevard, North Carolina.

To be fair, the camp site was pretty nice; we had grills, showers, wifi…the guys called it ‘glamping,’ but I slept outside so I didn’t see anything glamorous about that, #thankyouverymuch.

There was a fair amount of apprehension going into the camping trip on my end but all in all I had a really great time. I struggled with the sleeping part (I couldn’t stop thinking about bears and serial killers and there was a bug-in-the-tent incident). But I really enjoyed the hiking and spending time with Nicholas and some friends in the beautiful outdoors.

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It did rain our last day which made our packing up highly unpleasant, but the boys were troopers and got it all done quickly and without complaining (I helped a tiny bit).

I am excited to have a bed to sleep in again but I do hope to go camping again some time. I hope you had a good weekend without any thoughts of bears or serial killers, hopefully you have something to be excited about…if not, here are some thoughts to get you started!

Masculinity

 

It was really interesting to spend so much time with only guys. Even though I grew up with a brother and spend a great deal amount of time with Nicholas, I feel like this weekend I grew to understand men and how they operate a little better this weekend.

I noticed that they were all upset when they heard the camp site was as nice as it was, they really wanted to ‘rough it’ in nature…something about being able to survive in wilderness is really important to them, an instinct I have trouble relating to.

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They felt so much accomplishment from getting the fires started (which is actually pretty difficult), and putting up the tents, and taking them down after. That challenge of conquering the outdoors seems to really speak to their identity. I was so impressed with how they worked together to make camping possible, the leadership they demonstrated and the sweat they put into all the necessary tasks. I think it’s really important to let be men be men. Today we have an unfortunate tendency of wanting to suffocate masculinity in the name of civility and equality, but I think that is causing more damage to men and women.

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Women are frustrated because men won’t act like men and men are frustrated because they feel they can’t. I felt protected this weekend because the men I was with stepped up, and I don’t think that makes me weak or the guys chauvinistic; it’s just part of how we complement each other. Men aren’t just like women and women aren’t just like men, and thank goodness for that.

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Biscuit Head

We stopped here for lunch per the recommendation of my friend Rachel (shout out!) and were really impressed. I think living in Charleston spoils us sometimes with the plethora of excellent cuisine and therefore are often disappointed when eat out in other cities. However, Biscuit Head was a notable exception. It’s a chain started in Asheville that sells gourmet biscuits that are super tasty. They also have a wide variety of jams and butters to try which were equally delicious. I ordered ‘The Classic’ which was a biscuit with egg and cheese, while Nicholas ordered the pulled pork biscuit, both were exceptional. The biscuits are enormous, and if you get the Classic it comes with a side. The more substantial ones don’t come with a side, but you definitely don’t need it. I highly recommend this restaurant if you visit Greenville, SC or Asheville!

Table decor

Last weekend was my mom’s birthday and we celebrated with a France themed get together Tuesday evening (can you tell I love themed parties?). One of my favorite ideas that I stole from one of our books on entertaining (I’ll list it in next week’s 5) is one for table setting. All you do is buy a bouquet of flowers and use a stem for each napkin. You put the napkin in a napkin ring, make a name card and tie it with twine or ribbon and then slip the flower into the napkin ring. It’s so pretty! And simple and cheap. Love love love.

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Challenge

What I learned this weekend about camping is that it requires a ton of work. From the planning to the packing to the setting up to just getting in your tent (freaking zippers), nothing comes without effort. While frustrating at times, there is something really important and rewarding about working hard. I know our lives can be so easy, so comfortable, which can often lead to complacency. Camping was a wake up call to all we have to be grateful for that I often take for granted and why it’s important to keep striving even if it seems unnecessary. Challenge, whether physical or emotional, helps us grow and become better, more compassionate people…something this world really needs.

Friendship

Our friend Brent (shout out #2!) told us this weekend that every time he saw me with Nicholas I was laughing: ‘I’m always like, what did Nick do this time?’ – Brent

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This weekend was great not only because we got to spend time together and with friends, but also because the time gave us the opportunity to work on our friendship. It’s really important to be friends with your significant other and for it not to be a purely romantic relationship. By this, I don’t mean that you have to be just like your s/o or have everything in common. I respect Nicholas when I accept his differences in thought, habits or preferences. We can still get along and have good discussions and enjoy each other’s company. Our differences challenge us to love each other for who we are and to see things from a different perspective. I think laughing together is one of the best things about our relationship and that can exist whether we both have all the same hobbies or not (we don’t).

Here’s to honoring the differences in the people around us this week (especially between men and women).

xo

Miranda