Tag Archives: Positive thinking

AWAKENING TO YOUR ODYSSEY

“The odyssey is not going out and seeing the world:  it’s about trying to get home.”  Pete Hamill

Does your life feel like an odyssey?  What makes it such a journey?  Does it work well for you or are there aspects that you need to change? What have you learned form it?

(Thanks to so many of you for such great “O” suggestions.  Especially thanks to Marguerite for this topic.  As a former English teacher, I couldn’t resist it.  In the Comment area please leave me some topic suggestions for next week starting with “P.”  Thanks!)

Most of us read “The Odyssey” in high school or college.  Written by Homer, it was an epic poem about Odysseus wandering for ten years after the Trojan War, trying to get home.  While most of us are not warriors, although some are, we all are traveling on the adventure of life.

An odyssey is defined as an intellectual or spiritual quest or an extended adventurous voyage or trip marked by many changes of fortune.  Do any of these describe your path through life?

I found Pete Hamill’s quote very interesting because we often have to wander from the path we intended to live in order to discover our true selves.

Changes Offer Positive and Negative Experiences

In the 1970’s I was living in the Washington, D.C. area teaching dance part-time when a friend of mine told me that a college in the middle of Nebraska was hiring a dance teacher to set up a dance program.  I knew nothing about Nebraska, but I needed a better income due to my divorce and was excited by the idea of creating a modern dance minor.

I accepted the position when they offered it to me.  After the interview, an art teacher on the dance committee took me out to a bar in town where I discovered he was charming, funny, and a great dancer.  I looked forward to getting to know him.

When I moved to Nebraska, I shared a house with community arts organizer and made two other wonderful women friends very quickly.  I expected everyone to be as friendly as the few people I had originally met, but I soon discovered that people generally were very distant and rarely shared their feelings.  No matter what I did I couldn’t break through those barriers.

The art teacher and I had become very close. I fell in love with him.  Although he said he loved me, he said he needed to get out of the small town and move to Oregon.  He needed to be alone to find himself.  I continued to teach at the college, but I felt stifled in such a small place.  I missed the diversity of a city.  I knew Nebraska was not my true home.

New Experiences Help Us Grow

I moved to Denver because I could easily teach my own dance classes there and it appeared I might be able to get a part-time job at a college.  Besides, the man I loved had to fly through Denver in order to see his parents in a small town near the state line, not far from Denver.  It would be easy for him to stop and visit with me.

To some it may seem I wandered too much in the west, but the wandering was beneficial. As it turned out, making it convenient for my lover to see me never led to a commitment. However, Denver became a true home where I grew in many ways.

During my odyssey in Nebraska and Denver, places I would previously not have considered living, I grew enormously as a teacher and person.  Especially in Denver, I felt I became more of who I truly was.  Because of a Buddhist friend’s influence and a quarter  of a semester teaching dance at the Naropa Institute, I decided to learn to meditate, a practice that expanded my spiritual life and benefitted my health.

I also made hiking friends and climbed to the top of huge mountains to be awed by God’s magnificent creations.  I attended a Science of Mind church and studied its teachings.  They helped me to pay more attention to the negative thoughts I allowed to control my thinking, and I learned how to release them.

These years were a time when my odyssey led me through trials and tribulations, taught me what I needed to let go of and what must become a part of me.  This journey brought me home to who I truly am.

Unexpected Gifts Help Us Grow

 Isn’t that what happens to so many of us?  On our odyssey through life we come upon the unexpected many times.  The world around us continues to change regardless of our choices and that often affects how we live and may force us to change.  Each experience is an opportunity to learn a better way to live or to define clearly what we don’t want. We may have to change the path or destination we had planned, or the experience may reassure us that we are on the right path.

I’ve often moved to take a new job, be close to a friend or family, or be in a healthier location.  There are negative and positive aspects to that, but there is one constant.  Every situation is an opportunity to learn, to experience new people and cultures, and I am grateful because it has helped me understand my journey and other people’s life quests.

Now as I move into the last decades of my life, I feel at home, living as my true self in a place that is my soul’s home, with a man who is the partner for whom I always searched.  My life isn’t perfect but it’s been a fascinating journey that has allowed me to become who I want to be.

May your odyssey guide you home.

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

Related Blogs:

WHERE THE JOURNEY LEAD

AWAKENING TO JOURNEY WITH GRATITUDE

AWAKENING TO THE JOURNEY THAT IS

 

 

AWAKENING TO EXPRESS KINDNESS

“This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”  Dalai Lama

Do you consider yourself a kind person?  Are you surrounded by kind people?  How do you express your kindness?

(Thank you Charlie for our topic this week.  Next week, the topic will start with “L,” so please leave your suggestions for a topic in the comment section.  I always appreciate your suggestions.)

Qualities of Kind People

I am always deeply touched by kind people, and there are several things that I notice about them.  They are people who are at peace with themselves.  They look for what is positive in others and in situations.  They are empathetic and compassionate.

These are the kind of people I want in my life, the people I can trust, who when there is conflict will talk respectfully about our differences and work things out.  I can look back on my life and see the many times when I tolerated behavior in relationships and friendships that was less than respectful of who I was and my needs.  Now I find that I am less willing to ignore such disrespect and that more of the people I draw into my life are kind.

What has changed and why is kindness so important to me now?

Kindness Is Based On Loving Ourselves

I read an article “The Magic of Unconditional Love:  An Interview with Don Miguel Ruiz” by Diane Marie Bishop in Science of Mind Magazine.  In the article, Ruiz talks about how we cannot love others unconditionally unless we unconditionally love ourselves.  Over the years, my ability to love myself has grown.  I have let go of my need to be perfect or to fit someone else’s standard.  This acceptance has given me more peace, and I have learned to be kinder to myself and others.

It is all connected.  When we love ourselves, peace and joy automatically become part of our lives and the expression of kindness becomes a natural thing.  We are less reactive and more aware of how our words and actions affect others.  We are also more flexible and able to adapt to the needs of others when it is appropriate.  But we also are at peace with who we are and can say “no” when we must and do it in a way that is kind.

Negative Thinking Blocks Kindness

It was a challenging week last week with many every day difficulties arising.  It was a week of important teachings, a reminder that, instead of getting caught up in another’s negativity, I need to tap into my inner peace and stay there.  I wasn’t always able to do that, but I will continue to pursue that path.  Experiencing peace and love is my priority and that is what I want to share with others.

When we love ourselves, we are more likely to see life as positive.  When we are feeling positive, we are more likely to respond to life in a positive manner and act kindly.  But seeing the same situation from a negative point of view may completely change how one experiences an event.  Negative thinking can be a powerful block that supports our egos worst choices and keeps us from acting kindly from the heart.

Once, I offered to loan a friend a library book I’d finished so she could also read it before it was due.  With a long waiting list, it was hard to get.  She emailed me to leave it in her mailbox, but I wasn’t comfortable with that due to the torrential rains we were having, and it belonged to the library so I didn’t want to risk its getting damaged.  Since we lived close to each other, I asked her to give me a call when she was home, and I would bring it to her or she could pick it up.  She thought my concern was foolish, and she became angry that I wouldn’t do this the way she wanted, rejected my offer, and refused to return my phone call so we could work it out.

I was rather shocked by the whole situation.  Her response to the situation seemed harsh and out of proportion to the reality although, in the past, she had been disturbed about situations she viewed as negative when I didn’t see them that way.  Still, what created this problem?  Had I been unkind without realizing it?  Was she stressed about something or angry at me for another reason?  I didn’t know.  By focusing on the negative rather than the positive aspect of the situation and refusing to communicate, my friend created a problem that didn’t need to exist and eroded the trust I felt for her.

Positive Thinking Supports Kindness

An experience with a sales person when I had a problem with a new cell phone also illustrated the consequences of positive and negative approaches to situations.  This man made it clear that he only had time for people who were there to buy something although I had been required to trade out my phone for a new one due to network changes.

Because of his lack of customer service, I decided not to do business there again.  Instead I went to another store where a kind young man showed concern for my problems and took the time to show me how to use the new phone.  Perhaps he was just a kind person or perhaps he understood making a customer happy might mean more sales in the long run.  Either way he took the higher road.

Kindness May Be Expressed With Empathy and Compassion

Two other ways we can express kindness are through empathy and compassion.  They are beautiful expressions of our love and peace.  With empathy we are able to put ourselves in the other person’s place and feel what they are feeling.  We may make this connection because we’ve experienced a similar situation or because we use our imagination to envision what they are feeling.  Compassion takes us one step further emotionally to a place where we want to help.

To share our feelings of concern through either of these expressions is an act of kindness.  We care if another person is in pain or difficulty and want life to be better for him/her.  I have another friend who frequently expresses these qualities.  The trust I feel toward him because of this is huge.  Whether he thinks my feelings are foolish or not is irrelevant.  What he offers me is concern and empathy first.  If we argue, it becomes a respectful conversation that allows us to understand each other and helps our relationship grow deeper.  As a result, I feel loved and at peace with him.   I can always trust that he cares about what is best for me.

Allowing kindness to become an important part of our lives can truly change them for the better, for kindness is part of the holy within us.  It’s just another aspect of treating others as we wish to be treated.  Perhaps it is also another way of changing our own little worlds and contributing positively to the larger one.

What kindness have you expressed or experienced lately?

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO WHERE KINDNESS HAS GONE

AWAKENING TO A PEACEFUL HEART

AWAKENING TO COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR PERFECTIONISM

 

AWAKENING TO FOCUS

“The focus is what is right before you – to give it your best.  It sows the seeds of tomorrow.”  Kiran Bedit

How focused are you?  On what do you focus most days?  How do you stay focused in order to complete what you started?

(Thanks to Eleanore for suggesting today’s topic and to Joanne for seconding it as relevant.  Next week I need a word starting with “G” so please leave me some words in Comment at the end of the post.  If you don’t want me to use your name if I choose your word as the topic, please just write “no name” after your suggestion.  Thanks for participating in this venture.)

* * *

Oh, my gosh! That beautiful bluebird just landed in the shrubbery outside the window.  I can’t decide if that’s my favorite or the red-winged blackbird I saw at the lake?

Isn’t that cute! The little girl from the next block has a new pink helmet – she needs to be careful riding her little bike so fast.

Oh, gee! I forgot to put out some protein to defrost for supper.

Now where was I going with this blog?

Can anyone relate to this?  I know it would be smart of me not to have my desk facing a front window, but on the other hand, the beauty of my neighborhood often inspires me.  What’s a gal to do?  Clearly, I need to focus on the task at hand.

How To Use Our Time

Do you ever experience this challenge?  With the pandemic, some people have more time on their hands than they like, so the question is how it is best to use it.  With others of us, the day is already too full of things that have to be done and we have to prioritize.

Wednesdays are the day I focus on writing this blog post, but the other days are not so focused.  Over the years, I’ve learned that the best way for me to get things done is to make a list each day of what I need to do.  As I complete each activity, I check it off the list.  At the end of the day, if I’ve completed them all, I throw away the list and tell myself – “well-done!”  If anything is still on the list, it is moved to the next day.

The Value of Long Term Lists

I also have a list that is not attached to a completion date.  These are items that need to be done in the next few days or week, and I can fit them into my schedule whenever it’s convenient.  While I can probably remember the things I need to do on a certain day without a list, other items can easily slip out of mind for days.  When I have completed the daily chores, the list reminds me of other productive ways to use my time.

A list doesn’t have to contain only work we need to do.  It may also remind us of social events as well.  Now that so much socializing takes place on Zoom, I place events on my calendar so I won’t forget when one is to occur.  I don’t attend them all, but this helps me remember options, so I can choose what I’m in the mood for that day.

Present Choices Affect the Future

Much of what we do today prepares us for tomorrow.  A champion baseball player didn’t become great over night; neither did a ballet dancer with the New York Ballet Company.  Becoming a doctor takes years, and getting a teaching certificate requires a college degree.

Especially as we age, how we focus on taking care of ourselves determines how active and healthy we can be for the present and the future.  We may have more restrictions in our diet, trying to avoid or maintain a low level of diabetes or other disease.  We may need to follow an exercise program to avoid back problems or just to keep us strong enough to go hiking.  Caring for ourselves requires doing the best we can right now, by focusing.

To meet any long-term goal, we have to focus on the moment and stay on track.  That requires commitment, discipline, and the willingness to avoid tantalizing distractions.  (Darn, there’s that blue bird again!)  What we do right now affects tomorrow.

It is probably a good thing I was at the lake yesterday watching the birds or I would be even more distracted today.  However, writing is also a major pleasure for me and creating this post is the goal I focus on right now.

What’s on your list for today?

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

RELATED POSTS:

AWAKENING TO AN OPEN MIND

AWAKENING TO WHAT IS BETTER

DANCE THE TRANSFORMATION

AWAKENING TO (WHAT WORD YOU SUGGEST)

DEAR READERS,

Wednesday, when I sent out my blog post, I forgot to ask you again for words starting with “d” that I might use as the topic for next week’s post.  So if you have suggestions, please leave them under comment.

Thanks for your ideas,

Georganne

AWAKENING TO CONSEQUENCES

“Nothing happens in a vacuum in life; every action has a series of consequences, and sometimes it takes a long time to fully understand the consequences of our actions.”  Khaled Hosseini

When you realize you have created a problem, how do you feel about it?  What do you do to try to solve it?  Do you ever choose to ignore it?

When I asked my readers to offer topics that correspond to letters of the alphabet, I thought only of the positive consequences.  I wanted readers to know I take an interest in their concerns, and  I thought that this process would also help me find new topics.  The reality was that this month, I received so many interesting words that I couldn’t decide which to choose, but the first word I received was consequences.  A timely word.

Just as I thought that was a good topic, I also thought, “Oh, dear, what if those who suggested words I don’t use feel hurt?”  Clearly, when I set up this situation I had not thought it through.  So, dear readers please know I appreciate every word you send and I will keep this list for the future.  If your word wasn’t chosen, please continue to offer me new ideas each week.

Doing the Unexpected May Be Enlightening

In life, one thing leads to another.  Until I made the choice to connect with a man on an online dating service, I had thought that was really a stupid thing to do.  I was frustrated by not meeting men with whom I had much in common and with whom I connected in a meaningful way.  So I decided to try it.  That’s how I met the man to whom I am married, and he’s a perfect, caring partner for me.

Our Choices Create Consequences

On the other hand, one of the worst decisions I ever had made, created consequences that never end.  Being a drama major in college, I was in a play where I played a seductive woman who sat at a table with a man and smoked.  I had to fake the smoking and afterwards took extensive teasing about how I clearly I had no idea how to smoke.

Well, I didn’t want to experience that again, so I bought a pack and learned to smoke.  I got hooked.  Over the years I tried to stop many times and finally succeeded when I was around 50 years old.  The result of my poor choice has been bladder cancer that reappears every few years.  Fortunately, it was discovered before it caused serious damage and I am now on a schedule for regular check-ups.

The consequences of our actions may be positive or negative, and are not always about taking action.  The result of inaction also affects us.  At this time, wearing masks has been proven to help prevent getting the virus; yet, some people still ignore the scientific advice that could protect them because they see this protection as a sign of weakness.

Some people also ignore the help that the medical profession may give them for other reasons.  Years ago, I had a very creative friend who had cancer but she refused to see a doctor.  She didn’t want to know the truth.  By the time her daughter convinced her to get help, she was in stage four.  She died in a few months.  I was angry at her for a long time for refusing help.  Choosing a state of denial rarely leads us to a good outcome.

Our Responses to Consequences May Vary

Many people find the life they want to live in one place and stay there their whole lives.  I can see so many advantages to this, but it has not been my path.  While some may feel that my living in eleven different states led to a sad life or showed my inability to commit to one place, I believe it has made my life richer in many ways.

Living in different areas exposed me to various kinds of people and expanded my ability to understand and accept those who are different from me.  Teaching teenagers stretched my ability to help them make good choices and understand the consequences of their choices.

Being a person of the mountains, both in Arkansas where I grew up and now living in the beautiful Blue Ridge area, I would never have chosen to live in the desert.  I nevertheless moved there because I needed to live in a dry climate to get well.  I was surprised by the beauty I found:  the stunning red sunsets, the colorful cactus blooming, the fantastic art on the sides of buildings, and the beauty and community of Native American tribes.  By learning to meditate, I found a peace I had never known.

We are often in situations where we have to guess at a wise response.  The result of our choice will lead us to the next choice we have to make.  And so life goes on.  We do the best we can in the moment and consider the possible consequences, then live and grow with them.

May your choices lead to the best moments of your life.  Wishing you peace and joy!

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

Related Blogs:

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

AWAKENING TO OUR MISDIRECTED PASSION

AWAKENING TO GOOD DECISIONS

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO OUR HISTORIES

“I’m also fascinated by the interplay between personal history and the larger forces that form the context of our lives.”  Julie Salamon

What was your family like?  Did you receive love or were you ignored?  How did your family’s treatment toward you affect whom you have become?

A few days ago, my past spoke to me in an unusual way.  I woke up in the morning and the first thing that popped up in my mind was the name of my best friend during junior and senior high school.  We hadn’t spoken since we were young women and I suddenly started remembering all the fun we had.

Since her first name is rather unusual, I searched online and found a person I suspected was her.  My husband who had been doing family research became curious and found her daughter’s site on Facebook with a picture of a woman holding a baby.  When I saw it, there was no doubt she was my friend.

Searching further, I found her telephone number, and gearing up my courage, I called her.  She recognized my name immediately and sounded very excited to hear from me.  We had a wonderful visit reminiscing about our fun times together and discussing our current lives.  It took me back to a time when I struggled with self-confidence but had loving friends who supported me and whom I supported.

Following Family Ways

I was always an introvert, but my mother was an extrovert who was always pushing me.  In high school she had pushed me to take speech and drama.  My friend and I had both moved away just before our senior years, but not to the same place.  Despite my reluctance, I took a course and became a part of the drama program at my new school.  It changed my life.

Despite being shy, my mother had also pushed me to learn to sing and accompanied me on the piano, encouraging me to sing in the church choir.  So learning to sing helped me gain more confidence.  I may have been shy about expressing myself but I always knew I looked good.  My mother made sure of that.

She was a phenomenal seamstress.  We had little money when I was growing up so she made all my clothes from remnants she purchased in a department store basement and adapted with simple patterns, making the dress look like the latest fashion.  Looking through my pictures, I found one of me about age five wearing a cute sundress and leaning against a tree as if I were a model.

When I was growing up, sewing, like cooking, was one of those things a woman had to learn.  Until well into adulthood, I sewed my own clothes and took care of my own hair and make-up.  While I paid less attention to cooking, which bored me, I did learn some essentials.

Being Loved and Loving Others

In addition to all the attention paid to my appearance as I grew up, I was very fortunate to have loving parents, two grandparents and a great aunt living next door for the first ten years of my life.  I was sick a great deal as a child, but there was always a loving person to take care of me.  From them I learned what being a loving person involved.  It wasn’t just about what you feel – it was about what you do.

My mother had been a teacher before and after she raised my brother and me. When I first decided to become a teacher, it was a practical decision.  I could earn a living and perhaps teach what I loved: literature, drama, speech, and dance.  It also gave me time to take classes, teach dance or be in plays at the community theater.  I didn’t need a lot of sleep in those days.

Finding Who We Are

I was rebelling against the limits placed on women at that time, but working made me feel freer even though I married right after college.  My husband and I had both agreed not to have children.  It was the 1960’s and women were stepping out of confining roles.

As a teacher, though, I was following in my mother’s footsteps.  At first, it was mainly a way to make money when my husband was in school.  But with time, teaching became about much more than money.  I became deeply concerned about the problems facing my students and saw that helping people was what had drawn my mother to this profession too.

Learning to Love

Teaching gave me the opportunity to love and support students who did not have a loving home life.  Many only had one parent who was working most of the time or a parent who was emotionally distant or abusive.  Others lived in dangerous or poor neighborhoods.  Too many dropped out or found no way to go to college and prepare for well-paying jobs.  Helping them see their own personal value was part of my job.

After seeing more clearly the challenges many people face–the parents as well as their children–I became even more thankful for my loving family.  Little did I know as a child, that not only was I loved, but I was being shown how to love.

Now as I learn about the children struggling at the border who are still separated from parents, I know only too well the damage done to their lives.  Those early years must include loving nurturance as well as food and a home.  Early experiences form the adults they become.


I worry too about those in prison, many of whom are young people who joined gangs as the only way they could see to protect themselves and their families and become strong.  Drugs may also have driven them to make bad choices even if they were fortunate enough to have good families.

Creating Our Own History  

We all need a milieu in which we are loved, taught how to treat each other with respect, and take good care of ourselves and those near us.  When our family histories do not include those skills, we struggle with life, and hopefully find others who will mentor us.

While there are parts of our history, such as our genetics, that we cannot change, there are many areas we can change.  It’s important to evaluate who we are and ask, “Is this who I want to be?”  If the answer is “yes,” we are very fortunate. If the answer is “no,” then it’s time we revise the course of our lives, so that in the future, “yes” will become our answer.

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO IMPROVISE OUR LIVES

AWAKENING TO REHEARSE OUR LIVES

AWAKENING TO THE GIFT OF SURPRISE

 

AWAKENING TO ON-GOING CHANGE

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

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

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

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

Changes Out of Our Control

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

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

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

Look For The Good In Changes

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

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

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

Helping Others Helps Us

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

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

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

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Blogs:

TRANSFORMING THE FEAR OF CHANGE

AWAKENING TO THE VALUE OF CHANGE

RELEASING OUR FEAR TO AWAKEN

 

AWAKENING TO SILENCE CHAOS

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”  Deepak Chopra

How do you deal with external chaos?  How do you deal with internal chaos? Which is the most effective way to become calm?

When I started writing this blog last week, it was January sixth and I was too upset by the violence at the Capital to finish and publish it.  Then my husband and I decided that evening that the next day we needed to put down our dear dog Susie Q.  Emotionally, I had  no choice but to write a blog about her that I published on January seventh.

Now that I have seen more videos of the carnage in Washington, DC and the danger inflicted on our representatives and senators, my perspective on chaos has not changed.  While I am stunned by the extreme event, I’ve attempted to stay calm inside as Copra recommends.  That does not mean I approve of the violence in any way and I’m appalled by the lack of safety in the Capital.  Voting and peaceful protest are two ways we can speak our minds in a democracy and in the long run are more effective.

So far this year, I have not made a list of new year’s resolutions, but I have intended to start each day with a meditation.  I managed to do that only one day so far.  Creating a consistent pattern requires quieting my mind more than I have been able to do so far.

Difficulties Are Upsetting  

Doing things that were never a problem before have become difficult.  I’ve already been upset a number of times dealing with technical changes when my computer updated its main system.  Symbols on the computer page look different or they are in a different place, so I have to hunt for what I used to find and click quickly.  Processes changed and I have to search for a new series of steps.

Even before the violence in D.C., when I combined the technical challenges with the difficulty of ordering groceries and everything else I order online, life felt chaotic.  I was frustrated with how difficult it was to do the simplest thing.  In this upset state, I tend to create more mental chaos by getting upset over problems that can be easily solved.  It just gets to be too much!

Many people turn to alcohol or drugs not prescribed by a doctor at times like this.  That seems like an easy answer to calming the chaos, but that solution may have very negative consequences.  We each tend to create our own style of avoidance to hide from the chaos, but we need to choose a healthy approach or we will complicate the challenges.

Calming Our Minds Is Simple

The best approach that I have found is basically very simple.  Sit still.  Take deep breaths. Stop reacting. I can’t always change the external chaos, but I can detach from the inner turmoil.

When we sit quietly, close our eyes, and breath quietly, in time, peace will surround and move through us.  This is one way to silence the chaos.  It may warm the chill we feel or cool the heat.  When we take the time to detach from what is upsetting us, the solution we need may come to us in the stillness.

Tom Barrett says, “Chaos in the world brings uneasiness, but it also allows the opportunity for creativity and growth.”

I have found that one way to encourage this expansion of ideas is to write in a journal.  When I do that, I’m totally unconcerned with grammar or word usage.  I record whatever flows through my mind without judging its value.  Often, these messages are flowing from the heart and soul, not just the mind, and they take me to a deeper place than when I consciously think about the situation that has alarmed me.

Chaos Hides Positive Solutions

Recently I became very upset when Amazon lost track of a shipment of granola. The order included several packages because the product was not available in small amounts. Other companies were out of it. Customer Service was very nice about replacing it, shipping another order to me immediately, and not charging me for both.  They said if the original shipment reached me, I could just keep it.

I told Amazon that two orders would be too much for me to keep and I didn’t want them to leave it.  After many excuses about why they couldn’t return it, they decided they would tell the driver to just keep the extra order on the truck.

After I hung up, my husband said, “But couldn’t we give the extra to some place like Manna Food Bank?”

I was stunned that I had been so self-centered.  The granola would be a perfect donation, especially for the homeless.  I was so sad that I had gotten upset and let my chaotic mind rule my heart.  When I calmed down, I prayed that the extra shipment would arrive, and it did, two days later.  The driver delivered it to the door and we will deliver it to a group that serves the homeless.

When we let our mental chaos be in control, it will not take us to a good place.  It is wise to listen to the stillness within and allow the best part of ourselves to make our decisions.

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

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AWAKENING TO THE NEW YEAR

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”  Oprah Winfrey

How do you usually celebrate the New Year?  How will you live this year?  What changes do you need to make to find what you need?

We usually think of New Year’s Day and its eve as a time for rowdy celebration.  Parties, drinking, feasts, balloons, fireworks and parades exhaust us so we arise late on the first day of the year, yawning and worn out, ready for a quiet day.

But this year, many of those gatherings will not take place.  We need to keep our distances, wear our masks, and do whatever is safe rather than what is fun.  As we make our New Year’s resolutions, we will have to consider the possibilities that the restrictions we live under may continue.

We certainly welcome a new year this year for many reasons, most of all the hope that it will be better.  But when there is so much that we have little control over, we have no choice but to take the responsibility to do what we can do to make our lives better.

If we don’t feel good about how we handled things last year, we can evaluate what happened and how we responded and consider a better response for the future.  Most of all we need to celebrate what was good about our choices and the way we lived our lives.  We should make a list of all the good decisions we made and all the good responses we received.

Hal Borland has said, “Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”  It is experience, after all, that helps us “to get it right.”

Learning From Experience

Over the years, each relationship I was in taught me more about being with a partner.  I learned how to communicate what I wanted more clearly.  I learned how to be a better listener.  I learned what I could tolerate in another person’s behavior and what was intolerable.

These experiences gradually taught me what I really wanted in a relationship.  When I finally met the man to whom I am now married, I saw why we would make a good pair.  He had the main qualities that I wanted in a partner.  The lack of these specific behaviors and attitudes in other relationships had made them impossible to continue.  But this loving partnership felt like the one for which I had been searching.  After a few years of marriage, it is clear that I did make the right decision.

So as we imagine this next year, let’s make a list of all the experiences we most desire, even if they aren’t practical.  Then we can weave through them and begin to live out the ones that are the easiest to experience successfully.  This success will strengthen our belief that we can “get it right” this year and give us courage to create a good life.  Limitations are only roadblocks we have to discover how to climb over.

May you have the best year ever!

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO THE BLESSINGS OF RENEWAL

AWAKENING TO NEW INTENTIONS

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO YOUR IMAGINATION

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man [or woman] contemplates it, bearing within him [her] the image of a cathedral.”  Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What are your wildest imaginations? Have your imaginings come true?  How did you make them happen?

During my growing up years, the only clothes I had, other than shoes and coats, my mother made for me.  We visited the remnant table in Blass’s basement and she would select remnants for the dress, skirt, blouse, or shorts she planned to make.  She would buy a pattern that I liked, then adapt it to fit her idea of the best design for my clothing.

I was a child who I didn’t want to stand out.  I liked the clothes my mother made me but sometimes they were too stylish. I felt uncomfortable, but never complained.  Sewing, for my mother, was not just about making clothes; it was also her creative expression.

I learned from Mother that you can take almost anything and change it into something different.  You just have to use your imagination.  For years as an adult, I made my own clothes using her approach, but when I could afford to buy them, I stopped sewing so often.  By then I had developed other ways to use my imagination, writing poetry and short stories and creating interesting lesson plans for the students I taught.

Imagination and Creativity

Our imagination is at the basis of all creativity and can be used in all areas of our lives.  Last week in the blog, I wrote about how what we see and the way we see creates a vision.  In order to put our vision in action, we must imagine the route to take.  We may imagine many routes, looking at each one, evaluating the possibilities and difficulties of each approach.

For example, many young people have to work while attending college or technical school.  This isn’t an easy path.  It will eventually lead them to becoming the lawyer or nurse they wish to be and allow them to make the money they need to live a good life.  But challenges also come with the plan: arranging child care, fitting hours together for school and work, or perhaps transportation issues.

Imagining to Reach A Goal

As we put our vision in action, we may discover that what we thought we wanted won’t work.  We have to find a better way to achieve our goal.  We have to stretch our thinking to find the most effective way to succeed.  The value of imagining and exploring many possibilities may push us to look at solutions we would never have considered until our imagination took us on this journey.

Even when our physical lives restrict what we experience, our imagination is unlimited if we allow it to be open.  Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “The world of reality has its limits; the world of the imagination is boundless.”  This is why I love writing.  It allows my mind to flow, play with words, explore ideas that I couldn’t pursue in real life.  It also enriches what I do experience by pushing me to look beyond the physical aspect.

Understanding Differences

Imagination also helps us to understand those who are different from us.  I became a high school teacher in inner city New Orleans teaching mainly gifted black students. I was not racially biased and felt I could give them the support they deserved.  But I discovered there was much I didn’t understand about their lives.  It was an education for me and I felt compassion for their struggles.  Despite the challenges they all faced, I still pushed them to imagine how their exceptional intelligence could lead to a better life and what steps they needed to take.

It isn’t easy to break patterns that have been used to define us.  Parents, teachers, or employers may continue to support personal or cultural patterns that limit who they are and how they see those around them.  But when we allow ourselves to imagine life beyond the poverty, race, hate, or economic situations of others and imagine they could move beyond those limitations, we also open the world to ourselves.

Making Dreams Come True

 In our imagination, we all have dreams.  One of mine was writing a memoir.  A part of me said, “Why would anyone want to read about your life?  You’re not a celebrity.”  Another part of me said, “Others can learn from your experience.  It may help them to have the courage to become who they really are.”  Would anyone want to read my book?  I didn’t know, but I knew that writing it would help me grow, and it did.  My imagination led me through the process, around the curves, and helped me climb out of the ditches I fell into.

Writing was one thing, but creating the format and handling the technical aspect of self-publishing almost stopped my progress.  I barely understand what I needed to do.  So, I asked other writers, and to my astonishment, two people offered to format the e-book and help with the paperback.  Then I found a class with an incredible teacher who led me through many technical difficulties.  Eventually, the pile of papers I worked with every day became an actual book.

Awaken to your imagination.  Imagination is not just mental activity. It is also energy and that energy may draw to us exactly what we need when we allow ourselves to see, imagine, and visualize our desire.  A pile of rocks can become a cathedral and a pile of papers a published book.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

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