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Celebrating 14 years here on Not Strictly Spiritual and gearing up for new adventures to come

Today marks the 14th anniversary of this blog. I launched it back in 2008 on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers, not really knowing what would happen. Back then, I was able to be here daily, sometimes multiple times per day, a luxury I have not had for the past few years, but that’s about to change! I missed you all so much that I’ve quit my job so I can hang around here more often. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the only reason, but it really was part of it! This week, I will end my almost seven-year stint as Director of Communications for the Diocese of Albany so that I can return to what I love to do most: write, lead retreats, teach yoga, and finally get back to my long-abandoned podcast. (You can find the first four episodes of that HERE.)

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Fear Factor

It seems so straightforward: Jesus appoints his Apostles. There doesn’t seem to be much to delve into here. We know how this Gospel (Mark 3:13-19) turns out. But, if we are willing to go where our hearts are sometimes afraid to look, we cannot help but pause at the first line: “Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.”

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Knowing — and doing — what we’re born to do

Hanging on my office door is an image of Joan of Arc in all her courageous glory, with a version of her famous quote: “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” It has been my mantra for more than six years, as I have navigated the often-challenging waters of Catholic communications. It’s not easy being Catho­lic these days, whether we’re sitting in a pew, serving in a parish, or working in a diocesan center. But Joan’s words remind us that we are called to fearlessly follow the still small voice wherever it leads, no matter how intimidating or seemingly impossible.
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Begin. Begin again. Begin every day.

Hello, my lovelies! Were you wondering if I had forgotten about you and our plan to start a reVolution not a resolution? There is a method to my madness. As I said from the get-go, this is not a resolution that you make and, once you break, you give up until the next year. No, no. This is a daily decision. And I wanted to wait until we were a few days into this new year — past all the potential, “This feels like a resolution,” questions. Plus, I like the idea of a Monday post to jumpstart our week as we go. So expect Mondays to be the day you’ll see some new Tribe-ReVolution posts going up.

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Why settle for a single resolution when you can choose a life-changing reVolution?

For those who frequent this blog, you know my annual end-of-year rallying cry has always been: ReVolution, not resolution! Why? Because resolutions don’t work. How do I know that? Look at any resolutions you have made and track whether you’ve made that same resolution more than once. When we make New Year’s resolutions, we often set ourselves up for “failure” and disappointment and a slippery slope that lands us right back where we started, or, sometimes, even farther behind. But, if we focus instead on a reVolution — of the heart and mind and soul — we are on the road to real transformation. So this year join me, and resolve to evolve.

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A new chapter: stepping down from my full-time job

I have to share my big news: I’m leaving my position as Director of Communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany after almost seven years. What’s the plan? To return to what I love to do most: writing, retreat work, and teaching yoga. Truth be told, I’ve been doing all those things while I do my day job, which might be why I’m always exhausted. Something had to give, and there was no way I could give up the work that is my true calling. It wasn’t an easy decision but my heart knew it was time. The still, small voice can get very loud and distracting when we don’t listen the first time (or 100 times). I’m lucky to be able to make this choice; I know not everyone can. I will write more about this soon, but for now, here is the media release issued by the Diocese of Albany with all the details:

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Meditation & mindfulness: a three-week series to inner transformation

Regular readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of the standard new year’s resolution approach to life. Losing 10 pounds, exercising more often, drinking less wine might be good for you in general, but hinging your new year and your future happiness on a transitory goal, a number on a scale, or an activity ring closed is not the roadmap to real joy. We tend to set ourselves up for failure and then beat ourselves up until we get to the next year and repeat the process all over again. Never fear! There is an antidote to the madness, and it’s something you can do right where you are: meditation and mindfulness.

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An unlikely Advent journey

For the longest time, I considered myself more of a Lent person than an Advent person. The journey through the desert felt familiar, the three-prong practice of fasting, prayer and charity was concrete and easy to grasp. As I age, I find myself learning to love this season of waiting, a season plunged into physical darkness but centered on the Light of the World. The paradox of Advent is not limited to the play of darkness and light. We find it in the Scriptures, too, as we prepare for both the coming of the Savior swaddled in a manger and the coming of the Savior at the end of time. We find it as the world around us rushes to wrap presents and play Christmas music, even as we are called to step outside the fray and sink into silence and wait.

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First Week of Advent: making space for the sacred

‘Tis the season to decorate, shop, wrap, bake… Nope! This season of Advent is made for just the opposite: waiting, anticipating, resting, praying. It’s a beautiful season but so countercultural. I dare you to join in drop out and revel in the slow goodness of this beautiful season. I thought I’d share a few goodies to help you start things off right.

Although I have not written a new book of Advent reflections for this year (I’m currently editing the book I wrote for Advent 2022, so stay tuned for that!), I did write a series of Advent reflections for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. You can find the first one posted today: Read more

Abundance vs. lack: Hold nothing back

Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.” (Mk 12:42-44)

It would be easy to look at today’s stories (Sunday, Nov. 7) of the two widows simply as cautionary tales, there to remind us to be generous. But generosity is just a surface-level interpretation of what is laid out for us, probably because that interpretation is more comfortable and less inconvenient than the truth. The actions of these two women—relegated to the margins because of their status—focus not on if we give but how we give. The widow who makes a cake for Elijah has nothing remaining for herself or her son. Still, she trusts that all will be well and gives the last of what she has. The widow in the Gospel gives her last two coins, holding nothing back for herself.

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