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Lessons from the Lightning Bugs

There are a lot of reasons I love Colorado in the summer… jumping in crisp alpine lakes after long days on the trail followed by laughter with friends around a campfire. But the one thing Colorado is lacking in the summer are lightning bugs. You can find them here, but they are few and far between.

Growing up in Kentucky, I would spend hours chasing lightning bugs in the summer. I can remember being at my mammaw’s house, taking empty pimento jars, and trying to create night light. I would punch holes in the top of the jar, put grass and water inside, then catch lightning bugs to put in their new home.

Inevitably their little lightning bug butts would stop lighting up. I thought they were sad because I put them in a jar. (I later learned that they use their lights to attract mates, so it was more likely that they were alone and couldn't attract anyone!) But as a kid, I knew that the bugs didn't want to be contained, they wanted to be able to fly around freely.

As I reflected on this as an adult, I realized that we are often like the lightning bugs. We put ourselves in "jars" in the form of labels, expectations, shoulds… and in doing this, we dim our own light. We trap ourselves into thinking that we have to live or be or act a vertain way. And isn’t it fitting in this analogy that just like the lightning bugs have a unique pattern of flashes to attract mates, we have our own unique fingerprint and we are meant to leave a unique mark on the world... which we can’t do when we are ignoring our inner guide and only following the trails that others have laid out before us.

For my 40th birthday, I got a tattoo that says "live your truth" in my mom's handwriting. It is my reminder to listen to my inner knowing, to follow my own path even if it isn’t conventional. Like many of you here in this community, getting into nature is where I connect most deeply with my inner light. It’s where I can get quiet enough to feel the blaring “no” that sits in my belly when I’m on the wrong path, and where I can feel that resounding “yes” that lights up every cell with excitement and motivation. It’s where I can quiet the fear and anxiety, and hear the whispers from the universe that remind me to trust myself. It’s where, just like the lightning bugs, my light shines brightest, outside of the labels and jars I put myself in.

So today I would like to challenge you to think about where in your life you shine the brightest, where do you feel most yourself? And where do you notice that you start to dim and shrink? How can you spend more time lighting up the world? I hope you remember to twinkle a little brighter, and continue to make your unique fingerprint on the world.

Want ideas on how to connect to your own inner light? Download the FREE 5 Ways to Move from Anxious to Empowered Guide.

*Originally an episode of the Lessons from the MAP podcast... listen to it HERE.

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