Day 10. Self Love First

Loving, respecting, knowing yourself is key to every aspect of your life. It’s not selfish, it’s essential.

Self Love, is much maligned, misunderstood and mismanaged. I’ve battled with this for as long as I can remember. Self loathing has led me towards poor choices in partners, in jobs, in career paths. Rooting for myself has never been easy. There are countless times I can remember needlessly comparing myself, doubting my abilities, choosing abusive and toxic relationships because I had no love to give back to myself.

I never thought I deserved it. It’s what I knew best. Self criticism, my first line of defense. Self doubt, was the kicker at the end of a long road to not believing in my abilities, or my strengths . Self love has come with great effort. Knowing that I have to look at myself and ignore the asshole who tells me I’m not worthy, I am not deserving, I’m ugly, I won’t amount to anything, who at times has a megaphone and I can’t shut her up. I never said it makes any sense, it doesn’t. For anyone who deals with this asshole, it’s like the addiction you can’t kick.

Now, after years of doing the work, falling off the wagon and getting back on, she’s still there, but I’ve placed her in her corner, in the back seat with a snack and some boxed juice so she doesn’t bother me so often. I recently spoke to a friend who gave me this visual to think about when referring to my self made demons. Mine mumbles from time to time about not good enough and I tell her to be quiet. She’s lucky I still let her sit in the room with me, far away and out of view. I don’t know if I can get rid of her completely but I know that she is part of me, and I’ve outgrown her power over me.

How Self Love Begins with Us.

It took a very long time and a lot of false starts to unwind the tightly wound idea in my head that I don’t deserve the best life has in store. The asshole still comes around strong from time to time. I know how to deal with her, despite the familiarity of it all. Self love has taken forms that I had never thought possible and it has always started with understanding, accepting, allowing and being ok with who I am and have become. The rituals have changed, the narrative has been altered, to allow for stronger boundaries, wiser choices and deeper forgiveness. Love is always rooted and built upon honesty. Being honest with myself about my accomplishments and my flaws has allowed me the space to grow. The darkness never quite goes away. Those who suffer know this all too well, but in the end, LOVE WINS.

Start with Self Love. It may be hard at times, you may relapse and go back to your self loathing ways. But like any recovering self loather. It about loving yourself one day at a time.

Day 6 & 7 LENT

It’s not just about the food.

The cultural and religious references defining lent have been engrained since my early upbringing. Greek culture like countless others, defines the period of lent as a way to “cleanse” the body, and ultimately the mind by abstaining from any meat, eggs, cheese or animal bi-products for 40 days before the coming of Easter, Pascha, Pasqua, Πἀσχα. All organized religions practice some sort of cleanse, renewal, in order to prepare for spiritual and mental advancement, not many follow what traditions ask of us.

For the 20 plus years I’ve lived outside of Greece, this tradition has taken a new meaning for me. Although the mark of Kathara Deytera (the official beginning of lent) as a jumping off point is lovely to partake in, I left behind the idea of eating Taramosalata and boiled Octopus, and focused more on what behaviors, thought processes, ideas and babits I needed to abstain from and ultimately do away with. It’s not just about quitting animal meat, or losing weight, but revisiting what truly unhealthy habits, we must let go of.

If we are to honestly connect with our bodies and minds in a healthier way, we have to make a concerted effort to let go of habits, behaviors, though processes that cause damage, hold us back, and keep us from our highest potential. It may be hard or easy, but ultimately rewarding to remove personal obstacles to our growth.

For the next 40 days make a choice, stick to it. A new goal, a new habit can replace an old damaging one. Removing sugar is not effective if you’re drinking 4 cups of coffee a day and smoking. A short run or a long walk can replace a cab ride, aiming for a meaningful conversation instead of pointless chatter. Abstaining from meat can be coupled with a holistic approach to food and how you prepare it, healthier food choices overall, healthier body and mind choices in the long run. My 40 day cleanse short list I’ll share with you here.

  1. remove all alcohol, spirits & coffee
  2. short run 3 times a week and weight training
  3. writing every day for this challenge
  4. spend quality time with friends and family
  5. schedule a self care session once a week.
  6. Shorten my time online that’s not work related.

write down your short list for lent. Share this experience with your loved ones, ask them to keep you accountable to your journey. See you on the other side.

DAY 4-5 First be a woman

Paying homage to the women who have shaped, fed, loved and nurtured me over the years.

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world
upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it
back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it. The
men better let them.” Ain’t I a woman – Sojourner Truth

The kind of woman I always wanted to be didn’t come into view until my late 30’s. I was not aware of my strengths, I didn’t know how to harness my femininity, my passions and my voice. There were and still are many aspects of the woman I want to become that have yet to reveal themselves. I have since found there are a lot of women who are and have similar experiences finding their true identity. Although I have amazing, friends, guides, and teachers in my life, up until recently I didn’t know how to embody the woman I could be proud of. Who was that woman to me? How did she reflect herself to the outside world?

The woman I have now come to love, I owe to the countless women who have given me the thread to continue to honor my ancestors, my guides and my mentors along the way. Everything I have I owe to the women in my life. Sharing who I am openly here and in my poetry comes from the continuous support of my mothers (biological and adopted), grandmothers, friends, sisters, aunts, mentors, witches. Powerful, loving women, held me up when I was collapsing, held me accountable when I was being an asshole, trusted me with their hearts and helped my connect with mine. Loving and being loved has been shown to me by the careful guidance, of countless women over the years.

The strength I gather from the women around me, our common and no so common experiences, started at a very young age. At 5 I observed my grandmother in her infinite wisdom and strength give me life lessons I was only to understand later in life. My voice teacher in grade school ignited my passions for writing and singing, encouraging me to unabashedly find my voice. My wild artistic and uncompromising side was encouraged and celebrated by my close friends who knew that an untamed heart was better than a closed one.

These amazing accomplished, courageous women, saw me for my potential, raised me to be strong and independent and taught me to think for myself. I was drawn to their wisdom and their complexity. Women defined me and shaped me as an artist in school, a writer in college and a performer in my late 30’s. My sisters have encouraged me to be myself, speak my truth, show my vulnerability, share my experience, in ways that will always humble and astound me.

To celebrate the women in our lives is to celebrate life itself. To honor the women who have given before us, we honor our place in her-story. In the next few posts I’ll be sharing small stories from the women who have and continue to be my backbone.

Happy Womens HER-Story month.

27 Day writing Challenge Revived

Two years after a global pandemic – The new normal is anything but.

After taking an extended hiatus from my daily posts during this pandemic, I’ve slowly come back to establishing a forum for reflecting and discussing the issues, thoughts and ideas that have stuck with me for the past two years. I don’t think I’m alone in the creative conundrum that was born out of these times we are all living in. I’ve made small efforts to ignite thoughts that mattered, ideas that stuck, words that felt right. Now, it’s time. Of course the events that have unfolded since March 2020 are so life changing; they significantly impacted every single part of our lives. The world has been turned upside down and inside out, and I’m grateful to be alive at a time like this.

The past two years have been an immense opportunity for self reflection, global awareness, re-evaluation and re-calibration. In other ways a revelation in grasping a renewed sense of purpose. Dealing with the fear of the unknown, trusting our instincts, understanding what works and what doesn’t in our lives; is a lifelong experiment. The images, feelings and thoughts of the events that shaped those first two weeks of March 2020, felt like tectonic plates were shifting under our feet. My then daily posts felt trivial, and unnecessary in the grand scheme of the survival mode we were globally thrust into. My world became my Brooklyn neighborhood. The mental exhaustion of times we are all living through, had stigmatized any real creative juices from flowing. Growing, moving, changing cities (again), packing up my life in New York, and experimenting with a life that’s new, different and strangely familiar; are some of the things that I will be sharing with you all during the next 27 days.

now, the time has come.

There are too many things that have sparked my attention in the past two years that it seems ripe for the picking.

Join me, and welcome to my stories from the Edge (again)

Stay safe, aware, and grateful.

New York Stories part 2

How to keep true to a city and leave it behind.

Manhattan Bridge May 2021

I’ve decided the let go of New York. My time in the City that helped me grow as a person, a woman and a writer, has now come to a close. I’ve not let go of her yet, and even when I eventually physically leave the city, I will never leave her. She’s been my companion through truly hard times, and through beautifully joyous ones. The stories of the past nine years are coming back to me as I gather them, life morsels, savoured through every memory created in this vast metropolis.

The stories I will continue to tell, are built upon this city of metal, false hope, real struggle and immense courage. She continues to evolve, as I have. The observer and the observed once again merged. Now more strongly than ever before; I look at her slowly disappearing from my rear view mirror as I move decidedly and quietly to the next leg of this writing journey.

She will always be with me, I’ll take her wherever I go In the only way I can, through my writing, my poetry, my spoken word and my commitment. I’m devoted to her in ways I never thought possible and although leaving her may be a foolish errand, New York will push me no matter how tired I am, to build something worthwhile, and something that’s truly mine.

Biggie in Brooklyn

Leaving is never easy. She may not forgive me. I hope she will. My love for her is eternal. She knows me like few cities do. She’s seen me break down in tears in public like all New Yorkers have because let’s be honest it’s a right of passage. You cry yucky tears on the train home from work next to a complete stranger and no one will bother you; Not because they don’t care, but because crying in the subway at 6:00pm on a Tuesday beckons you to the reality that is this city. She’s a bitch but she cares.

I’ll cary her, as she carried me though these tough, enigmatic, wonderfully tragic years of transformation. I will return to her doorstep from time to time, for coffee, a bagel some good conversations and a slap in the face to remind me to stay true to my convictions.

Thank you baby it’s been real. F*ck I love you.

on radical self acceptance- in verse.

On the process of outgrowing and unfolding into who we really are.

Looking back looking forward.

Motions moving in motion. The notions and lives I’ve lived and continue to live.

A distortion of the past. Cast upon the present tense, intense feelings underneath the smiles, all the while, unearthing moments of grief. 

Disbelief that those persons I once was have now deceased. 

Unleashing the present me, unforeseen, unseen till now. Watch out, I am not playing hide and seek, I’m sustaining the fire within.

Quieting the tears I once shed on my self made bed of nails. 

It never fails to astound. 

How profound it is to radically love myself putting past lives on the shelf as a reminder, that I no longer know who that is.  And now? 

Now I sit in my quiet space, unfazed. If don’t have to please your gaze. I’m here only fulfill my dreams one day at a time. 

Patiently.

Undoing the crimes of the past, feeling like an outcast from the lives I’ve since created, dismantling the facades that once covered the walls of the self made prisons I built. 

Putting together the torn and tattered pieces like a quilt that covers me, comforts me from my self made guilt.

And now finding freedom doesn’t seem like a dream deferred.  

Welcome to my Queendom. 

A year in.

What have we learned, what have we yet to learn and what fundamental changes have taken place a year into a global Pandemic?

The second week of March, marks what has become a transforming, revealing and overwhelming year. March 13th will remain the day life completely and irreversibly changed. It’s 22.24 on a quiet Saturday night and despite all we have gone through; I feel the trials of this year were not in vein. I almost can’t bring myself to reminisce of what was before. There is only what has become, and will come after. We are all forever transformed.

A necessary awakening has taken place. It started with uncertainty, panic, fear of the outside world, anger, more panic and then a slow realization, that this tragic year gave us a once in a lifetime opportunity to stop, listen, understand, create, let go of, build on, comprehend, and quantify our lives in ways never before available to us. We paused. We had to. I lost my shit once, badly. After talking to a dear friend in Athens, which was going through its first severe lockdown, I sat on the corner of my street on the edge of the curb and felt my chest collapsing. I came to the realization that if I’m going to be strong for others, I had to be strong for myself.

I threw all my creativity into cooking nourishing food, and yes I made a lot of bread. I spent the better part of March wondering how I could see my family without putting them at risk. I spent my birthday self isolating with my flatmate and a bottle of wine. We were catapulted into a growing social justice movement that up until march was not in the collective consciousness of every single person with a phone and an internet connection, and then… Breonna Taylor, then George Floyd. The voices of those who were and still are marginalized, went from a whisper to a deafening roar. The world didn’t have a choice any more but to shut up and listen.

Traveling to Greece was not an option, It felt like luxury to even try, and staying put turned out to be the wisest and safest solution. I managed to create a little kingdom out of a small sunlit bedroom. Brooklyn became my universe. Daily meditation, chanting, yoga, stretching, long walks, daily check in with my parents and my beloved friends, forced silence, and time for reflection.

There were countless blessings. A safe home, a beautiful multicultural and multi ethnic proud Brooklyn community, a park I could have taken for granted became my entire world. My solace, my microcosm, my place of laughter and joy, my space became the everyday walk to Prospect Park. Writing didn’t come easy. Images were imprinted for later. Mental and emotional balance was a daily effort, purpose, goal. Meditation became my rock. The Pandemic was a stopping point for certain patterns that no longer served a positive purpose, giving space to a starting point for self realization, motivation and fervent self care. Making a cup of coffee became a practice, a ritual, a starting point.

Movement, breathing, meditation and even chanting has become the cornerstone of my balance and sanity; it is now an integral part of who I am and how I navigate the world. The biggest blessing of this tumultuous year, was the beginning of my online teaching, sharing, breathing with friends, strangers, old friends, and new ones. On the morning of March 14th, I turned on my live feed and started sharing my yoga and movement practice, with no expectation or thought of how long it would go. Self care, mental health care, community care, global care became integral to this new world order.

I am grateful for my health and the health of those I love. I’m grateful for the community that so effortlessly built itself around those that needed it the most. I am grateful to this pandemic for forcing me to take the reigns of my own life. All our lives moving forward were not going to be the same. Nor should they be. If we have learned nothing else, it is to take absolutely nothing for granted.

On the eve of March 14th 2021, this was one for the books, let’s make it count this time round.

March 13, 2021

κουράγιο

celebrating the International Woman

Once a year, we are celebrated. Happy International Women’s Day! Inspiring quotes are brought up. Women of color are being recognized we say. (Even though this Pandemic has shown that those who have been left behind and disproportionately so are those same women of color). Donate to women lead organizations we say. Then we get back to our respective places, playing the game we’ve been taught to play for so long we forgot what the rules were in the first place. Being a human being requires equanimity. We have been at this game for far too long and we seem to lose more ground each year that passes. Each year we profess to want to see the world truly change.

I would honestly be ok with a one to one ratio. I don’t want to have more than men or to be valued more than them. I don’t believe my work is more valuable. I believe it is just as valuable. I’m not sure I want equal to men either. Equality still means we have to work harder, speak louder and say more just to be half as understood.

I want to be received as a hard working professional, a woman with integrity who isn’t pandered to, patronized and dismissed because and only because I seemingly need help. I don’t need help, I want people to listen. I want my non paid labor to be accepted, acknowledged and recognized as work. I want my successes to be of my own merit, and my failures not to be the failure of all women. I want to collaborate to elevate, not to compete in order to prove that for some reason we are not on the same team.

Raising human beings is work, taking care of your elders is work, Cooking for a family of 3,4,5 is work, cleaning a household is labor which is almost too often shouldered by and only by women. Let’s be honest here. We’ve worked so hard to prove we can seemingly do it all, because we had to, because we played a game we didn’t have a part in designing; and in the end we’ve neglected the premise of having the necessary support to do it WELL.

The structure of how society chooses to accept women is so contradictory it’s driving us further apart than bringing us closer together. Just look at the supportive comments on any social media feed that features a woman in a position of power. I don’t want the obligatory child I’m supposed to have, be the exact same thing that keeps me away from the job I need, the career I want and life I deserve. I don’t want the only project worthy of recognition to be my marriage and breeding credentials. I don’t want to be seen as a vehicle for humanity’s salvation or it’s hard on. I don’t want to be agreeable, timid, quiet, I don’t want to be undermined in public and in private as being difficult because I don’t agree with the status quo. I don’t want communicating better with men to achieve a better outcome to be perceived as selling out. That’s not equality, that is not celebration.

We have learned to define ourselves in reaction to, in connection to, and in a space created by men. When we do get over it, and create our own spaces they are not treated as equal to those we’ve reluctantly had to occupy because of lack of choice. Even spaces created for and by women are in connection, subsequent to, or in response to the status quo. That is not progress, that is not women being celebrated, that is being forced to see ourselves only through the lens and opinions of the other.

How can we celebrate? What aspects of our achievements, our success, our experience, femininity, aging, sexuality can be discussed freely and openly that don’t highlight our struggle to be recognized? What belief systems do we recreate, replicate and blindly repeat, and which ones do we do away with in order to fortify, and be who we always knew we were. Ourselves.

We are shaped by the women before us, we owe deep gratitude to those who invested in us, helped us think for ourselves, while paving the road for progress and change. The road is not smooth. Breaking down the structures of the pastis an ongoing, often perilous battle. We are also shaped by the ones who will come after us, as we commit to live by example and be the change we seek. It’s not easy, it’s not a catch phrase, it’s not a meme. We don’t just need one day. We need it every damn day.

Recognize, Celebrate, Unite.

a dark anniversary

How to acknowledge a milestone such as a year in the Life of a Global Pandemic

Photo : E. Kouneli East Village, NYC February 2021

For the third year running in March; I launch a 27 day posting challenge to celebrate among many milestones, the coming of spring, my birthday, birthdays of very dear and close friends, and above all, my celebration of writing. These are and have been peculiar times. For 12 months now, we have been served something in between a subpena a blessing and a curse.

For (more than) a year the tight grip of our reconnings, came hand in hand with cripling uncertainty and fear. Our circles got tighter and tighter, and the strangeness of this new reality aproached like a title wave. I felt stuck. Unatached like many of us. Not knowing where exactly to run to and how to stand still.

We all stood still.

Still photo by E.K May 2020

There was no way of getting out of this without some serious damage. We went from what seemed to be everyday life, to life interrupted and then back to attempts to “a new normal” (I personally hated that phrase). The mojo all of sudden vanished. I like many of us I went on a collective overdrive. There was so much to be said, and a lot of not knowing where to begin. All my desire to write about anything seemed futile in the grand scheme of things. Words take their time, they listen they form into our minds like sand inside an oyster. This anniversary is a painful reminder that we sometimes have to stop, and take a good look at ourselves. In retrospect, I’m actually glad I took a (forced) step back.

Some things are worth the wait.

Some dishes take longer to prepare.

Some words appear when we need them to.

Sometimes tragedy is the birth of change.

Photo E. Kouneli : Awaiting Spring Feb 2021

What I’ve come to realize is that writing, reading, and moving have always been part of how I see the world. Despite the hikkups the delays, the injuries, the life interruptions, writing and moving make life normal. The muscles have been dormant. In this prolonged winter, many of my passions felt secondary. I would start on a thought, an idea and just stop. Personal and family matters came first. Survival, mental claridy, mental focus, just the facts ma’am. We have all been trying to keep our collective shit together. We have failed (badly) at times. We have broken, cracked, and obliterated the old paradigms, We have a lot more work to do.

This one year anniversary feels like the collective red pill. We don’t know how deep this rabbit hole will go. We have seen the Matrix we have been given a chance to be free of it. This is our last chance. The anniversary of this year is our chance to recon with our role in the choices we make, the words we use and the lives we truly wish to lead. The reality is not pretty. What this year above all others has shown is that a perfect storm is needed to unvail the truth about who we want bo be.

We turned to things outside of ourselves. We cooked, we made bread, we coped. We zoomed everybody and their mother, literally. We were (are) scared, frustrated, tired, worried, fearful, angry, bored, fed up, high, low, indiferent and we kept going.

We keep going. I kept going . With the help of many many others who were in my corner, just as much (if more ) as I was in theirs.

What this anniversary has made me come to terms with is that when shit hits the fan, humanity is at the mercy of a virus. The virus mutates, we keep fighting it and then it comes back stronger. We have had for some a rude awakening, to others what has always been there in plain site. This has been a hell of a year. One that has forever changed us, we are all affected by this anniversary. One which will be a hard one for many of us to grapple with for many more years to come.

September 2020 LES, NYC

This year on my March daily post challenge, I hope to take you on a different journey. One that finds the strands of humanity that connects us more than divides us. I hope to bring you into a world that isn’t so unfamiliar and distant as we all would like to believe. I invite you to join me.

March 5th, 2021, Brooklyn New York

A New York Story Part 1.


On November 27th 2012, after two grueling years into the Greek financial crisis that showed no end in sight, I made the decision many of my closest friends made and left Athens, for the second time. This time I was part of a new diaspora; the latest chapter of Greeks leaving for something better, but under very different circumstances than the immigrants before us. This exodus was full of already talented, often highly educated people leaving a collapsing economy after what seemed like a lifetime of stability and security that was literally torn from under our feet. There was no external war to escape or massive poverty to quell, yet ultimately Athens was being systematically broken. Her spirit was broken and so was mine, or so I thought. Life in the early 2000’s was really good in Athens and I loved living there. In her heyday during the height of the 2004 Olympic Games, Athens was a really cool place to be. This gamble with our lives and our money, ultimately put a massive financial burden on my generation. The early noughts were some of the best years of my life, until December 2008.

In order to truly know a place, you have to live it

The tsunami of the financial/housing crisis having left the shores of America, came crashing down on Athens in early 2010 and what was America’s problem quickly became ours. People were losing livelihoods, markets were crashing, banks were foreclosing and people were in massive debt. What I had built over 13 years; my home, my career & my relatively comfortable life, was coming to a slow and painful stop. I came to the realization that If I didn’t leave, I would become stuck, and the one place I knew would get me unstuck, was New York. I recall now confiding in an old friend about the feeling of urgency I felt to leave. Being a lover of all things that grow, The roots that once were our anchor to our motherland, now rotting in a place that was being suffocated by bad financial management, crooked politicians, xenophobia, racism and massive uncertainty. Packed along with my books and clothing were many doubts, fears and anger. I wasn’t ready for her then. New York knew more about me than I knew about myself. She kicked my ass and slapped me around, she exposed me, and left me there to fend for myself, and for that I am now grateful to her. It was the beginning of a very arduous and difficult journey. I still had a lot to learn about myself as a person, a woman, a Greek, an American and ultimately a citizen of the world. In New York my project- Aμerikana was born. She came through for me just like The city did.

In the months and years that came and went, I made it my mission to understand this city and it’s rhythms in ways I couldn’t have done at a distance. In order to truly know a place, you have to live it, and the first place that grabbed my heart was the Lower East Side and all the surrounds it. I’m a nostalgia junky. New stuff doesn’t do it for me. I prefer and look for the old over new any day. For me the Lower part of Manhattan is that fix of nostalgia that has kept me here all these years. I love walking through history soaked neighborhoods finding people who’ve lived there all their lives; generations of New Yorkers showing me their city. I longed to speak to those who’ve seen the trends come and go, and still remain true to the streets, the parks, and the blocks that raised them. I love hearing stories of shops now long closed, art scenes now only spoken of as legends of a glorious punk rock past, and smelling the history in the buildings that still stand in the streets that have vanished over time. New York is unique in her demand of loyalty and devotion by it’s residents. She’s not easy to love, but when you do she loves you back in secret ways no tourist or visitor could ever fathom. This year, although one of the hardest and most daunting emotionally and mentally, I’m celebrating my 8th winter, and the start of the 9th year in New York.

Don’t misinterpret my love for naïveté. My relationship with this city has been far from smooth.

She is relentless, resourceful and demanding. She’s a broad, a hustler and a 5 dollar hooker, all in one. She’s a sophisticated woman who can hail a cab with a trucker’s whistle, she’s a skank and a princess at the same time. She’s a handful and she’s not easy to be with, but deep down she’s all heart and all art. I found myself, here. I found out about what I’m really made of here. I found my deepest sorrows and greatest joys here. I found my love for Greece, and Athens grew here. New York is erratic and resourceful. She’s a hustler and in order to truly “make it” here you have to be as well. It’s not romantic. She’s dirty and ugly and will tell you the fucking truth to your face. Here I found my greatest teachers and most influential mentors. There have been many moments I regretted my decision to come here, I though it was a mistake, I thought I was a fool to let go of all that was easy and familiar to come to a place where, nothing of what I had accomplished in Athens meant anything. Yet here I was and quitting wasn’t an option.

The old me peeled away to reveal someone stronger, more aware, more connected and braver than before. An old astrologer friend said something about coming here to go “back to first grade” and learn the lessons about myself, and life I had not absorbed the first go around. The teachers were many, the lessons I was forced to learn at times stifling. The mounting anger and frustration at not understanding what I needed to learn, left me with a chocking feeling. I would have to fight harder for that gulp of air to keep going. There she was, New York, my biggest teacher of all, she knew I would get it eventually.

After what felt like a lifetime, It became clear just like the light shining through the clouds. It all became clear. We are here to understand each other by making a better effort at understanding ourselves. The more I learned about myself the more I was able to understand the “otherness” about me.

Cheers NYC you tough broad. You will survive this as you have survived before. I hope those that truly love you will lift you up like you have them