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,

Three Ways to Find Joy in Life

Sharing these three ways to find joy in life was prompted by a recent, sweaty morning, trimming my zinnias in my garden. It reminded me of one of my most unexpected joyful moments nine years ago during a mundane walk from the light rail station to work.

1 – Bring Joy With You

On the weekends I spent hours in my Colorado flower garden. It was sometimes hard to leave it Monday morning as I started my commute to downtown Denver.

Why not bring my garden with me? I started picking flowers Sunday afternoon from my garden. I had the perfect container to keep them in – one of those big plastic mugs from a stay in the hospital.

2 – Share Your Joy

As the light rail car gently swayed left and right, I would close my eyes, and inhale the fragrance of flowers. Instantly, I was transported back to my garden, removing spent blossoms, trimming away overgrowth, until the jarring computer voice announced the Auraria / Colfax station.

Auraria / Colfax Station
Auraria / Colfax Light Rail Station

Opening my eyes, I gathered my belongings and caught another commuter smiling at me. They were enjoying the flowers too. Some even asked me questions as we stood in the aisle, waiting for the doors to open.

“Did you grow those?”
“I’ve never seen a flower like that. What is it?”

A simple container of flowers gave many of us a few moments to escape the Monday morning blues before we arrived at work.

3 – Give Your Joy Away

After I exited the train at the Auraria Station, I hurried to the pedestrian crossing at busy West Colfax Ave. Once safely across, my only other consideration was a decision on which street to take along Cherry Creek. Often, I sized up the current homeless man on each corner and how to avoid them, changing my pace to catch the light, or turning along Speer Blvd. In contrast, the hapless drivers, stranded by red lights had their own methods of dealing with their discomfort. Most looked straight ahead, but usually at least one car would roll down their window just enough to dangle a few bills and try to hide their embarrassment through half smiles. These interchanges were anything but joyful.

For myself, I sometimes gave them fast food gift cards rather than money. But my full bouquet of daisies gave me an idea. Why not give away a flower?

“Would you like one of my flowers?” I asked as I stood at Colfax and Speer.

He looked confused at first. Then a broad smile spread across his face. He held up his forefinger in the universal symbol for “Wait just a minute.” I watched him run a few yards to his knapsack hidden beneath a shrub at the edge of the Burger King parking lot. He returned quickly with a bottle half full of water and held it out for me to place the daisy in it. Then he proudly carried his makeshift vase and flower with him as he canvassed the faces of drivers for someone willing to part with a few dollars.

For me, I carried the image of his smile all day. It magnified the joy my vase of flowers brought me, sitting on my desk.

How Can You Find Joy This Week?

This article shows how a love of flowers can bring joy in multiple ways by taking one step at a time. Are you willing to take a chance and explore three ways to find joy in your life this week?

  • Make a list of things that bring you joy.
  • Consider how you can share that joy with others.
  • Is it possible to go to the next level and give some of your joy away?

I’d love to hear from you, either with a comment below or send me an email.


A Different Halloween Story

Today I’m going to tell you a different Halloween story that might make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Fade back to Monday

Three mornings ago, I checked my social media notifications and saw an odd Twitter recommendation. The tweet contained none of the usual hashtags, but reading it sparked a memory of a blood test result from a year ago. During a broad blood test that included checking for ferritin, a red flag indicated my reading was high… very high, double the ‘normal’ high. All I remembered about the talk with the doctor who discussed my blood test result was it was advisable to give blood. A second test three months later showed my ferritin level was still over the expected high number, but it decreased about 90% from the previous reading. They suggested I give blood three times a year.

Observe, gather information, then Act

My immediate reaction to the tweet about ferritin and the condition, hemochromatosis, resulted in an Internet search for more information. I was surprised to find out it can cause serious damage to the liver, pancreas, or heart if never treated. The condition is hereditary, suspected with high serum levels of ferritin, diagnosed by a positive DNA test, and treated solely by phlebotomy (blood letting or blood donation). Out of ten common symptoms, I identify with almost half.

Tuesday morning was my regular acupuncture appointment and I mentioned my ferritin levels to the acupuncturist. She also noticed the coppery color of my legs. Her suggestion was also to give blood three times annually.

Here’s the thing. My first blood donation a year ago did not go well. I was so dizzy, I almost fainted. I ‘forgot’ to do it again. Tuesday, I figured I was way past due for a blood letting. It also seemed I needed to talk to my current doctor about my concerns. Immediately after my acupuncture I took action.

  1. Dropped by my doctor’s office to book an appointment
  2. Drove to the blood bank and was able to donate almost immediately
  3. Received my cool Halloween T-shirt

Some Lessons Learned

First, always notice when something odd crosses your path. It isn’t happenstance. I believe it’s a higher power looking out for you. And who knows, maybe a cool t-shirt will be your reward. Oh and also, blood-letting and fear make for a different Halloween story.

I don’t know if I have hemochromatosis and probably won’t know for months. But I feel much better taking the initiative to follow the suggested treatment while helping others with a blood donation. It is one of the easiest ways you can help your fellow man. 

If you’re in Central Florida on December 15, 2019, I’m teaching an Introduction to Japanese Meditation class. Stay tuned for more information or even better,  sign up for my weekly newsletter. You’ll never miss a blog or an announcement.