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



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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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

 
 
If you’re going by the calendar, I am a little late for this post. After all, aren’t we supposed to have all of last year’s business tied up with a nice neat bow by December 31, and your road map for the New Year all laid out by January 1? Well, if that is you — then way to go! You are on the ball. That is not me. This has never been me. I rarely operate my life by what the Hallmark calendar says. For me, the New Year officially begins when my kids go back to school, the house is once again quiet, and I have a little “me time” to think. Everyone is different. Some of you are out there working a 9-5 jobs, returning to work when the kids go back to school. My point is, it doesn’t matter what the date on the calendar says — you simply start when you’re ready! No guilt. No shame. No ticking time watch telling you you’re late! 

So here it is January 4 and I am sitting down to reflect on what I learned, what I did well, where I missed the mark in 2015. And, I am looking forward and considering where it is exactly I want to go in the New Year. 

Natalia Levey of Healthy Intent inspired me to take time to consider my 2015 Reflections after posting her own on social media. It seems so simple, really, to first sit and take stock of all that transpired this past year before forging ahead into the new one. But how many times have you just sprinted into the new calendar year without first giving much consideration to all the lessons you learned over the past 12 months? If you’re like me — a bull ready to go! — you may have been too focused on the future to give much credence to the past. (This is SO me! Nostalgia is just not my thing). Inspired — I sat down to really consider what all I had accomplished this past year and, much to my surprise, realized I had checked off quiet a few amazing boxes. 
This was an amazing “energizer” for me. It really forced me to focus, seek clarity, and listen to my heart about what resonates within me — what matters to me. This is an amazing place to start when considering where you want to go from here — what goals and dreams do you want to put in place for the months ahead? Almost instantly, after completing this exercise, a flood of fresh, new ideas and visions rushed into my head — things I’d never considered before but suddenly made so much sense to me “Of course that’s what I should aim for in 2016. Duh!!” 

My challenge to you, if you have not already done something similar to this, is to sit down and really reflect back on your wins from 2015. It is not too late to give yourself a little credit, a pat on the back, for all you accomplished. It’s not so much about the recognition as it is the revelation. I can almost guarantee you it will fuel you and feed your soul for new opportunities, new paths, new directions in 2016. 

I’d love to hear your 2015 Reflections. Sharing is so powerful. It’s a release into the Universe that has undeniable affects. I wish you all nothing but positivity, opportunity, health, happiness, and LIGHT in 2016.  If you haven’t yet joined the LIGHTbeamers Community, please do so! There are such amazing souls with us over there, offering up great support, exuding electric energy, and shining lots and lots of LIGHT. I look forward to chatting with you in our group! 

Make 2016 Big & Bold. Remember, Intention is Everything! I believe in you! 

Cheers,
APRIL



 
 
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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. 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 in the past week — not so much evaluating how others participate in this phenomenon, but rather where my own actions fall.  If I am the sum of all my Facebook Likes, Posts, Shares, and Comments, would they equal the character I wish to be?  Would others want to be measured this same way?

I feel we’ve come to 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.

We are not perfect! We are going to make mistakes. 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 in check. Is that what we truly want for ourselves and for one another? The time has come -- we must put the brakes on being hyper critical. Stop highlighting everyone's wrongs and start celebrating their rights.

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 other times, 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.

So, can we all agree to shine a kind LIGHT for others? Give them a little Grace when they need it?
If so, then this is what I want to say, and what I imagine we all would want to say to our supporters, and even more so to our detractors — and I want you to hear these words the next time you find yourself rolling your eyes, shaking your head, and impulsively responding to someone’s seemingly off-the-wall social media post  —

“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."

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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 not selfish creatures. Oh sure, there are days we slip, we go backwards, we hog the spotlight. On these days, we need to recall all the other days when we are out there fighting the good fight — shining our LIGHT and being a beacon for others.

Yes, you do it your way, and I do it mine… but there we are, nonetheless, working toward the common goal.  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

Cheering for YOU,
APRIL

 
 
PicturePhoto Courtesy: www.thestate.com
I was born and raised a Texan. I’ve always felt in my heart that true sense of “pride” that only belonged to Texas. But for 10 years now, I’ve lived in South Carolina — a state that is lovely with it’s true Southern Charm, gorgeous coastline beaches, panoramic mountain vistas, and delicious sweet tea. I love living here, yet I have never truly called this place “home”. 

South Carolina has been in the news — a lot — this past year for a variety of Headline-worthy reasons; and in every instance, the people of this state have risen to the occasion with such dignity, grace, class, love, and faith. 

When a madman shooter walked into a Charleston church bible study and killed nine innocent African-American victims, there were no riots or crazy #BlackLivesMatter marches. Instead, there was an almost immediate forgiveness and healing that took place. The people of this state relied on their faith and loving hearts, rather than inviting hatred and venom to take center stage in the News. Though the national media tried its damnedest, they could not beat an angle out of the people here. We would not allow the circus, and the media eventually went away. 

Soon thereafter, the Confederate flag finally came down from it’s perch at the Statehouse — a move that signified this state no longer represents the racial and cultural hatred that is a part of its history, a hatred that very clearly contributed to the Charleston shootings. This removal of the flag signified to others, “We are more than just what history says we are. We are more than the color of our skin”.  The removal of the Confederate flag occurred peacefully; months later, no one is even talking about this anymore. We did it. We moved on.

PictureThe Donations in Greenville pour in!
Then, this past week, we experienced a 1000 Year Flood after Hurricane Joaquin spit back out to sea and aimed it’s water hose directly at South Carolina. The State Capital, Columbia, was literally swallowed up in a sea of water overnight that no forecaster could even predict. While Federal Aid has arrived, it’s the amount of donations and help from the citizens of neighboring towns and communities that has truly saved the day. The donations have been more than enough to handle the crisis. Volunteers have organized lightening quick to create a system of rescue, shelter, and relief that — quiet honestly — I’ve never seen before. The efficiency with which the operations are proceeding means people are quickly getting help, and the loss of life has remained at a minimum. Here in Greenville, where I live, the relief efforts by churches, insurance agencies, sheriff’s office, workout groups, businesses, mom’s groups, schools, neighborhoods, etc… have been overwhelming. When I jumped in to help collect donations, I was simply in awe of how quickly members of this community mobilized. No time was wasted. 

What if other cities, states, and nations could rise to the occasion like this when disaster or enemies strike? No riots, no complaining, no begging for government help, no airing dirty laundry to the media, no pointing fingers, no blaming, no shaming. Rather  — praising the Lord who saved them, sharing precious water with others in need, bowing heads together in prayer, holding hands with one another, pulling each other to safety, giving thanks for the lives that were spared, rising up together in community, shining a LIGHT for others in the darkness. 

While the rest of the world outwardly seems to be going to Hell in a hand basket, I believe what South Carolina has illustrated this past year is a sign of our true potential. South Carolina has set a shining example of what it means to shine a LIGHT for others. The formula is so simple. There’s no need to complicate the equation. What if others could see what has happened here and be inspired to take this same approach into their own communities and governments?  What could become of this great nation, if only?

All of this is to say I have fallen madly in love with South Carolina and the people here. I have sat in my car, loaded down with donations, and cried tears of joy because of the love and generosity I've witnessed in others.  I believe South Carolina has shown the world what it is like to live as Christ expects of us.  I am so proud to live in this great state — and call it my home. 

 
 
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It struck me in the middle of the grocery store, standing in the produce aisle smacked between two buckets of choices — do I buy Watermelon with seeds, or without. Nowadays, why in the hell would anyone buy a seeded Watermelon?  Why waste time gnawing around the annoyance? Why work so hard when there is an easier way?
When I was growing up as a child, there was only one type of Watermelon — the kind that has seeds. Today, my kids only know of the seedless variety.

It seems everything today can be engineered, manufactured, and produced to make life easier; but does it really in the long run?
 

Standing there in the grocery store I thought about all bonus material I might be missing by always taking the easy road and buying the seedless watermelon. Then I considered what a disservice I was doing for my kids! I reached over and grabbed the biggest watermelon from the overflowing basket of the seeded variety. Today — I thought — we are going to learn to eat around the Watermelon seeds.

It’s the truth, you know. Anytime life gets tough, we pull out our maps and find a different way, saying to ourselves, “Forget about going through the muck, I’m out of here”. We do this to ourselves, and we’re passing it down to another generation. As helicopter moms and paranoid dads, we are killing our kids' instincts for survival. We are simply buying their way around the seeds, sparing them any unnecessary hassles life might throw their way. We argue with their teachers over bad grades, we yank them out of schools when the going gets tough, and advise them to Google anything that stumps them. What happened to the days of adapting to different teaching styles, getting banged up on the playground, learning critical thinking skills — eating around the Watermelon seeds?

I, for one, am guilty. I’ve done all these things. I’ve over-achieved in my role of being involved, jumping in and solving problems, defending at all costs. And what have my kids learned as a result? They’ve learned how to eat a seedless watermelon — skirt the issues. Rely on others. Ask someone else for the answers.

At a very young age, I learned how to be an independent thinker. I was forced to eat my way around the watermelon seeds of life — and I am forever grateful for those opportunities and the lessons I learned. Today’s society has become too lazy, too defensive, too focused on perfection. My suggestion? Screw things up every once in a while!!! Who cares if you make a mistake? At least you tried… you took a step… you didn’t let fear freeze you into inaction. I think it’s time we all dig in, get dirty, and do the hard work again. It's in those moments that the LIGHT truly does shine for us.

Since that day in the grocery store, I’ve been buying seeded watermelons all summer long. We have enjoyed the sweetest, juiciest, ripest fruits as a result. Those seeds really do make the watermelon sweeter. Similarly, I think life is sweeter, too, when we eat around the seeds along the way.

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There have been some exciting turn of events around here. Something big has entered the room. The Light is busting out through the doors, windows, and -- more importantly -- out of the hearts of people. A little blog post I wrote here a few weeks ago has made an appearance on the grand stage of social media heaven. How a Loaf of Bread Can Feed You for Life was published in the Elephant Journal recently-- a thought-provoking online journal for mindful folks. Pretty cool, huh? Yeah, I was beyond thrilled.

I little back story on this:  Up until a few months ago, I didn't even know what the Elephant Journal was! But through my work with Marie Forleo's B-school, my eyes have been opened to so many opportunities and online marketing tools. Many of my B-school buddies have share how they've expanded their reach and grown their audience by writing for such publications.  That is a huge goal of mine -- to grow a Community of LIGHTbeamers! After I wrote that particular blog post, I felt the piece was still talking to me, stirring something inside me to keep writing more of the story -- as if the blog post was only partially right; there was more that needed to be said.

Honestly, that is how the writing process is for me. It's a voice in my head that carries on complete conversations with my subconscious -- sometimes so loudly I literally cannot sleep, or drive, or talk to anyone else. All I hear is the story being written in my head. I have a notebook by my bed, a notepad in my car, and notes all over my phone for when the moment strikes and the words begin falling out. It's like a stream of water -- once the spout turns on, I cannot turn it off! Okay -- this sounds so weird even sharing this -- but this is how my stream of conscience works.  This is what continued to happen after I'd published the original blog post. The words kept coming, so I knew I had to keep rewriting it. Then, I just felt a voice saying "This is the one", so I relied on the loads of support from my B-school tribe and submitted the piece to Elephant.

This is such a bizarre process. You create, then you have to set it free -- release it to the world and just hope it finds a safe, happy, welcoming place to land. You have no control on the outcome. You simply hope for the best. Well the best arrived in the form of an acceptance email from the editors at Elephant Journal saying my piece had stirred something in their hearts and they were going to publish it.

And that's what it all comes down to at the end of the day... a deep desire to stir something in your hearts, to make you consider the value and importance of this little LIGHT of yours. Let it Shine. This is what resonates. This is why this work matters to me. It's not about getting published, becoming well-known, or even branding & growing this blog.... it's about reaching into the human heart, squeezing it, waking it up, and challenging you to share your heart with others to make this world a brighter place.

So the Elephant is in the room and it's Roaring. Let your LIGHT shine today :)

Click here to read the published version of How a Loaf of Bread Can Feed You for Life.


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

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