How do you react to things that are beautiful?

pray.

I’ve been listening to a couple podcasts recently that I LOVE. It’s nice to have people talking in the background while cooking and driving so I don’t feel as alone.

One of them is called the Poco a Poco Podcast (by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal) and the other is the What God is Not Podcast (by Fr. Michael O’Loughlin and Sr. Natalia — two Byzantine Catholics). Obviously they are both centered around Catholic things, but I genuinely think that they are relevant to anyone’s life and point towards universally good things like peace, joy, freedom, and beauty. Highly recommend!

In an episode of What God is Not, Fr. Michael talked about how one reacts to things that are awesome (in the truest sense of it evoking a deep sense of awe). He said that one time when he was overlooking a valley in Joshua Tree National Park, he realized that something so beautiful demands some sort of reaction. It seems impossible to just say, “Oh nice,” and then move on.

He goes on to talk about how his reaction, due to his faith and family upbringing, is to say, “Thank you,” because the awesomeness of nature’s beauty is a gift from God. This stood out to me because that is exactly how I react when I see a sunrise, sunset, stars, or any amazing view; I whisper, “thank You,” to God.

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His question and my question for all of you (whether you are religious or not) is: How do you react to things that are awesomely beautiful? Do you say something? Are you physically or emotionally moved in one way or another? Do you relish the moment in silence?

No one reaction is better than another; I would just love to hear what other people say!

eat.

I felt like a bottomless pit yesterday, so I ate many different snacks, including these Jif Power Ups (pb chocolate chip creamy clusters) that I found randomly in our pantry. And they were GOOD. I never know what to expect with odd snacks like those, but they were perfectly sweet and there was a niiiiice dollop of peanut butter in the middle of each granola cluster. Mmm mm mm.

move.

Rest day yesterday! I walked a bit and stretched at night. My appetite was like that of a growing boy though, so that’s how I ate.

groove.

I got tested for COVID antibodies because there were free tests nearby, so I thought it would be beneficial just to see if I’ve ever been exposed. The poor nurses had quite the trip trying to find my brachial artery, so they stuck me twice in my right arm and once in my left.

I was negative for the antibodies. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Results were supposed to come back within 7 days, but I was surprised to be texted about the results at 9pm!

Happy Friday!

So tell me:

How do you react to beautiful things?

What is your favorite processed snack as of late?

Have you ever gotten tested for COVID antibodies?

Stuffing and More Stuff of Life

The onslaught of Christmas music around every corner is approaching and I am not mentally/emotionally prepared.

Two months has passed since my last blog post, and boy have those two months been PACKED with… STUFF.

Also packed with STUFF is my belly right now after a delicious Thanksgiving feast. Happy belated Thanksgiving 🙂

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This was probably one of my favorite Thanksgiving meals in a while. It’s going to sound really inflated of me, but I cooked 90% of the food. It was cathartic for me to be cooking all day though, and Madre took care of the turkey, which turned out PERFECTLY (unlike last year when we undercooked it ha). My brother’s girlfriend also made delicious crostini w/ a balsamic reduction and burrata, as well as Thai tea (!) pumpkin pie. My contributions included stuffing, mac and cheese, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, cornbread, cranberry sauce, and apple pie. I don’t mind domesticity at all; I was thriving.

HOWEVER, my apple pie bubbled over in the oven, so the juices to start burning pretty badly at the bottom of the oven, causing the smoke alarm to go off in the middle of dinner…. We needed the excitement (running around, opening doors, fanning the alarm) to facilitate digestion…is my excuse.

The food was great (and I didn’t feel terribly stuffed, which was good because I definitely felt stuffed after the two Friendsgiving dinners I had this past weekend), but of course the gift of family was the best. We went to Mass together in the morning to worship the God deserving of all thanksgiving, and then Ben and I even got in a fun workout at a gym that my high school friend owns!

Ben and Pop also played some Christmas tunes on the piano/clarinet together between dinner and dessert, which was so sweet.

To combine a life update and a Thanksgiving post, here are just some of the many things for which I am grateful from these past two months.

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The last thing I told you in my previous blog post was that I was going hiking in Maine with friends, and that was a glorious weekend. A bunch of us drove up from Boston and stayed at our friend Connor’s place, where hospitality abounds. His family is so warm and fun, and his mom makes some KILLER lasagna, banana bread, egg casserole, and pumpkin bread (she also has a beautiful singing voice, yeesh). The main event of the weekend was hiking up and down Mt. Washington, which was a sufficiently challenging hike. It started off as a pretty sweaty hike (tank top conditions), but with elevation came high winds and frigid temperatures (hat and heavy coat conditions).

We also went to the famous Fryeburg Fair on Sunday for Mass and all the fried food you could ever think of. My face was sweating bloomin’ onion oils.

Grateful for: nature; autumn leaves in the northeast; breathing hard in the fresh air; prayerful, joyful, loving, and hilarious friends (and their families!); fun fried foods.

PT school has been quite enjoyable this semester! One of my favorite aspects is that our neurological systems lab allows us to work with patients who have actually had a stroke (rather than just practicing on healthy, young peers), which makes the experience so much more realistic and meaningful.

Grateful for: education; an increase in knowledge and understanding of the human body AND the human person; friends who support both my mind and my spirit through the PT school process; academic failures and successes.

My best friend Rachel and (her now husband) Austin got MARRIED. I had the honor of being the maid of honor, and it was one of the best days of MY life. Of course, I’ve always thought marriage is beautiful, and family life is one of the best reflections of God’s Love active in the world. However, a wedding has never made these truths penetrate my heart so deeply until Rachel and Austin’s wedding. Maybe it’s because I know their relationship from the inside pretty much, but I was m o v e d by their Sacrament of Marriage. Ugh, I can’t really articulate it fully, but it was so good. Rachel and Austin were beaming all day.

The wedding reception was also LIT. I love wedding dancing, as some of you might know, and it’s even better when it’s with your best friends who ALSO love dancing. If you could find me “in my element,” it would be on the dance floor at a wedding reception.

Grateful for: the Sacrament of Marriage; Rachel and Austin; holy friends; the triumph of joy despite trials; wedding dancing.

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There have been a lot of tears (what’s new though??) of every kind. But if I could boil all the tears down…it would be salt. No just kidding. If I could boil all the tears down into one common theme, it would be that the Lord is making all things new (Rev 21:5). I have cried a lot because of emotional pain. In these cases, I have repeated daily that the Lord is, in each moment of pain, making all things new — better, more beautiful, more good than I could plan or do on my own.

I have also cried tears of joy and deep gratitude, because He shows me that things are indeed made new. There have been certain relationships and struggles (either my own or those of my loved ones) in this past year that have seemed to crush my insides, but as long as those are all laid at the foot of the Cross for love of what is good, the Lord has shown that He can and will make those relationships and struggles new — somehow better than they could have been if the pain never occurred. It’s a continuous process of pain and beauty though; it never stops. And sometimes He chooses not to show us what exactly it is He is doing, but I am learning that this is what life is. HE KEEPS YA ON YOUR TOES.

Grateful for: pain that turns into growth; newness; knowing that life will never be void of pain and struggle, but that does not mean it will void of joy.

That’s a wrap for now! As always, thank YOU for reading along despite the spottiness of my blog posts in this season of life. Thanks to mom, dad, and my brother as always 🙂 And THANK YOU, GOOD LORD, FOR THIS LIFE.

“…In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

– 1 Thess 5:18

So tell me:

One thing you’re grateful for, based on a recent experience?

If you celebrated Thanksgiving here in America yesterday, what did ya eeeeat? 

American Version of Ireland

It’s 12:15am and I’m eating frozen bananas while standing in front of my radiator.

But I wanted to blog! My brain can only organize things into an incoherent list right now though, so that’s what we’ll work with today.

This past week:

1) We had a snow day on Tuesday and it ruined everything.

My gross anatomy lab practical that was supposed to be last Tuesday is now tomorrow, the same day as the gross anatomy lecture exam. #ILoveEverything.

2) I can’t complain about sleeping in and having warm Slytherin socks though (thanks, Fiona ♥︎).

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3) Megan and I also made a mini snowman after Mass that day.

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same.

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we named him Stello, the counterpart to Stella the storm

3) Megan, Briana and I were craving a taste of Ireland on our snow day, so we baked Irish brown bread (one of our favorite foods when we were abroad) using this recipe. It ROCKED fresh out of the oven with butter and jam/honey. *Irish jig*

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3 mini loaves

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we have finally mastered the art of baking in our hell-hot box of an oven

4) Another low regarding the snow/ice was that I walked 30 minutes to dance on Wednesday morning (and royally wiped out on the ice on the way there) all to find out that class was cancelled. ‘Twas totally my fault for not checking the facebook page for an update after the large snow storm.

5) I forgot how much I liked getting sandwiches/wraps at the dining hall until I ordered this beauty last week.

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roast beef, provolone, roasted veggies, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, honey mustard on whole wheat wrap

6) Some of my favorite moves and grooves from last week:

Wednesday: 10-1 pistol squat/burpee ladder (10 of each, then 9, 8,7…1) + squat clean practice

Saturday: 5 rounds of this functional workout from Peanut Butter Fingers + overhead squat practice

Friday: alllll the dancing for St. Paddy’s day!

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ugh this night was so fun!

7) I tried making a healthy homemade shamrock shake with peppermint stevia drops that had been sitting in my pantry unopened for ages.

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milk, yogurt, oats, chia seeds, frozen banana, 1/4 avocado, greens, vanilla protein powder, peppermint stevia drops

My friends hate me for making this.

It was tasty and creamy, but I should have just left out the stevia because it wasn’t that strong, so I kept adding more until it just left a nasty aftertaste.

At least it wasn’t as sickeningly sweet as the McDonald’s version? And it’s green!

8) I helped out with a high school confirmation retreat on Saturday and the church spoiled the volunteers by inviting us to their St. Patrick’s/St. Joseph’s potluck dinner!

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salad, lobster ravioli, jambalaya, clam fritter, eggplant parmigiana, shepherd’s pie, soda bread

#global.

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all the boxed baked goods!!!

I also ate Welch’s fruit snacks and Cheez-Its earlier in the day during the allotted snack time, and I was on cloud nostalgia.

9) Despite the complain train of this post, I am truly grateful for the many wonderful people and privileges I have in my life. And especially this week, I am grateful for the little trials and heartaches that God uses to teach me how to be better.

I hope you all have a fantastic Monday. Go get ’em!!!

So tell me:

How did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Danced and snacked the night away with my friends (and watched them drink because I’m still a baby here in America).

Two things you’re grateful for.

The best thing you ate this weekend. That one lobster ravioli (raviolo?) I ate at the potluck was smashing.

Current Simple Joys

Life is hectic and cluttered enough, so let’s keep things simple today.

current simple joys

Snow days.

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{last Thursday}

Making waffles with my roommate on said snow day.

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and glasses of milk in mason jars

Ecstatic Californian friends who have never experienced a snow day before (@Sarah).

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crooked smiles because I’m pretty sure the left side of my face was frozen

Sipping hot cocoa and talking about the mystery of the universe with friends after coming inside from the frigid cold.

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Situations/statements that make me or someone else laugh like an idiot.

When people do spot-on impressions of other people.

Workout dates with Christina.

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Followed by lunch dates + good lighting for food photos.

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@ Mei Mei’s Street Kitchen – we shared corn fritters…

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…and I got a classic double awesome 

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When my best friend gets me a piece of carrot cake with a glass o’ milk at the dining hall.

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Waking up after less than 7 hours of sleep but still feeling alert.

Bending over to stretch and letting blood rush to my head after a long day.

Perfect avocados.

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Which turn into perfect avocado egg toasts.

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When hundreds of gross anatomy flashcards pay off.

Friends who are undyingly loving of one another.

Gelato on sale.

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Painting my nails while studying.

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Standing close to the stage for an acoustic concert with my best friend.

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Hailey Knox opened – she is insanely talented!!!

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just supporting my close pals

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they are incredible ♥︎ 

Discovering a new song to play on repeat.

Breakfast that’s already made.

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Having pockets of time to move and groove in some way every day.

Mountains of guacamole.

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not a joy – stomach ache after eating this whole thing #whoops

FaceTiming with the family.

Having something to look forward to this weekend (retreat + long weekend + Rachel turning 21!).

So tell me:

Three current simple joys in your life!

What are you doing this weekend?

I Feel Like I Should Have Learned This A While Ago

I am currently watching a video for my ethics in healthcare class, and so far I’ve seen a C-section, prostate surgery and throat surgery in the past 15 minutes.

I’m not that faint of heart, but this is making my vision a little blurry.

Good morning! What a way to start this post, eh? Here’s a picture of an appealing breakfast to counteract those thoughts.

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Sorry if you don’t think Greek yogurt, banana, and peanut butter are appealing.

I am only a week into this Dublin study abroad program, but I am already wondering: “Why did I ever not want to do this??”

Believe it or not, I really did not want to study abroad for a while. The main reason was FOMO— I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun and friendships back at Boston University. I also didn’t feel a strong tug to study abroad, so I wrote it off as “not for me.”

In the end (obviously), I chose to study abroad in order to challenge myself. To learn about other people. To travel. To get outside of my cushy, mushy comfort zone of friends, family, and familiarity.

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although cheese toast with eggs and sriracha for lunch is pretty familiar 🙂

My reasons for coming to Dublin are not quite unique, but I know that my experience here is unique. Who will I meet? What will I learn? How will I grow? Will I even gain anything?

I won’t reflect too extensively today, but two things I have learned this week are that:

  • Sharing a kitchen with over 10 people is both an art and a labor of love.
  • Education should be driven by a desire to learn and become a better person, not merely by a desire to “do well.” I always knew this one, but I have only recently realized that I get so nervous for school because I feel pressure to primarily do well. Retain information, apply my knowledge after the course, etc.— all those were secondary thoughts to me. It’s sad, but it’s true.

I feel like I should have learned that latter point such a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always loved learning, but only selectively and usually outside of a classroom setting, where the thought of grades wasn’t oppressing me.

I still break a tiny sweat when I think of learning and writing about something completely out of my comfort zone, but that’s where the growth happens. And, as Fr. Mike Schmitz said, if I am motivated by gratitude (for the gift of learning) rather than fear (of not doing well in the course), then I can be free.

Free to think. Free to question. Free to innovate.

And on the kitchen topic, I actually enjoy the kitchen parties. Minus the dirty dishes and questionable amount of smoke that we produce in the kitchen. I contributed to the smoky room with my Irish grass-fed beef burgers (am I trendy yet!?).

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on multigrain sourdough toast with ketchup, mustard, sautéed onions, white cheddar and spinach + cherry tomatoes on the side

Lookit!

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Plus this classic thanks to Madre hauling over dried figs for me in her Mary Poppins bag.

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dried figs with Greek yogurt

All we need in this dorm is the laundry machines to be up and running. Patience is virtue, but dirty laundry is gross.

Lastly, I want to wish Madre a very happy birthday! I’m sure this lady is feeling twenty twoooooo ooo ooo! I love you, mama!

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So tell me:

Have you always been motivated by a desire to learn in school? Or have you had desires to “just do well”?

Have you ever had to share a space with many people? My four-person-family life at home is a premium.

If you’ve ever studied abroad, what was your main reason for going?