Tag Archives: Consciousness

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO WHAT IS BETTER

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”  Peter Marshall

When you have a large project to complete, how do you approach it?  Does that approach always help you get the work done?

Being at home has forced me to pay more attention to the condition of the inside of my house.  The kitchen is the most challenging room to clean and I have intended to wash certain areas for a long time, especially the outside of the refrigerator.

Facing Reality

When I looked at the frig door I thought, “That is a mess.  Where did all these stains come from?  We didn’t throw food at it.”  Many of the splotches on the outside were probably mold of some kind.  Other places looked like large bugs had committed suicide there.

In addition, there were photos and yellow crispy quotes I had cut from the newspaper or typed to post there.  The largest one reads:  “Dakota Tribal Wisdom:  When you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”  Those words had once led me to make a painful but wise decision to end a relationship that was not meant to be, so I kept them there as a reminder to make wise decisions.

Using a Plan to Create Action

Last week, I finally decided I had to face this problem head on and come up with a specific plan to clean the entire kitchen.  Every time I had planned to do it all in one day I found an excuse not to, so I decided to take it in steps, a half day at a time.

The first morning I started with the easiest task: cleaning the tile wall above the sink and counter and the spots on the nearby walls.  That went so quickly that I expanded the work to include wiping off the separate cabinets.  Afterwards, I felt very proud of myself.

Motivated by my success on the first day, the next day I decided to clean the inside of the refrigerator.  It was rather difficult because the door only opened to a ninety-degree angle and it was impossible to remove one of the vegetable bins that had numerous scraps of greens under it. To reach that area and clean it, I had to dismantle two shelves which were heavy and awkward to remove. That activity wore me out, but I was delighted that the inside glistened brightly.

On the third day, I stuck with the plan although I dreaded facing the mess on the outside of the frig.  I removed the magnets, pictures, and quotes from the door, sorted them, and threw some away.  Using the Lysol bleach, I scrubbed some areas over and over again, starting at the top and working my way down.  When I took a rest break, I reluctantly kept my cleaning gloves on.

As I was finishing, my husband walked into the room, surveyed my work, and said, “I’ve never seen this frig so white.  It’s looks great, honey.”  I laughed.  “I know!” I said.  Looking around the room, I smiled at the sunlight bouncing off all the clean white areas.  It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.


 

Enjoying the Success

This experience reminded me of all the things I hadn’t done in life because the task seemed overwhelming.  What I had accomplished, I had taken step by step, one task, one day at a time. That had certainly been true when I was in school and during the years I learned to be a modern dancer.  But it is so easy to forget the hard work that takes us to a place where the activity becomes easy and gives us joy.

So today I’m writing the rough draft of this blog post.  The next day I’ll polish it, and the next day, I’ll post it.

We can use this sheltering in place time to catch up on things we have avoided and delayed, and when we have completed one of them, we must remember to compliment ourselves on what we have accomplished. Now, every time I pass that white refrigerator shining in the light, I smile.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

RELATED BLOGS

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

AWAKENING TO OUR RESPONSES

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

 

Awakening to Our Challenges

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”  Maya Angelou

What has happened to you recently that was disturbing?  What did you think about it?  How did you handle the situation?

We all have times in our lives when things don’t go the way we want.  When that happens, how do we handle it?  What we do can make all the difference in how we experience the situation.  More than once I’ve lost a job.  The reasons varied.  When I was young I thought I could speak honestly with my boss, but I quickly learned that bosses often only want to hear what they want to hear.  You play the game or you lose, but I was too naïve to understand this.

Being Shocked By The Challenge

For two years, I worked as an employment counselor at a fine arts school.  My boss had helped found the school and had developed very specific procedures for my job.  I loved the work and I was very successful helping students find employment while in school.

We were doing so well that we needed another counselor and the boss hired a second woman to fill the gap.  After a while, I realized she wasn’t following the boss’s guidelines.  As a result, her actions created conflict and affected my work, and she often flirted with him and behaved unprofessionally.

I became very upset and every day there was a new challenge that wore me down.  The only other “adult” in the office refused to become involved, and when things reached the breaking point for me and I talked again with my boss, he fired me despite the fact I was the one getting the students the most jobs.

How could I be fired for doing the best job?  The unfairness stunned me, and when I complained to the president, she apologized but did nothing.  Being fair was a basic part of my moral values and I was devastated by this experience. How could I trust any school or business?

Looking At the Source of the Challenge

I was angry for a long time and deeply sad because I had loved the job and nothing else like it was available in the area.  I didn’t understand why this could happen, but when I stopped feeling sorry for myself and analyzed the situation, I realized the attention my boss received from the other woman made him feel good and that was more important than production.

He was a hugely overweight single man whom I suspected lived a rather solitary life.  Suddenly, every day he had this attractive woman fawning over him, getting him coffee, making him laugh, behaving like his girlfriend despite the fact that she lived with a boyfriend.  While I was pleasant interacting with him, I had maintained  professional behavior.

Letting Our Negative Thoughts Feelings Go

Accepting that some situations are not fair is difficult.  One feels helpless.  While it is important to examine the situation and try to understand what, if anything, we did wrong, it is also important to let go and move on.  I had to accept the fact that I did my best, and that I did the right thing by continuing to behave professionally.

So, what can we do when these negative experiences overwhelm us?  I’ve always found that quiet time is very valuable and helps to release the negative thoughts that keep circling through my mind.  Some people may “run-off” the stress through exercise, talk to a best friend, meditate or go hiking through the woods.

Releasing the Fear

Regardless of the practice we use, we must release the fear beneath our feelings of anger or inadequacy.  My method is to quietly breath deeply and when I feel the tension releasing, I direct my mind “Release this fear (name it), it has no power over me.”  I take another deep breath and feel positive energy rising through my body, and I repeat the phrase until I feel my mind release the fear.

Using Affirmations

The validation that we are good must come from within.  Self-affirmations may also help heal for they remind us who we really are.  Regardless of what others say, I accept that “I am a loving and competent person.”  Repeating this positive message helps us to remember there is much good about us; we don’t need to believe in the negativity that limits us.  The exact words we use must be fashioned to fit our particular situation.

After this experience at the art school, I had another negative experience in the business world.  This was very scary because I was barely supporting myself on low wages and needed reliable employment.  I had thought I could make better wages in the business world, but in the end  I returned to teaching, my first love.  While the wages were low there, I was doing work that really mattered to my teenage students, and that lifted me up regardless of the challenges.

What self-affirmations work for you?

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

DANCING TO CHALLENGING EXPERIENCES

AWAKENING TO BE IN THE MOMENT

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

 

AWAKENING TO THE SHADOW OF LOVE

“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking.  The one is the shadow of the other.”  Carl Jung

Do you struggle with the conflict between love and power?  How does that manifest in your life?  What must happen for you to choose love over power?

Recently, we have seen far too many examples of the ruthless use of power. The consequences of the recent government shutdown hurt many citizens who on a normal day work  for the government.  People risked losing their homes, had to seek food for their families at food pantries that usually serve only the poor, and did not have the money to pay their bills.

Why did this happen?  Because the power to control others has become the dominant motivation of many in our government, rather than using their power to serve those who elected them. Where is the caring, love, and devotion to service that we expect from those we elect?

A VOICE FROM THE PAST

About a month ago, I was cleaning out a closet and found an old album of my high school years. It was falling apart and there were some things I didn’t want to keep so I threw them out.  Others were mementos I wanted to keep so I transferred them to a new notebook. But among the items I found, the one that surprised me the most was an essay I had written during my junior year in high school.

I had gotten a “A” on it, but I usually made good grades on essays.  So why had I kept this one?  Was it just a coincidence that I found it at this time? As I read it, I was shocked by how relevant it was.  Every day we either read, hear about or experience the prejudice and horrendous treatment of minorities and immigrants and the persistent inequality toward women.

I don’t like to write about politics on this blog, but I believe this essay makes an important point for us to remember as we navigate today’s muddy waters.

THE SLAVE DRIVER WILL BECOME THE SLAVE

Written November 17, 1960

Those who believe themselves to be supreme cannot endure.  Any man who is so self-righteous is defying the moral laws given to us by a just and true God.  The man who believes he is master of all will fail in the end, for his thinking has become twisted by selfishness, prejudice, and ignorance.

The American Civil War resulted in the abolition of the southern confederacy.  The Southerners had been the masters of slavery, chaining the Negro to a cruel, inhumane life.  This the southern gentleman did in order to provide himself with riches.  After the war, this same gentleman found himself a slave. He was a slave to poverty, hunger, devastation, and depression.  The suppresser had fallen headlong into his self-made pit.

From this has stemmed the discrimination we have today.  It has been vicious and it is almost unbelievable that such a thing exists in this democracy. Prejudice is a master.  It enslaves those who are ignorant and cruel enough to refuse the divinely-given freedom to others.  Its agitators have been filled with a superstitious tradition that comes from lack of reason and the lack of knowledge of truth.

They are not aware that they are dragging the name of liberty through the mud.  They do not care if they are mocking man’s greatest dream.  These people, who at the risk of doing this, are willing to join in mob violence against a minority, are forging the chains of their own slavery.

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God cannot long retain it.”  These words of Abraham Lincoln are the greatest hope we have for the future.  At times it seems as if men who are evil receive all the power and benefits.  They certainly do not deserve it.  We must continue to believe that they cannot triumph. We must continue to believe in the providence of God.  We must learn to respect our fellow man and let liberty’s torch shine bright.  Only then can we feel free from the slavery of prejudice and the punishment of a true, just God.

The End

After reading this, I felt sad that these same issues are still dominant today, that the shadow of love, the need to be powerful, fills our society with injustice.  Over fifty years after Martin Luther King’s death we have still not “reached the mountaintop.”  While we cannot change our government over night, the energy we put out into the world in our daily lives does matter.  We may choose to step out of the shadow of power and act in the light of love.

What love will you express today?

Readings:  AWAKENING TO THE POWER OF PLEASANT THOUGHTS, 

AWAKENING TO COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION

©2019 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

“Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions.  It needs the whole sky to fly in ….  A place apart—to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.” Mary Oliver

Do you find any value in meditation or writing?  Are they similar in some way?  What does quiet time mean for you?

The Challenge of Distractions

I keep planning to do daily meditation again.  The life in this country seems so chaotic and crazy that it’s too easy to get upset and distracted and I know meditation will help me find the peace for which I long and clear my head and heart.  It will also help me get back to writing, quieting my mind so new ideas may rise to the surface.

But I don’t.  I need to check my email.  See if I have enough left-overs for lunch.  Make another doctor’s appointment.  Check next week’s meeting time.  It never ends – because I don’t end it.

I’m old enough to remember the time when we all communicated only with phones.  We didn’t have the distractions of Facebook or even email.   I also was unmarried most of my life.  Now I’m married but to a man who is very disciplined about doing his writing work in his home office.  While we do have a life together, I can’t blame him for my inability to find time alone. He respects whatever I need.

Sitting in Silence

In some way, I think I’ve forgotten how rich the aloneness of meditation is, but I was reminded in a very dynamic way last week at the Jung meetup we attended.  The topic was “projections.”  After the speaker gave us a meaningful introduction to the topic, we sat in silence in the dark to get in touch with our inner Selves.

At first, I was just grateful that this quiet time was structured into the event.  I had no excuse not to do it.  I was so involved with the evening’s topic that I had already let go of the day’s annoyances.  Taking a few deep breaths, my mind cleared and kundalini energy raced up my spine and opened my mind to the universe.  I was so surprised by this that I dropped back into my body.

Wisdom of the Inner Self

Slowly, I moved back into a meditative space to ask, “What do I need to release?”  The quiet settled in.  The answer came—“jealousy and anger.” The anger didn’t surprise me, but the jealousy did.  “I’m not jealous of anyone,” I thought.  “I have everything I need.”  But that wasn’t what my deeper Self was saying.

Then a picture formed in my head.  I was sitting and listening to a person talk about his years growing up and all the advantages he had, and I was overcome with a deep sadness that he had opportunities I never had growing up as a child whose family had little money.  There were many things we didn’t have or couldn’t afford that others I went to school with had.  I couldn’t buy a dress because we could only afford what my mother made for me.  I couldn’t take dance lessons or buy the best dolls.  We couldn’t afford to go to Disney World.

As the meaning of this message became clear, I took a deep breath, I smiled and sent love to the child within me, letting go of the feelings of lack that accompanied the message. I’m an adult now and have more than I need.

Our time was up, but I felt peaceful.  I would look more closely at my anger issues another time.  We wrote in our journals then left in silence.  I wrote, “The Universe is there for me with its gifts of silence and love.  Within it, I am One and all creativity connects and flows through me.”

Loving Our Inner Selves

Today, after many months of not writing my blog, I have written. It feels good.  I love writing because my inner Self is good company.  She thinks a lot and feels many emotions.  She perceives life in interesting ways.  She reveals insights that my mind alone would never conjure up. She can also be outrageous and crazy, but she’s never boring.

And perhaps this is the greatest gift that solitude affords us even if we aren’t writers:  to like whoever we are in that solitude and to be a friend to ourselves.  We may be different out in the world where so many challenges press upon us.  We may not always handle them well.  We may not always find the best solution to a problem, but whoever we are in that solitude is the self we must love.  By doing so we can become the person we truly desire to be.

Footnote: On the day I started writing this blog, Mary Oliver died.  I love her poetry and am very connected with nature.  I feel a tremendous loss as, I’m sure, many of you do. That day my husband sent me the following piece written by Mary Oliver.  Please read it.  It is beautiful as always and applies to any creative endeavor.

https://voxpopulisphere.com/2016/10/23/mary-oliver-the-artists-task/

 

 

 

 

 

MORE THAN MOTHER’S DAY

“Look deep into Nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

What does Nature mean to you?  Is it part of your spiritual life?  What has it taught you?

This year Mother’s Day fell on a Sunday.  Knowing that would be the sermon topic at church that day, I decided to spend the morning with the only mother I still have, Mother Nature.  I was longing to be with her after days of torrential rains, and it was unlikely to rain that morning, so I headed to Beaver Dam Lake and the Bird Sanctuary to meditate.

It was lovely.  A gentle breeze blew through the warm air and caressed me.  My soul opened letting the concerns of the day drop away. I started walking through the Bird Sanctuary at one end of the lake and followed a rough path around a small pond where I used to see beautiful egrets balancing on one leg. I was startled.  Something had changed.  The pond was perfectly still and covered with scum and debris.  Just beyond it, the lake it fed into sparked blue and green in the morning light.  “How strange, “I thought, “they usually take excellent care of this place.”

As the path led away from the pond, I followed it along the far side of the lake, and after a while, realized I was on an old path.  The new path was above me.  “Oh well,” I decided, “if this ends and I have to back-track, that’s okay. All I care about is being here.”

Finding a Higher Path

Eventually the path ended in a pile of logs, but as soon as I stepped over them, I was on the higher main path.  Not having been to this side of the lake in a couple of years, I realized I was already a long way from where I started.  Something was different.  The lake seemed larger and I couldn’t see the bridge across the end of the lake.  Did they move it?  Had it been near where the boats were docked?  I couldn’t remember.

Before long, the path moved out from under the trees, and as the sunlight flooded over me, I felt such a joy being in nature.  But again, I was confused as I walked down the street because it took me further than before past houses that I had never seen.  The path below the houses’ backyards that bordered the lake at this end had always been private, but now a dirt path led from the street to the path along the water.  It appeared to be public, so while I followed it to be closer to the water, I also felt a bit like a trespasser.  Besides, at this point I felt adventurous and was beginning to enjoy Mother Nature’s surprises.

The path wound around the lake bringing me to the bridge I had imagined was closer to the Sanctuary.  I stopped and took in the immense beauty of the lake, shining clean and bright in the morning light.  I smiled, delighted that what I thought would be a routine hike had been a bit of an adventure.

The Other Side

The walkway leading back to the parking lot and Bird Sanctuary was clearer and more formal, winding around the side of the lake near the street where traffic noise invaded the silent beauty of nature.  By the time I reached the Bird Sanctuary, I was sweating and thankful for the cooling shade of the trees.  Resting at one of the overlooks on the water I could see the full view of the lake.

A young boy with his parents were there, insistent that he could climb a tree with only vertical branches.  Wedging his feet against opposite branches, he made some progress, but eventually gave up. As I turned to leave, a woman I knew who was a nature lover and birder appeared and we shared stories for a few minutes.  Then she went her way and I walked in the opposite direction to my favorite ancient tree. I hugged it as I always do, then sat on the nearby bench scanning the water-filled cove for ducks or turtles. A Tiger Swallowtail flitted around the cove and what may have been a Monarch butterfly surveyed the area.

We Are All One

Another mother with a young boy appeared on the path and she and I visited as the boy climbed the ancient tree whose branches were perfectly placed for climbing.  At a limb half-way up, the boy settled in.

“Aren’t you going further?” his mother asked surprised.

“No,” he replied smiling.  “I’m good.”

The mother looked at me as if to say, “that’s a first.”  Then she asked me, “Are you a mother?”

“No, I’m not.” I replied.

She continued, “Do you have a mother who is still alive?”

“No, I don’t.”

By this time the boy had come down from the tree.  “Well, Happy Sunday then,” she said smiling as they turned to continue down the path.

Until the woman posed her questions, I had forgotten it was Mother’s Day.  When I’m with Mother Nature, all of life, past and present, is One.  While I miss my mother and grandmother, they have been gone a long time and without them, it made perfect sense to be with the only other mother I still have.

All Is Well

After a while, I returned to the entrance of the Sanctuary and discovered why the small pond there was such a mess.  There was a sign explaining that it was an ecofilter wetland.  In other words, it was the place where the water coming from the stream that fed the lake was cleansed, filtering out toxins naturally so only clean water could feed the lake.  “Brilliant!” I thought, greatly relieved that the area was not being neglected.

As I turned toward the parking lot nearby, my phone rang and it was my husband letting me know he was heading home from church.  The timing was perfect.  Filled with happiness and peace, I took one last look at the sanctuary – the perfect place for me that morning, as well as for the birds.

© 2018 Georganne Spruce

Where is your perfect place?

Related Articles:  AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

DANCING WITH NATURE’S CYCLES,

AWAKENING TO ACT WITH COMPASSION

THIS POST APPEARS ON BARBARA FRANKEN’S BLOG SITE, ME MY MAGNIFICENT SELF.  PLEASE VISIT THE SITE TO READ MY POST AND CONNECT WITH HER WONDERFUL BLOG.  MAY YOU ALL FIND COMPASSION IN YOURSELVES AND OTHERS.

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 WHAT YOU SEE

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

Do you see what is front of you or do you see what you want to see?  How accurate is your perception of things?  Do you seek out information on a topic before forming a judgement?

Look at the picture above.  What do you see?  It appears that the woman is balanced on the edge of a log, but living intimately with gravity, as we all do, is what we see here really possible?  What is really happening?  Did the camera simply catch her in the split second she touched the log before falling forward to the ground?

My first perception is that she is off balance and will fall.  On the other hand, maybe she is leaning back far enough to balance on the edge.  Or perhaps the picture was photo shopped. What do you see?

We Constantly Interpret What We See

On a daily basis, we are faced with situations that are not clear, and we have to interpret what we see or hear. The conclusion we reach is very much based on our previous life experience.  For example, my first response to the above pictures is based on having been a dancer and dealt with balance, weight, and movement.  As a result, I believe that the picture was taken a split-second before she would fall.

Gustave Flaubert said, “There is no truth.  There is only perception.”  We can collect facts about any topic, but what we experience usually affects how we think and feel about that experience.  For example, since the last U.S. election, we never know when we can trust the president’s comments because they are often his emotional response to a situation not based on facts or reality.

He sees virtually everything in relation to how it makes him look powerful or weak and ignores the way his actions affect many of the people who voted for him.  Twisting facts to support one’s political agenda is not unusual, but it is clear he cannot see beyond his own emotional needs, and they are based in his fear of not being powerful.

Negative Thinking Is the Result of Fear

Negative thinking is created by underlying fears and may cause us to think that we are facing a problem when it is simply a challenge that can be easily solved.  If we choose to see it as a serious problem, we create an emotional block that may prevent us from seeing a simple or easy solution.  Realizing that fear is getting in the way and letting it go will help us see the solution.

Look at this the picture above:  rose petals on a keyboard.  What do you think has happened here?  When I first saw it, I thought of the roses I’ve received from my love on Valentine’s Day and how reluctant I often am to throw them out even when the dry petals begin to fall.

As I continued to gaze at the picture, I thought of other scenarios.  A couple had a fit and someone threw a rose at the other and it hit the piano instead.  Or the couple has broken up and the roses have been left to die like the relationship.  Or the rose is lying there because it fell from the vase on the piano and no one has picked it up because the pianist is no longer in that house.

What We See Is Based On How Carefully We Look

How we see a situation is often based on our past experiences.  It is also based on how carefully we explore what has happened.  Look at the following nature photo.  Glance at it quickly, then away.

Now go back and study it for a moment.  Do you see more than you did with a glance?

This is a bit like reading articles on Facebook.  If you only skim the titles of articles, you may have missed the real point of the writing because most titles on Facebook are created to catch attention, not to inform. So the topic that you see in the title may have little resemblance to the information in the article.  This is why it is important to fact check our own perceptions.  Is what we see at first really the story?

Informing ourselves about major issues that affect us can shift our perceptions to what is real rather than just what feels good. For example, why did people think Trump would help those most in need just because he said it.  There was no history to support these promises, but so many people trusted what he said without looking further. They never looked beyond the surface.

Knowing Ourselves Helps Us See More Clearly

When we develop the consciousness to look at our own perceptions and prejudices and be aware of what they are, we are able to make better choices. If a friend makes a comment that reminds us of our mother’s criticism when we were young, we can think, “Ah ha,” and choose not to lash out at that person because we know the anger we feel arises from the past, not the moment.

So, were there moments in your day when the past or your predictable thoughts side-tracked an exchange with another?  Did you “blow off” reading an article because it was written by a journalist you label as too liberal or too conservative?  Did you discount your teenagers ranting about the unfairness of a teacher because the kid is always too emotional?

Getting more information and looking deeper helps us see more clearly.  What have you seen today in a new way?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

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