I have had many experiences that have brought me to where I am, but one experience stands out when it comes to the subject of power–an experience that rekindled my light, re-connected me to the power of my voice, and helped me find the courage to come out of hiding and begin to share who I am.

I was at a 3-day retreat called Transformed Woman. I went into it knowing I would be challenged because one of the coaches was David Wood, who was also the mentor at the first retreat that started me on my personal growth journey. He had teamed up with his colleague, Sandra Yancey, and the two of them together were a dynamic duo. She’s brilliant, quite calm and connected, and he’s “crazy,” a master at pushing people out of their comfort zone, which is something I have come to almost crave. I have a love/hate relationship with facing fear, moving through it, and discovering what it feels like on the other side. It is such an invigorating and powerful feeling. Many of my steps through fear could appear to be quite small, but for me they have been huge. I’ve experienced many tears, a lot of emotional pain. Stepping out of a very familiar and friendly comfort zone is scary, and it can hurt a little bit.

So as I mentioned earlier, I went into this retreat knowing that I would be challenged in that way, and I had a mindset that “if I’m going to do it, I’m not going to let it get to me. I’m not going to shrink from it. I’m going to do anything they ask me to do, and I’m going to do it well.” With each opportunity, I dug down deep, and I stuck to my commitment. Often times, I was among the first to volunteer. I would just breathe and decide to do it. It felt so good, and I loved it.

After one particular day of intense activities that were totally out of my character, I felt on top of the world. I was proud of myself for being brave and for not shedding any tears. We had one final activity that evening, and I was positive that it was going to be a breeze—it involved music and art and conversation—all things that I am good at.

However, as the activity progressed, I was faced with powerful paradigms of personal perfection—an intense need to appear perfect in front of people in order to have value—that I didn’t even realize I had. I was overcome with my own imperfections. I became paralyzed, and the tears started to flow. I couldn’t stop them. I wish I could explain what was happening, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Let me just say that the activity was harmless—it was really nothing–but it ripped my heart out.

So there I sat, feeling grateful for the dimmed lights, with tears streaming down my face. I was trying really hard not to be seen because I didn’t want anybody to know I was having this moment, but of course, the ever-observant David Wood noticed. He brought out a microphone and asked for a few people to share. That brought some relief because “a few people” meant “not me.” Of course, I didn’t say anything. But then, “Let’s have a few more shares,” and “a few more shares,” until eventually everyone had shared—except me.

By that time, David Wood was standing behind me with the microphone. He put it in front of my face and said, “Now, I want to hear you share.” I whispered, “I don’t want to,” to which he replied, “ I know, and that’s why I’m here.” He put the microphone in my hand and asked me to share what I was feeling…and that’s when the ugly cry began…

I was so vulnerable and uncomfortable in that moment. I honestly don’t know if I have ever felt more uncomfortable. But I was gently guided through it, and we finished the night with a really beautiful candlelight experience.

Again, I can’t share details, but I can share what I learned:

  • I don’t light my own candle. My light, my strength, and my courage, my abilities, my passion, and my purpose—they don’t come from me. They originate from a place higher than I am, but they’re there freely for me to develop and to share.
  • When I play small and shrink from my light, I’m denying that power that is there for me to take. It doesn’t come from me, but it IS in me. When I keep it lit, I can share it with other people, and I can become a part of a huge glow of light that needs to be shared with the world. I can choose to be a part of it, or I can choose to be outside of it.

My whole life has been a learning process, but over the last few years of my adult life, and especially within this year, I have come to a powerful realization that I do not want to let other people shine their light while I watch.

I want to be a part of that light; I want to be one to light or reignite the fire within others.  Again, the light doesn’t originate with me, but I need to keep it lit and shine bright enough to inspire other people to tap into that light.  We can come together and we can shine brightly and beautifully and fill the earth with love and joy. That is my power; that is my purpose; that is my virtue.

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