If I'm honest, I’ve been on a pilgrimage of one sort or another my whole life. As a child, I made mini pilgrimages to the library. My dad and I made pilgrimages into the mountains of Colorado on Sunday afternoons. My annual pilgrimage to my grandmother’s house became a most beloved journey. That slowing of time and sense of connection to place was what inspired my love of storytelling.
Modern life is all about packing the most into everything—especially when we travel. As storytellers, though, the stories don't find us in the middle of racing from one tourist attraction to the next. So, how do we slow down and connect with land, find those stories?
I've begun creating a new style of travel guides. They focus on moving slowly, gaining a deep sense of place, and restoring our creativity. I hope you enjoy what you find here.
Millions of people around the world make pilgrimages to sacred sites every year. Sacred places change us. They provide us with the opportunity to extend into the liminal. To touch the hand of the divine and be graced by its touch upon us. Most often, we think of pilgrimage as something that leads us to a religious site. Truly, though, you don’t have to plan a massive event to Santiago, Stonehenge, or Mecca to experience the peace, grace, and personal wonder of a pilgrimage. The sacred is everywhere—in nature, at places that hold the stories of our ancestors, even in an afternoon baking pie.
My first trip to France came in 2019. Headed to the Loire Valley to research my novel—Woman On The Wall—I went with a plan. Oh, holy heck, did I go with a plan. It fell apart, for the best. Instead, the Loire opened its mystical, detail-rich arms to me and revealed its stories (and a few of my own). I understood the power of opening to the divine. It happens when you least expect, and it takes you beyond time. It transforms you.
I have, over the years, fallen so deeply in love with the Loire Valley. It is the stuff of legend and fairy tale. I've also fallen in love with pilgrimage. So, it made sense that I launch these new guides with a series of one-day pilgrimages to magical places along the Loire.
The Loire Valley is about 200km from Paris (I recommend taking the train. It is a dream). Its roughly 300 châteux boast some of the most spectacular art, food, and historical artifacts in the world.
It has hosted some of the greatest minds including Leonardo Da Vinci, who lived out his final years at Clos Lucé in Amboise, Marguerite de Navarre, and Catherine de' Medici, who spent her days at Chenonceau.
Each one is a brief pilgrimage that can be done in a single day and includes a series of writing prompts for you to use as journal tools, creative inspiration, or contemplative questions to draw out the stories you long to tell.