The word peregrino means pilgrim, in Spanish. I am a pilgrim.

My husband and I decided that for his next birthday we are going to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James, in English) – a pilgrim walk that begins, traditionally, in France and ends at El Catedrál de Santiago, in northwestern Spain, where the shrine to the apostle St. James the Great is and where his remains are purportedly buried. People have been walking the Camino for over 1200 years. It is said that the Camino lies directly beneath the Milky Way and that it follows the ley lines that reflect the energy of the stars above it (I completely geek out over stuff like this.). The Camino was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages and almost 300,000 people from all over the world still walk The Way today.

photo still from movie trailer El Camino De Santiago. The shell is a symbol of the Camino.

You are required to walk 100 km of the trip to be considered an actual pilgrim and receive your Compostela certificate, but our plan is to walk about 160 km, walking between 13-16 km per day for 12 days. I’m hoping there are foot massages at the end of every day. A girl can dream.

People walk the Camino for a whole host of reasons and I have several. The first is spiritual in nature. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get the idea out of my little Catholic schoolgirl head that suffering in the name of spirituality wins you Brownie Points. While the very rational part of my brain knows this is false, there is something about the idea of taking an arduous walk and thinking of nothing but spiritual things and you know, blisters, and how badly your back hurts, and then offering all of that up to God, that makes my inner plaid-wearing girlie squeal with delight. But seriously, I can’t begin to tell you how much the idea of 12 days of walking and talking to God and others on a similar spiritual walk appeals to me. Makes me giddy just thinking about it.

Another reason that I want to walk the Camino is because, Dear God, I need a fitness goal! I have been sedentary for YEARS and having a goal to prepare for physically is just the motivation I need to get off of my duff and get moving.

Yet another reason for doing this is to spend this time with Wayne. He is such a treasure and when we get time alone on vacation we always have such an awesome time together and have really amazing and deep talks. I am so looking forward to what this trip in particular could bring up in terms of conversations. I’m guessing they are going to be quite juicy.

The reason that I said that “I am a pilgrim” in that very first little paragraph at the beginning of this post is because yesterday, while I was out walking my 5th 3.5 miles of the week, I was thinking about how I was doing this in “preparation” for being a pilgrim at some point in the future and then like a sucker punch I heard, “what you’re doing is a pilgrimage.” And that voice was exactly right. This is the pilgrimage. This is the journey – this is the sacred journey. I’m already on it. It has already begun.

We aren’t going to walk the Camino for about a year and a half. And who knows if it will ever happen? But, for now, I know that I am a pilgrim walking on a pilgrimage to me.

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Fight, Flight or Freeze

I don’t know if it’s a common trait of Introverts, or if it’s just me, but when I’m suffering I hide. I take to the sidelines and do my best to blend in. I don’t want everyone to know that things are bad. I will talk to a small group of friends, sometimes even sharing that things aren’t perfect, but very seldom do I actually share HOW bad things are. Almost never while things are going on. A week ago I did that. I reached out to one of my very best friends and shared that things are really bad. This has been one of the hardest years of my life – one in which every day I was afraid my husband was going to lose his job and we were going to lose our new home. And one in which my dog was attacked by coyotes in our pretty new back yard. Every day was scary. And every day I felt like I was drowning.

About six weeks ago I went to a chiropractor. New fangled chiropractors do all sorts of tests on you that measure all sorts of things related to your central nervous system, which controls every single thing about your body. So essentially, if your CNS is out of whack, so are you.

When I met with him to review the results of my tests, what I saw both shocked and horrified me and didn’t surprise me at all. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but I’ll tell you that my spine has more curves than a Formula One racetrack and he said that I’m basically living in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze.

He could see that, based on physical test results.

He said that I don’t have any reserves and that I don’t recover from stressors – like at all. That stressors just keep heaping one on top of the other, and I have no ability to move on from them. It was shocking to me to have someone clinically say what I know to be true deep down inside me, and SUCH A HUGE RELIEF that someone else knew it and that it wasn’t “just me” and I wasn’t crazy.

Here is an excerpt from that test: “Heart Rate Variability helps the doctor to determine your overall ability to adapt to the environment. It does this by looking at the timing of your pulse, and determining the balance and tension within your nervous system. Stressful lifestyles, habits including poor dietary choices, limited exercise and constant emotional aggravation can cause the body to be caught in a “fight-flight” response. This can lead to exhaustion and a draining of a person’s reserves. A score within the green box is associated with better adaptability and relates to a healthy lifestyle. Low heart rate variability is associated with accelerated aging and poor heart health. Published research has shown that chiropractic adjustments have a beneficial effect on heart rate variability.”

Needless to say, I was not in the green box, nor the yellow. I was in the orange and received a failing grade. He also pointed out that any medications that I am taking, i.e. for depression and anxiety have falsely INFLATED my score, so my failing score, without meds, is actually failing and then some.

That was depressing! And I don’t recover from depressing things. I have no reserves. And then my dog was attacked by 2 coyotes for the second time in a year (that I fought off!) and then I found a snake in my art studio. I felt like I was coming unglued. And I don’t recover from stressful things. I have no reserves.

I’m sharing this with you while I’m in the middle of it because my hunch is that some of you may also feel like you’re living in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze (isn’t it EXHAUSTING???) and you may feel like you have no reserves. And I want you to know that you’re not alone. You are not alone.

I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any answers for you. I know my answer is to keep going to the chiropractor three times a week and try to get my central nervous system back on line and see if that helps. So far, after six weeks, things are changing – not improving quite yet, but change is happening and I have to believe that’s a good thing. He tells me it is.

I’m trying to eat better and I’m taking vitamins and supplements. Maybe be one of these days I’ll try exercise. Honestly, I don’t want to make too many changes at once!! And I’m trying not to scare myself on purpose (adrenaline is addicting) with movies and books and such, and am watching happy, sappy movies and listening to happy music. All things that should help.

Thinking happy thoughts over here and sending love from me to you.


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Everyday Grace Course Launches Today!

I’m launching an email course! This is some of the content that we discuss at my retreats. This email course is PACKED with videos and teachings and worksheets and journal prompts and guided meditations all designed to help you to find, receive and give Grace. For the cost of a couple cups of coffee each week, you’ll get a class that will change how you see yourself and the world! Click the link below to be taken to the info page!

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Prioritize Pleasure!

Prioritize Pleasure

This is a MUST in the times in which we live!!! Pleasure can look like a lot of things. It can look like feet up, drinking your favorite drink, watching your favorite TV show or reading an awesome book, it can look like a chocolate chip cookie, it can look like a trip to somewhere you’ve never been, or hot sex with the one you love. It can look like making things, talking to your best friend or painting your nails. Make a list of things that bring you pleasure and be sure to do at least one thing on it every day.

One way you can prioritize pleasure is to figure out what makes you pleased. Getting down deep to your Core Desired Feelings can help!  Click here for info on my next Desire Map Workshop!

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Life’s Amazing Teachers

Amazing Teachers

I once met a woman who said that she was wary of people who said that their children were great teachers – because I had just told her that Dani was always teaching me lessons, even at her young age.

This woman believed that all teaching/learning happened from the top down and she was not learning anything from her daughter.

I left that call thinking, “That makes me sad. How sad that she wasn’t willing to pay attention to the most pure of heart, the least jaded or corrupt souls on the planet and open her heart and learn.

And that’s what I believed until now. That children had the most pure hearts and souls.

Now I believe that my dogs have the purest lessons to teach.

I know that I’ve written several times about clean vs. dirty pain, but for a recap; clean pain is when something actually happens in real life: your mother dies, your best friend moves across the country, things like that. Dirty pain is the suffering that we create around that event: “No one in my family gets me like my mom – no one will ever understand me again. I’ll never been seen or loved again.” Or “I’ll never see my best friend again. I’ll never have another best friend again. I’ll never drink coffee again because who will I go with to coffee?”

We make up a LOT of stories about the painful things that happen. And they are the foundation of the suffering in our lives. Think right now about the hard stuff in your life and how much of your suffering is because of the actual thing or because of the stories you’ve woven about the thing.

Penelope The Great

Last week two German Shepherd-sized coyotes jumped over our back wall into our yard, and attacked my three little dogs. I was inside grabbing a cup of coffee when I heard their usual morning barks with the neighboring dogs turn into something painful. I ran to the back door and what I saw terrified me. The two puppies, Piper and Rosie were barking their heads off at the coyotes and Penelope was under attack. When I stepped outside, one of them jumped up on top of the wall but the other was still in business. I ran outside and started yelling for the dogs to come inside. I got about halfway to the fray when the coyote let Penelope go and they took off into the wash behind the house. The dogs walked en masse toward the house, but it was clear that Penelope was hurt. I finally ushered them into the house and saw that Penelope was bleeding on the back of her neck, on her spine.

I called Wayne to come home so he could drive us to the animal hospital. Within about 30 minutes, someone told us that the lens in Penelope’s eye was tilted forward through the cornea. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but later that day learned that she would never see out of that eye again.

She had four puncture wounds, as you might imagine – two on her throat, one of which tore her trachea making air in the space around her heart, and two on her back – her spine.

We brought her home a couple of days later and were to follow up with the eye doctor in a week.

Here is what I learned from Penelope in that week.

  1. Coyote’s can kill.
  2. When they bite it hurts.
  3. When I hurt, my mommy gives me medicine.
  4. I can go into the yard again – right where it happened – and it MEANS NOTHING. It’s just another area in the yard. No bad feelings associated with it – no crying or whining. Nothing.
  5. When I only have one eye, I have to be careful where I walk and I’m still trying to work out the depth thing, but it’s actually really easy. I can still jump onto the couch and off of the couch – easy peasy.
  6. My tail still works and I wag it a lot because I’m so happy that my mom sits on the couch with me all day and snuggles me!
  7. I can still smile and I do it a lot because I really love my life!

So much pureness there and an inability to create painful stories.

When I have cried in the last week, I’ve cried because I was terrified that I saw coyotes in my yard and that my dogs and/or I would be dead as a result of it. That was a real traumatic event for me. I cried to release the trauma. When I’ve cried it’s been to acknowledge the pain of the event and move through the grief of the event. I am sad that she lost her eye and I did cry for that – but I’m not dwelling on it, not making up sad stories about it about how her life is going to suck now. I’m working through the stages of grief.

I also used Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping) and that also cleared some of the trauma around it. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.

I told myself that I wouldn’t cry for Penelope unless she did. I’m still waiting.

The fact of the matter is Penelope is good. She’s actually great! She’s like three of the seven dwarfs – Happy, Dopey and Sleepy. She’s not grumpy or angry or feeling sorry for herself AT ALL. She’s adjusting to her new reality and she’s good.


I also want to acknowledge the Grace in all of this because boy is there Grace. I was having a text chat with a friend and I said, “We were so lucky they didn’t grab Penelope before jumping back over the wall. A miracle, really. There’s Grace in that for sure.”

And that’s the beauty of life. We get to choose how we look at things – even really traumatic things. I was taught at a very young age to look for the Grace in every situation (thank you, Sister Mary Brendan) and that is what I always try to do. This was an easy one. The coyote clearly had Penelope in its mouth, by the neck, and for some reason, let her go before bolting over the wall. A miracle. A blessing. And Grace.

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