Tag Archives: passion

Grateful for you

Ten years ago this month, I started this blog; my dashboard says I have posted 668 times. At the beginning, I committed to posting once a week. A few years ago, my spiritual director suggested I try writing poetry, and I added a second weekly post. Recently, I have been sharing pictures of my garden and reflections from my travel.

I like that my blog has evolved and continues to evolve, that I can be free enough to let the Spirit lead me, because that is how it feels—like I am being led in what I write and share.

Before I published my first piece, I sent it to a friend who was a newspaper editor and asked for his advice. He said that people want to read what is real and raw. He encouraged me to hit “publish,” and I did. Those first few months, I asked for his approval before each posting, until finally he told me I didn’t need his approval and I should just publish.

Several times over the years, I have thought of stopping, because of other commitments in my life or because I was tired of the discipline of writing/posting each week, but every time I entertained those thoughts, someone would reach out to tell me how helpful my writing was. So, I continued.

Writing and sharing requires courage. I have shared many personal parts of my life—my grief when someone has died, my history of abuse, my prayer life, my spiritual journey, my loves (travel, gardening, reading, knitting, etc.); and each time I share something that feels “private” (or as my friend Ted would say, “too private”), I have felt freer.

My life goal is to have nothing to fear, nothing to prove and nothing to hide. This blog has moved the needle and helped me become more transparent. It is because I have shared so much here that I was able to become a Survivor Speaker at our local domestic abuse/sexual assault resource center.

I have overcome many challenges and obstacles in my life and have come through them all with a deep sense of gratitude. I feel so blessed, even by the adversity, because through adversity, I have come to know my own resilience.

One of the greatest gifts of blogging, and one I did not expect, is the connection with other bloggers. Before I began, it did not occur to me that I would get to know people from around the world who share their thoughts, photos, hobbies and passions. Yet I have a feel for so many of you. I know I don’t have the whole picture, in the same way you are only getting a slice of who I am, but I am grateful for what you share, for your willingness to put yourselves out there.

Writing this blog has helped me see strengths I did not know I possessed, and your comments have helped me persevere. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.


Olive oil in the Chianti region

Another stop on our tour was at Pruneti Olive Oil Mill where we learned about the process of growing olives, care of the olive trees and pressing olives for oil. This small, family-owned mill only produces extra virgin olive oil. We toured the facility and then did an olive oil tasting, sans bread.

Olives waiting to be pressed.

Our taste-test leader, Emanuele, was very serious about olive oil. When someone in our group suggested mixing balsamic vinegar with olive oil for dipping bread, he held up his hand in a stop gesture and said, “If you are going to mix balsamic vinegar with olive oil, please, just don’t tell me.” A purist, I thought.

Olive oil tasting room

From Gaida, the Villa owner, to the people at the goat farm, to Sergio the potter, to Emanuele, what amazed me the most about them was their passion. Each of them works very hard and each has a pride in her or his work.

Perhaps it is in the nature of the people of Italy or perhaps these hand-selected folks were the perfect choices to show and teach us about Italian life and culture. I was continually impressed with the level of passion we observed at each of our stops.

Since returning home, though, I have wondered where I could find that kind of passion here, where I could find people willing to commit their lives to what they love, even if it is hard work with little monetary reward. I wondered about my own passion and commitment. What is it that gets me juiced up? that animates me? that burns so brightly inside me that others can’t help but notice?


Like many people, my life seems to have become limited during the pandemic. I get together with family and friends less frequently and now am only going to restaurants and stores that require the staff to wear masks. I have spent lots more time alone, especially these past six months since my mom died.

One thing I have noticed during this increased alone-time, though, is how often I see silver linings and notice joy.

I am much more aware of the little things that make me smile—my lighted Christmas tree outside my picture window, every dog I meet on my daily walks, funny videos friends send. I seem to be more aware of how often I feel joy.

Perhaps joy was always there, but I was too busy and distracted to take note of it.

Now, though, with my life less cluttered with outside activities, I have the time, space and focus to notice the little things that make me happy. 

A reflection in Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening recently cited this quote:


Nepo went on to say that responding to need is a “way that scarcity can direct our lives,” and he encourages “finding what we love” in order to build a “life of passion.”

I have been pondering what brings me joy, what stirs my passion, what makes me come alive.

I think that at my heart, I am a caregiver, and I am quite happy when I can help someone. Also, by nature, I am a connector, and it brings me joy when I can bring together two people for their mutual benefit.

In the past, I have tended to diminish the little things I have been able to do, small ways I was able to help, but now I am more inclined to value the benefits of those little efforts. It is the starfish story of helping this one in front of me.


During the Solstice Gathering this week, Krista Tippett invited us to ponder the questions we are living. Here are some questions I am asking:

How do I live my best self?

How do I use what I have learned in life to help others?

How do I grow into the person God created me to be?

How do I let go of fear and grow in trust?

What questions are you asking? Where are you finding joy?

More light

What makes you come alive?

What ignites the passion within you?

Each of us has a spark, sometimes burning brightly

And sometimes barely an ember.

A word, a touch or a look can ignite the flame,

And reveal our deepest desire.

Seek love and kindness and generosity.

Listen deeply.

Pay attention.

Notice what you notice.

Then your flame can shine bright enough to light your way

And the way for another.

Creating space for the spiritual

My grandparents came from Poland, and my parents spoke Polish as their first language. They learned English in school but spoke Polish at home. Their religious training—what my grandparents handed on to them about the beliefs, customs and the rituals of their faith—was also in Polish.

Like many people who learn English as their second language, my parents spoke with an accent, and they were self-conscious about it. I don’t know what kind of ridicule they endured, but it was enough that they did not want their children to be treated as they had been, so they decided not to teach us Polish. They wanted their children to fit in and be like other Americans.

But because my parents’ faith was expressed in Polish, my religious instruction was limited to what I learned at weekly catechism classes.

I was not aware of the impact of this until I became an adult and began to see how little I knew about my faith. “I missed that lesson,” was my common response when other Catholics spoke about matters of faith. There was so much I did not know.

I did not even know how to pray the rosary!

At some point in my young adult life, though, I realized that my ignorance of Church teachings had not gotten in the way of my developing a relationship with God.


From the time I was eight years old, I knew God had called me in some special way. I seemed to see things from a slightly different angle than others, and I drew conclusions that left adults baffled. My father used to say, “You didn’t learn that in this house,” when I would offer an opinion that was shaped by my relationship with God.

Through the Sunday readings, I had gotten to know Jesus’ story well enough to feel close to him. He became a brother to me.

I loved the Palm Sunday reading of the Passion. Jesus’ anguish in the garden of Gethsemane was my anguish. His cry to God—why have you abandoned me?—was also my cry.

Jesus, like me, was an innocent victim.

Jesus got me in a way no one else in my life did, and I was so grateful for this connection. I felt like Jesus saw me and understood what I was going through, and I leaned into that relationship.

I could talk to Jesus about what was happening in my life, and I shared my fears and anxieties with him, knowing he was not going to tell anyone. I trusted him completely.

My spiritual life grew out mystery and grace, and my lived experience of Jesus drew me closer to God.

I began to go deep within myself to that space at my core where God dwelt, where God’s spirit lived as a small flame. By the time I was a teen, I could sit in silent meditation for long periods of time, happily connecting with Jesus and the Spirit of God within me.


Palm Sunday

When I was fifteen years old, I remember thinking, “One day I will write a book and the first line will be: ‘From the time I was eight years old, I knew that God had called me in a special way.’” I did not know how or why God had called me, but I knew it to be true. God had somehow touched me and that touch had made me a bit different.

I was probably most aware of this difference on Palm Sunday. Each year, as the story of Jesus’ passion was read during Mass, my two brothers squirmed and fidgeted, shifting their weight, leaning on the pew in front of us, obviously bored and wanting to sit down. I, on the other hand, was enraptured. This was the Sunday I anticipated all year, the reading I loved the most. I savored every word of the story and imagined myself in every scene.

When the crowds cried, “Crucify him,” I wanted to cover my ears and scream, “NO!” I imagined Jesus mocked and betrayed and ultimately abandoned. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he pleads to his silent father. I cried for him every time I heard the story.

I would be annoyed with my brothers for their distracting fidgeting. How could they not get the significance of this story? How could they not understand what was happening? “Boys!” I used to think dismissively.

But, by the time I was fifteen, I realized it was not about their being boys. It was about me and my connection with this story, and I realized that I had a relationship with God that was different from my brothers.

I loved going to church, not just on Palm Sunday, but every Sunday. I loved the quiet of it, the smell of candles and incense, the peace. I hungered for connection with God. “I could live here,” I used to think.

My love of church continued throughout my life, but it wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I gained a deeper insight into my connection with the passion story.

It was Palm Sunday and I was processing into church with my palm branch, just as I had done every year before that. But this particular Palm Sunday, my body resisted entering the church. It was as if I was literally walking with Jesus and wanted him to stop. “Don’t go,” I wanted to say to him, knowing the story that was about to play out. I started to cry before I even got to the church doors. “Don’t go.” But the procession continued and I was carried along inside, tears streaming down my face.

In that moment, I recognized my close identification with Jesus as an innocent victim, betrayed and forsaken; and I realized that I was crying for eight-year-old self.

Living Our Dreams, Part Two

I heard a song on a Christian radio station the other day about being the person God created me to be, and the idea keeps running through my mind. If I were being my true self, the self God created me to be, I would be….

As I walked Detroit the other morning, the words to that song came back to me. She is part Terrier, part Chihuahua, heavy on the Terrier. She was bred to sniff out vermin, and she is good at it.

One day in PA, she had her nose stuck under the radiator, a low growl coming from deep in her belly. I told her to “leave it,” but she would not; she was unyielding. Finally, I got a broom and while saying to her, “There is nothing under there,” I pushed the broom handle under the radiator—and out ran a little mouse. I had never had mice in my house, so I was startled, but Detroit was not. She knew a mouse was under there, and she was on the job of flushing it out.

Recently, I heard that Detroit (the city) once had a tree canopy so dense a squirrel could go from the east side to the west side of the city without ever touching the ground. That is no longer true, and to Detroit (my dog) this is a happy fault. Squirrels have to come down out of the trees, and Detroit is ready for them.

When we are walking and she sees a squirrel, she focuses all her attention on it. She crouches down and approaches slowly, creeping along until she is within five feet or so. Sometimes she freezes and watches, every muscle in her body tense as she prepares to pounce. I allow her to follow her instincts, sometimes standing still for a minute or two, because I love watching her be her true self.

Thankfully, she has never caught a squirrel, not even in the yard when she is off leash, but when I watch her stalking them, I know that this is her true self, this is what she was created to do, and it comes absolutely naturally to her. She will chase a rabbit or run toward birds, but squirrels are her true passion.

How wonderful to be so clear about one’s passion and so faithful to one’s true calling. If I were being my true self, the self God created me to be, I would be….