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? 

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Camping “Lite” + Life Lately

I have a first degree burn on my upper lip from a blazing hot marshmallow.

On a separate occasion, my friend Zoe flung a blue-flaming marshmallow onto my lap. It’s been an exciting week!!

This weekend, some of my friends and I headed to the lovely state of New Hampshire to camp at Bear Brook State Park. I’m going to call it camping lite, because there were pretty nice bathrooms, and we ran to the grocery store once to pick up bagels and beer LOL. However, we still started our own campfires, cooked on the campfires, slept in tents/hammocks, hiked a bit, swam in lakes, and I didn’t shower for three days despite the campsite having bath houses (*shrugs*). Hygiene seemed very optional in our group on this particular weekend.

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Truly though, this was the most magnificent weekend. I had been wanting to go camping for ages (mostly for the goal of seeing stars, which we did two nights in a row!). We could not have survived without our friend Domenica who came through with literally ALL the camping equipment, as well everyone besides me who knew how to start a campfire.

We cooked burgers, brats, toasted bagels, and s’mores on the campfire throughout the weekend, and let me t e l l you: nothing tastes better in the world than food that you really work for (and that has natural smoke flavor, mm, and maybe some crunchy gravel #texture). I still smell my smoky hair (I promise I’ve showered multiple times since the trip), and all I think of is our kumbaya circle around the fire and how time just seemed to slow down twofold out there.

Other highlights included:

  • A three hour trail walk that had some nice hills. Zoe and Connor were brave enough to be the first to eat wild blueberries on the way, and thank the Lord, because those li’l bloobs were life-changing. Special thanks to Rachel and Austin for navigating the confusing trail map. The only bummer was that the summit of the hike was view-less and infested with ants. Like, we got up there, stayed for 0.5 seconds, and immediately ran back downhill while slapping biting ants off our ankles.
  • Saying a rosary with all my friends while walking on the trail.
  • Deep chats and fireside stories. (Almost didn’t add this because it sounds so freaking cheesy.)
  • Waking up to tall pine trees and blue skies that we could see through Dom’s open-top tent.
  • Waking up to Dom’s alarm, a rap song called “Stomp the Bleachers.”

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  • Swimming in lakes. And finding out that it is VERY normal for people to pee in lakes and oceans? I knew that people did it, but I did not know that it was so widely ACCEPTED. Also that pee is sterile?? My whole world has turned upside down.
  • Treading water and swimming (leisurely) for the first time in ages. Not a modality that I am used to; it felt like more of a workout than it should have.
  • Visiting Domenica’s family and seeing their farm full of chickens, bees, and a pig. Her parents very generously hosted us for lunch and dinner on Sunday, which was fantastic all around. We are so grateful!
  • Domenica’s family. I just love them.
  • Going to Mass on Sunday with the crew.
  • A water station right next to our campsite, so that this water chugger never went thirsty.
  • The sky full of stars each night. Makes my heart flutter.

It was also gloriously cool in the evenings, which was a welcomed change from the sweaty nights we’ve been having in our hot box apartment in Boston. It was pretty brutal last week.

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peep Zoe top left with an ice pop and box fan

Fourth of July was a blast! A bunch of friends came over to our apartment for lots of noshing and a little drinking throughout the day, complete with a visit to the park, JP Licks ice cream, and fireworks over the Charles River at night.

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Oh I just reminded myself that I want to see how the World Cup is going. I am only really into it by diffusion from friends’ enthusiasm. Top left photo shows Sarah, Zoe and I watching the Colombia v. Poland game a while ago at a bar.

Rachel and I also went on a grand food bucket list date a couple weeks ago. We started with a DECADENT brunch at North Street Grille early in the morning (tiny place — long line forms fast) for lobster benedict (the bucket list item) and chicken and waffle sliders. All with a heck of a lot of home fries. Ho.ly.mo.ly. Not gonna lie, we thought the chicken and waffle slider was the winner over the lobster benedict, but it was all phenomenal anyway. We bought but did not eat (not enough stomach space) a bar of Taza chocolate, and then we slooooowly sipped iced hot chocolate from L.A. Burdick and gave the last of it to Sarah to finish later.

Besides my vacationing, I’ve been volunteering at the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is basically a skilled nursing facility/nursing home/hospice for elderly folks from very low income backgrounds. It’s been a wonderful time. I am learning a lot about joy, patience, and being very present with the person right in front of you.

I’ve also been walking a lot because it’s 3 miles each way to Little Sisters of the Poor.

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And here’s a random photo of one of the most soul-nourishing sunsets that I watched from campus last week. Lots of growth happening here.

Next Monday starts six weeks of PT clinical!

So tell me:

Have you ever gone camping?

What is your favorite part of camping?

Do you pee in lakes (be honest, no judgement; I have done it)?

What are some highlights of your summer so far?

 

Human Appreciation Post

Today I was walking (surprise) and thinking about the awesomeness of people.

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recent folks and feasts (feat. pancake Friday TWO WEEKS IN A ROW)

Don’t think I go around frolicking in a field thinking about this all the time though. It is a gift to be able to see the goodness and awesomeness in other people, so I’m seizing the moment to write a post about some people, random and not-so-random, who I think are awesome.

A human appreciation post, you could say.

People who clean public bathrooms.

People who drive 18-wheelers with 20 other cars stacked on it on the highway. If that does not make you think of the frailty of your life and the lives of others while driving on the highway, I don’t know what will.

Drivers who let me as a pedestrian have right of way, even if I haven’t started crossing the crosswalk, and it would be totally fine if they kept driving. (Honestly, I’d prefer if you took your right of way, but I APPRECIATE YOUR THOUGHT.)

Roommates who surprise me and do my dishes.

People who are constantly willing and excited to go way out of their comfort zone for the sake of growth and adventure and seeing what God has in store.

Construction workers who go into manholes at 10pm.

Construction workers who build bridges.

All construction workers.

Friends who think to have a pancake party on a Friday night.

Friends who are always down to eat ice cream with me.

Friends who go to Mass with me.

People who peacefully stand up for what they believe in. Whether I agree or disagree with those people, I appreciate the courage and passion for defending and fighting for what they truly believe is right.

People who run more than 1 mile at a sub-8:00 pace. Hahaha.

Priests and religious who wear vestments/habits in the summer heat. Also, people who wear shirts, ties, and slacks in the summer heat. Dedication all around.

People who lovingly correct my actions. Thank you for caring for me enough to say something to me. I’m a weenie and have such a hard time showing tough love like that (confrontation ahhhhhhhhh).

People who genuinely smile and laugh a lot.

Musicians, writers, photographers, and artists of any kind who devote themselves to an art because they believe in the power of beauty to save the world (← see my photojournalist friend’s article!!!).

Any fitness instructor who teaches a class before 9am (and any fitness instructor).

People who can be hilarious without being vulgar at all.

Primary school teachers (← this video kills me).

Researchers. Trial, error, abstracts, experiments, no. thank. you.

Parents who raise and love their children who have disabilities/congenital abnormalities (and all parents who lovingly raise children, period.)

That guy (or gal) who says hi to someone but that someone doesn’t hear and accidentally ignores the guy. I see you. Thanks for your friendliness.

Whoever keeps Boston’s water system so clean so that I can drink tap water without worrying.

People who always walk on the street without headphones because they want to be present. You are better than I.

People who love so deeply, truly, and vulnerably, even when their hearts might be broken.

Happy Sunday, friends!

So tell me:

Who are some random and not-so-random humans you appreciate?

Day in the Life {Vlog!}

SUMMER IS {almost} HERE.

I woke up last night drenched in sweat for no reason other than the hot box that is our apartment. Also the fact that I didn’t open the window at night and I do not own a fan/air conditioner of any sort.

Nevertheless, I am so happy that I don’t have to wear winter coats and that it doesn’t take forever for my muscles to feel loose and limber before working out.

Summer also means that my schedule is a lot less hectic (for now) as I work as a gross anatomy teaching assistant for a couple weeks. My main concerns otherwise include very important things like walking outside and eating ice cream. (Once PT clinical starts, I’m sure I’ll be a stress mess again, but we are l i v i n g right now and very grateful for it.)

Less talking, more watching. Here’s a vlog to show you what a day in the life is like recently!

So tell me:

What do your summer days look like?

What is your favorite lunch break activity (just eating is an acceptable answer)?

Any fun summer plans?!

The Aftermath of Inspiration

This is the diary of an extraordinarily ordinary person.

Also the diary of a person who has not worked consistently nor been in school for almost a month, so I’m just derping around, reflecting on life, wasting time, and finding things to do. Luckily, work starts on Monday.

Recently (not just during my post-school intermission, but even throughout this past semester), I’ve noticed that I have rarely felt passionate about the things in front of me, whether that’s school, relationships, activities, fitness goals, or just life in general.

Please do not take this the wrong way! It’s not that I’m not enjoying life, but I’ve been lacking some intrinsic “oomph” that drives me to set my heart on something.

The only thing that my heart is truly set on is pursuing a deeper relationship with God, which I guess is fine because that’s the foundation of everything else. But I still can’t help but feel frustrated that my disposition has been kind of bland and aimless recently.

It’s easy to be inspired to do great things (or small things with great love) through prayer, enlightening conversations, beautiful songs, thoughtful articles, and Facebook videos with heart-tugging montages (#honest). What’s not easy is facing the aftermath of inspiration. The aftermath that involves…doing normal, everyday things.

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The aftermath of inspiration that involves seeing and choosing to love the face in the mirror that has zits all over her forehead (including one particularly pesky and red one).

The aftermath of inspiration that involves emptying out the sink trap, my least favorite thing in the sanctuary that is the kitchen.

The aftermath of inspiration that involves re-studying notes from the past year at the dining room table.

The aftermath of inspiration that involves responding to emails.

The aftermath of inspiration that involves conversations that don’t inspire or excite you at all.

The aftermath of inspiration that involves sweeping the floors of the millions of hairs that three long-haired girls shed in their apartment (haha ew, but I know some of you can relate).

The aftermath of inspiration that involves NOT looking at inspiring things anymore and just doing what you need to do.

The aftermath of inspiration that involves dirt-ordinary things that are necessary in order to achieve greatness, to change lives, to become the men and women who we are created to be.

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I feel like I get on an inspiration high with so much consumption of social media. It’s obviously a great thing that there are so many uplifting, inspiring, loving people out there; I am grateful for everyone who puts out positivity in this world. There’s never enough of that. However, recently, that’s where the inspiration seems to stop for me.

I watch the inspiring videos, read the inspiring articles, and then go back to the tasks of life with very little passion. I really do believe that some people go forth with a “get after it” mindset 24/7, but I…just don’t. Like, I’m doing what I need to do and seeking opportunities to be better, but I’m not trying to “get after it.” I’m just doing what I ought to do.

Perhaps it’s because I don’t have many goals right now, and for the goals that are already set out for me (i.e. finish school with a doctorate in physical therapy), I’m kind of lackluster about them (except for the Spartan Race in August; I’m stoked for that). So I do what needs to be done, expecting it to either fulfill me in the moment or expecting myself to feel some sort of passion because, “This little task will pay off in the end when I reach my goal, right!?” … But nope. Neither of those things stirs in my heart.

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throwback to last year’s Spartan Race lol

That’s the problem though. I always want to feel like I am fulfilling some profound inspiration that budded in my heart at one moment, but the aftermath of inspiration involves emptiness sometimes. It might involve wandering. It might involve doing things cerebrally for a while instead of doing things emotionally. It might involve doing little things with great love but not feeling love at all, because love is a choice, after all.

(I do believe that you should be at peace with what you are doing; how you feel is so important and should not be forgotten!!)

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if you feel like 1-year-old post-nap Alison all the time, re-evaluate what you’re doing

Speaking of inspiration, I just read this in a Sisters of Life magazine, and I think it’s relevant to my situation:

“We have tried to learn the great art of being with others… It’s a way of receiving another — looking at the person before me, not as a project or a problem to be solved, but as a gift, a unique masterpiece of God’s love. It’s developing the habit of gazing at this person with the heart…” – Sr. Maris Stella

I think this can apply not only to people, but to every task that may or may not feel like it’s lending to my ultimate fulfillment.

So I guess the aftermath of inspiration isn’t really “aftermath” at all, but rather a true gift in and of itself. The dirt-ordinary task, the people in front of you right now, the opportunities and experiences you are given today — this is the greatness, the life-changer, the essence of becoming who we are created to be. And seeing it as such is a habit that needs to be developed, so maybe that’s what God is helping me to do now.

I think it’s time to let life inspire me as it happens rather than feeling the need to do everything because I am inspired. Does that make sense? And if passion for something does take over my heart one of these days, I will be all the more grateful.

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idk this is an old gif in my media library, but Beyonce is always a good choice

Have a great Thursday! God loves you. I love you.

So tell me:

THOUGHTS!?