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Interview: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

Jonalyn Williams is a dedicated non-profit leader who graciously shares her story of how candles helped her reconnect to a life of joy and optimism.

RW:  Would you call yourself a candle collector? 

J: I don’t think so. I guess I am more of a candle lover. I buy candles to burn, not to keep, except three candles that I haven’t lit because of their sentimental value.

RW: When did your love for candles begin?

J: It started when I ordered a lot of candles for my wedding in 2005. I lined the aisle with white, clean-scented pillar candles and red roses. Walking down that aisle to meet my husband, John, at the end of it felt very special. The candles and roses created a romantic ambience.

RW: Do you care what a candle is made of? Do you like beeswax, paraffin, soy, etc. better than the other? 

J: No. I like everything. I don’t have allergies so I can really appreciate all types.

RW: Any scent preference? Do you have sensitivity to scents?

J: I prefer floral scents, such as gardenia and plumeria. The scent of gardenia brings me back to my childhood. We call it ‘rosal’,  and when I was growing up, we were surrounded by these delicate white flowers. These days, you don’t seem to see them anymore. 

RW: Is it more important to you how candles look, or how they smell?

J: I lean more towards natural wood textures when it comes to the candle holders or containers, but essentially, it’s more about how they make me feel. It has to give the room some excitement!

RW: Where do you get your candles from? Any favorite brands or stores?

J: John (my husband) loves candles, too, so we usually go to Pennsylvania and buy lots of different candles there. We go on these candle-shopping trips, perhaps visiting three stores at once. 

Brand doesn’t matter. I’ll buy it if it catches my eye, or if it smells good. I like candles that set the mood.

RW: Do you buy candles with different scents at different times of year?

J: I do buy seasonal candles. In the Spring, I enjoy linen-scented candles. In the summer, I go for peach, and rose, which is actually my favorite. 

RW: Do family members and friends know that you love candles. Do you receive candles as gifts?

J: Yes, they know. I received a lot of candles when I got sick. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, and had to spend a lot of time in the hospital and at home. It was nice to receive candles. I felt special. It’s particularly exciting to receive something rare, like coconut-scented ones!

RW: Did candles help you during this difficult time?

J: Yes. Candles have helped me throughout many challenging times. They helped me cope with the passing of my first husband in 2002. 

Just when I thought I possibly couldn’t have another chance, candles helped me rediscover and express my femininity. They helped set my mood, and in turn shift my mindset. They helped me rekindle something that I thought was lost forever.

RW: Do candles have any spiritual significance for you?

J: In the Philippines, we light candles for church ceremonies and offer memorial candles for the dead.  I lit many candles for my grandparents’ graves. I also light candles when I offer prayers for my late husband. I will always be grateful for him because he is the reason why I’m here in the United States. I moved here along with my three-year old son from a previous relationship to marry him. We got married on the 5th of May in 2002, and he unexpectedly died in July of the same year. 

These days, I associate candles more with celebrations and positive connections. I use them for decorative purposes. They make me feel sexy, beautiful, and more like myself again. 

RW: Who else in your family or friend group loves candles? Do you give them candles as presents, too?

J: Some of my friends love candles, too, and I’ve given them candles as birthday or Christmas presents. It’s definitely better to give than to receive, and I want them to experience the candles I personally like. 

RW: Do you keep a candle where you can watch it burn, or place it where it can scent a room?

J: I enjoy rose-scented candles in the bathroom, and light them when I’m bathing.

My experiences allowed me to look at life differently. It’s fragile, which makes it more meaningful. That’s why I always want to be positive. I strive to make a difference in whatever I do because I understand we have a limited time to make an impact.   I want to touch people’s lives, just like mine was touched by so many who helped me in the past. I want to do the same and more.

-Jonalyn Williams, wife, mother, non-profit leader, and candle lover

RW:  If you can make your own candle, what would it look and smell like? What would the ingredients be?

J: I would love to mix in some rose petals. I will also make gardenia-scented candles.

RW:  You mentioned earlier that you have three candles that you haven’t lit. What are they, and what made them special?

J: The first one is the unity candle we used at our wedding. The three of us (my husband, son, and myself) lit that big candle together. The second candle marked my recovery from cancer. At that time, I just finished all my treatments and surgery. My husband took me to a candle maker in Pennsylvania and I got to choose the colors and design it myself. They made it right in front of me. It’s pink with a breast cancer ribbon, and a butterfly, which signified my new wings. It was very meaningful for me. The third candle has a photo of my son. I raised him as a single parent, and for a time it was just me and him.

Those candles are special because they remind me of milestone events in my life, and how far I’ve come after having gone through a lot.

RW: Would you be interested in attending a candle workshop, in person or over a video conference?

J: Yes, I’d like that. Perhaps a class on how to mix scents in one candle?

RW: Any final words about candles? 

J: Candles are meant to be enjoyed!

RW: How about life?

J: My experiences allowed me to look at life differently. It’s fragile, which makes it more meaningful. That’s why I always want to be positive. I strive to make a difference in whatever I do because I understand we have a limited time to make an impact.   I want to touch people’s lives, just like mine was touched by so many who helped me in the past. I want to do the same and more.

END

Note: Jonalyn Williams is the President of Supporting Kids in Difficult Situations- USA based in Connecticut. To learn more about the organization, visit their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/skidsfoundation/

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