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Footprints on the Journey

2014 Second Place Winner of "Best Online Blog-Individual" Category from the Catholic Press Association

Spreading the Good

“Good morning.” Those are two words I don’t say enough and when I do say them, I don’t do it with nearly enough sincerity. But today the meaning of those words finally sunk into my thick skull after a co-worker greeted me with that phrase for probably the thousandth time. And I know she means it every time.

It’s funny how there is so much talk in the news about how people are becoming desensitized to violence from video games and such. I feel that for me at least, it’s just the opposite and that I am desensitized to so many good things. I’m built in such a way that I wake up each morning wondering what awaits me, worry about what is to come. But that’s no way to live. Like my coworker said, “good morning.”

It is a good morning, and it can continue to be a good afternoon if I stay in the right attitude. She taught me a great lesson with those two simple words, just because she says them so often and with so much kindness every time. That’s all it takes to make someone feel, in a word, good.

I’m going to thank that coworker for spreading something good today. It’s a simple act of kindness, and something we can all do. It just might make someone’s day.

Familiar Frustration

One of my beautiful nieces turned 13 this weekend. My brother and his wife had a family party yesterday to celebrate the occasion. There was food and cake, catching up and laughing, and of course, presents.

One set of grandparents gave her a selfie stick—a gift she happily received. However, that excitement turned into frustration, and perhaps embarrassment, as the family loudly exclaimed, “I want to be in a photo!”

“Take a picture over here!,” groups of people yelled from various corners and crevices in the living room. I saw the look of horror on my niece’s face—but, honestly, I wanted to be in a photo with her, too!

Getting your teenage niece or nephew to pose with you is priceless. I wasn’t going to let that chance slip by!

But I totally understood her frustration because I went through the same embarrassment from my family. As the years went by, I learned to appreciate and love it—the loudness, the teasing, it was all showcasing feelings.

Sure, the Beatles may be known for singing “All You Need is Love,” but Jesus had been preaching that long before. But no matter how it comes across—in loud ways or whispers, in singing or shouting, in photos or postings on Facebook—it’s something special to be appreciated because it’s a rare commodity.

I hope she doesn’t delete those photos.

Kites, Bikes and Other ‘Firsts’

The first time I flew a kite was not pretty. I was with my nieces on the beach—they are about 20 years younger than me and about 100 times more advanced at kite flying.

I ran as fast as I could and dragged my kite behind me. It was in the air, but only because it bounced on and off the sand as a pulled it. But because of those bounces (some had a little air!) I counted the attempt as my first time flying. My nieces and my brother and sister in law, well, they mostly laughed at me.

I thought flying a kite would be easy, but it was very difficult. I realized that a lot of things had to be a certain way for it to work…the material of the kite had to be good, the string long enough and untangled, and most importantly, the breeze had to be just right.

A few weeks ago, I got myself onto a bike for the first time in over a decade. The proverbial “they” say that you can’t forget how to ride a bike.

Liars!

As I wobbled left and right, white knuckling the handlebars trying to go in a straight line, I cursed inside my head. This was not how I remembered bike riding. As a teenager I was a great bike rider. I could ride up and down hills and steps, skid with my bike, and even ride with no hands for short distances. Now I could barely keep myself upright.

That’s the thing about firsts—they can sometimes look and sound deceivingly simple.

I didn’t give up on either, and eventually, I flew a kite in the air, and rode my bike in a straight line (but to be honest, I still have some work to do on the bike riding).

Both tasks gave me a sense of accomplishment and joy—and that’s something to be proud of. The same can be said of your spiritual life. Maybe you never said the Rosary or read the Bible before. It might be hard at first, but don’t give up! It’s well worth the effort, and the sense of accomplishment, and just how far and how high you can go is all up to you.

Can Coldplay Change Your Life?

I have diabetes. You have no idea how hard it is for me to type that sentence. It’s so hard, in fact, that it’s taken me over a week to get the nerve up to write this post. You see, my father died of complications from diabetes ten years ago. So this disease has become one of my biggest fears. And now I have it.

I’ve only lived with diabetes for a week, but each day I wake up and obsess over all the things that can go wrong with me now. I’m frightened, even terrified. If any one of you, dear readers, has a chronic illness, I praise you for your bravery. It seems as if the thought of diabetes has taken over my life and my mind. Each night I end up crying thinking about how the disease ravaged my father’s body.

I didn’t think I could ever learn to live with diabetes, it felt like an uphill battle. As I was pacing the floor, trying to come to terms with my new life and all I had to do now—watch what I eat, test my blood sugar, take a new medication—when I caught a glimpse of a board I made of positive quotes. It was one by the band Coldplay that says, “But if you never try you’ll never know just what you’re worth.”

That quote, out of all the others, was the only one I saw. It reminded me that my father’s story is not my story, even though his story is part of mine. And, more importantly, it reminded me that no matter how hard a battle we are thrown into, we have to fight.

Graduation Time—Beginning or End?

There was a popular song when I was in college that was played practically everywhere: each night as bars closed, at the end of weddings, and any other time hosts wanted to let guests know it was time to leave. The lyrics that stood out went like this: “Closing time, you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.”

The song is “Closing Time” by the band Semisonic.

It’s been stuck in my head all week because of all the graduations and moving up ceremonies going on in the archdiocese. Especially, I’ve been thinking of the graduations that are going on in my own family. For instance, one of my nephews is graduating from high school (My husband and I have 20 nieces and nephews and one grand-niece so there is usually something going on.) Having seen him go through the process of selecting a college, and how mature he is, I am so incredibly proud my heart could burst.

At the same time, I know that it’s probably a pretty exciting but intimidating time to leave high school and go off on into the future, not knowing what to expect at a new school with a new set of standards, a new set of people, and really, a place to start setting the path for his future. It’s closing time for high school but college waits.

It’s easy to get caught up in either the ending of one thing—like high school—or the beginning of another—college—and forget that both are to be celebrated, but the real joy is found in the now. “The Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy your soul” (Isaiah 56:11).

The journey is where the joy is found.

What was your graduation like? Any advice for current graduates?

Believing the Unbelievable, in a “Flash”

This weekend while I was hanging out with my brother we decided to watch the television show “The Flash.” I agreed because I knew the pilot episode had recently won a Christopher Award; he agreed because he is a superhero fanatic.

I love my superheroes, too, but for all the comic book nerds out there—I am a Marvel girl so the DC universe was new to me. I knew a little about the Flash but not much. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the series started but from that pilot episode and some of the bits of dialogue I was hooked. The main character, Barry Allen (the boy who becomes The Flash—for exactly how that happens, you’ll have to watch the show!), says in one scene, “To understand what I’m about to tell you, you need to do something, you need to believe the impossible, can you do that?”

flash

I knew from that line this was going to be a show I would like. That one line made my heart flutter just a bit. In an instant, I was a kid again, opening a new comic book—curiosity filling my mind as to what adventures and magic waited inside.

We both enjoyed the show. But at the end, my brother asked me, “Why did this win an award from a Catholic place?”

It was a good question. At the Christopher Awards, the hero of the show was commended for his “moral strengths born out of pain.” Allen didn’t have an easy life—his mother was murdered, his father is in jail as the culprit, and how he obtains his powers is not that pleasant. He grows into his character, as we all do, through trials, doubt and uncertainty, and obstacles. I told my brother that it’s a story of resurrection and even one of finding your own path using your own strengths for your vocation in life.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite show that has reaches down and touches a common human truth?

The Christophers To Broadcast Award Show Today on Sirius-XM

The 66th annual Christopher Awards ceremony, which took place in New York City last week, will air today, Tuesday, May 26, as a two hour special on Sirius-XM’s The Catholic Channel (129) at 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. The program will feature original interviews with award winners and The Christophers’ director of communications Tony Rossi. Comedy writer Tom Leopold (Cheers, Seinfeld), who won the Christopher Spirit Award in 2014, will host the broadcast and provide commentary throughout.

Information: www.christophers.org/awards

The Christopher Awards — Catholics Are Allowed to Talk About That?!

Among this year’s Christopher Awards were a book and a movie that stuck out to me: so much so that I watched the movie immediately the next day and have hopes of starting the book this coming weekend. One is a movie about a man who smokes, drinks and gambles on horses; and the other is a book about the armed forces, mental illness and suicide. When I told a friend about the winners, she was a bit shocked that Catholics could talk about such topics.

But Catholics can and should discuss the topics above. Mental illness, suicide, gambling, addictions, etc., especially because they are so prevalent today. The Invisible Front by Yochi Dreazen that tells of two brothers, one who died during the war and one who died by suicide after returning from the war, won in the adult book category. It’s a true to life story that tackles mental illness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The parents of the two boys were there to accept the award.

Father Jonathan Morris, Carol Graham & Major General Mark Graham, accepting Yochi Dreazen's award for the winning book "The Invisible Front." The Grahams and their sons were the subject of the winning book.
Father Jonathan Morris, Carol Graham & Major General Mark Graham, accepting Yochi Dreazen’s award for the winning book “The Invisible Front.” The Grahams and their sons were the subject of the winning book.

Yesterday, I watched St. Vincent and I was not disappointed. I like Bill Murray and his movies so that drew me in right away. When I heard that he smokes, drinks, bets on the ponies I thought, “This is my kind of movie!” and was hooked. I had to see how it would play out and why it won a Christopher Award.

According to Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, “The Christopher Awards are unique in that they celebrate both sacred and secular works across a variety of media. The stories we’re honoring—whether true or fictional—highlight people who rise above their own wants and needs to act selflessly, regardless of the sacrifice involved.”

Interesting. I had to see how that would play out in the movie.

If you haven’t seen it. Check out this trailer, and I hope you make time to watch it. It’s worth it.

What…Week Is It?!?

Have you ever been off by a day? I have. Often. I’ll wake up one morning thinking it’s Wednesday when it’s really Tuesday. But today I was way off…I thought I was in the next week. Thankfully, I had a friendly colleague gently remind me that I was skipping over time in leaps and bounds without laughing too hard at my mistake.

I guess it happens sometimes—days blur together. Although I have to say that it hasn’t happened to me since I was a child during summer break. Generally those days and weeks became one long adventure of swimming in blue water, running on fresh green grass and sitting on porches drinking lemonade and eating ice cream. As an adult, however, when time gets foggy, it’s generally because things are getting overwhelming—at least that’s what it’s like for me.

So, after I hung up the phone with my co-worker and fell back into the right week, I asked myself, how do I get out of this fog? I don’t think there’s an easy answer. But one thought popped into my mind from a book I read by Victor Frankl that says something like—we can’t control our circumstances, but we can control how we look at them and react to them. I feel like we can react with strength and fight or we can give up and float along when things get tough—which is what I was doing.

Have you ever lost track of chunks of time? How did you get back on top of things? Please share as it might help others.

Work as a Gift

May 1 is the Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker. When you think about it, it’s a fitting time to celebrate St. Joseph because May is the month dedicated to Mary. It’s as if his day is there at the beginning to support and protect her through the rest of the days. That’s how I like to think about it.

The words support and protection come to my mind whenever I think of my job. It’s easy to see how employment supports and protects each of us—it provides the money to buy what we need to survive and protects us from living a life of poverty.

For me, and maybe for you, too, my employment offers much more than money, and a very different kind of support and protection.

Knowing my own shortcomings and predispositions, I can tell you in a very real way that work protects me from laziness and negative thoughts. Once, during a time in between jobs I was so depressed I didn’t get out of bed more than a few hours a day—and even those few hours were exceedingly difficult. Work protects me from my own mind and keeps me from negative thinking and helps me remain focused on the task in front of me.

I’m thankful for the job I have, and I view it as a gift that’s not to be taken for granted. How about you? On this Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker, what is it about your job that you enjoy the most? Please share!

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