Tag Archives: Consciousness

AWAKENING TO RACIAL EQUALITY

“In the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

publicphoto.org

publicphoto.org

After years of teaching, summer always feels like a vacation to me although I’ve been retired for years. I think of summer as a time to go swimming, hike through the forest, plant flowers, and wake up feeling happy and energetic. It’s just a joyous, free time when I don’t have to work hard at anything.

But this summer feels more like winter than summer. The intensive rain or extreme heat keeps me indoors and that intensive summer energy vibrates within like it is ready to explode. Then there was last Wednesday and the shooting in Charleston and the darkness descended like a shadow of winter.

Public Shootings Create Grief For Many

My soul has lost its joy. It feels like the middle of winter when there’s little to do and the cold makes going outside miserable. It feels like the 60’s all over again with the endless murders of anyone who tried to change things for the better and stood up against racism.

Congress of Racail Equality

Congress of Racail Equality

To say that the death of nine people in Charleston was tragic is an understatement. It is a turning point and we cannot ignore it.   What real progress, if any, has been made is merely a shadow of what we still need to accomplish.

We Must Take Action Against Hate

It’s true we are grieving for many reasons, and we have to grieve and feel, but soon we need to move beyond that and find that “invincible summer” within ourselves—that part of us that will take action, that understands we are all human and must be treated humanely. We must harness our energy and take action this time in a way that permanently changes the face of racism in this country.

For one thing, I want to know how we can keep other young people from developing the hatred that motivated Dylann Roof. What really pushed him over the edge? I believe it was more than what he read on the internet. He said the people in the Bible class were so nice he thought about not killing them—but he did it anyway.

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For a moment he felt the light but it didn’t matter because he was already lost in the darkness of hatred. And yet those who lost their loved ones refused to let him take away their love, so they forgave him. When you’ve been the victim of hate, to return it only expands it. They understood that. They found their “invincible summer.” I am deeply touched by their choice to love.

Only Love Can Heal Racial Equality

Is there an invincible summer within me? Maybe. I felt it for a while as we attended a solidarity gathering at St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church on Friday. The message was given by the minister there who grew up in the Charleston church where the shooting occurred. He lost dear friends. He was grieving deeply, but that “invincible summer” shown brightly through him.

He urged us all to action—white and black. It’s time to stop fooling around and look at the issues that create the kind of hate that creates violence. It’s time to improve education and employment opportunities for everyone. It’s time to regulate the sale of guns so that the mentally unstable cannot get them. It’s time to stop incarcerating young people for minor crimes. It’s time to fix what is terribly broken.

Urban-News Photo

Urban-News Photo

Racial Equality Creates Opportunity for All

In every city there needs to be serious conversations about how to make life better for everyone. Perhaps this shooting haunts me deeply, not only because of its tragedy, but because it reminds me of so much of what I saw in New Orleans during the years I taught there. In five years I only had one white student. Most were African-American or mixed race.

I saw poverty, hunger, and children with parents who could not function, usually because of drug addictions or because they held down multiple jobs to feed the family. They went to school in buildings smelling of mold and urine. In one school the bathrooms were so filthy, students wouldn’t use them. They would cut class and go home. And my highly intelligent students were harassed by some teachers who were incompetent. This was all before Katrina.

We Need to Release Our Obsession With Always Winning

In this country we are obsessed with a competitive, hierarchical mentality that creates a need for being the one who wins despite our democratic foundations that state we are all equal. Our equality is an illusion. Two of the things that have happened during my lifetime that have been detrimental to society and contribute to the rash of public shootings have been the loosening of gun sale regulations and the ease with which young people can find sites online that encourage racist attitudes.

When we need to always win, to always be superior, even if violence is the only way we know to win, it is always rooted in fear and often those that act on this impulse are not mentally stable. For those who need mental health services, there are fewer choices because so many are being cut. Couple that with the ease to obtain guns and we have a serious problem.

Public Media Needs to Create Shows That Show Our Humanity

In addition, the kind of films and television shows that are commonly watched are very violent, and even the nonviolent programs, the characters are often despicable. One of the most popular is “House of Cards,” but the main character will stab anyone in the back to get what he wants. I’ve heard people say they are addicted to it. That’s because our dark side is drawn to the darkness in others.

If we are stable adults, we have the strength to resist this, but a child or teenager who is vulnerable, particularly one who is a loner longing for attention may see those powerful, negative personalities as heroes. That dark one becomes a role model for becoming a hero.

There was a time when entertainment as a whole was pretty harmless. In the beginning of television there were high quality dramas written by major writers. There were funny, harmless comedies. It’s true that the characters were often idealized, but there were few really evil characters around. It was a more positive world that we as young people were exposed to.

War Veterans Working Together

War Veterans Working Together

People Need Positive Role Models in Life and the Media

So why do we continue to tolerate this? It all comes down to money. If it makes money, it is tolerated. Hollywood knows that stimulating people’s fears will draw them into the dark stories. The image of becoming a hero by killing people has pulled many a young person into committing horrendous acts. Dylann Roof wanted to do what he thought no one else was willing to do—be a hero and get rid of “those people” whom he perceived as trying to take over his world.

So we are left with a dilemma. One of our basic rights in this country is free speech and our constitution gives us the right to bear arms. In “the winter of our discontent” we must find a way for these freedoms to co-exist and to create an “invincible summer. What are we going to do about it?

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                                            ZQT4pQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Eckhart Tolle: Holding onto Negativity (video), Charleston Shooting Opens Unhealed Wounds, What Solutions Are Commonly Proposed to Solve Racism

DANCING TO DIVINE ORDER

“When you have come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, Faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.” Anonymous

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Have you ever had to “wing it?” How did that work out for you? When there seems to be no solution to a problem what do you do?

More than once in my life, I’ve faced a difficult situation and not known what to do. I used to agonize over it, do extensive research, or talk to my women friends about it. Sometimes those actions gave me information that helped solve the problem or at least moved it a step forward.

At other times, though, nothing led to a solution and all I could do was wait for a new idea, connection, or event to materialize. As time went by, I began to notice that situations were harder to solve when I was determined to solve them. No matter what was happening, I was not going to give up!

Divine Order May Guide Us in Unexpected Ways

When I began to study Unity and Science of Mind teachings, I discovered the concept of Divine Order, and I began to understand that sometimes things happen the way they do because there is something evolving beyond our understanding.

For example, over the years I free-lanced or taught in situations where I made little money, but for most of those years, I loved what I was doing either teaching modern dance or English in private high schools. Despite the low income, I always had what I needed so that I could continue doing what I loved. Unexpected work would appear at just the right time.

Divine Order May Contain Hidden Gifts

When I was teaching in New Orleans and took a summer course on teaching the African novel, I had no way to know that in two years I would be spending five weeks studying in West Africa on a grant. The trip grew out of the course, but was not part of the original plan. This was a dream come true for me because I had wanted to visit Africa from the time I was a child enamored with Albert Schweitzer’s work with the lepers.

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At times during these years, I had to use savings to pay the bills, but by the time savings were becoming depleted, I was old enough for Social Security, and that, plus substitute teaching, supported me. I had given up teaching dance years earlier, and by this time I was beginning to write seriously. Writing of course was my second passion and being able to choose when I worked gave me the freedom to write more.

Having grown up with Depression Era parents, I had learned how to stretch every dollar, and I never felt I needed lots of things. On the other hand, I always felt that I had what I needed growing up because my mother was a creative person who, among other things, made me beautiful clothes and passed the skill on to me. We never did without anything that really mattered. The values I learned early served me well as an adult.

Being Open May Bring Us Spiritual Answers

For many years now, my daily affirmation has been “I affirm Divine Order, Divine Guidance, and Divine Protection.” It seems to me that covers it all. I know I don’t have all the answers, but I do trust that the answers I need will come to me. I have faith in Divine Order, keeping an open mind when life becomes difficult, knowing there will be a gift or lesson in the chaos.

Being in touch with Divine Order requires us to be in touch with the silence within so that we can hear Spirit when it speaks and to be aware when the message we need comes from someone else. It is so easy to ignore that message when it isn’t what we want to hear, but if we are in tune with our inner self, we can sense when we are hearing Spirit and not our ego wanting to control the situation or please others.

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Divine Order Brings Us Peace

And when things don’t go well or the way we want, accepting Divine Order can bring us the peace we would not have otherwise. At times, we must accept a situation, at least for the moment. It doesn’t mean it won’t change; it just means our only alternative is to live with it, and stay open to any future guidance about the next step we need to take.

Divine Order Manifests Synchronicity

I also think of synchronicities as moments of Divine Order when what we need comes to us in unexpected and timely ways. Several years ago when I was finishing my memoir, I belonged to a writer’s group. After a meeting, I went over to talk to one of the members, a man I knew had published several books independently.

I asked if he knew a good cover designer. Our conversation went in several directions, finally ending with him offering to format my paperback book for free. He saw it as an opportunity to learn more about formatting and to help me succeed at the same time. Another man in the group volunteered to format my eBook. Being in that group was a beautiful example of Divine Order because the intent of the group was to help each other succeed at a time when I had a great deal to learn. What a precious gift it was!

Dancing to Divine Order

We often may fear the unknown or unexpected because we have been surprised in negative ways, but some surprises come bearing gifts that change our lives in positive ways. Accepting those changes often requires us to learn new steps so that we can dance with the Divine and stay in touch with a loving and deeper part of ourselves where all answers reside.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                             ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Trust Divine Order (Wayne Dyer), Trust in Divine Order

DANCING TO THE DANGER OF ASSUMPTIONS

“Begin challenging your assumptions. Your assumptions are your window to the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile or the light won’t come in.” Alan Alda

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Have you made any assumptions lately that turned out to be wrong? Are you quick to make assumptions or do you explore a situation before deciding what you believe?

We all make assumptions every day and many of our beliefs about life are based on assumptions. We may make judgments about people based on little evidence and proceed to take action based on those judgments. If our assumptions are wrong, they can lead to disaster.

Assumptions May Hide Lies

When I was teaching in high school, I had a student who frequently told dramatic stories about her parents. Having taught for many years by that time, I retained my skepticism because I knew teenagers often embellish the truth to their advantage. When I met the parents and talked to other teachers, it was clear that her parents were not the people she described.

I have to admit this student was very convincing and I had sometimes assumed a story was true. It isn’t always easy to sort out the truth or to even be clear that we are making an assumption. For example, I recently made an assumption about outdoor mural artists that I discovered was incorrect when I attended a religion and arts conference a few weeks ago.

sytleweekly.com

styleweekly.com

We May Not Realize We Have Made An Assumption

I have always assumed that most artists who paint on buildings are basically graffiti artists, often talented but untrained, but I wasn’t consciously aware that I made this assumption. At the conference, when Ed Trask, a very successful, talented and well-trained outdoor mural artist spoke to us about the people who do this art, I realized how ignorant I really was about the subject.

Based on Ed’s presentation and our tour around Richmond that day, I learned that most of these artists have studied art like any other artist and are often well-paid for their work. Looking closely at the murals, I began to appreciate the detail and artistry of these paintings. With accurate information, my assumptions about mural artists changed.

The Danger of Assumptions

Unlike these two examples, there are other places in our lives where making assumptions may be dangerous. Sherman Alexie points out his concern: “In the middle of the night when you are ambiguously ethnic, like me, when you’re brown, beige, mauve, sienna, one of those lighter browns in the Crayola box, you have to be careful of the cops and robbers, because nobody’s quite sure what you are, but everybody has assumptions.”

What we are seeing right now is how deeply assumptions around race permeate our culture. The number of recent murders of black men by police is staggering, and I suspect they are based on any number of assumptions. One assumption is that whatever the police do, they will not be held accountable, even if they kill an unarmed, non-violent person.

Another assumption is that if a person runs away from the police that means he is guilty of something illegal, and it’s okay to shoot or harm him physically. It never seems to occur to the police that a young black man may run away from them simply because he fears them. Our assumptions are often based on such stereotypes that are not truths; they are distortions. But the problem is that we may not always know the truth, and we often have to dance around it, hoping for the best rather than ask the questions that needs to be asked and assume the suspicious person is innocent unless we have proof the opposite is true.

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The Danger of Assumptions Is That They May Be Lies

As a woman born at the end of World War II, I’ve seen many changes take place in the treatment of women. It is hard for me to even grasp that for part of my grandmother’s life, it was not legal for her to vote. When I was 27 years old, the Supreme Court struck down the laws that prohibited blacks and whites from marrying. A few years later, when I was divorced, the credit my husband and I had both worked to earn belonged to him only.

All these laws were based on the assumption that one group of people is inferior to another so that the “superior” group can retain control over the other. But this assumption is a lie. The reality is that we are all supposed to be treated equally in this country and the law is supposed to support that. Clearly we have still not reached a time when this theory is a reality because many people still cling to these lies of inferiority as truth.

We Believe In Lies Because We’re Afraid

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The FourAgreements says, “When we believe in lies, we cannot see the truth, so we make thousands of assumptions and take them for truth. One of the biggest assumptions we make is that the lies we believe are the truth.” So why do we choose to believe these lies? Because they serve a useful purpose for us or simply because we are afraid of the truth.

Fear is at the base of all negative emotion and behavior. When we can release it and look beyond it, we can come to a place where that emotion does not color our experiences. When we find ourselves believing without a doubt that something is true, it is worthwhile to question what information this is based on. We must learn to challenge our own assumptions.

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Our Intuition May Help Us Avoid the Danger of Assumptions

There are two times when I know I need to challenge my assumptions. First if I start defending my view point and “digging my feet in” I know I need to stop and question why I am being so insistent. That leads me to the second awareness. In that case, I feel an uneasiness or a sense that something isn’t quite right and my intuition is suggesting I reconsider my assumption.

In the areas of our lives and society that are not working, we need to examine what is at the core of the issue and challenge ourselves to explore it until we are sure the path we are taking is the best one. It may require learning some new steps in this dance of life. As Alda suggests, we need to be open so that there is room in our thinking for the light to come through.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                      ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: The Dangers of Your Unconscious Assumptions About OthersExploring the Psychological Motives of Racism

AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL CREATIVITY

“First one seeks to become an artist by training the hand. Then one finds it is the eye that needs improving. Later one learns it is the mind that wants developing, only to find that the ultimate quest of the artist is in the spirit.” Larry Brullo

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Vincent Van Gogh’s Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun

Are you creative in any way? Do you feel a need to express your creativity? How do you express it? How does this connect to your spirituality?

Creativity is not a simple subject. In this time when rationality is still valued in the dominant culture, the non-physical aspects of creativity and spirituality are not always considered important. In this country, arts programs are the first to be cut in the public schools despite numerous studies that indicate how artistic activity is significantly valuable to the development of young minds.

The Spiritual and Creative Are One

Despite that, the creative and the spiritual often intermingle, for they both come from an internal, non-physical connection. On the non-physical level, I cannot tell them apart for they both seem to come from an inner knowing. The idea for a poem appears any time of the day or night and is streamed to me from an inner source. It flows onto the paper. I do not think about it initially. I may edit it later, deciding what to keep, but I never interfere with the original flow.

As Julia Cameron says, “Creativity requires faith. Faith requires that we relinquish control.” We have to trust that inner part of ourselves. Not only does creating require faith, but it requires us to experiment, to play, and to explore the unknown. Even the most realistic painting is not just a pastoral scene, it is also the reflection of the artist’s vision and skill.

Sean

Sean Hedges-Quinn

Recently, I attended the Marsha Powell Festival of Religion and the Arts at VCU in Richmond, Virginia. I spent three days immersed in lectures and activities including a wide range of artistic expression and theory on how art and spirituality are intertwined in various settings and in the artistic mind.

Understanding the Creative Mind

My husband Charles Davidson, a Van Gogh scholar, was on the first panel along with Cliff Edwards, another Van Gogh scholar, and Laura Kreiselmaier whose presentation was on the concept of transliminality in art. They provided a fascinating look at Van Gogh.

Anyone who has read about Van Gogh knows that he had a volatile temperament, so the concept of transliminality that Laura introduced was intriguing. Transliminality is the tendency for thoughts, feelings, perceptions, sensations, images, ideas and intuitions to move in and out of one’s consciousness. This happens more frequently with artistic people than with those who are not, and it certainly describes my experience with art.

Artists Awaken to Spiritual Creativity

Because I spent many years as a modern dancer and choreographer, it is virtually impossible for me to hear music without dance images coming into mind. A part of me always wants to move to music and so my mind does the choreography even when I’m sitting still. I also feel a sensual response to any music I find pleasurable.

Speaking about her art, Georgia O’Keefe said, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—the things I had no words for.” So what was the source of this knowing? How did she or any artist know what color or shape to use?

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Georgia O’Keefe – Cala Lillies with Red Anenome

Certainly training contributes to an artist’s expression, but there is a deeper, spiritual source that also guides what is created. Vincent Van Gogh was a deeply spiritual man. At one point he even wanted to be a minister. This intertwining of spirituality and art is deeply explored in Charles Davidson’s wonderful book Bone Dead and Rising: Vincent Van Gogh and the Self Before God.

The Spiritual Dimension Awakens Art

Van Gogh’s paintings are vibrant and alive with energy and light, especially the flowers and landscapes. The artist clearly sees more than what the average person sees. His pictures tell us about what he feels when he looks at the scene, person, or object. Because he is so intently connected to nature and sees beyond the surface of life, he offers us more than what we see, he pictures a spiritual dimension as well.

What was so wonderful about the conference I attended was that I saw many ways that artists are touched by their religious and spiritual awareness. One artist, Ernesto Pujol, creates silent performances in public places, recognizing that our endless chatter and doing distracts us from our spiritual and creative centers deep within. His work was inspired by Buddhist mindfulness.

Ernesto Pujol's Walking Ground

Ernesto Pujol’s Walking Ground

Fleming Jeffries’ sees drawing as a way to slow the mind and get in touch with the unconscious. Much of her art is about connecting deeply with nature or her environment. Currently living in Qatar, she must navigate with empathy the complexities of living and creating art as a non-Muslim woman in a Muslim society.

In a world that is still so attached to rational thinking, we need to develop our creativity, in whatever area suits us, in order to develop our whole selves. One does not have to be an artist to be creative. Business people, technicians, doctors, teachers and all people have opportunities that arise where they have to use creative thinking to solve a problem.

But it is perhaps art—dance, visual, theater, or music—that touches our hearts most deeply and is a place where we can all experience the Divine and our own spiritual creativity.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Transliminality,  Awakening to Wildness: One With Nature, The Relationship Between Spirituality and Artistic Expression: Cultivating the Capacity for Imagining

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO WINTER’S DELIGHT

“Give me the splendid, silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.” Walt Whitman

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Do you enjoy winter and its snowy days? Do you like the glint of the sun on ice? Or do you love to curl up near a fire and disappear into a book or write poems about a lost love?

Quiet Winter Days May Be Creative

I have to admit I am rather excited by snowy days when I don’t have to go out and can use the weather as an excuse to just read and nap while the winds whip around the house and spill branches into the yard. And yes, I build a fire in the fireplace and sometimes poems rise to the surface as I sit, not needing to do anything.

I lived in Nebraska for two years when I taught dance in the university and winter lasted most of the year. The first thirty days I was there in December and January the temperature was below zero. It wasn’t unusual to walk around in snow up to my knees.

On one of those days I wrote this poem. No doubt many of you can relate to this picture today.

NEBRASKA WINTER

 Ice bends the trees of this arid land

So that woods appear like shrub forests,

Locked in a white crystal blanket.

The sun sparkles, shatters, plays

Off the hills like a melody of mirrors

Playing songs through the air.

The land flies by as we drive,

Like silver plates skipped on a stream.

Gray deer dart across our path,

Flying shapes connected to the land

By color and vibrance,

Alive in this frozen world

Where ice has stopped the flow of human life.

Only what is close to the land

Survives, vibrantly, through the ice.

Unlike most days in Nebraska, the sun has come out today and melted the icy streets in this North Carolina mountain town, but it has been a lovely contemplative day. I’ve been sifting through my poetry, deciding it is time to publish some and trying to decide where.

Winter, A Time To Turn Within

Winter is the perfect time to turn within and contemplate our lives and evaluate what is working and what is not. When spring arrives, we will be too distracted by the beauty it showers upon us to stay inside ourselves to do this work. But when the cold frosts the windows and makes the stairs treacherous, it feels safe to go inside, to do winter’s version of spring cleaning and decide how we want to change our lives during this year. So, I guess the decision I’ve made is to get busy sharing my poetry, make a book, get it published, and publish some poems on the internet.

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Poetry Is A Very Personal Form

Poetry is so personal, and I feel nervous about putting it out there. Silly, isn’t it, when I’ve already published a memoir that is very personal. So today, I’ll share another poem which really is a silly poem I wrote as I imagined being a tree. We poets do things like that. Of course, maybe I was a Druid in another life.

WINTER CONVERSATIONS

Mountains hold up the snow,

While cedars talk of rumors

In the wind,

Shaking their heads as if to say:

“Mother Earth better watch out

For those wily hunters of fortune.”

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 Wishing all my readers a lovely warm day!

How do you like to spend a cold winter day? Is it a good time for you to turn inward? Please share and comment.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  13 Ways of Making Poetry a Spiritual Practice,
Sanity: A Dialogue with Echkhart Tolle

AWAKENING TO OUR WILD CREATIVITY

“Without wildness we have no creativity. No species does.” Matthew Fox

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Is your wildness alive in you? How does it express itself? Is it part of your creativity?

Recently, when I watched the film Marion Woodman: Dancing in the Flames, I was moved by her comments about integrating her perfectionist and wild aspects. I definitely related to her comments and challenges because, as I explained in last week’s blog Awakening to Release Our Perfectionism, these aspects are parts of my personality.

We Can Express Our Wildness Through Creativity

I remember only too well playing in the mud, climbing trees and hiking in the forest where I had so much freedom, but like Marion, on Sunday I had to dress up in a dress and patent-leather shoes and move in a very lady-like fashion. It didn’t help that I was often ill as a child and confined to my bed.

Instead of experiencing my wildness by running around the yard, I spent many hours in bed designing paper doll clothes, reading, or sewing. It was then that my mind learned to run wild even when my body couldn’t. There was no teacher there to critique my artistic work and my mother never criticized it. In fact, she always encouraged my creative expression.

Perhaps I didn’t need to run wild so much because we lived close to nature with chickens and rabbits in the back yard pen and a garden that produced corn, potatoes, green beans, and lettuce. The chinaberry tree in the back yard produced leaves, flowers, and berries that we used to spice up our mud pies. When the family did something together it was usually outdoors in a park or by a stream where my brother and I swam and our parents fished for bass or catfish.

Wildness Is A Natural Aspect Of Nature

Living so close to nature, its cycles seemed natural just as it seemed natural, although not pleasant, that during tornado season when the sirens sang, we hid in the safest part of the house. We knew the chaos of nature as well as its serenity. We accepted it as part of life.

When we create a work of art or any creative thing, it appears first within us. It may be only a glimmer of an idea, swimming around in our mental fog, and we may not be quite clear what it wants to be: a project, a poem, a song, or a new way to cook chicken.

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Creativity Comes From Chaos

Matthew Fox says, “Creativity happens at the border between chaos and order. Chaos is a prelude to creativity. We need to learn, as every artist needs to learn, to live with chaos and, indeed, to dance with it as we listen to it and attempt some ordering.” This learning to create order from chaos may well be one of the most useful aspects of being creative, regardless of what activity we embrace.

We Discover Who We Are Through Creativity

It is in these creative moments, trying to create form from chaos, that we use our minds in ways that benefit us mentally and emotionally. Through this process we also express who we are, allowing our wildness to take us into unknown territory and express and create in the way that only we can. What we create may surprise us as well as those around us.

In the ninth grade, I drew a charcoal picture one day in art class that totally mystified my teacher. “Different,” she said to my parents who visited the class on parents’ night. In the foreground was a phoenix and in the background were dark clouds and fallen Greek columns from the front of what was probably a Greek temple.

Neither the teacher, nor I, nor my parents had any idea of the symbolism contained in the picture. It was only years later when I studied mythology and symbolism that I understood. In Greek mythology, the phoenix is a bird that dies and is reborn, a symbol of immortality. I don’t know what the storm was in my life at the time, but clearly, I survived it for, in some sense, I was the phoenix. There was life in the midst of destruction.

Nature Teaches Us About Natural Wildness

Because my life has been so enriched by my closeness to nature and the seasons and I see the cycles as opportunities to explore various aspects of myself, I have found peace with my wildness. I understand that the best way to tame it is through loving it and expressing it through creative activity, just as the earth cycles through its version of death and rebirth.

2014 012On her website, Jennifer Currie interprets the meaning of the Tarot cards and she speaks about wildness as it is expressed by the Strength card where a woman usually embraces a lion. “You don’t tame the beast by beating it down—you tame it through love and acceptance.” And I would add—by using it to create.

Being Close To Nature Reduces Stress and Violence

Too often when we are children, our wildness is squelched without a creative alternative being offered that allows us to tame our own wildness with love. Perhaps one of the reasons inner city youth become violent is that they do not have a place where they can “run wild” without causing harm or being harmed. Instead of encouraging them to express that wildness creatively, the environment models being “lawless.”

I am thankful that there are now many programs that take youth out into the wilderness and introduce them to authentic wildness. Scientific studies are beginning to show that the time we spend in the forest or on the mountain have a calming effect on the brain and help to release stress. Therefore, it is very beneficial for adults and children to find time when we can just be with the natural world.

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Creativity Connects Us With All That Is

While we need to be able to live with the wildness that comes as a normal part of life, we also need to learn how to find peace with it and allow it to feed our creativity in ways that will bring new awareness and expression into our lives. It is in our creative moments that we often connect with Spirit and become One with all that is.

Are you in touch with your wildness?  How do you express it in your life?  Please share and comment. 

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet by Matthew Fox(video)Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning Through Emersion in Natural Settings, Does Nature Make Us Happy?

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR PERFECTIONISM

“It is easier to be better than you are than to be who you are. The point here is that perfection belongs to the gods; completeness or wholeness is the most a human being can hope for.” Marion Woodman Serene pool

Are you a perfectionist? Does that work well for you? Does it create problems with other people or your family? Do you see an advantage to letting go of it?

Why do we try to be perfect? Perhaps because somewhere in our lives we received the message that it was not acceptable to be anything less. In my case, I thought if I could do everything correctly that my parents wouldn’t scream so much, but of course they screamed at each other more than at me. Despite that, I felt I should be able to make my mother, especially, more happy.

High Expectations in Childhood Create Fear of Failure

The other part of it that came from my childhood was that my parents said I was special and intelligent; therefore, I should always make straight A’s in school and do things well. I shouldn’t waste my intelligence or talents but always do my best.

This made more of an impression on me than it might have because I was weak from illnesses and was a disaster playing any physical game at school—even simply throwing a ball. I needed to make up for that somehow and I did do very well in academics and reasonably well in music, especially singing.

We Want to Be Perfect Because We Want To Be Loved

Sadly, when we follow the perfectionist path in life, we are destined to fail often. We set our standards so high they are virtually impossible to attain and so we often feel inadequate. This disappointment is inevitable because as Marion Woodman points out “perfection belongs to the gods.”

Often the need for perfection is focused on external creations rather than going within to find ways to grow and evolve. We need to look perfect, do our jobs perfectly, find the perfect mate, say the perfect thing, and paint the perfect picture. We crave the love and attention that we believe will result from this, and we often do not see the connection between our trying to be perfect and our failure in relationships and other areas of our lives.

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Becoming Whole Is More Important Than Being Perfect

This pursuit often takes us away from what is most important—becoming whole and complete as our true selves because this journey requires us to take chances. If we take a chance, we may fail—it’s very risky and it conjures up an enormous amount of fear. We have to go within and there are no clear guidelines for succeeding. We have to rely on our very unconcrete intuition.

Pursuing perfection in many areas of our lives will often lead us to moments when we are confronted with how unhealthy or stressful our pursuit really is. These times are opportunities that offer us the possibility of change, moments when we can see there is a connection between what is not going well in a relationship or with our health and the demands we make on ourselves.

Health Challenges May Teach Us Lessons

In the late 90s I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My adrenals were depleted, my cortisol levels were off the chart, and I was vitamin and enzyme deficient. I lived in New Orleans, down river from chemical plants and in a climate where mold thrived. Most doctors didn’t acknowledge the existence of the syndrome at that time, but I found a doctor in Tucson who specialized in treating this naturally and whose plan had been helpful to a friend of mine.

I spent several days at the Tucson clinic with many different practitioners. The phrase they kept repeating to me was “you’re being too hard on yourself.” When the therapist there told me I needed to be kinder to myself, I insisted, “I don’t feel like I’m so hard on myself—I just want to do things well. Why is that a bad thing?”

“It’s a matter of degree,” he said and recommended I read The Spirituality of Imperfection. I felt so overwhelmed that I broke down in tears. He continued, “Remember, there’s always light in the darkness, and even if it’s a small glimmer, pay attention to it.”  (Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness, p. 186)

Releasing Our Perfectionism Frees Us

By the time I left the clinic, I was able to see some of the ways that perfectionism was harming me. I was dedicated to healing naturally, and that was a major challenge because I had to change my diet, take many supplements at different times, and be in bed at 9:00 pm every night. In addition, I had to continue teaching so I could afford the treatment.

Chronic-Fatigue

This journey of healing took me inside the deepest part of myself and I had to let go of so many things I had thought were absolutely necessary and fed my perfectionism. At first I felt deprived by having to eat only healthy, organic food, but with time it became a satisfying habit. I became adept at reading food labels to avoid preservatives, sugar, and all chemicals.

I revived my meditation practice and read spiritual and inspirational books. I became used to not going out at night and had long conversations with two friends who also had chronic fatigue. I began recording my dreams which often revealed significant messages.   Within two years, I was significantly better and within four years I was completely healed. Unfortunately, others I knew healed much more slowly. I was blessed.

Releasing Perfectionism Is An Internal Journey

Throughout this process, I learned to accept my imperfections and to love myself despite them. Most significantly, I learned to ask others for help when I needed it and not feel I was a failure because I couldn’t completely take care of myself. Although the process of healing often frustrated me, I learned I had no alternative but to release those feelings. Hanging on to anger and frustration only made me feel worse.

If we are wise, we will recognize there is a difference between pursing perfectionism and simply doing something well. One often distresses us and those around us while the other brings delight to all. By developing those aspects of ourselves that complete us and make us whole, we are honoring our most sacred selves, and we learn to love ourselves. After all, wanting to be loved is often why we pursue perfectionism. By nurturing our spiritual cores we are developing our wholeness and that is an inspiring journey.

What has been the most important part of your journey to become whole?  Please share a comment.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce

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