The Promise Candle… My Story

Sometimes it takes a life-altering event to put things into perspective, and that's exactly what happened to me.

Twenty years ago, when I started my business, Marsha Doll Models and later,, I made a promise to myself that I would work tirelessly to be a success. At that time, my definition of success was wealth, recognition, and a healthy, happy family. Like most people I harbored the belief that those four things were the testament to a life well lived, and that's what I vowed to achieve.

I'm not sure exactly when, but at some point I lost touch with what I really needed to make me happy. Eventually attaining the affluence and professional prominence I had set out to achieve so many years before, I should have been perfectly content. I had beautiful children, a great husband, a prosperous business, and a comfortable home. After having girls on the show America's Next Top Model and being praised from New York, Paris, to Milan because of the models I produced, who wouldn't want to be me?

Honestly? Sometimes, I didn't want to be me.

In the chaos that passed for my daily life I began to feel overwhelmed. Stress was my constant companion as I struggled to meet the needs and responsibilities of running a business and caring for my family.

Then, almost two years ago, four words changed my life.

"You have breast cancer." I sat in stunned silence and knew at that moment, I had hit bottom. I couldn't help but think that all the years of chasing that illusion of happiness had finally taken its toll.

My first reaction was typical of me. I went into overdrive, reading and researching everything I could find on cancer. I cried a lot, and fell into a dark place as I worried about what would happen to my family if I died. How much would my twelve-year-old son remember of me, as he grew older? My three college age daughters; would I get to see them graduate, get married, have children of their own? I was panicked by the thought that I no longer had control over my own destiny.

Eventually, after countless hours of reading self-help books, soul searching and just sitting quietly, watching the flickering flame of a candle, I came to understand that I had been wrong all along. While I had been sweating it out, frantically chasing happiness through "things" and "achievements", real happiness had been within my grasp from the very beginning.

It's funny how the very real prospect of death changes the way we experience life. The birds outside are louder, flowers are brighter and even the rain smells different. Until I got cancer these were merely part of the background noise of my daily life. It seems a shame that it takes a life threatening illness to focus our attention on gifts like these.

I've always loved candles, and after my diagnosis I began sitting quietly each day, lighting a candle, letting my heart whisper softly to my mind: everything is going to be OK. As I became accustomed to resting for my health (which was never my inclination before cancer), I found that taking the time to light my candle and dream was emotionally healing for me. Focusing on the flame brought a sense of serenity, and with it, the courage to dig deep into my soul.

This peaceful experience has now become a daily ritual that has helped me turn my darkness into something powerful and positive. It became my inspiration for The Promise Candle. It is my hope that people who receive this candle will make a promise to give themselves time everyday to find inner peace, happiness, and meaning in their lives.

The Promise Candle has also ignited in me a desire to give back to this world that has given me so much; so a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each Promise Candle will be donated to breast cancer research and awareness.

I do believe that things happen for a reason. Life can be difficult at times, we just have to stay positive and find it within ourselves not to dwell on the negative.

I want to share my experience with the world, because through my battle with illness, my candle has brought me so much hope and happiness. It represents life and the need to take time for ourselves.I have faced my own mortality and trust me, life is so beautiful, you just have to slow down and appreciate "the now". So here's my challenge to you, wake up tomorrow morning and start living your life as if today was your last. Trust me, doing this will change the way you live.

I know that we would all be happier, if we could just learn to STOP and take time to "smell the candles". When you sign The Promise Candle agreement, great things will happen. I promise.

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