Saturday, April 28, 2007

FINISHED! I've always wanted to give an Oscaresque Speech

I did it! I DID IT! I am finished..DONE As of 9:00 this evening...I have successfully completed my graduate coursework!

I can't tell you how thrilled I am. It's been the most amazing two years of study and hard work. I am just flying high with accomplishment. I met some of the most outstanding, intelligent people. I had the opportunity to learn from some of the most brilliant educators. I was a part of two dynamic cohorts (I had to take a year off for the novitiate) who inspire me. I am so grateful for my education, my learning, and I am ready for my next adventure...principal! Wowie! I worked my little tush off and I recall this thought process from the last time I graduated from's like climbing the biggest mountain and you're ready to conquer the world.

Thanks to my colleagues...know that I support you all in your endeavors. Thanks to my inspire me. Thanks to my SISTERS--the support, the push, the belief in me. And to my publicist...ok now I'm just being obnoxious! Really...I am incredibly grateful for the support and I just am elated that I am finished. move forward...use what we've learned...WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO.........


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Oh yeah...this fun nun has hit the paper!

It is such a wonderfully written article...Way to go Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and thank you to Karen Herzog...for your great story.

What fun! Enjoy the story...blogging, cooking, what's next??? Who knows?

I am so super, awesomely incredible 7th graders just posted a comment on my blog! That means they discovered it. I didn't get to see them today because they were on a field trip and I don't see them I can't wait for Friday to see what they think! They are such a great group of kids...I'm so blessed to have them as students. I can't tell you how much they've taught ME this year!

Okie dokie...time to go celebrate Sr. Phyllis. It's her birthday and we're going for Thai! mmmm....Thai food...and no, I'm not cooking today!

Ciao for now...

A Disturbance in the Force

I have a slight reputation in my community for the hour of night (day) which I go to sleep. I'm a night person...c'mon. Just say NO to mornings, is my mantra. When I first moved into the convent, our living group had crazy schedules; so we tried very hard to eat dinner with one another. These Sisters were more of the "morning-type" people and would go to bed quite early, at least by my standards. So if I ever wanted to hang out with friends or go to a movie or chill...I would start my evening at 9pm--it was the perfect solution--community time and friend time! I would say to Sr. Kate (who'd be up still), "Ok, Kate...I'm going to the movies" or whatever I was doing and she'd gasp and reply, "NOWWWWW????". It was hilarious. So that's our little joke. I'm still usually the last one in at night and it's not unusual for my sisters to be upstairs when I get home...until one dark and stormy night....

Sr. Mary Ann and I went out for supper and returned home early at the hour of about 10:15pm. The house was dark downstairs and we thought...ha! They're all in bed. So we were just innocently chatting in the living room...when suddenly the door opened! We both looked at each other and said, "WHO IS THAT?" IT WAS SR. PHYLLIS! Those rascals were at the Brewer's game AND to make this episode of the twilight zone even more intriguing...they agreed to have ice cream if they WON...ICE CREAM...AT THIS HOUR?? See I have evidence...Sr. Phyllis and Sr. Joan! Craziness!

A few minutes later...the DOOR OPENS AGAIN! We all looked at each other and said, "NOW WHO"...oh don't be fooled by this "Sr. Katy stays up so late" nonsense...the truth indeed emerges. The second culprit...SR. BETH! Look at that face...and people think I'm up to no good! HAH! Sr. Beth was ushering at a play that night..or was she? :-)

We had a good laugh and I promised them this "disturbance in the force" would be documented in my blog...

Moral of the story folks...It's you know where your Sisters are?

Thursday, April 19, 2007


RETREAT! many of you appreciated the Monty Python reference to "RETREAT...RUN AWAY...RUN AWAY!"??? (It is curiously tempting to do an entire blog connecting Monty Python and Religious life..hmmmm...)

No RETREAT as in the "vacation...with God" sense...not the Monty Python sense. was outstanding. Just a couple days; precisely what I needed. I had a dynamo director (whom I was told before I left "Oh she's goooood. She'll be VERY gooood for you!"); who was a great balance between swift kicks to get my spirit back in alignment, listening, processing, and feedback. Yep; she was challenging (one of my requirements) and superbly insightful.

Now a little context setting for all you non-retreat people out there in blog-land. This would fall under the realm of "silent-directed" retreats (I'll do a nunspeak on retreat categories.) I follow something I invented and like to call the 80/20 method of retreat--80% silent and 20% if the spirit so moves to have someone there to talk to--don't squelch that spirit. Directed meaning--you have spiritual direction, usually for an hour, once per day. Most often these retreats are at retreat centers.

I have three requirements for a facility: my own room (that's pretty standard), water (as in a body of water), and walking/outdoor places. This was unique because it was at the director's house. She has a nice place/space for 1 retreatant and she is just a couple blocks from Lake Michigan in one direction and a bike/walking trail in the other. Perfect.

So this director's format for her retreats is: for breakfast (if you do that kind of morning thing)and lunch, she puts food out or has food available for you. You have a meeting with her 1 time during the day and the rest of the day is yours. She cooks FABULOUS...I MEAN FABULOUS dinners for you and you eat with her and chat over dinner (perfect...remember the 20%!) Then the evening is your time too.

It was great...I actually don't mind the quiet time...but a whole day for multiple days is sometimes like torture. This was a mini-retreat, so I could have managed, but when I do my week long ones...days 1-3 are fine with the quiet stuff...then by Thursday I'm ready to explode and the 1 meeting per day--just doesn't cut it. This was a nice BALANCE...ya hear that folks...BALANCE!

So this retreat was just nice. I needed some space. I needed to just have my spirit realigned and kicked into gear again (it's like a spiritual tune up--I just needed an oil change, new brake pads, windshield washer fluid, and I'm sure my maintenance light has been on for a few months!)

One way I find most helpful to pray is with Mandalas. Mandala is a Sanskrit word which means circle. I find because my mind is usually going 560 bazillion miles an hour, when I incorporate some creativity and give my hands some thing to "do"; I let go of the head and connect with something in a deeper place.

Mandalas can be very revealing depending upon color choice, shape, and placement of what you draw. THEY ARE NOT MEANT TO BE AN ARTISTIC EXPRESSION (that's mostly in all caps for my benefit, because sometimes I forget that and get irritated that my mandalas will never be hanging at the MET). And because I tend to have more difficulty letting go of that whole head thing...I have rules for my mandala time--given to me a few years ago by my spiritual director (not to be confused with the retreat director :) ). MY MANDALA RULES:

  • 20 mins
  • If I am compelled to pick a certain color I go with it (rather than "pre-planning" what I think looks right)
  • Go with the first instinct; don't think about it--if it pops into my head it goes on the paper.

Sometimes I am more disciplined than others. Don't be afraid...mandalas don't have to be this structured, the structure just tricks me into making the most out of connecting with God and my "inner spirit"--oooooh! So I usually start with a blank page, say a little prayer asking the spirit to whatever, and then start drawing, and then I sit with it for another 20 mins ish and see what emerges. Then if it's one that I want to talk about, I share it with either my spiritual director or in this case the retreat director. first morning on my mini-retreat...I woke up and thought "MANDALA TIME...BABY" and really followed my rules this time! This is what I drew: didn't start out that way...I only had the head in my mandala and this little voice said, "DRAW FEET". And I thought, "Draw feet?" So I remembered my rules and thought, "Oh Great...draw feet." So I did. Well..."DRAW FEET" became quite an insightful reflection the rest of my retreat!

Have you ever meditated on the topic of FEET? WELL I sure haven't. In fact I thought, "WHAT...DRAW FEET? YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME." But I'm soooo obedient (ha ha) and gave it some thought that day.

I walked and walked and walked that day on retreat. (From Shorewood to the Art museum for those of you who know Mil-town) so obviously I was aware of my feet in the walking sense. Then I stopped on some rocks by the lake and mapped out what feet could symbolize. It was quite a good reflection if I do say so myself.

If you notice the middle is missing on my little person. So it's like that person has a head and feet. Some of my insights were: "What is my head trying to say?" "Where are my feet trying to take me?" "What's holding me back." Then I concluded with, "My feet will take me places if I trust what's in my head...the only way to do that is to connect them...which would be my heart and gut" Ooooooh...that was good.

So then you have an insight and that's exciting...UNTIL you REALIZE that you should reflect on what "deeper meaning" that insight has on what's going on in your life. UGH...that's the part that I tend to squirm with. In fact...let me give you a visual to what my face says initially when it's time to take "Cool I had an insight" to "UGH...I have to apply it." Well...maybe not that expressive, but you get the idea!

That's when your retreat director comes in and raises questions for you to ponder. Then you reflect on them and sometimes pretend that you didn't think what you just thought...and then you are cornered...INSIGHT WITH DIRECT APPLICATION AND CONNECTION MEANS...INTEGRATION.

Insights all reality that is a "good retreat" and I will admit I'm in a much less tornadoey space than I was when I that's good. And's the spirit at's just taking time to recognize it and know when it's time to act.

So...the moral of today's post folks: "Draw Feet"...see where it takes you! RUN AWAY!!!!...with God. And my favorite, "Insights schminsights".

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Return of the "A" word: Holy Week--and beyond.

Back by popular demand...for all of my fans out there who have been waiting at the edge of your seats for my next sincere apologies! I do have a quasi excuse...I was sick all last week, so my posting would have been highly boring and a downer...and who wants to read that from this "fun nun"? Not me! So I'm back; healthy and postable again!

SO! The return of the "A" Word...just a quick story...ya know no Alleluias in Lent. Well when you are a teacher, if you let one slip...the kids remind you with these gasps and looks of horror like you said the worst word Happy EASTER and the return of the "A" WORD!

Holy Week! I love these days...this is funny. I say to people, "Ya know..growing up, we weren't a 'Triduum Family'" In fact...I didn't even realize that people went to church for those days until I had my first convent immersion! I stayed with some of our sisters as a freshman in college because my family all hightailed it to Florida and left poor, studying me home in Wisconsin! So naturally, someone who has no interest at all in religious life, no way Jose, would opt to stay in a convent! (ha! Doesn't God have a wonderful sense of humor?) So I learned that nuns (and other people too!) go to church on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday...and these nuns even listened to church on the radio Sunday morning (that I HAD to comment on; it's one of the things we still laugh about!)! And I've been a Triduum girl ever since!

Now seriously speaking...I love these services. Holy Thursday is my favorite...people are in church because they want to be there for one thing. The other thing I just LOVE is the symbolism of the feet washing. It's really a beautiful scripture and ritual that we do. One year, I had my feet washed (at the school I taught); it was powerful; very humbling. I often think about that experience; I even wrote a poem about it!

Good Friday, I head to Chicago to go on the Good Friday walk for Social Justice; sponsored by the 8th Day Center for Justice. It's a beautifully, moving experience. We gather in 5 or 6 public plazas around downtown and each "station" connects to a station of the cross AND an issue of social justice. We pray, learn about the social Justice issue, and then walk to the next station. I think it's a powerful witness and brings a real, modern meaning to how we can remember Jesus' walk and passion in our lives today. This year it was C-O-L-D...really really really cold. I brought my camera to take pictures for my blog posting, but I was too cold to take it out. I did get a picture of Sr. Mary Ann and me on the "el" coming home. Awwww...aren't we cute? That is the "I just had hot coca/coffee and now I'm inside on the warm train..thank GOD" look.

The walk was good...I love spending Good Friday this way; hold meaning and fits with my spirituality practices.

Holy Saturday I spend with my "Saturday Night Group" (whom I will be featuring in this blog soon). We had a delicious meal together and then go to our Parish, St. Romans, have a lovely liturgy, and then home.

Easter Sunday...My wonderful grandparents came to Mass at our Mama Casa. Then the family went for a fantastic brunch. It was great being with the crew and having good food and good conversation.

NOW...I am celebrating one of the many blessings of the teaching profession: Easter Vacation! YEEE HAH!
I spent three days of vacation in Chicago with Sisters Mary Ann and Jeanne. We had a very nice time. I love being with them. You know the type of people that you can just "be" with? You can always be yourself, no matter what space you may be in. You can have times of deep intense discussing/reflecting or playing cards until doesn't really matter because it's just a good time to be with them...ya know those kinds of people? That's my "Chicago Group"--Mary Ann and Jeanne...I love spending time with them. This little mini-vacation was quite nice; relaxing, a little bit of cards, little bit of good chatting, little bit of walking, little bit of mellow down time--the best CHICAGO PIZZA EVER...perfect! Gotta love down time with some of your favorite people!

Tuesday I even hopped the "el" (I LOVE taking the's so much fun!) and met my good buddy Parker who is an OFM brother. We met when he was a postulant and I an affiliate (they mean the same thing) at the intercommunity program. We had PIZZA (Do you see a theme here?) and a wonderful chat. It's so good to get together with your religious life can hash out the JOYS of formation and community life...I always get "recharged" knowing that my peers are rootin' for me and letting them know that I support them too. I love Parker...he's just a good guy and I had a lot of fun with him. It's great to stay connected!

Ok...tomorrow I'm going on RETREAT...that's nunspeak for "Vacation....with GOD". I'm sure I'll have loads to post about after that experience. I'm so looking forward to it. I NEED some space and time...I have that "overflow" experience happening. Lookin' forward to some good processin' and time for some spirit action.

Stay tuned...for the retreat report in a few short days....woo hoo!

Peace out y'all...ALLELUIA!