A Deep Breath of Gratitude

I could C R Y.

It’s been oh so long, friends. Posting this blog post (after a 2+ month hiatus) feels like a huge virtual hug to any person out there who is reading this right now.

This semester has been a wild ride. Graduate school (+ life / growth / relationships) has proven to be quite different and much more challenging than I could have expected, but c’est la vie, eh?

But in the spirit of {American} Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought this would be a fine time to take a hot minute to breathe and show gratitude for the things of life — the happy, the hurt, and every detail in between.

This semester…

I’ve experienced profound friendships.

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I’ve studied more than I ever have, but at the same time earned the most humbling and disappointing grades in my college career.

I’ve eaten some good-for-the-soul food.

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I’ve doubted my ability to become a competent physical therapist several times.

I’ve been ceaselessly encouraged by friends, family, and God to keep on keeping on.

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I’ve seen blue skies, gray skies, purple skies, and orange skies.

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I’ve had fun nights filled with line dancing, cheers-ing, and singing at the top of my lungs.

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I’ve had nights that didn’t seem to end even when the sun rose.

I’ve seen friends, family and strangers with even longer nights of the soul than I could imagine.

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I’ve made myself some wholesome foods.

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I’ve made myself think I’m eating wholesome foods.

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I’ve felt hurt in ways that I’ve never felt before.

But I’ve felt joy and the feeling of being cared for in ways that I’ve never felt before.

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I’ve seen what it means to be among beautiful women of God, who love to the very end.

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I’ve hurt others in ways I never intended but still wish I never did.

I’ve had to humble myself and apologize for my wrongdoings, which happen more times than I can count.

I’ve accomplished things in mind, soul, and body through God’s grace, and I’ve seen others do even more.

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I’ve seen tears of sadness, tears of guilt, tears of anger, and tears of joy.

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I’ve cried until I didn’t know why I was crying, and I’ve smiled until I didn’t know why I was smiling.

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I’ve dropped the ball in some friendships and allowed others to help me pick it up.

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I’ve seen God in every single day, in all of these things which remind me that, although we are dying, we are living all the more. I am beyond thankful for every person and every motion of the heart that has made this semester, this year, this LIFE… something beautiful.

God is good. All the time.

p.s. if you want to read something nourishing for the soul, please do yourself a favor and check out my friend Kelsey’s blog – she writes about beauty and about humanity so eloquently it hurts.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am grateful for you.

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Permission

On this Memorial Day, let us never forget those who served our nation for the sake of our freedom and safety.

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A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.

– Joseph Campbell

How was the weekend!? Or how IS the weekend (for those who have today off!)?

This weekend (alright, this whole week), I’ve given myself permission to embrace this period of almost zero obligations. I had to get over the phase of discombobulation of having nothing to do, but it’s been a pleasant week of acclimating to living farther from campus and relaxing.

Friday

There have been some errands and work in there too (keeps me sane TBH), like on Friday. I gave a campus tour, since a lot of BU’s tour guides are out of town these next few weeks. In classic me fashion, I was running late and had to speed walk for 1 hour to make it right on time.

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Luckily it was a beautiful day for rush-walking + touring!

Afterwards, I gave myself permission to do a quick 16-minute workout, even though I had all the time in the world and all the gym space in the world (three cheers for the summer lull!).

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‘Twas a fun one! 4 rounds, 30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest:

Then I nommed on the lunch I packed that morning (part of the reason I was running late). I gave myself permission to take my time to eat this. I’m sure some of you understand that weekday lunch is often more or less inhaled on many days.

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leftover peas and roasted broccoli + egg, avocado, pepper jack, sriracha sandwich + blackberries

I had big plans to get a lot Brideshead Revisited reading done for book club, but I got through thirteen pages before I gave myself permission to take a nap in the library’s armchair.

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never goes to the library during the school year // falls asleep in the library during the summer

Before going to the library, though, I tried being that person to read on the stationary bike at the gym, but doing that kinda nauseated me. That + gym music = entirely ineffective reading.

I was awoken by an announcement that the library was closing in an hour. Thankfully, my friend Ben welcomed me to hang out with him before dinner, because I was groggy and without anything to do (what a nice problem to have).

Lauren, Nico, Ben and I went to Shawarma King for dinner. I got the vegetarian combo plate, which had falafel, hummus, babaganoush (omg so good), stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh, cucumber tomato salad, rice, and pita. HOT DANG. I finished 85% of it.

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Then we went to Athan’s Bakery for dessert! I got their pistachio gelato, which was the most sub-par gelato I’ve ever had, but it was still a delicious frozen treat.

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We finished the night watching the original Grease movie. It’s the best bad movie of all time.

Saturday

Overnight oats to start the morning!

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strawberry banana overnight oats topped with the last of my KIND peanut butter granola

This fueled another nice long walk towards campus…

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please interpret this art

…for another Saturday Spartan workout with Ben!

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Ben planned out this fun workout for us:

4 rounds:

  • run around baseball field
  • 15 triangle pushups (slightly inclined)
  • 2 flexed arm hang holds, any grip (15 seconds each or until failure ← definitely only held it for 5 seconds at some points)
  • 25 Roman chair leg lifts
  • 15 inverted rows
  • 10 step up hops each leg

Topped it off with 10 minutes of core work.

I packed a snacky lunch to eat between the workout and a meeting with my spiritual director (basically someone who teaches me how to better give God permission to speak to me through prayer and to work in my life — the most important permission I could ever give).

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rosemary Triscuits with pepperjack cheese + carrots with hummus

I gave myself permission to actually think about the taste of this snack (I guess people call it “mindful eating”), and it was 10x more satisfying than any other time I’ve eaten carrots and hummus/crackers and cheese.

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loads o’ popcorn

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I rushed through the popcorn and KIND bar, but they were still tasty.

I also gave myself permission to buy water from Starbucks for $0.27 because all the places where I usually fill up my water bottle on campus were closed.

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This was less about permission and more about a fundamental need for water. I am endlessly grateful for constant, easy access to clean drinking water.

After spiritual direction, I video chatted with my uncle, aunt and cousins for two hours. We had a beautiful conversation. Ugh, I love them. I got to spend most of the two hours outdoors before I had to charge my phone.

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The only downside was standing up and realizing that the bench I was sitting on gave me splinters all over my backside.

I picked up some groceries afterwards and gave myself permission to take an Uber back home instead of walking or taking the bus (the fact that an Uber was only $2.20 at the time was also a big factor).

Look what I found at the store!

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Burpee plants!

Back at home, I showered, warmed up some leftovers for dinner, and spent time with Christie’s boyfriend’s dog, Koga. I got a taste of the neediness that most dog owners talk about. It’s annoying in the most adorable way.

Sunday

I gave myself permission to SLEEP. IN. I slept until 9:40! I promised I’d make French toast for all of us in the morning though, so I quickly got to work on that.

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one whole wheat + one brioche topped with butter sautéed bananas, peanut butter, maple syrup, and slivered almonds + strawberries + glass o’ almond milk

Definitely taking full advantage of Christie’s pretty dishes and silverware for my food photos 🙂

I planned on running to the park ~4 miles away to meet my friends for a picnic in the afternoon, but my hip/quads/knee (!?) have been hurting these past few days, and running was a solid no-go yesterday. So I gave myself permission to pass on the picnic, walk home and do yoga instead.

The pain? Google says it could be some muscle tightness. Could be a labral tear. Hopefully not the latter.

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I forget what I did for the rest of the day, but in the evening I walked to campus for Mass, and my friend Evan kindly drove me home afterwards (God bless gentlemanly friends).

Chopped salad for dinner! (Read: Salad cut up with a pair of kitchen scissors.)

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spinach, feta, strawberries, avocado, sunflower seeds, and homemade honey mustard vinaigrette

Followed by dried figs with peanut butter and Greek yogurt. A classic.

Now I’m going to give myself permission to continue lying in bed and read Brideshead Revisited for real this time.

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday/Memorial Day!

Give God permission. — St. Teresa of Calcutta

So tell me:

Do you find it hard to give yourself permission to relax?

What is one thing you gave yourself permission to do this weekend?

Any good books you’re reading? 

 

The Great and Small Things I Learned This Semester {Junior II}

I needed to use both handrails to get up the stairs yesterday.

That squat-burpee ladder workout (originally from Peanut Butter Runner by the way!) I did on Monday? Annihilated my legs. I have not been this sore for as long as I can remember, but it has taken me 2.5x longer to get anywhere these past few days. I used to take pride in feeling so sore that I couldn’t walk, but it’s honestly the worst. It’s fine every once in a while, but waddling at turtle pace all day is not functional.

Besides the woe of my quadriceps, today I am sharing the SIXTH edition of…

the great and small

…second semester junior year! Time really does move more quickly every year. Studying abroad in Ireland for the first semester made junior year disappear especially quickly, but second semester was also gone like *snap* ← that.

The culmination of lessons up until now: Freshman I // Freshman II // Sophomore I // Sophomore II // Study Abroad

1) I love being able to cook for myself in an apartment (it literally feeds my overnight oat obsession).

2) I still don’t really know how to deal with cockroaches, but I do know that I can survive after living amongst those six-legged demons.

3) The origins, insertions, actions, nerve supplies, and blood supplies of nearly every muscle in the human body.

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4) How to commit to things that I don’t feel 100% comfortable with (within reason). 

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5) I can meet more native Irish friends my age in Boston that in Ireland itself.

6) Megan has taught me so much about humility, simplicity, and embracing the little things. She has been a wonderful travel buddy and roommate this past year.

7) The dynamic of friendships may change, but that doesn’t mean the friendships have weakened.

8) I can survive 40+ days without peanut butter (or any nut/seed butter).

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9) I really like enchiladas.

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10) It’s still difficult for me to prioritize sleep, but when I do, life is so much better.

11) I do like running, and I need to get over saying, “ehhh I don’t LOVE running.” I love it when it’s with good friends.

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12) Buying regular carrots rather than baby carrots is not as convenient but it is a heck of a lot cheaper.

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13) How to better pray with Scripture. God’s Word becomes meaningful and relevant to you only if you give Him permission to speak through it.

14) Avoid melancholy like the plague. Like when I used to listen to sad songs because feeling sad was better than feeling nothing at all? None of that anymore.

15) I still struggle with perfectionism, but God has really brought me down to earth this semester and taught me that I don’t need to have it all together before going to Him or others.

16) According to my friends, I’m really good at taking selfies.

 I’ll put it on my resume. Is this a transferable skill?

17) How to direct skits.

18) “We are most authentically human when we give ourselves in love.” – Fr. Mark Murphy

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19) I’m happier without Instagram.

20) I should check cancellations online before walking (and royally wiping out) over treacherous ice to reach my destination.

21) Emotional persecution is real. I’m almost numb to it in some of my classes, but although it can be hurtful, it also forces me to become more understanding of why others are so ready to bash on certain beliefs rather than others.

22) Megan and I are solid bread chefs: scones, brown bread, focaccia, French toast. Let us know your carb needs; we’ve got the hookup.

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23) I cry at least once a week for a positive or negative reason (or both).

24) I very much enjoy classic Disney movie soundtracks, Hannah Montana and High School Musical songs (listening to that right now, TBH).

25) It’s SO FUN when blogger friends visit you in college (@Colby)! 🙂

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26) Apparently I look quite different now from when I was a wee little freshman lass.

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my first photo with Lauren ever, I think

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I mean, we ARE two years older. My hips don’t fit into those red jeans anymore, nayyyyy.

27) The sushi and bagels in Boston do not compare to those of New York.

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28) I’m really bad at consistently stretching.

29) The best part of a Red Sox game is the singing and dancing. Sweeeeeeet Caroline {bop ba baaaa!}

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30) The people are what make BU a great school. Walking around campus after most people have left feels sad and empty.

31) Writing when praying is incredibly helpful in regards to staying focused and remembering what happened during my conversation with God.

32) My blog still encompasses food and fitness, but it has naturally incorporated more faith and life subjects recently, and I’m okay with that.

33) God truly is present at all times in infinite ways.

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Thank you to my parents, brother, family, professors, the Catholic Center, friends (including all of YOU reading this), and strangers who have somehow influenced my life for yet another wonderful and fruitful semester of college. ❤

So tell me: 

Three things you learned this semester/since the beginning of 2017! 

When You’re Feeling Off + Life Lately

It’s finally warm!

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Thank the Lord. It got up to a steamy 76*F on Tuesday!

HI. It’s been pretty quiet on Moves and Grooves lately, but it’s been a busy and weird couple of weeks. The weirdness was mostly attributed to me feeling very “off” in my faith life — prayer wasn’t the easiest, and I felt a lot of confusion, frustration, and guilt over some things in my life.

It’s not something I haven’t experienced before, but it’s always disorienting. However, I’ve learned to not depend on feelings or be driven by them all the time. This apples not only to matters of faith, but also matters of recovery, school, life in general. It makes sense (e.g. just because you don’t feel like sharing cake with your friend doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t), but feelings can be LOUD, so it’s good to remind ourselves that feelings are just feelings. We often need to follow what we know instead.

Know that God does not speak through confusion.

Know that God is infinitely loving and merciful.

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I’m not usually a pinterest quote person, but this Bible verse made it to my phone lock screen this week

And with God, every trial just yields more wisdom and peace. Holy Week has helped too! This year, it has been profound yet beautifully simple, and now we are all so ready for Easter 🙂

Let’s catch up though!! So much has been happening.

I went to my second spin class ever at Cyc with Christina (@foodietunes) last Wednesday. Once again, Sarah Gaines, founder of Fit University, taught the class and kicked. my. BUTT. My last spin/Cyc class was last year during Sarah’s first “tribe ride”!

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Christina texted me the night before:

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And so I dragged my butt out of bed to move my legs faster than they ever do, but I still couldn’t keep up with Sarah.

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I had squatted heavy for the first time in a long time THREE days before this class, and my quads were still crying by the warmup.

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Christina: “Can we pick you up?” // Sarah: “Not up here.”

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Thank you so much, Sarah, for a great class and for being an all-around inspirational gal!

After the Cyc class, I stopped by Whole Foods to get some yogurt, and this little fella was patiently waiting outside.

Corgis are my favorite kind of dog. They’re awkward, cute, and loyal. We need more men like that in the world.

Here are a couple solid dining hall meals I’ve eaten:

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breaded fish with seasoned rice and green beans

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empanadas on Latin night + salad

And I’ve been cookin’ up some fine things in the apartment as well!

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(from three weeks ago!) the last of the chicken + beans from the bomb enchiladas I made with cheese, avocado, and roasted brussels sprouts

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meatballs (actually, just mini muffin versions of this meatloaf), brown rice, cheese, and roasted paprika asparagus

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classics with a side of anatomy

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tomato, basil, feta, pepper, and olive oil

Last Sunday, Megan and I hosted “Assisi Night” for our Catholic friends. Essentially, it was an even that we made up because we’ve been obsessed with Assisi ever since we visited during our break while studying abroad. So we invited all our friends to hang out with us for an Italian food potluck, a movie about St. Francis and St. Clare, and good ol’ fellowship.

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the oddly large “T” is actually a tau sign, symbolic of the Franciscan order

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Dinner was complete with salad, caprese, focaccia, several kinds of pasta, and many desserts. Megan and I cooked most of it, but our friends came through with lots of delicious foods as well!

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this focaccia disappeared before the event started

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my attempt at cacio e pepe

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‘Twas such a fun night!!

Sunsets have been magnificent this week thanks to the clear blue skies.

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I wish I could go to a remote place so I could see stars too! (I’m asking for a lot, I’m sorry. I am very grateful for these sunsets.)

Exams, papers, projects, summer planning, etc. is all happening still. It’s a good kind of chaos.

I hope you all have a blessed Easter or just a joyful weekend! Eat lots of carbs for with me!

So tell me:

Do you ever have to ignore your feelings and go with what you know?

Two fun things you’ve done recently.

What are you doing this weekend!Easter and Marathon Monday, baby!

 

Greater Love

I feel spring coming!!!

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The days have been sunny and warm here, and this week it’s supposed to get up to a high of 63*F! Bye, snow. You were fun for 12 hours.

This weekend, I went on a retreat with the Boston University Catholic Center to Kennebunkport, Maine (which is where “the way life should be” according the state border sign). The theme of the retreat was Greater Love, a theme intended to help the attendees understand and grow more deeply into a truly loving relationship with God, with themselves, and with others.

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Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

We often ask ourselves what love is, where to find it authentically, and whether it will last. From a Christian/Catholic perspective, phrases such as, “God is love,” and “Jesus loves you,” are often thrown around, which is great, because both statements are absolutely true. But knowing those truths cerebrally is very different from encountering them personally. This weekend was about both aspects— learning and experiencing the Love that is greater than all else, God Himself.

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This retreat was a little different from all my last retreats (herehere, here and here), because this time I was on the retreat team as the skits producer. Basically, during every retreat there are a few skits throughout the weekend to help animate the theme. I won’t get into much detail, but the actors (i.e. my friends who kindly volunteered to act) delivered hilarious, thoughtful, powerful skits, and I cannot thank them enough for giving their time and effort for the glory of God.

And now for some other nuggets of wisdom from the weekend about L-O-V-E. Huge thanks to Fr. Mark Murphy for being our insightful speaker this retreat!

“We are most authentically human when we give ourselves in love.” – Fr. Murphy

Fr. Murphy also said, “Charity always requires difficult things.” In other words, love is sacrificial. If God sacrificed Himself out of love for us, there is no way that we can love without sacrifice as well. But the difficulty that love requires is nothing compared to the peace and true freedom it yields.

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the coolest retreat directors in all the land

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channeling our inner “From This Moment On” Shaina Twain 

Love is not just a feeling; it is an act of the will. Emotions are a gift, and they can point us towards authentic love, but they are not everything. If people loved others in word and deed only when they felt like it, marriage and friendship would never ever work. It only works if you choose to love every day, sometimes despite your feelings or lack thereof.

shoutout to the kitchen staff at the retreat house! thank you for the delicious food all weekend!

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Angelica, one of the stars of skit team

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Charity is love of God above all else for His sake, and it is love of neighbor out of love for God. – Fr. Murphy

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God speaks silence. – St. Padre Pio

Get rid of the noise and clamor for a bit and let the gentle and loving God speak to you in the silence. Just you and Him. It’s all He longs for.

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Dan, another star on skit team

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“There isn’t any torture that you couldn’t suffer for the souls God has entrusted to your care.” – Fr. Murphy

In other words, suffering has value if you are willing to offer it to God out of trust and love. He will give you the strength to suffer for the sake of other souls, even if you don’t currently see why you’re suffering or who you’re suffering for or when the suffering will end. Suffering sucks, but how beautiful it is that God chooses to entrust us with suffering for the sake of His children.

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“He’s just so sausage-y!”

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The means of holiness is already there in the Church — it is Jesus Christ. – Fr. Murphy

The Church has good people in it. It also has people in it who do terrible things. The bottom line is that the Church has sinful humans in it, but Jesus Christ is always good, no matter what His children do.

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The more the soul lowers itself in prayer, the more the Lord lifts it up. – St. Teresa of Avila

The more we recognize our lowliness, the more God will raise us up to Himself.

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Acknowledgement of the truth is authentic humility. – Fr. Murphy

It is the truth that we are weak and sinful. It is the truth that God is Love and Truth itself and that we need Him. Acknowledgement of who we are and who we are not is authentic humility.

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Contemporary people learn more from other people’s witness than from their words. When people do learn from others’ words, it’s because of their witness. – Fr. Murphy

Basically, don’t just talk the talk. You have to walk the walk in order for people to learn from you and to know that what you stand for is good and true.

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best friend tradition ♥︎ 

We have a God who prefers littleness. – Fr. Murphy

God, the Creator of the universe, came as a little infant to a little manger in a little town called Bethlehem. He loves our littleness and comes to us when we feel the most insignificant and least powerful in the world.

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retreat team family photo (aka one of my most favorite pics of all time)

Fr. Murphy told us a beautiful story about an elderly married couple. The wife was bedridden and crippled, and her husband took care of her lovingly every day. The husband told Fr. Murphy that he loved her more in those bedridden and crippled days than he did on the day he married her.

This is because when you love someone who is crippled, bedridden and most helpless, your sacrificial love is most pure. Your love is the greatest because you are giving of yourself despite the other person’s inability to give back. It’s the same thing with the Church and with the world. When the Church is most broken and helpless (like it is today), that is when we love her and care for her most purely.

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~contemplative~

Thank you so much to all who made retreat possible. You are all stellar humans.

This is the most faith-filled post I’ve written in quite a while. I plan on addressing how my blog space has changed recently (in case you haven’t noticed it yet), but when God makes His way into your life, ya just have to talk about Him everywhere. He’s on the brain, on the heart.

If there’s one thing you can take away from this post, it is that you are loved so deeply by Love Himself. If you need more on that, check this out ➔ He thirsts for you.

And I LOVE YOU!!!

So tell me:

What is love? (← big question, but let’s chat!)

One beautiful thing you experienced this past week.

Other things on your heart that you’d like to share. Let’s get cozy.