I have always been an optimist. From the time I was a kid, the glass was never full to me. It was overflowing. Rainbows and Unicorns… I believed in magic. If a situation was difficult, I would paint myself into a new and different reality. And I always knew that I was not walking alone.
It could be that I felt the presence of my identical twin, who I lost at birth. We shared a womb for 40 weeks and I have always felt like she was my guardian angel watching over me. But it was even bigger than that. The presence walking with me was far more encompassing. It was massive and felt like an immense light and warmth that was always close by.
I remember clearly being about six. I was lying on the grass in my backyard and contemplating space. I looked out at the twinkling stars, the Milky Way, Orion, and the Southern Cross. I remember thinking that it was impossible that man could create something so magnificent. I knew that it had been painted by an energy that was far bigger than anything I could comprehend.
And the funny thing is, that I didn’t want or need to understand it. I had an inner knowing that it was so much bigger than anything that I could wrap my mind around. I didn’t need proof or an explanation that we are not alone. All I knew was, that this Source of all was also living inside me. And that IT was watching over and protecting me.
I was raised Jewish, and I love all the traditions and beliefs that have been handed down to me. But this feeling of not being alone is different. It is a KNOWING that speaks to me from my soul. I have read up and researched many religions and cultures and I respect each of them equally. The works of the great spiritual teachers are very much in line with my belief systems. I see no difference between all of G-d’s children. No one person is better than another based on how they look, or the way they choose to worship.
I truly believe that our purpose on earth is to LOVE OUR FELLOW MAN. To show each human being kindness. To help them when they are struggling and to try to bring light to any darkness they may be experiencing. That is our earthly mission. To meet hate with love even if the person in front of us is undeserving of this love. We are meant to act as G-d acts every day when He opens the flowers when He keeps the earth spinning on its’ axis and gives birth to a newborn baby.
As far back as I can remember, I was always trying to help others, make them laugh, cheer them on or try to solve an issue they were facing. No and impossible are not words that I ever used and I have been very fortunate. Everything I have ever placed my attention on has miraculously appeared in my life. I take no credit for this. I do believe that it is the work of a Divine Power bringing me these blessings. He is responsible for all of it.
And He is also responsible for all my lessons and stumbling blocks. All the dead ends and roadblocks on my path. All the people that have told me NO. I have never doubted Him, been angry with Him, or questioned Him. Just like the caterpillar turns into a butterfly, I know that He has a plan for me and I trust that whatever is on my path, is there for a reason. It is something that I need to learn from. And I have also realized that from those darkest places I have experienced the most internal growth.
I am very in tune with my body. So much so, that on the night I conceived Jade, I felt a butterfly flitting in my tummy in my dreams. I woke up on the first morning of my honeymoon and told Saul that I was pregnant. “You are mad is what you are”, Saul said. But I KNEW. Six weeks later after 3 negative home pregnancy tests and 2 negatives blood tests in the Doctor’s office, it was confirmed. Jade was conceived that exact night. And what a blessing it is to experience childbirth.
This beautiful baby that looked like no other baby had grown in my belly. That she had received exactly what she needed in this time, and that she was perfectly formed blew my mind. I knew that as she grew, she would develop her own unique personality and would fulfill her own special destiny. In this moment everything I had always believed to be true was confirmed. I knew for certain that G-d was in the business of making miracles happen.
Fast forward to a week ago… I feel it only right to go on record and state that I don’t like to go to Doctors. I have an IUD that has been in for 12 years and it was only meant to be in for 10. I haven’t seen the gynecologist in 5 years and my last full medical was 4 years ago. I know. Shocking!!! This is why I’m sharing this post. You need to take care of your health and get your annual checks. It is so very important.
Last Monday I noticed this burning sensation in my breast. And I knew something was off. I tried to put it into the back of my mind and think positive thoughts. I booked a gynae appointment for the following week. During that week I stuffed down the anxiety and attempted to ride on cruise control. I kept telling myself you are fine. By the time I went out with my girlfriends the cracks in my armor were starting to show. I mentioned that I was worried and kudos to them. They did an incredible job of supporting me and convincing me not to worry. But as good friends will, they insisted I get it checked out and stressed the importance of annual mammograms.
All through dinner that night I had this nagging worry which is very uncommon for me. I never stress about stuff or doubt the way life is unfolding. By the time dinner was done I was an emotional basket case. Holding in my emotions was making me physically sick and I called Saul from the car. I just sat in the valet spot and sobbed my heart out. I don’t want to die Sallie. I think I have cancer. He assured me that I was fine and not dying and that it was hormonal. That night I asked him to hug me just a little tighter and I struggled to quiet my mind. I could not fall asleep but I kept telling myself that I was well and healed. But my mind kept playing “WHAT IF” scenarios with me. Something that I never do. I never focus on the future, but for the first time, the NOW was uncomfortable.
Early the next morning I booked a mammogram but the woman on the phone told me that since it was an ABNORMAL pain (yes she actually said that?) and there was burning, I would need an X-Ray and an ultrasound. Don’t people in the medical profession know that it is not right to deliver uniformed bad news over the phone to a complete stranger? Cue Melissa unraveling. A full-tilt meltdown in the front seat of my car. And I was so afraid. For the first time ever doubt, despair, and depression won out.
I had managed to get an appointment for 2 pm that afternoon. I called Saul to tell him that I did not feel like making a Shabbos dinner and that after the test I just wanted to go to bed. I was meant to go to the mikvah, but I messaged my Rebbetzen saying that I needed to cancel. She messaged me a song (click on the link to hear to it). I listened to it, and in an instant, I was fortified with strength, courage, and the inner knowledge that I was going to be fine.
I immediately drove home and made my Shabbos challahs and cooked for dinner. I blasted Shlomo Carlebach on the kitchen speakers and I felt warm and protected. But fear kept trying to creep back in and every time I did I would play the song again. I was so tightly wound up, that by the time I arrived for my appointment, I felt like I was going to snap. They told me the results would take 48 hours and I dreaded the weekend. This fear was so foreign to me.
I joked my way through the mammogram, talking food with the radiologist. I listened to the song over and over while they looked at the images. Time passed so slowly it seemed to be paused. When I finally climbed onto the ultrasound table I was a nervous wreck and I am sure the nurse saw it all over my face. I looked at the picture of the rainbow her granddaughter had drawn taped to the wall. I wonder if my mom was sending me another sign (she comes to me as rain, hail, and rainbows). And then like magic, Dianne, the angel in front of me told me that I was clear. She said she sensed that I needed to know before Monday. And boy was she ever right.
I started to sob. Happy cries filled with laughter and sheer joy. I thanked Him over and over again as I broke down in the dressing room from relief. But at the same time, I saw that Hashem had sent me this lesson for a reason. I now understood the downward spiral that despair can send you on. And I was optimistic, to begin with. I had only been faced with a small test. There are far bigger issues facing my community than can pull them into blackness…. Grief and the loss of a loved one, divorce, financial crisis, low self-worth, adultery, terminal illness, abuse, poverty, and addiction.
I realized that others out there with less faith or knowing that they are walking with G-d might lose faith. They might get angry at Him, or doubt Him and the journey that is in front of them. I felt that it was my duty to inform you that are never walking alone and that you must never give up hope or faith. You must not allow darkness to engulf you. You must fight hard to keep your light and fire burning. You must hold onto the belief that G-d performs miracles and that He is shining these down on you.
I have drawn up a quick toolbox of things to do in a situation where you feel scared, afraid alone, anxious, insecure, guilty, powerless, unworthy, or depressed.
1. Practice thinking of yourself as a formless spiritual entity with no beginning and no end. Always connected to the Divine Light that is G-d. Realize that you are not your body, your stuff, or your accomplishments. You contain a piece of G-d and are connected to him at all times.
2. Strengthen this connection to Him by clearing up the static on the line. Make a quiet space to invite him inside. Get really quiet away from all the noise and in the silence repeat the words. G-d is good and I am a part of G-d.
3. Realize that your thoughts have energy. As the Rebbe used to say. Think good and it will be. Take control of your mind and do not allow negative emotions like doubt, fear, despair, guilt, jealousy, or anger to trap you. Send these emotions out the door and make room for G-d and His light to enter the space where darkness lives.
4. Meet your struggle with love and faith and thank it for the lesson it is teaching you. Get rid of any anger or doubt and realize that this is a perfectly functioning Universe and that whatever is happening is on your path for a reason. There is a field of sunflowers waiting for you just on the other side of the ditch.
5. Remind yourself that everything you want already exists in the Universe and see yourself as being the thing you want to be. Repeat the words, I am healed, strong, worthy, fulfilled, loved, enough, etc
6. Be willing to surrender and turn your problem over to G-d. Make Him your partner by asking Him to help solve this situation you have no control over.
7. Trust that you are His child and that He only wants the best for you. Keep telling yourself, I am not alone. I am walking with G-d.
8. Thank Him for all your blessings. Practice gratitude for all the gifts that you have in your life. Realize that there is no such thing as failure or blame and rather focus on counting your blessings.
9. Detach from your form and your worldly possessions and see yourself as a part of the light of G-d. Connected to everyone and everything at all times. Spend as much time as you can in nature watching the ocean or walking in a garden amongst the flowers and trees.
10. Forgive yourself for anything that you have been blaming yourself for. And forgive others. When you have toxic feelings of anger inside for yourself or another, they ultimately end up poisoning you. This was such a huge part of growth for me. The past is the past and it cannot be undone. You did the best you could do and you have no reason to blame or judge yourself. You are a magnificent and spiritual being so send yourself and others love.
11. Don’t talk about the struggle you are facing. Just as your thoughts have energy so do your words. Hand your problem over to G-d and act as if the thing you are seeking has already arrived.
12. Send love and kindness out to others. This is so critical. When we hold onto anger, jealousy, blame or regret the only person we are harming with this toxic energy is ourselves.
13. Partner with G-d and know that He is the only one that can solve this problem. Turn your worries over to Him and have faith that He will bring a solution.
14. Share your blessings and light with others. By giving your light away you are emptying yourself to be a vessel to receive His blessings. We need to come to Him devoid of our ego and recognize everything that exists is cause of Him.
15. Believe in miracles. They are happening every day right in front of our eyes. Just the mere fact that we are breathing is a miracle so get into the habit of expecting them and inviting them into your life.
If you are Jewish make sure to say Modeh Ani every morning (a Jewish prayer of gratitude we say upon waking to thank Him for returning our unique soul to us and giving us this day). And say the Shmea every night (where you ask Him to watch over your soul when it sleeps). And if you are a Jewish woman make a challah and light Shabbos candles every week and if you can go to the Mikvah (Holy bath). It is literally responsible for miracles. And no you don’t need to be religious or wear a sheitel and be ultra frum to do this. It is open to all of you.
After the test, I went to the mikvah. My Rebbetzen had moved some women around so I could make it before shabbos. Water has always been the place I go to heal. As I submerged myself in the holy waters I thanked Hashem for looking after me. I prayed that He would look after you, my family, and my friends around the world. Our tribe we have created. A safe place we can come to feel loved, supported, and appreciated.
I want you to know that I will always be there for you. In darkness and in light. And I want you to remember that you are never alone. Hashem and I will always be here for you.
Love, light, and blessings.