My lesson amid loss

Now that we’re well into the new year, how are your resolutions or intentions for 2023 unfolding? You might remember that my word of the year is allow (which I’ve actually expanded on, but more on that in a bit). That word has taken on unexpected depths for me already.

This new year was still very young when I got one of those calls that we all dread. It brought the devastating news that my friend Brian Newman had passed at only 40 years old. Brian was one of a kind. He was a philanthropist, businessman and a former member of the City Council in Columbia, S.C. — the youngest person ever elected to that role.

The news of Brian’s death reached me as I was on my way to a manifestation and meditation session. And I believe a message from Brian himself came to me after I arrived. You see, in the friend group Brian and I were part of, we had once all bought the same pair of socks during one of our times together. When I took off my boots at the meditation workshop, I realized I was wearing those socks.

There’s a word for meaningful coincidences like this: synchronicities. But I believe we can also think of them as messages from our angels. And Brian had more messages for me.

Receiving a Sign — Literally

Not long after his passing, I left on a long-planned trip to Israel with the American Israel Education Fund. Brian shared my passion for Israel, so this trip was extra poignant. His memorial would also be taking place while I was gone. As I read all the remembrances of him that others were posting, there was one phrase that kept coming up: YOLO, or “you only live once.” This was Brian’s guiding philosophy. He was someone who would drop everything for his friends. And our friends paid him hommage but adding #YOLO to their social media posts about his passing.

Aboard my group’s bus heading to dinner one night, I was keenly aware that Brian’s funeral was happening at that very moment thousands of miles away. But, in an instant, I knew that Brian was also very close to me.

That’s because I looked out the window and saw a sign for a bakery. But not just any bakery. The YOLO Bakery. Seriously. There’s only one YOLO Bakery in all of Jerusalem. And we drove by it TWICE at the exact moment this world was saying goodbye to Brian.

Catch the Diamonds

Grace, another great friend of mine who also shares an affinity for Jewish culture, once told me, “Stop carrying rocks so your hands can be free to catch the diamonds that the universe is throwing to you.”

These messages from Brian were pure, clear diamonds, and I am beyond grateful for them. I’m challenging myself to keep my hands and my heart open to more of these synchronicities, which feel like little winks from God.

And that brings me back to the update I’ve made to my word of the year. I guess you could call it a phrase of the year now: surrender to allow. I want to surrender the rocks so I can allow those diamonds to reach me.

As we all continue into the first quarter of the year, this is my hope for us: May we avoid getting caught in the hustle of doing and not being. May we always remember who we are, what we desire, and what we want to manifest? May we lean into the joy of life and take more moments to look up at the sky. And, in honor of Brian, may we remember that while tomorrow is never promised, today, we can live in love and be our best selves.

YOLO, my friends.

PS. The pictures of the rose and sky are some of my favorite pictures from this trip to Israel, when I just took a moment to connect with the world around me. Maybe I am getting it…surrender to allow.

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