Embrace Your Joy!

photo 4Christmas is one of my absolute favorite times of the year and it’s obvious when you look around my home.  I’ve just spent the last two weeks decorating, so yes, it’s very evident that I love Christmas!  The holidays bring me great joy!

Joy is an appropriate topic for today’s post because after all, tis the season!  My post is inspired by a few things.  One of those inspirations is Nelson Mandela.  People who spread love and good will in our world are a great source of inspiration and much can be learned from the legacy that this man left behind.  While the world mourns his passing, those closest to him are dealing with intense grief at the moment.  Joy is the farthest thing from their minds.

As a matter of fact, this season is one that many can’t find joy in.  Accidents still happen.  People lose their lives.  Disease is still diagnosed.  Employees lose their jobs.  Bills still come in the mailbox.  Families break apart.  Depression and suicides increase.  Life doesn’t suddenly change to cookies, glitter and snow angels when Macy’s Santa arrives in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Transforming my home and singing carols is more apt to cause people in these situations to be even more depressed.

So, how can I write about joy when there is so much pain and disorder around me?  You knew I was going to answer that, didn’t photo 5you.  My own life hasn’t been all happy and joyful, nor have all of my Christmas seasons been filled with gifts and shiny things.  If you’ve read my blog before, you know that.  I’ve experienced Christmas with accidents, loss, illness, no money, bills, break ups and brokenness, so I understand how difficult this time of year can be.  No, I wasn’t happy with my circumstances during those times, but I was able to be grateful for what I did have and look for the bright side of whatever the situation was.  I’ve always found someone or something that inspires me to find joy.

Another source for my inspiration today is a member of the running team that my husband and I belong to.  I’ve photo 5 (2)never met her in person, but I’ve seen enough of her posts on our team website and Facebook, that I feel like I know her and for that, I am grateful.  Honestly, I’m grateful for all of our team as they all are wonderful people who encourage and support each other in all of the highs and lows that come with injuries, recoveries, victories and defeats.  We all need people like this in our lives.  Today, while I am not diminishing the rest of our team in anyway, I want to highlight one.  And here I go naming names again and this time I actually have permission.  My inspiration today is Nancy.

photo 1 (2)Each day, Nancy posts a little personal story and how she was able to find joy in her day, no matter if it was a good day or a bad day.  I’ve come to look forward to reading her, “Go embrace your joy” messages.  I want to share what she posted on facebook last week.  I’ll just copy and paste exactly what she posted, as I can’t say it any better.  Here you go:

“Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something.” ~Ralph Marston

“A few days ago I shared with you all that after having fallen into a funk in my life I sought the guidance of a therapist–a person who helped me develop the tools to carry me through the obstacles–to change my perspective of this incredible and many times challenging journey we call life. 

There are many who perceive anyone seeking help as being weak or unable to cope. Sadly seeking help for a photo 4 (2)broken bone, a headache, blurry vision, even a toothache has never been questioned by my friends, but the minute they heard that I was in therapy, some friends became quite uncomfortable–giving me a side-way glance or total silence as if my problems were contagious–as if may I have a screw loose or that I am nuts. The truth– I believe the judgment from others is one biggest reasons people do not seek intervention–they don’t want people to think they can’t figure out life on their own. But sadly this perception is so unfair.

What I have learned over the years is, if I already knew everything I could about life, than there is nothing more I could learn. There would be little or no reason for me to change, to evolve to transform my life. Unfortunately, unlike your car, we aren’t born with an owner’s manual to guide us through the trials–what to do when our own internal check engine light comes on. We learn to do what we have to do just to survive–that is what we are wired to do. 

With each passing year I worry less about what others think of me, something that I spent way too much time and energy doing in my past, electing to focus more on what I think of myself and the nurturing friendships that bring me joy. Am I a good person? Am I a compassionate person? Am I kind? Loving? Giving? Do I bring joy to others?

The truth is–not everyone will like me–my goal in life is not to give up who I am to be loved by others, to be liked by others–as long as I am kind and respectful, you get me in all my whacky doodle ways. I love to have fun–I find being happy and joyful takes far less work than being miserable and angry. And as I have come to believe there is joy to found every day–sometimes you have to look far and wide for it and other times it’s right before your eyes. 

HAPPY SATURDAY FRIENDS–GO EMBRACE YOUR JOY!!!!”

Nancy started writing her posts about joy when her therapist gave her a homework assignment to find at least one thing that bringsphoto 2 (2) her joy every day, even on the dark days.  She said that some days, it was just finding a penny on her run, or seeing a rainbow after a storm, or a smile from a stranger.  She wrote this about finding joy in another one of her posts.

“Finding joy is a choice– it’s about rewiring our brain to move from negativity that can became such a part of our lives, to finding joy in the simplest of things. Certainly I would love to take full credit for my epiphany, but life in all its ups and downs is meant to be shared. More times than not, the joy does not lie in others, but is buried deep within our own hearts–we just have to open our eyes, hearts and minds to this amazing gift.”

This blog is named what it is for a reason.  It’s my own quest to become more of a real person, not one who puts on the socially accepted mask, flashes a fake smile and pretends my life is like living in a rose garden every day.  While I do like shiny things and I’d like to make you think that if it were even possible that I would ever pass gas, I would emit tiny puffs of glitter, we all know that’s not really how it is.  I want to share in the real life journey we are all on, because we all need support and encouragement.  We all need the encouragement of people around us during the difficult times, like my running team does for me.

photo 3 (2)Nancy is being real.  She’s sharing what is uncomfortable, but what she is really doing is encouraging others to be better people.  Because she chooses to be authentic, I’m encouraged to listen.  Her words speak to my heart, therefore, I’m encouraged to grow and I too, can find joy.  Maybe she’s not doing it on the scale that Nelson Mandela did, but she’s doing her part to spread love and good will in our world.

The past several days, we’ve been privileged to hear more about Nelson Mandela’s life and what he stood for.  We’ve also heard many inspiring words of wisdom that were uttered through his lips.  They were really an overflow of his heart.  This particular quote got my attention.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.

If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
Nelson Mandela 

photo 1Nelson Mandela was authentic, the real deal.  He spoke in a language that could be understood by all, because he spoke to something that is buried deep in the hearts of all.  It’s love and goodwill that speaks to us.  That’s the language of the heart.  So in this world where all that glitters isn’t gold, where it’s hard to find the true meaning of the season in the frenzy of activity and plastic trees, I’m hoping more of us will open our eyes, hearts and minds to look deep inside ourselves and others for those real gifts that are real and authentic.  Spread some of that love and goodwill around.  Go embrace your joy!

Thanks Nancy!

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My Open Letter to a Friend…

tearDear Jane,    (Name has been changed.)

I really don’t know where to begin.   You’ve been on my mind a lot lately, as I do indeed understand that your circumstances are overwhelming.   In just a short span of years, you’ve lost your parents, your husband and pets that were like your children to you.  If dealing with these losses weren’t enough, you have a daily struggle with the disease that has been the cause of way too many paramedic visits to your address.  Add to that, the loss of balance that has resulted in several falls, causing multiple breaks and surgeries to repair your broken bones.  I know what follows surgeries; long recoveries, physical therapy, many follow up appointments and bills.  If all those things aren’t overwhelming enough, add the fact that you do all of this alone now.

You’ve felt abandoned by the little bit of family that remain.  Your days and nights are spent alone in your recliner.  Your wheel chair stays at your side for the short trips to the kitchen and bathroom because you’re still recovering from a broken bone.  Yes, you have your one remaining pet, but for the most part, your little house is quiet.  Voices that once filled your walls are now gone.  One voice remains though, that won’t stay silent.  It’s a taunting voice that brings torment.  It plays like a tape on constant rewind.  It tells you over and over again, “I can’t do this anymore” or “I don’t want to do this anymore” or “I have no reason to keep on living”.  What’s scary to me is that you’ve listened and started to believe that voice.

I remember the days when you were very different.  Your life was full of activity, full of family and friends.  You had many people surrounding you with love and you loved them back with your kindness, encouraging words and generous gifts.  You loved giving gifts to people around you, but your greatest gift was your compassion and your laugh.  I loved hearing you laugh.  Yes, you still had to deal with that childhood disease, but that didn’t stop you from opportunities to enjoy time with family and friends, opportunities to live.

But yes, you are different now.  Circumstances have caused rooms that were once filled with light to become dim and even dark.  I stillgrief hear the laugh at times, but it’s not the same.  The laugh begins to emerge for a moment, but it ends abruptly as if it’s stopped by an invisible wall.  Each time the laughter ends, the invisible wall is quickly revealed.  It’s a memory, memories of what’s been lost.  So much has been lost…

In place of joy, there is sadness, anger and bitterness.  You’ve built yourself a little refuge, surrounded yourself with this invisible wall, each brick being a memory of someone or something that has hurt you.  Somehow you feel safe in there, alone.  So you keep building, but the reality is that you’re cutting yourself off more and more from family and friends.  The wall isn’t invisible anymore, either.  You’re isolating yourself, one brick at a time.  Your wall may keep others from seeing you, Jane, but I can see.  I still see you in there.

You used to like pretty colors, but these bricks don’t make for a pretty room.  Unfairness, injustice, sadness, anger, death, disease, backstabbing, lies, betrayal; yes these are the bricks that life and circumstances have given you.  These are the bricks you were given, so you used them to build your refuge.   I’m no interior decorator, but this is not the room that I would picture you happy in.

No one would dispute the fact that life has been unfair to you.  Anyone would readily affirm that you have good reason to be depressed and angry with your circumstances.  You have indeed been repeatedly dealt some knockdown, drag out blows.  Not just once or twice have you been hit, but over and over again.  Of course, you would seek refuge from the onslaught.  Who wouldn’t?  Anyone would seek a safe place.   So bruised, bleeding and eyes swollen shut, you did what you could and stacked your bricks, one on top of another.

bob wire wallYour refuge is not as it appears to you, though.  The reality is you’ve built yourself a prison with these bricks.  You’ve let me and a few others peek over those walls, but I’m afraid for you, Jane.  I’m afraid that if you keep using these bricks and build your wall any higher, I won’t be able to reach you anymore.  No one else will be able to either.  Your prison will grow totally dark, completely quiet, and you will be intolerably alone.

Yes, life handed you these bricks.  They were the closest ones to you, the easy ones to grasp.  The thing is, just beyond those bricks were some other bricks, bricks that were much prettier colors.  I know they seemed too hard to reach, but they were there for you to choose.  Yes, they took more effort to get to; I mean a lot more effort.  You would have to use what little strength you had left to crawl over the ugly ones to reach them.  They do have rough edges and sharp corners that could and probably would hurt you more.  It’s hard to see with eyes that are almost swollen shut, but just over those bricks are the pretty ones…

Life is full of choices, opportunities.  We may not get to choose our circumstances, but we get to choose how we respond to them.  I’m not just saying this lightly.  I know it’s really difficult to choose sometimes.  The constant battle of the voices in our ears is truly like we’re in the middle of the argument between the images of good and evil on our shoulders.  And then there is the battle of the will and emotions, fierce warriors they are!

I’ve seen you in your warrior mode before, though.  Living with disease all of these years has given you a strength that many lack.  That in itself has made you a strong warrior.  But I’ve seen you made stronger by other things, too.  You’ve used your determination and strong will to win, many times over.  You may not think you have what you need to make it through all of this, but I know you do.

I miss my old friend.  I miss the warmth and joy that was once there.  I miss her smile, her humor, her laugh, her love of people.  I’m asking for her to break free from her prison.  Jane, come out from behind that wall, please…

I know it’s not going to be easy, but I know even more that you can do it, Jane.  The first steps are going to be the hardest of all and only you can take them, because right now, we can’t reach you.

First of all, stop building with those ugly bricks.  Stop rehearsing all the negative memories over and over in your mind.  You may not choose what thoughts come to your mind, but you do choose the thoughts that get to stay.  When the memories of betrayal, lies, and all those ugly bricks come, kick them away.  They have no place around you.  Lift up your head and look at the light.  Instead of using your inner strength to build a false fortress, use it to crawl over that prison wall.

That’s what we have to do when we’re down.  We have to get up, even if we can barely crawl, we have to choose and make ourselves doLet go on hand it.  The farther you crawl, the closer you get to the beauty that once surrounded you.  Keep your eyes focused on all the colors just ahead.  As you crawl forward, the bruising will fade, the bleeding will stop, the swelling will go down and your eyes will see clearly again.  You will come to a place where you will be able to reach out your hand for help and allow others to touch you once again.  Yes, there is risk involved with that.  You could and probably will experience some hurt along the way.  But it’s better to hurt with friends who can help you heal, then to slowly bleed to death inside a lonely prison.  With each effort, no matter how strained, weakness will be replaced by strength.  Darkness will become light.  Hope will take the place of despair.  Bitterness will be replaced by forgiveness, anger replaced by peace and sadness replaced by joy.  Love will once again rule your heart and fill your life.

woodsYour life isn’t over, Jane.  There is a chance for a new beginning, starting today.   There is hope for your future!   Say yes, Jane.  I miss you.  Many of us miss you.  Choose life.  Please, choose life.

You know I love you!  Your friend, Bobbi

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

If  you find yourself in a place of despair, hopelessness and helplessness or have thoughts of suicide, please use the courage you have to seek help and wise counsel.  Here are some numbers to call:

Crisislink – 1 703-527-4077 / 1-800-237-8255

National Suicide Prevention Line – 1-800-784-2433 / 1-800-SUICIDE

http://www.crisislink.org

My “Bad Day Roll”

Today was what I would consider to be a bad day.  Actually, I know my life appears to be great to many and it really is, but I’ve actually been on a “bad day roll” since this year started.  Some days are better than others, but has anyone noticed that I’ve not been writing recently?  The life has been sucked out of me.  My enthusiasm has dwindled, my joy, thus my motivation, pretty much gone.  What you are about to hear is the ugly.  Well, some of the ugly.  True confession, I still keep the really ugly stuff hidden.  I’m human too, you know.

This year has been an all time low for me.  My self esteem has never been lower.  My self-confidence hasn’t waned, because there hasn’t been any to wane.  January was the most stress filled month that I can remember ever experiencing.  I have had years of stress filled experiences in my past, I mean excruciatingly, intense situations that have the power to crush a person.  In spite of that, I can remember very few situations that made me feel the emotional upheaval and inner turmoil that I’ve felt this year.  I actually feared that I would experience what it really was to literally “lose it”.

My thinking has taken a much healthier direction in the last several months, but I can’t say that I’m past it all, yet.  The struggle has continued, sometimes like a volcano just rumbling under the surface.  Today though was an eruption.  I find myself shaking my head at the end of this day.  How and why is this happening?  I don’t have the answers yet, but life is a journey, right.  You don’t get the privilege of knowing it all while you’re running the path.

Part of my issue was that I had made myself vulnerable.  I had exposed parts of my life that were delicate and maybe not so appealing to the general public.  It made people uncomfortable.  It made me the target of unfair, critical, judgment and I began to see it, feel it and hear it expressed.  People I had trusted to be with me in this life journey, had backed away.  Wow, does this ever suck!

But what did I expect?  Everyone doesn’t think like me.  Many are uncomfortable with deeper relationships.  Most are ok as long as they can agree, as long as the person is like they are, but what happens when they aren’t?  Should that person who is different from you be devalued in your eyes, judged as unworthy and pushed away?

That’s what I felt.  People that I had no choice but to be around often, people that I trusted and opened up to, I now felt had unfairly judged me, devalued me and pushed me aside.  This little act sucked the life out of me and dealt a crushing blow to my perceived strength to stand up to anything.  My creativity was buried alive.  Intimidation towered over me holding a knife to my throat, daring me to open my mouth and speak.  The perceived threat was real.  If I spoke, any sound would be immediately snuffed out by it’s power.

I’ve had an “ah ha”, God type moment about this day, though.  I love when that happens!  Truth is, I had given over my power to those who I allowed to treat me this way.  I allowed myself to remain silent.  I had allowed the actions of another to rob me of “me”.  Today, I finally had enough.  Months of my life have been wasted because I allowed this to be.  It stops today.  No longer will I allow another to silence my voice or rob me.  No longer will I give my power away.

Truth is, my ability and confidence are not my own, but come from a power far greater than my own.  Truth is, my power is not my own, but is sourced from a power far greater than my own.  Truth is, relationship, honesty and vulnerability are still worth the risk because my power source has the ability to hold and heal my heart.  It sounds so simple now, but that was my “ah ha”, God type moment.

There’s more to all of this, but that’s enough confession for this day and tomorrow is a new day.  I’m going to get a good night’s sleep now.

To be continued…

Do You Hear Their Tears…

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a young man who died when he should have been entering the best years of his life.  I wept with the family and friends as they shared his stories, some humorous, others sad.  It was very evident that John was loved and even in his short life he had a positive influence on many in attendance.

At the same time, there was an unsettling undercurrent of thought for me.  At the funeral, you “saw” the tears.  A brave few expressed the depths of the emotion they felt, not just the sadness but the anger and intense pain.  Questions of, “Why did he have to leave us?”,  “Why such a tragic end?”,  “Why didn’t I do more to help?”, all remained unanswered.

The fact is there are many around us each day who are dealing with intense pain.  They desperately need a kind word, a comforting thought, a warm hug, but there smile hides what’s inside.  They move among us and walk beside us.  For them today, I share…

Do You Hear Their Tears?

Do you hear the tears that trickle slowly down her cheek,

Do you hear the heart explosions of overwhelming grief?

Can you feel the intense hatred of those oppressed by war,

Can you feel the cold indifference of the one whose been beaten to the core?

Do you see the shivers of the forsaken, homeless, left out in the cold,

Do you see the pain of hungry millions, both the young and very old?

Have you touched the forgotten prisoner who’ll live forever with his past,

Have you touched the lonely widow, wishing each day were her last.

Do you hear the tears of the addict who cries desperately to be free,

Do you hear the darkness of the hopeless who search for light so they may see?

Have you known mental illness or do you understand it’s pain,

Have you known depths of depression, the fight to just stay sane?

So many helpless hurting people surround us everyday.

Do we really see their faces or do we hurry on our way?

Do we look to see a smile or pain within their eyes,

Do we care if their sun is shining or clouded with gray skies?

Would it really even matter if those next to us are crushed,

If we cared to see or feel their pain, would it slow us in our rush?

Would we stop for just a moment to give something of ourselves,

More than just our dollars, but what’s drawn deep from inner wells?

Inner wells of strength and courage, hope and comfort, even love

Yes, we all have something we can share, not forgetting God above.

Do you hear the tears of his heart, as He longs for us to be…

Salt and light, help and hope, love and peace,  people living free?

Do you hear the tears?

Those who have felt, have heard the tears.

Written by Bobbi Spargo

The Rose

It was late that night, probably around midnight.  I had just gotten home from work.  Exhausted, I dropped my purse on the floor and fell on the couch.  My kids had been tucked into bed by their grandparents, yet again.  As an overwhelmed, lonely, single mother, I sat in silence in the dimly lit living room of my small apartment.  “How can I continue to do this anymore?”  “How can I face another day?”, were just a couple of the questions being mulled over in my mind that night.

As thoughts and questions regarding many details of my life intensified, tears began to spill over their boundaries and streamed down my cheeks.  I tried to stuff down the emotion that I felt welling up, but it was a force so powerful that night that it erupted from some deep, unfamiliar place.  Tears turned to agonizing sobs that had me doubled over in pain.  I don’t know how long it lasted but it seemed like hours.  There finally came a moment of emptiness, silence once again.  An almost eerie clarity of thinking had returned.  My questions had a simple answer.  A very matter of fact voice whispered, “End it all.  Why try anymore?  You “can’t” do this anymore!”

Thoughts like this had entered my mind, previous to this particular occasion.  They were always quickly squelched by the realization that my son and daughter needed their own mother.  This night, the dark side of my soul overshadowed any sense of good judgment.  Something sinister had found its way in to my decision making process that night.  The decision was made.  Something evil had me planning the least painful, surefire end to my misery.

If you are wondering how I found myself in this place, here is the nutshell version.  I wasn’t even thirty years old at the time, but had already been divorced twice from abusive, alcoholic spouses.  I worked long hours trying to support my two children, but it was never enough.  I couldn’t pay all of the bills.  I received no child support.  I was tired from the dead end relationships that I did have and I was tired of always needing help from my family.  No one seemed to care enough to know or understand what I was feeling.  Of course there were lots of details that further complicated all of that, but the bottom line was, “I” wasn’t enough of what I felt I needed to be.  I saw no hope for anything to change.

Empty of emotion, satisfied that the firmly settled plans for my short lived future were in the works, I headed to the kitchen for a drink before I went to bed.  There on the kitchen table was a single rose, left by my mom and dad.

You have to know, my parents were an amazing support to me during this time.  They watched my kids while I worked, got them off to school, fed them, bathed them, made sure the homework was done and tucked them in on nights I had to work late.  I don’t know what I would have done without my parents during that season in my life.  Yet, even with that support, they had the role that I wanted to have in my kid’s life.  I wanted to be the best mom in the world and I didn’t fit my own picture of what that should have looked like.  The weight of guilt that I carried from that, in itself, was unbearable.

Thankfully, the stove light was on and I was able to see that there was something on the table.  I picked up the rose and admired its beauty and sweet scent.  There was a note that had been lying underneath the rose.  The message was simple.

“We are proud of you.  Love, Mom and Dad.”

The stream of tears began to trickle down my cheeks once again.  This time, the tears seemed to come from a different place, a place of life and hope.  Of course, I questioned, “How can this be true?”  “What had I done to make them proud of me?”  I only saw failure, yet they saw something different that made them proud.  They saw some thing in me that I was unable to see.  Maybe they saw that I was able to do this.  Maybe they saw that there was hope for my future.

I felt a new strength rise up in me that night.  It was a strength that brought true peace.  It was ever so slight, but it was life giving, not life taking.  That rose and the power of the love it represented brought light that overpowered the dark thoughts I’d had.  It was a “God moment” and God timing at its best.  I was able to go to sleep that night with renewed hope.  I had no answers, but I knew I could make it another day.

Thank you, Mom and Dad.  I don’t think you ever knew.

I love you!

The take away from my story, never underestimate the power of the love that is behind the simplest gestures that we make to show it.  Never underestimate the power of the love that is shown to you by the people in your life.

Who has been trying to show love to you through simple things?  What kind gestures has someone shown you that gave you hope to go on?  Who can you show a little love to today?

It’s a Good Day to Shine…

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, there lived a princess.  Actually, the whole land was filled with many princesses, queens and assorted royalty figures.  This princess in particular, did not live the life that you would expect a princess to live.  She did not live in a luxurious castle.  She did not have satiny flowing gowns or glass slippers to flaunt at the local castle country club.  She was not chauffeured around town a in a beautiful carriage with handsome, buff footmen.  She did not have attendants doe ting over her and making sure that her every whim was met before even the thought escaped her mind.

In reality, this princess lived in the small castle of a commoner.  She worked long hours doing the exhaustive physical labor that other royal figures in the land preferred not to do.    She cleaned toilets, scrubbed floors, washed windows and made the castles in the land sparkle.  Because she did and even enjoyed doing this, she was thought of as more of a peasant, rather than a princess.  People would often give their demands without even giving her the time of day.  Instead of being appreciated and esteemed, she was overlooked and pushed aside when it came to being included as a valuable part of the lives of those that she served.

This princess was also a mother to four little royalty figures and the wife of a prince, each of whom came with a list of assorted duties to be completed each day.  Life in the castle of the princess was very difficult.  Circumstances behind the castle walls were such, that the members of this royal family often felt overwhelming stress.  The princess would relish in the brief moments of solitude that she would find in the early morning hours of each new day.  She would shed her tears and try to find the strength needed to face the day once again.  The reality was that there were no fast solutions or really much hope that life would get easier anytime soon.

One day in particular, the princess was having a very difficult time holding back the stream of moisture that attempted to spill over onto her cheeks.  Overwhelming feelings of fear, helplessness and hopelessness were more than she could bear this day.  She was not able to put on her normal happy face.  Instead of warm smiles and cheerful greetings, those she encountered received a sad, silent glance, which was so unlike the princess.

The sky was particularly cloudy and dark on this day, not typical to this enchanted land.  The princess directed her chariot towards the castles of those she would serve.  As she rounded a curve in the road, a bright beam of sunlight suddenly broke through the gray clouds blinding her for a brief instant.  She had a very special unforgettable, life changing moment that gloomy morning, right there in her chariot.  The sun instantly bathed her in warmth like a hug.  A peaceful presence seemed to fill her chariot.  She felt refreshing strength bubble up from within her as she heard these words.  “Remember who you are.  I made you to shine.  Just as the sun is still shining behind the clouds on the gloomiest day and in the darkest storm, so should you still shine.”

Yes, the princess was still a princess, even though she was not living in one of those fancy castles, even though she did not live the luxurious life of a princess, even though she labored long and hard each day, even though the circumstances in her royal family were difficult.  It did not change the fact that she was indeed a princess.  She was made to shine.

That day, the princess determined to do what she was made to do, no matter what.  Not that she never again felt discouraged or that she could not be sad when circumstances dictated for her to be sad.  She just needed to remember who she was made to be.  Regardless of her place in life and whatever was going on around her, she would be who she really was.

How does this story relate to you?  She was not the only princess in the land.  There was nothing special about this princess.  There were many princes and princesses.  The whole land was filled with royalty!  They were all made to be royal people, all with value and purpose, all with their own unique circumstances.  No matter what the place or position – they were made to shine.  That includes you, too!  Remember who you are.  Be who you were made to be.  Choose to let it be a good day to shine.

Shine on…