Tag Archives: Friendship

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.

openness

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

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