Shining Isn’t Something You Learn to Do; It’s How You Show Up to Be

Last Friday my life went into a tailspin. It lifted me off the ground and spun me around, leaving me disoriented and shaken to the core. That morning I spent a few hours on my basement floor cuddled next to my best friend, my dog Joey, as he gracefully let go of life. In the 24 hours prior, he had shown signs of preparing to die.

I kept him close and gazed into his eyes, thanking him for endlessly making me smile and laugh, and helping me find my silly voice again.

After a short walk in Valley Forge Park to celebrate Joey’s life, I headed to the recording studio to finish reading the audiobook version of On The Verge. Deadlines loomed and it had to get done. On the way there, my younger daughter called. An infection on her leg had worsened and the college health office was sending her to the hospital for testing. She was feverish and shivering and clearly shaken, not only because of the infection but because her beloved dog had just passed.

Still in shock, grief-stricken, and now completely unsettled because of my daughter’s health, I sat in front of a microphone and began to read Part V of my book, which serendipitously is named “Shine.”

I took a few deep breaths and began:

Shining isn’t something you learn to do; it’s how you show up to be. You can’t search for it—you are it. Wake up from the trance of your busy mind, and you’re there, you see clearly. Get out of your own way, drop the drama, and you’re there, open, available. Show up in this exact moment—on the verge—and you’re naturally radiant. You’re fully alive.

Shining is a metaphor for what happens when you directly experience life with all your senses. It’s the result of being 100 percent engaged in this exact moment right here and now. Shining is what happens when you live on the verge.

When you shine, you do everything better, with attentiveness and excellence.

Everything you see, taste, smell, hear, and touch is more vivid and in high definition. Your words are truthful and genuine. You’re available to others. You radiate a brilliant sense of peace and possibility.

The four-hour recording session challenged me in many ways. Could I walk my talk? Could I show up for this moment and fully experience my grief and my fear while also genuinely explaining what it means to shine? Could I allow myself to vividly experience my senses?

Could I be available for this very powerful moment of my life and be available to live it fully?

I learned to live life directly last year after the death of my friends’ son Cayman. As I wrote in a blog post called “Showing Up for Cayman’s Parents”:

Living on the verge is not simply about showing up in this moment, blissed out, calm and clear, and all of that stuff. Living on the verge is showing up AND being available for life as it is—no matter what is happening.

Living on the verge is about getting out of your own way so that you can meet life head on—right here and right now. It is about being available with every cell of your being without an agenda and without drama.

Although small in comparison to what my friends lived through, what I experienced last Friday is an important part of being human.

Losing loved ones, supporting others, and sharing our stories are experiences that wake us up and make us feel alive.

I continued to read my book’s final chapters about trusting our natural intelligence, welcoming peace, and being fearless. During breaks I spoke to and was comforted by doctors who eventually released my daughter, listened to my husband recount how he had just buried our dog, and comforted my other grieving daughter, who waited at the airport on a delayed flight to come home for spring break.

My voice began to crack as I read the conclusion of the book:

Right here, this exact moment, you have a choice. You can remain asleep or wake up. You can stay locked in your busy mind, consumed by stuff to do and places to be, or you can show up. In every moment, the decision is yours to make: speed right by this moment or choose to be here right now. The verge—this exact moment—is waiting for you. All you need to do is wake up and show up—and you will shine in your life like never before.

It was as if I was speaking directly to myself, reminding myself that this day, this tumultuous, heartbreaking Friday, was a perfect day to shine.

On the Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine is now available on Amazon.

Originally published on

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About the Author | Cara Bradley

Cara Bradley, founder of Verge Yoga in the Philadelphia area, is a passionate teacher of 30 years sharing her curiosity and enthusiasm for experiencing life fully. She is also the founder of Mindfulness Through Movement, a non-profit offering programs to schools in urban Philadelphia. Her book, “On The Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine” (New World Library) will be available in 2016.

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