Be a light in the world – but don’t burn your house down.

Recently I was TPB (texting past bedtime) with an old friend I haven’t seen in 20 years, and a brand new one who it feels like I’ve known that long. 

Moment of silence for the fact I am old enough to have not seen someone for 20 years.

Toward the end of our conversation, the old friend told me something I did as a teenager made a lasting impact on her life. It was waaaaay past my bedtime, but now I had to know. What tender nugget of girlhood wisdom was I layin’ down to make such an impression? 

I must have been really smart.

“Tell me what!” I typed. 

… a digital ellipsis … then THIS:

“I was NEVER allowed to have a candle.”

Turns out, I was not really smart.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I left a candle burning – then left the house for dinner with my family. We came home to six fire engines, followed by six months in a hotel room while our home was restored. (Thank God for the little old lady who saw smoke and called 911, because, you know … where there’s smoke, there’s fire.)

This got me wondering how many people were never allowed to have a candle because of me. When people hear my name, am I still “the girl who burned her house down in high school” … or have I done enough in the past two decades to make a different impression?

The new friend I was texting is about to embark on a global adventure with her husband and three young children – living with less while making more memories and, in turn, a memorable mark on the world.  

How we live makes a difference. 

The fact that I accidentally set fire to my house at age 15 does not define me. But the way I choose to set fire to my hopes and dreams, ignite the light of kindness in myself and in my kids, and blaze the path for those who will come behind me – these things will. 

Let your path – not your past – define your days. We never know how many we’re going to get, but we can make each one count – especially as mothers.

We spend our lives putting out fires for our families and our employers and our households. Although the smoke can be thick, the tasks arduous and the recognition nonexistent, every little thing we do matters to our babies. 

Living intentionally and teaching kindness at every turn isn’t easy when most of the time we’re just surviving. But it’s so worth it. 

Because you know who I am now? I’m not the girl who burned her house down. I’m the girl who’s shining a light – for my children, for the things that really matter, and hopefully, dear reader, for you.

You are someone’s mom. Someone’s person. Someone’s flame. Someone’s world.

And that, my friend, is everything. 

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