Tag Archives: Friendship

AWAKENING TO GOODNESS

“The fragrance of flowers spread only in the direction of the wind.  But the goodness of a person spreads in all directions.”  Chanakya

Do you believe you are a good person?  What do you do that makes you think that?  If you don’t think you’re a good person, what do you need to change?

This time of year the fragrance of flowers graces us whenever we are outside.  Their blossoms fill the sky and are scattered across the lawn especially after high winds or rain.  The very sight of them is uplifting and touches my heart.  They remind me of the people who have also touched my life and those who have made the world better for all of us.

I don’t have to define goodness.  We all know what it is although some of us may disagree about the people we consider to be good.  Division is rampant in our country right now in politics.  As a result it is also dividing some families.  When we are staunch-believers and build walls around us, letting only those who believe like we do connect with us, we severely limit our lives.

Improving The Planet and People’s Lives

Despite the division and negative attitudes rampant in our society, there are still people whose goodness fills the air like the fragrance of spring flowers.  Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist has moved the world to pay more attention to climate change and to do what we need to do to save the planet.  Her goodness has spread over the world.

In Asheville, the homeless situation is dire, but there is a movement to provide the homeless with decent housing.  Some hotels have allowed them to occupy rooms without having to pay.  Others are proposing building shelters that will allow those who want to live outdoors to have the facilities they need.  Through our good actions, we may change others’ lives for the better.

Basis of Goodness Is Love

Goodness usually refers to what we think will be positive or beneficial in a thought or action.  Often the basis of it is love.  We act in a good way because we care about the environment, or our family and friends.

Before my husband and I were married, we each lived in our own houses.  On a hike one day, I slipped and fell, badly breaking my ankle.  It required surgery and the doctor put a plate and pin in it.  My greatest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to walk down the aisle for our June wedding.  I was afraid my only choice was going into a facility to care for me, but my past experience with rehab was not good.

I was thrilled when my husband decided to move in early to care for me.  His act of goodness only further confirmed that I had definitely chosen the right man, but I did feel badly that our life together was starting that way.  Because of his love and caring, I was able to walk down the aisle on our wedding day.

The Goodness of Friendship

Friendships are valuable. They often allow us to share our thoughts freely without the other’s judgement.  A good friend listens, expresses empathy, and if asked, ventures an opinion.  Sharing ideas from a loving perspective often helps us see answers to problems we can’t see alone.  The value of a good friend is priceless.

Years ago, when I moved to the middle of Nebraska to teach, I immediately became friends with two good women.  I think they were drawn to me because I was different – a dancer and from “the big city.”  I was thrilled because they were warm and open and made me feel at home despite the culture gap that I experienced.

These warm friendships helped me be more upbeat with my students, especially in the midst of a freezing winter in a strange place.  I tried to be not only the students’ teacher, but also a caring person with whom they could share their concerns when they were struggling.  My friends’ goodness spread through me to others.

When we think about people like Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King, Jr. we have to acknowledge their influence was gigantic and their goodness spread throughout the world. But we don’t have to be famous to make a difference.  We just have to be willing to share our own goodness wherever and whenever we can.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Thank you, Nina, for today’s topic.  If anyone wants to contribute to next week’s topic, please offer a word starting with “H” and leave it in “Comment” at the end.  Thanks!

Related Blog Posts:

AWAKENING TO THE NEXT GOOD THING

AWAKENING TO DISCOVER THE LIGHT

AWAKENING TO LOVE THE WORLD, PART 1

 

AWAKENING TO THE BEAUTY OF BALANCE

“The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us, …The madness of this planet is largely a result of the human being’s difficulty in coming to virtuous balance with himself.”  Elizabeth Gilbert

Where do you find beauty and balance in your life?  Is it difficult to create?  How do you do that?  What does it add to your life?

I want to thank Bill for suggesting “beauty” as the B topic this week.  As I thought about it, the word “balance” came to mind and is especially appropriate in a world that feels terribly unbalanced and certainly not beautiful in many people’s actions.

The Beauty Of Nature Has Balance

Of course when I think of beauty and balance, nature always comes to mind, especially what I experience at Owen Lake, the small lake around which my husband and I often walk in the late afternoon.  The geese, their large oval bodies balanced on one thin leg, seem magical .  Often, they awake, tiptoe to the water, skip across the lake’s glistening surface, and soar into the blue sky with wings spread on the updraft.

For a moment they are suspended in space before dropping smoothly onto the other side of the lake. There they quack at other ducks and geese and flirt with their floating partner, all balancing on the wings of the disappearing day.

Dance Creates Beautiful Artistic Balance

But then…another picture surfaces.  I remember those diamond moments when, as a dancer, I balanced on one leg, arms spread, lifted by the light, breath, and muscles growing out of the earth like a palm.  Dropping back to earth, I ran, leapt into the air, legs and arms spread to balance, magically suspended, like the geese, in perfect balance before I returned to earth.

While the beauty of this balance and suspension may take your breath away, especially if Baryshnikov is the dancer, there are other moments of balance in our lives that are beautiful.  There is the moment when the person you love, a partner or a child, turns to you and says, “I love you,” and the craziness of life suddenly, peacefully balances.

Finding The Beauty Of Balance As A Challenge

Anger may often take us off balance and cause us to do or say ugly things.  In the middle of an argument with a spouse or dear friend, we suddenly realize the issue at hand is about to break our precious connection.  In that moment, we see that if we win, we lose, so we find the words that will stop the disruption and hopefully, beautifully, heal the wound.

It is a pleasure to see balance in others.  To create it in ourselves may be challenging.  We must find the beauty within that can create the balance.  Often, we need help to see beyond the negative messages we received in childhood that we are somehow not good enough.  We have to find a good therapist, learn new ways of communicating, or heal our negative thinking. When we are at peace with ourselves, and our mind is in balance, we can see the non-physical beauty in others.

How To Balance Our Lives

I am so grateful for the years I learned to meditate and for the teacher who taught me to release my fears.  These approaches have often helped me see the best direction to take in life, including letting go or walking away when necessary. Even now when anger or fear arise in my life, I have the tools that I need to find balance.

While balance is a beautiful experience, our outer world is out of balance and often a challenge that we feel we have no way to change.  But we need to ask ourselves what can we each do in our way, in our own lives, to create more balance.  We all have the option to vote to change the people who don’t make the choices we prefer in the government.  If we feel lonely, there are groups that we now may Zoom with to discuss topics that interest us and at least see other human faces.  Leaving space between ourselves and others, we can walk across the land as it transforms into a colorful spring that brings us joy.  Making quiet time to go within and love oneself and connect with Spirit may bring the balance we need.

If we want the beauty of balance in our lives, we have to seek ways to create it, and that may be a gift not only for ourselves, but for all the other lives we touch.

May you find the light of beauty and balance in your life this week.

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

***Please add to the conversation with a comment.  Also, what word would you like me to write about next week that starts with a C ?  You can place that in comment too.

Related Blog Posts:

AWAKENING TO SEE THE BEAUTY OF LIFE

AWAKENING TO BALANCE THE MIND

AWAKENING TO LIGHT THE DARKNESS

AWAKENING TO TRUST YOURSELF

 

AWAKENING TO OUR HISTORIES

“I’m also fascinated by the interplay between personal history and the larger forces that form the context of our lives.”  Julie Salamon

What was your family like?  Did you receive love or were you ignored?  How did your family’s treatment toward you affect whom you have become?

A few days ago, my past spoke to me in an unusual way.  I woke up in the morning and the first thing that popped up in my mind was the name of my best friend during junior and senior high school.  We hadn’t spoken since we were young women and I suddenly started remembering all the fun we had.

Since her first name is rather unusual, I searched online and found a person I suspected was her.  My husband who had been doing family research became curious and found her daughter’s site on Facebook with a picture of a woman holding a baby.  When I saw it, there was no doubt she was my friend.

Searching further, I found her telephone number, and gearing up my courage, I called her.  She recognized my name immediately and sounded very excited to hear from me.  We had a wonderful visit reminiscing about our fun times together and discussing our current lives.  It took me back to a time when I struggled with self-confidence but had loving friends who supported me and whom I supported.

Following Family Ways

I was always an introvert, but my mother was an extrovert who was always pushing me.  In high school she had pushed me to take speech and drama.  My friend and I had both moved away just before our senior years, but not to the same place.  Despite my reluctance, I took a course and became a part of the drama program at my new school.  It changed my life.

Despite being shy, my mother had also pushed me to learn to sing and accompanied me on the piano, encouraging me to sing in the church choir.  So learning to sing helped me gain more confidence.  I may have been shy about expressing myself but I always knew I looked good.  My mother made sure of that.

She was a phenomenal seamstress.  We had little money when I was growing up so she made all my clothes from remnants she purchased in a department store basement and adapted with simple patterns, making the dress look like the latest fashion.  Looking through my pictures, I found one of me about age five wearing a cute sundress and leaning against a tree as if I were a model.

When I was growing up, sewing, like cooking, was one of those things a woman had to learn.  Until well into adulthood, I sewed my own clothes and took care of my own hair and make-up.  While I paid less attention to cooking, which bored me, I did learn some essentials.

Being Loved and Loving Others

In addition to all the attention paid to my appearance as I grew up, I was very fortunate to have loving parents, two grandparents and a great aunt living next door for the first ten years of my life.  I was sick a great deal as a child, but there was always a loving person to take care of me.  From them I learned what being a loving person involved.  It wasn’t just about what you feel – it was about what you do.

My mother had been a teacher before and after she raised my brother and me. When I first decided to become a teacher, it was a practical decision.  I could earn a living and perhaps teach what I loved: literature, drama, speech, and dance.  It also gave me time to take classes, teach dance or be in plays at the community theater.  I didn’t need a lot of sleep in those days.

Finding Who We Are

I was rebelling against the limits placed on women at that time, but working made me feel freer even though I married right after college.  My husband and I had both agreed not to have children.  It was the 1960’s and women were stepping out of confining roles.

As a teacher, though, I was following in my mother’s footsteps.  At first, it was mainly a way to make money when my husband was in school.  But with time, teaching became about much more than money.  I became deeply concerned about the problems facing my students and saw that helping people was what had drawn my mother to this profession too.

Learning to Love

Teaching gave me the opportunity to love and support students who did not have a loving home life.  Many only had one parent who was working most of the time or a parent who was emotionally distant or abusive.  Others lived in dangerous or poor neighborhoods.  Too many dropped out or found no way to go to college and prepare for well-paying jobs.  Helping them see their own personal value was part of my job.

After seeing more clearly the challenges many people face–the parents as well as their children–I became even more thankful for my loving family.  Little did I know as a child, that not only was I loved, but I was being shown how to love.

Now as I learn about the children struggling at the border who are still separated from parents, I know only too well the damage done to their lives.  Those early years must include loving nurturance as well as food and a home.  Early experiences form the adults they become.


I worry too about those in prison, many of whom are young people who joined gangs as the only way they could see to protect themselves and their families and become strong.  Drugs may also have driven them to make bad choices even if they were fortunate enough to have good families.

Creating Our Own History  

We all need a milieu in which we are loved, taught how to treat each other with respect, and take good care of ourselves and those near us.  When our family histories do not include those skills, we struggle with life, and hopefully find others who will mentor us.

While there are parts of our history, such as our genetics, that we cannot change, there are many areas we can change.  It’s important to evaluate who we are and ask, “Is this who I want to be?”  If the answer is “yes,” we are very fortunate. If the answer is “no,” then it’s time we revise the course of our lives, so that in the future, “yes” will become our answer.

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO IMPROVISE OUR LIVES

AWAKENING TO REHEARSE OUR LIVES

AWAKENING TO THE GIFT OF SURPRISE

 

AWAKENING TO NOURISHMENT

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”  Jean Shinoda Bolen

What nourishes you the most?  How did you discover it?  What place does it have in your life?

When I think of nourishment, four things come to mind:  eating dinner, reading books, the forest and a spiritual practice.  While we need food to survive physically, we also need nourishment for the mind and soul.  Hopefully, we do more than just care for our bodies.

Food As Nourishment

I have a friend for whom cooking is an art form.  Entering her house, I feel like I’ve walked into a New Orleans restaurant, for the aroma as well as the taste of the food is delicious.  For her, cooking is about more than feeding the body to survive.  It nourishes her soul as well.

Food often brings family or friends together.  Around the table we share what we think about current events, our on-going activities, issues we need to work out with others, and hopes for the future.  While this experience is less possible for some right now, my husband and I have used Zoom on holidays to eat together with family members.  Seeing faces and hearing voices helps us feel more of the nourishment our mutual love brings to the table.

Reading As Nourishment

Most of my friends and I love to read books.  Nonfiction books teach us about history and the reality of times we have not lived through.  At times, this nourishment may not feel joyful as was the case when I read Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns.  It is the story of the Black people’s migration from the south to the north.  Some found their lives improved; others did not.  But this information expanded my understanding of others’ experiences in a profound way.

Such stories allow us to understand life better even when we don’t like what the stories tell us.  In that sense, opening our minds is a way of nourishing them and enriching our intellectual awareness.  Reading fiction, on the other hand, may enrich our emotions.  We empathize with the characters’ challenges, their loves and losses, and what they learn from these experiences.  It may even help us to see events in our own lives in new and helpful ways.

Nature As Nourishment

Walking through a forest full of autumn leaves or empty branches opening to a winter sun nourishes my soul and calms my mind.  In the spring, the abundance of beautiful green leaves and an array of colorful flowers feed all my senses with pleasure.  In the forest I often feel I’m in heaven and the energy of Spirit is connecting with my spirit, feeding it with peace and understanding.

While I always feel spiritually nourished in the forest, I also feel sensually fed walking over rocky paths, tracking through grassy soil, enjoying the rush of a nearby stream, and being entertained by the melodies of bird song.  In the spring with flowering trees and bushes all around, the color is visually nourishing and the mountain views and sunsets take my breath away.

Spiritual Practices As Nourishment

While the experiences I’ve mentioned require us to connect with something outside ourselves, some form of meditation or meditative movement nourishes the center of who we are.  These experiences take us to the deepest parts of ourselves.  Here, regardless of the mess we may think we have made of our lives, we are loved by the Spirit who loves us all.

Getting in touch with this peace within assists us in seeing the truth of what is happening in the life we live.  Many times after meditation, a prayer time, or a quiet walk, I let the darkness clinging to my life drop away and allow the light of Spirit to cleanse and fill me with new spiritual nourishment.

In these moments, peace and joy may feed us with what we need most, so we need to remember how expansive the menu of life really is and allow all of it to nourish us.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO DEEPEN OURSELVES

ART: A FEAST TO AWAKEN THE SOUL

AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL GARDENING

 

DANCING TO LIFE

“Dance when you’re broken open.  Dance if you’ve torn the bandage off.  Dance in the middle of the fighting.  Dance in your blood.  Dance when you’re perfectly free.”  Rumi

Photo by Sandy Jones

Photo by Sandy Jones

Does your dance of life include the dirges as well as the waltzes?  Can you find some peace or joy in the really challenging parts of life?  Are you able to let go when it’s time to let go?

It has been a tough few days.  My dear friend Sandy passed on this week although I hoped somehow she would survive cancer.  Whenever I think of Sandy, I think of her beautiful photography and her eternal dance with nature.  She invited me to join her one day to take pictures and I learned so much.  She had a magical eye and each picture she took showed me some aspect of the subject that I would have overlooked without seeing it through her eyes.

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Challenges May Often Change Us For The Better

Sandy was such an inspiration to me as I sometimes took her to chemotherapy.  During our rides, we began to talk deeper in ways we never had before.  She shared more of her life, and she opened like a blooming red rose.  I won’t try to describe the change that took place—I’ll let her speak for herself, so please take a moment to listen to this video, and meet my dear friend.

When I heard a week ago that she would make her transition soon, I began to really feel the loss.  I couldn’t bear the thought that we would never dance together again as artists as we had when she created a slide show to match the poetry I read.  Our exciting creative collaboration was really the center of our friendship, and it had been a long time since I had created work with another person.

Soon after hearing the news, I walked into my bedroom where one of her photos hung on the wall, a picture of a bridge over part of a stream with dogwood framing the scene.  And there she was standing on the bridge waving good-bye to me smiling, and every time in the last week that I have passed that picture, her image was there in my mind’s eye.  I felt such peace knowing she was ready.

Photo:  Sandy Swanson copied from the original

Photo: Sandy Swanson copied from the original

We Can Always Choose How We Respond To Life

Sandy reminds me that the dance of life is so varied and we can’t always make it be what we want it to be.  I am starting a new life with the most loving partner I could ever imagine; Sandy has passed from this life.  It doesn’t seem fair.  Life—it just is.  Someday I’ll be crossing that bridge too—we all will.  And it will be my final dance, but in the meantime I’m going to dance to all of life and feel each moment completely.

Dancing to life is about engaging with whatever is happening and feeling it fully.  We can kick up our heels joyfully or we can drag our feet remorsefully.  We can jump start new projects or we can slowly waltz around them.  It’s okay if the dancing hurts sometimes because life isn’t always good to us, but if we learn to cultivate joy, it can lift the quality of life immensely.

We Can Dance With Our Bodies And Minds

There’s no better way to find joy than to dance with our bodies or our minds. When I write I dance with words.  Others make preparing food a dance.  This week, the Olympic skaters will be dancing on ice.  When we hike in the forest, we dance among the trees.  A good dinner and conversation with friends is like a dance.  When we sleep, we may dance with our dreams.

When I feel sad about Sandy, I remember that she’s now with Oneness and she is well—dancing with the stars, I suspect, and of course taking their pictures.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Finding Peace in Death, Navigating Loss and Dealing with the Pain of Letting Go

AWAKENING TO LIFE’S GIFTS

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.”  Tony Robbins

Auroa Borealis

Photo: Beverly & Pack

How do you feel about good things that come from a negative experience?  What gifts has life given you?  How much do you love yourself?

I love the change of seasons.  They keep life interesting, even winter with its storms, snow, and extreme chill, for unlike spring when I can hardly stay inside, staying warm inside during winter is a pleasure.  I curl up on the couch with a good book or sit at my computer writing for hours totally absorbed with a story and new ideas.

Many Gifts Are Unexpected

For example, I was looking for a file the other day, thinking how I seriously needed to clear out a lot of old folders, when I came across a folder marked “Affirmation Project.”  To my surprise, I found a mock-up of a self-made book of affirmations that I had written.  A few years ago, I gave it as a gift or was selling it at a bazaar—I honestly don’t remember, but I had forgotten about it.

I read through the book and liked what I had written, and now that I know about independent publishing, it occurred to me that I could easily publish it.  I was so excited and immediately thanked Spirit for guiding me to this.  “What a gift,” I thought.

Two Friends

Photo: Guido Stein

Only We Can Choose to Live Well

Voltaire said, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”  So what does that mean to live well?  I think it means to be the best person we can be: to love ourselves and others, to develop our talents so that we can contribute to the world and give back in response to the gifts that come to us.

Life’s Gifts May Be Hidden Beneath the Surface

Life’s gifts come in many forms, sometimes hiding beneath the surface of an experience that isn’t so positive.  We may feel that the experience is dragging us down is certainly not a gift.  It is only in retrospect that we can see the chain of events leading to a precious gift or an opportunity to become more.

A few years ago, I slipped and fell on ice and broke an elbow and pelvis.  I was in the hospital and rehab for an entire month and still needed help after that.  It was an awful experience that included a lot of pain.  Without family in the area, I was very fortunate to belong to a spiritual community that had just formed a Circle of Care group that became my family and helped and nurtured me.  In fact, so many people wanted to help that I had more help than I needed.  Their love and attention healed me as surely as the medical care I received.

Among the people who helped was a woman who has since become a very close friend.  Her kindness and generosity of spirit always inspire me.  In addition, I learned that I could always call on my community in a time of need.  That gave me a security I didn’t have before, and I made more room in my life to be active in that community.  Recently, when a member I knew had cancer, I gladly drove her to chemotherapy.  Again, there was a hidden gift as she revealed more of herself to me and our conversations created a deeper friendship.

Gift

Photo: asenat 29

To Live Well, We Must Love Ourselves

Part of living well or giving back requires that we love ourselves enough to value our talents and put them out into the world.  I once had a friend who told me she didn’t have any talents.  I knew that wasn’t true.  She was a teacher, so every day she was giving to her students a gift that was most valuable to them.  Sadly, she couldn’t see this value because she just didn’t love herself enough to value her own strengths.

Growing up in a family that saw life in a very concrete way, my desire to live a creative life was treated as frivolous although it was my parents that exposed me to the beauty of all the fine arts.  They felt that the arts were inspiring to view, but impractical to do.

Our Greatest Gift Is Being Who We Truly Are

But at a very early age, both dance and writing seemed to be part of who I was.  When I wasn’t doing either, I was fantasizing about doing them.  At some point, I realized that these talents were spiritual gifts that I could not ignore.  I became a dancer first because I needed a young body to do that, and in the process, I healed my weak body and developed a valuable mind/body connection.

Later, when I needed to give up the strenuous physical demands of dance, I turned to my second gift, writing.  I realized then that my mother’s insistence that I always speak and write with grammatical correctness had been a gift I could now truly appreciate.  Through writing I healed many issues and areas of emotional distress as well as expanding my ability to express myself intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

The More We Are Ourselves, The More We Have To Give

There is a beautiful freedom that comes with expressing who we really are.  By becoming more of who we are, we have more to give others.  And the more we become who we truly are, the more we have to contribute, in a positive way, to the life around us.

Love and Joy Expand Our Energy

My dearest spiritual teacher said that our purpose in this life is to expand our energy by experiencing love and joy.  One way we can do that is to develop the spiritual being that we are, to experience gratitude for life’s many gifts, and by appreciating the opportunities that life offers for our growth and awareness.  What can you do today to give something back to this life by becoming more?

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: The Secret to Happiness, Appreciation Appreciates Into Love, Ten Ways to Be Who You Truly Are

AWAKENING TO BEFRIEND OURSELVES

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we will ever do.”  Brene Brown

 workshop 011

Are you as supportive of yourself as your best friend is supportive of you?  Do you have the courage to own your own story even if you don’t like it?  What are you willing to do to empower yourself?

I’m glad April is over because I don’t feel so guilty any more that I didn’t complete a project I promised to complete.  It wasn’t anything terribly important.  It certainly wasn’t earth shattering.  I doubt that anyone cared about it but me.  But I’m a person who values commitments and so I’m rather disappointed in myself.

I had joined the event called NoPoWriMo which meant that I committed to write a poem every day.  It didn’t have to be polished and it could be a first draft.  I only completed six poems.  Why?  Well, the rest of life intervened in ways I couldn’t ignore.

Opportunities to do events or publicize my book and preparation for a Release Your Fear workshop that I gave on Saturday took more time than I expected.  A wonderful new friend came into my life with whom I chose to spend some time.  Everything that pulled me away from writing the poetry was really good and more important.

Being More Conscious of Intuition

My error was apparent from the moment I made the decision to do this event.  My intuition said quite clearly, “This will put more pressure on you.  You don’t need to take on one more thing.  If you feel pressured, you won’t be able to write poetry.  You won’t be in the right frame of mind.”  Clearly, I should have listened, but my sometimes overly optimistic self said, “I’ll find time.  It will be a nice way to relax in the evening.”  Hah!

So, I failed to meet the goal I had created for myself.  Although this wasn’t anything that impacted my life in a negative way, it’s a good example of how I used to have too much of a tendency to over commit.  I would get so involved with so many activities and people that I would be exhausted all the time.  This felt like I was backsliding.  As an introvert, I must have my quiet time each day in order to recharge, but for years, I often didn’t leave enough room for it.

Loving Ourselves to Make Good Choices

The damage I’ve done to myself by pushing too hard or over committing is one of the stories I need to own.  I have a tendency in this area to make bad choices because there are so many interesting things I love to do.  But if I love myself, I have to be willing to say no, not only to myself, but to others as well.  Usually it’s easier to say no to myself; it’s much harder to say it to someone else.

Going Deeper to Awaken

Compared to many stories, my poetry experience is trivial.  For example, feeling we failed at relationships is a much harder one for most of us.  It is important that we take the time to understand why it didn’t work and the part we played.  When we can do that, we can learn to make better decisions and choices the next time.  But then, after the analysis and owning our part of the story, we need to love ourselves enough to forgive ourselves, knowing we did the best we could at the time.

At those moments when we are most disappointed in ourselves, can we give ourselves what our best friends would give us?  Elizabeth Gilbert once said, “Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Experiencing Friendship With Yourself

As your friend, you will listen carefully to that voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, and you will tell yourself about all the ways you are good enough.  You will have compassion for that hurt child within you who sometimes feels powerless to change what makes you unhappy.  You will empathize with your hurt self and reassure that self that things will be better and that you have the courage to seek out the hard answers.  You will remind yourself that you deserve the very best and that what you desire will come to you.

Our best friend

Empowering Ourselves On Our Spiritual Journey

When we hear these things from our best friends, it feels good to know someone cares so much, but when we can say these things to ourselves and believe them, we empower ourselves.  The bravest thing we can ever do is to look inside and openly observe our deepest self.  The next bravest thing we can do is begin the journey to fix what needs repairing.  These journeys may be challenging, but they will be more manageable if we learn to be our own best friend.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Befriending OurselvesThe Art and Craft of Befriending Your ExperienceIs it Realistic to Befriend OurselvesBefriend Yourself 

AWAKENING TO OPENNESS

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”  Erma Bombeck

How much of yourself do you share with other people?  If you don’t share much, what fear prevents you from doing that? Why do you feel you must hide a part of yourself?

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Hiding or Not Hiding

I met a woman some time ago who seems to be a very nice person.  We’ve been in several discussions; yet I know nothing really personal about her except for her political beliefs.  Her emotional life remains hidden.

I have also recently met a man who is so open that I continue to be amazed by the depth of what he is willing to share.  Instead of practically pulling teeth like I’m used to doing with many men, communication with him is so easy.  He just says what he thinks and goes deeper without my asking him to.

Trust Is at the Core of Openness

There are so many things that affect our willingness to be open.  At the core of it is trust, the two-fold kind.  We have to feel we can trust the person with whom we are sharing our stories, and we also have to trust ourselves and believe we have something of value to share.

While it is true that we must use discretion in what we reveal to others, our ability to share deeply with others enriches our lives.  There have been times in my life when I felt no one understood me and no one really wanted to know what was going on inside me.  Those were barren, lonely times because I was surrounded by people who were not comfortable sharing much of themselves, so they really didn’t want to hear about my deeper thoughts and struggles.

However, most of my life I have had at least one best friend with whom I could share anything and who would share anything with me.  Sometimes what one of us thought or did shocked the other, but we were always there for each other whether we approved of the other’s choices or not.  Our trust in each other created an incredible intimacy and richness to our lives.

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Openness Requires Discretion

Of course there are times when it isn’t wise to be open.  Sharing too much about one’s personal life in the work place can be distracting and inappropriate.  If a friend or partner has misused the information we have shared, we need to reconsider the wisdom of sharing so much with that person.  Sometimes we just have to set boundaries in order to feel safe enough to be open.

Once, when my relationship with a man I loved was breaking up, I shared this with a friend, never dreaming she would pass the information on to two women I hardly knew.  They then shared with a neighbor.  Soon afterwards, I walked into the ladies restroom at my spiritual community and a woman I barely knew told me how sorry she was that this man and I were splitting.

I was shocked.  I had told only my closest friends who I thought would be discrete.  When I tracked this back to the source, I told that friend how upset I was, and she was very sorry.  Her perception of how close I felt to her two woman friends was different than what I felt, and when we sorted it out, she agreed not to share my relationship information with anyone without asking my permission.  With this understanding in place, I felt comfortable sharing with her in the future.

Being Who We Are Creates Connections With Others

While we have to be wise about our openness, we also miss so much in life when we are afraid to show others who we truly are.  As I’ve said many times, when I decided to publish my memoir, I had to overcome the fear of being open.  Being that open felt vulnerable, but I couldn’t tell my story in a way that would benefit those who read it unless I was transparent.  It took quite a while to find the courage to do that.

I’m glad I made that decision because my being open has allowed others to open up to me, to share their deepest thoughts and tragedies, to share things with me that they would never have shared with me had we not had the book to connect us.  When we understand that others have had similar experiences, it often helps us to stop judging ourselves and just know that our “failures” are only human.

I like what Tony Schwartz says:  “Let go of certainty.  The opposite isn’t uncertainty.  It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides.  The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.”

Openness Enriches Us Spiritually

When we truly accept who we are and love ourselves, we can also accept that we make mistakes.  To be open to living life at its fullness, we have to interact with others, explore our thoughts and lives together.  We have to be open to the idea that it is often our mistakes that teach us the lessons we really need to learn in order to grow and become who we truly are.

When we show our dreams to someone else, they may know exactly what we need to make those dreams come true. Openness allows us to connect, explore, and discover “the buried treasure” within each of us. When we do that and open our hearts to each other, life can be oh, so sweet.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                          ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:   Love:  It’s Not Where You Look But Who You Are – Wayne Dyer,  Do You Worry About What Others Think of YouInitiating Relationships With Honesty, Openness and Directness

AWAKENING TO ALL THE LOVE

“Love is a state of Being.  Your love is not outside; it is deep within you.  You can never lose it, and it cannot leave you.”  Eckhart Tolle

Malaprop's Book Signing

Malaprop’s Book Signing

When I think of love, I have to remind myself that it comes in many forms.  There’s the romantic version with roses and champagne, kisses and hugs.  There’s the long-lasting, deeper love that allows one to accept and solve the real problems that always arise in life and stay together over time.  There’s the love of friendship and community, of being there for each other for fun and support.  There’s the spiritual love that puts us in touch with something greater than ourselves, greater than anything we can find on the physical plane.  There’s love of mankind that motivates us to become involved with helping those who have less than we do.  There’s also the self-love that allows us to accept ourselves, be the best we can be, and see our mistakes as learning opportunities, not has a reason to condemn ourselves.

A Different Valentine’s Day

Last Friday, I read from my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville.  It felt like Valentine’s Day, for the room was full of friends, acquaintances and strangers.  Some were there just to support my writing efforts; some were there because they were curious about the story; others were there just because we love each other.  Robin, who introduced me, made me sound like a celebrity.  The audience was wonderfully responsive and asked great questions.  It was fun to use my dramatic skills to interpret literature publicly – especially since it was my own creation, and I could see immediately the audience’s response to what I had written.

Malaprop's Signing 002

Surrounded by Loving Friends

Among my friends were several who have seen me through all kinds of challenges, especially the most difficult one, two years ago, when a love relationship ended.  The pain overwhelmed me, but the constant flow of warm hugs and kind words helped me remember who I really was—a loving and loved woman.  How they put up with my tears and lengthy sad stories I don’t know—actually I do know—they are incredibly loving people.  Even if they thought my book was horrible, which they don’t, they would have come to this event because they know how much it took for me to complete it and put it out into the world.  And they know that I hope that what I’ve learned will help someone else create a happier life.

Real Love Connects With Spirit

When I read Eckhart Tolle’s quote on love, I started searching for some articles and videos to share.  In some of these writings, he points out that our love is often ego-based, but it is real love only when the transcendent becomes a part of it.  He says, “Love becomes a source of suffering when the transcendental is missing.”  Hmm.…So I’ve gathered some articles and videos by him because I think his work is so important for us to understand.

English: Head-shot of Eckhart Tolle from direc...

I’ve also written a lot about love this year and if you missed any of these posts, I’ve listed them for you.  So, instead of doing a new post, I want to ask you to do this:  look over the links below, trust your intuition, and when you feel drawn to one, look at it.  It may be just what you need to hear today.

Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Remember we are all lovers.  We don’t need anyone to complete us although it is always nice to share our love.  Let the love within you fill your day.  You are Love!

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

 RELATED ARTICLES on Eckhart Tolle:  Relationships: True Love and the Transcendence of Duality, Eckhart Tolle – One-Sided Love Relationship – Video, Real Love Doesn’t Make You Suffer, Eckhart on Personal Love

RELATED BLOG POSTS: Awakening to Love Ourselves, Receiving Love, Awakening to Love the World, Part I, Awakening to Love the World, Part II, Diversity, Awakening to Love the World, Part III, Cooperation, Awakening to the Healing Dance: Feel the Love

AWAKENING TO DEEPER FRIENDSHIPS

“Let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.”  Khalil Gibran

What is the most important thing you have to give others? Are your friends people who support the best or worst in you?  What do you share that makes a friendship meaningful?

There have been times in my life when I have had friends with whom I shared only superficial interests because they were not people who had an interest in anything deeper.  Any time I would start a conversation about the underlying meaning in a situation they would make a joke about it or ask me why I had to bring up that unpleasant stuff.  Not surprisingly, as time passed we drifted away from one another, looking for others who shared our values.

Connecting With Friends

However, for most of my life, I have often been blessed by having friends who share my values.  While we have fun and enjoy sharing superficial experiences, what makes our connection meaningful is that we have the need to go deeper, to understand the spiritual and psychological aspects of life.  We love to discuss books and movies and art.  We share the ups and downs of our lives.  We share a love of nature.  We listen deeply and speak from the heart.

Being a good friend requires the ability to give and receive.  What we need to give is often obvious.  A friend recovering from surgery needs us to run errands or cook food.  A friend going through a divorce needs us to listen and empathize with her feelings.  An elder needs help with yard work.  These are all tangible and important ways to help, but what is one of the greatest gifts we can give a friend?

Helping Others See the Good in Themselves

Disraeli once said, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own.”  As a teacher, my most joyous moments were when I could help a student see how talented he was, or accept that his ideas were insightful, or develop the confidence to tackle a difficult problem or assignment.  This kind of caring is a gift that lasts forever, for it changes the other person’s belief about their own capabilities.

Helping another person to see her own inner riches empowers that person.  This is a huge gift—to help another see they are more loving, beautiful, caring, strong, insightful, sensible than they realized.  Deep friendships are about opening doors as well as listening with love. Over the last few years as I wrote my spiritual memoir, the support of my friends has been invaluable.  When I doubted my ability to write, they would point out a passage that really moved them.  They inspired me with their own stories of overcoming fears and obstacles.  They cheered me when I found the courage to overcome my fears and move ahead.

The Gift of Being a Loving Mirror for Our Friends

But there is another side to friendship too.  In order to open a door or allow our friend to open that door to areas we may not find comfortable, requires trust.  When we share our deeper feelings through time and they are received with love and acceptance, not judgment, we learn to trust that friend wants what is best for us.  It is easier then to approach subjects that are not particularly comfortable.

At a point in my life when I was having many challenges in my work, I noticed that it seemed people were avoiding me.  Puzzled by this, I asked a close and trusted friend to please tell me what she thought was happening.  She began by reminding me that she loved me, then she gently explained that I was very reactive and defensive, and often snapped at people for what appeared to be no reason.  I could feel my face turn red with embarrassment.  Was that really true?

As I sat with this idea, I knew it was.  I was constantly being criticized at work, so I was primed to defend myself, and this had spilled over into my personal life.  I loved my friend even more for her courage in telling me the truth.  As a result, I returned to my meditation and monitored my behavior so that I stopped alienating people.

We all need mirrors in our lives—people who will reflect back to us our best qualities as well as those behaviors we prefer to ignore.  Most of the important changes we need to make are at deeper levels, and only friends with whom we share true relationships will be able to go there with us.  Going deeper with a friend is the greatest gift of friendship that we can give.

How have you gone deeper with a friend lately?

© 2012 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: How To Deepen Your FriendshipsHow To Be a Good Friend – Six Friendship TipsThe Dirty Little Secret Most Women Won’t Talk AboutHow to Choose a True Friend

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