Inspired Beginnings from Bittersweet Endings

A friend sent me a message this morning, only one word, yet it changed the flow of my entire morning from a “Thank God it’s Friday” vibe to “What exciting things are just over the horizon” kind of vibe. The word: ONWARD. That’s it. One simple little word. Onward.

My response back was “I think that is the perfect theme for the coming week.” Next week is full of endings and beginnings. It is strange, (or maybe not) that as with most things in life it seems to be feast or famine. Once I started thinking about the flow of next week, I realized it is an opportunity. Instead of stressing myself out over the myriad of activities, I can allow myself some space to actually be present for what is to be a shift in my life and others. Allowing myself to experience these blissful moments.

The busyness of next week begins with the Upperclassmen Awards Ceremony at my son’s school. For seven years I have enjoyed seeing the accomplishments of these dedicated kids, and it seems too all too soon that my son, a senior, is now to be honored for his accomplishments. Yet, it is not about being honored as much as it is about what each of these amazing individuals have done over the course of years to arrive here, now. It is about who they are. This is but one moment in a lifetime of choices moving them ever onward.

Following the Awards Ceremony are auditions for the fall musical. Two weeks ago my son performed for the last time on the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons stage and next week he will begin assisting with directing the fall show. As it was bittersweet for us to see his last performance, I am in awe of the how the program has shaped him these last six years. It is these past experiences that furthered the desire to give back to what has become his drama family. These things wouldn’t of been possible with out the people who have inspired him, one of whom is also in the midst of vast change, moving onward.

For the last six years, we have been blessed with the grace of Mr. Adam Biggs. The hats he has worn are too enumerable to list. Regardless of the hat, his actions are dedicated to the betterment of others, whether students, colleagues, or friends. He has been a role model for my son and I have had the pleasure of working along side him for 6 years. As he will be moving onward to new beginnings, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons set the stage (pun intended!) for his future successes. I am very grateful to continue to work alongside Adam with the NDBG drama program even though he is moving onward to St. Thomas the Apostle School.

In addition to the new beginning’s of our beloved drama program next week, it is also High School Graduation. Once the honors are presented and the accolades given, I expect a brief ebb in the energy that has infused these last few weeks. All of the effort and hard work for this part of the journey is complete, as the young adults receive their diplomas next Saturday, their dedication to strive for excellence in High School sets the stage for their future endeavors; the past moving us all ever onward.

“The past is but the beginning of a beginning, and all that ever is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.” ~H.G. Wells

Onward, my friends.


I want to thank Paul O’Brien for his one word message this morning. Amazing what a simple word can do at the right moment.

Paul is the former English Department Chair at NDBG and an author. His books, such as “Keys on the Road: A Country Boy’s Memories” can be found at The Open Door book store on Jay Street in Schenectady.

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Mindfulness

This is the essence of MINDFULNESS. We move though each moment authentically, with intention. Of course this does not happen over night. In our fast paced world, we are inundated with technology that demands our attention, yet our attention spans have dwindled, our patience eroded away by perceived instant gratification.

What does it mean to be MINDFUL? …and almost more importantly, WHY should we practice mindfulness?

We are going to delve into these two questions today and hopefully discover simple ways to practice mindfulness daily. First, I would like to share some background as to how and why I began to cultivate a mindfulness practice over 12 years ago.

Simply put, I was a mess. I had allowed health issues to cause extra stress and frequent stress reactions in multiple areas of my life. I was not THRIVING. Deep down I knew something needed to change but was not sure where or how to begin. Then I came across a book by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness and everything changed.

I think I read the book cover to cover in two days. Thich Nhat Hanh had provided me with a new perspective. Something that should have been plain to see. Everything we do should have our full attention. Everything.

In the book, a question was posed: “Why do you wash the dishes?” Most people, including myself 12 plus years ago, would answer “Well, to get them clean of course!” However that is not the reason Thich gives us. We “wash the dishes to wash the dishes.” Think about that for a minute.

When washing the dishes, or car, or whatever; our focus, our attention should be on the task at hand, not the outcome. When we place significance only on the outcome, we are not living intentionally in the moment. Instead we hitch our happiness to an unpredictable future event.


This is the essence of MINDFULNESS. We move though each moment authentically, with intention. Of course this does not happen over night. In our fast paced world, we are inundated with technology that demands our attention, yet our attention spans have dwindled, our patience eroded away by perceived instant gratification.

Thus we miss out on the experience. We wind up reminiscing about the past or worring about the future while our NOW passes us by. Which brings us to our WHY? Why should we be praticing mindfulness? Becuase the alternative is to live mindlessly in the past or future; to be awash in stress or worry. We have a choice in each moment to be present and aware. But it takes PRACTICE.

We have now arrived at the WHAT. What is mindfulness practice. Well, it could simply be washing the dishes or attentively listening to a piece of music. It is moving from moment to moment with attention, focus, and intention.


Practice daily. Begin slowly. Pick a activity you enjoy doing and notice if your mind drifts. If your attention wavers, gently refocus your attention back to your activity. Personally, I began with mindful walking. Learning to notice the feeling as each foot makes contact with the ground. Noticing the pattern of my breath while immersed in the sounds of nature. This is still one of my favorite activities- I love being barefoot in order to really experience that contact with the earth! When I can’t go barefoot, I wear Vibram Five Fingers —barefoot feel with sole protection!


How much time do we spend inattentively adrift? Which senses are being ignored when we stare into our phones for hours? What moments are we missing when we ruminate worriedly about the future? Mindfulness bring us back to ourselves, back to the moment.

Adirondack Mountains

Remember, each moment of our lives is a beautiful , once in a lifetime sensory experience.