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Resolve to Evolve in 2018

We were debating the merits of the latest Taylor Swift album with our teenage daughter one Saturday morning recently, when the conversation morphed into a larger discussion on the way people in general and artists in particular evolve over time. How many singers or painters or authors have been criticized when they’ve taken a new path, one unfamiliar to their most loyal fans? They are often seen as traitors for nothing more than testing out new waters or pushing the boundaries of business as usual. We don’t like change. And yet who among us stays the same year after year? Even if we try our best to hold tight and maintain the status quo, life has a way of demanding growth or evolution. And that’s a good thing. Read more

You say you want a revolution…

Happy New Year! If you’ve frequented this blog before, you know that we do not do resolutions here at Not Strictly Spiritual. Why? Because they don’t work. Why stick with a losing proposition? Think big. Think evolution. Think revolution.

We are not starting out this new year looking to drop pounds and dress sizes or simply start a new exercise routine. We are looking to go much deeper than that, to a place where we can dig into the fertile soil of our soul, a place where there are ideas and experiences and adventures trying to poke through the surface and blossom into the life we deserve, the life we’ve been dreaming of. Stop counting calories and counting steps and counting sheep and start breathing deep, sitting still, looking inward, reaching outward, living life with attention and INtention. Read more

First World problems and simple pleasures

About one week ago, our dishwasher died. Well, it didn’t die completely; it just shut down mid-cycle no matter how many times we tried to make it work. And, boy, did we try. We spent a ridiculous amount of time running the normal cycle, hearing the telltale ding of an error and then re-running cycles — sometimes four or five in a row — in an effort to get the dishes clean, if not dry. Finally, we surrendered, accepting the fact that for the foreseeable future we had no dishwasher, thanks to a dearth of appointments with our warranty company. And so, this weekend, Dennis headed to the store to buy a drain rack so we could start doing dishes the old-fashioned way. Read more

My Merton Fourth-and-Walnut Moment

Tonight I had my Thomas Merton Fourth & Walnut moment. I watched this crowd dancing in the plaza on Atwells in Providence while we ate dinner, and all I could feel was love for all of them, and joy. This is the best of who are. All together. No differences. Strangers dancing as partners in the middle of an open square. #hope

Finding the blessing in a toilet in need of scrubbing

Most weekends I don’t look forward to the long list of things that need to get done. After a busy week at work and nights spent driving to and from appointments and classes and more, I want to do nothing. Plain and simple. And so I procrastinate and grumble and eventually do my chores begrudgingly, always thinking that as soon as I’m done — if only that magic moment would get here sooner – or ever! — I will finally have a few minutes to really enjoy my weekend.  Read more

Talking everyday prayer, grief, friendship and more

I had a great time on today’s episode of A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras of Reconciled to You. We covered a lot of bases, including three of my seven books: Everyday Divine, Parenting a Grieving Child, and Walking Together. It was a smorgasbord of my writing with a lot of fun and serious conversation mixed in. Thank you, Allison, for being such a wonderful supporter of Catholic writers and of this Catholic writer in particular.

If you missed the show, you can catch up here. And if you go to Allison’s website, you can catch an entire week of shows devoted to my books — Everyday Divine on Tuesday, Parenting a Grieving Child on Wednesday, and Walking Together on Thursday. Here’s the show:

 

Summer vacation for the soul

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31

Today’s Gospel reading reminded me of my fabulous five-day retreat and the Life Lines column I wrote about making sure you take time apart to recharge your spiritual life this summer. I’ll be back in the days ahead with some reflections — and photos — from my stay at St. Mary’s on the Lake in gorgeous Lake George, N.Y. So here’s my column, which is running in the current issue of Catholic New York. Let me know in the comment section what you’ll be doing this summer to recharge. (That photo to the left was taken from my favorite prayer/journaling spot on a cliff overlooking Lake George.) Read more

Finding time for prayer when you have no time at all

Despite our best intentions, finding a block of time to get down to the practice of prayer can be difficult — that is if we think of prayer only as a formal task that requires us to be on our knees, preferably in a church, reciting specific words. But prayer is a conversation with God, no matter what words we use or if we use any words at all.

Listen in at the link below for a conversation — and some tips — about prayer based on my book Everyday Divine, from my April 8 appearance on the Morning Air Show on Relevant Radio. I’m the first one up, so you don’t need to fast forward to find me. Just hit play.

Mindfulness: It’s not just for Buddhists

I was featured in a story on mindfulness that’s running in the Catholic Courier of Rochester this week, so I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about this favorite spiritual topic of mine. I said a lot more than was quoted in the piece (not unusual given newspaper word counts), which also featured a Trappist monk from the Abbey of the Genesee, one of my favorite retreat places. If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you know that my journey into mindfulness (and sometimes back out of mindfulness when I’m getting sloppy or lazy) started with my “mindful oatmeal” practice from years ago and blossomed into two books related to the practice of mindfulness in daily prayer and daily life. With each step forward on this path, I become more convinced that this is the way to inner peace and a deeper relationship with God. And when I stray from that path everything becomes slightly out of balance and more frenetic.  Read more

It’s about the journey, not the destination

My latest Life Lines column, running in the current issue of Catholic New York:

I’m a wannabe hiker. And a wannabe camper and kayaker, for that matter. Although I’ve done a little of all of those things, I’m no expert.

A writing colleague who knew I was clamoring for a hike messaged me one night and asked if I wanted to join her for a beginner trip to Huckleberry Point in the Catskills. With a little appointment juggling and a lot of assistance from my husband, Dennis, I said yes, packed a lunch, and dusted off my hiking boots. Read more