Inspire. May.

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I know we’re a little late with our inspiration, but May has been both inspiriing and challenging. When I decided to share my inspiration received from St. Hildegard of Bingen, I needed some quotes. Then I went to a workshop about her. Then I thought I’d add a picture, and here we are.

Friday Food will continue to be delayed but I expect it to be published within the next seven days, despite the end of May creeping upon us.

“To sense each creature singing the hymn of existence is to live joyfully in God’s love and hope.”

Pope Francis, Laudato Si

“Humanity: take a good look at yourself. Inside, you have heaven and earth and all of creation. You are a world. Everything is hidden within.”

St. Hildegard of Bingen

Last week I had the privilege of attending the first of three explorations of Catholic mystics, Hildegard of Bingen; the other two are St. Catherine D’Ricci and St. Julian of Norwich. I have long been intrigued by St. Hildegard, both because of her strong personality at a time when that was frowned upon in women as well as her body of work in a plethora of fields.

“We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.”

St. Hildegard

Her words from the 16th century are equally true today for us as they were then; perhaps moreso. Her words of advice remain a strong reminder that we remain brave and strong, and in control.

“Even in a world that’s being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong.”

St. Hildegard
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Inspire. April.

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To many people holidays are not voyages of discovery, but a ritual of reassurance.”

Phillip Andrew Adams

Palms from Palm Sunday.
(c)2022

This week marks my massaversary. Two years before I received my sacraments, I began attending church services. It was during Holy Week that this started and it marked a profound change in my life. Attending mass, sitting alone in a pew reading Scripture didn’t make all my problems go away; they didn’t suddenly create a magical turnaround in my mental health issues, my personal issues, my crisis, but it did create light in the darkness, both metaphorically and literally in a bright light vision. I met new people who influenced me in all the positive ways you want friends to influence you. I discovered a group of people who were glad to know me, and provided material help despite not knowing me from Adam. I saw what a calling was through their actions, and I saw what it means to walk with Christ.

I was welcomed with great joy, and I continue to be.

My massaversary is more than simply a date on a calendar or a memory of long ago. It is present, it is here, it is now, and I am welcomed with great joy whenever I enter the church and cross my self with the holy water from the font in the gathering space.

Even in an empty building, I am welcomed because Christ is always present.

I will try to put words on my feelings in small ways as the week continues on, and as the Lenten Journey ends and Easter begins.

Inspire. March.

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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accesible and wisest of counselors, and the  most patient of teachers.

Charles W. Eliot

One week ago was World Book Day, although everyday is a good day to read a book. This is proved by the fact that this is one week late. Things happened, one of which was laziness, but not entirely. Last week was a particularly not great one, but nothing that can’t be overcome.

This is the list of books I read since last Monday. The ones with the asterisk are the ones that I completed before tonight (although most were not read entirely in seven days.)

  • Daily Reflections for Lent: Not By Bread Alone 2022 by Amy Ekeh and Thomas D. Stegman, SJ
  • Thirsty and You Gave Me Drink from Clear Faith Publishing, various authors
  • Quantum by Patricia Cornwell *
  • Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone by Rev. James Martin, SJ
  • Spin by Patricia Cornwell *
  • The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, The NY Times Magazine *
  • The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
  • Never Tell by Selena Montgomery (Stacey Abrams) *
  • Search Me: A Way of the Cross in Solidarity with the LGBTQ Community by John T. Kyler *
  • Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside by Nick Offerman


It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. –

Confucius
Sunflower. (c)2022

My thought daily are with Ukraine, each morning and throughout the day checking on updates. My thoughts have also been with my parish (and selfishly myself if I’m being completely honest) as the search continues for a new pastor. I wrote a short reflection on Facebook a day or so ago, and I do feel a slight weight lifted as the parish trustees announced on Sunday our new incoming pastor (who will start at the end of April).

A friend described her feelings as “being at ease with the decision” and I would agree with that sentiment. I’m not anxious although it helps that I’m acquainted with the new (to us) pastor and looking forward to his ministry, but of course, my feelings are bittersweet. Fr. Jerry, my only priest so far in my journey would talk during his homilies at funerals as the bittersweetness of the Christian journey: we who are left behind are sad, but the one whose gone home is with Jesus and so how can we resent that.

I’ve written before about my struggle to move forward in my faith and my practices and I’m reminded of something else that Father Jerry so wisely said during funerals.

He has also talked about a life that’s not ended but changed, and I think with this new pastor announcement, I feel that my Catholic journey isn’t ended, but it has changed, and with this resolution, I may be able to be changed and follow this new path. I also feel more reflective things to say on this subject, but my words need a bit more study and discernment.

At the moment as I look around at my messy table and my busy calendar, I hope that I can spend some prayer and meditation time to get back on track for Lent. There are other challenges ahead, and I need to organize myself for them. It may be time for a list; a very, very long list.

Inspire. February.

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Well done is better than well said.

Benjamin Franklin

To be honest, I’m not sure if that holds for writers.


One of my office spaces.
(c)2022

I’ve recently read two book series, both fiction, both taking place during the same hundred years or so, period pieces, both murder mysteries and romance, and while there are things that I like and dislike about each of them, I am finding that I learn more about myself and my own writing as I pass my critical eye over them.

The second one is intriguing and interesting although full of (sometimes unnecessary) exposition and descriptions, as well as changing perspectives (not indiscriminately, but by chapters) with colloquial language and appropriate proprieties between gender and servant class relationships.

The same could be said of the first series in the cases of colloquialism, proprieties, and gender/servant class relationships. There is also a feeling of overabundance (in both series) of feminism that I find anachronistic for the time periods, but I could be relying on stereotypes myself to feel that way.

Similar things can be said about the first one, although the historical perspective is a bit more specific. I am more attached to the characters of the first series and I have not come to terms with the ending of the series. That’s not to say that the books’ conclusion was not satisfactory – it truly was, but I’m not ready for the series to be over and I am not competent myself in the time and geographical period to try my hand at fan fiction. And while I very much enjoy the second series, it has not captured my heart as much.

What does this have to do with writing?

Well, it has to do with the specific writing (or planning) of my book on my journey to and through Wales.

Some things I have added to my outline are:

  • Maps. It may be easier to describe my adventures if readers can see where I was geographically.
  • Historical perspective. Much of my relationship to Wales is counterbalanced by my research into the history of medieval Wales, which fostered a deeper understanding and connection.
  • History. Including some of the history of the places I traveled, especially how they related to my journey.
  • Multiple genres are okay.
  • Quotations at the beginnings of each chapter to sort of set the stage. I also like recipes and photographs (which these two series do not have) and I’m trying to decide if these would be appropriate for my book in any way. Perhaps in the case of recipes as an appendix.
  • My faith journey being a main part of the relationship, both secular faith and religious faith.

I’m sure that I will find more things to include as I hone in on the path my writing of this book should take.



*I’m interested in suggestions for a new title for this series going forward rather than Inspire and the month. Comment below, and don’t forget the links (found on the home page) for the Spotify comments and the Writing Challenge.*

Inspire. January. 2022.

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They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

Andy Warhol

…any writer who waits for “inspiration” to strike will never finish a book. Inspiration is all very well, but it will never replace sheer dogged determination.

Author Elizabeth Peters in an interview that appears at the end of The Golden One, one in her Amelia Peabody series.

Pointsettia. (c)2022

Every year, just after midnight on January 1st, I take out my new calendar/blog planner. It is perfectly even. No bent pages, no stray marks, no correcting tape, no bookmarks, no stickers. Empty pages and I never go to bed until I’ve filled in the dates that have been piling up in lists at the back of the old planner. New appointments, new school days, new writing assignments and ideas. Over the days and weeks, it will fill in and be the guide that I use throughout the year.

Resolutions get broken. They start out with good intentions, but often they fall by the wayside. I try to set goals; to have determinations; to focus. I do this a few times a year beginning in the fall and adjusting and re-adjusting what I want to accomplish.

I have a few writing series that I will continue including this Inspire series. It may have a change of name, but all in all, it will continue in the same format.

I am continuing the new Instagram and Spotify compilations; Instagram as the mood strikes and Spotify during the last week of the month.

I would also like to begin a more definitive travel section, including places of interest as well as giving more time to my book writing.

So much to do, but I am determined to take those two quotations to heart and simply keep moving forward.


Inspire. December.

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What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In some things I am struggling, but I still find that inspiration is all around. I see labyrinths everywhere, and I’m beginning to find words to accompany them. I search for new ones to walk and to pray on, and each one is as different as the clouds in the sky.

Labyrinth. (c)2021

I am devoted to Mary, and I think on all of the knots I’m called to untie, many of which I cannot do without her intercession. Last week was the feast of her Immaculate Conception, a special day in my parish of the same name, and each Monday I recite the Joyous Mysteries with my Cursillo family.

Mary, Untier of Knots. Tiny Saints. (c)2021

I have also completed a book series that I long to write about and share with you. It was not only entertaining, I have decided on a Halloween costume (already!) and it has inspired a few ideas of where to approach my book on my journey through Wales (although that particular title is already taken – *shakes fist at Gerald of Wales*). I have lists to make for my book, and having finished the series, I have already began it again. I read the first five books in 2018 so they were not fresh in my mind. I was able to be surprised by some twists and turns that I had forgotten, and I will continue the rest in the new year. Fear not, I will share my thoughts on Amelia Peabody and her adventures in the coming weeks, if not days.


In the meantime, enjoy the waiting of Advent, the lights of Chanukah, and the promise of the New Year, and eat all the foods of all the holidays.

Inspire. November.

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I am grateful for what I am and have. My Thanksgiving is perpetual.


– Henry David Thoreau

November is full of thanks and gratitude. If only, we held onto these sentiments throughout the year, what a wonderful world it would be. I don’t know that I can show gratitude for the difficulties I had in October, but I can offer thanks for the inauspicious start to November. Somewhat quiet and subdued. While we will not see our cousins for Thanksgiving, we will see my brother-in-law and hopefully have a nice get-together later on with my son’s girlfriend and something quiet for my birthday. I am hesitant, but cautiously optimistic.


Sitting in front of the typewriter/keyboard, I am clacking away at the keys, and while I still haven’t taken hold of my Nano projects, I have been jotting things down on all matter of things.


I still have hope to take Thoreau’s words to heart, and be grateful for who I am, for what I have, and remind myself perpetually of all that I have to be thankful for. Every day can be thanksgiving if given the mindfulness to quietly look around and take in the life around me.


The picture below is a reminder that not everything is expected. About once a week, my family goes to The Fresh Market chain. They have what they call a “little big meal”. It feeds a family of four for $25 and usually comes with five or six components. The most recent one was a chicken roll up dinner and surprisingly one of the items was a bouquet of flowers. I thought it strange since they are not edible, but instead they fed something that was missing from me recently. The brought on a quietness, a contemplative series of moments as I trimmed the stems and arranged them in my vase. I smelled each one, adding water and a bit of the powdered food daily. We got them Sunday and they are just as strong, just as beautiful as when I brought them home. They are a welcome addition to my work space. I didn’t know I longed for them until I received them.

(c)2021


Sometimes looking past the expected brings us from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Inspire. September.

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My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.  

Maya Angelou

New Writing Space for the next six weeks. (c)2021

Vacation’s over. School’s begun. The Jewish Holidays have come and gone without nary a new goal or resolution in sight. First therapy session of the new season is in the books. And what do I have to show for it?

It’s not nothing, but I honestly don’t know.

The monthly greeting: How are you doing always feels like a trick question. If I’m fine, am I fine? If I’m okay, why am I here in the first place? Will I actually say what’s really on my mind?

*shrug*

I don’t know. Somehow, I muddle through another session, sometimes wondering why I still come. I’m not suicidal. My anxiety is under control. It is more than the familiarity and routine of it. Part of it, I know, is that having it on my calendar gives me something positive to look forward to. If I have moments of struggle or lows, I see the appointment on the calendar and it gets me through; I know it will be okay until the next time. It gives me something to strive for. Could I get through the month without this one hour? Maybe. But why risk it?

It’s a safe place. We all need them. Big, small, in public or private, look around for yours.

The fall is the beginning of my year. Will it remain so when my kids are entirely finished with school? That day is sadly growing closer, and I both dread it (for me) and relish it (for them). I also have so many ideas. So much to write about. Places I’ve traveled that I want to share about, both as reflections and travel advisories, advice, and photos. I have ideas for new series, new columns, new book ideas. I have ideas to expand my Facebook page for those of you on FB. I even have a list of prayers to write.

My six week memoir class has begun again. The library is sponsoring it, and even though they won’t let us in the library (a change since we registered), they have found us a pavilion in a local park that really gives off a super creative writing vibe. We’re gathering with some people who we haven’t seen in two years. We’re missing a long time friend who died last year (not Covid related). Hopefully, it remains warm enough for the six weeks we’ll be outside, but cool enough to keep the mosquitoes dormant. For those of us who’ve been meeting in the park for the last year, this weather is a piece of cake. The library provided clipboards and the teacher brought cushions for the picnic tables. I brought my own chair but I may swipe one of those cushions next week.

Our ongoing park-meeting group has a new inside place to meet – the local fire house!

I’m hoping all of these writing groups with assignments will inspire me for the rest of the fall and into the new year to come.

Inspire. August.

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August can be a tough month. Summer is both at its peak and winding down. Back to School is far off, and yet just around the corner. It’s too hot for home maintenance especially in the garage and basement as my husband wants to focus on. For our family, it’s time to get ready for our annual vacation as we stress about covid – getting it and not getting it but having our vacation canceled as so many others are having happen. There is also GISH. The annual, Guinness Book of World Record-holding scavenger hunt is about a third of the way complete, and while I can’t share actual items, I have four things that you can do at your own home that are inspirational and GISH-adjacent. But first:

“Education must, then, be not only a transmission of culture but also a provider of alternative views of the world and a strengthener of the will to explore them.”

Jerome S. Bruner

This photo will be added to my post about my recent visit to a labyrinth. I went back and found these newly painted rocks as well as a new plant, a rainbow flag, a fallen tree branch, and a basket of bubbles.

It is a good reminder to revisit places because even in the shortest times, they will change; some for the better (new rocks) and some not so much (a bit of overgrowth).

However there is always something new to see if you just open your eyes, your heart, and observe the world around you.


Those four things I mentioned above:

1. Find a cloud in the sky that you like. What does it look like to you? Take a photo. Or draw it. Whatever you do, enjoy it.

2. Write a poem. Any topic.

3. What direction do you want to travel in today? Draw a compass and make a map, like a treasure map, but all your own. What (and where) is your buried treasure?

4. Do some good. Donate time or treasure. One good organization is Random Acts and a second is the ACLU.

Make good choices. Do good. Be kind. Create.

Inspire. July. Road Trips.

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“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote, To travel is to live.”

Hans Christian Andersen

NEW Spotify Playlist: Road Trip


“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.”

Lawrence Block

During the pandemic and continuing through the last few weeks, our family has broken up our weeks of isolation pouring [th] into the car and taking road trips. North, east, and west; south is still on the list, and while they don’t have the stress or monetary expense of a full blown vacation, they do tend to get you out of your own comfortable neighborhood and out into the world, taking time to de-stress and see new sights (and sites). Even a day trip can be a fun adventure.

In the photo below are some of the places we’ve gone in the last few weeks. I’ve included links so you’re able to check out new and interesting places in the northeast, but some things – like that Mater Truck and the dragon outside a comic store – are just things we passed by and got a kick out of.

Take some time in your car and see what’s around you. It can be even cheaper if you pack a picnic lunch to bring along.

BBQ place, comic store, EA-Teriyaki Japanese at Holyoke Mall, Mater, St. Kateri Shrine, BatCycle (from the TV series, signed by Burt Ward) at comic store at Holyoke Mall, Springfield Museums, MA.
(c)2021
Guess the characters!
Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA.
(c)2021

Boneyard BBQ, Utica, NY

Holyoke Mall, Holyoke, MA

St. Kateri Tekawitha National Shrine & Historic Site, Fonda, NY

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, Springfield, MA

Not Pictured:

Martha’s Dandee Creme, Lake George, NY

Samuel’s Sweet Shop, Rhinebeck, NY

Big Moose Deli & Country Store, Hoosick, NY

Ben & Jerry’s Factory, Waterbury, VT