MaureenMaureen Goldman

I write stories about the power of love and kindness, our souls, and lessons from my family, including our experiences living with mental illness. My goal is to be true, sharing stories from the heart that comfort and inspire readers. For me love is not an ideal or a corny notion. It is real and it is powerful. I believe it can overcome just about anything. Both my parents lived with mental illnesses, and I developed bipolar disorder in college. I survived because my mom inoculated me with love again and again. It is so deeply embedded that I have been able to pass it on intact to my children. At Catherine’s Table is named in honor of my Aunt Kay, who is my second mom. I spent every summer at her home in northern New Jersey. Sitting at her kitchen table, she taught me how to churn butter, bake pies and cookies, sew a skirt, and iron. Most important, with her tremendous enthusiasm she taught me how to harvest joy and possibility from everything we did. I grew up in Manhattan with my mom and spent my childhood among amazing nuns in all girl Catholic schools. Along with love, I give them a lot of credit. I live in Atlanta now with my husband Mark, two dogs, a cat, and an occasional foster puppy. Matt became an engineer and lives nearby, and Emma is in college in Memphis. Heaven is sharing a meal with them. Family dinner is almost a religion around here.

All articles by Maureen

 

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 finally learned to parent from the heart instead of the mind. I focus on my son Matt’s inherent goodness not his struggles with dyslexia or ADHD. In the beginning, I obsessed about Matt’s intellectual achievement. I measured his progress versus benchmarks in books for the first 24
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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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Setbacks and Perseverance

The change of fortunes in last night’s Super bowl was stunning. I was riveted watching the extraordinary success on both sides. The Falcons scored 28 point in the first quarter and the Patriots came back with 25 unanswered points to win in the first tie breaker in Super Bowl history. It was like sitting on
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Family Dinner Is Our Favorite Hobby

When my children Matt and Emma were young, I read several articles about the importance of family dinner. It saved lives, preventing drug abuse, and reducing the likelihood of all kinds of social pathologies. 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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Sitting in the Closet for Comfort

In first grade, I started spending time on a long white shelf in my closet. Sometimes I was empty-handed, thinking about a six-year-old’s this and that. Other times I threw my 100-count box of Crayola Crayons up, like a little outfielder, along with a fancy children’s book. My mother was in the habit of buying
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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 to stick to my head. After 17 years of formal education in the ways of the church, I have Catholic reflexes, but I can hardly tell you a story from the Bible, all the deadly sins, or all seven
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The Dignity Gap

It’s coming at us like baseballs and hail. People’s anger and vitriol. I am part of the crowd. I rail at home and with my friends. It goes like this, “Can you believe…” followed by a long commentary on whomever I am targeting that day. My children asked me to stop talking about the man
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What Forgiveness Looks Like

My friend Mark’s mom just died. They were very close. My mom Rita died when I was 22. Mark is 57. He had more time with his mother, but I doubt it hurts less. Part of your heart is carved out when your mother dies, and you can only hope it grows back. Mark understood the
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Rocking With Maggie

This morning our foster puppy Maggie was a toasty little bean bag stretched across my lap. We sat in an upholstered rocker by a window, rocking and looking 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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Are You A Falcon, A Storm or A Great Song?

I attended a poetry discussion at All Saints Church in Atlanta last week. While the priest did her best to keep us away from current events and focused on verse, we moved back and forth. I told her about my new community group Standing for Love, formed in response to all the hate speech we heard
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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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What Do We Tell Our Children Today?

My family’s feelings range from disheartened to sickened today. My son Matt, my husband Mark and I are having dinner at home tonight to talk about how and why Donald Trump became our president. Emma will Skype from school. We will make ourselves feel better by talking about a Donald Trump presidency being temporary and how
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The Key Ingredient Is Inspiration

We all need inspiration, even the wisest among us. We want someone to tell us who we can be and what we should do. Growing up much of my inspiration came from books. I trusted authors to tell me the truth about living and took their advice. These days my inspiration also comes from our
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Soul Survival

I woke up this morning to a night sky and headed for my rocking chair that sits outside on the porch facing the horizon. Stars and a sliver of the moon were still in the sky. Looking up I wondered why we readily make wishes upon stars and struggle to believe in ourselves. We are
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What A Smart Little Plant

I remember my Aunt Kay telling me how much she enjoys a plant called Portulaca. I wasn’t moved at the time. Last summer I bought one because the horticulturalist at the nursery told me it is “drought tolerant.” I live in Atlanta where the heat sucks the life out of everything in the summer. This
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A Positive Note About Sadness

Being sad is good for you. Let yourself be sad and your body will thank you. We’ve all heard that staying busy is the trick to keeping sadness at bay. I say be still. When you’re sad your heart hurts, and it needs your attention. You can’t mend it with a trip to the hardware
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You Can Start Over and Over

I just started rereading Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The book is all soul and inspiration. It was written 50 years ago when Anne went to the beach to reflect on the pattern of her life. At the beginning of the book, she talks about her affinity for freshly sharpened pencils. I
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We Can Be Love

I woke up too early this morning so I stayed in bed, waiting for the first hint of light. When the sky put the stars to bed with a dove grey blanket, I began my morning routine. It is the same every day. First my bright pink, fleecy robe. I reach for it with need,
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The Wise Man

My Aunt Maureen died last month. After the eulogy, there wasn’t much said. Some of us got hives, some got bone tired, some put their sadness in a box, storing it for another time. We crawled back to her home and our safe routines, telling jokes, crazy-but-true family stories, and cleaning. We are really good
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It’s Not About The Bucket List

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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Mr. Pierre’s Beauty Salon

I carefully chose Mr. Pierre’s Beauty Salon on one of my weekend trips to the toy store with my dad. It came with a plastic woman’s head and golden hair sprouting from her scalp. Once you snuck the scissors out of the kitchen drawer, you could cut it off, pull more out of her skull,
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Parenting To Erase The Past

I have a friend who is an A+ dad. He goes to every soccer game and school event. He has breakfast with his girls every Friday morning at the same restaurant. He even drove for eight hours, inch by inch in a snowstorm, to spend the night with them when they were stranded at school.
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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 the sky was replaced by a seamless blanket the color of danger. Rain flowed down the roof and into gutters with the steady pace of a metronome. Cast in black, my favorite trees looked arthritic with branches bent and crooked. I commune with the sun every morning. Today, I’d have to have faith.
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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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Rita’s Diversity Lessons

Mostly, my mom taught me to appreciate diversity through her actions. Never one to entertain mediocrity, she enrolled me at the United Nations Preschool. I remember sitting in a semi-circle with four-year-olds dressed in strange outfits, and it wasn’t Halloween. My Christmas gift when I was 5 was a huge loom handmade by Navaho Indians.
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Charge It To Anyone Else

My mother was a petty thief. Her favorite targets were my father’s brother and random uncles in her family. Back in the 60s, you could charge things at certain stores with the mere mention of a name. So my mom would buy me fancy outfits at Saks Fifth Avenue and charge them to an uncle,
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In The Morning Light

Home alone this morning, I was all excited about making a banana pancake and pouring real maple syrup from my tiny new pitcher. I sat down with the paper, my pancake set on a baby grass plate and took that first tender bite with my head bent toward the front page. And then I noticed
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Three Wise Birds

I am perfectly fine, focused on my next step and ready to be a writer. I am really angry, bone tired and sad. I am holding grudges and hurtful words, hoping they will marinate into something neutral. I spent three years working with blind determination on a home goods business, knowing all along that it
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Silence!

My daughter Emma and I just returned from a trip to New York City. There is an exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art devoted to the work of contemporary artist Frank Stella. I found a quote at the beginning and absorbed it as an affirmation to be a writer. “You can only take
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All I Want for Christmas Is Peace (Of Mind)

I love the idea of Christmas, twinkling trees, the promise of Santa, lots of cookies. Truth is it’s all too much! Christmas is a treacherous business. To give you an example, I called my psychiatrist this morning. The answering machine offered two options for immediate action on his part. The first was extreme mental anguish
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My Favorite Thanksgiving Was Shared 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. 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
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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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An Almost Unimaginable Love

She was the one waving wildly from the audience with a crazy, toothy smile. My mother. The only thing that could make her happier than seeing me perform was a credit card with no limit or my admission to Harvard. My mother thought everything I did was amazing. She lit up when she saw me
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In a Youthful Register

It was my day to deliver for Meals on Wheels. I was checking my route to calculate how many houses I had left. This was the second home, and it was the saddest stop. An invalid lived in a dark basement room at the base of a sloping driveway. As I made my way down, I
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Joy and the Warrior

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

We had such sad news this week. My son Matthew’s friend died, a young man I knew 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. I saw joyful light the
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Our Thanksgiving Pile Up

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. 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
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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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Where the Seed Was Planted

The summer after seventh grade, I spent a month at the beach with my mother’s family. There were cousins everywhere and formal lunches at my great grandmothers table: silver, bone china, crystal and finger bowls. I am an only child, and we didn’t use china at home. The whole business was overwhelming. All that was
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The Signs Told the Story

The day we dropped 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 began to see the signs. They came like gifts and tonics. The head of food service saw me standing in the dining
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What a Meal Can Mean

The Thistle Farm’s motto is, “Love Heals Every Body.” If you spent some time with the women who work there, you would it’s true. My husband Mark and I went to Whole Foods on Saturday morning because Thistle Farms was doing a special event. We sell their candles and bath products at our home goods store. Thistle Farms
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