When I think back to who I was, from who I am now, I am sometimes amazed that I could actually exist carrying so much emotional pain. I also existed in that state for a very long time, until it became too much to bear. There are many good things I have carried forward from those decades of learning though, like a special suitcase of magical insights.

My rheumatologist, one of the good and decent people who I am working with through my health/healing journey, said that once improvements start happening, it is easy to forget the pain you were actually in. As my pain levels have thankfully decreased over the last month or two, I understand what he is meaning. I do not completely forget though.

I may not remember or choose to revisit the level of intense physical pain I have experienced through this disease, but I easily remember the feelings, the emotional aches, of being is such physical pain. I remember the heartache, surrender, hope, and prayers that I sent out on many a dark night of excruciating pain. I don’t need to consciously call on those memories. The feeling of them surfaces automatically if my thoughts even venture back to those times.

The same is the case when I was living through those years of intense emotional pain that eventually led me into the period of suicidal depression, complete surrender, and thankfully, transformation and rebirth.

It is the feelings that accompany you forward, though not necessarily in the painful way that you may have originally experienced them. Rather, they can come through as loyal friends who can offer gentle reminders when most needed. They take you somewhere so deep that you can then recall how much you’ve grown and how strong you really are. They also remind you of the insights and learning you discovered while growing out of being that person into who you are now.

Of course, there are many magnificent pieces of wisdom to be learned through the words and writings of others too. But our own learning and insights stick with more power, as they have come from within.

For me, some of the best lessons I have learned through painful experiences are these:

We truly are all connected by the essence of our divinity.

Compassion starts with ourselves.

A satisfying life is about acknowledging beautiful moments.

It is OK to want and create an easy life.

The secret to happiness is gratitude.

These insights now shape my life and my daily decisions enormously.

It is the acknowledgment of beautiful moments that seems to bring me the most unexpected joy. (Well, that and seeing the smile of my divine little daughter every day. She brings with her a river of blessings.)

Beautiful moments are on offer all of the time once your eyes are open to them. It may be a bird singing, a stranger smiling, a soft breeze of just the right whisper and strength, a burst of unexpected gratitude, or another driver smiling at you as they let you into their lane. Beautiful moments cause a stirring in the heart, a spontaneous lift from something that may happen every day, but is now noticed and received from a different angle. Life is full of beautiful moments.

It is worth thinking about the journey you have travelled so far. Give thought to what insights you have carried forward in your own magic suitcase – insights that could only be discovered through pain or suffering, but were also transmitters of magic for the wisdom they have helped you to find. When you look back at these, you will realise just perfect life is, how much it really does love you, despite how hard it can be sometimes.

As one of my insights listed above says, the secret to happiness is gratitude.

Life wants you to be happy. You are allowed to be happy!

Find the magic in your suitcase of memories. It is there, just waiting to be discovered and appreciated.

May you be inspired by your own wisdom and may you be gentle and accepting of who you are, without pressure on yourself.

I wish you ease. I wish you joy.