October 26, 2009

Open letter to Conservative Anglicans looking to convert to Roman Catholicism

Dear Conservative Anglicans considering the Catholic Church,
I'm sure you've received the invitation from our Pope to join up with the Catholic Church by now. I hear things have been getting a little "nutty" over with the Episcopalians these days. First women priests and bishops, then an openly gay bishop. Clearly these moves have created quite a bit of controversy in your church and have offended your conservative sensibilities. But before you take Benedict up on his offer, there are some things I think you should know about us Catholics.

While it's true that the Catholic Church has been pretty clear about several of the issues that are of concern to you, things might actually not be as cut-and-dry as you are hoping. Sure, we aren't allowed to have women priests, and we don't bless gay marriages or allow openly-gay people to serve as clergy (or receive communion for that matter), but I think that you should be aware of another long-standing Catholic tradition: ignoring Rome.

U.S. Catholics have been ignoring Rome for a long time on a whole host of issues, like birth-control and abortion. And in our local parishes, we've been breaking all kinds of rules: forming gay catholic groups (who even serve as Eucharistic ministers at Sunday Mass), and letting women speak from the altar, most notably. We even have splinter groups that ordain women. So, you see, if you're looking for a safe haven for your conservative sensibilities, you may not get what you're hoping for in the Catholic Church. Many of us are "reform minded" too. Benedict may not be particularly keen on being ignored though, which is why he's started some investigations into our American nuns and extended that invitation to you all — hoping to stem the tide of "liberal" ideas in our own church. Besides, I'm guessing you might feel a little bit insulted by Benedict's efforts to have you "swim the Tiber" in order to poach both your soul and your pocketbook. So, you see, we are nearly as rife with the same controversies and liberal/conservative battles that you might be hoping to opt out of.

I'd really consider toughing it out with your fellow Episcopalians/Anglicans if I were you; the grass really isn't greener or more conservative on the local parish level in the Catholic Church. Seriously.
Anima Sola

October 16, 2009

Slowly I turn...

I just deleted a very LONG blog about my "Las Vegas baggage," realizing that the details are all far too personal to share in this forum. But needless to say, "Las Vegas" has become my "Niagra Falls." Just mention it and I'm angry, edgy and combative. Acknowledging that this is all mostly irrational (and part unfortunate past experiences) is (hopefully) half the battle, and one day, I hope to truly let it all go.

July 14, 2009

A work in progress

It's been a busy summer and I've found that spending time outdoors really helps me to cope with the stresses of life. I think it's been a tough time for most people we know (at least financially), but we're used to rolling with the punches around here. The kids are going to summer camp(s) and eating a lot of ice cream. Big M toyed briefly with becoming a vegetarian, but succumbed to the lure of Chicago hot dogs.

I found a few more Anima Sola references recently: first, the production company for the HBO series 'Big Love'shares the name; and second, I was watching this show i stumbled upon called 'Saving Grace' and the character has a door in her bedroom painted with anima sola. As in the movie Gothika, this seems to link up with a past history of sexual abuse.

Tonight I hope to meet up with my GLOS group and get some prayers focused toward one of our members that is battling cancer right now.

As for me, I've been working on my health and overall wellness, working hard and enjoying the sun when I can. I hope to acquire a custom hula hoop soon as trade I did with a friend for a logo design. In less than 2 weeks, The Nurse will graduate Nursing School. After she passes her boards, I'm sure we'll plan some sort of party. We're all excited to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!

June 05, 2009


Doesn't it always seem that when life gets a bit more stressful, little annoying things seem to get magnified? Here's just a couple (yep, just two) of "annoyances" that have irked me lately:

1. Judge Sonia Sotomayor being criticized as potentially "too compassionate" and "emotional" or, conversely, as too "agressive, outspoken, and controlling." Of course, those are the standard "criticisms" of womankind going back as far as one cares to. You're either a bitch-with-a-capital-B or a weak and emotional crying mess who can't be given the authority to make important decisions. Grrrrrr.

2. Suburban straight-girl college culture. Admittedly, I know little of this from personal experience, but I've glimpsed a world through the eyes and stories of The Nurse that at once made me shudder, and be thankful that I attended art school in the big city. Apparently, gay-bashing and homophobia is alive and well at suburban colleges -- even in programs where the average age skews a bit higher. Twenty-six-year-old women routinely shun lesbian students for group projects, make obscene homophobic comments, and fear being called "lesbian" if they are too friendly with gay students. Do straight women generally harbor a paranoia that lesbian women are hitting on them if they are simply "nice"? Or that you will be considered gay-by-association?

My co-workers are all in the same age range (and 95% women), with The Nurse's classmates, and I have never yet experienced this phenomenon, so I have to blame the suburbs. I know other women — even straight girls who were "mistaken" for gay (short hair and tattoos perhaps? not enough pink?) — who have been accosted by total strangers. So I'm stayin in the city. Humpf.

May 27, 2009


"Life sure is a humdinger." That's what Delle used to say, quoting her wise auntie. The Nurse is in, well, nurse mode, but it's just a completely different thing when it's family. No machine. Waterfalls of tears. And reserves of strength you didn't know you had. Ah, I'd do just about anything to make it all better — but the simple truth is that I've got no control. None of us really do. I've got a shoulder to cry on and a lap to fall asleep on for an hour or so. And a whole lot of love for The Nurse and her family. I continue to be amazed to witness what the human soul can bear. Be kind to each other today.

May 19, 2009


On my usual route getting the kids to the bus stop and then down the block to catch my train to work yesterday morning, I spied a yard full of hundreds of lilly of the valley which stopped me in my tracks. I just couldn't resist, so after looking around quickly, I crouched down and started picking them. Just a small handful to carry along to work with me. Ah, they are one of my favorite flowers, rivaled only by fellow May-bloomers, the lilac. The urban valley I live in — created thousands of years ago by Lake Michigan and melting glaciers — is the perfect habitat for these shade-loving beauties. Their sweet smell and dainty bell-shaped perfection made the walk down the used-condom strewn street a little more bearable. Take some time to smell the flowers today.

May 14, 2009

Life goes on....

Well hello there Anima Sola readers! It's been well over a month since I've posted anything, so I'll try to do a little update here of things that have been preoccupying me. I've thought about writing a few times, but as I so often do, I write it in my head and don't always manage to get to the keyboard. Anyway....Spring has finally sprung in Chicago and it's a glorious day — at least 70 today I'd say, with plenty of sunshine.

I'm getting into the groove at my new job; I had my "90-day Review" on Monday of this week and it was actually refreshing to hear some constructive criticism as well as praise. Overall, it was very positive and I was told what a good job I'm doing. After my review, I cleaned out the "job search" email folder that I'd been hanging on to — with well over 200 emails stored of jobs I'd applied for. A nice little cleanse.

Of course, becoming gainfully employed has not made each and every hurdle in life vanish — stumbling blocks and challenges are still a regular appearance. I have accepted that this is simply the nature of life. We are not in control, just along for the ride. We try to roll with the punches: stress, money woes, illness, death. And try to look around and see who is there with us as we face the darker moments. These are the people who matter. Live a good life and I believe you'll find lots of these people in your corner.

One of my latest guilty pleasures is Facebook. I've had fun reconnecting with long lost friends and keeping better tabs on people that I don't usually have daily contact with. The brief "status updates" are nice little check-ins with people who might otherwise slip through the cracks on most days.

This Saturday, Little M and J are making their First Communion, which we are all looking forward to. And this past Easter, The Nurse was initiated into the Catholic Church. It still sounds crazy to say that, because a part of me wonders how anyone can rationalize joining our crazy church, but then I realize that our community at St. G's is pretty darn special and unusual. There is an abundance of light there that really pulls people in. Perhaps it's greatest gift is that so many of the parishoners are deep thinkers who really have done the theological study and spiritual house-cleaning to be able to be Catholic on a local level, while resisting Catholic nonsense from the hierarchy. Anyway, The Nurse and I have really deepened our relationship by connecting spiritually and sharing a faith path, which means so much to me.

OK, this is getting a bit long, but I'll try to check in more often and write again about more topical stuff. I can't believe it's already mid-May and I'll be (choke, choke) 37 next week! How on Earth did this happen?

April 06, 2009


Lent is coming to an end, but winter won't release her grasp from Chicago. The wind is still howling and the snow is still falling around here. Surely, that has something to do with my rotten mood today. That and the fact that I've been suffering from vertigo for two weeks now. This weekend, I suffered from the worst migraine I've had in about a decade. The pain still lingers and combined with lack of sleep and vertigo -- I'm a mess this Monday morning.

Spring promised to renew us, but she hasn't arrived just yet, so I'm desperately trying to make it through this latest round of choking winter and illness. Today feels a little hopeless, but that could just be the pain talking.

This Lent, I did manage to accomplish some things on a personal and spiritual level: I quit smoking. There has been a small amount of backsliding, but overall, I feel that I can confidently say that I have QUIT. Smoking ties in with a lot of old relationship baggage for me, so I'm happy to take a first step in putting those things to rest. Of course now I'm left looking for another coping mechanism and I really haven't found it yet, though chocolate has been the tempting choice. Why can't it be exercise?

Today is the anniversary of my first date with The Nurse. We had a lovely little date last night, thanks to a friend who surprised us with last minute tickets to The Goodman to see Magnolia. Very nice. The kids are still driving us both crazy, our schedules are still overwhelming and we still haven't figured out exactly how to keep the fires burning, but we're trying. Sometimes that's easy and sometimes that's hard. I guess that's just life.

February 16, 2009

Her voice

I've been keeping a running list in my head of things to write about but the time has escaped me lately, but even more so, I'm having my usual trouble in deciding what to write about first. As this blog was meant to focus primarily on religion and patriarchy and how my little corner of the Catholic Church was fighting it, I guess I need to keep my focus there because there is a lot to write about.
Seven years ago when I found the renegade Catholic parish that I am a member of, I was delighted to find a spiritual home that embraced so many of my needs — in particular a parish that had a lay preaching team which allowed women to share their wisdom from the pulpit. I had spent many years trying to heal the wounds that I believe exist for most Catholic women — marginalized and silenced for centuries. I followed the voice of the Goddess and found power and strength in circles of women who honored ancient ways. But I always longed for the Mass and for community. I was blessed to find it in the midst of so many other who heard Her voice.
But now, the voices of women have again been silenced. Our parish received an order from our local Bishop that lay-preaching was to stop immediately. Rather than resist that order and face various punishments, our Pastor has acquiesced. We've had a couple of meetings to discus our feelings and agree on some sort of response, but right now I can't help but feel tremendously let down. The old wound is again ripped open and salted.
As our parish meets to figure out a response, I am figuring out how I personally must respond. In addition to declining to write a check for the Annual Catholic Appeal (I submitted a protest note in my envelope instead), I'm thinking again of my small circles of women and the old ways. I have always walked the line between Christianity and Paganism quite well, sometimes more on one side than the other, and I wonder if another shift is on the brink for me. I won't give up my community, but I can't give up the spiritual wisdom that only women can offer each other. For now, I am patiently listening for Her voice....and I know the way will be revealed to me.

January 21, 2009

A very auspicious day

Have you ever had one of those days where everything just seems to unfold perfectly? I think I will always remember the events of Janurary 20, 2009: After I got the kids off to school, I joined them at the 9am Inauguration Mass to drop off juice boxes for the 2nd grade's "Ball in the Hall." Little J read in church and was as hammy as ever. On my way home from Mass, I got The Phone Call. The One I've been waiting for for just over a year. The company I had interviewed with the day before was calling to offer me a position! I was absolutely giddy. I originally applied and interviewed with them last Spring, but when three new positions opened up, I jumped to the top of their list. So after a very long struggle, my daunting journey through unemployment is finally over. I hope that this is a chapter in my life I will never have to live again. The best parts? This job is in my field, doing exactly what I want to be doing, has growth potential, is only a ten minute commute from my house, and pays a good deal more than my last job. LIFE IS GOOD. But wait, the day had just begun! It seemed like forever (5 phone calls and a text message) before I was able to share this long-awaited news with The Nurse, but we finally connected and I was delighted that she could share the joy with me and feel the lifting of this heavy burden. I made it home to watch the Inauguration ceremony -- and found myself more moved by the music of Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perleman, Anthony McGill & Gabriela Montero and Elizabeth Alexander's Praise Song for the Day, than I was by Obama's speech. Nevertheless, during the speech, the weight of the day — my own and the unique moment in time that our country was experiencing — finally caught up with me and I wept. I sobbed.
Next, I was off to the spa, which was offering use of the facilities for free in honor of the day. I met up with three great girl friends and we celebrated and soaked away the last eight toxic years. By the time I left, it was time to pick the girls up from school and share my good news. I was met by cheers and visible relief — the seriousness of our financial predicament had not been lost on them. After homework was completed and The Nurse was home from work, we were off to celebrate at our favorite little Italian restaurant. After delicious food and a nice bottle of wine, I was off to my church's GLOS group meeting for some reflecting. I was surprised when I was greeted with a bouquet of flowers to celebrate my new job. Today I feel very grateful for the support of my friends and family who have kept me in their thoughts these long months. Let's celebrate!

January 19, 2009

At long last!

Can you believe that the Bush presidency has finally come to an end? Just one more day. Tears were shed when he became our president eight years ago, but I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams (nightmares?) how bad it could get. Illegal war. Mission Accomplished. Abu-Ghraib. Katrina. Two right-wing supreme court justices. Economic collapse. These are just a few of the Bush Administration failures. This man has taken America from being the envy of the world to the shame of the world. I feel totally shell-shocked after the last eight years and can't wait for the brighter days ahead. Let's hope that the worst if finally behind us, or at least keeps itself to Texas from now on.

January 13, 2009

10 things on my mind

Ten things on my mind today:
1. "healthy selfishness"
2. National Body Challenge
3. Bishop Gene Robinson asked to give prayer at Inaugural event
4. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success -- particulary the Law of Detachment
5. my tween's slumber party this weekend
6. daily exercise
7. setting reachable goals
8. personal boundaries
9. what I want on my tombstone
10. gratitude

swish swish

I found at least one thing to be very grateful for this morning. It's heading into sub-zero territory this week here in Chicago, and one of the less-than-a-month-old fancy-schmancy winter wiper blades I bought, snapped right off this morning. Perplexed at the thought of coming up with the money for a replacement, I decided to drive over to the oil-change place where I bought it — and they were able to fix it within seconds for free. Trust me, this is a grace-filled moment where we're talking about making it through a Chicago winter.

January 12, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life....

I tend to avoid writing anything here when there's either too much happening in my life or when I'm feeling depressed. Which is too bad, because writing has always been helpful for me when I'm working through stuff. So I turn to my journal instead. Lately every day has been a battle. I manage to get quite a bit done — catching up on laundry, cleaning the house, paying the bills, making sure that other people's needs are at least minimally met. I've tried to do a few things for myself too — talking to close friends about where I'm at and getting needed support, joining an exercise challenge, making a doctor's appointment.
The dark thoughts haven't abated though. Some days I'm convinced that I'm going to die soon. My brain searches for a bit of rationality to stave off the fatalism and on most days, I find just enough. I don't want to be consumed by this darkness, but more than that, I am terrified that I am taking others down with me. I've kept so much of it inside but it leaches out in various poisonous ways into my relationships. The only thing that is clear to me most of the time is that I am a terrible burden. Cue the sad songs....

January 03, 2009


The Nurse is already looking forward to New Year's Eve 2009 — and it's no wonder she's in a hurry to get through this year what with all the struggles of 2008 and quite a few more on the horizon. This has been one helluva year, for sure. I know we're not alone on that front. And for The Nurse personally, 2009 will see her fulfill an important goal — she'll graduate nursing school in July and really be The Nurse.
I'm taking comfort in my Favorite Song of The Moment — You and Me and the Bourgeoisie by The Submarines. Listen here. It's a good reminder that whatever we are going through, we're still blessed to be living in the "First World," aka America, and our struggles are inconsequential to most of those in the rest of the world. The other message of the song that I'm clinging to is that when we fill ourselves up with the things that really matter — love and light — we can get by with a lot less "stuff."
So there you have it: My Resolution for 2009. Choose love. Choose light.