Tag Archives: Change

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

“WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE LOVE OF POWER, THE WORLD WILL KNOW PEACE.” JIMI HENDRIX

Which do you prefer to be—loving or powerful?  What do you do when you feel powerless?  When you act in a loving way, how does that feel?

We are living in a world where too many countries are under the control of people obsessed with power and who are committing horrendous crimes against their own people in order to show how powerful they are. But their power is only external.

 External Power Has A Limit

External power has its limit. Sooner or later it comes crashing down because its own corruption undermines its authority by not respecting reasonable limits, or those whose needs are ignored rebel. In this country, our new administration is ignoring the needs of those who elected the president; instead, he is serving the corporations who are obsessed with making exorbitant amounts of money.

In this country, the rebellion has already begun. People are speaking up at town halls and by writing, calling those in Congress, and voting. These are the external actions required in order to make the necessary changes. They require time, energy, and commitment.

These are powerful actions, but there is another equally powerful aspect of life that must accompany action. Within each of us is the capacity to love. Those who are obsessed with power often see love as weakness. But it is, by far, the strongest weapon we have.

When we act from love toward another, we fill our deepest need. When we feel loved, we feel secure, knowing that we can weather the storm because love holds us together deep inside.  Love is the power within that leads us to compassionate solutions.

Love Leads Us To Share

Loving others encourages us to reach out to those in need.  It means we act from the heart.  We act from within because we love and care about others.  If we act from love, we don’t eliminate programs that feed hungry children or provide medical care for low-income women. We don’t prevent immigrants from war-torn nations from entering our country.  If we act from love, we respond responsibly to prevent further crisis from climate change, provide health care for everyone, and support programs that train people who have lost their industrial jobs so they can move to jobs in sustainable energy fields.

 

Not Loving Ourselves Leaves Us Powerless

So, what keeps us from doing what will help everyone? Here’s the problem: we have to love ourselves before we can love others. When we don’t love ourselves, we feel weak, powerless, and need external power over others to feel we are okay. In addition, we may look down on those who have less. We make the excuse for not sharing because we believe those who have less don’t deserve help because they haven’t worked hard enough.

Our Obsession With Money Is Unwise

In this country, making money is a major way to obtain power, and now those who make the most money are determined, in many instances, to retain the power to make more money without any controls. There is no limit to the amount of money they need, and they are allowed tax loopholes that make it possible for millionaires to pay a smaller amount of tax than the middle class.

Helping Others Strengthens Us

When we love ourselves, we don’t see helping others as taking something away from us. We see it as sharing, an expression of the love and compassion we feel for others. When others are taken care of, we feel peaceful. We feel good about ourselves and our communities.  We don’t need to acquire large amounts of things to feel good.  We value family, friends, and enjoying the work we do because love grows within us as we travel this earthly journey.

Stopping Violence With Love

It is no surprise that the places where we see the most violence in our cities are the areas where the poorest and most neglected people live.  When you lack so much, how can you not be angry, and anger leads to violence. But what if we spent tax money, not on the military and wars that make the president feel powerful, but instead channel our love and money into the inner cities to create education, jobs, and health resources that will empower those who are mired in poverty.

We will never lose if we do what is loving, for love is the most powerful force that exists.  It is deep and rich and guides us to find what we need to do in life to make a difference that counts. It leads us to peace.

What loving thing will you do today?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:  The Power of Love (Huffington Post), 5 Ways to Deal With Conflict Effectively, Awakening to Effect Change

 

 

AWAKENING TO SHARE

“Democracy must be built through open societies that share information.  When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation.” Atifete Jahjaga

A few days ago, I had a remarkable dream.  Several women were on a panel to give a young girl an award.  The prize was three dolls.  Three girls had been selected for the first, second, and third places, but only the girl who was in first place would receive the three dolls.  One woman in the group suggested that instead of giving only one girl a prize, they should give each of the three girls a doll.

The other women weren’t so sure that was a good idea. Some were afraid that the first prize girl would be disappointed.  They discussed the issue back and forth without really agreeing, so the person who had suggested it said, “Let’s try it and see what happens.” The rest reluctantly agreed.

They brought the first prize winner in and handing her the doll, the woman said, “We’ve decided to give the second doll to Mary. We hope you don’t mind.”  The girl’s face brightened with a huge smile.  “That’s wonderful,” she said, “then Mary and I can be friends and play with our dolls together!”

DREAMS CARRY SIGNIFICANT MESSAGES

I was rather dumbfounded as I quickly recorded the dream, especially since I rarely remember anything of my dreams these days, much less, the whole thing.  But I was also amazed by how timely the message was.  Isn’t this what so much of the political debate is about these days?  Just how much are we going to share and help everyone, particularly those in the most need?

Habitat For Humanity

As a former teacher who retired several years ago, I made a very small salary compared to what men made; therefore, my social security and retirement are very small.  And they have grown so little over the years compared to the growth of basic expenses like utilities that if I were not married, I could not even survive on my income.  Many woman and some men are in a similar situation and share that same fear.

INEQUITY DOESN’T SUPPORT DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES

The inequity in all areas that has existed for many years has increased because of the continued movement in this country to support the top 1% at the expense of everyone else.  Now we are dealing with Congress, many of whom depend on the wealthiest to run their campaigns, and a president who is worth billions (if what he says is true) who wants to cut any programs that help the middle and lower classes survive, much less flourish.

There is nothing wrong with making large amounts of money if it is not made at another’s expense, and people like Melinda and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett give generously to those in need. They believe in sharing their good fortune. But with the system the way it currently is set up, those making the most money don’t pay their fair share of taxes. I always thought that democracy was about sharing and being sure everyone has an equal chance to succeed.

Now we are faced with a president who has lied repeatedly, ran a university that was a scam, and failed to pay people who worked for him what he had promised to pay them.  Now he is planning to destroy many programs that help the very people he swore to help.  His often outrageous comments are meant to deflect attention away from unpleasant truths about himself and lead his followers down a false path.  He is a master manipulator.

Our president is not a role model any of us need.  We have to be our own role models and to share in every way that we can in our own lives.  We also need to observe what our representatives and senators support.  Are they supporting the middle and lower classes which are the bedrock of a democracy?  Are they standing up for truth? Do they believe our democracy should be based on sharing? Many clearly are not.

SHARING MEANS HELPING

Not everyone has an equal chance in life, but many of the programs Trump wants to cut are there to help those who are not born into privilege.  They help provide education for those whose jobs have been eliminated by the move from industry to technology.  They provide food for children that come from homes where the parents do not have the means to feed them properly.  They provide school systems with the teachers who can meet the needs of those with various disabilities.  They provide arts programs that help develop young brains in beneficial ways.

These needs are not theoretical to me.  They are very real.  I have taught in private schools and some of the poorest areas in this country, including inner city New Orleans, where 99% of my students were African-American, and a school serving Hispanic and Native-American students in New Mexico.  I have had students who did not get enough to eat, who were afraid of being killed by gangs, who had parents who were addicts or who worked two jobs and were rarely at home except to sleep. I always believed they deserved the guidance to create a better life for themselves.

When I was very young, we only had the necessities, no frills, but I was loved.  Growing up, I was taught to share what I had even when it wasn’t very much because there was always someone who had less.  But we now live in a society where we base our worth on the things we have and enact laws that support only those who are making millions.

What I love most about my dream is the delight the prize winner feels when she can share her good fortune. She doesn’t need three dolls.  She’d rather have a friend.  I believe that is what democracy is about—connecting with others, sharing what we have so we all have enough.

What can you share today?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  Awakening to Effect Change, Where Kindness Has Gone, Awakening to Accept Reality

 

AWAKENING TO THE FIRE WITHIN

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” Ferdinand Foch

Never has a moment in my life been filled with more fire, both within and without.  Living in the mountains of North Carolina, many days have been cloudy, filled with smoke from the wild fires burning all around us.  A couple of weeks ago, the tourist town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, not far away, went up in flames.

As did many of our dreams when Hillary lost the election and Donald won, fueled by hate, racism and misogyny.  Civility did not rein during this election, and the consequences are still fueling the fire.

Fire Can Be Positive Or Negative

Fire can be destructive when it goes out of control, but it also has a positive side.  Fire keeps us warm in the winter and cooks the food that nourishes us.  The fire within often gives us the courage to do what we think we cannot do and enlivens us to trust the fire in our souls to guide us toward positive action.

How To Face the Challenge

At the current time, we face a challenge.  This election was not as clear as it appeared to be at first.  The number of citizens who voted for Hillary now surpasses Donald’s popular vote, so there is anger on both sides.  Trump is being investigated concerning his relationship to Russia. What should be done?  What decision will the electoral college make on December 19?

Our fire within has come close to the burning point.  Threats and bullying toward those Donald degraded with his comments have increased.  It is now more dangerous to live in this country if you are an immigrant, a woman, or of any race other than white.  The foundation of our democracy is crumbling, and yet….

Around me, many whose souls are on fire are reaching out to those in need, protecting those who are being debased, protesting and speaking for the values we have always seen as the basis of this country, respect for all.  When the fire within grows, it can motivate us to do what we need to do.

Yes, we need to love one another.  We need to find peace.  But that does not mean, we do not need to act.  Expressing love and peace is not always passive.  Martin Luther King taught us that in the 1960’s.

What Can We Change?

Donald Trump won for a reason.  Some may have been drawn to his rhetoric because he supported their racist or misogynistic views, but some clearly were drawn to him because he was not part of the establishment they felt neglected them.  They clearly did not believe Hillary would help create more jobs with better pay despite her long history of helping people who need help.  They believed the lies rather than the facts.

So when our fire within heats up, let’s look around and see what needs to change and devote ourselves to participating in that change.  Some things can’t be changed.  For example, we live in a primarily technological society and we have fewer industrial jobs, so those who have had those jobs will have to choose to retrain and find another kind of work.  Life keeps changing and we have to be willing to change with it.

Some Cultures Resist Change

Recently I read Hillbilly Elegies: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance.  While I live in the North Carolina mountains and had a father who was raised in the Arkansas mountains, I was not aware that some of the qualities I had noticed in certain people were typical of a particular culture, in this case, the Appalachian white culture.

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According to Vance, these people find change devastating, especially having to move from their birth place, because it separates them from their culture.  Some people like Vance are willing to make the required changes to move because it is the only way they can get more education and find new jobs to support their families. Others refuse to make that choice and live on welfare or are so limited financially that they feel defeated before they start.

Among many of us, the fire within is focused on keeping life from changing; it is not focused on transformation as a positive possibility.  Despite all the good Obama has done during his years in office by reducing the debt and increasing jobs, there are many who have not been directly affected by this.

Transform Anger Into Positive Action

When that fire within expresses as anger, we need to see how we can transform it into positive action.  It is not easy for me to say this because I am not an activist.  I am a regular voter, but I do not like politics.  I am a teacher and creative person, but I know that if I want things to change, I have to be willing to participate in that change.

I am especially moved by what has happened at Standing Rock, North Dakota.  The peaceful protest of Native Americans and their supporters has resulted in some change.  The U. S. Corps of Engineers will look for another route for the pipeline so that it does not cross their land although the energy company is still resisting.  We still don’t know for sure if their sacred sites will be respected.

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I know several people who took supplies and money to the protesters at Standing Rock.  I know others who worked tirelessly on the election last month and who now focus their energy on the next local and state elections.  Living in a red state where the governor resisted conceding to the man who had beaten him in the election until last week, I have made some phone calls locally and nationally expressing my displeasure for what is going on with him and with Donald.

Change May Lead To A Better Life

In my own life, I have had to make many changes over the years, so I can understand why change is difficult for many.  All I know is that if I had not made those changes my life would not be as good as it is today.  I am grateful for those who encouraged me to look beyond my comfort zone.

When the fire within us erupts, we need to remember that allowing it to become a violent reaction will only destroy our society and lives, but channeling it into social or political action will warm our souls and save our nation.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:  Awakening to Live Without Fear, Transforming the Fear of Change, Awakening to Shadow’s Treasure

AWAKENING TO THE SPRING OF LIFE

“We cannot stop the winter or summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or stop them from being other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.” Gary Zukav

Iris at Beaver Lake

What does spring mean to you? How do you change your life in the spring? How do you enliven your life or your community at this time of year?

Spring is about new life. Each year it awakens in many ways, distracting us from the winter blahs with flowers we haven’t seen for a year springing to life. Yesterday as I walked through the botanical gardens with a friend, trillium, buttercups, trout lily and a dozen colorful flowers peeked through the brown leaves that had blanketed the ground all winter. Continue reading

AWAKENING TO GRATITUDE

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”  Gilbert Chesterton

spring flowers

Do you have a gratitude practice?  Do you take the time to feel grateful each day? How does it make you feel when you feel grateful?

I’m a lucky person.  If I made a list of all the things for which I’m thankful, it would be a long list.  I’ve always had most of what I needed, but I haven’t always recognized how much I should be grateful.

As a younger person, I took so much for granted.  I always assumed my parents would be there to help me.  I always assumed I could find another job if I wanted to leave the one I had.  I always assumed that my boss would appreciate my “helpful” perspective.  I always assumed the man I was dating would appreciate my bold and honest comments.

Everything Changes

But with time, I came to realize I could not take anything for granted.  Time passes.  People and circumstances change, and it’s hard to be thankful when relationships, jobs, health, and security come crashing down.  And yet….

Feeling Gratitude Lifts Our Energy

Focusing at some point in each day on gratitude lifts our energy and spirits.  That one thought can make a difference so I try to start each day with a moment of gratitude before I even get out of bed.  Each day when I see something that pleases me—the dog curling up next to me, my husband giving my neck a little massage as he walks by, a package arriving sooner than I expected, the song of a bird that is especially sweet—I say a thank you.  It’s the little things that make a difference.

butterflies

Gratitude Can Be A Blessing When Negative Things Happen

It’s much harder, of course, to be thankful for the unpleasant things in life, but they often have hidden blessings.  When my father passed away many years ago, it was shocking.  Except for his emphysema, he was fairly healthy for 81.  One day a blood vessel broke in his lungs and he was dead in ten minutes.  I wasn’t prepared for this.  I had thought there would be some warning and an opportunity to say good-bye.

After recovering from my shock, I was grateful he didn’t have to suffer.  It was a blessing after all, and regardless of how he passed, I would have had to adjust to his being gone.  I hope that when I pass, it will also be quickly.  I don’t want my loved ones to see me suffer any more than I want to suffer.

Negative Experiences May Have Hidden Gifts

In the last few years, I’ve broken an elbow and an ankle.  Both were very painful and unpleasant experiences, and none of my family could come here to care for me when I broke my elbow, so I went to a rehab facility.  It was not a pleasant experience.  However, people in my spiritual community were there often.  When I returned home, a woman whom I did not know helped me shop for groceries and became one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

In the second instance, I discovered how very deep my fiancé’s love for me was because he became my primary caretaker.  He cooked, cleaned, and did anything else I needed so that I could stay at home and recover.  I had never felt so secure knowing that he would do the loving thing—no matter what it was.  I was deeply grateful.

Have Gratitude For Pleasant Surprises

One of the things for which I am always grateful is my closeness to nature because the animals that come to my yard delight and surprise me.  I can never be sure of what they will do next.  For example, I was sitting at my computer the other day, bored as I cleaned off deleted messages, and I glanced out of the window.  Just outside the window were a few flowers and a statue of St. Francis.  On St. Francis’ head sat a squirrel eating a mushroom.  I couldn’t help laughing.  I guess the squirrel wanted some company for dinner.

squirrel

When we make gratitude a daily practice in our lives, it can shift what is negative so that it becomes more bearable or reveals lessons we need to learn.   Melody Beattie says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

May you start each day with the blessing of gratitude.

© 2914 Georganne Spruce                                                                           ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: How Gratitude can Change Your Life, Raising Children With An Attitude of Gratitude, Gratitude With Wayne Dyer (video)

ADAPTING TO THE DANCE OF LIFE

“In the game of life, less diversity means fewer options for change.  Wild or domesticated, panda or pea, adaptation is the requirement for survival.”  Cary Fowler 

Photo: Geroganne Spruce

Photo: Geroganne Spruce

Do you adapt easily to change?  Do you dislike and resist change?  Can you see value in change?

Change is inevitable.  What we do with it is what matters.  Lately, my life is an experiment in finding the best way to adapt to being in a wheel chair and performing the daily duties that I need to perform.  I’ve experimented with a wheel walker, which can move through the house more quickly than the chair, but it hurts the knee that it supports.  Crutches are helpful except when I’m feeling dizzy.

Now all simple normal actions require more strength and have to be approached in a new way.  I can’t just stand up.  I have to pull up or push up.  I will definitely have more strength when this situation is over.

There Is Value In Change

All in all, this experience is just another reminder that there is value in change.  I’ve been forced to slow down.  I’ve had to let other people help, which is always difficult for me, but I simply don’t have the energy I had or the actual physical ability to do it all.  I have to accept certain limitations.

I know these limitations are essential, but temporary.  I can’t bear weight if I want to heal.  I have to frequently elevate my leg in order to prevent blood clots.  This has become my reading or napping time.  Before the accident, I rarely allowed myself to nap—I had too much to do!  What I needed to do before is now a requirement.

Change May Force Us To Do What We Need To Do

So, I am learning to adapt in order to survive—creating a new dance for my life that in some ways feels like an improvement and in others like a regression.  It’s a bit more sedate than I prefer, especially in spring when all the trails have opened up and the ice melted.  My feet are itching for another hike and I’m missing the best time to take nature photos for my blog.

Relationships Adapt To Individual Changes

But this is a very nurturing dance and is not just about healing.  It’s a challenge for me and my fiancé.  Can we, as a couple, adapt?  Can he become my caretaker for a few weeks?  How do we negotiate these challenges?

To some extent, we would have to adapt to change any way to learn to live together.  With my broken ankle, we simply have additional aspects of the relationship to which we must adapt.  While it may stretch our abilities, the outcome has been good.  This is the real thing.  We are committed.  The relationship will survive and we will eventually return to our normal pattern of being equally participating partners.

Change May Be A Spiritual Gift

On a spiritual level, I am enjoying more peace and quiet.  We all need some, and I used to tell myself several times a day to stop and rest or meditate, but I didn’t.  I kept going, and so in that moment when I needed to be totally in the moment and carefully consider the option of stepping onto the rock where I fell, I was thinking more about where I wanted to be.

Now I pay attention to every moment that I move.  I am aware of where I place my hand and foot for each move I make.  When I don’t, I risk falling again.  I am learning to be more creative with my adaptation and so it becomes easier.  It is a much more complex dance than the one I was doing.

Much Good May Come From Adaptation

Adaptation is often like that.  Difficult and uncomfortable at first.  Our resistance may kick in to make it more challenging.  It may be difficult in the beginning to learn a new dance, but as we practice it becomes easier.  Before we know it, we may be waltzing around the floor like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers, loving life despite the complex foot work.

© 20124 Georganne Spruce                                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

AWAKENING TO OUR CONTRASTS

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”  Nelson Mandela

Arboretum 2013 017

The holidays are a time when we often return to where we grew up or to our parents’ home.  It can be a wonderful and joyous occasion or one where we tread lightly around certain topics, but if we have grown over the years and become our own person, it may be a time when we see clearly the contrast between who we were and who we are now.

We All Change with Time

We all grow in some way as the years pass.  Even those who ferociously resist change and try to force their ways on others change—usually becoming more angry and brittle.  But most of us try to learn from our mistakes and be open to learning new ways of doing things that will benefit us and our families.  Besides, when we don’t think our way is the only way, we can connect more easily with those who are different.

Mandela Is A Model for Forgiveness

This week we have mourned the death of Nelson Mandela and celebrated his extraordinary life.  Living in a country of extreme contrasts, he was able to unite the people by demonstrating that we can choose to forgive our enemies, no matter how horrendous their behavior was, and in doing so, we free ourselves from bitterness and hate.  Certainly his life was full of contrasts.

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 1998 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contrast Show Us What We Want and What We Don’t Want

In the Law of Attraction literature, contrast is the word that is used to describe negative events, the things that happen that we don’t want to attract.  It’s true that life is filled with experiences we like and others we don’t, and each contrast is an opportunity to re-examine what we did to create it.  Abraham, channeled by Esther Hicks, states, “When you have lived an experience that helps you understand in an exaggerated way, the very thing you do not want, you also understand in an exaggerated way, what you do want.”

Few of us will ever have the kind of profound influence that Nelson Mandela had on other human beings.  But we each, in our own way, may choose to learn from the contrast in our lives, and accept the choices other people make that are different from ours.  If we can create just a little peace in our own environment, we are contributing to world peace.

As We Grow, Our Past Is Illuminated

Years after leaving the town where I grew up, I returned to visit and was startled by how small the house was.  It seemed spacious to me as a child as I lay on the dining room floor, my books spilling out of the bureau, and read or colored.  The external reality was small, but my internal experience was large as I explored life through literature.

Books

Books (Photo credit: henry…)

Let Us Embrace Our Differences

This often happens to us.  As our world grows larger, what we used to know seems smaller or more confined.  Until I attended college in the 1960s, I had never attended school with any children who were not white.  Fortunately, I was reared by a mother who believed that all people were equal and deserved equal rights so that when I did met people of other races I was curious.  Despite some initial discomfort, I made a real effort to understand our differences and to relate respectfully.

Over the years, I taught students from many cultures and doing so has enriched my life experience with many contrasts.  As a result, I have learned and grown from these experiences.  My spiritual journey has also been filled with experiences and practices that differ from my family’s traditional spiritual path.  They attend Catholic and Protestant churches, and I attend meetings of a spiritual community that prefers not to be called a “church.”  My path seems strange to them, but it brings me peace and happiness, and their path is very meaningful to them.  We think differently, but we accept our differences.

When I wrote my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness, I traveled back into time as I read through the journals I’d kept for many years and was able to see all the ways I had changed over the years.  Some of it was inspiring and I could feel proud of how I had expanded my thinking, but there were also times when I was appalled by the way I mangled a situation.  Still, the contrasts were steps I had to take on my way to become a more peaceful and caring person.

So this holiday, as we visit with family and old friends, let us appreciate the contrasts that appear and  let us honor the sometimes challenging spiritual path through life that we each travel.

HOLIDAY GIFT SUGGESTION

If you are looking for an inspiring gift for a friend, please consider my memoir Awakening to the Dance:  A Journey to Wholeness.  It is available through Amazon.com, Kindle, Nook, and CreateSpace ID#1002950.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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