Monasteries & other things I’m excited about this week

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Happy Monday! This week is finally starting to feel like Fall in Charleston and I’m so excited. I feel like I can start to actually do Fall things and wear Fall clothes without feeling silly.

This weekend we celebrated the first cooler weather with a bonfire and s’mores, so fun! Yesterday we ventured out to a monastery called Mepkin Abbey about 45 minutes away and it was so beautiful. Both the Mass we attended and the grounds where we picnic-ed and walked around were beautiful.

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Nicholas hosted a few of us over for ‘Sipping Sunday’ to top off the weekend in what is becoming a fun tradition.

I hope your weekend was lovely and restful, hopefully you have some things you’re excited about this week…in case you need ideas here is my list!

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Monasteries

We really did have a lovely time at Mepkin. It was such a peaceful, beautiful, restful place; it felt like we were so removed from everything even though we were less than an hour outside of town. It was wonderful to have quality time without any distractions. Nicholas brought a little picnic and we ate and rested and read and then walked around and had fun taking pictures. It was cool to see the monks in Mass and walking around the grounds too! They do have retreats for the general public you can register for and I think Nicholas and I may try to do one in the Spring. In any case it’s definitely worth a visit if you live in the Charleston area! We’re hoping to make it a point to visit more monasteries in the area or if we travel to in the future.

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Be vs. Do

I’ve talked about mindfulness before and I still am working on becoming more present and learning to enjoy the moment. Mindfulness training has been shown to help significantly with anxiety, depression and just everyday stress. The idea is that our brains like to do do do. We like to plan, visualize, rationalize…we like to think. While this is very good and useful a lot of the time, there are also a lot of times when we need to just be. Instead of thinking about what we are experiencing, it’s so important to simply experience it. My busy mind can get in the way of my enjoying a beautiful paddle board ride or walk around outside because I’m worrying about what is going on next weekend instead of enjoying the moment right in front of me. I can be impatient with the three-year-old I nanny because I’m stressed about the blog post I need to write instead of being present to her in that moment. We rob ourselves of our lives if we spend our time thinking about it. We can also allow our brains to spiral dangerously into thought patterns that are distressing to us. That’s why I’m making a special effort to be present and be aware of when my mind starts to wander, bringing it back to the now. The present is all we have, it is therefore essential we nurture and cherish it.

The Heroic Minute

There is something I think (someone correct me if I’m wrong) Jose Maria Escriva talked about called the ‘heroic minute.’ The idea is that by simply not pressing the snooze button on our alarms, we can become heroic. This effort we make first thing in the morning disciplines us in a healthy way and starts us off saying ‘yes’ to everything that day has to offer (instead of saying ‘no thanks’ by staying in bed thirty more minutes). Nicholas and I decided for the next two weeks to (individually) really make an effort to avoid hitting the seductive snooze. This morning I didn’t press it but did stay in bed for 8 more minutesbaby steps, right?

Camping

I can add this to the list of #thingsineverthoughtidsay. I like being outside, I just don’t like being outside for extended periods of time. I went camping once in high school and was miserable the entire time (probably because I was sorely under prepared and therefore cold and uncomfortable). In any case, we decided to go camping with some friends this weekend and I have come around to actually being excited about it (for a while I hoped something would happen and we wouldn’t be able to go…). I think it’s really important to go an adventures. Whether it’s small things like riding bikes somewhere new or something bigger like this, experiences such as these keep us invigorated and are excellent for relationship building. I’m excited to be in nature, unplug some and spend quality time with friends (and explore Greenville, SC where we’re going on Sunday). Yay for expanding our comfort zones!

Google Photos

I recently discovered this application from Google and am really loving it. The app automatically stores all the photos in your phone and all the photos you take with it into the Google Photo drive. It’s great because then you can delete pictures on your phone without worrying about never seeing them again. You can also edit the pictures and access them from anywhere. As an avid photo taker I really appreciate having both the photos from the nice camera and from my phone in one place. I also love that I can make simple edits easily and can access them from my phone, computer or pretty much anywhere! You can also make photo books with the app which I haven’t tried yet but definitely plan to. It’s also super easy to share pictures from here with anyone!

I hope you have a great week and take advantage of all the beautiful moments life has to offer you this week.

xo

Miranda

Monday 5: Childlike-ness & other things I’m excited about this week

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This weekend we tried out a new brewery called Two Blokes with our friend Stephen. We had some good beer and discussion before Nicholas had to go back since he had to be at the hospital at 6:30 the next morning! Saturday I enjoyed some beach time with friends and Nicholas and I walked on Pitt Street Bridge (one of my favorite spots) when he got off work that evening. Yesterday we rode bikes, attended Mass and had friends over at his place for wine and cheese! We tried two new ones from Aldi’s – one a mango Habanero gouda and the other a truffled cheddar…so good! I have to give credit to Nicholas for picking those out since I was advocating to go to Trader Joe’s instead.

We’ve finally gotten some cooler weather here in Charleston, I don’t expect it to last but I did take advantage and wear jeans for the first time in a while!

Here are some things I’m excited about this week, hopefully you have some on your list too!

Relax Melodies App

If you’ve been reading my blog for any extended period amount of time, you may already know that I struggle quite a bit with sleeping well. Recently that has improved as I’ve been working on my sleep hygiene. One thing I’ve recently added to this list of improvements is using a sound machine app. Relax Melodies is a FREE app that has a host of sounds you can play all night. I’ve been using the ‘ocean’ track for a few weeks now and seriously love it. As silly as it sounds, this little addition helps me so much to relax at night and fall asleep faster!

7 ways to live in the present moment

Along with more typical health habits like working out and a bedtime routine, mindfulness has been shown to have an enormous impact on stress alleviation as well as helping with depression and anxiety. It’s a healthy alternative to medication that helps you rewire your neural pathways. As helpful as it is, I struggle so much to put it into practice as it is so much easier for me to allow myself to be run by my thoughts. This article helped me by giving me some concrete, simple ways to practice mindfulness and live in the present moment. I really can’t emphasize what a good habit this is (said the pot)!

Goodwill hunting 

This one is a little play on words, I actually have included the movie ‘Goodwill Hunting’ in my Monday 5 before (it’s an excellent film) but this time I’m talking about hunting…at Goodwill – as in the thrift shop. I’ve been a firm believer in thrift shopping for the past few years, finding some excellent buys; however recently I’ve departed from only shopping for clothes there and actually been on the lookout for decorations and small furniture pieces to fix up. I’ve been getting more and more into crafting and really love the idea of finding something to make beautiful. It’s crazy what you can find at some of these stores! My most recent project was a glass bottle that I painted and distressed a little, nothing super serious but fun and simple to do!

Scrapbook done!

I’ve been working on a scrapbook with photos, descriptions and quotes for the past couple of months and yesterday I finished it! It certainly is far from perfect but I think it will definitely serve it’s purpose of reminding us of some the good times and inspiring us with words of wisdom from other, smarter people. I’m looking for ideas on storing the next set of photos in a pretty, inspiring way so if you have any ideas please share!

Childlike-ness

Today we talk a lot about #adulting. What it means, why we need to do it and whether or not we’re excited about it. I certainly am an advocate of growing up and taking on more responsibilities – learning to provide for ourselves and others, maturing, thinking more than just about what we want right now…these are important milestones. However, even as we take on new challenges (figuring out taxes, learning what the heck an affidavit is, saving money), I think it’s important to also maintain that trusting nature we see in children. It’s easy to get more experience in life and become cynical and try to control as much as we can, but I think part of growing up is realize how little we truly are in control. Life throws things our way, good and bad, and what we can decide is how to react to it and make the best of any situation. Even children (if you’re a parent) aren’t little robots, they have free will and that can be something that is difficult to come to terms with. I think returning to our childlike trust in something greater than ourselves and hopeful optimism is incredibly important…even if we can swim in the deep end now.

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Lizzie McGuire and what she got right about our thoughts

What are you thinking about right now?

I’m sure part of you is focused on this article and wondering where this is going. You may also be simultaneously asking yourself if you’re hungry enough to eat the rest of your breakfast, or if you should stop reading this and do something more productive (definitely not), or regretting not going to the gym this morning, or worrying about work/school/your family…

My point is you’re probably not just thinking one thing at any point in time. Our thoughts tend to jump around from one thing to the next so quickly and often overlap so that we can do one thing while thinking about at least one other thing that is completely unrelated.

If you grew up in the 90’s, you most likely came across a show called Lizzie McGuire. Just your typical teen girl, Lizzie struggled with all the things normal teen girls go through like buying your first bra, the dreamy (but sadly oblivious) guy and the mean girl who somehow was super popular despite her mean-ness.

In the show, Lizzie had a cartoon counterpart- we’ll call her Cartoon Lizzie. So when Lizzie was in the middle of a conversation or event we would get insight into what was really going on in her head through Cartoon Lizzie’s (much more honest) reaction.

Often I feel that I have my own Cartoon Lizzie living in my head who talks and reacts relentlessly. In fact sometimes I feel more in tune to my inner voice than what is going on around me.

I became more aware of this tendency recently when I started reading ‘Mindfulness: An 8-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world‘ (highly recommend it, btw). I’ve increasingly noticed my ability (or vice) to be having a conversation with someone while thinking about something or someone else entirely.

While this may seem harmless (if slightly rude), the chaotic stream of thoughts is what often causes the anxiety and uneasiness we experience in our day-to-day lives. Instead of focusing on what is currently happening we live inside our heads, controlled by a constant, frantic stream of thoughts that is often unrelated to reality.

As hard as it may be to wrap our heads around, our thoughts are not truth. And you are not what you think. This is crucial to grasp because I think too often we accept our thoughts as matters of fact instead of what they really are: just thoughts.

This can be dangerous when you have thoughts like…

I look like crap right now.

I’m not good enough for him.

I shouldn’t feel this way…why do I feel this way

I shouldn’t have eaten that

She’s prettier than I am

This is not going to go well

Whether they’re anything like these or completely different, we often have thoughts that are pessimistic and self-defeating that we quickly accept without question.

Thoughts ≠ Truth

If we don’t learn to live in the present moment and forgo the constant stream of thoughts, we leave ourselves to the mercy of something that will never serve us or allow us to enjoy our lives.

While Cartoon Lizzie certainly added humor and even some honesty to Lizzie McGuire, I don’t think we should let our inner cartoon run our lives. Staying grounded to (the often less dramatic) reality and living the moment instead of thinking about it is definitely something I want to learn through mindfulness.

After all, I’d rather live my life than just think about it. Wouldn’t you?

xoxo

Miranda