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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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Pausing Fear, Choosing Joy

The past month has been a dance of gratitude and fear. Gratitude that, so far, my family is healthy and together under one roof — all five of us around the dinner table each night, favorite movies flickering on the TV in the evenings, coffee sipped on the deck on those warmer sunny mornings that feel like a gift. But then, often as the sun goes down or the skies cloud over, fear creeps in and, with it, an element of despair. All the “what if….” worries start to clamor for attention, pounding on the door to my heart and racing through my mind in an endless relay. Suddenly the fear of what could be overpowers the gratitude for what is.

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9/11: Remembering like it was yesterday

Here’s the Life Lines column I wrote 17 years ago, in the days following 9/11. So much has changed since that time. Our world has changed. My family has changed. And yet, for me, this column still resonates with things that feel very much in tune with our world right now. Here’s wishing all of you, all of us a future of peace — peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace on our planet. Read more

Happy anniversary to me and my blog

It was nine years ago today that I launched this blog. Although it looked very different when it started out and I posted much more frequently, the overall style and substance of Not Strictly Spiritual have remained the same. I have shared my struggles, my stories, my opinions, and quite a few recipes, covering everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Thank you to all of you who have visited this site over the years, especially those of you who come back time and again. Even if we have never met in person, you are special to me, and I am grateful. Read more

Yoga, the True Self, and fear of change

Three times in my life — three, count ’em — I have either started to train as a yoga teacher (back in Austin in the 1980s), started the application process to train as a yoga teacher (in Albany a few years ago), or stood on the very edge of making a decision to train as a yoga teacher (at Heartspace in Albany this past September). Every single time I let myself get in my own way by getting inside my own head and talking myself out of what I know without question would be a life-changing, soul-lifting, completely transforming experience. And I’m not even talking about the part where I would become a certified yoga teacher. I’m talking about the part where this training would finally force (in the gentlest way possible, of course) me to face me, to face the True Self I’m always writing about and talking about but afraid to confront in a totally open way. Read more

9/11: Remembering like it was yesterday

Here’s the Life Lines column I wrote 15 years ago, in the days following 9/11. So much has changed since that time. Our world has changed. My family has changed. And yet, for me, this column still resonates with things that feel very much in tune with our world right now. Here’s wishing all of you, all of us a future of peace — peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace on our planet. Read more

Abundance over scarcity: trusting God to provide

This Life Lines column was originally intended to be my last. It was 15 years ago this month that I wrote my first column for Catholic New York, and this seemed like a nice tidy way to bring things to a close. Plus, as you may recall from last month’s column on humility, I thought I had nothing left to say. Then a few things happened to make me rethink that plan. 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

What are you feeding – fear or joy?

I originally wrote this post in January, but I came across it this morning when I was looking for something else. It was exactly what I needed to hear today, so now you have to hear it again too. Who knows? Maybe someone else out there needs to hear it today as well. Here you go…

I’ve been ruminating on this topic — What are you feeding? — for a while in my private time because I think it’s a pretty big deal. If we feed our fears, if we feed our anxiety, if we feed relationships with people who don’t really care about us or, even worse, make us feel “less than,” we throw a spark on the dead leaves lying around on our spiritual doorstep. Eventually it becomes a raging forest fire of self-doubt or unhappiness and, if we’re not careful, it will siphon off all the energy that should be feeding the good things in our lives. Read more