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Life in My 50s: wisdom’s slow burn

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

Recalculating: the story of my spiritual life

I think there are two kinds of people: those who trust their GPS implicitly and those who don’t. I fall into the latter group, always second guessing the instructions and striking out on my own as Katniss—yes, our GPS is named after the heroine in the “Hunger Games” series—patiently but insistently gives commands: turn left, take the second exit, stay right. More often than not, I respond with comments of my own: Are you crazy? Do you know how many lights are on that road? Never on a Saturday! And so Katniss is forever “recalculating.” Read more

Life in my 50s: don’t tell me what to wear

This morning I posted the link below partly to make a point and partly because it was funny. A comment left on my post in all caps, telling me never to wear a backless dress, perhaps meant as a joke, perhaps not, has inspired me to share not only the photo of the backless dress I wore a few months ago at age 53 over there on the left (I’m 54 now, way past the 30-year cut-off referenced in the story below), but I’m also posting the duct tape backless bra I created to make wearing the backless dress possible. Because I’m just that crafty and creative. Read more

Humility, humiliation, and quiet surrender

Humility has never been my strong suit, which seems somewhat odd to me because I’m not a bragger or a diva. In fact, I trend toward the low end of the self-esteem spectrum. But humility is a tricky thing because it seems ever so close to humiliation, which never feels good. Before you know it, pride rears its ugly head and ego is right behind it. Once ego is involved, all bets are off. Read more

Defying definitions and trusting your own story

Everyone has his or her own story. Our history, family, faith, environment – all of it combines to create a background story that runs through our entire life, for better or worse. Through the ups and downs, the surprise plot twists, the losses and accomplishments, we write a new chapter day by day. Read more

Sometimes happiness isn’t a choice.

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

My hands look older than my mother’s hands ever did. That’s what I was thinking at Mass last Sunday when I should have been focused on more spiritual pursuits. But I couldn’t get past the sudden, albeit not surprising, realization that I am aging far beyond anything my mother experienced in her 47 years. Thanks to a couple of small-but-disturbing age spots and prominent veins, my hands remind me that life is moving at breakneck speed and I might want to take stock of things. Read more

Holding my breath and letting go

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

Fourteen years ago this month, I wrote my very first Life Lines column. It focused on my then-4-year-old son, Noah, and a summer nature program we had attended together and how in his own little way Noah was forcing me out of my comfort zone and teaching me new things about myself and the world around me.

This is what I wrote back then: Read more

Note to my younger self: Don’t pack the Dante books

A former editor, current friend, and perpetually great writer posted an essay — What Fresh Hell Is This? — about the advice he’d give to his 22-year-old self knowing what he knows now. It’s a wonderful weaving of Dante, disappointment, and discovery that will make you think and probably make you nod your head in recognition at least once or twice, regardless of what you and your 22-year-old self have experienced over the course of a lifetime. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: You know how to be brave

The song “Colours” by Margo Rey has been a favorite on my iTunes play list for quite a while now, but last weekend’s Christian Mothers’ Retreat in Syracuse was the first time I wove the song into one of my presentations. It was a hit, as I guessed it would be. Quite a few women came up to me after my talk and asked for the song’s title and artist. I knew it would tie in perfectly with a religious retreat despite the fact that it is a secular song because it speaks to the heart and to something I think so many women confront in their lives: learning to love themselves for who they are and to step into their own skin once and for all and be brave, no matter what may or may not be going on in the background or center stage of their lives, no matter how they think they’ve failed, no matter what the outside world pushes them to be. Read more