Embrace Your Darkness to Shine Brightly

Do not fear the darkness of your life, for it allows your brightness to shine. This is the theme of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford.

I was a prisoner of my own making, spending my life looking for acceptance and love from without rather than from within. This is where true love exists, only within ourselves.

Once we accept and fully acknowledge our love of ourselves, we can both give and receive love from others.

Furthermore, I wish to share with you one of the ways that I have come to discover who I am. It’s a simple reality that has allowed me to begin this new life journey as a complete soul.

Embrace Your Darkness to Shine Brightly

How many times have you felt the judgment of the actions of others creep into your mind?

Do you turn away from this behavior in yourself, willing it to stop?

Judgment is a good and wholesome activity if used properly. For example, we might walk into oncoming traffic while crossing a street without judgment. Or eat unwholesome food left too long in the refrigerator.

Employing judgment allows us to use our senses to keep us safe.

Judging the Acts of Others

Perhaps you think it can never be good to judge others. However, this is a valuable tool allowing us to peek into our psyche. When we dislike something in others, it’s often a reflection of our self-loathing.

So how can we come to grips with this darkness inside us? I have found a way to embrace my darkness to shine brightly through compassion.

Compassion is caring about something we might not feel warm and fuzzy about. And like all feelings, there is a certain amount of choice within us on how we think.

A Real Life Example

While working in Denver, Colorado, I took the train from Littleton Station. Then, getting off at Auraria, I walked the six blocks to my job at the Police Administration Building. On the way, I passed through the intersection at Speer and Colfax, which was notorious for panhandlers.

Drivers avoided eye contact by staring straight ahead or picking up their cell phones as if on a call. As a pedestrian, I felt vulnerable when waiting at a red light, and I often changed my pace or route to avoid standing near someone asking for money. If I was in a car, I often acted like most other motorists, staring at the stoplight to avoid eye contact.

Billy and the Denver Rescue Mission.

When walking, I didn’t feel safe giving them money. But one summer morning, I was carrying a bouquet from my garden. It was impossible to make the green light as I approached the intersection. So, I impulsively offered the man who asked me for money a daisy instead. His entire demeanor changed as he asked me to wait. Finally, I watched him run to a hedge on the edge of a nearby fast-food restaurant where he had stowed his backpack.

Running back toward me, he carried a half-full plastic water bottle. I chose a couple of my nicest daisies and placed them into his makeshift vase as his face shone brightly with a huge smile. This simple act of compassion infused my day with a feeling of peace. And the memory is as fresh today as it was eighteen years ago.

How Compassion Affects Us

Do you think the drivers sitting in their cars on Colfax Ave dared to look our way as this gift of compassion and love was exchanged between us? If you were driving down Colfax, would it change how you judged this man? Would it change how you saw the gray-haired woman walking with the hand-picked flowers? Would it change how you interacted with people in your workplace or your family members?

Most importantly, would you feel better about yourself?

When you embrace your darkness to shine brightly, it’s easier to open the door to self-compassion. For example, after giving the gift of my beloved flowers, it was easier to accept my judgment and to open up to the humanity of others.

With love and compassion,
Dawn

Feeling Grief During the Holidays

Feeling grief during the holidays is a challenge. Some days we are entirely uninterested in the holiday trappings. Celebrations can go from joy to sadness in seconds. The worst part can be the isolation. We don’t want to cry when others are joyous.

With patient persistence, the pain will lessen if you surrender to it. Professional help is also invaluable. I’ve sought out therapists, grief coaches, pastoral care, and shamans. Because, for me, there is no one way through.

Balancing Sadness and Joy

Let the tears flow when they well up. True friends will support your journey through grief. A random thought or statement often acts as a trigger, which eases our anxiety with tears. I’m grateful for each one.

Take your time. There’s no rush to get over the passing of a loved one. Allow your natural flow in this process.

In the early stages, when action is needed, try to pick one activity around your loved one’s memory daily. Often this entails a financial or legal detail. Ask for help. Making lists and seeking advice can also help us stay on track.

Be choosy about your activities, letting your heart be your guide.

Daily morning meditation will help you discover your unique style. Journaling is helpful. And adding ritual eases overwhelm. For instance, I sit in the same place each morning with my cup of coffee, light a candle, and ask my Spiritual team to come close. In the early days of this activity, I asked simple yes/no questions and waited to ‘hear’ the answers. Now, there is a calmness in my heart as soon as I sit down.

Plan at least one joyful activity each day. This is part of self-care. Don’t short-change yourself by counting a required activity like grocery shopping. You might think it matters because you are getting out of the house. Instead, it needs to be a gift you give yourself. For instance, a trip to the post office is on my schedule. Then I add a stop in a cute downtown area to window shop. The fresh air, colorful displays, and people bring me joy.

At first, the sadness will overwhelm the joy, but eventually, there will be more joy. Working through grief is a process. The holiday season is temporary, and the new year is approaching. You can do this.

Final Thoughts

In the past week, I’ve experienced more sadness than I thought I could endure. However, talking with friends who are also coaches has helped me push through.

cherished christmasThe artificial tree is still in the basement, but I have a fresh wreath on my door. My Christmas cards are on their way to my immediate family,  the dearest decorations are on display, and I’m planning on attending a wreath-making class tomorrow. It’s not because I need the course, but because it will bring me joy. After all, I still have a bare Advent wreath.

Sending you love and compassion,
Dawn

Follow the Dance of Your Dreams

Follow the dance of your dreams. Then, when everything seems to block your path, take a deep breath and strengthen your resolve.

Follow the Dance of Your Dreams

Allow your path to flow around obstacles, thanking them for helping you see the importance of your desire to follow through to the next crossroad.

My path includes dipping my toe into my community. So when a new friend told me about contra dances, it was an obvious inroad to meeting people while enjoying a fun evening.

What is a Contra Dance?

First, I wanted to know the answer to this question. A search for “contra dances near me” returned the Boone Country Dancers. It’s almost impossible to describe the experience. The most important fact is that genuine joy permeates the dance hall.

A contra dance is uniquely simple yet deeply complicated. All dances in my area offer a minimum of thirty-minute pre-dance instruction. The caller led us through the basic moves without music, gradually added some live music, and by the end, we flawlessly executed a contra dance.

Perhaps This was a Test

After understanding the concept of contra dancing, it was time to find one. The next dance was the following Saturday night at the Blowing Rock American Legion, 30 minutes from home. As you may have read last week, I was overdoing so much that Spirit stepped in to help. With my energy so scattered, it wasn’t surprising that I experienced a severe, short bout of dizziness on Thursday afternoon as I started to step into the shower. As my week calmed down, there was more room to consider adding something fun to my life.

Perhaps the dizziness contributed to the next stumbling block to attending my first contra dance.

As I sat waiting for my hairdresser Friday afternoon, I searched for a funkier short hairstyle. The results included a photo of Jaime Lee Curtis. I’d admired her bold short style for years but pointed out a less severe option to my hair stylist.

We talked as she snipped, and before I knew it, the floor was thick with my hair! Was this another reason to chicken out of the contra dance?

The Theme is Fun

A bout with dizziness and an unexpected pixie haircut would not keep me from my plan.

I put a raincoat on, left 10 minutes early, and parked close to the front doors with an umbrella poised above me. It had been raining for over two days. But I wasn’t going to let the weather stop me now.

I paused undercover before the front door, shaking the rain out of my umbrella. As I hung up my coat and stashed my umbrella, I reached into my pocket for the ten-dollar bill, my final requirement for admission.

One of the Volunteer hosts welcomed newcomers and first-time contra dancers (like me) with smiles, encouragement, and a special button to wear. In addition to friendly faces, the button guaranteed helpful tips from experienced people while I danced. There were no mistakes. Instead, those experienced partners helped me catch up quickly as we flowed back into the moves.

My first partner during the pre-dance instruction was an experienced contra dancer in her late thirties. Many more experienced dancers came early to help the newbies. After a few dances, people filled the hall, and I sat down for a breather. Soon, a young man asked me to dance. I was back on the floor, remembering more and more moves.

The dances became more complicated as the night wore on. Then, taking a break, I filmed the feet of the dancers in this short video of the dance. The violinist had switched to a recorder, which he delivered beautifully.

My Takeaways

Even though I was one of the oldest women in the dance hall, three men asked me to be their partner. Two were young enough to be my sons. The smiles on their faces added to the joy radiating from both my face and my heart. My last partner was George, who was near my age. He has been contra-dancing since 1980 and calls dances in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Their first dance is next Tuesday night. So I’m spreading my wings next week too.

Many small steps brought me to my first contra dance. You can do this too.

  • Reach out to a new friend
  • Listen to their suggestions to meet new people
  • Find an event near you
  • Step over each hurdle placed in your path
  • Follow through to the event
  • Walk through the door

How did I manage this when I’ve not followed through so many other times?

Going with the flow allowed my natural inclinations and strengths to ease me down the road to joy.

  • Connectedness – realizing the synchronicity throughout
  • Harmony – taking the time to listen to my friend
  • Input – the more information I gather, the easier it is to understand
  • Responsibility – showing up and walking through the door
  • Positivity – I saw the haircut as fun

It’s rewarding to look at my top five strengths from my CliftonStrengths assessment and see how they show up when I follow the dance of my dreams.