Photo Credit: UnSplash
I delivered my regular Meals on Wheels of Greenville
route today. One of the regular stops is a couple, a man & wife, although it's the man who always answers the door. The wife is non-mobile; I gather she is bedridden. He relies on a walker to get around. It always takes him a long time to answer the door when I ring. You just get the sense that everything takes time, happens slowly, and there are never, ever any lights on in the house when I step inside to put the meals down on his kitchen counter.
Today, he surprised me.
As I got out of my car and walked toward the door - he spoke to me from the other side of a boat that is always parked in his carport. He was smiling a big, bright smile and said, "You can just put those inside."
I was startled to see him outside! I opened the door and placed the meals on his counter and noticed his walker was in the kitchen.
When I came back outside, I playfully asked him, "Hey, how did you get all the way over there without your walker?"
"Oh I've got it with me. It's right here. I have two of them!" he replied, smiling and continuing to tinker with something in his boat.
The vibrant energy that came off this old man's aura was palpable. It was a beautiful day here, the sun was shining, the sky was clear, and you could just tell that getting outside -- even for just a few minutes to tinker with his boat-- probably reminded him of days gone by when he would take that boat out on the lake, fish for the big one, and come home with a filled up soul only a day on the water can provide.
I smiled at him and asked if there was anything I could do for him while I was there. "No," he replied. "I'm doing great."
Yes he was. Today was a great day for him. No one needed an announcement to be able to tell that much; It glowed from his body. "THIS IS A GREAT DAY. I GOT OUTSIDE AND I AM GETTING TO TINKER WITH MY BOAT"
When I began the route earlier, I started out by asking God to use me to help shine light for someone else today.... but it was this man tinkering with his boat that shined for me.
Photo credit: Pat Dalton... via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND
Mired in the muck. Stuck in a rut. Lost in a field. Where in the hell am I and where do I go from here?
I know it happens — time eventually rolls around and catches up with you. But I’ve been especially frazzled, unfocused, and off track for a while now. Does this ever happen to you? Rhetorical question because I know it happens to all of us — I am not alone!!
The point is: being this way does not allow for productivity and creativity — and it certainly does not allow for the LIGHT to shine. Running from one project to the next, leaving piles of work and chores undone, and going at warp speed without any signs of progress is just madness. So today, I sit down to write — and stop the madness.
Take this blog, for example. Where did the past 3 months go that I haven’t written one single word here? And now that I think about it, I haven’t taken notes in the millions of places I normally keep them on anything of late that has inspired me. I’m supposed to be witnessing a “Joy Journey” this year — and those moments are passing me by without even registering on my Ricter scale.
Friends — don't let this happen. Our lives are so busy and confusing, they can run over us like a freight train on a dark, cold night if we don’t wake up, stand up, and vow to be more intentional and do the things that bring us happiness and joy -- make them a priority in our lives.
Less is more.
Less commitments, more down time.
Less obligations, more freedom.
Less “to-do lists”, more time to BE something.
Women especially fall prey to these pitfalls because we inherently feel the need to take care of all the demands -- provide for the family, make people happy, make the kids a priority, do the dishes, fold the laundry, be a great friend, take care of aging parents, have meaningful sex with husband, be stylish not frumpy, squeeze in a workout, be a good neighbor, volunteer in the community, do all of this in 24 hours then repeat, repeat, repeat. Look -- I get it -- I know deep in our hearts we all desire to BE MORE and add more substance to our lives but the distractions we face today are insane: kids activities, household chores, work, social media, email. The dust bunnies that hop around your feet when you are trying to stay focused on a task are just daily reminders of all the little things you’ve swept away without really eliminating them. No one really expects us to do all of these things except... well, us! We are the creators of our own chaos.... but the good news is we can also be the conductors of change. I am stopping my madness in it’s tracks. Today, I am rewriting my gameplan and taking action on the things that are most important to me. I’m shutting off social media and silencing my notification “dings”. I am removing myself from the daily distractions so I can focus on the things that do indeed bring me joy. I want to soak them up. I want to be a witness to their power. I want to be a part of the movement that brings joy, light, and happiness to the world. I cannot do this if I am stuck in the middle of the SUCK (Stressed. Undone. Confused. Krazy)
Like the dawn of a fresh, new spring day, I am flinging open the doors to productivity and creativity - and welcoming in the smell of fresh ideas. My arms are open. My mind is clear. My eyes see the LIGHT. Photo by April Adams Pertuis @ www.lightbeamers.com
As I sit here, I look out my window and see the mountains, the very detail of their peaks and valleys, the shape and shade they create as they rise up and meet the Carolina blue sky. I see white puffy clouds in the distance, simulating little crowns on top of the mountains’ heads. I hear the birds chirping their songs, the hum of the ceiling fan in its constant cadence of rhythm, and even the ticking sound as my fingers stroke my laptop's keys. When was the last time you just sat and listened? When did you last silence yourself and the noise around you long enough to truly absorb all the beauty and goodness that surrounds you daily? Why don’t we all make this a daily practice? Maybe some of you do, as I know friends who are committed to their daily meditation practices. I am not this person — but I want to me. The idea of it thrills me and intrigues me. So, now, in this moment, I meditate and soak it all in. I close my eyes and just let the words type themselves onto the screen. Flow.
I am coming back, and I am bringing Joy and Light with me.
Nothing but Clear Skies ahead!
I wish I could take credit for this story because it’s just that good! Writers slave and wrangle for hours, days, months to come up with just the right words to impress upon our readers. So when someone just lays out some brilliance before us without even trying, our hearts break a little. But that’s exactly what happened today when my 9-year old son served me an Ace of a story.
There are days when raising children is a total beat-down; you’re left wondering if anything you say or the examples you set are even cracking the surface of their stubborn heads. You wonder if they are going to be Grumpy Gus's their entire life, not learning a lick of goodness from you. Of course, these days are outnumbered by the good ones, but man do they feel like a dark thunderstorm that just won’t go away.
But today, we had sunshine … literally! Driving in the car this morning, taking my son to a summer camp program, we mentioned how nice it was outside. We rolled down all the windows and turned up the music on the radio. We let the wind blow through our hair and the song rev up our spirits. We were jamming! And smiling! And soaking in the rays. We felt totally carefree and wrapped up in the magic of the summer days. My son grabbed my phone and pulled up the weather app to see if there was any rain in the forecast. Siri reported it would be sunny all day long. Then, he searched for the town where my husband is on business this week — Bloomsburg, PA — to see if it would be sunny there. Yep! Sunny skies in PA today. Then, he checked the radar in Dallas, where all the rest of our family lives. He happily announced, “Meme will be swimming in her pool for sure! It’s going to be sunny and HOT!” By now, he was really getting a kick out of finding all the places expecting sunshine so he continued with our favorite ski slopes: Beech Mountain, NC and Breckenridge, CO both reported sunny skies! Then he went coast to coast: New York City — sunny…. Los Angeles — sunny! His voice elevating and speeding up, he exclaimed, "Oh my gosh, it's even going to be sunny in Cupertino, Italy!" We broke out into hysterics. All this talk of sunshine just spilled all kinds of LIGHT into my car. The sun has that effect, doesn't it? It can just heat you up with joy and giddiness, and we were feeling it. He began taking screen shots of each city’s weather report and then snapped his head toward me and with a wild look in his eye exclaimed, “Mom, you have a write a LIGHTbeamers story about this. You have to share all this sunshine with your people!!"
Stop me cold.
I giggled that nervous little laugh — stalling him with my reaction while I processed the moment.
My gosh — he’s paying attention. He hears me when I say “Come on, smile!! — we gotta shine a light for others”.
Right before my eyes, in the span of about 5 minutes, he deftly crafted a killer story with a keen eye and a sense of humor, and delivered it to me on a shiny, silver platter. All I could think about is how all this talk of LIGHT is impacting him (and undoubtedly my daughter, too). Just the thought of the sun beaming its golden rays down in other parts of the world made him smile and think happy thoughts.
So there it is my people. The biggest dose of sunshine I can deliver for you, all the way from California to Italy.
Even if it's stormy in your city, hang on, there are clear skies ahead!
It's a bright sunshiny day!
I’ve been in a bit of a creative shut down lately — bogged down with the busyness of Life, trying to “make it” until the end of the school year with my kids, and continuing to work on several projects that shouldn’t be taking me so long to complete! And — I have to admit — I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by all the tragic news that comes at us daily in the Headlines. Flooding in my home state of Texas this past week and stories of lives lost in horrific fashion have dampened my mood. It’s hard when you’ve driven the roads that are under water, you’ve eaten at the restaurants that are destroyed, you’ve camped out by the rivers that are raging. The weeks of endless rain all across the state have dampened everyone’s mood. Even my own mother — the happiest and most positive person I know — seems downtrodden and glum when I talk to her on the phone. And the forecast continues to call for more rain ... more flooding... more darkness.
But then I jump on Facebook and see a simple status update from one of my friends that sends a spark of LIGHT through me like a lightening bolt in the middle of a dead-of-night storm.
This little spark of hope in my News feed instantly restored my Mojo. Seriously, that’s all it took! Life goes on, and we are required to move forward even when we don’t feel like it. The world needs our positive energy and overall good vibes. Flood waters may sweep away homes, devastate entire communities, and tragically take lives — but the rest of us must rise up and flood the world with Goodness in order to make all of that darkness disappear. That’s what my friend Lisa did when she posted this bit of good news. That’s what the stranger who returned the wallet did. That’s what the lady who shared the secret sale on flowers at Home Depot did.
“Do Good and Good will Come to You”
I talk a lot about Random Acts of Kindness. I believe in the power it has to affect us all in such a positive and energizing way. It creates a chain reaction of Goodness — even if someone doesn’t “pass it on” in the literal sense, their mood is instantly changed and the rest of their day is filled with more smiles and happiness which in turn affects those they encounter. On my LIGHTbeamers Facebook page
, I regularly challenge followers to find ways to surprise people with their thoughtfulness. It doesn’t have to be much to snap some unsuspecting stranger out of the doldrums of darkness. All we have to do is share a little Goodness. I thank my friend Lisa for sharing her Goodness and snapping me out of my stupor this week. She is a LIGHTbeamer
and I am grateful for the opportunity to share her Goodness with you all here.
Now — let’s all get busy and go do some Good!
Are you enjoying this blog? Please "like" and "share" with your friends on your social media platforms. Invite them to be a LIGHTbeamer with you! And -- as always -- I love reading your comments here. Tell me what are you doing to share some Good?
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!
Today'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. My LIGHTbeamers!
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.
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.
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!) My Lady, in ALL her Glory!
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!!
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."