Tag Archives: Gratitude

AWAKENING TO SHARE

“Democracy must be built through open societies that share information.  When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation.” Atifete Jahjaga

A few days ago, I had a remarkable dream.  Several women were on a panel to give a young girl an award.  The prize was three dolls.  Three girls had been selected for the first, second, and third places, but only the girl who was in first place would receive the three dolls.  One woman in the group suggested that instead of giving only one girl a prize, they should give each of the three girls a doll.

The other women weren’t so sure that was a good idea. Some were afraid that the first prize girl would be disappointed.  They discussed the issue back and forth without really agreeing, so the person who had suggested it said, “Let’s try it and see what happens.” The rest reluctantly agreed.

They brought the first prize winner in and handing her the doll, the woman said, “We’ve decided to give the second doll to Mary. We hope you don’t mind.”  The girl’s face brightened with a huge smile.  “That’s wonderful,” she said, “then Mary and I can be friends and play with our dolls together!”

DREAMS CARRY SIGNIFICANT MESSAGES

I was rather dumbfounded as I quickly recorded the dream, especially since I rarely remember anything of my dreams these days, much less, the whole thing.  But I was also amazed by how timely the message was.  Isn’t this what so much of the political debate is about these days?  Just how much are we going to share and help everyone, particularly those in the most need?

Habitat For Humanity

As a former teacher who retired several years ago, I made a very small salary compared to what men made; therefore, my social security and retirement are very small.  And they have grown so little over the years compared to the growth of basic expenses like utilities that if I were not married, I could not even survive on my income.  Many woman and some men are in a similar situation and share that same fear.

INEQUITY DOESN’T SUPPORT DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES

The inequity in all areas that has existed for many years has increased because of the continued movement in this country to support the top 1% at the expense of everyone else.  Now we are dealing with Congress, many of whom depend on the wealthiest to run their campaigns, and a president who is worth billions (if what he says is true) who wants to cut any programs that help the middle and lower classes survive, much less flourish.

There is nothing wrong with making large amounts of money if it is not made at another’s expense, and people like Melinda and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett give generously to those in need. They believe in sharing their good fortune. But with the system the way it currently is set up, those making the most money don’t pay their fair share of taxes. I always thought that democracy was about sharing and being sure everyone has an equal chance to succeed.

Now we are faced with a president who has lied repeatedly, ran a university that was a scam, and failed to pay people who worked for him what he had promised to pay them.  Now he is planning to destroy many programs that help the very people he swore to help.  His often outrageous comments are meant to deflect attention away from unpleasant truths about himself and lead his followers down a false path.  He is a master manipulator.

Our president is not a role model any of us need.  We have to be our own role models and to share in every way that we can in our own lives.  We also need to observe what our representatives and senators support.  Are they supporting the middle and lower classes which are the bedrock of a democracy?  Are they standing up for truth? Do they believe our democracy should be based on sharing? Many clearly are not.

SHARING MEANS HELPING

Not everyone has an equal chance in life, but many of the programs Trump wants to cut are there to help those who are not born into privilege.  They help provide education for those whose jobs have been eliminated by the move from industry to technology.  They provide food for children that come from homes where the parents do not have the means to feed them properly.  They provide school systems with the teachers who can meet the needs of those with various disabilities.  They provide arts programs that help develop young brains in beneficial ways.

These needs are not theoretical to me.  They are very real.  I have taught in private schools and some of the poorest areas in this country, including inner city New Orleans, where 99% of my students were African-American, and a school serving Hispanic and Native-American students in New Mexico.  I have had students who did not get enough to eat, who were afraid of being killed by gangs, who had parents who were addicts or who worked two jobs and were rarely at home except to sleep. I always believed they deserved the guidance to create a better life for themselves.

When I was very young, we only had the necessities, no frills, but I was loved.  Growing up, I was taught to share what I had even when it wasn’t very much because there was always someone who had less.  But we now live in a society where we base our worth on the things we have and enact laws that support only those who are making millions.

What I love most about my dream is the delight the prize winner feels when she can share her good fortune. She doesn’t need three dolls.  She’d rather have a friend.  I believe that is what democracy is about—connecting with others, sharing what we have so we all have enough.

What can you share today?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  Awakening to Effect Change, Where Kindness Has Gone, Awakening to Accept Reality

 

AWAKENING TO LIVE WITH CHAOS

“We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos, negativity, and bullying in the world.  And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy.”  Ellen DeGeneres

Snow Bird Lodge 063What do you do when confronted with an angry person?  How do you find peace when confronted with chaos?  How do you find happiness when there is too much negativity in your life?

CHAOS SEEMS TO SURROUND US

It is a time when keeping chaos at a distance is more difficult than usual.  The news is filled with natural disasters like the fires in California or the floods in Louisiana, with the insults Trump and Clinton hurl at one another, and with the wars in the Middle East that are making normal lives impossible for millions of people.  In addition, racism and misogyny have raised their ugly heads in a way that makes them impossible to ignore.

How do we find happiness in the midst of this without totally withdrawing from society?  The secret lies in how we experience our minds and emotions because the thoughts and comments we hear lodge in our mental spaces and become part of memory.  The more negative ones feed the ego that is always ready for more drama.

Because this is a presidential election year, we have a particular challenge.  We want to learn about the candidates so that we can make good choices about whom we vote for, but the particularly negative nature of the race this year makes that a challenge.  Whether or not we believe what the candidates say, their words and emotions, especially Donald Trump’s, affect our “pain body,” an aspect of the ego.

LEARN TO CALM THE “PAIN BODY”

Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose defines the “pain body” in this way: “The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body.” (p. 142) He also points out that people who have active pain bodies tend to attract hostility and conflict. Others can feel the negative energy that is so strong in them and will react to it by lashing out or avoiding that person.

So the pain body is that part of the ego where we store the emotional pain we have suffered throughout life.  It is always hungry and feeds on drama, so negative feelings and ideas activate it easily.  We start to feel angry, hurt, or offended in some way.  We want to react quickly without thinking, and so we easily find ourselves embroiled in conflict or self-pity and at odds with the person offending us.

Girl_with_sad_face

DO WE ALWAYS CHOOSE UNHAPPY STORIES?

What is at the core of these unhappy feelings?  Tolle says, “Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness.”  For example, why are so many people attracted to Trump’s negative remarks?  Because he activates and supports their unhappy stories.  He feeds the pain body.  So instead of speaking to what is good in us and our society, he convinces us that our lives are awful (and some truly are) and only he can fix that.  Like many politicians, he speaks to people’s emotions and ignores any contradictory facts.

ONLY WE CAN FIX OURSELVES

The reality is that no candidates can fix us.  We can only fix ourselves by not attaching to the negative stories they perpetuate.  We must find peace in the midst of chaos by going within and centering ourselves.  Then we are able to see healthy solutions to the problems that haunt us and are able to differentiate between the candidate who has real solutions to the country’s problems and the one whose ego promises whatever will make him look powerful.

Becoming aware of the pain body, releasing our unhappy stories, and learning to be present and accept what we are feeling will allow us to be happier because we can then feel who we truly are.

By observing our own reactions, we can become aware of the kinds of events or comments that set us off.  When we are more conscious, we can choose a different path of behavior.

great-blue-heron-360797_640

BE CENTERED IN THE MOMENT

In those moments when the pain body is activated, we need to be in the moment, feel what we are feeling, and release our need to react.  Having practiced meditation, I know how peace feels and I try to release any need to react.  I want to simply be in the moment and observe the story that is emerging.  If I can choose not to attach to the negative emotions and ideas being expressed, I can choose not to experience the unhappiness inherent in the reaction of the pain body.

Every time I feel my pain body activate, I ask, “Do I really think this?  Do I really feel this?  Do I really need to respond to this?  Should I just let it go?  Then I affirm only what I believe is true. Each time I learn more about who I am.  Whether we like it or not, working with the pain body and letting go of our unhappy stories, can change our lives—and maybe our country.

Space with No Name 004

As Ellen DeGeneres said, “We all want to be happy.”  So, in addition to learning to live in a healthy way with our pain body and not letting it run our lives, we need to focus on what is good in our lives.  What do we have to be grateful for?

GRATITUDE ALSO LEADS TO HAPPINESS

Personally, in this divisive time in our country, I am grateful that Hillary, a well-qualified woman, is running for president and has a good chance of winning.  I wasn’t sure I would ever see that in my lifetime.  Despite all the negative things that are said about her, the fact is that she has worked to help others, especially women and children, all her life.  She has demonstrated she knows how to get things done that help people, and she doesn’t segregate people by race or gender.

When we focus on gratitude, we support what is good in our lives, what we have together and in community as well as in our individual lives.  That is our greatest source of happiness.

©2016 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  AWAKENING TO OUR MISDIRECTED PASSIONAWAKENING TO WHERE KINDNESS HAS GONE

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO AN EARLY THANKSGIVING

“Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  Oprah Winfrey 

Photo: devouringfire.com

Photo: devouringfire.com

I’m celebrating Thanksgiving a few days early this year.  Next week I’ll write more about hidden gifts that come to us, but today I want to celebrate some good news.

One of the hardest things to do as a writer (unless you are well-known or a celebrity) is to get good publicity for a book, especially your first one.  This year, I entered two writing contests hoping I would win, but I didn’t.  However, I did receive a wonderful review by a judge who understood the theme of finding an authentic identity and described the book as “immediately engrossing.”

attd_kindle

 

How To Win When You Haven’t Won

That was the 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-published Book contest.  I received a 5 (the top score) on all five areas that were evaluated and the judge wrote the following review.

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking.

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 5

Judge’s Commentary*:

AWAKENING TO THE DANCE: A JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS, a memoir by Georganne Spruce, is an inspiring book that will appeal to those, especially women, who struggle yet are determined to find their authentic selves in spite of what society wants them to be. This memoir will hold special appeal to readers interested in how Buddhism and Jungian dream interpretation can improve one’s life.

The cover is appropriate and eye-catching. The woman looks joyful and limber. I like the green and yellow colors and how the woman’s dance pants contrast with the colors. The back cover copy is very good. I like the summary and the fact that the author has secured two enthusiastic endorsements. I also like the author photo.

The book is immediately engrossing. Baby boomers on the early end of the spectrum will be able to relate, and younger women who have no idea what life for many women was like before the progress feminism has made will find much to learn here. Feminism aside, anyone who wants to live life on a different path than the expected will find much to inspire her (or even him) in this book. The author is authentic about her journey, and that fact alone shows us how much she has learned. This is an insightful, encouraging memoir sure to be appreciated by Spruce’s readers.”

Then a few days later, I received an email from IndieReader, where I had also entered their IndieReader Discovery Awards contest,  congratulating me because they had recommended my book to the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/indiereader/lena-dunham-book-recommendations_b_6134968.html?utm_hp_ref=books   They also posted their recommendation on their website.

happy woman

Expect What Is Best

When I first learned that I had not won in either contest, I was very disappointed, but I thought, “At least I had the courage to enter.”  It took a while to let go of the disappointment, but I finally did and stopped thinking about it.  Then these lovely surprises came, and I realized, as I have often in my life, good things can come when you least expect it and from sources that surprise you.

Gratitude Creates A Higher Vibration

So this is another example of how we need to try to remember to be thankful for some aspect of a situation, even when it doesn’t turn out the way we want.  Expressing that gratitude, even if it is simply in the mind, does emit positive vibrations and that is always a good thing.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                          ZTQ4PQ5ZN7F5

AWAKENING TO GRATITUDE

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”  Gilbert Chesterton

spring flowers

Do you have a gratitude practice?  Do you take the time to feel grateful each day? How does it make you feel when you feel grateful?

I’m a lucky person.  If I made a list of all the things for which I’m thankful, it would be a long list.  I’ve always had most of what I needed, but I haven’t always recognized how much I should be grateful.

As a younger person, I took so much for granted.  I always assumed my parents would be there to help me.  I always assumed I could find another job if I wanted to leave the one I had.  I always assumed that my boss would appreciate my “helpful” perspective.  I always assumed the man I was dating would appreciate my bold and honest comments.

Everything Changes

But with time, I came to realize I could not take anything for granted.  Time passes.  People and circumstances change, and it’s hard to be thankful when relationships, jobs, health, and security come crashing down.  And yet….

Feeling Gratitude Lifts Our Energy

Focusing at some point in each day on gratitude lifts our energy and spirits.  That one thought can make a difference so I try to start each day with a moment of gratitude before I even get out of bed.  Each day when I see something that pleases me—the dog curling up next to me, my husband giving my neck a little massage as he walks by, a package arriving sooner than I expected, the song of a bird that is especially sweet—I say a thank you.  It’s the little things that make a difference.

butterflies

Gratitude Can Be A Blessing When Negative Things Happen

It’s much harder, of course, to be thankful for the unpleasant things in life, but they often have hidden blessings.  When my father passed away many years ago, it was shocking.  Except for his emphysema, he was fairly healthy for 81.  One day a blood vessel broke in his lungs and he was dead in ten minutes.  I wasn’t prepared for this.  I had thought there would be some warning and an opportunity to say good-bye.

After recovering from my shock, I was grateful he didn’t have to suffer.  It was a blessing after all, and regardless of how he passed, I would have had to adjust to his being gone.  I hope that when I pass, it will also be quickly.  I don’t want my loved ones to see me suffer any more than I want to suffer.

Negative Experiences May Have Hidden Gifts

In the last few years, I’ve broken an elbow and an ankle.  Both were very painful and unpleasant experiences, and none of my family could come here to care for me when I broke my elbow, so I went to a rehab facility.  It was not a pleasant experience.  However, people in my spiritual community were there often.  When I returned home, a woman whom I did not know helped me shop for groceries and became one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

In the second instance, I discovered how very deep my fiancé’s love for me was because he became my primary caretaker.  He cooked, cleaned, and did anything else I needed so that I could stay at home and recover.  I had never felt so secure knowing that he would do the loving thing—no matter what it was.  I was deeply grateful.

Have Gratitude For Pleasant Surprises

One of the things for which I am always grateful is my closeness to nature because the animals that come to my yard delight and surprise me.  I can never be sure of what they will do next.  For example, I was sitting at my computer the other day, bored as I cleaned off deleted messages, and I glanced out of the window.  Just outside the window were a few flowers and a statue of St. Francis.  On St. Francis’ head sat a squirrel eating a mushroom.  I couldn’t help laughing.  I guess the squirrel wanted some company for dinner.

squirrel

When we make gratitude a daily practice in our lives, it can shift what is negative so that it becomes more bearable or reveals lessons we need to learn.   Melody Beattie says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

May you start each day with the blessing of gratitude.

© 2914 Georganne Spruce                                                                           ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: How Gratitude can Change Your Life, Raising Children With An Attitude of Gratitude, Gratitude With Wayne Dyer (video)

AWAKENING TO ABUNDANCE

“The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts.”  Marianne Williamson

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Is abundance based on what you have or how you perceive what you have?  Do you ever feel abundant?  Do you feel lacking no matter how much you have?

During the years I was teaching dance in Denver, I lived in a one-room apartment most of the time.  It contained a kitchen in one wall, one table, a single bed, a small closet, one chest of drawers, and one window.  Most people would consider that an extremely limited space, but for several years I was very happy there.

Abundance Isn’t About Quantity

The apartment was in a beautiful old Victorian house two blocks from Cheesman Park where there were walking trails and I could experience nature within the city.  The bay window covered one entire end of the apartment and filled the room with light and framed the upper branches of a large, beautiful oak.  It was a five minute drive from my part-time job on the edge of downtown.  With rent that was well within my meager means, I felt I had everything I needed.

Our Feelings of Lack Come From Inside Us

Our society has been so focused on money and things that people often feel poor if they don’t have much more than they need.  When we have plenty, yet feel lacking, we need to look within because what we are missing isn’t a thing; it’s what is inside of us.

What Makes Us Feel Abundant May Be Spiritual

What made me feel abundant during those years in Denver was that I was following my passion, teaching modern dance, and I had friends who shared my passion for dance and also my dedication to a spiritual journey.  Sharing their spiritual practices, my friends were also teachers who enriched my journey.  They introduced me to meditation, Eastern thinking, and Science of Mind philosophy.

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Charlie Davidson

Work That Doesn’t Offer Satisfaction May Feel Like Lack

There have also been times when I felt my life lacked abundance, when something significant was missing.  In New Orleans, I tried to work in sales because I wanted more money.  I had a larger, spacious apartment and newer car than in Denver, but my job took so much time and the contention in the office drained my energy.  Although I had more on the physical level, I didn’t feel abundant.  I felt drained and deprived of what made my life feel full.

When we at least have the basics that all people need, our definitions of abundance may vary widely, but it really comes down to how we see what we have.  For example, most people would feel very lacking without a smart phone and having the ability to text and use the internet.  If they can’t keep in constant contact with friends, they feel something is lacking.  I find that distracting.

When We Love Ourselves, We Feel Abundant

But at the base of our concept of abundance is the question:  Am I enough?  If we love ourselves, we more easily love others and share without feeling that sharing involves a loss.  In fact, sharing will make us feel richer.  When we love ourselves, we feel loved even without a romantic partner, and when we feel connected to Spirit, we feel loved in a deep spiritual way.

Wildflower Walk 2014 020

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Thinking Positively Enriches Us

When we have our basic needs met, but still feel no abundance, what do we need to change?  Often we get caught up in negative thinking so that we are always seeing what is wrong with life rather than focusing on what is good.  Reality isn’t always smooth and peaceful, but if we focus on solving problems and maintain a positive attitude that most problems can be solved, we are more likely to find solutions.

Having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome many years ago was a gift.  Working with a wonderful holistic doctor, I learned how to use supplements, food, and alternative methods like acupuncture to attain and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  During that time, I had so little energy that everything I did seemed like a burden.  I also had to continue working in order to pay the bills.

I had to hunt for things to lift my spirits.  Sometimes it was simply the song of a bird or a cool breeze blowing through the window. (I lived in New Orleans)  I was always grateful when a friend came to visit, my mother brought me dinner, or I had more energy than usual.  But whatever I chose to focus on, I gave thanks for it as a form of abundance.

Enjoying the Moment Enriches Us

Making the time in each day to relax allows us time to be in the moment.  Just being in the moment can feel luxurious and special.  It is only then that we can take the time to truly look at our day and be thankful for what it has offered us.  At times, I start my day, before I even get out of bed with five minutes of meditation.  I welcome the silence and am thankful for that and then offer thanks for not only what I have but what I expect to experience that day.

Abundance is not only about what we have or our attitude about what we have; it is also about what we expect to have.  Positive expectations may draw to us what is most abundant in any area of our lives.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  How to Attract Abundance (Wayne Dyer), Manifesting What You Want – Pt. 1- with Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer (video), Exude an Attitude of Abundance

 

AWAKENING TO CREATE HAPPINESS

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.”  Jim Rohn

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Are there any little things in your life that make you happy?  Are you always looking for something better or bigger?  What is the smallest thing that ever brought you happiness?

We are all different I know, but I learned a long time ago that the world, particularly the natural world, is an interesting place.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than walking through a forest and discovering something I’ve never seen before or a pattern of flowers or bark on a tree that is unique or particularly aesthetically pleasing.

Nature Can Provide Us With Delightful Moments

I remember when I was at the Botanical Gardens in Denver and saw the trees in the picture above.  The knots on the trees looked like eyes, as if the inner tree were looking out at me and smiling.  I was delighted and even laughed out loud as I imagined the conversation the two might have been having and how they were teasing me with their look.

I’ve always felt One with nature, having spent a childhood outdoors a great deal.  These little experiences like finding trees with eyes create happiness for me.  Just a little thing can change my mood quickly:  the song of a bird, the gobble of the turkeys nibbling on my lawn, or the neighborhood cat rolling around on the deck.

Photo: G. Spruce

Photo: G. Spruce

Little Things Can Make Us Happy

No matter what is going on in my life when these things occur I experience a moment of happiness.  I think I’ve learned a really important thing.  Many little things can bring us happiness if we are fully present and open to letting life interrupt our focus for just a moment.

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

When we are always focused on our accomplishments or achievement in our society, finding happiness can be challenging.  We usually set standards for ourselves and judge our actions as successful or not.  If we fail to live up to the standards we set, we are unhappy and disappointed.  We feel inadequate and the fear that we won’t be good enough grows.

Of course, it is important that we are able to do what is expected of us as parents or workers in order fulfill the responsibilities we have accepted, but too often, instead of enjoying the little successes each day, we keep expecting more before we are willing to feel good about what we do.  The tragedy is, though, if we keep putting off feeling good about ourselves or taking the time to lift ourselves up, we may never take the time to be happy at all.

Photo: G. Spruce

Photo: G. Spruce

We Can Choose to Experience Happiness

We can create happiness whenever we want.  It’s about how we choose to feel and that relates to what we are thinking.  Some people think my delight with little things is silly.  Maybe it is, but at times, silly makes me happy.  Maybe doing a crossword puzzle delights you.  Maybe trimming the shrubs enlivens you.  Maybe listening to a particular piece of music inspires you.

Make a commitment to allow something each day to make you happy by taking a moment to appreciate something that appears in your life.  Start your day with meditation, reading something inspirational, a piece of chocolate, or a hearty breakfast.  Savor it, and think how fortunate you are.  That few moments of creating happiness can radically change your day.

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I’m sharing with you today several pictures of things that have delighted me.  I hope you enjoy them and become more aware of the interesting images that appear throughout your day.

What has made you happy today?  Please share a comment.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                              ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  What is Happiness?, The Source of True Happiness, The Source of Happiness from The Richest Man in Town

AWAKENING TO DEEP BLESSINGS

“The seed now begins its time of gestation in the rich dark earth.  It is the great cold of night; not the negative images of darkness, but the dark richness of that unknown, fertile, deep part in each of us where our intuitive creative forces abide.  Elizabeth Roberts and Elisa Amidon, Earth Prayers

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Our Deepest Blessings Come From Within

We live in a culture that focuses on the external and its rewards for success, often ignoring the richness of our internal lives where the true heart of life exists.  Who we are is who we are inside at our deepest level, the truest part of ourselves.  When we have brought some of that to the surface, we can then see how blessed we are, for our deepest blessings come from that “dark richness” within.

When I was a child, I was very shy, but I had an extroverted mother who pushed me into speech and drama classes hoping it would make me more extroverted.  I did take the classes and for years felt extremely nervous speaking or acting, but underneath my resistance to being who my mother wanted me to be was a stronger desire—to be able to express who I truly was.

It was easy to write what I felt.  I didn’t have to get up in front of people and risk making a fool of myself, but my mother’s insistence that I learn to speak publically was a blessing in disguise.  Now as an adult, I am comfortable teaching classes and workshops, doing readings for my book, and networking with others.  These experiences are exhilarating, and I truly enjoy interacting with others.  I always hope that sharing what is most important to me will be valuable to them.

Creative Work Comes From Deep Within

One of the blessings of any creative work is that we must go into that “unknown, fertile” part of us and discover the phrase of movement, words, or music that we had no idea was there.  In the quiet when we are receptive to the unknown, we discover a seed that becomes a dance, poem, or symphony when we bring it into the light.  The same is true also for the creative scientist or business person.  Many treasures lie deep within.

When I taught modern dance in college, I often choreographed dances for the students.  When I was looking for ideas or was ready to create a dance, my favorite time to work was between 10:00 pm and midnight.  I loved the quiet and lack of distraction.  Problems of the day fell away.  New movements came so easily, and I accepted whatever came without judgment.  Later I would shape and rearrange the movement, but at this early stage, I learned that the wise thing to do was to let it flow.  I always felt blessed by the richness of what came to the surface.

Pilgrimage 2012 022

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Great Beauty Emerges From the Dark Earth

We are now only a few days away from the beginning of spring when the earth bursts open with her magnificent beauty.  Here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, jonquils are blooming, tulips are popping up through the earth, and some of the 80 kinds of migratory birds are stopping here on their journey and sing to us each morning.  New life is always a reminder that the darkness of the earth is what nurtures the seeds that become this blessing.

We Must Be Present To Recognize Our Blessings

We are surrounded by blessings every day, but are often not aware of them because we are not present.   When we take time each day to be present and are able to easily become present, we are more likely to notice the good that comes to us in its many varied forms.  The mail with a check in it arrives a day early when we need to pay a bill.  A friend we have missed and haven’t seen in years suddenly appears on Facebook.  A change in plans disappoints us until we realize it enables us to join friends for a more interesting evening.  Being conscious of our blessings reminds us of the abundance of our lives, creates an experience of positive energy, and raises our energetic vibration.

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Can you find the butterfly?
Photo: Georganne Spruce

Blessings Are Of the Heart

Caren Goldman in Healing Words asks the question, “When, I wonder, does a blessing become a blessing?  Is it when it’s thought of?  When it’s spoken?  When it’s heard, or when it’s acknowledged – not just in the head but in the heart?”

We are blessed every day.  Let us make a practice of noticing even the tiniest good thing that comes into our lives and feel that appreciation at the heart level.  When we feel blessed, we act blessed, and sharing that good feeling with others will be a blessing to them.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                      ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Learn to Live in the NOW with Eckhart Tolle (video), Are You Grateful for Your Life? 13 Blessings You May Be Overlooking, Do You See Blessings in Your Challenges?

 

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 TRUST LIFE

“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.”  Paulo Coelho

Father Tossing Daughter

Photo by Mike Baird

 How patient are you when things don’t go your way?  Are you often disappointed about life or do you find some pleasure in each day?

Lately, it seems that dealing with the mundane in life has become unnecessarily difficult and somewhat bizarre.  I spent an hour or more trying to discover why my phone would do nothing but “search” when it had worked fine the day before and the battery was charged.  Finally I unplugged the battery to read the numbers on it, thinking that maybe I needed a new one, and when I reconnected it, it worked just fine.

Then there was a problem with the water filter.  In order to have filtered water like reverse osmosis, I stack one water filtration dispenser on top of another so that the water from the top dispenser will drip through the second filter.  In the last month, the top dispenser has toppled onto the floor twice when a friend of mine walked into the kitchen.  At 6 foot 3 inches, he’s a big guy and his steps create a vibration, but he’s been walking into my kitchen frequently for months.  Why is this happening now?  The second time it happened, the filter shattered.

Lessons May Come From Negative Experiences

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”  Each moment of each day offers us the opportunity to learn.  I’ve learned from experience that when a series of events, mundane or serious, occur I need to pay attention.  I need to calm down, go with the flow, and take time to trust that the Universe is trying to tell me something.

In addition to going inside for spiritual guidance, I also look at astrology or numerology to see if any messages resonate.  My number for this month is a 36/9 and part of the message is that any losses or endings will free me for the new cycle I am about to enter and that any losses I encounter are only those things I do not need.

Not Being Centered Creates Unnecessary Difficulty

When the phone incident occurred, I was already frustrated about a series of troublesome phone calls with my insurance company, and I wasn’t in a positive frame of mind.  I was so disappointed that another problem had arisen that I lacked the patience to solve the problem easily by doing the most obvious thing, checking the battery connection.  Instead, I assumed it was more complicated.

Remaining Positive Requires Courage

Paolo Coelho reminds us to have courage and not be disappointed when we encounter difficulties.  We have to trust that there is value in these life experiences.  When the negative experiences are more serious matters, the challenge to have courage is so much greater.  My challenges are nothing compared to the challenge my friend who has cancer faces.  She is nearing the end but insists on trying not to take drugs to “numb out.”  That’s real courage!

Years ago when I had chronic fatigue syndrome, I had to change my life style in order to heal naturally.  Having to go to bed early and be very strict about what I ate irritated friends and others close to me.  The medical profession had not yet accepted this diagnosis as a real one and many people just thought I was being dramatic about my needs.  Losing friends and not being respected made my life more difficult.  It took courage for me to remain devoted to what I knew was best for me.

Loss May Lead Us To Something Better

In the case of the cracked filter, I was surprised by what happened, but I wasn’t too upset.  Maybe the incident was telling me it was time to install a water filter in my water system.  As it turned out, the friend whose vibration caused the filter to crash had an extra filter that can be easily installed in my house.

Father on Beach

Photo by Lonny Paul

Learning “not to be disappointed by what we encounter” when we experience mundane disappointments prepares us to face the really difficult moments.  Staying calm and going with the flow gives us the patience “to wait for the right moment.”  We often see this in a relationship when we need to discuss a touchy subject with a partner or a manager at work.  If we take the time to consider when and what to say and release our anger or frustration first, we are more likely to communicate in a way so that the other person will hear us.

To Trust Life, We Must Trust Ourselves

We can trust life when we learn to trust ourselves.  We create our lives with our thoughts, emotions, and actions, and the more we learn about managing them in a spiritual and loving way, the more likely we are to create positive experiences.  In addition to the patience and courage, Coelho suggests, developing a practice of gratitude helps to shift us away from expecting the worst of a situation we don’t like.

Focusing on Gratitude Is A Positive Practice

Gratitude reminds us of all the good in our lives.  Even when it’s hard to see the good, it is important to hunt for it and look for a lesson in each experience.  My experience with the phone reminded me that I need to focus on the simplicity of life and assume the solution to a problem is simple unless it truly does become more complex.  I am thankful for that reminder.

The experience with the water filter offered a better alternative to my “slippery slope” solution and reminded me that when one thing stops working, it is often because there is something better in the future.  When we are grateful for the good we have and truly believe that basically life is good, despite the challenges, we are more likely to find our spiritual path filled with light.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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AWAKENING TO A PURE MIND

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”  Buddha

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How do you feel about the New Year?  Do you feel anxious or at peace?  What creates this feeling that you have?  If you don’t like it, what do you do to change it?

After two days of below freezing temperatures and some snow that intensified the light coming into my dining room to the point of almost blinding me, I’m reveling in the easy blend of light and shadow coming through the trees into the room where I work.  It is soft and balanced.

Begin the Year With Gratitude

I am beginning this year with much gratitude.  I do not live where the worst of the winter storms are occurring although our temperatures have been the lowest since the 1800s.  I have a warm house, plenty of food, and love.  I am blessed.

I am also grateful for the time I was able to spend with my brother and his family, especially the time with my grand nieces and grand nephew, three of who are two years old, and one who is four.  There were also three dogs in attendance on Christmas.  It was wild and lovely.  Just being with them was a joy.  Their excitement was contagious.

How we Think Changes Our Vibration

But after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, a profound quiet and a bit of depression enveloped me.  It was time to rebalance and contemplate my plans for the New Year.  During the holidays, the joy I felt was created primarily by external circumstances, but now, living hundreds of miles from the rest of my family, I have had to return to my own resources.  The joy I felt has slipped away.

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As I thought about what I needed to do in the New Year, especially with my writing, I first saw all the things I had hoped to accomplish last year and didn’t.  Well, what was done, was done.  I reminded myself that I could only change the future, not the past.  On the other hand, the new relationship in my life has been a great joy and given me the kind of companionship I haven’t had for years.  As I began to focus on the good things in my life, I began to feel my vibration rise.

As my vibration rose, a joy began to well up inside.  I was following my greatest passion by writing and just thinking about continuing to do that brought me joy.  When I began to clean up my lists of things to do and develop a plan for this year, I let go of the self-judgment that had depressed me and I began to feel more peaceful.

What We Think Affects How We Feel

And that is how it works.  What we think determines how we feel.  As the Buddha points out, joy comes from a pure heart.  So how do we create a pure heart?  I know that meditation has always helped or writing in my journal, exploring the meaning behind the events or ideas moving through my life.  Doing this regularly clears the emotional and mental clutter that distracts me from a natural peace and joy.

Still, life is full of challenges.  Before the holidays, I had signed up for a prescription drug plan. This week I talked to them about covering two custom compounded drugs I take.  After two and a half hours of talking with several people who were unable to grasp that one drug consists of a combination of two drugs, they sent a fax to my doctor for approval with the drugs inaccurately named and spelled.  I had spelled slowly the names of the drugs several times for two people, but they did not record them accurately.  This experience tested my patience to the limit.  It seemed ridiculous.  I kept taking a lot of deep breaths, reminding myself that getting upset would not help the situation.

At the end of the day, the problem with the insurance company was still not resolved, but at least I had been able to constantly adjust my mind and center myself throughout the experience.  I was able to move on to other things and relax that evening knowing that I did all I could do.

Return to Your Spiritual Center for Guidance

Many of our challenges appear because we are living in a time of great change.  The political and economic structures we have depended upon are changing.  Remaining flexible and centered is the most effective way of dealing with change.  Oneness tells us that when our lives seem to “veer off course” and we feel we are “without a compass,” “All that remains, are the clues that begin to emerge from within” (p. 110).

In order to recognize those clues, we must return to our spiritual center and listen to our inner guidance where all answers reside.  We must clear the mind of judgment and resistance and reside in peace.  As we continue this journey, the way will not always be clear or kind, but it can lead us to a better place.  How we experience each event is largely our choice, and when things happen that we don’t like, it is our choice how much we invest in positive or negative thinking about them.

Developing a pure heart by changing our thinking will always take us to a better place where joy becomes a part of who we are.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                        ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  The Pure Mind, How to Create Joy for Today: 7 Tips for a Happy Life, Eckhart Tolle: Embodying Stillness – A Guided Meditation