Tag Archives: Growth

AWAKENING TO OUR JUDGEMENTS

“We should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect.  The judgement of the intellect is only part of the truth.”  Carl JunG

When do you most often make judgements about others?  What are those judgements based on?  Do they reflect how you feel as well as how you think?

(Thank you, Joanne for the word “judgement” for today’s topic.  My next blog will be based on a word that begins with “K” so please leave some suggestions in the Comment box.  Thanks for your help!)

When you notice yourself making a judgement about a person’s opinion or behavior, do you know where that judgment originates?  Is it based on what you think, what you feel, or your spiritual or political beliefs?

Webster’s definition of judgement is “the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.” This definition supports the process that includes an intellectual activity in which we recognize patterns of details, noticing their similarities or differences, and draw conclusions based on this information.

This describes a good process, a wise way of evaluating a situation and deciding the best course of action to follow.  But is this the process we often use to make a decision?  Not always.  We all have different tendencies when it comes to decision making and we all have an emotional and a spiritual self in addition to our intellect.

We Fear Being Different

Many of the racist attitudes we see in others are clearly not formed from the intellect.  Often people accept their parents’ or friends’ attitudes because that’s what one does to fit in.  We don’t want to feel separate because that feels lonely and is scary.  It may also put us in danger if we don’t follow the same path.

Last week I asked this question about integrity:  What if a woman can’t feed her children and steals food from a store so they have something to eat?  When you read that, what judgement did you make?  Your intellect might have said, “She broke the law and she should have been arrested.”  Emotionally, you may have felt sorry for her and hoped she got away with it.  Your spiritual self may have forgiven her wrong doing and prayed that she could find a way to safely feed her children.

Notice The Source Of Our Decisions

When we make a judgement, we need to be aware of the source of our decision.  Our best decisions usually come from a wholistic awareness.  We notice the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a situation to determine what we need to do.  In this case, our whole selves are making the best decision possible.

Hopefully over time, our experiences teach us the best way to determine the basis of our actions.  That doesn’t mean we always get to do what we “want” to do.  Sometimes I’m prediabetic – just barely.  But I don’t want to be diabetic, although my mother was and my brother is.  Every day I have to  put my emotions in my pocket and choose, not the food I’m craving filled with sugar, but the food that is healthy for me.

This decision is intellectual in the sense that it is reasoned.  I am aware of the scientific evidence of the effect of sugar on people like me, but it is also emotional.  How much do I care about myself?  If I choose to harm myself, I certainly won’t feel better.  When I do what’s best for me, it becomes easier to do what’s right because I feel good about myself and want to keep feeling better.

When we care enough about our well-being to make wise and healthy decisions, we not only can accept our friends and family making their best choices, but it is easier for us to accept and support them.  If their choices are different from ours, we simply accept they have different desires and needs and don’t view their decisions as actions taken against us.

When we can see ourselves and others as a whole, we are more likely to make the wisest choices, and are more able to accept the diversity in life.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Blog Posts:

AWAKENING TO OUR PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS

AWAKENING TO WHO YOU ARE

AWAKENING TO GOOD DECISIONS

AWAKENING TO INTEGRITY

 

AWAKENING TO EVOLVEMENT

“The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.”  Oprah Winfrey

Do you feel you are evolving in a good direction?  What do you do to keep growing as a person?  Do you like who you are becoming?

Thank you, Eleanore, for today’s topic.

Spring is a time when we joyfully watch nature evolving.  Trees with grayish brown trunks and branches slowly evolve into leafy green umbrellas.  Their branches become covered with greenish yellow or dark green leaves, depending on their growth stage.  Others suddenly burst full of white or pink flowers.  Stubby little shrubs like Azaleas blossom intensely red, calling attention to their beauty amid their flowerless neighbors.

Heredity and Family Affect Who We Are

While the evolvement of nature is seasonal, our evolvement follows many different paths.  Heredity may predetermine what we look like or what medical problems may arise during our years on this earth, but who we become depends on the choices we make and who we decide to be.

The family or environment in which we grow up forms much of who we are.  Some people choose to conform to their family’s way of life: doing the same work, following the same religion, voting for the same party, socializing in the same way.  For some, this is a good fit; for others, change is required to become an authentic person.  We may begin with one goal only to discover as we mature that we need to head in a different direction

Books About Finding Ourselves

As we evolve, the world around us changes as well.  Recently I read two books that have expanded my understanding of what being Black has meant in this country.  The first is the classic by Zora Neale Hurston, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” published in 1937.

It is the story of Janie, a Black woman, who is searching for her true self.  She marries twice to men who want to control her every word and movement.  It is only with her third husband, Tea Cake, who doesn’t want to make her “one man’s mule,” that she is able to be authentic.  Like she says, “two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves.  They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.”

The other novel is “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett.  It’s the story of light-skinned twin sisters who are growing up in a southern Black community.  They run away from home at sixteen, but each eventually chooses a different path for dealing with her racial identity.  One “becomes” a white woman, disappearing from her family, never revealing who she really is, while the other accepts her reality, marries a Black man and has a daughter with him who is black-skinned and thereby lives an authentic life.

Being True To Myself

Both of these books made it even clearer to me how privileged I am to be White and to have been raised in a middle-class environment, but they also reminded me how glad I am that I followed paths that even my parents and my former husband thought  foolish. Eventually, he divorced me because of the path I chose as a dancer.

I remember sitting up in our apartment at night where my former husband and I lived in a steel mill town, watching the light from the factories flow through the window.  It was obvious to me that I could never be who I wanted to be in that place.  I was teaching mostly gym in junior high, not the English or drama for which I had trained.  As a southerner, most of the other teachers ignored me.  I had only one “sort of” friend.

Fortunately, I was able to convince my husband to move back south to the town where my parents lived.  He found an excellent job in a nearby town and I worked with the National Endowment for the Arts program teaching dance in the schools and community.  I was able to be who I truly was, a teacher and dancer.   This experience gave me the background I needed to keep moving for many years in the artistic direction I had chosen for my life.

To evolve, we must decide what serves us well and what needs to change.  We have to explore how to do that, perhaps by getting help from family or friends, seeing a therapist, reading more widely, or thinking in a different way to expose ourselves to new possibilities.

Every choice we make in life defines us in some way.  When we can see who we want to become, we can more easily see the next step in our evolution.

©2021 Georganne Spruce

Next week the topic I will choose must start with an “F” so please give me some ideas of words for that blog.  Just leave your ideas under Comments.  Thanks to all of you who read these posts.

Related Blogs:

AWAKENING TO GROW

AWAKENING TO OUR HISTORIES

AWAKENING TO YOUR TRUE SELF

 

AWAKENING TO DEVOTION

“When devotion arises, life becomes profound.”  Sadhguru

To what are you most devoted?  How is it a part of your life?  Is it easy to stay devoted or difficult?

Thanks to Bill and Susan for this topic.

Devotion is a word that is often descriptive of a religious practice, but it also may refer to any idea or activity to which we are loyal or dedicated.  Most of all it indicates a practice that is a regular part of our lives because it is very meaningful for us.

Profound Work Requires Commitment

In fact, what we are most devoted to may define who we are.  People I know who have been devoted to helping children with special needs, do work that is profound.  One teacher I know cares deeply about her students and is very creative in a way that makes it possible for them to learn despite their learning disabilities.  For example, she teaches forensics, setting up a crime scene for students to analyze as a way of learning science.  I suspect that if my high school science classes had been that creative, I might have been much more interested.

I have another friend who is a wonderful artist.  She quit her regular job and let go of other activities in order to devote her time to painting.  As a result her work is now in galleries and she frequently sells her paintings.  The work she does is beautiful and her devotion to her love of it has deepened her life.

Another friend was dedicated to teaching students with special needs for years.  Now she, too, is devoted to her painting which is beautiful.  She makes cards for every occasion and I have never been able to throw one away.  Her love brings beauty and joy into my life, and I have placed her cards in my dining room where I see them often.

When we create anything profound, we bring profundity to others’ lives and that is a gift to the Universe.

Helping Others May Be Based On One’s Spirituality

For many people, their desire to make a difference originates in their religious or spiritual belief.  I know a man whose religious beliefs are different from mine, but his have led him in a profound direction.  He is devoted to counseling men in prison and also does grief counseling because he wants to help others become stronger and able to lead their lives in a positive way.

In my own life, the years I was devoted to learning who I really was in the deepest sense led me in various directions studying Jungian psychology, eastern religions, going to Unity Church of Christianity and Science of Mind churches.  But my life has always centered around learning, for as a teacher, I had to keep learning in order give my students what they truly needed.

While I am no longer a teacher, I am devoted to writing my blog every Wednesday.  I need that time to stop and think about life in a deep way and to share my thoughts with others.  I hope what I say is at least sometimes profound for those who read my posts.  I may repeat what I already know, but there are days when a topic speaks to me and I explore that idea, hoping to discover a new and profound understanding.

We Each Have Our Own Path

No two paths in life are alike even when they appear to be.  What may be profound to one person may be meaningless to another.  We all are in our own state of growing and learning, and to keep moving toward the profound we must be willing to devote ourselves to that special journey.

May devotion to your journey lead you to what is most profound for you.

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

Next week’s topic will start with an “E.”  Please leave your suggestions for the topic under comment below.  I’d love to have ideas that interest you.

Related Posts:

AWAKENING TO OUR STRENGTH

AWAKENING TO THE BEAUTY OF BALANCE

AWAKENING TO TEACH OURSELVES

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO THE BEAUTY OF BALANCE

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

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

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

The Beauty Of Nature Has Balance

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

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

Dance Creates Beautiful Artistic Balance

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

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

Finding The Beauty Of Balance As A Challenge

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

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

How To Balance Our Lives

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

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

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

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

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

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

Related Blog Posts:

AWAKENING TO SEE THE BEAUTY OF LIFE

AWAKENING TO BALANCE THE MIND

AWAKENING TO LIGHT THE DARKNESS

AWAKENING TO TRUST YOURSELF

 

AWAKENING TO ON-GOING CHANGE

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.  We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change we seek.”  Barack Obama

How do you feel about change?  What are you doing to adapt to the Pandemic and other changes?  Are the changes you’ve made working well?

I chose this quotation because Barack Obama was the change he wanted and the change many of us hoped we would live long enough to see – the first Black person to be president of our country.  We continue to see changes like this in the new current Biden administration.  Many more positions are being filled by those who are not white men, and this diversity represents the reality of the country.

Change will not stop.  Even the 25-year-old car I drive keeps changing.  It’s rusting in spots, the seats continue to fade, the pebble dent in the front window spread across the glass and the windshield had to be replaced.  Even what seems rock-solid, changes.

Changes Out of Our Control

Our country has experienced many changes, both positive and negative, in the last few years, so that nothing feels stable.  Many of us never envisioned the Nine Eleven disaster or the recent riot at the capital.  We never dreamed of losing a loved one in a pandemic.  That only happened in the Middle Ages.

While many of the changes around and in our lives seem out of our control, many are not.  Many are appearing in order to awaken us to changes that need to be made in the world, our country, and in our personal lives.

In my own life, I am having to face the fact that my aging body will not remain pain-free unless I do certain exercises every day.  I’ve walked daily for years and like doing that, but as time has passed, I’ve had to add more exercises to my plan. I’m not happy with that.  Unfortunately, my physical therapist, who is very competent, is not a magician.  If I want to continue to be pain free, I have no choice but to keep doing the required routine.

Look For The Good In Changes

Wayne Dyer said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  It’s so easy to slip into our comfortable lives and think unpleasant change will never touch us, but there are few of us who have not been affected by the pandemic in some way.  Everything changes.  We have to be willing to see the good in the changes we need to make.

We all need to take climate change seriously.  The scientific reality of it is right in our faces with the fires out west and the snows down south.  We are the only ones who can, at least, somewhat return our planet to normal by planting the right flowers to feed bees.  We can help keep streams clean by reducing the use of plastic.  We are “the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

We have recently elected a president who is seriously trying to make changes that will save people from starvation, illness, and the loss of their homes in this difficult time.  By voting for him, we hoped he was the change needed to help people suffering from the pandemic and loss of work and income.  So far, it appears we made the right choice.

Helping Others Helps Us

On a personal level, there is much we can do to help others with the challenges of the pandemic.  I have a friend who made masks for many people and delivered food to the elderly.  Others offer rides to doctors or deliver medications or walk dogs.  Some people are gathering virtually to discover ways to improve police departments, handle addiction problems, or address racial equity.

Change is often frightening when we have had a stable life that was working well and we were surrounded by people who were like us.  But life does not stop changing regardless of what we do. We cannot control everything in life.  If we want the changes in our lives to be wise ones, we need to share our wisdom and take the steps we can to improve our lives and the world.

Remember—you are the change you’ve been waiting for.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Blogs:

TRANSFORMING THE FEAR OF CHANGE

AWAKENING TO THE VALUE OF CHANGE

RELEASING OUR FEAR TO AWAKEN

 

AWAKENING TO SEE

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”  Helen Keller

How do you see yourself?  How do you feel about that? What is your vision of life?

Seeing is about more than viewing the person in front of you or the brown leaves falling from the trees.  Our sight pulls the tangible world into our brains to be processed.  We also describe “seeing” as vision.  The word “vision” is about much more than gazing at the things around us.  Even the blind possess vision.  What we value determines our vision.

The environment in which we grow up has a powerful effect upon us and forms the way we see the world when we are young.  As we develop we may be exposed to new ideas about life, what is good and what is bad, and how we are supposed to act in various situations.  How we respond to such ideas, rejecting or accepting them, may be determined by our family’s values.

Learning From Our Families

I grew up with a mother and father who valued the fine arts.  My father often played classical music on the record player and took us to art galleries.  My mother played the piano and taught me to sing.  She also pushed me into taking drama and dance classes because she felt I was too shy.  Although it was scary at first, I learned to love creatively expressing myself through the arts even when other people thought those pursuits were foolish.

As a result of being involved with the fine arts, I learned to appreciate a variety of people and how their different visions of life had value.  When analyzing a character in order to act the part in a play, I developed a deeper understanding of psychology that flowed into my life with friends and family.

Through this experience, my vision of humanity expanded.  I came to accept and value people who were very different from the community where I grew up.  However, part of the reason I became more open-minded than typical Southerners of that time was that my mother also taught me that all people were of value.  From her Baptist background she learned to love everyone.  She and my grandparents were good role models.

Some Family Values Are Unbending

In other families there is little room to explore and develop oneself.  The family vision of life must be followed or one is excluded from the group.  In these situations there is no room to develop one’s own vision.  The primary value is “don’t rock the ship.”  If you do, you will be “thrown overboard.”

These rigid ways of viewing life have a vision, but it is one that leaves no room to be who one truly is.  Tara Westover’s book “Educated” is about an extreme vision of a rigid life.  It tells the sad story of a woman who leaves the cult to which her family is devoted.  Not surprisingly, she is rejected by them.  Despite her loss, she searches for who she really is, finds her own vision, and creates the life she wants to live.

Learning to Value Ourselves

The experiences we have in life offer us opportunities to ponder our values and determine our vision of life.  Have our experiences taught us to value ourselves, to believe we are intelligent, loving, or wise?  Or do we believe we are stupid, unloving, and foolish?  If it is the latter, it is probably because we have grown up with people who are blind to their own value.

When we do not have a positive vision of ourselves, it is crucial that we find help through counseling or spiritual means to discover who we truly are, to see our value, to change what we need to change in order to value ourselves.  This internal work will strengthen our internal vision of ourselves in a positive way and allow us to become who we truly are.

When we can see ourselves as worthwhile, we can see others as valuable human beings.  This positive vision takes us beyond seeing.  It allows us to connect in deep, often spiritual ways, and to value what is best for us individually and for us all.  When we can awaken to a vision of love and acceptance, even with those who see the world differently, we have an opportunity to uplift us all and save the world.  Namaste.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO NEW THOUGHTS

AWAKENING TO HOPE

AWAKENING TO WHAT YOU SEE

 

AWAKENING TO TODAY’S TRANSITION

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” Eckhart Tolle

How do you feel about the political transition we are all in?  Is there also a personal transition in your life?  How are you dealing with the changes that need to take place?

It’s a gray, rainy day and I wish I had a cat.  I used to have two cats and loved the way they snuggled with me in bed or when I sat on the couch reading.  Their warmth and fuzziness were comforting and it was difficult when both had passed.

Dogs can be comforting too, but our current dog Susie is on her last legs, literally, and spends most of the day sleeping on her bed.  There was a time too when she climbed onto a human bed to comfort my husband’s former wife when she was ill.  But now it is difficult to see Susie slipping away although we all have to make the ultimate transition sooner or later.

In some sense we are all in transition at this moment in our country.  Unfortunately, it isn’t looking like a smooth one.  We all have experiences in life when we need to move on, but the change may feel difficult and uncomfortable.  We may resist because it is disappointing to leave a good job, to lose the person we love, or see the candidate we supported lose an election.   Accepting the discomfort of this situation allows us the opportunity to recover and move on.

Changes Are Reality

When we refuse to accept the inevitable, we harm ourselves and often others.  President Trump’s refusal to concede ignores the value of a peaceful transition that benefits all citizens and himself.  But his attitude indicates that he values himself only when he has power over others.  To have one’s self-worth based on such an idea leads only to disaster.

At first, I was only angry when he refused to concede.  Now that he has proceeded with trying to change the election results, I’ve realized he is even more insecure than I suspected.  Despite his attempts to create difficulty for President-elect Biden, his aggressive behavior will only turn more people away from him.  This is a democracy.  The people have made a decision, and it’s time for Trump to move on.

There are always things we need to do to prepare for a transition when we are aware of it in advance.  If the transition is the result of losing a loved one, we may shed tears, reach out to friends who have hopefully reached out to us, and give ourselves time to see what changes we need to make in order to move on.

We Can Learn From Losses

My maternal grandmother was the one person in my life who totally accepted me.  She always expressed her love, accepted who and where I was, and supported me without judgement.  Losing her was devastating and I grieved for a long time.  But with time, I understood that her love would always be with me, that I truly was the good person she saw me to be, and after I grieved, I understood she would always be in my heart.

I’ve also made many transitions moving from place to place.  Naturally, the moves required much preparation:  physically packing, hiring a moving van, and finding a new place to live.  Although difficult at times and not always a desired transition, something good invariably came into my life.  I had a better paying job, made new and interesting friends, or lived in a healthier environment.

When we choose to stay stuck, we close our minds to new possibilities that may expand our lives.  We shrink our possibilities.  When we are forced into a transition that we do not desire, it is a rich time for reflection.  What have we been doing wrong? What have we been doing right?  Change presents an opportunity to learn, and we all need to be life-long learners.

Being president has made Trump feel more powerful than ever.  Anything else, he considers a loss.  Instead he needs to realize the opportunities that being an ex-president offer.  Having served in this office gives him influence that persists, but his inability to move on, his desire to destroy what he can to make the transition difficult for Biden only diminishes his own power.  Yet he cannot see that.  How sad.

As Trump leaves office, I have only these words for him:  the more you destroy our democracy, the more you are personally diminished.  Leave office with the elegance of the king you wish you were.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO TRANSITIONS

AWAKENING TO RELEASE ILLUSIONS

TRANSFORMING THE FEAR OF CHANGE

 

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