Author Archives: Patricia Mulroy

About Patricia Mulroy

Building courage, creating commitment, and inspiring authentic living through reflection, conversation, and writing! Creating spaces for people to hear a story and find their own story, heart and soul!

Take the old Fury!


Take the old Fury!

One seems to build on the next. Fury. I have born them all. Shame, disgust, and self-loathing. I felt the difference. Others saw the difference. Despite my slender, lanky build and long straight hair, I was not feminine. No, just the opposite, a ‘tom-boy’. Shame followed me; to school, to my friends’ houses, to the dinner table. I was the brunt of jokes, making them myself to conceal the flaws, the imperfection, the difference. I was in drag all the time. Yes, a mask or a costume, to be more like something I was not. Always a stranger, late to the dance.

I was popular and smart, but mostly ashamed. Afraid, of what, I really didn’t know? But I knew. No words to describe this difference at first. And the rage, oh the RAGE, when the joke went too far. I shredded clothing like a monster. No longer the life of the party, I often found myself alone in my room. Never quite sure of what was happening.

It is still in me this fury, this shame, years of hiding, years of lying and pretending, years of protecting the quiet, gentle soul inside. Trying hard not to crash and burn, curse and scream. That wouldn’t be lady-like, would it? And I bend and sway – until almost broken, then caught by a glimpse of god, grace or beauty. I am a fortunate one. I am the one who is strong enough to know when the one more drink would kill me. Smart enough to escape and run, artist enough to don one more mask that made me look like I belonged.

Until the fury overtook me – I realized that I wasn’t just killing myself, I was maiming those who looked up to me, who were trying to follow my path. What the #@!! did I think I was doing? Who did I think I was helping? All this fury – a landscape of fire and pillage. What fuel was I spilling with my blood? More hurt, more pain, more hate….

I guess there is a story in here!!





for just

one day

we knew only

what bread was…

(From “Fragments” in The Complete French Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke translated by A. Poulin, Jr.)

Today as I read this poem I thought about just how complex our lives can become. To-do lists, appointments, entertainment, work and parties! Most days in our house we take time to prepare food and gather at dinnertime. It is a sacred time and our meals are an occasion to be thankful and share the stories of our day! I look forward to taking the time to slow down and break bread on Thanksgiving with our family and friends. I am anxious and excited to prepare a Thanksgiving feast. Honored to ready the table for a larger family, with more food, and lively, new conversations. We will watch the Thanksgiving Day parade and Football on TV, play word games, and hear jokes and tales.  Weaving together stories of all of our families. Creating new stories of our own that will unfold as surely as the house will fill with warmth and love.
 My life is beyond blessed – and I have more than most to be thankful for! I have an amazing family! I have friends and colleagues who share my vision for a School at Kirkridge. I gather regularly with families of people who are differently abled to help build Together It’s Possible (TIP). I work for Blended Schools Network empowering educators to think beyond teaching and learning as it has always been done. I live at Kirkridge – a sacred place where I have found my inner voice. I am thankful that on most days I slow down enough to hear what is important. Maybe that is what Rilke was thinking when he pondered, “if we only knew what bread was… “?


Sitting in Silence


Silence! Barely recovered from all the fun and excitement of Thanksgiving – yet I am looking forward to Christmas. For most of this fall I have been pushing through learning a new job, meeting new people, and trying to keep my center. And even though I work with wonderful people, from a desk in my home, I find that sometimes I push past my center to a place that makes me a person I don’t want to be. I guess that can happen from any desk, in any office, in any place.

 All of this makes me think about the eloquence of silence. The house is quiet in the early morning. I hear the beautiful wind chimes on the deck, moved by the wind that is bringing cold air to this part of the world. The dogs are at my feet and I think about the monks, living in silence.  I scratch words out in a journal after reading the work of Thomas Merton or Carl Jung, Cathleen Norris or Virginia Woolf. It is still dark – and the gloomy weather magnifies the darkness. I like the silence of the morning. Readying for the day – wondering how I ever managed without taking time to center down, listen to myself, and listen to the world.

With all the excitement of the holidays, new possibilities at work, and starting a school it is more important than ever to stop and honor the silence. In the hurried world we live in, information bombarding us from every direction, I am thankful for finding my way to silence, just a little each day. Silence is not a luxury in my life anymore, but a necessity. So today, try to stop, even if it just for a few minutes – sit in silence and hear your self. You might be surprised!




“There must be a time of day when the man who makes plans forgets his plans, and acts as if there were no plan at all.” 

Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island


My desk is a flutter of papers, ‘to do’ lists, contacts to make, ledgers and proposals in various stages of completion. My favorite sweater will now fit a two year old! (I didn’t pay attention to my laundry!) I have missed deadlines and lamented dreams and ideas that may never make it to draft. My reading list never ceases to grow. I have no idea when I will finish my tasks, or if I will ever finish some of them. But I am alive. I have spent time with family and friends and I have visited so many places; sharing time with amazing people.


Sometimes I forget it is ok to to not live by my list. Recently, instead of attending to that list, I have wandered to important places; graduations, weddings, community meetings, art shows, award ceremonies and benefit dinners. Preparing for, and celebrating these events, takes time from the planned tasks. Picking the right gifts, lingering for conversation, sharing a great meal, cards and the intimate words that express gratitude, congratulations and joy. I have lost myself looking for the right words to match these events. I stumble through my drafts of essays and poems – journals filled with love, laughter, anguish, grief, joy, frustration, accomplishment, fear, anticipation and doubt. The sinew of our humanity!


I am trying to live more intentionally these days. I am trying to make a few more phone calls to the people I love and miss. I send notes and emails to friends I haven’t talked to in a while to let them know, that despite my obsession “to do”, I think of them often. Lately, I have even stopped to visit when I am in the neighborhood – instead of rushing home to the item on my list. I am trying my darnedest not to let the moment pass me by.


It is a change of heart for me to slow down. I am good at checking off one list item, then another, head to one event, then the next – only to sit back at my desk to start another list of projects and dreams.


Now, as my children prepare to embark on a journey of their own, I am called to the moment. I loved watching them grow up, dinners listening to the stories and tall tales, watching games, sitting on the porch with neighbors, seeing them play outside. I wonder about the times I could have been more mindful, listened more, held my judgement until I heard the whole story. But it has all passed and they are ready to go! Most of the time I think of it as an amazing adventure. Youth heading out into the unknown. Parents letting go. But I will miss them! I hope that they remember those of us they leave behind with a call, a note, or an email. I hope they take the time to be where they are, with colleagues, friends and family and to see the world; without a list or an agenda some of the time. They will learn a lot heading out on their own. I hope they live in the moment and have fun – creating a new and exciting life for themselves!

Don’t Quit

Success is failure turned inside out– 
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, 
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

– Author unknown

Thursday night I drove to the Lehigh County Historical Society Museum for the Morning Call – My Choice My Voice, Best of the Blog Awards. Thinking I would walk away without a win, but hopeful, by some small chance, I would rank among the very interesting blogs I saw. Save the Kales caters to rock stars and actors! Laughing at my Nightmare has 250,000 followers! The sport bloggers are quite amazing – Noise Nation’s Horns and Bells won the “Best Blog” award.

So why did I put myself out there? As a parent and educator I have told my children and so many others that they could do anything they wanted – if they worked hard enough, persisted, had the right timing. The one thing I left out though – and I know it is, as the Visa commercials say – “Priceless”! is that everyone needs a cheerleader, a champion, someone who gives honest feedback. We all need someone who encourages us to get up when the going is tough. Try, try again! 

The Void

Last night I went to my daughters Senior Art Show – Waxing and Waning at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After three years at UArts she is going to graduate. It has not always been easy – hours in the studio, working at Starbucks, reading and writing papers. There were days I would get phone calls that she was tired or sick or worried that she would miss a deadline! She rarely did. I met her friends, teachers and mentors. Lots of people cheering her on. She will be a force in the world of printmaking. 

While her work was truly breathtaking, bringing tears to my eyes as I walked into the room, the real art was her grace and confidence. I watched my daughter shine as she talked about her print making to the hundreds of people who came in and out of the show. She knows her technique and had full command of explaining her craft. Kera was welcoming and self-assured! The show was fun and playful. She made it that way – and I am so proud of her. Kera’s teachers, friends, and family all together, a culmination of the delicate balance of being a cheerleader, champion and critic. 

I am thankful for all the mentors I have – the friends, family and teachers. I am thankful for the people who do the same in schools and families, neighborhoods and workplaces, communities and villages! My hope and dream is that all of us take a chance to be our best – and whether we succeed at first is not what is important – it is that we try and we learn. So whether it is a blog, an art show, a new job, a new school, or a move across the country – I wish us all success. But if success is elusive I hope for persistence, the ability to get back up and put yourself in the game, to try, try, and try again!


Seasons of Hope


“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” Fred Rodgers

Trees are blooming all around on this bright spring day. May is rising with shoots and roots from the dark and barren winter. The seasons offer beautiful metaphors. This fall brought a strong and damaging storm that ripped trees from the ground. At first glance the destruction of the wind seemed overwhelming and sad. I walked each fall day into this chaos and wondered if things would ever be the same. The seasons rolled on and I walked through the falling of the last leaves, the blanket of snow, the muck and mud of early spring, pondering the landscape. Each day I saw something new in what, at first, appeared to be destruction.

Sometimes it is hard to imagine that there is beauty on the other side of such devastation. The trees mangled by the fall tornado provided great images for me as I walked through the seasons. One day I noticed a young sapling bracing the broken, hollowed out trunk of an old tree. The trees stood together. An image of hope. On another day I noticed that the woodpecker(s) had taken a tree completely apart – working persistently for days, weeks, possibly months or years to complete the task of feeding their young or building a house. I had yet another unique and inspiring view this morning as I was just about to leave the woods and head toward home. As I called Tootsie to join me, I saw a group of trees lying as they fell months ago in the storm, but as I looked more closely I saw buds on the branches of the fallen, mangled trees. Tiny, green buds – new life! Hope! I never would have thought those trees – ripped from the ground by the fury of nature would rise again.

When we are in the midst of a storm, a tornado, hearts and souls broken it is hard to imagine we will ever see the light again. Yet in the midst of the cold and dark moments friends gathered and shared hot coffee and warm food. On the Jersey Shore people traveled from far and wide to offer any help that they could in the midst of splintered homes and hearts. Stories of human kindness found their way to the news and the internet in the wake of this, and many other storms. Earthquakes, divorce, war, school shootings, bombs in Boston. Lives filled with episodes of destruction and sorrow. Sometimes broken hearts filled with grief can shatter and lose hope, grow in despair and bitterness. Sometimes broken hearts can crack, seeking light and love. The broken lend their voice, a picture, a song. We feel hope, we help. There are many hopeless and dark days where the knots of broken trees and branches are all that can be seen. Homes and lives twisted, hanging in the balance, changed forever. Much has changed since the storm ripped the trees from the ground this fall. Today I see possibility – the buds on the fallen trees. Tiny signs of hope. Hope that those with hate in their hearts will heal and violence will end, that we will honor the earth and all that it gives us, and that we will honor each other – despite our differences. Hope, that we will “look for the helpers”, like Mr. Rodgers, in times of despair and darkness and be comforted. Hope that broken hearts will be cracked open, not shatter, so we can let the light in and spread hope and joy.

I have found hope in the work of the Center for Courage and Renewal – Circle of Trust Retreats.  The retreats offer a safe space to find hope and help us seek inner peace – calling on the better angels of our being. For more information visit The Center for Courage and Renewal and Kirkridge Retreat Center. Join me on May 22 – 24th for COMING HOME: THE JOURNEY TO THE UNDIVIDED LIFE  or July 23 – 25 for LIVING IN THE SPACE BETWEEN: EXPLORING OUR INTERCONNECTEDNESS WITH THE EARTH AND OUR SELVES

Tootsie, Circle of Trust and the Ten Challenges!


Life has changed over the past year for me. Parker Palmer’s work has lead me on an inner journey that challenged my place in my work. Did my soul and my role match? We wanted a dog… and we found Tootsie! Volunteering at Kirkridge led me to a book group that is studying Leonard Felder’s Ten Challenges. People talk about the perfect storm – and ominous, dark images come to mind; a hurricane, the state and federal budgets, climate change. Not for me. The perfect storm is manifesting itself through a journey of  reflecting on who I am and what I do; in Circle of Trust work, practicing love and kindness to an unruly chocolate lab, and reflecting on the how my life can be in sync with my spiritual belief that there is a mysterious internal energy that is present and dwells among us.

 Over the past year I began a practice of reading and reflecting on a passage from the book “An Almanac for the Soul, Anthology of Hope” by Marv and Nancy Hiles. The perfect storm ripping through my life over the last three years causing fear and doubt. I found myself divided, broken, and hopeful. Each morning the call to something deeper appeared. Sometimes I found peace, sometimes tears, but always a sense that I was not walking alone. The inner teacher, as present as the woodpecker at the bird feeder this morning, shows itself at the corner of our table as the sun rises.

 The braiding of these gifts is with me as I walk the trail with Tootsie each morning. My dream of a starting a School at Kirkridge, making prayer beads with differently abled youth, and seeking the heart and soul of public education – maybe even teaching at a college. There are no footprints to follow on the path these days. Winter has melted into spring. Today I see trees budding, small flowers sprouting in the most unlikely place, and small newts walking the path with Tootsie and I. Unlike winter, in the spring I see new grow, birth, change. The winter snow made it easy to see those who are walking this path with me – now in spring I am seeing the others, watching them grow and change. And like my morning reflection, I am aware of the numinous on this spring journey.

Today “silence assumed the air”… and I walked the path – thinking of growing and changing as I prepared to interview one more time. I considered the fact that there has been so much noise that keeps me from hearing that numinous spirit. Tasks to complete, meetings to attend, applications to fill, dinner to make, a house to clean. The voice in my head says accomplish, accomplish, accomplish. The souls says, accomplish what?? I turn to the silence assuming the air and I know that I am blessed and my path will open. My gift of enthusiasm for life, people, and light shining through the darkness of the storm. Listen. Listen carefully to the sound of your self, your soul. Dream and work. Love and play. Listen. In the silence there is a peace that comes – and with it I am in a divine space.