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Only human, just a little human…

This is one of those songs. Every time I get in the car, it seems to come on. Hadn’t ever heard it up until a few days ago but fell in love with it the first time I caught a piece of it. So much so I sat in the library parking lot just listening even though I really needed to get my books and get on with the day.

 

“I’m only human, and I bleed when I fall down…” Give it a listen. I’m gonna let Christina Perri play us out on this Friday afternoon…

Manic Monday: Jumping one hurdle, ready for more

This has been a crazy busy week, but a good week. After months of preparation, weeks of handwringing and many sleepless nights of worry, Noah’s Eagle Scout project is complete. I have to send out a special thank you to all those people who gave their time, their talent, their treasure, and their used books — 1,006 of them, to be exact. We took a dreary room in a residence for children slipping through the foster care system and turned it into a beautiful refuge filled with books and comfort and calm and a quote to inspire. I hope they see it not only as a place to relax but as a reminder of their worthiness in this world. They should have a beautiful place to sit and read. Every child should have that.  Read more

Learning to float on the tides of life

I am always amazed by the shifting sands of life. We can be moving along, fairly content, assuming we’re on an even course, when out of nowhere something we hadn’t even glimpsed in our rearview mirror sends us into a tailspin. And conversely, we can be struggling, or just muddling through when just as suddenly some shooting star streaks across our night sky and reminds us that there are miracles all around us. Every day. If our eyes are open. Read more

25 random things about me, as if you asked

This is “25 Random Things,” a Facebook meme that was circling around back when I first joined Facebook. It was kind of fun to do, so I thought I’d share it again here. What would be on your list of 25 Random Things? Feel free to share some in the comment section. (I’ve updated ages and dates on this list in parens since it was done almost five years ago.) Read more

Celebrating the life and love of my first best friend

Earlier this week I wrote about missing my mother, who died 25 years ago today at the age of 47. Today I would like to celebrate her life with a few old photos. I realized, as I pulled photos for this, that I have lots of photos from my earliest days with my mother and a few from the end, but hardly anything in between. I’ll try to remember that the next time I want to avoid being in a photo with my kids because I don’t think I look good enough. Read more

Life in My 50s: The Adventure Begins

I hit the half-century mark today. I have to admit, this birthday feels different but not for the usual reasons. Dennis wanted to get me a fabulous “milestone” gift — an iPhone, a supercharged juicer for my green juicing, some sort of gizmo or gadget befitting a major birthday event. Much to his chagrin, I kept saying, “No.” Nothing seemed right, or necessary. There is no material thing I want or need, certainly nothing I equate with reaching 50 years old.

I think it’s because this birthday calls for something much harder to grasp and impossible to buy, a new perspective, perhaps, rather than a new phone. In the not-so-distant past, my birthdays were cause for what I called the “Birthday Triduum,” not one but three full days of celebration. If my birthday fell on a Friday or Monday, even better because the Triduum could include an entire weekend. Now I’m not sure I need even one day to mark the event. And it’s not an age thing. I long ago came to terms with the fact that it’s downhill from here in most departments. Maybe it’s the notion of turning point. It seems as though 50 years presents a nice, self-contained package of sorts, something to be archived in the basement. And today I’m unwrapping a new, empty box just waiting to be filled, but with what?

My grandmother, who still lives on her own, will soon mark her 100th birthday. As I have said time and again in recent months, if I’ve inherited her genes and determination and strength, I get to live my entire life over again from start to finish. What would I do with another half-century of living?

I don’t want the rest of my life — however long I get — to be only a time of fading, even though part of me welcomes that idea. (I’m continually threatening to live like a hermit in my basement office, but then I have to lead a Girl Scout meeting or drive one of the girls to dance or speak at a Catholic gathering and that idea goes out the window.) I think whatever comes next should be a time of growing in the important areas of my life, as a spiritual seeker, as a wife and mother, as a human being, and maybe in some of the less serious and more fun areas as well, things I haven’t yet had a chance to try but have always wanted to tackle.

 

I’ll see how post-50 life begins to develop in the months ahead, and you can come along for the ride. In between, I’ll share bits of half-century wisdom about everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Okay, mostly the ridiculous since sublime is way above my pay grade. Just watch for posts tagged with the “Life in My 50s” headline.

Now I’m off to blow out some candles. Anyone have a fire extinguisher?

Embracing the daring adventure called life

My oldest godchild is about to embark on a life-changing journey, moving away from the town he has known his whole life to a new place with none of the safety nets home often provides. I remember when I did the same almost 25 years ago, leaving my reporting job at Catholic New York to drive my Chevy Chevette to Austin, Texas. In August. Without air conditioning.

That last fact alone should have been reason enough to call my sanity into question, and yet that move, along with the many life events that came after—both good and not so good— helped shape me into who I am today. Without those Texas years, I’d be different. Maybe not better or worse, but definitely different, a little less whole, a little less who I was meant to be. Read more

Why has NSS gone AWOL?

More than three weeks. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve shown my face around these parts. If any of you are still left out there, still coming back to see if I’m around, well, all I can say is, God bless you. You have the patience of a saint.

Things have been more off the wall than usual around here. It could be the fact that I’m writing back-to-back books. I turned one manuscript in on a Wednesday and started the next on a Thursday. That’s insane — even for me, and I’m the queen of insane.

On top of that, I’ve been dealing with some health stuff lately. It’s minor, but enough to slow me down, make me wonder, and cramp my style. Things seem like they’re moving in the right direction, although I’ve got a couple of issues going on that will keep me from doing my beloved yoga — or any exercises involving core strength — for the foreseeable future. Maybe forever. That has not been sitting well with me. I’m spoiled when it comes to health stuff. I expect to be able to do anything and everything with nary a pain or problem. So this is new, and I’m trying to find the lessons in all of it. I’m skirting around a couple of possibilities I hate even to acknowledge, things I think I probably need to learn from this. It’s still too early to say for sure. Maybe they’ll show up in a future post.

To give you some idea just how out of it I’ve been, here’s how Tuesday went: I almost took Chiara to dance class instead of faith formation. The only thing that prevented me from packing up the ballet and tap shoes and heading in the completely wrong direction was Olivia, who said, quite gingerly, “Isn’t today religion?” Yes, and an hour earlier than dance. Lucky we didn’t miss it completely.

After that brain spasm, I decided I needed a cup of tea to calm my nerves. It would have been delicious had I used a tea bag. Sigh.

Then about an hour later I rolled out some pizza dough and made our Valentine’s Day dinner. Dennis and I had a special pizza, loaded with peppers and onions and olives and mushrooms. It looked fabulous. I popped it in the oven, stood up to dust the flour off my apron, and stopped. Wait a minute. I don’t remember putting cheese on that, I thought to myself. Bingo. I made a pizza without cheese. Good for the heart, I guess, but not nearly as delicious. Fortunately, there was time to throw some on top and salvage the dinner. So, that’s how things are going here. I’m not sure I should be allowed to operate any heavy machinery, or even the dishwasher.

I’ll try to be back soon to post my latest Life Lines column and to share some thoughts on those lessons I’m supposed to be learning from this slow down of mine. Stay tuned…

Striving to become your ‘true self’

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

It amazes me sometimes how a casual comment, a familiar smell or the sound of a name we haven’t heard in a while can send us spiraling back in time to a place or event we’d long ago forgotten. Memories linger on our hearts. Some we’d like to preserve forever; some we wish would stay hidden. Good or bad, they are too often the things that shape us.

I was at lunch with some friends recently, laughing and sharing stories, when one line, uttered in passing, hit me like a brick. I was suddenly on the playground in elementary school, feeling unwanted for reasons I never quite understood. As I had during those sometimes painful times of my past, I kept a dim smile on my face, hoping to hide the fact that I was aching inside, not because what was said was intentionally hurtful but because it spoke a truth I’d rather not admit.

We all want to be loved, even if we don’t show it or say it. We want to feel accepted, appreciated, and while that sometimes seems important on the surface—as evidenced by the popularity of accumulating Facebook friends by the hundreds—that kind of goal only serves to take us farther and farther from our truth. Read more