MaureenMaureen Goldman

Catherine's Table is a collection of soulful stories about living with intention, the power of love, and the heart of a family. I also write about living with mental illness because it helps erase the stigma. Catherine’s Table is named in honor of my Aunt Kay. She taught me how to harvest joy from everything we did. I shared many happy summer evenings at her dinner table. My husband Mark and I grew up in New York City, and we raised our family in Atlanta. My idea of heaven is sharing a meal with my family at home. We tell our best stories at our table.

All articles by Maureen

 

You Should Be A Doctor

My daughter Emma made a career choice we weren’t expecting. After two years of a pre-med academic path, she didn’t change her major, but she did change her mind. She decided to be a physician assistant instead. Emma graduated from PA school via Zoom last month. Emma went to Rhodes College to study neuroscience and prepare for
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Pencils And Second Chances

Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, is a soulful gift. I’ve purchased at least a dozen copies over the years. Anne wrote it at the beach where she went for weeks to reflect on the pattern and meaning of her life. It’s one of those books that stays with you because it’s layered
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Faith In The Morning Sun

This week rain dripped from our gutters with the steady pace of a metronome. Cast before a dark sky, my trees looked arthritic with black branches bent and awkward. The grass looked overwhelmed with water. Far worse, I wasn’t going to see the sun, and I rely on it. Sunlight is my path to prayer
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The Covid Garden

While I don’t believe in prescriptions for living, I do believe in the restorative and sustaining properties of a calm atmosphere. I adore quiet spaces because they settle your mind and heart. We have several tranquil nooks in our house. I rotate around them and out to our garden. One of my best investments in
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Losing Your Song

Have you ever thought about a bird losing its song? I haven’t. I assumed birds were born knowing how to sing. Then I read an article in the New York Times about the Regent Honeyeater, a critically endangered bird indigenous to Australia. There are now young Regent Honeyeaters who can’t sing because they have to
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The Moss And The Ivy

This winter, our landscape transformed in unexpected and vexing ways. The biggest change was the moss and the English ivy. I noticed the ivy first and wondered how it slunk so far so fast. We’ve lived in our house for twenty-five years, that’s one hundred seasons of English ivy. It’s always been where it’s always
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A Ying Yang Year And New Prayers

It’s been a ying and yang year for my family, which means we’re lucky. On the plus side, we did a major house cleaning. Before the pandemic, I thought we had a pared down existence. It turns out that bags of do-we-really-need-this-stuff emerged from our basement and attic. We looped to and from Goodwill a
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Seedlings, Signs And Perseverance

Have you ever seen a seedling start? It’s a tiny loop that sprouts like a ballerina, arching from soil to sky. Its embryonic stalk, translucent and pale, presents two itty bitty green leaves to the sun. When you root for something so tender, optimism is a reflex. You believe it’s entirely possible for a nascent
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Morning Light Soothes Your Soul

Home alone in the morning, I made pancakes served on handmade ceramics. Even a tiny clay pitcher for the maple syrup. I added a handcrafted juice cup and napkin just because. Perfection. I adore a handmade table setting.Table set and pancake done, I sat at the kitchen counter with the newspaper and took the first
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When Being Positive Is Crazy

While there are many things to be positive about, there comes a time where being sunny seems loony. How can you crack a real smile when there is so much bad news? And so much of it. Hence, the following words. I shut down all my social media accounts a few months ago – Facebook,
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When Time Slows

Time moves at the same rate no matter what we do, but now it feels like a tortoise crossing the road. Time is moving the way it does during the second half of an exercise class or the last ten minutes of math (or statistics or physics.) It’s almost like 4:00pm with a baby. You’re
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The Blue Angels And Honor

Saturday afternoon we hurried out of the house at 1:30 to watch The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds fly over Atlanta. They are the Navy’s highly skilled acrobatic flying teams. I caught site of the last plane rocketing into the tree line. The sound was like smooth thunder, very impressive and majestic. We walked down the
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Being Real Is One of The Best Gifts You Can Give Your Children

To be real. Totally you is one of the best gifts you can give your children because it gives them permission to be true too. If my dad were alive, I would thank him for never acting like anyone else. Growing up I didn’t appreciate his authenticity because it included calling out posers and sharing
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Finding Your Place To Thrive With Bipolar Illness

With every endeavor you need a special place where you can be you. A nook suited to your temperament so you can thrive. Your mission control. My special space for writing includes a room with pin-drop silence, sunlight, and a view of our garden. Otherwise, I can’t do my best or sometimes even do at all.
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A Grown Up Christmas List For Santa

Let’s send a letter to Santa, a grown up Christmas list. It’s not too late. The coolest part is you’ll get an answer. It may be from an employee of the US Postal Service, but he or she could be in touch with Santa. It’s possible. Here’s my letter to merry St. Nick. Dear Santa, Thank
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What’s So Great About Girls’ Schools?

There are many ways to learn and good places to teach. My mom chose Convent of the Sacred Heart, an all girls’ school in New York City. We were not the coolest or most competitive school in Manhattan, but if you wanted to send your child to Catholic school, we were the best. Sacred Heart
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Breakfast For Your Soul

While I don’t believe in prescriptions for living, I do believe in quiet space and rocking chairs. They free your mind and open your heart. One of my best investments in comfort is the solid rocking chair on our porch that sits facing east for the new day. Most mornings I step outside to an
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All I Want For Christmas Is Peace Of Mind

Christmas is a pile of stresses with trauma looming on list-filled December days. The mall, really what could be worse? Clearly, lots could be worse, but getting side-checked and jostled on a Saturday afternoon is not my idea of a good time. Seeing clothing marked down to the bone and hanging akimbo makes me worry.
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When Your Soul Prospers

My friend Betsy prays for prosperity every day. She asked me if I was trying to prosper through writing. “Yes,” shot out of my mouth like a reflex, because I knew she was talking about money. I didn’t want to sound like a dilettante. The truth is I don’t think about writing and money together.
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Losing Your One-Track Mind

I’ve always been single-minded, pooling all my energy into one goal. It’s a strategy that helped me attend a favorite college and land a dream job in advertising. When I was seven, I locked my father out of the car until he threw his cigarettes in a trash can. He begged me to let him
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Thanksgiving Dinner Reviews And Taking Stock

Thanksgiving dinner was very good. It actually was. The contributing factors were size, ease and listening ears. It was just the four was of us, my children Matt and Emma and my husband Mark. This dialed the drama meter down significantly as there were fewer personalities to balance and fewer dishes to scrub. The four
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A Little Thanksgiving

We’re having the littlest Thanksgiving tomorrow. Just the four of us, and I’m perfectly happy. I would love to have a bigger group, but the local relatives have other plans. They’re driving back from a house hunting trip on Thanksgiving Day. Cousin Rosemary can’t fly from California. She shattered her ankle skiing. Another cousin thinks
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A True Brother

They say there are no accidents. That is not true. I am a classic accident. Technically speaking, I am an only child born to Rita Marie Murray three months after her 18th birthday at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. This is not a joke. She told me I was a blue blood baby. I only
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Love Heals Every Body

One of my professors has a cynical view of love and healing, as if the power of love for emotional renewal is magical thinking. I thoroughly disagree. Love is the very best medicine we have. Some of us need manufactured drugs, and I take a fistful of vitamin supplements in the morning along with a
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An Angel and A Perfect Memory

I met an angel on a sidewalk in Harlem, NY. She’s a perfect memory of the ideal human experience. Let me explain why I love this woman. Some of us lick the edges of life. Others live with a sore patch, constantly rubbing the wound. Either keeping it fresh or making it ooze. Most of
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Let’s Stay The Same And Make Our Gifts Magnificent

Thanksgiving is around the corner. Before you know it, we’ll be making New Year’s resolutions to lose the holiday weight, or just the weight. Or exercise or be more organized. There were years I made lists, imagining I could accomplish more than one thing. After careful consideration, I decided to cast off making resolutions last
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Big Love

My mother’s love was big. Rita was the parent waving wildly from the audience with a toothy smile. In high school I messed up my solo in Oklahoma when I saw her arms fanning above her head. Other parents sat patiently, palms in their laps, and looked at the stage with neutral expressions. Rita couldn’t
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Praying for Hearts

I spoke to a customer service representative recently who was working during a natural disaster. Flooding in her community had reached historic levels. She filled me in on the areas affected and shared a story about a friend not being able to reach her elderly father because the road was washed out. She said they
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Family Dinner Is Our Favorite Hobby

Family dinner is good for the soul. When my children Matt and Emma were young, I read articles about the value of sitting together for meals. Family dinner saves 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
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Turning Death Into A Celebration of Kindness

“Today is the anniversary of my mom Rita’s death. I was 22 when she died so this year has special significance as my daughter Emma is 22. We are going to do 22 kind things together in honor of my mom. The first is asking people to join us in honoring this day with an act of
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How To Choose A School

I have the privilege of being a substitute teacher at the Atlanta Girls’ School school where my daughter Emma attended middle school and high school. The word privilege sounds like hyperbole when you’re talking about being a substitute teacher, but it’s not. When Emma was a student at the AGS, I was a vocal fan
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Sometimes You Have To Dig To Find Goodness

My uncle is 87 and a very difficult man. Sometimes I struggle to find goodness in him. He has an iron grip on his routine, a powerful sense of entitlement, and no filter. He’s lived alone since my father died last year so I fly up every few months to check on him. Yesterday I headed
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Baking Thumbprint Cookies Included Life Lessons and Love

Aunt Kay is my second mom. She taught me so many things by example, including valuable life lessons. She also offered love and comfort when we baked thumbprint cookies together. The ritual had a spiritual quality. We worked side-by-side in silence under the kitchen window where the afternoon light spotlighted our effort and made the
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Gratitude Seeped In When I Slowed Down

I woke up this morning with a foreign feeling of gratitude. The object was my backyard. It’s one of the first things I see. It’s big and green and landscaped with curves like a winding stream. I love it. But I’ve seen it ten thousand times. Why so grateful now? I’ve been trying to be
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Let’s Share Our Story Of Living With Mental Illness

Remember Oprah Winfrey’s amazing acceptance speech at the Golden Globes Award Show this year? It was a call-to-action for girls and women to continue the fight for equal justice. It’s thrilling to see that sexual harassment, something I took for granted when I was young, is in the light and that things are changing. I
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I Realized That Sharing My Mental Illness Is An Act Of Love

“I share being bipolar because it is an act of love.” This just came out of my mouth last night while I was talking to a friend of my husband. She was telling me about her daughter’s struggles without sharing intimate details, so I told her I was bipolar. This usually makes people more comfortable
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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 love, courage and healing I can think of. They are a family of lions who’ve overcome life on the streets to build a very successful
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This Inspiring Southern Novelist Opened Her Heart And Became A Sister

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. Just like a teenage groupie, I went wild with the news that she was coming to our book club. I texted my children, friends, and relatives with double exclamation
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Being A Grownup and Letting Go

I’m 57 and inching toward being a grownup. I’ve been in middle school in my mind for as long as I can remember. 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
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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 Sent Three Signs The Day He Died

Yesterday, the last breath of Hurricane Irma slapped branches and bent tree trunks. Now the air is still. It feels like the moment when you run out of things to say to God. I’m looking for signs. The news cycle is already spinning away from the weather and back to Washington, reminding me of the
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I Needed To Reach My Father Before He Died

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 One Last 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 Love Looks Like

Love is love. It’s not something you bottle or define, but it is everywhere. Look around, and you’ll feel love in some form. For me there are endless symbols of love in our garden and many inside our home. The blooms, the photos and mementos of childhood. The big and the small dog. Symbols of
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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 ingredients we couldn’t afford. She liked to finish with a bottle of red wine aimed at a pot and an indeterminate pour. For the most part things turned out well except when she made my school lunch. She packed my Peanuts lunchbox with a rotation of sandwiches made
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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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