Spiritual Leadership...

The kitchen table is a great place for family discussions on faith...

Hello my Pilgrims... It's been too long. First, let's cover the important news of life in California.  All is extraordinary, the weather warm and delightful, and we are all healthy. While I haven't been writing, you are not far from my thoughts and are always in my prayers. A quick recap on my journey.

Since early January, I have taken on more volunteering opportunities at the Mission. The duties of my volunteer work has shifted my time from my writing to sharing my gifts with fellow parishioners.  I'm coordinating small faith sharing groups; about 80 of my fellow parishioners are participating in a six week program. The program runs on Thursday nights and Friday mornings. I have loved meeting so many of my fellow parishioners, while still running my own small group. And I still teach my weekly first grade religious education class; my student Beauties are adorable and I love the time I spend with them and their parents. Which means my weekdays are full with prepping for all these responsibilities.

That gives you a full sense of my "professional life"-- but I'm sure you really want to know how my walk on the pilgrimage is progressing.  I have answers for that too! Jeff's travel schedule has been consistent and just this past week he was in DC for a full week of meetings. I have shared that Jeff travels! He travels one to two nights every week; we have accepted that level of travel. When Jeff and I reminded the Beauties that he would be gone for a whole week... well that didn't go as well.  Ian my schedule keeper, expressed his disappointment, "A whole week?!?!".   We reminded the Beauties that Dad is the breadwinner; that his traveling is part of the responsibility of his job.  I made some off hand 1950's comment that Dad is the Head of our Household and with that Mini-me spoke up, "Well that makes sense. Dad is the Head of the Household, but Mom you are the Spiritual Head of our family."

I guess I am...

One of my dear friends, told me the story of the meeting she and her future husband had with their rabbi. The rabbi explained that as a couple they would determine how religious/observant they would be as a family. It's a wonderful comment, that I wish more folks would consider. I think for most families, their faith participation isn't considered--it's just done.  Done out of routine, or out of guilt, or the expectations of others...

Like taxes. You don't think about it, you just do it.  That Pilgrims is what we need to discuss.

If you aren't actively navigating you and your family's spiritual journey--Don't panic, I'm going to help you fix that today. It will be the easiest and most joyful change in your home life, if you are willing to make a few simple modification to your daily routine. I'm asking you to change the order of your to-do list--not add anything, just re-prioritize.

As the "Spiritual Head" of this household; I try to focus most of my daily life to recognizing and improving our spiritual life. I'm thinking about it during laundry, before dinner prep, many times throughout the day, I'm considering their faith life. How am I developing their faith?  Is it working to ensure they have a personal relationship with the Divine? I don't need to nag Ian every time to say grace before he dives into dinner (Norah does that.)

No, I'm in the tool box business. Yes, learning your prayers are important, but what matters most to me is that you have the Divine in your thoughts throughout the day. That the Divine is in your decision making process, in your encounters with strangers and friends alike.

I give my Beauties the same marching orders daily. You know the amazing morning routine of bickering, backpacks hitting ever surface, complaints about lunch boxes, violins, doors being opened with too much force--I lovingly remind them the hammer question that they know is coming at dinner:

"Who was the face of Christ for you today? And were you the face of Christ for someone else?"

Boom... that is Divine in action, no matter your tradition, it is the question that resonates. It's not just Sunday that they consider the Divine--it's hopefully in all they do, daily.

Another way to say it, "Where did you see the Divine/God in action today?  How did the Divine/God work through you today?"

I went to Catholic schools, I loved every second. It was my plan that my children would do the same. They aren't, both my children needed academic supports that our Catholic school could not provide. That's not a criticism, it was just our reality. That decision has given me a different world view and different challenges. I have had to use different muscles, I have had to take on more of the religious education, but more than that; I have had to work harder to create the opportunities of living in faith.

I admit that my weekly priority is faith, but it's not theirs. They are worried about sports, extra-curricular activities, school, homework, even Jeff's travel.  The question is, how can I weave the gift of faith into their daily living?

How do I do that?

Well it's more than just words and it's more than simple actions. It's about the priorities in our family life. You can take your children to religious services every week; but if it's not in your home all the time, you are not living in faith.

You can't farm it out. This isn't an activity that you can pay someone else to complete. 

You have to be active at living it. Are you discussing tough subjects with your children and explaining how your religious views frame your political, social and civic duties? Are you actively making prayer a part of your daily journey? Do you explain that you read articles or books on your faith? Are you discussing the homily/sermon after you go to religious services?  And if it was a crummy homily/sermon are you offering a different take?  I ask my Beauties what did you hear the priest say? Then Jeff and I offer what we have learned.

These are simple first steps.  Their are so many other opportunities that I'm sure oodles of you are doing. So share away. Let's not keep our ideas a secret, let us share how we are raising faith filled humans to live and support our world.

And I promise to be in closer touch.... I have missed all of you. Till we meet again on the road.

The Divine in me bows and honors the Divine in each of 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. 

photo credit:

One of Soft Details

via

photopin

(license)

New Year and Spiritual Retreats...

My walk on a rare cloudy day...

Happy New Year my follow Pilgrims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xo

Kathryn

The Pilgrimage Gal

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

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or

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 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)

Happy 3rd Birthday Pilgrimage Gal...

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

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

dying

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

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

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

Total truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lilac Patisserie

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

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

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

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

Peace be with you all.

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

Happy Birthday from the Pilgrimage Gal and our journey continues.

xo,

Kathryn

Photo Credit: Mr. Pilgrimage Gal

Exquisite Everyday Moment With Cake...

Exquisite moment eating wonderful treats...

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

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

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

Lilac Patisserie

.

http://lilacpatisserie.com/home

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

Ian eyeing Dad's coffee...

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

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

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

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

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal

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

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

I love hearing from you, and I miss it when you don't reach out! So leave comments below, connect with me on instagram at 

PilgrimageGal

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PilgrimageGal

 or send me a private email by sending me a note in the form in the sidebar.

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/

Tool Two: Humor



"You can laugh or you can cry; choose to laugh."

I love and hate that expression, likely because it's one I hear constantly out of the mouth of my dashing husband. It probably should be part of our family motto; but as I'm want to do, ugggh, yet again, I have to give him props. Because he is right, AGAIN!

As we begin to examine tool number two in our resilient tool box, you may be surprised that I would include humor.  For me, humor is a daily tool, it provides stress relief. I find it is also a vehicle for vulnerability (another tool we will discuss down the road.)

Humor can be an escape from the difficulties of daily life, a place for teaching and an opportunity to connect with the Divine.

Yep, I said the Divine, will get back to that in a minute.

Humor is a "go-to" in our house.  If you can't be a little self-deprecating, can't take a joke or even make a joke about the absurdity of some of your daily struggles; well you're missing out on some good living. Humor takes the edge off the really hard and gives you a safe and joyful place to let off a little steam.

I'm very self-deprecating, I can make a joke about my health, who could possibly be allergic to cold, to sweat, to water?  My life is positively ridiculous, how can you not occasionally joke about the absurdity of it all... But, as always, that is where my journey has landed me.  I see the world with a glass overflowing; even in the dark times it is always more full than empty. Humor works hand in hand with creating that positive attitude, and life that is positive is the way we roll.

We make jokes about health issues, anxiety, perfectionism, and my beloved's control freak ways!  I want to be clear, our jokes aren't hurtful--ever, and if they miss the mark, someone is always quick with an "OUCH" and the comments are quickly re-framed.  We are about light and fun, not negativity.

As with all the tools, it's about muscle memory, using the tools during the good times, makes it a whole lot easier to pull them out when the going gets tough. When you inject humor in the right spots, it allows others to relax and enter into your space with less trepidation.

I often say that the Divine has a wicked sense of humor. How is it possible no one tells you before you have children that you will get to raise yourself in so many unusual ways! Jeffrey and I look at each other daily and point fingers, "THAT'S YOU!" or "Excellent use of your DNA" because our Beauties constantly allow us to see ourselves, providing opportunities for reflection and growth.  And let me be clear its not gender specific, as Ian gets older more and more of the Kathryness of it all shows up in my Irish Prince! Another opportunity to laugh at ourselves and God's fantastic sense of humor.

Additionally, how is it you can laugh with your friends, lovers and children, but not laugh with God? My couples group in DC would call it, "hammer moments," when for the billionth time you see something as if it was for the first and it hits you so hard it's, well like a hammer.  The Divine uses humor constantly with me to teach that message, that hammer moment, it's not coincidence.

I often think God looks at our world, wondering why we take everything so seriously!  I don't think it's wrong to remind ourselves that our spiritual role models were human!  Did they tell jokes... eek maybe even some dirty ones?  Or was one a practical joker, always hiding your shoes, or your pillow?  Each of our faith traditions have some great insights and tools to draw us closer to the Divine. The Jesuit order has the Ignatian Contemplation, or as some explain it, the Prayer of Imagination. The idea is simple and wonderful; take a scriptural reading and then imagine yourself in the midst.  You just beamed in, you are reporter or a director with your imaginary movie camera. What is going on around you?  What is the weather?  What are the main characters doing?  What can you see?  What do you hear?  The Ignatians like to use this prayer with the Gospels, but any number of spiritual passages could work too.  I love this type of meditation for families, because the young ones have the best imaginations!  After dinner, read a small Gospel passage and talk to your Beauties. Throw out some crazy questions, like; who do you think is funny or the clown?  The prankster? Which apostle did Jesus have to remind to pay attention?  Was Jesus funny or was Mary?  What were they like as normal folks?  Did Mary remind Jesus to take his elbow off the table or use soap to wash-up before dinner?  It's a simple, approachable way to talk about the readings and perhaps give each of us a chance to deepen our faith in a new light. Tonight after dinner we will be re-visiting the Transfiguration from today's Gospel from Mark 9:2-10.  My Beauties will have some interesting insights on what is happening on top of that mountain!

So tool two is a little humor.  Work on making it your super power this week! Please contact me and let me know if you have any other ideas on how to use the first two tools. I would love to add your ideas and suggestions to my summary at the end of the series.

Till next Monday. Peace be with you, and may you feel the warm glow of my Irish love on you today and always.

K



photo credit: Lenten Mission via photopin (license)