One Word

January 5, 2016
What one word will guide you in 2016-

What one word will guide you in 2016-Every year, for the past 7 years, I’ve chosen one word to guide my actions for the year.  Last year, in 2015, that word was *strength.*

Choosing #oneword is a wonderful tool for lending intentional clarity to the decisions you’re asked to make – or have to make – throughout the year.

For instance, here’s a little story about how I used this tool in 2015.

During the last quarter of 2015, my Mother got very,very,very sick. We almost lost her.

I spent my time in the hospital with her, at rehab with her and taking care of all she wasn’t able to do. The week before this happened, I had just helped move her into her new *forever* home, so there was a lot to do.

It was my joy to help take care of her, be with her and to help her heal as best I could, and I’m happy to share that today she’s back to playing duplicate bridge and enjoying her life, as much as she can, in her new home.

During that same time, though, I had to make a decision to move.

Why?

I wanted and needed to reduce my rent, which was raised to a sky high amount, more than the mortgage on most houses in my area.

As fate would have it, the perfect place for me opened up, in the perfect location, right across the street from the lake I love and down the street from the bird sanctuary I enjoy so much, BUT it was much smaller than where I had been living.

That meant downsizing, a lot. It meant more *things to do* in a life already crammed full of *things to do* during this time I was caring for Mom.

I knew it would be stress-FULL.

Then, I thought about my #oneword: strength. And I filtered this decision through that word.

I prayed for the strength, both physically and emotionally, to be able to accomplish this move during this already extremely stressful time in my life.

And, then, I did it.

I moved. It was hard, SO HARD, but now, with much less *stuff* in a smaller home, it means more, for me, of the luxury I value most:

Time.

Now, for 2016, my #oneword is *faith*.

What will your #oneword be for 2016?

What one word will help you clarify what you should do, when you’re asked to or need to, make a decision this year?

~~~

I leave you with this image I took on my morning walk across the street to the lake.

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Have a blessed New Year ahead, dear readers, and know > you are never alone.

There are so many stories we know nothing about.

Everyone is going through something, but, with faith {and friends}, we pull through.

And…if you need to be lifted up right now,

I invite you to join the community of kind, caring people who leave positive comments over on Messages of Hope’s Facebook Page at

http://facebook.com/MessagesofHope1

 

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The Hem of His Garment

December 25, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 6.13.24 AM

Image Credit: Jaana Uolamo , the Northern Lights, Finland Wherever you are in the world, may this day, Christmas Day 2015, be the day you reach up to touch the hem of his garment, knowing you are meant to receive the gifts that are waiting just for you.

Just as the Three Kings delivered to Him the gifts that were meant to be his, the miracle of His birth delivered to us the gift He was meant to bring to us…

the promise of His love… for all races, all religions, all the people on this beautiful planet of ours – no matter what.

~ Merry Christmas ~
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjamv/15794865908
Leslie 
~~~ 
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A Christmas Message For C

December 16, 2015
Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Leslie Carothers @ 11:22 am
Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 4.56.46 AM

www.messagesofhope.com || Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/valdet_b/6540474847 This post is for my real life friend, C.

At this moment in time, right before Christmas, C is having a difficult week with her chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Her 10 year old daughter, also a C, helped C by decorating their home for Christmas and on C‘s good days, she and her husband and daughter are out celebrating all the joys of this season together.

C is being so courageous through all of this, and we who are her friends in real life, and online, are praying that she feels well enough to get on a plane to spend Christmas in Florida with her parents, where they are preparing to help her celebrate a milestone birthday next week.

~~~

Friends of mine in real life who may be reading this and friends of Messages of Hope:

What I know and have witnessed in my life, and you probably have to, is that the most important C of all, Jesus Christ – can perform miracles.

His birth itself was a miracle and that miracle is the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Please join with all of us who know C in real life in praying that C has a beautiful Christmas with her young daughter, her husband, and her family –  full of joy, love, and peace.

Please pray for her complete healing.

~~~

And friends of this blog, I know that many of you who are reading this are also praying for a miracle this Christmas season for yourselves, a loved one or a friend.

And what can I tell you that I’ve experienced in my own life? What message of hope can I give all of YOU this Christmas?

Christ has an unlimited supply of miracles, all freely available to all of us, all the time, through clarity in prayer. “

“In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 4.01.37 AMMay your Christmas be blessed, C, despite all you are enduring now, and may you rest, surrounded in the comfort and care of the loving arms of Jesus Christ and your real life family and friends.

You are a shining light to all of us who are lucky enough to know you.

www.messagesofhope.com || Image Credit: http://pix-bavaria.com/mf/advent/127-06-D~~~
Leslie 

#messagesofhope

 

 

 

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Re-Embracing Joy

November 18, 2015
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Image Credit: UK artist Peter Crawley, done to support Maggie's Caring Cancer Centres I don’t know about you, my friends, but I know I’m still reeling from seeing the images of all the attacks on people in Paris and around the world.

In a world as visual as ours is, images are everything, and the images now seared into my brain have had a profound impact on my personal sense of JOY this week.

So, I’m writing this post to share words and images that make me happy and have helped me to re-embrace JOY, because I know I’m not alone in how I feel…and as I saw it said online by someone who lives in Paris,Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 4.26.47 AMHere are the top 5 things that have helped me to re-embrace JOY this week. 

1. Seeing that a friend of a friend’s child was found and is safe, after having been lost for 6 days in the forest during a hiking trip!!

2.  Seeing that two other friends are celebrating their first grandchildren.

3. Going for my morning walks around the lake and taking the time to shop for and prepare all of my *clean eating* food for the week {this will be the subject of another post }. 
Image Credit: Leslie Carothers aka @tkpleslie } View: Mud Lake, an offshoot of Clear Lake, in Houston, TX4. Knowing that another friend’s painful and difficult series of radiation treatments for breast cancer is now over. She’s an interior designer in Boston, and during her treatments, she took on a design challenge called the *One Room Challenge* to keep her mind focused on what was beautiful, affirming and positive in her life.

She really inspired {inspires} me with her hope-FULL attitude, despite all she’s been through.

The #OneRoomChallenge [ #ORC } was a challenge to re-design one room in your own home in 6 weeks.

Here’s the before and after of what Linda accomplished.

Before
The *Before* of Boston interior designer Linda Holt's living room for the #OneRoomChallenge || http://lindaholtinteriors.comAfter
*AFTER* of Boston interior designer Linda Holt's living room for the #OneRoomChallenge || http://lindaholtinteriors.com  Color and a beautifully designed room or home, full of things we love and cherish is such a powerful way to bring JOY back into our lives, isn’t it?

5. Knowing my Mother will be playing duplicate bridge today for the first time in 3 months, after not playing for that long due to her hospitalization and subsequent rehabilation. Bridge is  an important part of her life.

She’s one of our country’s top amateur duplicate bridge players and has played every week since she was about 18 years old. She’s a little nervous since she hasn’t played in a while, but….

Mom:
You've Got This || http://messagesofhope.com
What’s especially joy -FULL for me to think about, is that today, her fellow bridge players are celebrating Thanksgiving after the game, and many of them are bringing delicious home-cooked special food to share with everyone. She will have a yummy feast to enjoy, after her triumphant return. 

What could be better?

And now, as we all get ready to go on about our own days and the rest of the week, I hope this beautiful children’s book illustration will show you one more thing, that no matter what else is happening, always brings me JOY…
Illustration: Alison Edgson

The twin gifts of friendship {yours} and play. 

What’s brought you joy this week? Please let all reading this post know in the comments because…

The World Needs Your Messages || http://messagesofhope.com

#positivewords #makeadifference & #beautyheals
~~~

Have a blessed day, full of J O Y

Leslie

#messagesofhope 

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You are Beautiful Just The Way You Are

October 5, 2015
www.messagesofhope.com (3)

www.messagesofhope.com || #messagesofhope || http://instagram.com/Messagesof_HOPE || http://twitter.com/messagesof_hope || http://facebook.com/messagesofhope1
This pretty pink illustration says it all for me today. I hope you will really take its message into your heart, as I have, despite all that is going in my life right now:

You are incredible,adorable, lovable, wonderful, powerful, perfectly beautiful, just exactly the way you are….and I would add: inside and out, always.

I believe words, read into our minds, have the power to heal, do you?

~~~ 
Leslie 

#messagesofhope

www.messagesofhope.com

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My #Whole30 Clean Eating Journey + 5 Tips To Help You Get Started

August 16, 2015
Filed under: Uncategorized — Leslie Carothers @ 12:43 pm

Food As Art || Clean Eating || Image Credit: Amber at @RawVeganBlonde || http://messagesofhope.com Friends of Messages of Hope, in today’s post, I’m going to start a series about clean eating, which will include a very personal story that I hope might help some of you, too. I’ve come to learn, through my own body’s experience, what a difference the right food, in the right quantities, can make in my internal health, the way I function, how I can function, how I feel, and how I look.

If being healthier internally, getting rid of that feeling of brain fog and lethargy, having glowing skin, growing hair, eyelashes and nails and losing weight – with just a slow walk for exercise- is something you think might be good for you, too, then this series will be one you will want to follow.

This journey is still new for me, friends.

I’m only 3 months into it and I’m still learning every day, but I am going to take you with me as I learn, so you can perhaps use this information I’m learning yourselves, and/or share it with others you know who might be helped by it, too.

I want to spread messages of hope about the connection between food and health and how you can, with some shifts in how you eat, what you eat, and how much you eat, improve your internal health, the overall quality of your life, and see visible {and wonderful and fast! } differences in your skin, hair, nails, teeth, eyelashes and weight.
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I’ve come to realize, through my reading and research, that many of my own friends + millions of people really are in distress with health issues of one kind or another – cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, auto immune diseases, etc.

I’ve come to believe, through what I’ve experienced in my own body, that some of these diseases are preventable and reversible through our food choices and that some of the worse symptoms of those dis-eases that are too far gone to be reversible, can be helped through better food choices.

So, this series will share it all and I’m going to start today with the beginning of my own story + five tips for you if you decide to start it, too.

Ready?

 MY OWN STORY 

I started this journey because I was really, really unhealthy [I had elevated cholesterol to the point of being pre-diabetic] and I was fat, over 200 pounds at 5″6″ tall,  and every morning when I woke up, I felt like I could barely get up. 

My brain felt foggy, my joints ached, and I didn’t have much energy.

I realized I could not go on like this – and didn’t want to. I knew I needed to make a change… or die early.

So, when a friend of mine on Facebook asked her friends if they wanted to join a group about clean eating, I said YES. And there, in that Facebook Group,  I found women who were truly supporting each other, and helping each other learn how to make better choices about food. In that Group, I was introduced to a program called the #Whole30. {Thank you, Vitania!}

I had never heard of it, but I was willing to give anything a try. I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so I liked the idea that this program told me exactly what I could and could not eat for 30 days and why. I also liked that there were so many recipes online on the tag: #Whole30.

It made it easier for me to find information, fast.

So, I went on the #Whole30 program whose premise is to eliminate, for 30 days, all known inflammatory foods, and then, after the end of the 30 days, to add them back in, one by one and slowly to your now clean gut, so you can really feel what foods impact your own body negatively, and which ones it can tolerate.

This is the book that gives you the science behind why it works, the plan and the recipes.
Whole 30 || www.messagesofhope.com
The Whole 30 program requires you, {for just 30 days -although I’ve chosen to keep eating this way because I feel so much better } to:

Eliminate all sugar {fructose} including all sugar substitutes like honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucralose, stevia, truvia, aspartame, etc.

This means reading every label really carefully, as a lot of the organic foods we buy, or foods we think of as healthy like organic or non – GMO foods {and marketed to us as healthy } are full of added sugars. If you don’t know about this yet, see the article from the New York Times linked to at the end of this post. { Thank you, Faith, for the tip to this article. }

Eliminate all dairy. This means no cheese, no milk or milk products, no butter.

But, you can have ghee, which is clarified butter. It is so much more DELICIOUS than regular butter!
And, I’ve learned how to make a cheese substitute, with yeast flakes, which is delicious, too.

My favorite ghee brand EAT GOOD FAT ghee || www.messagesofhope.com
Eliminate all wheat and gluten. Bye, bye pizza, bread {even Ezekiel -this one was hard for me! }, cereal, oats, etc. 

Eliminate all alcohol, including wine. The ethanol in alcohol wreaks the almost identical havoc on your metabolic system as fructose {sugar} does.

Now:

MY TOP FIVE TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED WITH CLEAN EATING 

1. Be prepared to love grocery shopping again. It will take the place of your current retail store addiction pretty quickly :) . For me, it took the place of Sephora.

2. Get out your favorite dishes, prettiest silver and glasses and use them. Clean eating is all about eating pretty and creating a ritual around sitting down and being mindful about what you’re eating and why you’re eating.
Image Credit: Leslie Carothers || www.messagesofhope.com

3. You will need to make time for the preparation, especially at first when you’re not used to it, but if you do the preparation for the week in a 2 or 3 hour stint, or break it up into tiny segments when TV commercials are on, it becomes really, really easy.

Just figure out how to prepare in a way that works for you. Who knows, maybe that’s the middle of the night for you? It’s all good, but you have to do it. Prep is key.

3. Be prepared to patronize your local farmer’s market and if you don’t have one, there are many places online now where you can buy and have fresh fruits and veggies delivered to you once a week. In Austin and Houston, http://farmhousedelivery.com does this, and to find a home delivery service in your city, Google *home delivery fresh fruits and vegetables in ____ [ put your city in the blank]* and you will find a local source for your city!
FarmhouseDelivery logo || http://farmhousedelivery.com || Houston, Austin

Fresh Veggies and Fruits Delivered To Your Door Weekly || www.messagesofhope.com || http://farmhousedelivery.com

4. Be prepared to spend a little bit more money at first to buy the foods and spices you might not have in your pantry already but to spend a LOT LESS money later, because you won’t be eating out, unless you want to – or are travelling.

Bottom line for me? I’m saving at least $300.00 a month now, if not more, because I’m not eating out and I’m not patronizing Starbucks.

Lastly, be prepared to start a Pinterest board of food as art to keep you motivated, if you love beauty like I do.

And a good place to start is with the art of @rawveganblonde.

Amber, who started a clean eating journey of her own, has now created a brand called AMBA LIVING, where companies like Anthropologie are commissioning her for her unique works of art made from fresh vegetables and fruit – also available as prints in her online store.

See http://ambaliving.com and be prepared to fall in love!

Isn’t this artwork of hers beautiful? {Hello Hermes scarf!}

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I hope this has been helpful for you, and if it has, please share it with your friends who may need some help getting started on a clean eating journey, too.

I will be sharing much more about clean eating and clean eating tips on The Hope Blog in the weeks and months ahead and invite you to leave your own stories in the comments.

You never know who may be helped or healed by reading your story or your own tips.

Lastly {and for real this time!}

Thank you to all of my own friends who may be reading this and have supported me so far in my own journey, especially Vitania, Robin, and Sarah.

You ladies #makeadifference.

And here’s the article in the NY Times, that I promised you in the opening paragraphs. Don’t miss reading this about the movie, THAT SUGAR FILM, about how many of the foods that are marketed to us as healthy and look healthy from the packaging are actually full of added sugars:

well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/8/14/what-eating-40-teaspoons-of-sugar-a-day-can-do-to-yo

This is 40 teaspoons, the amount of sugar a lot of people put into their bodies, every day, without realizing it. The amount I put into MY BODY, or more, until I began clean eating.

Click the picture to watch the trailer for the movie.

THAT SUGAR FILM

~~~
Leslie Carothers

~~~
www.messagesofhope.com

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Thank you! 

#givinghopeahomebygiving back – forever- to the charities you care most about.

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Following Your Intuition

August 9, 2015
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Angels in clouds || Image Credit: Leslie Carothers || www.messagesofhope.com
This morning, Sunday morning, August 9, 2015, I participated in Kumud Ajmani’s #SpiritChat on Twitter, something I’ve been doing for years now, along with people from all over the world and from all walks of life, who come together for an uplifting hour of conversation and sharing about topics of spiritual interest to them.

This morning’s chat, guest hosted by nationally known career coach @MaggieMistal, [formally the director of learning and development for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia ] was on the wonderful topic of intuition. I don’t know Maggie in real life, but I really enjoyed her thought provoking questions and reading everyone’s responses to them.
Trust your instincts ||  www.messagesofhope.com
I’ve long felt, but now know, after reading everyone’s answers to Maggie’s  questions, that intuition is always with us, but we may not be ready for, or always like, the intuitive guidance we *know*, in our hearts, we are receiving.

Have you ever been stuck – in fear – that if you act on your intuition, the rest of your life might fall apart, as you know it?  Has that thought ever stopped you from acting on strong internal guidance?

I have and I’ve delayed my own flow because I haven’t been ready to trust. I haven’t been ready to let go of my fear. What if? What if? What if? plagued me, and sometimes continues to plague me.

And I now know, for sure, I’m not alone.

However, when you are truly following your intuition, even through your fear, there are sometimes signs that seem to be unmistakable. To help you feel less afraid. Signs that seem to come from above, that say “Just trust.” Just trust that everything will work out.

Just…have faith. 

On the day I launched this site last weekend, I was out taking my normal morning walk. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I was thinking to myself, ” In just an hour or so, I’m going to be sharing with everyone I know this site I’ve been working on [and delaying out of fear ] for 2 years –  is actually now live on the web.”

The logo for http://messagesofhope.com

Internally, I was excited, but I was also scared. It felt so personal to me. Like giving birth to my baby. Almost too public. I wondered if it would resonate? Would people like it or would they just ignore it?

So, I did what I do. I prayed while taking my morning walk that people would not ignore it. That they would understand the vision and the mission of #givinghopeahomebygivingback -forever, and that they would want to help me create this vision to help the charities they care about receive money – forever.

And the big elephant in the room?

Would they support it even though they knew it also meant I might make money?

Would people understand and be ok with the idea that Messages of Hope is right now, a for-profit *social good* site  until I die, when I can then give 75% of the net profits [versus 20% now, when the ecard portion launches this fall ] to the charities people care about, forever, since I don’t have children to leave anything to when I go?

I didn’t know and I still don’t know. I am simply acting on faith.

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As I was thinking these thoughts, I looked up.

And saw the angel wing cloud in the opening photo of this post that continued and continued to grow, right in front of my eyes. I took 6 videos of it, so I could always have them to remember the moment. I’d never seen anything else like it. It was the only cloud in the entire sky.
Angel cloud from www.messagesofhope.com
I got chills all over, and I’m getting chills again, thinking about it, as I type this.

It was, for me, an unmistakable sign that intuition has guided me on the right path, even though I can’t see one step ahead to what will become of this.

Many of you don’t know I’m a trained labyrinth facilitator through the http://veriditas.org program Dr. Lauren Artress founded at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

Image Credit: http://wari.cat, yoga at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on the labyrinth
If there’s anything that walking the labyrinth so many times, and holding the energy as I witness others doing the same has taught me over the years, it is this:

just put one foot in front of the other, and you WILL reach the center, even when you can’t see it.

This picture by famed yoga photographer, Wari Om Yoga Photography, [and the one above it showing people doing yoga on the labyrinth ] shows how we simply sometimes have to stretch ourselves to believe it, act on it and have faith that, by following our heart felt intuition, we are on the right path.
yoga on the beach
Friends, I’d love to hear, in the comments, your thoughts on how you’ve followed/or are following your intuition, your own inner guidance, despite fear.

Please don’t be shy. The more honestly and vulnerably we share, the more we help each other grow into living our best lives.
***

Leslie Carothers

Messages of Hope
www.messagesofhope.com

#givinghopeahomebygiving back – forever- to the charities you care most about.

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