At 25, I was a single mom fighting the medical system for my newborn’s life, with six dollars to my name, in an apartment the size of a walk-in closet, all while I was $30,000 in debt. Had anyone told me that this difficult time would lead to a multimillion dollar business which helped tea-working mothers living in poverty 9,000 miles away, I would never have believed them ... but that's exactly what happened.
So, if you’re having a hard time, facing a major setback or just wondering how your current situation will lead you to your highest potential, read on.
Often, the human spirit does not know its strength until faced with tragedy. Up until this point in my life, I’d had the luxury of indecisiveness. My son’s birth, with the immediate emergency of his health (he’s now healthy) turned me into a businesswoman because I had no choice.
I couldn’t be indecisive anymore, because now I had to pay for thousands of dollars in hospital bills. This created motivation for me to take my kitchen hobby to an international business within a few, short years.
This is the power of tragedy — it shapes us into the people we're capable of being. Sage’s life meant more to me than my lack of experience, and so I went for it everyday, with nothing in mind but him.
The power of tragedy is in the fact that it forces us outside of ourselves and into the space of selflessness. Before Sage, I was self absorbed. When Sage was born, and needed that lifesaving operation, I was forced to rise out of myself and into a fierce mother tiger who would go to bat for her baby.
I had to make money to keep him covered, since I didn’t have insurance. To make things even more difficult, at the time, birth defects were considered pre-existing conditions.
To be able to afford medical bills, I knew I would have to pay for it. So I decided to turn my hobby into a business.
This is when I began selling tea off a cart to pay the huge hospital bills. Amazingly, pretty soon the tea cart business was not only paying the bills, but getting so much attention that it eventually led to a national deal with a huge grocery store. This new partnership led me to India and Sri Lanka where I met the tea workers themselves.
While there, I saw how the workers lived. They were so impoverished, and this motivated me to find ways to help fix the situation through fair trade.
This is where the tragedy ended up a triumph, as we were able to grow sales and send hundreds of thousands of dollars back to the tea workers for schools, housing, clean water and health care.
And this how I learned the truth about tragedy — that tragedy is the universe’s way of getting us to step into our biggest role in the world. We become initiated through tragedy, traveling the arc of our very own hero’s journey, to become who we were meant to be.
Tragedy gives an impetus to massive life changes. Big losses, setbacks and fears force us to clean up our act, clarify out grit, and polish our tenacity. Tragedies can down or drive you. The power that comes from overcoming your own tragedies are the fires that make you into a glistening diamond of refined character.
Miracles follow action. To take action is to put your stake in the ground and say, Yes, I’ve arrived. No more apologies, no more waiting, I am making this world my own.
I’ve written about the lessons I learned in my new book: Life by the Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-filled Life of Bottomless Happiness & Limitless Success. Here are three insights I've gained from shifting hard times into triumphs.
1. Painful losses are a part of the human experience.
Your capacity to transform them into a form of greater compassion for yourself and others allows the negative energy to transmute and soften into love.
2. Your purpose on this planet is to shine your unique light.