My neighbors on either side of my house hung their holiday lights over the Thanksgiving weekend–miniature snowmen glowing along the porch rails on one side, and tulip bushes wrapped with white lights on the other side.
I have to admit as the days grow shorter, I love it when the night is illuminated.
Metaphorically it’s a lovely image too; the outside world is lit for me. The twinkling lights remind me of the times in my life when my own “light” or spark went out, and someone else lit it for me. It reminds me that it’s time to help light the world with selfless words and deeds.
I have lived through my fair share of the dark night of the soul. The times when I feel as though my life is upside down, turned inside-out, sliding into a dark depression when something triggers memories of a traumatic event from my early 20s–my family is always there to light my world and reignite my passion for this one life.
When I doubt my career choices or my ability to make my big dreams happen, friends and sometimes strangers have lifted me with encouraging words of support and simple reminders to look at the bright places in my life. My family, my friends, my accountability partnerships, my former life coach, strangers on an airplane—and so many more people—have somehow found the right words to say when I can’t find the faith to believe in my dreams.
I also find inspiration by reading the works of great authors, spiritual teachers, and philosophers. I think this is why my big dream is to be an activist who writes and publishes inspirational books—because books have been steady and true companions for me over the years. It is comforting and inspiring to read the stories of others who have struggled or lost their way and rebounded to create magical lives for themselves.
Since I have known despair and heartache, it helps me to learn from the experiences of others’ stories, and to understand there is hope for me too. Being an activist who writes books to help women overcome their challenges will be my way of paying it forward. I hope to help women find inspiration and inner strength during the dark times in their lives.
At the end of his life, Buddha said to his followers:
“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 say we are made of stardust. I believe we are meant to be bright stars lighting the world around us whenever we can. 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 are 8 Ways “light the world” this Holiday Season:
1. Be kind to strangers, service workers and other drivers on the road. You never know what someone else is going through and just a gentle word, smile or wave of a hand can sometimes make a big difference to someone in pain.
2. Find your joy and share it. Attend a church service or meditation group. Wear your funniest holiday sweater or a funny hat. Leave funny post-it notes on the mirrors in public bathrooms to spread a little cheer. When we do something that makes us smile, we can share this joy with others.
3. Care for yourself, so you can give to others. 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. Get rest. Don’t try to make everything perfect.
4. Bask in the light of others. If you do not feel like you can “be the light” right now, maybe it’s your time just to be inspired by others. Surround yourself with people who light you up. Start a gratitude journal so you are reminded of the good that is in your life even though it may not feel like it at the moment.
5. Write down the one big dream you’d like to achieve. Tie this to your Christmas tree, or hang it with a bow on your fireplace, or place it in a jewelry box. Encourage all your friends to come over to do the same. Offer to meet up in July and check in on each other’s progress.
6. 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. Play Santa.
7. Donate. Donate any books you still haven’t read to a library. Drop off school supplies at a school close to you where the teachers buy their supplies. Did you know that you can buy a 150-Pack of pre-sharpened wood cased #2 HB Pencils on Amazon for around $10.00? They also need paper towels, tissues, erasers, glue sticks, and art supplies.
8. Bake some goodies. Make cupcakes or cookies and drop them off at your local fire department or police department for those public servants who are working on the holiday. Leave secret Santa goodie bags on your neighbor’s doors. Offer to watch someone’s children so they have time to go shopping. Bake cookies while you enjoy the time with kids. Children make all holidays brighter because they understand how to live in the moment.
I leave you to be the light in your world this holiday season with this beautiful poem by poet, Vijaiya Ramkissoon:
You are a precious gem amongst stones.
You are a star shining most brilliantly
in the darkness of the night.
Be that star and hope that you can serve
as a beacon of hope and light the path
for those around you.
Be a shining example of beauty and divinity
leading the way and leaving a trail
for others to emulate.
Live so that others may look up to you,
and follow the path of goodness and nobility
which you tread upon.
When situations seem tough at times
and circumstances are beyond your control
don’t stop shining.
Remember that stars glitter most brightly
and shine with all their exquisiteness
in the darkest of hours.
So be the light, be the brightest star
and continue being who you truly are.
Can you spend some time this holiday season lighting the way for others? I promise it will be one of the best holiday seasons you’ve ever known.
Keep on dreaming big–
Lisa Powell Graham
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project.
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