Be Open, Be Free

As you rest, open yourself up. Open your eyes to see around you. Open your heart to love yourself and others. Open your mind to new ideas, dreams. Open your hands, unclench them to see what has been placed there. Open your hands so they are ready to receive. Open your hands so they are ready to do. Open hands are able to take action. My hands as a writer take the action to manifest on the outside what was placed on the inside. Being a survivor, it has been difficult, sometimes very painful and traumatic for me to be anything but closed. In my healing journey, I had to learn that being open can still contain boundaries that keep us safe and guard our hearts from evil, keep our purpose, our divine being, our spirit from harm or destruction.

When my children grew old enough to leave home, it felt like my security blanket was ripped away and torn into pieces, leaving me vulnerable and alone. I have four children so I had practice in the emotional experience of each of them leaving. But when the youngest one left?! The house became too large, too quiet, too open to feel secure. As I gradually became used to living alone, I began to have a clearer view. Instead of thinking my security blanket was taken off, I started thinking of it as transforming into my cape to help me fly. Instead of staring at the entry way with only my pair of shoes left by the door, I changed my perspective to see how many different kinds of my own shoes could now be placed there. Shoes to take me on some of the most memorable adventures in this life. Adventures from a faraway dream transformed into my reality. Zip lining on Fremont Street, walking along the Seine River, browsing through designer fashion shops in Paris, experiencing the breathtaking sights of calla lily valley, exploring California, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Minnesota and North Carolina with my adult children. The list goes on and on.

I want you to know this comes from me, a woman who has a fear of open spaces, yet complete freedom for me, for each of us is my wildest dream. Being a child survivor, followed by events making me also an adult survivor, sacred boundaries were crossed. In this trauma, I didn’t think freedom was possible for me. An automatic and normal response was to close my heart to love, my mind to dreams, my hands to receive. In my healing process of learning to set healthy boundaries, I first had to recognize how many walls I had built. Too many walls keep us trapped and stunt our growth, physically, spiritually, emotionally. I have taken steps, spoken words, set boundaries, bit by bit, overcoming piece by piece and being comfortable in the knowledge that this life is a wide open space.

There are times when I still feel uncomfortable and vulnerable in the wide open. For instance, when I share my deepest thoughts with a friend and wish I could take the words back because it feels safer to keep them within me. There are times when I let go of someone or something and I want the person or thing back. The letting go, the opening up may not be familiar at first. Oh, Loves, but when you do open up and let go, the stretching feels good. You are no longer curled up in a ball afraid. I challenge you to curl up, then open your body up, stand and stretch. Allow each bit to receive fresh air and light and movement. Yes, movement!

I pray you have support to emotionally heal, to open up bit by bit, finding freedom in this wide open space of life to be who you were created to be. When each part of you is open, you can put on the right shoes and step forth into the adventures of living your dreams.

Please remove your shoes upon entering

Have you ever noticed how automatic it is that we remove our shoes as soon as we enter someone’s home and the door is shut behind us?  There is no need for a decorative written message or a mat suggesting the removal of your shoes.  It seems an unwritten rule to remove your footwear when entering someone’s private space where you have so graciously been invited.  Home, where we dwell even more each day than we ever have before.  Let’s go a bit further and talk about sacred space.  

You may say your home is a sacred space.  Oh but Loves, it doesn’t seem sacred when you barely have enough space to breathe inside your own home, with children doing online learning and many working from home.  Between cooking meals, cleaning up, keeping order in your home and your family, do you ever need space?  If you live alone, do you spend your time trying to figure out whether you should be using time to rest, using time to accomplish more?  But really you just want time to reminisce because you miss your Loves, or you just need time to process this world we live in and the impact it has on your heart and your dreams.

In a previous post, I dared you to dream.  In this post, I am challenging you to find a sacred space and begin dreaming again.  This is a place to feel, to explore, to discover, to remember who we are, to dream, to write out ideas that have been planted but have been dormant for some time.  To capture goals that best manifest our purpose in this season (who and what we were created and destined to be and do).  

I dare say this is the space where we must remove our shoes.  No one else physically goes with us.  Our connectedness to others goes with us.  Their influence on us, our relationship, their spirit, their needs are in this space with us.  This place is sacred because it’s our very own.  It is where we meet and can be ourselves—in the truest form.  This to me is why it is sacred.  Barefooted. A woman who loves shoes. Just me and my Creator.  Just.  Simply.  Me.

Music sings when no notes are played.

Joyous laughter reverberates.

Light shines no matter the position of the sun.

The smallest flame warms the atmosphere.

Gifts are unwrapped, no holiday in sight.

Dreams come alive, dancing in your eyes.

Sustenance when no food has been eaten.

Sight and sound are sharp enough to see clearly, to hear the soft gentle whisper calling you.

Yes. You.

It is not about the physical space as it is a place within your soul, thus making it sacred.  This is the place where we remove not only our shoes, but also the expectations of others, stereotypes, judgments, daily responsibilities.  The place of grace, of dreams, of voice and truth and light and love, no matter your mood.  

If you have a full house, in addition to having your own space, create a time and space to have some sacred moments with others in your home, whether it is a spouse, partner, family member, roommate.  For any children in your life, spend time with them in a sacred space, empowering them to set up their own sacred space, encouraging them in who they are and in all they are becoming.  

Sitting quietly-crying, smiling, remembering, dreaming.  The space that prepares you to put on the right shoes for each occasion, to stand tall, take your position and go forth.  This is the place where a steady stance is learned, improved, perfected in Jesus.  The readiness of your feet to stand on the holy ground within the sacred space, the readiness of your soul and soles to go, do, be. 

Just.  Simply.  You.

Soul & Soles

You might think my love of shoes is about fashion or glamour.  Oh, but it is about so much more.  Whether we are home in slippers, venturing out in running shoes or hiking boots, wearing pumps and a business suit, stepping out in high heels and a little black dress or barefooted at the beach, our soles carry us to the places our souls desire.  Shoes are about movement, but they also keep us firmly planted as we take our position, wearing heels in the boardroom or hiking boots to conquer the terrain. Shoes are part of our daily armor allowing us to stand firm when met with opposition. Shoes can also be utilitarian (comfort, safety, sports, dancing).

Over the years, many people and things attempted to knock me down, make me misstep or lose my way.  Shoes have cushioned my tired feet, given me confidence, steadied me and allowed me to exhale in relief as I reached each destination. It all started with an excited little girl pulling on the intricately stitched brown leather boots I picked out myself and going on adventures that only cowgirls could embark upon.  Smiling, heart pumping, I sported red canvas high tops as I accelerated down the sidewalk, adjusted myself on the glittery gold banana seat, lifted my feet off the pedals, pointed them forward, simultaneously letting go of the handlebar grips, spreading my little girl arms out wide in a moment of flying free from chores, the whirring of the wind through the bicycle spokes replaced the loud arguments between my parents (divorced a few years later).

In my adult years, the shoes worn by four pairs of little feet quickly grew into a heap of shoes in the corner, and in another flash, the only shoes remaining were mine.  Taking care of my children had always been my reason to never give up. Right there and then, taking care of me had to be my reason. Arriving at work on a mid-August morning in 2015, velvety red five-inch pumps with gold embellished straps and heels carried me one determined step after another to my supervisor’s desk as I handed in my resignation after 17 years.  “Dorothy” had been to see the Wizard, and she was going home.  By the first weekend in September I sold my home, resigned and moved from Minnesota to North Carolina. Continuing forward, I took time to visit my sons, who were then living in Hawaii.  I traded my red heels for black walking shoes. The protective closure over my toes, air slots and cushioned soles supported my feet, keeping me steady hiking up the mountains.  The soles demonstrated practicality while my soul was exhilarated, determined and laughing in this quality time with my sons.

Even more dreams were coming true for this once brokenhearted woman, a survivor of domestic and sexual violence.  The white shopping bag I carried with the words “Handbags & Shoes Paris” in silver, held inside it a pair of lush black velvet booties with gold buttons. As I boarded my flight home from a work trip, I set my bag down and sat in my assigned spot, the very first seat of the airplane. Tears welled up seeing how far God had taken me from the stereotypes of an unwed mother of four who by “popular opinion” would never amount to anything. 

Equally memorable and of deep sentimental value are my purple patent leather pumps.  These were a gift (no special occasion) from my younger daughter.  No one had given me shoes (other than slippers) as an adult, and here was this gesture of love and appreciation in this shiny pair of pumps in my favorite color.  This beautiful gift from my younger daughter, a single mom herself, meant so much to me.  Knowing what it was like to walk in my shoes, she gifted me the perfect pumps. 

Although shoes are part of what equips us on the outside, it is ultimately the synchronicity of heart, mind and soul that inspires the action our soles take. I am grateful for you joining me on this journey of soul and soles, sharing stories, navigating life’s path, step by step…learning and lighting the way, together.

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes? Feel free to share your memories of heart, mind, soul inspiring you to action.