Skip to content

Finding long-lost memories in a dresser drawer

My March “Life Lines” column running in the current issue of Catholic New York:

I decided to clean out some dresser drawers last weekend, and mixed in with the shirts I no longer wear and the silks scarves I forgot I had were little pieces of my past. Noah’s handprint in clay from when he was just a year old. A puffy foam heart necklace made by Chiara for a Mother’s Day gone by. Olivia’s old letters to Santa and one to the Tooth Fairy demanding to know what she does with all those teeth anyway. Read more

Getting past the Church’s gatekeepers. Who’s minding the store?

My June Life Lines column. It must have struck a chord because I am receiving tons of private emails from total strangers who all have experienced this in one way or another. A rare time when I wish people couldn’t relate to my column. Here you go:

Almost 25 years ago, a woman in my family—lifelong Catholic, former folk group singer, fixture at her home parish—walked into a new church in her new town with her boyfriend. They wanted to get married and, although he wasn’t Catholic, her boyfriend had been married before. So they were interested in seeking information about annulment. Simple enough, right? At least at that early stage. Read more

Learning to be a spiritual storm chaser

My May Life Lines column, currently running in the latest issue of Catholic New York, just in time for Pentecost:

I reluctantly went for a walk today, not because I wanted exercise but because I needed to get outside of my own head, and walking has a way of taking me to that particular interior destination. As I wandered through the neighborhood, the wind was whipping up, bending branches of the mighty oaks and pines and maples towering overhead, and for the briefest moment I felt as though the Spirit was blowing right through me. Read more

The perfect time to take a spiritual inventory

My most recent Life Lines column, running in Catholic New York and The Catholic Spirit this month: 

I don’t know about you, but I tend to approach my prayer life – my spiritual habits or “skills” – from an unrealistic place. While I easily recognize the need to practice or work out in order to keep up my basic guitar skills or my jogging endurance, I expect to settle down to prayer and reap immediate rewards with little or no effort. Or I allow myself to fall into a prayer rut that ends up leaving me on autopilot, until the words I say have about as much meaning and feeling behind them as reading a recipe out loud. Read more

Guided by Grace: My debut as TV co-host

If you have power tonight, you can catch my cable TV debut on “Guided by Grace,” a new 30-minute show from Telecare featuring yours truly as one of four co-hosts.

Tonight’s show, which focuses on role models, will air at 8:30 p.m EST on Cablevision Channel 29 (Nassau/Suffolk) and Channel 137 (other areas) or on FiOS Channel 296. If you are outside the New York-New Jersey region, you can watch the show via livestreaming on telecaretv.org.

Each week the show will air at multiple times: Mondays at 8:30 p.m.; Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.; Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.; and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Read more

Pitching a tent on sacred ground

I’m not much of a camper. I chalk it up to traumatic Girl Scout experiences as a kid — think rain, mud, latrine duty, French toast cooked over a coffee can. But as I write this column, I am simultaneously washing my winter sleeping bag in anticipation of a weekend camping retreat at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, N.Y., with Noah’s Boy Scout troop. And I’m actually looking forward to it. Read more

Here’s something to talk about over dinner

Just realized I never posted my September Life Lines column. Here you go…

We were sitting at the dinner table the other night, passing bowls of pasta and salad back and forth, when the kids asked if we could pull a card from “The Meal Box” (Loyola Press), a deck of 52 cards with questions designed to prompt interesting dinner conversation among family members. I had originally used it as part of a product review I was writing, but it ended up being a hit with the kids, so it stuck. And it sure beats fighting over who didn’t empty the cat litter and who didn’t put away toys in between bites of food. Read more

Embracing the daring adventure called life

My oldest godchild is about to embark on a life-changing journey, moving away from the town he has known his whole life to a new place with none of the safety nets home often provides. I remember when I did the same almost 25 years ago, leaving my reporting job at Catholic New York to drive my Chevy Chevette to Austin, Texas. In August. Without air conditioning.

That last fact alone should have been reason enough to call my sanity into question, and yet that move, along with the many life events that came after—both good and not so good— helped shape me into who I am today. Without those Texas years, I’d be different. Maybe not better or worse, but definitely different, a little less whole, a little less who I was meant to be. Read more

You can get there from here

My July Life Lines column, now running in Catholic New York:

I’m not really a fan of the popular GPS navigation systems designed to get you from Point A to Point B with no advance planning. I just don’t trust the technology. Give me “Mapquest,” with its printable directions, or, even better, a good old-fashioned road map. Remember those?

Dennis bought a portable GPS for our van a few months back. The first time I had to travel out of state, he loaded it up with my destination coordinates and told me I had nothing to worry about. Since I always have something to worry about, I went on the computer and printed out directions, studying them before I left home so I would know if our GPS, whom we affectionately refer to as Katniss in honor of the Hunger Games heroine, decided to lead me astray. Every time Katniss would bark out a command, I’d run through my mental directions to ensure we agreed on the route. I was prepared, at a moment’s notice, to go my own way. Read more

Empty is the new full

I can always tell when 6-year-old Chiara has had enough, or too much. She hangs onto my waist, cries at the drop of a hat, and, in the ultimate role-reversal, tells me she thinks she needs to go to bed rather than watch a TV show. You don’t have to be a parenting genius to figure out that her day was just too full.

Chiara needs her down time, even just an hour or so after school when there’s nothing to do but draw on the driveway with chalk, or swing toward the heavens in the backyard, or serve out some plastic ice cream in the play kitchen. She loves her dance classes and her Daisy troop and her karate, but when she gets a week where every afternoon is occupied, and maybe even a few evenings, the edges of her typically sweet demeanor start to fray. So why is it so surprising when the same thing happens to us as adults? Read more