illusions

I am thankful that God gave me the ability to experience beauty.
What is beauty? Where is the idea of beauty derived from? What molds our minds to think something is classified as beautiful? I am not talking about exterior, superficial beauty. I am talking about things that are truly beautiful. Truly extravagant and truly awing. This type of beauty leaves me humbled and thankful. It makes me feel small but important. It leaves me confirmed in my faith and sincerely amazed. Have you ever seen an illusionist or magician perform and leave thinking, wow that was incredible. How did that happen? What was the trick or the hidden performance that caused the illusion?
I feel this way about things that are beautiful.
The biological sciences leave me almost daily in a state of appreciation and utter awe. Every day, every second, every single millisecond, our bodies are performing some incredibly complex and intricate processes. The human body blows my mind. My biology professor, Dr. Laura Stephan, was lecturing this morning about a protein found in the mitochondrial matrix (remember from middle school, the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell!) that is so fundamental to our beings that it is a testament to the enormity and intricacy of our God. This protein, ATP synthase, is the sole proprietor for the functional energy created by our cells. This may sound like mumbo jumbo but let me elucidate – this single, microscopic molecule enables our cells to produce energy, which enables our cells to do amazing things like fight disease and fix problems in the body. I am able to write this post and think these thoughts because of a tiny, seemingly insignificant protein. I am able to laugh and enjoy apple cider and watch endless amounts of Netflix because these minuscule mechanisms within my body are functioning – and not just functioning but functioning in a way that is conducive to living and thriving. I’m sorry, maybe it’s just me, but that is beautiful. The way everything fits together so well, the way everything works at the right time and halts at the right time, the way the body has all these crazy complexities that allow me to live and breathe is absolutely awesome, in the true meaning of the word. Beauty to me is seeing how God enables our lives. He put all of those proteins in the perfect places. When I was being created in my mother’s womb, all of my cells came together in a fashion that enabled me. So much is going on in our bodies at a given time that it is almost incomprehensible. I think God works this way. He silently creates these beautiful pieces of our lives and when we are exposed to them, it takes our breath away and leaves us in awe and wonder. God has shown me the beauty that He is capable of uncovering. It makes me hopeful and excited to know that my God can make things so indefinitely beautiful.
Last night I attended a symphony at the University. I love classical music, but this was my first attendance at a true symphony with an orchestra. It was incredible. Hearing sounds created by instruments that came together in a way that seemingly flowed into a single piece caused my thoughts to navigate towards what was actually going on. Individuals on the stage were performing with their instrument, those sounds were combining with other sounds; the sounds danced around each other, and then that music traveled to my ears and I was enabled to experience the combination of it all. During the symphony I just thought to myself Thank you God for allowing these things to enrich my mind and fill my ears. This is just another form of the beauty you allow me to see. Whenever you let God take you to something beautiful, you know it. Last night was one of those moments.
Beauty is all around us. Maybe you have difficulty seeing beauty; if that’s the case, I encourage you to look for the beauty. He has placed it all around us: in the leaves, in conversation, in our bodies, in the mountains, in His merciful grace, and most prominently in ourselves. God has given you a beauty so unique to you that no one else can replicate it. He has given us the ability to recognize this beauty in others and verbally acknowledge it (I think we should utilize this ability more often). God, thank you for the beauty you have shown me. Thank you for the incomprehensible, transcending, munificent, and amazing beauty you have allowed me to see. I pray that you guys see this same beauty around you and within yourself.
Like the magician, we see only what is exposed to us. But instead of living a life of wonder and incessant pondering of unanswered questions about how the magic tricks are working, God is transparent. He lets us know that He is the illusionist behind all things beautiful and all things wonderful.

curveballs

Something that I find very important and very critical in my life is time management. Both internally and externally (where I’m spending my thoughts and what I am spending my physical actions doing), time proves to be such a valuable resource. Being in college, and fresh into college at that, I have quickly learned that time is very, very valuable. I have also learned that time is one of those resources that we have tools to manage. Where you spend your time defines you. What you say does not define you. The amount of energy you put into something expresses where your true desires and intentions are held. You may verbalize something that contradicts how you act or the demeanor you carry; unfortunately in certain situations, your actions are a more accurate depiction of your character.

So spend your time doing thing that are uplifting and encouraging to both your body and your mind. Invest time in developing your spiritual faith. Spend time on things that are important and beneficial.

Another thought I had today is how you can use your time to mold your life. You have every bit of control over your actions. Everything you say and everything you do is under your command. Every word elicited from your mouth is a representation of you and nobody forces you to express it. Every action you perform is because you made the decision to take the time, whether it is seconds or minutes or hours or days or months, and perform that action. You may not have control over what happens to you. But you have control over how you react, how you manage situations, and how you choose to live. So let’s start being responsible for our actions. Let’s start choosing to do things that make us better, more wholesome, and more fruitful sons and daughters of Christ.

Take this with you – time is a gift, and you are the recipient. It is precious, and you are the golden beholder. You cannot control what happens to you or why it happens, but you can control how to respond, how to react, and how to behave. You have been given the ability to manifest your time and strengths in God, and no matter how many curveballs life sends buzzing towards you, you’re not standing at that plate by yourself.

Have an amazing week full of hot coffee, breezy weather, and time well spent 🙂

plastic hands

flower envelope.

I started college this past week, and I already have the addition of so many unique experiences. I have been to an outdoor free concert in downtown Nashville, I have exchanged “hellos” with more people than I thought imaginable, I have made friends that I plan to hold onto, I have ran and explored around my magical campus, I have had moments of homesickness, I have attended interesting lectures, I have attended boring lectures, I have eaten at amazing restaurants, I have heard fantastic musicians, and I have most recently spent quite a bit of time in my dorm reading and writing notes and trying to decipher scientific text into simpler terms for my own understanding. But tonight as I write notes over chemistry concepts, my thoughts keep navigating towards neuroscience…

Plasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt to change and conform to new environments, new demands, and new experiences. It is a rather novel concept but to me it is absolutely awe inspiring. Our mind is the single most complex organism on our planet and remains the most complex system even when we extend to the Milky Way that envelops us in its gravitational embrace. Our minds, the envy of computational and electrical engineers across the world, is able to physically adapt to change. It is living, growing, and becoming more dynamic with every encounter we have and every memory we form. Your neural connections are on fire as you read this very sentence. Your brain is processing every bit and piece of information and deciding instantaneously where it is to be stored. Why does all of this fascinate me? Because I sometimes feel we as humans forget that we too have this plasticity feature. We are not supposed to remain complacent or dormant. We are not encouraged to become comfortable as the character we were cast for the play of Life. If the brain has the unique quality of changing when needed, of becoming better adapted for the role that it is required to fill, then we need to replicate this quality in our everyday lives. Open up your mind, your home, your heart, and your eyes and look for ways you can become an asset to the vast world around you. Find your passion and fall deeply in love with what it takes to pursue it. Be adaptable. Be the moldable human being God designed you to be. Stretch your beliefs, stretch out your hands to others, and stretch yourself vehemently in ways previously unthinkable. It is my belief that when we use our plasticity as humans, and as lovers, and as sons and daughters, and as warriors, and as citizens, that we have moved towards the bright and hopeful road of satisfying the great Creator.

So go out here. Look for the changes you need to make to be a better person, to make better decisions, and to make the world a better place.

I pray you find your ability to change and use it.

“His master replied, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” Matthew 25:23.


a post about ANXIETY

I am not afraid of spiders, snakes, or heights. I am not afraid of masks, or strangers, or wasps. You can throw any arachnid or insect at me and I might jump, but I will not experience fear. My most threatening and prevalent fear is the fear of failure. The fear of inadequacy, the fear of mediocrity, the fear of settling. The fear of not reaching my goals, the fear of not being enough. Those fears, to me, are towers and skyscrapers compared to the fear of an insect or an airplane flight. I have big aspirations for myself (I want to be a physician), and with these great demands and expectations from myself comes that great ever-known fiend of anxiety. I think its safe and acceptable to say that everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their life. I am blessed to say I do not get entangled in anxiety very often, but when I do, it kills my typically optimistic attitude and really makes me feel just blah. Last night and today was just one of those days. SO, as I battled that internal struggle in my mind, I thought of some ways that I choose to deal with my anxiety and stress. Knowing that so many people experience these inconveniences and struggles, I wanted to share my little tips with you guys 🙂

EIGHT TIPS TO KILL ANXIETY AND CULTIVATE INNER PEACE

  1. breathe. Relax. Inhale in, exhale out. Close your eyes. Breathe. You are alive, breathing, and functioning. Sometimes I spend longggg moments just taking deep, refreshing breaths. This is a great way to remove yourself from the web of anxiety and gain a clearer perspective.
  2. exercise! Get those neurotransmitters functioning and pumping out dopamine! Grab a friend, or a couple, (thanks to those who worked out with me today), and do something that makes you sweat and feel good. If you are overwhelmed, like I often am about feeling insignificant, then performing and completing a strenuous workout will certainly leave you with a sense of accomplishment. When overwhelmed with anxiety, work it out!
  3. put on your favorite pair of pjs, take off your makeup, and wrap yourself in a big soft quilt. This may be a personal favorite, but my favorite part of any day is the time I spend in pjs with an all natural face. There are few things more comforting to me than wearing something soft and casual while being tangled up in my favorite quilt. It’s a great way to just relax and step away from the chaos of life.
  4. draw a bath, light some candles, and play some music. I definitely did this one today. Isolate yourself from your family, light a few candles, turn out the bathroom lights, and listen to some music. My favorite music preferences during rough days are John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, needtobreathe, Kodaline, The Head and the Heart, Jack Johnson, “Calming Christian” radio on Spotify, among many other artists! During this time, I encourage you to put. down. the. phone. (It’s hard for me, too). But this isn’t a time to scroll through twitter, instagram, or facebook. It’s a time to just sit and relax and gather yourself. This is also a great time to breatheeeee!
  5. DON’T eat crappy comfort food. The temptation is sooo real. Grab a carton of ice cream, a box of cookies, or a bag of chips and sit down in front of the TV. I highly discourage eating like this during times of stress or anxiety. First of all, our bodies naturally activate high levels of a stress hormone called cortisol that make huge impacts on our bodies in a negative way when we are in a prolonged state of stress. Eating foods high in sugar and fat will only increase the negative effects on your body. SO resist the temptation and eat something healthy but equally delicious. My favorites are a few strawberries with 1 tsp of all natural maple syrup (I had this tonight! No high fructose corn syrup, additives crap either!), some raspberries & bananas, a chocolate or caramel gluten free rice cake (gluten is a gut irritant and has virtually no health benefits, I have personally found that removing gluten from my diet as much as possible has helped with stomach and digestive problems.) with 1 tbs of all natural peanut butter, or even – dare I say – some Nutella on a rice cake for those extremely stressful days.
  6. watch Netflix. After all that exercise, you’re going to be exhausted. Sit down and watch some Netflix. Just choose something to get your mind off of what’s bothering you. My favorite is Grey’s Anatomy 🙂
  7. think about the good things. Write them down. Almost every day I write down ten things I am thankful for and ten things I love about myself. I don’t do this in a narcissistic way, but as a sincere way to remind myself that I am valuable and that I have SO much to be thankful for, and NOTHING to be anxious for. Self love is a great remedy for anxiety. Try it out!
  8. pray. This is without a doubt the best solution for my anxiety and stress. I am here to offer you true confirmation that God will deal with your problems for you. You just have to take the first step and give them to Him! Even if you don’t believe God is there, just try talking to Him. I promise you that you will feel better after the conversation. If you’re nervous someone will judge or ridicule you, just try it in the shower! Honestly. Give God thanks for what you have and give Him the duty of protecting you from your greatest fears. Talk to Him about what is stressing you out or causing you anxiety.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ” Philippians 4:6-7

I hope this helps you guys, because doing these things honestly help me so much. Have a great evening – I hope it is stress free 🙂

#GetFitWithMe Workin’ It Out In Paradise!

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Well it’s that time! I have arrived at paradise! Today, I stepped foot onto the beautiful white beaches and prepared myself to remove the coverup…whew, this is the skin-baring moment I have been anticipating since January when I started this journey. During my difficult runs and long, tiring workouts, this is the moment I had been preparing for. Now let me tell you guys – this is not where it ends. Actually, it will never end. Being fit and healthy isn’t a destination. You don’t get to the point you have been working towards and say, “Oh, well, I have reached my goal, time to slack off and start eating like I was.” NO, fitness is a process. Its a long, never-ending process. That may sound scary and intimidating but let tell you guys, IT IS WORTH IT! As long as you are working your body beyond its limitations, you are improving yourself. Improving your mind. your body, and your soul. So don’t give up, ever. What you do today, whether it be a 20 minute workout or a 2 hour workout, it is going to make you a better you. And don’t we all want to be the best version of ourselves?! That has been my mindset lately. I wanna be the best me possible. The best daughter, the best girlfriend, the best athlete, the best Christian, the best chef, the best sister, the best student, the best friend, I want to make myself proud at the end of the day! I encourage you guys to set these same standards for yourself. Start taking every opportunity you have to improve and run with it. Look challenge in the face, and tell it you are stronger than the fears that are placed upon you! “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10. Even the Creator of all things told us not to fear!

So as you read, I was nervous about exposing my imperfect body to the entire beach..but I remembered, regardless of how many squats I did, or push-ups I completed, or miles I ran, I am fearfully and wonderfully made by an Almighty God. Don’t forget this ladies! Working out only perfects the beautiful bodies God has given us! Tonight I wanted to provide you guys with a basic workout and a simple, healthy Memorial Day meal for the upcoming holiday. I will be spending mine at a beach with people I love!


Basic Workout #1:

I like to workout in a gym. I understand most people may not be equipped with a gym membership or the access to a gym. If not, all of these exercises can be completed using any type of weight! Try cans or bottles if you have those!

 

  • 30 Jumping Jacks
  • 3 sets of 10 each arm Bicep Curls using 10 pounds of weight
  • 20 Burpees (stand, jump down to plank position, push-up, back to plank position, jump up and start over)
  •  3 sets of 10 Shoulder Press using 10 pounds of weight
  • 20 Push-Up Jacks! (normal push-up position and when elbows are at 90 degrees, legs are push apart like a jumping jack)
  • 3 sets of 10 Lateral Fly Aways with 10 pounds of weight (arms are held down against the sides and brought up to the sides horizontally)
  • 20 Jump Squats (stand in relaxed position, go into squat, explode out of heels into the air and repeat)
  • 3 sets of 10 Bicep Curls into Shoulder Press with 10 pounds of weight (normal bicep curls extended up into a shoulder press)
  • 30 Russian Twists (sit on floor with booty on the ground and body in a “C” shape, twist from side to side with the weight in hand, abs engaged. One side = 1 rep)
  • 3 sets of Front Raises with 10 pounds of weight (hold weight down in front of you and raise until parallel with the ground)
  • Burpee Challenge to end! Try doing Burpees with correct form until failure (cannot complete anymore reps with correct form)!

You have completed the Basic Workout #1! Disclaimer: I am not a personal trainer. This is just a guideline to those who may be confused on what to do or how to do it. Depending on how many times you complete this circuit will change how long it takes you to complete the workout. This is very basic workout for mostly the arms and core but, of course, it works those legs and glutes some as well! If you feel you are more advanced than 10 pounds then I say go for it. Just never compromise form! Get up and get moving! You got this! 🙂


 

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Next I wanted to share with you guys a quick and easy recipe for when you are in rush but want to prepare something healthy and delicious. I will pretty much eat anything you put in front of me, so it isn’t difficult for me to find and try new things. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try some new healthy foods that will really impact your body. And never forget – you can’t out work a bad diet.

On tonight’s menu we have Seasoned Salmon with Parmesan asparagus and a sweet potato. YUM!

For the salmon I simply took frozen Alaskan Sockeye Salmon and thawed it, placed it on some aluminum foil and seasoned it with Mrs. Dash’s no-salt-added seasoning. I cooked it for about 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes (these times and temperatures are just estimates, when I cook I usually just watch my food for when it is done!). For the asparagus I took fresh asparagus, washed it off and chopped off the brown part of the stem. Then, I wrapped them in tin foil and drizzled about 1 tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and made sure they were all evenly coated. I took a pinch of Parmesan cheese and sprinkled on top. Add some salt and pepper to taste and cook at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. For the sweet potato I just baked it on aluminum foil at 400 degrees for 1-2 hours (or put it in the microwave for 15 minutes)! And there you have it. A meal that takes a maximum of 30 minutes that’s full of nutrients, vitamins, essential fatty-acids and deliciousness!


 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know if you tried the workout, the recipe, or if you want to share your story and journey with me! We are in this together! We are told to carry each others’ burdens right? (Galatians 6:2) Love you guys!

xoxo,

marycatherine

 

MUSIC FESTIVALS.

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It’s music festival time! I was supposed to be going to Bonnaroo for the first time with my sister and brother-in-law this year, but sadly, we are going to pass up the opportunity (for a trip to California to see my boyfriend!). Not a bad trade I would say. I am sad, though, so I have been pumping the good music into my ears. I cannot lie to you guys – I am not exactly musically informed. I’m getting better though! 2 years ago I attended the Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama and to say it was fun is SUCH an understatement. I wasn’t very familiar with the bands, but I still had an amazing time! I saw GirlTalk and The Black Keys. Both amazing performances! This set off the spark in me though… A light bulb came on and I thought, “I want to learn music and expand beyond my limited knowledge of country music songs!” I was very excited about attending Bonnaroo this year. The whole experience – camping, not having openly available showers, finding food, GREAT music, festival outfits (I will still wear mine), and spending time with people I love and care about – it all had me excited! Anyways. this post isn’t about my disappointment of not going to a music festival. It is to let YOU guys know some of MY favorite songs. I will warn you, there is quite a variety of genres! I encourage all of you to listen to them and let me know which ones you like and dislike, or any suggestions! I am very open to listening to new things – I like pretty much all genres (Yes, even classical!).

Black Flies – Ben Howard
Flowers In Your Hair – The Lumineers
One Thing Remains – Passion
On The Hill – Pak X Emh
Youforia – Mac Miller
I’d Need A Savior – Among the Thirsty
White Blank Page – Mumford & Sons
More Than Life – Whitley
Sunset – Kid Ink


Also thought I’d go ahead and throw in some of my favorite Festival Wear outfit options. You may know, or you will learn, I LOVE flowers. I love wearing them in my hair, on my clothes, planting them, real ones, fake ones, all flowers. They show life and I think they are beautiful. All different and unique in their own ways! I also am a big fan of thrift store clothes. My favorite shirt of choice is a blue and green flannel from Goodwill (I actually have it on right now!). High waisted shorts, cardigans/sweaters, Vans, combat boots, my list of fashion favs is HUGE. Anyways, here are 3 outfit ideas I would wear to a music festival, shopping, to the beach, or just hanging out with my friends and family!

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Flower crowns = Love

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I thought this guy was cute too..”Girls at music festivals”:

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We must start somewhere.

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I love to write. Since I was a little girl, I have always enjoyed writing. Back then it was fictional stories written in school about magical places and unusual events. Now I love writing about my life. I love to reflect and I love to encourage. If I could have a dream job, it would be helping people in any way I can. I love people and I truly love life. I have quite a few passions; however, I haven’t always had passion in my life. Just recently I have realized what it means to love something so much and enjoy every minute of it. This has brought new meaning to my everyday life. I am creating my own thoughts and opinions. I am developing MY life the way I want to live it. I am learning to appreciate things the mindless teenage girl in me didn’t appreciate. So what are my passions? I can honestly say I am still finding them out. Currently I love working out and weightlifting, creating delicious meals, crafting antique things, beautiful music, messy fashion, learning, and reading classic novels. On this blog I am hoping to share my thoughts, recipes, workouts, book recommendations and critiques, crafts&DIYs, and so so much more. I will try to post every day that I can. I will leave you guys with this word – start living your life. Not for someone else, not for the world. But for yourself and for your God. Learn to appreciate the bad times, because weakness makes us stronger. Learn to look up from your electronic device and love the world He has created for us. Learn new music, step outside of your boundaries. Listen to classical music, rock music, alternative, indie, Christian contemporary, just listen. Embrace your beauty and embrace what you have been given. Because I promise you – it can be taken from you at any moment. And it just might be…so starting loving, start learning, and start living.

xoxo,

marycatherine