Step Into Your Light

Last week it was rainy. And gray. And cold. And while I like to think of myself as a positive, uplifting person, I was not feeling it. That’s what was real. It’s on days like that 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 despite your insanity). But for others, like me, days like that 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 even though I live in what’s supposed to be sunny Austin, Texas, on the days that bring the clouds 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 take action.

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). Take action.

The world needs your light.

©OnStage Leadership


Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis
An expert on authentic leadership, Kimberly Davis shares her inspirational message of personal power, responsibility, and impact with organizations across the country and teaches leadership programs world-wide; most notably, her program “OnStage Leadership” which runs in NYC and Dallas, TX. Additionally, Kimberly teaches for Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Cox School of Business’s Executive Education Program's Transformational Leadership Program and their Latino Leadership Initiative. She is also privileged to teach for the Bush Institute’s WE Lead Program (empowering female leaders from the Middle East). Kimberly is a TEDx speaker and her book, Brave Leadership: Unleash Your Most Confident, Authentic, and Powerful Self to Get the Results You Need, is the 2019 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Business and Career; an Amazon Bestseller in Business Leadership, Business Motivation, and Self-Improvement, and Motivational Business Management; and was named as the number one book to read in Inc. Magazine’s “The 12 Most Impactful Books to Read in 2018,” with a cover-endorsement by best-selling author Daniel Pink.

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  1. Great post – as always, Kimberly – and I can so relate. Seasonal Affective Disorder must have the most apt acronym ever invented. This is why hygge and candles are so prevalent in Danish culture: The weather is like Seattle most winters
    Happy to hear that you found ways to overcome it but, yes, there are days when making the bed seems to be an achievement in itself for people suffering from SAD.

  2. Sometimes we feel like we have to move forward with a blazing torch showing us the way, something that immediately says “powerful,” “impactful,” or “life changing.” That pressure can sometimes (often?) induce paralysis. Maybe moving forward with a Bic lighter is safer, more doable; it whispers “I don’t know, let’s try this.”

    And then, of course, you can always move to Costa Rica. Ha!

    Thanks for a lovely message to start my Friday.

    • I can so relate, Jeff. I so often feel like (as Yonason so perfectly put it one day), I’m “shouting in the wind.” Putting meaningful work in the world that gets noticed, much less has the ability to make a difference, is a lot of pressure. I’m really working on staying detached from outcome. I’ve also found that I needed more space away from social to do that, because being in the thick of it all the time wasn’t serving me or my work. It’s a constant balancing act. I worry that I’m disappointing others when I step away and want to champion my friends and celebrate great work, but I get so easily pulled into the fray. So, maybe the challenge is to keep asking ourselves the question, “what do I truly need?” so we’re not just acting out of habit or obligation or desperation and can truly take powerful steps to make an impact. And what I know to be true, is that can’t happen if we let our own light go out… Hugs to you!

    • “Putting meaningful work in the world that gets noticed, much less has the ability to make a difference, is a lot of pressure.” I’m actually glad on one level to read your and Yonason’s comment. Maybe because I just turned 70, I’m smack dab in Erik Erikson’s last phase of psychological development: “integrity vs. despair,” and I spent the better part of last year despairing that what I was doing, trying to do, didn’t matter a lick. I was focused on reading the outcomes and comparing myself to others instead of just doing the work and trying to support people, especially educators. The numbers will be what they will be; I have to focus on providing the best content I can.

      I was on LinkedIn yesterday, and frankly I was overwhelmed. There is so much well intentioned content. I read a few items and provided feedback, but it’s no wonder we worry that we’re going unnoticed. Hugs back!

  3. It is said that dreams are the engine of our life but this is true only when they push us to get up and walk in their direction, because without action they will remain only abstract concepts that one day will turn into bitter regrets. Whatever the reason, if we do not take the initiative and wait for things to change on their own, most likely nothing new and different will ever happen in our life.
    After taking the first step it will be easier to overcome the laziness and resistance for the next steps. We will begin to feel more satisfied with ourselves, to have more confidence in our potential and to want more and more ardently to realize our aspirations, simply because we see them closer and more achievable.
    Whatever our goal is, we must find the courage to get out of our comfort zone, take that first step and then all those others that separate us from the realization of our desires.

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