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Appreciating the masterpiece that is your life

When we returned from a weeklong family trip to Rome, several friends asked me to name the one monumental moment from the trip, the standout thing that made the visit.

Was it seeing our son, Noah, for the first time since he had left months before to study abroad?

Was it bringing our entire family to the pope’s Easter Mass?

Was it taking Olivia and Chiara to view Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel? Read more

Everything is blessing. Yes, even that.

‘Tis the season to give thanks, but what if we change things up a bit this time around? It could be a gratitude throw down of epic proportions, if we all make an effort. We already know that counting our blessings in an intentional way is good for us. It not only makes us more grateful, but more content. Suddenly the smell of fresh-brewed coffee in the morning or the sight of a hawk circling overhead serve as entry points to something much deeper. But, can we take that idea one step further, into the murky waters of struggle and sorrow, and find blessings even there? That’s our challenge. Read more

Finding the blessing in a toilet in need of scrubbing

Most weekends I don’t look forward to the long list of things that need to get done. After a busy week at work and nights spent driving to and from appointments and classes and more, I want to do nothing. Plain and simple. And so I procrastinate and grumble and eventually do my chores begrudgingly, always thinking that as soon as I’m done — if only that magic moment would get here sooner – or ever! — I will finally have a few minutes to really enjoy my weekend.  Read more

An ‘attitude of gratitude’ can reshape your life

German mystic Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you said your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Gratitude has that kind of power, not just in prayer, but in the most ordinary moments of our lives. When we are thankful, grateful and appreciative of what we have— even for the things that don’t necessarily warrant a special thank-you prayer—we tend to be more generous, loving, patient and kind toward others.  Read more

3 steps to a more grateful life

My story on gratitude and how it can change your life, running in the Nov. 24 issue of OSV Newsweekly

German mystic Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you said your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Gratitude has that kind of power, not just in prayer, but in the most ordinary moments of our lives. When we are thankful, grateful and appreciative of what we have — even the things that don’t necessarily warrant a special thank-you prayer — we tend to be more generous, loving, patient and kind toward others.  Read more

Preach it, Denzel Washington

This is so worth 11 minutes of your time. Denzel Washington gives a commencement address that doubles as spiritual direction. “Put God first,” he told the graduates, and then went on to remind them to “fail big,” serve others, and get down on their knees every morning to thank God in advance for what is already theirs. Powerful talk. Check it out.

What’s in your gratitude journal?

I haven’t kept a gratitude journal with any long-term success over the years, despite knowing the benefits. In my latest Life Lines column (now running in the current issues of Catholic New York and the Catholic Spirit) I explore why and give you a peek inside: 

The Advent and Christmas seasons tend to make us more grateful and more giving. At this time of year, when we’re abundantly aware of children who want nothing more than a pair of mittens or a warm winter coat, we seem to recognize how lucky we are. We collect boxes of stuffing and bottles of gravy for our parish food pantry and take tags off the Giving Tree so that others will have for one day what we have every day. And in those moments we are humbled by our blessings and all too aware of the fact that we often remain blissfully unaware of those same blessings the other 11 months of the year. Read more

It’s about the journey, not the destination

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

I’m a wannabe hiker. And a wannabe camper and kayaker, for that matter. Although I’ve done a little of all of those things, I’m no expert.

A writing colleague who knew I was clamoring for a hike messaged me one night and asked if I wanted to join her for a beginner trip to Huckleberry Point in the Catskills. With a little appointment juggling and a lot of assistance from my husband, Dennis, I said yes, packed a lunch, and dusted off my hiking boots. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: 5 ways to fine tune your life

I love to read about how other people have transformed their lives into something more manageable, less stressful, more satisfying. What steps did they take? How do they maintain it? I’m always curious, hungry for information. Even if I’m not going to go off the grid, live in the mountains, sail around the world, homeschool my kids, start canning my own food, whatever the particular path might be, I can learn from every single person. There’s always a morsel of magic to be obtained, a nugget of spiritual gold hidden in every story.

So when I came across this post yesterday on the Tiny House page (I dream of living in a Tiny House some day when the kids are grown), I knew I had to share it today. So much goodness, even if you live in a big house crammed with stuff or a city apartment amid the noise and smog.  Read more