Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wildest Dreams

On November 27, 2011, I had the great privilege of being the officiant at my son, Blair and his beautiful wife, Stephanie's wedding. It was a destination wedding in Cancun, Mexico.
The wedding group assembled a few days before the nuptuals for Thanksgiving weekend.
Steph and Blair chose a great all-inclusive place on the Mayan Riviera called Dreams.
And it was dreamy! The water was a beautiful blue, sand a white soft powder and endless amounts of food and drink.

The focus was the young couple. They wanted all of us to bond as a new family as we're all scattered around the country. Friends came from Nevada and California and family flew in from from Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. We sat around on the beach and by the pool for a few days, talking, playing soccer and football, snorkling and getting to know new family members.

The wedding ceremony was at 4 pm on Sunday afternoon. The ladies went to the spa in the morning for some TLC and some of the guys went to play golf. Steph didn't want Blair to see her on her wedding day and friends made sure he didn't. The day was a bit overcast and rain had been predicted. It got progressively darker as 4 pm drew near but the bride and her dad made it down to the Mayan Temple wedding site before the sprinkles came. John, Stephanie's dad had tears flowing as he approached the spot where Blair and the wedding party waited. Stephanie was a vision! My boy looked as handsome as ever, the joy on his face made him glow!

As the mother as well as the officiant, I felt a peace and basked in all the love. The ceremony was their choice and a great one it was. They spoke their vows quietly and reverently. My heart was so full watching the "kids" totally into the moment. They really did marry themselves. We were just the witnesses. The almost forty guests cheered as Blair dipped her at their kiss to seal the deal. The rains started in earnest during the cocktail hour but we held umbrellas over us as we rocked to the Mariachi Band the couple hired to entertain us.

We ate and danced for the rest of the night. Then the bride and groom and a few hard-core wedding goers went dancing some more! I went to sleep that night with a smile on my face, knowing the God above was also smiling at all the love shared.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Where do you find inspiration? How do you stretch the creative muscle that we all have inside? How easily do you find the words, the voice, the expression that uniquely makes you the (you)man/woman that you are? What makes you gasp in wonder?
What makes you cry spontaneously? What color makes you look twice and keeps your gaze for just a little while?

We all have inside of us curiosity that causes us to take a little while to assimilate with our eyes, ears, noses. We take thousands of stimulus in each day.
Sometimes, it's just too much to absorb. A day of over-stimulation with noise, including human conversation, often sends me into hibernation the next day. I love people but need balance. When I need a creative fix, I'll take myself to nature, including communing at the beach or our local Arboretum. I find the greatest fix of all in my beloved New York City. The activity heightens my senses. I find in each area of Manhattan a treasure-trove for ideas for writing and reflecting. The creative me sings after a day walking the City streets and being with all that energy. I can tap into my inner Steinbeck or make a date with the ghosts of the Fitzgeralds at The Algonquin. I hear the musicians in the Subway and stop for a while, acknowledging their talents.

At our local Arboretum, year-round, there is ample time to smell the scents of each season, hear the leaves or crunch of snow under my feet. The salt mist from the ocean calls upon the Melville inside of me, imagining what goes on out in the vast ocean. As I sit on the shore, I am called to look at my own "Gifts from the Sea" ala AML.

I take the time for inspiration. It is a discipline that seems more like meditation. Without it, we may as well live under rocks.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Day Jitters

Even at the age I’ve become in this life, I still suffer from the angst of “firsts”. First walk into a new doctor seems to be the point where I’m at in this decade. The monthly drop of the Great South Bay Magazine --I am still nervous about you people out there reading my “stuff” each month. Being in the ER with my hubby when you have no idea what the next hour will bring. A ride to the funeral of a young man-fear and grief mixed for the family. First family event without a beloved sibling sitting at the table.

There have been times when firsts have been joyful: Graduations, new babies, weddings and all the preparatory stuff involved in the excitement surrounding the “big day”. The first day of school, whether it is grade school, high school, college, or Seminary. A new school where you don’t know a soul, but after the first month, you know you’re all in it together to make it. It sometimes takes on the “us vs the teacher mentality”! Whatever it takes to survive.

I went to an all-girls high school. You would think the competition wouldn’t have been so bad. Ugly uniforms and no boys in a mixed-sex school setting should put us all on a level playing field. We lost that added pressure to show how smart you were in front of the males. We only had the teacher to schmooze. The teachers, religious women, were anxious for us all to achieve and show the world that we could be the brightest and best. We were taught to be almost arrogant about our position in life and know we were academically head over the “publics”. Not so sure about that posture as the school eventually shut its doors. However, I know that I was stretched and had a great education there. They prepared me for the “first” day of college and every door I walk through to this day.

The mantra we were taught was adapted by a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
“I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.” Quite a tall order, don’t you think? It’s still drilled in my head, as you can see, and it’s been a while since I last sat in that big auditorium and heard those words.

I’ve always admired teachers but never had the calling to be one. It is a calling, isn’t it? They devote long days and often nights to molding kids into becoming adults. They have a tough time and keep going back year after year. “Maybe I can make a difference in a life” is the tone. The vocation is daunting but can be fulfilling.

I remember the first day of my first child’s kindergarten. He was all dressed up in his new outfit, complete with boat shoes. He had a little backpack and nametag around his neck. I have a picture of him and his sister walking off to the bus stop with my mother holding each of their hands. Smiles all around, but I know my mom and I were weepy. The “first” of many in our family. My mother has since passed but I know she will be there today in Spirit for my first grandchild’s first day of kindergarten this Fall.

I’m writing this as we prepare for a hurricane. For many, it will be a “first” and the panic has been rampant. Caution for Mother Nature’s fury is good.
Let's hope Irene is benevolent!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Joy Joy Joy

This momentous week started with same-sex couples all over New York getting to Town Halls for legal marriage licenses. Sunday, July 24, was the first day that they were eligible but select offices were open. There is a 24 hour waiting period but for some, it was waived so the first couples started the week of marriages on Sunday!

It is hard to put myself in the shoes of a person who has been denied the same rights that I have because of the way they were born. It flabbergasts me to hear some people parse the word "marriage" as if they owned the word. Like it would tarnish their own long-term marriage. I see couples who have been together in relationships that have worked well for over four decades. Then hetero couples who can't stay together for six months after elaborate weddings.

I'm privileged to have witnessed a momentous ceremony today right here on Long Island. The owner of Carltun on the Green, at Bethpage State Park, opened the doors to almost 50 couples who were married there--free of charge. Dr. Beverly Boyarsky performed a beautiful ceremony which had the whole group in tears. It was powerful, yet intimate and loving. She had them state their vows out loud, present rings and then there was a champagne toast. Children accompanied their parents up and down the aisle. Ages varied from young to old. It was too much to take in. The love was palpable. As an officiant, I was so excited to witness this group wedding. It was historic!

We then were invited into an elaborate reception with lots of food, a DJ with great dancing music and a 4 ft. tall wedding cake. All of this was a gift from the owner of The Carltun. The GLBT community gave financial support and we were given cards to fill out if we wanted to chip in, also. Flowers and the DJ were gifts, too. There were more cameras there than at a coronation! What a fabulous expression of support and love.

My three friend and I had tears in our eyes during the ceremony and clapped for joy as each couple was introduced to the waiting guests. My face still hurts from smiling and my heart is full.

As I said on June 24, the day New York State passed the long awaited law, "Let the Weddings Begin!!"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Retreat Day

I just facilitated a wonderful women's retreat day at the Montfort Seminary in Bay Shore, NY. It was attended by about 65 wonderful women. I named the topic "What's In Your Toolbox?" and had a big toolbox filled with all the tools needed to get the most out of our spiritual journey.

It was a beautiful summer day and we could meet in small groups outside on the lovely grounds. The day went flawlessly, despite a few glitches with me fighting with the noise of the air conditioner. I was hoarse at the end of the day but happy.

It's interesting watching the faces of the participants. Some are blank, some are animated and you even get a few that talk back at you while you're trying to relay the message! Sometimes, the crowd is hard to read. This particular group really wanted to be there. It's tough for women to take a whole weekend away for a retreat. We were able to give them a few hours to recharge.

It's a privilege to be asked to do days of retreat or recollection. I was humbled by the invitation. I lit a little candle to remember the women who went before us and showed us the way. I also lit it to remember my sister, Stancie. I wished she had some of the peace that I saw in the faces of these sisters. Her picture was in the folder that held my notes. I know she was rooting for me.

We spent some time during a 3 day retreat a few years ago when she made her Cursillo. I was there with her. Later, she worked the retreat as an angel. I forgot about that. Many Cursillo participants sent me notes and Mass cards. They're good pray-ers. We Sheehan sisters are all "Cursillistas". Another bond.

I look forward to the next assignment when I can be of service to a group of fabulous women. Maybe even a few men next time?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


My sister, Stancie, died in her sleep on May 25. Her funeral was a week ago today in Marblehead, MA. She was going to be 62 in a few weeks.

What more can I say? How do you blog about a horrible thing like this? I haven't been able to write about it anywhere, and here I am so coldly typing those words on a blog.

I volunteered to say her Eulogy. It was a parting gift to her and to her family(that's me, too) and I was honored, daunted and terrified at the same time. Her daughter, Lucy, wrote her Obit and it was a gorgeous tribute to her loving mother.
It's all been said. We talked and talked, cried and then cried some more. More tears are left in the eye-buckets but mostly, I'm still in shock.

Shock and disbelief. It's so hard to believe I'll never see her sparkling blue eyes and huge smile ever again. Get a big hug. Ask her for clarity on my memories. Include her at family celebrations. Called her number and got her voice--tears came.
See her picture out of the corner of my eye in the living room-tears came. Laughed about our silly Sheehan-isms--tears well up.

Sisters and Brothers--they're not replaceable. Who would you ask something like "Remember when Mom did this?" other than your brother or sister. We shared so much, my first friend and I. That bond never dies. I know it didn't with George, Jr. when he passed in 1999. I still hear his rich voice and see his smile. I pray that for my sister, Stancie.

Miss you forever!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dad's New Toy

I just spent a week in Florida with my almost-89 year old Dad, George. Just us. Dad and his eldest child all by ourselves in his Florida condo, where he spends 5 months of his year.

The funny thing about Florida in the winter is that it's usually not warm. Every time we've visited, it's sweater or fleece and definately not beach gear. This time, it was beastly hot(as my Mother would have called it) hitting high 80's and even a pass by the 90 mark at the mid of the day. The other funny thing about Florida is that at this time of the year, the folks clear out for their "other" homes north. Those that can't afford it stay put and bear down for the real heat. The ones that are left are usually pretty old. I mean, the kind that can barely see over their steering wheel. They drive the cars that they took down to Florida the first time they came--around the 1950's! They stay within the speed limit at all times. They don't take rights on red. They also feel like, since they have been alive since ought one or so, that they can commandeer the left lane at snail speed.
They also love bargains. We were out to dinner one night and the restaurant was chosen because of the two-fers special. The movies are chosen on the price, too, even if they're years old. BYO candy and water! The restaurants are packed but they're all ordering 5 appetizers and enjoying the free refills of bread and soda.
There are a lot more funny things about Florida in the winter but I will save them for my book "How I survived Florida without becoming brain dead".

Dad, on the other hand, enjoys the easy life down there. He's been going down for over 20 years, about 17 as a "Snow Bird". It has improved the quality of his life and, at 88, he plays golf three times a week, enjoys a good social life and has avoided getting re-married since Mom died in 1995. He brings down about 25 books all non-fiction! He has a regular regime:Mass in the morning, breakfast and golf or a walk on the beach. He doesn't nap. Dinner is out or a quick bowl of soup in.
His political talk shows are taped if he's going to be out. Otherwise, it's catching up with the talk of the day.

He found out about Ipads through me. I found his name on the manifest of his POW camp from WW II. This piqued his interest. So, in January, he bought it on one of my trips South. Many trips to the stores, and several passwords later, he got stymied! I got down there just in time to re-do the mess he'd made by his quest for information. He's now getting the Long Island paper and the New York Times online. He can google like the 20 year olds and get his Tee Times without picking up a phone.

He may be grouchy sometimes, but never to me. I hooked him up to the Ipad. He's never had a computer but loves this new toy. He loves to brag about his new-found ability to be "up there" with the folks ten or twenty years younger than he. I love it-even though he doesn't want email! When I grow up, I want to be just like him!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


After the bleakest of the bleak winters we've ever experienced, we finally have a taste of Spring. At one point last month, temps soared to the high 70's. Then this week, we had freezing rain and back to the 30's. Oh well, just Mother Nature teasing us.

Actually, I don't really pay any attention to the weather. That is, unless I have a outdoor day planned or a trip so I can dress accordingly. I've hit Florida in January only to have to shop for sweatshirts and long pants. I enjoy the showers of April. It makes the grass green and, together with the sunshine, forces the sleeping tulip, daffodils and hyacinth to pop through the cold ground.

I have a little plot of land right in front of the front door that harvests a sea of yellow once a year. The daffs show their sunny faces for a few days, then a couple of red tulips join the party. Then the greenery is allowed to hang and die to make room for the perennials housed in the patch of land. I bring in some annuals for company; it makes for a welcome entry. The backyard has several different areas for planting. I love cut flowers so dahlias, zinnias, cosmos are staples. Cherry tomatoes, lettuce and green peppers always make it to my summer salad. There is something wonderful about picking warm tomatoes that I've grown and nurtured. And they're strictly organic so I can pop a few while I'm weeding inbetween the rows.

I have a little shed that houses my summer decorations: little garden statuary, great old clay pots, wind chimes. They dress up my outdoor summer living room. I'm in the market for a fire pit--maybe for my birthday in May?? I found out about them last year when friend brought one to a beach gathering. It was almost like the bonfires I remember from girl scouts, without the 'smores!

I'll enjoy the bright forsythia along the highways and the sprinkle of blue on the lawns from the tiny crocus. Pansies are showing their cute faces on everyone's doorstep. Splashes of color are everywhere. It's all there if we pay attention. I love the quote from "A Color Purple" by Alice Walker: "I think it pisses God off if you see the color purple in a field and don't notice." Look around--miracles abound!

Friday, March 18, 2011

March Madness

No, I don't follow basketball in the merry month of March. I'm just thrilled that we're approaching the first day of Spring(Sunday, March 20th)and the snow shovels and scrapers can be sent to the back of the garage for their summer punishment.

I'm honored to be officiating at a wedding tomorrow of two wonderful people, Tom and Liz. It's a Celtic themed wedding. Both are of Irish descent, as is the officiant and I'm bringing them a beautiful ritual, Handfasting. It originated in early Celt times when a couple wanted to marry but the priest only came around their part of the country every few years. A couple holds hands and they are "bound" together with a rope or ribbon in various colors. It started the phrase "tying the knot" to signify the act of marriage. In those old times, couples could have a few children before they were legally married. Now it's a lovely ritual where grown children can participate in the ceremony. We're also using a beautiful rendition of the St. Francis Prayer, "Make me an instrument of your peace", sung by Susan Boyle, to be played after they say their vows.

I'm invited to the festivities as a guest, also. Usually I don't say "yes" to the invitation, but I know them and many of their guests are my friends, also. It should make for a few funny photos, seeing the Reverend boogying at the reception!

It's a beautiful time of year to start new things. The buds are popping on the forsythias. The tulips and daffodils hardly knew there was 2 feet of snow over them all winter! They are pushing toward the sun even as you look at them. I'm setting out some pansies for color and getting out the shovels, pots and potting soil to start some seeds on the warm side of the house.

So, Happy Spring everyone! We have more daylight in the evenings now to bike, walk or plant. Get rid of the extra layers and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Vision Board and Journaling Workshop

Rev. Evelyn Digsby and I are at it again! We will be holding a workshop on Feb. 19, 2011 at the Mercy Enrichment House, 104 Second Ave., Brentwood, NY from 9:30-4:30.

What will the day entail? We'll have a morning of learning what "Soul Journaling" is all about, and have an opportunity to have quiet time to experience that spiritual practice. Then, after lunch, we'll provide you with materials to make your own vision board. A vision board can be a way to look at what you want to manifest in the coming year. It sometimes is called a "Treasure Map" if you want to
bring more abundance into your life. Are you looking to change your eating habits? Want to experience more love in your life, either with your family members, a soul mate or with the God of your understanding? Is this the year you change careers and want to explore what work opportunities there are in store for you?

We only have to ask!

Join us in a fun day of exploration and meeting new friends.
Contact Rev. Barbara, please for information.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thank you, Martin!

On this anniversary of the birth of Rev. King, we remember that freedom isn't free.
How many have sacrificed their lives, through wars here or in foreign lands, to keep us free.

When I think of the individuals that stepped up to the plate to
be heard, I am in awe. I want to be able to be that person that isn't fearful or embarrassed to help someone cross the street or a person who isn't afraid to stand
for what I know is Truth. Yes, bigotry and racial hatred is alive and well in this country. After hundreds of years, we still look down at others who are different. The phrase "Who's got it better than us?" comes to my heart. We have financial difficulties in our country, yes, but that doesn't mean that we grab for our neighbors stuff or hate them because they have more than we have!

I know that someday, Martin's words will come to fruition. He had a Dream!
He saw things that needed to be changed. Our leader, President Obama, is
making those changes, but they have to be done with diplomacy and slowly
in the world of politics. But we can do our bit--just small steps that add up-
to make changes in the world around us.

As Janice said "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose". So
what do we have to lose? Stand up for Freedom, for Martin, John, Bobby, even
Gabbie and those who died in Tucson last week.

I'm grateful that I can stand and be counted today. Thank you, Martin!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mindful Day

January is here ten days now and I'm finally getting to my Blog to kick off the new year of 2011. We spent 9 days in sunny Florida, some with my 88 year old Dad.
Florida has a nice appeal when the snow is pelting the Northeast and other parts of the USA. Weather has been so spooky--global warming needs an exorcist and our earth needs lots of prayers.

We enjoyed being in the sunshine, walking the Gulfshore beaches and eating out every night. We stayed mostly with Dad but looked around for our own digs. Just looked!
Visited a few friends that became full-time Floridians and that was lovely. I know that I really am not ready for full-time retirement--The "R" word! I know that my ministry will be a life-long journey and love it.

I see the aging American and Europeans down there and enjoying life to the fullest. I didn't see a lot of wheelchairs or walkers. The old folks(I'm talking octogenarians) are really vital and healthy. We enjoyed going to a Warm Mineral Springs one day. I've been there and had a massage this time. Bruce had been in mineral springs 17 years ago in the Azores but I could tell he wasn't quite sure of this adventure. Most participants were Russian or Poles, Italians and more. It was fun floating around the lake hearing all the different conversations echo off the water. The bodies were of all sizes and shapes and, thankfully, clothed in bathing attire. We felt that was one of the highlights of our time in sunny Florida.

A nice way of re-entry was to take a "Mindful" day yesterday. I didn't think of the 15 things that needed my immediate attention like get my reading glasses fixed at Costco! It took me about 1/2 hour after rising to just say "Just Be today". I breathed, slowed down, let go, set a beautiful fire and lay down on my couch with Marvin, our cat. He missed us! It was freeing and delicious.

A Mindful day recharges me. I remember what is important and what isn't. I live in the moment, which is all we have, right?