PictureDarkness & LIGHT Courtesy: allthefreestock.com

I like the Dichotomy of things. I like to wear a little color with my black & white. I am both a thrill seeker and a careful ninny. I am a go-getter who loves to be lazy. I have fears that rage inside of me that only my Faith can suppress. Fundamentally, I believe we are all complex creatures who sometimes don’t make a whole lot of sense to the naked eye. At least, not at first glance. It’s why I seek the LIGHT, yet find so much goodness in the dark.

This explains why my husband — who knows the bright, bubbly, positive, light-chasing side of me — has grown very accustomed to my Bat-like tendencies. He'll often find me curled up in a dark nook, sitting quietly by myself, having drawn the curtains in the room to create a cavernous space in which to retreat. Yes — me, the chaser of the LIGHT, likes to sit and simmer in the dark.

What’s happening in these moments is an opportunity to shut out the world, silence the noise, and go inward with my thoughts. It is here, in the dark, I often meet the LIGHT I am so hell-bent on finding. Our days are filled 24-7 with stimuli — news, internet, conversations, to-do lists, errands, commitments, rushing … rushingrushing…  I often only have time to scribble down little notes — glimmers of LIGHT stories I dream up or encounter but don't have the time to develop, ponder, digest. These notes are memory joggers for me to flesh out later when I have time to actually sit down and write. But oddly enough, sometimes when that time arrives, I no longer see the importance or relevance of these little notes. Their tangled words no longer make sense to me, and I'm left trying to recall the details I clearly felt important enough to write down in the first place.  This unravels me! Why didn’t I just stop and write it out in the moment? I ask myself. This would have been a great story to share but now the words escape me. 

I think this is how life is — don’t you? Our days are filled with little moments that really could be epic stories if we would just stop long enough to soak them up, drink in the moment and savor its lingering message and impact. But we are too busy to stop and enjoy them so we let them pass us by; just a blip on the radar. When you later recall it, it has very little meaning or importance anymore.  It’s just nothing.  

When a string of these moments pile up and all I have is a series of little notes that I can no longer make sense of — it's a red flag warning that I have gone too far, too long, too deep into the madness of life.  I have to push the pause button and shut those curtains to block out all the light that is life rushing by. I embrace the cold, quiet dark; I become very quiet and still. And I listen. I have complete conversations in my head with my ego, my self-doubt, my courage, my spirited-self, and most importantly, God. Then, something always emerges. A LIGHT that was not there before. Clarity. Purpose. Faith. Resolve. Intention.  Sometimes full-blown stories emerge and I'm gifted with material to write; Other times,  full-blown revelations about my life and my personal journey that help me adjust my course.

The yin-yang of my writing life really intrigues me. I’ve come to realize I’m a very emotional writer — the stories only spill out when I’m fully enthralled in my highs and lows.

When life is on cruise control and balanced, the words don’t easily come. But send me over the edge — either into the sky high emotions of happiness, love, and elation or down into the deep valleys of fear, worry, and doubt — and the stories emerge. Why must I go to the extremes to find them? I wonder. When I contemplate this I hear God say to me:


"Because that’s where life is lived, my dear. That’s where I need you to go to find me. That’s where you need to go to find others, too, so you can do this thing I’ve called you to do: Write and Share and Shine.  Real friendships and true Community are not found on the road to Balance and Harmony. They are found in the thickness of the Dark and in the brightness of the Light. Go there. Be there. And then come back to tell the tales so others will find comfort in knowing they, too, are in the exact right place. They will know there is a lesson/story/reason in here, and that it’s all unfolding exactly as I would have it."
These are lessons from the Universe, God's great masterpiece.  The things that send us high and low are really just life lessons we need to learn  -- things to be absorbed,  processed, evaluated and shared. It's what I call "Riding the SERF" (Stop, Evaluate, Focus and Rededicate) ; these are the real things that bind us because we are all riding the highs and lows of life!

I've also learned that my highs are really high, and my lows are very low. It doesn't mean I am drunk on positivity anymore than it means I am unhappy or depressed.  It simply means I feel deeply. I imagine many of you can relate to this.  For this reason, I have come to embrace the Dark even more because there is so much to be learned there.... such valuable teachings if we are brave enough to really sit in it for a spell.

Keep riding your SERF.

EDITORIAL NOTE:  I found most of this piece on my computer, in a place I scribble down notes quickly when an idea strikes. When I found it later, I didn't even remember writing it! It's like I had Writer's Amnesia. But when I sat with the notes, and fleshed out this piece, I realized again how much beauty and truth can be found in our dark corners.  I am grateful for this lesson.
 
 

This post originally appeared in The Huffington Post -- see original article here

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The world seems to be filled with so much devastation, depravity, evil and hate. There are days when our news feeds are filled with such tragic events, it’s hard to hold our heads up and face another day. Furthermore, our culture seems to have taken a cue — people in our Networks easily and carelessly make snap judgements, rude accusations, and hate-filled commentary against us without much cause, or pause, for consideration of our viewpoints, or our perspective. Social Media channels have created this beast, but there’s no question it exist even within private conversations and live interchanges between people. I’ve thought much about this  — not so much evaluating how others participate in this phenomenon, but rather where my own actions fall. It’s caused me to ask this simple question:

If I am the sum of all my Facebook Likes, Posts, Shares, and Comments, would they equal the character I wish to be?  And furthermore, would others want to be measured this same way?

Our society is at a crossroads — we shall either continue to participate in the Judgement, or look deeper and see people for who they really are, beyond their latest public profile image. We are all complicated, interesting, humanly-flawed individuals. We are creatures filled with ideas and emotions, a history of mistakes, and a future filled with possibilities. Isn’t it high time we go back to seeing one another as we care to be seen ourselves? Remember the Golden Rule of Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You.
Let’s stop highlighting everyone’s wrongs and start celebrating their rights.
We are not perfect!  We are going to say things that come out all wrong. We are going to have opinions that sometimes don’t make sense to others. We are going to make decisions based on where we are in our own lives, not where others wish us to be.  We’ve become so engrossed and invested in other people’s beliefs and habits that we have somehow lost sight of our own; we’re too busy worrying about other people’s moral compass to figure out if our own is out of whack. The time has come ― we must put the brakes on being hyper critical.

When I dreamed of LIGHTbeamers,  I envisioned it as a vehicle for us all to shine for one another, support one another, inspire and motivate, lift each other up! However, my own shortcomings often leave me feeling unworthy of leading such a charge for I also make mistakes, say things I don’t mean, have polarizing opinions, and fail miserably at times in shining the LIGHT. Sometimes when this has happened, people have quickly pointed out my flaws. But mostly they have soldiered on for me — shining for me when my own darkness is too deep, lifting me up instead of stomping me down. For the latter, I am immensely grateful.


Can we all agree to shine a kind LIGHT for others? Give them a little Grace when they need it?
Social Media has created this platform for us to announce and denounce 24-hours a day. While posting selfies is fun, and sharing pics from my awesome vacation is great ― this is status update I really want to say, and what I imagine we all want to say to the world—
“Thank you for seeing me for who I really am. I am grateful for your open eyes, your widespread arms, and your loving heart. You don’t question my heart and you don’t waiver in your friendship, despite all the many ways in which you and I differ. You see me for more than just my profile picture, my status update, my likes and comments, and my political views. You see me for the beautiful, God-created soul I am. You see the smiles I give, the laughs we share, the goals I achieve. You see through all my fears, even when I do my best to mask them in a defiant state of self-confidence. You relate to me on a human level — as a mom, friend, wife, concerned citizen, sister, daughter, just someone who’s trying to find her footing in this big-bad-wolf of a world.  You see me sharing my kindness in the world, and give me credit for doing more than is necessary.”
Our means of communication needs to be filled with love, compassion, faith and understanding... and especially, grace. There is no room for hatred, bigotry, and insults. When we share our kind words and supportive hands, we shine our LIGHT. When we do this, we remind each other of the best versions of ourselves.

We are all fumbling our way through life together.  After all, we all want the same things — love, hope, peace, safety, compassion, a brighter future. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how we get there… as long as we stay true to our own unique course, and accept others along their way.

#ShineYourLIGHT
#BeGrateful
#CelebrateOthers
#BuildOthersUp
#DontTearThemDown


XOXO
APRIL


 
 

NOTE: Original post appeared in The Huffington Post (Click here) 

Picture"Shopkins" Photo credit: elasticcamel via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA
I am trying to keep my cool, but if she doesn't make a decision soon, I might just lose it! I am standing in the middle of a boutique toy store with my 7-year old daughter; We are buying a gift for one of her friend's birthday and she has just stumbled upon a jackpot of Shopkins -- a collectible series of miniature kitschy shopping toys with names like "Miss Mushy-Moo" (a mushroom) and "Beverley Heels Suzie" (shoes).

They have a whole television series on YouTube, and my daughter has just discovered the motherload of "Season 3" finds on our way to the checkout counter. She's holding two packages in her hands, seemingly identical but apparently what's inside is a total surprise (for my older friends, think collectible Baseball cards).  My daughter is frozen, trying to decide on whether to pick what's in her right hand or her left.  The 'not knowing' which Shopkins are inside is getting to her. She begs me to let her buy them both so she doesn't have to make a decision. I stand firm in my resolve that she must learn to let go of the control and to just "go with  the flow" of life and be happy with the surprises along the way. 

As she continues to grapple with this mounting decision -- I stand there and think about how this is such a problem for most of us. We all just want to know what the hell is inside! What are we bargaining for? What am I going to get for what I pay? Where will life take me if I decide to go down a certain path? Why can't we just know already how this will all turn out?

But that's just it....We can't. Life is so much about choosing between two options and then just being okay with what unfolds. This is faith. We all struggle with this one, don't we? No matter what religion we claim (or don't claim), faith is a part of our daily routines and lies deep within the inner walls of our subconscious. Having faith means you understand there is a deeper energy at work -- and regardless if you choose the right hand or the left, your course has already been marked because something deeper within you has already chosen the way.  This unnamed and unmarked beacon that guides and moves you is a bigger player than you, and there is nothing you can do to outsmart it so you just have to trust it, and go with it; you just have to have faith. 

In these moments, it's hard to relinquish the control, but the light always shines brighter when you do. Once we allow life to simply unfold is when we get to really discover what life is all about.  When we drop the daily struggle to choose between the right hand or the left, we are so much more open to the expansiveness that's waiting for us. Before we know it,  the Universe hands us a heaping helping of abundance that fills up both of our hands.

I can't seem to find the words to explain this to my 7-year old .... but I know this to be true as I navigate the journey through my 40's.  Knowing that there is a LIGHT that is the Captain of my ship makes the twists and turns along the way more enlightening, revealing, and remarkable. I no longer dwell on the things that didn't go my way. I see it more as a mere revealing of my particular path. That path IS my way... and it's the only way to go that will move me forward. Therefore, I have faith.


PictureJoin us in the Community!
Are you a member of our LIGHTbeamers Community on Facebook? 

Join a growing tribe of men/women who are actively pursuing ways to bring more meaning to their lives, more love & light to others, and become a meaningful member of a community that cares. I welcome you there. 

Join me for weekly Facebook live video streams, Random acts of kindness challenges, and deep conversation about moving through the busy-ness of live with more meaning and intention and awareness. Let's shine the LIGHT together! 


XOXO,
APRIL

 
 
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I wrote something yesterday that I think is the intro/beginning/something to a book. It was very raw, emotional, personal, and just a little (a lot) scary. It made my husband cry. What I wrote has to do with FEAR. 

I think a lot of us deal with fear everyday. Fear is so rampant. Fear of failure, fear of money, fear of love, fear of success, fear of not being good enough, fear of being our true selves, fear of what others think, Fear.... Fear... Fear. 

I have been crippled by this. I know how devastating and debilitating this can be. 

But I also know how beautiful life can be once you name your fears (I personally call my fear The Devil because it helps me remember how evil fear is, and how badly I do not want it in my life)

I prayed and prayed and prayed for God to come take my fears away for a long time. He sent me a special message when he started sending me a word: LIGHT. 

I wrote about this "sending of the Light" on LIGHTbeamers when I first started my blog (Read original post here if you want to read how that word CHASED me, and God beat me over the head with it). But even then, I didn't have the words to fully describe it and appreciate it. I feel those words coming now. Another gift from God. 

I'm a few years in now on my personal journey to overcome these irrational, totally energy blocking fears and live my life more purposeful, intentional, and BIGGER. 

Do I have it all figured out? Um, hell no! 

But I do know that anytime spent in the darkness is scary. 

Yet living into the bright light can be even scarier because it means being vulnerable and truthful. That's why so many of us choose to stay stuck in the ruts!! It's easier and safer there sometimes. 

But that is no way to live, friends. If you stay there, what will your life look like 10 years from now? Where will you be? I'm in my mid-40's and I want these years to count for something! I want to do fun things, go to cool places, meet interesting people, experience amazing things!! I no longer choose to hide in my closet, crying because of my fears. 

There are times you just have to say F#^* this-- I am going to do life my way!!!!! 

And so, I am going to write a book and share with the world my darkest and brightest days. I'm going to write about Fear, and how the LIGHT can save you from it. 

And I am committed to building a Community of LIGHTbeamers who want to shine alongside with me!! The dark world needs us to link arms and do this work together! 

Join me! 
APRIL



 
 
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The world seems to be getting crazier, meaner, harder, and darker by the day. From global reports of bombings to cop killings in our own backyard, the negativity and fear is rampant. It's so easy to throw our hands in the air and say, "I give up. The world is too far gone. There is nothing I can do to fix it."

That is exactly what Fear does. It strips you of being able to see any possibilities for greatness. It blinds you from the opportunities to dip your hands and hearts into the waters and cleanse the grim away. It freezes you from taking action. 

Inaction is a guaranteed fast pass to the front of the line of never-ending despair
I don't know about you, but I don't want to go there. 

I wrote these words on the LIGHTbeamers Facebook fan page this week and they apparently struck a cord. 

There is much work to be done, and now more than ever being a LIGHT in this world truly does mean something. It means you must TAKE ACTION. You must open your heart and do things that make a difference. Maybe that means finally stepping out of the shadows of who you dream to be, and actually doing something that will bring you closer to your goal. Maybe it means refusing to stay stuck in a negative mindset that only seems to produce more drama and heartache in your life. Maybe it means you will finally take control, and admit that YOU HAVE THE POWER to change things in your own life for the better. When you do this, you will find your LIGHT. And you will shine. And when you shine, the light will illuminate the way for others. Being a LIGHT is not a superficial word, as I said. It means something pretty damn important. Too many people in this world hide in the safety of darkness, fearful of being seen, remaining comfortable in their refusal to be vulnerable. 

Living is about setting big bold goals. Shining is having the courage to speak out loud your dreams. You will light your heart on fire when you tap into that "thing" that is your own personal light. And when your heart is on fire, it burns for others. It lifts others up. It comforts the weak and broken. 

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An Invitation for you to join "Opportunity Goodness"
My journal entries look like a bomb of emotions and creative ideas have exploded. Re-reading some of my personal thoughts recently, I stumbled upon something I wrote months ago -- in a burst of creativity, I scribbled out a 7 step strategy for de-cluttering your mind & energy so you can step forward into your LIGHT and shine brighter for yourself, and others.

My ideas were so simple. So doable. Cheap & easy in fact. So much so that at the time I wrote them, I easily dismissed them as too mundane. Too simple. Too easy. Not worth sharing. But looking back on that journal entry, it struck me "That's all it really freaking takes!... Others need this. What an impact we could make if we just did these 7 simple things."

Do you want to Take Action and have an Impact? Or do you plan to continue to watch Fox News and CNN nonstop to further feed your fears? Be in the camp of folks who feed the world some goodness. Join me in the #shinebright movement. 

The 7-day Opportunity Goodness challenge will be released on Monday, July 18th -- only subscribers to my blog and members of the Private FB Community will have access. So join in either place! We'll see you on the other side of Goodness. I can't wait to hear what a difference 7 days will make in your life, and in the lives of others! 

Cheers!
APRIL


 
 
PicturePhoto via Visualhunt
When life feels small, it’s because you are drifting on a small raft. 
Time to build a bigger boat!

I am not a great runner. In fact, I really don’t enjoy it. I wish I did, I try to, but at the end of the day I never find myself craving a run!! I do it more out of necessity than anything else. Oh sure I always feel better afterwards  and I am always glad I did it — but I still never really identify myself as a Runner.  The story I’m telling myself is the one that reads  "I am not a runner” —  Yet I continue to sign up for races and events that challenge me to not accept that storyline. 

This point became so clear to me today — appropriately enough — while I was running. I had to constantly remind myself and rewind my self-talk into saying  “I am a runner. I am strong. I will run this last bit without walking. I can do it. I will do it”…. This took a lot of mental work. But anytime we decide to play bigger in life — build a bigger boat, build a better you! — takes a lot of mental work. It takes mantras, vision, commitment, determination. To build a better you, you must first set the goal in place. Decide what it is you really want. I want to be a great writer & public speaker. I am not there today, but I am clear on my vision for the future. If you want to loose 20 pounds and run your first half-marathon, my best guess is you are not there today, right? But you SEE where it is you want to go — you have that Goal in place. 

Then you have to continually be in the mindset that you are achieving this goal. You are this person. You have to constantly tell your mind that this is what you do and who you are! This is where the rubber meets the road because if you don’t stay vigilant in this area — your old, smaller self will return to the helm of your daily thoughts  “I can’t run this race” “I am always going to be this weight” “I don’t have what it takes to make this big change in my life” “I like where I am; where I am in comfortable. I don’t want to do these things if they make me uncomfortable”

Changing your mindset is the biggest tool you will need in order to Build a Better You.
It’s the fundamental “secret sauce” to making positive, impactful change in your life. This is you living into the LIGHT that is inside of you. I do not believe we were put on this earth to live in darkness, nor to live small. We were meant to do big, bold, meaningful things. When you do this, you shine … and by doing so, you help shine a light for others. 

Where are you playing small in your life? Where are you settling or stopping short of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone? What would you really love to be doing if you knew you would not fail? The best thing I know to do is to just DO IT. When I find myself playing small, I feel weak, lethargic, even depressed. When I push myself to play bigger, I feel creative, alive, awake, energized! 

I know we all have the ability to manifest what it is we truly want in our lives. The question is will you do the work? Will you do it?? Will you build the better version of yourself so that you can be the best YOU you’ve got??

I am not the best runner. I am not the fastest. And Lord knows I am not the most graceful. But I run so  I can get better, faster, and improve my form. I run so  I can exercise not only my body, but also my brain. When I accomplish things in the running world that once seemed impossible to me, it is a reminder to examine other areas in my life where I might be selling myself short so I can get busy building a better ME!

Get busy building.  There is a bigger, bolder, better YOU waiting to be built! 

Cheers!
APRIL



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Join our Vibrant & Engaging LIGHTbeamers Community - a Private FB Group! 
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I've been doing some hard work lately -- trying to clear mental blocks of fear and anxiety as it pertains to money. This is area I really struggle in... a constant battle I have to be hyper vigilant against. My gosh, the time I've wasted on worrying about things that never, ever came to fruition. TRUE STORY -- I once was so convinced we were going to lose our house to foreclosure. I already had the whole scenario playing out in my head.... yet we have NEVER, not even once,  missed a house payment!! What in the hell was that all about???? Just plain old FEAR. It had no basis in reality. They say Fear is nothing more than just False Evidence Appearing Real. 

What negative thoughts are going through your head? What are you worrying about that is absolutely unfounded in this moment of time?  
As I've learned from some pretty amazing coaches (one being my husband, Kyle Pertuis of MindFit Coaching) -- these are nothing more than Limiting Beliefs. When we believe these lies about ourself, we sell ourselves short. We live small. We play it safe. We stay inside-the-box. We tell ourselves this is just "life". Maybe so, but is that really living??

There are times I can very easily see the positive side to things. I can very easily dismiss the negative thoughts and see only the LIGHT. But trust me --- there are also plenty of times that I struggle with this. There are times I get STUCK IN THE DARK. This always feels "heavy" to me.... depressing, ominous, scary. Its a place I try to snap out of as quickly as possible because never, ever, ever does anything good, happy, or positive come from this place. Over the years -- what has helped me is to NAME THIS. I personally call it the Devil. When I feel my mind racing to these stupid, crappy thoughts, I stop myself and say, "Well, Hello there, Devil. I see you! I see what you're trying to do. You just want me to be stuck in this darkness, but oh, no no no -- you will not have power over me. I am stronger and better than you." -- Immediately, I feel the sense of control come back into my court and I am able to shift back into the light.

Folks -- this is work I've been working on for quiet some time. This is what ultimately led me to start LIGHTbeamers because I felt so empowered and capable every single time I acknowledged the light and allowed myself to BE in it, I wanted to shine it for others!! 

As a result, my load has lightened. Not always, because I am a work in progress. I STILL have work to do.... but I am so much further ahead than I was 5-6 years ago. I am much further ahead than I was 2 years ago. I am much further ahead than I was 6-months ago because I continue to train my brain, and focus on the light. 

I want you to join me. I want this to be an ‪#‎uprisingoflight‬ because I know we need it. I know the struggle. I know the stupid stories we tell ourselves. I know the ways we LIVE SMALL.... and I want us to LIVE LARGE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want us to dream those dreams and BELIEVE THEM TO BE TRUE. 

I have been giving considerable thought lately to what exactly LIGHTBeamers is, should be, the potential it has to change lives. It's sounds so grandiose even just typing it -- but truth be told, I FEEL LED to keep talking about it, to keep sharing my stories, your stories, other people's stories so that we can all shift our mindsets and BE THE LIGHT. Imagine your world 6-months from now, 2 years from now, 5-6 years from now if you commit to this type of personal work of shifting your mindset!! 

Thank you for being here with me, and allowing me to share a big piece of my heart with you.

xoxo,
APRIL


Be sure to Follow LIGHTbeamers on Facebook
Join our Vibrant & Engaging LIGHTbeamers Community - a Private FB Group! 
Continue the Conversation on Twitter - #LIGHTbeamers 


 
 
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The Finish line of the Palmetto 200 Relay Race, ran in memory of Russell Hinson.
Have you ever done something so outside your box that when you’re done, you realize your box was entirely too small? That “something” has changed you and shaped you in a way you’ll never be able to go back to who you were before, the oversized you fitting into the too small box? I suspect we are all a bit oversized for our boxes, we just don’t realize it. Some of us haven’t seen the bulges and cracks the box suffers from our attempt to live comfortably inside of it. Our small boxes really want us to move the hell out, find a bigger space, move on to newer and bigger boxes but our eyes are still blinded by the comfort and safety we think the smaller box provides. We don’t see the cracks…. but God does. He knows how to move us out of those contraptions — and He will come up with the craziest of ways to show you how. I really think this is quiet fun for God. I think He has one helluva good time coming up with ways to teach us we are capable of so much more, that we are meant for very large boxes filled with extraordinary experiences and people. 

Up until last week, myself and a group of my workout buddies (really — they are so much more than that label. They are my dear friends. We have formed a bond that is hard to articulate and name. We know it is special. We call ourselves The Village)… so The Village had been training for the Palmetto 200 — a relay race that starts in Columbia, SC and ends 205 miles later in Charleston within a 24 hour timeframe. Each of our 12 member team had been assigned legs — 3 a piece — and we were divided into two Vans. The spreadsheet was set. Our individual paces calculated. Our expected times for completion totaled. Each of our legs were  mapped from point A to point B, with details of elevation, difficulty, and distance. Then — one of our teammates’  husband died unexpectedly. She was out…. and then, so were we. We collectively agreed running the race was no longer an option when one of our Villagers was down. But then, she asked us not to cancel. She wanted us to run it without her. She had even orchestrated the details of her husband’s funeral to ensure we could attend and still run the race. From there, one of the Villagers coined the phrase: Running for Russell. That was it!! We knew we had to put our own sorrow aside and do this for our friend, Erin and her departed husband, Russell. We rallied to revamp our plan  — a fellow Villager stepped up and agreed to run in her place. Other teammates took on longer miles to make other necessary adjustments. Another Villager baked us cookies and sent along encouraging notes in the bag. We made arrangements to finish the race and return home in time to attend Russell’s funeral. It all happened so fast, but our purpose had been renewed and it had a name: Running for Russell
PictureMaking the Handoff between Leg #13 and #14

Heading into the race, none of us exactly knew what to expect as none of us had ever run a relay like this. This was most definitely going to push us outside of our boxes, push us beyond the comfort of what we knew to be normal. There were going to be long, formidable runs. There were going to be lonely, dark roads to cross. There were going to be sufferable hours without sleep. There were going to be moments that would require us to dig deep to move beyond our mental fears and physical pain. We all expected this. But the 33 hours that unfolded from the time Van #1 kicked off the event until our final runner crossed the finish line was nothing short of phenomenal. Actually, there are many words I’d use to describe the whole experience: emotional, beautiful, hard, hysterical, delirious, exhilarating, painful.  Throughout those 205 miles were moments of encouragement and support, moments of laughter and silly fun, moments that rallied an entire van and reminded us all that our pain, our fears, and our shortcomings meant nothing. This was not about us — this was about a man who left this world too soon, and about the family he left behind. It was an undercurrent we could all feel — we felt its power and its levity. We turned our pain into prayers and our fears into motivation. Running for Russell became our mantra and it fueled us all the way to the end. 


Wikipedia (a favorite resource of Russell’s) explains a Village as this: A village is a clustered human settlement or community. I have a new definition — a Village is a group of people who grab your heart in their hand, look you square in the eye, and without saying a single word promise to be the “do-whatever-you-need-me-to-do-when-life-is-no-longer-pretty” kind of friend.

It was said at Russell’s service that he was always challenging others to good conversation, asking excellent questions that prompted one to give good thought to their answers. A curious fella who was in constant study of life  — using a unique lens through which to view the world and live far outside his comfortable box.  

It was also mentioned at his funeral the power of this Village. I could feel the hearts of every single Villager in attendance swell. This word has become so sacred to us. We are so much more than a clustered human settlement or community — we are bonded by more than just geographical location; we are bonded by life in all of its beauty and pain.

Russell’s death ended a long suffering battle with a disease that greatly limited his mobility. In particular, he was riddled with pain in his leg and could not walk without assistance. Because of Russell’s condition, he stayed mostly at home and,  as a result, a good many of us who ran the race had never met him. It was Erin who our hearts poured out for — and it was probably more appropriate to say we were Running for Erin. Yet, clearly Russell played an even bigger role in our run…. for I believe it was Russell who ran for us. Though I never met Russell, I imagined his legs running those miles, his smile as he crossed each check point, his heart pumping red, hot blood through his healthy veins, and his family cheering him on every step. It was his spirit that kept us going, that gave our legs their power, that quelled the fears in our minds, and that grew the love of our Village, and that will continue to inspire us far past the finish line. I think Russell is still running for us…. somewhere... and he’s challenging us to the conversation; asking us to examine the cracks and bulges of our small comfortable boxes and step out into the beautiful, bright unknown. 

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Russell Hinson leaves behind his beautiful wife, Erin, and their 3 children: 10-year old twins Charlie and Poppy, and 5-year old Mary Hazel. A donation site has been established to help offset the overwhelming financial burden of losing the man of the house, years of medical bills, and unexpected funeral costs. Even small donations will help the Hinson family as they resettle into their new life without Russell. Thank you for your prayers & consideration. 


Please visit this link to donate: Two Possums and a Bug

 
 
PicturePhoto 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. 
PicturePhoto 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. 

Cheers!
APRIL

 

2016 Jumps for JOY

01/05/2016

 
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Last year, when the idea of LIGHTbeamers came to me, the word LIGHT was so crystal clear. I could see it. I could hear it. I could smell it. I could taste it. I am not even kidding — it was a very intense vision unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before in my life (more about that here).

So when this year rolled around, I was just convinced I would have another Sugar Plum Fairy vision drop out of the sky and land in my lap; another gift tied up with a nice, neat, pretty little bow. Some messages from God are powerful and undeniable while others are faint whispers, you have to really listen and watch for them. As the New Year rolled around, I was still struggling to find my footing — trying to get clear direction on where did I want to go in 2016. Then I did the Reflections exercise which I wrote about yesterday.  I liken this to cleaning your house. Sometimes my bedroom looks like a bomb of jeans, sweaters, and boots exploded in there. But then, I clean the clutter — I put all those things away, back where they belong — then I can see my floor again. I can see the pathway from my bed to my bathroom. I can see the way I am supposed to go, rather than circumventing all the madness strewn across the room. 

If you want to get real clear on what your mind, heart, and soul is telling you (really, what GOD is telling you —) then you have to clear out your mind’s clutter. Clean that crap up! Put things away where they belong. Journal, write things down, voice-record your jumbled thoughts, whatever you have to do to get it out of the way. Then, you will see your path. 

I cleaned out my mind’s clutter and realized a word had been swirling around in there for some time. I’d heard it before. Heck, I had been saying the word all along: I want to seek the JOY in my life.  


2015 was a strange year. I intentionally took nearly a year off from any kind of work so I could gift myself with the time to write; to pursue this passion project called LIGHTbeamers. To have more time with my family; to be more involved with the kids; to do a few things I just had no time for otherwise. It was a great year in that regard. But in other ways, I got restless. I am a doer. I am a worker. I feel empowered when I am out there doing my thing — working and earning a living. I like to have a full plate and be productive. It’s the way I am wired.  Towards the end of the year, that restlessness caused me to really go into a tailspin. I am normally a happy, positive, "glass is half-full" kind of girl. But during this dark time, I let fear, worry and panic rule my days — 

“I’m never going to get work again” 

“I’ve let all of my contacts dry up. They aren’t calling me anymore for projects”

“I have nothing to show for my work — my portfolio is crap”

“We are going to go broke. We’ll have to sell the house”

“I am a loser.”


Anyone ever have these insane, stupid, crazy, total nonsense thoughts run through your head and you totally BELIEVE them? This, my friends, is clutter. You gotta clean this crap OUT! Take it to the garbage. It is not even worth bagging up for donation. 

I cleaned out the clutter, then JOY appeared.  She was there all along laying on my carpet underneath all the jeans, sweaters, and boots. 

Life is too short.  You don't have to look very far to find examples of time ticking away. Why waste one more minute living in fear, worry, and doubt?  
I am not going to allow myself to spend anymore time here. I want to explore the world with JOY by my side. 
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I’m linking arms with her and going to JUMP into 2016 with her. I am going to seek  & do JOYful things. I will base all of my decisions and moves by asking myself this simple question “Will it bring me JOY?” 

If you'd like to join me — here’s my plan:
Every day, I am going to journal and write down 5-6 ways JOY showed up with me that day. I’ve mapped this out — since I am starting on January 5 — by the end of the year, I will have compiled 2016 ways JOY was present in my daily life. 
Just thinking about the notebook of journal entries I will have by December 31 gets me so excited. I cannot wait to sit down on New Years Eve and reflect back on this year. There will be times that JOY will be crystal clear and obvious, while other times I am sure I will have to seek her out, find her hiding under some more clutter. But I will know she is there, and I am going to hunt her down daily. JOY is my friend and she is also yours. 

I will be sharing about this regularly in the LIGHTbeamers Community — so join me over there and let’s JUMP for JOY.  


JOYfully,
APRIL

 

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

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