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

My Duets with Mick...

What awaits me at the end of my commute...

I listen to Mick Jagger every morning when I drive to work...

I'm sure it's not the play list of everyone who works in religious education.  When you pass me on the road; I'm belting out the lyrics to "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "Beast of Burden", "Sympathy for the Devil"  or even "Satisfaction". It's my morning therapy, I get everything out, all my stuff/worries for the day. And get ready to launch myself into the best day ever!  I have a personal rocking party on my 15 minute easy-peasy commute.  I have to be careful when sunroof and all four of my windows are down, I turn into the tranquil and peaceful mission grounds. I don't think anyone else has their sound system as loud or is singing with my intensity. Just me chill-axing with Mick.

I turn the music down, really low and gently pull into my parking place. I close my windows and grab my bag and start my day by greeting as many people as I can with a big smile!

My job title is Coordinator of Religious Education, some folks know it as its more formal name DRE: Director of Religious Education.  I'm in charge of the children's religious education for the parish. I work with the priests, parents, volunteer teachers and my favorite part--all the amazing Beauties of the parish. That's right, I get paid to hang out with kiddos! Teach them about God, the Church, and faith. I'm the Julie McCoy of religion. I get to be a cruise director of kiddos. (You are so welcome for the Love Boat reference!, younger readers, go ahead and

Google

it.)

It's as if the best job in the world fell out of the sky just for me! I love what I do. Every morning, I wake up with a smile on my face and thank God for creating a place where I get to be me. Where the very Kathryn-ness of it all get's to find a home. I'm tasked with helping parents raise their kiddos in the faith, that is such a part of me, it's not something I can separate. I can honestly say, I've never been happier.

And finally scoring the Religion award in school makes sense! All that education has come full circle. I'm the girl who had to download the Pope's document on the family 

Amortis Laetitia

 t

he "Joy of Love" and plowed through it the same day. Hello, geek alert! Next time I'm going to figure out how to get press credentials to read it in advance of the public release!

For some of you who know and love me, this job makes you giggle. Of course that is what Kathryn is doing. It makes sense. It's what I feel called to do, in the same way I knew I would marry Jeff or have the Beauties or that Santa Barbara was going to be amazing. I have found inner peace.

But, you may be asking, "how do I, find that in my daily life?"

If I can. You can too.

I'm not sure where the phrase follow you heart comes from. But, it really should be, follow your soul. When you begin to trust your heart, your gut, which thoughts are really your soul trying desperately to get your attention. You will find that these opportunities begin to appear. It's not luck--I promise you. It is your soul connecting with the Divine and you listening to where you are called to be. The voice isn't loud at first. It is this series of what some like to call coincidence that just keep happening. They are the bread crumbs of the Divine trying to get your attention. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you keep walking away from something, you eventually have that hammer moment where you realizes you should have been here all along?

I often think that for women, we struggle to claim what is ours. To say, yep I'm good at that, I want to do that--to put ourselves first. We make excuses why we shouldn't try something new or convince ourselves that we need to just keep doing what is safe. That it's not practical, now isn't the best time or one of a hundred other excuses.

Life isn't always practical.

What ultimately gives us joy? That sometimes takes trust, a leap of faith, digging deep and making it all work. Is that hard, even scary? O'my goodness yes. It is all of that and more. But the rewards... They aren't measurable.

For the longest time, I thought I was supposed to write a book. A book that would share what chronic disease, my Beauties, and my marriage have taught me. How my faith shapes my journey. Maybe, in time, that is what the Divine has planned for me. But, today I'm called to be Ian and Norah's mom, to help some beautiful families nurture their faith and to share that journey with all of you...

And the New York Times bestseller? Oh that may still happen, just not this week. The Divine has sent me off on a different path.  It may still happen and if the time comes, I will trust my gut (and the Divine) and jump in with both feet.

May you find the peace in the journey, jump in with both feet and feel the sunshine warm on your face.

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

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.

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

My Christmas...

Santa Barbara Mission at Christmas...

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

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

Luke 2:1-14

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus

that the whole world should be enrolled.

This was the first enrollment,

when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

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

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

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

because he was of the house and family of David,

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

While they were there,

the time came for her to have her child,

and she gave birth to her firstborn son.

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

because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields

and keeping the night watch over their flock.

The angel of the Lord appeared to them

and the glory of the Lord shone around them,

and they were struck with great fear.

The angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid;

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

that will be for all the people.

For today in the city of David

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

And this will be a sign for you:

you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes

and lying in a manger.”

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

praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest

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

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

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

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

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

I see Christ in every-face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal

Advent Candles...

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Soon and very soon,

We are going to see the King;

Soon and very soon,

We are going to see the King;

Soon and very soon,

We are going to see the King;

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,

We are going to see the King."

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

A classic Advent moment to rejoice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

You Look Radiant...

Quick stop on the way to Stanford...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's why.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste my fellow Pilgrims.

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

xo,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

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

Facebook

,

Instagram

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

Exquisite Everyday Moments with the Beauties...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I needed this day.

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

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

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

Peace be with you.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

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

Facebook

Instagram

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

Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal

Bright Blue Finger Nails...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xo,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

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

FaceBook

Instagram

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

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

Who Are Your Poor...

Ice cream makes everything better...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste.

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you.

xo,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

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

FaceBook

Instagram

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

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGuy

The Mighty Contributor

The Lessons of our Pilgrimage...

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

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

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

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

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

I wanted to take that transformative journey.

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

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

I made peace with that revelation.

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

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

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

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

Pilgrims

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

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

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

We are

Pilgrims

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

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

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

Till we meet again.

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

Much love always,

Kathryn the PilgrimageGal

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

Facebook

or

Instagram

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

photo credit:

Scallop Shell

via

photopin

(license)

Tips for Friendships with Chronic Disease...

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

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

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

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

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

never have remission

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

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

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

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

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

How about a wine and cheese party in bed

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

I'm the queen of text parties

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

I still love lunch dates with my best girlfriends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chronic disease is like a bad boyfriend

.

I love to hear from you, please friend me on

Facebook

 or 

Instagram

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

XO

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit:

pixabay

From Grumpy to Grace

The body of Christ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's meeting the face of God in others.

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

Thank you Father Kenan Osborne.

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

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

Peace be with you,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit:

Pixabay

What is Service?...

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

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

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

I'm not that girl...

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

I keep up appearances.

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

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

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

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

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

prioritize my week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace be with you.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credits:

Pixabay

and Mr. PilgrimageGal

Exquisite Everyday Moment With Cake...

Exquisite moment eating wonderful treats...

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

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

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

Lilac Patisserie

.

http://lilacpatisserie.com/home

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

Ian eyeing Dad's coffee...

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

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

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

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

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal

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

Stress, Worry and Disappointing Others...

Unmailed cards and letters...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which gets me to my busy prayer life:

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

I'm a little lost.

More aptly: I'm in the weeds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love always.

Kathryn and this time Norah too!

XO

Photo credit:

pixabay

Yellow Living Room...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You CAN become more resilient.

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

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

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

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Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal

Tool Five: Faith...



Today celebrates week five of our resilience tool box discussions. Tool Five is faith, and for me it is the linchpin that holds everything together. You can't function without faith in something.  I see faith, like your body's skin, the largest organ in your entire body and without it the rest of your body would fall apart. Faith holds you together no matter the success or trauma, faith goes with you everywhere and just like your skin, it can't be separated from the rest of you. It is in every part of your life.

I find when my faith life is working, everything is working. I heal faster, tolerate the intolerable, and live better when I take care of my faith life first.

When I speak with my tribe, I inevitably ask them all the same question.  "How is your spirit?" The answer offers insight into so many areas. It provides me with what I need to know, which is: "How are you, at your core, how are you living?" When your spirit is wonky, your faith life and the rest of you are too.  If you want to be the healthiest you, have a rock solid faith life. It just makes all of you, work at your best.

I have had some dark times, sometimes when my health was teetering, when I had lost confidence in myself, didn't trust my body. Even during the darkest times, I still held onto my faith, because I knew that even in the worst of times, God was with me and making my path.

The Divine is revealed to us all a little differently and one needs to be open to the path that lies in front of each of us. The hardest part is understanding that you may not like the path that is being paved for you. Hello, California?!  Even when we share the same faith tradition; we both will meet the Divine in a different place. It is the greatest mystery, how the Divine is revealed to each of us. What that revelation is for each of us is different, but what we share is that we are all called to do something in this life, to find what our unique talents and gifts are and then to use them the best way possible.

We all have folks in our life who try to hide from their faith. Who think that they don't need a faith journey or who question why the rest of us have one. But, the friends that my heart hurts for are the ones who say, "If I walked into a church, God would laugh at me or the walls may fall down because; I don't belong in that place."  It is often said tongue firmly planted in cheek, but the intent is all the same. They claim that it is not the place for them.

Why? The Divine is waiting for you. Patiently sometimes, often not not so much. The Divine provides us opportunities time and time again. All you need to do; is listen to the invitation and come along. Perhaps you misunderstand how the Divine is calling you. I find comfort in Church. In a community of folks who share similar comfort in the order of celebration that I call home. How you meet the Divine is up to you, do you meet in your meditation, in your contact with nature, or in your art? Do you meet the Divine in others? All of these are acceptable, but my question for you is how are you strengthening that relationship?  It takes practice and dedication, to have the fluidity to meet the Divine. As with any relationship it requires time and attention.

I have found in my travels that the folks who seem the most at peace are the people who have a titanium inner core of a faith life.  Are they good people? Sure. But in addition to being good folks they have a peace that only comes from an active faith life. It makes sorting through the difficult somehow tolerable. I have found my home in the Catholic church, by no means does it need to be yours. But, what I have learned, is that my dedication to this path, has provided me the quickest connection to the Divine. And to be able to hear what I'm being called to do. Yours will likely be different, but I encourage you to find the right one for you.

So the final question, how does it make you resilient? If faith is the skin that holds you together, then your faith life keeps you together when the world falls apart around you. It enables you to get up, get dressed and move on. Maybe it's the trust in a universe bigger than you... Or maybe it's just understanding that you are never alone and that a more Divine being is looking out for you.

Whatever the case may be, it works for me.

And I hope it works for you, too.

Kathryn
PilgrimageGal


photo credit: Sonnenstrahlen via photopin (license)

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/