Tag Archives: Freedom

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

“Reality is how we interpret it.  Imagination and volition play a part in that interpretation.  Which means that all reality is to some extent a fiction.”   Yann Martel

Home at Ocean

How do you envision reality?  Is it based on facts or feelings?  How can you determine what is real in your life?

In the United States, we are all having some difficulty determining what is real. We elected a man who tweets whatever he is feeling or thinking at the time, and what that response is may change the next minute.  So how can we know what to take seriously that he says and what we should ignore?

Reality Isn’t Clearly Defined

It’s quite a challenge.  Although some of us may have had people in our lives like that, it doesn’t necessarily mean we know how to deal with the constantly changing dynamics.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that we know what reality is with these people.  It would be nice if reality were always obvious and clearly defined.

As Yann Martel points out, “Reality is how we interpret it.”  It isn’t cut and dried.  It isn’t a set scientific principal we can count on.  When my first husband left, it seemed like a terrible thing.  This man I loved had betrayed me.  The marriage I valued was over, yet the result of that experience, painful as it was at time, was in the end a good thing for me.  A least that’s how I interpret it.

With more freedom in my life, I was able to pursue my love of modern dance and take chances I would never had taken before.  Because I was so heart-broken at first, I went into therapy and through that came to understand myself more deeply.

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Passage of Time Affects Our Interpretation

Time also makes a difference.  As time passes, the way we interpret an event may change because we are able to see the consequences of the action that took place.  For example, right now we are dealing with the results of an election that some celebrate and others despise.  While we may predict what will happen when Trump actually becomes president, we do not know exactly what that reality will bring.

If We Don’t Like the Facts, We May Ignore Them

Throughout the election many voters ignored several realities.  Trump never paid many people who worked for him and had had thousands of law suits filed against him.  Why aren’t more people uncomfortable with this.  This behavior does not indicate he’s someone who will keep his word or that he has respect for the working man or woman.  Why do they think he’s going to save them?

In order to vote for someone like this, the voter has to ignore this record of reality.  This is a factual type of reality. The law suits are on the books.  There is only one reasonable interpretation of these facts.  He doesn’t keep his word in business deals, so why would anyone believe he will keep his word as president?

We May See Only What We Wish to See

Many created the fictional character Trump to fit their own wishes and desires.  That fictional character will “drain the swamp,” create jobs, and make like better for all who voted for him.  He will also focus on helping those in need despite choosing people for his cabinet that have little experience in the area they will manage or who are billionaires more likely to preserve their privilege than increase their taxes to pay for what the average citizen needs.  The idea that these people will act totally out of character when there is little in their backgrounds to support that hope is truly fiction.

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So why do we choose to believe things that don’t seem reasonable.  Perhaps we get false news so the choice seems reasonable based on the “facts” we’ve found.  Maybe we just believe that if we believe it, it will come true.   I suspect we believe it because it is what we want to hear.  It looks good, it sounds good, it smells good.  Until we look at the underside.

Ignoring Facts May Be Dangerous

Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  It was a shock.  I’ve always lived a healthy life except for the 30 years I smoked cigarettes when I was younger, but I believed that I would never have cancer.  However, the doctor could see the tumor and when it was biopsied, the test was positive, so there was no doubt that it was cancer.

It was difficult to accept this reality because I felt fine and had no symptoms.  But there was that positive test.  Could it be wrong?  I could have chosen to ignore it, but I had had a friend a few years earlier who ignored her colon cancer until she was in Stage 4.  She died a few months after being diagnosed because nothing could be done to save her.  That was the reality.

So, I had the surgery and it was successful.  I am fortunate.  My cancer was slow growing and had not grown into the muscle layer around the bladder.  I have regular checkups and they have been clear.  I’m so glad I decided to face the facts, make a wise decision based on them, and as a result, I have been able to continue a full and healthy life.

Patterns of Behavior Reveal Reality

It is true that the facts are not always the only thing we need to take into consideration when we make a decision.  We have emotional and spiritual considerations also, but it is important to observe what is actually taking place in a situation and if there is a pattern of behavior to observe.

Father Tossing Daughter

I’ve read too many stories where women who are in abusive relationships keep thinking the abuser will change his behavior although he never does.  That pattern of behavior is a fact, just as Trump’s belittling of women or the disabled is a fact.  We heard the words directly from his mouth.  It tells us that this person does not respect others, so why would he respect us.  To expect respectful behavior from someone who constantly disrespects others is a delusion.

Why is it important to face reality?  Because it can help us to live a better life, make better decisions, and be more successful in all we do.  It may remind us that our imagination and choices help shape our reality, but that reason and observation as part of our decision-making will serve us as well.

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT

“For we have not come here to take prisoners or to confine our wondrous spirits, but to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom and light!” Hafiz

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

What choices have you made recently that have lifted your spirits? Do you create unnecessary limitations in your life? How can you release those and free your spirit?

In winter the light in our lives falters, especially in the mountains where fog may surround us or the evening sun may disappear quickly behind even the lowest peaks. It seems like the gray days with rain and clouds are endless alternating with only a few days of bright sunlight.

But this winter, the lack of light is about more than the weather. Around the world, violence and the deep need of people cry out haunting the days of our lives. In our own country, the negative and destructive promises of some of the presidential candidates go beyond anything we have ever seen, and the way some congressional leaders refuse to do what the people elected them to do is barbarous.

Share Our Light

At a time like this, where can we find the light? Only within. Last night I listened to the story of a friend’s journey as she hiked the El Camino de Santiago, and what struck me most was the way her inner light shone throughout her story. She was so excited and appreciative of the way other people helped her: of finally getting a meal with lots of vegetables, of finding coffee on the trail when there had been none to start her day at the hostel, getting her cell phone fixed by a man she’d just met.

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It wasn’t that she never complained, because there were definitely challenges, but what impressed me was the way she chose to focus on every little thing that was good. That light energy radiated to everyone she met along the trail. As Maya Angelou said, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

We Must Free Ourselves From Limitations

Not only do we need to avoid taking others prisoners, as the Congress is trying to do, we need to avoid making prisoners of ourselves. When we give up, lose our courage, believe we can’t change what is, we imprison our spirit. The reality is that our spirit is always free if we are willing to go deep within and find that quiet place where loving guidance appears. By going deeper, we may find better solutions to the problems we need to solve.

We need to ask, “What can I do to enlighten my life?” Do we need to meditate more? Do we need to spend more time with friends? Do we need to develop a gratitude practice? Do we need a support group of some kind? What will bring more positive thoughts and feelings into our lives?

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Create Your Own Light

We may have a lot of excuses, but not all of them matter. Many are just excuses for taking the line of least resistance, but they confine and keep us from experiencing what may light up our lives. We have to choose to leave the darkness behind and step into the light even when we aren’t sure what will happen. We need to find the courage to create the light that we need in our lives, regardless of the season.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

How do you bring light into your life?  Please comment.

READING AT MALAPROPS IN ASHEVILLE: Sunday, February 28 at 3:00 I will be reading my poem “Soul Mate” along with several other NC women writers published in It’s All Relative: Tales From the Tree.

Related Posts:    Awaken to Love the Light, Lighting Our Darkness, Awakening to the Dance of Light

AWAKENING TO OUR AUTHENTICITY

“That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity.  So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.”  Meredith Monk

Merredith Monk's Dance

Photo by chncpa.org

I am sometimes shocked by the extent to which people will go in order to please others at the expense of destroying who they really are.  I watched an hour of the Academy Awards the other night and was absolutely shocked when I saw Kim Novak who was presenting an award.  I kept staring at her because I could not find one detail about her face that looked the way she used to look.  In addition, parts of her face looked frozen. 

kIM nOVAK The next day on Facebook, I saw a picture of Goldie Hawn and had the same reaction.  I stared for a long time and could see only hints of the face she used to have.  I’ve always thought of Goldie as being very genuine, more so than most Hollywood actresses, and I would never have dreamed she would do this to herself.

Aging Can Be Empowering

I understand the competition for roles in Hollywood is fierce, but the truth is that as I age I enjoy seeing actresses who have aged naturally.  I can relate to them more.  Judy Dench is a wonderful example.  She has wrinkles and gray hair, but this seems to work to her advantage because she is frequently cast in roles with depth that tap the wisdom of her years rather than focus on her appearance.  She has lived long enough to know how to go deeper, and I can always count on her performances to have substance.

Photo by wallpaperzoo.com

Photo by wallpaperzoo.com

Unfortunately, it isn’t just the entertainment industry that is obsessed with youth.  Most of the people who have plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes are women, but ten percent of the people in the United States who have plastic surgery are men.  We are so obsessed with appearance that many feel they need to look younger in order to succeed in their careers even when appearance has nothing to do with performance.

Changing Our Appearance to Gain Confidence Is Superficial

In researching this topic, I came across the story of a young woman who had plastic surgery to change her body shape to a sexier one and was delighted with the attention she received and how it enhanced her career opportunities.  All this positive attention from others made her more confident, but I wonder how long that confidence will last when she starts aging and drooping.  Will she simply turn to surgery again or will she realize it’s time to heal her insecurity.

Fear Is the Basis of All Insecurity

When we live authentically, we accept who we.  We accept our flat chests, large noses, big ears or gray hair.  We don’t let the external define us.  We want to change our appearance only if we feel we aren’t good enough or that we must please others in some way.  Hiding beneath those insecurities is the fear that we are inadequate or that we will be rejected, so the root of the problem is our fear, not our appearance.

When we allow these fears to persist, we may not say no when we need to, so we continue to live with dysfunctional relationships that only reinforce our fears.  We are more afraid of the unknown than we are of remaining miserable and hiding our true selves.  When we live in fear, we never know joy, for it comes from deep within and comes from a deep feeling of freedom, unfettered by concerns for what others think of us.  We never know peace because we are always looking around us to see if we have pleased another.

To Be Our True Selves, We Must Get In Touch With Our Core

Relying on anything external to define us is risky.  The core of our being lies deep within us, so that the only way to truly know ourselves is to “keep going down to the bone” where we will find the inner voice that will guide us through all life’s experiences.  We must be willing to let go of society’s expectations in order to discover what we want for our lives, and when it is different from what others want for us, we must have the courage to follow our inner guidance and let go of what will no longer serve us.

Authenticity Expresses What Is Unique About Us

One of the reasons I chose the quote by Meredith Monk is because I saw her perform in the 1970s.  It was clear from the moment her modern dance company began the performance that this would be unlike anything I had ever seen.  The dance was performed with the dancers singing, much like an opera.  She created a landscape of movement, sound, and lighting that was exceptional.  Clearly she expressed herself in an authentic way and she inspired me to do the same.

Meredith Monk

Photo by chncpa.org

What I produced wasn’t always so good; sometimes it was silly; sometimes it didn’t work.  But after seeing her work, I knew I had to experiment.  I had to have the courage to find out what I could do and that was a greater motivation than the fear of failing. It is difficult to have courage if our personas are not genuine.  In that case, our real selves are hidden beneath many layers that we must peel away.  As we let go of what is artificial about our lives, what is authentic will emerge.  As we face our fears and release them, knowing we are strong enough to survive whatever change occurs, what and who we no longer need will drop away, and our real selves will emerge.

Being Authentic Gives Us Freedom

This is why having a meditation or contemplative practice is so important.  These practices clear away the mental debris so that we can hear the inner voice that will guide us.  Until we become who we truly are, we may not even see the true gifts life has given us because they do not fit into the inauthentic life we created, but these may be gifts the world deeply needs.  Finding love and joy and the freedom to express ourselves is a gift, not only to ourselves, but to the other people as well, and we can only do that when we are authentic. © 2014 Georganne Spruce                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension (video), What Being Authentic Means…And What Gets in the Way, Becoming More Authentic: Accept Yourself and Stop Seeking Approval

AWAKENING TO A CLEAR PLACE

“The more you have, the more you are occupied.  The less you have, the more free you are.”  Mother Theresa

Do you always do your spring cleaning?  Is your life cluttered to the point that you feel it controls you rather than you controlling it?  How much are you willing to simplify?

I just finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild.  It is the story of her trek along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Portland, Oregon, traveling with only the pack she could barely carry on her back.  While the book touched me in many ways, her journey, living months with only what she could carry, particularly resonated with me.

Letting Go of the Old

Since spring, I have had an overwhelming desire to clean out the clutter in my life—not just the physical stuff, but activities I no longer enjoy as well.  I had to skip my usual spring cleaning this year because writing my book was so intense and time-consuming that I had time for nothing else.  Now at the end of summer, it has become almost an obsession to get the cleaning out done.

When I feel energy pressing against me in this way, I know it’s a signal that I need to pay attention and take the step it is pushing me toward.  There is something good around the corner that I must make room for.  I must clear out the old and make room for what is to come.

The irony is that my house is not cluttered.  I have a lot of books in bookcases with paintings and stones placed around, but they are all arranged neatly and not excessive in number.  Even my closets are neatly arranged, but I have a large number of files containing information on the past that I no longer need.  So why am I having such a difficult time letting go of this?

Letting Go Creates Fear

Letting go creates a vacuum and that often feels uncomfortable.  It may feel like a loss and remind us of painful losses we’ve experienced, and we may feel fearful about what will replace the stuff, or friend, or activity we have released.  So, part of letting go of the clutter, in our houses or our minds, is letting go of the fear that we will need it, or not find a friend or activity that is more beneficial to replace it.  My fear almost always is the same—I’m afraid I might need it again.

Clearing Clutter Allows Us To Grow Spiritually

H. G. Chissel, a feng shui practitioner, says, “Clutter is a physical manifestation of fear that cripples our ability to grow.”  We can’t grow when we’re stuck and attached to the past.  What we need now in our lives may be very different than what we needed five or ten years ago.

Why do I find it so difficult to let go of the medical files from the years when I had chronic fatigue?  When I explored this, I discovered that I was afraid I might have a relapse, that the new doctor might need these files.  But this is irrational because I’ve been free of the condition for over ten years.  I know what caused it and what cured it.  I live a life based on that knowledge and am very healthy.

We draw to us what we focus on, so the best way to insure that I don’t need those files is to let go of them, to affirm that I know I am healthy and know I will not be ill again because I have changed the circumstances that created the illness in the first place.  Hanging on to old ideas like this only keeps us attached to it, and, as Chissell said, “cripples our ability to grow.”  Just as Cheryl Strayed had to let go of emotional as well as physical burdens on her journey, I have had to do that in my life and chronicled that spiritual journey in my book Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness.  The more I have been willing to let go of what no longer serves me, even if letting go is painful, the more I am freed to find what truly serves me.

Creating A Place For What We Need Now

When I envision having cleaned out all the extra stuff in my files, I feel weightless and excited because I feel free.  I am surrounded by light and am joyful.  There is now space in my life for new activities, new friends, contemplation, and new stories to write.  This space I have cleared makes room in my life for what I need now.  It is a transition from the old to the new, and I am excited about the new things that will come into my life because I trust that what I need will come to me.

What have you let go of lately that was difficult to release?

© 2012 Georganne Spruce                                                                ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:   Clear Your Space Inside and Out5 Items to Remove From Your Life Right Now

AWAKENING TO OUR WILDNESS, Being Authentic, Part 1

“Be your authentic self.  Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment, or before the world starts pushing you around and telling you who you’re supposed to be.  Your fictional self is who you are when you have a social mask on to please everyone else.  Give yourself permission to be your authentic self.”  Dr. Phil

When you dance with life, which dance do you prefer: the one someone else created or the one you created?  Who are you really?

Getting in Touch With Our Untamed Self

There is a part of me that has always remained untamed.  As a child and for many years, it primarily remained underground.  I tried to be a good girl, not cause trouble, and do the right thing.  As a result, I was very uptight, nervous, anxious, and socially uncomfortable.  I had this feeling that who I really was, this thinking, creative being, wasn’t a good thing.

But there were two things that saved me.  The first was that my family spent many hours out-of-doors where I experienced Oneness with nature.  When the weather was good, we went on hikes, swam in lakes and rivers, and picnicked under the trees.  In the silence of nature, there were no expectations, only the silence in which to be.  And I loved our pet cats because they were cuddly and playful, but undomesticated unlike dogs.  They simply remained who they were.

The second thing that saved me was my creative nature.  That creative energy within felt like the real me.  It was spacey and flowing, unpredictable and joyful, not at all practical like the main quality of most of my kin.  As a child, I created wardrobes for my paper dolls; as an adolescent, I was in plays and wrote speeches; as a young adult, I became committed to being a modern dancer; as a mature adult, I began writing.  Those creative expressions came from a mysterious and unique place deep within me that no one else could touch.

Hiding Behind Society’s Masks

As I entered adulthood and faced my impending marriage, I became aware of the extent to which I had learned to accommodate who I was supposed to be.  Sometimes, I caught myself telling little white lies.  They were created to keep the peace, and I realized I had been doing that for a long time out of fear of being rejected.  I began to monitor myself and tried to be more honest in my communication with those I cared about because I knew I wasn’t being totally genuine.

But being a good wife, teacher, and dancer was stressful.  In Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness, my spiritual memoir, I reflected on this dilemma.  “At times, who I was seemed as mysterious to me as the mystery of who Gary [my husband] was. What was behind the masks we wore? We put on our husband and wife masks and did the marriage dance, the balletic pas de deux—playing the prince and princess. We smiled, we touched each other affectionately in public. He brought me flowers when I performed and roses on Valentine’s. We celebrated birthdays, promotions, and performances. But sometimes beneath his persona as a police officer, behind the uniform and the revolver, I saw moments I pretended not to see—moments of insecurity he pretended didn’t exist, doubts—doubts about himself, our marriage, or me.”

We play out these conditioned roles because it is uncomfortable to go against society or our families.  People we love may desert us.  We may lose a job.  This happened to me twice because I refused to do what I felt was unethical. When others are comfortable doing the foxtrot, they resent our doing the tango. But as long as we wear the masks others create for us, we are dancing their dance, not ours.

We are taught these roles are who we are supposed to be, but who we are authentically can only be created by us.  Shakespeare said it best, “This above all: To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.”(Hamlet)  And that is the core of it.  If we cannot be honest with ourselves about who we are, we cannot be honest with others.

Being Authentic Makes Us Free

Being authentic is true freedom.  It puts us in touch with our Wildness, that purity of nature that lures us to the forest or ocean, for the energy and essence of nature is within us.  We are all One.  When we are in touch with our Wildness, our Oneness, we no longer fear the judgments of others.  We empower ourselves by accepting who we are, and on the deepest level, what we think of ourselves is all that matters.  This is not to say that we do not have to treat others in a responsible manner.  It does mean that we will take full responsibility for our own choices and accept the consequences of our actions.  If we mess up, we have to clean it up.

When we are authentic, we feel secure, for we are also connected with our inner spirit, and thus with that Spirit that is Oneness.  In the silence of meditation or nature or creative expression, we are able to touch our deepest core and who we truly are.  When we are authentic, it is easy to love ourselves.  When we love ourselves, it is easier to love others and to draw to us those people who will truly love us for who we are.

Next week, I will introduce you to a friend who has created a space in which to experience his Wildness, The Space With No Name.

In one sentence, who are you really?

©2012 Georganne Spruce                                                        ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: The Dance Edition: Watch the Yang Li Ping video, Being Truly Authentic, Wayne Dyer talks about being yourself