MaureenMaureen Goldman

My goal in this blog is to be true, sharing stories from the heart that comfort and inspire readers. These stories are reflections on the immense healing power of love, sacred moments, and my family, including our experiences living with mental illness. I hope you'll find comfort and healing here. Catherine’s Table is named in honor of my Aunt Kay. She taught me how to find joy and comfort in everything we did. My husband Mark and I live in Atlanta with our big dog Lance. Our children Matt and Emma are all grown up. My idea of heaven is sharing a meal with my family at home and spending time in my garden.

All articles by Maureen

 

An Angel and A Perfect Memory

I met an angel on a sidewalk. It’s an indelible memory that I return to more than others. Each time I think about her, I feel the human experience in its ideal form. Let me tell you why. Some of us lick the edges of life. Others go at it like a dog with a
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A Thanksgiving For Healing

If there is one place to be courageous, it’s with your family. Courage counts most when love is at stake. The women of Thistle Farms are the best example of courage and healing I can think of because they are a family of lions who’ve overcome life on the streets. I wrote a story about
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Dinner With My Rock Star

Bren McClain, the author of One Good Mama Bone, came to my book club last night. She’s the new rock star of Southern prose as far as I’m concerned. By the way, she has lots of awards that support my little-old-me opinion. Just like a teenage groupie, I went wild with the news that she
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Being A Grownup and Letting Go

I’m 57 and getting closer to being a grownup. I’ve been in middle school in my mind, well, since middle school. My father’s recent death and navigating my fifties are helping me mature. In this decade, much like adolescence, things change a lot. Your body and mind morph in ways that are hard to adapt
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You Need a Mercy Muscle For Forgiveness

I thought I was a merciful person and a good forgiver, but I’m not. There are people in my family that I’m not truly forgiving because I have a weak mercy muscle. I use it selectively when it should be a reflex. If you’ve got a good mercy muscle, you forgive people with empathy, compassion
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Love and A Hurricane

There’s an example of all that is good buzzing at the end of our block. It’s a home being re-built. My friend Judith lost half her house from the wind. It was the only victim of Hurricane Irma in our neighborhood. Her oak tree, with hundreds of rings, gave in to one of the last
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My Dad’s Spirit Sent Three Signs The Day He Died

Yesterday, the last breath of Hurricane Irma slapped branches and bent tree trunks toward our home. Now the air is still. It feels like the moment when you run out of things to say to God. The news cycle is already spinning away from the weather and back to Washington, reminding me of the hours
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One Of The Finest Gifts You Can Give Your Children

To be real. Totally, authentically you. It’s one of the finest gifts we can give our children because it gives them permission to be real too. Yesterday was my dad’s 82nd birthday. If he were alive, I would thank him for never acting like anyone else. Growing up, I didn’t appreciate my dad’s authenticity because
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Just To Reach You

The fifties are a decade of loss. Energy and memory ebb. Your body slips into second gear.  Most devastating is the loss of family and friends to age and illness. Sometimes it’s just too much. This is one of those times. Last week I called my dad and could barely hear him. His voice was
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Creating A Memory With Licks

I paid close attention to our dog Clarissa’s licks these last weeks because I knew she was dying. I wanted to make sure I remembered what her kisses smelled like, as if the scent of her tongue were her signature. She was euthanized this morning. Before the vet came in, I put my face under
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Can You Get an A+ in Motherhood?

I really wanted an A+ in motherhood, and I was completely devoted to the task. I read tons of parenting books and tried to do everything I learned. I’d give myself a B so far. Emma is my second child. My parenting style with her is a good example of what I thought excellent moms
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Learning to Parent With The Heart In Mind

My perspective on parenting has changed over time – a lot. I learned to parent from the heart instead of the mind. I focus on my son Matt’s inherent goodness and strengths not his struggles with dyslexia or ADHD. When Matt was a toddler I obsessed about his intellectual achievement, measuring his progress against benchmarks in books for
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What Loves Looks Like

Love looks like so many things. The little symbols are the most endearing, like the weedy bloom my son Matt picked from a neighbor’s lawn and brought to her door when he was four. It also looks like the long floral dress Matt bought me at a neighborhood yard sale when he was eight. That
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Mindful Symbols

I am a big believer in the power of symbolism be it a phrase, an icon, or a flower. Mindful symbols root us and feed our souls. When my daughter Emma was an infant, we put wallpaper in her bedroom. Lilies of the valley on a cream background with pink accents. For the poet William
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The Perils of Paté In Your Lunchbox

My mom cooked with no directions and the finest ingredients. She liked to finish with a bottle of red wine aimed at the pot and an indeterminate pour. For the most part things turned out except when she made my school lunch. She packed my Peanuts lunchbox with a weekly rotation of sandwiches made with
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A Forgotten Father

“The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.” William Wordsworth Small acts of kindness are treats for two souls, the giver and receiver. They’re my emotional bread and butter. One of my favorite things to do is offer my spot in line at the supermarket when
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I Carry Your Heart With Me

E. E. Cummings wrote the perfect poem of love. It reaches right into your soul. My favorite line is, “I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)” A heart within a heart is such a tender image. And then you consider the weight of the promise. To carry a heart inside
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We Will Talk Until the End of Time

With a long pony tail high on her head, a pressed white cotton coat and a clipboard. This is how I imagined Emma the other day. She is standing in a patient exam room, a full-fledged physician’s assistant, which is the career she is working toward. In this no-way scenario, I can’t talk to her
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Family Dinner Is Our Favorite Hobby

When my children Matt and Emma were young, I read many articles about the value of family dinner. It saved lives, preventing drug abuse and reducing the likelihood of all kinds of social pathology. It even boosted IQs so I devoted myself to the ritual, using my Aunt Kay’s example. Just about every night, I
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Bipolar Illness And Finding Your Place

I have bipolar illness. After all kinds of attempts to find a good recipe for living, I found my mix when I stopped trying to live by other people’s measures. I was a sensitive child, anxious and easily distracted. Closets were my haven, tranquil retreats. The clothes adsorbed all the bits of city sound that
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Serving The Lord With Both Ears

I went to an all girl Catholic school the minute my mom could get a bow stuck to my head. After 17 years of formal education in the ways of the Lord I have Catholic reflexes, but I can’t recite a single Bible story, all the deadly sins, or all seven sacraments because I was
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What Forgiveness Looks Like

Forgiveness was never top-of-mind when I thought about my mom. A list of childhood grievances sat on my heart for decades. Now I think about how hard it was to be a young, single mother with a mental illness. Rita did some extraordinary, hair-raising things when I was growing up, like throwing her boyfriend’s computer
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Saying Goodbye To Maggie

This morning our foster puppy Maggie was a toasty little bean bag in my lap. We sat in an upholstered rocker by a window, rocking and looking out at a tall magnolia and the milky sky. When she started to drift into sleep she tucked her head in the crook of my arm and I
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In The Meantime, She’s Our Baby

I walked into the lobby and saw a vet tech turn the corner with a bag of bones dangling from her arms. It looked like a burn victim, red and blistered. She asked me if I would take it and I said yes. Turns out she was a five-month-old, eleven-pound mess named Maggie. Someone found
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Thank you, Dave Chapelle

These past two weeks I’ve been trying extra hard to be thoughtful and kind. My husband started teasing me today, wondering how many people I was going to greet or thank. He told me that I say thank you like Jimmy Fallon does in a routine he performs on his show. He imitated me to
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Living With Bipolar Disorder

I woke up this morning to a night sky and headed for my rocking chair on the porch. Stars and a sliver of the moon were still shining. Looking up I wondered why we readily make wishes upon stars and struggle to believe in ourselves. We are here in the flesh with all kinds of
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You Can Start Over And Over

I am reading Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The book is all soul and inspiration. Anne wrote it when she went to the beach to reflect on the pattern of her life. At the beginning of the book, she writes about her affinity for freshly sharpened pencils. I know exactly how she
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The Wise Man

My Aunt Maureen died last month. After the eulogy, we were quiet. Some of us got hives, some got bone tired, some put their sadness in a box, storing it for another time. In her home we returned to our safe routines, telling jokes, crazy-but-true family stories, and cleaning. We are really good at cleaning.
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Writing Your Life Plan In Reverse

My Aunt Maureen died last month. We were planning on her living another year. The year turned into a week. I wrote her obituary asap. I wrote a eulogy with the same speed. When it was all over, I decided that obituaries and eulogies should be considered before someone dies. It sounds callous, but there
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We Were So Close to Heaven

I grew up in a city where I played inside or in a fenced park with close supervision. On the weekends, I stayed with my grandparents in the suburbs. My mom’s youngest sister Mimi was in charge. She felt like a sister with three years between us and a room to share. We roamed freely,
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When Your Hair Won’t Do

Mr. Pierre’s Beauty Salon was one of my favorite toys. The centerpiece was a plastic head of a woman topped with thick gold hair. Your were supposed to style her locks, but I chopped them. My first cut left the red-lipped lady ragged. So did the others, but I didn’t care because you could begin
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Praying for Prosperity

My friend Betsy prays for prosperity every day. This morning she asked me if I was trying to prosper through my blog. “Yes,” shot out of my mouth like a reflex. I didn’t want to seem like a dilettante. The truth is, I don’t think about writing and money together. I focus on quiet and
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Faith in the Sun

Last week a seamless gray sky poured rain into gutters with the steady pace of a metronome. Cast in black, my favorite trees looked arthritic, with branches bent and crooked. I look to the sky for direction in the morning. Today, I’d have to have faith. I tried to place it in the sky behind
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Losing Your One-Track Mind

I’ve always been single-minded, putting all my energy behind one goal. It’s a strategy that helped me get into my favorite college and my first job in advertising. “No” was a throw away word if I really wanted something, a signal to start working on wearing someone down. I used to be relentless too, especially
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My Mom Was A Petty Thief

One of the best things I discovered in my 50’s was acceptance for my mom. Growing up she challenged my sensibilities and sanity on a regular basis. She was the most unconventional mom in my circle by light years. Finding acceptance took creative thinking (thank you mom), compassion, and time. Let’s start with this challenge–
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Writing And A Quiet Mind

My daughter Emma and I went to the Frank Stella exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art a few years ago. There was a quote on the wall at the beginning of the exhibit. “You can only take advantage of the gifts you really have – that are part of your character, and you
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Thanksgiving Dinner With Strangers

A big comfort-food meal, gathering with gratitude in mind, these are the reasons Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I am not going to say it’s not stressful because it is. Thanksgiving dinner is a big mission. You have to make a lot of different food—this one’s favorite this, that one’s favorite that. I can’t help
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The Wild Boy’s Come Full Circle

My son Matt was a wild boy. And in so many ways, he is my inspiration. I remember watching my two-year-old strip and jump in a park fountain. Matt tipped his head up into the spray and stood in a state of pure joy as the water poured over his naked body. Next he was
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Big Love

My mother’s love was big. Rita was the parent waving wildly from the audience, with bug eyes and a crazy smile, whenever I performed in a school play. Sophomore year of high school I messed up my solo in Oklahoma when I saw that hand in the air. Other parents sat patiently, hands in laps
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In a Youthful Register

It was my day to deliver for Meals on Wheels. It’s a small very way to give thanks to the senior citizens of the world, especially when you only do it once a month and pick a short route. I was checking my route to see how many houses I had left. I get bored
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Joy and the Warrior

The invitation said “party.” It was a love happening. The night before Moira’s chemotherapy began, my friend Saye surprised her best friend with a joyful party. She wanted Moira to feel loved and supported as she began a heartless journey with stage 4 breast cancer. Friends chauffeured Moira down Saye’s wooded driveway and greeted her
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True Grace

We had such sad news this week. My son Matthew’s friend Jason died, a young man we remember best as a sweet and shy seventh grader. To put a positive spin on this would be a crime. He was a boy who struggled, and that is all there is to say. The day after Matt
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A Recipe For Thanksgiving

A big comfort-food meal, gathering with gratitude in mind, these are the reasons Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’m not going to say it’s not stressful because it is. You have to make a lot of things—this one’s favorite this, that one’s favorite that. I can’t help but get cranky and high-pitched in the hours
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Beth Bolgla Is An Artist With Pure Vision

I was scheduled to meet the ceramic artist Beth Bolgla in my home several months ago. I was in my robe, sitting on the back porch, when she arrived. My husband told Beth was here, and I panicked. I forgot she was coming. There was no way to run past our front hall where she was standing
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The Signs Told the Story

The day we dropped our daughter Emma off for her freshman year at Rhodes College was a not a day orchestrated for reflection. There was a fast-paced schedule to keep. When Emma was settled I her dorm room, I began to see the signs. They came like gifts and tonics. The head of food service
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Breakfast for Your Soul

One of my best investments in comfort is the rocking chair on our porch that sits facing east for the new day. Most mornings I step outside to a black sky and sit with the last bit of night. I’m wrapped in fleece from head to toe in a big furry robe and old shearling slippers.
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The Believer

It has been a year since my husband Mark’s father died. His sister Barbara and I were there for the last test of life and the final blessing from a hospital priest. A year later, Lou’s gifts of unquestioning optimism and confidence seem more remarkable than ever. All his accomplishments began with a foundation of
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The Morning Light Soothes Your Soul

Home alone this morning was excited about making banana pancakes and pouring real maple syrup, from my tiny ceramic pitcher, on their fluffy tops. When they were finished, I sat at the kitchen counter with the newspaper and my pancakes. I took the first bite with my head bent toward the front page. And then
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Everyone’s Mom

Kay Math is a wonder and a beloved aunt. In addition to parenting her five children, she is a mom to many of her nieces and nephews. She taught me how to sew, iron, shuck corn, slice a tomato and churn butter. By example, she showed me how to be a gracious hostess and a
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Family Dinners with My Dad and Uncle T

Growing up I shared my favorite family dinners with my dad and his brother. I moved into their little apartment senior year of high school. It was a relief from the chaos of living with my mom who couldn’t care for me anymore. Their predictable world was just what I needed. Every item had a
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