It always amazes me how the Christmas decorations start going up the day after Thanksgiving.
I am simply not that organized or ambitious when it comes to holiday dÃ©cor. Yet I enjoy the spectacle of lights on trees, porches, door frames, and the candles in every window at some traditionally decorated houses. TheyÂ remind me to dream.
My neighbors on either side of my house have already hung their holiday lights — miniature snowmen glowing along the porch rails on one side, and tulip bushes wrapped with white lights on the other side. I love it when everything is illuminated.
Metaphorically it’s a nice image too. Although I am not stringing up my own lights yet, the world is lit for me. I think of all the times in my life when my own “light” or spark went out and someone else lit it for me. Some days in my life have been dark. When I felt as though my life was ending years ago, in a suicidal depression after enduring horrific trauma in my early 20s, my family was there to make sure I stayed alive. When I have doubted my career choices or my ability to make my dreams happen, I’ve had friends who lifted me up and supported me with encouraging words.
My family, my best friend, my daily accountability partner whoÂ is in touch every day as we keep each other on track toward achieving our goals, my former life coach — and so many more people — have somehow found the right words to say when I just couldn’t find the faith in myself or my future. Now I am fortunate enough to be part of the 8womendream team as well that is here to cheer me on as I live my dreams out loud.
I have also found myself filled again with inspiration by reading great authors, spiritual teachers, philosophers. I think it is part of why I have always wanted to write books — because books have been steady and true companions and friends for me over the years. I have always found it comforting and inspiring to read true stories of others who have struggled or lost their way and still gone on to create magical lives for themselves. Since I have known despair and heartache in my own past, it helped me learn from the experiences of others, and to know there was hope for me too. That is part of theÂ reason I decided to write my book, and to share some painful stories from my past. I hope to help others find inspiration in the dark times in their lives.
Buddha said to his followers on his deathbed, “Be the lamp unto yourself.” I would add to this, light the way for others. And be grateful for those who light the way for you. Scientists often sayÂ we are made ofÂ stardust. I believe we are meant to be lights in the world. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Albert Schweitzer said it beautifully, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
Here onÂ aÂ fewÂ thoughts on how to “be a light” this holiday season:
- Be kind. You never know what someone else is going through and just a gentle word and smile can sometimes make a big difference.
- Find your joyÂ and share it. When we do what makes us happy, we have more to give to others.
- Give to yourself. Don’t forget to take time for yourself and your health during the busy holiday season. It can be a stressful time of year, so take time to replenish.
- Bask in the light of others. If you are not feeling like you can “be the light” right now,Â maybe it’s your time to just be inspired by others. Surround yourselfÂ with people who light you up.
- Write down the one dream you’d like to go after next year. Tie this to your Christmas tree, or hang it with a bow on your fireplace, or place it in a jewelry box.Â Encourage all your friends to do the same.Â Offer to meet up in July and check in on each other’s progress.
- Volunteer. Get your friends together and contact a local nursing home to arrange a day to spend an evening with the residents. Bring books, magazines, decks of cards, and board games or ask what the residents might need.Â Play Santas.
Who has lit the way for you and your dreams? Can you thank them today?
Lisa is a freelance writer and consultant who has published articles, essays and poems in journals and newspapers across the United States. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton University, and earned her MPA at Harvard in 2005. Lisa launched her dream to write her first book by signing up for Ellen Sussman’s “Memoir-in-a-Year” class, speaking her story out loud at a Take Back the Night rally. She recently achieved another milestone — 250 pages written in her manuscript! Lisa is bi-coastal with her home in Troy, New York and her heart in San Francisco. Lisa is also a lindy hopper, blues dancer and belly dancer. She has traveled extensively on four continents. Lisa’s post day is Tuesday.
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