My Christmas...

Santa Barbara Mission at Christmas...

On Friday my mother and I attended a mini-retreat at the Mission. The retreat covered one of my favorite readings. The reading from Luke on the birth of Christ.

In case your forgot or don't know it...

Luke 2:1-14

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus

that the whole world should be enrolled.

This was the first enrollment,

when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.

And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth

to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,

because he was of the house and family of David,

to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

While they were there,

the time came for her to have her child,

and she gave birth to her firstborn son.

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,

because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields

and keeping the night watch over their flock.

The angel of the Lord appeared to them

and the glory of the Lord shone around them,

and they were struck with great fear.

The angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid;

for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy

that will be for all the people.

For today in the city of David

a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.

And this will be a sign for you:

you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes

and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,

praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.""

What I find so moving about this reading is well..., it's frankly so ordinary. Of all the mysteries of faith, this is so easy to understand. A young woman giving birth to a child. Perhaps that is why it still moves me each and every time I encounter it. I can imagine a young woman suddenly in labor: no ER, no midwife, no doctor available--It happens everyday in the world. It is the most simple of concepts, but no other event in our history has a more profound meaning. Perhaps that is why every Christmas Eve when I stand in my most uncomfortable but stunning shoes and hear this reading--I ugly cry.

You see, I look around in whatever church I have the good fortune to attend and I see myself in every face. I see my beauty and my brokenness, my love, my pain, my hurt and hope. In friends, in strangers, in my family, in the face of my Beauties, my husband and my mother. I see my faith, my community...

I'm reminded as always, that we are all saints and sinners.

I see little ones so excited they can't sit still, I see babies sleeping on parents, I see proud grandparents, I see the elderly couples sharing what may be their final Christmas mass together on this earth. I see young love and hearts that hunger for love.

I see Christ in every-face.

The folks who are in church to please, and faces that are in the same pew every Sunday, and I see the beauty of little ones having their first Christmas.

This my fellow Pilgrims is what Christmas is for me... The Community of Saints.

I have but one thought to offer you this Christmas. For those of you searching for a little comfort, for those of you searching the world to find the Divine, for those of you looking for a love to complete you. You already have it.

You see as you search to find the Divine, the Divine is already here. In you and in me. You just have to be willing to open the door, the door that sticks just a bit. To open yourself to the places in your heart you don't feel comfortable opening. That place that you think is dark, scary and unlovable. Because it is that place Pilgrims, that place that you can't imagine love, is where you meet God.

You see there is a similar place in a small and dirty stable in Bethlehem where God chose to share his unending love with us. It's in that stable where Christ became one with us. I often find it surprising that folks don't realize that God is in them, that love is God. That God is joy. That in community we support, we walk together, we serve, we are the face of God to one another and that God is in us.

So as you rush and run, wrap and toil, clean, make the beds and set the table, as you iron the dresses and shirts for your prince and princesses; remember God is with you, in you and around you always. That HIS love shines on us....

Remember that the beautiful translation of the Hebrew word Emmanuel is; "God is with us," and that, is the true meaning of Christmas.

May the light of the Holy Christmas season shine on you and all you love today and always.

Merry Christmas.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal

Advent Candles...

 A long time ago, in a state far, far away...

My Pilgrims, how I miss you. I have been keeping an unbelievable pace since my trip back East at the end of October.  Each and every activity has been filled with many joys... I thought I would take this third week of Advent to share them with you.

Some people call the third week of Advent, "Pink candle week," but its actual name is Gaudete Sunday. The word "Gaudete" comes from Latin which means simply "Rejoice". That seems like a spectacular idea for this post. To offer some hope, some joy and to just rejoice this Advent and Christmas season.  Here are a few of the times thus far, I've been able to "Rejoice" and see the Divine this Advent.

I remember telling Jeff before we had the Beauties, that we wouldn't be "Santa" parents. That we would be raising our children so they would understand that Christ was the ONLY reason for the season. Ian was born in August, the first Christmas card we sent was a photo taken at home with Ian in his baptismal gown. (The gown made by a dear friend from the fabric of my wedding dress.) First year was amazing, I patted myself on the back.

Then along came year two, when Ian was a chubby toddler. I put him on the back of a little tractor with a Santa hat and Christmas tree.  I fell down the Santa hole and haven't turned back.  Both my Beauties believe Santa brings their gifts and that Jesus is what we are celebrating.  Since the second Christmas card, Santa and Christ have been a part of every Christmas... The greatest lesson I have learned with time, and Jeff's patience, is that you can create the Season that offers a multitude of gifts. Not just the ones that you thought you needed. Once again, with the grace of the Divine, I have learned their are oodles of reasons to rejoice this Gaudete Sunday.

As a family, we like having the traditional southern Sunday afternoon dinner, just like the one my grandmother used to host. While I will never master her friend chicken and gravy.... If only. We have created a space where Sunday is for God, family, a little football, and dinner at 4:30. That is Sunday in sunny Cali. Last weekend we were a disaster, all of us going in different directions, and Jeff made the executive decision that what I needed was hot tea, a bowl of soup and my bed. So in lieu of Sunday dinner, Jeff whipped up a kiddo dinner. Our rental cottage is tiny. You can roll over in your bed and all of us can hear you. I was sitting in the living room and Ian was in the kitchen and I heard Ian singing. He was singing the closing song from the family Mass. And he was something! Belting it out from the kitchen. You can hear in some churches the clapping, and swaying and just belting out in song... Ian offered us that from the kitchen.

"Soon and very soon,

We are going to see the King;

Soon and very soon,

We are going to see the King;

Soon and very soon,

We are going to see the King;

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,

We are going to see the King."

I said Ian, you sound great. Ian's reply was a classic. "Mom, I've got an ear-worm and when you have an ear worm... well you just need to sing." An ear worm for all of you who don't know, is that song or commercial that gets stuck in your head and you can't shake it.  As a mother, nothing is more gratifying that hearing that your child has a religious ear-worm stuck...

A classic Advent moment to rejoice.

Last Monday, Norah and I were invited by our dear friends to light the second nights candles of Hanukkah. Norah's classmate and her family are our soulmates, we share the beauty and love of God. Norah and I each got to light the candles of the menorah and to celebrate with joy the miracle of God's unending love.  It is so affirming to share the deep love of faith with good friends. The children singing, playing with the dreidel and of course the yummy food! Our friends were gracious and loving hosts, opening their home to us to love and worship together. It will always be a special part of our Advent season to rejoice and celebrate Hanukkah with such dear friends.

Friday, I met with my prayer group, I made a simple box lunch for each of us and we had some egg nog and prayed together in our special little room at the Mission. Whenever I'm with my little prayer group, it is never lost on me that this was how the early Christians gathered. They ate, prayed and celebrated the joy of small faith communities. Having never visted the Holy Land, living in Santa Barabara often makes me feel closer to the world Christ lived. With our sunshine, the ocean, the terrain filled with fruit and olive trees. Many of my friends who have visited have also commented on the similarities.

But even more, I'm left to realize that in all parts of the world, individuals just like us are gathering to light the candles of Hanukkah, or light an Advent wreath and pray. Many of us take for granted that we can worship in the open.  But, across the globe, far too many worship in places that are not safe, where persecution is the norm, where safety is not guaranteed.

A powerful reminder to be the best of your faith tradition. Don't hide it, wear it with love, honesty and be willing to share your faith, your traditions.  Less fear, more love.

That friends is what is at the heart of a stable in Bethlehem.

My prayer for you is simple, may your face be washed in the love and light of the Divine. May you recognize it and rejoice in all the moments.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Intimacy...

Have you ever stopped to think about your understanding of a word as a youngster and how the meaning changes as you age?

That is exactly what I have been doing lately.

Intimacy is a word that has changed many times in my life. It went from an "intimate dinner for two" and then more recently, "they got intimate," to me stopping and considering, what is true intimacy? And for me it's not a violation of my marriage vows; I'm not talking about a salacious relationship. I'm discussing the ability to be open and honest with those you love.

I don't see intimacy tied to sex or physical contact. I see intimacy as one's ability to let down your guard and show yourself as you are; without artifice.

Jeff used to make a joke that our Beauties would never learn "stranger danger," because their mom will constantly strike up a conversation with random people on the street, in the doctor's office, at the store...

Regardless, in my life some of those strangers have shared their amazing truths.  I understand that I'm a little unique; one of my gifts is my openness to others. My family has learned the look I give when they need to wait. Because sometimes, I'm surprised what folks share. And sometimes, It stops me where I stand and I need to be present.  I need to take the time to listen.  You learn quickly how to compartmentalize certain truths, carry others, and most often let the feelings flow in and out of you. I would imagine that I'm open to more folks than many of you; and that is my choice.  What I'm offering, is that in creating greater intimacy in your life, you will indeed feel more love, more openness and more connection to the Divine than you can possibly imagine.

I ask you the question, "with whom are you intimate?"

And again, this isn't about your partner, or lover. It is more, it is larger, it is about those with whom you share your journey.

I have a series of questions that I ask the people I love. It gives me a chance to take their emotional pulse. I learned from one of my closest friends, my Hawaiian Beauty, that I'm the only person who asks her about her spirit. I was stunned. She went on to ask me, "Well who asks you about your spirit?"

How are you at your core? With what are you wrestling? Where you are on your journey? What is your barrier to sustained happiness?

How's your spirit?; is just one of a handful of questions I ask. That way I know where I'm meeting the people I love. In addition to the spirit question, I often ask, what is currently your biggest challenge? What is keeping you up at night?

I spent last week back in Maryland and my entire week was filled with lunch and coffee dates, asking people in my circle that question. Each friend has a different faith life, each has unique challenges and joys, each feeds me in a uniquely, beautifully and dynamic way. From my week at "home" I also now know what texts to send to check-in, who I need to call or contact more frequently. Because I now have a baseline, I know where they are and they me. It is what makes my life so big, beautiful and filled. I feel in my soul LOVE daily from the individuals who make up my world.

So my question to you: Why is it that as spiritual beings we don't ask these question more often?

The answer is simple. We don't take the time. We aren't always as present as we believe. We are texting, talking on the phone, answering emails. We are lost in our own attachments; longing for relationships that yield truth and intimacy. But do we ever take the time to ask something more profound? We are too busy asking the pedestrian: Hows the weather, the kids or the job?  We don't take the time to dig deeper.

Do we honestly want to know the truth?

Have you ever noticed that we are paralyzed by our own activity?

That is the real question of intimacy. With whom are you asking the personal questions?

Are you willing to? Are you willing to answer truthfully, when someone asks you?

It means digging a little deeper, pausing a little longer... being intimate...

Often people tell me, "Kathryn, I don't want to intrude?" I can honestly say that when you lead with your heart; people tell you their boundaries. And often those boundaries are not where you think. My marching orders are simple, "Lean-in" as Sheryl Sandberg coined the term, but I define it differently.

Lean-in to love, to connection, to your intimate community. The richness, the beauty and the love is waiting. And in this love you will find yourself closer to the Divine.

I lovingly wait to hear of your success.

As always I love walking with each and every one of you. I'm a better mother, wife, daughter, sister and intimate friend because of your gifts and talents.

Namaste.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on

Facebook

,

Instagram

or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence... and I'm always glad to meet another traveler. xo

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

You Look Radiant...

Quick stop on the way to Stanford...

October is flying by.  Already half way through. I feel like I'm chasing myself. It's a feeling that I know many of you share. How to balance all our responsibilities and still nurture ourselves? It's a question that I find myself asking more often.

October is filled with two major trips, one to the medical center at Stanford. Have I mentioned California is a big state?  Stanford is about five hours away from home. During the trip I will meet with my cardiac and neurology teams. A week after Stanford, I will leave for a week long trip back East to DC. The trip is already packed with visits to NIH, my old doctors, meeting business contacts and handling some media.  On the trip, I'm trying to sneak in visits to as many friends and family as I can. I never lose weight on these trips, I'm very well fed!  I promise a full report on the entire trip, the media opportunities and all the delicious meals in the coming weeks.

Which gets me to the point of this post. Women are so good at taking care of others that we forget that nurturing our-self is the most important job. The consequences can be severe when we don't: mental health issues can arise, in my case my health can take a turn and we can just feel tapped-out, that we have nothing left to offer the beautiful ones we love most.

I have been leading a faith sharing group at my parish and within that group one of the participants teases me that I can't possibly have health struggles because "I'm Radiant". He means that with so much love and support.  I'm coming each week to give them the best two hours of my day (or sometimes the best two hours of my week.)

I have explained that they are one of my weekly priorities and they are getting the best of me for that day. After each session, I go home, wash my face, put on pjs and climb into bed. Did I mention its was Noon?  I don't pick up the Beauties from school, I don't make dinner, I rest for what's left of the day.

Now here's the critical take away from this choice. My Beauties and Jeff are not getting the best of me on Friday. I have chosen with intention; to freely give my energy, my sparkle and my love to others. Friday is for this group, in return my family get a wife/mother who naps and watches Netflix from bed.

Now some of you will disagree with this choice. Shouldn't my best energy always be for my family first?

In my heart the answer is well... No.

Here's why.

This post isn't just about my health, it is about all of you beautiful working moms who struggle with balance. Sometimes you have to feed yourself first. For me it's getting to run this group, a space where I grow in my faith life, and improve my facilitating skills. It is because of my interactions with others that all of the aspects of my life bloom.  This service for others, places the focus away from my health woes. I get to focus on my talents for philosophy/theology and public speaking; I get to work on my gifts and in the process I'm feeding myself.

When I feed myself; and give myself permission to grow and shine; I'm also making myself better for people who love and count on me. Investing in yourself is never selfish as long as you balance all aspects of your life. When my schedule is filled with more choices away from my family. When all of my choices are about me and not considering my family. That is when I'm out of sorts.

You should schedule that cut/color, manicure or dinner with your girlfriends, train for that marathon, attend that conference for professional development. My friend Jess called me to talk about a professional conference she is attending. Jess felt like it would be great for me; she also shared, it was the first time she was attending because it always fell on her youngest daughter's birthday. This year it wasn't, so she was finally able to go.  What I love about her friendship is she is unabashed at saying she loves to work, but never at the expense of her family. She gets it! Balance. Choices.

For me or others with chronic health issues, it goes even deeper. I never know how much energy I have till I'm flat on my back, with my body reminding me that it is in fact the one in charge of running this rodeo. That reality adds an extra level of complexity to balancing choices, to make sure that I'm doing what is best for everyone. A sick Kathryn only adds pressure to an already taxed body and it puts undo pressure on Jeffrey and the Beauties. So when it's ever avoidable, I'm not going to put my body to work when it needs rest. But, often it is impossible to know ahead of time, where that limit line is...

So we make the best choices we can each day on how we spread our radiance, hoping we shine enough for the ones we love, before the tank runs dry.  Some days we choose well.  Some days we may fail.  Each day is a new day to get it right.

Radiance is the sun-shining out of you. It's your ability to share your love, your talents, your truth with not only your family but the world. The world never has too much radiance, too much joy or too many beacons of light.

So as my friend Satnam says, "Keep shining brightly."

Namaste my fellow Pilgrims.

The Divine in me is honored to bow to the Divine in you. Always...

xo,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on

Facebook

,

Instagram

or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence...and I'm always glad to meet another traveler. xo

Determined...

Not the real Pope...

Did you know the Pope is determined? I bet you didn't. I sure didn't, but Norah says so, so it must be true. What would make my 9 year old daughter call the Pope, "determined?"   

But, I'm burying the lead.  The papal coverage didn't turn out as I expected and my Beauties seemed to find the loop hole, the real gotcha...

Our house was wall to wall papal coverage. I didn't move from the sofa during the Pope's visit to the U.S. I didn't take calls, didn't want to talk to anyone, just wanted to watch and learn.  OK, so that may be a slight exaggeration, I moved to make more tea and snacks.

Once the Beauties got home from school, we would watch the recaps of the visit. I was delighted to see many of my DC friends at the events. I saw oodles of friends I adore getting hugs and selfies from the Pope on CNN. The priest who is now a bishop; the one that baptized our Miss Norah, was on the altar with Papa Francisco. It was a bit like old home week, but the connection to our new faith community here in Santa Barbara was also included in the trip. Our parish is one of the California missions, which traces its founding back to Junipero Serra our newest Saint. It's amazing how my East and West coast lives seem to connect.  

But I digress, back to Papa being determined.

I have shared that we attend a family mass every Sunday (in the Junipero Serra Chapel!). It's a bit more laid back for families, not as formal as Mass in the main church. During the sermon, or what we call the homily, the Pastor often asks questions, to both the adults and the children. Father Charles asked the question, "What do you think of when you think of Pope Francis?" No surprise to those of us who love our Norah; her hand shoots up in the air in the crowded church. Hers was not the first hand that was called. Responses were as you would expect, "humble, Christ-like, loving, compassionate, merciful."

Then Father sees Norah, and with a big voice she answers, "DETERMINED!"  Not what he expected, but he loved her answer.

Determined.

I think that is what the Pope is attempting to share with us, his determined delivery of mercy.

Ian and I had a complete 12 year old's experience. Ian was feeling a little too cool to want to watch wall to wall coverage, but on Sunday, while Jeff and Norah were out running errands, I cornered Ian on the sofa and bribed him. You do have to pay to play in my house. Ian, you want electronic devices, settle in and watch the Pope's homily and offer me some feedback. Then and only then will you get some screens. I don't feel guilty at all!  So with some hurumps and a few sighs, Ian settled in on the sofa and listened. At one point, Pope Francis talks about family life and how we need to treat each other with respect and love. He went on to share that we shouldn't be yelling at each other, that we need to show each other mercy. I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

Well that sold Ian.

"Mom, wait till Norah gets home and I tell her that THE POPE said not to yell at your family, that it's basically a sin."

Now to be fair, I'm a voice raiser myself, but goodness we love her, Norah has used her vocal range to some success more often than we like.  Her older brother was delighted that during the forced religious time, he scored a gem, the biggest emerald a boy could find to hold over his little sister's head... "Nooooorah, THE POPE said, no yelling...."

So here we sit in our post Pope visit world, reflecting on the impacts it has had on us. We need to revisit several of the passages on mercy, because we currently seem to be in a torment our siblings mode, not quite what Papa Franciso had in mind.

While I sort through the unintended consequences of wall to wall coverage... I will try to find some mercy and love to spread around.

In the meantime, we are DETERMINED to try our best to eliminate the yelling in our house.  

Baby steps.

Peace be with you,

  Kathryn

  PilgrimageGal

Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on

Facebook

,

Instagram

or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence...and I'm always glad to meet another traveler. xo

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

Sharing My Journey...

I love that I have met so many of you through this journey. Our Pilgrimage, our truth, our complimentary stories that overlap and create a quilt of love. Your square in that quilt warms my soul on the darkest days and wraps me in grace each and every moment.  I never question how the best loves in my world just fall into my life.  It always feels the same, as if I have known your soul for eternity.

You became part of my journey, because the Divine created a special space that belongs to you. You each hold the job of teacher, friend, guide and shepherd. Each of you show me a unique face of the Divine, a deeper connection to love.  I never question each and every gift, I just recognize that God has a plan and I'm trying to be open to this journey that is mine and love with open arms.

Which always leads me back to words on this page.

I'm often asked, how long does it take for me to write a post. That my Lovies is a difficult question to answer. Often it's quick, I sit down and the ideas pour out of me, I feel the Spirit is whispering in my ear and moving me to share my truth. Other times it is nearly impossible. The words won't come and I feel as if I have nothing to share. That I'm empty and I'm drowning in silence and agitation. I have found a pattern when these times have occurred, and it has occurred in the last month. I have found it difficult to share my inner life.

I have held back my truth, I attempt to sugar coat or make my life seem something it is not.

That has been the struggle of the last month. I have attempted to phone it in... and you have called me on my foolishness. I love how you know me so well you can feel the change in my spirit and have asked for clarification and just checked-in. That is accountability. We are called to be accountable to each other and to be open and honest as people who walk in the light.

The real truth is my health at this moment stinks. I have been in the doctor's office more than I like. Blood tests, and heart scans, the foolishness of chronic disease. I honestly just feel sick. When I'm sick, the cocktail of medications that I have makes me tired and edgy and well just not me!

A quick recap on my health is in order here: I have benefited from a therapy that has supported me for a few years. Sadly, the blocking mechanism is no longer preventing inflammation. My lungs are paying the price and I'm in constant thoracic pain. I have been in denial for three months, claiming the hot summer, the busy schedule and many other excuses, that take the gaze away from the truth. I'm regressing and I don't know what my medical team can offer.

To be honest it has been a difficult burden, I feel a little cheated. I have been spiritually obedient, I moved away from my beautiful East coast life, open and willing to forge a new one here. Only to find the road here much more difficult than the one I left. I have made some dear and lovely friends, but my health is tricky, my family and longtime friends are all back East. I have little support here and my husband travels constantly.

Yet in my heart, I don't want to go back.

I love that my husband loves his job, my Beauties are blossoming into beautiful tweens.  I love the weather, I love the lifestyle, and I love our faith community. This is my home and I'm grateful. The best way to describe my emotions is that I feel like the second semester of freshman year in college.  You love the school, but you are homesick for the familiar, you want things to be just a tad easier.

Whenever my health falters, I want that easy life. I feel entitled. But why? I honestly have everything I need. My health while painful, is stable. I'm not going to be hospitalized or die from this set back. Is the quality of my daily life greatly diminished? Yes. I don't have a moment in my day that is not filled with severe pain. Do I have the right to be angry? Of course.

But at the end of this pity party for one, who benefits from my frustration and despair?

The answer is clear, no one does.

I have a choice.

Will I look into my dark place and find what really is causing my disappointments? And honestly add voice to these thoughts? The answer is, yes. I will own my feelings and say...

I'm tired of suffering. I'm tired of not getting God's attention to make my life just a little bit easier. Not being willing to say, Why me? Why isn't my life cake, filled with rainbows and unicorns?  I look at others who seem to have a much easier journey. And I'm ANGRY!

BUT...

What is crystal clear is that my anger and despair will change nothing. Not a thing! What I have learned is that despair is a cancer. When given space, it overpowers you, until you are gone and all that is left is a shell.

I'm choosing to find joy. Because joy is infectious (in a good way), it is affirming, it is well, joyous.

My journey's horizon will widen because of this set back. I will meet more doctors, and in all of this suffering, I will meet more special people like you, who are on this path and part of the beautiful quilt that God has chosen for me.

That is all the medicine I need to find the hope and faith I need to continue on this Pilgrimage.

So if this week finds you filled with less hope and more sadness: do something to expand the joy in your circle.  This week, I'm tasking each one of you to send five messages of hope. It can be to anyone be it a stranger or the people you love. It can be an email or a postcard or a phone call, maybe you pay it forward with a nice note to someone you see everyday. Or maybe some cookies or a dinner for someone needing a lift.

Five messages of hope. Just think if we all did that this week. Shared a little bit of hope--our world would be incredibly more joyful.

So there you have it.  My life is bumpy right now, really bumpy...

But I need to run, we are taking dinner to two amazing families that need a little food joy from the Ferguson kitchen. One had knee surgery and the other had a baby... We are making pasta bolognese. My whole house smells like Italy! It's Monday and we are spreading a lot of love in Santa Barbara!

Hope you find time to spread some love and joy this week as well.

Peace be with you,

  Kathryn

  PilgrimageGal

T

hank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on

Facebook

,

Instagram

or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence...and I'm always glad to meet another traveler. xo

Photo Credit:

Pixabay

Exquisite Everyday Moments with the Beauties...

This post is a collection of little stories from a normal, but not so typical weekend in my life. I share these little gems as a reminder to me...

This weekend I created oodles of Exquisite Everyday Moments. I coined this term to remind myself to drink in the ordinary, the everyday, the moments and memories that we often overlook. I've learned to breathe-in this life. To love the simple, the laughter, the moments where your soul expands. These aren't the big life events, nope they are the simple joys in the journey. I stop, I breathe, and I take a mental movie.  An Exquisite Everyday Moment memory that I will call-up when I'm getting a blood draw, on yet another flipping exam table, having yet another procedure, or when I simply can't get out of bed. When my life is too hard or my situation unacceptable--well it's no match for these treasures, these gems of life, these gifts that keep giving me hope.

It's these moments that remind me, I've got this. That my life is so full of love, that it can over power the darkness. That is what an Exquisite Everyday Moment means... I hope by sharing mine, it can help you find yours.

My little family of four has had a busy weekend.  We had no plans, now when I say we had no plans that isn't absolutely true. Norah has tennis lessons every Saturday morning and since we are now Lectors, and I'm a Sunday School teacher and Eucharistic minister (I share the bread and wine at our family mass) we have specific mass times we need to attend. Which leads me back to, we had "no plans";  what that really means is we had no additional responsibility than our normal ones!  Don't you all have the same, the caveat of what a free schedule really means?

After tennis, Jeff mentioned that within an hour drive was a mission that I hand't seen, well that was it. I'm amazed that since moving West I have lost the notion of travel time. When it's all in the same state a quick drive could be 4 hours, while back East you could be through five states in the same amount of time. I'm game for so much more, perhaps the true spirit of the West has caught me and the Beauties are at the age that they get-it, can offer insights that I find entertaining.  Even when they are whining, it can be entertaining. The Beauties need one thing to keep them happy, food. You would be amazed what some french fries or ice cream can do to get the troops mobilized.

We drove a little over an hour to the mission, walked the expansive grounds and saw the actors dressed for re-enactment, we tasted some bread, and just marveled how hot and dusty the day was.  Which makes the entire experience all the more real. It's flipping hot, dusty and back in the day it took them two or three days to travel what we did in a little over an  hour. The mountains and coastline of our section of California must have been something to the early Spanish settlers.

During the drive, my Irish Prince offered some rare commentaries from his week. I always enjoy the likes and dislikes from his lunch box. He offered that his friend Kat likes his chocolate milk. He suggested that maybe we could throw an extra in his lunch for him to share. My son already buying drinks for the ladies... He also discussed that he could NEVER live without his technology--be like the early Spanish settlers, well he would never. His displeasure with the hot, moaning about dying of thirst, and his threats of running through a field of poison oak were as always original. I can promise you I would suffer more from the poison oak than he would from itching! It was a real concern on my part!  After a significant amount of education torture for a Saturday, we called it a day and heading home in air conditioned comfort with a pile of digital photos and a few Exquisite moments filed away.

Sunday morning arrived with the opportunity for some alone time with Norah. Ian woke up not feeling good after a busy Saturday.  Which created an unique opportunity for Miss Norah--she got her mom all to herself for Mass.

We were giddy in the car, we never get to go alone to Mass. It was lovely to be just the girls and I planned to make the most of our alone time. At Mass we had a visiting Jesuit who was so alive in his faith, my cheeks hurt from smiling.  As we slipped away from the crowds after Mass, we jumped into the car and headed to lunch. Norah has a few favorite places in town and her most favorite place was closed. Thank goodness an acceptable alternative saved the day.  We dined alfresco.  While sitting at lunch I had that moment; where I saw Norah with no distractions, just her. We laughed and giggled, she shared her secrets. To be honest, I had no business taking her to lunch, I was wiped after yesterday; but I would pay that bill later.

I needed this day.

Norah was at her best, she wanted to window shop with me. Norah never wants to shop, but today she wanted to look and touch everything.  At nine she is starting to get glimpses of the wider world. While at Nordstrom she charmed Daisy the head of accessories, who happily walked around pulling the most expensive bags down for Norah's consideration. She was a fan of Kate Spade's cross body bags.  Daisy and I agreed that she knows her style at an early age. Nine and she already has a favorite designer! I also explained we never shame a woman who needs a good bag--never! These are the life lessons my girl will learn from me. We also picked a berry lip gloss. Norah picking my lip gloss is in the running for one of my favorite Exquisite Moments.

So my life may be more ordinary then many of yours. But, what I hope to offer you is the ability to stop. To honestly stop and look at your daily life and find the Divine. To meet yourself and create these moments of joy. Your life should be filled with oodles and oodles of them. It's about finding the joy in the ordinary, the daily joy of living and loving. It's in these Exquisite Everyday Moments that you find your purpose, you find love and you meet the Divine.

The more moments you have, the happier your journey will be. That I can promise you.

Peace be with you.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on 

Facebook

Instagram

 or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence...and I'm always glad to meet another traveler. xo

Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal

Bright Blue Finger Nails...

I have bright blue finger nails... Bright blue! I'm a red girl, sometimes pink but never bright blue. My nail color is a result of my Beauties. They seemed to think I was a wee bit predictable--I showed them!

Getting a manicure has become part of my life in California. Perhaps it's the year around flip-flops, or just an adjustment to life out West. I'm a life long biter and peeler, so when I woke one morning to find my cuticles bleeding, I knew I needed a change.  I was picking my nails in my sleep. Next I will be pulling out my hair thanks to stress! I needed to turn a stress-er into a relaxing treat. My nail appointments are just that. What makes nails fun is that they are easy to change--the owner of the salon Kathy and my Beauties pick the color.  All summer I have been wearing bright unique shades of color.

I know there are oodles of you out there who may think this is a bad idea. The cost, the chemicals. Maybe true.  But, the main reason I do my nails is psychological. It is the one thing that I do that reminds me, I'm still me. My nails are the only place I can hide my illness; it's the only place that has been spared. Every other part of my body has a telltale scar.

My illness owns this body, but not my spirit. And not my nails! Nope they dazzle and impress.

Even today, my body is waning under the pressure of inflammation, but my nails are stunning. Last night Jeff administered my monthly shot and the next day I like to do nothing. Frankly my body wants me to do nothing. Today, I needed an excuse to get out of bed. Sometimes mentally you need to fight the urge to stay in bed. It can be a difficult choice, risk a flare over the mental health need to see the world. Jeff had the worry face, and he even said, "I think you should stay in bed, you look tired, you slept in and I want you to rest. BUT, if you need to go out and do your nails, I will support you."

I know... I wish I could clone him for all of you.

I rolled out of bed into some cleanish clothes, that hid my unshaven legs, and nasty hair, and put on my Jackie O sunglasses and watched Ian and Norah swim. I love those moments when I get to sit back and bask in my life. Delighting in my family and just get to "be". Since driving is out of the question today, Jeff dropped me off so Kathy could make my nails look lovely.

I try and force myself to be uncomfortable at least once every day. I would never pick blue for myself, the first day it shocks me. But, as the weeks progress, the blue becomes integrated and accepted. Just like I have done with the rest of me. I have a place of acceptance.

When I share that I force myself to be uncomfortable, let's be clear, I'm not talking about dangerous and risky behavior. No, I'm talking about the self imposed construct that we have placed on ourselves that says, "I don't do that." The ruts we sometimes find ourselves in.

I don't do blue nails... but why?  I didn't have a good reason. Blue nails are silly, sassy and for the next two weeks they are me! Because if I'm not willing to try blue nails perhaps they are masking other opportunities in my life where I say, "I don't do that." It also allows me the opportunity to let go. Let go of the control that I tell myself foolishly, I need to have. It pushes me. It challenges me. My hope is within that challenge, I will learn, grow and change.

The blue nails remind me to send that email or make that phone call to introduce myself. To make connections that I would normally make excuses to avoid. Everyday, I'm forcing myself to try something new, meet a new person, extend my hand to someone who may need my support.

What will push you to make the world a better place, to make a new friend, or more importantly to make you the best version of yourself?

Perhaps blue finger nails won't be your diving board to the deep end of the pool...

But, maybe it will give you a gentle nudge--If not, what will?

xo,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on 

FaceBook

Instagram

 or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence...and I'm always glad to meet another traveler. xo

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

Who Are Your Poor...

Ice cream makes everything better...

O'my goodness it's been two weeks... How are you?! It's been too busy for words around here.

I had a birthday--wahoo 45! Jeff had a birthday, we had some parties. There was cake and it was delicious. We have been to the beach and the pool.

The Beauties went back to school--Thank you, Jesus!

There have been tears, ice cream, tears and ice cream, a diet coke and that is just me.

I went on a retreat for a day of reflection, Jeff has been away, home and away again; we have hosted and fed family members the last two weekends. There has been lots of cooking, cleaning, preparing and organizing. We located school supplies, did school shopping and hunted for hidden backpacks missing since June. We also have been in a heat wave, which makes us all cranky and hot. Did I mention we have no A/C? And one of the Beauties threw up in the car on the way to church.

In other words, nothing much going on here...

After writing all of this I feel like I need a diet coke and a shot of tequila. Welcome to the end of August. Where you find out what you are made of and it's never pretty.

This is why mothers should never write down what we do in a given day.  Some days it's just overwhelming, just shocking what we accomplish.  Which is why I was so happy to sit in mass today. Just sit and listen to the Word of God. I had no expectations, just gratitude for being in a house of worship. Father Charles Talley is our pastor and a Franciscan. We have been attending the family mass with the Beauties. One of the best things about going to services designed for children is the homily or sermon is crystal clear. I don't know about you, but sometimes I need very clear and very easy.

Now when I say easy, I mean easy to comprehend not always easy to do in practice. Father was explaining to the children something I thought was really profound. He explained to the children that helping the "poor" isn't always about the homeless person on the street. He explained beautifully that poor sometimes means the people that maybe just need a little of our time or a little more of our help than others in our daily journey. The people right in front of us, in our workplace, school and in our family.

What constitutes the poor in my life and how am I supporting them? I realized the poor in my life may in fact have more money, but may just be more isolated or lonely. Maybe it's the guy that's a little different who still sits alone everyday at lunch. We always tell our Beauties to be kind with the child who is a little different, but do we do the same? Do we have lunch or grab a coffee with the different or difficult person in our office? Do you ever invite "that relative" over for dinner? Or what about just talking to the single widower on your block? Just maybe drag his cans to the curb for trash day. We all sometimes stick to our own friends at school pick-up or drop-off, not out of meanness, but often just out of our own selfishness to catch up with our people. Or because we are stuck in our regular routine. Sometimes the "poor" are the moms who stand just a little to the side at drop off and hang back until the last second at pick-up; it's amazing how a hello and invite to the park play-date can change their day, or even just, "how are you doing this week?".

Helping the "poor" may also mean making yourself uncomfortable for the greater good. Jeffrey and I did that this week. It's not easy--believe me we have the sweaty and shaky hands to prove that!  If you will indulge me, I have a little story:

I'm not sure how it is in other faiths, but when you change parishes in the catholic faith you fill out a registration card with your vital information. The card also includes volunteer opportunities. Jeff and I checked boxes for a number of volunteer ministries. What we didn't know is that our new parish is really good a getting you to commit!  In our tradition, lay ministers read the readings from the Old Testament and the epistles or letters of the New Testament, while a priest or deacon reads from the Gospel (or the stories of Jesus' life found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.) Jeffrey and I were all ready to read in the children's mass you know the easy, no pressure a little less formal--no less important. When we got the email for training, we were happy to attend a training session. It quickly became crystal clear that we were being trained to do the readings for the main LARGE mission church, the one that I don't want to know the capacity because I may faint, not the sweet little no pressure chapel. The Mission is stunning and the readers are top notch, professional, everything is buttoned up and beautiful. I love attending mass in the main Mission church. It's glorious. Jeff and I are "B" team people and are so good with that. Who wants to have sweaty hands when you get up in front of way too many. We want to proclaim the Word to folks who are trying to distract their two year old from melting down.  Not to folks who may actually be listening, that's way too much pressure. Apparently, the lector coordinator thinks Jeffrey and I are ready--GULP. We have been asked to read at both the main Mission church in addition to reading at the children's mass in the sweet chapel. We were both stunned, gobsmacked. Did I mention we were stunned? We did what we are flawless at; we stalled.  We asked for a few days to pray, discern and think about it. That is code for how do we politely get out of doing this without looking like jerks. Yep, we wanted out.

Why? Well who needs to be uncomfortable every time they go to mass. Aren't there better people or other folks or frankly anyone else who can read in the large church. Isn't it enough--we were willing to do it in the small chapel?!?! And then the lector coordinator lovingly told us that this is a vocation and it was no coincidence we were there.  The Holy Spirit was calling us. Hammer moment, from our cartoon days when one character would get hit over the head and see stars. We were seeing our own stars, being nervous, uncomfortable and having sweaty palms wasn't good enough.  It just wasn't. We were being called to serve others, and some of those others may be the very poor that needed to hear the Word of God from us. The Divine was telling Kathryn and Jeff that life isn't supposed to always be comfortable.

What I failed to tell you in the beginning of the story was that we took Ian and Norah to the training session. They saw us practice the readings in the car and then stand up and essentially audition. My dress was wet with sweat from nerves. Nerves because I wanted to do well, wanted the Beauties and Jeff to be proud.  I wanted to in my own ambitious way, "kill it". To pat-myself-on the back, to know in my heart, I did it, I had made myself uncomfortable and then would happily go back to the kid's mass in the chapel where we belonged. With a little luck, hopefully never having to read on the big stage.

When we were done after 1.5 hrs, pushing  6 pm, I was hot, tired and I wanted a martini, but instead we settled on ice cream.  Jeff and I split French vanilla with peanut butter cups. The Beauties each telling us that we were the best readers. It was a lovely moment. Jeff and I trying to figure our how we were going to politely defer, we are so busy, I've got health issues, Jeff travels, surely you really don't want us...

What I didn't expect was the true gift the next morning--the first day of school. Both kids were nervous and excited and when Ian had a few tears leak out of his lashes, I was able to share my truth. "Hey Ian, I don't know if you realized yesterday I was soooo nervous and so was Dad. Did you realize that?"  He looked up with his soft and loving blue eyes, his long dark eyelashes wet with tears, when another tear accidentally leaked out, "No, Mom I didn't."  I went on to explain that I was clammy, gross, nervous and maybe a little nauseous to try something new, my hands were a little shaky and I worried what others would think, worried I would make mistakes, worried I just wasn't good enough. But I knew in my heart that I had to try anyway. I told him I understood exactly where he was. He looked at both of us, nodded and jumped-up, brushed the errant tears and dashed off; Ian turned just long enough to say, "I've got this."

Later, after school, over ice cream he would say he had a fantastic first day.

My email to the lector coordinator that evening said, "We are in."

The Fergusons are all in, looking for the poor in the unexpected places; looking for the people who just need to feel a little more love in their life. Those who may need a smile, a hug, or maybe just to hear the word of God from a very nervous reader or her cute husband.

Namaste.

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you.

xo,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on

FaceBook

Instagram

or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence...and I'm always glad to meet another traveler. xo

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGuy

The Mighty Contributor

The Lessons of our Pilgrimage...

I have always wanted to be that girl who traveled the world, to visit the holy sites of the major faiths. For twenty years I have longed to walk the "El Camino de Santiago" in Spain. In English it is known as the "Way of St. James". A holy pilgrimage that dates back to the Middle Ages where thousands walk through Spain to the Cathedral Santiago de Compostela.

Pilgrims walk on multiple routes to the cathedral. Along the way they pass through villages and stay in small hotels or inns. They travel in groups or alone looking for spiritual enlightenment. When on a pilgrimage you may travel for many different reasons, but at the end you are looking for answers, enlightenment and peace.

Along the Camino, pilgrims have taken to wearing or carrying scallop shells. The tradition of the shell dates back to the legend of St. James the Apostle. There are several stories that involve St. James and the scallop shell that have become part of the tradition. One is, that the grooves in the shell, which come together at a single point, represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, all ending at the same destination. The journey is epic, filled with mountain views and concludes with ocean vistas. You crisscross through towns and villages along the way, meeting new friends and also have time for self-reflection and exploration.

I loved the idea that you walk and meet fellow pilgrims and at the end of the day you find yourself in a small village drinking wine and making relationships to support you on this magnificent journey. You could make life long friendships. Imagine ancient villages with Spain's beautiful topography, the comfort of a meal, resting your tired feet, and knowing you were walking the same path that St. James had walked thousands of years before.

At the end, pilgrims discuss the physical and emotional challenges they encountered and overcame along the way. Many offering tales of life affirming and spiritual change.

I wanted to take that transformative journey.

But, I lacked two things, the financial ability to go for two months and more honestly, I don't have the physical strength to tackle such a journey. I don't have a nanny, a driver, a house manager, and I don't have a private jet. Listen if you do, God bless you, please invite me on vacation. I mean a private jet...seriously let's go! Don't get me wrong, I'm a girl with first world problems; honestly, I'm a princess and I know it.

This is a journey that wasn't going to happen for me.

I made peace with that revelation.

I realized that if I wanted that transformative experience, I was going to have to create my own. I would create my journey, listen to the pilgrims at the quiet rest stops the Divine put on my path. My path would not be in Spain, it would be in the coffee shops in my own town, the people I meet when I do public speaking, and the individuals I meet on my daily journey through this life of mine.

I would share the lessons learned openly and honestly. With the hope that my fellow Pilgrims would do the same. We would share this journey, the truth and our encounters with the Divine.

That my fellow Pilgrims is how PilgrimageGal was born. And in that process, I would create my own transformative journey.

I have always been transparent when the blog first began; I was worried about my mortality, that I wouldn't live to see my Beauties grow into adulthood. The blog was and is for them, but it's more than just a record, it's a journal of my life lessons as I transform. I won't lie and say those thoughts of my mortality don't still cross my mind deep in the darkness of night; but it's not my focus. My focus remains learning, growing in my faith and running down the path to see what the next mile marker will teach me about love. It is in that transformation that all of my fellow

Pilgrims

(that's you) help me grow and deepen the lessons of this journey.

The beauty of transformation is that you have no idea how you will be on the other side. That is why this journey is so meaningful, I'm learning in real time. Sure there are many things I know for-sure and I share them. But more than that, I lean that each mile marker my faith strengthens, my love expands, and I'm growing to love more deeply that person that I see in the mirror. That expanding love, makes me a better mom, lover, friend and better Kathryn walking in the world.

We all have struggles. Sometimes it's your broken down jet, other times it's laundry, crazy bosses, relationship issues, parenting troubles, your ex, money worries, dealing with doctors, stupid insurance companies and raising loving and healthy children. I don't know too many of us who have the luxury and I mean luxury to drop out of our daily life to achieve this transformation. That is why PilgrimageGal is here. We are on this sacred pilgrimage together, we bring our problems, our joys, our successes and failures on the journey. We do all of this while caring for our aging parents, our children, while we carpool, work and make Wednesday night dinner. 

We are

Pilgrims

in the trenches! We are familiar with the messy and the foolishness of life. That is why we are walking and laughing together, sharing our truth, our love and light, and waiting for the next mile marker for a bite to eat, a delicious glass of wine, and some time for reflection.

That is what I'm offering to you... So lace up your shoes and meet me here. When your life leads you to a mile marker on your journey. We will sort it out together and keep moving forward.

I've gotta run, the laundry basket is overflowing... 

Till we meet again.

Namaste... The Divine in me bows and honors the Divine in you always.

Much love always,

Kathryn the PilgrimageGal

PS. I love to hear from you, so don't hesitate to send me a note with an update of your journey.  You can leave a comment, or friend me on

Facebook

or

Instagram

 or send me an email using the form on the right. Only my eyes will see the email, so please reach out and share your truth. I will do my best to get back in touch. 

photo credit:

Scallop Shell

via

photopin

(license)

Tips for Friendships with Chronic Disease...

My life is different from everyone in my inner circle. My closest friends and my family don't have the medical struggles that I face. I won the medical lottery, I have been diagnosed with multiple severe and at times life-threatening rare diseases. In addition to managing other conditions that have sprung up as a result. Having a rare disease means my life and that of my family is never predictable. Which could make maintaining lasting relationships difficult. But, that has not been my experience.

Over the years, I have learned how to educate my friends and family so they know all about my health.  While I never get a day off from management of my health; I don't want my relationships to be about my health.  You have to find the balance between sharing your truth and still living life. It's a fine line, I want friends and family to understand why I may not be at my best without them feeling sorry for me.  At times, I have tried to make light of some of my struggles with humor to put people at ease. I also work diligently to explain how hard it is to live in a body that has betrayed me and share that truth with honesty and love.

In October of 2014, my husband Jeffrey and I uprooted our family of four from the suburbs of Washington, DC and moved west to Santa Barbara, CA. I grew up in the DC area, my life, my family, my doctors, and my best girlfriends in the entire world live there. While moving from your support network is hard for any reason; it is especially difficult when you have developed networks of individuals that understand and love you with all of your health issues.

The move was the best decision for my immediate family. My health is better on the West Coast, more even temperatures. No more horrible cold winters and hot humid summers. Santa Barbara has less people, less traffic and a relaxed slower lifestyle which all agree with our family. The move came with sacrifices, leaving my support system and having to forge new ones. I have found that when you are honest from the start about your health it makes relationships a little easier. Everyone in this world has struggles, finding and maintaining friends will be so much easier when you up front share yours.

At a certain point, Jeffrey and I realized that we would have to tolerate the intolerable, and manage my health. I would likely 

never have remission

and never be cured. What was essential was within this space, I needed to find tools to live the best life in my body, to make peace with this life.  I needed to strengthen the relationships with the people who could understand this. The ones that loved me at my core, not the girl who "used to" do activities with them.

I found that my "true" friends are the friends who wanted to "be with me" not "do things with me". The two are quite different.  We often forget that underneath the label of chronic illness we are still ourselves.  Each of us is still funny, smart, charming and the life of the party. Often just the party location may need to change. My life is filled with a circle of love, the best girlfriends one could ever dream. I still listen, laugh and be the best friend ever... It just means I'm on the sofa or on the phone, not drinking martinis at midnight. (I'll just add that most "healthy" mothers of two aren't doing that either!)

Here are my tips for sustaining lasting friendships while struggling with severe chronic illness.

My chronic disease is like having a perpetual toddler so plan ahead and have a back up plan

. My husband and I like to joke that we have three children, our two real kids and the perpetual toddler that is my chronic disease. Everyone has seen a toddler lose it in a public place; well some mornings I wake up and realize that is exactly what my body is doing to me. For no reason my body has decided that it is not going to behave today, that means it's going to be a bad day. We all love toddlers; but we all know they can be a hot mess. You never know when she is going to have a meltdown (i.e. a "flare") and toddlers are amazing in that they are fantastically unpredictable. Toddlers have personalities, charming, delightful but one wrong look, twenty minutes overdue for a nap and you are going to pay the price. My body does the same to me, too long in the hot sun, too long on my feet when I should be resting. My body will shut down and I can be in bed for days. So be flexible, be ready to change plans and know that you will need to cancel some activities on short notice.

How about a wine and cheese party in bed

: When was the last time you had your best girlfriends over for a glass of wine? When I have been in bed too long thanks to my health, I know I need to see my girls. The ones who make me laugh and will talk to me about the normal stuff--let's be honest the life gossip!  One of my favorites is when I had a cocktail party in my bedroom. You got it. We had snacks and wine on my bed. They grab the glasses, they know where to find my wine, and carry it all upstairs. My girlfriends come over climb up on my king size bed. I sipped on some tea and they have wine (always in my Waterford crystal glasses) and eat cheese and fruit.  We laughed and giggled for a couple of hours, they went home at seven happy to have been with me and I was sound asleep at 8.  Jeff may have slept on a bed with a bunch of crumbs that night, but I slept perfectly, with a smile on my face for days.

I'm the queen of text parties

. How often does it happen that I feel great only to have my children come down with the dreaded stomach flu the one night in three months I'm ready to go out. My solution, text parties during movie award season. My besties and I send group texts discussing who wore what and who shouldn't have! It's the best. I have had one of my girls over and we are texting the one girl who was home with a husband traveling or a sick kiddo. It reminds us that no matter a friend's schedule or health, we can all still enjoy an evening together. You will also be shocked how often you laugh out loud when reading texts.

I still love lunch dates with my best girlfriends.

How about take-out lunch on your sofa. Who needs to sit in a restaurant all dressed up when your biggest accomplishment for the day is brushing your teeth and showering. I have a favorite Thai place that has the most amazing take-out. It also tastes just as amazing on my sofa in my sweats.

Movie night, coffee or brunch, what about yoga in your home?

My sister gave me a world class meditation class in the sunlight of my living room floor. Just the two of us, her voice and the best meditation warmed by the sun's healing rays. My living room has also been home to therapy sessions, impromptu yoga class and the best prayer group meetings.

Being a good friend also means being able to step outside your illness.  

Being sent to bed is very different from choosing to spend the day in bed. I've lost track of how many times I have been sent to bed by my doctors. 

Everyone has struggles in their life. Everyone. When you live with chronic disease it sometimes is easy to get caught up in your world of doctors and treatments and forget that your closest friends lives are still spinning too. I've been in bed countless times and taken some serious phone calls talking my friends through crisis. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that it's not always about you.

As the world's biggest type A, I love to have my make-up on, and my house perfect, but what I have learned is that no one really cares, when your best friends haven't seen you for however long. They really don't care... They really just want to be with you, to laugh, see you and to know that you are one day closer to being back up and running the world.  You don't have to leave your home when you aren't at your best.  No, you sometimes just need to make sure the key is under the door mat.

As always, the Divine in me bows to the Divine in you.--Namaste

If this post resonated with you, then I think you'll like; 

Chronic disease is like a bad boyfriend

.

I love to hear from you, please friend me on

Facebook

 or 

Instagram

. Or send me an email using the form on the right.  Only my eyes will see the email, so please reach out and share your truth. I will do my best to get back in touch. I love updates from all of you, so don't hesitate to send me a note with an update of your journey.

XO

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit:

pixabay

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,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal Daughter

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.

xo

Kathyrn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

From Grumpy to Grace

The body of Christ...

I've been grumpy all week. Miserably grumpy. I'm not sure why, and that in itself makes me grumpy. I think all Mom's go through this, the end of the school year, and o'my we have a whole summer staring at one another.  No matter how much of a rock star we are, the inevitable, "I'm bored," will roll off someone's tongue and not one mother among us takes it well. That on top of the broken washing machine that destroyed my favorite sweater. Why not on my children's disgusting socks? Grrrr. You can feel my angst.

But, enough about me. A few weeks ago while at church the Franciscan that celebrated our mass was someone I didn't know. While in the church office, I asked his name. Turns out that the priest was Father Kenan Osborne.  He is a religious scholar, former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, author of dozens of books and articles. As far as theologians go, he is a rock star.

I have a secret passion. I read religious scholarly articles and books for fun. I know it's one of my quirks. I love the gossip rag Daily Mail out of London too. I take Kim Kardashian with almost as much interest as I do the Council of Nicaea which was held in 325. What can I say, I'm complicated. Back to the scholarly stuff. I love the footnotes, the references to obscure councils and documents, the whole bit.  I will read on any faith. Recently I devoured a fascinating treatise on Islam. Amazing, authored by a divinity scholar from Harvard.

As a post Vatican II child of the church; I have delighted in reading the radical ideas from some of my faith's most intelligent minds. I have also delighted in reading many documents that are far from my ideological view that I dive deeper to understand their ideas and truth. If you can construct a good argument, I want to hear your points. It only makes my truth more concrete and my arguments better. So to say I'm a religious scholar geek would be an understatement.

So today while we were rolling into mass in our usual Team Fergie hot messiness. The lovely Father Kenan stopped Norah. He spoke directly to her, asking her her name, how old she was and who she brought to mass. Norah then turned and introduced me. I gulped big and geek-ed out. Telling Fr. Kenan that I was reading his book on Sacramental Theology and had so many questions. He then explained that he had a new book out on 50 years since Vatican II.  I smiled like I was in a candy store. I explained that I would score the book from Amazon today, and then he touched my soul. He told me to read the book and then to give him a call so that we could discuss the book. ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME!?!?!

Here's why Fr. Kenan touches my soul. He is one of those folks who when you look at him you see light, that shining beacon. He draws you in. You want to hear every story, every detail. Every thought in his head. I want to see the God he sees because that God is filled with so much love you see the light hitting the ground around him.

We have been attending mass in the Franciscan's chapel, its where the priests have their private prayers. It is not a chapel that is normally open to the public, but as parishioners they offer a family mass. And this mass is a hot mess. Kids falling out of pews, talking, singing, carrying their stuffed animals and sippy cups. It's noisy, in a beautiful faith filled messy way. I have always loved family mass, but I will admit that when my Beauties were little... we got some hairy eyeballs during the mass. Which always hurt me. We have all been there, and for some of us it felt like we would never get past those years. My children were good in Church, because if they weren't we were in a cry room or outside. If only we could have gone to this church then.  This mass is for these beautiful children.

The children are the greeters, take up the collections, are the ushers too!

But what touched me most was the consecration.  The most sacred part of the mass in our tradition is at the consecration when the bread becomes Christ's body and blood. The priest holds the bread and wine, sharing old and sacred prayers. It's always moving, but today it made me ugly cry. In 99% of Catholic Churches you are on your knees, watching a priest perform the ritual. It's solemn, formal and set apart from the congregation.

But, today it was different:  Fr. Kenan called all the children forward around the altar and he asked the children to extend their hand over the bread and wine during consecration. So Norah was one of the oldest standing at the altar. Siblings holding younger hands, some stuffed animals were in one hand while the other was extended, in all a dozen or more children aged 2 to 9.  Picture it, all these little heads that were just peeking over the edge of the altar and standing on tip-toes to be witnesses to faith. If the chapel had been in total darkness, these little faces would have been able to light the entire church.  It took my breath away; I was witness, participant and present. These little hands holding up, praying and sharing love and Fr. Kenan sharing what we have been doing for thousands of years, breaking of the bread and wine.

Father Kenan, in his 80's, world renowned author, retired "in-residence", could be resting on his laurels, but there he is, up on the altar, surrounded by children, bringing light into the world.

It is a moment when you stop in your tracks and say. Yep this is why I'm all in. I believe and I'm so grateful for my faith.

It's meeting the face of God in others.

Today in-spite of my grumpiness, in-spite of my ruined sweater, I witnessed my daughter and the other children, shine the light of faith on me.  I was also reminded that the love and kindness of one person can touch so many.

Thank you Father Kenan Osborne.

I'm ordering a book from amazon and leaving my grumpy at the door of the chapel.

I saw the face of God in a bunch of people today... and that makes this Sunday fantastic.

Peace be with you,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit:

Pixabay

What is Service?...

Sometimes you just got to put in the effort...

I always find it interesting to talk to folks about what is volunteering and what is service.

We all know people who are super volunteers. They have energy that is unwavering and a call to make this world better, and frankly we would be lost without them. We all have these amazing people in our communities who single handily run the events at school, church, community and look amazing. Their kiddos are well dressed, hair perfect and never forget an appointment or responsibility.

I'm not that girl...

I don't know about you, but every so often I get a pang of anxiety about what I'm NOT doing. In a world of busy folks, my plate is often not as full as others. But what I do know is that in my own quiet way, I'm doing service for my family. How you ask?

I keep up appearances.

For the last month, I have had more bad days than good. The bad days have annoyed me to no end. Two rounds of antibiotics to wipe out a simple strep infection has been brutal. The accompanying nausea has had me in bed more than out.

Which means, Jeff is running the show. I have tried to stay aware of our life. Schedules, Jeff's travel and you know the basics of keeping people alive. One of the toughest times of the year for busy families is the end of the school year. It is absolutely, nothing like when we were kids. Between the concerts, plays, living wax museums, countless assemblies, field trips, parent lunches, faculty lunches, planning summer camps, swim lessons, and on and on...  All parents know this is the worst time to not feel well. The end of the school year has more bells and whistles than any preschoolers birthday party!

My people want my face at every single event. Sometimes that is just not possible. When I can, well it comes with expectations.

I may have missed it, but they sent me a selfie...

I missed the school spring concert here on the first round of antibiotics. Jeffrey and I were of very different minds on the concert. I get an ache in my soul when my favorite faces are disappointed by my health. I've talked before about how I

prioritize my week

. On Sunday, Jeff and I review what we have going on, travel schedules, appointments, obligations, fun plans, the Beauties lives--all of it gets tossed on the table for review. Then we talk it out. Sometimes this is a quick conversation over coffee, other times it's a painful one for me. I want to do everything, be everywhere and love every moment. But, this body on her most perfect day can't do half of it. We plan, we make game day decisions, and make it work as best we can.

Which gets me to my brand of service. At this point in my life it is all about taking the best care of my family. My favorite line, "I would love to say yes, but I have to say no," with the biggest smile and bless your heart face ever. My service is taking care of these Beauties and my Beloved. If I can barely get dressed, how on Earth (and why on Earth) would I try to do anything else. (And o'ps and by the way, you owe no one an explanation as to why you say no.)

This has been how we have triaged the last month of our dance. With a couple of exceptions, I have only showered and dressed for two reasons. To attend Mass and to attend the Beauties' programs. I can't recall a time in my life where I have showered less and needed to more.

When I do score that elusive shower, it comes with the expectation that I will look amazing with a full face of make-up. I literately threw out all but one of my lipsticks, lip gloss and chap-stick. Any product that I suspected had strep... gone.  On Monday, I met a new friend for a cup of tea, the location was no coincidence. I needed to run into the department store next to the tea shop for cosmetics.

I have learned one thing on this journey, I dress for others. It has taken me time to learn this fact. But it matters to my Beauties, it's how they can sigh and remind themselves, "she is going to be OK. Mom looks good." Each and every time I have made an outing in the last month, I have been dressed up and had a full face of make-up.  I'm a yoga pants and pony tail girl in my heart and Jeffrey loves that girl.  But, others in my family and those I love most, sometimes need more. They need me looking my best or they worry. So every time I make an appearance, I try to look good. Because it does take effort and if you are making an effort it means you well feel good! Right?

So I deliver, no matter how I feel, if I'm going out in public my appearance matters.

So this week, during one of my appearances at school, I laid eyes on both my Beauties and ran into a friend. My friend smiled the knowing smile and she said, "Good for you Kathryn, you have your game face on. You only have a few minutes left." It gave me that last little boost to make it through. Norah said earlier, "You look good mom. Glad you have that diet coke to give you some energy. It means everything that you made it." And she gave me one of those hugs that makes my heart skip. The one that reminds me... this is why we push on when it's tough.

Because it does matter, each and every event. Each and every moment that we suck-it up and make it work for others, matters more then we can know.

My service may be small but that doesn't mean it isn't as important as our super volunteers. My service is what these Beauties need to feel secure, happy and successful in their life, in their world, for their future.

That is just the service I'm happy to contribute!

So as you plan your summer, please keep in your heart and mind what your service plan looks like. Being busy is not an excuse for not being present.

Open your heart and spirit to what you are called to do. I promise when you follow your path and not others, you will find joy and peace.

Peace be with you.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credits:

Pixabay

and Mr. PilgrimageGal

Happy 3rd Birthday Pilgrimage Gal...

I started my little blog on June 1, 2012. I then spent days looking at a blank screen wondering what to say.

Pilgrimage Gal has evolved in three years. I have grown in confidence, witnessing my health dramatically improve and along the way I found my voice. This space began with the support of my Jeffrey and my dear friend Jessica; both encouraging me to share my truth. What began as a sick and frightened women's journal, changed into a place to find hope, courage and little faith. Back in the beginning, I wasn't scared of sharing my truth, I was scared of

dying

.  In my heart, I felt death chasing me and it was terrifying. The blog became a place to share the fear that filled my heart in the darkness of night.  The worries that didn't go away when I woke. I needed my Beauties to know their mom. So as adults they would have my truth of their childhood. The blog would allow them to see in my own words that I loved them with everything that I had. That I fought everyday for their Dad and them.

When I left this world, they would still hear my voice.

A record for the Beauties of what my life, our life was all about.

Total truth.

I never honestly expected to be here to celebrate this blog turning 3. While I was making peace with my death, the Divine was creating my way to life. Each doctor at every turn was a tiny grain of sand to wellness. You never see the beach when you are focused on individual grains of sand, you can't find the ocean--you can only see the grains.

No one has had access to better doctors. No one. I have fought, challenged, cajoled, and laid out a few. I have listened, cried and screamed when I needed to, I did what I was told, and I never stopped fighting. Never given up. Have I had dark moments? Good Lord, yes.  I looked at my Jeffrey and my Beauties and knew NO ONE would ever love them the way I do. No one possibly could. They are as much part of my soul as I am theirs.

I have meet brilliant minds, doctors who love me more than they should. I have given too many of them sleepless nights. My husband who never once has said it's too much. A doctor, Harvard, who stood next to my hospital bed in the darkest moments and who wound't give up on his most unique patient.  I know no person on earth that has more loving friends, soul sisters, more perfect Beauties and my mother who drops everything to support me.

My riches are too vast to imagine. I may never win the power-ball, but I have won more than my share of grace and love.

So as I step back and give thanks for medical interventions that keep me stable. Teachers who love my children as their own, friends no matter my geography that have my back, a husband that loves all of me, every broken part and every super power.

I know one thing that is true, that none of this is possible without my faith. A faith that humbles me. That in all of my abundance, I have been able to walk with LOVE. My greatest gift in all of this is faith that is built on love.  I have a faith that never falters. That faith has enabled me to see love hidden, love flourishing, and how to find it, keep it and make it grow.

It's all of these gifts that make Pilgrimage Gal my safe place as I hope it is yours too. The Divine gave me the love of all of you. My Pilgrims near and far. Thanks to technology, I have virtual tea dates around the globe. Someday the Divine will connect all of us, in London and in Finland and too many of you to mention in Canada and the States. Each and every one of you take a moment out of your busy daily life to walk with me. To share your truth, to give me insight in your life. You share your Beauties, your dreams, your faith and struggles. Thank you, for walking with me; sharing your exquisite every day moments. My life is richer with your love.

Jeffrey surprised me with a huge Pilgrimage Gal birthday cake, chocolate with salted caramel, no words for the yummiest cake ever. The cake was from the talented cafe and my newest Santa Barbara friend Gillian of

Lilac Patisserie

. I washed the cake down with a toast and small sip of champagne (I'm on crummy antibiotics) toasting each and everyone of you. Without you I would just be some lonely girl jotting musings in her diary.

Your loves, your likes, your comments, your shares, and your amens have made me productive, open, more honest and the best version of myself.

I'm beyond humbled by my life and look forward to celebrating all of our joys, celebrations and struggles for years to come.

Cheers, to you all! To Jess and Jeffrey, I love you both with all that I have, thank you for encouraging me in the darkness. You both give me more than I ever give you!

Peace be with you all.

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in each and everyone of you.

Happy Birthday from the Pilgrimage Gal and our journey continues.

xo,

Kathryn

Photo Credit: Mr. Pilgrimage Gal

Exquisite Everyday Moment With Cake...

Exquisite moment eating wonderful treats...

I like to remind everyone that to live well means creating rituals, moments and space for you and your loved ones to experience exquisite everyday moments. These moments are simple, small reminders in our busy lives that life is beautiful and filled with love. The goal is that when faced with the troubles of everyday life, you can call up these exquisite moments, these little gems, to help you get back on track and sustain you until you can create more. 

My family is really good at creating these memories. Jeff and I make this a priority, they sustain not only me, but they are living proof to my Beauties that everything is going to be all right. When your life is filled with taking fist fulls of medicines, and managing doctors like most manage soccer schedules, it's critical that they see we live normally too!

We have a new Saturday schedule, that is relaxed, easy and creates the space to bask in the sunshine of our family. We love to hit the Santa Barbara farmers market to pick up organic and locally grown tastiness. We have made friends with vendors and look forward to our weekly conversations. But our real treat comes when we stroll down the fabulous State Street in our new home town and stop in at our family's favorite cafe;

Lilac Patisserie

.

http://lilacpatisserie.com/home

Lilac is the sweetest little French Cafe. As a family, we are quietly working our way through their cake menu. Sampling treats, as we go from coffee cakes, to olive rosemary bread to brownies and cookies. Every Saturday, you will find us rolling in to sit in the cafe or grabbing a treat to go. I love to sit in the cafe with my pot of tea and Jeff with a luscious coffee drink.

Ian eyeing Dad's coffee...

We order a table full of treats and fork fight over the tastiness of each bite. I love these moments with my Beauties, want to learn about someone's week? Give them a fruit tart filled with creamy softness, you get a full download of the playground politics.  The moment reminds me that despite everything, my life is good, normal and filled with joy. We picked Lilac also for me, you see I've been gluten free for longer than we have had children. But my gluten eaters comment every time, "Mom this cake is ridiculous, it can't be gluten free?!" So in addition to just delighting in my family, I can enjoy every single bite... and I do!

This week was no exception, a nasty bacterial infection landed me in the urgent care Tuesday night, getting IV fluids and antibiotics. Just what every mother wants, to have her children sitting in the waiting room while I'm getting worked on. The Beauties both had the worry face, the one that says please don't get admitted; please come home with us. Even Jeffrey looked a little more pressed than usual. Thankfully I was not admitted, but I didn't get out of bed all week. Once we got home Tuesday night, for the rest of the week, I had my mind focused on one thing, tea Saturday at Lilac. I needed to nurse some tea, eat a sweet treat and let everyone see that I was fine. My mind stayed focused on our past moments and even more focused on creating a new one. I will create even more...

This week was challenging, I still don't feel great, we missed family parties with our cousins. But we did make it to Lilac. We ordered cake to-go, picking several tasty treats for home; as I sat on my sofa in my jammies, I still created that exquisite moment with Jeff and my Beauties filled with cake, smiles and love. 

So as you make your way in the world--Create your happiness, which include your family rituals, your love and your exquisite everyday moments. And if you happen to be in Santa Barbara let us know, we would love to share our table with you. 

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal

PS. The owners of Lilac haven't compensated me for this post. Neither Jeffrey or I have even met them. It's just a great little place that I love, love, love...

Stress, Worry and Disappointing Others...

Unmailed cards and letters...

I met a new friend for coffee yesterday. Making new friends is a lot like dating. You often need several simple easy outings to see if you and the other person are clicking and other times you just know right out of the gate you will be a good fit. My new friend and I were sharing some honest truths when she asked me a great question, "What is the hardest thing in your life right now?"

Let me be totally straight; this post is FILLED with FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS. I mean really, in the grand scheme of things, my life is CAKE. So while you read this post; it's designed to remind all of us, that daily life often derails us. O'my goodness, we can get caught up in-it. The foolishness that just tanks our whole day, that are barriers to being present. The negative thought that constantly rolls across your brain like the crawl on CNN. We all have these moments.

I'm a pleaser. I don't like to disappoint. I don't want to be a burden. I love nothing more than having guests in my home, fixing the sheets, finding treats for their room. I love that experience. But this time, I'm the guest... and I'm a little nervous.

Norah and I are flying to Maryland for a week; my little mini-me and I are having the exact same feelings as we set off. We are excited and nervous.

Excited is so easy, I get to wake-up in my Mom's beautiful condo, with all her mama love and attention. I get to curl up and get unending hugs and snuggles, too. I will sit in her kitchen while she makes me breakfast in my pjs, giggle and drink tea. I get alone time with both my girls; my mom and Norah.  Norah and I have a hit list of favorite restaurants that we need to eat in a billion times! And of course we are on pins and needles to see everyone we love so much. We are spending two nights having sleepovers in friend's houses. Which is amazing since I have never slept in their homes before since we used to live next door!

I explained to my new friend, that I'm loved so well by so many that I'm nervous. Nervous I won't be my best for each and everyone we see. I'm worried about my humanness. I will be tired and my loved ones will be disappointed, that they won't get me at my best. That I don't have time for everyone and that makes my stomach hurt. I want to see each and every person I love.  The leaving was so gut-wrenching, it felt like my soul was being ripped out of my body, it was the death of part of my life. I have in the last 6 months come out stronger and healthier; I need my loves to see that. To understand that I'm really good. That we are on our way; we are all good. To see that in our faces, to feel it in our hugs, to know that we are loved and happy.

I'm nervous that I have to face NIH without Jeff. I need to do it on my own. And once again I have to face this disease. The one I never asked for, the one I tolerate, the one that is the gift that keeps giving. I don't want to answer the mind-numbing questions yet again. I want to play. I want to forget I have this horrible disease.

Then just a few days ago, Norah asked, "Mom, what if the plane crashes?" Thank you flipping 24 hour news channels... We talked her off the ledge, but really, why must everything be so hard.

So my head is just a little busy... With a whole ton of foolishness.

I came across a stack of letters I never mailed. The letters were written on the plane as I left Maryland 6 months ago and in the first days after we arrived. I never mailed them.  I found them last week. I can feel my pain in the letters as I re-read them. Oodles of thank yous and I love yous, and in-between the lines, the pain and worry that the personal connections will be broken by time and the miles of separation...  Thoughts never sent, to my friends and family; people that I love most in the world.

Interesting isn't it?  I'm the girl who spills it all out all the time. But, I just couldn't mail them, or reveal the pain... And I'm still not sure when or if I'll be able to send them...

Which gets me to my busy prayer life:

I have been reading the Act's of the Apostles lately. It really has helped me. This hot mess of early Christians; who find themselves in the same place I've been visiting. Wandering a little lost, but well loved. This group of folks who will build our church. A church from nothing. This group of believers, wandering around the Mediterranean talking about this one guy. We are being kind when we say none of them would have been on anyone's list to change the world.  To wake up and find their whole world suddenly turned upside down... I feel a special closeness.  I feel like them often.

I'm a little lost.

More aptly: I'm in the weeds.

When you wait on tables; often you suddenly have your station filled, you can feel paralyzed.  In the restaurant world, it's called being in the weeds. I'm in the weeds, as I head back to DC. Everything will be there; but I will be in the weeds. Trying to be healthy, trying to see everyone, trying to be my best.

So when I say, "first world problems," it's no joke. What an abundance of joy to be worried about juggling so much. The abundance of love, of kindness, of joy. What a problem to get out of the way of!  We are very blessed to be loved so well by so many... Sooooo many.

So as I rotate laundry, find my luggage, pack my things; I will do what I do best. Take a big deep breath. The Divine has this all in hand. Every second, I will work on being present, and know that the Divine has this all figured out just for us. Miss Norah and I will have so many unplanned moments of Grace, that we just can't pre-plan. We must allow the Divine to orchestrate the moments.

I'm off to pack too many shoes into one bag, find a book for the flight, and sit back and once again be reminded of how much love I'm about to be drenched in!

Norah and I are as lucky as we are Irish; and filled with an embarrassment of blessings--today, always and forever.

I'm taking a week or two off... but promise to be in touch when we are back home and rested.

Till then... Try looking at your abundance of blessings.

And as my dear SP says to me, "Go Gently..."

So as we depart, go gently till we meet up again...

Much love always.

Kathryn and this time Norah too!

XO

Photo credit:

pixabay

Yellow Living Room...

When I was growing up, I had goals. Plans. Ideas. I had a road map for my life. I had expectations of what my life would look like, including my husband and children. In my dream, I pictured my husband and I living in a white colonial with bright shutters and door. We would have a large sunny yellow living room that looked out onto a beautiful cottage garden. I pictured us sitting on matching sofas with our coffee cups, listening to music; all while reading the Sunday paper.  I have no idea where my children were in this dream; but I had them! That was my idea of domestic bliss as seen in my 12 year old mind.  I could create my own stability, calm and security. When I thought of this dream; I always smiled, because I felt loved and cherished.

Children of divorce never feel settled; we are always on the move, sharing time with all the individuals we love. The dream became more of a mantra after losing both my father and stepfather at 15. I never for a second thought I wouldn't go to college. I had to; I had to support myself. I worried about losing my husband, so the dream became a mantra. He couldn't smoke, not be a heavy drinker or do drugs. Smoking killed the two men I loved. In my eyes drugs and booze just increased the chances for mortality. I would make THIS yellow living room world. It would be mine. It would be my reality. As I look back on my 23 years of marriage;  Jeffrey and I have created that life. I have stability. I have calm and security. I'm deliciously happy, in my soul, in my heart and most of all in my head.

I need that world. Jeffrey and I have had some dark times in our early marriage, 22 is young to jump into marriage without tools. I didn't grow up with good marriage models, so I had to teach myself, I learned on the job how to be married. God Bless Jeff, he just needed to learn I was beautifully high maintenance, that isn't a criticism; it's just truth. I needed to talk all the time; about everything, and he just needed to put his arm around me, love me, and tell me it was going to be fine.

I needed to learn that Jeff was exactly what he appeared; a good, honest, trustworthy man. That he loved me and I was good-enough to be loved. Jeff also had to learn to negotiate and to communicate. But, what kept us together was the yellow living room; we both really wanted the same things. We wanted that safe place where we were loved and that we both were all in, not kind of in; but all in.

We learned as a couple what our currency was; what was our truth, what were our deal breakers as a couple and where was the wiggle room. We also created our own tool box as a couple, the short hand that worked for us to make our life work in the ups and downs of the journey. We are very honest and direct, but we do it with humor and love. Our toolbox is the same as the one I have shared with you and it's why we are resilient.

Resilience is the superpower that helps you through the tough times. We are hinged on faith and one another. Everything else is a bi-product of that. God and Jeff are always at the table with me, then it's the Beauties, then it's everyone else. When we work, it all works. For me there is nothing without them. That is how I remain resilient, I focus on that image, that feeling of the yellow living room and the visual of sitting with Jeff and the Divine having a meal talking it all through, laughing and sharing the breaking of bread.

That image and concept is how I stay strong on the Pilgrimage. I use the tools that we have spent Lent honing, shaping and sharpening. When you learn to treat the stupid shit that happens in your life as irritants, and foolishness as obstacles to your happiness you learn how to pivot, to knock down and get around them. That is how you keep your eye on what truly matters...

For me that is enjoying the exquisite everyday moments with my Beauties. This week included a fantastic family meal at the Beauties' favorite white table cloth restaurant on the beach. Also included some moments during Holy Week when I wanted to flick my Beauties for not getting-it during Stations of the Cross. But, more often than not, we had delightful and touching faith filled moments during Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. We had our first ever lovely California Easter Dinner with Jeffrey's parents, a backyard Bocce tournament with Norah and her "Poppie" (which is her grandad), we dyed eggs, made some ridiculous good cupcakes, we stayed up too late, got up too early. But even with Norah getting yet another nasty cold, and my pain being excruciating, Ian having a seasonal allergy attack, we had much more joy than sadness.

So that is where I will leave this series of posts on Resilience...

You CAN become more resilient.

It takes effort, practice using the tools and the willingness to never surrender.

But, the more you do, the stronger you get, until it's your super power too!

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

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