Tag Archives: Going Deeper

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 FIRE WITHIN

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” Ferdinand Foch

Never has a moment in my life been filled with more fire, both within and without.  Living in the mountains of North Carolina, many days have been cloudy, filled with smoke from the wild fires burning all around us.  A couple of weeks ago, the tourist town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, not far away, went up in flames.

As did many of our dreams when Hillary lost the election and Donald won, fueled by hate, racism and misogyny.  Civility did not rein during this election, and the consequences are still fueling the fire.

Fire Can Be Positive Or Negative

Fire can be destructive when it goes out of control, but it also has a positive side.  Fire keeps us warm in the winter and cooks the food that nourishes us.  The fire within often gives us the courage to do what we think we cannot do and enlivens us to trust the fire in our souls to guide us toward positive action.

How To Face the Challenge

At the current time, we face a challenge.  This election was not as clear as it appeared to be at first.  The number of citizens who voted for Hillary now surpasses Donald’s popular vote, so there is anger on both sides.  Trump is being investigated concerning his relationship to Russia. What should be done?  What decision will the electoral college make on December 19?

Our fire within has come close to the burning point.  Threats and bullying toward those Donald degraded with his comments have increased.  It is now more dangerous to live in this country if you are an immigrant, a woman, or of any race other than white.  The foundation of our democracy is crumbling, and yet….

Around me, many whose souls are on fire are reaching out to those in need, protecting those who are being debased, protesting and speaking for the values we have always seen as the basis of this country, respect for all.  When the fire within grows, it can motivate us to do what we need to do.

Yes, we need to love one another.  We need to find peace.  But that does not mean, we do not need to act.  Expressing love and peace is not always passive.  Martin Luther King taught us that in the 1960’s.

What Can We Change?

Donald Trump won for a reason.  Some may have been drawn to his rhetoric because he supported their racist or misogynistic views, but some clearly were drawn to him because he was not part of the establishment they felt neglected them.  They clearly did not believe Hillary would help create more jobs with better pay despite her long history of helping people who need help.  They believed the lies rather than the facts.

So when our fire within heats up, let’s look around and see what needs to change and devote ourselves to participating in that change.  Some things can’t be changed.  For example, we live in a primarily technological society and we have fewer industrial jobs, so those who have had those jobs will have to choose to retrain and find another kind of work.  Life keeps changing and we have to be willing to change with it.

Some Cultures Resist Change

Recently I read Hillbilly Elegies: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance.  While I live in the North Carolina mountains and had a father who was raised in the Arkansas mountains, I was not aware that some of the qualities I had noticed in certain people were typical of a particular culture, in this case, the Appalachian white culture.

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According to Vance, these people find change devastating, especially having to move from their birth place, because it separates them from their culture.  Some people like Vance are willing to make the required changes to move because it is the only way they can get more education and find new jobs to support their families. Others refuse to make that choice and live on welfare or are so limited financially that they feel defeated before they start.

Among many of us, the fire within is focused on keeping life from changing; it is not focused on transformation as a positive possibility.  Despite all the good Obama has done during his years in office by reducing the debt and increasing jobs, there are many who have not been directly affected by this.

Transform Anger Into Positive Action

When that fire within expresses as anger, we need to see how we can transform it into positive action.  It is not easy for me to say this because I am not an activist.  I am a regular voter, but I do not like politics.  I am a teacher and creative person, but I know that if I want things to change, I have to be willing to participate in that change.

I am especially moved by what has happened at Standing Rock, North Dakota.  The peaceful protest of Native Americans and their supporters has resulted in some change.  The U. S. Corps of Engineers will look for another route for the pipeline so that it does not cross their land although the energy company is still resisting.  We still don’t know for sure if their sacred sites will be respected.

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I know several people who took supplies and money to the protesters at Standing Rock.  I know others who worked tirelessly on the election last month and who now focus their energy on the next local and state elections.  Living in a red state where the governor resisted conceding to the man who had beaten him in the election until last week, I have made some phone calls locally and nationally expressing my displeasure for what is going on with him and with Donald.

Change May Lead To A Better Life

In my own life, I have had to make many changes over the years, so I can understand why change is difficult for many.  All I know is that if I had not made those changes my life would not be as good as it is today.  I am grateful for those who encouraged me to look beyond my comfort zone.

When the fire within us erupts, we need to remember that allowing it to become a violent reaction will only destroy our society and lives, but channeling it into social or political action will warm our souls and save our nation.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:  Awakening to Live Without Fear, Transforming the Fear of Change, Awakening to Shadow’s Treasure

AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL CREATIVITY

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

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

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

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

The Spiritual and Creative Are One

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

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

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Sean Hedges-Quinn

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

Understanding the Creative Mind

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

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

Artists Awaken to Spiritual Creativity

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

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

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Georgia O’Keefe – Cala Lillies with Red Anenome

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

The Spiritual Dimension Awakens Art

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

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

Ernesto Pujol's Walking Ground

Ernesto Pujol’s Walking Ground

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

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

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

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO THE SPRING OF LIFE

“We cannot stop the winter or summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or stop them from being other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.” Gary Zukav

Iris at Beaver Lake

What does spring mean to you? How do you change your life in the spring? How do you enliven your life or your community at this time of year?

Spring is about new life. Each year it awakens in many ways, distracting us from the winter blahs with flowers we haven’t seen for a year springing to life. Yesterday as I walked through the botanical gardens with a friend, trillium, buttercups, trout lily and a dozen colorful flowers peeked through the brown leaves that had blanketed the ground all winter. Continue reading

AWAKENING TO WINTER’S DELIGHT

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

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

Quiet Winter Days May Be Creative

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

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

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

NEBRASKA WINTER

 Ice bends the trees of this arid land

So that woods appear like shrub forests,

Locked in a white crystal blanket.

The sun sparkles, shatters, plays

Off the hills like a melody of mirrors

Playing songs through the air.

The land flies by as we drive,

Like silver plates skipped on a stream.

Gray deer dart across our path,

Flying shapes connected to the land

By color and vibrance,

Alive in this frozen world

Where ice has stopped the flow of human life.

Only what is close to the land

Survives, vibrantly, through the ice.

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

Winter, A Time To Turn Within

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

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Poetry Is A Very Personal Form

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

WINTER CONVERSATIONS

Mountains hold up the snow,

While cedars talk of rumors

In the wind,

Shaking their heads as if to say:

“Mother Earth better watch out

For those wily hunters of fortune.”

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 Wishing all my readers a lovely warm day!

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

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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

JOIN ME AT THE ASHEVILLE BOOKFEST

This Saturday I will be participating with other area authors in the Sixth Annual Asheville Bookfest at the Haywood Park Hotel in the Atrium from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.   For the schedule see http://www.ashevillebookfest.com/bookfest-events.html.

Four other authors and I will be reading at 4:30 followed by Thomas Rain Crowe, the featured speaker.

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AWAKENING TO HIDDEN GIFTS

“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”  Rene Magritte

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Do you live your life on the surface or do you look within for answers and guidance?  Do you tend to hide unpleasant feelings?  Do you make a point to get in touch with all your feelings?

Life is full of hidden gifts.  In the summer, leaves are green and then they begin to turn a multitude of colors in autumn—colors hidden from us until the season shifts into a new one.  They fall away and we find silhouetted in the winter sky branches curling and twisting against the deep blue of the approaching night, revealing what was hidden the rest of the year.

Good Can Come From What Appears To Be Negative

We’ve all had experiences where something disappointing happened, but what came out of it was positive.  When it first happened, we could only see the negative and couldn’t imagine anything good could spring from it.

Last week, I wrote about the two writing contests I had entered and how I didn’t win a prize in either one, but my book was recommended on the Huffington Post, and I received a high evaluation and good review from the other.  So, what initially was a disappointment resulted in a positive outcome.

Negative Experiences Can Be Learning Opportunities

There have been other times that a loss or disappointment has opened the way to something new.  When I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I connected with a wholistic doctor who taught me almost everything I would ever need to know to become healthy and stay healthy.  He taught me that there was so much more I needed to learn that went beyond what western medicine recognized and introduced me to acupuncture and herbs, among other things.

Since that time, I have never had the flu or a cold and I never get “bugs.”  I’m gluten and dairy intolerant and can’t handle preservatives or artificial anything, so I eat organic food.  If I don’t know what an ingredient is in a food, I don’t eat it.  Now, some people would say this is extreme and just not worth doing.  I guess it depends on what you are willing to do to stay healthy, and for me, not being sick is a priority.

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 We Can Grow By Being Open To Learn From Disappointments

So, when these hidden gifts appear, we may not always see them as gifts at first.  I was in a relationship with a man for two years, thinking we would marry, so I was devastated when we broke up.  Before that, I had not been in a long-term relationship since 1986.  I had experienced short ones and then a long period of many years when I never really dated.  I just didn’t seem to click with anyone.

However, I learned so much about being in a relationship, what would work and what wouldn’t, that despite the original grief I felt, the experience prepared me for meeting the man to whom I am now married.  Since I had made a lot of compromises in that two year relationship that didn’t work for me, I realized afterwards more clearly what I needed in a relationship.  No doubt that helped draw into my life the man who is my perfect mate.

A Loss May Make Room For A New, Beneficial Experience 

Then there was the time I lost my teaching job.  I was put on administrative leave because I was unable to control a belligerent class that had been a problem long before I was given the class.  The principal offered no support and the students received little punishment when I wrote discipline referrals on them.  I was absolutely devastated.

Photo: nyul/Fotolia

Photo: nyul/Fotolia

However, with time on my hands while still receiving a pay check, I had the time to write and I decided to write my memoir.  As I read through the journals I’d written since 1962, something very profound happened.  I cried often, and through the process, I relived and healed so much that needed healing.  It took ten years for me to finish and publish the book, but that initial commitment to do it led me down a new path that opened my life in many ways.

Because so much time had passed since many of the events in the journals happened, I was able to see some situations in a more mature way.  I could see, for example, that my ex-husband behaved the way he did because he had never had guidance from parents who taught him a way to live with integrity.  With that insight, I was able to forgive him more deeply and to feel compassion for him.

He was a man who had been taught never to show his hurt feelings.  He’d had to be tough because, even as a child, his mother often worked at night and he came home from school to an empty house. In addition, his stepfather was not an honest man, so without his real father, he had no one to guide him.  I came to the point where I realized it was somewhat of a miracle he was as good a person as he was, and I not only forgave him, but I felt at peace with all that happened.

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We Can Only Know Ourselves When We Go Within

When we are unable to look beneath our surface, we not only miss the gifts hidden there, but we are unable to know who we truly are.  Living a purely external life means we are only feeding our egos and ignoring our deeper selves where we will find love and a spiritual connection that will guide us to be the best we can be.

So often the best solutions to problems are not the obvious ones.  They also may be hidden deeper if we look beneath the surface.  The principal who let me go because I couldn’t manage a troublesome group of teenagers never really dealt with the problem.  Getting rid of me solved nothing; in fact, he taught the students that their negative behavior would get them what they wanted.

Often like that principal, we are unwilling to do what is difficult because it is risky.  But it’s been my experience that when I go deeper and ask for spiritual guidance, the solution that will work arises, and over time, I’ve learned to trust that.  What’s hidden is often the buried treasure we seek—the solution that will enrich our lives.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                              ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Learning to Let Go of Past Hurts, 10 Tips to Overcoming Negative Thoughts, Positive Thinking  Made Easy