Category Archives: Personal Development

Slowing Down

When I was about 11, a group of families traveled north to the Escanaba River in Michigan to go canoeing. It’s a beautiful river set amidst the background of very lush and variegated trees.

For practically the entire day, my canoe was in front, leading them all. And periodically, my Dad (who was in the back of my canoe) made comments like, “This isn’t a race.”

For as long as I can remember, speed has been a desirable thing. I type fast. I walk fast. I even drive fast. When I was young, I would practice classical and ragtime piano pieces until I could play them at lightening speed, unconcerned that the composer might have had a different tempo in mind.

So, getting sidelined by a back injury has challenged my habit of always moving fast.

I’ve learned some of the obvious lessons that we have all read about. But here are a few that I didn’t expect.

  1. I’m less scattered. Since I can’t physically twist and bend at will, I’ve had to be more focused on what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. So I’ve had to stop trying to do more than one thing at a time.
  2. I’m using muscles differently. I can’t bend over to reach for something without pain, so now I bend my knees all the time to get low enough to grasp something. Like the physical muscles, I’ve found myself using mental muscles differently, too.
  3. I’m less likely to jump quickly into something. I spent a lot of time on the floor now with my legs elevated because sitting is uncomfortable. As a result, I can’t flit from one thing to another as easily because it just takes a lot more energy and movement.
  4. I edit a lot more–I edit what I think, what I say, what I write, what I do. For example, I have found myself rewriting emails a lot more than I ever did.
  5. I can change my habits–for the good. Physical therapy has helped me create new habits that include the exercises that I need to be doing. While that may not sound like a huge thing, I’m not the best at changing my routine.

Before the new parish/school year completely overwhelms you, get away from your desk and try doing some of your work in a new place or in a new position, e.g., sitting on the floor or at a coffee shop. See how this small change impacts the way in which you do your work, and think about how you can integrate that insight into how you do your ministry in the future.


What Inspires You?

One of our members, World Library Publications, is issuing 3 new recordings on vinyl this year. So, when I got word of these new recordings–one is Bing Crosby and the Christmas story–I got jazzed.

See, tucked away in a cabinet in our library is my stack of records ranging from “The Carpenters” to “Pebbles and Bam-Bam’s Christmas” (yes, really!), and a collection of 78s from the Big Band era.

Records were the soundtrack of my life growing up. They accompanied me in my low moments, sang me out of my doldrums, and celebrated the mountain experiences. Because I would listen to them from start to finish (never just one song), I lived through a whole range of emotions and experiences by the time the last song ended. My faith was formed by Ray Repp, “Joy Is Like the Rain,” and Followers of the Way.

Most people would say that music inspires them. Some music, somewhere. At least once in a lifetime.

What music inspires you?


I learned that I could be whatever and whoever I wanted to be (“Free to Be You and Me.”) This special and album spearheaded by Marlo Thomas inspired me to look beyond societal boundaries. It helped me believe that I was as capable as the next equally talented and skilled person in the room.

I learned to observe and experience with all of my senses through Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and then Ravel’s orchestration of it. It started as a college “Symphonic Appreciation” assignment, but it captivated my already-nerdy inclination toward museums. The original piano piece added an aural dimension to the visual that has never let me go. It challenges me look at decisions from different points of view, and stop and engage when something doesn’t immediately grab me.

I also learned how to be present in prayer before God. When I was about middle school age, a group of young adults recorded 2 albums as the Followers of the Way. I spent a lot of time listening to, singing with, and dancing to these songs. As I was growing into my faith, they helped me find God in the world, in my family, and in myself.

So, what 3 songs (or albums) have contributed to the score of your life and ministry, and why? How do you still see and hear them resonating in your work and ministry?

4 Ways to Beat the Post-Holiday Blues

As much as I love Christmas decorations — and, in particular, the ones in my house — the turnover to a new year has given me a case of the post-holiday blues.

Since after Halloween, our household has been immersed in Hallmark Christmas movies (yes, we have our favorites and we even watch them over and over again!) My little heart has been warmed for the last 70 days by the notion that Christmas is about love in its many different forms and expressions.

So, why do I feel blue? Is there any less love in the world? No, but like every liturgical season, we’ve returned to Ordinary time.

Instead of beating the blues, how about we try to add a little yellow and turn them into green–the green of the season, green for “go,” however you want to interpret it.

  1. Go for a brisk walk every morning or at lunchtime. Remember that life and love are filled with light. Plus a little natural vitamin D is good for you.
  2. Be gentle with your new year’s resolutions. Pick one and make Ash Wednesday your goal. Recent studies show that we are more successful at making a change if we have a limited and defined amount of time in which to accomplish it. That’s partly why Lenten resolutions work–40 days is manageable for most people.
  3. Start the day with a full glass of water. Most of us are dehydrated anyway–think of all of the coffee, a natural diuretic, that most of us drink. I personally hate drinking water from a glass, but I love my sports bottle, therefore I’m actually more motivated to drink my water. Strange, but true.
  4. Say “I love you” to someone at least once a day. In front of the mirror (try it!) To your spouse or children. In a text or over the phone. To a picture of a loved one. If you can, save an “I love you” for God, too.