The Vine, Fall 2023

When I was a child, my mother insisted on us behaving when we went to other people’s homes. “I want to hear ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ coming out of your mouths and no bad behavior,” she would say to us. “I want my kids to shine!” If we did not do what she said, we needed to watch out when we got home! I cannot blame her; we should all strive to do our best.

Our journey in life is our real destination. We all were born with gifts; we just need to learn how to use them. We need to realize that life is about helping and lifting up others. It can be through our careers, daily deeds, words, and actions. 

Today’s world seems to be more demanding than it used to be. We are challenged to do the right thing. Other people seem to feel a need to blow out our candle of light for no good reason, but it is our job to make it shine brighter. We need to rise above fear and show others how to liberate themselves. 

The journey will take us through dark days. We will go through personal strife, loss and confused moments. I have friends who have lost two children. When I asked how they go on, they said, “We choose not to crawl into a hole and hide, but to continue living and loving those we still have in our lives.” I admire these people so much! They choose to shine after all the sorrow they have been through. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Only in darkness can you see the stars.”

Opening our heart up to others is easier for some than others. It takes practice. It is a gift; it is you shining into someone else’s darkness and making their day just a little bit brighter. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t talked to in a long while, or send a card and show them they mean something to you. The other night I texted my sister and told her I loved her. I felt so damn good when she texted me back and told me she loved me! 

My mother and I were always close. A few months before she passed, however, we were riding in the car together and she said to me, “Long after I am gone … It will become perfectly clear that I left my heart behind.” She not only left her heart, but she also left the brightest candle I have ever seen. It will shine in my heart forever. 

We all must do what we think is right in the moment. We need to help each other more, use kinder words, show strength in the face of fear and be the best friend anyone ever had. We must shine and push the darkness out, one small step at a time.

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