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About Me — Objects in bio are closer than they appear

For the longest time, probably since I started this blog more than 13 years ago, I have defined myself on this page by the work I do — and have done — throughout my 37-year career as a journalist, author, speaker, retreat leader, PR person, and more. But, as I happened upon this bio page while updating my website, it occurred to me that this About Me page should better reflect who I am and not just list the jobs I do. Because if you know only what I do to earn a paycheck, you really don’t know the most important things About Me.

I am, first and foremost, a mother and a wife. That is my vocation and my most important “work” in this lifetime. Next I am a writer. Plain and simple. When I was in the hospital emergency room a few years ago, they asked for my job title. I did not say, “Director of Communications,” which is how I make a living these days. I said, without thinking, “writer,” because that is always how I will define myself professionally. It is my true passion and, if I had to name one special talent God gave me, it would be my ability to write the way I do. I hope to be a writer until I take my last breath, long after I need to earn a living by using that skill. Layered on top of all this is another key title for me: spiritual seeker. I am on a never-ending spiritual quest. At least I hope it’s never-ending, because the spiritual life doesn’t have a stopping point, a moment where you’ve achieved all that needs to be achieved. It is a process, one I believe continues in the next life — to infinity and beyond.

So there you have About Me boiled down to its most basic elements: Mother/Wife, Writer, Spiritual Seeker. But even that doesn’t define me. Because I am also a yoga teacher (RYT-200) who feels at peace on my mat. I am a singer, who is energized by music of all kinds. I am an explorer, who likes to test out new frontiers, whether it’s picking up painting for the first time, trying a new recipe, signing up for classes in hip hop dance or wheel-thrown pottery, venturing into the woods for a hike or snowshoe, or walking around a new city without a map and hoping to reach a destination through the sheer force of human interaction and trial and error (best way to travel). I believe learning is lifelong, and in keeping with that belief, I am currently at the start of a two-year program — Holy Ground — to become certified as a spiritual director.

All these years later, I still have hanging in my office a Helen Keller quote that has been with me since I first worked in Manhattan in the 1980s: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature…Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Some days I look at my life and think: Is THIS a daring adventure?!? And the answer to that questions is almost always, YES! Even everyday life is a daring adventure, an opportunity to touch the divine in our midst; the problems begin when I start to forget that.

That’s probably all you need to know About Me, but if you’d like the career specifics, here you go:

Since September 2015, I have been the Director of Communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, N.Y. In that position, I get to tell the story of the local Church and local Catholics through social media and in cooperation with the local secular media and the various departments of our diocese. Communications meets evangelization.

In addition to that, I am a writer, public speaker, retreat leader, and Catholic commentator, with an expertise in Catholic teaching, faith in the public square, and spirituality lived out in everyday life. Over three+ decades, I have written six books on Catholic spirituality, six books of daily reflections for Advent, Lent and Easter, and hundreds of articles for both secular and Catholic periodicals on national, regional, and local levels. I also continue to write my award-winning monthly column, Life Lines (now in its 20th year), for Catholic New York, which will always be my home newspaper.

Each of my  books has taken me to the next necessary destination on my spiritual journey, even when I had no idea I needed to go there at the outset. They cover a pretty broad spectrum. Chances are you might find something you like among the mix. Here are my titles: “Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God,” (Ave Maria Press), “Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality,”  (Alpha/Penguin),  “The Essential Guide to Catholic Prayer and the Mass” (Alpha/Penguin), “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism” (Alpha/Penguin),  “Parenting a Grieving Child: Helping Children Find Faith, Hope, and Healing after the Loss of a Loved One” (Loyola Press), and “Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship” (Ave Maria Press). I have also written “Not by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent 2016,” “Waiting in Joyful Hope: Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas 2017-18,” “Not by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent 2019,”  Rejoice and Be Glad: Daily Reflections for Easter 2020, Not by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent 2021, and the yet-to-be-published Waiting in Joyful Hope: Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas 2022-23, all from Liturgical Press.

I was featured on CNN for my book Cravings, and I am frequently heard on national Catholic radio, including multiple appearances on A Conversation with Cardinal Dolan and Busted Halo on The Catholic Channel on SiriusXM and Morning Air on Relevant Radio. I am the former co-host of Guided by Grace, a television program on Telecare (now Catholic Faith Network) in the New York metropolitan area.

I am also the creator of this blog, Not Strictly Spiritual, which focuses on the spiritual journey and discovering the divine in the everyday. Although I don’t get to post here as often as I’d like these days, it is still the place where I come to hash out some of my own spiritual struggles — and new recipes. It’s also the home of the #CravingsTribe, which I started in late 2016 to help people learn to live life with attention and INtention, to skip resolutions in favor of reVolutions, and to see themselves as worthy just as they are — broken, beautiful, and beloved. Not Strictly Spiritual and the folks who make up my tribe are at the heart of my “mission” and the thing that gives me the most professional joy.

Finally, I graduated from Pace University in 1984. I have worked for the Catholic dioceses of Albany, NY; Metuchen, NJ; and Austin, TX, as well as the Archdiocese of New York, where I served as managing editor of Catholic New York newspaper.

I live in upstate New York with my husband, Dennis, who is the Executive Director of the New York State Catholic Conference, and our three amazing children, two crazy cats, and one rescue dog.

That’s the story. I am blessed and grateful.

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