A Little Lift-pt 3 in self-care series

We are wrapping up our self-care series with the care of our spirits. I hope you have found something helpful to grab onto in this series. Sometimes it just takes one thing to breathe life into the places that we have given up on. Change can happen in small ways that lead to big changes–like a blast of warm air to lift a hot air balloon.

I believe that hope is a fundamental need like faith and love. No matter where we fall on the religion meter-from atheist to agnostic to believer–I hope we can agree that we, as humans, are spiritual beings and as such we need to be intentional in caring for that part of us. We know that in the natural world things left untended become stunted or overgrown into barrenness or chaos–neither of which, in my opinion, lead us anywhere good.

I believe in good and evil. I want to nurture good in my spirit and resist evil. I believe in God as Father, Son and Spirit. I believe He is good, powerful, and just. I believe He is love. I believe that I am the creation of a Creator. If you have doubts or just plain don’t agree, I encourage you to read on anyway. I don’t intend to preach and you might find something useful for your own spiritual journey.

Hope and help for the spirit can be found in the acronym–L.I.F.T.

L-love. Pursue love and earnestly desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1)

Our spirits are created by love, fed by love, and designed for love. The opposite of love is not only hate but indifference and apathy. In order to pursue love, we have to be open and willing to be open and willing.

Spiritual gifts are, well… gifts…from our Creator as a way to connect with Him and each other in a deeper and more profound way. They help us to reveal the love of our Creator and change our focus from earthbound thinking to a higher more spiritual view. Do some research, if you are curious, and find out what they are and how they can build our spirits and others.

I-inspiration. Look for it and let it do it’s work.

This life–day in and day out–can rob our spirits of the joy, hope, peace and grace that is ours. Find what  brings inspiration to you, on a spiritual level. This can include reading scripture, meeting with others who can encourage us n our faith, and going to church or group studies. Don’t wait for it to appear, although that will happen when you are open to it, but seek it out.

F-faith. It is the food of the spirit. Find ways to grow it.

Our spirits feed on faith and faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We must cultivate it and help it to grow. Prayer, meditation, worship, readings, talking with a pastor, priest or church leader–these are all things that feed our faith. Think of faith like a muscle–the more you use it the more it grows.

T-treasure yourself and others as spiritual beings.

It is easy to see each other as just bodies and personalities. It is easy to forget that we are spiritual beings designed for much more. Treasuring ourselves and others acts as a lightening rod for lifting our spirits and allows us to share not only our faith but to seek out those who are on a similar path.

 

If you take nothing else from this series, I hope you have realized that you are precious. Your body, soul, and spirit are treasures of the rarest kind. There is no one like you on the face of this earth. Never has been–never will be. Seek out ways to treasure yourself as a way to honor the gift that is you and the Creator that made you. In the press of daily life try and remember to REST your body, CARE for your soul, LIFT your spirit.

Heidi Mull,  looking for a lift, hoping to catch a warm breeze.

Rest In Motion(Pt.2 in Self-care series)

Rest in Motion seems to be a contradiction of words and ideas but according to Sir Isaac Newton, who was a pretty smart guy, and inventor/scientist/philosopher of the Laws of Motion, these two are very much intertwined. Now before you start to worry that I am going to get all-scientific on you and these words start to look like “blah, blah, blah” let me just say that one of the problems we face in the 21st century was addressed by Newton so hang tight and please, read on. Newton’s first law of motion is often stated as:

newton110An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

To me (a non-physics expert) that means we keep doing what we are doing unless something makes us do something different. It’s very true that we get in a lifestyle rut sometimes and we either go to the side of doing NOTHING or to the side of OVERDRIVE neither of which is good for us. I tend to go to maximum overdrive and it is that problem I want to address here  but I think the ideas presented today would be helpful to both sides.

We have been talking about taking care of ourselves–not as a self-indulgent practice or a ME-focused ideology but as a way to: 1) remain healthy longer, 2) be more productive, 3) set an example. We only get one body, soul and spirit and how we treat them is key to being able to fulfil our purposes and destinies here on earth.

Imagine if when you turned 16 you were given a car and that car was yours for the rest of your time here on earth. You would be given no other and buying was not an option.

firstcar

I can only imagine how well I would treat that car especially when I noticed those who didn’t take care of theirs and were forced to walk or hitch a ride everywhere. Their lives would be EXTREMELY limited in range, possibility, and potential. Taking care of ourselves is key to living life to the fullest. I’m pretty sure I want to be able to do just that.

 

Intentionally caring for ourselves is necessary to crafting a more HOPE-full life.

I gave 3 acronyms for restoring health and hope to our spirit, soul, and body in the last post–Finding Hope…Again. They were R.E.S.T. for the body; C.A.R..E for the soul and L.I.F.T. for the spirit. Let’s take them one by one, working from the outside in and start with the body. In the subsequent posts we will cover the soul and finally, the spirit.

REST

Rest is a four letter word and is viewed by some with a snarl, lip-curl, or eyes rolling. It is hard to admit that we need rest. In our fast-paced, 21st century, the-early-and-late-bird-gets-the-worm mentality, rest is not valued or viewed as an asset despite what research tells us. If you are interested, just google “rest and body health” or check out: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why

 

Here’s my take on this idea of R.E.S.T.

R is for Re-think my lifestyle choices.

I can very easily justify my crazy, non-stop got  days:

I’ve got a full house.

I’ll rest when they’re grown.

They need me.

I want to live a full life.brain-cogs-injury_222

Just one more thing

I couldn’t say no.

I feel guilty just sitting around.

I’ll catch up on my rest later.

And my husband’s personal favorite…If I don’t do it-it doesn’t get done.

This type of thinking is caused by letting someone else drive my car. Their plans and their agenda are pushing me. These ridiculous, unrealistic expectations of what a full and fulfilled life looks like are killing me/us. Our kids, too. Check out the research on that if you dare. We could all sloooooooow down a bit and the world would not stop spinning.

Re-think and re-examine your lifestyle choices. If for some reason your couldn’t keep up all of your commitments and plans what would happen?…?

I totally understand that there are seasons in life, I’ve been there when it’s  just crazy…did I mention the part about having and homeschooling 5 kids (4 of which were born in 5 years). Those are season– not a way to live.

 

E is for exercise.

Our bodies will stay at rest or in motion unless we act upon them with something different. Researchers have found that too much exercise is just as detrimental as too little, however, that has not been my problem. I have been told by my doctor, and read research, that walking is the best exercise. 1/2 hour, 2-3x per week–that’s it. That’s the baseline. Take a walk, no weights, just move your arms and breathe deep. public-domain-images-free-stock-photos-shoes-walking-feet-grey-gravel--1000x666

On those days when I am really tired I amble, meander or stroll–just putting my body into motion is an accomplishment.

If walking outside isn’t an option then try this: http://www.walkathome.com. It’s a great program. Super easy, multi-levelled and fun to do.

 

S is for sleep.

I LOVE sleep. For years I didn’t get much (lots of babies and toddlers), and then when my husband was hurt (see post in March 2016) I was up ALOT with him and then my Mom’s illnesses…

Did I mention I love sleep? I have learned the value of a nap–cat or otherwise. cat-sleeping-funny-photo.jpgI think that’s what sitcom reruns are for. I love to nap to Everybody Loves Raymond because I’ve seen them a hundred times and they are usually funny to wake up to.

If naps worked for Einstein,  then they’re good enough for me. http://www.inquisitr.com/1754670/albert-einstein-among-other-great-minds-proved-the-efficacy-of-micro-naps/

It’s always amazing to me how much better life looks after some sleep. The old adage of “Let’s sleep on it” is based in ancient wisdom and modern research.  Here are some great tips from the people at the Mayo Clinic on sleep.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379

Our bodies/brains do some of their best work while we are sleeping.

T is for time

Nivens-McTwisp-White-Rabbit-Concept-Art-alice-in-wonderland-2010-11205475-563-675

Time is a finite commodity. In other words, we can’t make more time. What we need to do is use it wisely.

Teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

I do myself and others no small favor when I slow down to care for myself. I am NO fun when I am burned-out, run-down and over-committed. Jesus, himself, invites us to walk with Him in a way that is easy and light. In the Message translation of the Bible it says that He will teach us to “walk in the unforced rhythms of grace”. Now that’s an invitation I don’t want to miss. By taking time to care for this body, I am honoring myself, my purposes, my loved ones (they deserve the best version of me) and my Creator. If He can take time to REST on the 7th day who am I to argue?

Heidi Mull, R.E.S.T-ing, re-thinking, and learning the rhythms of grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Hope…Again. #1 Self-care series

May is well under way and I have found myself struggling with some echos of the past like negative self-talk, extreme weariness, resentment, bitterness, blame-shifting…

In trying to locate the origin of these bad boys, I began to realize that I have done this to myself. I took my eyes off of the road, my hands off the wheel and without a second thought have driven myself into a desert of my own making.  desert

In accepting such a responsibility, I  am compelled to find a way back out and to do that I go back to the basics which includes things like:

I am not invincible

I need rest/sleep/time alone

I need to re-learn to time management

I can say  “NO”.

Consequently, I have been thinking about self-care and the idea that when life gets busy, maybe too busy, the first thing to go is myself.

I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to run myself into the ground whether through too much activity and busy-ness or

through allowing negative thought cycles to go unchallenged and unchecked or

ignoring my spirit for too long.

In deserting myself, I find myself in this desert somewhat lost, alone, and without water. So how do I get out of here and back to the lushness of a well-tended garden/life?rainbowtree

I have to remind myself that

life is marathon and not a sprint,

negative thoughts are seeds that if left alone long enough will bear fruit,

I am a spiritual being.

Those are the times that I find myself in this state of crisis. Feeling overwhelmed, put upon, resentful, exhausted, defeated…not very hopeful at all. Then comes shame, self-pity and a host of other bugs and critters.

I get physically, mentally and emotionally winded, side stitches and leg cramps as well as dehydrated. It’s so ridiculous and laughable if it wasn’t so pitiful.

The spirit, soul and body connection is unmistakable in this situation.spirit-soul-body-820a

I have worn out my body.

I have let crud infect my soul.

My spirit is a neglected space.

...and HOPE is no where to be found.

I need a map to get back to a place where hope can be found, crafted, cultivated and intentionally grown. And I know just such a map…spyglassmap

The Latin phrase, “omne trium perfectum”  conveys the idea that everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete. We are triune beings (spirit, soul and body) and when we neglect even one portion of ourselves, we become so much less than our potential. We allow a portion of our being to become a desert. Here are some ideas or maps to find our way back.

The Body

Hope and help for the body can be found in the acronym–REST.

R-rethink: your lifestyle choices. Am I over-scheduling or saying ‘yes’ too often? Am I eating well? What about the pace of my life? Life is NOT a sprint–it IS a MARATHON.

E-exercise (or not): Depending on your own fitness level, do you need to kick it up a notch,  just get moving (take a walk) or cut back to allow your body some recovery time.

S-sleep: seriously, sleep is one of the leading causes of physical, mental, emotional issues. Take a nap. Go to bed earlier, if possible.

T-time: Take/Make time to eat, drink, walk, rest…you only get one body–care for it.

 

The Soul

Hope and help for the soul can be found in the acronym–CARE

C-create s safe space for your soul to grow. Avoid negativity, insults, sarcasm whether from yourself or others. Our journey in this life is one of discovery.

A-allow yourself to be vulnerable to love and goodness. Don’t let hurt and fear build a wall.

R-reach out to others and work to build a support group/community.

E-enjoy even the smallest treasures/moments. Learn to savor.

 

The Spirit

Hope and help for the spirit can be found in the acronym–LIFT

L-love. Pursue love and earnestly desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1)

I-inspiration. Look for it and let it do it’s work. Read scriptures, go to church, talk to other people of faith.

F-faith. It is the food of the spirit. Find ways to grow it. Church, small group, meditation, readings, etc.

T-treasure yourself and others as spiritual beings.

Sounds simple, I know, but keep in mind that while simple may be better, it is not necessarily easier. We are headed for summer and the busy joys that come with it so take some time now to assess your body, soul and spirit.

Hope can and will be found when you seek it out and do what it takes to be a healthy triune being.cropped-wp_20150617_016-e14345886078481.jpg

Heidi Mull, mulling over the mess of me, making myself a priority.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the Thunder Rolls…

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you”
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Thunderstorms

I love a good thunderstorm. I truly do. My husband and I have been known to sit on our front porch just to see and hear a good storm. My youngest was afraid of thunderstorms for the longest time. As soon as she would hear a rumble she would come running, in fact, when we would hear a rumble of thunder far off we would go looking for her to scoop her up as we knew she would be afraid. One day while sitting on the porch and watching a big thunder storm , we invited her to come out and sit with us. We talked about what causes the thunder and how it reminds us of the bigness of God–that He is not angry in the thunder but it’s His power and strength to care for us. After awhile she sat up and began to listen to the thunder—she is no longer afraid and now loves a good thunderstorm,too.

We have been talking about storm’s this month. I shared one of my own with you (March post-Hope Like A Champion) and then we talked about life’s storms and being/getting prepared because storms happen to all of us (Learning to Sail My Ship).

Let’s wrap up our stormy month of March with a look at Thunderstorms and what that means to those of us who on the journey towards a more HOPE-full life.

Hope is an attitude, belief and a life skill that is required in a life that is often marked by the storms we are going through, have gone through, the ones we can see on the horizon, and even by the ones we don’t see coming.

In order to understand how hope can help, let’s briefly look at what exactly is a thunderstorm and then we can relate it to our own lives.

Thunderstorms are defined by their size and duration–how big they are and how long they will last. They typically run in a 3-stage life cycle:

  1. developing– the right ingredients come together; warning signs of coming storm are present.
  2. mature-it’s on and won’t stop until its finished.
  3. dissipating-factors that caused the storm begin to disappear; things begin to settle down as it runs its course.

Isn’t this how they happen in life. Sometimes we can see the ingredients coming together and do what we can to interrupt their formation. Sometimes we stand helplessly by as the clouds form and are unable to stop them. They are often beyond our control…BUT we have hope.

Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33, NLT.

It’s important to talk about what/who we have hope in. I am a person of faith. Faith in a Creator and faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and faith the the Spirit is leading, guiding and comforting me. I don’t expect my faith to prevent storms–just help me through them.

If you have faith, you have hope. If you have hope you have everything.

Hope is a powerful force that compels us to survive and even thrive in the midst of great upheaval. Hope IS an anchor. How? you ask. Let’s take a look at the different types of thunderstorms and then we’ll talk about how hope can help.

Thunderstorms are categorized by size and duration:

A single cell storm is a small, brief, weak storm that will grow and die within an hour driven by heat–basically a flare-up. A frequent occurrence at my house some days. Busy-ness, lack of sleep, diverse needs and daily plans are always a few clouds away from a shower. We can learn to intercept these before they develop if we keep our eyes and ears open. These small storms can wear away if they blow in often enough. a deep breath, a nap, a cup of tea or a walk can relieve us of this pressure build-up. Staying engaged and connected to our family members and friends helps,too.

A multi-cell storm is, unfortunately, also a relatively common occurrence in life. It is made up of several individual storm cells lasting 30″-60″ each. The system, as a whole, can last several hours. This one can get messy as it can bring hail, strong winds, brief tornadoes, and/or flooding. Another way to think of this is the pile-on effect. This is a hard storm because it comes from many directions and lasts for quite awhile. It also causes damage. We hear of these storms from friends and family in need of relief or comfort. Many prayer requests come from these storms. An unexpected brief illness, accident or injury, financial setback, relationship troubles, abrupt change in life plans…all of these cause trouble in several areas and pain on multiple levels. It seems like they happen one right after the other. The effects of these can lasts for days weeks and even months. We hear these stories and shake our heads.

The squall-cell is a unique storm. It is a group of storms arranged in a line and accompanied by squalls of high wind and heavy rain. They tend to pass quickly but they can be hundreds of miles long.  These storms are the tough ones that swoop in and dump rain and knock trees down. They often affect a relatively large area. They come hard and fast. I kind of view these as community storms–ones that effect a group or several groups. Church split, mass lay-offs, political issues to name a few.

A super-cell is a nasty one. It is large and long-lived–over an hour on average. It feeds off itself and keeps going until it burns itself out. Things like long-term illness, death, divorce, and even career loss. Often times these take a long-time to process and require extensive life changes.

“Those born to wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish, know not what is the real happiness of life, just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of the ocean on a few frail planks can alone realize the blessings of fair weather.”
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Hope can be defined as “(noun.)  a desire of some good with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.”  Expecting some good and believing it is obtainable. That is hope’s role in a storm. Hope is like the life preserver or anchor that upholds us and steadies us.

  1. Take deep breaths…A LOT.
  2. Remember that YOU ARE LOVED.
  3. Dig deep into your faith (find a church, pray, call a friend to pray).
  4. Speak positive words over your situation (“this too shall pass”, the Serenity prayer, Bible verse, or positive affirmation). Google quotes on hope.
  5. Go back and read past post on hope @https://craftinghope.wordpress.com/
  6. Seek out what you CAN do then do it. Let go of what you can’t.
  7. Have gratitude ( find things to be grateful for).
  8. Take time to care for yourself (Read the Count of Monte Cristo).
  9. Gather your support team.
  10. Hold fast to hope as an anchor for your soul.

“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words,-Wait and hope.
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Expect storms to be a part of life BUT know that you can become a storm-trooper, a storm-survivor and a storm-warrior.

Heidi Mull, keeping my eye on the sky, and my anchor firmly in place.

 

Hope Like A Champion…

Welcome to March. A month of madness, mayhem, and myriads of potential.The epic struggle between winter and spring causes massive weather battles. We see ice storms one day and 62′ and sunny the next. Last night I sat on my couch and listened to the wind rattle the windows and shake the trees as it blew in a spring snow storm. In a few days it will warm up to 65′.  In the snow, I see flowers coming up in spite of the cold. I LOVE the spring because of its wildness and unpredictability…not so much my life.

This month here in America is Brain Injury Awareness Month. We use this time to help people to learn about brain injuries and their survivors and families. A green ribbon is the symbol and color used to spread the message…of hope.Ribbon

Let me tell you the story of how brain injury affected my life and changed my family forever…

IN May of 2009, on Friday the 15th at 11:30 at night, I received a phone call. It was from a family member. They said my husband had been injured and that I should come and get him. I drove 20 minutes not knowing what I would find. When they opened the door, he was there sitting on the couch. Everyone was upset and trying to remain calm. I looked at his face and it was swollen and obviously beaten. I couldn’t get him out of there fast enough.

He kept saying that something was wrong. As I drove out of the driveway, by myself, I was debating and praying. Should I take him to the closest hospital, even though I didn’t know the way, or drive 30 minutes to the hospital near our home?  I choose familiarity and speed over wandering around for who knew how long. Those 30 minutes were the longest I have ever lived even after giving natural childbirth to 5 full-term babies. He was going into shock so I would crank up the heat and talk to him so he would respond then he would get warm and sleepy so I would turn off the heat until he started to shake again…

I just didn’t want him to die before we got to the hospital. For some reason I was resigned to the possibility he might die from shock or trauma …I just didn’t want him to die with me all alone. Why didn’t you call for an ambulance you say? Good question. I guess I didn’t realize how bad he was until we were well on our way.  The needle never went under 90 as I prayed for grace and protection…

Fast forward through several surgeries for his left upper jaw and eye socket repairs: 7 plates and 28 screws, hospital stay, bringing him home with his jaw wired shut, face grotesque and swollen almost unrecognizable, purée all his food, dispense a multitude of medication, etc. We are now 6 weeks into healing. He looks great. The plastic surgeon was a true artist and genius. He gave me back someone I recognized and for that small thing I was grateful. I would have taken him any way–just for the record.

A few weeks later, he is released to go back to work. My husband goes to look for a job (his old job was no longer an option) and in the process of that realizes that something is wrong. He couldn’t follow the simplest of instructions. The symptoms exploded from there: loss of balance, struggling to find basic words, stuttering, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, loss of awareness of self and the time-space continuum…

Back to the doctor we go. The initial diagnoses was post-concussive syndrome which led to neurological testing which led to a diagnosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. I hate the mild part but I guess that just means he is still functional and able to care for his basic needs.

Physical therapy, speech therapy, hearing tests…

He got back the ability to walk straight (it took months and a lot of hard work). He has recovered a lot of his cognitive abilities and is able to do some basic chores…on good days. Some symptoms have never left, he has learned to manage them.

I would later find out that he was assaulted and stomped on by some guys who were just bad news-he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We pressed charges but without any witnesses, we could only get a misdemeanor charge but it was something…

Fast forward to now…we are in the 7th year and define our lives as pre-injury and post-injury–not to be morbid, as we have most definitely not let ourselves be defined by this tragedy, but because we as a family and as individuals have changed, grown, adapted and continue to do so everyday.

We grieve the loss of the man/father who was and are learning to know this new guy even as he is learning to know and accept himself. We are forever changed. We are a family that has chosen to pull together, support and love through an unimaginable situation and learn the power and art of unconditional love. It is not easy and some days we fall really short but I have noticed that we, generally speaking, are pretty stubborn.

As always, in making a long story short, this is but a drop in the bucket of our journey of hope.hopeinsunlight

For years prior to this incident, I had filled the house and my heart with the word HOPE. There were other issues in my life that needed hope and it became such a part of me that when the rubber hit the road, I had a large resource to draw upon. I have learned so much and I hope that I have passed that on to my kids and through this blog have been able to encourage you and provide some substance to the wispy idea of hope. I have learned the power of hope to endorse faith and love in seemingly hopeless situation that may or may not ever change.  I have learned to hope like a champion…

I have tried to end this post without an invitation for you to join me but I can’t so here goes it…

I invite you to join me. Life is hard and wonderful, chaotic and beautiful, wild and unpredictable. I don’t claim to have all of the answers but I have learned some valuable tools along the way that I would like to share with you. Please invite others to join if you think they would like to join us on our journey–that’s what Crafting Hope by Heidi Mull is all about: intentionally crafting, creating, and cultivating a more HOPE-full life.

 

Heidi Mull, still standing, hoping like a champion.woman-warrior2.jpg

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A Spoonful of…Kindness

Welcome to February. Winter is in full bloom. As the snow falls outside my window, I am reminded of the theme or topic for this month–kindness. Kindness, like snow, can cover over A LOT of ugliness and rough edges. My yard and the surrounding hills never look more lovely than when covered in a blanket of snow.

This month we are going to unpack the power of kindness and how it can help us to create a more HOPE-full life.

THEME/THOUGHT: KINDNESSRandom-acts-of-kindness

Kindness is a timeless classic. It never goes out of style. It crosses all boundaries of humanity: age, sex, skin color, family history, income bracket, hair styles. It reaches past the way we dress, the food we eat, the sports team we like, and even the presidential candidate we vote for.

Kindness is impartial in its effect on peoples lives.

The giver and receiver are both beneficiaries of the benefits.

Kindness lowers our blood pressure, helps us lose weight, age slower, acquire more money and be generally healthier for longer. Okay that last sentence is fiction but if it were true we would be motivated to practice kindness. We would be overwhelmed with kindness. We would never have to pump our own gas again, load our own groceries, buy ourselves a cup of coffee, fight to be heard, watch our own backs, protect our hearts,… The power of kindness is profound for the receiver and the giver.

WARNING: There will not always be thanks, or music from heaven when we initiate acts of kindness. We may be scorned or rebuffed or there may be no reaction at all but that is part of the coolness of kindness. It is the silent ninja of virtues–like how sugar dissolves into whatever it’s put into. We can’t see it but it changes the chemistry of its receiver and sweetens whatever it touches.

We have talked a lot about hope and the importance of cultivating and crafting it (I encourage you to look back at previous posts and read at your leisure). Learning to be intentional in our journey towards a more a HOPE-full life is our focus this year and kindness is a powerful tool to cultivating and crafting hope.

cropped-wp_20150617_016-e14345886078481.jpgHope is tough and can grow in the most unlikely of places but it needs a crack or bit of softness in which to put down roots. Kindness creates that place.

Life is hard.

We can become hard.

We all get wounded, weary and war against bitterness.

Hope is the medicine for this hardness and weariness.

Kindness is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.sugarchrystals

Kindness leads to compassion, communion, and caring for ourselves and others. It helps to keep us sweet–like sugar.

Whether you need to be kind to yourself or reach out to those around you, kindness is simple and sweet but the difference it makes can be profound

A little bit of sugar is like a little bit of kindness–it sweetens what it touches.

CRAFT/VISUAL AID:

Our craft/visual aid this month is two-fold:

  1. Set out a sugar bowl or sugar packet holder. Use sugar, cubes, or packets of your favorite sweetener. When we see the sugar bowl or packet we are reminded that kindness is like sugar and sweetens whatever/wherever it lands.

Look at the local dollar store to findglassbowl

a pretty glass bowl or

colorful plastic bowl or

small basket or

some other container.

packet Look

in your cupboard

and take one out that you have yet to use or

visit your local thrift store for something unique.

Be creative and make one

using polymer clay or

an old baking soda box to cover (for packets) or

how about an old basket that just needs a little update.

 

2. Take a packet or your favorite sweetener andSugar-Packets

put it in your wallet/purse

set one on your desk

windowsill

by the phone

on your night stand.

It serves as a visual reminder to practice kindness.

 

Until next time,

Heidi Mull,  practicing my super-secret-ninja-skills of kindness, creating space for hope to grow.

Repairing the Breach

Things fall apart, people disappoint, hearts break, hope dies…we are left with the breaches, breaks, and torn seams. Now what? Where do we go from here?

Things don’t fix themselves, people don’t always change, hearts don’t heal well on their own and hope needs resurrected. So…

Once more into the breach

King Henry:
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger. . . .

Henry The Fifth Act 3, scene 1, 1–6

breachpainting‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more’ – is from the ‘Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’ speech of Shakespeare’s Henry V, Act III, 1598. The breach in question is the gap in the wall of the city of Harfleur, which the English army held under siege. Henry was encouraging his troops to attack the city again, even if they have to ‘close the wall with English dead’.

Quite the battle cry as we continue on our theme of intentional action with the thought of repairing the breach. We are going into the breach but what exactly is a breach?

What is a breach?

NOUN –1. an act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct:“a breach of confidence”. 2. a gap in a wall, barrier, or defense, especially one made by an attacking army.

 In our broader use of this word, we are talking about areas in our lives that have grown weak or weary with daily wear-and-tear or are broken down through some type of drama or trauma. Breaches that we have caused and breaches caused by others…Breached-retaining-wall-Mallah-lake

 hurtful words,
failure of any kind,
loss,
disappointment,
fear,
anger/arguments unresolved,
grief,
insults, betrayal, etc…
These kinds of things can lead to breaches in our lives and hearts.
Take up your symbolic needles and start…

Repairing the Breach.

needleandthread.jpg
The quote above (Henry V) is a great example of summoning our courage to be intentional about crafting a more HOPE-full life.
Intentional action is the goal of this year.
A needle is a useless piece of steel until it’s put into action.
It can’t be wielded willy-nilly but must be applied where it’s needed.
I encourage you to pick just one thing in your life to work on for awhile.
Change/healing takes time.
Whether it’s attitude, relationship, work-related, goal, dream or something different altogether, begin now.

The repairing of a breach begins with one stitch.–HM

Ask yourself: Is there one thing that I can do differently?

Can I change my response/reaction?

Is there something/someone I need to let go of?

Is there something/someone I need to re-connect with?

In this remember, we can only change ourselves not another person and sometimes, not our situation–at least not right away…so “gird up your loins” and get ready to engage.

WARNING: Being intentional requires properly applied stubbornness.

Gird up your loins

Back in the days of the ancient Near East, both men and women wore flowing tunics. Around the tunic, they’d wear a belt or girdle. While tunics were comfortable and breezy, the hem of the tunic would often get in the way when a man was fighting or performing hard labor. So when ancient Hebrew men had to battle the Philistines, the men would lift the hem of their tunic up and tuck it into their girdle or tie it in a knot to keep it off the ground. The effect basically created a pair of shorts that provided more freedom of movement. Thus to tell someone to “gird up their loins” was to tell them to get ready for hard work or battle. It was the ancient way of saying “man up!”(or “woman up”)

 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.–Lao Tzugreatwall

 Where you are now is not where you must stay. The hurt, disappointment and fear doesn’t define you. We are being intentional and forward thinking.

Start where you are–with what you have.

Be stubborn. Be intentional. Gird up your loins.

Each morning, and as often as is necessary, look into a mirror and say to yourself…

Once more into the breach, dear friend, once more.

 

Heidi Mull, re-thinking, repairing , and girding (as needed).

 

 

Stating the Obvious…

Welcome to November–the moody and melancholy month of the year. I happen to love November and its gray and stormy skies but for many it can be depressing–depending upon where you live. Some begin to dread the appearance of snow. Others detest the lack of sunlight as the daylight hours wan. The blustery weather means more indoor time which some resent. While I can sympathize with the lack of control we have over the seasons, I think November gives us an obvious remedy.

Here in America we celebrate a holiday this month called Thanksgiving. It is a reminder of our earliest beginnings as a country in which pilgrims seeking freedom of worship came bravely across the sea to an unknown land at the worst time of year. They endured illness, starvation, freezing weather, numerous variables and much death. Unlike the romanticized Thanksgivings, the first was beautiful and bountiful in its friendships and gratitude, not so much on the turkey and stuffing. And herein lies the key to dark days of little sunlight and stormy skies–gratitude.

THOUGHT

In our journey towards a more hope-full life we need to remember to feed the hope we have. Like plants, pets, cars, dreams and humans, hope must be fed.

Gratitude is the food of hope.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie 

Gratitude gives hope the energy to sustain life and grow. Hope needs to be fed or it dies. Thanksgiving and gratitude is food for hope..for the soul. It often forces us to dig deep and to be willing to see the world around us in a different way. It requires us to be detectives in our own lives in order to unearth clues to the treasures that are often in plain sight. These treasures are the ingredients to our own personal “Thanksgiving” celebration.

I know that sometimes it can seem hard to find things to be thankful for but that’s where the treasure hunting and detective work comes in to play. Being thankful is like a muscle or an art form. It must be practised in order to be improved.

So let’s start small:

running water,

still breathing,

something to eat,

a place to sleep,

something to wear,

someone who cares,

a job,

ability to look for a job,

family,

friend…

All of these may seem rather obvious but can be stepping stones on which to build.

I have been without running water when we used spring water and the pump died. We had to use a bucket and go get it from the spring house outside. This meant for cooking, flushing, drinking, and bathing. Being able to turn on the faucet and have water is a treasure I savor. We have also had muddy water to to contend with so clean water is a plus.

I have been apart of the death and dying of loved ones as they take their last breath here on earth. And while it was not an awful thing to me, I am grateful that I still have breath even on those days of grief and pain. As long as there is life, there is hope.

There have been times when eating simply was not a healthy lifestyle choice or spiritual fast but a necessity of life. I have learned to be grateful for something to put in my stomach to sustain me.

Learning to be grateful is life-changing experience and the more we do it the fuller our lives become.

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. William Arthur Ward

Attitude is everything.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts…. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.
Developing a lifestyle of thanksgiving is one of the truest treasures of our human existence. Our attitude about our lives, relationships and future changes everything. Even giving thanks for the smallest of things opens up a larger place for hope to grow.
I have a plaque on my kitchen wall that says, If you have faith, you have hope. If you have hope, you have everything.”
CRAFT
Our craft/visual aid for this month is to create a place to put your daily gratitudes.
I love decorated mason jars.
masonjarsthanksmasontreejarFamily-Blessing-Jar-Martys-Musings
A beautiful notebook or journal.
compgratjournal gratsheets
Slips of paper to be turn into a garland for Christmas.
 http://beautyandbedlam.com/free-thanksgiving-printablesurday-inspiration-ideas.html
gratgarland gratgarland2
A Gratitude Calender for a daily note.
gratcalendernovcalendar
Origami flower or butterfly to write on then display.
htmlhttp://www.fabartdiy.com/diy-origami-paper-lotus-flower/
origami-lotus-flower-f2origamistar
The list and choices go on. find more about these and others on my Pinterest.
Choose one that suits you and start working on your attitude of gratitude. Feed your hope.
Heidi Mull, hunter of treasure, detector of clues, feeder of hope.

Lights, Camera…ACTION!

Shakespeare said “All the world is a stage and (we)… are all actors in it”. (As You Like It, if you care to check it out)

Have you ever thought about your life as a movie or play?

Are you the hero or villain?

What would be the title of your life movie?

Who would play you?

What message would you want your life to tell to others?

Think about a movie/play that has impacted you in such a way that you were changed and felt called to some action?

I have often wondered if we viewed our lives that way then would we act and live differently?

Along the same lines, think of all that goes into creating a play or movie:  the script, the costumes, the actors, the setting, make-up, lighting and so on. All of this just exists as back round to the real story and nothing happens until the director calls out…”Action!”.

Nothing happens until someone takes ACTION…

We are talking about charity this month and how charity is a two way street–giving and receiving. Charity is the Greek word agape (uh-gawp-ay) which is simply defined as active-love towards our fellow humans beings. It seeks to meet people where they are and offer hope in the form of something real or tangible–an action offered in charity.

I hope you have been encouraged by putting your cards in the mail (see previous post) if not don’t worry, the month isn’t over yet.

We started out, in January, with the idea of cultivating and crafting a more hope-full life. We have learned to seek those things that help us to be intentional on our journey to a more hope-full life.  This has all led us to here… the place of charity.

Charity is hope all grown up. Charity seeks to re-create hope in other people and situations.

Hope is love holding out its hands in the dark–George Iles

This is the power of hope and charity. The actions that we take are vital to our lives and the lives of those we touch.

The joy of giving and receiving…

Let’s start with the big picture and then bring the focus closer to home.

What’s bigger than the idea of universal laws & principles?

There is a universal law of Giving, that is, the more you give the more that comes your way. This “Generosity Principle” is the idea that in living a life of generosity we create a ‘flow’ of sorts where the value, quality, and influence of our lives is expanded. The Bible speaks of the principle of sowing and reaping but believing in the Bible isn’t a requirement for this to work. That’s the idea behind a law of nature or universal principle–it just works.

Give and it will be given to you–pressed down, shaken together and running out all over.–Jesus (Luke 6:38)

Cast your bread on the water and after many days it will come back to you.–King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 11:1)

Think of Ebenezer Scrooge, the ultimate hoarder, he held tightly to all that he had–namely his money– and he eventually learned that a life, or wealth, unshared is no life at all. (The Christmas Story by Charles Dickens–not just for Christmas)

So to bring this home to where we live, let me say this–being a generous giver and receiver is a part of the same principle. By not being generous, we rob and limit ourselves. By not being a gracious receiver, we rob and limit others. And the really cool thing is that both ends of the principle are not just about you–the you on either end.

So when the credits roll and the lights come up on your life how will people feel when they walk away?

I recently experienced a preview into the story of a friend’s life. (True story with names changed)

Katrina, my friend, had been questioning the theme of her life movie and feeling a little down. I was there when she met a long, lost friend, Rachel,  who then told Katrina that because of her (Katrina) she (Rachel) was alive today. Years ago my friend, Katrina, had picked up the phone to just ‘check-in’ on Rachel who was going through a difficult time. What Katrina didn’t know was that Rachel was taking steps to end her life with the final prayer that if just one person would call her on the phone she wouldn’t go through with it…Katrina was THAT friend. Rachel never said anything at the time but that phone call of charity, agape, horizontal love saved Rachel’s life. and the lives of her children.

How powerful and profound that something as simple as a phone call changed the course of an entire family.

Although, thankfully, I have never been at that extreme breaking point, I have had timely gifts and calls that have kept me going through rough times in my life: pancakes from a neighbor, a rocking chair for child #5, a card in the mail, a much-needed pack of diapers left by the front door, a timely invite from a friend to come and hang at her house (and bring ALL 5 of my kids), a phone call “just to talk”.

These are some of the credits that will roll at the end of their lives and be credited for blessing mine. In the spirit of these kindnesses, I have attempted to be the giver of similar kindnesses and can’t wait to see how they have played out. Sometimes I think it will be the ones that I am not aware of that will be the most powerful.

Small kindnesses are like drops of water in a pond-the effect far outweighs the effort.–Me

I remember a very low point in my life when I was alone, pregnant, nauseated 24/7, and  3,000 miles away from home. I had a neighbor that was lovingly, yet secretly, known as “Kooky” ______. We lived next door to each other and would occasionally, make dinner and craft jewellery together. One day she showed up at my door and said “Don’t be mad but I’m here to clean”. She burst through the door with her cleaning supplies and vacuum cleaner, “I know you don’t feel good and that’s understandable but the world always seems a little better when the floor is vacuumed”.

She and I weren’t close. She had some “issues” of her own but she came like an angel on a mission and my world grew much less dark that day. I eventually came home to the love and support that I needed but I have never forgotten her, and her unique, precious and “kooky” friendship. To this day I tear up at the memory and pray for her to be blessed because of her great kindness to a girl from West Virginia, who came and went from her life but on whose life she made a profound impact.

So when we speak of charity don’t discount the little that you feel you have to offer. If it’s in your heart or mind to give it or share it…just do it.

And don’t worry about the credits or the awards–each kindness has a reward of its own.

Heidi Mull, grateful for kindnesses given and received, learning to answer the call of “ACTION!”

Walking on water…

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The air around me was heavy with the smell of salt and seaweed. The sun was beginning to set and the sky was colored in hues of pink and grey. The sand was wet beneath my feet and the water was warm. I looked around, smiled and stepped out onto the water…

Well, almost…change onto to into and that’s what I did last week.

A friend, armed with her bucket list, said. “Lets go to the beach. We’ll just drive down, spend the night and come back. It’s on my bucket list and I need to get away.”

Understanding her need and feeling the same, we made plans and last week we drove about 8 hours, spent Friday night and Saturday on the beach then drove 8 hours home. It was glorious.

While there is only One who has ever truly walked on water the idea of it intrigued me as I stood for a long time just watching the waves. The ocean, like life, is ever changing and moving yet somehow steady in the passing of time. The idea of storms and rolling waves I can apply to my life so why not walking on water, too?

So then how does hope–as we have been learning about this past year–how does this hope help me to rise above the waves and keep on going through the changing ocean, seascape, seasons, storms, and tides?

As I stood on the shore with my feet in the water, I saw something off into the distance. It was directly in front of me–a buoy. I watched it bob around as the motor boats flew by and the tide rolled in. As the sun set, I heard a whisper in my heart, “That’s hope“.

Hope is like a buoy in the water. Bouncing, bobbing, rolling but never sinking. Hope is what keeps us buoyant on the sea of life. Hope is like air–hope floats.

Hope is what helps us to walk on water.

In order to walk on water we have to buoyant and in order to be buoyant we have to learn to lighten our load. I touched on three ways to embrace change in the last post (The Secret of Change). These can help us as we choose what to take with us on our journey towards a more HOPE-full life and what we will leave behind.

  1. Savor the good/shed the negative
  2. Learn from the past/be in the present
  3. Be joyful in hope

Savoring & Shedding

The word savor is that desire to linger, to relish and to cherish a smell, flavor, feeling or moment of something good–to let it wrap around your soul like a blanket or coat and soak in. This is vital to being buoyant/hopeful. Savoring the good is like covering ourselves in waterproof oil. It insulates us from the cold water seeping into our souls. This goes hand in hand with shedding the negative. Bad stuff happens–and sometimes it’s even my fault–but I can choose to walk in grace both with my self and others. I can learn to shed the negative like water off a duck’s back.

In research about PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), it was discovered that part of the problem in recovery is that the traumatic event is continually playing on a loop in the head of the person affected–in the forefront or in the back round. The brain is stuck in the trauma and as it continues to play the grooves/tracks keep getting deeper. In order to get out of the groove the brain needs to build new pathways. Savoring, even the smallest things like a cup of coffee in the morning or the taste of your favorite pastry, was found to be a powerful tool in building new neural pathways and breaking out of the trauma loop. So savoring even the smallest moment or good in each day can insulate from the cold water of the negative. Savor each small kindness or moment. Savoring is the power of gratitude in action. I like to call it the oil of gladness. This is what helps us the let the negative slide on past–like water off a duck’s back.

Learning & Being

Oh the pesky power of the past to permeate our present and perpetrate powerlessness.

It’s enough, I say. Time to learn the lessons from the past, shed the old skin and step into the bountiful blessing of just be-ing.

When we are BE-ing, not only are we collaborating with chronological time, but we are touching on *kairos, and are freed from the normal restrictions of time.”
Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

*Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment); exists outside of normal time.

The past is heavy–very heavy. Especially if it’s full of regrets or recriminations. The best way to lighten our load and to free us to be in the present is to learn from the past. Accepting our failures and the failures of others doesn’t mean that it’s okay just that I am releasing forgiveness to myself and others. To me, forgiveness is cutting the weights and ties like little anchors or cords that keep me from be-ing in the present.

I ask myself this question–So then what can I learn from the past mistakes or successes?–and in looking/finding some answers I then bring the lessons into today and cut the links to the past. Sometimes the lessons are obvious like– don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Sometimes they are more difficult to see. Pain/hurt can blur our vision for awhile and that’s where seeking wise counsel can be helpful. Sometimes the lesson is that life is a mystery but we can still choose to release the negative and embrace hope.

I know this sounds simple but I also know that it can be one of the hardest things to do. We can really only live in the present. We have memories of the past and hopes for the future but we are alive when we are able to BE in the present. Our past pain, failures, and successes have been allowed to define us but it’s not who we are today…it’s not.

The lessons that we learn from the past are what enable us to see how good (wisdom/blessings) can come out of hardships. We can’t walk on the water when we are weighed down with past junk. Time to lighten the load.

Being joyful and hopeful

If hope is the buoy in the water then joy is the is the feeling of freedom and movement that comes each time a wave hits and the buoy just bobs to the left or right. Fear and regret restrict our movement. Our ability to love and breathe today are frozen when we are tied/bound to these two. The ability to be joyful in hope is the result of the first two steps. Change is not to be feared but embraced because we have learned to savor the good and shed the negative. We have learned from our past and embrace being in the present. This brings us to a most wonderful place where we can be joyful in hope. Remember our definition of hope back in January?

Hope can be defined as a desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.

Joy can be defined as the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good (hope)

So being joyful in hope is crafting hope and letting yourself feel it. Joy is the expression of hope and hope is the foundation of joy.

My friends, I realize that all of this is much easier to write about than to do but I want to encourage and challenge you with this: the results are immeasurable and worth the effort.

Crafting a more HOPE-full life is a journey for the brave.

And if you don’t feel brave, remember the advice from one dear friend to another:

You are braver than you believe,

stronger than your seem,

and smarter than you think.

Christopher Robin to Winnie-the-Pooh.

Heidi Mull, at times wading on the shore; at times walking on the water.