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On a lighter note…

This week our diocese held its fourth annual Concert for Vocations, which has become a favorite among the faithful. More than 600 people turned out at St. Pius X Church in Loudonville for performances by Bishop Scharfenberger, clergy, religious, seminarians, and lay people. Yours truly was among them. I brought the honky tonk. What a great night. I have so many talented co-workers! Here’s my performance of Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.”

Shoes tell a story. A love story.

If eyes are the windows to the soul, I think feet may be the doorway to all understanding. That revelation came to me recently when I was in the front pew of my parish church in upstate New York. I was kneeling after Communion and didn’t want to look toward the altar as I prayed because doing so would have felt intrusive to those receiving Communion just a few feet away. So, I looked down at the floor in front of me. Read more

Multitasking, Mindfulness, and Meditation

Well, so much for me posting this one from the archives “tomorrow,” as promised on Feb. 18. Obviously, things continue at a breakneck pace, and I will admit that I am multitasking — the bane of the mindful existence — to the point that my head is spinning most of the time, to the point where I’m forgetting things because there are way too many “things” piling up higher and higher. Precisely because of my penchant for doing too many things at once and my love of the mindfulness practice, this is quite possibly my favorite chapter in Cravings. Read more

Seeking the divine? Just look up.

I am not in the regular rotation when it comes to walking our rescue dog, Jake, especially at night. Dennis and Olivia handle most of the dog-walking duties in our household. But one recent Saturday night, with Dennis out of town with Chiara for a gymnastics competition and Olivia already one walk in for the day, I leashed up our pup and headed out into the cold, black night. Before I even stepped off the porch, I wanted to be done and back inside with a hot cup of tea warming my hands. I tugged at Jake’s leash and impatiently tried to move him along as he lingered too long, sniffing at twigs and snow mounds, street posts and trash cans. Then, as we rounded the corner, I finally lifted my gaze from the snow-covered asphalt and found myself face to face with Orion the Hunter overhead in the winter sky. Read more

Mirror, mirror: discovering your true self

Week three. Time is flying! How are things on your end? Here’s the 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

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

Cravings Reboot: What’s on your plate in 2018?

Bring on another new year. We are not afraid. Or are we? So often, we enter the new year disappointed by what didn’t happen the year before and overcommitted to an unrealistic set of resolutions for the year ahead. Which starts a vicious cycle of being perpetually dissatisfied and overwhelmed. This is the year to say, “Enough.” As in, YOU ARE ENOUGH. Just as you are. Sure, you might want to make some changes, maybe even some “improvements,” but that doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful as is. Don’t let the world convince you that you won’t be good enough until you’re thinner, richer, more popular, more successful, more something. That’s a losing battle, one designed to keep you spinning your wheels and searching for a kind of perfection that doesn’t exist, at least not outside of fairytales. 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

Self-care: Getting an expensive wake-up call

When I gave up my home-based business to start working in an outside office full time more than two years ago, I gave up a lot more than writing in my basement while wearing yoga pants and burning incense. I stopped exercising. I stopped cooking healthy dinners. I stopped eating healthy food. I stopped doing yoga. I stopped blogging. I stopped using my downtime as downtime and turned everything (even vacations) into work time, or at least work worry. That’s a lot of stopping. Did I start doing anything new? Why, yes, now that you ask. I started drinking coffee by the bucketfuls. I started eating at my desk without even noticing I was eating (exactly what I tell everyone NOT to do in my book Cravings). I started skipping prayer and meditation time. I started turning into an absolute basket of nerves.  Read more