Musings: Redemption in an art museum

The other night,  I talked with an Italian art history student at an intercambio. He taught me a little something about modern art, about how it's something that you appreciate but  can't attach value to. All you can do is state what it is and what you understand it to be. 

I'd like to be the type of person who gets art. I'd love to know the symbolism and give explanations of the meaning behind each stroke.  Instead, I find myself at the Reina Sofia, struggling to understand modern art, as if it's something that a person can master. 

It's my perennial struggle, manifested in a museum. I want control in the form of understanding. 

So, I plan to be back at the Reina Sofia. I'll stand in front of q modern sculpture. I'll struggle to appreciate it as it is, the parts that I comprehend and the parts that leave me wanting.

Redemption in an art museum.

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Mirando: Maintaining Friendships While Abroad

I have always been good at goodbyes. Some of my closest friendships are the kind that pick up where we left off, no matter how long it's been since our last conversation. That's what I expected when I went abroad.

However, that pattern is changing, maybe because I've changed. I feel just as close, if not closer to my friends now. It has everything to do with pursuit.

One of my favorite parts of my relationship with my boyfriend is his pursuit of me. It's the surprise texts and flowers and "I'm thinking of you" songs that he sends. I'm noticing that these same ideas are expanding into my friendships, with wonderful results.

I thought I'd take today to share a bit of what's worked for me:

Postcards: Before I left, I sent postcards to many of my friends. It opened up the lines of communication and reminded them that I still care.

Facebook: Praise God for Facebook! This is my space to having running conversations with my friends. It's also my site of choice for sharing "remember when" songs and memes.

iMessage: I don't use it as much as I use Facebook. It's more of a backup that I use with people who aren't on Facebook.

Skype: This is key! I've never liked Skype much, so often it makes me miss the other person more. Now, the craving to relate to people who really know me gives me the incentive to have Skype dates once or twice a month. The feeling of being understood and known after I Skype is one of the most precious gifts.

Overall, being abroad has grown my friendships and grown me as a friend. I hope this is a precursor to a lifetime of pursuit.

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Musings: Hyperbole

Life in a foreign country lends itself to etymological analysis. In Spanish, you don't say me encanta mucho (I love it a lot) because the mere fact that you love it is enough. 

I find that I talk in hyberbole too often. Many times, my hyberbole is connected to social media. Who wants an Instagram caption that says, "Today was was a mediocre day"? 

Jesus says, "All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." Something refreshing about Jesus is his frankness. I adore the way he tells it exactly how it is. That way, when he really wants to make a point, it's clear.

All this to say that I'm going to take a cue from Jesus and paint things as they are, without trying to use my words to shade the truth. I'm going to learn to speak lyrically in the (almost) two languages that I speak so that hyperbole will hardly be necessary.

This is a little jumbled, but maybe it's more honest that way. Share your thoughts?

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Today, I celebrate three years with the boy who I thought would be an end of high school fling and ended up becoming my best friend. We're used to celebrating long distance, but an international anniversary is altogether something new.

My day looks like thankful prayers for the presence of love (from Him, friends, family, and Matt) in my life, a Spanish adventure in getting my phone back, a relaxing run, volunteering at a dinner for the homeless, and an anniversary Skype date with my valentine.

My sign off phrase has never felt so relevant.

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Musings: Control and Creative Process

Erika from Rouge & Whimsy is talking about End Quote Studio today. Go  give it a read when you're all done here!

Lately, I've been fascinated with the idea of the creative process, especially in conjunction with my faith. I tend to think of myself as a quasi-creative, a person who sees the world a bit differently, but is never fully comfortable with creating without guidelines.

For my birthday, my mom gifted me the book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle (She wrote A Wrinkle in Time, among other things). The reading has been slow going in a good way. Almost every page has huge chunks of underlining. Each time I put the book down, I'm both inspired and convicted.

You see, I originally liked calligraphy because it felt like controlled art, a way to create within guidelines of words and letters. Control. I'm always fighting God to be in control of my life. But for the creative, or the person who lives creatively, we're called to lose control in order to live out our roles as co-creators with God. We're co-creators! As Madeleine L'Engle said, "If we are to be aware of life while we are living it, we must have the courage to relinquish our hard earned control of ourselves."

Funny that a little book about faith and art would open me up to living adventurously, would make me feel free enough to explore my art and to explore my thought processes.

I'll leave you with this, "If we allow our 'high creativity' to remain alive, we will never be bored. We can pray, standing in line at the supermarket. Or we can be lost in awe at all the people around us, their lives full of glory and tragedy, and suddenly we have the beginnings of a painting, a story, a song."

May we live in high creativity with our Creator today.

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The Flairist: How to be a Revolutionary (+ a giveaway)

It's been a while but I'm back to writing regularly for The Flairist! This month's theme is all about being a revolutionary. Be sure to check out my article here
Some graffiti  from my walk in La Latina last night. Looks kind of revolutionary, no?
And just because you stopped by, I'll let you in on a little secret... my friend Sarah at A Girl Smitten is featuring Q+A with me on her blog today AND hosting a giveaway. I could not be more excited about it. Go check it out...!

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Mirando: My month-iversary in Madrid

I'm a sucker for a good paradox, and that's what the beginning of this new month feels like. Madrid feels so comfortable and so new at the same time. Here are a few of the changes that have happened since January.

1. I'm okay being by myself.  This morning I went to a local thrift shop to pick up some new jeans. Yesterday I went shopping on my own. My focus is getting to know this new city, with or without other people.

2. I'm settling in. After I write this post, I'm headed to the dance center down the street to try and sign up for dance classes. There's a church I like to attend. I have volunteer opportunities that will start soon. It's feeling like home.

3. I'm not just about the big experiences. We did the vast majority of the touristy sightseeing this past month. Now, I'm happy to wander and do the everyday madrileño things. My goal is to discover different neighborhoods and feel their different vibes.

4. I don't mind staying in. It's really tempting to feel like I need to always be moving around and exploring. I'm abroad, after all. But honestly, I'm also here because I needed a break from college stress, so I want rest to be a part of my experience.

5. My Spanish is... worse. And better. I'm getting tired of speaking in Spanish already, but it's good for me.

So there you have it :)

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Mirando: Staying in Shape while Abroad

I take any change as a chance to create new goals. When I arrived to Madrid, it seemed like a great opportunity to get healthier. I live with a homestay, which means I have very little control over what I eat. Getting in shape will be largely dependent on exercising. Here are a few tips I'm using this semester. Comment with tips of your own!

1. Sign up for something
I'm running  attempting to run a 10k in April. Having a specific event to train for is giving me an extra boost of motivation.

2. Make working out fun
I was a dancer for a good part of my life. There's still something in me that tells me that you don't stop dancing in the middle of a routine. It's fun and it's helping me with my endurance.

3. Youtube is your friend
Find some videos that you like and bookmark them. I'm planning on downloading a few for when I'm traveling and don't have access to Wi-Fi

4. Take the stairs
Chances are, you'll be taking the metro a lot. Instead of riding the escalator, walk it. With the number of stairs in the metro, you'll be getting work in without realizing it.

5. Find a portable exercise
I took up running because it's easy and free. It's just as easy to buy a yoga mat or to do CrossFit in the house. If you pick an exercise that you can do everywhere, with little need for equipment, you'll be less likely to make excuses.

This is the plan I'm using. It's really doable and leaves me feeling challenged and accomplished after every workout.

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Inspired By: The Create Beauty Print

1 2 3 4

I hope you've had a chance to check out the Create Beauty printable in my shop. Part of the reason I started End Quote Studio was that I wanted to add something beautiful to people's homes. In my mind, I picture the Create Beauty print hanging in a creative's office or in an art studio. Here are a few set ups that I find especially inspiring. How would you decorate with the Create Beauty print? The good news is that you have an opportunity win a print here and here. But just in case, I'd head over to End Quote Studio now and pick up a printable of my own. 

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Mirando: Valencia

Before I get started:  In honor of the End Quote Studio launch, I'm hosting two giveaways this week! Enter here and here.

I spent the weekend in Valencia and it quickly became one of my favorite Spanish cities. Close to the beach, it's got a bit of California vibe. The food and the people are really what tipped the scale. On Saturday night, we went to a little Italian restaurant. The pasta was fresh and our Italian waiter was full of life. For lunch on Sunday, I gorged myself on the best paella I've ever tasted. I wanted to get pictures of the paella in the kitchen and the cooks invited me in, telling me where to stand so I could get the best shots.

I walked up 207 steps for this shot.

Orange trees at the old fashioned version of the stock market

Everything fresh at Valencia's market!

Between the architecture and the dolphin show, I'd say this complex is pretty sweet.


Tried a traditional Valencian drink and loved it. Think really sweet nut milk.

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