Blessings Among Tragedies

For those of you who do not know, 13 days ago my brother was taken to the hospital and had been unresponsive for more than a week.

He is healing now and so are we as a family. Over the years some of us have drifted apart and although none of us wished to come together like this, this tragedy has come with many blessings.

My siblings and I have always been a little rebellious (somewhat of an understatement). All three of us chose paths that varied greatly from the way we were raised.

We march to the beat of our own drums and that has at times lead us in very different directions.

It’s a struggle finding your place in this world and it has been harder for some of us than others.

However one thing has never changed, the amount of love we have for one another.  The evidence of that has shined brightly as we have all come together in this most difficult time.

When I heard the news all I could think of was that it couldn’t be true. I didn’t know how to process. My brother and I have never been the type to stay in constant contact, but we didn’t need to. Years would go by when we wouldn’t see one another but then one of us would reach out and it was like no time had passed.

Family has always been a sensitive subject for me. As much as I have been loved and accepted by others, in the true sense of it all, I’ve always felt like the odd one out. My brother & sister share blood and they were adopted by my God Parents, those who I consider to be my parents, but my time with them was cut short (not by my choice or theirs). I treasure every moment I was able to have with them, however short it may have been. Had I been given the choice way back then I never would have left, but I realize had that been the case, I may have become a very different person…and I rather like the person I have become.

I didn’t have the childhood my brother & sister had. I was always on the outside looking in on the family I left behind. And over the years, many others have graciously accepted me into their families as one of their own. Yet even still, there has always been something in the back of my mind reminding me that at the end of the day, I am still an outsider.

I am sure they would disagree, but I can’t shake the feeling. I’ve never been able to. I know I’m loved, but it feels like that always comes with a caveat of some kind.

And so, I have allowed myself to embrace life behind the scenes. I shut people out as a defense mechanism for fear I will be reminded that I am not truly part of the pack.

And as I’ve learned, that will only cause them to drift farther away.

I was young when my sister had her kids and our parents would still help me out from time to time with the expense of the trip, so I was able to visit more. And although we are not super close, I know they know I love them and they understand.

My brother’s kids are a different story and my heart breaks every time I think about them, so I try not to. His ex’s have made it indirectly clear they don’t really consider me as part of my brother’s family. Once they were no longer together, I no longer mattered. I just hope the girls know that is absolutely not the case. I love them just as much as I love my sister’s boys,  I have just sort of been cut out of their lives.

And not for lack of trying on my brother’s behalf. He doesn’t have them all the time, but he keeps me updated as do my parents. So I have resolved to watching them grow up in pictures and the heart breaking fact that they may never get to know their other aunt nor I them.

I guess the point that I am getting to is this family has a lot of healing to do.

It can be so easy to pass judgment on those who live a different lifestyle than you and I am not saying that my brother is perfect or that any of us are for that matter, but I think it is so important not to forget that from the outside looking, things are not always what they appear. We all make mistakes, some of us over indulge, but all of us deserve a second chance.

The last time my brother and I talked, we were on the phone for hours. We opened up to one another about how we were trying to deal with our demons. And the biggest beast in particular, never feeling good enough. All three of us siblings have always struggled with the knowing that we didn’t and may never live up to our parents expectations.

Although rooted in love, the higher they were the more difficult it was when we couldn’t reach them. I am realizing now that what we should have been doing all these years, instead of being afraid to be ourselves, was to embrace our true selves and stop looking for this constant approval from everyone else.

My sister has almost mastered it, so I think we may both need to take a page from her book!

A few months ago we almost lost dad and now, almost losing my brother too, has made me realize even more how life as we know it can change. Anyone can be taken away at any moment.

It can be easy in a situation like this to put some of the blame on others or project our anger in the direction of the things we do not completely understand. But the truth is what happened to my brother happened and we can’t change that. What we can change is our reaction to it, to him. We need to be supportive, understanding and root our actions in only love.

Some may disagree and that’s okay, but regardless of that, at the end of the day, it is what it is and the road to recovery for all of us is going to be acceptance and understanding, not anger and blame.

That’s what got us all into this mess, the judgement, this distance, this separation from one another. It is harder to reach someone or help them in anyway when they reside in a state of fearing disappointment.

And the way we get through all of this, the way we all heal, is to love without expectations, to accept those dear to us not despite their faults, but inclusive of them.

It can be helpful to remember that we are all doing the best we can with what we have at any given time.  I am not saying we completely forget bad behavior, but chastising people for the struggles they are fighting will only push them further away and the further away you push them the harder it is to mend those fences (or stone hedges in some cases).

When my brother wakes up and I say WHEN! I hope we will all do well to remember that. I know I’ll never forget it.

I love you big brother, keep fighting, I miss you so much.

 

 

Little Things…

So many little things in this life remind us of just how much we are loved. They are what we cling to when the going gets tough as evidence of something other than the pain that seems to be swallowing us whole.

But it can also be the little things that awaken us to the frailty of it all. Those which shake our foundation and bring us back to so-called reality, like it or not.

It takes one lie to break someone’s trust.

One fight to change a friendship.

One glimpse into the soul of man, to see its simplicity.

At the root of it all we are all just trying to survive. I believe most of what we do is purely for self preservation. Whether we realize it or not, when it all comes down to it, we are all really just looking out for #1.

I’m not saying it’s wrong, but rather pointing it out as an insight to perhaps what may be causing us all to drift apart.

When someone keeps something from us, it’s natural to wonder why. Was there something we said or did that gave them the impression we were not worthy of the truth? Maybe.

But probably not.

Most likely it was simply a defense mechanism for an internal struggle we know nothing about. After all, trusting someone when the world has shown you all the reasons not to can be extremely hard to do.

And thus it can be easy to cling to those little moments as our building blocks of defense.

But what if, we didn’t?

What if instead, we stopped blaming ourselves for other people’s insecurities and instead tried harder to understand why we have them in the first place?

I don’t claim to have it all figured out by any means, but I will say I’ve learned a lot about human nature and that of my own over the course of my life and although unpleasant at times, I do believe it has made me a better person. More complex perhaps and certainly more grounded.

It can be awfully heavy sometimes, but I always know that life on the other side will always be brighter.

And so, I embrace the darkness when it comes and find appreciation for this seemingly unmanageable weight on my chest.

Regardless of the cause, I know I will grow from it and find myself looking back on it many years later with satisfaction for the torment I’d overcome.

I guess what I am basically suggesting is, try to be easier on yourself and others when they disappoint you or make you feel as though you are not worthy in whatever capacity.

Remember that they too are struggling with their own demons and the further we push one another away, the harder it will be to help one another in the fight.

Reach for love, even when you are feeling unlovable and give love, even when you feel you have no more love to give.

What if everyone did this? How would the world we live in change?

I don’t know, but something tells me, it would be a much better place.

You Are Not Alone

Looking back on my life the years that formed me seem to be, in most instances, a blur. Their significance blind to the hopeless soul I was back then. They were of the most influential moments of my life and yet they are the farthest from the reality in which I currently exist. Perhaps it is the loneliness I once found an uncomfortable comfort in that disallows the appreciation of a time in its absence. And so, it is the loneliness to which I cling. After all, for the majority of my life it was the only real constant I had ever known.

I have always considered myself to be broken and more importantly, that being broken was far from beautiful.  I have come to learn, I was extraordinarily wrong. The most beautiful people in this world are the broken, the wounded and the left behind. For so long, we just simply never had a voice. A sounding board on which to express that which is not modern opinion and/or comprehension.

We are all beautiful. Every scar is something we’ve overcome, a wound healed and perhaps a lesson learned. They should not be judged harshly, but rather celebrated as a triumph of strength and accomplishment. You’ve faced something, regardless of its intensity and you have overcame.

I am not of the masses, the typical or the usual. I do not fit within the confines of the realities of most. And so, for so long…I did not feel as though I would survive. I have spent my days living on the outskirts, never getting too close or letting anyone far enough in to see the damage I try so hard to hide.

And thus, I’ve struggled in this world to be anything but unusual. Fitting in was survival. Being part of the pack was what I thought would give my life meaning. A purpose in a world that seemed strange and overwhelming. And when I didn’t fit in as a normal would, I found myself once again in a depressing spiral of discontent.

Over and over again, I found myself in the same downward spiral until it eventually became a comfort. I was so used to being in pain that the torment became my preservation. And thus each day became harder than the next.

Now, some would simply shrug this off as life. After all, we all have ups and downs, perhaps those who experience the feelings I described above are of the hyperbolic, melodramatic breed. And I’ll give you that there is always going to be a certain amount of crazy we just can’t account for. But what if in some cases it’s more than that?

How many of you know someone who suffers from depression? I mean really think about it. There are those that have life experiences that cause a low and an understandable spout of immense sadness, which is life.

But I would bet that almost every person reading this knows at least one person, for whom it goes beyond that. It is not something that is talked about enough. It is one of those subjects that can sometimes get dismissed as if it is a cop out for the weak. But it’s not.  It’s real. And it’s about time we remove the veil of shame attached to it and understand it for what it truly is.

Those who, for lack of a better word, suffer from this said affliction are not at all weak. Quite the opposite actually. They are the warriors.

They are the ones who wake each day with a mountain on their chest. Their heart as heavy as their mind, but still they find a way to rise. They push forward through the normal life struggles with an ocean of sadness on their back as if it is usual practice.

It’s different for everyone, but that is the best generalization I can muster.

Personally, my best explanation is that each day for me feels like a prison. I wake each morning, battling myself, pushing against a current of self-doubt and hesitancy as I rise to face the day. ‘I am not alone’ I tell myself and all be it true, I still have to force myself to believe it. Every morning, of every day, I have to fight, with the one person I should trust the most, myself.

Every affirmation of love brings a feeling of irrational inadequacy rooted in a childhood of indifference that I just can’t seem to escape.

It is in moments like this, those wee hours of the night, that it almost seems easier. Maybe it is because much of the world is asleep. Less of those to judge. Those who may never understand, just how vacant one can feel when faced with their own reflection.

I see so much of her in me, yet I’m not really sure I even know who that is. And therefore, sometimes, really most of the time, I’m still struggling to find myself amongst what seems like a life time of never knowing what was real.

I don’t know if I’ll ever figure it out. You know, genuinely find the solution to healing the misery of the past, but what I do know is…I’m not alone. And neither are you.

A Better Way To Look At Failure

I am always hesitant to check the rankings of Insane Roots on Amazon for fear they will not be as high as I had hoped, but with the next book just over the horizon, I decided it was time to see how we were doing.

I was pleasantly surprised…

The Kindle version is currently ranked #1,833,752 out of over one million books in the Kindle Store.

The Audio version is currently ranked #284,924 in the Audible books store.

And…the original paperback is currently ranked #3,403,729 out of over 8,000,000 books.

Not too bad for a first timer!

In terms of genre, our best category seems to be Adoption & Dysfunctional Families, which is fitting I think. 🙂

So what does all this mean and why does it matter?

In general, it means we have not been forgotten and gives me a bit of inspiration to keep going.

If I am being honest, I have been struggling a bit over the last few months in taking this leap to go into business for myself. In the beginning it was exciting, but as the business nest egg begins to dwindle, fear has begun to take over.

And my stubbornness to ask for help doesn’t do me any favors!

I’ve laid the groundwork. That was the fun part.

This waiting for it to come to fruition…not so much!

At a time when money is tight, unexpected expenses can be the difference between floating and sinking.

And wouldn’t you know it…one thing after another began to happen to cause me to pull more and more out of my pocket to cover things I had not anticipated, but that’s life.

The trick is to find a way not to let it get you down. A trick I have yet to master!

I have worked my butt off since I was 15 years old in the hopes that one day it would all pay off.

I was hoping that time was now and maybe it is, but there is always the possibility that it is not and well…if that is the case, it’s not the end of the world.

My boyfriend said something to me yesterday amidst my spiral of defeat that reminded me of what I know to be true, but have a very hard time in moments like these to see.

There is this tendency to look at the mistakes and failures in our lives as purely negative things, but in understanding balance, we embrace the understanding that with negative comes positive.

When I look back on the lowest times in my life, no matter how hard it got, it was always temporary. As is everything. And when it was over, I was a better person because of it. Mistakes educate and failures are just a learning gap.

One simply must learn how to bridge that gap.

For someone like me, asking for help feels like putting a burden on someone else. If you have ever been on the other side of things, you know that it can in some cases feel that way.

In many of my relationships early in life, I was usually the one supporting the other person and struggling to make ends meet on my own. I would stretch myself so thin that I would end up in financial hardship, but wouldn’t want the other person to feel bad, so I would simply keep scrapping by.

In addition to that, I was raised by a woman who took from everyone because she didn’t know how to be self reliant, work for her money, instead of stealing it from someone else. I never wanted to be like her; dependent. I pride myself in being independent and resilient. For me to ask for help, feels like I am threatening both of those things.

And it doesn’t help that I’m a bit of an introvert!

I recently came across a quote from Beth Buelow of the Introvert Entrepreneur that really stood out to me, “I am an introvert. That means that when I’m feeling down, chances are that I won’t actually go to you for help. In fact, I won’t go to anyone for help. You’ll have to actually check on me. I don’t feel that I should burden others with my problems, but if you come to me, I might just trust you enough to let you help.”

I couldn’t have said it better. That is absolutely me.

My relationship with money has always been rooted in the lack there of and so, I think it is easier for me to sometimes dwell on it’s absence rather than remembering all that has gone right and just how much groundwork has already been laid.

The work I want to do has so many different facets to it that it can be easy to forget just how much work is needed to get each one of them rolling.

In traditional Tiffany fashion, I couldn’t just start one business…that would be too easy, LOL.

My goal was to take each of my passions and fuel them into business.

I love antiques and I have been collecting them for some time. I have dabbled with selling antiques & collectibles on consignment sales for years, but working full-time (and then some), I never really had the time I needed to dedicate to such an endeavor.

Similarly, I used to sell handmade jewelry and other crafty items on Etsy, but the same was true in regards to keeping that going.

My biggest passion, writing, had also taken a back burner, seeing as the realist in me knows that I am a long way from the best seller’s list and so that won’t be paying the bills anytime soon.

In a perfect world, I would do all of the above and together it would be enough to live comfortably.

I don’t need to be rich, I already am in so many other ways. I just want to live my passion and help others reach for the same.

When I started consulting at the beginning of this year, a light bulb went off.

Not only did I enjoy what I was doing, but the flexibility of it allowed me to allocate some of my time to pursuing the above mentioned passions.

In six months time, I added more than 3K in inventory to my Ebay store. Everything has been cataloged and packaged, so at this point it runs itself until something sells or I have a new item to list.

The next book in the Insane Roots series is all laid out and I have been slowly finding time to begin chipping away at the chapters.

In the process of which, I joined forces with ProFloor to start raising money for my home town and a very special little boy battling Batten’s disease.

This was huge for me, as it continued to give my writing purpose. I wrote Insane Roots as a way of sharing my story in the hope that it would inspire others facing similar challenges in life to keep going, no matter how dark it gets.

And so, it meant much more to me to pay it forward that to just sell books. After all, that is what I have always wanted Insane Roots to be all about.

So here we are, close to a year later.

And sadly, after much effort and not much result, I have been feeling a bit discouraged.

In the process of taking a look at my finances today, something in me urged me to be brave and check the sales rankings on Amazon. In the process of doing so, I noticed there was a section on the book’s page with the option to upload a video and I remembered that there is one audio clip that was not included in the audio version of the book.

It is the story of how I was inspired to to write Insane Roots and a very special woman who never gave up on me. I decided to upload it to the page and after it finalized, I gave it a listen. After all, I had recorded it several years ago so I thought it best to review before giving it the final okay.

As my voice came across the speaker, my belly butterflied and tears began to roll down my face.

And that is when I realized, it is not time to give up, it’s time to try harder!

 

 

Thank You Bright Star!

Two weeks ago, I received a call from my sister very early in the morning with news that my brother had been taken to the hospital from asphyxiation and was currently unresponsive. Just like that my life stopped. He lives in PA and I in IL, so not only was I far away, but I recently quit my job to start my own business, so my financial situation was not the best and to make matters worse, my car was currently not working either. I felt helpless in a seemingly hopeless situation and it was tearing me apart.

So, I reached out to Brittany for help. Brittany (Bright Star), is a spiritual healing and self transformation teacher, who believes, “Your wound is your greatest gift” and I couldn’t agree more.

She told me about the Kundalini Yoga meditation: Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung and explained that it was a mantra for sacred healing from a distance. It is believed to cut through space and time so you can send healing energy to someone many miles away.  She offered to send me several instructional videos to get familiar with the chant, posture and offered to do it with me to magnify the healing whenever I was ready. I had no idea it would have such an amazing impact, not just in healing my brother, but mending the many broken branches in our family tree.

While she pulled the information together for me, she suggested I take some time to do some basic healing meditation on my own. As she instructed, I began the meditation by envisioning that I was in the hospital room with my brother and my family. First I imagined standing beside him and projecting healing light that surrounded him as he fought for his life. As the meditation continued, the light expanded to encompass all those in the room with him, until it spilled over into the hallway of the hospital. I held that for some time and ended with words of love and acceptance for my brother. I came out of it feeling more in control of my inner power, something that can be difficult to tether in tragedies such as these.

Feeling ready to proceed, I opened the instructional video Brittany sent me on the Kundalini Yoga meditation and began. The mudra (hand position) I used first was with my hands on my heart (an intimate centering of the energy within). I did this for 15 minutes, envisioning the healing light as I did while meditating before. Coming out of it, I felt in a way that it is hard to put in to words, but I will try.

Physically, it felt as if I was lighter. There was this sensation that I was no longer fighting against anything, but rather that I had surrendered and become woven into the fabric. And for a short time, it was as if the hairs on my body were acting like antennae radiating static light in all different directions.

Mentally, I felt more in control of the situation (and every other as well). Prior to what happened to my brother, I was already in a state of unraveling it seemed, recently trying to start my own business had left me a bit fearful of what was to come and I no longer felt that. It was clear that in an attempt to heal my brother, I was also healing myself. I was charged up!

I messaged Brittany and let her know that I was ready to do the Ra Ma Sa Sa Say So Hung meditation simultaneously with her (to enhance the healing power) and so we synced up and meditated together for 15 minutes more.

This time, I used the mudra with my hands out to the side to create an arch line of expansion for healing.

Wow! Coming out of it, I felt in a way that is even more difficult to put in to words, but I will again try.

The most notable physical feeling was in my ears. It was almost like a ringing, but not quite. It was like sounds were magnified causing them to echo, but not in the way we normally understand things to echo, it was more like they echoed in my mind, if that makes sense. It lasted 10-15 minutes or so and I wish it would have been longer.

There was this amazing sensation throughout my whole body that echoed peace, power & alignment with the world. I had this overwhelming knowing that my brother wanted to live, that he was fighting to come back to us, I don’t know how I knew, I just knew.

I could not be more thankful to Brittany. She helped me find my center and work towards not just healing my brother, but mending the wounds within the family as well.

Everything fell into place after that. I was able to go see my brother and spend a week with him in the hospital. There were good days and bad days and days where I began doubting whether he would wake up, but with meditation, I squashed them out, re-centered and continued healing. As did he and my family.

The day I left, although he was slowly making progress physically, the doctors were growing more and more concerned about his mental status. He would blink his eyes, shake his head & even squeeze our hands from time to time, but there was no real evidence that there was intent behind these responses.

Every day in the hospital, I held his hand and talked to him as if he could hear us and understand us, because I believed he could…I knew he could.

The day I left to go home, the doctors were still operating as “cautiously optimistic” and so saying goodbye was not easy to say the least. My heart ached so much for him, knowing he must be frightened and confused (something I tried to reassure him about every day).

We were no more than four hours out when my dad called to say, He’s awake! And he is responding with intent to the doctor’s questions.

The doctors told my dad that his room is now what they call the happy room in ICU because they are so amazed by his progress. He is not quite strong enough to be taken off the ventilator, but he was awake all day yesterday and is trying to talk now! I feel so very blessed and thankful.

For anyone looking for spiritual healing & guidance, I highly recommend @21brightstar!

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