The power of age-old entheogenic medicines ceremonies to facilitate deep healing of addictions, traumatic stress, depression is increasingly being confirmed. It gives me great pleasure to share this deep and moving story of Erica Baran Fasano, and her finding profound healing for her addiction, and suicidal depression through ayahuasca. -Mikkal
I’ve decided to write my story. Everyone has a story. I didn’t always believe in the necessity of everyone telling their story. I always thought that some of us should keep our business to ourselves. And, in some cases, I still believe that, sometimes, we should. But, who am I to say what should and shouldn’t be shared? I’m just a huge fan of the “less is more” way of life. There is way too much clutter out there. And, with technology literally at our fingertips, there is more clutter now than ever.
My intention in deciding to write my story isn’t to increase the traffic out there on the “intention highway”. Rather, I discovered that it’s worth telling your story when you truly have something to say. I’m from the “less talk, more action” school of thought so, anyone that truly knows me would be likely to agree that I never really speak up unless I really have something to say. I’ve even been told that I don’t talk enough by some people and that I’m too quiet. I’ve been told by some that I appear to be “snobby” or “stand-offish” due to my observing nature. I’m a take it all in type of girl. I like to listen and watch, take in all of my surroundings. When I’m interested in something, I’ll research to the bone and learn everything I can before I come forth to share or execute my knowledge. I’ve been that way as long as I can remember. I’ve never let that bother me much because I suppose I’m just too busy taking it all in to really notice! Anyway, the truth is, I really never felt I had something to say until now.
I’ve gravitated towards the arts my entire life with specialized focus in visual arts and music. Self-expression through the arts was encouraged early on in my childhood. I was in art classes by the age of 4 and took up the violin and taught myself how play the piano by ear by the age of 8.
I had a passion for make mixed tapes and making the artwork for the cassette sleeves by age 9. I’m self taught as a DJ and music producer and have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts with a minor in Spanish. Currently, I’m a working visual artist selling and exhibiting my abstract paintings nationally and globally. I also run a few of my own businesses that include, a healing arts and wellness business along with a record label, that focuses on meditation, sound healing, spoken-word poetry and deep electronica. I also release my own original dance music and remixes on various record labels and continue to build upon my discography.
I was that little kid that read the sleeve notes in the albums and cassette tapes, relentlessly researching the artist’s story and process. I felt huge need to connect with the story and process of the artists that I admired. In my pursuit of obsessive research and deep admiration for the artist process , I came to find a deep comfort in understanding that I wasn’t the only artist that felt, quite frankly, totally fucked, for being different in how I chose to creatively express myself. I mean, let’s face it, some of the artist’s I look up to, made me look sane and not as out of my depth as I thought!
It wasn’t until most recently that I took a hard look into my stockpile of dreams and I decided to stop chasing them. I had an even better idea. I’ll just start living my dreams by truly embodying the real meaning of living rather, than going through the motions. I’d been holding onto these old patterns of behavior and all bad karma like child holding her favorite teddy bear, afraid to let it go. It was time to break free of this prison cell once and for all.
Most of my life, I’ve had a hard time choosing just one of method of expression. Societal pressures had me convinced that I had to choose just one thing and just be good at that one thing. It’s just now, during this stage of my life, I’m realizing that I’m not just good at one way of artistic expression. I’m pretty good at several ways of applying myself in the arts. Plus, artists and societal blueprints don’t mix very well, It’s really about taking that so-called “blueprint”, deconstructing it, pulling it all apart and putting it back together in an entirely new way. Offering a new and fresh perspective on how to view things is the result and some like to call that art. It is now that I look back on all these gifts of expression as a blessing to have. Each one of these gifts is a very integral part in my artistic process in how I relate and communicates with others either on a one to one level or, at large.
For a long time I was frustrated by all these artistic interests. I looked for anything external that didn’t align with any of my qualities because I just wasn’t “fitting in” in the game of life as an artist. I still pursued my passions on the side as I pushed forward to find that “forever career” in the corporate world and make my “fortune” to live a “happy” life. Those “forever career” opportunities were all really dead end jobs and led nowhere. Or, was it just that there wasn’t enough room for the competition of my artistic passions combined with a day job? But, regardless of what anyone said, I still pursued my “side passions” and thank God I did.
These “hobbies” literally held my head above water as a would continue to tread in the rising water in deep end of the pool until my body would eventually tire and burn out altogether. But, in the process, I became one hell of a juggler and experienced multi-taskers around. That experience looks good on the resume so, it’s all worth it, right? Looking back on it, I didn’t know that I was burning my candle at both ends until there wouldn’t be any trace of the wick. And the wax, once burning hot, would dry up in to a cracked, useless, not-so-hot mess. I guess one could say I was grasping at straws. Or, so it seemed that way at the time. I was always seeming to come up short because I was making room for the things and people that really weren’t supposed to be a priority for me. I like to call them, energy vampires. And, boy do they suck, literally! In reality, I was flailing because I was failing to see that the universe was really answering my calls. I just didn’t know my phone was ringing because I was too distracted to actually listen. I’m writing my story because I finally have something to say. I’m not writing for pity or sympathy. Quite the contrary. I’m writing out of the most sincere, empathetic and compassionate places within me with a clear intention that I hope that this reaches other people who struggle or are close to someone who struggles with our all too common, marketed to be our friend, no big deal everyone has one of these…disease.
Disease has become a common place in our societal context and is sold to us everyday. From adds on tv, to the ads on your subway commute, to the billboards on the highway. We are constantly bombarded with being sold a disease every single day of our lives. It is engrained in our psyche that it’s “normal” to have a disease and, that if we somehow don’t have one, we should be looking for one. This is my story about my journey into my disease, my monster, that almost cheated me of a chance to tell my story. I’m writing, while holding gratitude, for having a second chance at my life and being able to get a do over to share what I’ve learned in my lowest of lows and highest of highs. It’s only now that I can finally sit still and focus to communicate without distraction or dis-ease to most effectively communicate what I’ve been trying to say for years. This is the story of how I put my monster to bed for good because at the end of the day I’m the head bitch in charge of MY life! Nothing and no one else is. That’s just how it is and how it will be from here on out.
In January of 2013, I was admitted into the hospital after attempting to take my life. I downed a handful of Motrin 800mg with a bottle of Jack Daniels. That was my 3rd bottle of whiskey that week. I vaguely remember writing a note on a brown paper lunch bag explaining what I did. I had left it for my wife. Next thing I remember, I was in the back seat of my wife’s CRV, with our best friend, being rushed to the hospital emergency room to drink a nasty charcoal liquid to absorb what I had consumed. Then, admitted into the psych ward on the account of admitting to the on-call doctor that I wanted to end my life. I spent a week in the hospital with other people suffering from similar issues and substance abuse. I had made the determination to get sober and face my diagnosis, which seemed like a life sentence, major chronic depression. The only relief in receiving that life sentence was now, my monster had an actual name. I returned to my job after a week of group meetings, individual counseling and a week off resting up at home. I settled into my new prescriptions and proceeded with weekly therapy and regular med check-ups with my psychiatrist. After a month of being sober and feeling good, I decided to celebrate! Guess what I decided to celebrate with?? A drink! Imagine that?! I have this all of this under control I told myself. I can outsmart this monster of mine. I’ll sure show her I can still have fun the same way I always have.
To my arrogant dismay, I was so dead wrong. Little did I know that I was headed for a bigger bottom than being in the hospital. I guess any rational person at this point would be saying, “Erica, are you serious? Get your shit together. What are you thinking?” My monster had a whole other set of plans for me. Life has a very specific way of having you truly learn your lesson by recycling that karmic monster into an even bigger and angrier motherfucker than the last time. This would be one of the biggest, universal ass-kickings I’ve yet to receive in my life. I was diminished to the little puppy that just doesn’t want to listen to her den mother. My den mother, also known as the “Head Bitch in Charge”, also known as the Universal Law, was about to take my arrogance and insolence, AKA my dumb ass, and I was about to be slammed on my back, belly up to get this life lesson. She wasn’t having any of my bullshit and her threshold was at it’s limit. Remember that phone I mentioned earlier? I wasn’t picking up due to my temporary loss of hearing. Well, it’s not ringing anymore. My den mother’s fingers are tired from dialing my number. She’s about to throw the whole damn phone at my head. And, guess what? She was not playing around. She did exactly that. She launched that phone right at my head and knocked my smart ass on the ground!
As I was nursing my head trauma from the universal phone throwing incident, I tried exercising and getting into a routine. I tried going to AA meetings. I tried a buffet of different anti-depressants. I went to therapy twice a week. Maybe these things could’ve worked if I was willing to let go of the old coping skills I had learned to use to mask my depression for all the years of my life. I decided to stay drunk and depressed and keep my monster happy and in control. I continued to go through the motions of going to therapy, taking medications and kept failing to turn my life around altogether due to my monster’s twin. Guess what her name is? Yep, you guessed it. DENIAL! I was in severe denial of being diagnosed with major chronic depression. I thought that if I’d just get that promotion, make it big with my music or art, or just take a vacation that I’d be able to out smart this monkey on my back. Wrong. Again. Technically, I suppose the week in the hospital could’ve been considered a vacation. However, not my idea of “fun in the sun”.
Funny, how this Universal Law thing works because I was then let go from my job several months later. I just couldn’t catch a break. Or, was this the “big” break I’d been longing for all along? My treading water in the deep end of the pool was about to stop and I was about to go under for real this time. I tried to see this as a divine intervention of sorts because I was growing to really hate my job. This was supposed to be a “forever career”, my dream job. Thousands of people would kill for this job and I fucked it all up. Or, did I? The wick to my candle was nonexistent. Now what was I going to do? With all this free time on my hands, now that I’m jobless, I did what any depressed, pathetic person would do. I had a pity party for myself! I started to drink every day from the time I got up to the time I went to bed. It sure made being alone all day more fun…at first. Household chores were never more fun while being rocked off my tits all afternoon! Yay for folding laundry! Yay for scrubbing the toilets! Yay for cooking family dinner everyday! Yay for being a total loser and being sorry for myself all day long! Did I mention my other twin monster’s name was “Poor Me”? This monster was literally like a Gremlin. You pour water on it and it multiplies. Except my monsters loved a nice whiskey. These bitches are high maintenance and like the top shelf stuff. They were getting pretty expensive to keep feeding. Plus, this “in-the-club-bottle-service” entitled attitude was drying up my wallet after losing my job. So, we had a staff meeting and decided the best recourse would be to start slumming it with $1 shot bottles. They are cheap and they still get the job done. The party must go on! I snuck my drinks and hid them from my family. I mastered the art of the stash too. I had the best places to stash my empties and stockpiles. These little $1 shot bottles were a better bargain than I thought! I put on a great act and had that down pat for awhile. I was holding it together on the outside and that act worked for a little bit with the help of my little team of Monster’s Incorporated. Talk about finding my own personal corporate dream team!
We were unstoppable for quite awhile and I was truly convinced that one of my monsters, Denial, had that covered. I thought that I had everyone fooled. The only person the Denial was doing a number on was me. She had me convinced that I had everyone else convinced. I began to lose control of the facade and fast. I was spiraling out of control. I was driving under the influence daily, endangering my life and others. I was mean, unhappy, repulsive, unmotivated. I was hungover all the time. I slept almost all day long. I was falling asleep in my car in the parking lot while going to grab some disgusting fast food to soak up the alcohol. My plan was falling apart. My corporate dream team of monsters and I lost our stride. If it was ever possible to feel more worthless than before, this was it. The depression completely owned me at this point. She and her little minions had taken my soul as it’s prisoner because I had allowed for it. It had taken my body hostage as it’s home. I was completely helpless and I couldn’t see the possibility of breaking this vicious cycle. The truth was, I wasn’t trying very hard to overcome it because I had completely given my power away to something that was always taking from me. This disease kept taking from me because I was always will to give to it. I soon realized that I was too busy trying to die. The party was over. My dream team of party monsters had taken everything I had given them and left me there to drown to death. They totally trashed my house after we threw one hell of a non-stop party for years and left me with a huge mess to clean up. Was this mess too big for me to clean up? Damn right it was! When I finally hit bottom and all my money ran out, it was then I truly felt trapped. No more partying while the parents are at work anymore. Those days were over. But, staying sober was just the first part of cleaning up the mess from my party. That seemed impossible because that’s what I’ve always relied on to get me through the confines and restrictions of my long time nemesis, Reality.
Once I made the final determination to get sober, that’s when a tiny bit of light started to peek through in the darkness of my depression. I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life, face Reality and the house I built around it hide from it . My darkest hours were ones I don’t even remember. The person that is described in these dark hours, I don’t even know. If I ever did meet this person, I’d probably kick the living shit out of her for hurting her loved ones so deeply as well as herself. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t have the will to go on this way. It was either face the music and confront these demons head on or, face the alternative, death. I began to paint again. I started meditating regularly. I began to research alternative therapies to try. I decided to give up drinking once and for all. With the help and support of my wife, our amazing friends and family, I found a community of support to back me in my wellness journey that had been waiting for me. I started out with EMDR therapy to help unlock my subconscious that held the traumas, memories and behaviors that I wanted the freedom from. I made a pact with myself to quit drinking and gave AA a shot.
AA was inspiring and daunting at first as it wasn’t an easy thing for me to muster up the courage for. But, I did it anyway. What did I really have to lose at this point? After a few meetings, I realized that this wasn’t the path that I was looking for. I wasn’t in judgement of it or any of the wonderful people I met there. I was just looking for something deeper, something that connected with my universal blueprint and spoke to me in a vocabulary I actually understood.
With EMDR helping me understand myself on a more intimate, deeper level, I wanted to truly heal the root cause of the depression and not allow the dependence on alcohol run the show anymore. I was done beating myself up and reminding myself everyday of all the things that I had done wrong. I wanted to look at these “wrong” doings with true love, compassion, and understanding without the judgement attached to them. I wasn’t looking to live the rest of my life in the recovery world with constant references to the past and continue to wallow in an unworthy state of mind. That’s exactly what I was trying to get to the bottom of in the first place!
I decided to get my hands on as much research as I could about depression and dissect it piece by piece. I wanted to get to the deepest roots of it and face those fears and heal it once and for all. I realized that the self-medication and dependence on the alcohol was just a coping method and symptom of the real issue I was up against. I took to the internet and researched depression inside and out. I really sunk my teeth into my EMDR therapy taking it very seriously. I found getting to know myself through this therapy and research fascinating and wanted more. As my research and therapy deepened, I found myself always coming back to a plant in the plant kingdom called Ayahuasca in my readings and findings. As a deeply spiritual person, these findings in my research was what I was directly asking the universe for on both conscious and subconscious levels. It was the connection I was so desperately seeking my entire life. It was like following the same clues on the same treasure hunt and ending up in the same cave everyday. I took this as a sign and decided to look further into the plant kingdom and get to know more about Ayahuasca.
I immersed myself in research about this plant and started to fall madly in love with her. It was even more daunting and inspiring than that first AA meeting. I asked myself why I kept coming back to this particular plant. This plant medicine has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of the Amazon to heal all sorts of issues including, anxiety, depression, PTSD, addictions etc. I thought to myself that there has to be value in exploring this further if it can heal on this type of level. Then, I recalled a conversation I had with an old friend of mine about 7 years prior about her experience with it in Peru. I remembered at the time she was telling me about her experience thinking “I don’t know if I could ever do that” to “it takes a certain, special type of person to answer that calling”, “I don’t know if I’m strong enough to go through that”. Suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks! I WAS being called by this plant. The seed had been planted by my friend7 years ago and now it’s all of a sudden just keeps popping up in my research on depression…REALLY?! My research had been divinely guided back to her. This was a true calling and not a coincidence by a long shot.
I put out my intention into the cosmos. I was crying and yelling out as loud as I could asking to make it possible to sit with Ayahuasca in ceremony. I didn’t know what that meant or what it was going to look like. I had no idea what form this calling was going to take but, I trusted and handed over the heavy load to the universe in hopes of her delivering in divine timing. It was 2 weeks to the day, I kid not, that when I yelled out to answer the call, it all lined up. I had the details literally handed to me like it was sent by angelic couriers in exactly 2 weeks! I couldn’t believe what was happening. In that moment, I realized that I was dealing with something way bigger than myself and the humility washed over me. I wept uncontrollably as my I felt my prayer to beat this huge monster that had been controlling my life was finally being answered!! I had 2 months to prepare myself for sitting with Mother Ayahuasca, as she is called in the Amazon. Having a date to look forward to this kept me sober without any relapses. I weened myself off of my anti-depressants as they can interfere fatally with the plant medicine.
I took this preparation very seriously. I went to EMDR therapy twice a week for 2 months leading up to the ceremony instead of just once a week. I made the determination and commitment to trust that this was the path that I had asked to be revealed to me. For the first time in years, I finally felt like I had some traction and momentum underneath me as I made my first steps forward into this new chapter awaiting me. I truly felt honored and humbled to have been given this gift and the awareness to recognize it as such. For the next 2 months I went through a series of emotions. I was scared. I was excited. I was confused. I was about to face the unknown. Am I going to be completely different after this? Was I totally crazy? Did I really go off the deep end this time? This has to be even more off the wall than the depression and dependency issues, right?!
I was a hot mess of emotion. But, in the entire storm of my ego unleashing all the doubts and fears, I felt such a sense of certainty and calm I’ve never felt before. I knew that I was going to go through this and NOTHING was going to stop me. I was lucky enough to have 2 of my closest friends come along with me for the experience. That was just an added bonus as I was already determined to go with or without the company. My wife was doing her best to be supportive of my calling but, was also very concerned for my well-being and safety. I’m more of the risk-taker in the marriage as its complimentary to my personality. She on the other hand, likes to play it safe and know what to expect. As one can imagine, it was very challenging to explain this to her as all I had to go on was what I read and researched. It very hard to explain something to someone that you haven’t even experience yet. I explained to her that this was my last resort. I was desperate to heal this and that she needs to trust me . As difficult as that was for her, she supported my decision as she wanted me to heal and get healthy again. Her fears were validating mine as well. She was scared that I’d be different when I got back. Maybe, I wouldn’t love her anymore. Maybe, I would have a epiphany that my life with her was the wrong choice and I’d leave her. The common denominator that was consistent throughout the emotional process was, I wanted to be free of the depression and dependency to ensure a better quality of life for myself, my marriage and my family.
The day of the ceremony arrives. I’d never been so excited to get there, get started, and get it over with. The two months leading up to this day had been like the 12 days of Christmas. I was dying to open up my beautifully wrapped presents under the tree. Except, this was a different type of unwrapping altogether. As my friends and I arrived to the ceremonial space, we were greeted by other participants sitting on their beds on the floor alongside their buckets facing the shaman’s alter. My friends and I turned towards each other as I said, “What the hell did I get us into?” But, there was no turning back now. It was go time. We set up our beds and buckets at our assigned seats. The ceremony started promptly at 5pm.
The shaman sat down, welcomed the newcomers as there had been a ceremony the evening prior. He briefly explained how he was going to dose and serve the Ayahuasca over the coarse of the ceremony. We are asked to state our intentions before our first serving of the medicine. Then, we begin. I sat in between by friends as we prepare to head up to take our doses. I’ve never been so terrified. Little did I realize that this night was about to change the rest of my life forever. After everyone received their serving, we now wait for the medicine to take effect. The shaman begins chanting and singing Icaros. These are songs sung in Spanish to the spirits of plants to help them start taking effect.
About 30-40 minutes into the ceremony, I feel the presence of the Mother inside of every cell of my body. She has come to sit with me. I felt her gently coarsing through my veins, my stomach,and my mind. I felt an ultimate surrender and laid down on my bed. Then, I felt the most intense wave of nausea hit me and began to purge into my bucket. It felt amazing to throw up and I continued to do so for about an hour. I felt all of my fears, insecurities, traumas, depression, doubts, anxieties, and addictions being flung out of my body mercilessly into the bottom my bucket. I felt freedom from it all! I looked at all of the demons in my bucket and said goodbye forever. After my hour of purging had come to end, that when I began to sob uncontrollably for another hour. I had been filled with an intense amount of gratitude, compassion and love. I felt myself as a child being held in my mothers arms rocking me back and forth hearing the words, “It’s ok. I’m with you and I’m not leaving your side. You take as much time as you need to cry. You need this.”
The Mother was consoling me as I was being shown my life in chronological order, it’s geneology, down to the roots of each generation. I was shown the pain and it’s origins in my family tree and kept saying “Thank you” repeatedly. I felt like I was wrapped in a blanket of unconditional love, so safe, so grateful. I clung to my blanket and pillow like they were my only possessions and felt immense gratitude for having them to hold. I felt myself going from repeatedly saying thank you to “I’m sorry”. I felt all the pain inside of myself, my family, my past choices and the pain they caused others, and the pain that my family carries unknowingly. I felt one with it all. I was seeing it through compassionate, loving, and truthful eyes for the first time in my life.
I finally understood the root cause of it all. I suddenly felt touched by a blissful feeling I had never experienced but, always knew existed. I tuned back into the beautiful Icaros permeating the room, connecting me deeper to my Mother. I sat up and began to rock back and forth in delight. The sun was setting and the fire was radiating a glowing warmth throughout the room. I felt in love. I felt loved. I felt safe. I felt free. I felt so grateful. I felt forgiven. I felt whole again. For the next several hours of the ceremony, I was in conversation with the Mother. It was like a Q and A session, hearing her give me answers to questions I’ve been seeking out for what felt like an eternity. It was like I was being rewarded for all the hard work and preparation leading up to this moment. I continued to unwrap my gifts one at a time slowly, savoring each second. I was so in each moment that it was almost impossible to think of anything else. She wouldn’t allow for it. She had my commanded my undivided attention in such a seductive way, like a snake slithering rhythmically through the jungle that resides inside my body.
I felt her presence starting to fade slowly, not wanting to part with her yet. I could’ve stayed there with her forever. Before she slipped away for the evening, I heard her say to me, “We are just getting started. I’ll be here when you are ready to come back. We have more to do.” I felt like I was just made love to and couldn’t wait for it to happen again. It was the most amazing and most profound experience of my life. It was difficult to sleep that night as I was overloaded on processing all the new information I had just been gifted. I went outside and looked up at the stars in the night sky and cried. I felt overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment. That I had just done something so important and life changing. My life was forever changed this night. I was looking up understanding everything but, not sure how to use this new set of vocabulary and context. I knew I had my work cut out for me in the life that was waiting for me to get back home.
The next 3 months ahead of me, post-ceremony, packed a brutal punch. It was the transition and integration that proved to be the toughest part of it all. The ceremony seemed like a walk in the park in hindsight. I found that the plant medicine was continuing its work with in the real world. I had some hard times, profound shifts, hard conversations, and found myself really retreating inward to make sense of what I just did to my life. I turned it completely upside down, inside out, sideways and every which way. I felt alive again. I felt in love again with myself and my life. My consciousness was completely shifted. I was able to see all the same things with a new set of eyes, perspective and a whole new vocabulary to describe them. My depression was non- existent. I had developed a physical aversion to alcohol anytime I saw it. Remembering the part of the ceremony where the Mother showed why I do not need alcohol anymore. She explained that I used it as a coping method as well as self-medication for a very long time. I no longer needed that as I’m entering a new frontier of my life that doesn’t have room for that.
The alcohol served its purpose teaching me what I needed to know. Time to move on from that otherwise, it will continue to drag me down preventing me from realizing my life purpose and what I’m called here to do. I understand that this may sound very simple. Like, duh, who wouldn’t be able to draw that conclusion on her own. The message is very simple yet, I was shown a different perspective on how to feel about it. It was completely different from the logical perspective, a perspective all too familiar and hackneyed. She gave me an opportunity to be out of my head and connect with my heart-centered perspective which gave me the true power to release me from my disease and dependency.
It’s been 13 months since to took my last drink as well as being off anti-depressants. And, I’ve lost over 30 pounds to top it all off. Talk about a snake shedding it’s old skin! My love affair with alcohol, deep in the throws of depression, seems like a lifetime ago. I’ve been given a true gift of living a life in transformation. I have absolutely no cravings for alcohol. My creativity is off the charts. I’ve been gifted with a profound and prolific time of creativity in my life. It’s bubbling over with a new joy, meaning, and application. I’ve found a new love for my life, my art, my music, my wife, my family, and my friends. I’m in love again for the first time as I found a new relationship in my life. This new relationship has removed the veil that was once shrouded with guilt, unworthiness, self- loathing, suffering and death. I have a new life filled with unconditional love, endless support, prolific creativity, deeper meaning and purpose in my relationships and a new found self-love and a relentless self-worth. I am truly grateful for having been given another chance at my life. I’m beyond humbled to share my story with others in that it may reach those who are in need of a new perspective on how to live again. You are not limited to your diagnosis. You can see it as a life sentence as I once did. Or, you can see it as a shiny new gift placed at the center of your heart, awaiting it’s opening.