Spend It Offering Light: Week 3 & Giveaway

What happens when the life you thought you had vanishes in an instant? That’s the question addressed by our two brave guests today, Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens and Leigh Linden (not her real name).

Our current series, “Spend It Offering Light” (#OfferLight) continues today with their stories and a giveaway too!

First time reading? Learn the story behind our series here. “Spend It Offering Light” features real people turning their fears into something that helps others, into light. Today, please welcome Leigh Linden and Tammy Strobel!

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So Much to Celebrate: Thoughts on A Wish Come Clear’s Second Anniversary

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Here’s what I’d like to share with you today:

1. A tremendous amount of gratitude. The launch of my new Kindle Single*, I Was a Stranger to Beauty, has been an amazing experience. I’m so thankful to have released this book with ThinkPiece Publishing; Adam Wahlberg and his team have done a phenomenal job. (And remember, sales support a great cause too: 5% of the proceeds from the first 30 days go to L’Arche DC.)

I Was a Stranger to BeautyAnd thanks to your support, the Single debuted at #3 in the Special Needs Memoirs and Special Needs Ebooks on Amazon. 

Going into this launch, I had zero expectations with regards to rankings. With every book I write, my hope is that the story speaks out to you. I hope that it makes you laugh and cry and have more brave days.

And of course I want it to do well. Yet as launch day drew near, I did what most writers do: I simply prayed that it would not be a complete flop. And even if it was, I prayed to keep it in perspective, to remember that real success is in the effort, the attempt, the ‘showing up’.

Given this, it was wild to see that we made the top three in two categories. Just wild. I was giddy, making ridiculous comments like, “Number three! You get a medal for third in the Olympics!”

The ranking was just icing on the cake, though. The substance of ‘success’ was the sense of having dared to put this book out there. It was the beautiful comments from you. It was talking to my parents, and seeing how our family’s struggle was actually helping others.

It was the feeling that this was exactly what I was meant to be doing. It was the same feeling I had as I walked up the stairs to a certain L’Arche home for the first time in 2007. It was the feeling of coming home.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

*If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry! You can read Kindle books with Amazon’s (free) Kindle Cloud Reader. If you have Amazon Prime, you can also borrow the book through Amazon’s Lending Library.

2. Two new guest posts!

My gratitude to Barrie and Tammy for allowing me to contribute to their lovely sites. And thank you to The Speech Ladies, Kristina and Cindy, who ran a special post to announce I Was A Stranger to Beauty.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Caroline and Willie

An illustration from my very first book, age 5, entitled, “My Brother.”

3. A revised version of Your Creed of Care: How to Dig for Treasure in People (Without Getting Buried Alive), thanks to my dear friend and designer Tamara Templeman.

This book is my gift to you; feel free to share it with those you love. If you believe that it will serve someone else, pass it on!

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

4. A Wish Come Clear had its two-year anniversary last Wednesday; in the excitement of the launch, I nearly forgot. But two years, 126 posts, and an amazing community? That’s worth celebrating.

For two years, we’ve been sharing true stories together …

and sharing stories is a way of bearing the light.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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How will you spend the MLK Holiday? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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*L’Arche is a faith-based non-profit organization that creates homes where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together. I spent 5 years serving the DC community in various caregiving roles.

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What Holds You Up? Or, the Hands that Frame Your Risks

Photo Credit: Ashley Baker

I hopped on my bike and started pedaling, determined to arrive on time. I’d left home a little bit late, but I could still make it on time if I tried. Even though I was moving quickly, I savored the crisp autumn morning around me. It was a perfect day for yoga in the park, a donation-based event hosted by Shoals Yoga.

As I pulled up to Wilson Park, I heard bells chiming the hour. After locking my bike, I pulled out my yoga mat and joined the other yogis on the grass. Glad to have arrived in time, I tried to quiet my racing heart and settle into the breathing exercises.

Every time I turned my head, I couldn’t help but smile; there was so much beauty around me. Gentle sunlight beamed through the leaves, and light reflected off the fountain at the center of the park. It was idyllic, and I felt fortunate to be able to move my body and enjoy it.

Towards the end of the practice, we started working on inversions — poses that involve going upside-down. We were practicing headstand, a pose I’m comfortable with … in the context of a yoga studio, that is. I typically practice headstand close to the wall; it feels safer that way.

But in the park, there were no walls. For the first time, I was challenged to try an ‘unsupported’ headstand. I kicked one leg up — so far, so good. But I couldn’t quite work up the nerve to kick my other leg up to meet it. Though I knew I had the strength to do the pose, the absence of a wall intimidated me. I brought my leg down.

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Ashley, our instructor, saw my hesitation. She moved through the mats to stand beside me. “Do you want to go up again? I can support you,” she said quietly. I felt a smile spread across my face. It was exactly what I needed: for someone else to be my wall. With her beside me, I knew that I could give the pose another try.

“Yes, let’s do it,” I said. Getting into position, I kicked one leg up, moving the other to meet it in the air. Ashley’s hands framed my feet with the lightest touch, just enough for me to find my balance. Then, once I was still, she moved her hands away, and I held headstand on my own.

What a rush! Time seemed to stop as I focused on maintaining the posture. I held headstand for as long as I could, then slowly brought my legs down. “Good job!” Ashley said softly. I was surprised; I’d been so intent on holding the pose that I didn’t realize she was still there. But I was also relieved; in doing that headstand, I’d been safer than I knew.

Listening at L’Arche

As we moved into the final poses of our practice, I thought: That’s what real friendship is all about. Real friends dare one another into being braver than each one knows how to be. Real friends come close, because they know that their presence can be a powerful catalyst for growth.

And that’s what caregiving at L’Arche* is, too: the act of coming alongside. It’s the practice of empowerment, of giving just enough support. Real caregivers use their hands to support someone else with the gentlest touch possible, so that the other person is doing as much as they can on their own.

Seasoned caregivers know that small supports can make or break a person’s day. They know that their touch may make an impossible day bearable, and a beautiful day transcendent.

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As I pedaled home from yoga in the park, I thought: Help me to remember this. Allow me to recall that, no matter how small or insignificant I feel my contribution is, it may be significant for someone else. And allow me to accept the help that is given to me. Because with it, I can do and be so much more than I’ve imagined.

It’s the secret we keep from one another, the depth of our need for support. The extent to which it matters whether or not we have trusted hands framing the risks we take. The choice to listen rather than tune out; to call rather than stay silent; to show up rather than stay home.

Thank the people who have offered you their hands, and be sure to offer your own. It may feel futile; you may not see results as immediate as, say, a headstand in the park. But even so, keep reaching. Keep offering. Keep trying. Because really, you never know. 

Today may be the day when your touch makes all the difference.

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Who holds you up & supports you in the risks you take? Join the conversation in the comments section below!

Also, I’m proud to be featured on Your Lovely Life this week. Tammy Strobel and Courtney Carver’s site focuses on, “… cultivating beauty and joy every day. Through helpful articles, recipes, inspiring books and quotes you can begin to recognize what’s lovely in your life.” Be sure to check it out!

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Liked this post? Receive new posts via email, along with your complimentary copy of Your Creed of Care: How To Dig For Treasure In People (Without Getting Buried Alive).

*L’Arche is a faith-based, worldwide non-profit organization that creates homes where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together. I spent 5 years serving the DC community in various caregiving roles.

**Names have been changed to protect privacy.