Why I Say Merry Christmas...and it may surprise you!

I just did a quick Google search for religious holy days and holidays in December. I found 14, and I'm sure there are a few more that I'm missing.  For a point of reference, those of us who trace our faith roots back to Abraham; that means anyone who is Jewish, Muslim or Christian--we all have celebrations in December. One of the world's oldest monotheistic religions, the Zoroastrians honor the death of their prophet, while Buddhist friends celebrate Buddha's decision to sit under a very special tree waiting for enlightenment--which he did receive. All of these celebrations are poignant, beautiful and special to each faith tradition.

 As Catholics, we have a unique strong hold on December, in addition to Christmas, we celebrate a special holy day devoted uniquely to Mary on December 8th, we have a whole bunch of saint's feast days, and if that wasn't enough, we take all four weeks leading up to Christmas and call it Advent.

Despite what the advertisers tell you,  for Christians, the Christmas season isn't our holiest of times--no we save that for Easter.

But that said, I'm a big fan of Advent, I love that we are reminded to prepare for the birth of the Christ child. We need to make our hearts ready, we are also required to pray... To slow our lives down and be open to hearing the voice of the Divine. Those requirements are a tall order in a world fueled by consumerism.

Advent begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Often folks are still celebrating with family when we all roll into mass. For Christians, it's a our New Year, our calendar begins again, and it ushers in a time of reflection, repentance and preparation. Each of the four weeks of Advent provides Christians a chance to refocus our gaze on a stable in Bethlehem and the birth of our Messiah--not on Santa, and our ridiculously long shopping lists.

As parents, its hard... Let's just be honest.

To raise humans that are focused on the "real celebration" of our holy days and not the pursuit of stuff.

We are all also striving to teach our children about gratitude. Being grateful comes in many forms; one of the best is to say, "thank you". This year in an effort to assist in the focus--both of the Beauties are writing four letters. The idea is that each letter represents a week of Advent.

As a family, we sat down and discussed who would be the recipients of the letters. Our requirements were simple, each letter was to be to an adult, someone over 18. They needed to be someone the Beauties admired and were instrumental in helping them on their path to adulthood.  They could be a couple or individual, teachers, family member or adult wisdom figure (insert awesome family friend). What captivated me was as the Beauties assembled their list (of the 8 letters) only two are being sent to Catholics. Which is why the letters are so exciting. My children are being raised in faith, but the people who influence, challenge, and love them-- offer a beautifully full picture of the world. We remind the Beauties all the time, you are constantly building your tribe, the people who will stand with you in the storm and eat cake and toast you in times of celebration. That is an awesome job, so it's our job as parents to help you (them) identify the qualities that they will need in their adult tribe.

Which gets me back to the reason I wish folks a, "Merry Christmas".

In our culture, we work very hard to create a world that is more respectful of diversity. In doing so, we have turned away wishing friends specific holy days, instead we turn to the generic:

"Happy Holidays."

I'm not a fan but, when someone wishes me a "Happy Holidays," I say, "thank you," with love in my heart.

I'm what you would call a multi-cultural friend, I love celebrating holy days with others. I have celebrated oodles of holy days with friends who aren't Christian. I've celebrated Passover, enjoyed lighting candles for Hanukkah (Norah's best friend's menorah is beautiful). I have been wished the joys of the Hindu celebration of Diwali by my friend in London. She wished me prosperity, the joy of hope over darkness, and the removal of negative forces from my home and life!  If had been lucky enough to be in London; I would have feasted on delicious food, seen her home illuminated with candles to remove the negative forces from her home and her life-- I would have gotten to celebrate the joy of her holiday.

Don't you wish you were wished a Happy Diwali?!?!

NOTHING makes me happier, then when one of my friends wishes me the joy of their faith's holy day!

Have you ever stopped to think how much love comes from someone when they share the joy of their tradition?

So if I were in a shop and someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah; I would say thank you!  I would be delighted that someone would wish me the joy of their Festival of Light!  When I wish someone Merry Christmas, whether your Christian or not, I'm wishing you the sentiments of my holy day and my faith tradition which is Peace, Joy and Love.

Let me be clear about what I'm not saying:

I'm not saying, sorry your messiah hasn't come and mine has. Nor am I saying that because I'm a christian and maybe your not, you are destined to some ring of hell; because you don't believe what I do.


I'm sharing with you that I meet the Divine through my Catholic tradition. And in December it's a special time for me. It is a beautiful season that by its very origin celebrates love. It is a holy and special time in my faith. So when I want to share that love, that joy, it's not me being unkind--it's me trying to be gracious, loving and thoughtful.

In the same token, when my friends wish me the joy of their holy days, I'm humbled, touched and deeply moved that they would share the very love of their tradition with me.

As I have shared in earlier post, the world has been showing profound ugliness of late. I will be the first to share that my faith tradition has done some horrible deeds in the name of religion. The humanness of the world is painful in all its forms. I know in my heart that the Divine shares that pain and sorrow; when as humans we spread darkness, hate, evil-- not light, peace and most profoundly LOVE.  I stand by my assertion that the world is full of way more beautiful people (because I have meet so many of you)!  When you surround yourself with the goodness of the world, it then becomes our duty, as the good ones, to stand even taller and share our love and light with others.

AND I will further add....

No one who has wished me the joy of their holy day has ever tried to convert me, disparaged my faith tradition or my families....or told me my traditions are wrong or another faith is superior.

That has NEVER been my experience--ever.

Along with my family, we will attend a program at Norah's school called a Festival of Light, where we will go and experience other family's holy days for the month of December. What makes it so special is that afterwards, we come home and discuss the commonalities of our other friend's faiths. My Beauties will then explain that some of their friend's celebrations are way better than our traditions. Where we remind each other, it's yet, another reason why we like to celebrate with our friends!

As you hustle and bustle this year; share your love and light... And to everyone who is expecting my Christmas card, consider this post your card. Here's hoping, I'm less disorganized next year!

With all the love I have, I wish you and yours the blessing of my tradition; the beauty of a season filled with peace, joy and love.  I send this wish by saying the simple words, "Merry Christmas."

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you, today and always.




photo credit: Katrinitsa

Christmas balls




Moving Past Division...

To say the last few months have been painful in our democracy would be an enormous understatement.

Many say we are a Nation divided.... You pick up your iPhone or turn on the television and you see and hear hate speech, protests, and division.

I understand why many say that we are fractured; but in my bones, I see a world that is searching for healing in so many areas.  Please understand, I'm not sugar coating it, I can see our scars, and in no way am I trying to gloss over the deep divisions of our wounds.

I see with my heart a world full of hope and love.

In the same breath, I have to say what saddens me at my core are the social media posts that say something along the lines of:

"If you don't agree with me... I will unfriend or block you."

Those my fellow Pilgrims, are at the core some of the scariest words on the internet.

I wasn't a math or statistics major so bear with me. There were about 60 million on each side of the aisle that voted in this election. For the sake of argument, let's say 5 million on both sides or 10 million are absolutely unreachable. They are <insert every horrible label here>, just go for it--they

are not the best of us. Period. When these folks speak it's always hate speech. It is our duty to use our voice to condemn this discourse. Just today I learned that a restaurant that I have frequented (in Maryland) a white woman told a woman of color that she was happy that Trump won because he was, "making America white again." This woman is so fortunate that I wasn't there--I have no tolerance for such hideous behavior. In my view her words were hate speech.

I understand that many folks encounter the worst of us more than I do. I recognize and acknowledge that my experiences differ from many others. But in my soul, I believe that most of us see more good than bad, and it is equally important that we stand together to support the good. We each need to use our voice to stand as citizens and deplore all acts of violence and unrest. I completely respect the rights of individuals to protest, but not to vandalize or harm others. In the same way I would have absolutely stepped in and called the woman entering the restaurant for her use of hate speech.

If we now take the 110 million and toss in tens of millions who couldn't stomach either candidate and sat out the election. You will see that there are more good folks by sheer numbers.  You, yes you, my fellow Pilgrims are fantastic people--because I see you every single day quietly moving among us. Doing the good work that makes the world a better place.

And that my friends is who I want to talk to.... The 110 million or so among us. So before you delete everyone on your feed and dump your book club neighbors because of their "wrong" campaign yard signs, let's settle in for a little chat...

On election night my phone was on FIRE. I received so many calls and text messages that said:


Because for the better part of a year... I told folks, Donald Trump would win.

I WOULD NEVER vote for him, but I knew he was going to win.

Keep in mind this is way back in Iowa and New Hampshire, before wiki-leaks, before the first FBI investigation.

But, I have tons of normal, (non-racist, not homophobic, you get the idea) exceptional humans, that I love that will/did vote for him.

AND I still love them on November 9th.

The faces that heard my prediction were always fanstastic: My friends on the left would have a nervous laugh and say, "Dear Lord I hope not" and they aren't pray-ers. Still others told me I was "CRAZY...."  but the majority of people thought I was just wrong.

One of my dear friends in California, was at a fancy book launch the Saturday before the election. When conversation turned to the election, Bob brazenly told his room full of liberal friends:

"I know this woman who grew up in DC and she knows that Trump will win."

Bob told me there were audible gasps--I wish I had been there. I would love to have talked them thorough it with my liberal lens.

Now mind you, Bob is almost 70 (but you would guess he was 50), and the party was for the book launch of a man's account of a highly decorated Pearl Harbor survivor. You can imagine a room filled with highly educated folks; consuming alcohol in liberal California. They didn't like it--at all.  

You see for months I read articles, talked to folks, watched rallies, and listened... When I did, I heard the arguments that resonated. Did I agree with all of the arguments- Goodness NO.  But, I understood why they resonated.

To all of my fellow citizens who were blindsided, I ask you with love in my heart, this one question.

Who are your friends?

Let me explain.

In order to pay for college I worked in a hotel at the front desk, but nearly all of my college was payed for by being a waitress and a bartender.  I studied classical rhetoric--which means this post is actually what I majored. The "Art" of a well constructed argument. To this day, bartending was the most extraordinary job I have ever had. I never worked longer or harder than the years I went to school and tended to oodles of adult beverages. I worked with people from all spectrum of education. There were college educated school teachers who needed to waitress to pay rent; I worked with Ivy league frat boys who worked for beer money, working along side immigrants, who were dishwashers, or prep-cooks who spoke little or no English, the head chef who had never finished high school. I have never met people with a more dedicated work ethic than the individuals I worked with in the service industry.

My boss in the restaurant was Cynthia, she was the head bartender and was doing graduate work. I was 19, Cyn was 29 and didn't like me.  I was everything she wasn't, I was (then) Republican, wore a ton of pink, green and pearls. I was religious, the goody-two-shoes girl of privilege. Cynthia's life was very different and she didn't think we had anything in common. Cyn had lived in the world--I hadn't. One morning she came in and while we were setting up the bar, she said the funniest thing ever.

"Kathryn, I read an article that said the key to happiness is to develop friendships with someone you have nothing in common with...That's you!"

I remember nervously laughing, but also being ever so excited. Cynthia is/was unbelievably cool, poised, crazy smart, and beautiful. Without Cyn, I never would have married Jeff; she got us together. Cyn was with Jeff when he selected and bought my engagement ring.  My friendship with Cynthia, forged at 19 is one of my greatest life lessons. I learn more about the world from folks I think I have nothing in common with than with the people I do...

If you want to have a full rich life you need deep close friendships with folks you think that you have nothing in common. That means folks who have lived in different parts of the country or world; who don't look like you, who don't vote like you, and don't worship like you. I can promise you no matter where you live--these folks are among you!

Now I can hear my friends on the left screaming at me, "our life is diverse!"

BUT Kathryn I have friends from all parts of the world.

I say this with love... If you were at all surprised by this election, than a big fat NOPE...

Your world is not diverse.  You may be one of the greatest examples of multiculturalism, but not true diversity.

Diversity means ALL ideas. Can you sit in a room with a wealth of divergent ideas and leave that room with every spirit intact--not just yours. AND not want to verbally kill anyone.

You also may want to ask all your friends what the definition of diversity is... and start finding some friends who have a different definition than you!

I can also hear many of you yelling at your screens telling me... Well in two weeks, I will be spending Thanksgiving with whole parts of my family that don't see the world as I do...

News flash... not the same.

We all have families.

And in each and every one of them we have that one relative that is filled with CRAZY.

Everyone has a relative that plucks their nerves. But, we all have an understanding that we are there to eat Aunt Betty's (I don't have an Aunt Betty) delicious apple pie and not discuss (capital punishment, gun rights, terrorism, climate change... you get the idea.) with Uncle Bradley (I don't have a Bradley either). You love Uncle Bradley because every year after dinner he still can make your kids belly laugh with his silly jokes, toss the football around the backyard, or pour you the best 25 yr old scotch. But deep in your heart you look past your disagreements with Uncle Bradley because he is yours... and he is family.

For many of us we can look past a great deal for the beauty of family. We don't have to agree, we just need to tolerate for the sake of lovely Aunt Betty. We love Aunt Betty, far more than we are willing to have a heated discussion. However, for some of us it's even deeper; we will clearly say to Uncle Bradley we won't discuss certain topics because our views are too divergent. Then sadly for some, our Uncle Bradley may be part of the 10 million that isn't the best part of our country/world. And knowing that in our broken hearts, we don't even go to the family dinner or allow him in our homes. For those Pilgrims, my heart breaks for you and your entire family. That such hate lives so close to your door. Please understand in your firm stance know this--you are setting a great example for all that know you and your family.  You are standing against hate in all it's forms and will not allow it in your presence; or in the lives of your loved ones. When you make this decision, feel peaceful in choosing light over darkness.

The real question, is how often do you sit across the table from someone that you LOVE that has a definition of diversity that differs from yours, or more bluntly, they just see the world with a different lens.

Which leads me back to the election.

We talk with the Beauties about politics all the time. The children had to watch portions of the debates. We shared with them that we would vote for Hillary and why. We also shared with them individuals we suspected would vote differently, that would agree with Mr. Trump.

My Beauties eyes got really BIG. Because they LOVE these members of our tribe.

On every issue in this election. If you can peel the layer back of the vitriol and look at the argument: Illegal immigration, health care, abortion, defense, ISIS, budget, jobs..... And you then sit down and try to understand the other person's perspective you will find a kernel where you will find common ground. Embrace it.

We must stand up against hate, but we must also find paths to connect.  Neither side can just block and ignore 60 million people, just because they voted the opposite way...

What I can tell you is that for every topic you passionately disagree, you can find three you can agree on. And when you focus on the three you agree on, it will make it a whole lot easier to then talk about the one you don't.  

As a Catholic, I face these issues frequently. The divisions in the Catholic Church have some enormous gulfs. There is a lot to disagree about; the role of women, divorce and remarriage, married priests, LGBT issues, the future of our religious orders, the role of the pope, etc.

BUT...  Every time I walk though the doors of the Catholic Church I enter, I don't look at the people surrounding me and look for people I agree or disagree with--No, I join my hand with theirs; pray with and for them as they do for me.  I give thanks that as a community of believers we are there, the broken and more broken, for spiritual nourishment and grace.

As we move forward this season, the season in all our faith traditions that is focused on love and light; m

y prayer for all of us is we, the best of the world continue to share the abundant love of the Divine.

And finally, I will share with you the prayer I created for our family:

We pray for our country, her allies and enemies. We pray for all our elected leaders that they may find wisdom and common ground. We pray for peace. We pray for wisdom; to open our ears to listen and not to judge; to open our eyes to see truth in all its forms. We ask that our eyes never close, or look away from hate, violence, or evil. We pray to use our voices to spread faith, hope and love.  We pray when called to speak; that our voices are clear when we speak against hate, violence and division. We pray that we always walk in justice for all. We pray, that we use our hands to build and not destroy; to hold, comfort and to heal. We pray that we see the face of the Divine in others and that they see the Divine in us. Amen.

To each and everyone of you... The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you today and always. Which means more simply:


xo, Kathryn


Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

Do You Believe in Coincidence?...

Coffee and the Holy Spirit

Do you believe in coincidence?

I don't.

You see for me, a coincidence is an encounter with the Holy Spirit. When you start to recognize the amount of special moments that occur in your life, moments that others call a coincidence, you open your mind to seeing the Holy Spirit actively moving in your life.

Let me give you a real world example.

This week on my way to work, I stopped at Starbucks. As I approached the door, I noticed oodles of young kiddos; 13-14 year old middle school-ers. Our local middle school is just a quick walk from the Starbucks; a perfect place to dash in for a sugar loaded, whip cream topped, caffeine infused faux milkshake on the way to first period. As I opened the door, I realized I couldn't walk in thanks to the line backed up to the door as I opened it! It was dilemma time; I neeeeeeded coffee and as I turned to walk away to find another coffee vendor with shorter lines--I realized the line was forming behind me. I was stuck. Standing in front of me, two young girls discussing girl's gossip and behind me a young man about 13 texting.

As I waited, I admit I couldn't help myself, I started to chat with the young man. After covering what he was ordering (an egg, bacon and Gouda sandwich), we discussed his first period English writing assignment and his future goals...  This charming young man asked me about my job, and I shared about my family, I shared that my kids went to a different local elementary than he had and how I worked for the Mission. We got up to the counter and I told the perky barista that I would be buying this young man his breakfast. I told him I couldn't recall a more delightful conversation with a young man. I can honestly say, I have never done that. And I honestly just couldn't help myself... The words just fell out of my mouth when I got to the barista. You can imagine his shock... A somewhat normal looking, but clearly crazy mom was trying to buy him breakfast.

In an effort not to appear any crazier... we exchanged formal greetings. I told him my name was Kathryn and he told me his name was "N".  "N" then went on to say that he was shocked that I had bought him breakfast. I told him that he was too kind and polite not to be rewarded with a free breakfast. He told me another time he would, "pay me back."

I explained, he already had.

My drink was ready first and I wished him a good day and good luck.  And I walked to my car.

Now as I walked; I instantly thought of his mother. If that was me, I would have been worried. Was I a stalker or crazy? It's hard at times to see the good in the world. And I said a little prayer that the mom would opt for interpreting my act as nice, not crazy.

The next morning after working for several hours the phone at my desk rings. A lovely voice on the other ends says something to the effect of:  "My name is "L" and you don't know me but I think you bought my son breakfast at Starbucks. I'm calling to say thank you."  How crazy is that Pilgrims.... right?

Well L was even more lovely than her son. It wasn't hard to realize where he got it from. We both laughed and I just told her she and her husband had done an amazing job raising their son. I only hoped to do as well with my two children. We chat for several minutes where we discussed whether she thought I was crazy (only for a second.) Besides, she really trusted her son's ability to read character and she trusted that a Mom of two and someone who works for a church was more nice than crazy. Thank goodness, right?, (but she still called to check, right?...)

As we were delighting in each other, she mentioned she wanted to meet me and that she would come to the mission for a formal introduction. She shared that she was a teacher at the other elementary school. I went on to share we had recently moved from DC...

L suddenly stopped and said, "This is going to sound crazy Kathryn, but do you have a daughter named Norah and does she play tennis?" I burst out laughing... Yes! She said, "Kathryn, I KNOW YOU!"  I'm V's mom!"

Turns out, we had several lovely chats during tennis lessons last summer when our girls were taking lessons together. I had that moment when my cheeks hurt from smiling.  L is one of those girls you meet and wish she had been your college roommate because she is so kind and loving.  L went on to say: "Of course it was you who bought breakfast for my N. Wait till I tell him-- I know you! I love the small town of living here!"  Her daughter had an injury over the summer and had to stop playing tennis. Norah and I missed these two. We discussed getting together and re-connecting...

Coincidence?, I don't think so...

Just the Holy Spirit reminding me to do a little something, a little act of kindness, like maybe buying breakfast for a polite young man.

A little act that takes just a moment, but grows into the best thing that happens all week.

Peace be with you,



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



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

photo credit:

Coffee break - Wellington




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.



Housekeeping, Hotels and a Wise Bishop...

Mom and I on our weekend away...

I've been traveling! I ran away from home with my mother for the weekend. O'my goodness it was the best! We drove a couple hours north up the coast to see

a friend's winery

and just enjoy some mother-daughter time. It was a lovely weekend filled with shopping, laughter, sight seeing and just delighting in each other's company.

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

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

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

But, I digress...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

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.


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.


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

Ash Wednesday and the Beginning of a Journey...

Today is Ash Wednesday.  An important day in the life of Christians. If Christianity isn't your tradition, no fear; just hang on for a teeny weeny second. I'm burying the lead. I promise.

Lent in my world is a journey.  A journey that includes some token sacrifice, that this year includes giving up sweets.  And ends in the gloriousness of Easter morning, rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ, his triumph over death, a beautiful Mass and finally a really good chocolate bunny washed down with a glass of champagne.

As always I digress... Today we wear our ashes and are reminded:

 "For you are dust, and to dust you shall return".

For some it may come as sobering words; for me not so much.  Every Ash Wednesday the words remind me to get busy.  As I love to say; "GET to the GETTING." I still have much to learn and much to do!  So with that I commit to you every Monday, look for a post from me! This weekly post will help us work on our toolboxes together. I'm reading all the blogs, and spiritual resting spots for suggestions; then I'm going to toss it into the Kathryness of it all and make it work for us.  So for my Lenten sisters, just punt on the heavy lifting; I've got ya.  For the rest of you, the weekly posts will help us get on track and stay there.

The goal: find that seemly elusive rainbow, that place of balance.

I don't separate faith from daily living, it would be like removing my lungs from my body. And with my shady lungs, I kind of need them for living.  My tools therefore are part life skill and part spiritual conditioning.  If Lent isn't in your faith tradition; I encourage you to join me and tag along for awhile to see where we go. Think of this as a nondenominational detox or spiritual cleanse; minus the Hollywood foolishness.

You need not make a sacrifice or give up anything.  Just read with me and nosh on the Girl Scout cookies calling your name. Hopefully together we can re-frame some old habits and rethink assumptions and come up with some new ideas.  Besides I need folks to talk with along the way... I'm missing my chocolate and the foolishness of the gossip websites that I consider very important reading!  (another dirty little secret out of the vault!)

I look forward to sharing this Lenten Spiritual cleanse with you...

Lace up your shoes, we will walk just a little farther than usual.

Until Monday,


photo credit: Lent votives via photopin (license)

Measurements of Success...

How do you measure success? 

It is a question that I have been sorting through of late.  I find that when my spiritual compass is working well; I can slow my “Kathryness” and see the patterns in my life.  My questions currently seem to be tied to my year of “Retreat”. 

I have found a new level to my reading and the depths of that discovery have brought some unusual insights.  I seem to delve into ideas, conversations that have caused me to question. Questions, I haven't before taken the time to consider.  These  questions have pushed me into journaling; something I have never really wanted to do; but as part of this discovery, I have taken on in earnest.

I found the same question kept following me.  Gnawing at me for answers.  One question in particular: 

What does success mean for me? 

Having lost my foothold in the professional world, Sheryl Sandberg would say I “leaned out”. And while I watch so many of my close friends lean back in, I see that I have taken a different course; which leaning out doesn't completely cover.  I haven't exactly leaned out; I’m off the grid and that feels far more uncomfortable. 

I feel so unbelievable uncomfortable and unsettled.

As humans, we don't like uncomfortable, we don't like extremes, and lord knows we don't like messy. In our relationships, personal and professional, we want things to just nicely hum along. 

But that Pilgrims, sorry to be the one to let you in on this news flash... That’s not how it works in this world. Nope, it’s messy here, no getting round it.  So that is where I am today, in the messy and uncomfortable place of seeking and carving out my definition of success. 

Jeffrey and I sat down this weekend to have the big picture conversation, how are things, where are we going; and I explained my discomfort about this question.  I explained I was feeling a little lost.  Lost only in that; I was not sure what success looked like any longer. That so many of my old ideas have been turned upside down since my health status changed.  That this writing thing; this PilgrimageGal had taken on a life of its own that, to be blunt was so unexpected. 

We went on to discuss what I like to call the “American Dream Model” that if you work hard-enough, financial and social success is yours.  So it would make sense to call that success, because that is easy to measure and it is the scale so many of us use.  And to be frank in my past life, I was really good at it, I had corporate jobs, made money, got accolades.  Was the “it” girl. 

Perhaps, thats exactly why I'm so uncomfortable.  I look at myself and say, I need to do more, get more, publish more, have more followers, page hits, make more money... Because that is the paradigm that is familiar and comfortable.  

After listening to all my rambling, hand waving, and foolishness; my sweet husband opened his mouth and said, “Maybe that is the wrong definition.”

So there I sat.  Thinking.  More like hearing crickets.  Because I knew in my heart he was so right, so on target.  When the person you love speaks a truth to you, sometimes all you can do is sit and wait for your heart to answer. 

Because my definition of success isn’t the American Dream Model.  My new goal may in fact be to touch more, connect more, and support others on their journey to find peace, and wellness in what ever form that means to them. To be an example that even with chronic disease, life is beautiful, meaningful and complete.  That when we make room for the Divine, in our daily life; we live more fully, more completely than ever before. 

What if success was measured by your ability to see your faith life grow in your choices, in your relationships, in your willingness to do good.  My health will never allow me the opportunity to have the career I once had.  And that is so fine, because I think the work that is guiding me in my brokenness, may in fact be far more important. 

So, as I continue my year of Retreat, I will be searching for more definitions of success, how to measure the unmeasurable, perhaps... 

But, having a wonderful time trying in the process.



photo credit: 





We can stay in touch three ways:

First, LIKE PilgrimageGal on Facebook and leave comments there (www.facebook.com/pilgrimagegal).

Second, speak privately to me by submitting your questions in the form on the right.

Third, get all the details from the road by entering your email in the box on the top, and receive each post in your email inbox (keep on eye on your inbox or spam folder to complete the process).


Sacred Space...

Tuesday Tip:  Sacred Space.

I love a tip that requires no money, no running to make an impulse purchase; this tip you can do right now, in your own home and spend zero dollars.  I promise you already have the ingredients in your possession.  

Today you will create your own sacred space. Sometimes, as busy women we don’t have anything that is ours, everything we own is fair game for others to “borrow".  The people we love most, touch everything; our phone, our lip gloss, our every possession is shared.  Some days it just becomes so draining not to have one small treasure that is just ours. 

That is how my sacred space was born. 

Now your sacred space can be as large or as small as you would like.  If you are lucky you have more than one spot in your home, depending on your mood. This is the spot where you curl up and pray, reflect, and recharge. 

For some, your sacred space may just be a simple candle. Any candle will do; sometimes it’s on the back of the toilet where you shut off the lights and close the bathroom door for silence, prayer and meditation. Some of us may be lucky to have a whole room.

Maybe it’s that little spot in the park that you head to all alone for lunch. That could be your space. In the summer, mine is outside on my screen porch, I have a beautiful fountain, a gift from my in-laws that creates such peace, you can’t help but sit and find the divine. 

The space may be some small treasures on a tray that you carry from place to place. Outside on a beautiful day or next to your bed on a day that has you resting.  You can keep this beautiful collection on your coffee or kitchen table. 

I think the basics include; a candle, an object from nature (orchid, dish of water, feather, stone, sand, sea shell) and some object that grounds you. For Catholics, we have our religious objects; a rosary, statue or icon.  Other faiths have prayer beads, or book of blessings. Perhaps a journal to write your thoughts, before or after. You will also need your holy book or the reading you want to meditate on. 

These are just suggestions, you will build your own space, and what works to center me may make you crazy.  That is so fine, focus and find the objects that matter to you . 

I find that most often my objects are gifts from the women I love most. For instance, a dear friend just sent me a rosary from the Church of the Holy Seplicur, from her recent trip to Israel. How amazing, my dear Jewish friend, sent her fav Catholic girl a rosary. Fantastic! That is on my desk right now, creating a sacred work space, with my candle and some roses. All gifts from the amazing women in my life.  

That is my sacred spot right this moment, as I write to you all. 

Your Tuesday Tip, make the time to create your own sacred space, fill it with a little silence, a little reflection, and you’ll be amazed how it can help you recharge.

Would love to see or hear about your sacred space, so send me your photos and suggestions and let’s continue the conversation.



P.S. Yes, that is the completed pink desk... You so knew I was going to get that desk painted!

photo credit: PilgrimageGal

We can stay in touch three ways: 

First, LIKE PilgrimageGal on Facebook and leave comments there (www.facebook.com/pilgrimagegal).

Second, speak privately to me by submitting your questions in the form on the right.

Third, get all the details from the road by entering your email in the box on the top, and receive each post in your email inbox (keep on eye on your inbox or spam folder to complete the process).


Picking Your Team...

Working together to achieve wellness...

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Because she is soooo important. 

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

My requirements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spiritual Direction

and Spiritual Guide, your own personal Yoda:

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

You must find peace in the foolishness….


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

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

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

Your Three AM call

… and your fairy godmothers:

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

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

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

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

They are most evident in my

Fairy Godmothers…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kathryn the Pilgrimage Gal

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If you would like to join me on this pilgrimage, filled with my bad spelling, self-invented grammar, and over all foolishness…  Click on the web version of this post and look for the “GET PILGRIMAGEGAL UPDATES VIA EMAIL” option at the top of the right border and enter your email address.


Search for Solitude...

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What Solitude Brings…

This week has been busy, busy in that my Irish Prince was home for days with a bad virus. I've struggled for solitude; that place where you hear yourself and you make peace and find a place for the contemplative life.  

You see my mind has been clouded by life’s noises… The one that starts with worry, and stress and fatigue. The one that begins whenever my children get sick, really sick like a fever that stays 104 for 5 days sick... 

That makes it hard for me to hear my crystal clear voice. It puts me in mama bear mode; ferocious, warrior, and tireless for my children. But, this warrior state is also not sustainable… She has her limits and she may come and go quickly. 

So today, Monday, I sit showered, clean and worn down by the to-do list that has gathered dust for two weeks, time that my family needed my warrior side. But, she is now very weak from these battles and susceptible to attack.

In addition, I have also had to wage war on my own health lately, trying to “get-in” to the latest brilliant mind that can help me, the person who can hopefully unlock the mystery that my body continues to hide. The confounding medical issue these days is that finding the right doctor requires a warrior like mentality. Sometimes it really comes down to connections, who you know, who your doctor knows, who will stick their neck out for you… Will they confront colleagues for you and open the doors when someone may be slow to respond? 

And here is the dirty little secret of medicine; you have to be smart and tenacious to get great care. You have to engage, question, counter and argue for your health. And you may have never been weaker than you are when you do. 

I have an amazing allergist/immunologist; she is a brilliant doctor, a mother and wife. I wish she didn't have to be my doctor, because in another life, I think she would be one of my closest friends… She gets it… And will get in it… 

She comes from what some argue is the highest culture the world has ever seen; Persia. I think of her as a Queen, because when she enters the room she carries thousands of years of her exemplary culture in her. She is my warrior, she fights for me and that is why she is my Persian Queen.  

My Queen went to bat for me this week, calling the boys’ world of medicine out for not taking care of me. In her regal, calm but decisive way, she let my medical friends know they need to be in it…

Which leads me back to solitude; in English we see this word as dark and sometimes foreboding. But when you return to the Latin or “solus”, it means simply to be alone or single…

Which is what I’m seeking when I use the word solitude.  We all need moments of silence.  We have to carve out the time, create space in our life for a little alone time… Make room to listen. 

To hear our own heartbeat, to breath, to quiet our criticism of ourselves. 

When we turn off this world and connect with ourselves and our Creator, we truly find peace and a path for the future.

Peace be with you…