Category Archives: Inspirational Posts

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

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO GOOD DECISIONS

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO LIFE NOW

“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”  Mark Twain

How does your age affect the choices you make now?  Are you happier at this age?  What do you consider the perfect age?

When I first read this quote by Mark Twain, I chuckled.  He always makes me laugh, but underneath the humor is often wisdom.  I’ll admit that at seventy-five I wouldn’t mind being a bit younger with a body that requires less upkeep and has unlimited energy.  On the other hand, at this age it’s easier to let go of irritations and live more in the moment.

Most of all, I’m glad I’m not approaching eighteen.  I was extremely limited at that time in terms of dealing with life’s changes and disappointments.  I had more illness because I didn’t know about my food intolerances.  At nineteen I lost the boyfriend I thought I would marry after college.  But I did have a lot of fun:  being in plays, singing, going to parties.  It’s just that I didn’t have the maturity to always make good choices.

Regardless of whether we are eighty or eighteen, our lives now are full of challenges we could never have dreamed and we have no way of knowing if life will return to “normal.”  In this situation we need some of age’s wisdom as well as the optimism of youth.

Age Teaches Us How To Deal With Change

Life continues no matter how much we may try to stop the change.  But when we’ve been around quite a few years, we’ve learned what we can change and what we can’t and how much time it is reasonable to take in order to make a change.

As we grow, hopefully, we learn how to deal more positively with the difficulties of the emotional stress that change may create.  With years of regular meditation behind me, I’ve learned that when I get emotionally upset, it is best to take a few deep breaths and that calms me.  Walking briskly also works off the adrenal response and strengthens my body at the same time.

After the initial response, I sit quietly and think about what I need to do, if anything.  How can I solve this problem?  Can it be solved or do I need to just accept it?  Does solving the problem involve other persons?  If so, how can I calmly and positively approach them so that they will want the help?  If it can’t be solved, how do I live with it?

Failure Is Not Always Negative

How we deal with a problem is not only related to what it is, but also how we feel about ourselves. If we were not given positive messages about our worth as a child, we may question our abilities as an adult. In this case, it is important that we get the help we need to heal those wounds so that we see ourselves as good and capable people.  If we trust our abilities, we won’t push problems aside or expect someone else to solve them for us.

Hopefully long before we head toward eighty, we have healed any lack of self-worth and learned to accept who we are, not judging ourselves for what we perceive as our failures.  We all experience failures. Sometimes those failures are positive in the sense that they send us down a different path of learning.  Failure may also allow us to explore an aspect of life that we would never have consciously chosen but which presents us with opportunities for growth.

Ballet East Dance Company

One twist of fate in my life began when my family moved to Tulsa when I was about thirteen.  I was not happy at all about leaving my friends.  But there in high school, modern dance was part of the physical education curriculum.  Taking that class, I began to develop muscles and feel physically strong for the first time in my life.  I loved it so much that modern dance became a part of my life for many years. It helped improve my physical health and developed my creativity.

Valuable Aspects of Aging

What I like most about approaching eighty is that I no longer feel driven to accomplish anything.  I write because I love to do it, not because I’m driven to become a famous writer.  I enjoy sharing my ideas with others and especially like it when my blog followers make comments letting me know how my words touched them.

I’m more able to accept my failures or the areas where I lack talent such as my limited cooking skills.  I used to be a perfectionist.  Although that aspect of my personality rears its head from time to time,  I don’t feel a slave to it.  I do the best I can and forgive myself for what I lack.  Growing older has brought me more peace, which is truly a gift, even though I’ll never be eighteen again.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

AWAKENING TO SHARE HAPPINESS

AWAKENING TO LOVE ALL WE ARE

 

AWAKENING TO NATURE’S SURPRISES

“Perhaps the safest prediction we can make about the future is that it will surprise us.”  George Leonard

Are you a nature lover?  How do you spend rainy days? When nature surprises you, does it irritate or delight you?

Sunday was rainy, as is today, and it’s probable that we will have a rainy week.  While I appreciate the rain nourishing the earth and aiding the growth of beautiful spring flowers, it may be a challenge at times.

Floods and the subsequent devastation are the worst problems, but even the lack of rain I experienced when I lived in New Mexico was a challenge when the dryness required us to shower only every other day.  While there are many things we can control in life, the timing of when it rains is not one of them.

Unpredictable Weather

Sunday, as my husband and I attempted to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary, Mother Nature was not our friend.  The rain’s behavior throughout the day was unpredictable.

After treating ourselves to a delicious breakfast, we headed for a walk around our favorite lake, a home for ducks and geese, before the clouds darkened and the rain fell.  It was cloudy at the lake but bits of blue sky showed through the clouds and the darker ones were at a distance so we thought we were safe and didn’t carry our umbrellas.

Walking from the car to the path, we sauntered through a large flock of geese as the males hissed at us for invading their space and bringing our dog along.  About three-fourths of the way around, it started to rain and we rushed to the car hoping it would pass quickly, but it didn’t.  Resigned to having only a short walk, but grateful we had some time there, we drove home.

At home it wasn’t raining.  So when the mail arrived, my husband and our dog went out to retrieve it.  Just as they reached the mailbox at the end of the driveway the heavens opened and the rain poured.  Fortunately with trees overhead, they made it back to the house without getting soaked.  Resigned that it would be a rainy afternoon, we curled up in the family room with our books.

Hope May Lead To Wise Decisions

But hope never dies, and we continued to hope that the rain would clear before dinnertime.  We had plans to eat on the terrace of our favorite restaurant, but thirty minutes before our reservation a torrent of rain continued decimating any possibility of an outdoor dinner.  I set the table with our nicest silverware and plates and my husband picked up the food at the restaurant.

While the rain replenished the earth, we replenished our bodies with Chicken Marsala, mashed potatoes and spinach, watched an episode of “Poldark,” and confirmed how lucky we were to have each other to love.  After all, it’s the love that really matters.  It can fill us in any weather.

Our special day was not perfect, but the nourishing rain certainly entertained us with surprises, and afterward more Black-eyed Susan’s bloomed in the garden off the deck.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO SURPRISES

AWAKENING TO REALITY NOW

AWAKENING TO EFFECT CHANGE

 

AWAKENING TO DISCOVER THE LIGHT

“We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.” John F. Kennedy

 

Does the darkness feel overpowering to you? Is there light in your life? If so, where do you find it? How do you keep the darkness from overwhelming you?

When I was a child lying on the grass, looking at the stars, I was awed by their beauty.  I wondered what caused them to flicker like a candle. Why could I see them only at night if they were there all the time?  As I relaxed into the earth, I always felt a quiet peace flow through my body.  With only a tiny flicker of light, I felt safe enough to sleep outside if my parents had let me.  Being close to the earth, sheltered by the sky, I felt at home.

Darkness may allow us to rest and to escape the challenges of the day, but it may also allow us to hide from reality.  When challenges we don’t want to deal with appear in our lives, we may ignore them, often creating a greater problem than the original challenge.  We may also become angry, cursing this annoyance that has appeared and allowing the anger to lead us to an unwise solution.

How To Light The Darkness

What candles may we light in these dark moments to guide us? Meditation is one way to find the quiet that allows our minds to relax.  Sitting and breathing deeply releases tension in the whole body and the mind expands and becomes more peaceful.  When I meditate, I feel light energy flow up my spine into my head, releasing the negative thoughts and opening a space for more sane and loving thoughts.

Another way to light the candle within and remove the mental darkness is to release our fear.  Fears create the negative emotions we experience and often lead us to make poor decisions.  Again, we need to sit quietly, breathe deeply, and direct the mind to release the fear in whatever emotional form it is taking.  As in meditation, when the fear is released, a sense of light and clearness will appear within.

Benefits of Releasing the Darkness

Meditation and releasing the fear are both powerful practices.  The meditation allows you to see life from a centered and loving place.  Releasing the fear removes the mental darkness to allow beneficial thoughts to flow in.  Experiencing even a little light allows us to find the light in our own lives so that we may be unafraid in the outer world.

When we find peace within, it allows us to see clearly what we need to do in our lives and outside them.  At a time when our country and the world need to make enormous changes in order to create real equality, we need not just have reactions to the problems, but make decisions that will create positive change. We each have to decide what helpful role we can play at this time.

Let The Light Guide You

The candle of equality requires that we shed our prejudiced conceptions, our unhealthy habits, our destructive relationships, and the belief systems that separate us from others.  Who will we be in this new world and what part will we play in healing it?

Despite the challenges of staying safe during the virus, it does not help us to curse it.  Instead we must ask, “What can I do to help and still be safe?”  Only you can answer that question for yourself.  May the light guide you.

©2020 Georganne Spruce

Additional Reading:

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

AWAKEN TO LOVE THE LIGHT

TRANSFORMING THE FEAR OF CHANGE

 

AWAKENING TO OUR PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” Aldous Huxley

Have you ever noticed a prejudice you have?  How did you deal with it?  Do you accept your preconceived notions as the only truth?

There is a street in my neighborhood that I use as a convenient cut-through from a major street onto the road that runs to my subdivision.  The street has modest houses on it and a small park.  Just before I reach the park is a house that always attracts my attention.

The house and yard are similar to those around it but it is quite different in one way.  It has lots of “junk” in the yard including a group of shovels, hoes, pitch forks, and other items surrounding and tied to the mailbox.  Other miscellaneous items are grouped in different areas of the lawn – not just dumped there, put arranged in a somewhat artistic order.

I know there is at least one man who lives there because I’ve seen him working in the yard in his jeans and hat.  As I drive by, I scan the yard to see what new items may have been added.  I think, “A ‘red neck’ must live here” and smile to myself as if this is a joke.  “Still, he is rather creative.”

Perceptions Not Based On Reality

But yesterday as I approached the house, I saw the heaps of things on the lawn and thought, “I bet he’s a “red neck.”  Then I hit the brakes.  Hanging underneath the mailbox was a sign, Black Lives Matter.  I was stunned.  Clearly, I had made a very wrong judgement about the man who lived there.

Then I realized that I was perceiving “red necks” as racist.  I was shocked.  I’m not a racist.  Even as a child growing up in the South with a racist father, I had a mother who taught me to care about all people and see them as equals.  I’ve taught Black and Native American teenagers and loved and nurtured them when dealing with administrations who couldn’t have cared less about them.

Defining People Who Differ From Us

But this time the sign’s message slapped me in the face so that I could not avoid the reality that my perception of a person I had never met was tainted with cultural prejudice.  What did I mean by “red neck?”  Well to be honest, I see that as a person who is rural, uneducated, very conservative and narrow-minded.  But of course, I’m not prejudiced!

I explored my thoughts further.  In my mind “red necks” were white people who attacked black people, carried guns, and wanted to fight anyone who disagreed with them.

So what did I know about the man in the house with the Black Lives Matter sign?  Mary Browne once said, “Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.”  I had decided who this man was when I had only my perception to guide me and I had clearly gone down a back alley.

I think of myself as a liberal, open-minded person, yet my perception had veered into a place that shocked me.  As I continue to think about this incident, I feel humbled by the experience.  I’m not so different after all.  I have a weakness for imagining another’s life with only superficial information.  How often do we all do that?

Changing To Create Equality

Now is a critical time.  How many of us who are white think we know what racial justice looks like when we have never been racism’s target?  Fortunately, the present protests and actions around racism have taken on a new power to educate us and hopefully will change the structures of our nation to create true equality.  It is a potent time for us all to explore in depth our own thinking and clean out the muck!

As Mary Browne suggested, it is time not to judge so that we can open the locked doors of our preconceived notions and allow wisdom to enter.  It is time for us to find peace and experience love for all humans, knowing that there is a reason why people feel as they do based on what they have experienced in life.

I will probably never meet the man whose sign stunned me, but I don’t have to.  I just have to remember to open my mind to all possibilities so that wisdom can enter.

©2020 Georganne Spruce

Additional Readings:

DANCING TO THE DANGER OF ASSUMPTIONS

AWAKENING TO RACIAL EQUALITY

AWAKENING TO LIVE HONESTLY

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO THE VALUE OF CHANGE

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow.  If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”  Gail Sheehy

How do you feel about change?  Does it frighten you?  Does it excite you?  How do you approach the changes in your life?

Currently, we are experiencing change in many areas of life.  The pandemic has forced us to stay in, wear masks, clean everything we touch, zoom with friends and family rather than sit face to face.  The death of George Floyd has provoked outrage and a revolution to eradicate racism, not just in this country, but throughout the world.

We may not like the changes that are being thrown in our faces, but they offer us a significant opportunity to grow in a better way personally and as a country.  On the personal level we had to shift the way we interact with family and friends.  Some we cannot visit because of the risk to their heath.  We feel sad and inadequate as a result.

We Need To Release Our Fear To Change

This is reality.  What can we do to keep our negative feelings from taking over our lives?  At the root of all this is fear.  We need to let go of our fears and see the situation clearly.  When we do, we will see that this situation is not a matter of our inadequacy but of needing to change how we think about the situation.  Staying away from those with weak immune systems or wearing masks is not a weakness; it is an act of prudence.

Changing our negative thinking is a sign of growth and aids us to see the whole picture, not just our lives and desires. When we accept the reality of facts and choose to act wisely based on them, we are able to grow even if the change is not easy.  When we ignore reality, we risk other’s wellbeing as well as our own.

We Must Accept Change

We are living in a time that requires significant change.  The protests taking place around the world signal that we must change so that all human beings can have equal rights – now!  During the 1960’s some change took place, but since then, there has been much backsliding.  Laws have changed but too many people and institutions have not; thus the inequality has stunted the growth of this country and many of our citizens.

Change disrupts the status quo for those who hate change. It creates extreme discomfort which often pushes people to act out of anger and commit violence.  While violence has occurred at some of the protests, it is encouraging that most have been peaceful.  They are a clear signal that it is time for major change as a huge number of  people around the world stand up for equality.

Deep Change Is Based On Love

When people come together for positive change, that is holy action.  Together we are powerful, especially when we act to make changes that will uplift humanity.  But more important than being more powerful, making these changes reflects the spiritual elements of our humanity.  When we love one another, we work for what is best for all.  We grow into a spiritually deeper human being so that what we do in the world reflects the sacredness that is  within us.

The decisions we make now, in our lives and in our countries, cannot only change the world, they can make us grow individually in ways that will take us into the future with more love, equality, and compassion for all people.  That is what “really living” means.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Readings:  AWAKENING TO EFFECT CHANGE

AWAKENING TO DEEPEN OURSELVES

RELEASING OUR FEAR TO AWAKEN

 

AWAKENING TO DEEPEN OURSELVES

“Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future.  Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.”  Thomas Merton

Do you feel a difference between loneliness and solitude? Are you comfortable with either one?  What makes the difference for you?

During this time when we are limited as to where we can go, there is one place we can always go: inside ourselves.  This inward journey may be frightening.  It may be exciting or uplifting.  It may be boring or it may totally change our lives.

Solitude Can Help Identify Our True Feelings

We don’t always need solitude in order to travel inward, but the lack of distractions often helps us focus on what we are thinking and feeling.  Imagine you’ve just had a conversation with a friend and shared how unhappy you are living alone.  Instead of receiving the sympathy you expected from her, she basically tells you in a clearly irritated voice to stop complaining and just be glad you aren’t sick.

What was that about?  Perhaps at first you feel angry because she has a husband and a child, so  she’s never alone and you think she’s lucky.  So what are you really feeling?  Hurt? Anger? Sadness? Abandoned by someone you trusted to always be with you?

May Sarton says, “Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.”  When we are lonely, we often feel we are less than we want to be.  We are lacking a roommate, a job, a mate, a hobby, an activity to keep us busy because we don’t want to be disturbed by our loneliness.

The Richness of Being in the Moment

Solitude, on the other hand, is like that rich almond chocolate brownie I always buy at Green Sage.  When I eat it, the pleasure spreads through my whole body and my mind lets go of any other concerns.  I am completely in the moment.

Solitude is like that.  It broadens and deepens the present.  It fills one inside so that the lack of a companion or a good movie to watch is irrelevant.  It allows one to sit in silence so that what we would consciously observe about our lives and the world deepens and fills us with understanding or awareness that we didn’t have before.

The Challenges of Staying Centered

I thought that during this pandemic I would have more time to just take it easy, read more books, and take walks.  Well, it hasn’t worked out that way.  Every day seems to fill with unexpected problems.  The technical challenges keep coming.  Today I was unable, again, to log onto the online issue of the local newspaper. I started chatting then accidentally disconnected the chat.  Then I called customer service who tried to help but was unsuccessful so that person sent the problem to the technical people who will call tomorrow.

At other times, I spend hours trying to determine if a medical bill is correct.  It doesn’t have the doctor’s name on it and it doesn’t show what the insurance has paid.  When I go online to the insurance portal, the information is unclear to me and often not current with the date on the bill.

Deepening To Find Our True Selves

I keep saying I’m going to meditate or just sit on the deck and stare at the sky.  When I finally allow myself to be still and forget about the list I made of the things I must do that day, I feel separate for a moment, alone.  But when I close my eyes for a few minutes and take a deep breath, I get a glimpse of solitude.  As I let myself just be, I slip into a richer place.

The warmth of the sun, the cool of the breeze caresses my body.  My breath deepens easily and quietly fills me.  The bird song becomes a beautiful aria and part of me flies from tree to tree with the squirrels.  I become one with all that is and my present is rich and beautiful.  Whatever problems have been dragging me down have disappeared.

In solitude I am not really alone.  I am deeply connected to Spirit whose energy is around me.  It feeds me with deep feelings of contentment.  Even when I am sitting inside without the beauty of nature, what is deep inside shifts to a fuller sense of self.  As I sit in this solitude, not forcing my mind to find solutions to problems, but letting myself just be, the healing I need often appears.

When I return to daily activity, I am calmer, more able to solve the problems that arise.  I have accepted myself at the deepest level.  A richness of spirit fills that part of me that felt lacking and incompetent.  I know I will learn what I need to learn with time.  In that moment, this solitude of deepening is all that matters.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Further readings on the topic:

AWAKENING TO THE REAL YOU

AWAKENING TO BEFRIEND OURSELVES

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

AWAKENING TO IMPROVISE OUR LIVES

“Life we all know is of course completely unpredictable and is constantly changing, and the way we navigate through life is simply by improvising.”  Niels Lan Doky

When you don’t know what to do, how do you approach that situation?  Do you create a plan or improvise?

When we don’t know what to do, we often improvise.  Sometimes that works out well, sometimes it doesn’t, but at least we may have learned from the experience.

This pandemic time is especially stressful for those who want life to stay the same and have a set plan to live by, but it requires some change for virtually all of us, and that can lead us to do things that we don’t usually do.

We can create new games for our children, bake bread, work on the novel we’d put away, zoom with friends we rarely have coffee with, and we wear masks when we go out rather than just wearing them at Halloween.

We Can Learn About Life From Jazz

While changes in life create some discomfort for us all, the ability to improvise can make all the difference in what comes next.  In Niels Lan Doky’s wonderful video How Jazz Wisdom Will Change Your Life,” he says, “You can always create something out of anything.”  Really? Why not?

I hope you will watch  Doky’s video because it is profound.  He states that you can apply the principles of jazz technique to your life.  They are the ability to adapt to change, the ability to be creative on demand, and the ability to treat your life as a work of art.

Following the Unknown Path

When I look at my own life, I can honestly say it has not followed a planned path.  I’ve had to improvise.  As a result, I’ve been exposed to situations that helped me grow.  I would not have thought to create them.  For example, I’ve moved many times, each for a different reason.  Things just happened.

I was living in Denver working at an art school and teaching modern dance part-time when the economy in the 1980’s bottomed out.  I lost my full-time job and couldn’t live on part-time work.  I didn’t know what to do.  I loved being close to artsy Boulder,  was exploring Buddhism, and had a meditation community that supported my spiritual growth.

Making Changes

At the same time, my brother, my only sibling, lived in New Orleans, with his wife and kids.  Since I didn’t have kids, I liked the idea of being near him and experiencing his children going up.  My parents also lived there.  There was much I didn’t like about New Orleans, especially the humid weather, but it was also an artsy place, so I thought, “Why not?”

During the twelve years I lived in New Orleans, my world greatly expanded.  I loved knowing my brother’s children as they grew up, being close to family, and enjoying the arts.  I worked as a full-time high school teacher in two excellent situations. I taught multicultural literature in a private Catholic girl’s school and later taught in a public school in the African-American community.  As a result of this second position, I was one of several teachers who traveled in West Africa for six weeks on a grant.

The Value of Choices We Prefer Not to Make

Unfortunately, after twelve years in New Orleans, I became ill with Chronic Fatique Syndrome.  My doctor was adamant that I needed to live in a dry environment in order to get well.  I had no idea what to do.   Then, that summer, a close woman friend of mine decided to move to Albuquerque to be near her family.  After she moved, she invited me to visit.

During that visit, I fell in love with the colorful art I saw throughout the city and in Santa Fe.  For the first time, I saw art on the side of buildings.  Art and brilliant colors were everywhere!  Amazingly, when I applied for a teaching job for the new school year, I was hired.

Although I never felt at home living in the desert, I liked being near mountains, and the sunsets were stunning.  Teaching in one school with mostly Native American students taught me about the reality of their culture, its beauty and its challenges.   Again my cultural awareness was expanded.  After four years in New Mexico, I was cured of the Chronic Fatigue and ready to move on.

By this time,  two of my friends from New Orleans had moved to Asheville.  I had previously visited them several times and loved being among the mountains and forests.  It felt like my soul’s home and similar to the land in Arkansas where I grew up.   So I improvised again.

The Values of Improvisation

Perhaps I could consider these changes because I had learned the value of improvising when I was a modern dancer.  When  a dancer improvises, she never knows where the dance will go or what the outcome will be.  Each moment, the movement changes.  The interaction of the dancers shifts.  Often the result is a beautiful phrase of movement one could not have imagined.

Life can be like that too.  When we are confronted with a new situation, how we choose to respond may take us to places we never dreamed we could go and awaken us to a new dance of life.  I am grateful that I found the courage to improvise, for that decision has led me to a richer life.  May you find the courage to improvise too.

Be sure to watch Doky’s video and see how your life is like jazz.  Cool!

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

TRANSFORMING THE FEAR OF CHANGE

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

AWAKENING TO UNEXPECTED FEAR