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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Beautiful Bible Journaling Pages

November 4, 2015
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Bible Journaling || Image Credit:http://tiffanydoodles.blogspot.com/2015/02/bible-journaling-art-freebie-proverbs.html#.Vjn7OWSrT7dGood morning, friends of Messages of Hope. How are you? It’s been a little while since I’ve written a post because I’ve been spending almost every spare minute of the past two months either working at my main business, taking care of my mother and the *things of her life* because she got terribly sick { but who, through the grace of God and good nursing care recovered and is just now back home as of yesterday } and downsizing dramatically and moving into a new home, myself.

I had so much to do and many times I felt overwhelmed. What helped me get through it all was prayer, eating clean so my own mind and body stayed clear and healthy through it all and the prayers, positive words, thoughts and deeds of my friends on Facebook and in real life.

However, yesterday afternoon, I had an emotional meltdown. Moving my Mom back into her own home from rehab was extremely tough – and it ended in a bad way. I felt terrible, she felt terrible, and yet it happened.

The tears would not stop. I walked out and got in my car and just wanted to run away – forever.

What happened next, though, was this:

I didn’t start my car, I just sat in it and cried and cried. And then, a tiny voice within me came through and said to me, “Leslie, you have to go back upstairs to your Mom’s front door and knock on it and not leave things like this. What if she dies overnight? Do you want this to be the way it ends?

And I did go back upstairs. And the fact that I was able to do that, {because I was angry – very angry at that moment, which is the emotion that pops up when you feel hurt and/or wounded} was simply through the grace of God.
Bible Journaling ||http://homegrownhospitality.typepad.com/homegrown_hospitality/bible-journaling/And when I knocked on the door, Mom answered, and, although she was still upset, too, she put a cool cloth on my forehead and poured me a glass of chocolate milk.

Bible Journaling || www.homegrownhospitality.typepad.com And because I also believe in the power of synchronicity, when I woke up this morning, still feeling tender, this is the very first thing I saw when I sat down to check on my friends on Facebook.
Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 6.10.14 AMFriends, we all know that millions of people the world over are caregivers or are the ones being cared for. I know that this tiny *slice of my life story* that I’ve shared with you today, is but one drop in a very, very big sea of stories just like it.

I know, though, that when I pray and a tiny space of forgiveness opens up, for myself and for the *other*, I always find comfort. I hope the same can be true for you if you’re dealing with something similar.
Bible Journaling || Image Credit: http://stephanieackermandesigns.com This describes things perfectly this morning.
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And this is what I plan to do today, and I hope you will join me.
Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 5.06.42 AMMy sincere thanks to the women who created these beautiful Bible Journaling pages I’ve shared here today and if you’d like to find a Bible journaling image to help you through a challenging time, too, please see this Pinterest board where you can find more:

http://pinterest.com/timewarpwife/bible-journaling

And just one more of these, because I love them so.
Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 5.36.37 AMHave a blessed day.

Leslie

#messagesofhope 

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You are Beautiful Just The Way You Are

October 5, 2015
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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

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Rely On Him

September 3, 2015
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Quotes || #TheHopeBlog || www.messagesofhope.com These past few days, I’ve been helping my Mom move into her new home. She’s 85 and this is her *forever home.* I know many of you have done the same thing, or are planning for the same thing, or are in the midst of the same thing. 

If it all seems a little overwhelming to you, or exhausting, as it has to me at times, I hope you will look back and reflect on this quote I’m sharing today and know, as I know, that when you’ve reached your limit, He never has…and never will.

No matter what you may be going through, know:

You are safe.

You are not alone.

Hope quotes || You are not alone || http://messagesofhope.com || Image Credit: Katrina Maxwell Photography

You can ALWAYS rely on Him, and until He answers… maybe you could call a friend, call anyone, write in a journal, enjoy your favorite activity or go for a walk in nature to regain balance and perspective?  I’ve done all of these things, and I can share:

It all helps ease the overwhelm.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by what life is throwing at you?

I’d love it if you’d share your own ways of coping, in the comments. Whatever you share is sure to help someone who may need your words of wisdom, who is reading this post.

In Gratitude.

~~~ 
Leslie 

#TheHopeBlog

http://messagesofhope.com

#messagesofhope 

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Imagine

August 20, 2015
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Image Credit: Kunito Imai || www.messagesofhope.com
My encounter with a homeless man, and how it impacted me, is the topic of today’s post, dear readers.

Here’s the story.

Last weekend, I saw a homeless man at my local street corner with this sign,

“I’m not a drunk, I’m not a drug addict, I’m a former Marine trying to get by.”
image of homeless man || Collage created by Leslie Carothers || http://messagesofhope.com

That stopped me cold and this was the next thought that ran through my mind, “Even if this man’s sign is a lie to get money, what if it’s true?” and then my next 2 thoughts were:

“Who am I to judge because there but for the grace of God go I?”

“What if he’s a homeless veteran that fought for me so I could sit here in my air conditioned car in the middle of 100 degree heat about to turn in to this parking lot so I can buy fresh food for the week?”

I rolled down my window and dug to the bottom of my purse to give him money. The smile he flashed to thank me lit up my world. It was pure sunshine. 

After that happened, I started thinking about The Butterfly Effect, Edward Lorenz’s famous discovery that a very small change in initial conditions can and will create a significantly different outcome. I started thinking about how many homeless people think they don’t matter, that they don’t make a difference, and never will again.

This man didn’t have anything material to give, but because he gave me his smile, he changed my thought patterns. He made a difference.

What if just 3 of us, like the 3 butterflies whose wings are fluttering in tandem in the opening picture of this post, practiced non judgement towards the homeless we see?

Could we help them know they still matter, that they are not alone? Could that be the key to unlocking their sense of hope for a better future – and ours?
John Lennon Monument - NYC || Image Credit: Ramy Majouji || www.messagesofhope.com

If you love John Lennon’s famous song like I do and have a few extra minutes, click the image above to listen to and see the original video of him singing IMAGINE.

It has been viewed over 20 million times.

#andtheworldwillbeone
#messagesofhope

~~~
Leslie Carothers
www.messagesofhope.com

#GivingHopeAHomeByGivingBack – Forever – To The Charities You Care Most About
~~~

If you would like to read about the entire vision for Messages of Hope, please click the link below.
http://messagesofhope.com/the-story-of-messages-of-hope-2

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Breathing

August 14, 2015
www.messagesofhope.com (3)

breathe || hope quotes || www.messagesofhope.comWhen I’m feeling anxious, I breathe. Long, deep breathes. In……out….. in……out…… in……out. No matter where I am, and no matter what’s going on around me, I can always rely on deep breathing to center and calm me.

Could this maybe work for you, too? If you’re not used to taking long, deep, breathes, I would like to encourage you to try it. It may not work the first, second or third time to calm you down and make you less anxious or fearful or whatever you might be feeling, but, I promise, if you make it a regular practice, your own breathe will become your best friend in reducing your stress levels and allowing you to think more clearly.

Breathing helps because when you’re concentrating on taking those long, deep breaths, your mind isn’t focused on whatever else is occupying it and you are supplying your body with oxygen.

You can sit at your desk or in bed, or on the couch, or anywhere, and take long, deep breaths….in….out….in….out.

Soon, your mind will become as clear and calm as this.
calm ocean || www.messagesofhope.com
And if you want to, add in prayer and/or meditation to your breathing.

If you do, you will see and feel, over time, your ability to calmly handle the stress and/or calamities that come your way, [and we all have them] – shift.

Breathing is free.

Breathing deeply heals.
the cross || prayer || www.messagesofhope.com

Has a deep breathing practice shifted your life? If you’d like, please share your story in the comments. Many will see it and your story might be just the story to help someone make it through another day.

YOU can #makeadifference
#messagesofhope
~~~
www.messagesofhope.com

#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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How Do You Recharge?

August 5, 2015
- Nature does not hurry, yet everything

- Nature does not hurry, yet everything

Good morning!  As I look at this image I’m sharing with you today, I am reminded of the famous quote by Lao-Tse:

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

I’m the kind of person who gets anxious when I have a long to-do list, I want to get it all done, right now.  Are you this same kind of person? I need to remind myself that usually, at the end of every work week, everything on my to-do list, that seemed overwhelming at the first of the week, did actually get accomplished – or most of it.

In the middle of a busy week, a busy day, a busy moment, I we might not be able to go to the beach and sit in a bright red Adirondack chair for hours on end, but I we can stand up and take a walk for a few minutes in nature and breathe deeply of fresh air and remind myself ourselves, that I am we are making progress. This is my way of re-charging and re-focusing and it helps.

I think sending our body’s cells little #messagesofhope and affirmations is a good thing to do. Do you?

Do you say positive things to yourself, to thank yourself for being such a hard worker, whether you’re working inside your home and living by yourself, or working inside your home and in the community as a Mom or Dad taking care of kids and/or elderly parents and volunteering, or whether you’re working outside of your home, taking care of the needs of a business and then going home and tending to the needs of yourself and others?

What is your #redchair moment each day? How do you relax and recharge? What positive things do you say to yourself to remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can – even on those days when laying on the sofa is the best you can do? And PS: we all have those days – trust me on that one.

Please share your ideas with me on the tag #redchair and, with your permission, I will share your first name + last inital and your ideas in a future post so we can all learn and be inspired by each other about how we each recharge to keep ourselves in a positive, hope-FULL frame of mind!

http://messagesofhope.com
I invite you to also share your re-charge ideas with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the tags: #messagesofhope + #redchair – so I can see them and re-share them with the friends of Messages of Hope on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

http://facebook.com/messagesofhope1 
FB/MessagesofHope1

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TW/@messagesof_HOPE

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INSTA/messagesof_HOPE 

I wish you a wonderful day ahead, full of tiny re-charging moments that re-energize you, and, if you’d like to pin or share this beautiful image taken by Pamela Koudelka, with the quote on it by Lao-Tse, please pop on over to http://messagesofhope/hope-quotes, where you will find it.

Thank you!

Leslie Carothers

www.messagesofhope.com

#givinghopeahome…by giving back….forever 

 

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