Sure, It’s Easy to Be Spiritual When Everything's Coming Up Roses

image001.jpg

“Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” ~Eckhart Tolle

For the past year, I’ve been living in Boulder, Colorado, but every couple of months I’ve made a point of coming home to Chicago to visit my family. Sometimes I would spend a long weekend with them and other times I would stretch it out to a week, depending on what was happening in the events department while I was in town. Seven weeks ago, I came back for a visit… but this trip out to the Midwest would be very different.

After doing a book signing event in Fairfield, Iowa, I drove 4 hours back to my childhood home where my dad still lives. My mom passed away 5 years ago after a 13-year battle with breast cancer. For almost a year after that, I couldn’t come home… because I just couldn’t handle being in the house without her. I could still smell her and feel her in the hallways, her office, the kitchen. She was everywhere, and I just could not bear the heavy load of her not being there. After a complete overhaul of the house, things got easier. And of course time—the passage of time is a friend to the wounded.

So about two months ago, when I rolled into the driveway around 6 p.m. with Frida, my little dog, I was absolutely ready for a glass of wine and a delicious home cooked meal. My dad was in the kitchen making fish tacos, my favorite. I practically dove into the guac and chips, feeling totally carefree, nothing in the world to worry about and a lot to feel grateful for. I’d just published my first book, had been traveling like crazy, was having a blast running my blog, and the invites to speak around the country were picking up speed. Plus, this light inside of me was perpetually glowing, bright as the sun. I was happy, free and filled with excitement about my future. After years of living in a permanent state of fear over my mom’s illness, I had set myself free with years of doing Transcendental Meditation, a practice that saved my life. Every day, twice a day, I was able to dip down into my innermost silence, which allowed me to see eye-to-eye with God. That, I discovered, is true happiness, unshakable happiness. I hadn’t found a “theory” about how to be solid, I knew how to be solid. This was a permanent state I was grateful for everyday of my life. A mixture of humility, silence, prayer and pure fun was my reality. I was living in a kick-ass state of awesomeness. The worst was behind me.

Or so I thought.

As I sat down to devour my delicious Baja cod tacos, my dad continued to just stare at me. “What’s up? Why are you looking at me like that?”

I’ll tell you why: Dad was about to drop a bombshell on me, and in the moment before the words came out of his mouth, my senses were so heightened I swear I could feel the earth rotating. Then the words came, “Your brother has leukemia and it’s serious. We’re heading to the hospital in the morning.”

Oh my God, my brain was going to explode! Tears poured down my face, as I just sat there frozen in time. I knew what this meant. I was all too familiar with my number one enemy, cancer. That motherfucker was back!

At a wedding in Chicago November 2014
At a wedding in Chicago November 2014

But deep down, I knew things would be different this time around. I was not the same girl who heard the same words from my mother, in the same kitchen, with the same verbiage: “…and it’s serious.”

I have buried more people in my family than I care to think about. One after the other, I’ve watched as we lowered them into the ground. But there in the kitchen, I thought, I will be damned if I didn’t learn anything from all the suffering my family and I have endured. This time, I will do things differently.

I gave myself two days to just bawl my eyes out. Then I pulled my shit together and made some solid decisions. I turned to this silence in the core of my being and let go. This is real, this is happening and I can either accept it and act accordingly, or fight it and be destroyed.

History has shown me that going against anything that’s happening in your life will not have a fairy tale ending. As difficult as it is, accepting everything—and I mean everything—you cannot control can be done, one day at a time (sometimes one moment at a time). It does take tremendous amounts of practice, strength and repeatedly heavy doses of faith.

And we may not do it perfectly, but we can just keep leaning back into it—as the saying goes, “Letting go and letting God.”

"Sure, It’s Easy To Be Spiritual When Everything’s Coming Up Roses"

I decided I was going to do this—accepting everything, to the best of my ability—not only for myself, but above all for my brother. I committed myself to being a little warrior, standing next to him through it all in the fight of his life. And I made a decision to cling to what I know: God, my inner silence and prayer. Those are the tools I believe really bring in energy, energy that can elevate even the weakest of the weak. My commitment was made: I would carry the light into the darkness and hold it there for my brother. Period.

I’m sure this seemed like a great idea at the time.
I’m sure this seemed like a great idea at the time.

I moved back into my childhood bedroom, decided to be okay with that, promised myself to go to bed early, eat right, walk every day, meditate regularly, take vitamins, read, spend time alone and reach out to friends and family if I started cracking. This time, I had a plan. I would not walk into this blindly. I was done with doing it that way.

Today I walk the same hallways I had walked with my mom at the University of Chicago hospital. I think about her every single day. I ask her to help my only brother and me.

I have decided to accept whatever the outcome is and, at the same time, do all I can to help him get through this. Through chemo, blood transfusions, endless bone marrow tests and spinal taps, my brother has never once complained. We share the same strength that could only come from God. We see it in each other and we ride on it.

Through it all, we have laughed, listened to endless tunes and just continued to love each other.

And that’s the most powerful medicine there is.