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.

March1, 2011

Me and My Middle Class Taxes

By |March 1st, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized|2 Comments

I tried to post a long comment in response to Liz's comment on my last blog post as well as her spouse Jeanne's blog post that referenced it, but putting several links in a comment did not go well, so I'll just make this a new post. I agree with what I understand to be Jeanne and Liz's major points: 1) From Jeanne, that many Quakers carry middle class assumptions that we are unaware of, and so we are unaware of how they make people who are not middle class uncomfortable. I think it's a fair point and while it's not fun to be made a public example of our failings, I appreciate having that blind spot illuminated in the hope that I'll be more sensitive [...]

February24, 2011

How Spiritual Discernment is Like Doing Your Taxes

By |February 24th, 2011|Categories: Spirituality|3 Comments

I'm teaching Discerning Our Calls at Pendle Hill this semester, so I’ve been thinking a lot about how we listen for divine guidance in our lives. I'm also working on my 2010 taxes. Perhaps it was inevitable that I would start to see connections, far fetched as they may sound. This blog may be the only place I can get away with this outrageous comparison, but here are a few similarities I've noticed: 1. It helps if you keep track of what's going on throughout the year. A regular practice of paying attention—whether it is to your expenses or your spiritual experiences—makes it much easier when you get to the big moment of declaration. If you don't pay attention throughout the year, you're likely to [...]

February2, 2011


By |February 2nd, 2011|Categories: Climate Change|4 Comments

I’m breaking my self-imposed blogging break because I’ve been inspired by a new book, Hot: Living through the Next Fifty Years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard, a reporter who has covered climate change for decades but didn’t really “get it” in a gut way until he had a daughter and started to imagine her future. Hertsgaard uses his daughter—and all our children, including a little girl in Bangladesh—to make climate change personal, wagering that wanting what’s best for our children will be even more powerful than the fear and denial most of us have been living in. Certainly some of what he shares is fear-inspiring: water shortages alternating with floods, millions of refugees, threats to the food supply… and those are the inevitable problems, not [...]

November30, 2010

Job Hunting?

By |November 30th, 2010|Categories: Writing|6 Comments

As promised, I've been clearing space--including taking a break from blogging--in order to discern what I'm meant to do next. I've been journaling more, reading some spiritual books, paying attention to my dreams, and having good conversations with good friends. One of the recent topics has been a job opportunity with Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the regional body for Quakers in eastern PA, southern NJ, Delaware, and part of MD. There are actually several new positions available, one of which pulled at me last summer when I first heard about it. So I had to do some serious discernment about whether or not I was meant to apply. In a lot of ways it tied together my many interests--spirituality, social witness, and outreach to non-Quakers. On [...]

November3, 2010

Fallow Period for the Blog

By |November 3rd, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

I’ve been posting less frequently, as faithful readers may have noticed. It’s connected to my last post about clearing space, which I’m still trying to do. The papers are finally graded, and though there are always little things that need doing, I’m trying to make inner nurture the priority this month, if not this season. That means I’m going to take an official break from blogging—which I’ve now been doing for 5½ years! I expect I won’t post until at least the New Year, unless I feel specifically led to post something, which is the point. I want to eliminate the things that have become habits or duties so I can better sense what I’m called to do (or “led,” using the more common Quaker phrase). [...]

October20, 2010

Clearing Space

By |October 20th, 2010|Categories: Writing|0 Comments

I’m back after a whirlwind trip to the Boston area and wanting to seriously clear space so I can discern what’s next. But first I have to pay the bills, finish my daughter’s high school applications, grade 26 papers, email the five students with late papers, and write an overdue blog post. If I were a better housekeeper I’d probably include cleaning up the sticky red stuff on the middle refrigerator shelf, though frankly I haven’t written that on my list. I have a sneaking suspicion that as soon as I get the current list crossed off, there will be more on the pile, so I’ve been trying to say no to new requests and plan some down time. I feel like a change is [...]

October8, 2010

Taking in the Good

By |October 8th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment

I’ve been hit with a cold and with a pile of high school applications for my eighth grade daughter, so it’s going to be short this week (though I do have a blog post on the Huffington Post today, if you want to check that out). I’ve been listening to a series on “integral spirituality” called Beyond Awakening and particularly enjoyed the conversation with Rick Hansen, a neuropsychologist who also teaches meditation. Here’s the nugget I’m taking away from him: Hansen says that our brains are hardwired to imprint negative events more quickly and effectively than positive events. (It was important that our ancestors learn to be afraid of tigers if they wanted to pass on their genes, so we’re wired to always be on the [...]

September30, 2010


By |September 30th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|3 Comments

The night before my kids went back to school this year, my eleven-year-old son sliced off the very tip of his left index finger while finishing a back-to-school project. His dad and I took turns holding pressure on it for 3 ½ hours, until the blood finally stopped bubbling to the skinless surface, which was just about the time we finally got to see a doctor at the Children’s Hospital ER. There was no need for stitches, the resident explained, because the hole was too big to stitch, so they just cleaned it out and sent us home with a lot of gauze. I didn’t believe the attending physician when he said my son would be playing guitar again in a few weeks, but yesterday [...]

September23, 2010

In Response to A Modest Proposal

By |September 23rd, 2010|Categories: Spirituality|5 Comments

Over on his blog, Brent Bill has been making "A Modest Proposal" in five parts for the revitalization of the Quaker message in the United States. There's lots of good stuff in these posts, including a very funny video about what would happen if Starbucks marketed the way many churches do. (I think non-Quakers who are part of a religious tradition will find his research interesting, as well.) My thoughts on this issue are not as well developed as Brent's, but he has inspired me to record some things I've been thinking lately. First, I'm glad Brent framed the issue as revitalizing the Quaker message, rather than Quakerism. Although I try to do my part to support Quaker institutions, I'm much more interested in the [...]

September16, 2010

Amazon & the Ego Trap

By |September 16th, 2010|Categories: Writing|8 Comments

Friends sometimes ask me, “How’s your amazon ranking?” a question I take as a well-intentioned show of interest in my work, but which I am finding increasingly annoying because it taps into all the ego challenges of promoting a book that I felt called to write and promote. On a spiritual level, I feel my answer should be, “I don’t care,” though, of course, that’s not true. For those who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, amazon ranks its products by how much they are selling compared to other products. Because publishers are very slow to tell authors how many books they have sold, it’s often the only metric a writer has to measure whether or not people are buying their book. What the number [...]

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