Tuesday, January 27, 2015

NAS: But first....Let me take a Selfie

Link up with Jen and Morgan for this great series!

Do you support the selfie trend? Do you think it promotes self absorption, vanity and narcissism? Is there a way to incorporate selfies into the Church's teachings of modesty, authentic beauty, humility?Thanks to Hannah!

Not gonna lie, not a fan of the "selfie", Whether it is the song "but first....lemme take a selfie" or the never-ending parade of pictures on Instagram. 

I love pictures. Many a turned-around camera self picture has been taken in the hopes of not missing out on a memory, usually to capture who I was with or what I was witnessing around me.

Selfie overlooking the Copenhagen skyline
Back in the day, the "selfie" was when you turned the camera around in order to get everyone in a picture but there was no extra person to take it. It's purpose was to include everyone and make a memory. Even the occasional solitary self-taken picture was to savor a moment in which no one else was able to take the picture.  I'm all for documenting memories to live on. 

I'm not a big fan of the selfie just for the sake of having a picture of yourself, especially when posted on social media. I believe in the importance of feeling confident yourself and how you look, but the I see the posting of "selfies" of just yourself comes from the need for approval from others regarding our looks and our lifestyles. 
Selfie while walking El Camino de Santiago

Now, I completely fall prey to pruning my social media accounts to display my ideal self. I don't think anyone wants to feel like they look "bad" in their pictures, but I've realized there is a line between deciding what you want displayed and what you think should be displayed. The thought process of this picture makes me look this way or if I post this picture then it looks like I am fulfilled in this area of my life can trap us into hiding who we truly are, of hiding a true beauty. 

We don't need the others to assure us of that beauty. 

Page through the Bible, especially Song of Songs and discover gems like this one:
"You are beautiful in every way, my friend, there is no flaw in you!"
Song of Songs 4:7

We need to use the selfie to capture more memories, more joy. Memories with friends, an experience of a lifetime, a moment of bliss. If we could use selfies to promote the joy of living  full lives with Christ instead of using them to promote living lives full of ourselves. 

I'm challenging myself to re-evaluate the selfie, will you?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

NAS: Children

Whoops, I had all intentions of writing a post for last week's link up with Jen and Morgan, but I completely forgot!

But jumping back into things this week because I LOVE the topic!

Do you have children in your life? What is your relationship with them like? Do you have godchildren, and how do you form a relationship with them? Does having children in (or not in) your day-to-day life make you feel happy, wistful, or wary (of having your own someday)? Thanks to Lindsay! 

I'd have to say that there are a good amount of kids in my life. Let me break it down: Family-wise I am the oldest of three siblings, the oldest of 13 cousins on my Dad's side and one of 19 cousins on my mom's side, most of whom have kids (so about 13 first-cousins once removed). So I grew up around A LOT of kids. And my career has also taken me down a path of working with a lot of children. From babysitting and teaching CCD in high school, to studying to be in a career working with children in college, to two-years of teaching 6th graders and now working on initiatives in Child and Adolescent Psychology, my career goals have always been to help better the lives of children.

My Godson!
I have a godson, who is actually my godmother's son, and he is the cutest stinking kid in the entire world. I don't see him enough and I want to learn to be a better role model to him through being his Godmother, but I'm just continuing to love the little goober and his silliness for now. 

Confirmation 201

I am also blessed to have been the confirmation sponsor of two of my cousins in the past two years, and I have been able to see them develop into such strong young men, a privilege that my geography has granted me recently.  I've learned a lot from how they view the world and am ever-blessed by their humor.
Confirmation 2013

I feel like I have a good relationship with most of the kids in my life, though my little cousins have told me on more than one occasion to stop acting like their teacher #canthelpit. Although spending all day teaching wasn't the best fit for me, the part I miss most about full-time teaching is my kids. Not my students, my kids. I realized very early on in my teaching career  how quickly I began to care for my students when I started calling them "my kids", and still refer to them that way when I talk about them (which tends to confuse some people who didn't know I was a teacher.....). I loved the times when we could just talk, where I could just hear them reflect upon their life and their hopes and dreams. While I enjoyed teaching my math and science lessons, one of the most fruitful moments in teaching came from an hour and a half long conversation I had with my class the day after Pope Francis was elected. It was fascinating, in a Catholic school that serve mostly non-Catholic students, to hear their perspective on the event (side-note: All kids think the Popemobile is cool).

I think because I come from a teaching background that I am sometimes to strict with the kids in my life, but I think it is because I've see so much potential and future hope in kids and I want them to have every opportunity to use the gifts that God has bestowed upon them. The children in my life bring me the most amount of happiness in my days, especially when they blow my mind answering questions so simply. Their unbiased innocence lends itself to that, and they show me an insight into the world and the human experience that is closer to what God intends us to see than what we necessarily see when we view the world. I see myself working with kids for as long as I can, either directly in their care or in advocacy for their rights and needs. While I don't know when it may happen, if He chooses to bless me with them, I can't wait to have kids of my own one day, in whatever way God grants them to me. 

The greatest thing that teaching has taught me is that we have a lot we can learn from them while we hope they may learn something from us.

"At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven and whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me"

Matthew 18:1-5

Sunday, January 18, 2015


While I was in Mass this evening, I was reflecting on the difference between joy and happiness after receiving communion. I am happy with my life now. I really like my job and find a great deal of fulfillment with my work. I like where I live, the trips I get to take, the friends I get to see. My family is healthy and I get to visit and communicate with them often. I really have nothing to complain about. However when I was in Mass, kneeling after receiving His Body and Blood, I couldn't think of the last time I was truly joyful, truly filled with a sense of wonder and awe. I realized that the last long stretch of time that I truly felt joyful was in college when I was extremely involved with my college campus ministry group. Sure, I was crazy stressed at certain points and I may not have been happy with everything that came my way, but I experienced true moments of Joy brought by God, whether in a Bible study, on a retreat, in Adoration or teaching at Sunday school. There have been fleeting times since, but I think I lost track of joy and what joy truly was to cultivate and appreciate it. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and as this super reliable website says, " The "fruit" is the product of the Holy Spirit's cultivation of character in a heart." Joy doesn't come from worldly things, from accomplishments, achievements and the things we acquire. Joy is a gift that comes from cultivating something within our hearts. Joy comes from God within ourselves, not from outside sources. Over the past few weeks, I'm been realizing more and more of my need and desire to come back to the heart of it all, to the heart of worship, to the heart of Jesus, and it is then, when I come back to Him, that I will find my joy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fall in Love

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything,

It will decide what will get you out of the bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."

---Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Recipe: Sauteed Shrimp over Lemon Quinoa

January Goal Progress for Nutrition!

I made myself plan out meals for the week in a very real and structured way. I know that I never have time for breakfast and that some days I have to pack a lunch that doesn't need to be refridgerated, so I made sure I planned specific meals for that.
I also picked a new recipe to try (thank you Pinterest!) I love seafood, so this shrimp recipe is light and packed with flavor, lots of veggies and yummy quinoa! I used frozen, pre-cooked shrimp instead of uncooked to save on time and roma tomatoes instead of sundried. I added a litttttlllee too much lemon juice (whoops...didn't measure) so it was very lemony, but still delicious!
The recipe is from The Kitchn

Saucy Sautéed Shrimp over Lemon Quinoa

Serves 2 to 4
1 cup golden quinoa ( I just used whatever quinoa I had at home)
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup full-bodied white wine, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small red onion or 2 large shallots, minced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, finely sliced (I used roma tomatoes!)
1 pound fresh small pink shrimp (I used frozen, pre-cooked shrimp!)

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under running water. In a 2-quart (or larger) saucepan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the drained quinoa and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the salt, the lemon juice (about 3 tablespoons), 1/4 cup white wine, and 1 1/2 cups water.
Bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat. Simmer for covered for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let stand covered for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa. Stir in the lemon zest and half of the minced parsley.
While the quinoa is cooking, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over low heat in a deep heavy skillet. Add the garlic, red onion or shallot, bell pepper, and tomatoes. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the garlic and tomatoes are soft and fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn or get crispy; let it cook slowly in the butter. Turn the heat to medium and add the second tablespoon of butter and the remaining 2/3 cup white wine. Whisk constantly and bring the wine to a simmer. Cook until slightly reduced and shiny. Turn the heat to its lowest setting and keep the sauce warm while you cook the shrimp.
Pat the shrimp dry and season with salt and pepper. In a separate large skillet or wok, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter over high heat and sear the shrimp quickly until cooked — about 1 to 2 minutes. Add to the pan with the vegetables and sauce and toss with the remaining parsley. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve immediate, topping the lemon quinoa with shrimp and its sauce.

Happy Eats!

Not Alone Series: A Day in the Life

I've always loved reading this series hosted by Jen and Morgan but up until now I have never been a contributor! With new goals this year of posting on my blog more regularly, I really want to commit to this series and the wonderful ladies who contribute!

Let's get back in the swing by sharing what our typical day is like! Tell us however you like, minute by minute or a blurb about your day! Be sure to answer these questions: 
- What is your favorite part of your day?
- What is your least favorite part of your day?
- Are you making any changes to your daily routine now that the new year has begun?

My typical morning happens really fast, mostly because I would rather avoid city traffic and get to work early than enjoy a leisurely morning. I usually am up between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. unless I need to be at a school extra early. The colder it gets, the more difficult it gets to get out of bed, mainly because my room is FREEZING. Our house is about 100 years old, so it doesn't heat particularly well, plus my room is rather large and doesn't heat as fast as other spaces in the house. Once I make it out of bed, its dress, make-up/hair, make tea, pack lunch, grab breakfast, bundle up (for now) and head out the door to figure out where I parked my car (yay city living!). Even though I live and work in the city, I still drive to work because I spend a lot of my time visiting different schools around town. Luckily, my commute to my office is only about 15 minutes, so I am usually in the office between 8:00 and 8:30. Once I'm in, I check emails, read the news and drink my tea to start off the day!

I work as a research assistant in the Department of Children and Adolescent Psychology at a children's hospital, so my job entails a variety of tasks. When I'm not in the office working with data and documents, I am out at a couple of different schools working on two projects implementing mental health initiatives in urban public schools. It takes about 10 minutes in person to describe my projects, so that is a post for another day!

Once I leave work, I'm usually home by 5 p.m. I typically don't run errands during the week because I park my car (street parking) around 5 p.m. and I don't want to lose my spot! So evenings have typically been spent at home with my 5 roommates (yep, 5), watching TV, cooking, sometimes going to the gym and just hanging out. There are a few young adult events in my area that I want to join, but haven't gotten around to yet, so hopefully that will change soon! Occasionally we venture into the city for fun city things, but typically week nights are pretty chill. Shower, dinner, TV, read and then off to bed by 10:30/11:00 p.m.!

What is your favorite part of your day?
I really love the people I work with, so my favorite part of my day is usually mid-morning coffee or lunch where we can all catch up and exchange ideas! The same goes for at home. Anytime all the roommates get together to do something (aka hang out in the kitchen or watch a movie) is always the best.

 What is your least favorite part of your day?
Getting out of bed. It. Is. So. Cold.

 Are you making any changes to your daily routine now that the new year has begun?
I am trying to more consistently read a daily devotional in the morning and hit the gym/exercise after work. Also, like Jen said in her post, I'm trying to eliminate screen time before bed (main culprit: Netflix....)

I'm so excited to really dive into this series and get to know more people in this wonderful community!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

January Goals

Every year I make New Year's Resolutions and every year I feel like I just end up trying for a bit and then forgetting about them. Overall, I'd like 25 to be a healthier year, so I've decided to break down my resolutions to monthly goals.

My January focus is a Physical goal: re-vamping my diet.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I have not been to great about every sticking with a certain style of eating. Throughout college, graduate school and now post-grad life, I've had a lot of anxiety around food. I tend to avoid food when I get stressed out in order to have an area I can control. If the kitchen is too crowded and I don't have room to cook, I'll just grab something I don't need to cook. If there isn't enough room in the refrigerator, I tend to not grocery shop or get anxious about what to eat. I have a peanut allergy that has recently gotten worse, which really cuts peanuts out of my diet as opposed to me just selectively eating peanuts. I had a period of time where I had a lot of medical testing to see if I had any other food allergies or if I had developed a gluten intolerance. While nothing has come up in the past, at different points I have cut out dairy, selectively been gluten free but have not fully embraced a holistic way of eating. I have the biggest sweet tooth which leads to me to choose sweet treats (aka chocolate) most of the time over other options. Even though I believe in healthy eating, I have never been able to fully grasp onto that lifestyle.

My big goal for the year is to get a strong grasp on my health in a holistic way. I have chosen to start with what will be fueling my body. I've recently joined The Healthy Grocery Girl Nutrition Plan as a way of trying to commit (slowly) to a whole food plant based diet. It is a program that slowly breaks down transitioning to a holistic way of looking at food, and I'm sure that I'll be reviewing it on here, so here it goes!

As for the rest of my physical goal, I want to increase my cardio by trying to do some in house workouts 2-3 times a week for a start.

Spiritual Goal: Finish reading "My Sisters the Saints" by Colleen Carroll Campbell and post a book review
     Dedicate 5 morning minutes to prayer daily

Mental Goal: Dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to writing, whether for blog or for personal thoughts

   No screen time (phone, iPad, Computer) in bed (hopefully this will help with sleep!)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Power of Vulnerability

If you look up the definition of vulnerable, it isn't very pretty. Oxford English Dictionary defines vulnerable as "susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm," coming from the Latin vulnerare which means "to wound." When thinking about vulnerability, it always is a word that makes me feels like squirming around in my chair. It is difficult because it exposes us, scrapes away our perfection shells and exposes the hidden scars.

It makes us uncomfortable.

It makes me uncomfortable.

I fully place myself into the category of perfectionist. I also place myself in the category of being guarded and difficult to get to know. I am fully aware that the two work hand in hand to beat back vulnerability. I'm difficult to get to know because I am a perfectionist who only wants certain pre-approved bits of knowledge to get out. I'm a perfectionist because I even if I want people to get to know me I am desperately afraid of them getting to know me.

Dr. Brene Brown talks about vulnerability and how those who she found lived the most "whole-hearted" life embraced vulnerability and realized that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. These people shared the traits of courage, compassion and connection as well: The courage to tell the story of who they truly are with their whole hearts, the compassion to be kind to yourself first and then to others and a level of connection with others that was a result of authenticity. The lived from who they truly were even though they risk the unknown and the uncontrollable.

As a society, we numb vulnerability and push away things that may cause us pain. We drink, we eat for the sake of eating, we engage in meaningless sex and we binge watch Netflix for hours to avoid and distract us from the reality in front of us. We try to make the uncertain certain in order to control outcomes. We prefect in order to disguise. We pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on the people around us. We don't realize that by protecting ourselves we end up hurting other people.

Vulnerability entails a lot of trust. Trust that we can let ourselves be seen and handle whatever may come of that. Trust that if we love with our whole hearts and end up heartbroken, that we can bounce back. Trust that we are enough.

I'm taking on vulnerability as my word of 2015. It is the year I turn 25 and is the year I was to discover who I am and let that be known to the world.

It's so not going to be easy. It's so not going to be pretty.

But I'm betting it will be one heck of a journey.

I found Dr. Brene Brown through a guest post by Maxie McCoy on my favorite blog, The College Prepster, called "A perfectionist's Guide to the Holidays".  Below is Dr. Brown's Ted Talk: The Power of Vulnerability 

PINteresting Projects to try in 2015

There is no doubt that I'm addicted to {Pinterest} and I could (and have) literally pinned things for hours. The problem with Pinterest is that it becomes a pretty board to look at, and I never end up making any of the projects. I've tried a few recipes and use the party planning tips (hot chocolate bar for Christmas Party? check done!), but some of the craft projects need to be tried!

A few to look forward to in 2015:

A simple beginner skirt from Shrimp, Salad, Circus

If I had my way,  I would wear skirts and dresses every day of the year. However, Northeastern winters and a budget make that a bit tricky! I am a novice sewer, so I would love to up my skirt collection with some of my own creations!

DIY Plush Headboard from She Said

I still don't have a headboard for my bed and have been saying I would make one for a while now....I should get on that.

While not technically a Pinterest project, I am WAY behind on my phonebook collections! I still need one from my summer hike through Spain, my graduate school program, not to mention my study abroad semester!

I'll start with those three and see how they go!

2015: Looking Ahead

Link-up from "Here I am, the Handmaid of the Lord!"

1. Do you think you will be going to school at any point in 2015?  If so for what?

No! For the first time, 2015 will be the first time I will not be in school at all. While I hope to be going back for an advanced degree in Psychology, that won't start until about 2016. There will be a lot of research and applying happening in 2015.
2.  Will there be a job change for you in 2015?

No! Again, 2014 was the year of school and job changes, so 2015 will hopefully be very constant job wise.
3.  What adventure or event are you most looking forward to during this coming year?

Adventures seem to fall around different events in 2015. Trips home to NC for sister's shows and graduation, Weddings in May and a few in the fall, and then hopefully a spontaneous adventure or two!
4.  Do you think there will be a move to a new house/apartment/city/state/country in 2015?

No new city or state, but there could be a new apartment int he making next summer
5.  What do you see as the direction of your blog in 2015?  Design update plans?  Link-ups coming down the pipes?  More or less posts?

My only goal for the blog this year is to actually use the blog as a space to write and reflect on the happenings of my world and the world around me.

6. If you could guarantee that one thing could happen this coming year what would it be?

That I'll still get to be surrounded by the great love of my friends and family who support me no matter what.

Looking back on 2014

Looking back on 2014, I'd have to say it was pretty great. From a horrendous winter (weather wise) to a spring filled with final moments in ACESJU, a summer spanning miles from mountains to seas and then a fall living the city life in Philly, its been quite the journey. 

2015 will be a big year. Not only will it be the first year where I will not be in school at all, but it is the big 2-5. While I don't want to make a big deal out of it, my mom always says that 25 was one of her favorite years, a year where she was living the city life, working, dating my dad and being a young 20-something in the city. There is no pressure for 25 to be a year for the record books, but I'm excited to see what it has in store for me :)

So a look back on 2014, through the lens of my instagram: (warning: photo heavy!)

Most of winter was characterized by two things: SNOW and Cheerleading

New Years Day 2014 Plane Ride
My Cheer Squad
Snow day Bow crafting
Snow, Snow and more Snow

Spring brought birthdays and travels to see good friends and family
Watching Duke Vs Carolina

First Rita's of Spring!

Philadelphia Visitors

St. Patrick's Day Festivities

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Birthday Celebrations

Easter in North Carolina 

The beginning of summer brought endings and new beginnings:
The end of ACESJU and teaching, the start of summer adventures and a new job.

SJU Master's Graduation


Cohort 2 Farewell Dinner

ACESJU Graduation Ceremony

Last Day of Teaching

Summertime was filled with adventure. From the Outer Banks of N.C. in a hurricane, Chapel Thrill for the Fourth of July and then across Spain for El Camino, summer 2014 was definitely one of my favorites. 
Sunset on the Albemarle Sound
Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Fourth of July on Jordan Lake

Downton Durham for Fireworks

Sugarland Cupcakes!

Old Well Sips

On the plane to Pamplona


First Day on the trail

Almost to Santiago


Pilgram's Mass in the Cathedral 
Kilometer 0.0


My Partner in Crime

La Sagrada Familia

Hot Chocolate and Churros!

Finally we come to Fall 2014, described by a series of FIRSTS. A new house, a new job and adventures in the City of Brotherly Love
Exploring the Franklin Institute 

First Day at the new Job!!

Roommate Restaurant Week!

Abbey Fest

Beer Festival!


Linvilla Orchards

SJU Alumni Gala

Friendsgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner 

Christmas Village and Love Park

Christmastime Adventures

Tracy's Wedding!

High School Crew at Tracy's Wedding


Merry Christmas 2014