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An Open Letter to All Graduates

Congratulations, you have crossed the finish line. As you know, your route here was filled with tears of joy and sorrow, dreams shattered and fulfilled, moments that dispatched you to the arms of a beloved, remarkable beginnings and ends sealed with generous promises.
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Dear Graduate,

Congratulations, you have crossed the finish line. As you know, your route here was filled with tears of joy and sorrow, dreams shattered and fulfilled, moments that dispatched you to the arms of a beloved, remarkable beginnings and ends sealed with generous promises.

Closing this chapter in your life offers a time of reflection on you. In fact, the day you were born the world became more luminous. Chances are along the way you forgot this truth. At times it was overshadowed by fear or dismissed as insecurity, but I am here to remind you that it is still present. It is something that is uniquely yours, and can't be outsourced. In fact, there is no end to your luminosity. It is there amidst the lump in your throat and misty eyes. It is there in your sweaty palms and confused mind. It is there deep in your belly and lined in your heart. It is there.

And so I am thinking of the very word ILLUMINATE and asking you to use it as you move forward. Let it become a part of your being, your manifesto if you will. I am thinking of the very letters that make up this bold ten letter word.

I am looking at ILLUMINATE as what it literally spells out. It is here.

Beginning with I for Imagination. There is pressure to develop the next big deal, to get noticed and to be seen, but don't forget your brightest moments come when you use your imagination. As a child you were a master of your imagination. You drew beautiful things with crayons, built explosive things with Legos and cultivated a land of make believe in your play. And then you entered school and were told to stay inside the lines.

Some of the best thinkers know imagination is the key to enlightenment. Remember Charlotte's Web created by the genius E.B. White? Or look at Star Wars and Disney. Keep your imagination close to your heart and this remember to listen.

L is for Listen. Listen deeply to all that is being said in every conversation. You may not agree, but there will be plenty of time to share your opinions. Put down the phone and just listen. When you engage in deep listening you are sending the message that the person sitting across from you matters.

And most importantly listen to what is not being said. Listen to the silence. Listen to the pauses. Listen to the fear. And learn.

L is for Learning. When you remember that you are a student of life, every situation how rough and difficult it may seem is an opportunity to evolve. My dear friend, Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, is always learning and asking for feedback.

Learn from your own mistakes. Don't become overly critical with yourself. Learn to love the unknown. Learn to cultivate your passion. Learn to reflect radiance. Learn to hold a stranger's hand. Learn how to bow to beauty. Learn to accept that you can't change your past. Learn to forgive yourself. And learn unbounded potential.

U is for Unbounded Potential. With your luminosity comes unbounded potential. Many times it is your own thoughts and actions which limit your achievement. It is often said, "Get out of your own way." Recognizing your unbounded potential is the foundation for your greater work and is the path to abundance. And nothing makes the path to abundance brighter than mindfulness.

M is for Mindfulness. In the best- selling book "Wherever You Go There You Are" authored by Jon Kabat-Zinn, he writes this- "Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present-moment reality."

Pay attention now to all that is unfolding before you. Look up from your cell phone and away from the television. Miracles are happening. Look next to you. There is an entire world that is occurring without you simply because you are not present for it. And when you do find yourself in the company of dear friends and bitter enemies inspire them.

I is for Inspire. Inspire your colleagues to seek justice, loyalty and truth. Inspire others to love grace, humility and poetry. Inspire children to tuck luminosity into their heart, wear a badge of courage and smile contentment. Inspire yourself to overcome barriers by finding a powerful mentor. Never stop being an inspiration for strangers who are lost. Inspire goodness in your writing. Inspire hope in your speech. Inspire fulfillment in your heart. Inspire all to be more luminous and nurture tenderness, compassion, and beauty.

N is for Nurture. In a world that rewards competition, don't forget to nurture tenderness compassion, and beauty. You can become an Architect for all three when you champion individuality and honor all. You nurture tenderness, compassion and beauty when you create something that echoes grace and radiates truth.

A is for Awareness. Develop an awareness of how precious silence and wonder are. Become of aware of those that capture joy and how the gentle hit home runs. Become aware of what is written and spoken. Become aware of the darkness.

Develop an awareness of your past and present thoughts can impact our actions is equally important. Thinking can interfere with abundance. Developing an acute sense of awareness makes one available for abundance. When you become aware of something, you can change it.

T is for Truth. Truth is not for the faint of heart. Being honest about your own deficits, situation and past is an essential part of living the prosperous life. Telling yourself half- truths will result in poor performance. Whenever you say, "it is only" then you are beginning to shade the truth.

Truth and passion support each other. They are the two hands which facilitate movement towards abundance. Honestly ask yourself: How often are you completely transparent with yourself? What is your Truth? What do you echo?

E is for Engage. Engage in something that makes the world more curious luminous and golden. Engage in something that enriches the lives of others. Engage in this moment. Engage in something that can't be purchased.

When we follow and integrate these things you will make the lives of others more luminous. And this is the very definition of abundant living. Remember to engage in your own luminosity. Lux Esto. Be the light; the world is waiting.

With joy,


Kristin Meekhof is a licensed master's level social worker, speaker, writer and author of the book: A Widow's Guide to Healing (Sourcebooks, 2015). Kristin is deeply honored to have cover blurbs from Deepak Chopra, MD and Maria Shriver. She contributed the piece, "The Healing Power of Gratitude" to the book "Live Happy: Ten Practices for Choosing Joy" (HarperElixir, 2016). Kristin can be reached via her website.