AWAKENING TO OUR MYSTERIES

“I think on some level, you do your best things when you’re a little off-balance, a little scared.  You’ve got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing.”  Daniel Dafoe

How do you feel about a mystery in your life?  Does it frighten you?  Does it ever reveal a new way to see your life?

Fall is always a reminder that times are changing.  For a while it is lovely with the colorful flowers and multicolored leaves on the trees.  The intense heat of summer has subsided and the air is cool and perfect for outdoor hikes with just a sweater or light coat.  For a while the mountains startle us with vivid colors like a Van Gogh painting.

And then – things drop away.  The flowers and leaves turn brown and fall.  The squirrels stuff themselves with acorns and pack more up for winter.  All of nature prepares for rest during the winter in order to return in the spring renewed.

Not only is nature in transition, humans are as well.  We are living through a mysterious time, daily discovering that our country is not what we thought it was, that our government may no longer be “for the people.”  Our health is threatened by a mysterious illness that infects equally and we have no cure.

A Time of Letting Go

Creation Spirituality, a spiritual community created by Matthew Fox, divides the year into four areas.  This time of year is known as the Via Negativa, a time of mystery, of letting go, of emptying, of sitting in the shadow, and experiencing the dark night of the soul.

Like the trees and flowers, it is a time to rest and renew our lives for the coming of spring and new life.  It is a time to explore who we really are in this time of change.  We may take the time to let the mysteries of our lives open to us.

What do we need to let go of?  Many people are cleaning out their closets and garages, letting go of things they no longer need:  books they’ll never read again, clothes they’ve outgrown, furniture that is broken, or tools they never use.  In my community there is a website where people post the free things they want to give away and the list is endless and surprising at times.

Looking Within

But letting go of physical things is the easy part.  Looking at our inner mysteries is more challenging.  Who are we really?  Even before the pandemic, were we living the life we really wanted?  Are we uncomfortable having to stay home most of the time because our family relationships are difficult?

When we experience a dark night of the soul, we often feel we are trapped in a shadow and have no idea how to find the light.  But this is the time when we must look inside and ask, “Who am I?”  Are we living who we really are?  While that may feel terribly uncomfortable at times, it may also lead us to discover parts of ourselves that are shut down and what we need to do to become more complete.

When I had to move from New Orleans, away from the rest of my family, it was not a choice I really wanted to make.  If I wanted to heal my Chronic Fatique Syndrome, I had to go to a dry climate, so I chose Albuquerque where I did have one New Orleans friend who had moved there.

We Are One With Spirit

During my time there, I discovered Religious Science church that became my spiritual home.  It was based on the science of mind philosophy, the belief that God is one with us and all that is.  The energy we create and express affects others, and what we express comes back to us.  Being part of a loving community and practicing this spiritual belief helped heal more than my body.

There have been many moments in my life when I felt depressed or confined by my circumstances.  As a single woman, making enough money to pay the bills was also a challenge.  Not being in a relationship for many years was a challenge.  Dealing with continuing health challenges that limited what I could eat was a challenge.

Lighting the Dark Within

Learning to adjust my thinking and meditate taught me that closing my eyes, moving into the darkness, could open me to the light within.  In that place, I could find peace and let the negative thinking and feelings drop away.  Clearing space within for the light to appear often brought solutions to problems I would never have “thought” of.

Many times, as I sit quietly, lie in bed dozing off, or just as I wake, a new thought presents itself.  What it means may be a total mystery.  Thinking about it may or may not reveal its meaning.  When I’m mystified, I write the thought down just as I do if I wake remembering a dream, knowing that if it is important, its relevance will be revealed later.

While we learn who we are by being with other people, by working or playing, it is our alone time when the deepest mysteries can open us to the deepest solutions.  Spirit is with us in those moments if we are willing to sit with the mystery.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

DANCING TO THE MYSTERY OF LIFE

AWAKENING TO LIGHT THE DARKNESS

AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT

 

AWAKENING TO YOUR TRUE SELF

“Find out who you are and be that person. That’s what your soul was put on this Earth to be.  Find that truth, live that truth and everything else will come.”  Ellen De Generes

Are you who you want to be? If not, how do you need to change? Are you willing to make that change?

I recently finished reading “Ellie and the Harp Maker” by Hazel Prior.  It is certainly one of my year’s favorites, a story about a woman who discovers who she really is when she learns to play a harp.  The sound of the harp and the joy of playing it opens a part of herself that she had closed off to please her husband.  He didn’t like the sound of the harp and thought her wanting a harp was foolish.

While learning to play the harp and keeping it secret from her husband created many problems, her choice eventually led her to a life that allowed her to love herself and be loved for who she truly was.  It was truly an uplifting story and a joy to read.

Challenging the Norms

Growing up in the 1940’s and 1950’s, I often lived with the conflict between who society thought I should be as a woman and who I thought I was.  In a way, hitting adulthood in the 1960’s did lighten the load and offer more possibilities on the surface.  But the reality was that I was still expected to be a devoted wife and mother and put my interests in second place.  My desire to be a modern dancer did not please anyone.

Those were the expectation’s Ellie’s husband had for her, so it was easy for me to relate to this story.  But how many of us – men or woman – are not being who we truly are?

How do we find who we truly are?  How do we feel about the work we do?  Do we enjoy it or do it only because it’s the only way we can find to make money?

Going Deeper

When we feel drawn to something like music, art, or running long distance races, or any pursuit that goes against our family or society’s concept of who we should be, it is a challenge.  Often, we begin to do it as something “on the side.”  With time, it may become more than a hobby.

When this activity or desire comes from deep within and nourishes us in more than an external way, it may very well be an expression of our soul.  Our soul is our core.  It is the deepest part of us and when we do not feed it, we are only a part of who we are.

While religious beliefs and activity may be at the core of our spiritual being, feeding the soul may also be experienced in many ways.  I suspect the runner, at some point, feels totally in the moment, allowing all worries to drop away, and being at one with all that is.

As a dancer I certainly experienced the feeling of going beyond just the pleasure of physical activity.  When I am writing, the room often drops away.  Words and ideas flow through my hands into the computer.  Many of them are not expressions I would have “thought of.”

A similar experience may also be experienced by mathematicians and scientists looking for a new solution to a problem or inventing a new device.  A new idea appears that the logical mind may have missed.

Seeing the Soul Beneath the Surface

When we are being who we truly are, we still have challenges, but we solve them based on who we are, not on who others expect us to be.  As we age, our challenges may make it impossible to continue a physical activity. There came a point where I had to stop dancing or undergo knee surgery.  I realized that without the stress of dance, I could live normally with my knees and repair the problem with physical therapy.  I had seen many other dancers go through the surgery, not once, but many times because it did not permanently solve the issue.

Fortunately, by this time, I had come to realize that I was not just a dancer. I was a creative, spiritual person.  I could express who I was in many ways.  I had already learned to be creative as a high school teacher and as a writer and found pleasure in helping others explore their creativity.  Having the surgery was unnecessary.  I was fine as I was.

Many years later, I now possess the energy and strength to ballroom dance, write, and walk through the forest.  That’s all I need.

Like Ellie, when we become who we truly are, we will make “music” from the soul.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:

AWAKENING TO DEEPEN OURSELVES

ART: A FEAST TO AWAKEN THE SOUL

AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL CREATIVITY

 

AWAKENING TO LEARN FROM NATURE

      “Adopt the pace of nature.  Her secret    is patience.”  Emerson

How often are you in nature?  How do you feel there?  What do you most love about nature?

We are not currently living in a time when it is easy to be patient.  We all want things to return to normal.  We want to work again, visit friends and relatives, eat out for dinner, or visit an art festival.  When we are feeling irritable or anxious, nature can offer us some peace and help us find the patience we need to slow down.

Once I’m in nature, tension drops away.  It’s affected me that way as long as I can remember because I spent a lot of time in the forests of Arkansas as I grew up.  Hiking and swimming in streams were two of my family’s favorite outings and as a kid I thought this activity was fun.

Now, stepping into the forest or my shady backyard takes me to a peaceful place immediately.  So today, I’m offering you a different kind of blog post—one with photos of natural scenes I’ve observed, and I do include animals as a part of nature.  I hope this experience will bring you peace and laughter.

What is Suz hunting for?

Suz is snoozing. “Don’t bother me!”

Owen Lake

Ducks at Owen Lake

The beauty of nature

Neighborhood bear family enjoying our dinner of acorns.

Very rude squirrel eating dinner on St. Francis’s head.

Giant mushroom tent

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

AWAKENING TO STILLNESS

 

 

AWAKENING TO LIGHT THE DARKNESS

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.” Francis of Assisi

Who or what is the sunbeam in your life?  Is it you? How do you shine your light?

Light comes to us early in the summer and stays late although rainy days cast shadows across the mountains.  Still the sun peaks through every day and at times surrounds us as a reminder there is at least one sunbeam in our lives.

But besides the physical light, what other sunbeams appear in your life?

Some Elements of Our Lives Lift Us Up

Is your spouse or are your children or other family members lights in your life?  My husband certainly is.  The depth of his ideas often opens my mind and takes me down a path I have not seen before.  He also lightens my mood with his humor and the jazz he plays on his saxophone.

My nephews and niece, who live halfway across the country, all have children.  I miss seeing them face to face, but I often feel “lit up” by the kids’ antics and accomplishments when their parents’ share their activities on Facebook.

Do you ever feel enlightened by what you read?  I am often amazed by the ability of some people to rise above their limiting backgrounds.  Recently, I was deeply touched by James McBride’s story, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.  While he was a black man learning to survive in a white world, his white Jewish mother was living most of her life among black people who kept her at a distance.  Their heroic stories lifted my heart and brought light to my understanding.

How Light Slips Through the Darkness

Although we are surrounded by much negativity today, the light slips through the news with  stories of people surviving the virus, taking care of the natural environment by reviving plants and animals that have almost disappeared, and feeding the hungry and helping the homeless.

But the stories that often touch me the most deeply are those of people, who having been wrongly accused and put in prison for years, are finally released.  Imagine your life and reputation being falsely stolen for most of your adult years. Thank goodness for DNA, for it is often the evidence that allows these human beings to step out of the prison darkness into the light of a real life.

Focusing to See the Light

What about the times when our lives contain light but we don’t see it?  Aristotle once said, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”  I’ve known people who invariably saw the dark side of a situation first and become so caught up in that that they missed what was positive.

In 1999 I sadly discovered I had chronic fatique syndrome.  Living near my family in New Orleans, the hot, damp weather had made me sick.  I longed to move to Asheville to be near mountains and a couple of friends, but my doctor insisted I could only heal in a dry climate.  I was very depressed about this.Fortunately, a friend had recently moved to Albuquerque which I assumed was a boring landscape.  I visited her and was amazed by the beauty of the sunsets and the Latino and Native American art and culture.  Moving there, not only healed me, it helped me grow by expanding my awareness as I taught in high schools filled with students of diverse cultures.

How Can We Change This Dark Time

We are now living in a dark time when our democracy is significantly endangered. We can either let this depress and limit us or we can see that it is an opportunity to shine a light on what needs to be changed.

Each day there are more displays of light: peaceful protesters, politicians speaking out against what is corrupt even when it may risk their careers, and citizens who give money to organizations that feed the hungry or help those losing their homes.  Those who faithfully wear masks despite the discomfort are also beings of light protecting themselves and others.

How are you the sunbeam that shatters the darkness and chases the clouds away?

©2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO TRUE ENLIGHTENMENT

LIGHTING OUR DARKNESS

AWAKENING TO DISCOVER THE LIGHT

AWAKENING TO OUR SOUL’S GARDEN

“Our uniqueness is God’s garden and God calls us to walk in this garden in love…for one another.” Reverend Naomi Tutu

Does your spiritual belief allow you to love all people? Does your life include diversity?  How are you able to accept those who are different?

On Sunday, August 16, I was very moved by the main message Rev. Naomi Tutu gave at the online Jubilee Community service in Asheville, NC.  Related to her statement that I have quoted, she talked about how diverse her mother’s garden was and how much she loved that diversity in nature. I was very moved by the metaphor of the garden.  Although I have rarely grown gardens, I love the natural gardens of the forest.

Most of us would find a garden with a wide variety of blossoms to be very beautiful.  Around here, the Biltmore Estate has a popular flower garden filled with color especially in the spring and summer where people love to walk and relax.

My husband and I recently wandered off a hiking path to discover a lovely community garden.  We were amazed by the wide diversity of colorful fruits and vegetables that lusciously feed those who cultivate the field.

We are blessed to live in this Appalachian area around Asheville because the natural environment is the most diverse in the world.  It is a gold mine for those who wish to explore the diversity of the natural environment and we frequently find flowers or mushrooms we’ve never before seen.

Most of us appreciate the diversity in our natural garden, but what about our human garden?  Are we comfortable walking among its diversity?  Does the variety of humanity feed us in some way?

What Diversity Can Teach Us

Our ability to be comfortable with human diversity is deeply rooted in our background, experiences, and open mindedness. As a child I was taught to respect all people, but for many years the only people I was around were white like me.  In high school and college, I had minor contacts with people of African descent but did not really know anyone until I acted alongside a black student in a theatrical performance. It was the first time I realized I really had no idea what it was like not to be white.

Later, living in Washington, D. C., I encountered few people in the suburbs unlike me except when I was teaching at a Catholic girls’ school.  I’d grown up Protestant so I had to get used to the culture of nuns, dress more conservatively, and adjust to attending the school’s religious masses.

It was not until I lived in Denver in the eighties that I experienced an even more diverse spiritual environment.  I had always been searching for something without knowing what it was that was missing in my Christian spiritual life.  I had long ago stopped attending services, and because of a deep friendship with a man who was a Buddhist, I became curious about his faith.  I studied eastern religion, learned to meditate, and taught dance for a short time at the Naropa Institute in Boulder.

From this new experience, my understanding of God’s love expanded.  I dealt with life’s challenges in a calmer, more centered manner.  As I moved through this new spiritual garden, I enjoyed its diversity because it opened my mind to an expanded understanding of humanity.  I felt connected to people from Eastern countries in a way I had never before experienced.

Differences May Teach Us

Diversity is easier to accept when we understand the nature of our differences.  Except for the gender prejudice I had experienced as a woman, I had never been treated differently because I was white until I lived in New Orleans where, in some areas, whites did not feel welcome.

It is hard to imagine any place on earth that is more unique than New Orleans.  It is a multicultural city with a large black population, where most of all families are Catholic, and the food is unique, based on French and African influences.  I moved there to be with my family.

Having previously taught in a Catholic school helped me understand those I met who were dedicated to Catholicism.  Teaching multiracial gifted students in the inner city helped me understand their challenges and I felt compassion for the difficulties they faced trapped in poverty. I still remember the girl with a dysfunctional mother who got pregnant so someone would love her and the boy who feared his brother would be shot by a gang member.

Accepting Diversity Opens Hearts

It is so easy to judge people at a distance because we cannot see who they truly are.  It is much easier to simply dismiss them as different, but when we take the time to know them, they can potentially enrich our lives.

The diversity in my life experiences has taught me that we must learn to love those who are different from us and to respect all humanity.  When we focus on what we share in common rather than only on what is different, we plant seeds of love that will grow into a garden of understanding and respect.  Anais Nin has said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

The more we open our eyes and our hearts and come to understand that we are all God’s children, the more our soul’s garden will expand and feed us abundantly.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO LOVE THE WORLD Part 2, DIVERSITY

AWAKENING TO COMPASSION

AWAKENING TO OUR WORLD COMMUNITY

 

AWAKENING TO OUR FREEDOM

“You will never be free until you free yourself from the prison of your own false thoughts.” Phillip Arnold

Are there thoughts that restrict your life? Why do you think this way? What has happened in your life that helped you let go of these thoughts?

What we think and the ideas we believe form who we are.  If the source of the information beneath our ideas is reliable, it can allow us to make reasonable choices and take sensible action.  If the information is flawed, we may make decisions that lead us down the wrong path.

During this pandemic, getting the correct information about the virus has been a challenge because  of conflicting viewpoints.  Who is more likely to understand a disease than a medical doctor or researcher despite what some politicians tell us?

If we want to eat healthy food, who is most likely to give us the most accurate information about the best vegetables and fruits to buy?  The producer who grows organic products or the farmer who uses banned pesticides on his crop?  When we understand the source, we can make the wisest choice.

Why Do We Ignore Facts?

But, what if our conclusions about a subject are based on something other than facts? At times, we ignore facts because we have already developed prejudicial attitudes.  For example, if we have grown up in a cult or a strict religious environment that taught us that only our way is right, we may reject others whose beliefs are different and consider them “unholy.”

We may also have political or racial biases because of the way we were raised.  In my family, I grew up with a mother who taught me that all people were created equal and deserved respect.  Her attitude came from her Christian upbringing.  My father, on the other hand, often made racist remarks.  Fortunately, I chose to think like my mother.

My parents were both Democrats and I’ve always been politically liberal partly as a result of being at college in the 1960’s when I became further aware of the nation’s inequities. But again, how I was raised without luxury contributed to my thinking.  My family never went without food, clothing, or shelter but we never experienced material abundance.

However, if I had grown up surrounded by luxury, attended a prestigious school, had a new car to drive to college across town, I might not have noticed those who did not share my wealth.  If my parents had taught me that poor people were just lazy, I might have closed my mind to their actual situations.

Releasing Our False Thoughts

So how do we release thoughts that are not based on reality—thoughts that limit our thinking and create an inaccurate picture of the world around us?

To free ourselves, we have to accept the possibility that there is another viable way to see a person or situation.  While some people care about others because they are Christian and have been taught to do that as a core part of their belief, there are others who care about other people because they have chosen to place love at the center of their lives.

Learning From Diversity

One reason for being boxed in by limited ideas is that we simply haven’t been exposed to sufficient diversity.  In a country that is rapidly becoming more diverse, it is very helpful to join a group in which we interact with people who have different views.  It is easier to understand another point of view when we get to know the person who holds it.  By learning how and why they think differently, we learn to respect them and their differences.

By freeing our thinking, we free ourselves to love and respect all human beings, for it is love that heals all wounds, personal and societal.  Love to you all!

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO NEW THOUGHTS

AWAKENING TO OUR PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS

AWAKENING TO RACIAL EQUALITY

AWAKENING TO TODAY’S DREAMS

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities.  Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”  Gloria Steinem

What dreams do you have for today or next week? Do you have to postpone some dreams because of the pandemic? Has this situation pushed you to create new dreams?

These are certainly days that challenge the dreams we used to have during “normal” times.  Depending on the nature of the dream, there may be some we have to put aside or release completely.  I won’t be traveling on an airplane halfway across the country to see the rest of my family.  My husband and I won’t be traveling to Ireland or Scotland this year.

Having to put aside our dreams may depress us.  Langston Hughes describes the situation very dramatically, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”  While his statement is more poetic and I may sometimes feel like the “broken-winged bird, I prefer Steinem’s approach.

If We Begin, Others May Help Us Complete the Plan

For a number of years, I attended writing workshops and developed on-going relationships with more experienced writers.  I dreamed about writing a memoir, hoping that the story of  my spiritual journey would encourage others to follow their dreams.  However, my fears of the publishing process kept me from completing the book.  No publishing company was going to publish a memoir by an unknown person.  Finally, I decided to do one thing at a time and the first thing was to simply complete the writing.

After the memoir  was written, I was delightedly surprised by two experienced writers in my critique group who offered to help.  They guided me through the technical details to self-publish a paperback book and one actually did the technical work on the e-book.  Without the dream, this book would never have been created.

Overcoming Roadblocks

Dreaming is actually the first step in planning, for we have to imagine what we want to do before we can take any steps to get there.  But even in the dreaming stage we may come across roadblocks, such as fear or limited time.  What internal or external blocks do we have to overcome?

Self-doubt is often a major roadblock.  If we feel we’re not good enough to achieve our desire, we may not even make the effort.  I dreamed of being a dancer from a young age, but I was weak and my parents couldn’t afford classes.  Still, I kept imagining what it felt like and improvised in my own ways.  It wasn’t until I was in high school and had regular modern dance classes that my dream became a possibility.

As I gained strength and continued to train, I knew I was behind most dancers in those two areas, but what had once seemed totally impossible became a planned attempt to accomplish the goal of becoming a dancer.  In the 1970’s the dream became reality when I was chosen to dance in a modern company.

What roadblocks do you have to overcome to make your dreams come true?  Are they internal or external?  It is not unusual to have both.  Sometimes there is a roadblock because we have not taken the time to explore and imagine the many ways we could make a dream become a reality.

Explore A Dream Like A Detective

Why not approach the problem we wish to change as if we are detectives?  What is really involved?  Is what we need available?  If not, is there another way to approach the challenge?  Whose help do we need? What steps need to be taken?  Do we have the ability to take these steps?  If not, do we need to change our goal or find other steps to take?

During this challenging time of the pandemic, I am impressed by the way that people who have time on their hands are filling it.  Some musicians are playing online daily and poets are presenting a poem every day.  Those with carpentry skills are enlarging windows or making porches into bedrooms.  Friends often mention they are cleaning or fixing parts of the house they had put off in the past.  Since it’s warm weather, many are growing vegetables or sprucing up their simple yard with flowers and creating a beautiful garden.

Others who have lost jobs are creating new ones by sewing masks and clothing and selling them online.  Restaurants and grocery stores have increased delivery service. Writing teachers are creating virtual classes as are many schools.  These creations began with dreaming that became a plan and then reality.

Dreaming allows us to open our minds to a wider understanding than what the logical part of our minds can envision and to move forward in ways we may never have anticipated.  Dreaming is creative and creativity is magical.  It can open doors to amazing places.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

AWAKENING TO EXPERIMENT WITH LIFE

 

AWAKENING TO THE LOVE OF AN OLD DOG

“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before the rest of us.” Robert Louis Stevenson

What experiences have you had with a dog?  Would you want another one?  Did you ever feel it was your best friend?

It’s not fun to be an old dog or an old woman, but our age is the main thing Susie and I have in common.  We can’t climb steep mountains anymore and we both have to eat a special diet although I don’t throw mine around on the floor like she does.  We need more sleep than we used to, but she naps most of the day.  I slip one in on an occasional afternoon.

I don’t chase guys anymore because I’m married to a great guy and couldn’t be happier.  Susie doesn’t chase rabbits anymore, just stares and lets them run away.  She goes out to do her business, finds sniffing every inch of the ground more interesting, and finally pees.  Then she returns to the house only to leave “the remains” of her day in the middle of the hardwood floor.  At least I don’t have to worry about that kind of confusion yet.

At times, she walks around in circles looking for something but can’t remember what it is.  She  stares at the wall, hoping the answer will be written there.  Like Susie, it’s not unusual for me to head to a cabinet or my desk and find I haven’t a clue as to why I’m there.  Words that disappear in the middle of my speaking a sentence take five minutes to appear.  I need to do a crossword puzzle every morning to awaken my mental dictionary.

Every Day Holds Surprises

Fortunately, due to two years of physical therapy after an injury to my back, I’m doing a thirty-minute walk every day and have gained strength so that I feel like myself again, energetic and curious about life.  Others talk about being bored during the pandemic, but I look forward to a boring day and having more time to read and write.

Surprises arise every day.  They test my patience.  I discover I am out of an item that requires placing an order on an unfamiliar website, which in turn requires learning a new technical trick.  Many items we use often have recently died: the iron, the toaster and my printer’s toner.  As for ordering food, it’s almost impossible to get good broccoli with a delivery, and we can’t live without that.  While I’m struggling with these challenges, Susie is snoring, asleep on her bed.

Age Brings Physical Limitations

But all these challenges are easier to deal with than Susie’s issues.  It’s tough to be an old dog when your back legs start giving out.  You slip when you try to climb the stairs or fall when you charge up them, forgetting your legs don’t support you anymore.

It’s confusing when you can’t hear the orders your caretakers give.  You look at them and dash in the opposite direction.  They fuss at you, but of course it’s nice not to hear them when you don’t want to obey.  Looking at them with eyes that still see well, you grin and continue sniffing the grass.

As a female, it’s not surprising that Susie is very fashion conscious.  Every morning when I’ve put on my jeans she sniffs my leg.  Her approval is important to me, and if she knows how I smell that day, since she’s only knee-high tall, she’ll be able to find me easily in a crowd and identify me apart from my husband who is more likely to feed her.

A Dog’s Love Is Always There

While her nose may carry her into the wrong bushes or into the deep ivy beneath the trees, cold and wet, it bumps mine when I’m sitting and lean down close to her face.  It’s her version of a kiss that says she loves me – a moment I always treasure.

Susie and I may not be able to hike the steep trails of the Appalachians anymore or race around the block, but we both still know how to love and hang out on the deck together.

Milan Kundera said it best:  “Dogs are our link to paradise.  They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.  To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.”

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO GRATITUDE

DANCING TO DIVINE ORDER

AWAKENING TO WALK IN BEAUTY

AWAKENING TO WALK IN BEAUTY

 How do you create beauty in your life?  Is it external or internal?  How does it make you feel?

Navajo Prayer

In beauty may I walk.

All day long may I walk.

Through the returning seasons may I walk.

Beautifully will I possess again

Beautiful birds …

Beautiful joyful birds …

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.

With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.

With dew about my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me, behind me,

   above me, all around me may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty lively, may I walk

It is finished in beauty.

It is finished in beauty.

In the mountains of North Carolina, walking in beauty is the simplest thing one can do.  Surrounded by luscious green trees and abundant colorful flowers, nature is vibrant in the spring, summer, and fall.  Even when those of us who live here feel bored or depressed, a walk in the forest can lift us up.

The Physical Gifts Of Nature

We have become a culture surrounded by things.  We fill our homes with paintings, nick-knacks, computers, and lovely objects so that we feel at home with the memories they invoke and they communicate to others who we are and what our status is.

Years ago, when I was living alone and making little money as a teacher, I couldn’t afford anything I didn’t absolutely need.  Despite that, I needed to make my apartment feel like my home, so I decorated it with the only things I could afford – items from nature and cheap containers.  I found bird feathers in the yard.  At the beach, there were piles of colorful shells, and as I hiked in the mountains, I gathered small rocks and quartz.

Although my home is now a house full of purchased items, paintings, posters, and artsy clay bowls, I use the baskets I bought in Africa to display my rocks and shells, pine cones and bird feathers.  I especially appreciate these beauties on a winter day when there is snow on the ground and I’ve been cooped up too long.  Their beauty and the remembrance of the joy I felt in finding them brightens my day.

When spring and summer come, they offer us more natural beauties, such as the brilliant blue hydrangeas, golden black-eyed Susan’s, vivid purple iris, and multiple colors of roses.  Not only may we enjoy these when we are out-of-doors, we can pick them and liven the house with their fragrance and beauty.

Many people also plant flowers and vegetables this time of year, but what else are we planting, especially in our minds?

When life becomes especially challenging, we can become rooted in its negative aspects to the point that we become depressed or unable to function well.  At this time, we need to remember that this pain can be relieved to some extent like physical pain.  When our body aches, we may do the easy thing and take a medication or supplement that soothes the discomfort, but nature can be a healing remedy too.

The Healing Gift of Mother Nature

When life becomes a mental or emotional burden, we may lift that burden or at least lessen it by walking in beauty and taking in the gifts it offers.  We may step outside to let bright sun warm and wash us with it’s golden light.  At sunset, we can drive to the parkway and watch the sun splash brilliant orange and red behind the darkening mountains.  Or we may choose to walk barefoot over the grass in the yard or a park and feel the precious earth supporting us from below.

By feeding our senses with beauty and being in the moment to see, smell, and feel the gifts of nature, it becomes easier to return to caring for a sick child or parent, struggling with low finances, or settling for only virtual access to our friends and relatives.  Walking in nature’s beauty can help heal the insecurity we feel and restore the joy we have momentarily lost.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  

The first article here is about my dear friend Jerry who passed away in 2018.  Of all the people I’ve know he was the one who lived closest with nature.

AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

AWAKENING FROM THE HEART

DANCING FROM OUR CENTERS

 

 

AWAKENING TO OUR REALITY

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  William Arthur Ward

How do you usually react to new situations?  Do you tend to resist, ignore, or adjust to an event or condition you don’t like?  What works best for you?

I often think of myself as an optimist.  Years ago, I was very involved with the “think positive” movement, primarily because life was difficult and the many changes in my life often wore me down.  I also learned that much of the negative thinking I did could be released when I learned to release my fears because those fears created the negative thoughts.

All these experiences helped me to get my negative thinking under control, and by seeing life from a more positive perspective, I was a happier person.  But choosing to be an optimist about everything is not always the best choice.

Being A Realist Is Wise

The wisest approach to life is to be a realist and develop the ability to adjust to what is actually occurring because ignoring reality can be harmful.  I once had a friend who was very creative and with whom I did presentations that combined my poetry and her photography.  This was a very powerful creative connection I had not experienced since my earlier years in modern dance and theater and I deeply valued it.

When she became ill, she refused to see a doctor, insisting she would be fine. After many months, her daughter convinced her to face the source of her pain.  When she finally visited the doctor, she discovered she had very advanced cancer that could not be treated.  She died four months later.

I was stunned, heart-broken, and angry.  Having dealt with many illnesses over the years, I had always seen a doctor, even if I dreaded what I thought the answer would be.  I knew that whatever the sickness was, I needed to face it and treat it.  But my friend was not a realist.

Adjusting the Sails of Your Life

Life is not the perfect drama we would like it to be.  There are ups and downs and surprises, but what creates a good life for us is how we deal with the winds that blow through our lives.  None of us would choose to be experiencing a pandemic, especially one that is clearly not going away soon, but it is here, regardless of what we want.

So how can we be realistic and live well during this time?  I strongly suggest listening to the medical experts about wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting tested instead of to a president and his followers who deny these needs exist.  As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”

Be a realist and “adjust the sails of your life.”  My husband and I love to go to the movies.  Now we have discovered the PBS series “Poldark” and often watch it when we’re in the “movie” mood.  What is nice about this is that we don’t have to get dressed and spend money.  We can even watch it in our pajamas.

While it would be nice to eat in a restaurant, we can get a pick-up dinner and eat on our deck with a lovely view of the trees and the continual bird song.  For more outdoor pleasures we walk in the neighborhood and around a nearby lake.  We can visit and see friends faces on Zoom. These choices are not what we prefer, but they are the wise, realistic ones.

Being Realistic May Include Some Optimism

While being a realist makes sense and can safe-guard us during these particularly challenging days, being optimistic at times may also be helpful.  It’s better to hope than to become depressed about the worst.  It is worthwhile to consider what is needed for us to accomplish the goals we hope to pursue when restrictions ease.

What research might we undertake about the degree we want to get, the trip we desire to take, the job we hope to receive or the skills we wish to develop?  Even if we can’t pursue such things right now, we will learn what preparation we need and if we can begin any of that work now. We also may discover that there are other choices we overlooked which are more appealing.

With a willingness to adjust our sails, we may find the path we truly need to take to a destination where the sailing is smoother.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

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AWAKENING TO GOOD DECISIONS

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY