Because our own struggles and our own sorrows are the things that teach us the most about this world, and it is significant when we can actually manage to make the choice to keep going in spite of whatever life hands to us. It is the little rips and tears and cuts and scrapes that pain inflicts upon us that form who we are. The scars we earned tell our stories, and they recognize someone else who is in pain, too.

Play the Cards You’re Dealt

Today’s date always brings back a flood of memories. An 8 year old, frightened and confused girl always appears in front of my eyes as her mother holds her hand and cries. But what that 8 year old girl knew in the emergency room of that hospital so many years ago is the same thing she continues to believe in as a 21 year old young woman even today: you must take control of what attempts to weaken you and make it your strength.

Thirteen years ago, on this date, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and my life changed forever.

There is often a negative connotation between words ‘change’ and ‘life’ when put beside one other as if every time our lives change, they change for the worse. But they don’t. I have continuously repeated this line over the years: diabetes has taken many things away from me, but it has given me so much more. The relationships I have built with people throughout this journey, the recognition I have gotten from others, the battles that I have fought and won within myself and the strength I have gained would not have been possible, would not have existed in my life if it were not for my diabetes.

It is who I am; it has become part of my identity; something that I will carry with me for as long as I live. Diabetes has never been the defining factor in what I can and cannot achieve; I never allowed it to become a label. I am not a ‘diabetic’, I just have diabetes and I carry it with pride; it’s mine and I have made it completely my own.

But I guess nothing is life is actually that simple.   

There are days where all my hours consist of endless questions. There are days spent wishing for a different turnout of events. There are days full of pain, so much of it. I have a body full of bumps and scars- some temporary and others permanent, always reminding me of the battle I’ve been fighting and winning each day for the past thirteen years of my life. There is anger, so many tears, hospital rounds, check-ups, pharmacy bills, prescriptions, ambulances, doctors, IVs. With each injection, each poke on the finger, each blood test comes a flood of questions: what if I was never diagnosed with diabetes? How would my life be different? Why me? And yet they’re the very questions I have never been able to answer. 

At times I feel like I’m a walking, talking contradiction because even through all the struggles, pain and questions, my diabetes has become my life and I choose to embrace it; through every downfall, every realization, every death scare, it has always been with me and has defined some of the biggest turning points of my life. So, who would I be without it? I can’t answer it because I realized when I ask myself those questions; I question my entire life. I can’t answer that because if I take out the largest aspect of my life and try to picture myself without it, I wouldn’t be alive. When something has been a part of your life for so long, you can no longer imagine your life without it.

And I think I’m at the point in my life where I don’t want to know. Each one of us is dealt a certain set of cards; some of us spend our entire lifetime trying to trade; I chose to play mine.

The bad things will come, the bad things are inevitable, but how they affected my life was completely up to me. It is not wrong and it is not difficult to accept what hurts you. We fight so hard to let things go, not realizing that we cannot get rid of what is here to stay forever. You eventually learn not to fight against all the bad, but to use it as your weapon and to fight alongside it. 

Forever&Always

You always had the ability to turn my world upside down in a matter of seconds. I had never known life without you and I never wanted to; we were inseparable. From you I have learned not just the true meaning of unconditional love but of fear because never had I looked at fear so closely until the day I held your hand for the last time. Never had I carried fear with me as I do now; fear of forgetting your voice, fear of not remembering the sound of your laugher, fear of forgetting your smile. I always painted my life’s picture with you right in the centre, never once allowing myself to consider that one day you may not be there. And then the one thing I feared the most, happened. Once again, you turned my world completely upside down.

But ‘family’ and ‘love’ don’t exist on the basis or foundation of conditions; they have always been the foundation of the other factors of our lives and so, they just exist. My world did not revolve around you on the condition that you would never leave it. My love did not exist on the condition that you would always physically be there for me to show you how much I love you.

I still love you just as much and you still mean the world to me and that will never change.You are my pillar of strength even today. You’ve built your home inside my heart and there you will live; forever and always because once someone builds their home in our hearts, they are never completely gone. I miss you and I love you more than anything in the world and I will continue to tell you so every day of my life. You will be my little hero forever and always. 

We will all endure phases of blinding uncertainty and debilitating insecurity. Aging is in and of itself a whole body of work – work that’s always in progress. No matter how many reasons you have to regret what you once were (or weren’t), you have got to believe in yourself wholly and completely in the life you live at the moment. We make changes for a reason; we grow old, wise up, find ourselves, and along the way, we all need a little forgiveness – forgiveness from ourselves and from others whose souls we may have damaged amidst the tethers we were busy breaking free. So forget about the roads you didn’t take or the shots you may have missed. When you find yourselves lost, all you have to do is forge a new path towards fulfillment and create new opportunities for yourself. The journey continues so long as you don’t stop walking.

It’s okay to not have it all together all the time. 

I wasn’t quite sure how to start this post & then I realized I didn’t need to. All I had to do was write the first line and the rest would just flow. I’m finally starting to get the hang of this whole ‘let loose’ thing. 

The older I get, the more people I meet and the more opportunities I find standing at my door the more I realize that none of us really have it all together and that’s completely okay. We all have to start somewhere and whether we’re miraculously born into a certain set of lucky circumstances or have to find our way there, we all really start at the same place; at the foundation. We all learn what it means to build up from a certain foundation regardless of how sturdy the initial foundation was and that is how we all connect. 

There is no list of steps or a certain guide map for the destinations we wish to arrive at because we all get there differently and at our own pace. So, we take a stab at it and hope for the best. We don’t necessarily always turn in the right direction at the fork in the road, but that also doesn’t necessarily mean that someone who turned in a different direction knew exactly what they were doing; it’s just that some attempts tend to look smoother than others. But what’s a journey without a little adventure, right? 

In our seeking of whatever we wish to find the answers to, there is tremendous value in getting lost and having to trace our footprints back. There are only so many visible footprints you can follow until you have to create your own path and it  is in each of us to find and build up the courage to leave our footprints in places untouched. And if you wish to follow where others have already been before that’s okay too; just make sure you leave a little bit of you wherever you go. 

Whatever it is you decide to do and wherever it is you wish to go, travel at your own pace, realize that the sun will eventually rise and shine no matter where you are (and the world is just as beautiful when the moon is in the sky). Either way, you will never be in complete darkness. And when you get lost? Well, prepare yourself for a little adventure. It may take longer to get to where you want to be, but it will always be worth it. Let loose and live a little. You don’t need to have it all figured out right now. You know why? Because I’m pretty sure a lot of us are just wingin’ it. 

For those of you who find themselves immersed in negative thoughts, sadness and/or heartbreak today, I would like to remind you that you are loved, you are worthy of love and your worth is not dependant on the amount of roses, gifts and treats you receive this Valentine’s Day. 
It is often said that in order to love someone else, you must love yourself first. So, love yourself. The love you have for yourself is the most important love you will ever experience, it is a love that doesn’t depend on anyone or anything else, it is a love that only you have a right over. Fall in love with your goals, your aspirations, your characteristics, your smile, your hair, your dressing sense, your laugh, your values. And then never lose sight of that self love. Give yourself the love you deserve. 
This Valentine’s Day, reflect on the importance of self love in your life and allow it to make your life colourful, allow it to set you free and lead you to the places you’ve only ever dreamed of. We say that we accept the love we think we deserve; fall in love with yourself completely so you learn to accept the love you truly deserve so that it makes your life beautiful. The love you have for yourself will take you to wonderful places and who knows, maybe you’ll stumble upon true love in one of those places. But, until then, fall in love with yourself a bit more every day. 
Happy Valentine’s Day to each and every one of you!

For those of you who find themselves immersed in negative thoughts, sadness and/or heartbreak today, I would like to remind you that you are loved, you are worthy of love and your worth is not dependant on the amount of roses, gifts and treats you receive this Valentine’s Day. 

It is often said that in order to love someone else, you must love yourself first. So, love yourself. The love you have for yourself is the most important love you will ever experience, it is a love that doesn’t depend on anyone or anything else, it is a love that only you have a right over. Fall in love with your goals, your aspirations, your characteristics, your smile, your hair, your dressing sense, your laugh, your values. And then never lose sight of that self love. Give yourself the love you deserve. 

This Valentine’s Day, reflect on the importance of self love in your life and allow it to make your life colourful, allow it to set you free and lead you to the places you’ve only ever dreamed of. We say that we accept the love we think we deserve; fall in love with yourself completely so you learn to accept the love you truly deserve so that it makes your life beautiful. The love you have for yourself will take you to wonderful places and who knows, maybe you’ll stumble upon true love in one of those places. But, until then, fall in love with yourself a bit more every day. 

Happy Valentine’s Day to each and every one of you!

I can feel her hand slipping away, I’m holding as tightly as I can but I’m losing her, I don’t have the strength to hold, I can’t do it anymore…I just want to close my eyes, I can’t do it…I can’t…I…

“Kiran! Stay with us! You have to stay awake, Mum, keep talking to her!”

My eyes shoot open and there she is right beside me.

“You’re going to be okay, just stay awake. Everything is going to be okay.”


She just wiped away the single tear that was rolling down her cheek, thinking I didn’t see it. She squeezes my hand and gives me a faint smile. I don’t know how she does it. So courageous, so strong; my beautiful mother…

…I see them, holding their charts, looking at records, looking at the machines that I’m plugged to; their concerned looks piercing at me, hurting more than the IV needles I can hardly feel; as a matter of fact when did they even put those needles in me…and why do I have these bruises on my arm…

…Right. Blood tests. But when did that even happen… 

“Unhooked insulin pump…hyperglycemia…diabetic…careless…unreadable numbers…high blood pressure…risk of coma.”

Whatever, I’m too tired, my eyes are shutting again and I can’t stop them. I CAN’T FEEL ANYTHING, WHY CAN’T I FEEL ANYTHING?! I can’t lift my head…her hand is slipping away…again… I’M slipping away…all this beeping…make it stop, so many questions, medical gibberish…it’s all so distant. I just want to sleep…for a very long time.

…I’m awake again, I see him. My baby brother and oh look, my sister too. But wait, why are they crying hysterically? WHERE AM I? WHY CAN’T I SPEAK?

I heard them say I’ve been here for an entire day, I can’t remember anything

…I had…an exam..this morning…did I write it? No, not this morning…how long have I been sleeping? 

“Can we take her home mom?”

I’m still tired…

“Kiran?”

It’s daddy! I open my eyes and I reach out but I can’t get a hold of his hand, WHY CAN’T I REACH OUT?!

But daddy takes my hand and he holds it close to his heart. Hmmm, when was the last time I even held his hand? It doesn’t matter, it feels nice, it feels like home, it’s warm and I finally think I’m going to be okay.

Yeah…I’ll be totally fine, everything is going to be okay…Dad will take me home and I’ll be okay…

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

They’re all rushing back into the room.

“We’re moving her to SickKids NOW! Mom or dad? Who’s coming with us in the ambulance?”

Dad tells them he’ll go, but I’ve never done this whole hospital thing without mom before…oh well, I guess it’s okay. I just want to close my eyes and sleep…yeah, I’ll just sleep…

…SOMEBODY STOP THESE STUPID SIRENS!

“Miss Bhullar, can you hear me?! Do you know where you are? Do you know where you’re going? Kiran, can you tell me how old you are? What’s your full name? Do you see your dad right beside you? He’s right here with you. Can you stay awake for me? We’ll be there soon, I promise. Just stay with me.”

WHY IS HE ASKING ME THESE QUESTIONS, SHUT UP

“If we lose her now, she’ll be gone. Possibly into a coma, brain damage, we’ll lose her.”

WHAT? NO! This paramedic is an idiot; I’m not going anywhere Mister. I can answer his questions, watch me!

 …. Wait. Why can’t I answer? Come on Kiran, stop nodding your head and SPEAK! Tell him your name, tell him you know you’re going to make it, COME ON.

…nothing.

UGH THESE STUPID SIRENS.

“Kiran, I’m Dr. Cristi, we’ve met before, Dr. Kao’s clinic? You’re in good hands, they took good care of you and now we’re going to make sure you’re okay.”

All I can do is nod my head. Stupid. Stupid beeping, stupid noises, stupid hospital, stupid ambulance, I never want to hear those goddamn sirens again. Stupid nurses.

…I can’t do this. I need to sleep again…

…I’m slipping away …again…I’m going to be gone…No..NO NO NO, come on Kiran…where is dad?! Where the hell is mom?! I want to cry, I want to scream, GET ME OUT OF THIS PLACE, I’m falling… I’m going…I’m…slipping…away…

Silence. Finally.

 

“Good morning Kiran. How are you feeling now? Rough night, huh? My name is Jonas and I’ll be your nurse. I know you probably have a lot of questions; the doctor will be here to see you soon and the nurse should be here any minute to do some more blood tests. Your dad is downstairs grabbing coffee, and your mom is on the way, you’ve all had a rough night. You can’t drink water right now, but I’ve left ice cubes on the side table so you can keep yourself hydrated.I have to finish my round, but just buzz if you need me! Oh…and welcome back.”

Am I dreaming? Was this all a nightmare that I’m waking up from? Am I a part of some sort of miracle? I can’t even remember what happened. How long have I been here? What day is it? Ugh, I need to lie down.

And then I suddenly realized that the only thing I needed to understand and remember back then is the same thing that I haven’t forgotten ever since:

Five years ago, I was given a second chance at life.

I have never been sure of how to share my story without it seeming too dramatic, or like a sob story being told for attention, or without it seeming like I’m trying to portray myself as some sort of hero because I’m really not. I’m just an ordinary girl who has made some extraordinary, life altering mistakes in her life, but someone who has also learnt her lessons and continues to learn them even today. The only difference between the 15-year old girl in that hospital room and the 20-year old young woman sitting in this chair today is that whereas one made mistakes while ignoring the potential consequences, the other realizes that while all mistakes have consequences, they also come along with lessons that can be shared with the world as an attempt to make the world a brighter place while she’s still here; there’s no shame in making your scars visible. 

For a long time I always asked myself the question What if…? What if I had never made it out of that hospital room five years ago? But then I realized I was asking myself the wrong question. The right question to ask myself would be: Now what…? How do I not only learn from my past to make myself a better person but how do I also use this second chance to make a difference in the lives of others?

Though I try my best to make a difference each day of my life through several, varying outlets, today I plan to make a difference not only through sharing this story, but by also sharing the most important lessons taught to me through this life altering story of mine. Because the positivity and the bright smile that belong to me are much more deep-rooted than most people think and I want everyone to realize that no matter what struggles you have to endure, the dark tunnel eventually ends and once it does, you’re bound to find light.

My second chance at life has taught me these important lessons:

We all have demons inside of us; they consist of our fears, our regrets, things we’re ashamed of. What’s important is acknowledging the presence of these demons, which may be a terrifying act in itself because then suddenly they become real, but that’s the only way to fight them off. Otherwise they will weigh you down and hold you back. My demons were the ones that allowed me to blindly make the mistakes I did, almost costing me my life and then they showed up in the form of regrets refusing to be forgiven. But I eventually fought them off. And it’s a given that as we continue on with life, new demons take over the homes of old ones in much more complicated forms, but once we grant ourselves the ability to bring them to life and kill them off, we also give life to the possibility that as long as we can identify them, we’ll gather the strength and courage to get rid of them also.

We can’t spend our lives being bitter at the world, at people, at ourselves. Of course my struggles didn’t come to a halt after I had conquered the mess I put myself into. They continued and they still exist even now. But I had to stop feeling so entitled to my suffering because each and every individual around me was and still is fighting their own battles and in no way whatsoever was I granted the right to alleviate the struggles and battles of others. There’s a certain beauty in seeing the world through a once damaged and then repaired lens, beauty in going through struggle and pain and then being able to look at others with a new found extent of compassion and understanding. When you go through your own period of sadness, get back up and make the world a happier place to live in. “Let your past make you better, not bitter.”

Love is important. Give and receive love openly. I know that if it hadn’t been for the love I received from my family and friends, the tough road I have travelled might have never ended. Give as much love as you receive and a bit more on top of that. Love yourself too. Love yourself and others so much that your positive energy shines through no matter where you go. The cliché one-liner “Tell everyone you love how much you love them before it’s too late” is easily one of the most over-used lines in my writing because I relate to it so well. When I felt myself slipping away in the hospital room that night all I could think about were the last conversations I had with my siblings, my parents, and my grandparents and I was so bothered by not being able to remember the last time I had told them how much I loved them; perhaps because I had never actually openly expressed my love for them and I wanted to do that so badly right then and there. There’s no better time to express love, to reciprocate love, to receive love than right now. “Love makes the world go round.”

Share your stories. I love reading and hearing stories revolved around personal experiences from which I can learn and also be intrigued by the fact that there are so many of us in this world all working towards our destinations, each with our own story and not one story is the same as another. Stories allow appreciation for the human race and how intricately and beautifully our journeys are woven. I know my story won’t necessarily stick with everyone who comes across it and that’s okay, because if I make a difference in the life of even one person then my job here will be done. We all fear sharing our personal stories because of judgment, opinions and our perception of the concept of isolation and thinking we won’t  connect with others so we’re alone. You would be amazed at how wrong you are. Storytelling has existed for centuries and it has its own magical way of drawing its audience into its web; into such a depth that they have difficulty escaping. After all, that’s all we are; merely actors playing the lead roles in our own lives and using the world as a stage to narrate our stories, and the people alongside us playing the role of our audience.

That’s really all there is to it. If I’m ever meant to understand this extremely complicated yet beautiful life I’ve been granted, then I believe that the above is as far as I’ll ever understand it and that’s enough for me. Many of those who know me are familiar with my positive attitude and big smile like I mentioned earlier. Well, now I’ve shared the secrets to my formula. A positive attitude and a smile do wonders! Besides, there’s no reason to make life any more complicated than it already is.

Not a day goes by where I’m not thankful for the life I’ve been given. It doesn’t matter to me whether what happened that night was luck, a miracle or doctors merely fulfilling their duties; I’m here, I’ve been given a second chance and I’m going to use it to make my life exactly how I want it to be, all while making the difference I want to make. I always say that life has taken a lot from me, but it has given me a lot too. And you’ve just got to work with what you’re given because it should always be enough, it will always be enough. Life is beautiful. Keep smiling, keep sharing, keep loving and just keep going! 

Side note: The story above might leave some of you hanging because to add every detail would mean having to write a book (which I one day hope to do) but also, I myself cannot recall every detail that happened within those crucial hours because as the story portrays, I was not aware of my surroundings. To write about something means to bring it to life and I really have struggled to bring what happened that night back to life once more. I have re-lived that night through writing this story and I hope my readers can understand my experience to some extent through the above story. I don’t hesitate when talking about any of this, whether it be through conversation or storytelling so if you have questions, ask away! 

Understanding; it’s as difficult to achieve as it is important. But, if you’ve mastered the skill of understanding others, then along with it comes the entire package of acceptance, respect and love. 

Honesty, loyalty, trust; majority of the time, those are considered to be the most vital aspects, the make or break points of any relationship, but I believe they don’t exist without the initial development of understanding. The most important type of understanding is the realization that there is always one thing, if not more, that will knock us down and bring us to our knees time and time again- and that one thing is different for each of us.

So, you have to understand what people go through in order to know and understand their weaknesses, their pain and the kinds of sacrifices and decisions they make. The point I’m trying to make here is that understanding comes without judgement and very often, I have seen or heard individuals trying to figure someone out and trying to understand them, but completely judging their actions, decisions and feelings. You can’t assume someone’s decision is right or wrong without knowing and understanding what lead them to make the decisions they’ve made. There are several factors - big and small - which add up to the bigger picture which becomes the lives we each live - but those pictures aren’t ever painted with the same brush strokes. 

Respect and understanding is due because at the end of the day, we all have our problems and we’re all fighting our own battles; we all want to become better than who we were the day before. We all seek motivation and encouragement and those have to come without judgement. Always remember that our beliefs and values exist only because we think we are right; but core beliefs and values differ for every individual and so, it’s not for us to speculate whether someone’s personal decisions are right or wrong and it’s definitely not up to us to decide who struggles more and goes through more or less pain than us; it’s not a competition. At the end of they day, you are not the only one trying to keep your head above water, we all are.

Allow yourself the ability to understand without judgement and along with it will come the ability to respect, accept and love others. 

100 Things That Bring Us Happiness In Our Daily Lives

Looking for happiness and how to find it always seems to be the talk of the town no matter where we go. But sometimes we look so far and dig so deep that we don’t see what has been there all long. Don’t look for happiness in only the big things, don’t look for happiness in the future and you know what? Don’t look for happiness, period. Recognize that it already exists in the present, it comes along with all the little things that matter, that make a difference. It exists everywhere at any given time. So, sit back and reflect on this list I have created of 100 Things That Bring Us Happiness In Our Daily Lives:

1. A good read that gives us useful insight, whether it be a novel, newspaper article, research paper, etc. 

2. Your favourite song on the radio

3. Studying something you are interested in and passionate about

4. Learning something new and exciting

5. Vacation

6. Taking a small break to do something you love

7. Ice cream

8. Dessert of any sort 

9. A long distance phone call from a loved one

10. Bear hugs, big, tight, I-don’t-want-to-let-go types

11. Your pet waiting for you at the door after a long day

12. Working out and the feeling you get after

13. A child’s innocent smile

14. Going for a walk without a set destination in mind

15. Long drives

16. Cooking a healthy delicious meal

17. Cooking for someone else

18. Spending the night in with good movies and a bottle of wine

19. Baking

20. The package/letter you’ve been waiting for finally arriving

21. The smile on your parent’s face

22. Sitting back and enjoying the day just because

23. Spending the day inside a book store

24. A good cup of coffee

25. The smile on the face of a loved one

26. A big breakfast

27. Getting out of a class, meeting, appointment, etc early

28. A text from an old friend asking how you are

29. Pointless conversations at 3am

30. Meaningful conversations at 3am

31. Capturing a special moment on camera

32. Receiving free products in the mail

33. Painting

34. Loving someone more than you can explain

35. First snowfall of the year

36. Satisfying a craving

37. Sales on your favourite product

38. Freshly cleaned, crisp bed sheets

39. A good cup of tea and a book

40. Writing 

41. Finding money you forgot about

42. Fresh flowers

43. Passing a really tough level in a video game

44. Genuinely feeling happy for someone else

45. Apologizing 

46. Inspiring someone

47. Holding someone’s hand

48. Fresh air after being stuck inside all day

49. Receiving an apology

50. Mornings when you wake up and feel completely energized

51. Payday

52. Making a new friend

53. Proving someone wrong

54. Proving yourself wrong

55. Freshly baked cookies

56. A new haircut

57. Letting go of people and things that hurt you

58. Watching cartoons in your pyjamas with a bowl of cereal

59. Not caring what people think

60. Baby animals

61. Old people in love

62. Young people in love

63. The window seat

64. Ocean waves

65. Finding something that you thought you had lost

66. Surprise visits

67. Finishing a task on time and to the best of your ability

68. Dinner at your favourite restaurant 

69. A glass of water

70. Alone time

71. Spending time and catching up with childhood friends

72. Good and friendly customer service

73. Exploring a new town or city

74. Watching old videos

75. Looking through old pictures

76. Receiving a long letter or text from a loved one

77. Being recognized and appreciated for your hard work

78. No class on Monday mornings

79. Putting a smile on someone’s face

80. Singing out loud to your favourite songs

81. Dancing like nobody’s watching

82. Random compliments

83. Bubble baths and candles

84. Cuddling

85. Knowing someone looks up to you

86. Re-runs of your favourite sitcom 

87. Having someone who listens and understands

88. Your best friend

89. Siblings

90. Babies

91. Sitting inside the comfort of your home surrounded by your family

92. Helping others and making a difference

93. Sleeping without an alarm 

94. Knowing your loved ones are proud of you

95. An organized desk and room

96. Mom’s home made food

97. Finding true inspiration

98. Having an intellectual conversation with an elder

99. Moment where we kick back and let ourselves slide

100. Memories - because they mean everything and they should always make you smile