Posted in life

Day 8 – Coffee

Today I am thankful for coffee! I know, I drink a lot of it, but it’s more than that. And it’s not just that it helps keep my awake. Coffee is something that is everywhere, there are coffee shops all over the world. You can get coffee on a date, or with a long lost friend. You can get coffee alone or with friends. You can get coffee morning, noon and night. A cup of coffee can make someone’s day (or ruin it if it spills all over your work clothes, leaving you with no change of clothes before a big presentation). Plus, when you’re away from home and in a foreign place, grabbing a cup of coffee can make you feel back at home.

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I Quit My Job!!!

“I QUIT MY JOB!”…a year ago. (I gotcha on that one, didn’t I?)

No, I’m not crazy, I did not just quit my job (I now have a mortgage to pay, remember?), but I did quit my job a year ago (389 days ago to be precise. On January 3, 2013, I walked into my office with a knot in my stomach and my purse felt like it weighed a million pounds. (My purse is usually packed full and on many occasions others might have thought I was carrying bricks, but this day, my purse even felt super heavy to me.) What no one knew, was I had a letter giving my two weeks notice folded up inside of it, but I wasn’t sure I was going to give it to anyone that day. Now, I had made up my mind to quit my job, I just didn’t know when.

Let’s rewind a little bit to get the story here. Less than five months beforehand (August 2013), I accepted this job and the next day I told my boss that I had accepted a new position and would be leaving my first real job. Putting in my two weeks notice at my first job had been hard. It was the first job I took after college, I had job security, I loved the team of people I worked with, and I knew I had people who always had my back. So why did I quit you ask? Well we all know the saying “money talks”, and in this story, that seems to be the problem. I had been looking to leave my first job for another one with room for growth, more pay, and preferably closer to home. While that search seemed to lead nowhere, there was this one person who reached out to me on multiple occasions, and each time I replied that I wasn’t looking for another job in Manhattan, but finally I gave in. I e-mailed him back and asked what he had open, told him I changed my outlook and had decide I would be willing to continue my commute into the city for work. It seemed I sent that e-mail at the perfect day. This company just found out they had a manager who was going to be leaving to go back to school, it seemed too good to be true.

Back to January of 2013…. I walked into work that morning shaking. My purse felt like it was so heavy that it would topple me. The knot in my stomach was growing and my anxiety was hitting an all time high. Around 9AM, the boss yelled (this was a common occurrence) and I started shaking. My hands were shaking and I couldn’t calm down. I have no idea why he yelled but I do know that was all I needed. At 9AM I knew what I needed to do. I used our office IM to message the GM and President. I knew they both had meetings and conference calls, so I just let them know that I wanted to talk to them when they were free. I texted my family, they knew it was coming. But when I had made the decision the night before to write my letter, all we knew was I had had enough. It had become obvious to me that I had not made the best decision back in August, and I needed out. I had hoped that knowing my time was limited would allow me to get through another month or so and save some money up for my voluntary unemployment. The best advice I was given was to know when enough was enough and that’s exactly what I listened to. 

As soon as enough was enough, I left. To say I was unhappy is rather an understatement. Remember earlier when I said that this job seemed too good to be true? That should have been my first clue, it was too good to be true. I thought it was fate; I wanted a new job and there was one for the taking. I was getting a promotion, a hefty raise and a department of my own to run. It was just what I wanted, right? That’s what I thought too. While my stint at this company was brief, I learned a lot. Things really are clear in hindsight; I should have asked more questions when I was interviewing. An interview is just as much you interviewing the company as it is them interviewing you. You really do need to mesh with the organization and people you work with. I was working two and a half hours from home, with people that lived a very different lifestyle, for a company that made me question my morals and ethics. While it was not an opportune time to be unemployed, it was something I needed to do. I believe in living the life you love and I didn’t love the live I was living then. I was becoming a shell of a person. I didn’t have time to spend with friends. I came home and just wanted to go to bed, I didn’t want to have a a social life at all. I lost who I was, the only thing I had left was work and it wasn’t work that made me happy.

That afternoon I walked into the President’s office and they asked what was up. I said I wanted to let them know I was putting in my two weeks notice. As soon as the letter left my hand, a weight left me. I could breathe again, there was no knot in my stomach, I knew I had done the right thing. I was fortunate enough to have a family that supported my decision, I had limited financial responsibilities (they could be taken care of by finding some interim work), I didn’t have a mortgage to worry about, no kids to support, my car was paid off. I handed over my letter and I took back my life.

While it wasn’t the right job for me to be at, I do believe that it was a good thing for me to experience. For one, I never would have quit my first job to become unemployed (and therefore not qualifying for unemployment). I wasn’t happy at my first job either, but I was content. Quitting this job allowed me to find the one I have right now. I again work with a great team, but this time I am closer to home. I was able to get my life back. I have the opportunity to do my own errands, I can cook dinner during the week, I have even been able to focus enough to buy my own house (one that I can now enjoy, whereas if I were still commuting, I would never have had the time). A second great thing that happened was that I learned about myself during that time; I was able to find that my morals and ethics are strong. I was able to really evaluate what mattered in my life and I was able to find myself.

In the end, I gambled, and it paid off. The economy sucked, but I found myself a great job at the end of my journey. But in the meantime, I found me. And there is nothing more valuable than finding yourself. I struggled while I worked at this job. I allowed it to define me, I allowed it to take over. Now I know when enough is enough. Now I know that I am a lot more than just what I do from 9 to 5. I now know that when I put my mind to it, it can be done. I can’t say I recommend quitting a job for no reason, but I will always say now that I support those who do what they need to do. I was able to make an educated decision and calculated all of the financial implications beforehand. While I didn’t know until the day I handed in my letter when the end would be, I had already made that decision and had a back up plan in place. What I will say is, if you want out and you feel it is necessary, don’t make a rash decision, weigh out the options and come up with a plan for afterwards….remember as soon as you put in your notice, they are not obligated to keep you that long.

Posted in life

13 Highlights from 2013

So I know I’m a few days late, but here are my top 13 highlights from 2013, in chronological order:

1 – I quit my job! On January 3rd, I turned in my two weeks notice. I didn’t have a new job lined up, that would be too simple, right? No, I was not happy and I had determined that my unhappiness was due largely to my job and work environment, so I decided to head to unemployment for a while as I figured out what I wanted to be doing and where I wanted to do it. January 16th was, very thankfully, my last day commuting from Connecticut to Manhattan.

2 – I got a new job! After about seven weeks of unemployment (which wasn’t really unemployment as I substitute taught during this time) and job hunting, I found a new job. This job was much closer and in Connecticut, two things I wanted. Now that’s its 10 months later, I can very positively say that this was a very very good change.

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3 – Completing the 4th Pilgrimage of New York! On the Saturday of Palm Sunday weekend, three of my girlfriends and I walked from Washington Heights to Battery Park by way of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This was the 4th PONY and the 4th I’ve completed. Every year there’s a new theme, and a new group of friends participating, but it’s always a great day to spend with the girls and walk some more life back into our faith.

20140104-104217.jpg4 – Had my 5 year reunion from Bentley! It’s hard to admit, but I have no choice but to live with the fact that I’m an adult now, there’s no more getting around that. And in June, we drove up to Waltham to visit with college friends and relive college life for one more weekend.

20140104-104801.jpg5 – Attended my friends Deaconate Ordination. In June one of my friends, who helped bring me back to the Church after graduating from college, was ordained a Deacon and I was blessed to be among our friends and witness his ordination.

6 – Went on vacation to Colorado! We took an extended July 4th weekend plus the whole week after, and flew out to Colorado to explore Vail, Breckenridge and Boulder while admiring the Rocky Mountains through many new adventures.

20140104-102711.jpg7 – Saw one of my best friends get married to the love of her life! The reason we went to Colorado was to see my best friends get married. Her wedding was beautiful (the ceremony was on the top of Vail Mountain, need I say more?) and it was great to spend the 4th of July weekend with them in such a great location.

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8 – We made 30 gallons of white wine! The process started back in October of 2012, but after many racks and aging, our Muscat was ready and we bottled 30 gallons of white wine to keep our wine rack stocked for the next couple of years (we have taken a break from making some this year due to our move).

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9 – I completed my first 5k! In October I drove up to Providence, RI to partake in the Color Run 5K with my friend from college! We’ve vowed to do another one next fall too 🙂

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10 – Bike road for over 30 straight weeks! One of my new favorite hobbies is road riding (bike riding on the road). For more than 30 weeks, I successfully went on at least one ride a week.

11 – We bought a house! On our 3rd anniversary! That’s right, we are homeowners! We bought a house in a quiet little town in Connecticut. Call me a country girl, but I love living in quaint little towns; the city is better of as a destination location.

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12 – Took Christmas/New Year’s vacation! Well, it was more of a stay-cation, I didn’t actually to anywhere (other than Grandma’s house for Christmas Day), but it was the first time as an adult that I have truly enjoyed the holidays. Instead of working until 5PM in Manhattan on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, I not only was able to enjoy having those days off, but I had a whole 11 days off to relax, enjoy time with our families and prepare to move.

13- We moved in to our new house! Nothing like a last minute addition, we moved into our new house on New Year’s Eve. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s our home and now we can be there everyday to enjoy it.

Posted in life

Serenity Prayer

As I get ready to head back to Camp Veritas tomorrow, I wanted to share with you all my favorite prayer.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Posted in life

Do Whatever He Tells You

Preface: the following post is actually some fleeting thoughts of a personal reflection I jotted down yesterday morning while listening to Sean Patrick Cardinal O’Malley address approximately 700 religious and catechists at the Diocese of Bridgeport‘s Catechetical Congress.

I am not a perfect Catholic — no one is (well there may be an exception of two, anyone heard of our Immaculate Mother?). This morning I woke up half excited, half dreading the day — well dread may be an exaggeration, but I can’t in all honesty say I was 100% excited to be attending this year’s Catechetical Congress. Like many other 24-year-olds, sitting through lectures and workshops for an entire Saturday is no what I look forward to. In school, I slept through big lectures like the one I am currently in, and now I tend to opt out of these sorts of things. The theme for today’s conference is to do whatever He tells you to do (He being God — in case you were wondering…). Well, I guess that’s what I am doing right now, right? Originally, I had no intentions to register for this today, I kept trying to come up with a reason to skip it but I had no valid reason to say no. Well why not just say no, sleep in and go out instead? Because a nun I have known since I was a toddle asked me to come. Just as I can’t tell her no when she asks me to teach another year of religion, I couldn’t say no to her without having a valid reason not to come (something to do, family plans, anything other than “sorry, I’m just not into it” would have worked). Sister is a great lady and has always believed in me — I always get the benefit of the doubt with her. Sometimes I feel guilty because I know she thinks the nest of everyone and I think she gives me too much credit most of the time. I am 24, I like to go out and have a good time, but all in all, at the bottom of my heart, I know that she (and her religious ed. program) are who helped my parents form who I am today. They gave me values and morals. They are a huge part of why ethics mean so much to me today.

But back to the conference — two of my friends were going (and then we ran into another friend we didn’t know would be here). So the three of us agreed to go together — we would show up together and keep each other company throughout the day. I accepted that I would be busy today as I would be here. This week, I was even given another out. I could go mountain biking in the snow (assuming it actually snowed on Friday night) in the Catskills. I was torn at first, go to this, or get to spend time with a guy I want to get to know more. In the end, I did what I usually do, I followed through with me word and here I am (or there I was…) sitting at Sacred Heart University listening to Cardinal O’Malley (my favorite bishop). Everything he’s saying applies to me right now. I am doing what He told men and I highly doubt I will regret coming to this.

I guess I just keep surprising myself everyday, though I’m not sure why. I registered for an event and I’m not one to cancel on people unless I really need to, so why am I surprised that I’m here? Regardless of the fact that I keep underestimating myself, it’s OK. Lately I’ve been learning some important life lessons, or at least I’m realizing some key things I think I’ve always sort of know, but overlooked — today is no different. I have grown up. I know who I am and staying true to that is important to me. I know there’s still more for me to learn and I’m still learning things day by day. But my morals and the basis of who I am is set. I follow through with my word and I don’t compromise my morals. I guess this is not something that should come as a shock to me, but it did today and I’m awed by it. Maybe one day I’ll even learn to stop underestimating myself and I’ll realize Sister isn’t in fact giving me too much credit; she’s giving me credit I deserve.

In hindsight, I am glad I went. I enjoyed it and it wasn’t actually that boring. I met some amazing people and got to spend some quality time with some great friends.

Posted in life

2010 Thus Far…

So this morning I read my friend Katelyn‘s latest blog entry — 2010- the year of the road trips? That’s travel — and I’m totally stealing this post idea from her, really cause as soon as I replied to her post, I realized that I was doing the exact same thing…

I keep poking fun that my two “big” trips this year were to the mid-west — Indiana and Ohio. Truth is, just as Katelyn’s year was full of weekend getaways, so was mine — I was fortunate to have a year full of exciting adventures. My year so far in review looked a bit like this:

January: a one-day road trip to drive Tim back to school in Virginia — I hit eight states that day; Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia — and went to a Rangers game

February: two weekends in Waltham/Boston, MA — one for Mike’s birthday and one to be Alexa’s family for Family weekend back at Bentley

March: saw a screening of The Human Experience in NYC (I recommend to anyone who has not seen it), partook in the first ever NYC Pilgrimage, in a span of 7 days, I went to Springfield, MA two nights in a row for the Elite Eight and Final Four Division II Basketball Championships (drove home to go to work in Manhattan in the morning), went to Foxwoods that Saturday morning with my college roommate, followed by the rest of the weekend in Providence said roommate, and then headed up to Waltham after work on Tuesday night to ring in Alexa’s 21st with her

April: retreat in upstate NY with the youth group I used to work with

May: a long weekend in Philly to see my little sis graduate from Villanova, followed by flying to Indiana the following weekend for Jenna & Kevin’s wedding, went to the Dave Matthews Band concert in Hartford, opening weekend, and then spent the weekend in Poughkeepsie, NY with the other camp counselors

June: Brooklyn & Queens for Ela & Karol’s wedding

JulyLady Antebellum & Tim McGraw concert followed by a Rascal Flatts concert two weeks later, plus the weekend in between I was at my mom’s family reunion

August: I worked a grand total of 10 days! I had a long weekend in Kent, CT with Mary, went to Camp Veritas as a counselor and hit up the Dutchess County Fair

September: spent the weekend before my birthday celebrating it in with my college friends in Waltham/Boston and on my first Booze Cruise on the Boston Harbor and then rang in my birthday weekend at the Trace Adkins & Toby Keith concert

October: road tripped to Ohio with Courtney & Sharmila — we also visited West Virginia & Pittsburgh while we were out there — and this weekend I am yet again off to Waltham/Boston for Bentley’s Homecoming

I should also point out that this does not include any of my nights out in Manhattan, my gallivanting around the state of Connecticut and random day trips to Hoboken and Long Island to hang out with some of my innumerable cousins. Plus, there’s still two more months worth of extravaganzas to plan before 2010 is done.

So really, my point is, even though my biggest trips this year were to the midwest, I am grateful that I have been able to spend so much quality time bonding with my friends. I may have only boarded a plane bound for Indiana for a weekend, not a private plane bound for a week in the Bahamas with 600 of my closest friends, but all is good. My friends are awesome, and I got to see so many of them this year. Not only am I grateful because I spent so much time with my friends, but as my parents have pointed out to me, I have done a lot more this year than other people have, including themselves. In this economy, plenty of people do not even have the chance to go on a simple car ride to spend the weekend 3 hours away, whether they don’t have the time off from work, or the money for gas and other expenses. In short, I will do my best to stop complaining about my lack of a real vacation as today I realized that I think a bunch of little ones are better anyways — instead of going on say one or two vacations spread out this year, I get to go on little ones every few weeks.

Posted in life

The Monster Under My Bed

When I was a little girl, I used to think that there were creatures living under my bed. Not only did I think that, but there was a way to be sure that they didn’t get a hold of me. You see, they lived under the bed and didn’t leave there. So long as I was completely on top of my bed, they couldn’t get me. If my arm or leg were hanging off the bed, well then, then the creature could get me. I’m not sure that anyone knows about the fact that I thought this, well that is until now when I put it online for the world to see… Thing is, I haven’t believed this since I was 6 or 7. I know there are no such things as monsters that live under the bed, and I especially know there’s none under mine as I need to retrieve the remote or my phone or keys from under there nearly daily, plus, I’m sure the clothes I store under the bed take up too much room for a monster to co-habitat with them.

So you probably ask why if I don’t believe in the monster under my bed anymore, why in the world am I writing a post about them? Because tonite I’ve learned that this belief as a kid has caused an interesting habit for me now today, and probably something I’ve done the last 18 years. It’s finally that time of year that it is cool enough to keep the AC off, but for me, it’s still a bit too warm some nights, tonight which us one if them. I like being able to sleep with my comforter on my bed year round, especially the new one I got this summer. Being as how my room is slightly too hot for me to sleep under the layers on my bed, I figure keeping my leg curled above my blanket with the fan blowing on it could cool me off. So I stuck my leg out from the sheets and my foot was dangling off the edge of the bed. Almost immediately I pulled it back and made sure my leg was securely on my bed and not hanging off.

As I’m currently wide awake, this struck me as a bit odd of an instinct. Thinking about it, I cannot recall anytime when I’ve laid in bed with a limb hanging out, nor can I ever recall waking up without being smack in the middle of my bed. Perhaps it’s the hour of the night, but somehow I realized that I obviously don’t sleep with my limbs off the bed because of the monsters that live under the bed. In the same half second that I had that thought, I also decided I must be delirious. It was in the next thought that I realized that my fear as a kid caused me to have an interesting habit 18 years later. And now, as I lie here not able to sleep, I wonder how many other habits were brought about through random thoughts from our past…

Posted in life

some random facts about me

So a friend of mine has her own blog, which you should definitely check out at Who Know the Title of My Life?. Today she wrote a post about two random facts about her and asked people to comment in reply but I really do like this idea, and I’ve got three random facts of my own…

I say “I love you” to everyone.
OK, maybe I don’t say it to everyone, but I say it to plenty of people. In case you haven’t heard, there are three types of love, eros, philos and agape — meaning erotic, brotherly and unconditionally, respectively. I tell my friends all the time that I love them because I truly do. I may not be in love with them, but I learned the hard way when I was little that you need to tell people you care for them before it’s too late. So please, don’t be offended by my over use of the word love.

I have anxiety about almost everything. 
Many people who know me don’t believe me when I tell them I have anxiety. I’m an outgoing person who loves (see I use the word a lot) to jump in and get involved in almost anything. That said, I still get anxiety almost daily. If I am going somewhere new, I have anxiety. If I’m really excited or nervous about anything, I have anxiety. If things aren’t going how I expected or planned, you guessed it, I have anxiety. But what gets people the most, when I’m in a group of people I’m not very close to, I have the worst anxiety of all. That’s right, even extroverts can have social anxiety.

I don’t believe in hating people or regrets.
I know this is sort of two, but it’s really one rule I try to live by. Hate is a very strong word and you can hate some things, but I don’t believe in hating people. You might strongly dislike a person, but I don’t think you can truly hate someone, it takes too much to hate a person and people can change (both the other person, and YOU). And as for regrets, dude, the past happened, it’s done, you can’t change it so move on and get over it! While there are definitely things in my life I would do differently now if I had the chance to, I wouldn’t say I regret anything I’ve done. I have had an amazing life and I am glad that everyone who has been a part of it was there, even if that time was short lived. I think that if you regret something, you are living in the past. Life isn’t supposed to be about the what ifs?, why didn’t I? and what would have been?

The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will, and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can’t do. — Dennis Waitley

Posted in life

walking to paradise

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take part in the 1st Annual Pilgrimage of New York City with six of my friends. Some of you are probably already asking what a pilgrimage is, I sure wondered about what one was the first time I heard about one. For thousands of years Christians have been making pilgrimages all over the world to many different religious sites as both a physical and spiritual journey to bring you closer to Christ. As many know, there is lots of Catholic tradition within the waters surrounding Manhattan, so this year some very wise people decided to organize a pilgrimage that we could partake in locally.

The physical portion of the pilgrimage began in Washington Heights at the Shrine of St. Frances Cabrini at 10AM, but for us it began at about 7AM as we needed to all meet up and trek down to Manhattan (by way of the Bronx) to get there before it began. At 7AM, four of my friends left from one of their apartments a bit north of me and I left my house, meeting them at the train station parking lot at 7:30AM with a small breakfast in my stomach, a cup of coffee and my sneakers in hand and a very large bag of trail mix along with my nalgene in my bag. The five of us then set off to meet the remaining two girls in the Bronx, whom we then drove with to Yankee Stadium to park at the Subway station. The seven of us, slightly tired, filed down the stairs to the D train only to find out that the Metro Card machines were not taking cash or credit. Instead of taking this as a sign of what may be to come, we bought our cards from the man in the booth and ventured downtown, transferred to the A train and finally arrived at the 190th Street station where we needed to get off the subway and head to the Shrine. While walking out of the station we ran into our first new friend of the day, Ron, a reporter for Catholic New York. Ron saw that we were headed to the pilgrimage and joined us in our attempt to find the Shrine to check-in and begin (we may or may not have headed in the wrong direction a couple of times before finding the Shrine itself).

Finally we all made it to the Shrine and got our blue wristbands and were able to tour around the Shrine and prepare to begin the pilgrimage. After some prayer and an application of sunscreen, I headed outside to join the girls and our fellow walkers. As time passed, we were able to meet some of our fellow walkers and to take our before picture. We were stretched and ready to go when 10AM struck and we joined the others for the pilgrimage under the tree. We were briefed on the events of the day and how the walk was going to begin before we all headed inside as a group to learn more about St. Frances. St. Frances Cabrini is the patron Saint of immigrants, and also the first American to be canonized a saint. After our brief history on St. Frances, we prayed as a group before heading back outside to split into our walking groups. Once those walking on their own and in their own groups took off, we took off with the “speed group”. Our plan was to take the longest path between the five sites and to walk through Central Park when we got there. In the first 100 block we walked, I think we only hit about 6 or 7 stop lights at corners and I was doing great, I was actually surprised how far we had got since I could not physically feel any wear on my body. On route to Central Park, we passed the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and we also prayed the Stations of the Cross while walking.

We made it to the NW corner of the park just as we were finishing the stations and we began our cross park trek down the main road that circles the park. About 1/3 down through the park we saw a dirty water hot-dog stand, and of course some of us stopped to grab a quick bite to eat. It was here that two new friends of the day were met, Rob & his friend he came to do the pilgrimage with. These two stopped to grab a drink and hot-dogs along with us. You’d be surprised how far the group could get in the short time we had stopped. Since we lost all sight of the group, the 6 or 7 of us who had stopped headed on together towards St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We got about 1/2 through the park when we cut across to the east side and once at 72nd Street, we cut out to 5th Avenue and headed straight down to St. Pat’s. Along with Rob and his friend, Ron had rejoined our mini-group mid-park and stuck with us. We learned on this portion of our walk that some of Ron’s co-workers had an over/under pool of how far he would make it and we were determined to have him make it through.

About 1:30PM we made it to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in mid-town. At the front steps here we met up with the other girls that we lost along the way in the park. Some of them went to the deli nearby to grab food while myself and two of my friends headed inside with Ron to see the crypt below the altar where the bishops are buried, which was rather cool as three of them are currently Servants of God and on their way to becoming canonized. Once everyone got out of the crypts, we all gathered as a large group on the patio outside where we were advised to jump on the 6 train to Bleeker Street to stay on track. Of course, me with my big mouth decided to ask about those of us who wished to continue on walking instead of taking the subway. The organizer of the walk told me that we were more than welcome to, but none of the leaders would be going with us. There was a large group of women who wanted to walk with us and our new friends but somewhere between planning to continue on walking and actually heading out, we split up and they headed on their way without us. Once the original 7 of us gathered back together with Ron & Rob, we were joined by a CFR, Brother Simon and 3 other new friends, Tricia, Marcus & Monica.

The 13 of us continued on downtown to Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was great being with this smaller group as we were able to learn more about some of our new friends, even though I ended up ahead of them at many intersections as I took the leap many New Yorkers take and walked with the sign showing stop while the group stopped and waited for the signal to change. We finally found our way to our next location, where I learned that the high walls around the Old Cathedral were built to protect the church itself when tensions between the Catholics & Protestants were high (thanks Ron for that lesson).

By the time we made it to Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, there was a wedding going on, so we said a quick prayer in the foyer and headed out. When we got outside we realized (thanks to my handy GPS on the iPhone) that the 4th location on the pilgrimage was not exactly en-route to the final location — as is it was 3 miles away, whereas the final location was only 2 miles away. That said, with a time limit quickly closing in on us, we decided to take a direct route and head for the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. We headed out through Chinatown along with about another 10 pilgrims who tagged along at the Old Cathedral. While on Mott Street in Chinatown, we stopped at the Church of the Transfiguration and said our prayers for St. Peter there since as Bro. Simon pointed out, St. Peter was there after all.

We then continued on our way one last time to the final location, where we were able to rejoin all the other pilgrims 6 hours after leaving the starting location for a closing mass 13.1 miles from our starting point. We had some time inside the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton to pray and recoop before mass began. What was really cool is that while we began at the shrine of the 1st American to become a saint, we ended at the shrine of the 1st American-born to become a saint. The pastor of the parish gave us a quick history lesson on St. Elizabeth before mass began and with the close of mass came the close to a great day. As everyone was filtering out and saying goodbye to new friends. Myself along with two of the girls did a quick interview with a Catholic channel that was there and then rejoined the group outside. Once almost everyone had departed the seven of us along with Rob, Ron & Bro. Simon headed to the Starbucks & deli nearby to grab some food and coffee to eat for a quick bite in Battery Park before heading back home. We sat on the benches near the water and enjoyed some final laughs with our new friends before heading to the subway to get on home. While it had been a gorgeous day out and watching the sunset over the water was a sight to be seen, finally getting on the subway and heading home was a magnificent feeling.

I realize that while this was a great overview of the physical journey, it is hard to put the spiritual part into words. Just as it is something that happens within, it seems to be meant to stay that way as the words just won’t come together to explain it. I think part of this is that I am still realizing now, 27 hours after getting home, that I didn’t even realize what I was experiencing along the way, I only realized it after the fact. But I also think this is just one of those things that no matter how hard you try, any explanation you provide to others will never seem to do it justice. But then, I think that’s part of the mystery and beauty of a pilgrimage.

Posted in life

books, books and more books

When I was younger, I always read a lot, especially during the summer. My public library had (and I believe still has) a program that rewarded you for how many books you read during the summer. We got a poster, gift certificates for a slice of pizza and free ice cream, but best of all, once you read 30 books, you got your picture on the wall when you read 30 books in a summer. Summer after summer my sister and I had our pictures on the wall and it was a competition between the two of us to see who could get there first. While looking back on it, you’d think the free pizza or ice cream would be the biggest prize, but no, you really weren’t anyone unless your picture was on the wall. Even after I was too old to participate in the program, I used to bike to the library and volunteer as on of the big kids you got to tell all about your book(s) you read.

Obviously, as with many others, by the time I was in high school, I didn’t want much to do with reading. When Harry Potter came out, I got hooked. I am not embarrassed to say that I own every book (having bought the later books at midnight on the day they were released) and I’m even proud of the fact that I have re-read the entire series more times than I can imagine — the entire series is reread every time a book or movie is released. As much as I was hooked on HP, I didn’t read much else other than my books for English class while I was in high school. Even when college started I wasn’t much of a reader. I began to read more during the summers between years in college as it was a good hobby to kill down time while lifeguarding all summer long. Even though I would realize my love for reading was still within me by the end of every summer, the fall semester would always begin and along with the spare time in the summer, my passion for reading went straight out the window.

By the end of college, my passion for reading was back. It came back when a friend of mine from college was given a book from someone at home, being told to read it and pass it along to someone else to read. It was kind of like chain mail, but a book (and only one). But the whole point was to read a good book, pass it to someone else to read it, have them pass it and so on, so eventually people reading the book had no idea who the person who bought the book was. (I forget what book it was, I’m working on figuring that out…). I don’t know how, but somehow I found the time to read a book for pleasure during the semester and I really enjoyed it and ever since then I have started reading more again.

Ever since I graduated college, it is common for me to be like Rory Gilmore and carry a book in my purse — though, I only carry it with me when heading to/from work, I don’t intentionally bring one with me to parties. The summer after college I was a lifeguard again and found more than enough time to read on breaks and rainy days, along with when I was home. Even now as a member of the “real world”, I have learned to find time to read on my commute or when I’m home in the evenings.

With all the reading I’m doing lately, I am tempted to ask for an e-reader for my birthday this fall as I feel it would save me money instead of buying books all the time. But then, do I really want to spend, or ask someone to spend that much money so I can save money? I mean, then I should just go to the library — it is right on Main Street and not out of the way when I’m home. But there’s something to be said for reading a real book. Having the book in your hands, the first time you crack open a brand new spine, and then there’s always one of my ambitions from when I was little — to have a library in my house (when I’m older and own one) with floor to ceiling bookshelves covered with books that I have read. Right now I have a small bookshelf that is overflowing with books, in addition to many books boxed up in my attic and a few piles of books strewn throughout my room.

So do I get an e-reader or not? It could save me room in my purse (especially when I’m reading HP and those hardcover books are huge…) but I would no longer have the books at my own disposal whenever I want. OK, yes, I would, but I couldn’t pass the books along to others, and sharing is out of the question. Which is what I’ve been doing a lot of lately. I’m currently reading a book which was loaned to me and I will be reading the next two books in the series by borrowing them from my friend. And I just read 7 other borrowed books and have another sitting on my desk waiting for me to read. While I don’t own these books, and won’t be able to add them to my collection unless I go out and buy them, I still get to experience all that I love about reading an actual book. And what’s even better about reading from a book you’ve borrowed, is the broken in spine and wrinkled pages. I don’t know, and maybe it’s just me, but I think there’s still something to be said for reading a well loved book.