Monthly Archives: May 2020


Remember that feeling? Anticipation. Remember the 1971 Carly Simon song? “Anticipation. Anticipa-a-tion is makin’ me late is keepin’ me wai-ai-ai-ai -aiting.” 

Remember the Heinz ketchup commercial? 

My calendar is empty, except for some virtual meetings and walks with friends here and there. I hurt my ankle – again – and even those scheduled strolls are on hold. 

I’m on hold, but I’m not on hold. I witness the brightening of this amazingly green morning in the misty rain. After the rain, I anticipate the sun. Yesterday, buds opened right before my eyes. I wonder if this is how it will be with the calendar – slowly things will appear. Slowly life will be in full bloom again. 

But life is in full bloom right now. There is no waiting for life. 

People say 

  • I can’t wait til I can go to a restaurant again.
  • I can’t wait till I can go to a ballgame – any type of ballgame.
  • I can’t wait til I can hear a band play.
  • I can’t wait to go to a bar. 
  • I can’t wait to dance at a party. (I miss dancing!)

Anticipation. With the ketchup bottle, you can see the red paste making its way to the plate. I can’t see anything making its way to my calendar. 

My friend Ann now lives in Arizona, and today she emailed that she doesn’t know when she will be home again. 

My mom lives in a nursing home. She is 93, and I don’t know when I will see her again.

My grandchildren live in Milwaukee, and I don’t know when I will hug them again. 

We wait. But where is the excitement of anticipation? We have two friends whose daughters are getting married this summer. Will they happen? I’m not frustrated with not knowing – I’m just waiting.  

When things are cancelled, I am fine. I accept. I’m not mad or angry – just meekly disappointed. We expect to celebrate benchmarks. Where did these expectations come from?

I think about the desolate, yet spectacular, Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland, where three of Tim and my grandparents are from. Or the west coasts of County Clare and Mayo where the other five were born. What was life like for them only a few generations ago? I don’t think they hosted big shindigs to celebrate birthdays, weddings, retirement and anniversaries. Entire towns had less people that a few city blocks in Chicago. 

I’ve missed so many funerals. Yesterday, I mailed four sympathy cards. Misericordia in Chicago is hearing a lot from me lately as I request prayers for friends’ loved ones. I’ve participated in two funeral masses via lifestream. Churches are sparsely populated. Have we simply returned to what was?

Today Tim’s coworker emailed and apologized that he and his fiance must limit their June wedding guest list to close family. How awkward for this wonderful, young man to have to uninvite us. His love for his fiance is all that matters. We will toast him from our home on June 13th, and that is enough. We will celebrate their commitment in our hearts – without the hoopla. 

Have we – in our quest to create lasting memories – embellished miracles like lifelong commitments and life everlasting into major events and somehow muffled the beautiful essence of what is? Love. 

As a lover of hoopla, it is strange how I accept cancellations. I understand. And I wait. And in the meantime, I do my best to bloom. 

Where are you – really?

This COVID-19 journey has been quite a ride. I’ve ventured into unchartered territory as I explore new ways of being, feeling fulfilled, observing, learning, and connecting. Even the way I navigate through the internet has changed as I seek reliable, unbiased sources of information and updates on the virus. I’m wondering how I can serve this world from my place of social distancing. I’m feeling inadequate as I isolate myself, yet I know this is what I need to do. 

Throughout it all, I pray. And sometimes my prayers ring true, deep, intense. Sometimes they are pretty shallow – just rote words instead of authentic conversations with God.

Similarly, sometimes I experience real connection through virtual meetings, and sometimes I feel like others aren’t really there. I see their eyes wandering on their screens, or I hear their fingers on the keyboard exposing the pretense of listening. I’ve seen meeting chat boxes on fire with comments, questions, jokes, and asides. I wonder how people type and pay attention. I see people reading the chat and laughing. How does that work if you are really present for the meeting?

Then I think, maybe I’m like that with God. I’ll say some prayers while I’m doing something else. The prayers help pass the time or strangely, give me something else to do. I’m not sure if I’m really communicating or just rattling off a bunch of Our Fathers or Hail Mary’s.  

I have a dear friend who recently shared that she counts steps when she climbs stairs. I marveled because I thought it was just me. I figured it originated with my efforts to teach my kids to count. I’d hold a toddler’s hand and count one, two, three, four. Maybe having five kids solidified this habit, but I know how many steps there are to my office. I count them all the time, and I count them when I climb two at a time. I count to get the steps over with, but I don’t know where I am when I am counting. It is almost like I am in some sort of limbo, a place between.   

Stay with me here. I think sometimes I pray rote prayers to pass time – almost like a mantra to tick away minutes – like when I’m sorting laundry, pulling weeds, and back in the day, running long miles. I know that during the last miles of a marathon, those were real prayers: Please God, get me to the water stop. Please God, get me past the finish line. Please God, don’t let me sign up for another one of these things. 

I’m just wondering where I really am when I’m praying sometimes. Just like I wonder where people are who are on virtual meetings without the video on. Are they cooking dinner? Are they like me – sneaking in a quick ab workout and trying to get a double whammy out of being productive? 

I wonder if God looks at me and thinks she’s not really paying attention to what she’s praying. I’d like to think that God gives me the benefit of the doubt, that I’m not judged by God. And so I’ve decided to do the same for others. If they don’t seem to be all-in, I figure they are doing the best they can. Maybe they, too, are inbetween until they find their grounding.

“Be where you are: otherwise you will miss your life” (Buddha). This is another version of Notre Dame’s “Play like a champion today.” Both remind us to be all-in, to be our best . . . every day.  To be our best, we have to be where we are. 

We don’t know when this virus will be eradicated. As I try to envision living with a perpetual sense of awareness of  COVID-19, I know I have to be right here now. I have to feel like this is enough. I am not a healthcare worker on the frontlines, and I can do what I can to be philanthropic, creative, consciencious and loving. I look out the window and see new life in trees, grass, blooms. We are all coming into a new sense of being, living, growing, connecting. Our collective sense of unity prevails even in social distancing. We have to trust that we are where we need to be. 

I find solace in the Prayer of St. Therese:

“May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born in faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that is given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”

Lockdown Limericks

Started off the lockdown in March. 

Barely shopped – mainly ate starch. 

Trips to the store were rare. 

The cupboards were bare. 

Toilet paper loaded our carts. 


Liquor stores break records sellin’ booze. 

Netflix, Hulu, Disney – give lots to choose –

Drama, action, no sports 

‘cept Jordan, football league sorts.

The big draw is Fouci’s new news. 


Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or face,

biting your nails – a disgrace.

If you do not comply,

forget, scratch your eye,

you’ll be shunned in all public space.


We’ve got long distance games in the bag. 

FaceTime, Zoom, House Party all flag. 

Stop what you’re doing and play. 

Shoo isolation away.  

Scavenger hunts, word games but no tag.


Work from home, read, write and run. 

Try to think gardening is fun.

Lots of sleep, so I’m chipper.

Why own pants that zipper? 

I eat like I’m Attila the Hun. 


We ‘ve made it through March, April, now May. 

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. 

We’ll connect through our phones 

and stay in our homes.

We’ll chat with no events to convey. 


The major reset of COVID-19 

brings us closer (and makes us clean!),  

teaches it’s time to let go 

of what we can’t control –

look for lessons in quiet quarantine. 












Look at Me

When I was in trouble when I was little, my father would demand, “Look at me while I’m talking to you.” I was too ashamed and, frankly, terrified to look this beloved, burly man in the eye.

Then in the late 90’s, I studied nonverbal behavior and taught Interpersonal Communication 20+ times at IVY Tech Community College in Valparaiso. In the United States, eye contact is an indication of honesty and sincerity. My dad was a wise man. He knew I couldn’t lie and maintain eye contact. My eyes would have revealed a big fat liar if I denied lighting matches in the alley – one of many stupid things I did while growing up in Chicago. To be caught lying in our house felt like a death sentence. 

I used to hate that my eyes gave away my truth. I hated that uninvited guests entered through the window to my soul to see my emotions, the real me. I unsuccessfully tried to hide my feelings, those powerful sensations I wear on my sleeve. I would want to say to perceived soul intruders, “MYOB.”  MYOB – Mind Your Own Business – was a normative response from older siblings in my house.

I got used to MYOB – after the initial feeling that I did something wrong by asking something, anything – and I’d think, “Okay.” To this day, the shiver of MYOB restricts my ability to ask questions. In 1997, I thought, Really,  Doctor, my son has retinoblastoma? Okay. My friend Susie was with me during that diagnosis, and she asked, “Is that cancer?” Honest to goodness, I gasped at the question. I thought, Doesn’t she know about MYOB? (And yes, my son is a cancer survivor. He is fine and lives an incredibly full life with one eye.) 

(BTW, MYOB is a real curiosity stifler and is not recommended as a useful quip.)

Back to eye contact: To protect myself from interlopers in intense moments, I divert my eyes. Insightful friends and family know that if I look away, something is up. I cannot win. 

Eye contact also indicates interest, attention. Philosopher Simone Weil said, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” She referred to it as a miracle.  In 2004, we taught Weil’s work in the freshmen Core at Valparaiso University. I’d claim that miracles occur in conversation. When students expressed doubt, I’d argue, “You don’t believe me? A conversation led me to marry a man, commit to it for the rest of my life, and led us to have five children.” If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.

Awareness of eye contact is a big, big thing, and my husband Tim is an eye contact champ. Once when I was mad at him (it happened only once), he deliberately planned dinner at a restaurant with booths. As I sat across from him, he looked and looked and looked at me. Finally I said, “Would you cut me some slack with the eye contact? I can’t take it.” He knew that the key to reconnecting was to look each other in the eye. Smart man, kind of like my dad. 

Shawn Achor, Harvard psychologist and author of The Happiness Advantage, researched how eye contact leads to relationship building, a key component to happiness. How do we cultivate eye contact while social distancing? We make bigger efforts, we get creative, and we know it’s worth it.  

This morning, in his Daily Meditation for the Center of Action and Contemplation post, Richard Rhor wrote:  When [Jesus] met a person, . . . he really believed that God was somehow present in that person, so he looked for that presence through all the overlying contradictions to it, until he found it. Then he addressed himself to that point in the person. As the Hindus also say, the divine in him saluted the divine in the other. When anyone does that, it tends to awaken the divine in the other, who is thus invited to speak from that place in return. [Notice the mutuality! It begins with one person’s generous gaze, which is then returned in kind.]”

Rhor, Achor, and others encourage me to look people in the eye. It can be uncomfortable, and there are parameters. I’m not looking to be perceived as a stalker. But I am a carrier of deep spirituality, goodness, and love. When I was younger, I tried to hide what might be revealed by my eyes –  my bad behavior, weaknesses, my unworthiness. I was afraid that someone would see the real me, the imposter, the one who is trying to be good but is really a lighter of matches. I’m grateful for aging. We grow up and out of those beliefs. 

“Seek and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7-9).  There is goodness everywhere including ourselves and others. We just have to pay attention and really see.   

Namaste – the Light in me honors the Light in you.