Traveling through a string of airports recently, I couldn't help but notice an overwhelmingly obvious fashion trend. I noticed it as I was waiting to board my first flight. The boarding process was just beginning and passengers were falling in line at the gate. I was in the dreaded "Zone 3" so I remained in my seat a while longer, staring at those lucky souls who travel enough to get priority boarding. I stared blankly at the crowd, sucking down my coffee hoping the caffeine would kick in soon, when something jumped out at me. A sea of darkness filled the room. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was wearing dark colors. Blacks, Greys, Dark Blues, Browns. It struck me -- so odd and noticeable. Really? Not even one person had on a bright colored scarf or sported a cheery shirt on their travel day.
Once upon a time, there was a certain dress code and we we all donned our Sunday Best when flying on an airplane. These days, we're lucky if some passengers even bother to shower and get out of their pajamas before heading to the airport. Furthermore, it seems everyone has fallen prey to some sort of secret dress code of darkness. I glimpsed down at my own attire, not having thought much about my own wardrobe choice until now. And there it was: I had on dark jeans and a dark navy button down top. The only saving grace (for my own guilt was starting to set in) was a bright Kelly-green tank top peeking out at the V-neck of my blouse. I let out a sigh of relief "Oh Thank God, at least I have on a little bit of color today". I was surprised at myself though, as color is a staple in my wardrobe and I usually always have on something bright. Colored jeans, a pretty bright scarf, and - if that doesn't do the trick - a colorful statement necklace and some fun earrings. But today, as if subconsciously falling in line with the Secret Travel Code of Darkness that I didn't even know existed, I dressed down in dull, dark, boring clothes... except for that little green peek-a-boo number. But in reality, it wasn't enough to save me from my own finger pointing back at me. "Aha! Even you are dressed in dark clothes!"
So what is it with this Secret Travel Code of Darkness?
Just as I was pondering this phenomenon, a lady in a bright red sparkly sweater stepped up and handed her boarding pass to the gate agent who, up until now, had been lulled into a slumber by the routine of it all. The agent looked at the Lady In Red, widened her eyes, and exclaimed "Oh, I love your pretty red sweater!" To which the Lady in Red replied, "Oh Thank You" in a very appreciative and surprised voice. That 2-second exchange completely spilled LIGHT into the entire boarding area, where the rest of us dark-clothed-boring-souls lumbered. They say clothes do not make a man... but I dare say they can brighten a mood! And that Lady in Red, and the gate agent who noticed her and gave her a compliment, brightened my mood instantly. I smiled. I figured out the secret. The Lady in Red knew the secret, too. From then on, all I could think was, "I will never wear dark clothes while traveling ever again". Like Never. In fact, when I get back home, I'm donating this boring navy top along with every garment in my closet that falls into the Secret Travel Code of Darkness standard. Yep, it all must go. Someone else can have it, but I will not fall prey to the dark code ever again. Nope, I choose LIGHT. I choose bright. I'm going to the Lady in Red's team.
While scurrying through the next airport, catching my connecting flight, I looked at everyone I passed and counted on one hand the number of people who wore bright colors, who were like me now and on "Team Red". We are small in numbers, people, but our message is clear. Wherever we go we will shine our LIGHT. We will show up with our Canary Yellow scarves, Kelly Green Tank tops, and Sparkly Red Sweaters so we can help the rest of the poor souls who are traveling in the darkness. We will be there shining our lights, making them smile, and snapping them out of their stupor.
Is there a Secret Code of Darkness at work in your life? Get up, get dressed, and put on your brightest best. There is a sea of darkness out there that needs, craves, yearns for your LIGHT. What color will you wear today? Choose it and share it with everyone you encounter.
Shine on, my friends!
There are times when you just have to GO FOR IT. Take a leap of Faith. Have No Fear. Ignore the naysayers. Forget the rationalization. Just Do it — JUMP!
You know those moments in life when you just know you have to do it, or else you’ll die… while everyone else sits back and tells you ‘You’re crazy, stay put’.
“An Entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds the plane on the way down.”
I think this quote applies even if you don't see yourself as an Entrepreneur, but you are just making a big change in your life, or trying something new, or setting a big, bold goal for yourself…. taking that Leap of Faith — and Jumping!
I have done this a time or two in my life. Probably the first time I can remember was upon graduation from High School. I attended a fairly prestigious school where the graduation rate was 100% and the College enrollment was also 100%. Moreover, many of my classmates were being accepted to Elite and Ivy League schools. When I started the college application process, I wasn’t really clear yet on what I wanted out of a university nor what I wanted to study. While I did apply to 5 different schools — and received acceptance to all 5 — I felt ‘stuck’. In my gut, I knew none of these schools were for me. So, on my own, I made the decision to take a year off between high school and college to “figure it out”. I needed time to explore my interests and find a program that would work for me. This was a huge leap! Not only did my parents panic, but I’m sure I was a huge disappointment to my high school administrators. I was graduating from one of the best schools in the country (it makes all those fancy lists) and I was going to do what for the next year— work at Applebees??? (yes, that’s exactly what I did!) Suffice it to say, it all worked out. I took a step back, took a deep breath, and began to tap into what my inner voice was saying. I enrolled in a small state school the following year — it was a far cry from Ivy League, but it was one of the best decisions of my life. I walked in Day One understanding exactly what I wanted and what direction I wanted to go in… and I declared my major immediately: Journalism :)
Yes, I had jumped and built my plane on the way down, and now I was going fly.
Another time I jumped was several years into my career as a TV journalist, about a year after getting married. My husband and I were living in Arkansas, but we both felt ready to go somewhere new and plant some roots. He was at a point in his career he really needed to make a move…. and move we did! He took a job in North Carolina after only a 12-hour visit with his new employer, and I quit my job in Television. We moved across the country to a place I had never seen nor visited. We found our rental house through a friend who had a connection in the area, and the first time I laid eyes on it was the day we arrived in our U-Haul. I had no job, no friends, no idea where I was, or what I was going to do. I just jumped…… We didn’t crash and nobody died. Instead, we figured it out, built our plane, and began flying.
Then, one day my husband jumped. He was in serious turmoil with his business and his business partners, realizing his passion for his career had died and his business relationships had become toxic. So he came home one day and rather abruptly told me he was leaving his business. Beside the mild panic on my end (we had a new baby), I could see in his eyes he was serious and he felt no other way except to go over that Cliff.
I think that’s what happens when you get to the edge — You look across that valley and you realize how far down it goes and how painful it would be if you crashed. It’s scary!! But then, you look behind you at your current reality, and you realize you’d die an even faster death if you stayed. Jumping off the Cliff is the only option for true survival.
Those are the moments that really build who you are as a person and set you up for greatness. It forces you to ‘figure it out’…. and once you do, the happiness and joy and freedom you experience is like soaring high above the clouds in weightlessness. It’s euphoric. It’s quiet and clear. It’s beautiful.
The chaos and insanity are no more.
Figuring it out and building planes is not easy. In fact, it’s very hard work. It’s painful and pleasurable at the same time. It’s a minute-by-minute test of your survival skills. But the rewards that follow are immeasurable.
Following my year off after high school, I grew tremendously as a young woman and learned early in my life how to listen to what my inner being was saying to me. I became a real independent thinker. It’s what led me to later quit my job in Television — a career I had to claw my way into and work horrendous hours to stake my spot — because I listened when my inner voice urged me to try something new. I understood that my skill set would continue to serve me in a new way, and as a result, I flew into a new career of script writing and video producing. The same is true of my husband’s journey. He had grown and learned so much building his career and business — that when it was no longer fun, challenging, or fulfilling — he figured out a way to build a plane and fly into a new industry of coaching other business leaders and executives.
I really believe these principles apply anywhere, anytime. Anyone can build a plane.
Maybe it applies when someone signs up for a half-marathon despite years of being overweight and unhealthy. That person is taking a leap of faith that by the time the starting gun goes off, she will have figured out how to build her plane.
Maybe it applies to the man who has forever been focused on career and ambition, he’s taken very little time for love and family…. until his girlfriend comes home one day and tells him she’s pregnant! Boy is he ever staring down a deep valley when he decides to jump. He’s got 9 months to build his plane……
Or maybe it’s you — right now standing on the ledge of life — trying to figure out whether you’ll jump or stay put. You’re telling yourself a thousand times over you have no idea how to build this plane. You don’t even own a screwdriver! Yet you’re looking across the valley at where you really want to go, and your right foot just inches closer to the edge. You stick your neck out. Your arms reach up. You’re left foot steps forward. You can hear everyone behind you saying “Don’t do it! Don’t do it”. But then the wind silences their cries. You hear birds singing as they soar up above. The breeze wraps around you like a warm blanket of love. You see a bright LIGHT down below….. and you JUMP.
Start building your plane!!! You are ready and you’re going to FLY.
I was so inspired — and a bit surprised — today when I stepped outside to see little blooms of purple flowers making their grand entrance in my otherwise dead-looking flower beds. Where the heck did these guys come from? They weren't here yesterday!! Did the Flower Fairy come overnight and plant these babies? (oh, how I wish!)
What’s funny is I have no idea what kind of flowers they are (gardening is not my thing). They were planted by the previous owners of our house, and every year, for 10 years now, they’ve been surprising me each time they pop out of the dirt. What a beautiful gift! They are always the first signs of Spring around here and they serve as a reminder better days are ahead (because by now we are so “over it”, ready for the cold, wet, icy, snowy Winter to go far, far away).
What a delight these flowers bring. A surprise planted years ago — before our time here — greeting us with their beauty, promise, and LIGHT. I wonder if the previous owners thought about this when they planted these little beauties all those years ago. Did they realize the blessings they’d be passing onto others?
That’s what LIGHT does, in my opinion. It shines for you when you’re least expecting it; it beams a stream of hope into dark places; it greets you like a warm hug from your mom or best friend; it fills you up with hope and love. And it's all around us, although sometimes it's buried deep in the dirt.
On the other hand, it also lights a fire under your ass! It’s a “Call to Action” to get busy! When I saw those little purple flowers, my brain immediately went into list-making mode.
“I need to change all the sheets on the beds”
“It’s time to dust the baseboards, clean the windows, do Spring cleaning”
“Oh gosh, I better call my accountant and get my taxes done”
“Spring is here! I need to go through the kids’ closets and see what still fits”
“It’s time to make plans for summer vacation, see what’s available and book our trip”
You get the idea. I’m sure you have similar rampages that explode in your own mind. You do, right?
While it can be inspiring, yes, it can also become overwhelming in like 2.2 seconds. I mean suddenly it’s as if you’ve woken from your winter slumber to realize you have a million things to do — because, yes ma’am, we are all members of the rat race and we keep running on that same wheel of life. "Gotta do this, gotta do that, gotta get ahead, gotta stay on top, gotta gotta gotta gotta..... "
Hold the phone, friends! Put yourself in a Time Out and take a deep breath.
Let’s go back to my friend, the little purple flower peeking out of the dirt. She’s been here forever and she’s taken it day-by-day, step-by-step to get where she is. She didn’t pop out overnight (well, she kind of did in my eyes, but in reality she’s been at this for a very, very long time — working her way to this stage in her life cycle). The lesson is this: The LIGHT will burst through and will show us the way. We do not — cannot— grow overnight. We are all a work in progress. Love and nurture, time, and a little water will get you where you are supposed to be. Let the LIGHT fuel you forward, propel you to take action in your life, but don’t ever, ever forget to honor where you are today. Where you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be. That little flower is right where she’s supposed to be. And the things we plant (do) today? — Oh, just imagine what bursts of LIGHT they will bring tomorrow, next week, next year to put us where we’re supposed to be.
So in honor of our little purple friend (what the heck is this type of flower anyway?), rather than making a ‘To Do’ list — let's make a ‘Be’ list:
Be a Good Friend
Be a Caring Neighbor
Be a LIGHT to others
and then sit back and watch your garden grow!
Shine on, friends!
A few weeks ago, I was "having a moment". You have these, too, I know! I was feeling frustrated. I'm not even sure what I was frustrated with or about -- I was just feeling irritable and things were simply “on my nerves”. This is not a happy place — and it certainly does not help me with my intention of being a LIGHTbeamer!
Bogged down with those feelings, I stopped what I was doing (feeling sorry for myself and hosting a grand pity party for one) and I wrote down 10 people’s names whom are LIGHTS in my life, thinking I might be able to draw inspiration from their own inner glow. Wow! What a cool exercise. I thought about people I haven't seen in years to people I've only recently met. My mind was flooded with fond memories, happy moments, funny stories, and a bevy of warm emotions that immediately turned my mood around.
Inspired, I reached for my address book, grabbed some cute cards, and wrote each of them a hand-written note telling them I was thinking of them today, and how they've had an impact on my life. It was hard at first for me to put my feelings of gratitude down on paper because, if I'm honest with you, I felt a little insecure and embarrassed -- worrying the classic, time-honored tradition of the utterly useless "what will they think?" But the LIGHT quickly snuffed out those questions of darkness, and the words poured out of me. Proof that our daily lives are filled with LIGHTbeamers — sometimes right in front of our very eyes and shining so effortlessly, we hardly even acknowledge their power. But when you stop and really think about it, their LIGHT is so magnetic! I hand-addressed the envelopes and mailed these bad boys in the snail mail. This simple task-- a lost art by today's email & Facebook standards -- just set my heart on fire. I couldn't help but giggle little smiles to myself thinking about the unexpected surprise that was making its way to their mailbox.
Afterwards, I was beaming! It turned my whole perspective on it's heels. I had been feeling "stuck" -- struggling with certain stories to tell, finding clear direction and motivation -- but by simply turning my attention away from "me" and thinking about the LIGHT others shine just blew out all of that darkness. LIGHT flooded my vision and, once again, the writing process began to flow. Those 10 People shined their LIGHT on me when I needed it and they didn't even know it; it was such a cool experience.
Then, the "even cooler" moments occurred. I started hearing from these people via personal phone calls, emails, texts, and private messages, thanking me for my card and sharing my kind words with them. What I sent out was returned to me tenfold. The phone calls especially warmed my heart because we are all busy, busy, busy people and those who took time out of their day to personally call me on the phone and allow us to exchange the pleasantries of hearing each others voice was a real LIGHTbeaming moment. Just as it seems writing those hand-written notes is a lost art, I dare say so is calling people on the phone just to say, "Hey!" I mean, really, when was the last time you called someone who you don't talk to regularly just to 'check in and say hello'? Gosh, what a simple way to share LIGHT with each other, right??
I didn't think about all of this when I first sat down and made my list of 10 names; I was simply trying to find a way to deflect some negative feelings. And even with my personal notes in the mail, the most I thought about was the smile it would bring to my friends' faces and perhaps generate a quick reply message of thanks. I did not anticipate the thoughtful and meaningful phone conversations that this would inspire. Our expectations have become so diluted and dulled, haven't they? We need to step up our game, people!!!
So let's create an uprising of LIGHT with each other. I challenge YOU — write your list of names. Is it hard or easy to name your 10? Sit down and write them a simple note to tell them you are thinking about them and why you love them. Shine your LIGHT onto them and I promise it will be returned to you in spades.
I'd love to hear from you. Who are your LIGHTbeamers? How have they impacted you and shined a light for you? Share with me in the comments section below. Post pics of your cute cards on our Facebook page. Shine your LIGHT!