There’s a show on Netflix with teenagers that each have one magical power. One of the young women has the superpower of empathy. I feel incredulous whenever I think about it. “What?!? Who would write in empathy as a superpower?” I say this as an empath and a highly sensitive person.

Empaths sense subtle energy and absorb it from other people and environments into their bodies. Scientifically speaking, they have hyperresponsive mirror neurons so they deeply resonate with other people’s feelings. For instance, this summer as wildfires raged throughout California, I didn’t sleep well. As soon as the fires were mostly contained, I started sleeping better. It’s complicated because I had my personal worry about the fires, but it was amplified by everyone else’s worry.

A highly sensitive person, or HSP, is someone who has a low threshold for stimulation, needs alone time, is sensitive to light, sound, and smell, and has an aversion to large groups. It also takes HSPs longer to wind down after a busy day because their ability to transition from high stimulation to low stimulation is slower. If you’re interested in determining whether you’re an HSP, you can take a self-assessment test. In case you’re wondering, I answer “yes” to every single question.

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This came up when I searched for “sensitive.” Photo by Ermelinda Martín on Unsplash

It turns out high sensitivity affects about 20% of the population. It’s a genetic trait and it’s found not only in humans, but species like primates, dogs, goats, rats, and elk, to name a few. High sensitivity helps the evolution of each species because the highly sensitive ones more easily pick up on changes in the environment that are crucial for survival. They are the ones who first sense there are lions in the bushes for instance, researcher Dr. Elaine Aron tells us. And the nonsensitive ones drive off the lions.

You can be an HSP without being an empath, but that’s not the case for me. It’s challenging because it takes so much freaking effort for me to just live in the world. Things that other people don’t give a second thought – like going to a sports game back when we could do that safely – I have to weigh the pros and cons.

Most of the time, I think of sensitivity and empathy as gifts I’d like to return, but the reality is that doesn’t serve me. These two traits are genetic and I can’t change them any more than I can change my eye color. What’s the solution then? It may sound like a pat answer but the answer is self-acceptance. How do you learn to accept yourself? Oh man, I don’t know. That’s why people have written books and offer courses on the topic. It’s not something you can solve overnight.

A good entry point though is a modified version of the serenity prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change about myself, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” From there, trust that the right actions will be shown and that you’ll have the courage to take them.

I dream of a world where we love and accept ourselves. A world where we embrace the uniqueness of every individual whether they’re a highly sensitive person or not. A world where we create space for all people to be themselves without elevating one person or another. A world where we realize humanity is like a garden filled with numerous flowers.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

I keep thinking about the notion that my higher power wants me to be happy, joyous, and free. Due to the trauma in my background, it’s a heck of a lot easier to think God wants me to be sad, miserable, and suffering. That’s what happens with trauma – it rewires your brain and changes your perspective as a form of protection. It also certainly doesn’t help that I live in a Christian-dominant society, meaning, the idea I’ll be sent to hell for doing something wrong, is prevalent. And the thing about culture is we can’t escape it – it’s the air we breathe.

All of this is to say it’s easier for me to believe terrible things will happen in my life, to brace myself for the worst possible outcome. But is that really true? Isn’t it just as likely the best possible outcome could occur? And haven’t I seen evidence over and over again that things work out? Maybe not right away, but eventually? And if I’m wrong and things are actually terrible, which perspective makes me feel better: the optimistic one or the pessimistic one?

This isn’t a post about the benefit of optimism but rather joy itself. My spiritual philosophy emphasizes this over and over again, how we are all running after happiness. Not only human beings, but all beings. For instance, cats constantly seek warm, comfortable spots so they can curl up and sleep. We are all seeking joy.

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This picture! Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

The ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, say, “This quinquelemental world has been born out of joy, is being maintained in joy, and into sacred joy will melt.” Wow. Let that statement sink in: The world was born out of joy, is being maintained in joy, and into sacred joy will melt. Instead of being a cold, cruel place, the world can be a beautiful, joyful one.

While typing this, a moth landed on my window and watching it I started thinking about the saying, “like moths to a flame.” It reminded me there’s a natural attraction in this world, that we are all drawn to something whether we’re conscious of it or not. That we’re pulled toward joy and maybe it doesn’t have to feel so difficult. Dancing brings joy. Singing brings joy. Looking at pictures of cute kids and baby animals brings joy. But so do things like serving others and meditating.

I’d like to end with a poem by Hafiz because I think it’s appropriate. It’s called “Tripping Over Joy”:

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?

The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move

That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”

Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.

I dream of a world where we are happy, joyous, and free. A world where we realize we are born out of joy and unto joy we shall return. A world where we remember there’s a force in the world that’s drawing us to it like a moth to a flame. A world where we realize that force is love and the process can be a joyful one.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Testing Faith

Looking through my Facebook memories, it seems February is frequently a month that I walk along the razor’s edge of fear and faith. At any moment it’s easy for me to slip onto one side or another. It seems only fitting because February starts with the letter “F” after all.

While watching TV this weekend, I heard a line that resonated with me: “Faith is worthless if left untested.” How true. Faith doesn’t have any weight if it’s something passive or taken for granted. Faith only means something if you’ve had to live it. My journey, especially as an adult, is living in faith over and over again.

On Valentine’s Day 2008, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area without a job, without a plan, knowing only my dad’s best friend and one other person. I had $2,000 in the bank and that was it. The journey was one big test of faith – how much did I want to live here? How much did I believe things would work out?

Similarly, the same situation happened again when I quit a stable job with zero savings and no job offers on the table. My safety net was thinking if I really needed it, I could move back in with my parents or start a GoFundMe. These days, I have my own business, which is something I never planned for myself, never anticipated. It always seemed too scary, too unstable. How would I get steady income? And sure enough, this week that’s exactly what I’m confronting.

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This picture, my goodness. Photo by Jordan Donaldson | @jordi.d on Unsplash

My highest paying client announced they’re going in a different direction and that means our work together is coming to an end soon. Cue the freak out as well as self-doubt. I’ve made an effort this week to come back to faith, to remember I’m not alone. That I’m in partnership with the universe and there’s a loving presence that wants me to be happy, joyous, and free.

On Saturday, I attended a live tarot card reading to offer guidance for the new lunar year. The cards that were pulled were about exactly this: Remembering we have gifts to offer others, that things work out when we follow our intuition, and also that there’s a mysterious force undergirding it all. When I reflect on numerous Februarys, I see that.

My spiritual path is based on the philosophy of Tantra and advises practitioners to: “Jump into your environment without the least hesitation. Don’t be afraid. Fear will leave you step by step. Tomorrow you will not be as fearful as you are today, the day after you will be even less fearful, and 10 days from now you’ll notice that you are completely fearless.”

I wouldn’t say that I’m completely fearless, but when I remember there’s a spirit that moves me, that moves everyone, I feel more faith. And in this moment, it’s hitting me strongly that I’ve done this over and over again: taken a leap of faith and wound up somewhere better than I ever imagined.

I dream of a world where we remember faith and fear are two sides of the same coin. A world where we realize faith is worthless if left untested. A world where we see there is a benevolent force in our lives that guides us, that loves us, and wants to see us succeed.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

The Power of Yet

On Saturday, I remarked to some friends of mine that I’ve spent nearly a year querying literary agents for my novel and no one wants to represent me. One of my friends chimed in, “yet. No one wants to represent you yet.”

That word snagged my attention because there’s so much hope and faith wrapped up in three letters. “Yet” implies not now, but in the future. “Yet” means something is coming. I’m struggling to believe that right now not only with my novel, but also other things in my life. There’s no evidence to support what I want will be here soon.

My therapist reminded me I don’t have to believe what I want is coming to me 100% of the time. In those moments of doubt, instead I can ask myself, “What if?” What if there’s a literary agent out there who would love my novel? What if I could afford a beautiful house to live in? What if? Asking that question allows for possibility instead of shutting down hope.

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I love this picture because it shows the forest coming into focus. Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash

I also think about something my spiritual teacher said. He said, “The firmness of a person’s resolve makes one great. However lowly a person may be, one can become great by one’s determination. If you have a firm resolve to realize your goal, you shall become great. Without a firm resolution, you cannot achieve anything.”

Maybe a little bit of what’s happening here is my determination is being tested. How badly do I want these things? How much am I willing to overcome obstacles to achieve them? Am I someone who gives up when any problem arises? Or am I willing to struggle against all odds until my goal is achieved?

To be honest, it depends on the goal. The things I don’t care that much about, I’ll drop them at the first sign of trouble. If I don’t care that much in the first place and there’s a lot of effort involved, I’ll say “never mind.” However, if I care deeply, if I want something body and soul, I will keep plugging away indefinitely. Some of you know this, but I host a weekly group meditation. Since the pandemic hit, it’s cycled from being online to being in person outside with masks depending on the weather and daylight. (We’re currently back to online.) Sometimes group meditation is a group consisting of me and Spirit and that’s it. I’ve done this for literally years. I care about group meditation so much I show up every week regardless of who else attends.

Sometimes I’m filled with rancor about the lack of attendance, sometimes I feel peace about it, but I keep hosting anyway. Giving up doesn’t feel like an option because I’m the one that’s most harmed if I stop hosting. And every week I have hope someone else will show up because sometimes they do. The power of yet is powerful indeed.

I dream of a world where we remember just because we don’t have what we want at the moment doesn’t mean we never will. A world where we remember mighty tasks are bound to have mighty obstacles. A world where we use the power of yet to keep us going.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

If I’m being honest, I’m not doing that great. I woke up this morning with a swollen eyelid – not eyelids plural, just the one – I haven’t slept well for the better part of two weeks, I’m so tired my ears are ringing, and I’m pretty sure I’ll bite someone’s head off if they look at me funny. I mention all that because I’d like to normalize the not-so-pretty states that go along with being human. It’s not possible to be authentically sunshine and roses every moment of every day. Just acknowledging this is my present reality I’ve noticed my breathing has deepened, which is a sure sign of relaxation.

I also mention all of this not in a quest for solutions because I already have plenty of those. What I don’t have plenty of is acceptance of what’s here – my cranky mood, my hurting body, my irritating situation.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that metaphorically speaking I’m living in a hallway, meaning I’m waiting on what’s next. I’m still living in a hallway. Nothing has changed yet and it’s frustrating. I know that eventually this period of my life will be a distant memory, but right now it’s not. The question becomes, how do I get comfortable with the uncomfortable? How do I manage this period of uncertainty and frustration? Something that’s helping me cope is remembering the secret to meditation. (Even if you don’t meditate, I hope you’ll still find this post useful.)

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Isn’t this picture great? Photo by jae bano on Unsplash

The secret to meditation is instead of being the subject, to become the object, meaning don’t think you’re the one meditating, rather you’re being meditated upon. Some people like to imagine they’re surrounded by eyes, that they’re witnessed from every direction by a power greater than themselves. As for me, I’m an empath and a highly sensitive person so what works for me is to instead feel. However, I have to be very specific and selective regarding what I feel, and in this instance, I imagine I’m in a bubble of love, that the love of the universe is pouring down on me. Not only do I imagine it, but I feel it.

I’m not sure who to attribute this poem to but I’ve read:

The pot is in the water;
The water is in the pot.
Water inside and outside.
If the pot is broken, the waters become one –
Only the wise understand this great idea.

When I feel the love that’s surrounding me, I’m a pot sitting in water, but there’s also water inside of me, meaning there’s also love inside me. Love exists inside of me and outside of me. There’s nowhere I can go to escape love. We are all surrounded by the love of the universe. I feel better when I remember that.

I dream of a world where we feel into the ever-present force of love. A world where we recognize love is all around us and inside us. A world where we realize we live in love bubbles and it’s up to us to tune into that frequency.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

What feels like a million years ago, I wrote a memoir with the subtitle: “Your wildest dreams are ant-sized compared to what lay ahead.” First off, I knew then and know now that sentence is not grammatically correct. (Following grammar rules, it’s supposed to be “Your wildest dreams are ant-sized compared with what lies ahead.”) I chose the words that I did because my version elicited a sense of openness for me, that the future could be anything.

Since publishing the book, the part of me that believes in impossible dreams has been dormant. She’s been sleeping because I’ve encountered too many disappointments to nurture that sense of hope. Life smacked me in the face over and over again. It’s what I referenced in the post “Stored Trauma.” Instead of the future feeling open, magical, and mysterious, it’s felt closed, prosaic, and straightforward. I’ve become more cynical as I’ve gotten older and I don’t particularly relish that trait.

When it comes to dreams these days, I try to stick within the realm of possibility. For instance, while becoming a bestselling author is not common, it’s doable. I’m already writing after all. But for other dreams, I brush them aside or scoff when I consider them. For instance, the dream of owning a home in the Bay Area. To be honest, “dream” is too strong a word because I haven’t even let myself imagine it. I haven’t even briefly entertained the idea of owning a house here because it’s felt too farfetched. That may sound funny to those of you reading this because lots of people own homes! Why couldn’t I?

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This looks cute. I’d like to live here. Photo by Trinity Nguyen on Unsplash

For perspective, in the Bay Area, homes regularly sell for more than a million dollars. I don’t mean mansions either – I mean a three-bedroom, two-bath house that’s less than 1,500 sq. ft. In other words, a house that would be considered average in many other parts of the country. In Charlotte, N.C., for instance, a comparable house sells for $425,000, according to the real estate website Zillow.

I think you can understand why I’ve laughed at the idea of home ownership as someone who doesn’t work in tech. My response was usually, “Not unless I marry someone who makes a boatload of money or win the lottery!” Home ownership? Not an option. Except, recently I found out there are programs for first-time home buyers. There are grants that cover the down payment. Maybe owning a home isn’t so impossible? I don’t know yet – I’m still doing the research, but there’s something tender for me about remembering with help, all things are possible. Some people call that help “God,” others call it “love” or “community.” But whatever you call it, there’s something sweet about remembering our dreams are not impossible. We may not achieve them conventionally, but who cares?

I dream of a world where we realize we can have what we want if we remain open to various methods and means. A world where we remember that even as life knocks us down, it also builds us back up. A world where we let ourselves have our dreams because we understand with help, anything can happen.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

I’m resharing this post from September 2019 because once again, I find myself in a hallway, metaphorically speaking. That also means the audio clip below is from that time period. Enjoy.

A close friend of mine used an analogy the other day that’s stuck with me. She said her higher power has closed a door in her life and hasn’t opened another one yet. That means for now she’s stuck in a hallway, waiting for another door to open. Yesssssss. That’s so my life right now. I’m in limbo, in a hallway, waiting for something new, for a door to open, but it hasn’t yet and it’s uncomfortable.

I hate this phase. I think most people do. And at the same time, I recognize this is a part of life — it’s filled with speed and then pause. Even when breathing we inhale, pause slightly, and then exhale with another slight pause. When we walk, we put one foot on the ground or we can’t move forward. The left foot makes the next step only if the right foot prepares for the movement by being placed on the ground.

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I’m waiting for my next door to open. Photo by Rhea Lofranco on Unsplash

My spiritual teacher says alternating between speed and pause is crucial for successful movement. “If we wish to say something about speed, or the characteristics of movement, we will have to acknowledge the necessity of the state of pause otherwise it will not be possible to move into the next stage,” he said. “This speed and pause will continue. Pause means gathering momentum for speed in the subsequent phase. If one closely watches the effect of speed on a particular community or the entire humanity, one sees that generally people eulogize the period of speed. However, we cannot afford to ignore the state of pause, because by judging what the previous state of pause was like, we can discern the speed of the next phase.”

A couple of things jump out at me from that quote. First of all, the pause is temporary. It feels like I’m going to be stuck in this hallway forever, but I won’t be. Things will change, they absolutely will, even if a part of me doesn’t believe that. I’m reminded just because I may not believe something doesn’t make it any less true. For instance, some people still believe the Earth is flat, but regardless, the Earth is round.

The other point that jumps out at me from the quote is the last bit, about how the state of pause can help discern the speed of the next phase. What I’m taking that to mean is my life is going to go off like a rocket. All of this momentum, this angst, is going to catapult me into the next phase and my life will move at warp speed. I cannot express how much I’m looking forward to it. And at the same time, I’m recognizing the necessity for this state of pause, this place where I’m spinning my wheels, revving my engine, and getting ready to zoom ahead. Pretty soon a door will open and I’m going to bolt through it. But for now, I’m here, in a hallway.

I dream of a world where we recognize the importance of limbo periods. A world where we understand in order to move ahead, we also have to pause, to gather momentum. A world where we recognize even when it seems like we’re standing still, it’s all in service of what’s next.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

I came across an article the other day I found incredibly inspiring considering what we’ve all lived/are living through. In Australia, for the first time in decades, Christmas bell flowers are blooming in high numbers because of the bushfires that raged through the area in late 2019, early 2020.

The flowers have an underground root structure that allows them to survive fire and then come back quickly to reshoot. However, usually they lie dormant because there’s too much competition from other plants. The fires knocked out the other plants, provided nutrients to the Christmas bell flowers in the form of ash, and now they’re flourishing.

I love this story because so often when it comes to devastation and destruction, in my mind, everything is terrible forever. If a fire has whipped through an area, for instance, I imagine an apocalyptic wasteland ruined interminably. This story reminds me that’s not true, literally. Certain plants only grow because of fire. And furthermore, something beautiful can come from something tragic. That’s not to say I ever wish for tragedy, because I don’t, but it’s heartening to know the world has a way of rebalancing. Perhaps humans do as well.

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These are NOT Christmas bell flowers — I couldn’t find a copyright-free version of those. However, these flowers are a close approximation. This is a Tiger tooth succulent plant. Photo by Cristina Anne Costello on Unsplash

Speaking of humans, the past 10 months has been rough on us all. I see the events on January 6th as a continuation of that. However, I want to emphasize the good that’s come in the arena of politics in general. Georgia voters were so fired up they turned out in record numbers — 3 million voted ahead of the election on January 5th, more votes than have ever been cast in a Georgia runoff race, according to Bloomberg news. Also, as you likely know, the general election in November saw record turnout as well – close to 160 million people, which is 66.7% of eligible voters, according to CNBC news. For context, that’s the highest voter turnout since the presidential election of 1900.

I find it inspiring that instead of being passive players, people are demonstrating they actually care about what happens to the U.S. They care about who’s in power in numbers they haven’t in 120 years. That’s pretty cool.

I’m also curious as well as excited about the potential change coming at us, as I consider things from an astrological perspective. Right now, Saturn is in Aquarius and what happens during that transit is great change, political reform, and new waves of social structure. “Law reformation, innovation in technology, civil acts, social justice, major natural storms, and the dismantling of long-held beliefs start when Saturn is in Aquarius,” writes astrologer Anthony Perrotta.

For perspective, FDR’s New Deal and the Social Security Act happened while Saturn was in Aquarius. So did the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the end of Apartheid. What will this period bring? Socialized medicine? Environmental protection? Laws on income inequality? Just like the Christmas bell flowers in Australia, it might be something beautiful.

I dream of a world where we remember good can come from tragedy. A world where we recognize tumult can be a precursor to change that benefits us all. A world where we remember things aren’t all good or all bad. A world where we keep watch for silver linings.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

As we enter this new year, I notice I feel pressure to be hopeful and optimistic. Because vaccines are here! And a new president is on his way! And 2020 is officially done! All of that is true, and yet neither the past nor reality change just because we flipped the calendar. We still carry with us everything that came before and much remains unknown. I’m reminded here of the quote by Rilke about living our way into answers. I think we’re all doing that – with the unfolding of every day, every year, we are living our way into answers.

I also want to quote three stanzas from John O’Donohue’s poem “For a New Beginning” because I think it’s relevant as we continue to progress into this new year. He wrote:

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

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A new day has dawned. Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

We are finding our new rhythm this year. A year that will continue to challenge all of us because as you know, the pandemic has not ceased. Nor has there been a return to normal just yet. Businesses remained closed or at reduced capacity. We are still encouraged to keep our distance from one another. But I find comfort in O’Donohue’s words as well as Rilke’s as I remember more will be revealed. We will learn how to navigate what waits before us. Furthermore, we will continue to dream our dreams, which I think a new year is always best for. It’s when we envision what we want for ourselves, who we want to be, how we want to feel.

I want to feel better. I want to feel rejuvenated. I want to live in a world that values all people as well as the environment. And I know I’m not alone. There are many people who feel the way I do, which I find encouraging. To add some more oomph, I want to close with a quote from my spiritual teacher who said this back in 1957:

“The purport of dharma [meditation] is to look upon every person, every object of this universe as one integral entity. To jeopardize the unity of the human race by creating factions is not the purpose of dharma. Those who encourage vested interests survive on the mental weaknesses of people and their dissensions, and that is why they are scared of the spread of the ideals of dharma and exhibit their intolerance toward it in all sorts of immoral ways, such as abuse, false propaganda, and lies. People must not be cowed by this; they have got to march ahead. It is to be borne in mind that hindrances are beneficial to human beings on the path of righteousness and to continue to fight against them is what is [their practice].”

Amen to that. Here’s to a year where we continue to fight against injustice, a year where we sow unity over division, a year where we ferret out lies and replace it with truth. A year where we continue to march ahead, a year where we live our way into answers, a year where we build a better world for us all.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

It’s funny how the body remembers things and conjures up memories for us – right now I’m reminded exactly 13 years ago I was in Europe for a New Year’s retreat. I haven’t thought about that trip in years. I think it’s coming up now not only because of the date, but also due to my emotional landscape. I’m in a liminal space where I’ve left something behind, but I’m not yet fully in the something new, which if you think about it encapsulates this year. This is the last week of 2020, which we’re all ready to put behind us, but we’re not yet in 2021.

How does this relate to my trip to Europe in 2007? It was a time of my life when I was so ready to move to San Francisco but hadn’t yet. It was a period I had so much trepidation about the future and no idea how everything would work out, or even if it would. Plus, the trip itself was filled with lots of anxiety as I had numerous “near misses” and “almosts.” I flew into London first so I could travel to the retreat site in Sweden with people I knew. En route to Sweden, first my bus didn’t come when it was supposed to, and then the doors didn’t open at my stop. When I moved further up the bus to the open doors, they shut in my face. That meant I was late getting to the airport and worried I would miss my flight, which would defeat the entire purpose of traveling to London in the first place.

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This is a picture of a post office in France. Photo credit: Moi.

I didn’t miss my flight, somehow I made it in the nick of time. Everything worked out. And that was the theme of the entire trip. During the retreat I became ill, but there was an acupuncturist onsite who gave me a treatment. On the way back to London, I traveled alone. I made a pitstop in a Swedish grocery store and went up to a random woman and asked her to translate ingredients into English for me, which she did. I took a side trip to France and had a minute to spare before they closed check in for the EuroStar, which is a train that shuttles people from London to Paris. I stayed with an acquaintance in Paris but she neglected to give me her apartment number and I couldn’t reach her to ask for it, so I literally knocked on every door of the apartment building trying to find her. An apartment building without an elevator, I might add.

That trip was not all sunshine and roses. At the time I hated every mishap and near mishap, but now I laugh and shake my head. Now, I feel gratitude that despite the hardships, everything worked out. I was OK, I was taken care of, help showed up when I needed it. That’s what 2020 was for me as well: not all sunshine and roses but I was OK, I was taken care of, help showed up when I needed it. Instead of tossing this year away like worn out wrapping paper, I’m grateful for the lessons I learned, the friendships I deepened, and the grace I received.

According to my spiritual practices, God/the universe/Brahma/Cosmic Consciousness, whatever name you want to use, loves us unconditionally. Wants the best for us. Wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. The God of my understanding is not Santa Claus and doesn’t do things to punish us. Everything happens for our benefit, even the hard stuff. When I look back at my trip to Europe 13 years ago, I know that’s true. Because while this post focused on the hardships, in that trip I learned important things about myself, like I could never live in Europe and that I can navigate a foreign country on my own without speaking the language. Plus, I met people who changed the trajectory of my life.

When I think back to my trip, I’m reminded I can feel afraid and still show up for myself. I’m reminded even when things are hard, I can still muddle through. And that’s a lesson I think we all learned this year.

I dream of a world where we realize how strong we truly are. A world where we recognize we show up for life even when it is hard, even if it takes us a while. A world where we’re proud of ourselves for our courage and tenacity. A world where we realize there’s magic in the muck.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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