1 mile per year and .2 to grow on

Those of you who have been reading me for a while will know that I have slowly become a runner.



It was an accident, but somehow, I went from struggling to run a mile to running an entire marathon.  I transformed from the picture on the left to the picture on the right over a three and a half year period.


In thirteen days, I am doing it again. I will be celebrating my 26th birthday by running 26 miles – and .2 to grow on – in the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 4.

When I ran the Detroit Marathon last fall, I was doing it for me. I wanted to give myself a goal, to prove that whatever else was going sideways in my life, I could still be successful. Now, though, I’m running for a cause.


The Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience was the reason I moved to Pittsburgh after I graduated from Notre Dame. I spent my year with PULSE volunteering with a non profit organization dedicated to meeting the basic needs of Pittsburgh’s East End. PULSE provided regular personal and professional development for myself and the other participants. We lived in an intentional community, sharing household duties and spiritual journeys. The seven women I lived with that year have become some of my dearest friends. One of them, Laura, is a huge part of my inspiration to run. The PULSE community has been so supportive of my journey into the running lifestyle.

It seems right, somehow, that I should run in support of them.



I would like to invite you to support my marathon run and my favorite service organization by donating to PULSE right here through my marathon support page. My goal is to convince thirteen of you to donate at least $10.

I had an idea of writing out 26 reasons why you should donate to PULSE, but that would take a while and I value your time. Here are just a few of my favorite reasons and a bribe:

  1. PULSE actively seeks peace through a focus on community. Participants are encouraged to build community with each other and with the people in their neighborhood. One result of this is the Kincaid Street Community Gardens.
  2. PULSE believes art is a service to the community. Participants are given a cultural funds allowance, which can be used to attend events or purchase supplies for a project. Some participants even spend part of their placement developing their own artistic projects.
  3. This is the perfect birthday gift for me! What better way to celebrate my life than to support an organization that played such a role in shaping me?
  4. The first thirteen people to donate $10 or more in support of my marathon run will receive a thank you note on a hand-painted card, personally designed for you. All donors will receive hand-written notes, but I’m only promising to paint something for the first thirteen. All others will be handled on a case by case basis.

Every little bit helps PULSE on their mission to cultivate a community of young servant leaders.  Donate here on the website, or make out a check to PULSE and mail it to 5615 Stanton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206. I am grateful for every bit of help you can give…

…and I’d appreciate all the prayers and pep talks you can send for me as well.

7 Quick Takes: Welcome to Lent

Once again, kind readers, we join Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.


Welcome to Lent!  I started off the season like a true millenial by taking a Buzzfeed quiz that asked what I should give up for Lent.  I got meat, which is what I had already decided to give up.  I promise I wasn’t aiming for that specific answer.  If anything, I was aiming for Coke, which is what I decided to give up as well, in case the marathon training and meatlessness don’t mix well and I start eating meat again.

The Coke is probably going to be harder for me to avoid than the meat.  So much for a secondary fast.


Another Lenten discipline I am tackling is the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge hosted over at White House Black Shutters.


I took part in this last year, but I never really had much organization or focus, and what little I had went out the window when I knew I was moving partway through Lent.  Packing has usually been the death of purging for me.  I hit a point when shoveling stuff into boxes and bins becomes far more important (and urgent) than sorting through and deciding what I actually need.  As I have lived in four dorm rooms, two houses and two apartments since 2006, I have done a lot of moving.  The boxes of unsorted junk have piled up.  Since I’m back at my parents’ house regrouping, it is definitely time to get rid of a lot of things and simplify my life.

There’s not enough room here for all my crap, anyway.


I joined a Living the Eucharist Lenten study group at my parish.  We had our first group meeting yesterday.  It’s early, but I think it’s going to be a good thing.  I’ve been missing having a solid faith-sharing group in my life.


I’m about a week into the #100HappyDays challenge.  I am posting a picture of something that makes me happy for 100 straight days on my Instagram account.  I was looking at my collection last night, and I realized that 5 out of 6 photos so far feature food.  This is all on a spectrum from coffee (which barely counts as food) to the Blessed Sacrament (the best, most nourishing food of all).  I have never considered myself much of a food person, but apparently, eating well (or eating in good company, or feeding myself spiritually, etc.) brings me happiness.

To be fair, who WOULDN'T be happy with a paczek and hot chocolate?

To be fair, who WOULDN’T be happy with a paczek and hot chocolate?

Still, I am determined that today’s post not involve food of any variety.


I went to see Winter’s Tale last night.  I almost didn’t go, because so many people said the movie was so awful.  Still, it sounded like the sort of thing I’d like, so I went to the very last showtime it had in our theater.

And I loved it.  Sure, it was a flawed movie, and I could tell that the source material was broader and deeper than the film could cope with, but it was exactly the right tone and it inspired me to come home and write.  I now have the beginnings of a story idea, and I’m excited about it.

The moral of the story?  I know what I like in films and literature, even if it’s not objectively well done, and I shouldn’t listen to other people instead of myself.

Also, I really need to read the book by Mark Helprin now.


I’m starting to get into marathon training.  I had a really rough start, and I’m behind, but I’m fighting to catch up.  I’ll be ready by May 4 (so God help me)!  It is so much easier to train when the weather is nice and I can run on the paths by my house.  In the meantime, I joined a local recreation center so I can use the track.  I have new running shoes that help my knees.  My legs are changing shape and I’m definitely getting into shape.


It’s definitely the time of year for Irish music.  This is one I heard for the first time just the other day.  Enjoy!

Summer Silence

I didn’t mean to go on hiatus, but I stopped writing and it felt good.

Well, not good, exactly. It still felt like I wasn’t writing, which is never comfortable, but I had time to think. I relished some other

I’ve been running more. The marathon relay went very well. In fact, the Pittsburgh race went so well that I decided to run an actual marathon, the Free Press / Talmer Bank Marathon this October. It’s an international race; I’ll start running in Detroit, cross the border into Windsor, Ontario and cross back. I’m very excited.

I’m also excited about the classes I’m taking at a local community college. I’m working toward a “Web Specialist” certificate. I’m learning web design and development and graphic design. It’s really cool to be able to create a website, and to consider that I might one day soon design my own blog from the code on up.

During a summer of silence, I’ve had time to think about the future of this blog. So far, I’ve just taken the spaghetti-testing approach– throw it all at the wall and see what sticks.

I think, though, it’s time to focus on the insights I had when I wrote my “About Me” page. I want to find my niche in this wonderful online world. I think doing so will involve focusing on my turbulent place as a confused young adult. I have my family, friends and faith in God, a sense of humor and perspective, and I’ll figure my life out as I go. I’m writing the journey.

And I’m back.

7 Quick Takes: Pitches, Pictures and a Birthday

This week on 7 Quick Takes (hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler), I’m asking for your support.  It’s a big weekend for me: I’m celebrating my 25th birthday and I’m running in a marathon relay on behalf of my favorite service organization, PULSE.  Read on & hear (see?) all about it.


The Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Organization (or PULSE for short) is the volunteer service organization that was my home for the year after I graduated college.  I cannot speak enthusiastically enough about what a wonderful organization it is.

Founded by a Mennonite pastor in the early 90s, PULSE’s mission is to cultivate a community of young servant leaders to transform Pittsburgh.  What does that mean?  It means bringing a group of recent college graduates into a struggling urban community and putting them into a house together to form a community that lives, prays and plays together.  It means pairing each young person with a different nonprofit organization, based not just on the needs of the Pittsburgh nonprofit community, but also on the specific interests and abilities of the individual PULSErs.  It means weekly sessions of personal & professional development and city exploration.  It means cultural funds given to participants for personal projects, classes or tickets to performances, because art is a service to the community.

Read all about PULSE on their website.  It is such a fantastic organization for so many reasons.  Know any college students?  Send them to PULSE!



For me specifically, PULSE means 7 wonderful women that I lived with for a year.  Between them, they taught me how to cook using spices, how to knit, how to resolve conflicts, how to train for distance running and how to play guitar.  They are immensely talented, loving people.  When I need someone to pray for me, they are the first I turn to.  Moving away from them & the city of Pittsburgh was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

the most recent picture of the 8 of us

the most recent picture of the 8 of us

I take any excuse to go back.  Hence, the marathon!



The Pittsburgh Marathon is on Sunday.  Several current and former PULSErs are running in its various events in order to raise money.   I’m running a 6.1 mile leg in a relay with four others.  Will you sponsor me in my running?

To donate to me, or to one of my fellow PULSErs who are running even more impressive distances, please check out the PULSE marathon page.  My donation page is right here.  If you can even spare $5, it would be so helpful to PULSE’s mission of leading through service and spreading peace through relationships, hard work and art.

Think of it as a birthday present for me.


I meant to post a photo yesterday so that I could link up with Cari for Clan Donaldson’s Theme Thursday.  This week’s theme is “Play” and I was considering either the sort of picture I’m actually posting here, or taking a picture from my dad’s softball game.  I ended up keeping score instead, since the team was a few guys down.  My dad plays softball in a men’s over 50 church league.  The main reason I bring this up is that the team he plays for call themselves the Relics, and I think that’s just about the best team name they could have come up with.


So here’s the real picture a day late for Theme Thursday.  Since race preparation is pretty much what I do these days for play, I figured my running shoes would make a great image.  It does feel like playing, now that I’m not desperately straining for breath and now that the weather is pleasant and the flowers are out.  It’s especially nice now to plop down in my backyard after a run.

running shoes in spring


Also, when did neon become a part of absolutely every athletic item for women?  This would be a problem if I didn’t like bright colors so much.


One last photo from my evening in Detroit last weekend.  Our tri-parish young adult group went in for a Tigers game.  Thanks to my friend Michael who snapped this picture of me downtown.

Detroit City

7 Quick Takes: The Irish Catholic Sports Fan Edition

Jennifer Fulwiler hosts the 7 Quick Takes, and once again, I join everybody else on the Internet.


So I’ve been trying to get myself onto a sleep schedule that is more amenable to family life, and more amenable to jobs that make you show up to work before noon.  I have been doing this with reasonable success this week, but for whatever reason, today I feel like I’ve been hit with a truck.  Bring. On. The coffee.

And don’t talk to me if you see me online after 11:30pm EST.  Make me go to bed.


One of the positive parts about moving back to Michigan is HOCKEY!  I’m a big hockey fan in a region that loves it, and the last championship tournament of the CCHA is this weekend in downtown Detroit.  I had paragraphs of information I could present about the situation, but I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post.  Suffice to say, Notre Dame is playing Ohio State in the conference semi-finals tomorrow, and I get to go.  If they win, I get to go to the championship on Sunday.

Go Irish!


Speaking of the Fighting Irish,  the men’s basketball team plays their round of 64 game tonight.  I really hope they win, because they’re my team, and because my bracket says they will.  Granted, my bracket does not say they will win very many games, but if I get to choose between winning my bracket pools and Notre Dame winning its first ever Final Four championship, it would not be a difficult decision.  I’m only playing for bragging rights either way; might as well end up with the good ones.

Addendum: The Notre Dame WOMEN’S basketball team is probably going to win it all.  They’re consistently awesome like that.


One more take of Notre Dame fanclubiness and then I’m moving on I PROMISE.  This is a goofy one, and an opportunity to vote, so all of you Twitter-happy ND folk, might enjoy it.

Her Loyal Sons, my favorite ND football (and occasionally other sports) fan blog did a recap of the Twitter reactions for each football game of the season.  Now, they’re pitting the 64 “best” tweets against each other, tournament style.  Winners in each match-up are determined by popular vote, so get on over there and help out.

Trust me… there’s nothing like ND men’s basketball to make you miss ND football.


YES.  This is the part where we move on.

This is SUCH an exciting time to be Catholic.  Pope Francis is breathing life into everything he does.  Did you hear that he accepted an invitation to visit Iraq?  The head of the Chaldean church, His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I Sako, asked Francis to come visit Iraqi Christians, and speak as well to Iraqi Muslims about interfaith dialogue.  Apparently, Francis said he would. 

I just keep encountering so many warm and loving descriptions of the Holy Father, so many joyous stories, so many hopeful Christians!  It’s as though his elevation to Pope has Catholics the world over taking a good deal of pride in their association with him as head of the Church.  I pray that Francis may really be the source of good that he seems to be in these early days.


Living with my parents means I have access to all kinds of retro pictures!  Here’s one of my favorites.

potatoes for fb

I’m helping my great-grandfather dig up potatoes.  I remembered this photo last weekend, because one of the pearls of wisdom Grandpa made sure to leave behind was that you should always get your potatoes in the ground by St. Patrick’s Day.


I’m running in a marathon relay!  And you can help support me, and even better, one of my favorite nonprofit organizations!  This will get its own full post later today, but for now check out the PULSE marathon page.