We have all heard the quote from philosopher Frederich Nietzsche "What does not kill you makes you stronger" and I have repeated it many times. Not only to others but also to myself to remind me that there is a reason for every challenge, every hurt, and all the negative situations that life has to offer. I recognize that if I am still here and breathing, then there is a very good reason to make the most of every moment that I have. I have lost so many friends and family members I thought would be here in human form until old age. Since the soul never dies I know they are lending their energy from the other side but I never imagined that so many of them would leave so young, so soon. Sometimes I jokingly say out loud "Hey, thanks a lot for leaving me here without you!" Even though I know they are still around in another form.

In my life and in my spiritual work, I have encountered so many people facing every kind of challenge imaginable. I have seen heroic courage and complete despair. We have choices to make at every turn. We make life and death decisions all the time even though we may not always be aware of it. With hope, belief, trust, spiritual faith and support, we can recover what we think has been lost.

A male relative of mine once spent several weeks in a mental facility due to his extreme depression and suicide attempts. I drove out to see him every night during visiting hours. It was obvious that the medicine they were administering was not taking effect and he seemed to be in a constant state of confusion and sadness. It was a hard place to visit. So many people walking around mumbling and sad and sometimes agitated and angry. One night I was sitting there talking with him and a nurse turned on the radio. They were playing a Gloria Estefan song "Coming out of the Dark", a song she wrote after recovering from a serious injury after an accident. Right then, in that very moment, I knew he was going to come through this! I knew he was going to heal. It took a little time and a lot of courage and support, but he recovered from this deep depression and was able to function normally again. What a blessing that his attempts at taking his life had failed and he got the help he needed! In time, he was back doing the things he loved, playing golf and boating out on the river. He could not even believe that he had ever tried to end his life. He told me that was another person inside of him and he was not that person anymore.

For a couple of years I was a volunteer in my community for an organization that helped the homeless. I crawled under bridges, hiked out to tiny tent cities in the woods and went inside the occasional abandoned home where people were living. I heard their stories, each unique and equally heartbreaking. We brought them blankets, hats, gloves, toothbrushes, water and sometimes hot biscuits. So many of them had just given up on everything. Several times I cried all the way home after looking into someone's eyes and feeling all their pain. How did they get here and how many of them would listen to us about the help that was available? Would they go to the shelter for a hot meal and a warm bed and talk to a social worker? It was always great to hear about someone accepting help, or getting a job and a decent place to live again. I also had to accept that some of them suffered from drug addiction, alchoholism, and mental illness and had no intention of living anywhere but the street. They had made their choices a long time ago and decided they could not or would not change them.

Several years ago a woman I had gone to high school with jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. I would never have believed it if I hadn't read it in the newspaper. Why would she do such a thing? I later learned that after moving to California, she had been in a car accident in which the car had caught on fire and her legs had been badly burned. She did not want to live with the scars. At the time, I just could not understand it, she was so young and beautiful. What no one could see were the emotional scars that she could not heal from. She wasn't able to see the beauty inside herself and decided to leave this World, still in her twenties. She left behind a family and friends in shock. The other day a friend and I were walking downtown and a young woman walked by us who had been badly burned down one side of her body from her face to her leg. I immediately thought about my friend from school and the choice that she had made not to continue living with her scars. I also thought about the pain this woman passing by me downtown must have gone through and the courage she has to keep on going everyday. How strong she was inside to endure the stares and questions that surely must come everywhere she went.

I had a friend a while back who I was very in tune with psychically. Waking up one morning, I had a feeling of dread and despair that were directly linked to him. I could hear my guides urging me to call him right now. I hadn't spoken to him in over a year but I could not ignore what I was hearing and feeling. I dialed his number and he picked up the phone immediately. I asked him what had happened. He wanted to know who had told me about it. I said I didn't need anyone to tell me, I just knew that something was not right and he needed help. He said he had just gotten back from the funeral home where his dad's funeral was still in progress and that he just could not stay until it was over. He explained that his father has become despondent and depressed after a recent car accident in which he had suffered a painful injury and had then decided to take his own life. I was in shock that someone who had seemed so content and happy the last time I saw him had done such a thing. My friend wanted to know what I thought about this, would his Dad still go to Heaven? Would he be forgiven for doing this and leaving his family in so much emotional pain? I explained that through my beliefs and studies, it was my understanding that each soul is unique with the consequence of their choices and actions. His father was in so much pain, that he was just not rational and he was not thinking about the effects of his actions on his family. He only knew that in that moment, he wanted the pain to go away and could not see his own healing in the future. I have known others who suffered the same type of injury and went through physical rehabilitation and treatment (holistic and otherwise) with amazing results. I always thought that maybe if he could have just held on a little longer, he would have been able to heal from his pain.

Last year I received an email from a man living thousands of miles away in another country who had found my website on the internet. He wanted to know if I could assist him spiritually with his life questions and problems. I told him I would sure try to help in any way I possibly could. He was terribly depressed and admitted that he had tried to kill himself over his health and personal problems. He was mentally suffering and physically suffering from not one but two serious and life threatening diseases. I wrote back and told him that he should never consider doing such a thing ever again and why. I told him that there is always a solution, there is always hope no matter what you think in hopeless. I said, you have a future and a purpose and so many experiences that your soul came here to live through. I wanted him to know that his life was a miracle and if you take your life, your very soul will have to answer and you will be made to look at the absurdity of doing such a thing. I couldn't just get in the car and drive over to talk to him so I told him stories to make him laugh, remembering a movie I had seen with Jodie Foster called Nim's Island. Her character had agoraphobia and had to travel to a remote island to save a little girl she had met online. I told him I really didn't like to fly, so please don't make me come to your country to talk some sense into you! We developed a real friendship. I encouraged him to continue seeking help with a doctor and his family for emotional support. I told him several things about his future and why there was so much more to look forward to.

He promised he would never try such a thing again. Our emails went on and on and I could tell through his words that he started having hope again. Now, it's been over a year and he is happier, healthier, wiser and has a new outlook on his future. He made the choice to have the courage to keep on living and his life is coming together in ways he could not see before. He walked out of the ashes and learned how to fly again. When I think about how far he has come since those first emails, I can see what an inspiration he is to anyone who loses hope. He is working and productive, has new friends and also someone very special in his life now. I am so happy for him that words just don't apply. He is a whole new person with a promising and happy life.

All of these experiences have taught me again and again that life is worth living no matter what. Our bodies and minds can heal. There is hope even when everything seems lost. I believe in miracles. I also believe in tapping into the amazing energy of the Universe which heals and comforts and brings back joy. I have seen so many people get right back up again after suffering loss, injury and heartache in so many different ways. I have witnessed instant healings through energy work and have experienced it firsthand for myself. One day at a time, one step at a time, never giving up no matter what. Seeing light again after living in total darkness, rising up like a phoenix from the ashes and shining like a star.

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