Seeds of Grace

One night in the hospital, I had an epiphany. With the midnight stillness floating in through the vacant windows of my “penthouse” room, the stillness spoke. My weary mind turned sloppy pirouettes,
devoid of its characteristic rapid-fire analysis. You’re making survival choices. Suddenly, it all made sense. My frantic clinging to every morsel of life, whether benevolent or somehow unsavory, was
intrinsic.

My physiology penetrated every fiber of my being, starving not only for caloric sustenance, but also for the remnants of life. Stealing whatever shreds of life I can, tucking away affection, tattered shreds
of half-right living, is yet another survival technique. What if this boyfriend, this holiday, this meal—is my last? Sure, some idealistic compartment of my being castigates me for settling, for accepting a
relationship or excursion that denies my full humanity, but really, I’m far from residing in a palace of idealistic whimsy. I’m just trying not to be dead. It suddenly seemed entirely rational to gobble up whatever meager crumbs of imposter love that I could, to bask in a facsimile of nourishing sunlight because even the wrong thing must be better than nothing.

AHA! I thought, sorting through murky layers of sludgy fatigue. I offered myself a rare token of acceptance, even compassion, for making choices that don’t exactly align with my moral compass. It’s okay,
Briana. It’s okay to choose the survival boyfriend, the less-than-enjoyable outing, to somehow capitulate to whatever feels
intrinsically ill-fitting. In the stiff hospital bed, submerged by starchy sheets triggering angry inflammatory cells, I gave myself just a smidge of grace.

I look to the shadowed walls, consulting the dark caverns of the room for any sign of confirmation. The neon glow of screens, the constant chug of pumps offer nothing. No matter, I tell myself. Survival choices are worthy choices.

In the subsequent days, I’ll throw whatever seeds of grace I’d began to sow, out the window of my penthouse hospital palace window. Though encased in a layer or ten of lethargy and all-encompassing paralysis,
the other, familiar and demanding tendrils will win, again.

The survival boyfriend will no longer cut it. I will be unwilling to settle. I will hear the distant cries of my damn moral compass,
pulling me away from situations, people, agreements for the sake of checking living proof experiences off the list. Something will no longer be better than nothing.

In my emaciated, empty, cavernous bones, I will demand better. Because the wrong thing is just the wrong thing, even when it feels like the only thing. IV tubes tangled, pumps chugging, I’ll walk away from a
quarter life, searching for a whole life.

My Book Is Here!

“Don’t say that!” When I began purging toxic trauma upon the page many years ago, it was not allowed. Society told me in no uncertain terms that the complex emotions that tortured my flesh were not for public consumption. Well, they are now!

My book “Yes To All Things Me” is HERE!💥 This book is the most authentic and uncensored way to know where I have been and what I have survived. I am so grateful to the incredible team of artists and graphic designers Charlotte Hall and Ginny Schafer Westcott who have skillfully collaborated with me to illustrate my words so precisely. Joy, joy, joy! What an incredible opportunity it is for me to experience my own words in this way. The words you’ll find here have saved my life. It is my hope that in some way, they will validate yours. Buy HERE!

Friends From Afar

Everybody loves a brave girl. What I love even more, though, is a girl who broadcasts her vulnerability with unabashed transparency; who unfolds authentically without apology; who shares centuries of wisdom with one gaze. I have been following this girl, Indy, on Instagram as her mother Terah shares their journey. So captivated have I become by their story that I find myself wondering about their well-being throughout my day. Even though I have never met this dynamic duo in person, I recognize so many pieces of my past in their present, and perhaps, in their future. In addition to currently receiving chemotherapy treatment, Indy is a beautiful toddler who happens to have down syndrome. The mix of medical and health conditions coupled with disability resonates deeply with my own life. My matriculation within the medical community and disability realm began at birth with my anoxia and sustaining cerebral palsy. Without a committed, intelligent and principled mother, I believe that this process would have been far more damaging to my psyche than it has been. From the unwavering commitment to her daughter, I catch glimpses of my own mother in Terah. Most demonstrative of a commitment to walk the talk, I was recently moved by a short video of Indy cleaning her baby doll during a long stay at the hospital. In addition to the gentle caress, I noticed the baby had dark skin and tresses. Within the single snapshot, a most beautiful representation of inclusion resonated. In addition, the message of love, unconditional and unwavering even in the most daunting of circumstances bloomed brightly. Though from a far, I am honored to share a snippet of this family’s journey, cheering them on day by day. I’m in your corner, Terah and Indy.

 You can find Terah here:
http://terahbelle.com/myelodysplastic-syndrome-indys-prognosis/

Do No Harm

“Do no harm.” Time traveling within the folds of my mind orients me to a time when, with my innocent aspirations for untethered social service, I wanted to be a doctor. Knowing now what I do, having survived many times in spite of traditional medical care, I am envious of a reality where doctors do not cultivate harm, do not become misguided, complacent, lazy or discriminatory. That is not reality. It has become evident, that like my six-year-old self, many people gifted with the freedom of brilliant health believe that doctors do only good, are diligent givers and fastidious overachievers. Whatever illusions culture propagates about heroic physicians, keep in mind that these are archetypal. If somebody you know is ill, chances are in large part, they’re saving their own lives. Do no harm… I don’t want to be a doctor anymore. I have to be. .

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For those of you leading your own journey to living your best lives, we are here for you. When you need to vent, cry, laugh or strategize, remember we’re in your corner.

Giveaway!

Guardians of Hope is excited to be partnering with FreeArm Tube Feeding Assistant for a giveaway (a $75 value.) This is a unique opportunity to utilize a medical device that can provide additional support and freedom for individuals who utilize tube feeding and IV nutrition! To enter the giveaway on Instagram, follow us @guardiansofhopeinc
Giveaway ends February 14!

Disability and Higher Education

With more than 40 million Americans with disabilities (2016 statistics) and federally mandated accessibility laws, you might be surprised to learn that a disproportionately low number of people with disabilities have a college degree. Individuals age 25 and older with a disability who have a college degree comprise 16.4% of the population in comparison with 34.6% of people without a disability (Bureau of Labor.).

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Societal standards and expectations for people with disabilities make it difficult to pursue higher education. Not only are there few public role models to demonstrate a path toward this journey, there is resistance from bureaucratic institutions toward people with disabilities in pursuing their aspirations. We are here to tell you that you can pursue your dreams of higher education! No matter what the circumstances of your ability levels or health, you deserve equal access, reasonable accommodations and support. In addition to validating your educational aspirations, we can provide advocacy and education to facilitate your progress in a higher education. Whether you’re interested in online classes or attending school on campus, there are a variety of tools available to empower your success. Let’s connect with a complimentary conversation! Message us to schedule an appointment or email us at guardiansofhope90@gmail.com

Camp Fire Support 


Check out this video about Guardians of Hope from Jason Dragos ! We appreciate the partnership from HealthBeMe in facilitating the actualization of our mission. You can join in to support individuals with chronic illness who have been affected by the Camp Fire by making a donation today! All proceeds go directly to individuals in Butte County who need it most! Thank you for joining the Guardians of Hope Community! .

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https://www.gofundme.com/sunshine-in-your-pocket 

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Or click HERE to make a gift and make a difference in the lives of families right here in our beloved community.

If I Were a Millionaire 

I wish I were a millionaire so I could give it all away to people facing ongoing health challenges. If you’re like me, you have been struggling to save your life in more ways than one. The financial constraints of paying for healing modalities are PERVASIVE! As the former executive director of a nonprofit for children, I am well-versed in the complicated application process for grants. Nonetheless, when I became deathly ill eight years ago, my mother reached out to foundations, churches, synagogues, and other groups for support. The complicated application process and eligibility coupled with the daily crises of trying to survive made it impossible for me to find funds through any organizations. I was repeatedly turned away. Can you relate? If you have a similar story or have struggled to pay for medical care, I want to hear from you! I was fortunate to have community support through the cultivation of networking related to the nonprofit I ran and this literally saved my life for several years! Complete strangers stepped forward, offered financial support to keep me alive. So I am asking all of you out there to take action in the name of humanity! We can cohesively save lives! If you have a story to share about financial struggles related to chronic illness, please send me a message to make your voice heard! Please visit the LINK to become a guardian of hope!

Heal Thy Neighbor 


It is easy to feel immobilized in the current political climate. With access to federally funded healthcare becoming more and more limited, we have to take back our own power! The concept of community – based healthcare support may be a foreign one, but it is a way to make a difference! By making a gift of $10, $15 or five dollars, you can support your neighbor, individuals just like those pictured here, in receiving the medical care they need. Let’s take back our power, our rights, our abilities to support one another!
You can be a hero! For more information about this project please click here.

Suffering With Joy

“Suffering with joy.” I heard this phrase yesterday on the radio and it so clearly summarized what I believe the expectation is for women with chronic illness. Sweep your pain, exhaustion, confusion and well-justified anger under the rug for the comfort of everyone else. It comes as no surprise that society would expect women to consistently display a good-natured disposition; this is a normative gender expectation. However, the pressure to “find joy in the journey” graduates to magnificent proportions for women who have chronic illness. Every day, I am bombarded by Memes, inspirational posts and cliched representations of chronic illness. These are targeted toward women! They have pastel colors, feature adorable animals and are packaged in ways that are supposed to appeal to females. They make me cringe. I feel no guilt about my anger regarding chronic illness. I am entitled to be mad, sad, envious, depressed, cranky and every other emotion that feels authentic. I’ve been through some cataclysmic torture and that deserves recognition. So, I just want to encourage all of the women out there to feel safe in expressing the full spectrum of emotions. This is not negative, this is real life.