My Shoe’s Got Soul . . .

By Yours Truly

This is who I am. I love to recycle things that have meant something to me. I found these shoes in a thrift store years ago. I fell in love with them because the shoe brand was something like Sam and Jane and they were about the most comfortable shoes I ever had with a soft sole and leather that seemed to breathe. The original shoes were brown, not gold. But one day as I went to get my shoes to go someplace, the sole of one was literally falling off of it. Of course I was heartbroken, but then I had this idea to make a play on words and to give one of the shoes a whole new life, so I came up with this idea.

The “wings” are on a base which is made from the sole of one shoe, and I found the most wonderful colored organiza with a nice stiffness to it that allowed me to cut out the little leaves. The leaves seemed appropriate to me because shoes wouldn’t tend to go up in the air (except for the kids who throw them over the telephone lines). And I remembered in the compass of my soul how much fun it was as a kid (and ok, I confess, as a grownup too) to jump in a pile of leaves). And I had to make her a happy and bright color full of life, for that is how I remembered those old comfy shoes.

It’s so many years later since I made her, “My Shoe’s Got Soul.” She’s still with me, and I imagine that she will still be when I take my last jump into those leaves. And it’s funny because she led me to write a story called “Tenshoes and the Skittyfoot” about ten orphan shoes who live in a trash dump, and every Saturday, the animals up in the meadow above hear “sootspeak” because the dump is putting out ugly smoke and it is mixed with the angry and sad words from the ten orphans arguing because they were just thrown away like they never mattered after living lives with adventure. They were never appreciated for who and what they were, and the dump is a horrible place to live.

The Skittyfoot is a little boy with red (really red) hair who comes to visit the creatures in the meadow every day, and the little boy can talk to them and they to him. They tell him about the Tenshoes, and that they want him to go and rescue the Tenshoes from the ugly dump and bring them up to the meadow where they can live safely. But before they can come up to the meadow, they have to find things and fix themselves up as best as they can. Just because they are orphans doesn’t mean they cannot have pride in themselves.

So the Skittyfoot goes down to the dump, and ultimately gets the tenshoes to clean and fix themselves up, and help each other, which they do. Ultimately they go to the meadow with the Skittyfoot, and the little creatures in the meadow all make them welcome and they will have a forever home where they are loved and treasured.

No, I never published Tenshoes and the Skittyfoot though I guess I could have. Some things just live on in our hearts and in the compass of our souls. I’ve been a sort of orphan too, and it took me awhile, for I didn’t have a Skittyfoot or other orphans like me to help, but I fixed myself up nice and clean (there is not and never has been anything related to drugs or other similar things but a transformation from being a childhood orphan), and now I can make things like “My Shoe’s Got Soul” to help others to feel good about themselves too.

Isn’t it strange how life brings little things into our consciousness to help us learn to grow and to care for ourselves, even if we were a kind of orphan in our younger lives? And using art to fix up an old shoe that brought happiness to a life can be a symbol of that. We don’t have to find fancy things or to do anything special to make it up to the meadow from the dump. The recognition of value in little things is what brings a true transformation to us in our lives. Your life, no matter how small you may think it is, is a miracle. Live it like the true gift it is.

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Heroes

When I saw the photo of this beautiful and diminutive lady in the newspaper, I was inspired to create her likeness in a quilt which is still not finished. There is something about finishing it that reminds me of her life, for her goal is unfinished, and her country of Myanmar is still unfinished in the sense of gaining freedom for her people, so in a way it seems appropriate to be unfinished. I will finish it I am certain, but I have to make some adjustments to it in the direction she is facing and the overall size, etc. of the quilt. Giving it texture will enhance the quilt greatly just as giving texture to life enhances it as well.

I love people who make a commitment in life that they will pursue despite whatever challenges or dangers they face in the process. Called “The Father of Democracy” by the people of the country, her father was assassinated when Aung San Suu Kyi was just two years old. Despite such heart-breaking challenges, she steadfastly stuck by her beliefs even though she was under house arrest for years and has faced unbelievable circumstances. Her husband and two sons had to move outside the country. When her husband was stricken with cancer, she was told that she could go to be with him in his time of need, but that if she did, she could never come back. What a heart-rending decision had to be made and what incredible sacrifices the whole family made.

Yes, she is one of my heroes. No matter how much I might believe in something, I am not sure I could ever have given so much to such an immense cause.

It is good to have heroes in this life as I have noted before. We all need to know that when we are called to do something difficult, there are others who have made a path for us to follow. Perhaps those in her country who are against her are just waiting out the time when she too will pass on. Although she won the Nobel prize during the time she lived under house arrest not much has changed in Myanmar to this day.

If the time comes that I have to stand up and fight for a cause in my lifetime that I too will have the courage to stay strong and be brave until my last moments on this earth. I long for the all of earth’s people to learn to work together for our mutual benefit, and to realize and respect that we are all sacred and here on this earth by some great design.

Of Tears and Smiles of Joy

angel blur branches cemetery
Photo courtesy freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Although I am normally of a cheerful spirit and am always trying to provide inspiration for others, today is a truly difficult day.

I have been working with physically/developmentally/emotionally challenged children and adults perhaps since the 1970’s when my younger brother came home from Vietnam, 100% disabled with a TBI, a spinal injury, and permanent PTSD.  It gave me the heart for this work and I have done it ever since.

It has been a good journey, and I am glad that sometimes in the face of tragedy, we are led to do things to help our communities and to help others who are going through challenges.

Yesterday morning very early, I got a call from one of my best friends who helped me to create and run our tiny, but successful nonprofit for some 15 years, providing exposure and professional development for physically challenged artists. Barbara Williamson is a paraplegic lady I met more than 15 years ago when she was looking for help to become a professional with her own business selling her fiber arts work.  It was natural that we came together to do the work we did with virtually no money for all these years.

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Barbara Williamson, “Buddha’s Garden,”

one of three pieces left because they are in an exhibit in another town

Barbara was shot point blank by a felon when she was in her mid 20’s; the bullet missing her heart by one inch, and leaving her permanently physically challenged.  She was approximately four months pregnant at the time, and miraculously, the baby was born early, but survived, so today she is a mother and grandmother.  All these years, Barbara has been a productive fiber artist, a writer, and she has contributed so many things for her community and for others in need.

The phone call was short; she, her caregiver, and her dog had to evacuate their town.  There was a huge fire coming up the mountain in the valley below her home.  As we tried to hear the news throughout the day yesterday and today, we heard that the hospital has been destroyed (all patients evacuated) two blocks from her home and the fire is blazing through the entire town.  My friend is presumably safe for they got out early, but all of her artwork and her sewing machine and everything else had to be left behind.  This is some 15+ years of art quilts that have been in many exhibits including international ones, and which we were preparing to sell on a website we were creating for her.

But they were more than just that.  They were the reason she has survived cancer, a burst artery, a stroke, and any number of other physical challenges through these many years.  There are tears in my eyes, but there is joy in my heart, for what is taken from us today will live on in our memories over the many years.  Perhaps I have impacted her life in a positive way, but she has brought so much more to mine.

 

 

The Orange Praying Mantis Who Came to Visit

Reblogged in part from http://www.Sunsigns.org

About 4 days ago, I went out on my porch, and there was the most gorgeous orange praying mantis on the gate above the stairs.  I couldn’t stop looking at her (I was certain it was a female from the body shape and size).  I have always had a curiosity and love for almost every insect that comes to our garden or outside areas.  Last winter I rescued a hive of bees disguised as a birdhouse.  Some fellows had an ad in Craigslist asking someone to come and save the bees roosting in their birdhouse by their front door before they had to do something drastic to protect themselves.

I had joyfully read about bee keeping over the years, and had a good idea of at least some things I needed to do, so I called the gentlemen and told them I would be there and get the bees.  I waited until nightfall, for it makes sense as they are not buzzing around outside at night, so would be calm until I got them home.  My “beekeeping outfit consisted of a jeans shirt with long sleeves, jeans, boots, gloves and a hat with a “veil” I made from some netting I had.

Off I went to bring the bees’ location, and when I got there it was much larger than I anticipated, but I was not about to lose them.  I put a big plastic bag over the birdhouse and put it on the seat next to me to drive home.  When I got home safely with them, I uncovered the hive and put it on a stand I had in the back yard.  I was so happy.  I discovered that the reason that the beehive was so large was that it was made from a real beehive with slats in it, etc.  In the morning when I checked the bees, they were busy looking around for flowers, etc.  It was particularly hot that summer, so I needed to give them sugar water.  I went inside and prepared it in a low level long container.  I was used to making sugar water for the hummingbirds, so I measured it pretty much the same.  I brought it back to them, and did not get a single sting.  They knew I was feeding them and I did not represent any kind of threat.

So I kept my bees as long as I could, but I DO live in a mobile home park, so ultimately had to take them to another rescue place, which turned out to be two blocks from where I got them originally.  So I was sad for awhile, but it seems that every year, some insect or insects that become my “science project” come to visit or stay for awhile.

If you know anything about the praying mantis, it will come as no shock that this insect is the paramount spiritual symbol of stillness and patience. She stayed and stayed, and all day I returned to look for her and she was still there, so I named her Ginger. Even if she does not stay long, she has brought a wonderful message to me. I made sure she had something to eat the first day, catching a couple of bugs for her in a way that they were not dead when I put them near her one by one.  I saw her catch and eat the first one, and I am sure she ate the other one too.

The praying mantis takes its time in all that it does. It takes care to pay diligent attention to its surroundings, and moving through life at its own pace. It demonstrates the ultimate power of stillness. It serves as a reminder for humans to slow down in our chaotic, fast-paced lives.

The praying mantis animal totem also teaches us how to still our bodies and go within our own mind. By doing this, we can connect with ourselves, drawing up greater physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual power. This stillness and concentration is a form of meditation, a practice that the mantis places much importance in.

Ginger - Orange Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis Insect Associated Traits

Patience, Stability, Meditation, Peaceful, Quietness

Symbolic Meaning Of Praying Mantis

Wisdom emerges when we are still and quiet, sensing and feeling rather than thinking critically. It comes with experience, age, and being, rather than traditional schooling. It cannot be obtained through arrogance.

Accordingly, the praying mantis symbol chooses to present itself to individuals when they have allowed their busy schedules to overrun their intuition, silencing their internal voice and throwing their equilibrium out of balance. The praying mantis always comes to us when we are internally craving peace, quiet, and calm in our lives.

The praying mantis meaning has a variety of traits: temperance, quietness, awareness, calmness, clairvoyance, patience, mindfulness and innovation. These insects are well known for their pre-strike pose, which is a popular symbol of balance and patience in and of itself.

In fact, the Chinese honor the praying mantis for its elegant, mindful, and contemplative movements. By reminding ourselves to have patience with ourselves in our own movement, we, like the mantis, can grow in our wisdom. They remind us to have patience in acquiring the things we want and to remain balanced throughout the duration of the wait.

If a praying mantis strikes too soon, its prey gets away. Because of this, it has evolved to be patient: so patient, in fact, that it will not budge unless it is 100% positive that it is the correct thing to do. This acts as a direct message to us, reminding us to contemplate our movements just as carefully and precisely.

When our timing is off, we may generate an unnecessary (and unpleasant) struggle or blow an opportunity entirely. Through stillness, awareness, and balance, we can hear and recognize the perfect moment. We must listen to the voice that speaks to us with openness, not fear. If we have patience and wait before striking, the right moment will come, and we will succeed.

The praying mantis will become your animal totem once you have learned to take your time and live your life at a silent and reflective pace. You should make all choices with a sincere commitment to careful thought and contemplation.

By being mindful of this, you will enable yourself to know exactly where you are going and when you will get there. Calmness and serenity are crucial to living like the praying mantis.

But you should also be capable of being decisive and ready to take action when opportunities present themselves. For example, healers often cite the mantis as their inspiration when channeling their healing power.

The praying mantis symbolism might also creep into your subconscious while you sleep. To dream of the praying mantis means that your intuition is actively trying to guide you at this very moment. Perhaps you have overlooked the the signs and symbols in your conscious day time hours and now the messages are speaking to your restful mind.

All of the instincts and gut feelings you have been experiencing lately are attempting to tell you something about the situation you are currently in. Do not allow your judgement to be clouded, your concentration to be broken, or yourself to be distracted from the end goal.

Trust the feelings that you have, both when awake and in slumber, and act on them appropriately. If you listen to yourself truly and honestly, you will succeed.

www.Sunsigns.org

Footnote:  The night before last, the orange Praying Mantis went off the porch and onto one of my rose bushes out front.  I presumed she was hungry and looking for a meal.  Later when I went to look before going off to bed, she was nowhere to be found.  I can only assume that she has moved on.  I am sad that she left, but at the same time, I am very grateful for the timely message.  Thank you my friend, and you are always welcome back to my home and my heart!