Tag Archives: Change

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.

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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

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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

Related Articles: The Secret and Law of Attraction – Wayne Dyer ( video), Contrasting ValuesRussian/American Cultural Contrasts

AWAKENING TO AN ADVENTUROUS LIFE

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

English: A group of drummers in Accra, Ghana, ...

English: A group of drummers in Accra, Ghana, wearing dashiki shirts and knitted kufi caps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you often try out new activities or ideas?  Or do you feel the most content when things remain the same?  Have you ever learned anything important from doing something new?

Unlike many people who have one vocation, marriage, or passion in life, I’ve always been interested in many things.  During the time I was a dancer, I was also a teacher, receptionist, employment counselor, and lawyer’s assistant, doing whatever I needed to do to pay the rent.  Of course, teaching has been my primary profession, but I taught English, dance, drama, and exceptional children.

Curiosity Can Motivate Exploration

After being somewhat of a recluse as a child because of illnesses, as an adult I was always hungry for new experiences.  After I started to really explore life, I couldn’t stop.  Each experience created a curiosity that motivated me to try something else that was new.  At times, I was fearful, but I chose not to let that stop me.  As a result, I have had a full and rich life.

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When we open our minds, many new opportunities present themselves.  We can expand our lives simply by being present in these situations.  Do we take the time to listen when someone expresses an idea with which we disagree?  It’s possible that understanding that person’s beliefs may expand our thinking so that we are better able to understand people who don’t share our beliefs.

Release Fear of Differences

Many of us are afraid of people who are different from us.  This cultural disconnect creates many problems that don’t need to exist.  If we could put aside our fear of what is different and embrace what is similar among us, we could create bridges instead of wars.

Experiencing Other Cultures Expands Our Understanding

In 1994, I was privileged to travel and study in West Africa.  It was one of the richest experiences of my life because, for a time, I was immersed in a culture very different from the one where I grew up.  It touched me deeply because I saw that it was possible to live a life where art and spirituality were integrated into daily life and where family was of supreme importance.  I also saw the ways that stereotypes disregarded the depth and beauty of the people whose lives were rich in ways many westerners’ lives were not.

On the daily level, the trip also taught me to appreciate the regularity with which my phone worked, hot water always flowed from the faucet, and a prescription was filled from a pharmacy whenever I needed it.  These were not sure things in Africa.  But most of all, the trip taught me not to accept others’ concepts of people or ideas without doing my own research.

 New Experiences Can Deepen Our Spiritual Lives

New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian

New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because I lived in New Orleans when I traveled to Africa, learning about the historical origins of the city helped me value aspects of the culture I had not appreciated before, such as the origins of Voodoo as a religion, the call and response aspect of Mardi Gras Indian music, and the source of many New Orleans dishes.

My way of dealing with life changed after this trip.  I explored my spiritual beliefs more deeply and worked to integrate them into my daily life, believing that this would be a path to greater wholeness, and it was.

Adventures Broaden Our Understanding

When we see life as an adventure, we welcome what is unknown or unfamiliar.  Adventure is about going where we have never gone before.  (Yes, I was a “Star Trek” fan.)  I loved where I grew up in the hills of Arkansas, but when we moved to Tulsa, I learned about the Cherokee’s Trail of Tears and the plight of Native Americans elsewhere.  When we moved to Memphis in the early 1960s, I experienced the civil rights movement. In every place I lived, I learned and grew in significant ways because each place was different.

The Inner Journey Is As Important As the Outer Journey

When I hear people say they’re bored, I’m always puzzled.  There are so many things we can do to make life interesting if we are willing to make the effort.  Are we willing to take on this responsibility?  There are books to read, movies to see, and conversations to initiate.  And in this culture, we often think we have to do something all the time.  Perhaps we need to learn that just being may be the most interesting thing we can do.

It is not just the outer adventure that can excite us, but the inner one as well.  What led me to a point where I felt my life and spirituality were integrated and I felt whole was a spiritual journey where I explored several spiritual practices and stayed open to see whatever showed up as a possible teacher.  The journey inward has been as rich and expansive as the outer one.

Adventures Expand Our Human Awareness

Adventures are what we make them.  To one person, eating Indian food may be an adventure.  To another, living in India is an adventure.  But what they all have in common is our willingness to try something new, to open a door that wasn’t open before, and peek in or step into a new experience.  Even if it isn’t a particularly pleasant experience, we learn something we didn’t know before and that expands our lives because that’s why we’re here—to learn all we can about being human.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Re-awakening Joy, Trying New Things, 7 Benefits of Being Open-Minded

AWAKENING TO THE JOURNEY THAT IS

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be.”  Douglas Adams

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Is your life the life you envisioned ten or twenty years ago?  How have your dreams and ambitions changed?  Are you at peace with the life you have now?

I had a lovely evening of conversation with good friends the other night.  All three of them had academic careers in colleges and universities and could share stories of this time with each other.  There was a time when I had aspired to such a life and had taken a position in the middle of Nebraska thinking that would give me the experience I would need to move on.

Dealing With Life Can Be Challenging

Very quickly, the cold in Nebraska caused on-going joint pain that made it impossible for me to stay.  I moved to Denver where there were more opportunities and I found part-time work at several studios and colleges.  However, the full-time position I desired never developed.  For years, this was a source of disappointment and grief.  Why was I not good enough?

In talking later with one of my friends about that night’s conversation, he complimented me on how courageous I was to continue following my dream to teach dance even when I lacked the security of a stable position.  As I thought back on those years, I never thought I was courageous.  I just did what I had to do to keep teaching dance because I loved it so much.  I followed the journey where it took me, and I’ve never been sorry I did.

Life’s Surprises May Open New Opportunities

When life doesn’t take us where we want to go, we can see it as our failure or blame it on others, or we can assume that what we thought we should be doing isn’t what we should be doing if we look at the situation from another perspective.  Life’s unpleasant surprises may actually open us to opportunities that will benefit us more than the ones we chose.

A Spiritual Perspective Comes From the Heart

When we see our journey through life from a spiritual perspective, how we need to live may be quite different from what we imagined.  After a difficult time teaching in New Mexico high schools, unable to find the next job, I turned again to writing, and soon it became clear that was what I was supposed to be doing.  Eventually this path led to publishing my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness and fulfillment of my dream to be a writer and to inspire others to use the challenging experiences of their lives to learn and grow.

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Clearly, in this life, my heart has taken me in a direction different from the one my head wants me to follow.  Perhaps the lesson I most needed to learn was not how to have the security of a stable job, but to learn to have courage and follow my heart.  What if all the things that have happened that seemed negative were only lessons that had to be learned to arrive at a better place?

So often in this society, we have been taught that the things we have or the position we have defines our level of success.  We focus on the outer and feel we are failures if we don’t have those things, but our humanity is not measured by things.  It is measured by our ability to love, share, and find a deep and peaceful connection within that makes us aware that we are all One.

We Can Find Joy Being In The Moment

This morning, about ten turkeys nibbled across my lawn—some adults and some the youngsters that were born in the spring.  I was thrilled to see them again, and I realized how little it takes to make me happy now.  I am in the moment more, connected to the nature around me, and on most days I take the time to listen to the birds or notice a new flower blooming.  The simplest thing brings me joy.

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When I think about the past, I remember so many times when nothing made me happy, when I resisted changes I didn’t want and judged myself and others constantly with my perfectionist-programmed mind.  Although dancing taught me the beauty of being in the moment, it took me much longer to discover the value of being in the moment in my daily life and going with the flow of life.

If my life had been the perfect life I envisioned, would I have learned what I most needed to learn?  Who knows?  But what I know is that I’ve learned about courage and perseverance and this journey taught me to trust the flow of life.  Earlier, I could never have imagined feeling the peace and confidence I feel now.  I am grateful for whatever it took to bring me to this place, for I have found so much of what I need by following my journey’s circuitous route.

Follow The Journey Wherever It Leads

We are living in a time when we must be creative to survive.  As any artist, composer or choreographer knows, you may begin the art work with a specific idea of how it will look or sound, but when you begin creating it, it will have a mind of its own and may easily lead you down a different path.  Our lives are like that.  We may follow our intentions, but our entire universe is changing.  Holding on to the way things were will not serve us well.  We must trust that the journey will lead us where we need to go.

What are the surprises you have experienced in your journey lately?  Please comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Accepting Life’s Challenges with Gratitude, 5 Ways to Masterfully Navigate Life’s Challenges, Wayne Dyer/How God Tells You It’s Time for a Change