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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

Contrary to all reason…

We have been focusing on beauty this month.

Beauty brings joy and joy is like steroids for hope.

Beauty is power. Power to open the doors to hope and find our way out of ‘”the barrens” (see previous post).

Unfortunately, there is so much prejudice and baggage that comes with the concept of beauty. We are told by news media, commercials, store fronts, books and well-meaning friends what beauty is and how to be beautiful until beauty becomes just something else we have to work at, on or to attain. No longer is it something that is intimate, personal and fresh. I want to debunk the lie that rob us of the beauty of beauty.

Beauty does not have to be reasonable or logical or make sense to anyone but you.

Some things are universal but beauty is not. It is personal and unique and we don’t have to explain it to anyone. However, as I have journeyed through life, I have learned to be reasonable, logical and restrained. After all isn’t that what a ‘well-adjusted’ human is supposed to be like. I wait my turn, check myself out at the grocery store, call and schedule needed appointments. I try to keep up with current events and have on opinion–reasonable, of course. Eat healthy, exercise semi-regularly, dress appropriately, implement good oral hygiene and practice good citizenship. I have learned to respond and not react; to modulate my voice and emotions. In this reasonable world, I have learned to play my part well…I think.

But in the life of my heart/soul/spirit/imagination, I am practically the opposite in so many ways. I dream big, laugh freely, take spontaneous flights of fancy. I meander through my day, stroll aimlessly through the store and sing whenever I feel like it. I dance by myself, talk to butterflies, kiss flowers, and cry unashamedly at sweet commercials.

I ignore time and its pressures. I savor, delight in and enjoy whatever, whenever and wherever. Sounds crazy? Maybe–but I would say “CRAZY GOOD”.

There is something in us that longs to break out and away from that which constrains us. I think beauty reaches into and comes from that unbound place in each of us. Since this world can turn everything and everyone into grey-drab-blah, beauty defies those constraints and pulls us into glorious light where hope can be nourished and daydreams nurtured.

I realize that there is much in this world that is not beautiful but our responses can turn the ugly into a testament to beauty.  Flood, famine, slavery–just to name a few–but our attempts to love, help and heal bring light and beauty into those dark places.

So ask yourself: where have I bought into the grey-drab-blah scenario?… And then go on a quest. Find the beauty in the world around you. It is there even though it may take a bit of looking to recognize it. Be willing to look in places that aren’t appealing at first glance because sometimes real beauty is a little deeper than most want to go

Ask yourself: where has reason and logic robbed me of hope, joy and beauty?…And then rebel. Contrary to all reason beauty is and that’s that.

Heidi Mull, rebelling, re-examining and no longer SO reasonable but a little bit more crazy good.

Lost in the Barrens…

Ahh! The quest for beauty– to obtain it, own it, bask in its presence, to capture it.

It compels us, motivates us and, outside of money, is one of the main driving forces of human activity.

So what does beauty have to do with hope?

Beauty has the power to transform. Beauty is as essential to our humanity as is air and water.

Every human has a inborn sense of beauty –from child to elder…from modern to ancient…from rich to poor.

Beauty is sought after, longed for and appreciated.

The problem is that the concept of beauty is elusive and to define what beauty is is impossible…unless beauty is defined simply as that which brings joy to the beholder.

Given that definition, I think the opposite of beauty is not ugliness but barrenness. Barrenness that occurs in our souls when we have lost the ability to appreciate even the smallest hint of beauty. Bitterness, a critical spirit, cynicism and jealousy are all the enemies of beauty.  The inability to appreciate beauty greatly handicaps our ability to grasp even the possibility of hope and we can become lost in the Barrens. The Barrens…where nothing can grow–not hope, not patience, not joy, not anything. Here we have given up. I have had times in my life–more than I want to admit–where I have spent minutes, hours, even days in the Barrens. Bereft of hope, joy, peace…& beauty until something would catch my eye and my heart–even in the smallest way–and I could begin to find my way out back to the land of the living where even the remotest possibility brought enough air for another breath. In the Barrens our hearts grow cold, our vision becomes dim, and hope is unheard of. Beauty is not only an antidote for the Barrens but a preventative.

Beauty whispers & hums “all is not lost”. It sings & shouts to us of a life that is more than just existing.

Hitler stole much of the fine art of Europe in his conquest for world power.

In the Medieval times, kings and popes fought wars for decades over control of the resources to create/own beauty.

In the garden, the enemy of our souls connived to mar the beauty of God’s creation almost beyond recognition.

Why? Because beauty has power. Beauty IS power.

Power to lift us up out of despair.

Power to transform the Barrens into a place of hope,

Power to remind us of what was lost and what will one day be restored.

So whether it is…

a beautiful face

lovely landscaping

inspiring artwork,

a nice lawn,

a shiny hotrod engine,

a Harley-Davidson,

noble horses,

a blushing bride,

a newborn baby,

a cuddly kitten,

red roses,

a joyous family reunion,

a perfectly penned poem,

a favorite song or just good music,

an inspiring scripture

or the sound of a long-distanced, loved one’s voice…

beauty has the power of transformation. Our journey towards a more HOPE-full life is not for the weak or faint-hearted and we need the power that beauty brings. Take some time today, this week, this month to tap into your power source and if you get lost in the Barrens, you can find your way out… beauty will lead the way.

Heidi Mull,  an occasional Barren dweller on a quest to keep beauty in focus and my feet on the path to a life of hope and purpose.

Ahhhh…The fresh smell of hope.

February

Thoughts:

As I thought of hope and how we connect with the world around us in ways that inspire us to be hopeful, I thought of scents, aromas and fragrances.  I LOVE smells. I am inspired, comforted, and even annoyed by them.

It’s true that one of the main goals of this blog is to take the emotional, intellectual and spiritual concept of hope and find ways to grow, create, and craft it into our lives in small but tangible ways. One of my favorite ways is through aroma,  aka “smells”.  Before I go on I have to confess…I am a scent addict with a highly developed sense of smell. My family laughs at me but never doubts my accuracy.  I am the one you see in the scented wax cube/candle aisle quickly, expertly (in my opinion), and sometimes, loudly sorting through the amazing, delicious, divine and “ugh-what-were-they-thinking?”.  I have melting pots of various shapes and sizes throughout my house which are “on” most of the time.  And I have been known to burn incense and scented candles at the same time.

That being said, odors and aromas alike can arouse a gut response…try these:

  • coffee
  • clean laundry
  • new books
  • lemons
  • hair salon
  • spring rain
  • the ocean

Anything? Let me give you my gut response to these smells:

  • coffee: comfort, friendship, common ground (pun intended)
  • clean laundry: caring, home, my Mom (she loved doing laundry)
  • new book: joy, joy, joy and adventure
  • lemon: fresh, sunshine, energetic
  • hair salon: excitement, fear, esteem (self-care and value)
  • spring rain: nature, earthy, hope
  • the ocean: deepness, mystery, rest

Try it again…or come up with a few of your own. The point is that fragrances/smells can be tied to emotions or even deeper, transcendent concepts. I sometimes can’t explain why certain smells resonate or repulse me but they do. Some smells I don’t like…stewed tomatoes, chocolate (sorry– not a fan of the taste either), dogs (wet or dry), new sneakers, and hot brakes (tractor trailers).  I love the smell of roses, peppermint, lavender, the woods, babies, kittens (they smell cute), lilacs, onions, campfires, Sunday dinner, my grandson, pine needles, cinnamon and apples, my husband, dirt, leather and much more. Which leads us to this months’ focus: What does hope smell like to you?

Craft:

Fragrant Sachets:

“Hope is a sweet fragrance…not over-powering but gentle–like when a closet or drawer is opened and a hint of a scent rises and touches the heart”

“Hope carries with it a fragrance that draws the heart to a place of wide-open spaces”

 

As always I want to keep it simple and let it be a personal choice based on time, interests and craft-y-ness.

Here is lists of possible containers: envelopes with pricked holes, organza gift bags,  old dress socks or knee-hi’s, or and old shirt cut into a small squares to tie off with ribbon or string, used dryer sheets.

Some fragrance sources:  favorite flavored tea bag , rice and essential oil, potpourri (in bag from store), dried orange peels and cinnamon, an orange and some dried whole cloves, perfume, any other sweet-smelling herbs and spices, dryer scent-booster pearls.

A great idea to use old envelopes:

http://www.marthastewart.com/265707/envelope-sachets

A great source for different sachets ideas:

http://www.ehow.com/info_8214882_drawer-sachet-ideas.html?p=d

For an inexpensive recycling idea go here:

http://sewmanyways.blogspot.com/2012/08/sew-sew-saturdaydryer-sheet-sachet.html

For those who like to use a more natural approach:

http://entirelysmitten.typepad.com/entirelysmitten/2011/08/orange-and-clove-pomander-fall-craft.html

For the less crafty but no less resourceful:

http://doitandhow.com/2014/05/10/scent-booster-sachet-bags/#comments

For the essential oils gurus:

http://essentialhealth.com/2013/11/making-sachets-with-essential-oils/

I would love to hear from you. What are some of your favorite smells and scents? Are there any that evoke a sense of hope in you? If hope was a scent what would it be?

Talk with you soon.

Heidi Mull, Super-Sniffer Extraordinaire.