Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Taking a Bite out of the Big Apple

I forgot to bring an extra pair of feet with me to New York City.

I am the youngest of three girls and my “big” sister and I and traveled to the Big Apple to visit our middle sister-the aspiring and talented fashion designer. She has bravely decided to pursue her dream in such a large and loud city, something I don’t think I could have done.

This wasn’t my first trip, it was my third actually, but it was an eye opener. I got to see where my sister lived, her routes of travel and essentially her life in the “Big City”. I have admired her for years but to see her in her surroundings allowed me to understand her way of life and the challenges she faces.

From the moment she met us at the Air Train it was non-stop walking, walking and more walking. There are no such things as comfortable shoes in New York City. I brought 4 pairs of my most comfy shoes and not one could do the job. I should have bought stock in “Band-Aids” before I left.

This weekend was truly a blessing. As I walked with my big sisters my senses were overloaded with the smells, sounds and touches of this city. As I walked side by side with them I came to understand a little about life and the delicate balance of the human nature. We were three women exploring, no longer young girls. Each of us has followed their vocation, going where we think God wishes for us to be. And in this city everyone goes about their life, not knowing what kind of effect they will have on the person next to them. But how we live our life most assuredly impacts those around us.

There are several things I noticed while visiting. It is a dirty place. It may not look dirty but the hot and humid weekend left a layer of yuck on me. The subway rides made me feel like a mole person and the sheer number of homeless left me somewhat sad. As we past newsstands I tried to avert my gaze due to the prominent displays of pornographic magazines. And of course, there was the Gay “Pride” parade of which we were in the middle of, by accident of course. There was no lack of stereotypes there. Gay men flaunted their body glitter and effeminate gaits. Masculine “womyn” were everywhere to be seen. This is strictly an observation.

But what spoke to me the most was the hopeful nature of New York City.

The big beautiful Churches were astonishing. I was able to visit two which knocked my socks off. Our visits to Our Lady of Good Counsel on the Upper East Side and St. Vincent Ferrer on Lexington were a feast for the soul.

I saw a man helping a stranger with her groceries, cross the street.

I saw children being lovingly guided by their smiling parents.

New York City firefighters and police officers rushed to help those in need, even if it was to offer directions to tourists.

The men who were working their sidewalk carts endured blazing temperatures to make a living. What difficult work that must be.

One of my favorite moments happened in the Subway terminal. I woman was playing a saw, as in the carpentry tool. It wasn’t that she was playing the saw that was interesting; it was the fact that she was playing the Ave Maria. It was quite beautiful.

Then there were the Protestant faithful who gathered to see Billy Graham, many of them were smiling as they made their pilgrimage to see this man of faith. I couldn’t help but to notice the irony that Grahams Crusade fell on the same day as the Gay Pride parade.

There is so much more to write about my trip to New York, which I will do in the coming days. Unfortunately I have to go and put my feet up. Two days later, my feet are still sore.

I should have brought an extra pair of feet.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I haven’t had much time to work in the garden this year.

The first year living in our house my garden had everything you could imagine. We had corn, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, snapdragons, petunias and so much more. I spent hours tending to each with gratitude and pleasure, seeing each transform from tiny little plants into fresh vegetables for summer dinners or flower filled vases.

Then came a summer of which I was pregnant. My stomach didn’t allow me to get down and dirty in the garden. And an unfortunate mix up with weed killer left my vegetable plants as black as coal. I killed all my vegetables, herbs and flowers. I figured that was God’s way of telling me to slow down and take care of my unborn son.

This year, I looked at the weeds in my garden and figure if God wanted vegetables in my garden, He would have put them there. After all, I thought, now with two kiddos I don’t really have time.

I have reconsidered my position. Gardening is a lot like my life. In order to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables, flowers, etc.) it requires hard work, self discipline and love. It isn’t always easy to go through all the weeds and pluck them out, but if I don’t it will choke the flower.

The same goes for my prayer life. I really want to feel close to the Lord all the time. But sometimes it is difficult. Upon further inspection I have found a lot more weeds in my spiritual “garden”, making holiness a challenge.

What are the weeds in your spiritual garden?

Watching sitcoms of no intellectual, spiritual or moral value?
Lack of quiet time? (Is the music, television or radio always on?)
Poor use of time?
Loss of temper?

These are just a few examples. But what a difference it makes. It always starts off small (like a little weed) and suddenly you realize your spiritual priorities have been taken over by the things you value the least.

I really want a beautiful garden this year. I don’t know if it will include vegetables or flowers.

But, I do know I want to have a beautiful and prosperous soul.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Happy Father's Day

It is Father’s Day.

I have a wonderful father.

My first memory of my father is resting my head on his tummy while we watched Sesame Street together. I remembered that, when he laughed with me, my head would bounce up and down which would make me laugh even more.

I am thankful to him for so many reasons. Many of which I probably don’t say often enough. Today I want to honor him and let him know why I am thankful for him.

When Daddy laughs, he turns beet red and laughs showing his mouthful of teeth, barely able to catch his breath.

Daddy taught me how to use tools. All those weekends of: “Hey, Lynn, come over here and hold this (ladder, nail, hammer, etc.).” It paid off; I am quite the Mrs. Fix-it around the house.

My Dad told me to listen to my mother. I understand now, as a mother, why this was so important. My parents were a united front.

All the boyfriends my Dad told me weren’t good enough, well he was right. They weren’t good enough. And when the one came around who was good enough, he supported me and walked me down the aisle.

I am thankful my father was a soldier. I know that he loved his family (even though we weren’t born yet) so much that he wanted to defend freedom even if that meant risking his health and life.

I have said harsh words to my father, and I am thankful that he forgave me. He has taught me forgiveness many, many times.

I have known a comfortable life. My father taught me a work ethic. He worked non stop for the good of his family. Long business trips, family moves and late nights all showed us he was willing to sacrifice so much for us.

He let me make mistakes. These lessons were bittersweet for me. For him, they must have been heartbreaking.

Even though my mom (and most women by their nature) was more involved in our spiritual training, I know my Dad felt this was so important. I am grateful for this gift of Faith.

It wasn’t until the last few years that I have seen my father in a very special light. I not only see him just as a father, but as a man: A devoted husband, father, son, uncle, brother, friend, veteran, and father-in-law.

For him I thank God. And I am thankful for my husband who embodies so many of the characteristics (as a father) that I love in my own Dad. Finally, I ask our Heavenly Father to continue to bless all those who have given the gift of life to children.

Happy Father’s Day.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A Chance to make a Difference

New York State Senate Higher Education Committee currently has a Bill (S3661) awaiting a vote. It has already been approved in the Assembly.

Bill Summary:
"Authorizes nurses and pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception upon the prescription and order of a
non-patient specific regimen by a licensed physician, certified nurse practitioner, or licensed midwife; enacts the "unintended pregnancy prevention act"."

What a sorry State to live in. I'm embarrassed to be from New York.

I beg you, for the safety of women, for the protection of the unborn, contact your New York State Senator as soon as possible.

The New York State Catholic Conference has put together a list of Ten Reasons to Oppose Unregulated Access to “The Morning-After Pill”

1. The Health of Women Will Be Put At Risk. Pharmacist distribution of emergency contraception (EC) exposes women to mega-doses of potentially dangerous hormonal medication without a medical exam or physician oversight.

2. Families Will Be Undermined. Pharmacist distribution of EC would enable a 13-year-old girl to obtain these high doses of hormones without her parents knowledge or her doctor’s guidance. The State should not be placing vulnerable young women at risk.

3. Doctors are a Necessary Part of Medical Treatment. If every possible pregnancy is an emergency, then so is every possible heart attack and seizure. If we don’t bypass doctors in those instances, we shouldn’t carve out an exception for pregnancy. This is common sense.

4. EC Pills Can Be Dangerous. According to the FDA:“The effect of repeated use of emergency contraceptive pills (more than once in a menstrual cycle or in multiple cycles) is unknown.” Emergency contraceptive pills can cause heart attacks, strokes, and disabling or fatal blood clots.

5. Women Do Not Deserve to be Guinea Pigs. “Collaborative agreements” between a physician and pharmacists do not exist for any other type of prescription medication in New York State. Regular doses of birth control pills -- containing much lower doses of hormones -- require a physician visit and prescription for every patient who obtains them.

6. Patients Deserve Safety. New York State regulates weight loss pills, dietary supplements and body-building aids. It is considering additional restrictions on simple fever thermometers and the free dispensing of sample drugs by physicians. Eliminating regulations on complex chemicals like EC, made of the same hormones found to increase risk of several serious diseases, flies in the face of patient safety.

7. Women Deserve the Truth. EC pills can work by delaying ovulation and preventing conception, acting as a true contraceptive. But EC pills can also work by preventing implantation of a developing embryo, thereby causing the abortion of a human being. Simply labeling EC “contraception” does not make it so. Women have the right to know the truth about these powerful drugs, and the state should not deny them the facts.

8. Pharmacies are Not Medical Clinics. Pharmacists are currently dealing with growing and burdensome workloads as well as compliance with new state counseling requirements and new federal privacy regulations. Can pharmacists be expected to provide patient evaluation, patient education and direct provision of EC? Will pharmacists be expected to recognize and report suspected cases of sexual abuse? Are pharmacies appropriate environments for sexual health counseling?

9. Potential for Misuse is Great. The potential for routine, even frivolous use of EC exists, and has been confirmed by a United Kingdom study that found “high levels of repeat use” among all age groups.* Moreover, since Great Britain deregulated EC in 1999, there has been an explosion of sexually transmitted diseases, especially among the young. The Public Health Laboratory Service details large increases in syphilis, Chlamydia, herpes and gonorrhea cases.

10. EC is All About Politics, Not Women’s Health. Family planning proponents admit that “EC is more expensive than other routinely used contraceptives, it is significantly less effective, and its use is associated with greater discomfort,” yet they strive to eliminate all common sense regulations on these powerful drugs. Jane Bogess, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, May/June 2002

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

On the mend...

I received a couple of emails asking where I have been.

Well, it has been a wonderful week of being humbled.

From two broken cars, a broken water heater and a lovely bout of bronchitis, I do believe God is telling me to slow down. So, slow down I have.

I shall be back next week feeling positive and regrouped! At the very least, hopefully not feeling sorry for myself. :)
I have so much to be grateful for.

Speaking of which, here are my top 10 things I am thankful for this week:

10. Getting my new Dominican Torch magazine in the mail-instead of junk mail.

9. Taking a short break from work

8. Antibiotics

7. Baby Stephen's bottom teeth are in-no more screaming! Wahoo!

6. Having my fancy fashion design sister 'home' with us for a few days

5. An auto repair shop which can actually be trusted.

4. Having my mom help me watch the kids at a 2 hour Mass while Hubby sang in the choir for the last time (until next year).

3. Being able to watch all Star Wars episodes on the couch while I have bronchitis

2. Watching Cinderella with my little girl for the first time together, giggling, cuddling and having a treat!

1. My family. From my husband to my kiddos, my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, in-laws, all of them!

I am very grateful, what a nice week it has been.