Who’s gonna tell your story? A reflection on turning 30

I’ve been 30 for a few days now.  So clearly that means I have oodles of wisdom to share with everyone.  ;)

Lately I’ve been nonstop jamming to the Hamilton soundtrack.  If you don’t know what Hamilton is, well, get out from under your rock and listen to the music now.  Short story is that it’s the latest Broadway show to take the world by storm.  Its a hip-hop/rap take on the life of Alexander Hamilton.  Musicals are always something I connect with and I can almost always find something that will change my life.

So for Hamilton  it’s the theme of “Who is going to tell your story”.  For Hamilton, his story lives on in his writings and the lasting political structures he helped to create, especially in our financial system.  But at the very end of the show his wife, Eliza (“Best of wives and best of women!”) sings this:

And when my time is up, have I done enough?

ELIZA:                                                    COMPANY:
Will they tell our story?                             Will they tell your story?

Oh. Can I show you what I’m proudest of?

The orphanage

I established the first private orphanage in New York City

The orphanage

I help to raise hundreds of children
I get to see them growing up

The orphanage

In their eyes I see you, Alexander
I see you every—


And when my time is up
Have I done enough?                               COMPANY:
Will they tell my story?                              Will they tell your story?

It gets me every time.  She’s not proudest of his writings, or government structures! She’s proudest of the orphanage that she starts and runs in his honor.  She sees him in the eyes of children, her own I’m sure, but also all the orphans that have dreams just like Hamilton had….  that’s the lasting thing.  If we live our lives well, it’s our children who will tell our stories.  And their children.. and their children..on and on.

So for me, on turning 30, I’m ready to move on from the “Who am I?” stage of life.  I’m ready to really start living my story.  Each day I have the chance to show my children my values, to leave indelible impressions on them of who I am and what I stand for.  And hopefully one day, they’ll be telling my story.  I don’t need to tell my story, I just need to live it.

What does a modern day “village” look like?


Yesterday was a terrible day.  Various issues, including a child puking in the car, melded together to form an absolutely hellish day.  It was all I could do to pull it together and get through with my sanity intact.

And then my friend Carrie shared a wonderful little article entitled “I miss the village”.  Frankly, it made me cry, because a village was EXACTLY what I needed right then, and yet, I don’t have one.  Now, the village that Bumni Laditan describes is more akin to the villages of long ago.  The village of cavemen.  The village of native tribes.  The small towns with a well in the center.  The communities that formed on the wagon trails.  Those villages, where you were practically all one family are practically extinct in modern culture.  The industrial revolution took away the farming communities and build factories full of people who could not speak to each other because of the noise and smoke, where the only thing you could do after a long day was to go home, wash yourself in a basin, pray that your children stayed safe (likely in their own factory jobs) and collapse into bed.  Or maybe stay up until all hours, to do your washing.

Social lives, friends, were the purview of the upper class, the elite who could afford to hire washing women and maids and butlers and spend their time in social clubs.  This isn’t to say that was perfect, because cattiness is nothing new.  But not having to work to live certainly makes it easier to socialize.  And this isn’t to say that the poor never ever had friends, but you certainly did not have a “village” where everyone is on equal footing and is able to equally help you.  The separation of classes meant that the rich required the help of the poor, and thus the poor had less to give to each other.

But humans are not made for solitude.  When we learn about the Theology of the Body we learn that God is three persons who continually are loving.  Loving each other, loving their creations.  And since we are created in God’s image, we too are created to be loving.  We are created to love others, to love our spouses, our friends, all those around us.  And we are created to love our creations, our children, even when they are in top form at the end of a lonnnnnng day.  We are not made to sit in our homes, alone for hours, while our spouse works hard.  We are not made to spend all our time working and never loving others.  This is why moms gravitate toward social media.  We can’t leave our homes, so we reach out through our technology.  We blog because our voices cry out to be heard, by anyone.  We can’t always get together in person, because our schedules are jam packed with serving our kids, but if I can like a friends picture on instagram while I pee, I’m able to fill up my love meter, and hers too!

So where do this leave us?  How do we get our village back?  What does it even look like in this day and age?

For the Christian, we can look at the early church.  I love this passage so much, because it illustrates what our communities should look like.

Acts 2:42-47New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

“Communal Life”, they lived in community!  They prayed together, the breaking of the bread was mass, along with the prayers they said together.  They were “together”!!!  They weren’t alone!  They didn’t do their own things, only gathering for prayers.  They met daily at the temple, and ate their meals together.

But, you say, we don’t live in a small town where we can walk to each others homes?  Phooey.  We have cars.  We have bikes.  If we want to make it happen, then damn it, we need to make it happen.  We need to gather together, or we will fall apart all alone.

Practically speaking, this means we need to connect.  If it’s easiest to connect with people through social media, then awesome!  Make those connections.  Share your thoughts, make thoughtful comments, participate in discussions!  If you want to take it further, invite someone over for an afternoon.  Keep trying!  Set a date, make it work.  Prioritize it.  Invite a family over for dinner and drinks, while the kids run in the sprinkler.  Start a couples group and recruit some babysitters who can watch the kids at one house, while the parents go to another house (or a bar…).

I’ll admit this, I’m terrible at this.  I’m a weird extrovert who is extraordinarily introverted in many ways.  I’m terrified of being hurt by people who call me friend (because I’ve been hurt by so called “friends”).  But at some point, I’m going to have to trust.  And I’m putting this out here now.  If any of my friends are having one of those hellish days.  Where you need to just escape, or you need someone to watch your kids in an emergency, let me know.  If I really absolutely can not do it, I’ll do everything I can to help you find someone who can.

Let’s build a village, instead of saying it’s impossible.

Letting go of obligation


I spent this past weekend on retreat.  It was absolutely wonderful to get out of the house and be where I could truly revel in silence and communion with God.  I was able to go to mass, listen to some talks about mercy, and was even able to talk to someone in a short session of spiritual direction.

In that conversation, she noticed what she called an “interesting word choice”.  I was talking about discernment and what to do with certain life decisions and mentioned that I felt “obligated” to do something.  She suggested praying on that word and seeing why it was what I had said.  The retreat center has a labyrinth and so I headed outside and decided to pray and walk and see what happened.

If you aren’t familiar with how to pray a labyrinth, let me give you the short version explanation.  You come to the entrance with an intention that you are praying over, then start walking at a regular pace (don’t stop!).  The first walk in to the center is the “purgative” path.  Once you hit the center, you stop and enter the “illuminative” path of the journey.  And then you walk out the way you came in on the “unitive” path.  (For a much more thorough explanation click here.)

So I started my journey asking God to just clarify to me what I need to know about “obligations”.  And really, it all came out simply.

Obligation and duty and all these responsible words are really useless.  They should all be thrown out the window, and instead I need to embrace “love”.  Because if one truly loves God, then whatever obligations or duties towards him will become acts of love.  If one truly loves their family, then any obligations or duties cease to be so, and instead are acts of love.  And that is what I need to strive for in my daily discernment.

When something comes up that feels like an obligation, I need to evaluate if I’m doing that thing out of love, or a misplaced sense of duty.  And I need to ask, is this truly the most loving thing I can do?  If I’m discerning our schooling choice, I need to stop asking “What should we do?” but “What is the most loving and best choice for the children and our family?”.

It was immensely freeing to realize this on my way “in” to the center.  I was able to take some moments to mediate on it, and then walk out while forming a concrete mindset on my way out, uniting what I learned to who I am so that I can take it with me into my daily life.

So here I am, trucking along on the every day things, trying to let go of the obligations and duties, and focus on doing the most loving thing I can do right now.  Taking it one moment at a time, focusing deeply on the thing I need to do.  Kids certainly don’t make this easy, with constant interruptions and demands, but I’ll take those as learning opportunities.  For me and for them!

Words Jesus never said:Bathroom edition


So with all this talk over the last month of so about bathrooms, I’ve yet to see a post that REALLY expresses how I feel about it.  Thus, in the interest of sharing my thoughts with the world, I’ll write my own post.  Others words don’t speak for mine, even if I may like parts of one post, or of a meme.

This may not be complete.  I may evolve on this.  And it’s complicated, so please don’t latch on to one part of what I might say and build a bunch of straw men arguments.

  1. For the vast majority of people I know (and often love), they aren’t for strict gender segregation because of a fear of trans people.  It IS about fear of cisgender men who are going to commit crimes.  However, to me this is a ridiculous thing to be your hill to die on.  Cis men could commit crimes in bathrooms without any changes to laws, and without trans people existing at all.  Conflating this concern with safety with trans bathroom laws is just bad marketing.  I think it can be a very serious concern, but if my state (or the US government) officially changed the laws to “Use whatever bathroom you gender identify with” I am NOT going to be changing any of my bathroom habits or safety measures.  There’s literally not a thing I would change.
  2. BUT hey you liberal friends of mine!  You are totally missing out on this GREAT chance to talk with the conservative folks about rape culture and what we can do to fix it.  The fixation on the trans issue is costing you the opportunity to really work to help people understand why rape culture is a thing!  All these people who were denying that rape culture existed on college campuses are now up in arms about rape culture in the Target bathroom (even if they don’t word it that way).  So stop.  Listen to the actual concerns people are voicing.  And then, you’ll probably agree with them!  That there is a problem when cis men commit crimes in bathrooms.   It’s been a problem in the past, and it’s rare, and unless we all do something to help raise awareness and try to stop it then it will continue to be a problem.
  3. In the general scheme of things, I just don’t get upset about things.  Our culture and our laws will likely never fully correspond to my personal beliefs.  And frankly, that’s fine, because that means that the fields are ripe and ready for someone to get out there and evangelize.   If I, as a Catholic Christian, see something going “wrong” with the world and say “Oh no!  I must never go to those places again!  I must hole up with only my parish and any businesses owned by people I know who share my beliefs!” then I have got the entire message of Jesus wrong.  Today’s gospel was the Great Commandments… to love God and to love my neighbor.  And when you combine that with the Great Commission, to go out and make disciples of all the nations, well I can not do that from the comfort of my insular world.  I can’t do that unless I go into the bathroom of Target, and smile at someone.  Heck, why not pass out miraculous medals or holy cards?  Solicitation is only a thing if you are asking for money, there are no laws against sharing your joy.

So I guess this is my challenge.  To my Christian friends, and especially my Catholic friends, do not be afraid!  Do not be afraid of where the world is or where it may be going, but look at this as an opportunity to love your neighbors, to bless those who are against you and to truly love!  To my liberal and non religious friends, I challenge you to listen.  To place positive intent on others, so that instead of feeding into the negativity we can bring joy and peace to our world.  To know that those who seem to be freaking out are still learning to love and that they sometimes have great hurts kept hidden away.   We’ll only grow together as a nation and a world if we can learn to listen to each other and show true love and respect.

To my love!


I’m sitting here right now with a stuffed up nose (that no amount of sudafed really helps), shea butter covering my chapped nose and lips, wet hair, and glasses (because even my eyes are leaking mucus, so no contacts allowed).  Yesterday was spent in bed all day and I have probably used about 200 tissues in the last few days.  I certainly do not look ready for a night out on the town celebrating love.  And while that wasn’t ever the plan for this year, I think this is one of the most romantic Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had.

Why?  Because I’m married to a guy who knows how to do all the right things.  He complains in his head about me (99% of the time).  He remembers that I was asking for these adorable colored bowls at JC Penney and gets them for me, even though the lady who rang him up was all “This better not be a valentine’s gift!”.  He gets me a mug with a cute saying about the best cup of coffee being the one that I get to drink with no one talking to me.  He bought me a potted hydrangea that is a glorious pink color, because he knows I’d rather have a plant that I can try to keep alive for a few weeks and not a bouquet that will die in a few days.  He gets the bag of chocolates because “there were more in there than in the heart shaped box, and it was cheaper”.   He spent yesterday taking care of the kids all day so that I could rest as much as possible.  He bought me lotion tissues, rather than cheap ones, to try and help with the chapped nose thing.  He goes along with me when I say things like “Let’s do this Symbolon class together” or “Let’s do this couple prayer thing at a church 30 minutes away!” or “Let’s forget about cleaning and go to the mall!” or whatever goofball thing I say.

In short, he cares about me.  He doesn’t care about what society says we have to have or do to be “in love”.  He doesn’t expect me to be a picture perfect housewife.  He doesn’t expect me to have all my shit together.  When I have a panic attack and run away to Target and avoid talking to him, he waits until I’m ready to talk and while I’m gone he takes care of things around the house I’ve been nagging him about. He just walked in the house and said he’s going back out to clean up a coke can that I left in the car that froze and exploded.

When we were first dating, I’d call him my knight in shining armor.  And it’s still true.  He’s the guy that fights the dragons and saves me.  It might not be very feminist of me to say that, but it’s true.  I need someone to come and fight the dragons that I can’t fight.  We all need someone to do that for us.

So Happy Valentine’s Day.  Happy World Marriage Day!

I love you Chris, no matter what!





A year ago today a man I never met died.  I had never met his wife, although friends of mine know them.  But he was one of those rare gems, those people who you see their story play out on Facebook, through email… and you are touched.  You pour your heart and soul into praying for them, for their families.  Sometimes they are a baby or a child, like Celeste.  Sometimes it’s a famous person, like Joey Feek, who has a whole fan base cheering them through their suffering.  And sometimes it’s just a regular person, a dad, a grandma, a whoever.  But they have a quality that jumps even through a computer screen.  And that quality is something that shines out when a soul is ready for life no matter the cost, even if it means that they have to be ready for death.

Paul Coakley was a guy (so I’ve heard) that was a bit of a wild man.  Adventures galore and his greatest adventure was his faith.  Reading all the awesome stories of things he had done, and reading about how he would take time to go out and just pray alone for a day made me realize that saintliness isn’t crazy.  Taking what looks like “me time” but is really “us time” for you and Jesus is a key to getting there.  It’s something that I need to schedule and prioritize.

But oh, how hard it is.  When I’m standing at the ocean in June it’s so easy to pray.  Even when it’s cold breezes and salty sand in my shoes, there’s something that just eases my soul.  But now, in winter, in the cold and the gray I’m not there. My soul is in hibernation and I don’t know how to call it out.

So I’m going to pray to a guy who so many people know is a saint.  I’m going to ask him to intercede for me, for my soul… that instead of my soul hiding away that it can break free and take me on the adventure that God wants to take me on.  That all my worries, which have suddenly multiplied like waves before a hurricane and seem poised to drown me will recede with the fury of the ocean leaving with the tide.  That those worries, which can’t just disappear will fade out, until I can get that breather and be ready for high tide when it comes again.  That if a wave should overpower me I can just take a deep breath and relax in the ocean until I can surface again.  That instead of fearing the waves I can embrace God’s will and know that He will take care of me and my family and that we don’t need to worry.

I’m going to pray to Paul, so that I can live like Paul.  And also for a little miracle… just a little one for our family, but from everything I’ve heard about Paul I’m quite sure he’ll understand why we need it.

Pray for us Paul!

If you want to learn more about Paul and his wife Ann you can follow the facebook page here.

I will only settle for Joy

STORIES.jpgThis post contains affiliate links.  If you click on them, I’ll receive a small percentage of the sale. 

Thanks to a very dear friend, I’ve been able to read the latest trendy decluttering book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, or the “KonMari” method book.  Or if you are one of the many husbands hearing about it, the “Calamari” book.

If you haven’t heard about this method, it’s basically a distinct philosophy for how to go through your belongings and only keep those things that “spark joy”.  It’s not necessairly a “minimalist” method, because if many objects truly bring joy to your life, then you should keep them.  I highly advise reading the book if you think this sounds interesting because it’s not as simple as “go room by room picking things up and seeing if they make you happy”.

Anyway, reading through this has made me experience several “light bulb” moments.  The biggest one though is that I often tend to “settle”.  Everyone has a vision in their heads of what they would love their home to look like.  Sometimes it might be an impossible wish (I’d love a mansion!) but often it’s simple things.  But what I’ve done, through the years, is to settle.  Often because we didn’t have the budget for the things I’d really rather have, but for some reason we couldn’t wait and just went with the “good enough and we don’t hate it” option.

But now I really and truly feel that I can’t settle for anything except what brings me joy.  The first thing you are supposed to go through with the KonMari method is your clothing, and just thinking about it makes me a bit worried.  I know that there is very little in my closet and dresser that truly sparks joy in me.  I settle so often for the cheap thing that fits “ok” and isn’t quite the right color.  I settle for hand me downs that I don’t quite like, but aren’t terrible, because I feel guilty about not accepting free things when I’m on such a tight budget.  I settle for keeping things I’ll never ever wear, because I might wear them again if I lose 50 pounds, right? (No, the answer is no.)

So I’m sitting here, finishing up the book and saying to myself, “Don’t settle.  Don’t do it.  Reach for joy… embrace it.  Find the things that you really and truly love.  If you can’t find anything, wait!  You don’t have to buy something if you aren’t going to love it!  Save the money until you do!  And if you truly need it that day, keep searching until you find it!  You are WORTHY of joy.  You are WORTHY of having things that you love, that make you happy.”

Today, don’t settle for less than joy.  Do something small for yourself that will bring you a bit of joy.  Play a game with your kids.  Hide in the bathroom with earplugs and a bar of chocolate if you have to!  Hug someone. Curl up in a warm blanket and read a book that you’ve been putting off.  Embrace Joy!



This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you click on them and purchase something, I receive a very small percentage of the sale.