Monday, July 6, 2015

What Does Your Sign Say?...

Love is the easiest and the hardest thing you will ever do.

I have found it much easier to love in my 40's. Love in my 20's, it scared me. Why?, because love means you have to be willing to be naked. I'm not kidding. Love means that you show your true-self, you acknowledge your weaknesses; stand naked; openly sharing what they are. Love means being you. For many of us, we struggle with not being "good-enough," we want that perfection. Unfortunately, it's just not possible.

I could easily walk around with a sign on my chest listing all of my weakness. My sign would say:

"Hi! I'm Kathryn. Sometimes I'm a mess. When I'm a mess, it's because I let this foolishness slow me down."

Here's my foolishness:

I worry I will die and leave my children without a mother.
I'm painfully insecure--seriously insecure and that means I have some anxiety issues!
I want to love everyone and for everyone to love me.
I'm super embarrassed about my weight. I mean look at me...
My husband is so amazing, I can't for the life of me comprehend why Jeffrey loves-me.
I worry; I'm a lousy wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend...
I worry; that folks don't understand my illness and think I'm a big faker.
I don't think that I'm smart or beautiful.
I have huge guilt that I don't work.
I'm a huge slob... I'm super duper messy.
I often feel like I'm an impostor.
I can't comprehend why people read or listen to what I have to say.

Here is the thing. Most days I shut these negative feelings down. I don't let them bubble-up. Period. End of story.  Everyone has a bad day and I'm no different.  When I have a bad day, I reach out to the people I trust more than myself. I know these aren't rational feelings, but they are part of being human.  I share that my anxiety and worries are bigger than me.  It's in these rare moments that I fully trust others. The people I love.

I work hard to acknowledge these fears and set them aside.

My fears rarely slow me down. Why? I will tell a person on the street what my fears are.  When you "wear and own" your fears, they no longer hold you back. Today I find my fears self-propel me and make me work a little harder. They don't stop me. It has taken a ton of internal work, but it has enabled me to be fearless.

The fearlessness of acknowledging your struggles, makes it easy to love. I have nothing to hide, so that means I can be transparent.

Transparency is freedom.

Freedom not to judge you and the freedom to allow you to love me. I get that you have messy too. So just tell me your messy, and let's get it out. When you share these "triggers" it also explains why some things make us a little crazy. When I know you struggle with your weight, flying, fear of hospitals, or public speaking. It means I'm never, ever, ever hurt you with that.  It means I love you so much that we will protect your soft spots together. I will hold your hand and never leave your side. It means I know this is hard and I have your back.

My mother-in-law shared with me that she is amazed how I just meet strangers and they become good friends.  I laughed, it's true I do make friends in the most unusual places; but my response is, why doesn't everyone? Life is so much better when you have a big circle of happy people who love you and you love them back.

I want everyone I meet to feel special, to feel important and that our interaction was significant in my journey. Don't you?

Don't you want everyone you meet to feel your love, your connection of happiness and your touch of a little joy? Do we all fail at this everyday? Sure. But, isn't it worth trying?

If you are looking at your life and questioning why your relationships aren't where you want them...perhaps you need to ask yourself the question: What are you really afraid of? What don't you want others to know about you? What are you hiding? Are you open to honestly listening to others? Or are you making fun of or worse minimizing the very things you promised to protect (their fear of flying or fear of hospitals).

Keeping some things under wraps may be preventing you from the greatest loves ever.

Peace be with you,

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal Daughter

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Housekeeping, Hotels and a Wise Bishop...

Mom and I on our weekend away...
I've been traveling! I ran away from home with my mother for the weekend. O'my goodness it was the best! We drove a couple hours north up the coast to see a friend's winery and just enjoy some mother-daughter time. It was a lovely weekend filled with shopping, laughter, sight seeing and just delighting in each other's company.

I loved drinking in every moment of time with her. We met some extraordinary new people and enjoyed visiting with some old ones too.

I can't remember ever staying in a hotel with my mom as an adult. While we were together, I shared my favorite little story about hotel maids. As I told her the story, I began to tear up, recalling a humble and kind man who shared his truth with me many years ago.

The memory came flooding back when we checked into the little hotel off of California route 1. I was waiting in the car as my mom checked us into the extremely clean and simple hotel. As I waited in the car, I watched a women in the housekeeping department walk across the parking lot with her roughly 11 year old daughter. It was a tender moment where clearly the daughter had walked from home to see her mom. The mother had her arm around her daughter, their heads together clearly sharing a story and then she did what we all do; she brushed some brown hair off her Beautie's forehead and kissed her daughter. My window was partially open and I could hear them giggling in Spanish. It was a tender moment. This woman loved her daughter with a fierceness that resonated in my core. We were the same.

But, I digress...

When Jeff and I lived in Seattle early in our marriage, we worshiped at the Cathedral of St. James. Cathedrals are considered the home church for bishops.  For instance, Pope Francis has a few tittles, one includes Bishop of Rome. While we were living in Seattle in the mid to late nineties, the bishop was a kind gentleman named Archbishop Thomas Murphy. Still in his heart, a simple Irish guy from Chicago. Sadly for all of us, he died in 1997 of complications from leukemia.

Jeff and I had a number of fantastic encounters with him. I adored each and every one.  It always amazes me when a super successful person, is still at their core who they were as a kid. A true Irishman in his heart, a gentle soul, a storyteller...

I can't recall where we were when he shared this story, I think it was in a talk for our small prayer group.  He told the story of how he grew up without privledge in Chicago. His mother was a hotel maid. Whenever a guest left her a tip in the hotel room, she would use part of the tip to buy him a piece of candy.

It was a tiny thing really, but it could make his day. This special treat that he received, due to the kindness of a total stranger.  The tip idea stayed with him.

No matter where in the world he slept; he left a tip in his hotel room for housekeeping staff. Fancy hotel or plain little Inn, every housekeeping staff got a tip. I also think he left a note, but I can't really recall, it doesn't matter. You get the idea. As he shared the story, as only a good Irish storyteller can, it resonated with both Jeff and myself. The rich don't clean your room in hotels, it's the working poor, trying to make it in our world. With families, working so hard to give their Beauties a leg up, just like Archbishop Murphy's mother did.

He told the story with such softness, love and amazement. I can imagine his sweet round Irish face, those chubbly little boy fingers, reaching into mom's pocket hoping to find a treat. We are no matter our age sometimes just little people in larger bodies.

His story also reminded me never to leave a hotel a mess. I collect all the trash in one place, towels too. I just want the housekeeping staff (almost always women) not to have to work too hard to make the room for the next guest.

One story, one lesson, one man taught me about the working poor and how little acts can have ripple affects that you can't imagine.

We overlook so many in our world just by being busy...

But, they are all our sisters. Each and every one.

Consider leaving a little note and tip on your next over night stay... You never know when your tip just may buy candy, a treat or touch someone's soul.


Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal