There are many confusing posts about me and about my writing, and, while I’m sorry that the spirit of the poem I wrote isn’t enough for some readers, I realize humans are among the most curious of animals. And, hey, I love learning more about authors I enjoy, too. And, let’s face it; it went viral. During a virus. How does that even happen?
I’m disappointed that people are searching for my personal information online, and encountering stories that are published without cited sources, but rather, seem to have been written by people who googled names, copied and pasted, and fabricated stories to capitalize on the fact that my little poem went viral. (Which literally means, it wasn’t through careful strategy or in my control.) No one, after my first friend, asked to “re-post” the poem until the virus was at its peak. (And I am grateful for those sweet souls.) If you look at some of these Kitty O’Meara origin stories, they’re calling me Kathleen, Grace, Whatever; transcribing the poem incorrectly; saying I’m dead, Italian, from New Rochelle, lived during the Black Plague…And these posts are often badly written and poorly edited, which is really irritating.
So, here you go: Everything and more than you could possibly want to know about me but which will serve as a reference I can cite, post, and never, ever, have to write, defend, or explain again:
My baptismal name is Catherine Mary O’Meara; my nickname since birth has been Kitty. I grew up with my lovely family in Wisconsin, then to Ohio, and then back to Wisconsin again. I went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for my first degree.
I am married to a lovely man, my “dear one.” We wanted children very much, and were unable to have them; we instead gave that energy to, and derived joy from, teaching young people. And we have rescued many dogs and cats. We now have 5 of the former and 3 of the latter. We believe each of them has rescued us.
I have degrees in Theater and English. I worked in advertising as a creative director and copywriter and editor (small firm), went back and earned a degree in Education, and taught middle school writing and literature for many years. My first marriage ended and I married my dear one and moved to another location and school. I stopped teaching to take care of my ill, then dying mother, just as she had, for many years, cared for my ill, then dying father.
After her death, and in my grief, I went back to school again, for an MA in Servant Leadership, which allowed me to complete a CPE Program and work as a chaplain in hospital units and then with a hospice, which blessed me with the experience of caring for nursing home, cardiac, palliative care, and end-of-life patients. During this time, I also completed a 3-year program in Spiritual Direction and manage that practice from my home.
I have written since I was 6…stories, and poems, and book manuscripts. In 2011, I began this blog to share what I call “lit bits” and my photography. I stopped it a couple years ago because I was diagnosed with autoimmune diseases that needed a lot of management, which I accomplished as best as I could.
During that time, my friends and family urged me to write the blog again. I didn’t listen. Last month, seeing the pandemic coming, and the lack of preparation with which it would be met, I began to worry a lot about my family and friends in healthcare and what they would be facing. I felt upset that I couldn’t be with them, helping/doing something. I had a talk with Spirit and said, “C’mon. Show me what I can do!” The Holy always answers, but we don’t always hear it, because we’ve already decided what the answer should be and in which direction we should be looking, and how it will look and sound when it arrives.
So last Friday, March 13th: We were already 3 weeks into self-quarantine, and I was sitting with my dear one at lunchtime, feeling pouty that the Spirit hadn’t pushed me anywhere clearly and specifically. We watched some anxious news and talked about the pandemic and fretted about loved ones. We also had noticed reports that the earth was healing and the pollution receding while people were in quarantine. I’ve always thought and written a lot about healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and, next to my lovebugs, my passions are the earth, her creatures, the seasons, and my gardens.
I turned to Facebook, scrolled a bit, and then I wrote, “And the people stayed home,” and hit, “post.” I moved through the rest of my day: walking dogs, working out, doing laundry. Life stuff. That night, I tuned into Facebook and a friend said she liked the post and asked if she could re-post it. I typed, “Sure.”
The ensuing week was as unexpected and frenzied as an inland tsunami. Blessings in abundance, a few hurtful attacks, and many blissful gorgeous explosions of collaborative creativity…I would be utterly non compos mentis if I hadn’t discerned the work of the Spirit and her mighty slap-upside-the-head-answer to my prayer, so I humbly started my blog again, and have tried to let go of the madness that accompanies virulence while delighting in the sacred connections. This is how I can offer spiritual care, virtually, through my words. The answer was there, all along, but hearing it took not one virus, but two, and that is how the Spirit worked for me. And that is who I am.
Honor your talents and set aside judgement. Use your gifts. Surrender. Let Go. Heal yourself, then others, then yourself again. Forgive. Ask for guidance. Listen. Listen. Listen. Stay awake. Mind the Spirit’s slaps-upside-the-head. Love without stopping.
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