Pilgrim ponderings


view from a boat on the Sea of Galilee

It has been over a month since I returned from my first pilgrimage. Though I’m back into the hectic pace at work and gearing up for another Carnaval season, I like to reflect on my experience often.  Our trip was like none I have ever experienced.


St. Michael letting it be known. 

I knew I was going to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land for some time. However, I kept news of it under wraps because I had personal and spiritual reasons for making the trip.  As I have chronicled in recent years, I have had to deal with certain situations and individuals who brought toxic negativity into my life.While the context was professional, it greatly affected me personally.  Dealing with those people, and one person in particular, made me confront destructive negative behavior daily. It challenged me mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Fear and anxiety can paralyze.  I often felt physically unable to speak or to defend myself in the face of this type of energy. I got through these years of challenge through faith, love, commitment to putting my students first. During this time, I made a commitment to show my gratitude by making a pilgrimage. I had the opportunity to spend this past Christmas in Israel and the West Bank.


Wade in the water…

The places we visited were familiar to me through my faith life. I have sung about them in the mornings during the Liturgy of the Hours.  I have read about them as a lector and taught about them as a catechist. To have them made real and tangible still leaves me speechless. There were so many moments during the trip when I became tearful and quietly cried. I thought tears would come in certain moments but they did not. Tears came when they came.

It was hard to come home. Being on pilgrimage helped make me more mindful.  I realized how compartmentalized, hectic and scheduled my life is. In so many ways, my life here at home is  limited day to day. While on pilgrimage, I had many opportunities to relish every sight, sound, and taste. I was reminded that every experience is a true gift. It was liberating, reassuring, empowering, and inspiring.

20181230_165224.jpgMy pilgrimage was magical, surreal, and beautiful.  I saw the Mediterranean sea, walked by the Jordan River, sailed on the sea of Galilee, and saw all of Jerusalem from Mount Zion.  It put things into perspective to set aside time to get back in touch with what is valuable. It gave me strength. It changed me. It won’t be a trip I will soon forget. I can always call it to mind whenever needed. For that I am grateful.


Tee reads Living My Life Like It’s Golden. Yes! 

On missing Roma

“Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearnings.” Giotto de Bondone

“…the grandeur that was Rome…” from “To Helen” by Edgar Allan Poe

I am finally recovering from my bout of blues. I slept for seven hours last night, in fits and starts as has been my habit since I became a parent, but much better than four or five hours for sure. My appetite has returned. Yesterday was one of my typically busy days: exercise, work, socializing, shuttling my daughter to class, cooking dinner, spending time with our new puppy. I am home, nearly a week after I boarded several planes to make my way home.

When I visit any destination for more than a couple of days, I do experience homesickness. I find that I also experience a sort of vacation-sickness once I am home, that I do feel a temporary sense of loss and yearning to be back in my home away from home.  The longer I stay, the longer I may miss that other place, that different life. 

My third visit to Rome was nothing short of transformative. Almost as soon as I stepped into the humidity and heat of a Roman summer, I felt a great sense of relief, freedom, and possibility. Granted the trip was a 40th birthday present to me and my little family, so it makes sense that it would feel like a milestone and/or emotional journey. It was both. 

I do miss the cobblestones beneath my feet. The heat. The crowds on the trains and on the city streets. The expanse of sky.  The dark coolness of little churches and immense cathedrals.

But I’m no longer sad. 

Highlights from LA Congress 2008

*sunshine as I cruised through Inglewood
*the old Irish priest who approached my predicament with compassion and common sense. I love how God always talks to me.
*how every meal tasted amazing
*3 full days without being sick
*Father J-Glenn Murray dancing out of the arena to us singing
*black Catholics and their joyous Mass
*listening to the great Fr. Richard Leonard, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, Matthew Kelly, and my new fave, Fr. Bryan Massingale
*buying something for my baby
*knowing my baby heard some of the greatest speakers and musicians American Catholicism has to offer
*discovering a mom and pop Peruvian restaurant, Mr. Pollo, in Garden Grove
*walking more than I have in weeks
*feeling God’s unwavering presence
*returning to the Catholic Planet!

Shoot me now, the travel edition

I jumped out of Blues’ SUV in anticipation, gave him several farewells before breezing through baggage check and security, ready to catch my flight to Las Vegas. Old school playing on my iPod, Williams-Sonoma catalog(love it, makes me want to smoke a cigarette and I don’t even smoke, lol)on my lap, and in a while, we are on board.
Here I am, nearly two hours later. Vegas is closed due to severe rain. Don’t I have to run 13.1 miles in the freezing cold Sunday morning? That’s if I can stand this airplane AC. Thank goodness for SkymMall and a very slow Internet connection.

A vacation from my vacation

No BPD research. No therapy. Hopefully no stress over a certain someone not calling. I’m headed to my favorite city in the world, New York City, for much-needed distraction. It has been two years since I roamed the hustle and bustle skyscraper and subway glory that is New York. I miss the steam coming up from the street, the swarms of yellow taxis, cheap hotdogs, Dominican Spanish, ghettofabulous kids on the train, celebrity sightings, Broadway shows, the warm rain, the sweltering humidity, wolf whistles, papaya juice, Central Park, walking everywhere, the feeling of absolute freedom and wholeness I feel when I’m there.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Bay. It’s my home and I know I belong here. But sometimes I need my New York City fix. I used to get it every year, usually during rainy spring break. I’ve been deprived for too long. I need to remember who I am and what better place than in the only City I love more than the City by the Bay? I want to get caught in a rainstorm and splash in puddles. I want to walk seven blocks for down-home Peruvian food. I want a palette of Chinese satin slippers. I want to walk back into Manolo Blahnik to see my dream shoes. In twenty-four hours, I will do a Mary Tyler Moore spin in Times Square.

Lest you think I’m off to find Mr. Big, I am embarking on my trip with my parents. It’s a belated anniversary trip. Given recent events, it will be good to spend several days with my folks. I know they worry and it will be a great break for them, their wily daughter leading them around her favorite place. They deserve to be worry-free, too.

And I get to see Lisabet! My bff is currently staying in the Big Manzana. It will make a huge difference to see my best friend again. She has been gone since May and her absence has had an impact on me.

As a bonus, we will unwind from our whirlwind Manhattan tour in the Land of Enchantment. We will conclude our weeklong vacation in Albuquerque and the UFO capital of the world, Roswell. Nothing says family bonding like a road trip through the desert.

The last two weeks have been tumultuous. I deserve this escape.

Twenty six hours in Nashville

So my sinuses and throat are a hot mess. I’m sore all over(and not just because of my cold.) I only got six hours of sleep last night which is not great considering I have been sleep deprived for weeks.
But I’m blissfully happy.
Will write more later.

words won’t suffice

Not now anyway. Feeling exhilirated, exhausted, ecstatic. As I chill during a layover in Hotlanta, I wish I could put in writing everything I’m feeling and thinking. My trip to Nashville was amazing, though even that word can’t truly capture my experience. The right words will rise to the surface, in a few days. I keep thinking of Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” or Loleatta Holloway’s “Love Sensation.” But even those songs, giddy as they are and I feel, can’t do justice.
So I sigh with happiness.

Strange and sad news

Johnny Cash’s home in Hendersonville burnt down today. The beautiful wooden house by the lake, a prominent location in Cash’s recording career and in the film Walk the Line, had been purchased by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees. June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash lived in the house from their marriage in 1968 until their deaths in 2003.

I had hoped to see the house sometime soon.