Every once in a while, something happens that gives me pause and makes me take note of the ways I am aging. I attempt to open a bottle of apple juice and find myself struggling to budge the screw cap that used to loosen without effort. I bend down to put away dishes and a shooting pain in my knee makes me straighten up, except that it’s not as easy as it used to be. Whenever one of these age jolts occurs, I think of my grandmother, who lived independently until she was closing in on 101. I wonder what it was like for her to notice the subtle changes in her abilities and strength as the years passed, and I wonder if I’ll be able to manage those same kinds of changes with anything close to the grace and chutzpah that marked her century of life. Read more
What does a balanced life look like to you? When I hear the word “balance,” I feel the word “peace.” In my mind’s eye, the two are inextricably linked. And on some deep interior level, I know that if I can just find a way to bring some balance into my life, peace is sure to follow. But balance is hard to come by in our all-or-nothing world, and so we have to strive to be counter cultural, to look for ways to even out the highs and lows we typically traverse, to learn to be present wherever we are, even when where we are isn’t so hot, and to find beauty there. Read more
Today’s interview with Todd Sylvester of the Live Hour on Archangel Radio out of Alabama was one of those unexpected and happy surprises, a really great conversation that not only gave me a chance to talk about Cravings (and some of my other books) but also sparked some serious introspection and reflection. We talked about my faith journey, my work as a Catholic journalist and author, about the catechism, and, of course, food. It was a really fun 40 minutes and it went by so fast. I loved the fact that Todd not only read Cravings but focused on parts of my own book that I’d forgotten about, at least hadn’t thought about in a very long time. Spirit at work.
If you have some time and want to listen, click HERE and push play.
By the time we end our Cravings journey in a few weeks, Lent will be a few days away. Hard to believe, isn’t it? And yet, it seems so perfectly timed for this tribe. We can take what we’ve been talking about here and kick it up a notch, if we so choose. But we can also allow some Lenten wisdom to inform the journey right now, especially as we delve into Chapter 5: Feast or Famine. Read more
I saw on Facebook two days ago that it was the tenth anniversary of the death of one very special parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Delmar, N.Y.. I wrote a column about Adele after her death. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to recapture the 2007 Word file. Here it is again, ten years later. (The photo to the left is one I snapped of Adele at the Peace Pole at St. Thomas after a parish school event on Oct. 2, 2004.)
Everyone at our parish knew Adele. Maybe they didn’t know her up close and personal, but they knew of her. She was a visible and ever-present fixture at St. Thomas. Her wheelchair with the “Got Jesus?” bumper sticker on the back was parked in front of the first row of pews at every Mass every weekend. When she wasn’t in church, she was praying in front of the Mary statue outside our school or in front of the tabernacle in our chapel or at any number of vigils around the peace pole. Read more
My reflection from Give Us This Day:
St. Paul’s story of conversion always sparks a little jealousy in me. Probably not the appropriate reaction, but let’s be honest: wouldn’t we all like a blinding light and God’s voice from heaven setting us on the right path once and for all? I know I would. There would be no more wondering, no more doubts, no more confusion about whether I’m doing God’s will or my own. Few of us get that kind of wake-up call, and those of us who do often miss it because we’re busy looking for one that is more interesting or less difficult. Read more
It was nine years ago today that I launched this blog. Although it looked very different when it started out and I posted much more frequently, the overall style and substance of Not Strictly Spiritual have remained the same. I have shared my struggles, my stories, my opinions, and quite a few recipes, covering everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Thank you to all of you who have visited this site over the years, especially those of you who come back time and again. Even if we have never met in person, you are special to me, and I am grateful. Read more
I’m late, I’m late for a very important date! I’m so sorry this week’s Monday post has been delayed. I had to move offices at my workplace, and it threw off my entire day. Forgive me for lagging behind.
This week we’re tackling chapter 4, Freedom by the Forkful, and taking a closer look at willpower, sane eating, and the ways our need for love and peace in our lives can keep us tied to high-fat comfort foods that make us feel good for the moment but drag us down over the long haul. I can see that at play in my own life these days. Back when I wrote this chapter of Cravings years ago, I was working out of my house and able to make time and space for my daily meditative morning ritual of “mindful oatmeal.” In addition, I’d often take time out of my day to chop up some veggies and make a green drink or start a pot of soup or do some other prep so I could have a healthy, home-cooked meal ready by dinner time. Although life was still hectic, our diet seemed to have a good measure of sanity. When I began working outside the house 18 months ago, however, all of that changed. Aside from cutting out my mindful oatmeal routine, I have become much more reliant on pre-made foods, easy meals, and take out, none of which leave me feeling very healthy and happy after the eating is over. The reality is that eating healthy can take a lot of time and energy. It’s easier to eat fattening comfort foods. And so our challenge now is deciding if we’re worth the time it takes to do the shopping and chopping, prepping and planning required to create balanced meals in a peaceful atmosphere. No more eating on the go, munching in the car, standing at the counter with one hand in a bag of chips as you scroll through emails. (Guilty here!) Read more
When I saw today’s entry in my book of reflections, I knew I had to share it here. Wanting more, wanting to move forward, wanting to change, not accepting the status quo…It’s all good. See for yourself. This page is taken from Peace in Our Hearts, Peace in the World: Meditations of Hope and Healing by Ruth Fishel.
Week three. Time is flying! How are things on your end? Here’s my weekly update:
It was a SUPER stressful week, especially the weekend. To be completely honest with you, I’m in a terrible place right now, mentally and spiritually. Things have not gone as planned. Famous last words. So why does that still catch me by surprise and throw me off course? That’s the million-dollar question for me. And I’ll tell you right now, when things don’t go well and when things get stressful, I turn up the heat on myself. I pull out my worst “tape,” push my internal “play” button and let it rip. It’s not pretty or healthy, and it certainly doesn’t take me where I want or need to go, but it’s comfortable and familiar, the road most travelled, and so I take it. Even when I know I’ll regret it later, even when I know it’s likely to lead me to other unhealthy decisions — like eating the wrong food or staying up too late or skipping prayer time. This is why I’m head cheerleader for the tribe, because I have endless experience with this struggle. I’ll tell you this, however: Although I often feel history repeating itself in my life, the time I’ve spent working on my habits, journaling, and becoming more mindful have made me more aware. Even when I’m not following the Cravings “rules,” I’m well aware of where things have gone off track and how I might pull it back. The trick is getting from awareness to action. Read more