Generating light

It’s rainy. And gray. And cold. And while I like to think of myself as a positive, uplifting person, I’m not feeling it. That’s what’s real. It’s on days like today when I know I need to get to work. I can’t trust my auto-pilot. I must act.

As a solar-powered-person, I’ve struggled with this most of my life. Growing up in Montana’s Flathead Valley, where the clouds would come to rest and stay for six months out of the year, sent me fleeing in search of the sun. When I applied to college, it wasn’t a certain degree I was seeking, or the prestige of a particular university, it was light – and I got plenty of it in Arizona. But seven years later amnesia struck and I found myself in Seattle. 

Oh. Dear. God. Nine months of drizzle.

But Seattle’s three months of summer were so intoxicating, so breathtakingly beautiful, that I’d forget to make plans to leave. Come November the visceral darkness would set in, and I fought to hold on to myself. 

I know that some of you don’t feel this way. There are those special people that enjoy the rain and darkness. They find it cozy (I love you in spite of your insanity). But for others, like me, these days can be a struggle. 

This is not in your head. There’s nothing “wrong” with you. You’re not somehow deficient because you can’t jump out of bed with feelings of joy on days that look like the world is in mourning. You are human. Know that you are not alone.

At the same time, with a history of depression in my family (and my son’s bags of chips sitting in my pantry), I know I can’t just give in to the feelings. They are charlatans. They tell me to hide, when I should reach out. They tell me to stop when I should act. They are not on my side. 

I spent one of my last winters in Seattle training for the Komen 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk. Every weekend, my team, the “Amazing Women,” would join me to walk. We probably walked 400 miles in the rain that winter as we trained. What I found that season is that there is joy in fellowship, that feeling my heart pumping and seeing my breath in the air made me feel alive. We would walk those miles in the darkness and generate our own light. 

So today, even though I live in what’s supposed to be sunny Austin, Texas, I take steps to find my light. I write. I exercise. I nurture. I play beautiful music and listen to fabulous podcasts. I sing. I connect. I focus on making an impact. I act.

This is where the work of life happens. This is where our strategies matter. This is where we fight for our lives.

Whether it’s weather induced or situational, life is going to give us dark days. It’s part of the deal. As much as we’d like to, we can’t just sign up for sunshine and roses. But it’s what we do in the face of our struggles that matters most. Don’t wait until you feel like it to move forward or you may not move. Identify the steps you need to take (maybe that means getting help). Act. 

The world needs your light.