Tag Archives: Inspirational

AWAKENING TO THE LOVE OF AN OLD DOG

“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before the rest of us.” Robert Louis Stevenson

What experiences have you had with a dog?  Would you want another one?  Did you ever feel it was your best friend?

It’s not fun to be an old dog or an old woman, but our age is the main thing Susie and I have in common.  We can’t climb steep mountains anymore and we both have to eat a special diet although I don’t throw mine around on the floor like she does.  We need more sleep than we used to, but she naps most of the day.  I slip one in on an occasional afternoon.

I don’t chase guys anymore because I’m married to a great guy and couldn’t be happier.  Susie doesn’t chase rabbits anymore, just stares and lets them run away.  She goes out to do her business, finds sniffing every inch of the ground more interesting, and finally pees.  Then she returns to the house only to leave “the remains” of her day in the middle of the hardwood floor.  At least I don’t have to worry about that kind of confusion yet.

At times, she walks around in circles looking for something but can’t remember what it is.  She  stares at the wall, hoping the answer will be written there.  Like Susie, it’s not unusual for me to head to a cabinet or my desk and find I haven’t a clue as to why I’m there.  Words that disappear in the middle of my speaking a sentence take five minutes to appear.  I need to do a crossword puzzle every morning to awaken my mental dictionary.

Every Day Holds Surprises

Fortunately, due to two years of physical therapy after an injury to my back, I’m doing a thirty-minute walk every day and have gained strength so that I feel like myself again, energetic and curious about life.  Others talk about being bored during the pandemic, but I look forward to a boring day and having more time to read and write.

Surprises arise every day.  They test my patience.  I discover I am out of an item that requires placing an order on an unfamiliar website, which in turn requires learning a new technical trick.  Many items we use often have recently died: the iron, the toaster and my printer’s toner.  As for ordering food, it’s almost impossible to get good broccoli with a delivery, and we can’t live without that.  While I’m struggling with these challenges, Susie is snoring, asleep on her bed.

Age Brings Physical Limitations

But all these challenges are easier to deal with than Susie’s issues.  It’s tough to be an old dog when your back legs start giving out.  You slip when you try to climb the stairs or fall when you charge up them, forgetting your legs don’t support you anymore.

It’s confusing when you can’t hear the orders your caretakers give.  You look at them and dash in the opposite direction.  They fuss at you, but of course it’s nice not to hear them when you don’t want to obey.  Looking at them with eyes that still see well, you grin and continue sniffing the grass.

As a female, it’s not surprising that Susie is very fashion conscious.  Every morning when I’ve put on my jeans she sniffs my leg.  Her approval is important to me, and if she knows how I smell that day, since she’s only knee-high tall, she’ll be able to find me easily in a crowd and identify me apart from my husband who is more likely to feed her.

A Dog’s Love Is Always There

While her nose may carry her into the wrong bushes or into the deep ivy beneath the trees, cold and wet, it bumps mine when I’m sitting and lean down close to her face.  It’s her version of a kiss that says she loves me – a moment I always treasure.

Susie and I may not be able to hike the steep trails of the Appalachians anymore or race around the block, but we both still know how to love and hang out on the deck together.

Milan Kundera said it best:  “Dogs are our link to paradise.  They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.  To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.”

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO GRATITUDE

DANCING TO DIVINE ORDER

AWAKENING TO WALK IN BEAUTY

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 NATURE’S SURPRISES

“Perhaps the safest prediction we can make about the future is that it will surprise us.”  George Leonard

Are you a nature lover?  How do you spend rainy days? When nature surprises you, does it irritate or delight you?

Sunday was rainy, as is today, and it’s probable that we will have a rainy week.  While I appreciate the rain nourishing the earth and aiding the growth of beautiful spring flowers, it may be a challenge at times.

Floods and the subsequent devastation are the worst problems, but even the lack of rain I experienced when I lived in New Mexico was a challenge when the dryness required us to shower only every other day.  While there are many things we can control in life, the timing of when it rains is not one of them.

Unpredictable Weather

Sunday, as my husband and I attempted to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary, Mother Nature was not our friend.  The rain’s behavior throughout the day was unpredictable.

After treating ourselves to a delicious breakfast, we headed for a walk around our favorite lake, a home for ducks and geese, before the clouds darkened and the rain fell.  It was cloudy at the lake but bits of blue sky showed through the clouds and the darker ones were at a distance so we thought we were safe and didn’t carry our umbrellas.

Walking from the car to the path, we sauntered through a large flock of geese as the males hissed at us for invading their space and bringing our dog along.  About three-fourths of the way around, it started to rain and we rushed to the car hoping it would pass quickly, but it didn’t.  Resigned to having only a short walk, but grateful we had some time there, we drove home.

At home it wasn’t raining.  So when the mail arrived, my husband and our dog went out to retrieve it.  Just as they reached the mailbox at the end of the driveway the heavens opened and the rain poured.  Fortunately with trees overhead, they made it back to the house without getting soaked.  Resigned that it would be a rainy afternoon, we curled up in the family room with our books.

Hope May Lead To Wise Decisions

But hope never dies, and we continued to hope that the rain would clear before dinnertime.  We had plans to eat on the terrace of our favorite restaurant, but thirty minutes before our reservation a torrent of rain continued decimating any possibility of an outdoor dinner.  I set the table with our nicest silverware and plates and my husband picked up the food at the restaurant.

While the rain replenished the earth, we replenished our bodies with Chicken Marsala, mashed potatoes and spinach, watched an episode of “Poldark,” and confirmed how lucky we were to have each other to love.  After all, it’s the love that really matters.  It can fill us in any weather.

Our special day was not perfect, but the nourishing rain certainly entertained us with surprises, and afterward more Black-eyed Susan’s bloomed in the garden off the deck.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO SURPRISES

AWAKENING TO REALITY NOW

AWAKENING TO EFFECT CHANGE

 

AWAKENING TO THE VALUE OF CHANGE

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow.  If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”  Gail Sheehy

How do you feel about change?  Does it frighten you?  Does it excite you?  How do you approach the changes in your life?

Currently, we are experiencing change in many areas of life.  The pandemic has forced us to stay in, wear masks, clean everything we touch, zoom with friends and family rather than sit face to face.  The death of George Floyd has provoked outrage and a revolution to eradicate racism, not just in this country, but throughout the world.

We may not like the changes that are being thrown in our faces, but they offer us a significant opportunity to grow in a better way personally and as a country.  On the personal level we had to shift the way we interact with family and friends.  Some we cannot visit because of the risk to their heath.  We feel sad and inadequate as a result.

We Need To Release Our Fear To Change

This is reality.  What can we do to keep our negative feelings from taking over our lives?  At the root of all this is fear.  We need to let go of our fears and see the situation clearly.  When we do, we will see that this situation is not a matter of our inadequacy but of needing to change how we think about the situation.  Staying away from those with weak immune systems or wearing masks is not a weakness; it is an act of prudence.

Changing our negative thinking is a sign of growth and aids us to see the whole picture, not just our lives and desires. When we accept the reality of facts and choose to act wisely based on them, we are able to grow even if the change is not easy.  When we ignore reality, we risk other’s wellbeing as well as our own.

We Must Accept Change

We are living in a time that requires significant change.  The protests taking place around the world signal that we must change so that all human beings can have equal rights – now!  During the 1960’s some change took place, but since then, there has been much backsliding.  Laws have changed but too many people and institutions have not; thus the inequality has stunted the growth of this country and many of our citizens.

Change disrupts the status quo for those who hate change. It creates extreme discomfort which often pushes people to act out of anger and commit violence.  While violence has occurred at some of the protests, it is encouraging that most have been peaceful.  They are a clear signal that it is time for major change as a huge number of  people around the world stand up for equality.

Deep Change Is Based On Love

When people come together for positive change, that is holy action.  Together we are powerful, especially when we act to make changes that will uplift humanity.  But more important than being more powerful, making these changes reflects the spiritual elements of our humanity.  When we love one another, we work for what is best for all.  We grow into a spiritually deeper human being so that what we do in the world reflects the sacredness that is  within us.

The decisions we make now, in our lives and in our countries, cannot only change the world, they can make us grow individually in ways that will take us into the future with more love, equality, and compassion for all people.  That is what “really living” means.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Readings:  AWAKENING TO EFFECT CHANGE

AWAKENING TO DEEPEN OURSELVES

RELEASING OUR FEAR TO AWAKEN

 

AWAKENING TO DEEPEN OURSELVES

“Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future.  Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.”  Thomas Merton

Do you feel a difference between loneliness and solitude? Are you comfortable with either one?  What makes the difference for you?

During this time when we are limited as to where we can go, there is one place we can always go: inside ourselves.  This inward journey may be frightening.  It may be exciting or uplifting.  It may be boring or it may totally change our lives.

Solitude Can Help Identify Our True Feelings

We don’t always need solitude in order to travel inward, but the lack of distractions often helps us focus on what we are thinking and feeling.  Imagine you’ve just had a conversation with a friend and shared how unhappy you are living alone.  Instead of receiving the sympathy you expected from her, she basically tells you in a clearly irritated voice to stop complaining and just be glad you aren’t sick.

What was that about?  Perhaps at first you feel angry because she has a husband and a child, so  she’s never alone and you think she’s lucky.  So what are you really feeling?  Hurt? Anger? Sadness? Abandoned by someone you trusted to always be with you?

May Sarton says, “Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.”  When we are lonely, we often feel we are less than we want to be.  We are lacking a roommate, a job, a mate, a hobby, an activity to keep us busy because we don’t want to be disturbed by our loneliness.

The Richness of Being in the Moment

Solitude, on the other hand, is like that rich almond chocolate brownie I always buy at Green Sage.  When I eat it, the pleasure spreads through my whole body and my mind lets go of any other concerns.  I am completely in the moment.

Solitude is like that.  It broadens and deepens the present.  It fills one inside so that the lack of a companion or a good movie to watch is irrelevant.  It allows one to sit in silence so that what we would consciously observe about our lives and the world deepens and fills us with understanding or awareness that we didn’t have before.

The Challenges of Staying Centered

I thought that during this pandemic I would have more time to just take it easy, read more books, and take walks.  Well, it hasn’t worked out that way.  Every day seems to fill with unexpected problems.  The technical challenges keep coming.  Today I was unable, again, to log onto the online issue of the local newspaper. I started chatting then accidentally disconnected the chat.  Then I called customer service who tried to help but was unsuccessful so that person sent the problem to the technical people who will call tomorrow.

At other times, I spend hours trying to determine if a medical bill is correct.  It doesn’t have the doctor’s name on it and it doesn’t show what the insurance has paid.  When I go online to the insurance portal, the information is unclear to me and often not current with the date on the bill.

Deepening To Find Our True Selves

I keep saying I’m going to meditate or just sit on the deck and stare at the sky.  When I finally allow myself to be still and forget about the list I made of the things I must do that day, I feel separate for a moment, alone.  But when I close my eyes for a few minutes and take a deep breath, I get a glimpse of solitude.  As I let myself just be, I slip into a richer place.

The warmth of the sun, the cool of the breeze caresses my body.  My breath deepens easily and quietly fills me.  The bird song becomes a beautiful aria and part of me flies from tree to tree with the squirrels.  I become one with all that is and my present is rich and beautiful.  Whatever problems have been dragging me down have disappeared.

In solitude I am not really alone.  I am deeply connected to Spirit whose energy is around me.  It feeds me with deep feelings of contentment.  Even when I am sitting inside without the beauty of nature, what is deep inside shifts to a fuller sense of self.  As I sit in this solitude, not forcing my mind to find solutions to problems, but letting myself just be, the healing I need often appears.

When I return to daily activity, I am calmer, more able to solve the problems that arise.  I have accepted myself at the deepest level.  A richness of spirit fills that part of me that felt lacking and incompetent.  I know I will learn what I need to learn with time.  In that moment, this solitude of deepening is all that matters.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Further readings on the topic:

AWAKENING TO THE REAL YOU

AWAKENING TO BEFRIEND OURSELVES

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

AWAKENING TO IMPROVISE OUR LIVES

“Life we all know is of course completely unpredictable and is constantly changing, and the way we navigate through life is simply by improvising.”  Niels Lan Doky

When you don’t know what to do, how do you approach that situation?  Do you create a plan or improvise?

When we don’t know what to do, we often improvise.  Sometimes that works out well, sometimes it doesn’t, but at least we may have learned from the experience.

This pandemic time is especially stressful for those who want life to stay the same and have a set plan to live by, but it requires some change for virtually all of us, and that can lead us to do things that we don’t usually do.

We can create new games for our children, bake bread, work on the novel we’d put away, zoom with friends we rarely have coffee with, and we wear masks when we go out rather than just wearing them at Halloween.

We Can Learn About Life From Jazz

While changes in life create some discomfort for us all, the ability to improvise can make all the difference in what comes next.  In Niels Lan Doky’s wonderful video How Jazz Wisdom Will Change Your Life,” he says, “You can always create something out of anything.”  Really? Why not?

I hope you will watch  Doky’s video because it is profound.  He states that you can apply the principles of jazz technique to your life.  They are the ability to adapt to change, the ability to be creative on demand, and the ability to treat your life as a work of art.

Following the Unknown Path

When I look at my own life, I can honestly say it has not followed a planned path.  I’ve had to improvise.  As a result, I’ve been exposed to situations that helped me grow.  I would not have thought to create them.  For example, I’ve moved many times, each for a different reason.  Things just happened.

I was living in Denver working at an art school and teaching modern dance part-time when the economy in the 1980’s bottomed out.  I lost my full-time job and couldn’t live on part-time work.  I didn’t know what to do.  I loved being close to artsy Boulder,  was exploring Buddhism, and had a meditation community that supported my spiritual growth.

Making Changes

At the same time, my brother, my only sibling, lived in New Orleans, with his wife and kids.  Since I didn’t have kids, I liked the idea of being near him and experiencing his children going up.  My parents also lived there.  There was much I didn’t like about New Orleans, especially the humid weather, but it was also an artsy place, so I thought, “Why not?”

During the twelve years I lived in New Orleans, my world greatly expanded.  I loved knowing my brother’s children as they grew up, being close to family, and enjoying the arts.  I worked as a full-time high school teacher in two excellent situations. I taught multicultural literature in a private Catholic girl’s school and later taught in a public school in the African-American community.  As a result of this second position, I was one of several teachers who traveled in West Africa for six weeks on a grant.

The Value of Choices We Prefer Not to Make

Unfortunately, after twelve years in New Orleans, I became ill with Chronic Fatique Syndrome.  My doctor was adamant that I needed to live in a dry environment in order to get well.  I had no idea what to do.   Then, that summer, a close woman friend of mine decided to move to Albuquerque to be near her family.  After she moved, she invited me to visit.

During that visit, I fell in love with the colorful art I saw throughout the city and in Santa Fe.  For the first time, I saw art on the side of buildings.  Art and brilliant colors were everywhere!  Amazingly, when I applied for a teaching job for the new school year, I was hired.

Although I never felt at home living in the desert, I liked being near mountains, and the sunsets were stunning.  Teaching in one school with mostly Native American students taught me about the reality of their culture, its beauty and its challenges.   Again my cultural awareness was expanded.  After four years in New Mexico, I was cured of the Chronic Fatigue and ready to move on.

By this time,  two of my friends from New Orleans had moved to Asheville.  I had previously visited them several times and loved being among the mountains and forests.  It felt like my soul’s home and similar to the land in Arkansas where I grew up.   So I improvised again.

The Values of Improvisation

Perhaps I could consider these changes because I had learned the value of improvising when I was a modern dancer.  When  a dancer improvises, she never knows where the dance will go or what the outcome will be.  Each moment, the movement changes.  The interaction of the dancers shifts.  Often the result is a beautiful phrase of movement one could not have imagined.

Life can be like that too.  When we are confronted with a new situation, how we choose to respond may take us to places we never dreamed we could go and awaken us to a new dance of life.  I am grateful that I found the courage to improvise, for that decision has led me to a richer life.  May you find the courage to improvise too.

Be sure to watch Doky’s video and see how your life is like jazz.  Cool!

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

TRANSFORMING THE FEAR OF CHANGE

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

AWAKENING TO UNEXPECTED FEAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

AWAKENING TO STILLNESS

“Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen—that stillness becomes a radiance.” Morgan Freeman

What effect does constant activity or noise have on you?  Are you able to find any stillness in your day?  How does a time of stillness  help you?

I’m always amazed by the thoughts that appear when I find a new quote to use for my blog post.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind as I read this quote was meditation and how, as the meditation deepens, it feels like my energy is expanding radiantly.

But the second image that appeared this morning was a medieval castle surrounded by a moat.  What could that possibly have to do with life now?  The answer appeared quickly.  The castles were surrounded by moats in order to make it more difficult for the enemies of the people who lived there to attack them.

Living there was also a kind of isolation from the world around them.  There may have been many people who lived there, including perhaps a king and queen, but the walls defined a limited area where they could be active.  I also suspect that the coronavirus is less predictable than the medieval enemies who could be seen from the high towers approaching from miles away.

How Confinement Affects Us

While most of us don’t live in a castle, we are confined to our houses and apartments, most of which are not huge or built on a large expanse of land.  These spaces can feel very confining. At least here in the mountains, those people who live close to forest trails where they can walk are fortunate, and the trails are certainly more inspiring than the paved street in front of my house.

Being isolated isn’t always pleasant but it does have some advantages if we choose to acknowledge them.  A friend on Facebook recently posted a picture of herself and her husband smiling and looking extremely happy.  She pointed out that she had been afraid that in the isolation they would be uncomfortable and argue with each other, but in reality, they are more loving than before.

I must admit I had the same fears about my husband and me.  But we have been very loving and peaceful with each other.  Even the amount of corny jokes we share has increased.  We’ve also been busier than we expected with work we have created for ourselves or which is a result of the limit on business because of the virus.

Because we are retired, there is more time to be still, and in that stillness, we may let the anxieties of the day slip away for a while.  Meditation is always a good way to calm ourselves or listening to soothing music.  I often just sit and watch the squirrels in the yard chase each other and fly from tree to tree or walk through the yard to see what new wild flowers have popped up.

The Unknown Makes Us Fearful

It is impossible to know how long our isolation will last so we have to live in the moment.  When we start feeling fearful or angry about it, we could make some bad decisions because these negative emotions lead us to negative thoughts.  Some people think we don’t still need to keep our distance, but going out of our homes is foolish and endangers us and anyone who comes in contact with us because this virus’s symptoms can be very hidden or misleading.

Finding Our Hearts

When we feel fearful, angry, or just frustrated, we most need to take a deep breath, find the stillness, and sit with it until we can release our negative feelings.  In the stillness we can ask for spiritual guidance and the wisdom peace can bring.  This wisdom that comes from deep inside when we are quiet nourishes us in a way nothing else will, for it is not just an activity of the mind.  It is also from the heart.

Finding the stillness within transforms us.  Mary Oliver reminds us of the beauty of   transformation in nature—a transformation that may occur in us as well.

“When the praying mantis opens its wings

it becomes a green flower.”

By opening its wings, the praying mantis becomes more beautiful.  By opening our minds and releasing our fears, we are able to understand how to act from the heart not the head.  When we are in touch with our hearts, we may flower into a stronger person and find a better path through the stillness of isolation.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL SURRENDER

AWAKENING TO RELEASE ILLUSIONS

AWAKENING TO NOW

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