Today’s theme of FAMILY should be an easy one. Thank goodness, because it‘s almost 11pm and my alarm is set for 4:45am, with 17.9 miles on the agenda for tomorrow. I’ll just round that up to 18 miles…

FAMILY has always meant two things to me: the family you are born to, and the family that surrounds you.

I have an awesome family, with awesome parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We are a little intense at times, a little off-the-wall a lot of the time, but always, always filled with love. Throw in my husband, children and in-laws, and my family is complete. I have no doubt, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, we will overcome any challenge.

The family that surrounds me is just as important, sometimes just as off-the-wall, and definitely filled with love.

These families take many forms: my Notre Dame family, my St. Anne’s family, my tribe of moms-who-keep-me-sane family, my Xavier family when I was there and my swimming family, and now my pilgrim family.

12 days ago, I met the 31 other pilgrims who would become the core group on the ND Trail. We are a diverse group: in age, in reasons for walking, in relationship to the University; we are also at different places on our spiritual journey and hail from different parts of the country. Some of us are sore, most of us have blisters, all of us are tired; but the one thing we have in common – without exception – is our gratitude for being on the Trail.

One core pilgrim asked me today if I had 2nd thoughts about having done the Trail. “No way,” came out of my mouth pretty quickly. We then asked a few others and were met with the same exact response.

We have learned along the way that friends and family think we are crazy for doing this; and perhaps we are. But it has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. And while I miss my family at home, I am at home with my new family.