Imperfect Serenity

I began this blog in 2005 while I was taking care of two young children and my dying mother, so the title, Imperfect Serenity, referred to my struggle to stay spiritually grounded during a difficult time. Eventually the title came to include my experiences in eco-justice activism, anti-racism work, and book publicity. As I started publishing my writing on Huffington Post and Salon, I stopped posting here often, but many of the topics are still timely, so feel free to poke around.

January31, 2013

I’m ready to risk arrest. Will you support me?

By |January 31st, 2013|Categories: Nonviolent Direct Action|2 Comments

Dear Friends, Within the next month, I plan to commit civil disobedience, which may well lead to my arrest. It’s a big step for me—the first time in my life I’ve done this—but saving the climate for our children feels that important. Will you support me, not by getting arrested yourself, but by taking a bus to DC for a different and legal event? As many of you know, I’ve felt increasingly called to work to prevent catastrophic climate change. (If you think “catastrophic” is an exaggeration, please read Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stones article.). We all have an exciting opportunity to make a difference by joining and the Sierra Club in Washington, DC on February 17 for a march against the Keystone XL Pipeline, which [...]

August7, 2012

Thoughts from South Africa

By |August 7th, 2012|Categories: Climate Change|1 Comment

I've been traveling in Southern Africa for the past week and a half--my first time back to the region in over twenty-five years since serving in Botswana as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Between visiting old friends and interviewing people about the effects of climate change, I have way too many stories to report in a blog post, but here are a few one-liners: Highlight: seeing old friends. Most Poignant: visiting my old school and house in Bobonong and seeing how they've changed. Most Ridiculous: repeatedly turning on the windshield wipers when I want to signal a turn because everything on my rental car is on the opposite side. Biggest Surprise: how impressed I was by the diamond mining town, Orapa. Realization: Botswana's early decision to [...]

June23, 2012

How to Stop Abuse

By |June 23rd, 2012|Categories: Climate Change|2 Comments

Quiz: Which of these things happened yesterday? A famous football coach was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys. A Roman Catholic official was convicted of endangering children by covering up priest sexual abuse under his watch. A summit of global leaders failed to agree on meaningful action to stop corporations and governments from continuing to abuse the earth. All of the above. I won’t hold you in suspense; it’s d, all of the above, but a and b got all the news coverage in the United States because sexual abuse by individuals gets better ratings than environmental abuse by large institutions. We just can’t help it—human beings like a good scandal, and the news media has been giving us plenty of headlines lately. As the [...]

April20, 2012

Earth Quaker Activism

By |April 20th, 2012|Categories: Nonviolent Direct Action, Spirituality|4 Comments

Just over three years ago, I wrote a blog post questioning whether I could still call myself an activist and reflecting on what type of social engagement I felt drawn to. An even earlier post, questioned what kinds of political events I wanted to bring my children to, especially after the Bush Administration demoralized so many of us who opposed the wars Bush started. This year I’ve felt a rebirth of my activist spirit and, after a long sojourn from blogging, want to share what has been life giving. Ever since the genesis of the Earth Quaker Action Team, I’ve been cheering them from a distance, thinking that some day—after the book came out, then after the year of fundraising for the GSFS Costa Rica Exchange [...]

December15, 2011

45 Degrees

By |December 15th, 2011|Categories: Climate Change|0 Comments

Last week a friend of mine from Botswana called to say hello. Some of you may know the story—that I served there in the Peace Corps in the mid-1980s then lost touch with a dear friend and miraculously reconnected with her a few years ago. Anyway, she calls from time to time for a brief chat, which always thrills me. Knowing that it’s summer there now and that climate scientists predict that Southern Africa will be hit hard by climate change, I asked if it was hot. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed. “It’s 45 degrees!” For those of you who live in the Fahrenheit world, that’s 113 degrees to us. I checked later on the Internet to see if I had heard her right. Turns [...]

September11, 2011

What Do We Remember?

By |September 11th, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

I once heard of a study that compared how people from the United States and people from Japan remembered two key events of World War II: the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Hiroshima. Not surprisingly, the two groups remembered history differently. The Americans studied knew much more about Pearl Harbor and felt it was particularly treacherous because it was a surprise attack when the US was not yet at war with Japan. For them, the details of Hiroshima were a little sketchy, but they remembered that that bombing took place during a time of war and believed that it ended the conflict, thus saving lives in the long run. The Japanese, on the other hand, were more likely to remember Hiroshima, which [...]

August14, 2011

Long Story Short

By |August 14th, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized|5 Comments

I haven’t posted in nearly two months, partly because I’m still in the waiting and trusting phase that I wrote about last post. Here’s a little update. We thought our short sale deal was approved, and so we started packing. We got approved for a mortgage and told our kids to pack their books and take their posters off the walls. I set up gas and electric service and scheduled movers, mold removers, and a chimney guy to deal with the back-draft around the hot water heater. Turns out, however, that only the major part of the deal was settled. The sellers still owe back taxes to the city of Philadelphia, as well as a home equity loan, which was originally with the same bank [...]

June29, 2011


By |June 29th, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized|3 Comments

Google image from my grandfather's birthplace in IrelandFor years my husband and I felt that we’d like a bigger house and garden, but we pushed those feelings aside in the name of simplicity and loyalty to our neighbors, whom we love. But this spring several things happened that shifted our assumptions. First, our neighbors had a baby, which means that with two other children, they are feeling even more cramped than we are in a three-bedroom, one bath rowhouse. Through a series of conversations and a few house hunting trips, it became clear that we were entering a new phase when expanding a bit felt right, rather than extravagant. Since we’ve settled on a high school for our daughter and are excited about the fact [...]

May7, 2011

Family Secrets

By |May 7th, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized|4 Comments

Tomorrow will be the sixth Mother’s Day that involves visiting my mother’s grave, rather than cooking for her. It comes at a time when I’ve been thinking about my ancestors, her family in particular, and boy have I got some questions. I had always wanted to learn more about my roots, so when a little time opened up this spring, I went down to the basement and dug up the family tree started by a man I had never heard of. It turns out he’s my 76 year-old second cousin, with whom I’m now in email contact. The tree follows the descendants of Patrick McEnroe and Rose Brady, who married in 1846 during the Irish Potato Famine and had five children before Patrick died at [...]

March13, 2011

Flower Show Protest

By |March 13th, 2011|Categories: Nonviolent Direct Action|0 Comments

All last week I felt a strong urge to go to the Philadelphia Flower Show—an extravagance I might have hesitated to write about after Jeanne's post on middle class Quakers making others uncomfortable by talking about things they can’t afford, except that my being there and writing about it ended up feeling so right. At first I wasn’t sure why I was there. It was a mob scene, not at all the peaceful taste of spring I was seeking. But then I passed two Quaker friends who were acting slightly furtive and realized that the Earth Quaker Action Team was planning civil disobedience in twenty minutes, just enough time for me to see the Bonsai exhibit and a few other favorites before coming back to support [...]

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