Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, Illness Narrative, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

We Walk This World As Pilgrims

We’re familiar with the pilgrims of the Middle Ages struggling to make it to the Holy Land. They overcame many obstacles, fought wars, and hopefully in the end found peace. There are many who make pilgrimages for personal reasons; physical challenges and healing of health issues, emotional freedom, or attaining spiritual enlightenment. The truth is that we walk this world as pilgrims because we’re all in search of something, even if you’re not aware of what it is in this moment.

Last night I facilitated a call for students working on their doctoral dissertations. I believe these students are on their own personal pilgrimage. They are expanding their personal and professional boundaries. They are taking on a pursuit that will change their lives forever. They are creating a soapbox on which they will stand for the rest of their lives. As someone who has completed this process I am honored and privileged to serve as their Sherpa, carrying the heavy load when necessary giving each pilgrim the space to move forward on their journey.

Richard R. Niebuhr, noted scholar from the Harvard Divinity School, stated “Pilgrims are person in motion, passing through territories not their own-seeking something we might call completion, or perhaps the word clarity will do us well, a goal to which the spirit’s compass points the way.” When we set out on a pilgrimage we have a nagging question that keeps showing up in our lives and is demanding attention. Many believe that the “good” life is one where we have a sense of completion. We have tackled the challenges set forth by that whisper in our ear nudging us to take action in our lives.

Roger Housden in Sacred Journeys in a Modern World writes, “Whatever its destination, what sets a sacred journey apart from an every day walk, or a tourist trip, is the spirit in which it is undertaken. It is sacred if it sensitizes the individual to the deeper realities of his or her own being, and those of the world in which we live.” Our pilgrimages are sacred because it’s part of our narrative. It is a catalyst for change. As Pilgrims we are making conscious what has been seeking a voice, an answer, or possibly leading us to new questions.

I’ve sat in many counseling rooms with those facing life-threatening illness and each person’s pilgrimage had similarities, seeking hope, some sense of control over their lives, and empowerment. Since not everyone who is diagnosed with an illness recovers, some individual’s pilgrimage is seeking a good death and making sure they do not have an unlived life.

Whatever your pilgrimage I hope you make each step a conscious one. Your pilgrimage will keep you consciously engaged in your life opening your body, mind, and spirit to new heights. Set out on a pilgrimage and experience the wonder this journey to the depths of soul will reveal!

Facing a chronic or life-threatening illness and looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit

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Posted in coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, newly diagnosed illness, overcoming adversity

Living Life Like a Sponge

We go through life having one experience after another. They mount and the experiences build upon one another giving us a plethora of resources. Our brains are magnificent organs and they serve as the command center of our world. However, there are times in our lives, especially during times of stress that we can’t retrieve the information we need. The truth is that stress impacts our absorption process.

When we face adversity our first inclination is to gather information. We seek out every resource possible hoping to find answers to our questions. Our search reaches far as we try to alleviate the anxiety that often accompanies a challenge of any type. Facing a chronic or life-threatening illness certainly qualifies as one of life’s great stressors.

There is an enormous amount of information about illnesses and treatments. Technology has made it possible to access research studies, anecdotal evidence, and even support groups without leaving your home. Every source you access adds to the amount of information you’re absorbing and need to process. The problem is that we’re really good at absorbing information, but not so good at sifting through the information.

It’s clear we live our lives like a sponge, but when are we taught to wring out the sponge? We can only benefit from the information we collect if we’re able to discern what’s critical for health and healing, instead of having too much clutter and missing what can benefit you the most. Wringing out our sponge gives us the opportunity to collect new information and experiences. If we’re saturated then we often experience fatigue, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Health and healing is an evolving process. It requires that we continually expand opportunities for new experiences and information. Giving yourself the gift of possibility honors your health and healing journey. It provides you with a sense of hope because seeking answers to questions keeps you engaged in your healing pilgrimage.

What can you wring out making room for new information and experiences? If you’re feeling overwhelmed what can you wring out of your soul, the living sponge, to make room for what’s pertinent and inspiring?

Looking for education, support, and inspiration when facing a chronic or life-threatening experience? Visit