As I launch this online platform, I'm filled with a sense of raw, gritty gratitude.  I have a great job, an incredibly loving, supportive partner, two beautiful dogs, gorgeous friends, a body I am proud to call home, a roof over my head, more than enough money, I travel, I meditate daily, have a wonderful yoga practice...quite honestly, I could go on.

But right now this intense gratitude - it's not the light, "my life is so great", feelgood kind.  It's the hard-earned, sweaty, "phew, that was a close one" kind.  The kind of gratitude that happens when you are acutely aware of narrowly escaping your own downfall.

My journey has been a long one.  I came from a loving home with a great family.  I had everything I needed: supportive parents, a best friend for a sister, a nice home.  I had great grades, great friends, and was relatively good at most things - from sports to music - looking back, I actually had a really full life.  And yet somewhere along the road I lost my way.  I lost my sense of self.  I started compromising who I was for what I thought others wanted me to be.  Though I remained high functioning for a while (organised community initiatives, was highly politically active, finished school, completed a graduate program, spoke at conferences), I needed to work harder and harder at keeping it all together. Every time I had the feeling I was losing control, I buried it with unhealthy behaviour. Living a double life was exhausting; trying to keep up appearances when I was falling apart became super transparent, and eventually, I gave in to it all.

I weathered alcoholism, drug addiction, broken relationships, abuse, violence, hospitalisations, lost friendships, depression, and was pretty grim there for a bit.  But all of this has led to my recovery, my spiritual shift, or as I like to think of it, the resurrection of my soul.  Anyone in recovery of any kind knows exactly what I'm talking about.

So how did I get to this place of gut-wrenching gratitude?  I surrendered.  I stopped holding on to it all:  the facade that I had it together, the fear of failure, the obsession of what others thought of me...I let it all go.  I had no choice, I was emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually bankrupt.  There was nothing left to me.  I had bottomed out and was completely defeated.

What came next?  I became teachable.  I turned into a sponge.  "Join this group" - okay (12 step for me, but there are tons of different support groups out there).  "Work with this person" - sounds good (her name was Mary, and she was the best thing that had happened to me in a long time).  "Find a therapist" - ugh, fine (Joey, a miracle worker).  "Read this book" - sure (keep a look out for our literary go-tos).  "Listen to this podcast" - sweet, who doesn't love a good podcast? (check out our favorites).  I kept busy doing anything and everything people suggested.  Then one day I noticed I woke up and felt different.  A little while after that, full days looked different. And eventually, my whole life looked different.  

So yes, today I'm grateful and I'm glad you're here for it.  We need you here.  We rise up out of these experiences so that we can share them with others.  It's kind of how this whole thing works.  

I want you to find your home here, your hope here, and your tribe here.  We have tools, resources and supports that not only saved my life but gave me a better life than I ever could have imagined.  It's going to be full of light and love.  It's going to be raw, and real.  Let’s get your uprising on.

Caela Berry