When I first had the idea of LIGHTbeamers, one of my inspirations came in the form of a CBS reporter named Steve Hartman. Back in 1998-1999, I was a weekend News Anchor for a CBS-affiliate in Fayetteville, Arkansas (KFSM). Our nightly newscast followed CBS' national news coverage, which often ended with a "kicker" news story. Kicker stories were known in the business as "fluff" -- a feel-good story to help viewers feel a little better about all the bad news we had just reported! Anyway, Steve Hartman was fairly new to CBS and he'd just debuted a series called "Everybody Has a Story".  Hartman's subjects were always selected at random, by having the previous week's protagonist throw a dart at a map. Wherever the dart landed, Hartman would jet off to that location. When he arrived, he'd pull up to the nearest pay phone (oh my gosh, I'm old!) and blindly select a name out of the phone book. The story would naturally unfold from there. The gist of the series was that everybody does indeed have a story -- we all have something to say, a message we want to send, a mission that's important to us, a past worth treasuring. Hartman criss-crossed  the country delivering one helluva good story after another.  I was mesmerized by his storytelling.... and moved by the intention behind this series. I did not consider this "fluff". These stories mattered.
Hartman's stories always aired the last few minutes of CBS' telecast -- a time when all of us at the local stations were busy running scripts, feeding tape, and adjusting cameras and lights in preparation for our own newscast. Let's just say the newsroom and studio was jamming with activity just before showtime. But inevitably, when one of Hartman's installments of "Everybody Has a Story" came on, we'd all stop dead in our tracks to watch. I remember this vividly -- the awe and silence that enveloped the studio, our hearts swelling with emotion while we listened and watched these stories.  On many occasions, I can remember having to wipe tears away before looking into the camera with a warm smile and saying "Good Evening....." as our local broadcast began. My mouth already having to speak and deliver that evenings "top story", which usually meant some sort of bad news, while my heart still swirled with the Good News of one of Hartman's stories. The dichotomy was profound and was not lost on me.  I wanted more of Hartman! I wanted Hartman's stories to be at the beginning of the newscasts, not at the end! I was inspired as a young journalist myself to find the 'story' in people. To really listen to what they had to say. To shine the LIGHT so others could have a voice...

Remarkably, Hartman's series "Everybody Has a Story" continued on for 7 years, with Hartman producing more than 120 stories all across the country. These days, Hartman continues his great storytelling with more heartwarming and thought-provoking gems as part of his weekly feature "On The Road", which airs on "CBS Evening News" on Friday nights. 

In honor of this weekend's Super Bowl game, where attention is once again misplaced among deflated  footballs and inflated egos, I share with you this story. A true Steve Hartman original. One of my favorites of all time:

I'm not sure how he's done it, but Hartman has carved a place for himself in mainstream media in which he can share some of the best "fluff" I've ever seen.  I hope you all get a chance to follow his stories.... they are full of joy, compassion, hope, love and light.  Steve Hartman is a real LIGHTbeamer!

 
 
PictureToday's Forecast: Gloom and Gloomier
It's never the most alluring notion to jump out of bed and make hay while there's sunshine... especially when there is no sunshine! Today, I woke up to your typical cold, foggy, gloomy day. I peered out the window only to see a thick haze stare back at me. The mountains that usually greet me with their glory were hidden by a blanket of greyness.  I was scheduled to attend a monthly women's Bible study -- a time I genuinely love and cherish -- but the call of the wild was telling me to do nothing except crawl back in bed. I also needed to finish a video script in which my deadline was looming so that, too, gave me the perfect reason to just stay in my pajamas and put on my UGGs. But something kept urging me to forge ahead with the plan.

As I showered and dressed, I kept staring out my bedroom window, wondering to myself what LIGHT could I possibly encounter on a day like this? I almost convinced myself to give in-- that LIGHT doesn't have to pour into our lives everyday like sunshine and lollipops!!  "What's the point? Just stay home and pull the covers over your head" I reasoned. How many times have I -- have you -- done this? Just let the weather or the mood dictate your experiences for the day? Have you ever wondered what you might be missing when you give in to the temptation of mediocrity? of laziness? of shutting yourself in?

Still, I went. I went to my study with my group of girlfriends who always make me laugh and think! Today we discussed how we are called to be promoters of the Good News yet how easily we remain silent at times. We discussed how much we can learn from our children in their unabashed ways in which they run, yell, laugh, scream, and cry at the most inopportune times while we cringe and think "Be Quiet!!!". Children have something to say and they often say it loudly. And most of the time, they are spewing the truth because Tact is not their virtue (yet! Please Lord, let this come....). Our group of women shared personal stories of struggle, laughter, and LIGHT -- which reminded me that we are all human... and a work in progress.... and in this together! We need each other!! We can't just stay home, stay in bed with the curtains drawn shutting out the darkness and cold. We must seek the LIGHT and share it with others so that we can be the Fuel someone else needs to get through the Fog.


PictureMy LIGHTbeamers!
We're not going to wake up every day with the LIGHT spilling out of our pores. There are days that seem heavy and dark and cold. On those days, ask yourself "where can I find the LIGHT" and force yourself to go in that direction. Think of it as a "Filling Station" -- When you are depleted or despondent, go where you know you will be fueled so that ticking the next things off your "to-do" list seem totally achievable.

I did that today -- and these women filled my tank. They are the reason I showed up; I knew they would provide just the perfect dose of reality and wit to warm my heart and light my LIGHT.  Afterwards, my day sailed along with much more meaning and vigor. I returned home to finish my script on time, have a lovely lunch with my husband, and take my kids for frozen yogurt after school. 

The Fog persisted all day and the cold hounded into the night but my insides beamed with love, friendship, inspiration and hope. The LIGHT was there all along, wasn't it? It's never really that far away.

Who are your LIGHTbeamers? Seek them out and hold them close. The Fog is always coming.


Picture
The smile a frozen treat can bring on such a cold day still mystifies me.... but whatever!!
 
 
I have been wanting to write this story since this past Fall -- but like many things in life, I had to "be patient".  Life was moving at warp speed (when does it not?) and I could not stop long enough to let the the words evolve. But now I am here, and you are here, too.... we are finally joined together in the LIGHTbeamer community (I smile!) 

I just had to wait a minute.

The change of Seasons is one of my very favorite times. Out with the old, in with the new; a signal for change; a herald for a new time. Physically, we know the change of seasons is here by what we see going on in Mother Nature. In the Winter, there is snow; In the Spring, there are flowers; In the Summer, there is Sunshine; and in the Fall, there are those magnificent trees.....

I grew up in Texas, where there are only two seasons: Hot and Hotter... and I always considered myself a "girl of Summer". But when I moved to the East Coast years ago, the Fall enchanted me. I had never seen trees this color before!! Bright Reds, vibrant Oranges, and vivid Yellows -- WOW!  In the mountains where I live, it looks like the terrain is literally on fire in the Fall. It's a beautiful event to watch  - day after day the colors change right before your very eyes; if you're paying attention - you can even pinpoint "the peak" when it occurs.

So back during the Fall, while driving up and down the mountain as I do 2-3 times a day, I watched the trees all around me shine their brilliance as they exercised their inherent right and duty to herald in the new season with each shade of color they changed -- that is, except for one tree. Amid the dynamic sea of red, orange, and yellow remained one huge maple tree standing stalwart ... and very green -- not even a single leaf giving a hint she was ready to change.

When I first noticed this tree -- green in all her glory -- I wondered "what's she waiting for - go ahead and change already!"  But day after day, I'd drive past, wondering "will this be the day she concedes and joins the others?"  For weeks this dance continued -- the trees around her deepened in their color, some even beginning to shed their leaves, while this beauty dug in her heels.  Thanksgiving was approaching and the hustle of preparations was in full swing. It's how it is during the change of seasons -- life goes on at a rapid pace while Mother Nature ticks away on her own time. A few days passed -- or was it a week maybe? -- before I thought about this tree again as I approached her around the bend. Looking around at all the other trees, I realized they were now mostly bare, having already given up the fight and joining the limbo between Fall and Winter ... a season of 'nothingness'. Had My Lady changed and displayed her colors while I wasn't looking? Or had she simply skipped that step and jumped ahead to re-join her pack by falling in line with the bareness of the season?

Climbing the mountain, I couldn't wait to see what she looked like. I crested the hill and careened around the curve... and there she was! Oh my! THERE SHE WAS!! 
PictureMy Lady, in ALL her Glory!
She had arrived. She was screaming "Here I am!! Now, aren't you glad I waited?" 

Here, against the backdrop of nothingness, was this magnificent maple tree, ablaze with color, and shining her LIGHT for all the world to see. She couldn't be bothered with just being a member of the pack! She wanted to wait until all the light had dulled and people were being lulled into the darkness of the season before she flipped her switch to give us the most wonderful, unexpected surprise -- she was letting her LIGHT shine! 

I immediately pulled over in my car. I just sat there for a few minutes on the side of the road and stared at her.
 
And I smiled. 

"I hear you, sister! ...
I totally get what you are saying!! Sometimes we have to wait for it!! Sometimes we have to go against the grain, be late, be stubborn, dig in our heels, and all the other things required to buck "the system" of what we are supposed to do --  just so we can let our very own LIGHT shine."


 
 
PictureCelebrating @ Sister's Big 50th Birthday Bash
My sister! Oh my gosh is she a shining light!!
This past year, starting in January 2014, she began posting daily on Facebook as part of a personal challenge to live her 50th year “out loud”. This was a big, bold step for her to put herself out there in a way that’s so personal and public. She committed herself to write something daily that was positive, impactful, and meaningful that she’d experienced that day. Talk about creating awareness! As the days went on, she became more and more aware of the little things, the people in the background, the daily smiles and hugs that made a difference in her world. She’s an educator — an Assistant Principal at a High School in Texas — and she deals with a lot of crap, daily. But she is also a personal witness to so many wonderful, shining moments, from people and communities, daily.  I followed “My Fiftieth Year” religiously on Facebook, and each day I looked forward to what she would post. There were days that I know behind the scenes were hard days for her — yet she found the positive nugget in there somewhere, and always shared it with her friends and family who were also following her posts. As the year wore on, I know she started to really enjoy the process — and her page, My Fiftieth Year, became a shining light for her. What a blessing that page bestowed on her. It’s said when you give, you receive. When you love, it’s reciprocated. When you shine, light is reflected back on you.


PictureOn Top of the Rock!
As the year wound down, and we prepared for the biggest party of the year in December to celebrate her 50th birthday - I couldn’t help but simply admire what she’d accomplished. But she wasn’t done; Together, we started dreaming of new ideas for her page — a blog, a book, etc… and through that, it inspired me to do the same. It’s a huge reason I am here today writing on this page — LIGHTbeamers is my own version of “My Fiftieth Year” —

So it’s only appropriate I share with you her story as one of my very first posts. Please go on over to My Fiftieth Year and LIKE her page — she’s got some good stuff brewing and will be announcing her next move soon, so I’d love to have you follow her, too!!

After the big birthday bash — she and I spent the next day climbing Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg, Texas… this was an amazing day in which the LIGHT just poured in on us — from above, from below, and from within.


 

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    Hi, I'm April and I'm glad you're here. 

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