Monday, December 17, 2012

Blending Indigenous and Christian Traditions

I experienced both Christian and Peruvian indigenous traditions on 12-12-12. My 12-12-12 was a reflection of the oneness of the human race and how God always manages to speak to people in a manner they can hear best. If you would like to read about it, visit my blog post over at New Mountain Coaching!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

St. Therese's Papal Visit - A Lesson about Life Purpose

11/20/1887: Therese begged the Pope to enter Carmel at 15. How can she inspire us to pursue our life purpose more boldly? Check out my post here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Another Reprint, Another Refresher on Generous Love

Another reprint of one of my early articles, "What Does it Mean to Grow Outside Yourself?," went live yesterday! A special thank you to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate for their support. To read my blog post where I review the roll out of this concept,go here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October Feature in Catholic Digest

A tough postal worker braved Frankenstorm to deliver these! Check out the October edition of Catholic Digest for a new article. You can find my feature on page 42: “Coming Back After Breaking Up: How to Get Back to Joyful Living After the End of a Relationship.” I offer 11 tips that blend life coaching principles with traditional Catholic spirituality. If you want to kick start the new year with some extra punch, send me a note about my life coaching services. I can help you Set the World on Fire TM!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Symposium Opens Year of Faith, Paper to Come

Last week, I spoke at a symposium (at the lovely Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in NY) to kick off the Year of Faith. My paper was entitled "Catholic Identity, Evangelization, and Renewal through Social Media" - and while I have publication plans for what I wrote, you can get an overview on my website.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What's Up with Blogger's Formatting?

Hey all - has made some adjustments and I can't seem to get paragraphs to show up in my posts! If you have discovered the trick, please let me know. In the meantime, you can read my posts on The formatting is better there!

Jane Austen Guide Teaches Single Women to Guard Hearts, Manage Relationships

A new book is out this month to support single women: The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After. I endorsed Elizabeth Kantor’s latest book and I wish I had read it when I was younger; it would have saved me some broken hearts! Kantor offers guidance for the modern single woman through Jane Austen’s works. It is clever and enjoyable. While we might think of Austen’s world as irrelevant to what we now face, Kantor demonstrates that Austen’s approach was, in fact, modern in many respects. Austen’s stories show women managing their own relationships, for instance. She used literary devices to get parents out of the way! This book helps us weigh the impact of Romantic love in our lives, or in other words, that crazy kind of love that movies and novels rely on for generating high-octane and combustible love stories. It’s the type of love at first sight that can blind us from rational considerations. Kantor, through Austen’s examples, shows women how to pace relationships in a sophisticated and empowered way so that crazy love doesn’t de-rail their happiness. A lot of Christian women have heard the phrase, “Guard your heart.” Or even better, “Find a guy who will guard your heart.” This book teaches women exactly how to guard their hearts. A lot of it is about pacing the speed that you emotionally attach to a guy. The book introduces the concept of admiration vs. attachment. A guy may admire you greatly and appreciate your time together, but not be in love and ready to choose you above all other women, i.e. attach. This is a very important point worth studying because women can start to attach to a man when he is merely in admiration-mode. This is risky and can lead to major disappointment. How do we know what pace to go by? Through the man’s words and behavior. It’s a dance. We should strive not to shift into attachment when he has not given us any reason to think he’s on that path. And let’s face it – guys can be annoying and inconsistent. Therefore, it can take a lot of analysis to determine what his intentions are early in a relationship. He may not even know what he wants yet, which is why it’s important to stay in the present moment and watch him closely. It’s worth the effort and can save us from humiliation. What is fabulous about this book is that it doesn’t propose that women become false or numb to emotion. Our sensitivity is one of our greatest strengths, and relationships are important enough to manage well. In fact, this book encourages us to become relationship experts again. While the context is mainly focused on finding a mate, Kantor points out that in the past, people were forced to develop stronger relationship skills early on. Nowadays, we might begin dating and find ourselves starting largely from scratch when it comes to relationships skills. While our newfound independence has many perks, we could also benefit from flexing our relationship muscles more often in our lives. What’s neat about this is that we don’t have to wait for a guy to come along to get relational. We can practice being a good friend every day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Video Web Chat TONIGHT!!

I just finished up a show on Morning Air (love those guys) and I am super duper excited about my video web chat tonight. If anything else, you need to check out this new technology. It's better than a webinar. You will be able to see people's faces from across the country and ask questions. Social media is becoming more important in helping people maintain their Catholic identity in this crazy world we live in. This new video web chat tool can be leveraged in so many ways to bring people together. Second, I'm so elated to have Fr. Elias Carr and Kate Wicker joining us. I want to ask them questions about mixed marriages and how it works in practical terms. How does the wedding work? They are both phenomenal people and we're just so honored to have them with us this evening. Since today is the big day, you have two options. You can RSVP here: Or, just tune in at 7pm EST and join the chat here: The event is FREE! I hope to see you there!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Greatest Hits: Growing Outside of Yourself

This January 2009 article below is one of my greatest hits. It inspired a chapter in my book and I think it changed a lot of conversations about Catholic dating. If you want to meet the priest who inspired some of it, RSVP to my live web chat on Monday, April 23rd at 7:00 p.m. EST. It is video-based – so have your web cam ready and the latest version of Flash. Register here:

A young lady who read one of my articles asked me to further explain my statement that finding a good spouse can mean “growing outside of yourself.” What does that mean? I’ll attempt to unpack that statement here.

Ideally, Catholic women want to find a Catholic man with good character, of course. It doesn't always fall into place like a puzzle though...sometimes there is work and compromise involved. This reality is not always discussed in the Catholic literature, but real life is oftentimes messier than idealized dating guidelines! Keep in mind that the majority of the “courtship” books sold to Catholic singles at events are written by people who have never been married or by clergy. I believe these intellects are genuinely trying to be helpful, but much of the advice is simply too idealistic to be applied to real life 100% of the time.

A snapshot of real life looks like this: I used to help with RCIA classes, and many people become Catholic because they are inspired by a girlfriend or boyfriend. Just because one person was not Catholic didn't mean that Jesus wasn't there. I became Catholic because a former boyfriend introduced me to the faith in a positive manner. My husband became more interested in the faith, largely because of his relationship with me. Jesus acts through people who love Him and none of us is a finished piece of work.

Further, stats say there are MORE practicing Catholic women than men. Some Catholic women will marry men who are powerhouses of faith when they meet them, others won't. Still, others will choose to remain single and commiserate with their friends over their single status forever. There is a choice to be made...and sometimes that involves choosing to be realistic after a certain age and settling on some things to marry, OR choosing to be a "secular sister" of sorts and living independently. Most women who email me about this topic don’t feel called to religious life or celibacy. They feel called to marriage and are following the advice they get, but something isn’t working. They can’t find a lasting connection with someone who is a “suitable spouse.”

Sometimes, our own thought patterns can block us from finding a suitable spouse. Have you considered that maybe God is putting someone who is suitable in your path…but you are too rigid in your thinking to see him? “Growing outside of yourself” can be the missing link.

When things aren't perfect in a relationship (they typically are not)...that's when people "grow outside of themselves." There are usually gaps between ourselves and others that need to be bridged to form a long term relationship that works. For instance, even though I identified myself as a "conservative" or "orthodox Catholic" when I was single and going to faith-based events, I usually found that there were one of two things that I disagreed on with other Catholics who identified themselves the same exact way. People are just that way... they differ.

A lot of the people I know who are unhappily single get overly bent out of shape when they realize that someone close to them or a prospective partner doesn't agree with everything they think up. Surprise! That's just life...and if someone really wants to get married and hasn’t been in luck, it's best to find ways of constructively dealing with that "gap" that exists with everyone. People who can't tolerate any differences can remain alone, and nit-pick everyone and everything. Of course, the caveat to compromise is always that everyone has a limit and it’s wise to know what it is.

The benefit to reaching outside yourself is that it makes for a wiser, more well-rounded, compassionate individual. It’s a strong and loving way to live rather than fearful. When you put yourself in someone else's shoes, try to understand another perspective on the world, another person's just makes you a better person. It's worth it to learn to peacefully co-exist with people who have minor differences of opinion.

Consequently, people in happy partnerships tend to have stronger immune systems! Neither me or my husband have been sick since we got married in June and I used to regularly get sick during the cold months!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

You Don't Want to Miss This Live Web Chat!

I’m hosting a live web chat on Monday, April 23, at 7:00 p.m. EST about my book with special guest, Fr. Elias Carr, Can. Reg. We’re going to focus on Chapter 7, “Growing Outside Yourself.” This chapter has fueled much thought and online discussion! In fact, an early article I wrote with the same title was so popular on that it led me to write the chapter in the book. And, I have found coaching to be an excellent way to explore these issues on an individual level.

What happens if you can’t find a guy at Catholic events or dating websites? What if the guy who treats you the best is not a practicing Catholic? Could God be asking you to open your heart and grow beyond your preconceived notions?

Fr. Elias Carr, who influenced this chapter, will make a special appearance to elaborate on his quote on page 73, “Just find a good guy!” What made him say that and what qualifies as a “good guy” these days anyway?

I’ll also ask Kate Wicker, Catholic author of Weightless, for some words of wisdom. She is married to a non-Catholic man.

This is a unique opportunity that will allow for one-on-one conversation and questions and answers with folks from around the country. Just be sure you have a web camera and the latest version of Flash installed on your computer. This is going to be a really fun video chat experience!

Please RSVP here because space is limited!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

12 Years as a Catholic

This Easter marks my 12-year anniversary as a Catholic. Pretty cool. The Easter lilies bring back memories for me.

My husband asked me about what it was like to enter the Church. What were the days leading up to the baptism, confirmation, and first communion extravaganza like?

Well, to tell you the truth, it was rough. I felt overwhelmed with doubts. I could have easily chickened out. I heard that it wasn’t uncommon for people to get besieged with doubts before their big entrance into the Church – it’s the Devil’s last stand. I persevered and am glad I did. The whole experience felt like a re-birth for me, especially because it was just three days after my birthday if I remember it right. Jesus tends to give me special gifts like that.

My upbringing was unusual. I was raised in the New Age/metaphysical movement. In my family, we have mystical explorers and wellness enthusiasts. Before hospitals were allowing women to pursue natural childbirth, my grandma and mother did their best to fight off the meds and unnatural procedures. My mom was doing acupressure before it and acupuncture became so mainstream. My great aunt went to a Christian Science practitioner for laying of hands before reiki hit the scene and before Louise Hay published her natural healing books. And, we knew astrologers and psychic mediums before they were getting TV shows on cable. We were weird, but I was free to explore and develop my intuition!

My personal relationship with Christ began in college. I first converted to Protestant evangelical Christianity. Thank God it happened that way. For all of the splendor that we have in the Catholic Church, it can never replace the joy of feeling Jesus wink at you through some special coincidence.

I’ve been through many phases over these 12 years. I have discerned religious life at a Carmelite convent co-founded by Fr. Walter Ciszek. I have been a Secular Carmelite. I have been a member of Opus Dei. I have dabbled with theology school. I’ve written an award-winning book for single Catholic women. And now, I’m working towards spiritual integration.

I used to think my upbringing was something to be ashamed of and I guarded it for years. Now, I realize I was blessed. Our Church is a mystical place. Christ was discovered by the Magi, who are usually described as “wise men” and “astrologers.” Christ was a healer and miracle worker. These things are easy for me to embrace without question. I don’t believe that mystical things have stopped occurring, but it is sometimes the case that people feel the need to go outside of the Church to find truly faith-filled, mystical experiences because so many of us have become too rationalistic.

So, at 12 years, those are my thoughts!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Follow-Up: When Women Need the Pill

I've told some people that publishing my last post felt like pulling a pin out of a verbal grenade and throwing it at an unsuspecting readership. When it was published on Catholic Lane, it elicited such vitriolic responses that the editor decided to erase the comments and disable the comment field. I support her decision - the comments fell into personal attacks and were a poor witness.

On my website, people have been more respectful, but not every comment has been "approve-able." I've also received a lot of personal messages. While some expressed compassion, I wish more readers truly understood my piece and absorbed it as I had hoped.

What does this say? Well, I think it proves my point. Some Catholic laypeople who are actively engaged in their faith have a mental and emotional block on the subject of the Pill being used as medicine. It's a blindspot. They don't understand Church teaching in situations like this, but it does not stop them from poorly pontificating, personally attacking people, or simply walking all over conversational landmines. They find it difficult to put themselves in someone else's shoes or to be a real friend to anyone in a health crisis.

To me, it also says that many Catholic PCOSers have been silent little mice about this issue for so long that we've contributed to the problem. I wonder - had I written about this subject years ago, could I have helped pierce the wall of ignorance sooner? Maybe I could have been more courageous and honest in the past, and touched more people in the process. But then I think that I was already suffering, and that being the case, I really would not have deserved the crap that some other Catholics would have most assuredly thrown at me. There are times when it is more important to take care of yourself than to be the hero who goes out to help others or start a new social cause. This is clearly one of those health issues where a Catholic woman cannot always rely on her neighbors for support. She has to nurture herself and carefully choose her confidantes. Even so, maybe I could have adopted a pen name and pursued this topic earlier in an anonymous, buffered way.

In case it wasn't clear from the get go, or if you have not read my replies to comments, I no longer need the Pill for medical reasons. However, I needed it for about a decade. There was no other technology available to me when I needed it for this issue....period. I started doing acupuncture ages ago when some of my Catholic friends thought it was a sin. I did my research, I made my phone calls, I had good health insurance and made the rounds.

Some proponents of a new technology called NaPro say that it can resolve issues from severe PCOS and that it would have worked for me. I can't tell you for sure how well it works because I have not personally experimented with it. What I do know is that several years ago, it was not available in my area or recommended by Catholic GYNs, so the Pill was my only option.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

When Women Need the Pill

I remember falling to the floor when I felt a sharp, jabbing pain in my lower abdomen. I curled up into a ball and could hardly move. All I could think was "Oh my God!" and then my mind went blank as I tried to remain conscious. I was only about 16 and didn't know what this pain was, but I knew something was very wrong.

Before that moment, I had only experienced normal pain. The burn of a skinned knee, a mind-numbing headache, or even the pain of having a tooth prematurely pulled as I started my orthodontic adventures. But this was different. You know when you have a pain that should get medical attention. These knife-like pains were preceded by years of irregular menstrual cycles, and I’ll spare you the gory and humiliating details about that!

The quick answer the doctors gave me was birth control pills. For me, the fact that the medication I so desperately needed curtailed my fertility was a side effect that I didn't want or ask for. The medication, however, allowed me to live a normal life. It curtailed my problems enough to get me through school and work.

A few years went by and I converted to Catholicism. The Church opposes contraception. I was not contracepting, but I nevertheless had an issue to come to terms with because of my illness.

After years of GYN and endocrinology visits, I pressed my doctors for an explanation of what was wrong with me. They decided that I had Poly-Cystic-Ovarian-Syndrome (PCOS) - an odd syndrome with a wide variety of symptoms. Although the name implies that a woman must have cysts to get the diagnosis, not all PCOSers have cysts. The root cause is mainly hormonal and it’s most common in women of Jewish and Mediterranean descent. I'm half Greek, so that jived for me.

With my diagnosis in hand, I could get my prescribed medication, even from Catholic GYNs. However, it didn't change the fact that I felt left out in the cold when it came to Catholic conversations about contraception. My illness meant that much of the talk didn't apply to me and I actually felt guilty for being sick! I always felt encouraged to learn the “party line” on contraception for the sake of all of the “normal” women around me. Some people admitted that this was a selfish request on their part, but it didn’t stop them from making it. I didn’t have a lot of support when it came to coping with my individual problem.

When my husband and I got to pre-cana, contraception was discussed and there was no mention of women with illnesses who need to take the Pill. My husband angrily scribbled a note at the end, pointing out that if they are going to have couples stand up and go on diatribes against contraception, they should at least have the sensitivity to mention women with illnesses who must take the Pill.

You might say, "Well, contraception is different from taking the Pill for medical reasons. What's the problem here? Just do NFP while you are on the Pill so that you are not contracepting." Yeah - I know - but guess what? NFP can be inexact, and the fact is that you never quite know what the results of taking the Pill are. So the whole issue becomes muddled and anxiety-ridden. It's not a black and white chess game, which means that the constant reminders can have a heavy emotional toll on women who are Catholic and have PCOS.

Later, I went to my Catholic GYN to say that I was getting married and wanted her to know that I would not immediately get off my medication because we were not ready to cope with the possible illness that could strike. This doctor ripped into me for not immediately getting rid of my medicine and trying for a kid immediately. I snapped right back at her for insulting me so rudely, and wound up in the parking lot, crying in my mom's arms. So much for the Church teaching that discernment about spacing children is a personal matter and one that can have a financial and health component. I hope you can hear my cynicism...because I am certainly trying to convey it to you!

At that moment, I decided to never again be so naive about trusting a Catholic physician to help me sort out my issues of conscience because mine had abused it by trying to play God for me. This doctor, who was much admired in my community, had failed me and vividly demonstrated why we have so many "recovering Catholics" running around and others who just don’t care what the Church teaches on women’s health issues at all.

Women with PCOS have escalated health risks from the get go. So, when I read about the negative health impacts of the Pill on women's health, I can honestly tell you that I don't care. It was a God-send to me. As I've gotten older, I've outgrown many of the problems I endured as a younger woman. But, I wonder if the Pill didn't have some role in teaching my body how to function better.

While I support the Church's fight against HHS's unconstitutional restrictions on their ability to practice their faith and obey their conscience, I think it's obnoxious how Catholics routinely ignore the suffering in their own ranks and treat the sick as insignificant and inconvenient nuisances to their theology.

Until Catholics get serious about addressing the suffering of women with PCOS and other associated illnesses, young women will get stuck having to take the Pill because there is no other option for them. We need to push for medical advances and start treating sick women with more respect if we want our theological positions on contraception to influence anyone other than the "uber-Catholics" and hyper-pious.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Top Five Dating Tips for Men

This Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d do something different. People who follow my writing know that I rarely give guy’s dating advice. I feel that it can be hard for a woman to effectively mentor a man on dating, because let’s face it: we have not walked in their shoes. Nevertheless, a sincere Catholic man recently asked me for dating tips. From a woman’s perspective, this is what I offered:

1) Get comfortable with taking the lead in your relationships: Not in a bossy, domineering sort of way, but in a kind, cheerful and confident way. I say this because women will lose hope and "move on" if a relationship is not going anywhere. Catholic girls are typically relying on the man to take the initiative.

If you are clear that you want to get married and have discerned thoroughly, it behooves you to get serious about your life direction and relationship goals. Do this by nudging your relationships forward when it’s time. Your special lady will love you for it.

2) Put yourself out there: A smart guy can find opportunities in many venues and get the courage to ask for dates. Even if you are shy at big, in-person social events, I promise you that you can find some good catches online. If you do not have luck on the Christian sites, what about secular dating sites? This is a wall that many Catholics are afraid to jump over, but I assure you that Catholic girls are everywhere.

Get involved in your parish if you are in a good location with lots of singles, but ask yourself if there are other parishes in your area with more singles? What events have more to offer? Are there opportunities for speed-dating? Lectures with receptions afterwards? Volunteer activities? It depends on the area, so the answers can vary, but if you are creative, you will find some fun options that suit your personality.

3) Get your career and finances in order: A guy with a ton of unmanageable debt is totally unattractive to a woman who wants to have a family. A man who wants to attract a good wife should have a career path or at least have some sort of plan for how he is going to earn a decent living. Even if he is not going to be the only breadwinner, this is important, because the woman will not want to enter a situation where she has to "carry" the guy barring temporary crises or severe illnesses that pop up after marriage.

Modern women tend to be multi-talented and capable in a variety of arenas, but she is still the more vulnerable person when it comes to pregnancy. Be the strong man she needs you to be and get ready to provide some measure of financial security.

4) Take care of your health and appearance: Women will usually prioritize a guy's personality, heart and words when it's time to choose a mate, but they do notice appearance when they are closely evaluating between different guys. If a woman is online and actively dating, she could have a few dates in one week, so try to make the best first impressions that you can. Exercise, eat well, get your sleep, and buy some new and flattering clothes and shoes.

5) Get to the root of any emotional obstacles: I know guys don't typically like the touchy feely type of stuff, but really, if you've got some buried emotional hurts that are affecting your relationships, it’s to your benefit to deal with them. You can get the most beautiful, faith-filled woman to date you and lose her through infantile temper tantrums, a reluctance to commit, or abusive behavior. Nobody is perfect and we are all works in progress, but being the best you can be will strengthen your relationships.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New for 2012: Life Coaching

In 2012, you will see some new offerings appear on my website. I’ve studied life coaching and launched my own coaching business. Currently, I am working with a handful of clients. Why life coaching?

If you’ve read my book, you know that I think frustrated daters can overuse psychotherapy when they want extra support. Because it is a widely available service, it can become a “one size fits all” approach to life’s challenges. The results vary widely, depending on the techniques the psychologist uses and the synergy the client has with them.

If you know you really need therapy, good on you for going. Notwithstanding, I wanted to find something that seemed more effective in helping the average Christian single meet their relationship goals. I think coaching is it. Why? For one thing, coaching doesn’t require diagnostic codes or health insurance, or look for what is wrong with you.

Instead, it’s about looking for what is right with you. What are your dreams? How are you going to attain them? What has held you back? How are you going to jump over the obstacles and create the future you want? Coaching fosters a feeling of empowerment.

Coaches use a lot of psychological research to support their approaches. Specifically, the new area of positive psychology is leveraged extensively, as well as new discoveries in neuroscience. For example, this article, Happiness Examined, discusses what really makes people happy. One tip is, “Commit to your goals. Pick at least one significant goal and devote time and effort to pursuing it.” How are you doing on your relationship goals?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Do You Reject Dates Based on Family Background?

The Christmas season brought an influx of articles and posts about family. Normally, "family" is one of those words that evokes that warm, toasty feeling. When dating, family can cause much anxiety though.

Not only do people assess individuals as spousal material based on their own merits, but they also critique their family background. My observation is that Catholics can be especially ruthless about placing people on genealogical totem poles.

Daters can be like meatpackers with a label gun. Divorced parents? Reject! The "damaged goods" label gets slapped onto the person. Other times, it's a cruel scale exercise. Married parents? One coin on this side of the scale. Functional siblings? Two more coins. One bad story? Immediately subtract one coin and put it on the other side.

I understand how this can occur because unfortunately, I once engaged in pedigree analysis too! You don't just marry a person, you marry into a family, and want to look before you leap. As an observant Catholic, even the most botched union can be difficult to escape. Looking at a person's family background can be seen as an additional insurance policy and predictor of the future.

It is true that people are, at least partially, the product of their backgrounds, and everyone prefers to have a positive relationship with their in-laws. Statistics say that children of in-tact marriages have a better chance at keeping their own marriage together. They've watched two people work things out and probably have better conflict resolution skills as a result. They may not have as much fear attached to the prospect of getting married and starting a family either. At the same time, so many parents are divorced today that it is hard to know how each individual child has coped with it.

And that's the point. How can you really know how someone has coped with their family "stuff" until you get to know them? What makes us so dismissive of free will and deterministic when confronted with family dysfunction?

The reality is that family problems can play an important role in your girlfriend or boyfriend’s pain-filled menagerie of issues. For instance, I dated a child of divorce who still had so much anger against his mother that subsequent relationships with women suffered as a result. I’d suggest that it wasn’t his family situation that was absolutely insurmountable though, but rather his inability to cope with it and grow beyond his childhood scars. Disappointing as it was, I had to move on.

At the same time, I am sure we've all met children of abuse and all manner of chaos who surprise us by having their emotional equipment and lives in order. They've done their homework and can maintain healthy relationships as a result.

That said, what about the children of in-tact, seemingly harmonious families who still somehow have mega-issues? Are you going to let them slide through because their family status allowed them to escape the label gun?

The bottom line is that if we are Christian, we should have some respect and admiration for how Christ conducted himself. Jesus was not someone who turned people away because "Oh, your parents had major issues." Or, "Your sibling is nuts." I think his behavior shows that these surface things are not a reliable way of determining what is in someone's heart of hearts. Give people a chance.