Tag Archives: Growth

AWAKENING TO YOUR TRUE SELF

“Find out who you are and be that person. That’s what your soul was put on this Earth to be.  Find that truth, live that truth and everything else will come.”  Ellen De Generes

Are you who you want to be? If not, how do you need to change? Are you willing to make that change?

I recently finished reading “Ellie and the Harp Maker” by Hazel Prior.  It is certainly one of my year’s favorites, a story about a woman who discovers who she really is when she learns to play a harp.  The sound of the harp and the joy of playing it opens a part of herself that she had closed off to please her husband.  He didn’t like the sound of the harp and thought her wanting a harp was foolish.

While learning to play the harp and keeping it secret from her husband created many problems, her choice eventually led her to a life that allowed her to love herself and be loved for who she truly was.  It was truly an uplifting story and a joy to read.

Challenging the Norms

Growing up in the 1940’s and 1950’s, I often lived with the conflict between who society thought I should be as a woman and who I thought I was.  In a way, hitting adulthood in the 1960’s did lighten the load and offer more possibilities on the surface.  But the reality was that I was still expected to be a devoted wife and mother and put my interests in second place.  My desire to be a modern dancer did not please anyone.

Those were the expectation’s Ellie’s husband had for her, so it was easy for me to relate to this story.  But how many of us – men or woman – are not being who we truly are?

How do we find who we truly are?  How do we feel about the work we do?  Do we enjoy it or do it only because it’s the only way we can find to make money?

Going Deeper

When we feel drawn to something like music, art, or running long distance races, or any pursuit that goes against our family or society’s concept of who we should be, it is a challenge.  Often, we begin to do it as something “on the side.”  With time, it may become more than a hobby.

When this activity or desire comes from deep within and nourishes us in more than an external way, it may very well be an expression of our soul.  Our soul is our core.  It is the deepest part of us and when we do not feed it, we are only a part of who we are.

While religious beliefs and activity may be at the core of our spiritual being, feeding the soul may also be experienced in many ways.  I suspect the runner, at some point, feels totally in the moment, allowing all worries to drop away, and being at one with all that is.

As a dancer I certainly experienced the feeling of going beyond just the pleasure of physical activity.  When I am writing, the room often drops away.  Words and ideas flow through my hands into the computer.  Many of them are not expressions I would have “thought of.”

A similar experience may also be experienced by mathematicians and scientists looking for a new solution to a problem or inventing a new device.  A new idea appears that the logical mind may have missed.

Seeing the Soul Beneath the Surface

When we are being who we truly are, we still have challenges, but we solve them based on who we are, not on who others expect us to be.  As we age, our challenges may make it impossible to continue a physical activity. There came a point where I had to stop dancing or undergo knee surgery.  I realized that without the stress of dance, I could live normally with my knees and repair the problem with physical therapy.  I had seen many other dancers go through the surgery, not once, but many times because it did not permanently solve the issue.

Fortunately, by this time, I had come to realize that I was not just a dancer. I was a creative, spiritual person.  I could express who I was in many ways.  I had already learned to be creative as a high school teacher and as a writer and found pleasure in helping others explore their creativity.  Having the surgery was unnecessary.  I was fine as I was.

Many years later, I now possess the energy and strength to ballroom dance, write, and walk through the forest.  That’s all I need.

Like Ellie, when we become who we truly are, we will make “music” from the soul.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:

AWAKENING TO DEEPEN OURSELVES

ART: A FEAST TO AWAKEN THE SOUL

AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL CREATIVITY

 

AWAKENING TO OUR SOUL’S GARDEN

“Our uniqueness is God’s garden and God calls us to walk in this garden in love…for one another.” Reverend Naomi Tutu

Does your spiritual belief allow you to love all people? Does your life include diversity?  How are you able to accept those who are different?

On Sunday, August 16, I was very moved by the main message Rev. Naomi Tutu gave at the online Jubilee Community service in Asheville, NC.  Related to her statement that I have quoted, she talked about how diverse her mother’s garden was and how much she loved that diversity in nature. I was very moved by the metaphor of the garden.  Although I have rarely grown gardens, I love the natural gardens of the forest.

Most of us would find a garden with a wide variety of blossoms to be very beautiful.  Around here, the Biltmore Estate has a popular flower garden filled with color especially in the spring and summer where people love to walk and relax.

My husband and I recently wandered off a hiking path to discover a lovely community garden.  We were amazed by the wide diversity of colorful fruits and vegetables that lusciously feed those who cultivate the field.

We are blessed to live in this Appalachian area around Asheville because the natural environment is the most diverse in the world.  It is a gold mine for those who wish to explore the diversity of the natural environment and we frequently find flowers or mushrooms we’ve never before seen.

Most of us appreciate the diversity in our natural garden, but what about our human garden?  Are we comfortable walking among its diversity?  Does the variety of humanity feed us in some way?

What Diversity Can Teach Us

Our ability to be comfortable with human diversity is deeply rooted in our background, experiences, and open mindedness. As a child I was taught to respect all people, but for many years the only people I was around were white like me.  In high school and college, I had minor contacts with people of African descent but did not really know anyone until I acted alongside a black student in a theatrical performance. It was the first time I realized I really had no idea what it was like not to be white.

Later, living in Washington, D. C., I encountered few people in the suburbs unlike me except when I was teaching at a Catholic girls’ school.  I’d grown up Protestant so I had to get used to the culture of nuns, dress more conservatively, and adjust to attending the school’s religious masses.

It was not until I lived in Denver in the eighties that I experienced an even more diverse spiritual environment.  I had always been searching for something without knowing what it was that was missing in my Christian spiritual life.  I had long ago stopped attending services, and because of a deep friendship with a man who was a Buddhist, I became curious about his faith.  I studied eastern religion, learned to meditate, and taught dance for a short time at the Naropa Institute in Boulder.

From this new experience, my understanding of God’s love expanded.  I dealt with life’s challenges in a calmer, more centered manner.  As I moved through this new spiritual garden, I enjoyed its diversity because it opened my mind to an expanded understanding of humanity.  I felt connected to people from Eastern countries in a way I had never before experienced.

Differences May Teach Us

Diversity is easier to accept when we understand the nature of our differences.  Except for the gender prejudice I had experienced as a woman, I had never been treated differently because I was white until I lived in New Orleans where, in some areas, whites did not feel welcome.

It is hard to imagine any place on earth that is more unique than New Orleans.  It is a multicultural city with a large black population, where most of all families are Catholic, and the food is unique, based on French and African influences.  I moved there to be with my family.

Having previously taught in a Catholic school helped me understand those I met who were dedicated to Catholicism.  Teaching multiracial gifted students in the inner city helped me understand their challenges and I felt compassion for the difficulties they faced trapped in poverty. I still remember the girl with a dysfunctional mother who got pregnant so someone would love her and the boy who feared his brother would be shot by a gang member.

Accepting Diversity Opens Hearts

It is so easy to judge people at a distance because we cannot see who they truly are.  It is much easier to simply dismiss them as different, but when we take the time to know them, they can potentially enrich our lives.

The diversity in my life experiences has taught me that we must learn to love those who are different from us and to respect all humanity.  When we focus on what we share in common rather than only on what is different, we plant seeds of love that will grow into a garden of understanding and respect.  Anais Nin has said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

The more we open our eyes and our hearts and come to understand that we are all God’s children, the more our soul’s garden will expand and feed us abundantly.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO LOVE THE WORLD Part 2, DIVERSITY

AWAKENING TO COMPASSION

AWAKENING TO OUR WORLD COMMUNITY

 

AWAKENING TO OUR FREEDOM

“You will never be free until you free yourself from the prison of your own false thoughts.” Phillip Arnold

Are there thoughts that restrict your life? Why do you think this way? What has happened in your life that helped you let go of these thoughts?

What we think and the ideas we believe form who we are.  If the source of the information beneath our ideas is reliable, it can allow us to make reasonable choices and take sensible action.  If the information is flawed, we may make decisions that lead us down the wrong path.

During this pandemic, getting the correct information about the virus has been a challenge because  of conflicting viewpoints.  Who is more likely to understand a disease than a medical doctor or researcher despite what some politicians tell us?

If we want to eat healthy food, who is most likely to give us the most accurate information about the best vegetables and fruits to buy?  The producer who grows organic products or the farmer who uses banned pesticides on his crop?  When we understand the source, we can make the wisest choice.

Why Do We Ignore Facts?

But, what if our conclusions about a subject are based on something other than facts? At times, we ignore facts because we have already developed prejudicial attitudes.  For example, if we have grown up in a cult or a strict religious environment that taught us that only our way is right, we may reject others whose beliefs are different and consider them “unholy.”

We may also have political or racial biases because of the way we were raised.  In my family, I grew up with a mother who taught me that all people were created equal and deserved respect.  Her attitude came from her Christian upbringing.  My father, on the other hand, often made racist remarks.  Fortunately, I chose to think like my mother.

My parents were both Democrats and I’ve always been politically liberal partly as a result of being at college in the 1960’s when I became further aware of the nation’s inequities. But again, how I was raised without luxury contributed to my thinking.  My family never went without food, clothing, or shelter but we never experienced material abundance.

However, if I had grown up surrounded by luxury, attended a prestigious school, had a new car to drive to college across town, I might not have noticed those who did not share my wealth.  If my parents had taught me that poor people were just lazy, I might have closed my mind to their actual situations.

Releasing Our False Thoughts

So how do we release thoughts that are not based on reality—thoughts that limit our thinking and create an inaccurate picture of the world around us?

To free ourselves, we have to accept the possibility that there is another viable way to see a person or situation.  While some people care about others because they are Christian and have been taught to do that as a core part of their belief, there are others who care about other people because they have chosen to place love at the center of their lives.

Learning From Diversity

One reason for being boxed in by limited ideas is that we simply haven’t been exposed to sufficient diversity.  In a country that is rapidly becoming more diverse, it is very helpful to join a group in which we interact with people who have different views.  It is easier to understand another point of view when we get to know the person who holds it.  By learning how and why they think differently, we learn to respect them and their differences.

By freeing our thinking, we free ourselves to love and respect all human beings, for it is love that heals all wounds, personal and societal.  Love to you all!

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO NEW THOUGHTS

AWAKENING TO OUR PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS

AWAKENING TO RACIAL EQUALITY

AWAKENING TO WALK IN BEAUTY

 How do you create beauty in your life?  Is it external or internal?  How does it make you feel?

Navajo Prayer

In beauty may I walk.

All day long may I walk.

Through the returning seasons may I walk.

Beautifully will I possess again

Beautiful birds …

Beautiful joyful birds …

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.

With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.

With dew about my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me, behind me,

   above me, all around me may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty lively, may I walk

It is finished in beauty.

It is finished in beauty.

In the mountains of North Carolina, walking in beauty is the simplest thing one can do.  Surrounded by luscious green trees and abundant colorful flowers, nature is vibrant in the spring, summer, and fall.  Even when those of us who live here feel bored or depressed, a walk in the forest can lift us up.

The Physical Gifts Of Nature

We have become a culture surrounded by things.  We fill our homes with paintings, nick-knacks, computers, and lovely objects so that we feel at home with the memories they invoke and they communicate to others who we are and what our status is.

Years ago, when I was living alone and making little money as a teacher, I couldn’t afford anything I didn’t absolutely need.  Despite that, I needed to make my apartment feel like my home, so I decorated it with the only things I could afford – items from nature and cheap containers.  I found bird feathers in the yard.  At the beach, there were piles of colorful shells, and as I hiked in the mountains, I gathered small rocks and quartz.

Although my home is now a house full of purchased items, paintings, posters, and artsy clay bowls, I use the baskets I bought in Africa to display my rocks and shells, pine cones and bird feathers.  I especially appreciate these beauties on a winter day when there is snow on the ground and I’ve been cooped up too long.  Their beauty and the remembrance of the joy I felt in finding them brightens my day.

When spring and summer come, they offer us more natural beauties, such as the brilliant blue hydrangeas, golden black-eyed Susan’s, vivid purple iris, and multiple colors of roses.  Not only may we enjoy these when we are out-of-doors, we can pick them and liven the house with their fragrance and beauty.

Many people also plant flowers and vegetables this time of year, but what else are we planting, especially in our minds?

When life becomes especially challenging, we can become rooted in its negative aspects to the point that we become depressed or unable to function well.  At this time, we need to remember that this pain can be relieved to some extent like physical pain.  When our body aches, we may do the easy thing and take a medication or supplement that soothes the discomfort, but nature can be a healing remedy too.

The Healing Gift of Mother Nature

When life becomes a mental or emotional burden, we may lift that burden or at least lessen it by walking in beauty and taking in the gifts it offers.  We may step outside to let bright sun warm and wash us with it’s golden light.  At sunset, we can drive to the parkway and watch the sun splash brilliant orange and red behind the darkening mountains.  Or we may choose to walk barefoot over the grass in the yard or a park and feel the precious earth supporting us from below.

By feeding our senses with beauty and being in the moment to see, smell, and feel the gifts of nature, it becomes easier to return to caring for a sick child or parent, struggling with low finances, or settling for only virtual access to our friends and relatives.  Walking in nature’s beauty can help heal the insecurity we feel and restore the joy we have momentarily lost.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  

The first article here is about my dear friend Jerry who passed away in 2018.  Of all the people I’ve know he was the one who lived closest with nature.

AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

AWAKENING FROM THE HEART

DANCING FROM OUR CENTERS

 

 

AWAKENING TO LIFE NOW

“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”  Mark Twain

How does your age affect the choices you make now?  Are you happier at this age?  What do you consider the perfect age?

When I first read this quote by Mark Twain, I chuckled.  He always makes me laugh, but underneath the humor is often wisdom.  I’ll admit that at seventy-five I wouldn’t mind being a bit younger with a body that requires less upkeep and has unlimited energy.  On the other hand, at this age it’s easier to let go of irritations and live more in the moment.

Most of all, I’m glad I’m not approaching eighteen.  I was extremely limited at that time in terms of dealing with life’s changes and disappointments.  I had more illness because I didn’t know about my food intolerances.  At nineteen I lost the boyfriend I thought I would marry after college.  But I did have a lot of fun:  being in plays, singing, going to parties.  It’s just that I didn’t have the maturity to always make good choices.

Regardless of whether we are eighty or eighteen, our lives now are full of challenges we could never have dreamed and we have no way of knowing if life will return to “normal.”  In this situation we need some of age’s wisdom as well as the optimism of youth.

Age Teaches Us How To Deal With Change

Life continues no matter how much we may try to stop the change.  But when we’ve been around quite a few years, we’ve learned what we can change and what we can’t and how much time it is reasonable to take in order to make a change.

As we grow, hopefully, we learn how to deal more positively with the difficulties of the emotional stress that change may create.  With years of regular meditation behind me, I’ve learned that when I get emotionally upset, it is best to take a few deep breaths and that calms me.  Walking briskly also works off the adrenal response and strengthens my body at the same time.

After the initial response, I sit quietly and think about what I need to do, if anything.  How can I solve this problem?  Can it be solved or do I need to just accept it?  Does solving the problem involve other persons?  If so, how can I calmly and positively approach them so that they will want the help?  If it can’t be solved, how do I live with it?

Failure Is Not Always Negative

How we deal with a problem is not only related to what it is, but also how we feel about ourselves. If we were not given positive messages about our worth as a child, we may question our abilities as an adult. In this case, it is important that we get the help we need to heal those wounds so that we see ourselves as good and capable people.  If we trust our abilities, we won’t push problems aside or expect someone else to solve them for us.

Hopefully long before we head toward eighty, we have healed any lack of self-worth and learned to accept who we are, not judging ourselves for what we perceive as our failures.  We all experience failures. Sometimes those failures are positive in the sense that they send us down a different path of learning.  Failure may also allow us to explore an aspect of life that we would never have consciously chosen but which presents us with opportunities for growth.

Ballet East Dance Company

One twist of fate in my life began when my family moved to Tulsa when I was about thirteen.  I was not happy at all about leaving my friends.  But there in high school, modern dance was part of the physical education curriculum.  Taking that class, I began to develop muscles and feel physically strong for the first time in my life.  I loved it so much that modern dance became a part of my life for many years. It helped improve my physical health and developed my creativity.

Valuable Aspects of Aging

What I like most about approaching eighty is that I no longer feel driven to accomplish anything.  I write because I love to do it, not because I’m driven to become a famous writer.  I enjoy sharing my ideas with others and especially like it when my blog followers make comments letting me know how my words touched them.

I’m more able to accept my failures or the areas where I lack talent such as my limited cooking skills.  I used to be a perfectionist.  Although that aspect of my personality rears its head from time to time,  I don’t feel a slave to it.  I do the best I can and forgive myself for what I lack.  Growing older has brought me more peace, which is truly a gift, even though I’ll never be eighteen again.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

AWAKENING TO SHARE HAPPINESS

AWAKENING TO LOVE ALL WE ARE

 

AWAKENING TO WHAT IS BETTER

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”  Peter Marshall

When you have a large project to complete, how do you approach it?  Does that approach always help you get the work done?

Being at home has forced me to pay more attention to the condition of the inside of my house.  The kitchen is the most challenging room to clean and I have intended to wash certain areas for a long time, especially the outside of the refrigerator.

Facing Reality

When I looked at the frig door I thought, “That is a mess.  Where did all these stains come from?  We didn’t throw food at it.”  Many of the splotches on the outside were probably mold of some kind.  Other places looked like large bugs had committed suicide there.

In addition, there were photos and yellow crispy quotes I had cut from the newspaper or typed to post there.  The largest one reads:  “Dakota Tribal Wisdom:  When you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”  Those words had once led me to make a painful but wise decision to end a relationship that was not meant to be, so I kept them there as a reminder to make wise decisions.

Using a Plan to Create Action

Last week, I finally decided I had to face this problem head on and come up with a specific plan to clean the entire kitchen.  Every time I had planned to do it all in one day I found an excuse not to, so I decided to take it in steps, a half day at a time.

The first morning I started with the easiest task: cleaning the tile wall above the sink and counter and the spots on the nearby walls.  That went so quickly that I expanded the work to include wiping off the separate cabinets.  Afterwards, I felt very proud of myself.

Motivated by my success on the first day, the next day I decided to clean the inside of the refrigerator.  It was rather difficult because the door only opened to a ninety-degree angle and it was impossible to remove one of the vegetable bins that had numerous scraps of greens under it. To reach that area and clean it, I had to dismantle two shelves which were heavy and awkward to remove. That activity wore me out, but I was delighted that the inside glistened brightly.

On the third day, I stuck with the plan although I dreaded facing the mess on the outside of the frig.  I removed the magnets, pictures, and quotes from the door, sorted them, and threw some away.  Using the Lysol bleach, I scrubbed some areas over and over again, starting at the top and working my way down.  When I took a rest break, I reluctantly kept my cleaning gloves on.

As I was finishing, my husband walked into the room, surveyed my work, and said, “I’ve never seen this frig so white.  It’s looks great, honey.”  I laughed.  “I know!” I said.  Looking around the room, I smiled at the sunlight bouncing off all the clean white areas.  It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.


 

Enjoying the Success

This experience reminded me of all the things I hadn’t done in life because the task seemed overwhelming.  What I had accomplished, I had taken step by step, one task, one day at a time. That had certainly been true when I was in school and during the years I learned to be a modern dancer.  But it is so easy to forget the hard work that takes us to a place where the activity becomes easy and gives us joy.

So today I’m writing the rough draft of this blog post.  The next day I’ll polish it, and the next day, I’ll post it.

We can use this sheltering in place time to catch up on things we have avoided and delayed, and when we have completed one of them, we must remember to compliment ourselves on what we have accomplished. Now, every time I pass that white refrigerator shining in the light, I smile.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

RELATED BLOGS

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

AWAKENING TO OUR RESPONSES

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

 

LETTING GO OF THE BAGGAGE

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”  Steve Maraboli

Who have you forgiven lately or who do you need to forgive and haven’t?

One Sunday morning I woke from a dream.  It had been lengthy but I only remembered the last moment.  I was walking through an airport on the way to catch a flight that was leaving soon and I stopped, suddenly realizing I had left my luggage at home.  After I got out of bed and unsuccessfully tried for a few minutes to remember more, I walked over to my husband and said, “I just dreamed that I was in an airport about to catch a flight when I realized I had left my baggage at home.”

Why did I say baggage?  Then it hit me – that’s what the dream was about!  My husband who is a retired therapist began asking me questions about what I thought my emotional/psychological baggage was.  I gave it serious thought but nothing came up.  In fact, other than being disturbed by our president’s behavior and dealing with some back problems that have greatly improved, I’ve been feeling very peaceful.

Baggage I Needed to Release

Later that morning, I remembered a very significant time in the past when it had taken me a long time to forgive and when I finally did, it was transforming.

During college, I had fallen in love with a man six months before he went to the Vietnam War.  We became engaged and when he returned a year later, we married rather quickly and lived together for the next ten years before divorcing.  During those years, I taught in high school and taught some modern dance when I could.  Eventually I was able to dance with a small company fulfilling one of my life’s dreams.

But this didn’t work well for my husband who wanted a divorce.  He later admitted he had had affairs while we were married.  My love of dance angered him because he felt I loved dance more than I loved him.  

“But,” I said, “I told you before we married that I had to dance, that it was part of me, and you said that was okay.”

“Well, I thought you’d get tired of it – outgrow it.”

I was stunned by that revelation, and the pain of his betrayals haunted me for years.

Learning to Forgive

Then one day, many years after the divorce, I finally understood how I had not understood his needs.  Of course he needed a partner totally devoted to him.  His mother had been single, working a job that left him alone most of the day and evening, even when he was in elementary school. He had to fix his own dinner, which often involved opening a can of food and heating it.   He didn’t know his father who had left when his mother became pregnant.  

When his mother married, it was to a man who was untrustworthy and whose mother treated  my ex like he was a nuisance.  These were the only relatives he had to live with as he completed high school.  No wonder he joined the Marines!

Compassion Leads to Forgiveness

Reflecting on his early years, I was suddenly filled with a deep sadness.  On an emotional level for the first time, I understood how deeply he had needed a wife who was motherly, and I was not.  I was an independent woman on her own path when that was not an acceptable way for a woman to be.  For the first time, I truly forgave him for the hurt he caused me, and I forgave myself for being so blind to his needs.  Finally, I was able to leave that baggage behind.

But why was this dream coming up now?  I don’t know.  But I suspect there may be more baggage lurking in my mental closet.  Only time will tell.  

Whom do you need to forgive today?

© Georganne Spruce

Readings:  My Memoir:  Awakening to the Dance: a Journey to Wholeness

AWAKENING TO ACCEPTANCE

AWAKENING TO COMPASSION

 

AWAKENING TO NEW BEGINNINGS

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

T. S. Eliot

Photo: Charles Davidson

Photo: Charles Davidson

Are you pleased with the direction your life took in 2013? Do you have any regrets about last year or any hopes for change for the New Year?  Will this year be a new beginning in some way?

A peace always falls over me at the beginning of a new year.  It’s like stepping through a portal that will provide me with new experiences and broaden my awareness.  I know that each year I grow—sometimes from positive experiences and sometimes from negative ones. If I haven’t been pleased with the year, I can choose to let go of my displeasure and reorganize and rethink my life so that in this New Year I will be more of the person I want to be.

Much of what I experienced in 2013 was good.  I did book signings, workshops, and sold books.  I made new friends.  I went on many wonderful hikes.  Most important of all, I began a deeply meaningful relationship that I never expected would happen at this time in my life.

But that was last year, and I wonder what voice will emerge from within me and through my writing for this year.  I’ve already started putting together a book of poetry, and within my own poems are many voices.  I have changed.

There is the voice of isolation that speaks through my poems about winter in Nebraska years ago.  There is voice of new found strength and recovery from a previously failed relationship.  There is the joy and exhilaration of connecting with nature and the flight of birds, and the mystical, spiritual experiences of deeply relating with others.

Although many voices may appear in my writing, they all emerge from my core, and the journey continues.  Last year was last year with its surprises and lessons.  It has ended, but now there is a new year and I have to reflect on what I want it to be.

I don’t make resolutions, but I do reflect on some of the things I hope will be a part of next year.  I begin to create some plans to make those desires manifest.  I envision what succeeding to get what I desire will feel like, and I begin to feel those goals will be reached even when I have no idea of the mechanics that will make them happen.

So I begin to create a year of new beginnings, always with joy at the center, and the ability to accept whatever the New Year brings.  I tingle with excitement over what may be possible as I continue to dance this dance of life.  And above all, I commit to choreographing a New Year filled with love, peace, and joy.

May this be a joyful year for you all!

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                             ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

AWAKENING TO OUR CONTRASTS

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”  Nelson Mandela

Arboretum 2013 017

The holidays are a time when we often return to where we grew up or to our parents’ home.  It can be a wonderful and joyous occasion or one where we tread lightly around certain topics, but if we have grown over the years and become our own person, it may be a time when we see clearly the contrast between who we were and who we are now.

We All Change with Time

We all grow in some way as the years pass.  Even those who ferociously resist change and try to force their ways on others change—usually becoming more angry and brittle.  But most of us try to learn from our mistakes and be open to learning new ways of doing things that will benefit us and our families.  Besides, when we don’t think our way is the only way, we can connect more easily with those who are different.

Mandela Is A Model for Forgiveness

This week we have mourned the death of Nelson Mandela and celebrated his extraordinary life.  Living in a country of extreme contrasts, he was able to unite the people by demonstrating that we can choose to forgive our enemies, no matter how horrendous their behavior was, and in doing so, we free ourselves from bitterness and hate.  Certainly his life was full of contrasts.

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 1998 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contrast Show Us What We Want and What We Don’t Want

In the Law of Attraction literature, contrast is the word that is used to describe negative events, the things that happen that we don’t want to attract.  It’s true that life is filled with experiences we like and others we don’t, and each contrast is an opportunity to re-examine what we did to create it.  Abraham, channeled by Esther Hicks, states, “When you have lived an experience that helps you understand in an exaggerated way, the very thing you do not want, you also understand in an exaggerated way, what you do want.”

Few of us will ever have the kind of profound influence that Nelson Mandela had on other human beings.  But we each, in our own way, may choose to learn from the contrast in our lives, and accept the choices other people make that are different from ours.  If we can create just a little peace in our own environment, we are contributing to world peace.

As We Grow, Our Past Is Illuminated

Years after leaving the town where I grew up, I returned to visit and was startled by how small the house was.  It seemed spacious to me as a child as I lay on the dining room floor, my books spilling out of the bureau, and read or colored.  The external reality was small, but my internal experience was large as I explored life through literature.

Books

Books (Photo credit: henry…)

Let Us Embrace Our Differences

This often happens to us.  As our world grows larger, what we used to know seems smaller or more confined.  Until I attended college in the 1960s, I had never attended school with any children who were not white.  Fortunately, I was reared by a mother who believed that all people were equal and deserved equal rights so that when I did met people of other races I was curious.  Despite some initial discomfort, I made a real effort to understand our differences and to relate respectfully.

Over the years, I taught students from many cultures and doing so has enriched my life experience with many contrasts.  As a result, I have learned and grown from these experiences.  My spiritual journey has also been filled with experiences and practices that differ from my family’s traditional spiritual path.  They attend Catholic and Protestant churches, and I attend meetings of a spiritual community that prefers not to be called a “church.”  My path seems strange to them, but it brings me peace and happiness, and their path is very meaningful to them.  We think differently, but we accept our differences.

When I wrote my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness, I traveled back into time as I read through the journals I’d kept for many years and was able to see all the ways I had changed over the years.  Some of it was inspiring and I could feel proud of how I had expanded my thinking, but there were also times when I was appalled by the way I mangled a situation.  Still, the contrasts were steps I had to take on my way to become a more peaceful and caring person.

So this holiday, as we visit with family and old friends, let us appreciate the contrasts that appear and  let us honor the sometimes challenging spiritual path through life that we each travel.

HOLIDAY GIFT SUGGESTION

If you are looking for an inspiring gift for a friend, please consider my memoir Awakening to the Dance:  A Journey to Wholeness.  It is available through Amazon.com, Kindle, Nook, and CreateSpace ID#1002950.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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AWAKENING TO TRANSITIONS

“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”  Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

How do you feel about transitions?  Does the uncertainty about the future disturb you or fill you with anticipation?  

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Autumn slipped in when I wasn’t looking.  Suddenly there was a tree along the highway that had turned red and yellow and began dropping leaves when all the other trees remained green and lush.  Soon a few older brown leaves that had clung to the oaks all summer began to fall, and some of the grass in the yard started dying.

Life May Grow Out of Endings

On the other hand, the side of the yard that was recently dug up to replace a drainage pipe has been reseeded and underneath the straw is  growing new grass, an interesting contrast to harvest time.  These contrasts in nature are a reminder that, we may find life where there seems to be death and death where we thought there was life.

As soon as I graduated from college, I married, and two years later, my husband came home and announced he did not want to be married any longer.  I was utterly shocked.  The thought of losing him felt like death.  As it turned out, he didn’t leave then, and we managed to keep the marriage together for another eight years of turmoil.  When it finally ended, it still felt like death.

But out of that death, I found a new lifeone in which I learned how to take care of myself so that I could make decisions from a position of confidence and choose to pursue an independent life.  As I felt more empowered, I no longer felt desperate to find another husband.  I was creating a life I liked and would only consider relationships with people who respected who I really was.

An Ending May Lead To A More Spiritual Life

Because of the economic changes in our society, many people have had to give up the life they led and adapt to a less extravagant way of living.  Others, who lived moderately, have had to pare down to the absolute essentials.  It is not easy to let go of what we considered the comforts of life, but it can lead us to something else of value.

When we can spend less money on things, perhaps we will spend more time with loved ones and also have the time to look within and develop our spiritual lives.  When we have nothing to lose, we may find the courage to follow our passions:  create art, open a restaurant, teach in a foreign country or become a hospice volunteer.  Endings can be the beginnings of a new life.

Years ago, when I taught drama in New Mexico, my students wrote a play “The End Is the Beginning.”  It was about some teens who made harmful decisions like getting pregnant and being involved with drugs, but in the end, they realized they had to change, and each chose to create a positive life.  I hope their characters were role models.

Transitions Are Rites Of Passage

Resisting the changes we can’t control is futile.  Finding a pleasure in the new will always make the transition easier.  Often the transition is a rite of passage following a major change that forces us to shift how we think about our lives.  When I had to stop teaching modern dance because of knee problems, I realized that far too much of my identity was bound up in being a dancer.  It took time for me to accept that my real identity had little to do with the specific thing I did.

A photo of the sculpture "Dancer and the ...

A photo of the sculpture “Dancer and the dance” by John Safer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This transition was not easy.  I felt like a ship adrift at sea. Over time, I began to see that creativity was a large part of who I was and that I was creative in many areas of my life: decorating my apartment, handling my finances, teaching English, and solving life’s problems.

My creativity was not limited to dance, and as I explored my creative nature, I looked deeper into the source of my creativity, realizing it was connected to my spiritual core.

It was then that I began to explore how to grow spiritually by reading, studying new philosophies and spiritual practices that would allow me to change in the ways I wanted to change.  What had once felt like the death of a part of me became a passage through which I found a richer life.  I would always be grateful I was a dancer, but it no longer defined me.

Spirit Is Always There To Guide Us

Transitions often frighten us because we can’t yet see what will replace what we have lost, but we have to learn to trust ourselves and know that we will be guided in the right direction.  When we have a spiritual life, we know that there is guidance beyond what is apparent on this earthly plane.  We can go within, release our fear, and allow Spirit to guide us to the next step.  Every change in life is an opportunity to expand and that is why we are here.

How has a transition led to a positive change in your life?  Please comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                          ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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