Tool Three: Community and Tribe...

Well done.  I love you more...

Week three of our Pilgrimage on the road to Resilience. We have covered Humor, and Love, and today we will spend some time on Community and Tribe.  Community for me is your larger world, your acquaintances and friends. Your tribe is your close and core group.  People can move in and out of these circles over time.

If you accept the concept that living well is a direct correlation to how well you love. Then those who you love best and most authentically will organically become your community and tribe. The size of your circle is a direct result of how open, vulnerable and truthful you are about yourself. I hear often from folks that they aren't good at making relationships.  If you find your circle lacking, you need to ask yourself some tough questions.  Since it's almost Spring and we are working through Lent, perhaps it is time for a Spring cleaning of your emotional house.

Here are some questions to ask yourself. Some days we are better at these than others. I guess the real question is; in the last month can you feel good about more of these answers than not?

How free are you to love?  Are you positive in your world view? (ie: The world is filled with more good people than bad?)  Are you tolerant of differences of opinion?  Do you judge first or love first? Do you enjoy the company of people who have a different worldview than you do?  Are you willing to try new things?  How willing are you to sacrifice your wants for someone else?  Are your actions more thoughtful?  How easily do you let go of other people's failings?  Do you expect perfection in others?  Do you forgive?  Do you listen?  Do the rules apply to everyone, but you?

A sobering set of questions... I know.  None of us are perfect and I certainly know this list of questions makes me acknowledge that I'm a work in progress.  The questions are designed to make us stop and think.

Real relationships require balance; and the better your balance; the better your tribe.

Relationships that matter may require work; there is always some heavy lifting.  Often in this world of instant gratification we forget how to be thoughtful and kind. Simple kindness of a note in the mail (something I stink at doing) makes people's day. For the record, basic thoughtfulness goes a long way.

If I had a dinner party of the twenty most influential women in my life (and it would be tough to limit it to 20), the table would be very eclectic. The table would include grade school friends, teachers, high school girls, some family, several soul sisters, folks met while working, some girls battle tested by my health foolishness. My tribe is diverse; some share my catholic faith, others don't.  I have friends that aren't so sure about this God business, too.  I love that my female tribe members are all over the political spectrum and the world. Are they different? O'my, yes. Beautiful, honest, funny, battle tested, willing to call me on my foolishness, each one has a special spark that stops me in my tracks. Each and every one makes me better, pushes me to be a better version of myself.

I'm thinking I need to have this dinner party!

What I know about my tribe, is that you need one quality to join. Only one.  You have to be able to share your truth with me. I need to know who you are; who you really are; not who you want to be, not who you think I want you to be; you need to be yourself. And everything else will fall into place. Every woman at the table could tell you my truth, as I can there's. I hope that each one would say that they always know that they are loved completely by me and they love me likewise in return.

Everytime I end a call with someone in my tribe, I say the same thing, "I LOVE YOU."

Because I always want them to know, that they are loved.  I never want that to be in doubt.

To some, my circle of friends seems to be random. I make friends easily. True. Why? I think partly because I'm interested in other people's stories. Who are you, where are you on your journey?  I'm drawn to people who are honest, who are willing to not give up, who have that titanium inner core, who see the world as beautiful and full of promise. My tribe gift is simple, I don't forget your truth. I carry it always, I know your soul and you know mine.

So your tribe may be wider than you think. Your circle may involve more facebook or long distant chats then you know. I thought the move would be devastating in my relationships. I was worried about the lack of daily contact. But what I'm learning is that the depths of my love for my nearest and dearest is likely even stronger. I carry them with me in the grocery store and when I make dinner. I look at my watch and know where they are, I pray more directly for these loved ones than ever before. And that is what your tribe is, the ability to connect in the world with love for the ones who make you stronger, wiser, deeper in your faith, whatever your tradition. What we need to ask ourselves is why we don't extend our arms as wide as we can? To love more, to love with more intention, to speak our truth to every ear. Why do we skirt the tough conversations instead of saying what is really in our hearts? You can have the difficult conversation if you do one thing, put others first. It's not about you, it's about them.

What is the one quality that you need in your tribe? Once you know that quality, that truth, your tribe will blossom and bloom. Just like you...

Life is better when you have someone (or a whole tribe) to walk on your pilgrimage with you.

So how does this help you become resilient? It's simple.

You are never alone when you have your tribe. Your tribe dusts you off, helps to pick you up, sometimes they carry you. Your tribe helps you get back on the path when you make a wrong turn. Your tribe holds you accountable along the journey, loving you and wanting only the best for you. But best of all, your tribe is there to celebrate the joyous moments, the happiness of the journey, the triumphs of this life.

To drink the champagne with you. To hold their glass high, toast and say, "Well done. We love you."

And to my tribe, you know who you are... I love each one of you, more than any words on this page today or ever could say.  Thanks for walking with me, always.

I raise my glass to you and say, "Well done. I love you more!"

Till next week my Pilgrims, make your tribe a little stronger this week. Spread some of that love around.


Photo credit:

Medical State of the Union and Sheer Will...

Looking for balance, finding peace...and walking with the Beauty.

It seems only appropriate that with January done, I spend a little time talking about my health. It was the primary reason I started writing this blog, my chance to explain and define for everyone where my life had taken me! So I call this post my

Medical State of the Union

.  It's something about being from DC, every January means the State of the Union address. My friend, Andy a couple of years ago told me I needed to "speak my truth" about my health. My first reporting was the hardest most gut wrenching post I have ever written. (

The Real Scoop...


Two years later, I'm blessed and amazed to see how far I have come, to realize that my life is so much better. I'm happy to report; this State of the Union, won't be hard. Not that my life is perfect, but my health is far better, my life happier, lighter and full of more joy.

Officially, I have called Santa Barbara home for just three months; while I'm still unearthing boxes, we have certainly started to feel like we are "settled".  The holidays were filled with tons of entertaining, Jeff's entire family is here in California, so we hosted the West Coast family for several dinners and celebrations.  My mom visited during this time from DC and it was wonderful to have my slice of home here a midst the celebrations and chaos.  As we settle into the "Winter" filled with sunshine and 75 degree days; my life has quieted enough to really offer some news on where my health finds me.

First and foremost, I'm better than I was a year ago. That is for sure. My doctors at NIH are always asking me to describe, "how much better?" I find that impossible to really quantify. What I feel comfortable saying is that moving West has been the best thing for my health.  Simply... it's warmer. Do I still have cold events? YES. Still almost everyday? YES. But my drug regime coupled with the constantly warmer temps have changed the quality of my life. The warmer weather has kept me from having the issues with anaphylaxis that haunted me for years. I didn't really realize till I arrived that I have forever been cold, in my bones, possibly in my soul.  I find myself sitting outside as often as possible for the Vitamin D and just the ability to feel the warmth. While it may be hard to describe to people who don't suffer from this disease, but imagine if you just walked around taking a cold shower all the time... It's that chill, where you can't get warm that has been my struggle. Since arriving, my cold attacks aren't nearly as severe. Small attacks that would have had me coughing and wheezing now seem to have the effect of a bee sting: itching, hiving and uncomfortable but without the follow on nausea, aches, coughing and inability to get out of bed the day after.

I still have had several nasty attacks, just not with the frequency or intensity of the East Coast versions.

Which gets me back to where I should have started. No, I'm not in remission. No, I'm not even close. I have a serious, currently better managed; at time life threatening disease. This is mine and I can't change it. But what I have done is not let it define the outcome of my life.

Sheer will should be my new mantra.

Many people have contacted me to ask, "How do you do it?"  My simple answer is: I don't have a choice.  Or after more thought, I think it is more than that. Basically, I don't like the other options. And I doubt you do either.

We manage our health, with our choices. I think every week, what is the most important thing I'm doing, where do I need to be?  Can I call in, can I miss this, can someone else drive me if I need meds?

We tell our Beauties everyday, "You can't do it all." AND if we are being honest, if we don't do as we say, what message does that send to our children?  Why are we killing ourselves for activities, organizations and events that are not critical or crucial to our happiness?

Or as my dear friend Mick (OK we have never met) reminds me: "You can't always get what you want... But if you try sometime, you find. 

You get what you need."

So that is my message to all of us: my fellow chronic disease warriors, my loves with mental health struggles, medical issues, my other dear ones battling other challenges that we just flipping didn't see coming.

You have to own this struggle, whatever yours is, be it this disease, this challenge in your life, you don't have to like it... HELL NO; but you need to own it and not give it the power to own you. Manage it, keep an eye on it, treat it, but don't let it overtake you or define you.

And for the record, SHEER WILL will only take you so far as the men in my life are apt to remind me.

I thought when I moved, the two most influential men in my life would be separated. My husband and my doctor. But, they still manage to conspire even in their separation.

My dearest Doctor, aka Harvard, always shakes his head when I tell him I struggle with balance... "You think!?"  After all these years, he can tell if I'm behaving by my voice on the phone, or when he would see me in person, just one look at me, drop his head and say, "Please take it easy."

Harvard reminds me in a text message just this week, "Jeff, Ian and Norah need you healthy not sick."

Fair point. Well said Harvard.

Jeffrey is a little more direct and always challenges me when he sees me burning the candle at both ends. He reminds me, "You know where this is going, you can either slow down; climb in bed with the remote and take it easy;  OR you can keep this up and your body will decide for you. And we both know when your body decides, you like that even less."

Or even this morning,  I didn't wake and Jeffrey didn't wake me,  I woke with a start hearing the Beauties heading out the front door for school. What Mom oversleeps when her Beauties are headed to school? This one does apparently, when she is exhausted! I jumped out of bed, raced for the door, standing like a sleepy toddler with my bad breath and bed head, all that I was missing was a stuffed animal under my arm... while the Beauties each gave me a quick hug and all suggested I return to bed! Which I did for another three hours!

Balance... I'm working on it...

These two men are so flipping smart it's IRRITATING. That they are correct, yet again...

(This post is going to be printed and laminated and held over my head for a lifetime!) These two men in my life...

So there you have it, the State of the Union is super strong! Balance aside, more great days than lousy! I'm happy, healthy and eager to report on my good news! As you review your State of the Union, please keep in mind that you are the center of you family's world. And while we may have different struggles, I hope you see the take a ways are the same.

We are all works in progress; we all have struggles; and many of us are working on finding just the right balance. The journey continues....



The PilgrimageGal

Photo credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal

Transitions and Making Happiness...

My fellow Pilgrims how I have missed all of you.  I have felt your prayers, love and good wishes across the miles and in my heart. I'm here; not settled, but safely here! We moved into our rental home November 15th and have begun the painstaking challenge of unpacking.

So let's recap...

The transition West has been flawless. Flawless doesn't mean there weren't problems, but what it means is we handled them with smiles, shaking of heads and tons of laughs. Jeff threw his back-out after getting the stomach flu. Just picture my sweetie, all 6'6" of him on the bath floor, dry heaving in the toilet and throwing his back out in the process... So my first time driving in California, was the 1.5 hour drive from his Sister's to our hotel in Santa Barbara. The day that the movers arrived (the 16th); it was my turn to be sick and I spent the day being useless. At one point the movers were moving boxes around me, while I was sleeping on the mattress on the floor. I was so nauseous, I didn't eat for days. Just sipped soda and Gatorade.

It is these moments my dear friend calls, "the black cloud of the Ferg's."  I can't help but laugh.The last time Jeff and I moved, I was pregnant with Norah, and was vomiting into the bushes at the old house. Attractive right?  So I told Jeff it's a sign, next time we move, I'm checking into a hotel the day we are moving, I will have a spa day; because vomiting is not my idea of a good time! Clearly it is a sign that the stress is too much. Let's be honest, moving is overwhelming and the word "overwhelming" doesn't seem sufficient to describe the magnitude of this change.

With that excitement, I began my new life in Santa Barbara. I assume just like everyone does, taking anti-nausea meds, drinking tea, eating dry toast and get to the getting. I had a great piece of advice from my Hawaiian Beauty, the wife of a Coast Guard officer she has moved more times than some girls have boots. She told me to schedule a day to lose it... I termed it "nervous breakdown day."  It is the day that everything is too much, where you sit in your jammies, eat chocolate and use my favorite curse word. So I took her advice and scheduled mine.  I was delighted that when the day came, I felt so great, that instead I took the day off. I treated myself and didn't feel guilty. I delighted in my special day!  I got a pedi and bought new make-up, along with some foundation (my skin is crazy dry here), and picked up a couple of t-shirts and a sweater.

As a wife and mother, I'm doing it all. We lived with my sister-in-law for over a week, and then in a hotel for over two; while Jeffrey was traveling 3 or more days each week. So I'm in a new city, new school, living in a hotel with no kitchen or restaurant, making PB&J's next to the mini-bar for school lunch, all while using the KEURIG to make instant oatmeal for dinner. We called it fancy camping, that was how I sold the fold out sofa bed to the Beauties.  Don't get me wrong these are the life full of

First World

problems. Through it all, it was super important for me to take care of myself, in whatever way was going to comfort me. Life was/is a little wacky!

Tip 1: Make time to shop or have a nervous breakdown or both.

The transition to the Beauties school was fantastic. Here's why. In the lead up to our move, I spent a month contacting the Head of Special Education, I was not only on her radar, I was on the districts too. I was pleasant, polite and inquisitive. I wanted to know how things rolled out here, a much smaller district, and I wasn't about to lose any services in transition. So I wanted to be informed and educated to better advocate for the Beauties. That way, when we sat down with the school team, we knew what to expect and were ready to advocate from a place that was informed and well researched. I also wanted everyone at the table to be heard and feel respected. So the meetings went well, services are different here, but just as wonderful for our family.   I also pulled out my secret weapon: I have a deep bench filled with folks who wear lots of hats for TeamFergie. One of our most trusted, is the Beauties Maryland School Psychologist;  I love a brilliant woman who also supports my love of good chocolate as a food group. We talked about our expectations for the new school, my fears for the children; she graciously contacted her counterpart here and they discussed all things Ferguson. Two professionals sharing information on my family; for some that is scary, for me it is a relief. I tell folks all the time... share your truth and you have no worries. All our foolishness is out; we have no secrets. So there is nothing that could be said that I don't know or would be afraid to discuss. That way, the new school has a really good sense from both sides, the schools and ours.

Tip: 2 Be open, it is the best thing you can do for your family.

I asked both the children what has made the move easy. They both had interesting responses, Norah loved that we dropped in treats along the way. We went to Disneyland (life-altering treat), we left boxes and headed to the beach to play, we ignored laundry to watch the Beauties swim in the heated pool at the hotel, we ate enormous amounts of ice cream for dinner to celebrate the first day of school.  Both Beauties got a welcome to California present when they arrived. Norah's was new duvet cover for her room and Ian got a sought after Lego set.  Both gifts were designed to make their new rooms special. It was strategic and planned in advance.  Ian on the other hand, he was comforted that we had oodles of discussions about the move.  We talked about everything and honestly shared that it would be hard. We also gave them both space to fall apart. We sat and listened and even shared what was hard for us.  I was very honest, I shared that my heart was broken to leave; but that the pain of moving was going to be easier because I would be healthier. A healthy mom would always be a happy one! As parents we spend so much time trying to fix everything, but often it's giving the space to mourn that we are teaching a true life skill.  We all have lost something, but we also trust that we will gain more than we lose.

Tip: 3 Let your kids be sad... and then it is your job to guide them to create their own glad.

Clive and transitions.

My other lesson this move has taught me is chronic disease has enabled me to be a superior multi-tasker. I can handle more chaos then most and my ability to tolerate is stronger than many. So the endless things that don't get crossed off the list don't bother me. They bother Jeff. So that totally surprised me, we have been doing this married thing for a while. We have never done the move thing with other people who have needs frankly more important than ours. Jeffrey is a spectacular Dad, and he senses when the four of us are cooked, had enough and need a break. I often want to push on a little further and he wisely tells me when we need to call an activity, a meal or even a conversation; DONE.  It's his gift. So at times during this transition we had to buffer each other a little more than either of us where used to.

Men don't get somethings that-- well matter to girls: shelf paper, a working kitchen... Jeff was very concerned about the printer. Me not so much. I wanted one room DONE. So no matter what other chaos was surrounding me, at least one space was "perfectish." Perfectish is a technical term, I just made up. So you can imagine our fun when on Saturday morning I was sitting at the kitchen table with a box cutter in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other, after he called me in from the garage. Jeff wanted to discuss our "shared priorities". I'm so not making this up.  I can't make any promises, but I  may have burst out laughing while I whispered a very colorful phrase. To which we both broke out into total hysterics. Yep mister, I've got a list. There is no Jeff list. What the heck!!!!! Unbelievable!!!!! So once we referred to rule number one (he follows my list and makes me happy, then later, I'll make him happy...) The unpacking became so much more civilized.  Men are delightfully easy to manage!

Tip: 4 Remind your Husband of rule number one... Unbelievable I know... But it will save you from box cutters and coffee conversations...

Finally, and likely most important, your spirit.

So my Spirit has never shone brighter or been stronger. Why? Because I feed her daily. Some mornings it was just brushing my teeth saying, we have this. Other days it was sitting on the beach staring at the ocean realizing that I was warm in my bones, felt amazing and that it was all God. That He had been walking ahead, paving the way, moving the people into place that we are to embrace, that we touch and who are to touch us. Knowing that the hard days would be easier and that the easy were the days that I was in step with my Spirit.

Tip: 5 Keep that Spirit light on at all times... Feed her.

So that is the latest from the West Coast. I will share more on the other aspects of the journey. My new amazing doctor and where PilgrimageGal is going in 2015. Because I have lots of plans for her!



Photo Credits: PilgrimageGal.

PS. If you want to walk this journey with me on a regular basis… The horrible spelling, bad grammar, and punctuation… type your email in above and I will magically pop-up in your inbox…Or find me on Facebook, search for PilgrimageGal and give me a like and a follow.  Finally, your comments, are the best thing going… I love to hear from all of you…. K

Go Gently...

First day in our new home city...

Hello my fellow Pilgrims,

We have safely landed in Southern California; we are freeloading off Jeffrey's beautiful sister Susan and her equally loving husband Greg. They have two grown sons, couple of empty bedrooms, and were kind enough to allow us to stay with them while we get organized. We will be homeless until the 15th and then we will be officially settled in our rental home in Santa Barbara. For the next two weeks we will float between two cities as we get the kids registered for school, Jeff settled at his new job, and wait for the contents of our home to arrive.

My thoughts are a bit scattered. While I try and sort through them, I have a little nugget to share with you first. As everyone can imagine the goodbyes were bitter sweet, filled with love and gratitude. I need some time to reflect and offer a clear understanding of where we are and where I have been on this part of the journey. For now take this little post as a teaser of what's to come.

xo, Kathryn

I have had so many good-byes in the last few weeks filled with every single emotion. Each and every hug has been a gift. Have you ever noticed that so many neglect to say how they feel until it's often too late?

My stunningly beautiful Wisdom Figure has told me, "You Kathryn, love outside of the box."

Which may be the greatest compliment I have ever received. I do love outside of the box. I LOVE, which is my greatest strength, but also my Achilles heel.  LOVE is my superpower and it has taken me some time to learn how to love completely and not let it destroy me. I have teetered, and faltered in my humaneness, but just as we watched our little ones learning to walk; I get up and keep on keeping on.  I like to say that I love best in the messy; maybe that is why this move has been both easier and harder than expected.

The move is easier, in that I can effortlessly tell people how I feel; where I struggle, is understanding the depths to which I'm loved. That love is humbling, powerful, and deep. When we share our love, we share an honest part of ourselves, our underbelly so to speak. This part of us, is our most fragile, our most vulnerable. Our truth becomes part primal and intensely personal, and what's more, it is a soul-connecting sharing with each other. I believe that through these connections we meet the Divine. That Divinity for me is God at work. Foolishly, I wasn't prepared for the intensity of that LOVE. I have felt the depth of this love many times, but this was different. What made it different was that I felt it constantly, it was unceasing.  Everyone I touched shared the depth of their love for me and my family. The intensity of that kind of love is remarkable and not something we often share in our daily journey.

So to feel that constant amount of love is overwhelming, because we don't have the skills to process the intensity on a daily basis. I'm not really sure why, maybe it's because we are out of practice, we don't see that type of love enough? It is something with which I need to wrestle.

I tell people all the time that I love them; but to hear them return that love was unsettling. The ability to open yourself and feel that kind love offered so freely is well... astounding.  Welcoming that type of love; being open to and accepting that love can be messy.  I admit, at times in the last month, I have gotten into my car and had the ugly, snotty cry, that hyper-ventilating, shit I'm scaring myself cry. I kept asking myself, "where is this coming from?" I just didn't see it coming-and that was the problem. I love so easily; but to see its reflection, to feel that warmth, to be vulnerable, to receive and be open to the Divinity of another, to welcome another's sunshine on my own face was profound. Life giving. Giving oneself permission to be loved is not easy... It can be uncomfortable and humbling. I didn't see, and perhaps wasn't open to welcoming God's grace in this way.

Life lessons are always BIG, just when you think you have it all figured out; you learn anew and aren't they the best lessons?  God humbles me often and it's in these moments that I learn the most.

Have you ever gone to a funeral and were shocked by the stories and the outpouring of love exhibited by those who attend? Often we hear folks say, "I never really was able to tell this person how important they are in my life." Listen I have no plans to die anytime soon; but that is what the goodbyes have been for me, the chance to get a glimpse of what I mean to others. I thought the lesson was how I was going to love everyone, explain the space I was creating that no distance could ever keep me apart from them. But the true lesson, that many shared was the thought, "I just never thought you would move away from here... I just thought we would have more time."  And my answer was the same, "So did I."

I never really believed that I would move from the East Coast. I love being an East Coaster! I love the seasons and everything about living in the DC area. We were close to our dear friends and family alike. We have the best community, support network and love anyone could ask for...

Which is why this move has been so painfully difficult; I never saw it coming.

So maybe that has been the other lesson; don't wait to make that lunch date, or movie night or to go visit some place or person that is close to you. Because we never really know what is around the bend. We think we do... but we really don't have a clue.

So as I begin the new work of creating my place in the Cali world, I'm reminded that the Divine, works so beautifully where we need it most, where we miss the sunlight. So I will keep my head-up and do the work here that is required.

This move has allowed me to understand, that I'm loved so beautifully, so completely, that I need to drink it in a little bit more, accept it and own that love, too! I was able to understand what I offered to another person, how the little things I do makes a difference in someone else's day. I admit it surprised me; I'm not doing anything special, truly. I'm just trying to navigate this world just like you. So being present, listening, crying, sharing that you matter to someone in a very meaningful way... that is a gift. A gift to both the giver and receiver. And it's that love that surrounds me that will keep me grounded as I navigate this new West Coast world.

When I leave my Wisdom Figure's home she says the same thing... As I skip down her steps fumbling for me keys, I always hear her voice call after me... "Go gently, Kathryn..."  I wait for it, smile and know that I'm loved and protected out in this big world.

I always know that I'm carrying her wisdom and the wisdom of the ages with me, out on my new adventures.

It is with this knowledge that I walk with more love than can be imagined... I hope that you do too.

Go gently, Pilgrims.  Go gently...

Namaste, until we meet again on the West Coast...



Go West...

This post was written a week ago. Since it was drafted, we accepted an offer on our house. We will move in October, just shy of 12 weeks since Jeffrey came home with the news. xo K

As people of faith we spend our life saying that we believe, that we trust, that we understand that we put all our eggs in the God basket. But do we really?  Oftentimes in moments of crisis we do it flawlessly, we BELIEVE. But when life is going as planned, and life is going really well, we often find ourselves at a fork in the road...

Do we trust, in a plan that is not ours?

Well that is where I'm meeting God on the Pilgrimage. To be honest, it is why I haven't published in a month. For one, I have been so busy that my writing isn't even on my radar, and for me that is a significant problem. You see writing, I have learned, is one of my forms of prayer. The ideas, feelings and thoughts are the very nuggets that I struggle with in my daily prayer life. This is a place where I meet God.

Jeffrey and I made the decision a few weeks ago to move to Santa Barbara, California. As with all good marriages, I was folding towels in the bedroom, Jeffrey breezed-in and from the top of the stairs, (he didn't even come into the bedroom, he remained in the hall!) says, "So listen, there is a NOAA job in California that will be open in the next month, I'm going to go for it unless you say, NO.  I love you, gotta run, "IAAAAAAAN  we are going to be late for tae-kwon-do.  Will talk later."

And he gave me that sheepish, sweet-as-pie grin that I fell madly in love with.... And that was it. He rolled out for tae-kwon-do. I sat on the edge of my bed and said...O' MY! Immediately followed by, "

my secret word

". Guess we're moving to California!

Now to be honest, this California job had been bandied about before, we had discussed that if it ever came up, Jeff would go for it. He has wanted it for years.  And only when I'm being honest, will I share, that my major prayer focus from the winter was, "Please Lord either let me go into remission or find another way for us to live."  Some would argue that the planets aligned; I don't agree.  It was simply God's hand helping us find a new road on this journey. He has steered us in a new direction.

So honestly, the only logical answer was, yes. DC winters are brutal and while my health has improved every month for the last year, it can't survive winters. Not to mention the steaming summers of high heat and humidity that are just as hard on my body. It was a fait accompli. For the record, it is the job my beloved wants to do... He is thrilled, excited and he deserves this job and that is why I'm so peaceful. This little family of four will blossom in California. In a year, I will look back on this very post and have great insight into this year.

But my heart is more than a little broken... There lies my struggle.

So here is what I can say... I'm peaceful about the move, but not entirely happy. Will I feel better? Absolutely!  Will the year round 70 degrees mean that in January I can walk my children to school? Will I not need to hide under blankets away from doors? YES and YES!   Will I finally get to be a wife and mother year around. YES! Will the weather change my life in ways I can't comprehend? Yep. Is Pilgrimage Gal destined for West Coast greatness? Of course. Because at my core, God is carrying all four of us.  I'm far from alone and that is where the peacefulness resides.

I have to be honest, as I write this I'm in a place of grief, tears start to roll down my face. Oftentimes, I don't even realize that my eyes are leaking. Last night while I flipped and flopped like a beached fish; suddenly my face got scary cold, and it was only then that I realized while sweet Jeffrey purred sleeping, that my face was hiving from my own cold tears.

How utterly ridiculous, but the truth.

Because If I were well, we may not have made this move.

So this very moment is why I have to put my money where my mouth is.  Moving has happened so quickly, so effortlessly, like it's just supposed to be.  It is not our will, it is the will of the Holy Spirit, plain and simple. So while friends and family alike try to offer encouraging words... UGH, it just stinks. I will miss so much and so many. Bonds with friends and family that will be broken.

But, in my heart this move is not mine, it is God's. And as a Pilgrims of Faith, I must be obedient. A hard place to find yourself.

Yesterday at Mass the visiting priest was talking about obedience. He explained that Jesus has even asked for intervention. Even Jesus was looking for the "Plan B" in the garden, but even Jesus was obedient, finally saying, "Thy will be done."

So I'm in good company, every so often it's nice to say, well Jesus rocked that.  We don't like suffering, Americans stink at grief and we certainly don't like to be obedient. We want control. So few of us are obedient, who really wants to  listen with an open heart, to be willing to accept what we don't want to hear; to find the grace in the struggle...


I hear crickets!

And once again for the billionth time, God has met me on this road, dusted me off and reminded me... "Sweet one you are mine, you are my child, but I have big plans for you... trust me."

And AGAIN,  I have to once again swallow hard and realize that this isn't my rodeo, I am following a road that I never wanted, to be that girl with the chronic disease that makes lemonade daily. That I will leave my sweet girls in my "hood", the girls who are the key to my wellness, and begin again.

Because I'm obedient, to living this life as a woman of faith.

I want to be clear, when I speak of obedience, I don't mean submissive, or obedient to Jeffrey. No. We are partners in every sense. I mean obedient to doing for my family and not for myself. Choosing what WE need over what I want. I want to be healthy, live and die in the house that I helped design, that every detail was a decision. That my neighbors are the family we created, and have cared for us in ways that are impossible to imagine. I want to stay with my Harvard, who has been with me on the darkest days and now has to watch me leave... to a new local California medical team that will never ever comprehend where "WE" have been together! (Don't worry I will fly back twice a year to check in with NIH who will continue to manage my long-term health needs)

I don't want to have to work to establish new friends, new church, new doctors, new schools, new therapists. I want to sit back and bask in the sunshine of feeling well. While, getting to enjoy that with my core friends and family.

But, that is not what this life is. I have said it so many times. Life is hard, full of choices we don't want to face. That we aren't living the script we wrote, we are living a very different one! We learn who we are in the struggle, you watch your marriage blossom, you see your children become more confident, you see what you are made of. And that is peaceful, that is the reason I have a smile on my face.

I'm really excited to move, to find what God has planned, what work HE has for me to do in California, what new adventures HE has planned for all of us. That is why we are smiling and crying; because life is full of the bitter and the sweet. This move is both... and I do know that as I sit in my house with boxes around me, this is the bitter.

The sweet is still to come, and it will be delicious, remarkable and full of promise.

So maybe this is my Good Friday and Holy Saturday. We know the Resurrection is coming, that Easter is breaking through the morning dew and warming us in the warm golden sunshine, the struggle is over... That is where I am. Waiting.

Why you ask, well because... I'm on a Pilgrimage, this is not a coincidence, it has been chosen just for me... and I'm running down the lane toward the beach to find the next mile marker. Easter is almost here for the Fergusons, we are anxious to leave Lent and Holy Week behind.

Thank you as always for walking along with me.

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you!



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