Author, Be Radiant

A Radiant 4th!

A Radiant 4th

I dare suggest that the Fourth of July is truly a radiant holiday.  It has always been one of my favorites, that patriotic sense of community, the celebration of America, that knowledge that we all love this one country of ours.

This deep sense of patriotism and community was inspired in me as a very young girl.  My father had grown up in Blue Island, Illinois, right outside of Chicago.  Every summer, around the fourth, we would take a road trip from Middletown, OH to Chicago to see our grandparents, cousins, and all sorts of extended family.  While for this little five year old the six-hour drive seemed never-ending, the results were always worth it.  Days upon days of playing in new spaces, with cousins I didn’t get to see nearly often enough, and grandparents who doted on us; those trips were sacred.

Blue Island to me, was the quintessential American town.  We would celebrate Independence Day there, starting the morning with the parade.  Standing along the parade route I would watch my parents talking to so many people as they made this annual pilgrimage home .  If Mom and Dad were talking, my grandmother was always there, hoisting us up so we could see, or holding our hand so we wouldn’t get lost.

I loved the parade, though the fire engines were so noisy I would always cover my ears.  We all cheered the bands and laughed at the clowns.  The parade had to be the best in the country, at least to me.  We all waved flags during the parade and if I couldn’t find mine, there were several people jumping to give me theirs.  That day, in the town of Blue Island, I felt what it meant to be American, to be part of this great country of ours.

After the parade had ended, we would find our way back to my grandmother’s and cousins’ homes for a cook-out.   The men manned the grills so that hot dogs and hamburgers were in constant supply.  We spent our afternoons eating and playing until it was time to get ready for the fireworks.  There was only one place to go for fireworks in Blue Island, Eisenhower High School.  We would get there early and Mom would put a blanket on a patch of the football field.  We would lay down on our backs and wait for the explosions of colors to light the sky above us.  I was always a little bit afraid, what if the embers came all the way down on me?

I wonder if I knew the word radiant at the time?  I don’t really know.  But, as I remember those nights, the sky was radiant.  The deep, dark night, spotted with bright, little stars would explode in color.  We would all gasp and ooh and aah at the same time, without even trying.

And now, I ask myself, isn’t the fourth of July the definition of radiance?  We are one nation, under God, with the beautiful light of fireworks connecting us all as we jointly sing God Bless America.  On the Fourth of July however, it is not just the fireworks that are radiant, but it is us.  We, the people, are radiant as we celebrate this country of ours.  We are the light, given by God, that shines most brightly at the celebration of our country’s birth.  As freedom rings, let all of us shine….

 

Be Radiant, faith

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!

 

Be Radiant, faith

Till Death Us Do Part….

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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 that in their marriage.  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.