Being Guided Part 2: Guts and Curiosity

I was on a small island in the Scottish inner hebrides looking for a holy well.  It was a combination of a small pilgrimage and a mystical spiritual quest.  Most of all, it was curiosity and a sense of being guided.  One of the things I had been learning was how important it is to have a sense of prayerful curiosity.  In order to be guided—in order to find your true purpose, you have to follow your curiosity.  When you have a surprising thought pop in your head, be curious about it, take time to consider it prayerfully.  You may then want to try it out, even if it is a bit tentatively at first. Anyway…

So there I was…looking for  the Well of the Holy Women or Tobar nan Ban Naoimh.

After my first failed attempt at finding this well, I did a bit of research online and found some helpful information although there wasn’t a lot of it. In fact in some places, the name is given as singular ‘Woman’ rather than ‘Women’.   I knew that the well was somewhere in Gruilin where an old abandoned village lied.  There is a website that gives suggested walks with pictures where I found directions to Grulin.  From this website I could tell that I had been going in the right direction.  I had also found a blog post of a woman who found it and gave some landmarks to look out for. I found another blogger who couldn’t find it at all but I wasn’t going to let that discouraged me.

I headed back down the path from Cleadale stopping occassional to wonder and take photos.

Path from Cleadale

Path from Cleadale


I found this concrete stairs on a woodsy verge and wondered what the story was. I allowed what faeries there might be about to take control of my imagination.  Where would I find myself, if I climbed the stairs?  Would I be transported back in time like in Outlander?  Or to a mystical world?  Would I find there is a house that it leads to after all but one that is not visible unless you climb the stairs? Etc. etc.


I also took a photo of this ruined building and then discovered a rather sad story behind it on the Isle of Eigg Facebook page.  ‘The story goes….
A boulder rolled down the cliff through the back of this in the 1950’s and as the couple weren’t married at the time (living in sin) it was thought the place was jinxed and has never been lived in since.’


After an hour, I reached the pier where the small shop and cafe and toilets were (which was a good thing as I still had far to go).

Pier on Eigg

Then it was up the alternate path and through the forest …


Forest in Eigg

and accross the field and behind the farmhouse …


and then a long, scenic walk to Grulin with the Sgurr keeping me company most of the way on my right and the sea on my left.





Eventually, I saw a huge boulder in the distance.  I knew that one of the landmarks I had to look out for were two boulders so I knew I was getting close.

Boulders at Gruilin

Only problem was, there were more than one pair of boulders.

Gruilin Boulders

I spent the next couple of hours searching and searching for the well…and could’t find it.  In desperation I prayed and asked God to show me the way and at that very instant a fighter plane (or at least I think that’s what it was) flew toward the direction of the two biggest boulders.  I walked partly in that direction but as it appeared to be at the edge of the cliff,  I walked no further. If you read my last post, you know about me and my fear of cliffs and this looked like a sheer drop to me.


I walked painfully back to my cabin.  I had been walking for about six hours and by my calculations just over 20 miles and the first time I have ever walked as long as that in my life.

Feeling somewhere between defeated and determined, I asked about the well on the Isle of Eigg facebook page:


Arrgghhh! So close!

I decided to take a day of rest while I ponder whether it was worth spending another day on the same walk and try again.  Decision made, I headed back up the following day. I made it up to Gruilin and began to walk toward the boulders from the left side …extremely cautiously.  I was still worried about falling off that cliff.


I came around the back of the boulders and discovered there was a gentle slope of several feet before you meet the cliff edge.


I looked toward the right and spied a patch of watercress surrounded by rocks…

well of the holy women

…and there was the well.  The watercress was growing straight out of it! It was wonderfully quiet there.  The only sounds were the gurgling of the well, the distant waves crashing on the sea, the wind and the sheep nearby bleating.  I thought about the people who lived here long ago and the possibility that there was a ‘holy woman’ or nun or more than one.  I also pondered about its more ancient history as many holy wells have pagan origins before becoming ‘sainted’.  Perhaps, the holy woman was a deeply wise woman who planted the watercress nearby..

I read somewhere that when one finds a holy well, an offering should be left.  Usually, it’s something like a bouquet of flowers.  I had forgotten to bring something so I offered up a song of thanksgiving.  I then ate a raw food bar (and some watercress!) and drank from the well.

Curiosity, determination, guidance and some guts brought me to this place.  However, the purpose was in the journey itself.  I had my fears to face and I had to learn some lessons along the way.


Being Guided Part 1: Trust Over Fear

While on the Isle of Eigg, I had an eye-opening lesson on the rewards of faith.  Although many of us might profess a faith in God or a higher power, how many of us would be willing to act on it?  How many of us would truly pray, ‘Guide me Lord and I will follow’ and then do just that?

The Isle of Eigg is my personal choice as a place of restoration.  It is sublimely beautiful. It offers within nature what is most popular about Scotland.  You get thistle, heather, ferns and foliage which changes to beautiful autumnal colours in the fall.  You get the crags and huge rocks and lots of wild scenery.  There is hardly any light pollution so you get an abundance of stars at night and beautiful sunrises and sunsets and sometimes (if you’re lucky) the aroura borealis.  You also get migratory birds of various breeds and many sea animals.  You get all that and the sea as well with majestic views of other islands. It is truly paradise….




sunset on Eigg


Unfortunately, sometimes things can go wrong like the time a hiker broke her ankle while she was on the Sgurr and they had to get a helicopter to rescue her.  I can’t help thinking that it could have been worse.  I don’t know the full story but she was lucky.  Somehow, someone knew where she was and that she was hurt.  When I was there nearly three weeks ago, I was on my own during off-peak season.  Kids were in school so there were very few vacationers on the island.  Therefore, when I chose to do some hiking and broke my ankle, no one would know.  If I got lost, I would pretty much stay lost for some time…maybe having to spend the night on an area of grazing land…with cows and well…cow pats.  Not a pleasant thought but even more unpleasant is the possibility of falling off a cliff.  I don’t like heights much so it’s no surprise I guess that thoughts would run through my head such as, ‘If I fell off the cliff, how long would it take before they found my body?’  I am a bit embarass to admit this but I confess I thought of this a wee bit too much.  So much so, that even in the midsts of beautiful scenery, I felt a bit of tightness in my chest and I walked very very carefully in some places.  I didn’t want to fall knee deep in cow manure and break my ankle.  I especially did not want to fall off a cliff.


I was on on a quest.  Ever since my first visit to Eigg, I had known about this Holy well.  It was on a map of Eigg which I saw on the wall in Tigh Eilidh.  Not many people on Eigg seem to know much about it or cared.  I had vowed that one day I would find it.

So one my second day on Eigg which was a Sunday, I thought it would be a good day to look for the well.  I knew which direction to head towards but didn’t have a route planned.  After about 5 or 6 miles walk, I lost confidence and assumed that I was going in the wrong direction so I decided to postpone looking for the well and just do some exploring.  My anxious thoughts were agitating just below the surface so I asked God to guide my steps.  All I meant was, ‘Please don’t let me get lost, hurt or step in any boggy, sh**-y mess.’ I just wanted to be safe and not have any mishaps.  The weather was beautiful and I was happy just to walk and explore a bit….safely.


I came out from the woods, and down the path and had an instinct to go through a gate into an open safer looking area.  The weather app on my phone said I was at Galmisdale.  After walking only a short way, this was the view that met my eyes:



I realized that God had something better in store than just keeping me safe.  He wanted to calm my spirit, to teach me to trust him more and simply to bless me with a gift of staggering beauty and wonder. He wanted to awe me.  I was.  His love never ceases to awe me.

Is Inner Peace Actually Boring?


I returned to the Isle of Eigg once more on my own. It is a place I now love to escape to away from the rat race and the noise.  I find it very difficult to get days of silence otherwise.  More and more I am becoming aware of the importance of having periods of silence even though I think our natural inclination is towards chaos and busy-ness.  I think perhaps as a whole in this modern age, we have become too busy and too noisy.  We are a generation that eats in front of the television or plays games on our phones while waiting for the bus.  Buddha said, “When you are hungry eat and when you are tired sleep.”  How often do we just do one thing mindfully without having our minds focused on so many other things?

A friend of mine recently went on a weekend retreat to a Buddhist monastery without knowing that she would be asked to give up her cell phone, books, writing material and the need to speak.  She spent the weekend with about fifty people who didn’t speak to one another.  She came back declaring it was “Life-changing!” I was intrigued by the idea of no books to read.  Well…actually at first I was horrified but then intrigued.  Could I do it?  No speaking was fairly easy but no reading or internet?  I decided to try it for a day while I was on Eigg.  Most of the time, I wouldn’t be speaking anyway but giving up reading was another story.  I crave reading time so often that I really struggled against the emotion of feeling like I was waisting my time not reading.

So I arrived Saturday afternoon at my log cabin at Tigh An Sithean where I would be staying for a week.  Tigh An Sithean is Gaelic for “The house on the fairies hill”.


The cabin was cosy and surprisingly warm.  Mick and Jacky who own it had provided me with lots of blankets, duvets, towels and even hot water bottles.  I didn’t need all that as there was also a gas heater and an electric heater inside. They were a lovely couple who checked in on me nearly every day to make sure I had all I needed and if I would like anything from the shop.

View outside my front window

View outside my front window

On that Saturday, since most of the day was gone when I arrived.  I settled in and then took a stroll to Laig Bay feeling more peaceful by the minute  The waves seem to be moving ever so fast as to make it appear as if they were scampering.  This made the sea foam appear more solid.


On my second day, I decided to try the experiment of no brain stimulus and silence.

So was it life-changing for me?  Not quite. What I discovered was that I found it difficult not turning on the TV, internet or opening a book.  At first, I was bored.  When I observed that, I thought how insane it was to equate peace with boredom! However, I do feel the experiment was valuable.  I have learned that it is good to give your brain a break from over-stimulation from time to time.  We need time to observe our thoughts and we need to give time to God to speak to us.  How can we hear him if our brains are engaged in other thoughts or distractions?

If inner peace seems boring, it’s probably because we need time to break the habit of over-stuimulating our brains.  What’s happened is that we became use to the chaos and need to slow down a bit.  Do one thing at a time, the way our grandparents probably did. The difference is that we also need to have a daily practice of prayer and meditation.  What I suggest is to look really hard at what you are doing every moment.  Do you need to be on the computer while having your lunch? Is what you are about to do necessary or can you put it down or put it off long enough to spend say 20 minutes in contemplation?


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.


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!

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Photo Source

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

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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

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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,

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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


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.