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faith, Radiant

Finding Radiance in the Rain

Rain on Leaves

I did a bit of a mid-west tour this past week, driving from St. Louis to Indiana to Iowa, back to Indiana before heading home.  I tried to tell myself I was doing one big loop through the upper mid-west, though truth be told, it was more of zigs and zags.

It was a rainy trip and I was slogging through downpours and thunderstorms as I drove.  During one part of the journey, when the rain didn’t seem like it would ever let up, I challenged myself to find the radiance, in the rain.

Surely it was there, I just needed to be present and look for it. I pulled off the highway to get some gas and a little bit to drink.  As I checked out with my beverage in hand, the clerk, never-looking up, murmured “Thank you and have a blessed day.”  I automatically said thank you and turned to leave.  No, I thought to myself, really thank her for saying that.  I turned back to her.  “Thank you for saying that.  That was really lovely.”

Words can not describe her reaction.  She lifted her head up and burst into the biggest smile I have seen in awhile.  She stood a bit taller.  She looked me in the eye and said with a shoulder shrug and that beautiful smile, “I always say that, it is sort of my thing.”

“I am so glad” I replied, “It is a wonderful thing to say.  Thank you so very much.  You have a blessed day as well.”

I stepped outside, into the rain and realized I had seen the radiance I was looking for that day.  Right there, at a little Speedway gas station in Indiana, by a shy, beautiful cashier who wanted to remind me, and all of us, that we are blessed.

 

faith, Radiant

A Profound Moment in Korea

Donna in Korea
Donna A. Heckler eating lunch in Seoul in 1996.  Trying to Be Radiant and smiling at all the food being placed in front of her.

What outstanding news this morning, to learn that the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had crossed into South Korea for a Korean summit.  It reminded me of my own profound moment in South Korea many years ago.

The year would have been 1996 and I was leading the marketing for Energizer through-out Asia-Pacific.  While I was based in Hong Kong, I traveled all over Asia for work, several times making the trip to Seoul, South Korea.

During one of my visits to Seoul, my translator and the people I worked with took me to a market for a little shopping.  While we were walking through the market, my translator was pulled aside and a conversation started.  I wondered if I was the topic, as they kept pointing to me.  After a few minutes, my translator came back to me and said that this gentleman would like to speak with me, if I was willing.

“Of course” was my answer, “what does the man want to talk about?”

“I will let him tell you himself” my translator responded.

The man was older, weathered, I might say.  He was hunched over a little and his dusty white t-shirt spoke of all the work he did.  He reached for my hand to shake it and I smiled.  He started to speak to me, stopping periodically, so my translator could share.

“I have never met an American before” he began. ” I wanted to meet you, because you are American, right?”

“Yes.  Yes, I am American.  It is so nice to meet you.”

“I wanted to meet you because I wanted to thank you.  I want to thank you for sending all the American troops over here to South Korea to keep us safe.  I want to thank you for all that America has done for us.  I wanted to thank an American in person.  Thank you, thank you.  Will you tell everyone in America how much we, in South Korea, appreciate that?  Will you tell your President?”

I was so touched.  “Oh, what kind words, thank you.  Yes, I will share your message in America.  I don’t know the President.  I don’t know that I can get your message to him, but I will certainly share it.”

As I left the man I had this overwhelming sense of awe.  I had no idea the profound impact America was having in South Korea.  I didn’t know the number of troops.  I didn’t understand what it meant to the people there.

But, it mattered so much to this man that he had to stop a stranger, an American and offer his thanks to her, through her translator.

When I returned to America, I told that story quite a few times.  It was part of a larger narrative for me; that being to understand the impact that America has on the world stage.  I had not known.  I had not understood that.

So, as today’s profound moment in Korea occurred, I kept thinking of my own profound moment.  I thought of that kind man and his words of gratitude.  I thought that sharing his message of gratitude might be a perfect thing to write about and share today.

 

 

 

 

 

faith, Radiant

The Gift of a Wrong Number

 

A few years I met a spectacular woman, Natoshia.  Here is the story, it was all a “mistake!”  You see, she had made a call, only to discover she had dialed the wrong number.  But, my friend, who answered the phone, chatted with her a little bit and told her she should meet me.  And so, meet we did.

Natoshia is beautiful, inside and out.  My friend introduced us because we both were interested in supporting other women.  I had just launched my book Living Like A Lady When You Have Cancer.  Natoshia had launched a business entitled Wiggin’ It, a company designed to help women with wigs due to hair loss.  But, what really connected us was God, faith, and love of humanity.

So, fast forward a few years and I do more and more work, speaking, and writing around the idea of radiance.  When it was time to do a few videos, Natoshia quickly popped to mind as someone who could share radiance in such a beautiful way.

Radiance is something that can not just be talked about, it needs to be lived.  Natoshia lives it in ways I can only dream about.  Every morning, her daughter chooses a mug for Natoshia to use at school that day.  Natoshia bravely teaches fifth graders!  The mug her daughter pulled yesterday was our mug that says “Be Radiant!”  You have probably seen that mug in some of our videos.

That phrase caused Natoshia to pause yesterday.  You see, every day at school, she shares a phrase of the day with her fifth graders.  A phrase that they can use, that can motivate, that can challenge, that can empower.  Because of that mug, she shared the phrase Be Radiant!  She invited her students to learn about me, to talk about our friendship and to think about how they can be radiant for the day.

She texted me last night and shared that she thinks we are starting a Be Radiant movement.  Her message gave me chills!  The gift of a wrong number leads to a friendship, leads to sharing radiance in many different ways including with a class of fifth graders!  Perhaps this was never a wrong number, perhaps this is God giving us the absolute right numbers!

 

faith, Radiant

Stan the Man Musial

Stan Musial Signed Baseball
A baseball signed by the legendary Stan “the Man” Musial.

 

Those of you into baseball know that there was a very special ballplayer from St. Louis,  Stan “The Man” Musial.

I knew of Stan the Man because my father loved him as a baseball player.  Dad is a Cubs fan.  But, when it came to Stan the Man, it didn’t matter that he played for the rival St. Louis Cardinals, he was that special.  As a child in the Cincinnati Ohio area, I heard early and often about the great ones, and Stan was always at the top of the list.

Fast forward and I move to St. Louis and join my Catholic parish, Annunziata.  Turns out Annunziata is the church that Stan and his wife had attended for years.  It also turns out to be the church where I met some lovely friends, Jane and Leo Garvin.  To this day, every Sunday after Mass, the Garvins and I head out to lunch; such wonderful people to spend a Sunday with each week.

Why do I share this?  Because I have attached an article that ran in the St. Louis Post Dispatch this morning about Stan the Man and the Garvins. Read it.  Trust me, you will enjoy it.  (Post Dispatch Jan 19, 2018.)

You see, I spend each day looking for radiant people, for people living their life by focusing on others, by being kind, by shining their light in the dark we so often see in this world.  In this article you will see great radiance.  The kindness and gentility of Stan the Man.  The humility of the Garvins. The love of family.  Reaching out and connecting with others.  It is all there.

I don’t need to look for radiance today.  It was presented on a silver platter, in the form of an article about several wonderfully radiant people and the magic that happened when they connected.

 

faith, Radiant

Till Death Us Do Part….

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 2.09.29 PM
St. Mary’s Cathedral; Photo Credit Jamie Thompson

I had the wonderful fortune to witness my nephew and his fiancee get married on December 30.  The church was beautiful, so peaceful and holy.   In the quiet of the church, what was palpable was the love these two had for each other.  Yes, they are young.  But, they had found each other and as I watched the sacrament of marriage, one thing was clear, they truly complete each other.

I headed back to my home town and later that first week of the New Year, finally got to finishing up all the mail that had accumulated during my absence.  Magazines are always piled on the bottom of the stack, so it took me awhile to get to them.  As I started looking at the two or three magazines that had collected, I was stunned.

There, boldly staring up at me was a cover and headline that shook me to the core.  Above the name of the magazine in fact, was this headline “A Guide to Divorcing Well”.  Are you kidding me?  There is no ability to ever divorce well.  None.  Marriage is a lifelong commitment and if it is ending in divorce, there is no way that can be good or done well.

It took me a few days to calm down enough to pick up the magazine and read the article itself.  I did not make it through the article very well.  I didn’t have to – much as I expected, it was about taking advantage of the spouse.  It had tips for minimizing the cost of divorce and simplifying the process.  What?  Divorce should be hard and painful; it should not happen.  How have we as a society gotten to this point where national magazines scream headlines on how to divorce well?  The magazine used that headline because they knew that it would draw people in, it would sell copies, it would speak to people.  But, in selling more magazines, how many people became intrigued, excited even by what divorce could be for them?

When I was at my nephew’s wedding, it was a radiant event.  They were so clearly sharing their love with each other, we all witnessed it.  And, they were embraced by a large family, showering them with love as they began their life together.  There is nothing radiant in divorce.  There is no light, no joy; only brokenness and pain. Divorce is not good.  It can not be done well.  Town and Country Magazine, you may have been genteel in the day.  But, any magazine that espouses “divorcing well” is far from genteel,  far from classy. By the way, you have just lost one more subscription.