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However, I make it often enough that the children and families I work with know they stand in the presence of love when they enter my office. In those precious moments of connection we enter a force field greater than all of us that lasts long after we go our separate ways. As this story points out, you may never know how you treat someone today may leave an empty space where your presence could have been or it may save a life because of the power of your presence connected so deeply to their soul that in time of need you were the resource thread they had to hold on to.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived her childhood with a dark secret. This secret stayed in the background of her life keeping her confused and uncertain about what it meant, and fearful for it to be revealed. During this time no one knew that anything was other than it should be. She was an optimistic, creative, curious child who got along well with everyone she met. No matter how bad a day she may have had she became excited and energized whenever her maternal grandmother, her Nannie, came home from work. She would run to greet her as soon as she heard her car pull into the driveway. She loved staying at her house because Nannie was so attentive with her. They talked about all kinds of things. She loved talking with her while she watched her take down her long white hair held in place by bobby pins to keep it up in her white nurse's cap.

Nannie was a great cook and she had many memories of her creative, culinary feasts at various family gatherings. She lived in a little trailer house in the back yard and had a rental house in the front yard. The little girl and her family lived in it. She didn't know if her parents paid rent or not. She was too young to know such things. All she knew was that Nannie was close. Nannie was her person; her secure base; a place where she felt safe, cared for and respected. Nannie was a place where she could forget the dark secret.

One day when the little girl was about 7 years old the family had to move far away from her Nannie. They had to go so far that the little girl did not get to see her Nannie until she came for a visit. The next year her Nannie died. The little girl was devastated. Now she felt alone in the world and alone with her secret. Over time this secret ate away at her self-care and turned it into self-loathing and eventually into such self-hate she felt she didn't deserve to live.

One dark and lonely night she stood on the shore of a lake. The night was cool, the wind tickled her face and the bright night moon shone down upon her. Her feet began to move into the dark water where she thought she could end her suffering. But the face of her Nannie was reflected in the water and she remembered their times together.

In her remembering she re-connected to the optimistic, creative, curious child that Nannie had valued and validated. She realized she had let the darkness overtake her and made her forget who she really was. But now in the light of the moon, Nannie saved her. She saved her just like the day when she was about 5 years old she saved her from another watery grave in the Gulf of Mexico when her raft was knocked over by a wave. She couldn't swim. She panicked. She thought she was going to die. But Nannie grabbed her out of the water choking and gasping for air. She survived the Gulf and now she was surviving the blackness of the secret.

Because of the power of Nannie's presence as a resource living in the cells of her body she lives a life of being a presence of love for herself and others.

I dedicate this story to Florence Mathis Stear LeBleu Drago, my Nannie who died November 25, 1962. Thank you, Nannie. You not only gave me the power of your presence but the resources to know the power of my own.

May you all find the power of love to express in your presence as a present to life, especially our children.

Deborah Chelette-Wilson is a relationship coach, authoress and speaker whose powerful message for women is "It's time to stop waiting for permission to be all that we can be(without being a bitch about it)." Her inspiring message helps women harness their personal power, find peace within and become part of the shift in creating healthier and more loving relationships, beginning with the one with their self. In order to honor someone else's heart you must first honor your own.

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