Sparkle a Little Brighter

 

Sparkle Brighter

There’s an old expression about human existence that says “in the end, no one gets out alive.” While that’s true, we all have whatever amount of time that we do have here, to live. In other words, to “be alive” while we are still living. To choose to be present. To make a decision to bring life to our moments (thoughts, attitudes, circumstances, expectations and relationships) or at least, allow life to infuse them. Life, in part, means energy, possibility and hope.

It is no secret that life ebbs and flows. Some seasons of our journey are simply more of a challenge. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have control over our attitude or mindset in the midst of those seasons. There may be times when you feel darkness creeping in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn up the wattage. Sometimes, we just need to plant a flag in it and say, “No more!”

When you feel darkness or discouragement closing in, take time to breathe in memories of goodness and joy, and the little things that have encouraged or lifted your spirit in the past. Let yourself reminisce about the things that once made your heart smile. Look for beauty in creation. Take inventory of the innumerable blessings (whether they’re things, people, discoveries or insights) that you have to be grateful for.

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. -George Iles

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible. -Christopher Reeve

Love is the light that brightens every heart’s darkness. -Bryant McGill

When the world says, “Give up,” hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” -Author Unknown

All of us have memory vaults filled with positive and beautiful gifts, some more than others, but no one is exempt. Sometimes we just need to lift the vault handle and be reminded. Hope believes. Love frees.

So here’s a friendly reminder: when the light dims, sparkle a little brighter.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

Share

Beautiful People

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. –Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Share

15 Quotes about Suicide

Life ebbs and flows, and is forever changing. When darkness, pain, or despair feel like permanent companions, it’s important to remember, nothing ever remains the same forever. Darkness can lift. We can find relief from pain and sadness. And hope, though it may seem buried and no longer within reach, is still very much alive whether we feel it or not. Hold on because there are people that love you, dreams to chase, experiences and joys yet to be discovered, and most of all, because your life is a gift to you and the world, and it really does matter. Take courage… Choose life.

People never forget a friend or loved one who has succeeded in suicide. We carry it every day, not in the back of our minds, but in the center of our broken hearts. -Candace

Suicide is a desperate attempt to get out of what seems to be an intolerable situation. It appears to be a way of escape from the pain of living. -June Hunt

No one teaches you how to do this. How do you let go of someone who you love so much? -Kathy

When people kill themselves, they think they’re ending the pain, but all they’re doing is passing it on to those they leave behind. -Jeanette Walls

But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself. -Albert Camus

I feel as though the carpet had been ripped right out from under me, and I have been left to pick up the pieces of a dream that would never be fulfilled. -Katrina

Sometimes even to live, is an act of courage. -Seneca

It’s hell. But it is survivable. You have to understand that and take ownership of it: suicidal feelings and behavior are survivable. -Suicide Survivor

To have him gone forever is a pain that will never go away. -Bethany

Those struggling with life-threatening thoughts do not feel connected to others. They feel all alone— even alone in the midst of a crowd. -June Hunt

I’m the girl nobody knows until she commits suicide. Then suddenly everyone had a class with her. -Tom Leveen

Did you really want to die?
No one commits suicide because they want to die.
Then why do they do it?
Because they want to stop the pain.
-Tiffanie DeBartolo

She will never know how much she is loved. -Desiree

When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown’. -Kay Redfield Jamison

At the split second I hit freefall, I didn’t want to die. What did I just do? The voices were gone. I was right there, facing ultimate death… I said God, please let me live. –Kevin Hines

Psychologist, Dr. Sheldon Solomon says: We all have the capacity to create meaning and to lead rich lives. This is a possibility that defies nationality, class, and culture. We can all get through dark times; we can choose life, and we can come out stronger in the process.

Resources:

For help, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime 24/7, to be connected with a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area.

Learn More: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Tools that Can Help Save Lives (by Lisa Firestone, ph.D.)

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

Share

She Will Never Know…

Desiree’s friend died in a suicide pact with her boyfriend.  She was only 17.

She will never know the number of people she has hurt.
She will never know the damage she has done.
She will never know how many people she touched with her vibrant spirit.
She will never know how much she will be missed.
She will never know how much she is loved. –Desiree

Share

Suicide Prevention: Hope When Life Seems Hopeless

“Suicide is a desperate attempt to get out of what seems to be an intolerable situation. It appears to be a way of escape from the pain of living.” –June Hunt

According to the World Health Organization, approximately one million people die by suicide annually. Suffering suicide is a deliberate act of killing oneself while in an extreme state of despair. In Latin, sui means “oneself” and cide means “to kill.”

In her book, Suicide Prevention: Hope When Life Seems Hopeless, June Hunt addresses faulty assumptions: “My future holds no promise;” “My wrongs won’t be forgiven;” “My dreams won’t come true;” saying, “so goes the fatalistic thinking of the hopeless.” Suicide Prevention: Hope When Life Seems Hopeless is part of the Hope for the Heart series authored by June Hunt. She is a popular speaker, radio host, and counselor known for offering biblical hope and practical help at pivotal times in peoples lives.

Living with Hopelessness

How sad it is that there are people around us who find the idea of exiting life early a welcome solution to their seemingly untangleable unending/unresolvable torment. They are convinced that death will rescue and relieve them from suffering the heavy burden of overwhelming pain. They are without hope.

God created everyone with an inner need to feel significant, yet the desire to live slowly burns out within a heart that no longer sees a reason to live. As the candle of hope is extinguished, that inner sense of purpose is snuffed out by overwhelming despair.”

Hunt speaks to the power of haunting trauma, mocking shame, suffocating secrecy, engulfing agony, a victimizer’s power, crushing emotional burdens, tormenting self-hatred, and the catalysts that push sufferers over the edge. Those who entertain suicidal thoughts are often surrounded by feelings of smallness (powerless over their tormenting internal or external accusers), darkness, coldness… hopelessness.

Her acrostic (that spells the word escape) gives clues to issues that often attend suicide: Excessive Loss, Social Isolation, Critical Illness/Impairment, Abusive Background, Psychological Disorders, Excessive Guilt.

You’re Not Alone

When we lose our capacity for hope, darkness takes advantage and begins to seep into our thinking. It fools us into believing the worst, isolating us, and making us believe we are the only ones experiencing this inner hell.

  • Do you ever think that life is not worth living?
  • Do you ever wish you could fall asleep and not wake up?
  • Are you thinking of harming yourself?
  • What do you fear the most?

When you’re in the darkest depths of despair, when you feel emotionally trapped with no way out, remember, you’re not alone. Countless thousands all around the world are experiencing the same feelings of hopelessness. Did you know that over 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder, or that untreated depression can significantly increase the risk for suicide? She writes, “Those struggling with life-threatening thoughts do not feel connected to others. They feel all alone–even alone in the midst of a crowd.” What we need to know about people obsessed with or considering suicide is this:

People don’t want to die—what they really want is for their pain to end.

That means they want hope. They want a reason to hope. But they need something more powerful than themselves to lead them out of the darkness that deceives them into thinking and believing that death is the answer, and into the light.

Getting Help

The author outlines three stages for observers to be aware of in the case of potential suicide (associated thinking/behaviors/attitudes); characteristics of suicidal teens; and various questions you can ask a suicidal spouse, child, or friend. Readers will also learn definitions, characteristics, causes, and most importantly, steps to solutions. The booklet offers a run-through of personal spiritual history, medical history, thought patterns, and family suicidal history that can be used as an assessment aid; plus a practical checklist with examples of ways to alleviate suicidal obsession.

There is also a special section for parents, educators and coaches dedicated to “bully-cide.” (Bully-cide refers to a person who dies of suicide because of the torment, fear, and humiliation associated with being bullied.)

If you are plagued with suicidal thoughts, or suspect someone you know might be, this booklet provides a quick overview with both practical and spiritual help. It is also wise to share with a trusted friend, advisor, medical and/or mental health professional.

In reestablishing hope for the heart, the author leads readers back to God’s desire: to restore lives through his love, to give comfort, and compassion. He wants to make broken lives and shattered hearts whole again–to alleviate pain, heal hearts, and restore hope.

Author June Hunt

About the Author June Hunt is a biblical counselor whose award-winning radio program “Hope for the Heart” is heard on nearly 900 radio outlets around the world. She is a sought-after public speaker on topics such as crisis counseling, child abuse, forgiveness and self-worth. Her “Hope for the Heart” booklets have been translated into 27 languages.

Additional Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (or call 1-800-273-8255)

Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors

How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

Note: Rose Publishing provided me with an advanced reader copy of this booklet.

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

Share

20 Quotes about Light

Light clarifies, illuminates, guides, and warms. Without it, we are lost. With it, we have hope. Hope for understanding, a vision, a next step, and a way out of the cold and darkness. When in doubt, look for the source of light. And when you find it, reflect it, because there will always be someone else out there who needs it too.

Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space. It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe. It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished.  –Michael Strassfeld

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. –Aristotle Onassis

Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby. –Ruth E. Renkel

It takes great courage and determination, to keep looking for light in all the darkness of life. –Menna van Praag

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t. –Blaise Pascal

The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light. –Joseph Campbell

Stop looking for the Light. Be It. –Lori Moreno

Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light. –Norman B. Rice

Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light?  –Maurice Freehill

An age is called “dark,” not because the light fails to shine but because people refuse to see it. –James Michener

As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others. –Marianne Williamson

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. –Eleanor Roosevelt

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. –Edith Wharton

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. –Desmond Tutu

When walking through the “valley of shadows,” remember, a shadow is cast by a Light. –Austin O’Malley

When you live in love and light, you will not go unseen; ignite the world with every flame of your being. –Alexandra Elle

Light reveals us to ourselves, which is not always so great if you find yourself in a big disgusting mess, possibly of your own creation. But like sunflowers we turn toward light. Light warms, and in most cases it draws us to itself. And in this light, we can see beyond our modest receptors, to what is way beyond us, and deep inside.” –Anne Lamott

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. –Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

If you don’t know what you want, you’ll never find it. If you don’t know what you deserve, you’ll always settle for less. You will wander aimlessly, uncomfortably numb in your comfort zone, wondering how life has ended up here. Life starts now, live, love, laugh and let your light shine!  –Rob Liano

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

Share

Daring, Discovering, Dreaming

Daring, discovering and dreaming are a part of what makes life worthwhile. The past is gone and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Find out what makes you come alive right now, today. Dare to dream. Give yourself permission to be quiet, to reflect and think about your gifts and talents and interests. Then go for it. Start walking step by step toward the future you’ve only imagined up to this point. Dare to step out of your comfort zone and learn or discover something new. Live your passion… Live your life on purpose.

Share

If You Had Your Life To Live Over

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a second chance to live your life over, or at least certain parts of it? Or, maybe you wouldn’t change a lot, but just adjust the way you viewed it, or responded to it. 

I came across the following thoughts from a woman who has seen and experienced more life than many will ever have a chance to. It’s refreshing to look at life, relationships, and circumstances from a little different perspective once in awhile.

“If I had my life to live over, I’d try to make more mistakes next time.  I would relax.  I would limber up.  I would be sillier than I have been this trip.  I know of very few things I would take seriously.  I would be crazier.  I would be less hygenic.  I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets.  I would burn more gasoline. I would eat more ice cream and less beans.  I would have more actual troubles and have fewer imaginary ones.  You see, I am one of those people who lives with propriety–sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, and day by day.  Oh, I have had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them.  In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.  Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead each day.  I have been one of those people who never go anywhere without a themometer, a hot-water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat, and a parachute.  If I had it to do all over again, I would go places, do things, and travel lighter than I have.  If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.  I would play hooky more.  I wouldn’t get such good grades except by accident.  I would ride on more merry-go-rounds.  I’d pick more daisies.” –Nadine Stair, 85 years old

There’s something about being more spontaneous for those who haven’t made it much of a habit. And there’s something about being more intentional for those who haven’t made it a habit. 

Though Nadine’s thoughts are lighthearted, many of us hold so rigidly to our old ways of doing things for no better reason than, “just because”. Call it tradition, habit, or lack of motivation.  But, as long as there is still time left in the hourglass, there is an opportunity to try something new, something different. Time to breathe just a little more freely, laugh just a little louder, take time to consider the more important things in life, or to simply try something new. 

Life goes by so quickly. Seasons come and go, as do opportunities, ideas, and people.  I can’t imagine what could make one more content than to live a full life–to any age–without regrets.  Maybe it’s time to get barefoot, to forgive, to love deeper, start a new tradition, lose an old one… or maybe, to simply begin living more intentionally.

If you could, would you change anything?  For the things that are within your control, there’s no time like the present!

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

Share

Anne Geddes: Celebrating Motherhood

Anne Geddes, “photographer extraordinaire,” has not only captured our attention with her brilliant photography, but also our hearts and imaginations.  Her art draws and inspires us with the angelic faces of babies employing monochromatic to vibrant colors in both minimalistic yet extravagant settings. Her work is a tribute to life, pregnancy and the celebration of motherhood across the world.

Who else would have ever dreamed to capture images of babies tucked in pea pods, unfurling from exotic orchids, popping up from flower pots, sleeping peacefully atop bright orange pumpkins, or with peonies and cabbages crowning their tiny heads? That creative vision and precision of technique is what has, in part, set Anne Geddes apart in her field.

She is one of the world’s most respected and beloved photographers. The iconic images dreamed up by Anne Geddes were birthed from a “deeply held belief that each and every child must be protected, nurtured and loved.”

You can find the Timeless 2012 calendar and New Beginnings datebook 2012 among her recent projects, but her latest work, my Pregnancy™: A Woman’s Story, is her new quarterly magazine. In each issue nine women will tell their compelling stories of pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period accompanied by her distinct and remarkable work. 

“They are incredibly powerful stories, individual stories, also warm stories, sometimes very funny stories, and at times very sad stories… but always interesting… always compelling… and I just knew that if I found these stories so compelling, women around the world would feel the same.” -Anne Geddes

To learn more about Anne Geddes and her beautiful artwork, or most recent project, a tribute to pregnancy and motherhood, visit her website, blog or follow her on Twitter.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Twitter: @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

 

Share

Violence Against Women: The Last Word

Violence has long been used as a weapon to punish, marginalize and silence women, and to control their behavior, attitudes and actions. In the case of war crimes, it is used to inflict such terror that it causes those who observe it to become paralyzed by fear and ultimately heed the control. The actions of the men who devise, commit and insight others to violence will be considered successful if the violence–and the damage left in it’s destructive path–is allowed the last word.

According to a recent report, Afghanistan’s president Karzai supported a decree by a group of government-sponsored religious leaders that stated women are worth less than men, should not leave their home without a male escort, or mix with men at school or in the workplace. Very young girls can be given as wives to men many years older; and, if raped, forced to marry their rapist. Girls in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and other countries have long been subject to sexual harassment, violence and arranged marriages. In Indonesia, women are being asked not to provoke sexual violence. Though we are aware of specific cultures whose laws and ways are deeply rooted in belief systems unfavorable to women, we still find stories of gender-based violence rocking parts of Latin America, Africa and western nations as well. 

Choose Life, Choose Power

How do victims do more than just “stay alive” after the violence? Is it possible to go back to really “living” , to being whole again, when the loss and torment linger?  Are there women who not only survive, but thrive in the aftermath of such physical pain and emotional terror?  Yes, but how?  They choose to get up in the morning and not give up on their life–family, career, dreams… themselves–because of what happened to them. They choose to move forward.  But it’s easier said than done… In fact, how is it even possible?

By choosing what we think, what we dwell on, and not allowing an act, feeling, circumstance or experience to define us.

There’s the key: “Define”. Does it negate reality? No, but we give power to the things we choose to dwell on. If women who’ve suffered violence make a conscious decision to invoke negative memories, to relive the details of the things that caused them great pain and suffering,  and to keep their abuser at the forefront of their thoughts, they are, in essence, choosing to live there (or at least hang out there), instead of in the present.  In contrast, to think on the equal reality of who they are and their God-given destinies–that they were born into this world for a reason and that their unique life has a purpose that is good–they choose life, they choose freedom…  They choose POWER.

The Experience Does Not Define Her

The pain and fear is excrutiatingly real, but it is only a part of her story. It is not the definition of her life. The violence and marginalization of her personhood are things she experienced, yes; but she musn’t give the experience permission to dictate the rest of her story. She was victimized and had an experience that cannot be erased. Thankfully, it is also true that she has a future and hope. She lived through it for a reason, and that is to live–really LIVE.

While covering the Egyptian uprisings in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, American journalist Lara Logan, found herself surrounded by an angry mob of men and spirited away from her CBS film crew. She was viciously stripped and suffered a “brutal and sustained” sexual assault.  In her testimony, she spoke of learning to live with the triggers of trauma, unwelome flashbacks, incapacitating anxiety and, nightmares and/or fears, joining many other women who have suffered violence.  She pointed out how difficult the healing process can be even when trying to maintain a positive attitude.

What keeps her going?  Like so many others, it is the people she’s met along the way. She thinks about the strength it has taken for others to go on after their families have been massacred, or, those who live in countries where women can’t speak out at all.

The Last Word

She recalled one woman in Africa who was raped and disemboweled, who said she “had to live” because she wasn’t going to give her attackers everything. Lara Logan knows in part, how that woman felt. She had her own brutal experience. She has her own memories and emotions to deal with.  That’s part of what drives her today.  She chose to take back her power, believe in her own destiny, and refuses to be defined by the attack. So, STAND–even if it takes everything in you, because the last word is yours, and you are worth it!

Maybe you (or someone you care about) has been a victim of violence. How have you been able to take back your power by not allowing the incident to define you, or your tomorrow? 

Related Reading: Lara Logan: Life is Not About Dwelling on the Bad, Women in the World Summit, Congo Women: Women of War, Women of Courage

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It is confidential, free and available in more than 170 languages. 800-799-SAFE (7233).

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”
Share

Share
©Destiny's Women™ is a blog founded, written and published by April McCallum -- "Championing the Life, Freedom and Destiny of Women" Creative Commons License
This work by April McCallum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.