Thought For Thursday: Take Off Your Shoes!

Our Thought for Thursday quote today is from Singer and Songwriter James Taylor:

“I find it a lot healthier for me to be someplace where I can go outside in my bare feet.”

I know  this is such a strange choice for today’s quote but something about it struck a cord within me that I had to take notice and question why.

The reason I suppose is twofold.  One is that there is something about being outside and feeling natural elements under your feet.  Springy moss, crisp grass, squishy sand, the sea.  There is a stronger connection with nature that is felt when your shoes are off.  As James Taylor says, ‘it is healthier’.  Mind, body, spirit healthy.  We often forget the importance of connecting to nature.

The other reason that the quote struck me is that there have been moments in my life where I have had the instinct to take off my shoes. Moments when I was in prayer or have felt a connection with God or my natural surroundings, or when I felt grounded or the need to feel grounded.  Those moments were completely instinctual.  The funny thing was I also noticed that my minister took off her shoes when she began her sermons.  I never asked her about it because I didn’t think it needed an explanation.  Some things can be understood without words.

The quote also made me me think of the bible passage from Exodus.

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

Holy Ground?  What makes a place suddenly holy?  Would the ground have been holy to someone else who happened to come along? Is the altar less holy if a layman stands on it rather than a minister? Many have said that the place with the burning bush was holy because the presence of God was there, but when is God not present?  Often when I take off my shoes,I have the deep impression of Holy Ground.  I humbly believe that all ground can be or ‘become’ holy.  I believe that the ground is holy when  Holiness is instinctively recognized by the person standing there.  In their bare feet.  It is in the moment we plan to come into the presence of God and it is in the moment when we didn’t plan but we are met THERE anyway.  It is just before we become awestruck, when we know our connection with God is about to happen or that something is about to happen but we have not yet realized that it is God or we don’t recognize it as God but we give the experience another name.  We may call what is happening a God thing or inspiration or cosmic phenomenon.  I don’t know how best to explain it but we feel compelled to take off our shoes.  What compells us to do it in nature, compels us to do it when we are entering God’s throne room.  The taking off of our shoes is the same as the bringing our hands together in prayer or closing our eyes.  We don’t know why we do it, but we do.  So if the compulsion comes over you, just do it.  Just take off your shoes.

dscn1988

Top 10 Signs It’s Time To Let Go

Photo Source

Photo Source

It’s almost never an easy decision when it involves a huge part of your life and especially if there are risks involved.  Whether it’s a job, a relationship, a situation, a plan or a home, how do we know when the time has come to let it go?

I have to confess that I normally err on the side of being overly cautious.  I dwell on it, go over the pros and cons, exhaust those closest to me by endlessly discussing what I should do and when and then I finally make a decision only to change my mind afterwards and remake the decision in the future.  When it comes to life-changing decisions, I usually over-stay when I should have gone months or years sooner.  Yet, I always say how much I love change!  It’s taking the risks that worries me.  Just three days ago, I made the decision to leave my job but it was only because of a dramatic event that finally pushed me into making the break.  As I compiled this list of signs, I realized I had over-stayed…again.  The signs had been there.  Are they for you?

  1. When you find yourself doing all of the serving and you get no acknowledgment for it.
  2. When you step back and realize YOU (your true self and/or your values) are not in the picture.
  3. When you feel emotionally, spiritually and physically exhausted time after time again.
  4. When you are sacrificing the needs of those you love.
  5. When you are being belittled or made to feel small.
  6. When the situation is standing in the way of your vocation (what your true calling is).
  7. When it is causing you depression and you see no change in the future.
  8. When it is holding you back from your ambitions.
  9. When it is keeping you from your friends and family ALL the time.
  10. When you find yourself thinking, ‘This is not the life I want.’

Praying that this helps anyone who needs it.

 

Freedom Friday: Five Awesome Furniture Upcycles

Today’s inspiration comes from the world of upcycling.  I am always pretty amazed by what people can do with old furniture.  These transformations take you from the ordinary to a completely different extraordinary piece of furniture!  Be sure to click on the links for tips on how these projects were done.

From this ordinary wooden bed…

Picture Source

Picture Source

…to this beautiful bench!

Photo Source

Photo Source

From this antiquated worn out chest of drawers to this beautiful hall seat!

Photo Source

Photo Source

Here’s one nearly every woman would love. From this child’s wardrobe….

 

To this very practical one-of-a-kind accessory display cabinet.  Love it!!

No before and after pictures on this next picture but you get the idea (okay you know my love for books).

 

Want a way to transform your entranceway? This last piece is a great one to tackle if you are feeling inspired because the link brings you to step-by-step photo instructions.  So beautiful, I would pay to comission it.

Photo Source

Photo Source

Feeling inspired?

Thought For Thursday: Surviving Bullying

Photo Source

Photo Source

So why is Home and Spirit looking at bullying? For two simple reasons, one is that nearly everyone has experienced a moment of being bullied some time in their life. The other reason is that bullying affects us mentally and spiritually (and sometimes physically). It’s a hurtful thing to experience and one that is tough to understand. When it comes to bullying, there are several angles to look at.  We need to understand what causes one to be a bully.   We need to address the reasons why an indidual may be repeatedly bullied. Most importantly, we need to look at different courses of action an individual can take when being confronted by a bully.

Today’s Thought For Thursday quote is one of the best quotes on bullying I have ever read and it comes from GLEE star Chris Colfer,

Photo Source

Photo Source

When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.” – Chris Colfer

I LOVE this quote and the reason why I do is this, when we are a victim of a bully, we need hope and something to hold on to that is empowering because being bullied causes one to feel powerless, helpless and small.  This is true no matter what your age is.  Bullying happens in the schoolyard.  Bullying happens in the workplace.  Bullying happens online. Bullying happens in nursing homes and in hospitals.

What Causes Someone to be a Bully?

There has been a lot of research into understanding bullies and although it is helpful to understand why people bully, it in no way justifies bullying.  Basically, a bully’s main issue is with PRIDE.  Bullies often feel small themselves in some way and they bully others to make themselves feel more powerful.  If they already have a big ego, then they also try to hold onto that feeling of empowerment.  Bullies are very touchy.  Every little perceived afront makes them feel they have to assert themselves. If they feel embarrassed over a mistake they made or if they feel inadequate, then bullies project those feelings onto their victims. Bullies have often felt bullied themselves in some way and deep down they don’t want to feel that they are at the bottom of the pecking order so they ‘peck’ on others to feel a bit more ‘normal’.

Why you?

This is one of the hardest things to address because of course you are not at fault.  While I was researching this topic, I found quite a lot of contradictions.  You’re bullied if you’re pretty or ugly, smart or stupid, shy or social, fat or skinny, quiet or assertive. There is no reason for meanness unless you actually provoked it by being mean first.  A bully may say otherwise but their words have no ground here.

What Action Can a Victim of Bullying take?

If you are at the moment being repeatedly bullied, then the first course of action to take is to remove yourself from the bully if you are able.  In most cases, you should be able to do this.  In other cases, you may need professional help such as if the bully is your child or you are the child being bullied by your parent.  If you are being repeatedly bullied in your school or workplace, then it is better to retreat and report.  Take yourself away from the situation (change jobs or schools) but report it as well so others are on their guard.  You may find yourself called upon in the future to be a witness when someone else has been bullied by the same person who bullied you which may be a real aid for self-empowerment and freedom.

If you have been bullied and/or are suffering from some form of PTSD and don’t know where to start to begin self-healing then make Chris Colfer’s quote your mantra.  I don’t mean to just say the words over and over to yourself but use it as a learning tool.  Ask yourself how you can take what has happened to you and learn from it.  What is it teaching you about yourself?  About the bully?  Is there an opportunity to use it to become more ‘polished’ or wise?  Is there something you would like to change about yourself – not for others but for yourself? If necessary, seek help from others or from a professional.  Write your thoughts about your experience in a journal to help you gain insight.  Ask questions while you write and then listen for gems of wisdom from your higher guidance.

And the next time you are bullied, study the situation you are in carefully.  Don’t mirror the bully or get confrontational and please don’t defend yourself. That only legitimizes the bully’s actions. What you can do is say something quietly like, “Stop using me to feel good about yourself.”  Or “Please don’t project your inadequacies onto me.” Or ” I think you should build up your self-esteem some other way.” Or simply, “Stop it right now.”

Thought For Thursday: Paulo Coelho

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” –Paulo Coelho

The force with which we sometimes proclaim to others that our way is the only way leads to disharmony within that relationship.  It is an indifference towards our own kind and a particular arrogance that results in conflict and animosity. In short, it cost us friends and it is the impediment of peace which can result in war between nations. I am not promoting conformity but empathy and the understanding that since we have not walked in their shoes, we may not get their choices.

Also, we may think that we know something without a doubt but most of what we may be sure of is not worth fighting about.  Our haughtiness is disrespectful and an ugliness which permeates our own spirit.

My suggestion for us all is this: Choose what you value most of all, then respectfully communicate your thoughts on that, leaving out all the bitty things which doesn’t matter and above all listen without interrupting.

Fragmented Complexity

willowknowsHS

When I look back over the passing fragmented images of what I remember of my life, I see mostly good things.  I see some sad things and some hardships too but I see mainly good things.  I also see a strange commonality in all of my experiences both good and bad which rarely exists for me anymore.  I see simplicity.   My joys were simple ones.  My hardships were simple hardships.  Even the ones that nearly pushed me over the edge, they were pretty simple.  I could name the problem.  I could name pretty much everything.  “I am happy, sad, angry because…..”

Now however, joys run deeper, made profounder by the wisdom of life’s experiences. The dreams realized in others for instance, allow for tears to flow down my cheeks in pure elation of spirit.   My empathy is something that continues to grow over the years.  Bliss will also sometimes come bidden and unbidden in the rare moments I can be alone or when the unexpected happens…and when I am drawn close to Love.

And hardships?  They too live deep within the ocean of my soul, floating backwards and forwards between the conscious and unconcious. It is what I have to do to maintain a bit of sanity.  Listen and pray and then allow it to fall into the deep sea until like a buoy, it resurfaces again pulling at my empathy and calling out to me to do something.  The complexity lies partly in the deeper understanding that some things take time or different moments to fix, for myself and for others. The more people I draw to me, the more people I love.  The more people I love….well, the more burdens I bear.  I am glad and honoured to be chosen.   I cannot heal someone’s depression or addiction and it often remains the same. Yet I want so desperately to pick them all up in my arms like I did when my children were little and make it all better.  How silly I am to think that sometimes I know what the answer is for them when sometimes I don’t know what the solutions are to things I myself struggle with.

The other reason for the complexity is that if you take any hardship and look at it, you realize that there are many angles to it.  I can take any one of my past hardships and narrate it in different ways.  All of them true.  Perception seems to have become multi-faceted as I got older making decisions harder to make.

Thankfully, like the diamond, joys too are multi-faceted, catching the light and reflecting it on the willing hearts, the reward to those who were willing to first love and share the burden.

Freedom Friday: When Inspiration Takes Over

I know that this is unusual for what you would expect for a Freedom Friday post.  However, since Freedom Friday is all about unleashing your creativity and getting some inspiration, I wanted to share this video from Akiane Kramarik because it captures an artist in the throes of inspiration.  I have often seen people when they are overtaken by inspiration.  They speak with a sense of awe which makes you feel that suddenly you are standing on holy ground.  I have been following this talented artist since she was a child and know that even when she was very young, she often got up in the middle of the night to paint.  You see, when inspiration beckons her, she gets up and follows it.  There really is ‘no time’ to be creative.  There may be ‘little time’ but not ‘no time’.  How serious are you about your craft?  Serious enough to pray for time even if it calls you out of bed?

You can view Akiane’s works of art through the years here.

Thought For Thursday: Madeleine L’Engle Quote

“We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.”  —Madeleine L’Engle

282a4f9807d34022b6019c82a2b8de38

I actually chose the quote and photo a week ago before yesterday’s message.  The quote speaks volumes on its own and on a personal note, I feel it is for me.  Of course it is true.  It is truth in it’s highest sense.  God always wants more for us and from us just as we want that for our own dear children.  It is the voice of Love that beckons us, “Further up and further in.” ** Why should we choose to do any less?  We can be more of who we are with the help of the Spirit who is ever within.

Namaste

** From C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle

You Are Stronger Than You Think (Dedicated to my Daughter)

 

Photo Source

Photo Source

What is the difference between inner strength and courage?

Courage is often defined as the ability to face challenges and take risks and not be afraid.  The truth however is far from that.  A person who easily goes about doing things which the rest of us finds difficult is not necessarily being courageous. Having courage means that you choose to do something of your own free will which you find difficult or are afraid to do. I’ll give you some examples.

  • A courageous person is courageous because their knees shake but they still walk onto that stage.
  • A courageous person is one who is afraid of change but will still say ‘Yes, I will’.
  • A courageous person is the person who feels socially inept but still goes to that party.
  • A courageous person is afraid of being turned down but they make that phone call anyway.

Now here’s the thing: A courageous person is able to do their courageous feat by first reaching into themselves until they have found their wherewithal to do it and that wherewithal is their inner strength.  Now when faced with something we find enormously difficult, we may be tempted to believe that we don’t have the inner strength to do it.  We may be tempted not to do it or to just give up or give in.  However, if you look back over the years when you or someone you know had faced difficulty, you may notice  what I noticed.  We always had the strength within us when we made the effort to find it.  This may be as difficult as finding the TV remote after your daughter’s ‘movie night’ with friends but not impossible because it is there.  All it takes is a bit of hope.

Take a look at the little seedling in the picture above.  It looks like it has so much going against it. I mean come on, what was it thinking? It hardly has much room to grow and it is at great risk at being trampled upon. Yet we all know that little seedlings are stronger than they appear.  They can grow and upturn concrete slabs no matter how many times it may have been stepped on. Remember those times you got stepped on and still like the little seedling you bounced back up again? Weren’t you stronger than at first you believed?

 

Never Miss the Small Things

I find myself both amazed and thoughtful when I look back at photos I have taken and realize that it seemes more beautiful than I remembered.  Wasn’t I there?  Didn’t I actually experience that sun, those clouds, the breeze, the salty sea air, the colours?  Well, maybe I didn’t.  Not fully anyway.  Maybe my mind was engaged in other things.  Maybe I was tired.  Maybe I was thinking about work.  It became apparent to me that I was often missing out on life.

I also came to realize that so often I can be actively engaged in the present moment looking out at the sea or hearing the band play but may not have noticed the small things which have their own beauty.  Things we often take for granted or perhaps things we simply didn’t notice just how beautiful they are.  Take your eyes off the big scenery for a moment and zero in on the small thing. It’s the small things that so often our cameras capture that we may have otherwise deemed as insignificant but they have there own individual beauty.

Picture Source

Picture Source

If we are not careful, we can overlook so many things in life. Things we can be grateful for. Things we often take for granted.

Photo Source

Photo Source

We can also be grateful for the healing we receive when we notice beauty in nature. At times it is almost instant the way it takes our head out of a dark place and lightens our spirits.

What I am trying to say, is once in a while…

Photo Source

Photo Source

…and I know you’re busy….

…but just slow down and really look and take notice and never miss the small things.