Transitions and Making Happiness...

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

So let's recap...

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

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

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

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

First World

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clive and transitions.

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

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

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

Finally, and likely most important, your spirit.

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

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

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



Photo Credits: PilgrimageGal.

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

Go West...

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

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

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

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

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

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

my secret word

". Guess we're moving to California!

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

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

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

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

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

How utterly ridiculous, but the truth.

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

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

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

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

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


I hear crickets!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you as always for walking along with me.

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you!



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