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If I had a dime for every time someone said to me, “You have not suffered like I have suffered,” I would be a very rich woman–monetarily at least. Life is not a competition of who has suffered the most. Life is about understanding that your pain can only be heard and felt by you and therefore only healed by you. We can empathize and sympathize with each other but the actual work can only be done by you. On a personal level, I grew tired of seeking permission at every turn to stay exactly where I was and be validated by others that my pain was real, unjust and ever so sad. I wanted to know who I was without the pain.

Living and Being spiritual became my chosen way of life. With that choice comes optimism, hope and joy. Have I suffered? Yes. Do I know what pain is? Yes. My optimism, my hope, and my joy are a by-product of being exhausted by the sorrow I have experienced. Like a cork that is deliberately held down below the surface of the water and suddenly released, I popped back to the surface and realized that I no longer wanted to be the cork. It is a choice.

My optimism, my hope and my joy are all shared–not just with idle words but with real feeling– with the hope that a reminder of who you truly are shines through the murkiness of your troubles–like it did mine. It is not a lecture. It is a simple reminder. If you are offended by any of it you may want to consider it is merely a reflection of where and who you are temporarily in the moment, as after all, we are all mirrors for each other. There is no right way to be and no wrong way to be. We are all finding our BEST way to be.

For those of you who prefer to lash out at the mere glimmer of optimism and hope and especially joy, then I suggest you turn the proverbial flashlight off instead of finding fault with it and snuggle into the darkness that you push against and struggle within. At the most perfect time the light will shine once again and you just might make a different choice. Until then know that all is well. Your journey is unfolding even in your resistance of it. Know you are loved—eternally loved—no matter what choices are made. It’s all so perfect.

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