Sharing the Light

“That’s barely burning” I said as I looked down at the jar candle. I like to use candles in the bathroom instead of the bright lights and loud fan. It just makes a shower or bath that much more calming. Without a thought, I grabbed another jar candle, lit it and it burned bright. Perfect!

Upon exiting the shower, what I saw next made me stop and reflect for a minute. I looked over and both jar candles were burning brightly and had the exact same flame height. It was as if the brightly light candle had somehow shared it’s light with the other one and now both were burning brightly.

I immediately thought of my life and how at times I’ve felt discouraged, lost and just not “burning bright”. Every time someone has appeared with a bright countenance, encouragement, and just shared their light. By being in their presence, it helped me to become brighter.

As I took this deeper, I wondered if it was really that simple. Had I been making it too hard for so long? Could it be that all I need to do is just humbly and gratefully let my light shine day every day, to everyone no matter what, no matter the situation? Could it be that in times of despair, all I really needed to do was be there? Taking it one step further; why wait for things to be bad, why not BE there ALL the time?

The water dripped onto the floor as these insights flowed through my mind. Who knew lighting a couple of candles could trigger such deep thoughts and emotions. Who knew that such changes in my perspective could occur from such a simple act.

What a feeling of freedom to just BE….and share the light.

Have a beautiful day!

Full Circle

“Sir, Sir!!” the guy waved at me from across the grocery store’s dimly lit parking lot. I cautiously slowed and powered down the window.

“I left the lights on in my car and now it won’t start. I have my elderly Mom with me and just need a jump start. Someone else has offered to jump start it, but their car is too small. I think we need an SUV like yours to get mine started”.

Sure enough, there was a small car with jumper cables connected to his SUV. I’ll admit, I’m a bit skeptical at times like these, but at the same time I’ve been stranded my share of times and had someone appear at just the perfect time.

The guy continued that he didn’t know anything about cars and was totally over his head on things like this. I could tell he was really upset, as can happen in times like this. His elderly Mom was quiet, but capable and effortlessly offered an extra hand or held a flashlight.

We connected my SUV; let it charge for a few minutes and then he cranked his. It would turn over, but not start. Hmmmm…..there was a familiar sound that was missing, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.

I broke out my heavy jumper cables and tried again. Still the same result. By now, the guy was getting even more upset. “Why do things like this always happen to me!!?” “This is going to be expensive!!!”. Meanwhile, his Mom just watched and allowed whatever to unfold.

I put my gear away and shone the flashlight under the hood. The transverse engine looked like so many engines I’ve seen before. The driver’s side had the air filter, throttle body, and intake hardware. The passenger side had the serpentine belt, A/C, alternator, power steering.

I asked him to start it and still I sensed something was missing. As he started it, the engine turned about ¼ of a turn and then stopped. It was then I realized what I thought the problem was.

Usually when you start a car, no matter what brand, there is a sound of power as the starter turns the engine over. You can almost feel the torque, especially if you have the hood up. Not so here; every crank was a feeble attempt to turn the engine over.

“May I give it a try?” I asked. The guy, leapt out of the driver’s side, glad to be away from it. I had a feeling that if could’ve just run away, he probably would’ve.

As I got in, I just bumped the key slowly, just enough to move the engine. I really wasn’t trying to start it; I was proving a theory with each bump. With each bump, the engine made the usual, anemic sound and didn’t start. However……

Now and then one bump sounded solid and I quietly said “darn, I missed it”. After a few more iterations, I had a rhythm. Every 3-4 bumps would be anemic, but the 4th or 5th one would catch.

This process took a few minutes as I figured out what was happening. Meanwhile outside of the car, the drama was building even more. “I knew we should’ve never come here!” the guy exclaimed. “Can you call someone, does he know what do, and is he awake!!?” He was feeling lost, stranded, and just wanted out of here and it showed. His Mom retained her composure throughout and silently watched me.

I bumped the key a couple of more times and then waited. “C’mon baby, I know we can do this” I said under my breath. I knew I could start this car; I just needed one important piece of nuts and bolts to line up just perfectly one time.

One more turn of the key, confidently, putting it all on the line with this one shot. I had missed a few opportunities earlier, but this time I was going for it. I turned the key all the way and held it………with a solid, familiar sound the SUV roared to life!!

Woohoo!! I had a feeling I could do it, but to actually hear it run was quite rewarding.

The guy hurriedly began throwing everything back into the SUV. At one point, I had a feeling he was going to run me, his Mom, and my SUV over if we all didn’t move. He just wanted out of there!

Meanwhile, Mom asked me what it was. In 30 seconds or less, I explained that the starter had a dead spot and all I did was bump it around till I found the one place it’d catch. Not a fully technical explanation, but enough so she’d understand.

She calmly and graciously said thank you many times as I lowered the hood and prepared to leave. She said they would go home now and I said “you can go anywhere you want, as long as you leave it running”. We both just laughed and I watched them peel out of sight, almost literally.

I sat for a second, amazed at how the mom was so composed and the son was so dramatic. What a dichotomy of emotions and character!

As I rolled away, I couldn’t help but remember the times I was that same person; stranded, alone and someone took the time and courage to get me on my way. I had a renewed sense of gratitude for those times of rescue and said a quiet thank you for being able to lend a hand to get them on their way.

You never know what events will transpire, whom you’ll meet, but somehow it all comes full circle and that’s what makes life interesting.

Attention helps us Thrive

This is an excerpt from my new book Climb that Fence, take that Leap which is a compilation of animal stories and the life insights I observed. I wrote it to encourage people to make positive changes and bring more awareness to the animals. Available on Amazon, I hope you enjoy the stories and I’d love to hear yours, so feel free to drop me a line.

Things Come Alive with Attention:
Ever since I took Keiko (my cat) to the park that day and let her out every evening, she was wired. Every morning she was under foot, walking around the kitchen and living room. I’d be upstairs getting dressed and here would come this spindly, almost wobbly cat blasting up the stairs.

At times, it was really annoying to hear the constant meowing, so I’d pick her up. “What is your problem?” I’d ask. I thought she might be in pain. As soon as I picked her up, all I heard was the familiar sound of contentment: purring.

What had changed with her? I had not given her any different medicine, and she had become skinnier by the day. But something was obviously different.

Let’s see, she went from just hanging around the house and receiving whatever “leftover” attention I had to being the first to receive attention. She received my attention first and foremost, and we spent quality time together.

Even if I had other things I “should have” been doing, I took time to make sure she went outside and had fun. The more time I spent with her, the more alive she became.

Just like a plant that requires water regularly, we all need regular, meaningful attention—validation that we are loved, that someone cares, that we make a difference. Without that knowing, we become lethargic and lost, and we lose hope.

When we think that no one cares, it often shows. It is easy to put on a tough exterior and give the appearance that we don’t care, but deep down it can be pretty lonely on our own.

The basic need to be loved is universal among people and animals. Pets fill that need and do it unconditionally. No matter the day, our relationship, or our status, our pets love us anyway. That’s why we enjoy them so much and why they’re often used in therapy. There’s something soothing about petting a happy fur ball.

Stop and think right now: Where can you show some attention that would make a difference? Where have you taken someone/a pet for granted? Write a thank you note, make a phone call, bring home dinner, turn off the TV, etc. Take a few minutes out of your day and give some love.

Just a few minutes is all it takes. You’ll be surprised how alive someone will feel. Guess what, so will you!!!

Benefit of the Doubt

“Hi” I said as a co-worker approached in the hall. No response at all, again. We’ve worked together for years and successfully completed projects so I always expect some sort of response. Doesn’t have to be verbose, just an acknowledgement would be fine. Seriously, how hard is it to say hello back and be a little friendly? This had gone on for several months and I finally just accepted it as normal.

Recently this individual has taken up one of my favorite hobbies and naturally began asking questions. Now we laugh, research, talk for extended times and somehow squeeze in some work. Is this the same person who doesn’t say Hi to me in the hall?

One day we were outside discussing nothing in particular and this individual opened up about some tremendous personal issues. I’ve heard a lot of personal issues, so unfortunately, I anticipate the ending. His story was different though; it just kept going with life altering obstacles one right after another and often multiple challenges at the same time. I just stared in disbelief and felt an overwhelming sense of compassion. It all made sense now….

When I have a headache, neck ache, or don’t feel good I’m not the most friendly, excitable, person. Toss in stress from personal issues and you may see me but I’m not really here.

Often other people are dealing with incredible circumstances that they don’t share. They may appear aloof, unfriendly, or unsociable, but in reality they’re just dealing the best they can. Headaches are usually gone in a few hours, but life events can go on for months or even years.

The next time I encounter someone less than friendly, I’m going to just send them some compassion. Who knows what they’re facing and a little compassion might be just what they need.