The Mess of Life

Hello.

Greetings from NY! I figured I should write a blog post while I’m on spring break. It’s sad and strange that I don’t automatically think to write a blog post in my spare time anymore. This blog means so much to me, but I feel it slipping through the cracks (JK it slipped through the cracks, like, 6 months ago).

This blog has evolved as I have evolved as a person. I still have great interest in food and fitness, but there are simply (or rather, less simply) more things to which I need to direct my attention and energy in this season of life.

One of those things is academics. Things are still busy, but now that the great learning curve of my first graduate semester has passed, PT school has become a bit more exciting, and I have yet to approach the brink of despair (*overdramatized for effect*) as I did last semester. I also completed a 6-week, part-time clinical in a long term acute care hospital, which I loved (not just because I got to wear scrubs aka the work-acceptable pajamas). It’s all still hard work, but I’d be worried if it wasn’t so.

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could be worse

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Academics is 50% of life. The other 50% is just this wild freakin’ ride that my heart and soul are on right now. It’s like one of those rickety wooden rollercoasters (actually my fave kind) that have superb thrill factor but could also snap and break at any moment.

There is only so much I am willing to share about this roller coaster of my life, but overall, I have learned a lot.

I’ve learned about what is too much for my heart to handle.

I’ve learned about what makes my heart truly joyful and at peace.

I’ve learned how to be honest with myself regarding both of those things.

I’ve learned that I make so many mistakes over and over again, despite having good intentions.

I’ve learned about my weaknesses and what I really need from others.

I’ve learned about my strengths and what I can give to others.

I’ve learned to find the good in others, but also to put down my foot when others are not good for me.

I’ve learned that it is better to find beauty in pain than to find pain in what seems beautiful on the surface.

I’ve learned to be okay with all of the above, because life is a MESS. A. Darn. Mess. That’s my word of the year so far, and I’m okay with that.

I’ve learned that God is here in this mess and that I don’t have to run away from it all. He never changes and reminds me always that He has never abandoned me and He never will. He is faithful, and He makes all things new.

And on top of all that/to change subject, my best friend is engaged (and she asked me to be her maid of honor AHHHH)!!!

Rachel visited NY for spring break earlier this week too! It was nice to spend time with the bride-to-be. Truly just having heart to heart conversations from morning ’til night.

I also co-directed the Catholic Center retreat this semester with my friend Austin, so that was a doozy. But more than anything, it was a wonderful and humbling experience. The theme was “beauty through humility and obedience,” which I suggested in the first place, but I didn’t realize how much I personally needed that message this semester until we were on retreat.

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hearts that are His #retreat #totustuus

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Me: “What’s something we both like to do?” ➔ Austin: “Uhhh, work out?” ➔ Me: “Okay, we shall flex.”

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the seniors ♥ 

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Sarah, a source of peace and joy

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sums up my friendship with Janice (so much love and appreciation for her)

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the killer retreat team

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“More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart…”

— Jeremiah 17: 9-10

^^^Too true.

Alive and well. Breathing and smiling. Failing and learning. Praying and growing.

My mess is minuscule compared to others’ messes, but it’s all one big Jackson Pollock painting — pretty cool in the end.

So tell me:

About the mess in your life.

Something new you did this past month!

 

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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 (here, here, 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.

48 Hours Unplugged

I’ve never experienced the feeling of time slowing down until last week.

I had the privilege of spending a few days in (relatively) upstate New York with two of my best friends, Fiona and Rachel. Fiona was so generous as to let us stay at her 106-year-old (!!) summer house, located in a secluded yet beautiful town.

Monday

On Monday, Fiona and Rachel drove down from Boston to my house. I cooked us a little rather large din din of caprese chicken + spicy pork chops + roasted broccoli (which was epic, not gonna lie) + avocado toast. Lots of leftovers for the ‘rents!

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plus avocado toast!

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beautiful food, even more beautiful people

I also made them one of my favorite recipes of all time— Amanda’s banana bread mug cake. Alongside some of Emily’s delicious peanut butter chocolate chip cookies + glasses o’ milk!

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Tuesday

After spending a night at Fiona’s house, we ate breakfast and then drove up to her summer house on Tuesday afternoon.

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made some banana oatmeal for the ladies

Rachel DJ’d in the car, and it was a classic grooves-mobile fest with backseat dancing and off-pitch sing-alongs.

And in no time, we arrived at the summer house!

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Fiona calls it her “heaven on earth”, and I can 100% see why she does. There may not have been any cell service or wifi, but there were crystal clear waters, breathtaking views, and foliage for dayzzzz.

We were only at her summer house for 2.5 days, but it felt like we were there for a week. Fiona did warn us that time slows down at this place, but I didn’t believe her until I experienced it.

Look at how cute it is!

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When we arrived, Fiona gave us a tour of the grounds, and then we went into town to buy groceries for the next few days.

The ONE stressor I had during the trip was when I got a call from my job (which I start today) about a form that I never received via email but that I needed to fill out, sign, and send by the next morning. It was actually a miracle that we were in town getting groceries when I got that call, because if we were back at the summer house, I never would have known because there’s no service there. Thank God for smart phones, because I was able to access my email, fill out the form, sign it digitally, and send it back in time.

Anyway.

Chips, salsa, PB&J’s and salads for lunch!

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Followed by a lovely little hike to the waterfall.

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self-timing it on a waterfall

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UGH so cool.

The rest of the night involved reading, playing Clue, eating chili (that Fiona’s mom made and sent up with us!) and s’mores!

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Chili and fires in the summer? Ya. ‘Twas pretty chilly up there actually (plus no heat). Rachel saved our cold butts with her fire-making skills. So Midwestern.

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*ding*

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I made “fluffernutter” s’mores with peanut butter instead of chocolate — 10/10 recommend

We snuggled into our beds by 10:30 pm (!!!). After some girl chat, we fell asleep to the sound of a legit babbling brook that flows by her house. People pay good money for that sound!

Rachel and I could not stop saying, “This is a dream. This is out of a novel.”

Wednesday

In an effort to gain feeling in my frozen feet in the morning, I went outside for some moves by the babbling brook. I did Jess’ lean legs workout (with some modifications).

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I still couldn’t feel my feet after I finished the workout. They were ice cubes.

Nothing a good breakfast can’t fix though! Pancakes for breakfast!

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We made buttermilk pancakes from a mix (added chocolate chips and/or banana) and ate them with a slew of toppings (peanut butter with the richest full fat vanilla Greek yogurt for me) and glasses o’ milk in cute mason jars. Eaten out on the porch. DREAMZ I TELL YOU.

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After breakfast, we spotted beavers, played Sequence, did each others’ hair, tanned on the deck, and plunged ourselves into the freezing cold river as per Fiona’s tradition.

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so cold, so exhilarating

We had a late lunch of tacos with all the works.

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Followed by more reading, relaxing, and probably some napping. We decided on movie night with s’mores for dinner.

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“You look like a frog.” – Rachel

We did a double feature of The Notebook and Hairspray. It was my first time watching both! (I know, I know. I’m only an eon behind on watching The Notebook.)

Thursday

Our last day at the summer house started with leftover pancakes…

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…cleaning, packing, reading (I finished The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis— also 10/10 recommend!), hiking…

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photos cannot do this view justice

…and a farewell to the summer house (for now!).

Back at Fiona’s house (and back to 432872 notifications on our phones), we ate a light dinner. Then Fiona took us to Bellvale Farms Creamery, aka the most incredible ice cream place of all time.

First of all, the drive to this place was beautiful. Secondly, we passed by the actual Bellvale Farm (like, we basically said hi to the cows that made the milk in our ice cream).

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Thirdly, their ice cream flavors were excellent. I had “Calf Trax” (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter swirl and mini peanut butter cups) + cookies ‘n’ cream in a waffle cone. No words. Fourthly, this is the view right outside their doors:

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I won’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the summer.

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Rachel and I are gonna make sure Fiona gets engaged at this spot.

Our night ended with watching The Intern (such a sweet movie!) and deep chats.

Friday

I think I’m allergic to Fiona’s cat (whose meows sound like a whining human) because I scratched my eye so hard in my sleep that I woke up with my eye half shut and swollen. Whoops.

I made us some more oatmeal and then we headed out for some tennis! Fiona is actually good at tennis, Rachel can hold a good volley, and I spent most of my time fetching the tennis balls that I hit out of the court.

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For our last meal together, we went to Fiona’s favorite local Mexican restaurant. We shared guac to start, and I ordered a chicken and a vegetable taco.

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fabulous

I am beyond grateful to have spent such a rejuvenating and beautiful week with two of my best friends. Thank you so much again, Fiona. ♥︎ I miss you both already!

Something valuable I learned from those 48 hours unplugged is that, truly, you have so much time when you’re not always on your phone/playing music/checking emails. I was able to focus on one task at a time, reflect, and do a lot without the distraction of technology. I’ll keep all this in mind as I start work today (I’ll talk more about that later!) and continue on with my life.

So tell me:

Have you ever spent an extended amount of time in a place with no service?

What was the best thing you did last week?

Do you have a special place where you like can retreat? 

Never Alone

Me right now:

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The week just started and I already feel smoked and kicked in the derrière.

I cannot complain, though. First of all, I am blessed to be in school and to have wonderful opportunities ahead of me this week. Secondly, this weekend I went on the Catholic Center retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine, and the time away from school to spend a lot of quality time with God has refreshed my soul and filled my heart.

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The theme of the retreat was “Never Alone,” referring to the importance of friendships in this journey of life and faith. The speaker for the weekend, Fr. Tom, spoke about friendship in such a unique way. What he said was so simple and logical, yet so profound.

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Fr. Tom said two things that have been buzzing in my head all weekend long:

  1. It is improbable that we have the friends we have and that we are living the faith. There are so many improbable events that have happened to bring us to where we are now.
  2. There is such a thing as being “talented” at friendship.

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How true and beautiful those points are. It is no work of my own that has brought me into such a faithful family, to such a privileged life, and to such a loving community (both online and offline). Every good, bad, big, and little thing that has happened in my life shaped me into who I am today and continues to shape me into who God wills me to be.

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For instance, it sends chills down my spine to reflect on how the events of my life led me to start this little ol’ blog. My participation in performance sports ➔ my weight gain ➔ my obsessive and stubborn personality ➔ my discovery of healthy living blogs ➔ my eating disorder ➔ my loving family ➔ my recovery ➔ my renewed outlook on healthy living blogs ➔ the start of this blog ➔ the love and support I receive from the blogging community ➔ the friendships fostered here…

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It sucks that anyone has to have an eating disorder. It sucks that there is suffering and hurt. But the goodness that can be drawn from disorder and suffering can be more fruitful and expansive than anyone could ever hope or imagine. And this is largely because God gave us other people to live with. People can suck, don’t get me wrong, but people can be our companions on this journey that is life.

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Fr. Tom said that friendship is goal-oriented. If you have a shared destination, you have a shared journey. Furthermore, the depth and beauty of the goal impacts the depth and beauty of the friendship.

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happy 20th birthday, Rachel!!!

For me personally, eternal life with God is the ultimate goal, and sharing this goal with my friends transcends our conversations and interactions in order to match it.

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Recovery from an eating disorder is another profound goal that I can {fortunately and unfortunately} share with so many people, thanks to the blogging community. That goal has great depth and beauty, so our interactions with one another match that. I am constantly in awe of how close I have become to people from around the world through the internet, all because we know about hurt, and we know that we want something better.

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Two last things that stood out to me from Fr. Tom’s talks:

  1. The root of all religion is the desire to thank something or someone for life’s blessings.
  2. Each of us has a “sacred mission” and obligation to reach out to a specific person of God’s choosing. We won’t be able reach everyone, but we were definitely meant to reach someone.

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It’s impossible to count all the people who have made an improbable impact (whether it was positive or negative) on my life that has led me to where I am today. But I thank God for giving each one a sacred mission to reach out to me.

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This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness week, and I think this weekend’s retreat theme is so pertinent to the occasion. There is comfort in trusting that everything happens for a reason. Everyone’s journey is different, but I can say from my own experience that I could not have recovered to this point had I not found this community of bloggers/readers who shared the same goal. I also could not have recovered had it not been for such improbable factors in my life, and for all these things, I thank God.

This year’s NEDA Week theme is: “Three Minutes Can Save a Life.” If there is a way that you can compassionately and gently spread the word about getting screened for an eating disorder to your friends or community, please do. It may just be that improbable factor that leads someone to recovery.

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Thank you to all who made this retreat weekend wonderful. Thank you to all of you who have shown me love at any point in my life. Thank you to the Lord of all.

So tell me:

What are some improbable events that have led you to where you are today?

What did you do this weekend?

Thoughts? 

Your Story Matters and It’s Beautiful

I am alive and well, and I hope that you are too!

This weekend I went up to New Hampshire with nearly 70 other students searching for one or more of the following: alone time with God, fellowship with friends who are seeking God, fresh air and serenity away from Boston, a new experience, and/or answers to any deep, personal questions. Whatever the reason, I think it’s safe to say that everyone who went on retreat is coming back to campus with something new and good.

Even if you’re not Catholic (heck, even if you’re an atheist), I am willing to bet that you can connect with some of the lessons I learned from this retreat and which I am about to share with you presently.

Wait, first, can we just appreciate how my lab partner (Christina, a nutrition major) and I order the same breakfast and bring our own peanut butter to the dining hall? There are many signs of friendship, but this one takes the [whole wheat pan-] cake.

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two eggs scrambled with mushrooms, tomatoes, bell pepper, and broccoli + whole wheat pancake with peanut butter

The difference: she doesn’t like banana and I don’t like coffee. Fair enough. There’s something wrong with both of us.

Anyway, back to this retreat and all the beautiful things that it entailed.

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The theme of the retreat was “Called to Greatness,” which sounds inspirational to many, but also kind of daunting. As someone who is extraordinarily ordinary (and often sub-ordinary), I knew I would be challenged by the messages I would hear on retreat. But challenge = change, so leggo.

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Dreams. We all have ’em, and we want to chase after them. Whether that’s an “MD” at the end of your name, creating a world-famous blog, making “gainz”, having a family, becoming Beyonce’s personal assistant, or becoming Beyonce, our dreams drive us.

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Some people find peace in chasing that dream. Peace doesn’t mean it’s easy, but through all their hard work and sleepless nights, they know that their work is truly fulfilling.

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But sometimes (probably often), chasing those dreams can disappoint us. Even if we get what we want, there is something gnawing at us that the success and happiness is just skin deep.

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brought my own peanut butter (and shared!) #notsorryatall

An example from my own life: Fitness. I’m sure many of you are familiar with my love of exercise, which I believe is at a healthy state now. However, just a few years ago my life was consumed with a dream to achieve approval, attention, success, and self-worth through fitness. I literally worked myself sick to obtain a body that was not my own.

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I dreamed about being fit. Even after my disordered thoughts started to dissipate, fitness was at the forefront of my mind more often than not.

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I mean, look at my blog title. “Daily Moves and Grooves” is a reflection of how much I love to move. Although this blog has been a wonderful outlet for my fitness and health journey, and although I am in a healthy place mentally and physically, food and fitness just can’t fill my heart.

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Maybe you’ve felt this way about a certain path in your life.

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Or maybe not. But for those of you who have, how did you come to realize that your life was a little empty? Where did you turn?

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For me, God directed my footsteps towards Boston University–the Catholic Center in particular.

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kitchen staff rockin’ it as always ♥︎ 

He taught me through the people I’ve met that my pursuit of a life fulfilled by food and fitness was completely in vain. Health is important to me, but I was letting health be a part of my life for the sake of health, not for the sake of being a better student, friend, daughter, sister, or servant of God.

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I may have taken risks. I may have been bold in doing physical tasks that I never thought I could do (and don’t get me wrong, I’m proud that I did). But that kind of boldness was for myself. It was a selfish boldness.

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As I spent more time with the people at the BU Catholic Center, I observed how they channeled their energies, talents, conversations, trials, and joys towards helping others− helping others and themselves draw closer to Love (aka God).

[k, so maybe this isn’t for atheists too, but feel free to stay anyway]

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These people have been humble and generous enough to share their stories with me and their other peers, and each story that I hear is unique, glorious, and ever-unfolding. Like my story, each of their stories has elements of confusion and disappointment. But most of all, each of their stories involves being called to transcend something that “should have” been fulfilling.

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And in sharing their stories, they reveal one piece of their journey in answering the Call to Greatness. In continuing to live each day with courage and trust in God, they are saying “yes” to that call. They are filling a space in their lives that cannot be replaced by anything or anyone but Love.

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To sum up what this weekend’s speaker, Fr. Eric, said so well: Our stories are unique and beautiful, but they are not about us. Nothing that we do deserves praise. Rather, our stories of greatness and boldness are ways that God uniquely and beautifully works through us to bring others to fulfillment in Him. Our stories are about God.

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What you choose to do impacts more people than you know, and even the littlest acts of love can have the biggest impact.

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That seems like a lot of pressure, especially since we’re weak, “squishy mortals” (in the words of Geraldine). But He called you to greatness, and like any loving parent, He’s not going to leave you alone in your journey. He came to the earth and poured His life out for us, so there’s that.

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This got a lot more religious than I originally intended, but I guess I just want to say that your story matters, and it’s beautiful. It’s still unfolding, as all of ours are, but you are called to greatness. Whatever that means to you, strive and pray to answer the call with boldness. Share it with others, because that only reveals more beauty and hope to the world.

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one of these is not like the others…for a few reasons

My call to greatness is to leave behind my pride and selfishness. There are many specific ways I can do that, so with every part of my day, I can depend on God to help me along.

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Blogging is just one of the many ways I can share my story, and I am eternally grateful for all of you who listen, share with me, and encourage me to be better.

Literally don’t know if any of this is coherent, but hopefully it makes some sense. If not, just know that you’re great, and that’s the truth.

Thank you to all who made this retreat amazing. You teach me so much. Thank you to God for being faithful (and for letting us see the stars, despite clouds on Friday and all of Saturday 🙂 ).

Have an awesome Monday!!!

So tell me:

Thoughts?

What did you do this weekend?