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
If you’re within driving distance of New York’s Capital Region and/or the lower Adirondacks, you are within retreat range! There are still a few more spots open for my weekend retreat, Stillpoint: Creating Calm amid Life’s Chaos, which will be held at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, N.Y., Sept. 8-10, 2017. This all-inclusive spiritual getaway is designed to help you nourish yourself — body, mind, and spirit. You can do as much or as little as you want. I’ll provide the program; Pyramid will provide the spectacular setting. (The photo on the left was taken during the same September weekend two years ago, so, if we’re in luck, you’ll see the same riot of colors along the shoreline.) Read more
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
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
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:
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.
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
My latest Life Lines column running in the current issue of Catholic New York:
Every year, when summer rolls around, I vow to work less and play more, or at least give my kids the lion’s share of my attention. And every year, usually by early August, I wonder what went wrong. Dreams of hikes and fire pits and beaches have been replaced by the realities of doctor appointments and work deadlines and camp forms. At least two out of three kids are being neglected on any given day. Read more
Last night a friend invited me to join her at the nearby Dominican Retreat and Conference Center in Niskayuna for vespers sung in the spirit of Taize, a prayer style that uses repetitive, meditative singing. Although I was familiar with Taize, an ecumenical order that came out of France, I don’t think I had ever really experienced true Taize-style prayer. As with anything new, when we arrived at the chapel with its beautiful mural (pictured here) by Tomie de Paola, I wondered what it would be like. Would I know what to do? What if I didn’t know the songs? Would I just have to sit there and listen rather than participate, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a different thing. Read more