From the pen of an empty-nester: The season of comings and goings

NOTE: This is my upcoming column in the Catholic Free Press (for Friday, January 13) and it is currently running on

Before I share my column, a few words.

It’s been a while since I’ve written regularly for this blog and this is because I am involved in a mammoth writing project which you can find out more about here.


This is the book I was working on when I was offered the opportunities of River of Grace and Louisa May Alcott Illuminated by The Message; these works (thanks to excellent editors and publishers) taught me how to write professionally, making this new book possible. It is the work of my heart, the book of my life. And it being all consuming, it’s been difficult keeping up with my two blogs.

A new direction for this blog

While prepping for River of Grace, I read a book of essays about the adjustment to an empty nest (I had originally intended to include a chapter on that subject). In writing for Catholicmom I thought I might focus on being an empty-nester as I have many thoughts on this stage of life; I will share those columns here as well.

rpphotos I'm beginning to feel the empty nest syndrome, Flickr Creative Commons
rpphotos I’m beginning to feel the empty nest syndrome, Flickr Creative Commons

My first column, “The Season of Comings and Goings”, was published this week on Catholicmom and I invite you to read it:

Another Christmas has come and gone. The tree is outside on the deck for the birds to enjoy; the wreath, brown and dry, is feeding the soil on the other side of the fence.

All the lights are wrapped up (with their extension cords this time!) and put away.

And the letdown after Christmas begins. Every ornament carefully placed in the box, each stocking taken down reminds me of the family time I still crave and so cherish.


Continue reading …








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When might compartments be necessary? Perhaps when you’re juggling two all-consuming passions?


I’m in a pickle and I need your help.

I have two all-consuming passions right now and I’m trying to figure out what to do with them. It involves the writing of two books.

Dreamy summer

Since April I have been immersed in research for a book I want to write about Elizabeth Alcott, the one sister of that illustrious family who has never truly been fleshed out. I just spent one of the most meaningful summers in years, head buried in old books, Alcott letters and journals from the Houghton Library at Harvard, and biographies of the family. I’ve spent countless hours in
tetrasthe car during my long commute to work talking out my theories, struggling to assemble the puzzle and having no luck. Then one day, a line for a preface to the book came into my head out of nowhere and I scribbled the beginnings of the preface to the book. I poured over the preface for the next two weeks, watching the puzzle pieces fall neatly into place, as if I was playing Tetras. I sent the preface off to my editor and she wrote back saying she couldn’t wait to read the first chapter. I was elated.

I should have been burnt out but I wasn’t. I looked forward to many more months of the same.


And then, along came an opportunity. A professional opportunity that I could not turn down. But it’s a project that will require everything I have. I must pour myself into this project as I did with my Alcott project. This project, if accepted, could open many doors and teach me the trade in ways I could never have imagined.

Can’t bear to put it away

kayakLetting go of my first love has been difficult. The boat is full and still raring to go, but I had to push the boat away and dock it for a time. I can still see that boat off in the distance, calling to me.

Changing direction

But I must be a professional. I must attend to this present opportunity and give it the same passion as I gave to my Alcott project. Switching mindsets is like getting stuck in the mud, trying to lift the heavy foot out of the muck, cleaning it off, and setting it in a new direction. And both feet have to go.

Can I stick to my principles?

jugglingAnd then I started wondering: could I juggle both projects at once?  Would it require creating separate compartments in my mind and heart to house them? Isn’t compartmentalization the very thing I have been pushing away, trying instead to live in a single flow? Didn’t I start this public blog to hold myself accountable to that idea?

Now what?

I could really use your help on this. Please tell me if you have experienced this and how you dealt with it. If you know of a blog post, please share the link in the comments.

And I thank you!

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