Tag Archives: Inspirational

AWAKENING TO REALITY NOW

“I’ve always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.” James Baldwin

How do you see the current situation?  Does it depress you every day?  Do you ignore what is happening outside your house?  How does it affect your thinking?

The thought comes up several times a day – Is this really happening?  It’s like a bad dream from which I keep hoping I will awaken.  It’s a sunny day, a rarity among the many rainy ones, and I want to walk around the lake, either of the two nearby, but there’s a ban on going to the public parks that surround them.  I feel angry about that.  Isn’t that too extreme?

FACING REALITY

Then I remember.  A public park is where my brother caught polio when he was two years old.  The family was at a church picnic in a large crowd.  Lots of little kids were playing together.  His experience with polio was a tragedy and a miracle.  He was in an iron lung for many weeks and died three times but came back to life each time.  Despite having many surgeries as a child, he grew up to live a productive life, working and doing good in the world.

But not all tragedies are followed by a miracle.  Many children died from polio or were seriously handicapped.  It is always easier to believe bad things will not happen to us.  I suspect at least some of the people who have died from the coronavirus have thought so.

It is always a good thing to be able to think positively, but it’s not good to ignore reality.  So when reality is unpleasant, how can we think positively about it?  Is there something we can learn?  I think so.

FACING INDIVIDUAL REALITY

Perhaps it is easier for me to accept staying at home right now because I’m an introvert and I have a husband who is an interesting companion.  I love to read.  I love to write and that requires staying in.  But staying in may push us to face the need to start spring cleaning early, get back in touch with an old friend, learn to use more technology, communicate with family and friends, meditate to calm our overactive minds, or play more Scrabble with family members.

Of course, if we have been laid off or the business where we work has been closed, we have much more to worry about.  There are far too many people in this country who make little money for full-time work or have to work several part-time jobs to survive.  They are the ones hardest hit by this pandemic.

FINDING ANSWERS WITHIN

So, what can we do to manage the fears that come with this hardship?  We can take time each day to sit quietly, breathe deeply, direct our minds to release our fear, and choose to let it go, flowing outward with each breath.  Sit until the mind is clear, then ask “What do I need to do today?”

Our inner selves know the answer to that question and it may take some time and more than one sitting to hear the answer.  Sometimes we need to be quiet and take the time to find something positive about a situation that we would never notice if we stay “in action” all the time. And when we are dealing with many negatives, the silence may help us see what we need to do given limited circumstances.

Perhaps this event can be the opportunity to deepen and enrich our lives, to look for and experience a positive way of thinking about change that we have rejected in the past.  One thing already clear about this pandemic is how unprepared the country was.  It has brought to light much that needs to be changed.  Perhaps it has also brought things to light that need to be changed in our own lives.  And that is good.  While changing them may be extremely difficult in some instances, we may now have the time to evaluate what we need to do.

Blessings to you all.  Stay safe.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

AWAKENING TO BEFRIEND OURSELVES

 

Awakening to Our Challenges

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”  Maya Angelou

What has happened to you recently that was disturbing?  What did you think about it?  How did you handle the situation?

We all have times in our lives when things don’t go the way we want.  When that happens, how do we handle it?  What we do can make all the difference in how we experience the situation.  More than once I’ve lost a job.  The reasons varied.  When I was young I thought I could speak honestly with my boss, but I quickly learned that bosses often only want to hear what they want to hear.  You play the game or you lose, but I was too naïve to understand this.

Being Shocked By The Challenge

For two years, I worked as an employment counselor at a fine arts school.  My boss had helped found the school and had developed very specific procedures for my job.  I loved the work and I was very successful helping students find employment while in school.

We were doing so well that we needed another counselor and the boss hired a second woman to fill the gap.  After a while, I realized she wasn’t following the boss’s guidelines.  As a result, her actions created conflict and affected my work, and she often flirted with him and behaved unprofessionally.

I became very upset and every day there was a new challenge that wore me down.  The only other “adult” in the office refused to become involved, and when things reached the breaking point for me and I talked again with my boss, he fired me despite the fact I was the one getting the students the most jobs.

How could I be fired for doing the best job?  The unfairness stunned me, and when I complained to the president, she apologized but did nothing.  Being fair was a basic part of my moral values and I was devastated by this experience. How could I trust any school or business?

Looking At the Source of the Challenge

I was angry for a long time and deeply sad because I had loved the job and nothing else like it was available in the area.  I didn’t understand why this could happen, but when I stopped feeling sorry for myself and analyzed the situation, I realized the attention my boss received from the other woman made him feel good and that was more important than production.

He was a hugely overweight single man whom I suspected lived a rather solitary life.  Suddenly, every day he had this attractive woman fawning over him, getting him coffee, making him laugh, behaving like his girlfriend despite the fact that she lived with a boyfriend.  While I was pleasant interacting with him, I had maintained  professional behavior.

Letting Our Negative Thoughts Feelings Go

Accepting that some situations are not fair is difficult.  One feels helpless.  While it is important to examine the situation and try to understand what, if anything, we did wrong, it is also important to let go and move on.  I had to accept the fact that I did my best, and that I did the right thing by continuing to behave professionally.

So, what can we do when these negative experiences overwhelm us?  I’ve always found that quiet time is very valuable and helps to release the negative thoughts that keep circling through my mind.  Some people may “run-off” the stress through exercise, talk to a best friend, meditate or go hiking through the woods.

Releasing the Fear

Regardless of the practice we use, we must release the fear beneath our feelings of anger or inadequacy.  My method is to quietly breath deeply and when I feel the tension releasing, I direct my mind “Release this fear (name it), it has no power over me.”  I take another deep breath and feel positive energy rising through my body, and I repeat the phrase until I feel my mind release the fear.

Using Affirmations

The validation that we are good must come from within.  Self-affirmations may also help heal for they remind us who we really are.  Regardless of what others say, I accept that “I am a loving and competent person.”  Repeating this positive message helps us to remember there is much good about us; we don’t need to believe in the negativity that limits us.  The exact words we use must be fashioned to fit our particular situation.

After this experience at the art school, I had another negative experience in the business world.  This was very scary because I was barely supporting myself on low wages and needed reliable employment.  I had thought I could make better wages in the business world, but in the end  I returned to teaching, my first love.  While the wages were low there, I was doing work that really mattered to my teenage students, and that lifted me up regardless of the challenges.

What self-affirmations work for you?

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

DANCING TO CHALLENGING EXPERIENCES

AWAKENING TO BE IN THE MOMENT

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

 

AWAKENING TO OUR DANCE OF LIFE

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.”  Martha Graham

What is your dance of life?  Does it resemble a rumba, waltz, cha-cha, jitter bug or improvisation?

Whatever name you give to your dance, there is only one person like you, and your life is a dance only you can do.  As you dance this life, it may change, redefining who you are on the inside and who you are in the world.

As Graham suggests, we are created by an inner force that is natural and vital, but if we are to create our earthly life from it, we have to become acquainted with it.  It is not always easy to look inside because we are often afraid of what we may find there,some part of ourselves we do not like.

Graham clearly looked inside as she began to create dances for her own company after leaving the Denishawn Company.  The new dances were intense and emotional, as she was, taking this element to a depth never before seen in modern dance.  In the beginning, some people found her work offensive, but her courage to be true to her creative self transformed and broadened modern dance.

Following Our Own Paths

We each follow our own path.  Externally, it may involve working for a corporation, a hospital, a school, or creating our own business, and what we do there may be an expression of our deepest self or it may only be a place to earn money.  When we can combine the two, we are most fortunate.

When I was young, my parents saw my desire to become a modern dancer as foolish.  How could I possibly support myself doing that? Because of my mother’s insistence, I got the credits needed for teacher certification, and I became a teacher while pursuing dance.

As a high school teacher, I discovered I wanted to help empower those students who were not in the main stream.  Looking back on that years later, I realized I was drawn to them because I did not feel I was part of the main stream, so I was not “good enough.”  But when I taught them, this incredible energy within me bubbled up, and helping them empowered me as well.

I also usually danced the dancer’s life along with the teaching life.  I loved the feeling of never knowing what might show up as I began to choreograph a dance because my experience had taught me that when moving or writing creatively, the most amazing and unexpected ideas could show up, ones I would never think of.

Finding Inner Peace and Vitality

The silence of creativity or meditative practices opens us to that place within where our life force can speak to us and lead us to choreograph a new life or expand the one we have to include new steps. Being with nature can also offer us a place where the outer can create peace within.

I know a group of birdwatchers.  Some of them are retired, but some still work and participate in the walks that take them through the forest to observe and name our flying friends.  At other times some of them also participate in slow hikes identifying trees or flowers in order to connect more deeply with nature because this connection with nature is an integral part of who they are.  The dance of nature is their dance.

I know how they feel.  Nature is also a place where I experience deep peace.  Upon entering a forest, I almost immediately drop into a meditative state.  I grew up hiking through the mountains and forests, learning to name the rocks and trees, but while the naming was not my focus, it helped me connect with their energy and beautiful presence.  After I began dancing, the energy of nature stirred up new ideas for dances.

Finding Your Dance Beyond the External

While dance was a huge part of my dance of life for many years, there came a time when the physical demands of the art began to harm my body.  I was frightened.  Who would I be without dance? It was the core of my identity!

It became clear that I needed to go deeper.  Fortunately, before I stopped teaching dance, I had learned to meditate.  It became a regular practice that took me deeper into the heart of my soul, where I discovered the real source of my creativity, not only for dance, but for living.

As I began to visit non-traditional spiritual groups like Science of Mind and Unity churches, I began to learn other ways of connecting with my spirituality and growing my inner life.  I learned, for example, how to release my fear so that it did not control my mind. This exploration led me to a sense of wholeness I had never known.  My dance of life became deeper and richer, undefined by what I did, defined by who I was.

What Is the Core of Your Dance of Life?

Where has your dance of life taken you? How is your life force expressed?  If you remove all the things you have, the titles you hold, the money and work that defines you, your political persuasion, your religious beliefs, what is at the core of your dance of life?

When we are expressing who we truly are, there is a vitality to it.  We’ve all met people whose vitality surrounds them and energizes those who come near them; while their energy enlivens us, we also feel the serenity at their core.  And that is a peace we all need to find in our own dance of life.

© Georganne Spruce

The Martha Graham Company

READINGS:  AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT

AWAKENING TO THE HOME WITHIN

AWAKENING TO THE ONENESS WITHIN

 

MORE THAN MOTHER’S DAY

“Look deep into Nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

What does Nature mean to you?  Is it part of your spiritual life?  What has it taught you?

This year Mother’s Day fell on a Sunday.  Knowing that would be the sermon topic at church that day, I decided to spend the morning with the only mother I still have, Mother Nature.  I was longing to be with her after days of torrential rains, and it was unlikely to rain that morning, so I headed to Beaver Dam Lake and the Bird Sanctuary to meditate.

It was lovely.  A gentle breeze blew through the warm air and caressed me.  My soul opened letting the concerns of the day drop away. I started walking through the Bird Sanctuary at one end of the lake and followed a rough path around a small pond where I used to see beautiful egrets balancing on one leg. I was startled.  Something had changed.  The pond was perfectly still and covered with scum and debris.  Just beyond it, the lake it fed into sparked blue and green in the morning light.  “How strange, “I thought, “they usually take excellent care of this place.”

As the path led away from the pond, I followed it along the far side of the lake, and after a while, realized I was on an old path.  The new path was above me.  “Oh well,” I decided, “if this ends and I have to back-track, that’s okay. All I care about is being here.”

Finding a Higher Path

Eventually the path ended in a pile of logs, but as soon as I stepped over them, I was on the higher main path.  Not having been to this side of the lake in a couple of years, I realized I was already a long way from where I started.  Something was different.  The lake seemed larger and I couldn’t see the bridge across the end of the lake.  Did they move it?  Had it been near where the boats were docked?  I couldn’t remember.

Before long, the path moved out from under the trees, and as the sunlight flooded over me, I felt such a joy being in nature.  But again, I was confused as I walked down the street because it took me further than before past houses that I had never seen.  The path below the houses’ backyards that bordered the lake at this end had always been private, but now a dirt path led from the street to the path along the water.  It appeared to be public, so while I followed it to be closer to the water, I also felt a bit like a trespasser.  Besides, at this point I felt adventurous and was beginning to enjoy Mother Nature’s surprises.

The path wound around the lake bringing me to the bridge I had imagined was closer to the Sanctuary.  I stopped and took in the immense beauty of the lake, shining clean and bright in the morning light.  I smiled, delighted that what I thought would be a routine hike had been a bit of an adventure.

The Other Side

The walkway leading back to the parking lot and Bird Sanctuary was clearer and more formal, winding around the side of the lake near the street where traffic noise invaded the silent beauty of nature.  By the time I reached the Bird Sanctuary, I was sweating and thankful for the cooling shade of the trees.  Resting at one of the overlooks on the water I could see the full view of the lake.

A young boy with his parents were there, insistent that he could climb a tree with only vertical branches.  Wedging his feet against opposite branches, he made some progress, but eventually gave up. As I turned to leave, a woman I knew who was a nature lover and birder appeared and we shared stories for a few minutes.  Then she went her way and I walked in the opposite direction to my favorite ancient tree. I hugged it as I always do, then sat on the nearby bench scanning the water-filled cove for ducks or turtles. A Tiger Swallowtail flitted around the cove and what may have been a Monarch butterfly surveyed the area.

We Are All One

Another mother with a young boy appeared on the path and she and I visited as the boy climbed the ancient tree whose branches were perfectly placed for climbing.  At a limb half-way up, the boy settled in.

“Aren’t you going further?” his mother asked surprised.

“No,” he replied smiling.  “I’m good.”

The mother looked at me as if to say, “that’s a first.”  Then she asked me, “Are you a mother?”

“No, I’m not.” I replied.

She continued, “Do you have a mother who is still alive?”

“No, I don’t.”

By this time the boy had come down from the tree.  “Well, Happy Sunday then,” she said smiling as they turned to continue down the path.

Until the woman posed her questions, I had forgotten it was Mother’s Day.  When I’m with Mother Nature, all of life, past and present, is One.  While I miss my mother and grandmother, they have been gone a long time and without them, it made perfect sense to be with the only other mother I still have.

All Is Well

After a while, I returned to the entrance of the Sanctuary and discovered why the small pond there was such a mess.  There was a sign explaining that it was an ecofilter wetland.  In other words, it was the place where the water coming from the stream that fed the lake was cleansed, filtering out toxins naturally so only clean water could feed the lake.  “Brilliant!” I thought, greatly relieved that the area was not being neglected.

As I turned toward the parking lot nearby, my phone rang and it was my husband letting me know he was heading home from church.  The timing was perfect.  Filled with happiness and peace, I took one last look at the sanctuary – the perfect place for me that morning, as well as for the birds.

© 2018 Georganne Spruce

Where is your perfect place?

Related Articles:  AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

DANCING WITH NATURE’S CYCLES,

AWAKENING TO ACT WITH COMPASSION

THIS POST APPEARS ON BARBARA FRANKEN’S BLOG SITE, ME MY MAGNIFICENT SELF.  PLEASE VISIT THE SITE TO READ MY POST AND CONNECT WITH HER WONDERFUL BLOG.  MAY YOU ALL FIND COMPASSION IN YOURSELVES AND OTHERS.

AWAKENING TO TRUST YOURSELF

“TRUST IN WHAT YOU LOVE, CONTINUE TO DO IT, AND IT WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU NEED TO GO.” NATALIE GOLDBERG

University of Nebraska at Kearney dance students 1979

Do you trust yourself to make good decisions? Do you listen to yourself? Do you trust life to guide you where you need to go?

Last night I watched a video of dance performances that I choreographed when I taught dance at University of Nebraska at Kearney. I had forgotten how good the students were, considering that most of them had never studied dance. I also felt rather proud of myself for creating choreography that made them look graceful and talented, rather than like beginning dancers.

Watching the tapes was a joyful experience. It reminded me of a time when I loved the work I was doing and of the wonderful lessons that I learned from dance. Having been often sick as a child, I grew up not trusting my own body because of its weakness.  I felt insecure doing physical activity except for the hikes my family took when I always had someone to help and guide me.

Strengthening the Body Develops Confidence

In high school, I had modern dance one day a week, and as my body changed, my confidence improved. I developed muscles and strength. I felt stronger. I liked my body which I had previously not liked because I thought it was too skinny.  I began to trust myself more socially.

Dance Can Be A Spiritual Practice

The more I trusted myself, the more I loved studying dance and dancing.  As I matured, dance became a spiritual practice.  It took me where I needed to go, to a place where I learned to trust my body and my creativity, to moments of silence, to a balance between opposites, and to the expression and moderation of boundless energy.

Silence Takes Us Deeper

I learned to trust silence, to stand quietly, to be okay with doing nothing, to use silence to mindfully prepare for action. I no longer saw silence as time wasted. It allowed me to explore my inner richness and value what deeper thoughts rose to the surface to guide my life and movement.

Balance Requires Being Open

Learning to balance was a basic aspect of movement.  In class one day with Jenny Scanlon, a member of the Jose Limon company, teaching, we practiced balancing on our toes with our feet apart in second position. I was struggling, trying to decide what muscles to contract to keep my rocking body in position when Jenny said, “To balance you have to stretch – reach out into space.”

At that moment, I suddenly realized why I was struggling. I was contracting inward toward my center. I took a breath, lifted and opened my chest, stretched out into the space with my arms, lifting my spine toward the sky as I pressed my feet into the ground. Balance! Perfect balance!  I had to open in order to balance.

Confidence Allows Us To Take Risks

Most of all dance changed me from being a person who was afraid to take a risk to one who was often fearless.  Like all risk-takers, I had to learn when it was wise to take the risk and when not, but even trying to take a risk was a huge change for me.  If I could run across the stage, jump into the air and trust that my partner would catch me, which he usually did, I could learn to do other things in life that scared me.  And in those times when I jumped and my partner and I both fell from the force, I learned how to survive the fall without injury.

This taught me to put more energy into what I wanted in life—to go for it! I learned to choreograph my life.  To create moments of silence between my energetic expressions, organize what activities were most important, and venture into areas where I was a novice all took me to new experiences that broadened my life.  I learned to trust my intuition, my instincts, and my desire to live life more fully.

Dance Connects Us With Nature and Trust

It was never the applause or costumes that I loved about dancing—it was the earthiness.  I was a modern dancer and loved the feeling of my bare feet on the wooden stage.  It grounded me. Eartha Kitt once said, “I’m a dirt person.  I trust the dirt.  I don’t trust diamonds and gold.”  After all, the earth is our home, our foundation, the abundance that feeds us. After loving nature all my life and spending my childhood hiking and swimming in lakes and streams, despite my infirmities, I needed to feel in touch with nature.

As I became more in touch with my own body, I also became more aware of the earth on which I danced. When we dance, we interact with gravity.  We rebound from the earth.  We suspend in the air. The physical activity is basic to life.  Dance nourishes the body and soul.

Instead of being fearful of life, I learned to trust myself and life’s twists, turns and detours.  I learned to trust that whatever happened, I could handle it, and I learned to risk moving on when I eventually needed to stop dancing.  I risked becoming a writer and sharing my voice.  I learned that trusting what I love would take me where I needed to go.

What will you do today to become more trusting of yourself?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  Limon Company – Psalm (excerpt), Awakening to Release Our Fear, Three Ways to Develop Self-Trust

AWAKENING TO WHAT YOU SEE

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

Do you see what is front of you or do you see what you want to see?  How accurate is your perception of things?  Do you seek out information on a topic before forming a judgement?

Look at the picture above.  What do you see?  It appears that the woman is balanced on the edge of a log, but living intimately with gravity, as we all do, is what we see here really possible?  What is really happening?  Did the camera simply catch her in the split second she touched the log before falling forward to the ground?

My first perception is that she is off balance and will fall.  On the other hand, maybe she is leaning back far enough to balance on the edge.  Or perhaps the picture was photo shopped. What do you see?

We Constantly Interpret What We See

On a daily basis, we are faced with situations that are not clear, and we have to interpret what we see or hear. The conclusion we reach is very much based on our previous life experience.  For example, my first response to the above pictures is based on having been a dancer and dealt with balance, weight, and movement.  As a result, I believe that the picture was taken a split-second before she would fall.

Gustave Flaubert said, “There is no truth.  There is only perception.”  We can collect facts about any topic, but what we experience usually affects how we think and feel about that experience.  For example, since the last U.S. election, we never know when we can trust the president’s comments because they are often his emotional response to a situation not based on facts or reality.

He sees virtually everything in relation to how it makes him look powerful or weak and ignores the way his actions affect many of the people who voted for him.  Twisting facts to support one’s political agenda is not unusual, but it is clear he cannot see beyond his own emotional needs, and they are based in his fear of not being powerful.

Negative Thinking Is the Result of Fear

Negative thinking is created by underlying fears and may cause us to think that we are facing a problem when it is simply a challenge that can be easily solved.  If we choose to see it as a serious problem, we create an emotional block that may prevent us from seeing a simple or easy solution.  Realizing that fear is getting in the way and letting it go will help us see the solution.

Look at this the picture above:  rose petals on a keyboard.  What do you think has happened here?  When I first saw it, I thought of the roses I’ve received from my love on Valentine’s Day and how reluctant I often am to throw them out even when the dry petals begin to fall.

As I continued to gaze at the picture, I thought of other scenarios.  A couple had a fit and someone threw a rose at the other and it hit the piano instead.  Or the couple has broken up and the roses have been left to die like the relationship.  Or the rose is lying there because it fell from the vase on the piano and no one has picked it up because the pianist is no longer in that house.

What We See Is Based On How Carefully We Look

How we see a situation is often based on our past experiences.  It is also based on how carefully we explore what has happened.  Look at the following nature photo.  Glance at it quickly, then away.

Now go back and study it for a moment.  Do you see more than you did with a glance?

This is a bit like reading articles on Facebook.  If you only skim the titles of articles, you may have missed the real point of the writing because most titles on Facebook are created to catch attention, not to inform. So the topic that you see in the title may have little resemblance to the information in the article.  This is why it is important to fact check our own perceptions.  Is what we see at first really the story?

Informing ourselves about major issues that affect us can shift our perceptions to what is real rather than just what feels good. For example, why did people think Trump would help those most in need just because he said it.  There was no history to support these promises, but so many people trusted what he said without looking further. They never looked beyond the surface.

Knowing Ourselves Helps Us See More Clearly

When we develop the consciousness to look at our own perceptions and prejudices and be aware of what they are, we are able to make better choices. If a friend makes a comment that reminds us of our mother’s criticism when we were young, we can think, “Ah ha,” and choose not to lash out at that person because we know the anger we feel arises from the past, not the moment.

So, were there moments in your day when the past or your predictable thoughts side-tracked an exchange with another?  Did you “blow off” reading an article because it was written by a journalist you label as too liberal or too conservative?  Did you discount your teenagers ranting about the unfairness of a teacher because the kid is always too emotional?

Getting more information and looking deeper helps us see more clearly.  What have you seen today in a new way?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: Awakening to Peace and Wholeness Beyond Fear, Awakening to Where Kindness Has GoneThe Destruction of Hillary Clinton: Sexism, Sanders, and the Millennial Feminists