This Freedom is Not a Forever-Promise

Last January, I was diagnosed with lichen sclerosus, a dermatological auto-immune condition. In women, LS affects what I took to calling my lady parts. I hoped that term communicated a kind of breezy comfort with my own anatomy, an aspirational cheer about the reality of being a woman who could not wear pants without anxiety. […]

Why Bad Self-Care Is a Kind of Sin

“This author really pissed me off,” I told my husband the other day. I brandished a book called Soon: An Overdue History of Procrastination, by Andrew Santella. My anger surprised my husband. He enjoys a heated debate while I tend to shy away from black-and-white argument. But this book? I ranted about it for fifteen […]

When a New Diagnosis Brings a Storm

If I had ever been skydiving, I would know about the wind having its way with you. I could tell you, no problem, that when you’re turned topsy-turvy in an earth-less void, up and down become abstractions, not facts to orient yourself by. You lose your bearings. But I am the last person on earth […]

The Rightness of Clothes

You know that thing where you show up for a fashion show in such amazing clothes that the photographers there assume you’re Someone Famous and photograph you? But actually you’re a sixty-something Fordham social work professor and just have really fabulous taste? And because of that photo shoot, you become a fashion icon, model, and […]

New Leaves Are a Con Job

I do not believe in turning over a new leaf. Let’s clarify that statement with a slightly embarrassing story. A few days before junior high began, I faced the mirror in my bathroom, determined to make the coming year different. I would be more social, more popular. I would connect, I would impress people, I would […]

Murder, Jesus and Me

The summer I was seventeen, I gave my life to Agatha Christie. Curling on the floor of my room, I read a book a day.  I liked Hercule Poirot best, then Miss Marple, then Harley Quin. I did not care for Tommy and Tuppence. At the beginning of the summer, I felt as though I […]

Prayer Requests Make Me Anxious

I don’t think I have a normal reaction to prayer requests. Rather than making me want to go pray, they tend to edge me towards hyperventilation. Take the other day in my small group. There were some doozy requests. People suffering from the death of a spouse, cancer, job loss, financial holes, a risky and […]

Confession: I Hate Spiritual Gifts

We all have weird things we dislike. Some people don’t like mayonnaise. Some people don’t like dogs or synthetic fabric or Cincinnati. My pet peeve is the phrase “spiritual gifts”. I’m a little embarrassed that this phrase makes me cranky, especially because my church of thirty years talks about spiritual gifts A LOT. All our […]

Belonging to a Broken System

One of the main reasons I stay at my church is also one of the things I dislike most about it. This is it: it’s a large institution. I go to a biggish Presbyterian church. A “Presbyterian” church is literally a church governed by “presbyters”—Greek for elders, or leaders. That’s one of the big reasons […]