Thursday, May 7, 2015

A perception of beauty

Hello blogging world!

It's been a while, yet there is so much that has been on my heart.

One thing in particular that has been eating at me for some time is how I perceive myself when looking at a mirror. I've noticed that different mirrors make me look different ways. There are some mirrors that seem to point out my every flaw, don't reflect light very well (or too well); or maybe it is the lighting in the room the causes the difference or the angle of the mirror. Some mirrors I think make me look better than others, highlighting the colors in my hair, the shape of my face, the slimness of my figure. 

And I am always left wondering: what do I actually look like?

What do other people see when they look at me? 

Do they see me as the reflection of the bad mirror or the good mirror?

I decided to dig a little deeper. 

According to Merriam and Webster, reflection has multiple meanings: 

: an image that is seen in a mirror or on a shiny surface
: something that shows the effect, existence, or character of something else

Something that shows the existence or character of something else. 

When I look in the mirror, I see my reflection as stated in the first definition. But what I really should be seeing, and what I want people to see when they look at me, is my existence and my character. True beauty is more than what is visible. 

We all posses beauty in the fact that we exist. 

When people look at me, I want them to see a good reflection of my character. My strength, my compassion, my love for humanity, my awe and wonder at the beautiful creation we live in. I don't want them to see the bad reflection: my short temper, my anxiety, my gravitation toward cynicism. Yet these are all components of my existence. 

My challenge is this: to look in the mirror and not simply see an image, but to look further at the reflection of my character that day. How can I make the good outshine the bad? How could I have loved better? Was I grateful today? Did I experience real emotions or did I stifle them out of fear? Have I lived life to the fullest...

I think that is where true beauty is found. Only then will I see a reflection that I am proud to have other people see as well. I pray to live my life as a reflection of the One who gave me life, to love with His heart, and to experience the fullness of life with His breathe in my lungs. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday quick takes!

It is Friday! I am taking a half day today to go meet one of my favorite Pittsburgh Pirates (for the second time) and get his autograph. Yay :) I'm super excited! Here is a picture of when I met him last year, on my birthday:
Jordy Mercer
I'm still trying to figure out if I want to get that picture signed, or if I want to get this baseball that I caught at one of the games signed. Decisions. It would be awesome if I could accumulate signatures on the baseball though... or maybe I'll see if he will sign both :) If you haven't checked out the Imagine Sisters movement, DO IT. Now! They are awesome. There is not very much within the Church currently to promote religious life for women, and this non profit took it upon themselves to change that. Even if you are married, single but no discerning, please help support them and support a positive culture of discernment for young women! If everyone even just gave a dollar, it would be a huge help to them. :) (and no, I'm not getting paid to say this... they are just seriously that awesome) 
Some cute, happy nuns! 
Hellooo labor day weekend! So thankful for having a day off next week. Savoring the last bits of summer, but so excited for my favorite season to be upon us! I've recently been diving into Twitter more often. If you want to give me a follow, I'm @maggiemercy3. I'm also finding so many hilarious Twitter accounts to feed my inner, pun-loving nerd. If you have any favorites, let me know! Does anyone else think it is a little crazy that the Pumpkin Spice latte is already out at Starbucks? It just seems like everything gets earlier each year. I'm afraid that someday, we will have one big season and holidays will go all year around and nothing will be fun and exciting anymore! Agh, life. This is the first post I have written in quite some time! I've been having major writers block. Hoping to get back into more. I've been taking a break from Facebook because I was convinced it was sucking away my creativity. I think I feel it coming back to me ;) Have a good weekend all!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Don't settle in your friendships

Recently, I was talking to someone about alcohol consumption. Let's call this person Fred. After hearing many of Fred's "drunken stories", he asked if I had any funny stories. Clearly Fred and I do not really know each other, or he wouldn't be asking this, because I simply responded that I do not like getting drunk. He pressed further, and so I told him, my moral reasoning aside, that I don't like feeling out of control, acting like a fool, and probably feeling sick from it later. It just isn't fun to me, and I am perfectly capable of having a good time without it. Don't get me wrong, I am not against alcohol, but just in moderation.

Fred then responded that he either won't drink or he will get drunk. He never does the in-between. This made no sense to me. I asked him if he even liked getting drunk, to which he responded, surprisingly, that he does not. So why do you do it then? "Just because my friends are and I don't want them to feel bad if I am not." 

I have been thinking about that conversation since then and for some reason have been pondering his response. It just seems so relativistic. How often do we just go along with things because we don't want people to "feel bad", even if doing it goes against what we like or even what we believe? Why do we do this? If one of your answers is that you are afraid of losing your friends, well honey, I think it is time to find some real friends who will unconditionally love and accept you.

It is sad to me that we as people are so desperate for love and acceptance, that we will do anything just to remain part of something, to have a sense of 'belonging'. Unfortunately, our world is broken and there will be times where we experience rejection and heartache. But don't sell yourself short, don't change who you are just to have a temporary relief from your loneliness or your boredom. And I need to remind myself of this as much as anyone else. Don't settle for mediocre friendships that don't cause you to grow and flourish. Maybe you don't know where to start though, or where you could possibly find such community. Start with looking inside yourself, discovering your likes and dislikes, what are you passionate about, what are your goals, and then finding people with similar interests. Maybe even be so bold as to invite God to show you who you are, to lead you to deeper friendships, to help you find what you are looking for.

I know I could be reading too much into a simple conversation, but hey, that is what a psychology major tends to do. Just don't give up. Trust me, it is not worth it.

"What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" - Matthew 16:26

Friday, May 23, 2014

Quick takes!

Wow, it has been FOREVER since I have posted something on here! I have been keeping up with the blogs I follow, but just haven't had the time, nor maybe the motivation to post. Things have been extra crazy of late!

For starters, I just moved into an apartment! Well technically it is the top floor of a house, but it's so great. It is in Pittsburgh's "little Italy", which is perfect for me since I love all things Italian. I'm still in the process of moving everything in though which is taking forever since I am working full time, and weekends have been swamped. However, I am 5 minutes from work which has been absolutely glorious.

 My 3 friends from high school and I took a trip to Nashville a couple weeks ago for a long weekend away. I am now a country convert ;)
The girl in the cowboy hat is getting married! 

My parish carnival has been all this week! Bring on the donuts, carnival rides, and good times! I have been spending my evenings volunteering in the french fry/lemonade booth, the fish bowl game, and icing donuts. It is always crazy, but I wouldn't miss it for the world!
calm before the chaos 

I just signed on as an independent consultant for Arbonne International! If you don't know, Arbonne is an awesome health and wellness company, with products made from all natural, organic, vegan ingredients. Products ranging from cosmetics to hair care to nutritional and diet supplements. It is seriously good stuff and I am so excited to be on the team and share this greatness with others! And I get to be spoiled by a lot of their products as well ;) Just tried one of their shampoos last night and it is magical, seriously.

Well it is memorial day weekend! Just wanted to give a shout-out of gratitude to all those who have served/are serving our country. You are all amazing! And thank you as well to any families who have loved ones overseas. Your sacrifice is just as great. God bless you all!

The weather has been SO GOOD lately. Can't wait to have a nice long weekend and enjoy some sunshine! Happy Friday everyone! And happy 14th birthday tomorrow to my sister, Frannie!

There she is in the middle to the right of my head haha. Making lemonade at the carnival! 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NAS: Deal Breakers

We have all thought about our list of qualities for our future spouse (and maybe even religious community), but sometimes those can be pretty limiting on who God has planned for you. Instead, maybe think about the few things that are so important to you, that if a guy you were considering dating (or community you were entering) didn't have those things, you would have to move on. Why are those things important to you? 

I don't know that I have specific things that are deal breakers. I used to have this list of qualities that I would want in a relationship, but I have since done away with that. Not because I am going to settle, but because I decided not to have restrictions on God's providence. I know that I would not be as Catholic as I am now if I hadn't gone to school at Franciscan University, and I recognize that not everyone has been blessed with that same opportunity. I've also come to realize more and more that they are good men out there, that maybe are only Catholic in name or are some other Christian denomination. And that is ok! I am open to being used by God to bring someone closer to His Church, even if that means dating someone who is not Catholic. I would probably draw the line at being an Atheist, but hey, if he is a good, loving person and open to learning about my faith and letting me be who I am, then I would be probably alright with that. Would I be on my knees every day praying for his conversion? Of course. But if God calls me to that kind of relationship, I am up for the challenge. I don't really think He is calling me to that, but I am ready and willing if He is. It is important though to always check myself and find the balance between settling and being too picky. And of course discern each situation as it comes. I am confident that I am strong enough in my love for the Lord and in my faith that He wouldn't lead me to a bad relationship that I get sucked down by. And even when I may feel weak or tempted to be led astray, He is strong and so merciful.

By what I said above, it may surprise you to know that I am actually very picky when it comes to men. But I am picky in a very petty, surface level way that I am trying to work on. There is nothing specific, but usually I can tell right away if I will be able to like someone or not. I always seem to find a list of things that annoy me, but maybe that is just my way of weeding out the people that aren't right for my personality. I guess I'll know I found the one when I don't start making those lists in my head! Or at least the pros will outweigh the cons ;)

Hope everyone has a great week! Can't wait to read what the rest of you have to say over at Jen's!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Real women are strong women

I saw something once that really frustrated me (for more reason than one). It said something to the effect of "Girls who are naturally skinny are lucky. Girls who have to fight to be skinny are strong"

First of all, I hate that women feel like the have to be a certain way. That in itself is complete crap. But on top of that, this statement frustrated me because I am probably one of those girls that, looking at me, you would think I am a lucky one. I have always been on the thinner side, even in those times I thought I was as big as a house. But in reality, I don't feel "lucky".

Sure, it is nice to have people complement your figure, tell you how beautiful you are, but after a while, you feel like that is all you have become. A body.  A pretty face.

I don't feel lucky to be constantly so concerned with my body and what size my clothes are. I don't feel lucky to have once struggled so much with eating that I tried losing more weight than I could afford. And now, because of that, this is just the state of my body. I will always be small. Does this mean I am not a strong person because I am "lucky" to be thin? The grass is not always greener.

And then there is the argument about "real women". We need real women models, not these skinny models that do not portray reality. No one is that size. While I understand the sentiment in statements such as this, and it is important to display women of more shapes and sizes than just thin, what does that say to those models? To women that maybe are that size? Are they less of a woman because they have bought into the lies of the culture, because they believed too much that they needed to be thin to be beautiful? Are they not real, too?

If you are a woman who is confident in your body, confident with your size, then truly, I applaud you. It does indeed take great strength to rise above the lies that society tells us as women, and to embrace the body that you are blessed with. And sure, we all have good days and bad days, but you are defeating the body image battle, and it is a beautiful thing. Activists who are out there promoting awareness on this fault of our culture constantly praise celebrities who speak out about loving their "fuller figures", calling them real women, strong women, beautiful women.

And where does that leave those of us who maybe don't love our bodies as much, who maybe relate more to those celebrities who are "too thin"? Feeling weak, 'unreal', and defeated by the body image battle.

Praise God that He has brought me through so much healing that I no longer struggle as much. But let's not forget our sisters (and brothers) who do struggle, who have a hard time seeing that their beauty and worth lies so much beyond a number on a scale. Yes, there is strength in confidence, but there is also strength in the struggle. Strength in the pain, the sorrow, the disgust. Maybe looking at someone and thinking they have it easy because they are thin is not actually true. We are fighting too.

In truth, at the end of the day, we are all fighting. No matter our size, no matter our shape, we are all trying to be beautiful in our own way and learning to love our selves. Some of us are better at it than others, and that is ok. I know people mean well, but maybe instead of just calling some women beautiful and strong and real, remind every person that they are indeed those things and so much more. Even if you may think they simply have more luck.

**Edit: I am aware that many women have been "Photoshopped" in photographs, so that is where the concept of 'real women' may come from, however I think the above is still something that needs to be discussed. Just adding a different perspective to the discussion :) 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NAS: Bucket list

What are those things that you want to do before you get married (or enter the religious life)? Is there anything that you're excited to do, accomplish, etc. before engagement, marriage, and babies come along? Even if you feel that you've done everything you wanted to do pre-marriage, dig deeper and see if there isn't anything else you'd like to do!

I wouldn't say that I have a "singe life" bucket list... most of the things I want to do in my life are things I could do at any point. I guess there are a few things though that might be more difficult once children would come along. So here is my "single or married but before children" bucket list ;) 

1) Finish writing a book
2) Ride in a hot air balloon
3) Do more mission work! This is a big one. Whether it be short or long term, and I am totally open to doing mission work with a family. Whatever the Lord calls me to! This has been on my heart a lot lately.
4) Run a half marathon (Pittsburgh 2015!)
5) Travel, travel, travel. There is so much of the world that I want to see! I have friends in almost any state, so why not pay some visits? 

Anyways, that is about all I've got. I'm not much of a list maker. My philosophy on life is that I go wherever the wind (or Spirit) leads! Embracing my inner hipper ;)

Looking forward to reading what everyone else has to say and maybe gaining some inspiration!