Often we become so focused on the road ahead that we eliminate the thoughts and memories of the places we have been and the people we have met. Once in a while, we all need a moment to connect with our past. 

However, when I speak of revisiting the past I do not mean cherry picking the good times where we laughed until our stomachs hurt and we hoped for time to stop right then and there. I believe it is also important to remember the bad, in fact, even the worst times. Our minds have a funny way of functioning at times - all the fun and sweet memories remain bright and fresh, yet all negative thoughts and memories are locked behind steel bars, making it difficult for them to slip out. Our minds try to create for us a fool proof plan so that our thoughts do not drag us into the very darkness that we had once escaped. 

Yet they always come - there is always a loop hole and memories always come rushing back: the good, the bad and the worst. 

So, if they always find a way back then is it ever possible for us to completely escape the darkness? 

Yes.

Because it is always up to us. What matters is how we let our past - bitter or sweet - affect our current life. I can think about the past years of my life and easily come to the conclusion that in many situations, the cons have have outweighed the pros by far, but only in quantity. And what matters to me is quality. The beauty of those pros has always outweighed the ugliness of the cons. It is not the numbers of bad days that matter, it is the quality of the better days that means everything. 

The good and the bad often go hand in hand. The bad is what has constantly allowed me to see what is so great. It brings to light the lessons I have learned, the people who have stood by me and have been my strength. The worst times have allowed me to gain the courage I needed to get through everything I have come across, they allowed me to appreciate the love and motivation I receive daily from loved ones, allowed me to be so proud of the person I have become thus far no matter how far I believe I still have to go. 

Our life is what we believe it to be. Nobody else will ever see in us anything that we do not see in ourselves. The world only considers us broken as long as we do. The bad only tears us apart until we gather the courage to pick up the pieces and recreate a better version of ourselves. 

So, dig into your past. Familiarize yourself with each and every tear, bruise, emotion, struggle and moment of pain. Then allow it to become the glue that keeps together the new version of you. Our whole life is an ongoing process and we do not stop developing as long as we are here. Let your past be a reminder of how far you have come and how far you still have to go. Looking back into your past is not the same as living in your past. Grant yourself the ability to look back and reflect. Let each and every one of your heart breaks increase your capacity of giving and receiving love because no matter how ugly and painful your past was, love will know no boundaries once you let it enter the gates to your present and future; it will create for you a path full of rose petals. 

"Let your past make you a better person, not a bitter person."

The Sun Will Always Shine

There have been plenty of nights where I’ve drowned myself in the pages where my words flow so easily, so freely – where the setting sun and the rising moon are insignificant. It’s my safe haven. Then there are the nights where it all becomes so significant - I feel myself sinking so deep into the darkness of the night, where the morning seems so far away – out of reach. 

Yet it always comes.

I wake up to the sun shining through my window every morning.

And each morning brings with it the anticipation of new experiences, the hope of a better day, renewed energy to get up and work for what I want.

But, This sunlight and its brightness – they are such a chase.

So close, yet so far.

Rising and setting each day.

Hiding behind the clouds.

Untouchable, unreachable.

But,

I still run. I chase.

I fall. I bruise. I slow down.

Then I run again.

And I find it.

Not always bright,

But it always shines.

Rising, setting, hiding, or out of reach,

The chase is worth it.

It will always be worth it, always. 

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!