Not the real Pope...

Did you know the Pope is determined? I bet you didn't. I sure didn't, but Norah says so, so it must be true. What would make my 9 year old daughter call the Pope, "determined?"   

But, I'm burying the lead.  The papal coverage didn't turn out as I expected and my Beauties seemed to find the loop hole, the real gotcha...

Our house was wall to wall papal coverage. I didn't move from the sofa during the Pope's visit to the U.S. I didn't take calls, didn't want to talk to anyone, just wanted to watch and learn.  OK, so that may be a slight exaggeration, I moved to make more tea and snacks.

Once the Beauties got home from school, we would watch the recaps of the visit. I was delighted to see many of my DC friends at the events. I saw oodles of friends I adore getting hugs and selfies from the Pope on CNN. The priest who is now a bishop; the one that baptized our Miss Norah, was on the altar with Papa Francisco. It was a bit like old home week, but the connection to our new faith community here in Santa Barbara was also included in the trip. Our parish is one of the California missions, which traces its founding back to Junipero Serra our newest Saint. It's amazing how my East and West coast lives seem to connect.  

But I digress, back to Papa being determined.

I have shared that we attend a family mass every Sunday (in the Junipero Serra Chapel!). It's a bit more laid back for families, not as formal as Mass in the main church. During the sermon, or what we call the homily, the Pastor often asks questions, to both the adults and the children. Father Charles asked the question, "What do you think of when you think of Pope Francis?" No surprise to those of us who love our Norah; her hand shoots up in the air in the crowded church. Hers was not the first hand that was called. Responses were as you would expect, "humble, Christ-like, loving, compassionate, merciful."

Then Father sees Norah, and with a big voice she answers, "DETERMINED!"  Not what he expected, but he loved her answer.


I think that is what the Pope is attempting to share with us, his determined delivery of mercy.

Ian and I had a complete 12 year old's experience. Ian was feeling a little too cool to want to watch wall to wall coverage, but on Sunday, while Jeff and Norah were out running errands, I cornered Ian on the sofa and bribed him. You do have to pay to play in my house. Ian, you want electronic devices, settle in and watch the Pope's homily and offer me some feedback. Then and only then will you get some screens. I don't feel guilty at all!  So with some hurumps and a few sighs, Ian settled in on the sofa and listened. At one point, Pope Francis talks about family life and how we need to treat each other with respect and love. He went on to share that we shouldn't be yelling at each other, that we need to show each other mercy. I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

Well that sold Ian.

"Mom, wait till Norah gets home and I tell her that THE POPE said not to yell at your family, that it's basically a sin."

Now to be fair, I'm a voice raiser myself, but goodness we love her, Norah has used her vocal range to some success more often than we like.  Her older brother was delighted that during the forced religious time, he scored a gem, the biggest emerald a boy could find to hold over his little sister's head... "Nooooorah, THE POPE said, no yelling...."

So here we sit in our post Pope visit world, reflecting on the impacts it has had on us. We need to revisit several of the passages on mercy, because we currently seem to be in a torment our siblings mode, not quite what Papa Franciso had in mind.

While I sort through the unintended consequences of wall to wall coverage... I will try to find some mercy and love to spread around.

In the meantime, we are DETERMINED to try our best to eliminate the yelling in our house.  

Baby steps.

Peace be with you,



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. xo

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

Exquisite Everyday Moments with the Beauties...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I needed this day.

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

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

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

Peace be with you.



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. xo

Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal

Stress, Worry and Disappointing Others...

Unmailed cards and letters...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which gets me to my busy prayer life:

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

I'm a little lost.

More aptly: I'm in the weeds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love always.

Kathryn and this time Norah too!


Photo credit:


Daddy Travel, Dead Raccoons and Talking About Hard Things...

My sweet Jeffrey has been gone for 8 days and we still have another 4 before we are reunited as a family. He returns the same day as the end of school, so we will have an emotional Friday on his return.

My Beauties have both had the best year ever and it pains me to say that, after the worries of moving them from our fantastic Catholic school. I don't have one complaint about the year, the education they received was beyond my expectations, both children have had exceptional and talented teachers. Both were so matched with folks that "got them", loved them and were able to inspire both with one of a kind learning. It is hard for me to comprehend Ian and Norah moving on to new teachers in the Fall.

As with all of Jeffrey's trips there is a calamity or two. This time is no different, Ian has been running a high fever, been out of school for 5 days and may miss this last week of school. Our pediatrician who is a phenomenal doctor says virus, but we all know it might be bacterial, and today we will make the third trip in for the holy grail of medicine: antibiotics. Please Lord, fingers crossed, please let him have a simple sinus infection. I do understand not giving out antibiotics like tic-tacs, but sometimes it would really help if we didn't have to ride every virus out until it magically turns into a bacterial infection!

As Irish luck would have it and absolutely no surprise to all the mothers out there, Miss Norah woke with the same runny nose and cough this morning. Let's just say it... Flipping fantastic!!!! You know I want to use my other favorite word here. So just say it four times in your head for me! (Thanks I needed that!) And while trying to help me, my very busy Mom fell down my steep staircase (on day two) and sprained and tore the ligaments in her foot. She is now in a Boot!

So as with most voyages on the Pilgrimage, this week it is hard! I'm tired, my pain is horrible and I'm missing Jeffrey.

My sweet friend next door asked just before Jeff left, "what makes it hard when he is gone?" And we both knew the answer.  My soul misses Jeff, I ache when he leaves. I just love being in the room with him, even when he drives me crazy and pushes my buttons.

Plus, I have 20 years of evidence that something wacky, unexpected and tricky will happen in his absence. These little hiccups, shall we say, will make the time apart harder.  From a power line hitting the house, to a raccoon getting trapped in the fireplace flue, which caused a horrid infestation of fleas in our house, (mind you we had zero pets at the time) not to mention an o'so odoriferous dead raccoon trapped in my chimney. To countless crazy illnesses, emergency room visits for both children (croup and chicken pox for Norah at 6 months), a flooded basement and a scary trip to get Jeff home in a straight drive from Mississippi to DC after 9-11. That is just the quick list of the things that happen when Jeff is away.

I don't care how much positive framing I do... Shit happens!

So, I get stressed before each of his trips. Something I have managed for better and worse over the years. This trip, I wasn't worried, 12 nights without him is the longest we have been separated since we have had the children, but I can handle it. More good news, we will do another 12 days again in September. I'm whining. Plain and simple.

I understand, because so many families handle far worse separations, but my body, well she doesn't handle changes in routine well. When I stretch two nights of less than 8 hrs sleep, my body well, she HURTS in a way that is hard to describe. Ian has had me up several nights at 3 am with a 103 degree fever, he has slept in my bed, and has needed a mother's love. Which I want to do in every way, but by 6 pm, I'm a mess, hot, tired, grumpy and my pain is not managed. And it kills me, since he is so easy when he is sick, he doesn't complain, (he does moan, which is hysterical) give my sweet Irish Prince Popsicle-Gatorade-raisin toast, and he is golden, toss in an electronic device and you only need worry when it's time for more Motrin.

The toll is evident, lots of mental fatigue that I can't explain well to folks and worse if you are trying to help me like my poor mom has been want to do! I'm not my best self.

Which gets me back to the Beauties, I try to be honest about how difficult Dad's trips are for me as I know it is for them.  From the logistics of administering my four needles early in the am, to not having backup for all of life's stuff.  I don't like it one bit, and I give the children permission to not like it too!

It's scary for them to be left with the "sick one" as parent-in-charge, to know that Dad isn't right around the corner as usual...  When he travels, they don't have that extra security. It is so important for me to be independent when Jeff travels, I really don't like my Mother staying with us for more than a day or two because in my mind it just feeds the children's narrative.  

That Mom can't do it. 

These times are especially hard for me, because I don't like to see my own shortcomings, my weaknesses exposed. AND I certainly don't like it that my Beauties are nervous because of them.

So as hard as it is for me... I shine the light on them, I say, "Well as much as I would like to do x, my batteries are not going to let that happen" OR talk about not putting myself in risky behaviors that could make it harder for me in the long run. Like going to the movie theater which are generally too cold. But, On Demand an overpriced movie? Absolutely.  I feel great about driving through any disgusting fast food restaurant they want for dinner!

I always say that I'm tired as opposed to sick. Tired is something you can process, sick is far scarier. But, I feel for my Mom who looks at her "baby" and sees me struggle, what parent can sit on the sidelines and watch that. So my Mom and I work on balance, we are two feisty independent women so that always calls for lots of me apologizing (for my shortness, frustration and fatigue) and remembering she is here to help me... as much as I fight her!

We do have special treats that only happen when Dad travels, like cereal for dinner, ice cream at anytime, eating in front of the TV, extra stinky no shower days. All these little gems make my life easier. 

And hopefully, they take away the sting of missing Dad, a tiny bit.

So that is the recap on this extraordinary week... It is a doozy here.

But, we will cross off another day on the chalkboard and cheer when the train arrives at Union Station, Friday at 6.

Until then, please keep me in your prayers...

Much love.



Photo credit: PilgrimageGal

Showing up and First Communion...

Many of you know my life is the typical Pilgrimage of late...

This weekend was Norah's First Holy Communion. A very important day in the life of a Catholic, and Norah enjoyed her's with a 104 degree fever and vomiting. My


in the church included ginger ale, water, ziploc bags (in case we needed a bag on the fly), tic-tacs, tissues and paper towels. Jeff and I were prepared for anything. But our little one, she was perfect! She is one tough cookie.

Some days, total success is achieved by just showing up, and she did! Also planned for weeks, the celebration at our house where we invited a large number of friends and family. I really can't say how many people were celebrating along with us, but let's just say well over 50 family and friends came by; our recycling tub is overflowing with champagne bottles and cake plates.

When I sit back and think about moments like this in my life; I recognize that we are called to live in community, surrounded by people we love. I'm blessed to have a supportive family, along with the most amazing and loving friends. The day went off beautifully, and between Motrin chewables, Norah was blessed to have the people she loved most surrounding her and celebrating this special sacrament.

But then she was all done.

My poor girl waved at everyone as she climbed up the stairs to my bed. At one point during her party I ran upstairs, held the bucket during the waves of nausea, washed my hands and dashed downstairs to pour champagne for friends and family! It was hard for me to be present in the day. I was nervous and anxious till she fell asleep and I put my toes up at 5 for a sip of champagne.  My poor sweet girl never hugged a guest or tasted her cakes or candy from the pink dessert table.

But, she recieved the Body of Christ. She did it!

My dear neighbor Sunshine ran out and picked up crackers after that fell off my to-do list and we talked about how of course this is just normal life for us. The best, most organized party planner girl's to do list, would crumble under our normal PilgrimageGal life.

In all honesty, I have to say, I wasn't surprised, disappointed, yes. Surprised. No. I don't ever expect easy, I prepare myself for hard, always, and then I'm delighted by easy.  Never for a second did Jeffrey and I consider contacting anyone and cancelling the party. Why? This is real time living, it is messy, unplanned and beautiful.

This is the real world, this is hard. This day is a life lesson for my little Type A in training, it wasn't a disaster, it was a blessing. Here is why:

This day was the most important day in her young life. It was something that she had been planning for months, and dreaming of for years. She has been on my lap or in my arms for all her cousins', her brother's, her friend's First Communions. She has patiently waited for her turn. It was her first real life rub that life happens while you make other plans. It wasn't what she wanted, but she did it anyway and it was all beautiful. Norah made lemonade out of lemons and she gained a new skill. Tenacity.

The best part she was tenacious about her faith; she wasn't going to miss out on the Body of Christ. She embraced the Sacrament, she professed her faith, she walked the walk.

We can learn so much about life from our little ones. Perseverance, tenacity and most of all hope. Children are hopeful, perhaps because they aren't worn down with the sting of disappointments. Maybe that is why their hearts are so light.

I have to be honest, this week is hard for me. It's now Tuesday, I'm beyond exhausted, I have things I want to do, but my sweet one needs me here, present with her. I have to recognize that in my selfishness or should I just say humanness, I wanted to be in bed alone, watching adult tv, relaxing and re-grouping. As women we all have our own ways to

re-charge the battery

. That is mine, me silent, watching TV, eating soup and doing nothing. I find it so telling that it is Norah's too.

But, she needs to be attached to me... and as we all know when we are empty, it is hard to give more.

So today will be filled with us snuggling, napping and re-charging, and me being present and recognizing that these days are fleeting. And I want her as much as she needs me, so we will do it her way and re-charge together.

She is growing and becoming the woman I can already see emerging.

But today, is a day to spend with the best 8 year old ever!

My little Beauty, my special gift....alone in my big bed together.