The comeback kid

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My mom loves to remind me of the day I learned to ride a bike. There was a big hula balloo because the Rodriguez siblings had gotten new bikes! Oh, happy day! My new bike was sans training wheels which only added to my excitement.

Unfortunately, as six-year-old Miranda soon realized, learning to ride a bike is like…learning to ride a bike; it’s difficult at first. So, long after the initial eagerness had faded and my brother and sister had gone inside, I could be found in the driveway, angry and frustrated but resolutely determined to figure the darn thing out, now.

I fell over and over, tears brimming in my eyes, my hands and knees stinging from scraping the pavement – yet I kept getting back on.

You can probably guess how this story ends…fifteen years later I still don’t know how to ride a bike.

Jk Jk

Of course, the reason my mom loves that story is because my “determination” – aka stubbornness – came to my aid, I didn’t give up.

Those of you who have been following my blog to some extent can guess that it has been a tough year for me – even more difficult than learning to ride a bike with only two wheels (if you can imagine).

This past year I fell in love with a man that surpassed my (very high) expectations. It was wonderful – like a chapter out of someone else’s life. We had so many lovely, sweet, fun, beautiful times it often felt surreal to me.

Obviously that wasn’t the difficult part. The difficult part was all the fear that accompanied this relationship. It was absolutely impossible to understand why I had such a difficult time trusting someone so good – someone who clearly cared about me. It was incredibly painful to constantly question him and his love. It was torture to be bombarded by doubts and insecurities about the relationship every day. Together or apart, no matter what he said or what I told myself or what others shared, fear plagued me as I struggled to love and trust someone and be loved by them for the first time in my adult life.

The joy of finding someone that until that point I had only dreamed of was tainted by my deeply rooted fears – fears that came true when Nicholas finally bowed out in February.

“I told you.”

That awful voice in my head which so often had urged me to make a run for it rang in my ears months after the fact.

It was right.

This year was also dramatically humbling. Amidst my turmoil and angst I came to the startling conclusion that I am one of the least qualified people to speak on the topics of love, relationships or familyThe fact that this has been my main source of content is almost laughable.

Almost.

Who am I to speak on the subject of love? When I fail so often to practice the thing in my own life. I am still the obstinate girl who falls over and over again – broken and bruised – only now the fall is emotional, spiritual and psychological, in addition to physical.

I barely understand what love is really meant to be – if anything I know better what it is not meant to be.

I guess that’s something.

The thing is – much like myself all those years ago – I have a streak of stubbornness that refuses to give up.

This became especially clear to me on this break, my mini sabbatical from publishing. It was a lovely and painful time. I did some travel (nowhere exotic but still fun), lots of bike riding/exploring, took lots of pictures, caught up on some reading and spent a good bit of time just reflecting. Even though I enjoyed all of this, it was difficult to face the reality of losing someone I had cared about so deeply. A reality not made any easier by our regular crossing of paths. Every day I had to accept all over again my loss and look ahead at the murky future with only wisps of hope to hang on to. 

On a particularly difficult day during this time I grappled with the tough question of why the heck am I doing this?

What’s the point? Loving only leads to bitter disappointment. People are too imperfect, too broken and too difficult to love (most especially myself). Why bother? I could be content doing my own thing; traveling, writing, enjoying casual friendships and relationships without commitment or difficulty. 

I had my chance and I blew it, who’s to say there will be another one?

Yet here I am.

I guess the reason for that is the reality that everyone else at some point in their life has also been faced with this question. If you haven’t yet, you will be. And the people I most look up to, I’m most inspired by and desire to be like, they chose to love. Not because it was easy, not because they didn’t get hurt, not because it always felt wonderful or rewarding, but (I think) ultimately because at the core of their being, they felt it was worth it. It was a calling too beautiful, too precious, too valuable to turn down.

Love makes us better people, it challenges us to grow and change in the most beautiful of ways. It heals and gives us strength to move forward, day in and day out.

Love is why we are here and what makes this treacherous, incredible, awesome life worth living. It’s an adventure in and of itself; the most fulfilling and challenging one. 

There is still a part of me – the wounded, guarded, angry part that taunted me after Nicholas and I broke up – that doesn’t believe a word of this. But I’m hoping to prove this side of me wrong in time.

I’ve fallen down, and I will continue to do so. But I won’t give up. I’m back and I’m in it for the long haul.

Here’s to the kid who got back on the bike one too many times, and to everyone who has dared to choose love – even when it hurts. 


On another note, there are two, more practical things I’d like to share with you.

  1. I’m changing the setup of this site just a little so that it can become more of a community and less of me ‘talking’ at you. To help me make it more collaborative, Some incredibly talented people agreed to write for you here and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Keep an eye out for some contributor articles coming soon.
  2. As of last week I have agreed to take a position as content lead at Dynamic Catholic. I will be moving to Cincinnati, Ohio this summer!

I want to sincerely thank all of you who have prayed for me and encouraged me during these past few months – it has done more than you can know.

And of course, to my readers..this wouldn’t mean much without you.

xo

Miranda Kate

“For what is life without love?”
Pedro Silva

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

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This weekend was another fun one in Charleston. Friday evening we watched an interesting documentary on Medjugorje. Saturday we had some people over for hot dogs and bonfire and yesterday a few of us made it out to the beach! Tourist season can be a little overwhelming here but if you know where and when to go, it’s not so bad.

It’s gray and rainy here in Charleston and it’s supposed to rain most of the week, which I’m not excited about. But thinking up my weekly list helped me perk up a little.

What are you looking forward to this week?

Waiting

Waiting can be really hard. Especially when you really want something and it’s not 100% in your control…waiting feels painful and can get old real fast. I’m not a patient person to begin with, so waiting for anything, even to pay at the checkout line or for the light to turn green can frustrate me quite a bit. However, I do think patience is a good quality to have and I think there are a few ‘tricks’ to help us more antsy people. One idea came from one of the Blessed is She women and I thought it was very wise, which is to focus on others. There’s something really stress relieving about thinking of ways that you can be helpful to someone else, as opposed to keeping the focus on ourselves. Of course we need to do what we need to do, but when we go out of our way to think and do for others, I find my own stress is lessened at least a little.

Another aspect of waiting I have been thinking about is excitement. While enjoying the present moment is essential, there’s also something to be said about looking forward to things you are hopeful about. Sometimes that can carry us through times that aren’t as fun and remind us why we’re still pushing through.

Crafts

I am not a crafty person. While I love art and have a sincere appreciation for beauty and creativity, bringing those to life has never been a strong suit for me. Even in grade school I remember being so frustrated that the art projects we had to work on didn’t turn out how I wanted them to. It wasn’t something that came naturally to me. Playing violin is probably as close as I have ever gotten to that; the difference is that with something like violin you can practice the same piece over and over until it’s perfect. With crafts, you usually have to go from start to finish and then if it doesn’t turn out, start over. Last week I decided to try a craft for the first time in a long time and I remembered why I tend to avoid them…I definitely became frustrated when it wasn’t exactly how I had envisioned it in my head. However I ended up finishing the project and using it to decorate my room anyway. I’m now working on a different craft; I genuinely enjoy it when I’m not being critical of my work. I think the tendency toward perfectionism shouldn’t stop us from doing things we’re not great at…and hopefully improvement will come with time.

Journaling

I’ve kept a journal consistently since I was twelve or so. It’s crazy to look back on entries when you were in a completely different stage of life and how much things have changed since then. Since I’ve gotten older I definitely am not as dedicated as I used to be, I even went a month or so without writing anything when my last journal ran out of room. This weekend I finally got around to buying a new one – I really like these by Studio Oh! – and I’m already glad I did. Not everyone finds journaling helpful, but I think for some of us it can be a great way of working through thoughts in a healthy way as opposed to letting them run in circles inside your head. And then years later it’s really entertaining to look back on how much you had to say about the 16 year old boy with blond hair in your homeroom class.

Summer bucket lists

My best friend and I did these while in college for a few years and even though I don’t have a summer break like we used to, I think it’s a good tradition worth keeping. Time can go by so fast and those things you want to do and say you will ‘one day’ go undone. Bucket lists for specific time periods I think are easier to accomplish, summer is especially cool because there tends to be so much going on!

Perseverance

I think perseverance is such an underrated quality. It’s not as glamorous as courage or as intimidating as humility, but I think it is so important. Even if it’s something relatively insignificant such as learning how to cook, perseverance can get us far. It becomes even more essential in things like relationships where difficulties aren’t resolved overnight. I think I’ve found perseverance especially helpful because I’m not super skilled. While I love a lot of things, I can’t say that many of them come super easily to me (writing could be an exception). When it comes to running, cooking, baking, crafts…I certainly have had my fair share of failures and frustrations, but haven’t wanted to stop trying either. So even when I can’t say I’m good at something, I can say I persevered despite that. I think when it comes to the real challenges in life (not cupcake decorating), you really don’t mean much more than to keep trying.

I hope this week holds things you’re excited about!

xo

Miranda