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Age & Expectations: a new Life Lines podcast is up

My new podcast is back on track. Finally! I went into hiatus immediately after my late July launch because too many other things were demanding my attention, namely the retreat I was preparing to lead, the concluding weekends of yoga teacher training, and, if I’m being perfectly honest, my inability to remember how I even managed to record and create that first episode via Garageband. (And no Olivia at home to give me pointers!)

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Seeing every day as an opportunity

When I arrived at Pyramid Life Center in the Adirondack Mountains last month to lead a retreat, I was excited but nervous. As is always the case when I lead a group, I want to be sure I give participants what they need, the spiritual nourishment they’re craving. Most times when I wrap up, I’m a bit depleted from putting out so much spiritual energy over the course of a few days, but this time I was energized and uplifted, riding a spiritual high that was fed by the 30+ people who engaged in the retreat so fully they left me awed and humbled and inspired.

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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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Defy definitions, trust 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.

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The gift of community, the joy of the tribe

The older I get, the more I like to tackle things I probably have no business tackling. In the course of the past 10 years, I’ve done everything from tennis lessons (I was never much of an athlete) to dance classes (hip hop and belly dancing, of all things), from pottery and mixed media (I was always known for being “bad” at art) to Italian lessons (Spanish was always my second language of choice). And for the pièce de résistance, I am nearing the completion of 200-hour yoga teacher training, where I am, by far, one of the oldest in the class.

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Don’t wait. Say yes.

I first got to know Sister Johanne McCarthy, C.S.J., about 18 months ago when she wrote to complain that our Albany diocesan newspaper wasn’t giving religious sisters the same treatment priests and deacons received on the obituary pages. I had to agree with her. It certainly seemed that the sisters were getting short-changed. So I joined her in advocating for equality in the obits, and that was the beginning of a beautiful-but-too-brief friendship.

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The way to ease is not easy

September always feels like the start of a new year to me, much more so than Jan. 1 ever does. It must be the perennial student in me. I can’t even resist the piles of discounted school supplies that fill every store at the end of summer. I buy at least a few neon-colored, spiral-bound notebooks and one box of perfectly pointed Crayola crayons every fall. Something about it settles my soul and makes me feel like I’ve got a blank slate and the possibility of a rainbow within reach.

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Fierce and Fearless at 57

“I’ve done my best work, really, my most important work, from the ages of maybe 57 to now.” That quote is from the poetic writer and musician Patti Smith, 72, in a recent interview with the New York Times.

That quote struck a chord and affirmed what I’ve been feeling as I head into this new stage of life. I turned 57 yesterday, and I can tell you that I believe, God willing, I will be able to say the same as Patti when I reach 72. I believe my most important work is ahead of me. I am talking about in addition to THE most important work of mother and wife, which would be enough if that was my only work in this life.

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Seeking light in winter’s darkness

One of my favorite things about this season of seemingly ever-present physical darkness is the occasional pocket or flash of light. Not just the leftover twinkling Christmas decorations, although that helps, but the “mundane” glimmers that, to put it in artistic terms, create everyday versions of the on-canvas beauty created by artists like Caravaggio through the use of “chiaroscuro”—a technique that contrasts deep darkness and brilliant-but-concentrated light in dramatic fashion. Read more