When Life is a Little Complicated...

When life is complicated, be open to the Divine...

Hello my fellow Pilgrims...

I got a text message from the Holy Spirit today. Did you know she texted? Well she does.

The Divine reaches out in ways large and small. Today she reached out to me in the fingers of my 4th-8th grade teacher, confirmation sponsor, the woman who proclaimed the reading of First Corinthians to us at our wedding 24 yrs ago. This spiritual teacher has also attended the baptism of my children and the woman I lovingly refer to as my second mom. I call her Momma G.... or MG. I wrote about her a while ago in a post about

amazing teachers

.

MG sent me a text late Sunday from the East Coast. Before I had my second cup of tea Monday morning we were on the phone having a lengthy conversation. MommaG had cleared the decks to talk to me. That is a gift. As with all her communications, the Sunday text was sweet and loving. To paraphrase,

Just checking in, want to make sure I haven't missed any of your blog posts and that all is well...

We don't talk often enough; because we don't know how to have quick chats. Jeff questions if I know how to have any quick chats! Calls and texts from Mrs. P are gifts, that I tie up into a little bow and get stored as

exquisite everyday moments

.

The text was sweet as pie; it was a check-in. A pulse check to make sure that all was well... The Spirit never fails to send you an invitation and an opportunity for connection.

I wish every person could have at least one person in their life who sees them as the best version of themselves. Who sees you as the Divine sees you, beautiful, whole, worthy of love. This person who looks past your imperfections to see them as the gifts that make you stunning, whole, loved and as a precious child of God. MG has been that guide for me since I met her at age 9. A remarkable gift to be loved so completely...

Perhaps you can begin to see why I call her a blessing.

MG was wondering what so many of you must... Where the heck is Kathryn?!?!

I haven't shared any of my journey with you for a while. It may be in fact the longest I have gone with out sharing a tale from the road.

It's not that I haven't been writing--I have been.

Can I just say...

Writing is hard.

It honestly is.

When you write, you are sharing your soul, it's intimate. I share with you what is in my heart, where my soul is and how I see the world. It can be a tad bit frustrating when you can't get out of your own way when you write. You must be able to quiet your mind and still be open to listen. Writing requires you to get to your truth, find your sacred space where your mind and soul meet your fingers on a keyboard.

Perhaps that's why you hear so often the stories of great writers (I don't put myself in their company) and how they all drank. Many of them also used other tools to try to access that place that generates the words. They weren't healthy either. Thank goodness I have chocolate, goodness if we have a world shortage of chocolate-- I'm in trouble.

I find my writing to be my safe place, it can also be a place of prayer for me. The things I share come from my own prayer life. What I have learned and what I still need to. This journey isn't easy, as a woman, wife, friend and mother. I too am plagued by insecurities, worries and get caught up in my own humanness. I petition the Divine for my way, for the outcomes I desire, not the ones that are best for me. I want the outcomes that I KNOW are the right choices. For some strange reason the Divine often has a different plan.

I'm currently in that space of jumping up and down, hurling profanities and having a 46 year old temper tantrum. Wondering why are things not going my way, why can't it be easier, why is life just so darned complicated some times!

That is where you meet me today. On the Island of Unacceptable.

Let's be clear, my life isn't any different from any of you. I don't have all the answers. I too am a Pilgrim. The only way I differ from all of you is I don't seem to mind publicly airing my foolishness. That is till recently.

After speaking with Jeffrey, I asked him why this time was different? Why was I having so much trouble putting my thoughts and feelings down in a blog post? Looking at me with a warm beaming smile, he answered:

"With you it's never just one thing--it's always a little bit complicated."

What Jeffrey is too sweet to say is everything with me is a wee bit more complicated. It's never just one thing, but a mosaic of a hundred little things that intertwine. My life is really hard currently. I will share the details in a second-- but it almost doesn't matter. Some of you will read my list and think...

Yep, that's hard.

Many of you will be in a far more difficult place.

UGH. My heart hurts that you are on your own Island of Unacceptable. I wish we could pull them all together and make a little community of unacceptable. I think that is why I'm finally sharing all of this with all of you.

MamaG listened to me share my truth and she paused for a second then said, "You are in transition."

I explained that I'm ALWAYS in transition. And without even seeing her face I can see her knowing smile. As we continue to chat, my heart becomes full knowing, that even while I struggle, this transition is part of my journey with the Divine. My life will always be transitional. I will always be the PilgrimageGal, I will never be satisfied. I am a seeker, I need to understand, to look, to go deeper, to understand the depths of the Divine that I will never fully grasp in this life. Please understand that doesn't mean I'm not happy. While this time is hard; it's also extremely joy-filled. Because while I'm struggling, my path is filled with so many opportunities to see God's hand in all of it.

My life has been a little complicated, which may in fact be why my writing is hard. Before I bore you with my details. Let me say this, the fact that I wrote this post is the reason that I will write another one. It may take me a couple of weeks-- but I will be in touch, that I promise.

Ready... Here goes:

I've been sick, actually really sick. My West Coast doctors have only known me fairly healthy, not nearly as sick as I was back East. And since I have been doing well, there were conversations with the entire team about me trying to ween off some medications that I have used for years. The hope? That some of them would no longer be necessary for my day to day wellness.

When you are a long-term chronic disease patient, you daily, monthly and yearly make choices about treatments/meds. Many have long term side effects, but with a skilled medical team; you weigh the options and make informed decisions. As a team, we all agreed to the decisions, I stand by them... the problem is that I'm the one who lives these decisions made by my team, it's my body. I can say without hesitation this process has been a a train wreck. Before all this foolishness, I would wake to my pain at usually lower than a 4 out of 10 and by the end of a bad day it would be a 8. For far to many days lately, I awake to pain north of an 8. There is no way you are going to turn around an 8 when you haven't even peed, brushed your teeth or seen the coffee pot. Two things that make me not so joyful---pain and my flipping cough. This process began in June and has continued through August when I had successfully come off all the meds in question. As I sit here in mid-October, we are sorting out the foolishness of these choices and hopefully, fingers crossed will have me better duct-taped together within a few weeks. This experience has been brutal.

 Insert sad face emoticon here...

Meanwhile while having ever so much fun, in mid-August my mother was diagnosed with a re-occurrence of cancer. It was clear in early August while she visited us in California that there was a significant issue. At mom's request, she differed treatment till she returned to the DC area and her medical team. Jeff and I weren't happy, out of respect for mom's privacy I won't go into the details. My mother is the toughest human alive, honest to goodness, and while she is facing a serious medical issue-- it will never slow her down nor do I anticipate that this will kill her... I may kill her for being stubborn, and foolish, but that is a totally different issue. I love you mama! You are the bravest and the best inspiration a daughter could ask for. xox

Thanks to the cancer diagnosis my mom got an emergency visit from her favorite daughter (I'm her only daughter) less than 8 days from her leaving California. The upside, I got to celebrate my 46 birthday alone with my mom. We went antiquing, had lunch, and watched old movies in bed eating potato chips and drinking classic coke! It was so incredibly special to spend my birthday with my mom-- That visit put life in focus.

My sweet little gig at the mission wasn't working for me and the family. The day after returning from my visit with my mom, I resigned. While visiting with my mom, she told me to walk away from the job. My mother has never told me to walk away from anything. When I told her I resigned; she was relived and happy.

"Good, it needed to be done. Focus on Jeff and the children."

I don't think I will ever work where I feed myself. I explained to one of my friends, you never want to work at your favorite restaurant. You don't want to go into the kitchen perhaps and see that it's a little dirty, or view your favorite romantic spot with the harsh florescent lights that come up at the end of the evening. You want the experience, not the reality. Meaning where I worship and work need to be two separate places. No words can describe how I loved the parish families and working with educating the children. The experience is the signal greatest joy in my life outside of my husband and Beauties. Nothing gives me more pleasure than incorporating my love of faith and sharing it with others. What I'm not good at is the humaneness of the church. We all know of her imperfections, I just didn't like seeing it. Let me be clear there was no crime, nothing illegal and nothing immoral taking place. Just the mundane bureaucracy, reorgs, budget discussions and other day to day "corporate" stuff, was not how I want to spend my spiritual life. In the corporate/business world it's easy to be political-- I'm not interested in doing that in a religious setting.

I mentioned joy a little while ago. There is a little jar in my living room that says: "It isn't Joy that makes us Grateful; It's Gratitude that makes us Joyful." What an apt description of how I see the Divine in my daily life. Gratitude for the text message from the Divine in fingers of someone who loves me for me. We are always being guided, listened to and directed to the path that was created entirely for us.

My journey has been a little complicated lately. I've made a promise to myself, that complicated or not, I'll document the journey a bit more frequently moving forward.

Thank you for walking with me on this journey...

Will talk again soon, that I know for sure. xoxo

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

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

New Year and Spiritual Retreats...

My walk on a rare cloudy day...

Happy New Year my follow Pilgrims.

I hope your holidays were filled with the light and love that only comes from the warmth of the Divine. I have had a beautiful season. My mother was visiting from December 16 to January 16. We celebrated Christmas, New Year and her youngest grandchild's 10th birthday. It's hard to believe that my baby is 10.

So after saying goodbye to my mom and trying to locate and pack away the last of the errant Christmas decorations, I finally cleared my schedule for a few minutes alone with all of you. I have so many things to share about my plans for this year; but for now I thought I would share some details of the inner workings of my daily faith life.

I don't know about you; but there have been times when I thought I was doing this prayer thing all wrong. Honestly, I don't meditate everyday, don't sit down with Scripture for even a few minutes most days. I admit sometimes I choose sleep over prayer, or coffee with a girlfriend or even just to watch something mind-numbing streaming on my screen.  So the question becomes, how do you stay connected with the Divine when so much noise and distractions are surrounding your daily journey?

First, we need to re-frame what most of us consider time with the Divine. I'm not sure why, but many of us have grown-up believing that prayer time needs to be in a house of worship. While that can be a beautiful place to pray and for some among us, it centers us quickly, it's not always the best place. For many of us with Beauties, going to a service for years was part wrestling match, part hairy eye balls; washed down with many threats. A wonderful way to meet the face of the Creator.

Just this past Sunday; my family of four was so irritated with one another I replied while getting ready for church:  "We all need to talk to Jesus, because I don't have anything nice to say to any of you right now."

We then spent the 10 minute drive to Mass flicking and bickering with each other.  Mass was an hour where we couldn't talk to each other--which was a gift.  I'm happy to report that we were all smiling well before communion. I take great comfort in knowing, I'm not alone in having a bad day with my Beauties.

Which gets me back to your prayer life. Sometimes I'm distracted. So creating the space where I can be open to hearing the voice of the Divine can be tricky.

One of the best things about the move has been my ability to spend time outside year around. Before the move, I literately spent months inside in bed; too sick to move. The more temperate climate has changed my life. Within my neighborhood is a protected wild life preserve, Jeffrey created a simple walk for me that is a couple of miles. It's an easy walk, but filled with such beauty, mountain views, a small lake, birds and plants I have never seen. The walk brings me peace for which I had been searching--this special place is my Spiritual retreat.  I leave everyone and go for a lovely walk meeting the Divine in every view.

What makes this walk a retreat is my smartphone. Crazy as it sounds, it's an integral part of my walk. From the music I play, to the meditations, or even the podcasts by religious thinkers. My i-phone connects me to the Divine on this walk.

Many of us aren't smartphone savvy; I admit I'm not the best on my i-Phone; but it's easy to find great tools on the App Store.  One of my favorite apps is "On Being with Krista Tippet", which includes podcasts of Krista interviewing speakers that I love like Fr. Richard Rohr, Fr. James Martin and others.  Or I simply download some Gregorian Chants to help me meditate on my walk. Each of these offer me an escape. Each offer me a beautiful walk with a friend. Here is the best part, most of the podcasts are free! If you are looking for a new way to change your prayer life, look no further than to technology to connect you with voices you need to hear.  I also like that it's a two-fer, I'm getting sunshine, fresh air and building my prayer life.

So consider it my New Year's Gift to you... Enhancing your prayer life is as easy as a walk and a listen.

Till we catch up on the trail again. All my love my Pilgrims

Xo

Kathryn

The Pilgrimage Gal

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

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

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

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

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...

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.

Kathryn
PilgrimageGal

Photo credit: http://pixabay.com/en/users/Holgi-5825/

Picking Your Team...

Working together to achieve wellness...

When you are managing a chronic disease or suddenly diagnosed with a major health crisis, it takes more than a village to keep you healthy… It takes a tactical army; of friends, doctors,  therapists and great cooks…

My therapist is a Sister of the Holy Names, so in my case I have a therapist who is an expert on medical issues, families with chronic disease, but she is also my unofficial spiritual director… So in one pick I scored a two-fer, and she is my rock next to Jeffrey. She gets life so beautifully and cuts through the foolishness, is action oriented, and gives great hugs. That is a double win in my book.

She gave me a lovely compliment this week; she told me that she didn't know anyone who had assembled a better team… Which made me think, how do you assemble a great team?

Assembling this team has been a process for years, but this core group has been solid for several years… The key to my team, they all understand two fundamentals of my wellness:

First:  My husband Jeffery is my whole world and our children are our life

. We were married 10 years before we started our family. We grew into our marriage, I had to grow-up and then we were ready to start our family.  And it was the best decision we made and as a couple now married over 20 years; our choices work...

Second

:

I don’t want someone to just make me feel better; I want someone who demands I get better. 

Big difference in this statement… It requires both action and commitment.

When you identify what you are striving for, not just feeling better, but true wellness, it becomes tangible. All of my goals are based on these principles… Medicines, procedures, tests, appointments… How many flipping times have I had to give my medical history… But, it’s a step, a rock we turn over, it moves us down the road… It's more training for this marathon we call life.

Every step is moving me towards wellness, I believe that… I have a clear idea of what wellness is…. Will I be the girl I was before all this, NOPE… Never again… I will have limits… 

What I am is fearless, and unbreakable in spirit. Because every person who is welcomed onto my team gets instantly my two guiding principles… It’s that simple… If you are not on team Kathryn, you are lovingly retired and not welcomed back.

You learn that chronic disease is designed for the TYPE A… We are the only ones who will not curl-up and die under the weight of the pain... We learn how to survive and we flourish… My Hawaiian girl stopped by yesterday and we had a lovely chat, while our girls worked on their fairy garden, she said that she loved my “spirit” (so many compliments in a week.) But what she loves is my optimism… If you don’t have faith in wellness, you will NEVER EVER be well…

Many of these team members/players need whole posts on how to select them… Today I'm going to focus on forming the team:

Doctors:

 you need one, in my case two, Go-to doctors… The doctors who get you, know who you are, your priorities, your symptoms, tell you the hard truth and see you as a person not a disease. Now here is the thing, this is a relationship and like all relationships they require a lot of work, respect, and a ton of humor.

TIP: You know you are in the presence of a Go-to doctor when they say, “I’m out of answers or I don’t know, I've never seen this before… But, I know a person...”  And then: They make the call, send the email, get you the appointment.

Go-to docs have two jobs: manage your day to day and be the conduit for outside help when they run out of answers. My Go-to’s are not my primary physician, I still see her once/twice a year for check-ups, but my Go-to are specialists. One is an immunologist/allergist the other is a pulmonologist/critical care. They are the ones who use their relationships to find me experts on my health issues, they call in favors, make demands of colleagues and fight to get me access to the best the world has to offer.

And I LOVE my Go-to's… My Go-to lost some points and colleague's support by going over the heads of some folks to get me “in-to” the guy she wanted me to see.  That is the amazing support of my Go-to doctors... They go above and beyond, just to help me.

Therapist:

 Your therapist is the other leg on a three leg stool, your Go-to’s are one leg, you and your supports are another, and your Therapist, well mine stands alone…

Because she is soooo important. 

Picking the right one is possibly the most important member of your team, she will be with you for a long time, she knows all your issues is often your co-pilot on sorting things out.

My requirements

 are very simple… I don’t want someone to hold my hand and dry my tears;  I want someone who is in-it with me to get answers.

Simple also means… Direct.  You should leave every appointment with a to-do list, homework, what you need to get done. You need tangible goals… If you have a therapist that wants you to just smell the roses and pass you tissues… You need to run like hell… You are much too busy for that brand of foolishness, time is not your friend, you have to have  urgency

 to find wellness. You need to have action oriented steps, plans, goals objectives.

Sometimes my homework is to rest, take care of my body… Other times it is to get my team mobilized for the next hospital and next specialist.  She is often the sounding board to my new ideas, plans and goals. She is also the one who helps me shape my "new reality" of what wellness means, how you live happily in the brokenness.

Your therapist does many things, she is an impartial viewer of you… 

Sometimes she has a better gauge on where I am; than I do… I get so mired in my own stuff; and she helps me sort-through it. Now listen, I do believe that therapy is vital when facing a chronic or serious disease.  I have had frank conversations with both my doctors and my therapist to say, “listen if I’m doing something psychological to make myself sick, then we need to find that too… because I want to be well.”  You have to be willing to look at every aspect of your life. Likewise you want your therapist to say, “Kathryn this is not in your head, your body is broken, we will find answers, you are doing the work.”

That is demanding wellness, not just making me feel better…

Spiritual Direction

and Spiritual Guide, your own personal Yoda:

We all need a Yoda, the person who guides us to the “Force” and leads you to your spiritual center. I have been in a women’s prayer group for eight years, drop in on another,  I practice   yoga, meditation, along with an active prayer life. Also, I have a life-long family friend that I call regularly to talk about matters of faith… And then I have my therapist. Your mental health is equal to spiritual heath in all matters … You need to constantly grow this side of your life… 

You must find peace in the foolishness….

Having

a spiritual guide is one of the best investments and she is easy to find… All you need to do is take an inventory of the folks in your life. The person who is always at peace in the hurricane of life? That is where you start… Ask her how she does it? Where does she go? Who does she talk with? Chances are high she does not do this in isolation. And if she does, well she is a saint. So hold on to her!

In the Catholic church, priests and nuns have relied on Spiritual Directors, a kind of spiritual  teacher/guide. The job of a Spiritual Director is simple--help you draw closer to God. You can find both formal or informal guides.  For some, you’re therapist may be able to provide you with a two-fer, like I have, or you may find that your minister or other faith leader may provide you with the tools to fit your life and lifestyle… 

Please, don’t over look this part of your team… Spiritual Direction allows you to grow in so many amazing avenues. When you open the door to this idea, it won’t take long to find your path… You may find that when you are open, the guide will appear.

Your Three AM call

… and your fairy godmothers:

This job falls on a several different girls in my life. This job is the one, when you are really sick you call this friend at 3 am.... They come running and my True Love takes me to the hospital.

This friend comes over in pj’s and sleeps with your kids when you are admitted. She makes pancakes in pj’s, watches tv, and has unlimited hugs, loves till the day or night gets sorted out.

This job also requires creating out of thin air, carpools, play dates, AND world class entertainment, when I was too sick to lift my head.

My list also includes my extended "created" family…. This is for the non-biological members of my family, who are just as important as our "real" family… Jeff and I could not survive without this branch of our clan… 

They are most evident in my

Fairy Godmothers…

The fairy godmothers are the women in my life who are my soul-sisters, who drop their very busy lives, jobs, spouses and roll-in and make the magic happen… They come when my True Love travels, they nurse me, Loooord they feed me sooooo good, and how they love my beauties… It makes me weep just talking about them...

Fairy Godmothers sprinkle the fairy dust... And I rest, sleep and curl up under their beautiful wings… I get to bask in their sunshine. No one has better Fairy Godmothers than I do, and my kids about die when my A-listers roll into town… These women, are the best of the best… 

This year we were blessed to have Norah’s godmother Jane and my stunningly beautiful soul-sister Shelly, both came for a week when I was too sick to do much of anything. What makes their arrival so special is they make the time beautiful, fun, seamless and my beauties forget that I'm sick, Dad's away and life is hard... My FG's have known me so intimately for so long, that they can run my household the way I want to and that creates calm and fun…. Which makes it all work for everyone… And it’s a huge help for Jeffrey, because he doesn't have to worry about us and he can drink a beer, watch the game in his hotel and work.

So this is what I mean when I say I have a small army… All of this would be nothing without my Jeffrey and my Mom, who almost daily drops life to help her baby… I am constantly surrounded by my Army of team Kathryn… All searching for the goal of wellness…

In my upcoming posts queue, I will discuss how you find your doctors… The supports at school for my kids... How communication with your team is critical, and more on spirituality/faith,  my thoughts on what wellness really means. I would also like to talk about what causes me stress as a Mom with an autoimmune disease... All that and so much more as we roll into spring and summer… 

If you have any ideas, suggestions or questions, please leave a comment, or don’t hesitate to contact me directly via email at pilgrimagegal "AT" gmail "dot" com.

As always, thank you for walking along on this Pilgrimage with me... 

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you...

Kathryn the Pilgrimage Gal

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