LAUGHTER (AND A WATER BOTTLE OF VODKA) HELPED ME LET GO OF MY COLLEGE DAUGHTER

They said the second time around was going to be easier. They said that having another empty room would encourage me to fill my time with things I love.

Problem is, I love my daughter, and now she is gone.

I admit it. Another daughter, barely off to college, and I was wallowing. Unprepared for the mess, I choke on my last sip of coffee. Not that I expected her to clean up her room before she left. It was a whirlwind final week picking up last minute pharmacy items, closing bank accounts, printing out pictures, triple checking her packing list (well my packing list).

My daughter was not an organized person, often with her head in the clouds. This is what I have always loved about her. Yet, standing in her room now, feels like I have walked onto a battlefield, the remains of her eighteen years strewn mercilessly across the floor.

From inside her closet, cleats caked with mud from her last varsity soccer game call out to me. I move in to get a closer look. Like it was yesterday, I recall my own excitement playing soccer, the scars I used to collect upon my body like battle wounds. How did we get here so quickly?

On the floor, a clump of mud momentarily irritates me. All those times I had asked to leave her muddy cleats in the garage, and the same number of times I was ignored. Teenage rebellion. Or was it simply distraction that led her to defy my requests – cell phones and boys did that to her.

Turning away from her t-shirts, each holding a memory of summer camp, road trips and sports teams, I walk back to her bed where her bookcase headboard resembles a display of offerings at a second hand rummage sale. Old nail polish, eight bottles; half of them dried and caked. An unwrapped newly bought phone case and a half used bottle of saline nasal spray rests upon a notebook filled with rainy day doodles.

Dumping this, tossing that. I gain the courage to look behind her bed. Among a mess of garbage, I find her promposal poster and recall her pale shoes offsetting her blood red dress. Undeveloped prom pictures sit idle on my cell phone, reminding me of all my unfinished to do lists. Perhaps I will get to them later today, or next year.

For now, I am too busy hearing the laughter, recalling the feeling of prom night with its fairy tale moments. How we so often measure time in seemingly endless nights, thinking it will never end.

I have had enough – wallowing, and cleaning. I am about to leave it all a mess when I stumble over something.

On the floor, I pick up my favorite drawstring bag – borrowed and never returned. I sling it across my back, taking with it the contents of two half filled water bottles and a few hair bands. On my way out, I catch a glimpse above her door of the bumper sticker she had bought freshman year of high school.

“Do Something Amazing.”

While brewing a much needed second cup of coffee, I click on our latest string of text messages. How could she forget so many things? Today I am thankful for social media and my daughter. In her memory, as the ultimate recycler, I open and begin dumping the water into the plant. Proud of myself, I think, I’m not wasting water, Lia.

As it empties, a familiar smell begins to permeate the air. I stop pouring, albeit way too late. I would know that smell anywhere. At a fraternity house, late night bar crawl, or just before the last song at a wedding.

Stale alcohol.

In this moment, I have two thoughts. I can’t believe I have just watered my plant with a vodka filled Dasani bottle. And, can plants get drunk? #AskingForAFriend

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My son, barely ten years old wanders into the room as I am wiping away my tears of laughter. I glance at the plant. I could swear it just hiccupped. I wonder if it will sing bad Karaoke or drink and dial. Maybe it will just sit and chat for hours about nothing, and everything. I hide the lampshades nearby, just in case.

“What’s so funny, mom?”

Yes, I still have him keeping me honest, as that is one of his strengths, to tell it like it is. I dump the rest of the vodka/water bottles in the sink, and toss a bottle of Advil near the plant, just in case. As I walk the half-filled black garbage bag out to the street, I notice I feel better.

Laughter is the best medicine.

While it doesn’t feel right tossing her life memories, I know these are just things. I welcome the cliché that I will carry her laughter in my heart, feel her bear hugs on my skin and bring up the image in my mind of her blond curls and dimpled smile whenever I choose.

Glancing upward, I notice the sun’s stark contrast moving out the last bit of black cloud above my head. Yes, I think I will be just fine.

That night, I sit by my plant – just in case. I mean who will hold back her leaves if need be? No need for cranberry juice. We share a toast with the rest of the watered down vodka from our liquor cabinet.

After all, today, I did something amazing. Through tears and laughter, I let my daughter go.

This post was also published on Grown & Flown, group blog.

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I Met God at the Juice Bar.

 

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I never expected to find God when I went to the juice bar.

As I approached the counter, the man behind the abundance of fruit and vegetables looked up at me. “Hi,” he smiled, maintaining a daringly long eye contact. Smiling, I looked away shyly. Eye contact is so rare these days, it almost felt like it burned. “What is your name?” After I told him my name, he apologized. “I know you were in here the other day, and I am so sorry that I didn’t remember your name.” He remembered I was here? He continued looking me in the eye, addressing me by my name before wishing me an amazing day. Somewhere along the way, I slipped my phone into my pocket. His attention, kindness made me want to give back that connection, that respect. I waited for my juice – observing my surroundings, chatting with another woman.

I walked out feeling different. Connected.

What just happened? 

God.

There was a time I did not believe in God. I felt alone, separate. We often sit alone in our pain, thinking we are the only ones. But if we look around, that pain is everywhere. It is all one click away on social media or the news. It seems people are either talking about their pain, or giving the impression that everything is perfect. Then we hear about another suicide and we know the truth. If they could have said the words, “I am so much pain.” Would things have turned out differently?

All those people in pain, unable to give a voice, or better yet, to feel it, in all its raw gut wrenching agony. Instead, hurt people continue to hurt people, or themself. When pain, hatred, intolerance, rears it ugly head, we can wonder where is God in all of this? When bad things happen to good people, we often think God has forgotten about us.

It is too simple an explanation that when darkness and evil rest upon this earth, or knocks on our door, that God has abandoned us. When bad things happen, it does not mean, God is absent. I see God not in the tragedy of someone’s blind rage, the separation of an act of violence, but in others compassion that follows. Just as we hold each other in our darkest hour, or rise up against the oppressed, we can find God, not in the heinous act, but in the aftermath. I see God, not in the dirty dishes that pile up in the sink, but in the grace of the clean running water that helps clean up the mess.

I believe no matter what, God has our back. God is there, directing, guiding, often gently,  sometimes abruptly, prying open our hearts. I see it that we all have a personal plan, a guideline, a route mapped out before we come into our life. As if we are in New Jersey and are meant to go to California before we die. Which road we take, what method of transportation, how long it takes to get there, is in our hands. Do we camp out beneath the stars, or sleep beneath satin sheets within the comfort of a hotel. We make those choices. There are many paths we can take, and they are all out there, as possibilities. We will get there. Some of us will get there quickly, others will take a lifetime. On our trip, we will experience loss, joy, laughter and love.

In writing about God, I received the image of a person who sits in front of a huge network of switches, knobs and dials. It reminds me of the technology used for producing songs in a studio. God is there, turning up the volume on something, switching off something else – based on our choices, relationships, our intentions, interactions, insights and our divine plan. We can co-create our journey, we can make decisions. But God is also at work, directing through coincidences, synchronicities and seemingly meaningless interactions.

We just need to show up. Be present and look for the signs, even if we do not intuitively know what we are to do, or where we are meant to go. Everything is here to move us to a higher awareness, opening. Every challenge is a gift. It’s all in the way we receive it and incorporate it into our life.

We all have a purpose, and there is God in all of us. One person may serve juice, another directing planes for safe landing. One may reside homeless, searching for their next meal, another living within a newly erected castle with Italian inspired designer marble columns.

It is does not matter how we get there, how we find God. It can happen in an instant or across lifetimes. We can be reminded we are not alone at a juice bar or at a football game, In church, or gliding along a lake with the sun shimmering upon its glass like image.

If you have never seen or felt God, look closer. Peer into those hidden nooks and crannies, choose door number three or just become quiet and ask God to send you a sign, and to make it obvious.

God is here. God was here all along. Whether, life turns our world upside down, or we had to order a juice, to be reminded. God is everywhere, and we are never alone.

 

 

 

 

 

When You Start Blaming, You Start Healing.

Why are we so afraid to blame others? Blame is calling people on their shit. It is putting the onus where it deserves. It is giving the shame back to the abuser, the rape back to the rapist, the battering back to the batterer. Blame is empowering. It is about getting angry, and saying, you did this. You don’t have to take ownership, but I am no longer blaming myself.

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At some point in my life, I made a promise that I would devote my life to helping others feel worthy, and this blog has evolved out of that promise. I made that promise because I spent so much of my life feeling the opposite – unworthy, ashamed, bad, and confused about why I felt this way. Perfectionism, achievements were my way out of this unworthiness, or so I thought. Wrong! We can become intellectually worthy, but that is not the same as truly feeling worthy.

Feeling worthy begins with getting honest, real, speaking the truth. Sometimes being inspirational is about lifting others up with a hand, and other times it is about keeping it real.

Today, I am going to get real. If it is too real for you, feel free to look away. But if you have ever felt less than, unworthy, deep down like you are not enough, then stay with me. Whether you have experienced exactly what I have or can just be helped in some way from my experience, read on.

I used to think being a good person was about being nice. Janet Straightarrow, a very wise woman once told me, that nice is just an acronym for:  Neurotic Insecure Codependent Emotional. Does not sound as appealing does it? Truth is being nice is not the same as being loving, having compassion or feeling through our heart. People pleasing often puts the pleasing away from us, and we are left feeling empty, hollow and wondering why we always come last.

Want to take back your life? Start blaming.

I know blame is taboo. I have heard it many times. “No,” they shout from the rooftops. “Don’t blame! Forgive.” Here is the thing.

If you feel unworthy, like you are not good enough, chances are you are already blaming; you are just blaming yourself.

Why are we so afraid to blame others? Blame is calling people on their shit. It is putting the onus where it deserves. It is giving the shame back to the abuser, the rape back to the rapist, the battering back to the batterer. Blame is empowering. It is about getting angry, and saying, you did this. You don’t have to take ownership, but I am no longer blaming myself. Someone is never responsible for our feelings, our reactions, but he is responsible for his actions. She is responsible for her abuse.

Why has blame become so taboo? The actual definition of blame is to assign responsibility for a fault or wrong. Why is putting the responsibility where it is deserves – wrong?

Blame is a necessary step in healing. Do you want to feel relief like you have never felt? Do you want to honor all you have experienced and then be able to let go of whatever you are holding on to? Want to watch anxiety and depression melt away like an ice cream cone on a hundred degree day? Get angry, put the blame back where it deserves. Write return to sender on the package that you mistakenly opened and thought was yours, and give it back. images-3

We jump to forgiveness because we are being nice – the good daughter, the cooperative friend, the submissive spouse – and it is hurting us on all levels. We have no idea what self-care, nurturing, or true feelings, look, feel, taste and smell like.

I was the ultimate champion for running away – I literally began running for miles and miles to escape the past, those unwanted feelings that seemed to creep in when I was least expecting. Here’s the thing, the run always ends. It all catches up with us – every last repressed feeling. I had always known there was something very wrong with how I felt growing up. I just didn’t know the extent to the trauma and abuse I endured. I am learning that now with the help of an amazing therapist, among other things.

I know I am not alone. I know there are those of you out there, who also have endured trauma and abuse – whether it was a one time occurrence or over the span of years. The #metoo movement is just the tip of the iceberg, but it is one hell of a start. Whether it was a single event, or repetitive, it is time to let yourself off the hook. Educate yourself. And if you are or know of someone who is struggling with the effects of abuse or a traumatic event, please seek professional help. Please email me. I have resources, and information to share.

As a waitress in college, there was an old saying, I am in the weeds. It describes how we would feel when the hostess used to sit three tables in our section at once. I am currently in the weeds because I am doing the work. I feel at the moment like the hostess has sat ten tables all in my section and they all want a five-course meal with drinks. Before we can have a beautiful rose garden, we must begin pulling our weeds.I just keep pulling the weeds out, one by one. I also ask for help. There are food servers, gardeners and managers – all waiting to help us. We don’t have to go it alone.

One of the greatest strengths of those of us who endured abuse is our ability to handle  anything. Whatever life has thrown at me, I have handled it. But we can handle a lot more when we stop blaming ourselves. When we rush to forgive the abuse, injustice, assault, the lashing out – whether it is an internet troll lurking behind the tree, ready to toss off an angry post or someone who is close to us, who we least expect, hurting us. It can be a grandiose boss who berates us on a conference call, a borderline friend, who puts us on a pedestal only to cut us down the next week. A possessive boyfriend, exploitive controlling parent, or a narcissistic coach.

We have been taught forgiveness is the key to moving on, letting go. Yes, this is true. But not before we do the work, not before we blame.We rush into forgiveness because blaming, getting angry is about getting dirty. And it can cause us to roll around in the mud for years. We want clean, tidy, perfectly wrapped presents, complete with a beautiful bow. We put that neatly wrapped present upon the shelf for years, hoping that is where it stays. Until someone comes into our life – someone who is kind, compassionate, unconditionally loving, and she looks at the present on the shelf and he points and says, what is that? And we say, Oh, that? It is nothing. 

It is time to open the box. Picking up the phone or sending that letter to whoever hurt us, may be a part of your healing, but that is not what I am talking about. It means giving ourself the green light to send it all back, to finally honor what we really feel. It is not about getting someone to admit what she did, but getting ourself to admit it. If you feel called to reach out to the person who caused you to wrap up your pretty box in the first place, do so, not for a response or an apology, do it for yourself.

Rushed forgiveness does not break the cycle. Rushed forgiveness is not healing. Healing begins with blame.

I could not possibly cover everything about the effects of a traumatic event or long-term abuse in this blog post, but I hope this will be a springboard, a start. You can heal. It takes strength, love and support, but you can do it. Please reach out for help. I will continue to inspire you to believe you are worthy, beautiful, smart and enough because it is the truth. But you must find the strength to do the work or my words will bounce off of you like rain pelting down upon an umbrella. It is time to dance in the rain.

Do the work, get into that discomfort zone, and you will find yourself gifted to everything you ever desired – peace, joy, love and the greatest inspirational feelings you can imagine. Life is a gift. If someone opened yours, and cast it aside, it is time to take your life back. After all, it was never his to take.

 

The Hidden Truth of Depression

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Like many, I have experienced depression at different times in my life. I have never felt the “I cannot get out of bed depression” or the “I cannot go on” depression, but I have experienced those feelings of emptiness, loneliness, loss of appetite, interest and connection.

If you experienced the devastating effects of deep depression, medication can be a life saver. It can give you the space you need to be able to even receive what I am saying or to be able to think differently about your situation. This is the moment, where I remind you that I am not a doctor. And if you think you need help for your depression, there is no shame in reaching out.

Very often, I receive very strong messages that come to me at times during meditation or when I least expect it. Yesterday, I was given the awareness we need to view depression, not as an inconvenience or detriment, but as a gift. Stay with me.

Depression is a space that is left when our ego has begun to unravel. This can happen from a loss, a change in routine, or during ongoing self-awareness. Our ego is there to help us – to keep track of time and space, and our daily lives. But egos can be very inflexible, and change is a part of being human, and living our lives. Change causes our ego to release its grip upon our psyche, and this can feel uncomfortable and empty. Imagine a person hugging tightly to you, and then they back away. While freeing, it can feel different, uncomfortable, empty. You are very aware of the space that is now there. All those patterns, routines and security are now gone.

Loss of loved one or job. Divorce. Life Change (children moving out). Therapy. Illness. Awareness and insight. Even a change in routine can trigger the space of emptiness. Your yoga teacher cancels, your child gets in trouble at school, you become demoted – can all lead to emptiness.

If we rush to fill that space with food, drugs, alcohol or technology, we never move beyond it. It is then, we can become stuck. We have now just become “addicted”, in addition to  “depressed.”

What if we allow that space to unfold, and treat ourselves kindly, like we are dancing into new territory, one that can feel strange, but also exciting. If we name this space of emptiness as a “time out” and don’t try to rush it away, self-medicate it. If we allow it to just be, for as long as it needs. We will change! It will not go on forever, even if it feels like it will. But we cannot force it to go, for then like an unwanted house guest, it will stay well beyond its welcome.

It is not about rehashing, but healing. It is not about running away from, but allowing. It is about becoming comfortable with uncomfortable empty spaces, and the feelings that may come and go.

I am not only relaying what I intuitively received – I have done all of this. It is always just beyond my actions that the awareness comes in. It has become my practice to do something as intuitively guided, and then the understanding follows.  I know from experience, it is not easy, but allowing the space to just “be” allows for not only a deeper understanding of our selves, but so much more.

Sometimes, it can get rough – as dark feelings can move in and out of that emptiness. Shadow feelings of grief, anger, resentment, and sadness can move in. Don’t raise the rent, allow them to linger until they move on. Their stay is temporary, I promise. This too shall pass, and in its place will come everything you can imagine.

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While allowing the space, it is important to also practice self-care. Picture your self in a new place, a new room, with an open door. Feelings can come in and out, as they need, no appointment is necessary. Make that room as comfortable as you can – put in a fireplace, a warm couch with a soft blanket, some ice-cold water to keep you hydrated, or hot tea to warm you. Hang some beautiful pictures on the wall. Even bring in a soft big teddy bear. Think comfort and safety. Make it all about you, and what you need. This is what self-care is about, and it needs to happen even more when we are moving into that space of emptiness, so that we can withstand the discomfort.

What does this self-care look like in real life? Releasing toxic relationships, saying no, putting up boundaries, a hot bath, a good book, a warm nourishing meal, a funny movie, or even just letting someone know how you feel. It is whatever you need in any given moment without judgement.

Just on the other side of the depression is a life you have always dreamed about. The confidence to move away from addiction, and into awareness. Our minds can benefit along with our hearts. The release of all those egoic and competitive needs – to be right, better, higher than others. Obsessions, fears and bad habits, can fade as we move into a more open-hearted way of living and loving. Everything we ever wanted – all the joy, peace and self-love – is bestowed upon us.

It gets easier, I promise. Many years ago, I would have done whatever I could to rid myself of any feelings of emptiness – run, eat, drink – you name it. Today, I become excited when I sense it because I know what is happening, and how I am continuing to move along my life journey. I am about to embark on something new, and release a piece of old conditioning that is no longer serving me.

So let’s stop calling it “depression” and call it “a time out.” Let’s view it as a gift, and if we can see it as such, we can unwrap our self, unwind our ego. Inside, we find the beauty of our true self. Rest in the beauty of that emptiness, take a pregnant pause and allow it to unfold as we are guided through the uncomfortable feelings, we move into a life we can only imagine. Everything we ever wanted is just outside of this discomfort zone.

Everything is a Gift, No Matter How Sh*tty the Wrapping Paper.

PUBLISHED ON ELEPHANT JOURNAL

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I am not into politics.

I am not into picking people apart or putting them down.

I am into compassion and respect. I am into seeing the gift—the good in everything and everyone.

I have not always been this way. I have been on a journey most of my life, as we all have; most of us just don’t know it.

It has been a journey of seeing past what is right in front of my eyes and knowing there is something deeper, more meaningful going on. It is about intuition, seeing within, tapping into my innate sense of knowing there is something beyond what our eyes see and our ears hear. There is something beyond people’s personalities that drives their actions.

When you take a moment and look beyond what is at face value, you can grab a taste of it. You can see something good, or at least understand why something is happening. It is coming to the awareness that everyone and everything is here to help us—and we don’t have to like what we see and feel to know the truth of this.

I am not a stranger to disappointment, anger, frustration and turmoil. When I faced a full-term pregnancy loss 13 years ago, my heart was broken into a million pieces. The grief was insurmountable.

Yet slowly, as my heart began to heal and I reached beyond the loss, I was able to see the gifts I had been given. The amazing value of life, the strength I never knew I had, my own innate power, the ability to not sweat the small stuff, the ability to live in the present and the knowledge that I can handle anything life throws at me.

How can I say losing my child was a gift? Because I cannot count the number of lives that I have touched positively as a result of that tragedy. Because the compassion my heart has felt every moment since goes beyond what most can bear in a lifetime. Because the beauty of a bird can bring tears to my eyes, and the wonder in a child’s eyes can warm my heart.

I have come to know a faith that is beyond this world and a joy that I feel each day, no matter what is going on in the world around me.

So yes, it was a gift, even though the wrapping paper was f*cking sh*tty, and I hated every moment of the process.

Because of it, I am the person I am today—the one with the rose-colored glasses. It is the reason I can look at our country and see beyond what the media displays and the people shout. I see the changes that are just beyond the horizon, and they look pretty f*cking good to me.

I can even see Trump, despite all his shortcomings, as a gift.

I don’t see a man taking power who has already said and done so many things that go against the things I believe. I see a million women rising up and finding their voice.

I don’t see chaos. I see change.

I don’t see Facebook getting blown up by political posts, I see people reaching deep down within themselves and figuring out what it is they believe. I see our country four and eight years down the road as a better place. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Despite the pregnancy loss, I have been given the gift of three other beautiful children. As most moms know, one of our jobs is to spend hours in the car driving our children from one activity to the next. Just yesterday I drove a car full of 16-year-olds home, and I did what I always do—I listened to their conversation.

Within a few moments, the conversation turned to politics. But it was beyond politics. They discussed the impact of climate control, the necessity of space travel, confirmation hearings, the Department of Education and the importance of speaking the truth when you are the U.S. President. Never in my life, in all the years I have been carpooling, has the conversation been this interesting and thought-provoking.

How great is that? What a gift! Without Trump getting elected and all that has occurred since, I would have only born witness to conversations about homework, dating and who has the longest running Snapchat streak.

Is our country messy right now? Absolutely. It is messy because people who are not used to using their voice are forgetting the Golden Rule. We are forgetting to “do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” This holds true for our 45th president as well.

We are forgetting respect and compassion. It’s not about shutting up or stopping the posts or tweets. It’s about communicating consciously, speaking what is in our hearts, all while keeping the bigger picture in mind.

Yes, I see everything in life as a gift, no matter how sh*tty the wrapping paper. It has been years since I have taken off my sunglasses, and put on my rose-colored glasses. And it is pretty damn sunny here, just the way I like it.

I have a pair waiting for you. Just uncurl your fists and open your palms. Take my hand. I will show you the way.

 

 

Author: Beth Mund

 


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Choose Love

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Choose empowerment. We are not victims. We do not need to run. We are not helpless. We need to take back our power. There is not one candidate who will magically change our lives or our country. It is an inside job. We do it within ourselves. We do it within our families. We all have the choice.

Choose love. Tell your daughters how beautiful, strong and smart they are. Tell them today and everyday. Teach your sons how to honor women, treat them dignity and respect. Enlighten all our children that it is not the color of our skin, our sexual orientation or where we pray that depicts our humanness, but how much love and compassion we show one another. 

Choose compassion. Today be that much more compassionate, patient and helpful to one another. Look for the highest in everyone you see, whether it is on a grocery store line, or listening to the next President of the United States.

Choose hope. We are all entitled to our choices. We need to treat another’s opinion with respect. There is a bigger picture and everything is here to help us. Sometimes our foundation needs to be cracked in order to let in more light.

 

Turn off the television, get quiet and ask yourself. “What can I do to be the change I want to see in the world?” If you need faith, ask for it. All the answers are inside of us.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our thoughts, feelings and actions today create the world of tomorrow. Today, I see a world of hope, love and compassion. What do you see?

Help Another, Help Ourselves

 

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I have a love/hate relationship with social media. There is always a time and place for it. A new funny video or update from a friend I haven’t seen in years – these are the things I love. Needing our phones, endlessly checking emails, feeling the constant pull towards the internet – these are the things I hate. I guess it is like everything else in this world, it is up to us to be responsible with how much we indulge. Just as we can drink an entire bottle of wine in one sitting, we can spend hours and hours perusing Facebook. These days, I chose to sip a nice cup of Java, and browse here and there. It was one of these mornings a few weeks back, that I opened up Instagram for a quick taste.

With my daughter having just started her freshman year at Penn State, I decided to follow their Instagram as a way of connecting with her life. Just last week, I came across a picture that was posted before the first football game. It depicted instruments lying on the vacant football field, a stark contrast against the backdrop of mist rising above the morning dew. The caption read, “Instruments at rest, countdown to game day is on.”  As I have always been an empathic person, I often feel things deeply, sometimes well before they are even occurring. For instance, I can feel the excitment on Friday afternoons, and the dread of Sunday nights, whether I am working these hours or not. I can even sense more personal feelings, as I tap into another person’s sadness who walks by, and know when I walk into a room, the mood of most who gather there.

So it was not unusual that I instantly felt the excitement that many Penn State fans feel before an upcoming game. I could imagine it all. Students huddled together in excitement, their faces decorated with blue and white paint, alongside the local fans preparing for their first tailgating adventure of the season. It was coming, arriving within days, and I could feel it all. I smiled. Excited for what was to come for a very accurate description of what would be a fun filled Saturday for Happy Valley.

I sat in bliss, and decided to scroll down, read the comments on that Instagram post.  There were a few comments about the band’s instruments, the upcoming game, and good wishes from adorning fans. I smiled, and then I read the last comment. At first I was confused, like I had just seen someone I knew, but in an unfamiliar setting. But then, I refocused, and gave myself time to incorporate what I was reading. It was a plea from a father. The plea was for money, to help his son, Gabriel, who was fighting a rare form of brain cancer.

What a contrast from what I was feeling a minute ago. Grief, desperation and shock rumbled through my belly in a tightness that I knew was felt by his father on a daily basis. A few deep breaths, and I was back to myself, sitting in my living room, pondering my choice of what to do at that moment. For it was not but a few minutes before that I set my intention for the day. I asked for a day that is filled with joy, peace, health and abundance. I asked to follow my heart, open my awareness and to continue to honor my intuitive gifts. Beyond asking, I added words of appreciation for all I have, guidance for myself and my family. And lastly, I asked, if there is someone who needs my help today, please put them in my path. So right then, I knew Gabriel was put in my path.

I copied the link, read his story, and then I donated.

Why Gabriel? There are millions suffering from poverty, disease and mental illness. Because life will hand you what you are to help out with, especially when you ask for it each morning. We do not ever have to go looking for it, but we need to slow down enough to see it.

As I closed out the Instagram post, I could not overlook the name. Gabriel, often a angel messenger who helps watch over the young, and the creative. As I always ask for my children to be watched over, and my writing to be created in the highest light and love, there was Gabriel acknowledging it all.

But what about the boy, Gabriel? Was he not watched over? Why did he become sick? I sat and thought about the contrast in so many peoples lives at any given time. Some are deciding which stove to buy for their kitchen, what to wear for the first day of school, and some are fighting for their lives. Someone receives a promotion and another gets fired.This is our world. This is life. But it goes beyond that. Our world is out of control. All we need to do is turn on the news and see the latest terrorist attack, a tragedy or a senseless shooting.

Living in our world can get overwhelming and we can either become inundated or we can turn a blind eye to everything. Adding to it, most of us are too busy or overwhelmed in our own lives to think about helping others. We are bombarded with information, events, coming at us at all times. We don’t have time to breathe, much less help out another. Yet, the way to breathe easier and slow down, is to ask each morning to help another and then see who is put in our path. When we help another, we always benefit. We leave our immediate world. We feel good. We stop the thoughts in our head, the constant information, and we spring into action. We connect with others in a meaningful way. We begin in the smallest of ways, to change our world.

It does not matter how we help. If we are guided to donate to a cause, then donate. If we get the feeling we should help someone cross the street or fill another’s parking meter, then do that. Maybe helping is about saying a prayer for all who suffer, or telling a person she is beautiful or he is smart. Your gut will tell you when its right and when its not. Perhaps your child just needs to hear your voice, and that is answering a call for help.

Slowly, when asking each day to help another, the beginnings of love and peace will emerge as a small space in our chaotic world. The way to make a difference is to start with one person, which automatically becomes two. For helping another is the surest way to help ourselves. It will happen. We can make a difference one random, or not so random, act of kindness at a time.

Not convinced? According to an article in the Huffington Post, “Giving back has an effect on your body. Studies show that when people donated to charity, the mesolimbic system, the portion of the brain responsible for feelings of reward was triggered. The brain also releases feel-good chemicals and spurs you to perform more kind acts — something psychologists call “helper’s high.”

I do not know why Gabriel has become ill, but I do know life put him in my path that day. Why not ask who can you help today?