I have a block of time that I set aside for “quiet time” or meditation each day. I must admit that some days I let other “pressing” matters take over that time slot and then I inevitably regret it. My quiet time is time I try to spend either in nature or observing it. I block out the noise of the world and listen. Sometimes I ask a specific question and other times I do not. Lately, there is a recurring phrase that comes to me during my quiet time: let your light shine. I believe that it is a message that I am supposed to pass along, and it is important.
What does it mean to “let your light shine?” I am quite certain it does not mean to flaunt your successes or to thump your chest and boast. In fact, I feel very uncomfortable around people who seem to be wrapped up in themselves or that attempt to steal the show or hog the limelight. I find myself avoiding those people and sometimes even the events they might attend. How about you? Instead, I think it means to share your wisdom and the unique insight that you bring to the world. Please do not doubt that you have wisdom to share. You do!
Each of us has a story to tell, a story that is different than anyone else’s. It is not something that is set to be told at a certain age or after surmounting major obstacles. In fact, my grandchildren can let their light shine, perhaps better than any adult. Children are amazing! They love and laugh easily, make friends no matter the color of skin or religious upbringing, and are not judgmental—until they are taught otherwise.
You may not think that your stories could possibly teach others, but you are wrong. You are unique—what you have done, what you have overcome, where you have triumphed, where you have failed, what you have seen, what you have learned—may be just the lift or light that someone else needs to encourage them in their journey. I am sure that there are times that you pick up a magazine or a book and read an article or story and are amazed how it answers a question you have been mulling or how it parallels your life. You can share, too!
If you read my blogs regularly you know that I am retired from a diverse and rewarding career in the financial industry. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to devote my time to financial literacy in retirement. It is my passion! I wrote some about my journey in my Financial Literacy – How Can You Help? and Mid-Life Panic blogs. I have had some huge disappointments and failures in my life and, as is often said, learned major lessons from them, maybe more than my successes.
Disappointments and Failures
One of my first “learning experiences” occurred in early grade school. My twin sister and I were selected, along with several others, for a special dance routine in a school musical. It was a big deal. Of course, our instructors talked to us about the rules for performance and, you guessed it, I broke one of the rules—I chewed gum—and it was obvious. My parents, especially my mother, was furious and I will never forget the scolding I got when I got home. I carried the disappointment of my parents through my life and did not realize until I was an adult that it affected how I viewed myself. I continued to feel that I was a disappointment to my family—even though the event occurred when I was a child!
A few years later I began to play the flute. Dad was my instructor, and I loved the flute. I practiced diligently. My first opportunity to showcase what I learned was at a solo contest. I did not do well, but my twin got a top rating. I was crushed! I decided right then and there that it would not happen again. I practiced and practiced and practiced—through grade school, middle school, and high school and even into college. One of my all-time favorite memories is playing the piccolo solo in “Stars and Stripes Forever” with my high school band.
About mid-career I was given the opportunity to open a new office for a major brokerage firm. I moved to the community and was appointed “acting” branch manager. The branch was a huge success but the right to be named the official branch manager was not a given. I had to go through the same interviews and testing as all applicants for branch manager positions. The interviews went fine but when it came to the role play, I bombed. Under the pressure of a time constraint, I could not put together a plan for the pretend client even though it was like situations I dealt with many times before. The brokerage firm moved an outside manager to “my” branch to oversee the office. I believe that everything happens for a reason and, not long after that, I left the firm and started my own financial planning business.
Accolades and Successes
Thankfully, I’ve also experienced many successes in my life, and they are what I usually choose to share. Don’t you?
Fairly early in my career and soon after our move to Arizona, I was made the funding manager of a large regional bank. The funding manager set rates for deposits as well as for other short-term methods the bank used to borrow (and lend) money. I loved my job! Every day started with a fresh “book”, and I took pride in setting rates that would provide the bank with the funds it needed at the lowest possible cost and still stay competitive in its marketplace. It was a daily challenge which I relished and apparently the manager of the department took note. He took me aside one day and told me that he predicted I would manage the department one day. I thought he was crazy, but I started looking at myself and my career differently. Long after he left the bank, I went on to manage the department. He saw leadership qualities in me that I did not recognize and that made a huge difference in my career and in my life.
There are also “little” interactions that sometimes make such an impression that they stay with us forever. One of those happened at a very difficult time in my life. My father died suddenly shortly after he and my mom arrived for a visit in Arizona. It was totally unexpected, and I had a hard time dealing with the loss. My parents lived in southern Minnesota, so the Arizona family boarded a plane to head to the Midwest for the service and burial. It was the middle of January. We got to Minneapolis but no further because of worsening weather which became a full-blown blizzard. As we sat in the airport waiting to see what the airline intended to do with us, I noticed a little girl and her mother seated nearby. The little girl was very curious about our family and watched us closely. Suddenly, she came up to me and said: “You’re pretty!” I was shocked and thanked her and her mom for the kind remark. It brought sunshine into a cloudy day and, as you can tell, her kind words stay with me.
When I come across an article or saying that resounds with me, I pass it along and hope that it is meaningful to others. The following Facebook post on February 9, 2022, inspired me and perhaps it will touch you in some way, too. The author is Coach Judy Robin Gunn:
- I deeply and profoundly believe in myself.
- I recognize how far I’ve come already.
- I acknowledge how many obstacles I’ve overcome, and how much growth I’ve made.
- I give myself credit for the ways I’ve shown up for myself and others.
- I have done hard things before, and I can do hard things again.
- I have all the resources I need within me.
- I trust that I can stand on my own when I choose to.
- And I trust that I can reach out for additional support when I choose to.
- I take myself, my strengths, and my inner power seriously.
- I am capable of great things.
I started writing a weekly blog last November. Some of the topics are like today’s blog—sharing some thoughts about life in general. Most of my blogs are financial related because financial literacy is my passion. I would really like to know which blogs connect with you the most. Would you be willing to follow this link and send me a quick note? Tell me what you like and what you don’t like. I would greatly appreciate your feedback!
~Beverly J Bowers, CFP®