Too Much

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I don’t want to pretend that keeping in alignment is easy.  Our daily lives consist of habits YEARS upon years in the making.  Our neural pathways become entrenched with the same data we’ve entered for years and that is the pattern it KNOWS.  As smart as our super-computer brains are, they tend to follow the path of least resistance, so if we put bad habits in, we will get bad habits out.  I digress.  When we recognize those “bad” habits or simply something we want to change, we need to know a couple of things: 1. It will take constant effort to remember the action we are learning, and it will require focus, and we will forget over and over again until we form those new neural pathways.  2. When we change ourselves, we are changing our lives as well as those around us.  When we see ourselves differently, people see us differently as well.  It’s not a labeled thing in terms of good or bad, but it’s something that deters people from sticking to their word and they fall off the wagon so to speak.

This side of maintaining integrity is the fact that others will view you as too much.  Not that we can control how people view us, but when people label us as “different than we used to be” or can’t seem to relate any longer, it feels lonely and that’s when old habits slip back in.  Think about those who inspired you to change: there was a power, a magnetic draw to SOMETHING about them.  People who live by their word and follow through operate differently than the majority.  They are in touch with themselves in a way others aren’t and it shows, it radiates off of them.  They have a goal and they intend to see it through, no excuses, and some don’t know how to interpret that.  Integrity, honesty, vulnerability for holding ourselves accountable can be seen as threatening to others because those people aren’t in that space yet.  I’m talking about the space of accountability for actions and being ready to level up.

Criticism is usually a bit challenging to swallow even on a good day.  We all know those people who blush at any praise as much as they do when they’re frustrated.  When our actions are criticized we internalize it as some reflection of our identity.  When our identity is noted as “different” or “changing” it’s easy to feel isolated and want to join the crowd.  Don’t do it.  While it’s initially uncomfortable to stand on our own, to stand in who we are and be seen, it feels much better than having to go with the crowd.  Like anything, it takes practice.  Those around you who note these changes will adapt.  And if you are too much for some, you are just right for others. At the end of the day, what matters is if you are right for yourself.  What feels right to you?  Do you know who you are and are you ready to let that person out? 

It’s never really about being too much or too little, it’s about how your authentic self makes others feel.  Not everyone is comfortable letting their light shine, and if yours gets a little too bright then it starts showing the shadows other people try to hide.  Some simply aren’t ready for that to be seen or to address it.  Shine anyway.  Let your gifts out and share them with the world.  Feel good about who you are and know the world needs more of that light.  There can never be too much light on a spiritual plane, and whether we like to admit it or not, we are spiritual creatures.  We need each other, we need connection.  What better way to connect than with our true selves?  That’s not too much, it never can be.  So shine on, friends.  Share that light. 

Milky Ways and Revelations

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My boss always has a bountiful supply of candy around for us to pick through if we need a pick me up during the day.  I visited her stash the other day and pulled a few bite-size bars out for later use—my own mini-stash of candy if you will.  Activity of the day overwhelmed me and I knew I had saved a Milky Way for this exact moment, but when that moment hit, the Milky Way was no where to be found.  I spent at least a minute looking through the drawer trying to find this delectable bite of candy that I KNEW I had. I brushed the garbage can with my chair as I turned around and saw the familiar little wrapper in the garbage.  I couldn’t remember eating it for the life of me but I was absolutely the only one in my office, and certainly the only one who knew where I had put that candy so it had to be me.  After my initial concern about why I didn’t remember eating it, a thought hit me: blind action is as bad if not worse than no action.  I’m not doing what I said I would do as far as my health. 

Yesterday we talked about remembering our worth in the context of how we communicate with people and how we are perceived, specifically how we feel about ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves dictate how we behave.  When we operate out of integrity, we move further from the goal.  So…not remembering eating a candy bar tells me that eating the candy has become so innate, so second nature, that I’m not paying attention to what I’m consuming.  I know the bottom line of success is maintaining our authentic values, keeping that integrity in our actions and that requires total honesty and asking tough questions.  If I want to be different, if I want success, what am I doing differently and how am I drawing success to me?  How much time am I spending on social media? How much time am I spending complaining about the same thing?  Am I doing any result producing activities to draw me closer to my goal?  How much time do I REALLY have?  We have to make honest choices, and the truth is we always know what the honest choice is: if you want to be healthy, you’d know how many candy bars you ate. 

Honest conversation with self requires establishing trust with ourselves by being honest about what we do and who we say we are.  Kobe Bryant called it honoring the contract we make with ourselves. Follow through is what makes the difference.  We have to know that our ability is enough to support ourselves and that we will see it through, do what it takes to make it happen.  We are often taught that our word to other people is what matters—our word to ourselves matters as much if not more.  When we establish that belief in who we say we are and know how to navigate there, that foundation is set.  This is all part of caring for ourselves.  We can’t make progress if our energy is scattered.  If our actions do something different than our words, then the universe can’t make heads or tails of what you’re saying or doing because the vibration doesn’t match.   

Life is about consumption and creation.  The alchemy of taking in material and producing something else.  It’s a magical world out there and we are virtually limitless.  The mind has no limit whatsoever, the rest is on us.  We stop ourselves through those blind activities, those distractions, those behaviors that are so engrained that we don’t realize we’re doing them.  Working through my own behavior has shown me exactly how much is in my control in this world.  I know how much I used to blame others for where I’m at.  That is such a misuse of power, the energy that we are gifted.  Sometimes we feel it simply because we aren’t where we want to be in life.  Other times it’s not being able to find the damn Milky Way you knew you were saving.  Take the time to consume thoughtfully and ask if it’s aligned with your goal, how you want to feel—and it’s not just food.  Think about the company you keep, the things you watch, the way you feel.  You are worthy of your dreams and goals—make sure you’re honest about how to get there.

Worth, Story, and Communication

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How we communicate reveals what we think and feel about the world around us as well as how we feel about ourselves.  Most of us aren’t taught that.  We are taught some level of communication based on getting what we want or making people see us in a certain way.  We aren’t taught to value or trust our intuition so we spend years ignoring what we hear/know to be true of our own lives.  We essentially tell ourselves that our inner thoughts aren’t worth sharing, that we aren’t worth speaking what is truly on our minds.  We tell ourselves a story about the world and how we will be perceived in it.  For example, we use strong or intimidating language to be viewed as strong but that changes how others see us, and the moment we change that communication style, people become confused. We need to remember our words, our voices are worthy of being heard, as is our story.  We need to share that authentically with the world.

I haven’t been able to communicate well with my teams as a leader.  I’ve made every effort to connect with them on a human level and made allowances for all of the personal stuff, and that has been successful.  I’m relatively well liked.  But when it comes to offering guidance, I haven’t led them as they need.  There is a middle ground of mutual respect where neither side is taken advantage of.  Even as a fully grown competent adult, we struggle to set boundaries and believe in our authority with setting and holding people accountable.  In my experience, I feel discomfort telling older women what they need to do so I allow them to argue their way out of what I know is wrong. I shouldn’t have to tell them what to do—my guidance should be enough. I don’t need permission to hold them accountable.  Then I noticed my behavior and lack of respect for my own authority, not believing in what I’m expecting. If something goes wrong, I try to soften the blow instead of simply stating what was done, how that didn’t align with our expectations and here is the consequence.  I put the responsibility for the decision on those higher up than me instead of telling them it’s from me.  I’ve been undermining myself.

How often do we do that?  Whether it’s not doing what we say we want to do (like working out 3 times a week) or not saying the words on our minds.  How often do we not align our action with our thoughts?  More often the story is about believing in ourselves than it is about how others perceive us.  If we carry ourselves with that belief, others will automatically believe in us.  In my example, the story I need to tell myself is that I am in this role because I am competent and capable and I have a job to do.  I can still do that job with compassion and humanity and understanding, but I do not need to bend to each person’s expectations—I am responsible for guiding them and keeping them on the track. And Yes, there comes a point when we need to move forward and if you don’t want to be on this train, then you can make the choice to leave.  Our conviction and belief in ourselves determines how we interact with people and how they interpret us, and yes, it may influence their decisions in interacting with us.  Ultimately the other person is always responsible for their actions, we aren’t.  So stand firm.

We are worth expressing the innate being we are at our cores.  We shouldn’t have to tailor our personality to yield results.  We should maintain our integrity in the story we tell ourselves.  That doesn’t mean we are always perfect, not by a long shot—but we aren’t meant to be perfect.  We are meant to be authentic.  Bottom line, everyone’s authenticity needs to be honored and recognized.  That starts with ourselves.  The more you value your authenticity and practice genuine communication, the more others will listen and value that as well.  Energy flows where intention goes and that is true for people as well.  We are gifted with the ability to determine when someone is genuine—always believe that.  Trust your instinct because the more you trust yourself, the more confident your story becomes.  That confidence drives a whole lot more than how you feel about yourself.  Take that gift and use it.  Change the story you tell about yourself and see how the world changes with it.

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for being seen.  I’ve spoken about this before but it’s a resurgent feeling today.  I’m grateful to be surrounded by a group that makes me seen.  While I’ve learned a lot in the value of seeing myself and learning what I really like, it’s always nice to be validated every now and then.  I’m not seeking that, but it is nice.  Today I was able to spend the entire morning enjoying a new group of company, reading, having a lovely conversation.  When we truly see the essence of who we are, we understand each other and create an environment safe enough to be ourselves.

Today I am grateful for time.  Time is the most valuable asset we have and I had the most freeing revelation of the misuse of my time.  The best way to ensure you’re not missing out on anything is to use the time you have to do what you’d like.  More specifically, the things that draw you closer to the life you want to live and fulfilling your purpose.  The things that will drive you forward toward that goal.  I managed to get a day off tomorrow and I have every intention of spending it working toward my dreams and taking steps toward the life I see myself living. 

Today I am grateful for the truest expression of self.  Self has been something I’ve preached about finding for a long time.  I’ve been in search of it myself.  But when actually experience what it feels like to take action aligned with your truest self, your calling is a different place of being.  The level of understanding that this is what you need to do is next level, for lack of a better term.  Today happened to be one of those days. 

Today I am grateful for understanding boundaries.  I mentioned above that I spent a lot of time in my element today.  I didn’t mention that prior to spending time in good company I had run into an individual who was not invited to partake in the event.  She made a comment about not being invited and my initial reaction was terrible guilt.  I know what it’s like to be left out—in fact I’d been on the receiving end of being left out by this person previously.  Even though I knew she wouldn’t have necessarily enjoyed the day’s activities, I still felt bad.  After wrestling with it for a while, I started to realize that I am not responsible for how she feels.  I am not responsible for making sure she was invited to an event I wasn’t hosting, nor am I responsible for making her feel included in something she would have no interest in anyway.  That’s a boundary, a responsibility I do not own.

Today I am grateful for peace.  Life doesn’t need to be frenetic or chaotic to be worthy of rest, peace, quiet, or even finding our gift and settling with exactly where you are now.  There are days we are allowed to simply be, to assimilate, to integrating who we are.  Life can simply be about being.  Being who you are without restraint and simply being in a state of acceptance for all we are, light and dark, divine and human, and how that mix creates what and who we are. 

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.

Affirmation Transformation

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I want to talk a little more about “the story” that goes through our minds.  The story we tell is powerful enough to dictate how we view the world.  I’m talking about the story we tell ourselves as well as the story we share with the world.  Our beliefs impact how we see ourselves as well as how we allow ourselves to be seen in the world.  It starts as simply as how we speak to ourselves and what we believe about who we are.  I thought I was pretty clear on who I was and I honestly considered it a fairly positive self-view.  It took me a long time to admit that sometimes what I thought were beliefs were merely words.  I would say it but I wouldn’t always live it.  I’d get frustrated that things weren’t happening merely because I said them.  And I realized what was missing was an indoctrination of belief behind the words.  I love affirmations.  Affirmations have the power to change us as long as we align our actions with the meaning behind them.

This came from another Jay Shetty meditation: Affirmation aligned with belief creates transformation.  In short, we need to have intention and understanding behind the words we say to ourselves. We have to take action from that place of belief rather than simply repeating things over and over again.  Repetition without sincere belief leads to circular arguments, often with ourselves.  But when we really dive in and believe in who we are and we step into that identity with complete trust and faith, we create the opportunity to live the life we’ve always dreamed of.  Sometimes the realization is that we’re already living the live we dreamed of in the simple things.  If you are able to support the lifestyle you want, then you’re more than halfway there—you’ve arrived.  Sometimes affirmations serve to shift our perspective.  Sometimes they serve to close the gap.

Energy flows where intention goes and the universe is often pretty straightforward on the emotion or the feeling we have behind a thought or action.  We can say the words but if what we do doesn’t match it, then we aren’t going to see the results.  The universe doesn’t know what to answer if we aren’t clear on what we are putting out.  Sometimes when things aren’t happening, it’s a sign to pause and gain some clarity.  It’s a sign to think about where we redirect our energy.  It’s also a sign to align our actions with our words.  If we are telling ourselves a story so often we believe it, the universe thinks that’s what’s happening.  We need to train our minds to see something else.  In some ways we need to clean up our act in order to open and receive what we say we want.

More importantly we have to believe in the things we say and the things we think.  When we pause to look at the amount of thoughts we have in a day we’d be amazed at how many are just the same rote thoughts over and over again, and we end up in the same place because we aren’t changing anything we are DOING.  But this still comes back to the story we tell ourselves first.  The universe can’t tell the difference between joking, just a thought, or a true desire through words alone, that is true, but when we say it enough we start to believe it.  Make sure what we say to ourselves sends out a positive vibration.  Make sure it’s authentic and aligned with the outcome we’re seeking.  The words are the base, the practice for building a foundation in what we experience.  Tell yourself a good story.

Success IS…

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If we are going to tell a story we want to live, we need to know what we want to experience, we have to know our likes and dislikes, our values, and our ultimate goals.  Life is about pushing boundaries and creating an environment where the things we want have room and reason to arrive.  It’s also about knowing our limits, not in regard to what we can do, but in regard to what we want to do.  It’s about knowing what is enough for us.  Some people have an idea that they need to attain a certain amount of money or have a certain size house, a certain size family, take specific vacations, drive specific cars, wear the right clothes, eat the right foods etc. in order to be happy or deemed successful.  We have the ability to make the decision on what success means to us.

I heard a story about a recruiter offering a position to an employee that would be a promotional opportunity and include better benefits.  The employee continually refused the offer.  When asked why, he stated that he is already successful where he is at.  He has a salary that allows him to live the life he wants, he is able to spend time with his family, he has the flexibility he needed in his role, and there wasn’t anything else to check off the list.  This man created his own definition of success.  On the outside, most people would consider passing a promotion foolish, but this man knew that he didn’t want to be tied to different hours and miss out on the thing she valued in life.  He had enough in his life to mark himself successful in his own eyes.

Success looks different for everyone.  For some, it does mean exactly what I listed in the first paragraph: it’s the material things and achievements that matter.  For others, it’s letting go of all that and taking in life around them.  For most of us, if we get really honest, I think it’s in the middle.  We want nice things, maybe decent things, but we want the time to experience them as well.  The key is knowing what success means for you.  If you want freedom but take a job that requires you to be in an office longer hours and you have less opportunity to experience life, then that isn’t aligning with your values.  Knowing what you want out of life makes those decisions easier.  The story we want to live becomes clearer the more we know what is important to us. 

For The Story?

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“Seek out the story you want to live, not the story you want to tell,” Jay Shetty.  The reason behind doing something changes the message entirely.  Shetty uses the example of going to a national park and lining up to get the same curated, perfect shot everyone else has on their phones versus going on a different path or to a different park entirely and just being there.  The difference in the two actions is motivation.  Do you want the “perfect” shot because you want more likes on social media?  Or are you trying to share something meaningful in your life?  Or do you even need to share it at all?

The most meaningful experiences come from the things we want to do, the things that have meaning to us personally.  Life is built on the things we have done and experienced and the things we have chosen to bring into our little bubbles.  Life is what we choose to make of it.  With that being said, we have choice in all we do.  We get to choose whether or not we go on that vacation, whether or not we accept that invitation, whether or not we are going to attend that function.  The story isn’t about what looks good or how it flows together.  I actually used to write that way—I wanted things to sound a certain way so I never bothered creating characters, I created lines and words that said what I wanted instead of an organic telling of the experience.  The story is about what we choose to do with our time.

Life is rarely a series of perfect events with a pretty bow wrapped around it.  We don’t need to pretend that’s what happens for the majority of us.  It isn’t about the image we show the world, it’s about knowing inside that you live in a way that feels right to you.  You don’t need approval, likes, or permission to have a valuable life.  Live a life you value and the rest falls into place.  The ego, and maybe human nature itself, loves the idea of a story, of a legacy to leave behind.  I mean, it is pretty natural to want to leave a mark on the world, and to have some impact on people.  But how we do that isn’t in fame or in how many views we have.  The real measure is in the lives we touch.  Yes, perhaps that story will be told over and over again and it may even be shared historically, but living in the day and sharing our gifts with others is legacy in itself.  Live well.  Live authentically.  The rest takes care of itself.  It’s not the story we tell, it’s the story we live. 

As We Are

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“We cannot form our children on our own concepts.  We must take them and love them the way {source} gives them to us,” Goethe.  This came up the other day while doing some private studying.  I saw it and my thoughts immediately went to my own child.  We’ve been struggling with some basics during homework time (I NEVER knew/remembered having this much homework in kindergarten—just for the record) and I completely lost it with him the other night.  It wasn’t the fact he was struggling, it was that he was fighting me in even attempting what needed to be done or understanding the need for practice.  After the fight, my husband and I were debriefing and he told me, “I think you’re struggling with it because he’s not you.”  It took my breath away because that had NOT been my intent.  I think my frustration was not knowing how to help my son properly as well as the pressure this school puts on all of us.  But it clearly came across as some anger or disappointment in my child. 

Kids are super impressionable and I repeat millions of times how important it is to cast off the expectations of society and allow our real selves to be seen.  If I’m expressing frustration at him for not doing the “norm” then I’m condemning him for not being like everyone else.  The truth is on some level I wish it were easier for him because it would be easier for me.  I work full time, run a business, write, have a little social life, have a home to maintain just like everyone else—so plotting in time to correct and teach adds to the already full plate.  Plus his experience is different than mine (we never learned verbs in kindergarten or had to count to 100 by 5’s at that age) considering I was in kindergarten well over three decades ago.

Kids are also incredibly stubborn and resilient because they still have the feeling in them that tells them to be themselves.  There is no shame or fear in complete expression of self at this age.  They want to wear unicorn pants and three pigtails, then so be it, it’s happening.  They want to run and climb on their desks in the middle of class, then that desk is now a tree.  They haven’t developed what we are trying to indoctrinate them into: the “right” way to be or doing the right thing.  They get bored following the same pattern over and over again at that age and that is their soul telling them they are meant for something else. It isn’t our job to take that out of them.  It’s our job to respect and honor that.  Sure, we need to teach them the basics and how to communicate with people and yes, we even need to teach them some social decorum.  But it isn’t up for us to tell them they are wrong when they don’t “get” those things.  Our job is to love them and maybe even honor that part of us that was told to hide when we were their age. 

My son’s job isn’t to please or appease me.  It isn’t to do what every other person in society tells him to do.  His job is to find his passion, his purpose, and to wake up and live that every day in every way he can.  MY job is to love him and guide him as best as I can.  It’s to understand the intricacies of his inner workings that make him, him—and to accept those things exactly as they are.  We aren’t meant to be raising little clones of us or breaking down a spirit that so readily and colorfully exists in our children.  We are meant to remember our own light and help them express theirs.  We are meant to normalize the things THEY feel and help them navigate what they want to do.  This life is magical and we are gifted infinite possibilities when we arrive her and anther set of infinite possibilities in our children.  Let them be who they are.

Know Your Fear

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Look under the bed and know your fear. This concept came from a meditation I did from Jay Shetty.  Jay discussed the idea from “Monsters Inc.” where we create an idea about our fear from things we know absolutely nothing about.  Fear is a useful tool that keeps us safe—that is its primary function.  Fear unchecked or without context creates blocks in our lives.  For example, Jay discussed how the Monsters in our beloved tale fear humans because that’s what they are taught, how they are taught to feel.  Think about a fear you carry.  Where does it come from?  I mean, I know there are brave souls who love the idea of jumping out of planes, bungee jumping, or other stunts that defy our survival instincts, but they still fear speaking to people.  How does that work?

The first step is identifying what the fear actually is and where it comes from.  Is it that we fear speaking to people or is it that we fear exposing vulnerability in speaking to people?  Is it that we fear interviewing for a new job or is it that we fear rejection from what we want?  Is it that we fear losing identity by getting healthy or is it that we fear maintaining what we start out/that we won’t fit in with the life we know?  You get the point.  Looking at the source identifies it and once that’s identified, there’s nothing stopping fixing it—or at least addressing it.  As Gabby Bernstein says, “We don’t have to fear our fear, we can use it to get closer to love.”  We can appreciate our fear for what it tries to do (protect us) and we can release our fear for what it is (a block to what we want).

The next step is learning the truth about our fear.  Once we’ve identified what it is and why we have it, we can work toward the reality instead of living in the same story over and over again—because THAT is what fear is: a story.  It’s a choice to stay in the familiar versus breaking out of our image.  We need the utmost clarity when we walk into a new life.  It doesn’t need to be anything as drastic as shedding our entire way of being, but we need that level of clarity so we know where we go.  Trust our own rhythm and what feels good in our body and soul—that is guidance.  We have permission to tell whatever story we want so trust that the callings we receive are from the universe and we are meant to answer it.

The next step as best as I can tell is to take action.  Thought is fabulous, it’s a foundation and gets us pointed in the right direction.  But thought, while it can tell us anything and create a wonderful story, it will not make the life we want without matching action.  Thought allows us to recognize the things we do for comfort and safety, the things that hold us back and hide us, as well as the things that move us forward.  We can’t repeat the same actions and expect something different.  So, the question becomes how do you want to feel?  Do you want to live a life of fear and chance regret from missing out on what you really want?  How do you want to be seen?  As one of the crowd, or as you really are?  Face your fear and make the life you want.  We have one shot, you don’t need permission to take it. 

The Light In Me And You.

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“I did something that made people present their best selves to me wherever I go,” Jim Carrey.  A great follow up from Saturday, we begin the week thinking about presenting our best selves because when we allow our best selves to be seen, we bring that out in others.  Several weeks ago I mentioned attending a conference and this happened to be the topic then.  I relished it but also thought, “Can it be that simple?”  It’s not so much about being the best or doing the best—it’s about finding the best in you and bringing your best to the situation.  The human spirit responds to effort, to the feeling that someone gives a damn, and that they are understood.  If we feel good, we can do good.

Look, life isn’t easy.  We face challenges every day as we navigate through the rat race/matrix/mundane or whatever you choose to call it.  We are taught and believe those things are simply the way life is, that this is what we do because we’ve always done it.  But if we start looking at what we do as an expression of ourselves, that changes the narrative and the choices we make.  If we make choices about our lives that reflect our truest desires and insights, suddenly the idea of “making it” in a way that the outside deems successful seems less important.

When we care about each other and we learn from each other, we communicate better, we feel better, and we do better.  All of that starts from the inside, though.  We’ve talked about this many times: in order to do your best, you have to bring your best out which means listening to the inner workings of your soul.  It means being aligned with what you KNOW is right for you and letting go of the should’s, the must’s, the have-to’s.  When we find our highest self, our best self, that light shines on the world differently and it has no choice but to cast light on those around you.  We find inspiration in those doing something different, those doing the things we want to do.

It takes massive courage to follow that inspiration and cast aside the mask we’ve been taught to create, curate, and perfect over the years.  People interpret that action as not caring for the rules or not fitting in.  To a degree that is the truth: when we let down the opinions of others, we state clearly that we value our true form more than the idea people are supposed to have of us and that we no longer live by arbitrary rules.  The more we do that, the more people SEE who we are.  If we manage to navigate beyond those initial opinions, we settle into the comfort of our light instead of what we can show people we’ve done.  We just shine and we light the way for others to be their best as well.  Shine on!