Punctuate Life

Pause Breathe Relax


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Celebrating You

As January 20th approaches my thoughts are with my grandma (Dadima) and I fondly remember the way she celebrated her birthday every year. She didn’t have it easy. Widowed at the age of 36 and sickly most of her life, she had to fend for herself and reinvent herself several times over. From a village girl to a high flying socialite. From someone who had never worked a single day of her life to the first woman LPG distributor. From someone who never stepped outside of the village of Kollengode to an expat.

She had a million reasons to be unhappy and slouch in a corner depressed and uninterested with life. Believe me if I were in her shoes I would have done just that! But not her. She took life by the horns and joyfully went on the ride even if it meant being thrashed around. But somehow she always found reasons to celebrate. Not just festivals and birthdays but herself. Every year on January 20th she threw a big party and invited her close family and all of her workers. She cut a cake as we all sang happy birthday. Her manager would make a speech praising her while she stood by grinning ear to ear. There was nothing vain about it. She simply loved herself and wasn’t afraid to show it. It is what made her so large hearted. For all love starts with self love.

Are you one of those people who think they are too old or too insignificant to celebrate their own birthday? Forget birthdays, do you fail to acknowledge how wonderful you are? When someone compliments you, do you shrug it off or put down yourself? Think about it. You are pushing away the very things every human being craves for – appreciation, validation and love.

Do you look in the mirror and smile at what you see or do you groan and mentally list everything that is wrong with your face, figure, hair and skin? For years I watched my grandma get dressed for work. After she was done fixing her hair in a bun, she had this look of satisfaction and an inner smile if you will. She clearly loved what she saw in the mirror. She oozed confidence out of every pore of her body and people picked up on that and ended up admiring her. It was no mean task running a business with absolutely no training or experience and she did it with style and panache. I’m not saying she didn’t ever make mistakes. She did. But she somehow didn’t dwell on them and beat herself about it.

I have always been hard on myself and never give myself credit where it is due. People always picked up on that and saw me with all my imperfections. I was afraid of everything. Of driving. Of working. Of getting fired because I’m not good enough. Of being a horrible mother. I was my own worst enemy. Even if other people thought I was capable of stepping up and meeting challenges I didn’t believe I had it in me. So life was one disappointment after another. A tiny door of opportunity would open and I would slam it shut with my self-doubt and lack of faith.

Even when people tell you something about yourself that is a roaring lie, you believe it. I guess at some point I was sick of it all and made a conscious effort to befriend life and make peace with myself. To celebrate myself and life like my grandma did. When I saw the beauty and wonder in me, life opened up and everything I wished for just fell from the heavens into my open arms.

I secretly (not anymore!) try to be like my grandma and although I have a long way to go, I think I’m getting there.  I wish for my grandma’s fiery spirit, her zest and total commitment to life. She did not stand in the sidelines and watch her life slipping by. She took charge, took on challenges and celebrated herself, her family and her work. She kept giving and life gave her back thousand fold. Looking back at all the challenges (mostly self-imposed) that I have overcome, I know she is proud of me and celebrating every victory of mine.  She is and will always be my greatest cheerleader. And I will always celebrate her.

 

 


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All I Wanted for Christmas…

My list was long and I was just waiting for the winter break to get started on it. Some things were material and some were more abstract. I wanted to cut and color my hair, get myself a sweater, go on vacation with my family, write a novel, meet up with old friends and relatives we haven’t met in a while. On my last working day before the break, I took off early from work. I didn’t feel good. Sure enough by the time I got home I was coughing and sneezing and totally miserable. The next day I felt worse but by then I had started a course of antibiotics. By Sunday I was a complete and total mess. My tummy hurt, I was coughing and bringing up mucus and I had absolutely no energy to do anything.

The first thing to be crossed off my list was meeting with an old school friend. She and her family were visiting Orlando and we had agreed to meet up on Sunday for dinner. I wasn’t up to it at all and I didn’t want to make her baby and little girl sick and ruin their trip. I crossed off going to the salon as well, when I got back after grocery shopping (we had no food in the refrigerator!) and collapsed on the bed. I didn’t care about the grey’s showing or if I had a matching sweater to wear to work. All I wanted was to be well. All I wanted was some energy to get through the day.

The weekend was gone and I was done with my course of antibiotics. The cough had subsided but the fatigue clung to my body. It took every ounce of strength to get up and fix a meal and after eating I’d go collapse on the bed leaving my husband and kids to clean the dishes and clear the table. On Monday I wanted to blog. I sat on the couch, paper and pen in front of me. I had a couple of topics that had come to me earlier but my brain was in a fog. The virus or whatever it was had sapped every cell in my body of all its strength. Every day I got up praying that I would be better. And I would be. Thinking I was back to normal I’d go about my chores only to find myself totally drained out. Write a novel? Forget about it! I couldn’t come up with a measly sentence for crying out loud!

By Wednesday I was not only physically down but also my upbeat attitude had taken a terrible beating. It hit me finally that without a sound body, everything I did in life would be impossible to do. Every thing that I had taken for granted – healthy vigor, energy, creativity, fun, laughter, work – all of it simply vanished when my health was compromised. It made me realize that good health is the greatest gift without which the rest of life’s blessings cannot be enjoyed. I also came to the humble realization that even though I believed that I was living a healthy life, taking good care of myself and not indulging in risky behavior, I had no power over disease. It could strike any time, out of no where and ravage your body, mind and spirit.

The next day I was almost back to normal. My energy levels were up. But my spirit was shaken. I felt small, mortal and completely vulnerable. I felt sorry for myself. All my plans for the winter break were now just plans that would never take shape. Since we waited for the last minute to plan our trip there were no rental cars available. So we had to be content staying home. My distress levels hit the roof until I realized there were folks out there without power. Folks who had to leave home and spend Christmas in a hotel or a friend’s home. Folks who had to spend Christmas alone because they had no family. Folks who were sick on Christmas day.

I was thankful that I was better on Christmas day and got to meet relatives from New Jersey for a fun-filled dinner. A dear friend called me late in the night, quite unexpectedly, just to lift my spirits.

I am thankful I have power and can stay home, even though a vacation is out of question. I am thankful for my beautiful family, for taking care of me and nursing me back to health. Thankful for friends who called to check on me. So in the end I didn’t get most of the stuff on my list but I did find out that I’m one lucky lady. I already had everything that really mattered. Everything that made the holidays special – family, a warm home and wonderful friends. Without that and my health (which is back to normal) none of the gifts on my list would have given me any joy at all.

I am thankful for the disease that came right around the holidays threatening to ruin it but turned out to be a beautiful lesson and a gift that I now share with you. The most important gifts in life are those that money can’t buy. They don’t come gift wrapped with a big bow on the side. They most certainly cannot be returned, exchanged or regifted. But be sure to cling on to these all year long and especially during the holidays for they make life complete and are a joy to receive. Wishing you good health, a warm home, your beautiful family & friends and lots of joy this holiday season.


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Signs Galore

I wrote a post last year about signs that have appeared in my life. Signs that thunderously declare the presence of a God, Universe, Consciousness or whatever you like to call it. But the signs this time were not speaking to me. Not pointing me in any specific direction and no earth-shaking discoveries or breakthroughs followed. I was praying hard for specific things this year. Things that I had wanted for years but was too scared to admit to myself. Things that I thought I never deserved. Things I was not destined for maybe. But in their very absence my life became unbearable to me. The burning and churning in the pit of my stomach I could ignore no more.

But life unfolded one dull and boring day after another. With mind-boggling signs scattered along the way! It all started with clover leaves and shamrocks appearing all over the place. On bumper stickers. On T-shirts. Leaves mysteriously mingled with the laundry and leaves on the carpet. It didn’t make any sense at all. And then my son’s teacher hands me a paper shamrock and asks me to trace and cut 18 giants ones for the March book report. I quickly looked up the meaning of shamrocks and clover leaves on the internet. Each leaf signified something. The first one for faith, second for hope, third for love and the last for luck. What did it all mean? First I thought it meant we should move back to Boston (the Boston Celtics symbol is a shamrock right?) It didn’t happen. Then I started hallucinating. Thought I’d suddenly become psychic or something and was now able to foretell the future. Not mine but others! I envisioned two of my single friends with their partners. I told one of my friends over IM (one of those safe ways of communicating totally psychotic material!) about my ‘vision’.

Then one fine day I get an e-mail from the other friend saying she has found the ‘one’. Was one of the most exciting days of a mostly uneventful month. I chatted with her later that week and she told me how it all happened over the St.Patricks day weekend and that her beau is Irish. And wait for it…had a tattoo of a shamrock! I know this girl from the cradle and once when she was visiting me after I had read “Eat, Pray, Love” I asked her which was the one place in the world she would love to explore. “Ireland” came the reply. I’ve also seen her poring over books written by Irish authors and set in Ireland. Coincidence? I think not!

She told me how she started picking up pennies that lay in her path after I wrote about it and after a friend told her their significance. I have been finding pennies for years now and I stash them in a little bag that hangs from the floor lamp in my room. The last time I counted there were 25. The last 10 I found over this summer. Anyways earlier this year I was talking to my friend and she told me she was still waiting for the right man to walk into her life but was not sure what to expect. Somehow the conversation drifted to lucky pennies and I told her I was pooling all my luck (in the little drawstring bag) and that I’d send her some! Luck that is!

The Irish know a good thing when they look it in the eye. So he wasted no time and proposed to her on her birthday which happens to be 2 days before mine. So I heard all about it. Then they fixed the wedding date for October and she asked me to be her Maid Of Honor! I see the hand of God all over this and I’m so humbled to be a part of this.

Anyways, the signs kept coming my way. Again I had no clue what to expect. I saw a huge rainbow in May and then butterflies and pennies. One time I found 4 pennies when I was walking with my husband at the mall. Found $2 outside Kohls one day. In July it was all about rainbows. Here in Florida it rains in the afternoons or evenings for maybe a 1/2 hour or more and then the sun comes out. My balcony faces east making it convenient for the western sun to throw rainbows onto the eastern sky. Call me nuts but every time it rains and the sun comes out I go hunting for the rainbow. I’ve seen double rainbows. I’ve seen rainbows when it wasn’t even raining! But the best one by far was the one that appeared on my birthday.

It’s a good thing I record all the signs I receive in my journal because here is one I almost forgot about. Here is what I wrote:

Yesterday as I lay in bed with the window open and the moonlight shining in I could feel my heart expanding. It felt good. The moon looked pretty with four rays beaming outward. On the 21st of June the moon was next to a cloud shaped like a lady with her wavy long hair around her. The cloud slowly moved towards the moon. At one point the moon was the (glowing) heart center of the lady (cloud). It was so beautiful.  

I know I’m such an ingrate. I’ve been inundated with signs all year and yet I’ve been wading through gloom and self-pity. In fact I had the audacity to say to God/ Universe – stop with the signs – I want results! I want to see progress. I want the New Age (Utopia in my mind) to arrive. Now! The universe sent me another sign – a battered penny. Battered because it was lying in the middle of the road and had been run over by several cars before I found it and reluctantly rescued it. The next day I found a teeny-tiny feather stuck to the cover of our car. Still doubted. Thought it was just a coincidence. We drove off to Publix to get some milk. They had a scavenger hunt for kids and we went roaming around the whole store looking for gluten-free Rice Krispies and organic strawberries. Somewhere along the way we ended up on a aisle that had magazines and books. My eye fell on this book which was part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series titled – Messages from Heaven.

I picked up the book, my whole body tingling with excitement. It opened to the content section and my eyes fell on this – Messengers and Angels. I couldn’t deny it anymore. And that is when I got it. God loved me. And will keep loving me despite my faults (battered penny) because I was his/her child (tiny feather).

The next day as if to re-emphasize that all these were indeed signs from above, my son asked me this question, “Ma, do you really believe in signs?” I smiled and told him about how I had to believe after I saw the writing in the sky, “God Loves You”. It was simple and direct and there was no denying it or pretending it was just a coincidence.

In the past signs were answers to prayers or little messages from the Universe for me to decipher. But this time it was just a sign to hold on, to keep believing, to keep the faith and hope alive. To know that I am loved and cared for now and forever more. And that the luck and the pot of gold will follow!

Have you seen signs like these. Please share below…


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Blogging: My Road to Self Discovery

I still can’t believe I’m a blogger. I knew writing was in my soul but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine owning a blog. It was my cousin who led me down that path and before I knew it I had a website and was doling out my existential angst and advice by the bucketfuls. Here’s what a year of blogging taught me.

The First Step is the Hardest

I know that’s a cliche and has been done to death but anyone who ever had a major breakthrough in life would shout it out from the roof tops. The first blog I ever wrote and published as a note on Facebook was totally on a impulse. I didn’t fret about it and plan for months in advance. I just sat down and typed it all up in less than an hour and then published it. If I hadn’t taken that risk I wouldn’t be a blogger today.

Something Better

You get what you ask for or something better. I didn’t ask to be a blogger. In 2011 I was looking for writing gigs and met with no luck. At one point in my life I even questioned my ability to find a job – any job! I applied for jobs at banks, day care centers and preschools. I finally got a part-time job at a Kumon Center. It wasn’t my dream job but I felt I still had something to offer. Like I wasn’t worthless. A month later I had to quit and stay home because my daughter broke her arm. I was back to square one. I had no time to feel sorry for myself because my daughter needed me 24/7. A few months later I started blogging and a couple of months after that I had my own website! Now if I could only get paid to share my opinions!

Walk your Talk

It’s easy to give advice. Ever tried following your own advice? I couldn’t write about “Living Fearlessly” and be afraid of driving (outside my comfort zone) or salons anymore. I couldn’t preach about the universe and “Signs from Above” while I ignored all the signs that were appearing in my life. I had to align my life to be in sync with everything I believed. I had to live the life I was telling everybody about. Since writing the post on fear I’ve taken the wheel when we went on road trips and made two trips to the salon!

The Bigger Plan

In hindsight, there was nothing accidental about becoming a blogger. The Universe was nudging me all along. When I was foolish enough to question it, alarming and unmistakeable evidence presented itself.  It showed me that I was just an instrument and a higher purpose was being fulfilled through the blog. Case in point – my post “Love Never Dies”. I wrote it and didn’t publish it. The very same night my brother wrote to me saying his friend had lost her father. She used to read my posts and find comfort so he asked if  I could suggest one to help her grieve. I published the post and sent my brother a link. This has happened more than once. What can I say?  I’m blessed beyond my wildest dreams and I’m deeply grateful to be given this opportunity.

Expansion and Connection

The most rewarding thing about blogging is connecting with like-minded people. My experiences are not unique in that atleast a dozen other people have been through the same thing. The more I blog the less lonely I feel. I have kids, a spouse, neighbors and friends. Yet a part of me always felt lonely. The part that stayed under wraps for far too long. It’s this part that finds solace through my blog. The sensitive soul, yo-yo optimist, facebook activist and the many other sides of me that people never get to see. The parts of me that I am no longer ashamed of because through my blog I can reach out to some who can totally relate to my different avatars!

Blogging vs Venting

Blogging got me into the habit of writing every day or writing without the intent of posting. Why is this important? Because I almost ended up using my blog as a place to vent. By journaling regularly I could weed out stuff that wasn’t blog material even though it was cleverly disguised! It also got me into the habit of keeping a prayer/gratitude journal. This one habit has transformed my life.

It’s no surprise to me that my first post was “Experimenting with Miracles”. My blog is a little miracle to me even today!It has sown many seeds near and far. Seeds of magic, hope and possibility. It reminds me that miracles happen every day, we just have to believe!


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Can We All Get Along?

I’m not a black mother or a white mother. I’m just a mother. I’m not a black person or a white person. I’m just a person. With a beating heart that can break. With blood that runs through my veins. With a sense of right and wrong etched deep in my psyche. The very same psyche that screamed injustice! when George Zimmerman was pronounced not guilty.

I live in Florida, just an hour way from the place where Trayvon Martin was shot dead by an overzealous neighborhood watch citizen. It seemed like a clear cut case to me. Boy was unarmed, not trespassing or causing any trouble. Gets into a fight with Zimmerman, who decides to follow and then shoot the teen – when in the first place he should have simply waited for the police to get there. Clearly guilty, right? Atleast to me it seemed that way. So I didn’t really watch the trial in its entirety. On the night that the jury delivered its verdict I was up. I stared at the television screen and at the word ‘aquitted’ which my brain processed as ‘guilty’. That’s how sure I was that Zimmerman would pay for snuffing out the life of a child! Then it slowly sunk in. I was shocked!

Let’s go back in time. To about a decade ago. 1992 to be precise. The Rodney King case involving police brutality. Yes, the guy was a criminal on parole. Yes, he did not co-operate with the officers. Did he deserve to have most of his bones broken? No! 33 blows to get this man arrested ? No! All the officers were aquitted and then when the case went to the civil court two were pronounced guilty and two were aquitted. Maybe you felt Rodney King deserved it because he was a criminal. Maybe you sympathized with him. Maybe you were enraged by the whole thing. If you were Afro- American you told your sons to be cautious when approached by a police officer. To simply put your hands up and co-operate or get beaten to death!

Let’s go back to 1955. That is the year that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. Did you know that there was another woman by the name of Claudette Colvin who also refused to give up her seat on the bus and was dragged out and arrested? Do you know why they withdrew her case from the federal courts? She was pregnant and unmarried. Quoting from the book Rosa Parks : My story – If the white press got hold of that information, they would have a field day. They’d call her a bad girl and her case wouldn’t have a chance. So Rosa Parks was the chosen one – the one who would rid America of segregation on the bus.

Go back to the 1800s when the Ku Klux Klan was terrorizing the Southern States. You don’t even have to go back that far to arrive at a place in history where a black man could be shot by a white man for simply being sassy. The law did not protect the lives of black men, women or children.

I could keep going back in history to prove how much injustice has been meted out to the black people. But that would not help any of us. I just wanted to show you how far we have come and how much more work needs to be done. Going back to Trayvon Martin, and I think his name is no coincidence (just like Rodney King), I was amazed by the strength and dignity shown by his parents. They are aware as I am now that their son was part of a bigger plan. A plan to take a good look at the law books and change things that are not working. We also need to take a good long look at ourselves and see where we fall short as human beings. Where we let inequality, labels and sterotypes to govern our judgement. Where we let the vestiges of the past take control of our actions.

Why am I writing about this? I owe it to fellow blogger Eva who said – I’m plagued today for the same reason so many black parents are: we just watched a jury in the lawless state of Florida acquit George Zimmerman in the senseless and blatantly racial murder of Trayvon Martin…and we have children that by now we’ve had to explain it to.

I may not be Afro-American but I have read enough of American history to know what race is. In India it’s the caste system and other countries have other systems in place that reek of segregation. When President Obama was elected in 2009 it felt like America had taken a huge stride toward liberty and equality. But we still have some cob-webs to clean and some fine-tuning to be done. Many people are disheartened by the verdict and feel like things will not change in their lifetime. Imagine if Lincoln gave up on the 13th amendment! Imagine if only whites could vote today would Obama be our president? We cannot look back, we have to keep looking forward and we have to stop segregating the fight for justice. It’s everyone’s fight. Not just the black people! It’s not just America’s fight. It’s every nation’s fight for justice and an end of discrimination based on your skin color, nationality, caste, immigration status, gender, disability…the list goes on.

I’m not black and I’m not white. I’m a mother and I feel the pain of a mother who has lost her son. I ask each one of you to reach inside yourselves and really try to relate to this case. Put aside the facts, the media hype and the 10,000 analyses. Just ask yourself and you will know right from wrong. Knowing isn’t good enough, you need to start a conversation and get people to talk and take action. I just did. Now it’s your turn…

 


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You have the Universe and All its Treasures at Your Feet

We all grew up with a lack mentality. The illusion of not having enough. Even if you were well-off you had to face a world of inequality and injustice at every level. Poverty, illness, death and disease was the fate of the unfortunate or so you believed. Like the Gods didn’t favor them for some reason.

Of late I’ve come to believe that all the inequalities we see, all the injustices and blatant violation of human rights are all created by man. Grace, abundance, love and joy are freely available. It’s like the sun which shines on all, no matter if you’re rich or poor, saint or sinner, fat or skinny, healthy or diseased. God’s grace is shining on every soul at every moment. Then why is there suffering you ask? Because you have this thing called the mind that can play devil’s advocate from time to time. You filter the world through your mind, based on your past experiences.  After all, you don’t absorb much of the sun’s radiation if you sit indoors with the windows shuttered and the drapes drawn. If your mind shuts out the grace and healing that is available to you every moment, then who is to blame?

The mind is a tricky entity to deal with. I’m still irked by how it sneaks unwanted thoughts and beliefs into my psyche. One night I was up watching TV all by myself. A beautiful actress with long hair and perfect skin appeared and I mentally sighed. I’ve had issues with my stomach, skin and hair for sometime now. I’ve tried creams, shampoos and diets but nothing worked for me. This Hollywood beauty had top dermatologists and hair stylists at her beck and call. Poor me, what could I do? I’ll just have to suck it up and make peace with my not-so-perfect health!

I’ve had this limiting thought so many times but this time I realized how it was preventing me from finding solutions to my problems. I felt I needed to be someone else, somewhere else in order to be healed! It’s all there for me and everyone else who wants it. I was just pushing it away with my mind and its irrational thoughts. This reminded me of the clip-on mosquito repellent ad. It was like I had a giant bubble around me preventing me from soaking up all the healing, love and abundance I needed.

As a Reiki healer I have felt these bubbles or blocks energetically. Reiki is a healing technique that involves laying your hands on a person and requesting Reiki energy to flow through you from the cosmos to the person to facilitate healing. People who have a mental block or don’t trust that they can be healed don’t allow the energy to pass through them and in effect prevent their own good or healing from happening. Remember I said cosmos – the air around us is full of prana, chi or life force. You can tap into it right now even without being attuned to Reiki. Breathe it in and allow it to heal you. Stop the constant chatter of your mind and allow your highest good to unfold now. Yes now! You can be whole, perfect and abundant in an instant.

How else can you explain classic rags to riches stories? Homeless people winning lotteries and becoming millionaires. Orphans growing up to be great spiritual masters. Miraculous healing beyond all odds. They all tuned into the love and abundance of the universe and tuned out the illusions created by the mind. The Tao teaches us to become one with the universe in order to be whole and complete. To be one with the universe is to be one with love, compassion and abundance. Then you want for nothing and everything is freely available to you. The universe gives freely of its abundant, inexhaustible resources. When you give with the same spirit then all the abundance you can imagine will lay at your feet.

In order to be healed you must give up thoughts of being imperfect or broken beyond fixing. Of course you will need to make changes to your diet or lifestyle as guided. But your success largely depends on your beliefs about whether you can be healed or not. For years I felt healing was something that came from the outside. I could help others feel better but when it came to healing myself I had little success. A bad case of throat infection that refused to go away with antibiotics got me anxious. I was to travel to India in less than a week and I had no energy to pack. I wanted the healing and I wanted it bad! So I lay down and placed my hands on my throat. The old doubts about self-healing surfaced and tormented my mind but a wave of trust placated it. In a few days I was out of it and felt much better. I went on to have a fabulous vacation in India.

Louise Hay says in her book, “You Can Heal Your Life”, abundance is like the ocean. Some come to fill up tiny cups and others come with tankers.

So what will it be for you? A tiny cup or a tanker. Do you want to be out soaking up the grace or in a room with the doors and windows locked and shuttered? It’s all up to you, for the wealth of the universe lies at your feet!

 


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The Dilemma

Who am I?

I don’t seem to know anymore!

I wake up in the morning

And stare blankly at the door.

Trapped in a body wracked with limitation,

Every breath is an act of suffocation.

Am I the sum total of my successes,

Or the product of my failures?

 

Everything is a lie and illusion is rampant,

It is taken to be real and there lies the delusion.

The truth is hard to swallow,

The pain too much to bear,

This separation between body and soul,

As the body stumbles and the soul soars,

This I’m sure I did not ask for!

 

To be of this world and not to be,

To belong and not fit in,

To be torn between the dream and the awakening,

Is a dilemma that I dread facing.

 

Disconnected from the love of the source,

A whirlwind of activity and emotions I force,

I trip and fumble trying to find

Something that will satisfy this deep thirst in my soul.

What is it that seeks to be birthed?

A tiny voice inside me speaks,

Which I try to drown in the quagmire that is my mind.

Feebly it cries – Happiness lies in the ‘IS’,

In the ‘Now’

In the everlasting that is there forever more.

 


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Of Scars and Other Decorations…

The entire nation is abuzz with talks about gun rights and regulations and I’m not particularly interested in this debate. But one bit of news got my attention and it was about Gabby Giffords speaking up about the need for gun control. Her whole life was turned upside down by one gun shot by a deranged man. Her condition was critical but she survived only to live a half-life. One side of her body is paralyzed forcing her to quit her job in the Congress. She finds it hard to articulate but has decided to advocate gun regulations. And here is the beauty of it. She doesn’t have to say a word – her very presence in a gathering is thunderous. She has turned the worst experience in her life to her purpose. She probably never understood any of it until now.

I can’t quite compare myself to Gabby but I did have a close brush with death. I never quite understood why I had to go through depression at such a young age. Why me? And then years later I knew why. A person came into my life who was going through the exact same thing that I went through. I could be there for that person like nobody could ever be there for me. You see it takes a person who has experienced it first hand to be able to really empathize in the true sense of the word. Depression is not about being weak. It’s not something you can just snap out of by thinking happy thoughts. Nor is it a life sentence. And no way are you a failure. You can come out of it and go on to live a wonderful life. I knew that because I had been there and I had come out of it.

I had to figure it all out for myself and God knows I wished for someone who could understand what it was like. So it was liberating to help someone in the same limbo. I don’t think any of my ‘advice’ helped. But I’m sure the fact that I got through it was hope enough for my friend. For here I was, happily married, the mother of two kids and no one would have guessed that I almost died at the age of 21!

So are you hiding your scars? Ashamed of them? I know I was. I never spoke of my depression to anyone. It was my dark, ugly secret. I didn’t talk about it until I heard about my friend. It took me back to the place I was in my life many years ago. A great surge of empathy propelled me to share my struggles. I never realized that in doing so I was giving myself the greatest gift. In owning that part of me that I had denied for so long, I was whole again. My creativity which lay bottled up with all the pain and the shame came gushing out. Long story short, here I am writing this blog!

Embrace your scars and own every one of them. In doing so you are empowered and rise above being a mere victim. For the Universe makes no mistakes. In the dark and the ugly is the seed for greater purpose. And by the way, they are not scars but medals of honor. You survived those struggles and are here to tell your story so others may find hope through you.

Gabby Giffords was asked, “Isn’t it ironic that a strong spokesperson like you is struggling with her speech?”   A very harsh question if you ask me and I really thought she would break. But she smiled with one half of her face and said, “ It stinks!”  But I’m sure she is aware that her mere presence is enough for gun advocates to sit up and listen to the few words she has to say.

You and I are not Gabby Giffords and our struggles will probably never make it to the National News. But in a small way we do impact all the people we come in contact with. If you survived a testing phase in your life, you can offer support to people who are going through a similar crisis in their life. Turn the worst thing that happened to you to the greatest blessing ever for you and for others.


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You are Not Alone

   The world has become unbearable to me. The more I try to center myself and tap into inner peace, the more junk it throws at me. I love the trash-to-treasure idea but what do you do with random acts of violence with absolutely no motive or reasoning. It’s hard to erase those images from your psyche.

  My husband lovingly calls me the ‘enlightened one’ – what with my 24/7 obsession with making everything right with the world and my irresistible need to give advice to everyone about everything. But I was beginning to think he is mistaken. I’m barely keeping my head above the water. But it’s not like I’m going through the worst time of my life. Those years are way behind me. So then it got me thinking about those years when I felt all alone and a slave to my never-ending problems. Where was God, where were the signs, where were His/Her people?

   This is what I sensed from deep within. Even in your moments of deep despair, I was there whispering words of reassurance. You heard the words but didn’t know it was me. And then this song just popped into my head – ‘In the Arms of the Angel’ from the soundtrack of the movie “City of Angels”. I used to hear that song over and over when I was in Pondicherry, hating the course I was doing and wanting to quit. It was a very tough phase, with lots of tears and regret and doubts about whether I was doing the right thing. Back then it was just a song to me and it did not occur to me that I was being guided.

  Through several hits and misses I see how I was protected and saved from situations that would have taken me down  the road to damnation. When I had to deal with heartache I stumbled upon a kind saint and his compassionate words  to help me through it.

 Which brings me to the poem I want to share with you. I want you to know that whatever it is that you are going through you are not alone. Not even physically alone because me and several others are with you down that path. Struggling with the ugliness of the world before it disappears for good. All that we need to do is have faith that we will be swept away on the wings of angels and can live without a care.

 

Footprints in the Sand

One night I had a dream. I dreamed I was walking along the beach with God and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonged to me and the other belonged to God.

When the last scene of my life flashed before us I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at certain times along the path of life there was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life. This really bothered me and I questioned God about it.

“God, you said that once I decided to follow You, You would walk with me all the way but I noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints in the sand. I don’t understand why in times I needed You most You would leave me.”

God replied,”My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you during your times of trials and suffering. When you see only one set of footprints in the sand it was then that I was carrying you.”

Mary Stevenson.