Tag Archives: Relationships

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 MY VALENTINE

“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, Mutual confidence, sharing, and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weakness.” Ann Landers

Susie

I haven’t always had good luck with men. The first time I was married I didn’t know until after the divorce that there had been another woman or maybe several. The second time the man was afraid of commitment, and for eight years he vacillated between commitment and non-commitment, frequently being distracted by other women. Finally, I gave him the boot.

Meeting My Soul Mate

Many years passed and I swore I’d never get involved with a man who was so attached to another woman. Then I met my soul mate. There was another woman in his life and her living with us was not negotiable, but in this case, the other woman was a dog. No, literally, she was a dog. 019 (2)Now, I’ve always been a cat person. They’re so cuddly and small like a baby,and they eat when they feel like it without overdoing it and don’t have to be taken out to do their business or to walk. If they want to exercise, they just run around the house jumping on beds and hiding under couches. They entertain themselves and are simple to care for.

Commitment Was Important

I wasn’t so sure about a dog, but my soul mate was too good to pass up. He was the most loving man, a real helper in many ways. He was brilliant and educated and a writer. And he was clearly a guy who took commitments seriously. So I married him and the dog Susie.

wedding

I lucked out on both counts. Not only do I have a funny, bright, and loving husband, I have a dog friend that always looks out for me. In this case, the other woman is a welcome addition to my life. When I’m sad or upset, she cuddles up to me or sits on my foot to let me know she’s concerned. When I’m writing at my computer, she hangs out by the window to be sure no UPS trucks show up without my knowing about it. And when I eat, she recovers any dropped food so I don’t have to clean up after myself. She takes her responsibilities seriously.

Embracing the Love

When either my husband or I am gone, Susie sits and watches for us at the front window. I’m not surprised she does this for him, with whom she has lived for eleven years, but I am pleasantly surprised she does it for me. I guess I really am part of her family now and it concerns her when I’m gone. The cats certainly never did that. They usually took naps or scratched the corner off the couch when I was away.

Love takes many forms. Having a dog sit on my foot was never an affection I sought, but when Susie does that, I know she’s saying, “I’ve got your back.” It’s like when my husband puts his arms around me and gives me a hug. I feel his love. I know he’s there for me. I don’t ever have to worry about that again.

This Valentine’s Day, I had two Valentines. One is tall and handsome. The other one barks. I’m lucky to have both.

What is your best Valentine memory? Please comment.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                           ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Posts:  Awakening to True Love, Awakening to Love All We Are, Awakening to All the Love

AWAKENING TO HIDDEN GIFTS

“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”  Rene Magritte

2011 006

Do you live your life on the surface or do you look within for answers and guidance?  Do you tend to hide unpleasant feelings?  Do you make a point to get in touch with all your feelings?

Life is full of hidden gifts.  In the summer, leaves are green and then they begin to turn a multitude of colors in autumn—colors hidden from us until the season shifts into a new one.  They fall away and we find silhouetted in the winter sky branches curling and twisting against the deep blue of the approaching night, revealing what was hidden the rest of the year.

Good Can Come From What Appears To Be Negative

We’ve all had experiences where something disappointing happened, but what came out of it was positive.  When it first happened, we could only see the negative and couldn’t imagine anything good could spring from it.

Last week, I wrote about the two writing contests I had entered and how I didn’t win a prize in either one, but my book was recommended on the Huffington Post, and I received a high evaluation and good review from the other.  So, what initially was a disappointment resulted in a positive outcome.

Negative Experiences Can Be Learning Opportunities

There have been other times that a loss or disappointment has opened the way to something new.  When I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I connected with a wholistic doctor who taught me almost everything I would ever need to know to become healthy and stay healthy.  He taught me that there was so much more I needed to learn that went beyond what western medicine recognized and introduced me to acupuncture and herbs, among other things.

Since that time, I have never had the flu or a cold and I never get “bugs.”  I’m gluten and dairy intolerant and can’t handle preservatives or artificial anything, so I eat organic food.  If I don’t know what an ingredient is in a food, I don’t eat it.  Now, some people would say this is extreme and just not worth doing.  I guess it depends on what you are willing to do to stay healthy, and for me, not being sick is a priority.

acupuncture

 We Can Grow By Being Open To Learn From Disappointments

So, when these hidden gifts appear, we may not always see them as gifts at first.  I was in a relationship with a man for two years, thinking we would marry, so I was devastated when we broke up.  Before that, I had not been in a long-term relationship since 1986.  I had experienced short ones and then a long period of many years when I never really dated.  I just didn’t seem to click with anyone.

However, I learned so much about being in a relationship, what would work and what wouldn’t, that despite the original grief I felt, the experience prepared me for meeting the man to whom I am now married.  Since I had made a lot of compromises in that two year relationship that didn’t work for me, I realized afterwards more clearly what I needed in a relationship.  No doubt that helped draw into my life the man who is my perfect mate.

A Loss May Make Room For A New, Beneficial Experience 

Then there was the time I lost my teaching job.  I was put on administrative leave because I was unable to control a belligerent class that had been a problem long before I was given the class.  The principal offered no support and the students received little punishment when I wrote discipline referrals on them.  I was absolutely devastated.

Photo: nyul/Fotolia

Photo: nyul/Fotolia

However, with time on my hands while still receiving a pay check, I had the time to write and I decided to write my memoir.  As I read through the journals I’d written since 1962, something very profound happened.  I cried often, and through the process, I relived and healed so much that needed healing.  It took ten years for me to finish and publish the book, but that initial commitment to do it led me down a new path that opened my life in many ways.

Because so much time had passed since many of the events in the journals happened, I was able to see some situations in a more mature way.  I could see, for example, that my ex-husband behaved the way he did because he had never had guidance from parents who taught him a way to live with integrity.  With that insight, I was able to forgive him more deeply and to feel compassion for him.

He was a man who had been taught never to show his hurt feelings.  He’d had to be tough because, even as a child, his mother often worked at night and he came home from school to an empty house. In addition, his stepfather was not an honest man, so without his real father, he had no one to guide him.  I came to the point where I realized it was somewhat of a miracle he was as good a person as he was, and I not only forgave him, but I felt at peace with all that happened.

2011 027

We Can Only Know Ourselves When We Go Within

When we are unable to look beneath our surface, we not only miss the gifts hidden there, but we are unable to know who we truly are.  Living a purely external life means we are only feeding our egos and ignoring our deeper selves where we will find love and a spiritual connection that will guide us to be the best we can be.

So often the best solutions to problems are not the obvious ones.  They also may be hidden deeper if we look beneath the surface.  The principal who let me go because I couldn’t manage a troublesome group of teenagers never really dealt with the problem.  Getting rid of me solved nothing; in fact, he taught the students that their negative behavior would get them what they wanted.

Often like that principal, we are unwilling to do what is difficult because it is risky.  But it’s been my experience that when I go deeper and ask for spiritual guidance, the solution that will work arises, and over time, I’ve learned to trust that.  What’s hidden is often the buried treasure we seek—the solution that will enrich our lives.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                              ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Learning to Let Go of Past Hurts, 10 Tips to Overcoming Negative Thoughts, Positive Thinking  Made Easy

AWAKENING TO GRATITUDE

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”  Gilbert Chesterton

spring flowers

Do you have a gratitude practice?  Do you take the time to feel grateful each day? How does it make you feel when you feel grateful?

I’m a lucky person.  If I made a list of all the things for which I’m thankful, it would be a long list.  I’ve always had most of what I needed, but I haven’t always recognized how much I should be grateful.

As a younger person, I took so much for granted.  I always assumed my parents would be there to help me.  I always assumed I could find another job if I wanted to leave the one I had.  I always assumed that my boss would appreciate my “helpful” perspective.  I always assumed the man I was dating would appreciate my bold and honest comments.

Everything Changes

But with time, I came to realize I could not take anything for granted.  Time passes.  People and circumstances change, and it’s hard to be thankful when relationships, jobs, health, and security come crashing down.  And yet….

Feeling Gratitude Lifts Our Energy

Focusing at some point in each day on gratitude lifts our energy and spirits.  That one thought can make a difference so I try to start each day with a moment of gratitude before I even get out of bed.  Each day when I see something that pleases me—the dog curling up next to me, my husband giving my neck a little massage as he walks by, a package arriving sooner than I expected, the song of a bird that is especially sweet—I say a thank you.  It’s the little things that make a difference.

butterflies

Gratitude Can Be A Blessing When Negative Things Happen

It’s much harder, of course, to be thankful for the unpleasant things in life, but they often have hidden blessings.  When my father passed away many years ago, it was shocking.  Except for his emphysema, he was fairly healthy for 81.  One day a blood vessel broke in his lungs and he was dead in ten minutes.  I wasn’t prepared for this.  I had thought there would be some warning and an opportunity to say good-bye.

After recovering from my shock, I was grateful he didn’t have to suffer.  It was a blessing after all, and regardless of how he passed, I would have had to adjust to his being gone.  I hope that when I pass, it will also be quickly.  I don’t want my loved ones to see me suffer any more than I want to suffer.

Negative Experiences May Have Hidden Gifts

In the last few years, I’ve broken an elbow and an ankle.  Both were very painful and unpleasant experiences, and none of my family could come here to care for me when I broke my elbow, so I went to a rehab facility.  It was not a pleasant experience.  However, people in my spiritual community were there often.  When I returned home, a woman whom I did not know helped me shop for groceries and became one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

In the second instance, I discovered how very deep my fiancé’s love for me was because he became my primary caretaker.  He cooked, cleaned, and did anything else I needed so that I could stay at home and recover.  I had never felt so secure knowing that he would do the loving thing—no matter what it was.  I was deeply grateful.

Have Gratitude For Pleasant Surprises

One of the things for which I am always grateful is my closeness to nature because the animals that come to my yard delight and surprise me.  I can never be sure of what they will do next.  For example, I was sitting at my computer the other day, bored as I cleaned off deleted messages, and I glanced out of the window.  Just outside the window were a few flowers and a statue of St. Francis.  On St. Francis’ head sat a squirrel eating a mushroom.  I couldn’t help laughing.  I guess the squirrel wanted some company for dinner.

squirrel

When we make gratitude a daily practice in our lives, it can shift what is negative so that it becomes more bearable or reveals lessons we need to learn.   Melody Beattie says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

May you start each day with the blessing of gratitude.

© 2914 Georganne Spruce                                                                           ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: How Gratitude can Change Your Life, Raising Children With An Attitude of Gratitude, Gratitude With Wayne Dyer (video)

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.

photo (21)

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 THE POWER OF WORDS

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing, and rightdoing, there is a field.  I will meet you there.”  Rumi

Simon_Glücklich_Paar_im_Gespräch

Painting by Simon Glucklich

Do you think before you speak?  Are you comfortable communicating your feelings with those close to you?  How has the quality of communication in your relationships helped or hurt them?

Over the years, the thing that I remember most about past relationships is the way the other person and I communicated and how that style of communication helped or hurt the relationship.

Many People Fear Expressing Their Feelings

For example, my ex-husband did not reveal his feelings—it wasn’t manly.  Another man was warm and romantic when he needed to be close to me, but when he didn’t want to be bothered, he became distant and irritable.  Still another could not handle conflict or what he perceived to be conflict, and he distanced himself by literally leaving or shutting down emotionally so that no real conversation could take place.

None of those relationships lasted although I managed to stay married for ten years.  My father had been a man of few words who rarely showed his feelings, so I didn’t expect much.  In contrast, I had grown up with a grandfather who expressed his love in many ways, and I longed for that.

Book conversation

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin.

Conflicts Require Us To Choose Wise Words

We all find moments in a relationship when we need to express our hurt feelings or clarify what we or our partner has said to avoid misunderstanding.  These moments may be very touchy.  We worry about how the other person will react.  Will this separate us further or bring us closer together?  Will we choose the right words without upsetting the other person? After one of these moments in a former relationship, I wrote the following poem.

Tapestry
by
Georganne Spruce

We talk –
Our words weave webs
To trap us,
Entangling syntax and emotion
Until we catch a thread
That unravels the pattern
Or unsnags the snare
Our egos have woven.

This tapestry we weave
Is precious and rich
With dangerous detours
Like silken strands
And designs that rise
To its shimmering surface
Only after the hum of our loom
Finds silence.

We sit surprised
By the shape it has taken,
Not the form we intended
But the one we created.

 

FEMA_-_21662_-_Photograph_by_Greg_Henshall_taken_on_01-21-2006_in_Louisiana

Photo: Greg Henshall for FEMA

We Can Learn To Communicate Better

We are fortunate today because there are so many opportunities to improve how we communicate.  Harville Hendrix’s Imago Relationship Therapy offers training in this area and includes learning a mirroring technique that helps us to truly hear one another.  Nonviolent Communication teaches us to speak with compassion from the heart.

Let Go of the Ego and Speak From the Heart

How we communicate may determine our success or failure in a large range of activities because we are interacting with others in almost every aspect of life.  When we are able to let go of ego’s needs and center ourselves, we are more likely to be able to hear what the other person is saying.  When we release our fear and communicate with love, we help the other person to feel safe, and hopefully this will allow him to speak with honesty.

Now that I am in a relationship with a man who communicates well and isn’t afraid to show his feelings, I feel such freedom.  I know him on a deeper level than I knew most of the other men with whom I’ve had relationships, and that makes all the difference.  We share so much more of who we are because we trust each other to be honest and kind at the same time.  Sometimes our words do surprise us, but we choose to ask for clarification before we react.

Release Fear and Be in the Moment

We all benefit when we find that field, about which Rumi speaks, where judgment is suspended, where we can be heard, where we can speak without fear, and where we can untangle the web we have woven. Whether written or spoken, our words have power to enrich our lives or to harm them.  Developing the consciousness to be in the moment so that we think before we speak or send an impulsive email is a wise practice.

What have you learned lately about the power of your words?  Please Comment.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Zero Negativity (Harville Hendrix), Seven Pointers for Couples to Prevent and Resolve Misunderstandings, Conflict Resolution Skills

AWAKENING TO POSITIVE COMPROMISE

 “We cannot change anything until we can accept it.  Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”  Carl Jung

Denver 002

How often are you able to accept something you do not like, but which you cannot change?  Do you cling to your opinion regardless of its reality?  How often are you able to see things from another’s point of view?

Some would say that compromise in any form is a bad thing – like some members of the U. S. Congress.  No matter what the consequences for the people who elected them or the world economy, they only care about being right.  Needing to be right all the time is a very oppressive way to live.

Compromise Is the Basis of A Democratic Society

In a compromise, we all may get something we want, but we also accept that we may have to give up something.  It signals a willingness to keep life moving forward, to accomplish at least part of what we hoped to accomplish rather than accept a stalemate.  Compromise is the basis of working together to serve the common good.  As a humane and democratic society, I believe that serving the common good needs to be our objective because it contains an important spiritual aspect.

Carl Jung integrated psychology with spirituality

Carl Jung integrated psychology with spirituality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We Are All One

If we believe that we are all One, what we all need is important, and we must be conscious of the way that our actions affect others.  The energy we put out draws to us the people and situations that resonate with that energy, so if we are stuck on being right, we will draw to us others who believe they are right.  When these two groups believe they are right but are in opposition, we have a problem.

We can have a firm belief about an issue and be true to it in our hearts without forcing it on others.  For example, I’m firmly committed to eating a healthy, organic diet, primarily to avoid the diabetes that runs in my family.  This means that I don’t eat fast food or eat excessive amounts of fat or sugar.

Compromise Suggests A Sense of Fairness

There have been times when I’ve had friends who didn’t take good care of their health and who wanted to eat at restaurants where the food wasn’t healthy.  Sometimes they resented my healthier choices, but when they were willing to accommodate my needs, I tried to give them the choice to choose the movie we went to see or the event we would attend.  I tried to find a compromise that would please us both.

The reality is that when we choose a healthy or spiritual path, we will find people who resent the peace and health we have found.  We choose not to deviate from our path because the consequences can be harmful and we simply have to accept others’ condemnation.  If the compromise we make cannot offer something good for each side, it won’t be a positive compromise.

The current situation in Washington, D. C. is a perfect example.  Combining very different issues in the same bill makes no sense, and I’d love to see a law passed forbidding these kinds of bills.   Having one topic in one bill would simplify the process and make compromise more likely, and it would make  it more difficult to hold the opposition hostage.

United States Capitol Building

United States Capitol Building (Photo credit: Jack in DC)

The Challenge of Compromise in Relationships

But how often do we do this in our personal lives.  I was once in a relationship with a man who invited a woman he said he didn’t know well to live with him indefinitely until she could find a job and a place to live.  I was very uncomfortable with this.  He was lying to me about how well he knew her, but I didn’t know that until later.  I didn’t think his choice was appropriate, but he made it clear that he had promised to do this for her and it was a matter of principle to keep his word.

I pointed out that his situation had changed since he had made her that promise and being in a relationship meant he needed to make a different choice.  I suggested he limit the time she could stay or find someone else she could stay with.  He refused any compromise I suggested.  He was just as adamant about this as the people in Washington who would prefer to ruin lives rather than find a compromise.  In the end, my partner’s inability to compromise in many situations destroyed the relationship.

Open Ourselves to What Is Beneficial

In order to be willing to make changes when we are challenged with difficult situations, we must be able to see the other point of view and accept it for what it is.  Hopefully we can find some good in it so that we can find the points where we can agree and preserve our relationships for the good of all.  Letting go of the ego and looking at the situation from the heart will often bring us in alignment with that sense of Oneness, and that sense can help us let go of what is not really important and liberates us from what is not beneficial.

It is disheartening to see the condemnation that is occurring in the U.S. Congress and the way that greed and politics have infected the people we elected.  But sometimes we have to see the worst before we are willing to change our ways.  Let’s hope this is the worst we ever see, and that somehow our leaders finally remember they were not elected to be right; they were elected to serve all the people.  Keeping our egos in check tends to lead us to better choices.

How do you feel about making compromises?

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Making Compromise Work BetterWhat You Should Never Compromise On While Building Your Career, 6 Steps for Resolving Conflicts 

AWAKENING TO OPENNESS

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”  Erma Bombeck

How much of yourself do you share with other people?  If you don’t share much, what fear prevents you from doing that? Why do you feel you must hide a part of yourself?

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Hiding or Not Hiding

I met a woman some time ago who seems to be a very nice person.  We’ve been in several discussions; yet I know nothing really personal about her except for her political beliefs.  Her emotional life remains hidden.

I have also recently met a man who is so open that I continue to be amazed by the depth of what he is willing to share.  Instead of practically pulling teeth like I’m used to doing with many men, communication with him is so easy.  He just says what he thinks and goes deeper without my asking him to.

Trust Is at the Core of Openness

There are so many things that affect our willingness to be open.  At the core of it is trust, the two-fold kind.  We have to feel we can trust the person with whom we are sharing our stories, and we also have to trust ourselves and believe we have something of value to share.

While it is true that we must use discretion in what we reveal to others, our ability to share deeply with others enriches our lives.  There have been times in my life when I felt no one understood me and no one really wanted to know what was going on inside me.  Those were barren, lonely times because I was surrounded by people who were not comfortable sharing much of themselves, so they really didn’t want to hear about my deeper thoughts and struggles.

However, most of my life I have had at least one best friend with whom I could share anything and who would share anything with me.  Sometimes what one of us thought or did shocked the other, but we were always there for each other whether we approved of the other’s choices or not.  Our trust in each other created an incredible intimacy and richness to our lives.

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Openness Requires Discretion

Of course there are times when it isn’t wise to be open.  Sharing too much about one’s personal life in the work place can be distracting and inappropriate.  If a friend or partner has misused the information we have shared, we need to reconsider the wisdom of sharing so much with that person.  Sometimes we just have to set boundaries in order to feel safe enough to be open.

Once, when my relationship with a man I loved was breaking up, I shared this with a friend, never dreaming she would pass the information on to two women I hardly knew.  They then shared with a neighbor.  Soon afterwards, I walked into the ladies restroom at my spiritual community and a woman I barely knew told me how sorry she was that this man and I were splitting.

I was shocked.  I had told only my closest friends who I thought would be discrete.  When I tracked this back to the source, I told that friend how upset I was, and she was very sorry.  Her perception of how close I felt to her two woman friends was different than what I felt, and when we sorted it out, she agreed not to share my relationship information with anyone without asking my permission.  With this understanding in place, I felt comfortable sharing with her in the future.

Being Who We Are Creates Connections With Others

While we have to be wise about our openness, we also miss so much in life when we are afraid to show others who we truly are.  As I’ve said many times, when I decided to publish my memoir, I had to overcome the fear of being open.  Being that open felt vulnerable, but I couldn’t tell my story in a way that would benefit those who read it unless I was transparent.  It took quite a while to find the courage to do that.

I’m glad I made that decision because my being open has allowed others to open up to me, to share their deepest thoughts and tragedies, to share things with me that they would never have shared with me had we not had the book to connect us.  When we understand that others have had similar experiences, it often helps us to stop judging ourselves and just know that our “failures” are only human.

I like what Tony Schwartz says:  “Let go of certainty.  The opposite isn’t uncertainty.  It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides.  The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.”

Openness Enriches Us Spiritually

When we truly accept who we are and love ourselves, we can also accept that we make mistakes.  To be open to living life at its fullness, we have to interact with others, explore our thoughts and lives together.  We have to be open to the idea that it is often our mistakes that teach us the lessons we really need to learn in order to grow and become who we truly are.

When we show our dreams to someone else, they may know exactly what we need to make those dreams come true. Openness allows us to connect, explore, and discover “the buried treasure” within each of us. When we do that and open our hearts to each other, life can be oh, so sweet.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                          ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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AWAKENING TO RELATIONSHIPS: COMMITMENT, Part 4

“‘I will always love you,’ means nothing unless the mind is fearlessly aligned with the heart.  It takes the courage of a warrior to make and to keep a vow of love.”    www.lovedovetarot.com

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Have you ever committed to a love relationship, friendship, or profession?  What is at the core of your choice not to commit to something you actually want?  Do you feel that if you commit to someone you will lose your freedom and you value that above all else?

For the last three weeks, I’ve been writing about what I feel are the most important elements in any relationship: empathy, intimacy, integrity, and commitment.  Today, I’m writing about commitment, and although it’s a major issue in love relationships, I believe it’s also very important in many areas of life.

Developing Any Skill Requires Commitment

In my late teens, I realized I wanted to be a modern dancer and knew that the sporadic classes I’d taken were not enough.  At that point, I had to commit to daily classes to develop my skills, and when I had to miss a class, I worked out by myself.

When I moved to Washington, DC, I had to travel into the city and committed to taking daily classes no matter what.  In fact, I even found a high school teaching job where I didn’t start teaching until 11:00 am so that I could take a class every morning.  It was this commitment that made it possible for me to develop the technique and skill to be good enough to eventually dance with a company.

In cases like this or in developing skills, commitment to training allows us to fulfill our goals and desires.  The problem is that this isn’t always easy, and when things get hard, many people give up so that they never feel a sense of accomplishment.  The discipline feels too confining.  However, if we want to feel good about ourselves, we have to be committed to being the persons we want to be and be willing to search for what we need and practice that skill in our lives.

Spiritual Practices Require Commitment to Learn

I grew up in a family that was very emotionally reactive, and so I modeled that behavior for many years.  At some point, though, I realized that behavior wasn’t working well for me, and I thought meditation might help me find a more peaceful way to be.  I was right, but it took some time and commitment to reach a point where I could center myself in the midst of an argument or difficult situation.  Just learning to feel peaceful when I was meditating wasn’t enough.

Meaningful Relationships Require Commitment

Perhaps the most complex situation where we make a commitment is in a relationship because it isn’t about just disciplining ourselves to do something we want to do.  There is another person whose well-being we must consider.  This is also true of friendships because to sustain a long term friendship, we need to practice empathy, integrity, and intimacy.  Parents also have to be committed to their children and help them develop as happy and whole individuals and not abandon them when they are most difficult.

In Loving Relationships We Can Grow and Expand

With a divorce rate at over 50% in this country, it appears commitment between adult partners is quite challenging.  I would venture to guess that all those relationships lack at least one of the elements I consider important.  They are all essential in creating a loving relationship that is healthy and meaningful, and a good relationship can be one of the best places to grow and expand who we are and our ability to love.  That takes time.  No matter how much we think we know someone, when we marry or move in together, the dynamic may change and require adjustments.  That is why being truly committed to make the relationship work is really important.  It takes time to grow together and deepen the love between two people.

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To Love Requires A Fearless Mind

It also takes more than love to create a successful relationship.  “‘I will always love you,’ means nothing unless the mind is fearlessly aligned with the heart.”  I love this quote because it points out that we have to make decisions that come from the heart and release the fears that arise and block our thinking.  When life becomes difficult, we can always find reasons to run away, but if we are committed and mature, we take responsibility for doing what we can to solve problems and move forward in a positive way. We find the courage of the warrior.

When we fear we will lose our freedom by being in a relationship, what we really fear is that we will lose our sense of self if we merge too much with another, and if we don’t love ourselves, we may fear we aren’t capable of being loved.  I was once with a man who loved me very much, but he seemed ashamed of his love because his concept of masculinity was that a man who needed a woman was weak.  In his need to be masculine, he made selfish choices and felt bad about them, but refused to change his behavior.

Good Relationships Grow With Time

But it is possible to be in a relationship where we become more of who we are with someone we love, for love opens and expands us.  I see the beauty of long term commitment in the relationships that some of my married friends have who have been together for 30 years.  They have not been diminished by commitment.  Their love has grown and expanded.  They have had the freedom to be who they are and follow their interests because they love each other for who they truly are.  They have all had to make adjustments and changes, but in the end, it has been worth it to have loving partners who are deeply committed to them to share the joys and sorrows of life.

You have To Know And Love Yourself First

But here’s what I think is the key.  If you know who you are and are confident, freedom isn’t such an issue because knowing who you are gives you great inner freedom and you won’t make choices that violate your integrity.  You have to first trust yourself before you can trust someone else.  Trusting and knowing yourself means you’ll make a better choice in choosing a partner and you won’t settle for less than what you need.  You’ll choose someone with whom you can grow and expand and have mutual respect.

I think Timothy Keller sums it up in this statement:  “To be loved, but not known is comforting but superficial.  To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.  But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, is a lot like being loved by God.  It is what we need more than anything.  It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”  And so it is.

What have been your experiences with commitment?  Please Comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                                      ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Heart to Heart: The Importance of Freedom and Commitment in Intimate RelationshipsRelationship Problems: CommitmentDo You Have a Fear of Commitment

AWAKENING TO RELATIONSHIPS: EMPATHY, Part 1

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt

Intimate relationship

Intimate relationship (Photo credit: Masashi Mochida)

How do you feel when you are able to empathize with one you love?  Does having someone empathize with you draw you closer?  How important is empathy in your life?  Is it a part of love?

It’s spring again and the days grow longer and the light becomes more intense.  On winter’s cold days, I enjoyed curling up under a blanket to read, writing in my journal, or watching a few televisions programs.  But with the Spring Equinox, something shifts, and although March can’t decide whether it’s winter or spring, a few flowers are beginning to blossom.

The light pulls at me and I want to be outside.  Something opens in me—my heart feels exposed and touched by the blossoms and the song of new birds returning to the area.  I want to be the light spreading through the forest.

Edith Wharton said, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or to be the mirror that reflects it.”  One way I can spread light is through my words, and today the word that compels me to speak is empathy because I’ve decided to write a series of blogs on relationships and feel it is the most essential quality in a loving or caring relationship.

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Empathy In Healthy Relationships

We have many kinds of relationships with friends, family, lovers, or co-workers, and the quality of those relationships involves several aspects: empathy, intimacy, integrity, and commitment.  In healthy relationships, all these aspects function in a positive way.  They create a meaningful connection, but the lack of empathy always creates separation.  When a therapist friend of mine stated that the main reason for divorce in this country is lack of empathy, I wasn’t surprised.

Empathy is the deep emotional understanding of another’s feelings or problems.  We may feel what the other person is feeling because we’ve had a similar experience or we may be emotionally sensitive enough that we can imagine how they feel.  It is a deeper understanding than sympathy which is merely an intellectual understanding of what the other person feels.

Parents Must Teach Children Empathy

In any kind of relationship, empathy makes it possible for two people to bond in a caring way.  Empathy comes from a loving and spiritual place within us, and it is a skill we hopefully learn as children from our parents’ behavior.  Parents must teach children to identify what they feel and encourage them to talk about what bothers them and makes them happy or angry.  Otherwise, they may withdraw or develop dysfunctional ways, such as bullying, to express their frustration.

I have had the experience of talking with an adult, expressing my anger about a situation, and had them pull away.  One friend even asked me why I was angry at her when I was talking about a situation that had nothing to do with her and where she wasn’t even present.  I came to understand that when people, like my friend, have been reared to believe it isn’t acceptable to feel negative emotion or to express it, they withdraw when those feelings are expressed by others.  They may have the ability to empathize only when acceptable emotions are expressed.

Lack Of Empathy May Damage Relationships

This withdrawal can be damaging to a love relationship.  I had a similar experience with a man who was unable to see how some of his behaviors were hurtful to me and this caused on-going conflict.  He had learned in childhood that the way to be safe when there was conflict was not to express feelings and to physically withdraw.  This behavior may have protected him as a child, but as an adult, his inability to empathize with my feelings prevented us from having a deeper emotional connection.

Empathy Is Essential To Community

I am fortunate to live in a beautiful mountain community where spiritual awareness is at a high level.  Still, I meet people who are so stuck on being right that their narrow-mindedness separates them from the group or community. They don’t see how disrespectful they are.  The problem isn’t that their thoughts or beliefs are too different from the groups’ ideas, but that they have to prove theirs is the only right idea. They create separation rather than connection. They clearly lack empathy.

Adults Can Learn To Be Empathetic

Expressing empathy says, “I care,” and we all want to know someone cares.  It is deeply hurtful when those we love are not empathetic.  Even when we reach adulthood without this vital skill, it is still possible to learn how to empathize through therapy or just retraining ourselves, not only to listen to others, but to listen to ourselves.  We can go inside and learn to identify what we are really feeling and set our intention to become more aware.  Peter Gerlach says that emotions point to a need that needs filling.  If we don’t know what we’re feeling, we can’t fill our own needs, much less someone else’s.

I think Roosevelt was right, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  Take the time to listen and be empathetic.  This is one of the deepest and most loving ways we may connect with other people, letting them know we understand their pain and frustration.  When we can risk sharing more intimate thoughts and feelings, we may come to know and love each other in profound ways.  Expressing empathy in a relationship may transform it.  We are all One after all.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                           ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Empathy in Leadership: Ten Reasons Why It Matters, Living in Patience with Your Emotional Pain Body – Eckhart Tolle, 5 Barriers to Empathy in Marriage (and How to Overcome Them)