Hello, my name is Julie, and I am a wonderer. I’m one of those distracted types – the kind who become absorbed in questions of God, justice, and baked goods while I’m supposed to be doing the dishes.
I am a stay-at-home mother to five young children: three school-aged boys and two preschool-aged girls. They and my husband and I live in a charming, 150-year-old Victorian in Maryland, which holds infinite possibilities for imaginative play and home repairs.
I wrestle every day of my life with how to fulfill my obligations to my family and our home while also doing something constructive with all that wondering.
I started blogging in 2013, back when I was lonely and craving the sort of community I saw among Catholic bloggers online. I wanted to claim my part of it.
I wanted, too, to share the cute kid stories and the homemaking struggles. I wanted to process the ways in which my life had changed since becoming a mother.
In my single twenties I’d earned a degree in political science, done a stint in the federal government, lived on my own in Washington and Annapolis, traveled much of the United States and Europe, and worked as a lobbyist for the Catholic bishops of Maryland.
In my thirties I got married, quit my job, had five babies in seven years, changed an ungodly number of diapers, and pretty much figured out the baby/toddler/preschooler phase of parenting. (Still working on the school-age phase; trying not to think about the teenage phase.)
This year I entered my forties, and I now find myself trying to chart a course that melds the mind/heart work of my twenties with the hand/heart work of my thirties.
Which brings me back to the blog.
When I started These Walls I wanted to do more than the cute kid story thing. I wanted to use my blog to encourage civility in political discussions. That had been my schtick: I’d prided myself on engaging on contentious issues in a respectful, open-minded manner, and I didn’t see why others couldn’t just up and do the same.
I thought we could communicate ourselves out of this mess. That, if only we calmed down and looked around and sought to understand, we could fix the things that were wrong with our society.
Six years later – six years of wrestling with the issues of the day, of struggling to come to terms with shifts in society and politics, of experiencing the changing nature of friendship and community online, of slugging through difficulties with my writing, family life, and health – I now see that that thinking was very small.
You and I and the folks we encounter online can’t just band together to fix society. No strategy, no movement, no social media campaign can right our wrongs and heal our divides. No amount of communication will fix this.
But I can work on fixing myself.
It’s not just our society that’s broken: I am broken. Sin and pain and perspective and the weight of untold generations of history bear down on me. I have much to work on.
I’ll bet you do too. I’ll bet you have something to fix.
These days I’m as absorbed in the ideas and problems of the world as ever. I’m still chewing on politics and current events while I dig my hands into sinks full of dirty dishes. But I am also turning inward. I am examining my thoughts, my gut reactions, my motivations and desires, and I am trying to order them toward goodness. I am working to point myself toward the good, the beautiful, and the true.
It’s a different kind of small thinking.
Few people will ever impact society in a broad way, but every one of us can work to make our own minds, our own souls, our own families, our own relationships with people and communities more healthy and whole.
Follow along with me here at These Walls to peek in on someone trying to do that work – someone wrestling with herself, thinking things through, seeking to understand, and wanting to improve.
And if you’ve been struggling with the urge to fix as I have – well then maybe you can undertake this wrestling, thinking, seeking, wanting-to-improve work too.
Note: This page was updated on October 24, 2019. Any comments dated prior to that reference a previous version.