Tag Archives: Nature

AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT

“For we have not come here to take prisoners or to confine our wondrous spirits, but to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom and light!” Hafiz

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

What choices have you made recently that have lifted your spirits? Do you create unnecessary limitations in your life? How can you release those and free your spirit?

In winter the light in our lives falters, especially in the mountains where fog may surround us or the evening sun may disappear quickly behind even the lowest peaks. It seems like the gray days with rain and clouds are endless alternating with only a few days of bright sunlight.

But this winter, the lack of light is about more than the weather. Around the world, violence and the deep need of people cry out haunting the days of our lives. In our own country, the negative and destructive promises of some of the presidential candidates go beyond anything we have ever seen, and the way some congressional leaders refuse to do what the people elected them to do is barbarous.

Share Our Light

At a time like this, where can we find the light? Only within. Last night I listened to the story of a friend’s journey as she hiked the El Camino de Santiago, and what struck me most was the way her inner light shone throughout her story. She was so excited and appreciative of the way other people helped her: of finally getting a meal with lots of vegetables, of finding coffee on the trail when there had been none to start her day at the hostel, getting her cell phone fixed by a man she’d just met.

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It wasn’t that she never complained, because there were definitely challenges, but what impressed me was the way she chose to focus on every little thing that was good. That light energy radiated to everyone she met along the trail. As Maya Angelou said, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

We Must Free Ourselves From Limitations

Not only do we need to avoid taking others prisoners, as the Congress is trying to do, we need to avoid making prisoners of ourselves. When we give up, lose our courage, believe we can’t change what is, we imprison our spirit. The reality is that our spirit is always free if we are willing to go deep within and find that quiet place where loving guidance appears. By going deeper, we may find better solutions to the problems we need to solve.

We need to ask, “What can I do to enlighten my life?” Do we need to meditate more? Do we need to spend more time with friends? Do we need to develop a gratitude practice? Do we need a support group of some kind? What will bring more positive thoughts and feelings into our lives?

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Create Your Own Light

We may have a lot of excuses, but not all of them matter. Many are just excuses for taking the line of least resistance, but they confine and keep us from experiencing what may light up our lives. We have to choose to leave the darkness behind and step into the light even when we aren’t sure what will happen. We need to find the courage to create the light that we need in our lives, regardless of the season.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

How do you bring light into your life?  Please comment.

READING AT MALAPROPS IN ASHEVILLE: Sunday, February 28 at 3:00 I will be reading my poem “Soul Mate” along with several other NC women writers published in It’s All Relative: Tales From the Tree.

Related Posts:    Awaken to Love the Light, Lighting Our Darkness, Awakening to the Dance of Light

AWAKENING TO THE NEW STORY OF LOVE

“Some day after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

orion-nebula-space-galaxyHow in touch are you with the cosmos? Do you feel it’s important to understand how the Universe works? What, if anything, does this have to do with your life?

Brian Swimme’s documentary  Journey of the Universe is a powerful film. I recently watched it with a group of like-minded people who see themselves as part of All that is. What Swimme emphasized was that we need a new story about who we are and how we are part of the Universe. In fact, he pointed out that we are beginning to live in a way that is coherent with our actual knowledge of the Universe when we see ourselves as connected with all life.

The Universe and the Earth Are Aware

The Universe is aware and as we become more in touch with the earth and more concerned about its well-being, we tap into that awareness and connect with it. This is just another way of saying that we are all One. Continue reading

AWAKENING TO THE SILENCE OF SNOW

“A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky-unbidden-and seems like a thing of wonder.” Susan Orlean

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Back in the days when I taught full-time, a snow day was truly a gift from the Divine. To have the day off, I didn’t have to get permission, find a substitute, or prepare another lesson in advance, nor did I have to leave the house. It was a free vacation day, and I always felt that I could do anything I wanted that day, even when I had papers to grade.

Love the Silence of the Snow

Now, what I love is the silence. The way the snow wraps around the earth, the trees, and buildings. Bare brown branches become beautifully outlined in snow and silhouetted against a blue sky. The snow becomes a blanket of diamonds as it reflects the sun’s light.

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Snow Days Are For Snuggling

It is a snuggly morning, and now I have a snuggly partner, my husband. We linger under the warm covers until hunger hits and then we eat pancakes with eggs and oatmeal. The dog who is let out to “do her business” finds a lot more business to do than usual, sticking her nose into the snow up to her eyes, trying to find a scent that tells her this is her usual place.

Snow Is For Playing

The teenager across the street is trying to learn to ski on the small slope from the street to his house, but soon his friends arrive with an array of winter equipment, none of which they actually use. Before long, it becomes party-time and they disappear into the house.

The daily parade of dog walkers has begun thanks to the city that was well-prepared and cleared the street rather early this morning. The little dog that is of a strange mix and usually wears a sweater has on red shoes today. Our dog, which is out in the yard and usually barks loudly at this one, just sits and stares. I suspect the little dog’s outfit doesn’t fit with her fashion sense, but she’s too polite to express her dismay.

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The Silence Of Snow Connects Us With Spirit

It is strange how something as cold and wet as snow can create the feeling of warmth, but then I am reminded that when I meditate, I often reach a point where I feel warm and protected, aware of that peace of being in touch with something greater than myself, that loving energy of Spirit.

It is not a day for deep mental meandering. It is a day just to be.

How do you like to spend a snow day? Please comment.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

AWAKENING TO WINTER’S DELIGHT

“Give me the splendid, silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.” Walt Whitman

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Do you enjoy winter and its snowy days? Do you like the glint of the sun on ice? Or do you love to curl up near a fire and disappear into a book or write poems about a lost love?

Quiet Winter Days May Be Creative

I have to admit I am rather excited by snowy days when I don’t have to go out and can use the weather as an excuse to just read and nap while the winds whip around the house and spill branches into the yard. And yes, I build a fire in the fireplace and sometimes poems rise to the surface as I sit, not needing to do anything.

I lived in Nebraska for two years when I taught dance in the university and winter lasted most of the year. The first thirty days I was there in December and January the temperature was below zero. It wasn’t unusual to walk around in snow up to my knees.

On one of those days I wrote this poem. No doubt many of you can relate to this picture today.

NEBRASKA WINTER

 Ice bends the trees of this arid land

So that woods appear like shrub forests,

Locked in a white crystal blanket.

The sun sparkles, shatters, plays

Off the hills like a melody of mirrors

Playing songs through the air.

The land flies by as we drive,

Like silver plates skipped on a stream.

Gray deer dart across our path,

Flying shapes connected to the land

By color and vibrance,

Alive in this frozen world

Where ice has stopped the flow of human life.

Only what is close to the land

Survives, vibrantly, through the ice.

Unlike most days in Nebraska, the sun has come out today and melted the icy streets in this North Carolina mountain town, but it has been a lovely contemplative day. I’ve been sifting through my poetry, deciding it is time to publish some and trying to decide where.

Winter, A Time To Turn Within

Winter is the perfect time to turn within and contemplate our lives and evaluate what is working and what is not. When spring arrives, we will be too distracted by the beauty it showers upon us to stay inside ourselves to do this work. But when the cold frosts the windows and makes the stairs treacherous, it feels safe to go inside, to do winter’s version of spring cleaning and decide how we want to change our lives during this year. So, I guess the decision I’ve made is to get busy sharing my poetry, make a book, get it published, and publish some poems on the internet.

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Poetry Is A Very Personal Form

Poetry is so personal, and I feel nervous about putting it out there. Silly, isn’t it, when I’ve already published a memoir that is very personal. So today, I’ll share another poem which really is a silly poem I wrote as I imagined being a tree. We poets do things like that. Of course, maybe I was a Druid in another life.

WINTER CONVERSATIONS

Mountains hold up the snow,

While cedars talk of rumors

In the wind,

Shaking their heads as if to say:

“Mother Earth better watch out

For those wily hunters of fortune.”

snowy-trees

 Wishing all my readers a lovely warm day!

How do you like to spend a cold winter day? Is it a good time for you to turn inward? Please share and comment.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  13 Ways of Making Poetry a Spiritual Practice,
Sanity: A Dialogue with Echkhart Tolle

AWAKENING TO OUR WILD CREATIVITY

“Without wildness we have no creativity. No species does.” Matthew Fox

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Is your wildness alive in you? How does it express itself? Is it part of your creativity?

Recently, when I watched the film Marion Woodman: Dancing in the Flames, I was moved by her comments about integrating her perfectionist and wild aspects. I definitely related to her comments and challenges because, as I explained in last week’s blog Awakening to Release Our Perfectionism, these aspects are parts of my personality.

We Can Express Our Wildness Through Creativity

I remember only too well playing in the mud, climbing trees and hiking in the forest where I had so much freedom, but like Marion, on Sunday I had to dress up in a dress and patent-leather shoes and move in a very lady-like fashion. It didn’t help that I was often ill as a child and confined to my bed.

Instead of experiencing my wildness by running around the yard, I spent many hours in bed designing paper doll clothes, reading, or sewing. It was then that my mind learned to run wild even when my body couldn’t. There was no teacher there to critique my artistic work and my mother never criticized it. In fact, she always encouraged my creative expression.

Perhaps I didn’t need to run wild so much because we lived close to nature with chickens and rabbits in the back yard pen and a garden that produced corn, potatoes, green beans, and lettuce. The chinaberry tree in the back yard produced leaves, flowers, and berries that we used to spice up our mud pies. When the family did something together it was usually outdoors in a park or by a stream where my brother and I swam and our parents fished for bass or catfish.

Wildness Is A Natural Aspect Of Nature

Living so close to nature, its cycles seemed natural just as it seemed natural, although not pleasant, that during tornado season when the sirens sang, we hid in the safest part of the house. We knew the chaos of nature as well as its serenity. We accepted it as part of life.

When we create a work of art or any creative thing, it appears first within us. It may be only a glimmer of an idea, swimming around in our mental fog, and we may not be quite clear what it wants to be: a project, a poem, a song, or a new way to cook chicken.

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Creativity Comes From Chaos

Matthew Fox says, “Creativity happens at the border between chaos and order. Chaos is a prelude to creativity. We need to learn, as every artist needs to learn, to live with chaos and, indeed, to dance with it as we listen to it and attempt some ordering.” This learning to create order from chaos may well be one of the most useful aspects of being creative, regardless of what activity we embrace.

We Discover Who We Are Through Creativity

It is in these creative moments, trying to create form from chaos, that we use our minds in ways that benefit us mentally and emotionally. Through this process we also express who we are, allowing our wildness to take us into unknown territory and express and create in the way that only we can. What we create may surprise us as well as those around us.

In the ninth grade, I drew a charcoal picture one day in art class that totally mystified my teacher. “Different,” she said to my parents who visited the class on parents’ night. In the foreground was a phoenix and in the background were dark clouds and fallen Greek columns from the front of what was probably a Greek temple.

Neither the teacher, nor I, nor my parents had any idea of the symbolism contained in the picture. It was only years later when I studied mythology and symbolism that I understood. In Greek mythology, the phoenix is a bird that dies and is reborn, a symbol of immortality. I don’t know what the storm was in my life at the time, but clearly, I survived it for, in some sense, I was the phoenix. There was life in the midst of destruction.

Nature Teaches Us About Natural Wildness

Because my life has been so enriched by my closeness to nature and the seasons and I see the cycles as opportunities to explore various aspects of myself, I have found peace with my wildness. I understand that the best way to tame it is through loving it and expressing it through creative activity, just as the earth cycles through its version of death and rebirth.

2014 012On her website, Jennifer Currie interprets the meaning of the Tarot cards and she speaks about wildness as it is expressed by the Strength card where a woman usually embraces a lion. “You don’t tame the beast by beating it down—you tame it through love and acceptance.” And I would add—by using it to create.

Being Close To Nature Reduces Stress and Violence

Too often when we are children, our wildness is squelched without a creative alternative being offered that allows us to tame our own wildness with love. Perhaps one of the reasons inner city youth become violent is that they do not have a place where they can “run wild” without causing harm or being harmed. Instead of encouraging them to express that wildness creatively, the environment models being “lawless.”

I am thankful that there are now many programs that take youth out into the wilderness and introduce them to authentic wildness. Scientific studies are beginning to show that the time we spend in the forest or on the mountain have a calming effect on the brain and help to release stress. Therefore, it is very beneficial for adults and children to find time when we can just be with the natural world.

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Creativity Connects Us With All That Is

While we need to be able to live with the wildness that comes as a normal part of life, we also need to learn how to find peace with it and allow it to feed our creativity in ways that will bring new awareness and expression into our lives. It is in our creative moments that we often connect with Spirit and become One with all that is.

Are you in touch with your wildness?  How do you express it in your life?  Please share and comment. 

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet by Matthew Fox(video)Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning Through Emersion in Natural Settings, Does Nature Make Us Happy?

AWAKENING TO TRUE LOVE

“True Love is born from understanding.”  Buddha

Snow Bird Lodge

Snow Bird Lodge

For several weeks, I have not written a new post for the blog.  Life has become the priority—a mixture of joyous happenings and challenging struggles.  Dreams have come true and pleasures have been dashed.

Life Was Good

I was married in late June.  A year and a half ago, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible.  I had created a life, without a partner, that made me happy most of the time.  I had met a couple of nice men, but we weren’t really a fit.  I was promoting my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness and beginning to explore a way to publish some poetry.  I had found a stimulating discussion group where I was making new friends and was hiking with a nice group of people.  Life was good.

I Met the Love of My Life

Then I met my Love.  It was an accident.  I was on an online dating site and made the mistake of clicking on something that took me to a site I didn’t want to be on.  There he saw me with one of the posters beside me for the Releasing the Fear classes that I teach.  He said it was my eyes that attracted him.  When he later returned to the site, I was gone, but he didn’t give up.  He googled “releasing your fear” and information appeared that led him to my email address.

I’m glad he is a curious and sensitive man.  His email was thoughtful, letting me know he was not stalking me despite the search he had made, so I responded.  Of course, before doing so, I googled him as well and discovered he was a spiritual person and a writer.

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This was all a switch for me because in the past I had often been the one who made the most effort to get together with the men I met.  I liked being pursued, but I was cautious.  We used email and the phone to communicate and that went well, but I knew meeting him in person would tell me the most, especially since I am very sensitive to another person’s energy.

Spiritual Compatibility Is Important

The rest of the story is too long to tell here, but he came to a workshop and liked my work.  We read each others’ books and liked what we read.  Although our spiritual backgrounds are very different, we are very spiritually compatible and he has become a part of my spiritual community.  Still there are differences, and most conflicts came from not understanding one another.

Conflicts Often Result From Making Assumptions

So we learned along the way and will always be learning how to understand one another.  It is so easy to make assumptions and draw inaccurate conclusions about another’s behavior.  Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements advises us not to make assumptions, and that’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.  Our assumptions are always about us and rarely offer us truths about the other person.

Part of my journey in this relationship has been learning how to live with another person because, with the exception of one year with a roommate years ago, I have lived alone since 1977.  I never realized how set in my ways I am.  Fortunately, my Love has had more experience, but he’s also flexible.  Together we’ve learned what to do to make this work.

There were some challenges, especially when I fell hiking in mid-April and broke my ankle.  My Love moved in to take care of me so that I would not have to go to a rehab facility.  It stretched us both, but his love and care were wonderful.  We joke about him earning his nursing degree during this time.  What I saw was a man who simply does what he needs to do to care for those he loves even when it’s difficult.  I learned I could trust him and depend on him.  He had inner strength.

Understanding One Another Leads to a Deep Love

But here’s the bottom line.  Many of us want relationships and marriage.  I’ve wanted it all my life but was never willing to settle for a relationship with a man who was uncommitted or controlling or not on a compatible path.  I just knew it wouldn’t work.  The truth is that the most wonderful thing about this marriage relationship is something I had never felt—a feeling so wonderful that it still seems quite unreal.

It isn’t the illusion of “being in love.”  It is something so much deeper.  It is knowing that on a spiritual level you are a match, that your love is a healthy love that supports you both.  It is a feeling of deep peace and joy, knowing you are loved for who you truly are, and that you share the same kind of commitment.  It is knowing that the other person will be there for you, and that you, without a doubt, will be there for him.

We Cannot Truly Love Another Until We Love Ourselves

I thought I knew what True Love was, but I didn’t.  What I had felt once in the past doesn’t even come close to this, but I also realize that I can experience this True Love because I have spent many years learning to understand and love myself and created a life I liked.  With these two things in place I was energetically ready to attract my perfect mate and had become the person who could be his perfect partner.

I’m now back on my feet, walking almost normally, but still doing physical therapy so I can return to my former hiking strength.  Life never feels quite complete without my time on the forest trails.  I feel most grateful for this healing and also for the partner I now have who shares all the paths I follow.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Dr. Wayne Dyer:  Dating, Desire, and Attracting Love, Deeper Dating – Finding A New Approach to Love, Relationships: True Love and the Transcendence of Duality (interview with Eckhart Tolle)

 

 

AWAKENING TO CREATE HAPPINESS

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

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

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

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

Nature Can Provide Us With Delightful Moments

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

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

Photo: G. Spruce

Photo: G. Spruce

Little Things Can Make Us Happy

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

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

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

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

Photo: G. Spruce

Photo: G. Spruce

We Can Choose to Experience Happiness

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

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

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

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

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                              ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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

AWAKENING TO WINTER DREAMS

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”  Albert Camus

Winters Dream

Winters Dream (Photo credit: ~Brenda-Starr~)

During autumn, the highway landscape between my city and the next town was ablaze with the red, orange, and yellow fall leaves.  Each time I drove this route through the mountains, the beauty took my breath away, but last week I drove it again, and the utter bleakness of those same trees stripped of all color startled me.  The contrast was shocking despite the fact I had bagged too many leaves falling from my own trees and was certainly not unaware of what was happening.

Winter Is a Introspective Time

Some people may be inspired by the sparseness of winter, but not me.  Without nature’s colors or flowers inspiring me, I just want to go inside, and when I’m depressed by the bleakness, I visit my imagination for something more interesting.  Winter becomes a time to weigh things, to sort out ideas that are not beneficial and let them go.  It’s a good time to write because I’m not distracted by what is going on outside and it is a good time to just be, dreaming by the fire.

English: Photo of a stone fireplace.

English: Photo of a stone fireplace. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 WINTER DREAMS

In the midst of winter

We dream rose dreams.

The fragrance of flowers

Fills the inner landscape

Until we awake in the deep night.

Tulips, Dogwood and Jasmine

Invade the moment

Between sleeping and waking

And we long to wake in spring

And bloom like the flowers

In the garden

We will surely plant.

Winter flower

Winter flower (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The fact is—I plant gardens in the winter—inside my own head.  I conjure up new ideas for classes, write poetry and essays, and have long stimulating talks with friends over cups of hot coffee.  With fewer distractions, I can commit to tasks that I’ve been avoiding.  Winter can be a most productive time.

Fear May Prevent Us From Looking Deep Inside

Andrew Wyeth says, “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape.  Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.”  Perhaps it is the fear of what lies beneath our surface that makes us dread winter.  Confined inside by the cold, we cannot escape as easily those parts of ourselves we’d like to avoid—the ways we have disappointed others or failed to live up to the commitments we’ve made.  It is an excellent time to examine what we need to change and what is not working in our lives.

Over the last two years when I was completing my book Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness, I ignored a number of things about my house that needed to be done.  I committed to completing the book above all else.  However, the rainy season was more intense than usual and mildew developed in closets and other places in the house.  Distracted during the spring and summer with many lovely distractions, I’ve promised myself I will clean this up this winter.  In fact, there are several “spring cleaning” kinds of tasks that I prefer to do in the winter.

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We Must Look Inside to See Who We Really Are

But these are superficial things.  It is the deeper aspects of our nature that we may find more difficult to face.  How can we repair the damage we have done to friendships or family?  How do we escape from a long term relationship that is abusive?  How do we find more confidence in our own abilities to make changes in the way we live?  While we may need help to solve these problems, we must begin by going inside and asking, “Who am I?” and “Who do I want to be?”

We Must Envision the Changes We Desire

We need to envision what we want in detail in the quiet of our own minds, stilled by meditation or prayer, opening ourselves to dream of how we want our lives to be and then be willing to search for the answers.  Only when we are clear about what we want will we be able to develop a plan to create the life we desire.  With this clarity, we will be able to take the first step.

Winter dreams may take many forms.  We may dream pleasant fantasies about the coming of spring, the birth of a child or new relationship, or a more fulfilling job.  But hopefully, like Albert Camus, we will be able to create an “invincible summer” within us, a hope and positive way to look at life even when everything is falling apart or frozen.  That “invincible summer,” a belief in ourselves, may help us believe we can make our winter dreams come true.

What are your winter dreams this year?  Please comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                             ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Finding an Invincible Summer, When Your Dreams Change, Let Your Values Guide You, Introspection Overload: The Value of Journaling, Neuroscientific Support for the Value of Introspection

AWAKENING TO BE THE ARTIST OF YOUR LIFE

“What do we do with chaos?

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“Creativity has an answer.  We are told by those who have studied the processes of nature that creativity happens at the border between chaos and order.  Chaos is a prelude to creativity.  We need to learn, as every artist needs to learn, to live with chaos and indeed to dance with it and attempt some ordering.  Artists wrestle with chaos, take it apart, deconstruct and reconstruct from it.  Accept the challenge to convert chaos into some kind of order, respecting the timing of it all, not pushing beyond what is possible—combining holy patience with holy impatience—that is the role of the artist.  It is each of our roles as we launch the twenty-first century because we are all called to be artists in our own way.  We are all artists as children.  We need to study the chaos around us in order to turn it into something beautiful.  Something sustainable.  Something that remains.”  Matthew Fox, Creativity

Creation Spirituality

Last week, I was privileged to hear Matthew Fox speak at a spiritual gathering.  He is a powerful speaker and leader, and his philosophy of Creation Spirituality is the basis for the spiritual community to which I belong.  Creation Spirituality is the belief that all creation is Original Blessing, and it integrates the wisdom of Eastern and Western spirituality with current scientific understanding and the passion of creativity.

Cover of "Creativity"

Cover of Creativity

We Must Be Creative To Solve Problems

To those who do not see themselves as creative, Fox’s quote may seem abstract, but as one who has participated in all the fine arts and for a time was a professional modern dancer, I know exactly what he means.  In fact, as surprising as it may seem, my studies of dance, theater, voice, and art have all taught me how to create a better life for myself because they taught me how to keep my mind open and how to create order from chaos.

In life as in art, we are continually faced with making decisions.  Using our rational mind to make these decisions is one approach, but we also have a right brain, as well as a left brain, that can lead us down many paths to solve each problem.  We are most likely to find a good, workable solution to the problems that confront us when we are willing to consider more than one possibility.

We Must Experiment to Create Order Out of Chaos

As a choreographer, I learned to experiment—try this movement and that.  I would develop a theme and then create variations to make the dance more interesting while allowing the basic theme to give it unity.  When this approach didn’t work, I threw out the movement that didn’t look good and explored how I could use another movement to express my idea.  Once in a while, I would choreograph a large portion of a dance and have to face the fact that it just didn’t work.  It didn’t communicate what I wanted, or it wasn’t interesting enough, or it just didn’t flow and I would have to throw out the whole thing.

And at times, I would just have to wait.  I could feel the solution to the problem simmering in the back of my mind.  Then, in a dream or while I was vacuuming or reading a book, suddenly the image would appear—a rhythmic pattern, a series of movements, a costume or concept—and  reveal to me the missing piece I needed to complete the dance.

Life often feels like this to me.  A problem arises and I don’t know how to solve it.  I research, talk to people I know and hopefully what I need to do becomes clear.  But at times, my daily life feels like chaos and no answers appear.  When it begins to feel out of control, I have to stop.  I remember that the answers to my questions cannot appear if I’m not listening with the “holy patience” that Fox refers to.

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Answers May Be Found When We Are Quiet

So, I go within to meditate or step into the natural world and let the playful squirrels or singing birds remind me I am a part of something more than the chaos that wears me down.  When I’m calm, I am better able to discern what I need to do.  It may be nothing or I may need to deal with the chaos by setting up a schedule and prioritizing what I need to do.  Using my creativity, I dance on that edge between chaos and order.

We are the artists of our own lives, and we have many choices about how to create order out of our chaos.  But the most important thing is for us to believe that we can.  We can only change the world if we believe we can change our own lives, and if we believe that, we will find the way to do it.  Because each time we succeed in creating order out of chaos, we inspire ourselves and those who observe our actions, who perhaps will be inspired to change their lives.

Our Lives are Sacred

Perhaps this is what Fox meant in his talk when he said, “If we have a sense of the sacred, we can change things.”  We do not have to do it alone.  In those quiet moments, even in the midst of chaos, we are in touch with Spirit.  We are reminded that we are sacred, our lives are sacred, and the earth is sacred.  We live in a creative Universe, and as we create our lives, let us remember we are each artists who can create order out of the chaos of our world.  No one else can do this for us.

How are you the artist of your life?  Please comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: Matthew Fox – Creation Spirituality (video), How to Create a Balanced Life:  How to Feel Calm and Grounded, Everyone Is Invited to This Dance, Creativity

AWAKENING TO LET GO

“Holding on is believing there is only a past; letting go is knowing there is a future.” Daphne Rose Kingma

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Do you find it easy to let go of old ways of doing things?  Do you often resist change?  Are you excited by frequent change?

Every autumn as the leaves fall, I am in awe of how easily and naturally nature moves toward winter.  At first, the leaves turn brilliant red, yellow, and orange—a gift that makes us forget how much we loved the lush green of spring and summer.  Then, as we revel in this display, the leaves begin to gently drop, showering our yards with color and providing the material to mulch and feed our lawns and gardens. When finally the trees are bare, we discover vistas that were obscured by their leaves, and the sky opens, displaying clouds and stars we couldn’t see before.

Letting Go Is a Natural Part of Nature

As we drift into winter, we remember that in the spring the leaves, flowers, and warmth will return, but now is the time for going inward, to light fires, and snuggle up with lovers and books. It is a time of reevaluation, thinking, and contemplation.  Letting go of the past is part of the cycle of life.  Each change and each new cycle opens us to a new experience that may enrich our lives and expand our awareness.

Letting Go Creates New Space for New Ideas

Wouldn’t it be nice if letting go were as easy for us as it is for nature?  We would experience much less anxiety if we could accept this aspect of change as a natural part of living and understand that letting go creates the space for new growth.  As long as we keep the doors of our mind closed, nothing new or beneficial can enter.

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We Fear the Unknown

Our reluctance to let go is usually related to our fear of the unknown.  Although we may become bored with life always following the same pattern, at least we know what to expect and that feels comforting.  The irony is that despite our determination to keep things the same, they change anyway and impact our lives.  When we are forced to change by circumstance rather than choice, the more we resist, the more the difficulties persist.

The Unknown May Be Filled With Gifts

On the other hand, some people are always looking for new adventure and find venturing into the unknown exciting.  Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, experiencing both fear of the unknown, but also being willing to embrace change when necessary.  When we believe that, although we can’t predict the future, life often brings us unexpected gifts, we are more likely to let go of the aspects of our lives that aren’t serving us well.

Years ago, when I was divorced in Washington, D. C., I loved living there, but I wanted to teach dance in college, and most of the positions for which I applied were filled by people who had danced with major New York companies.  When I was offered a position to teach at a college in central Nebraska, I decided to take a chance.  I loved Washington, but I needed an income and didn’t want to give up dance.  I had to let go of my life in the east and move on.

It wasn’t easy leaving what I knew—my spiritual and artistic community and friends, but up to this point, my life had been strongly influenced by my parents and then my husband’s needs.  I had only visited Nebraska once for the interview, but the opportunity I wanted was there.  Like the pioneers who inhabited those plains, I headed out for the unknown land feeling fear and excitement.

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Letting Go May Be Transformative

The most important thing I learned from my time in Nebraska was not to judge what I do not know.  I loved the students and made some of the best friends I’ve ever had.  I learned to not accept appearances but to look deeper to find the subtle beauty of the plains.  Most of all, I learned I could adapt to a new environment and that gave me the confidence to believe that letting go of what was comfortable, but limiting, was not so frightening.

Letting go of what no longer serves us can transform our lives.  On the personality level, we often become very attached to the work we do for a living.  I’ve seen too many people retire and let their lives just slip away because they are not in touch with who they really are.  I understand this.  It took me a long time to disconnect from identifying myself as a dancer to seeing I was so much more as a person.

My father never made the transition, and unlike many people who use their retirement to become involved with helping others and following their true passions, he seemed to feel his life was over.  He became a grandfather and enjoyed that, but still he never completely engaged life again.  He just drifted through each day, reminisced about his past achievements, and watched television.

Being Authentic Frees Us

When we are conscious of our interior life as well as our exterior life, we can discover what we need to do in order to live an authentic life.  We are able to let go of the persona we developed to please our family or employer and find the courage to reveal who we really are.  We shed the superficialities and find the courage to be honest and real.  We let go of others expectations and follow our own path into the unknown, finding the future path that will lead us to a meaningful life.  Letting go of what limits us is a powerful gift to give ourselves and others.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:   Ten Tips to Let Go of the Past and Embrace the Future,   8 Effective Ways to Let Go and Move On, Releasing Fear and Limiting Beliefs,  The Ultimate Letting Go:  Release Your Fear and Be Free