Tag Archives: Spiritual Journey

AWAKENING TO THE VALUE OF CHANGE

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

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

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

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

We Need To Release Our Fear To Change

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

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

We Must Accept Change

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

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

Deep Change Is Based On Love

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

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

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Readings:  AWAKENING TO EFFECT CHANGE

AWAKENING TO DEEPEN OURSELVES

RELEASING OUR FEAR TO AWAKEN

 

AWAKENING TO DEEPEN OURSELVES

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

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

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

Solitude Can Help Identify Our True Feelings

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

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

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

The Richness of Being in the Moment

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

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

The Challenges of Staying Centered

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

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

Deepening To Find Our True Selves

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

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

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

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

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Further readings on the topic:

AWAKENING TO THE REAL YOU

AWAKENING TO BEFRIEND OURSELVES

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

AWAKENING TO OUR STRENGTH

“Strength does not come from winning.  Your struggles develop your strengths.  When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”  Arnold Schwarzenegger

What part of you is the strongest? The Inner? The Outer? Which helps you to face what appears to be the impossible?

All the children of my nephews and niece are active in sports: soccer, gymnastics, basketball, and anything else that catches their eyes.  I’m so happy for them because physical activity was absent from most of my childhood due to many illnesses and a heart murmur.  When I began to play a little baseball, it was a huge challenge.

We Win When We Don’t give Up

I suspect most sports participants know what Arnold means about struggles and hardships.  It isn’t always easy to become good enough to be on a team, especially a professional one.  It requires years of dedication, losing many times, and struggling to overcome our weaknesses.  It isn’t the physical strength that always makes us the winners.  We win when we don’t give up.

This is certainly one of those times when we are experiencing many struggles: how to survive without a job and income, how to work and stay safe from the virus, how to keep the right distance when we shop for food even when others don’t do so.  It’s a long list and dealing with all these challenges may depress us and make us want to stop trying to take care of ourselves.

But as Arnold reminds us, when we decide not to surrender, we struggle to go on and find our strength and that is what sustains us through this pandemic and the major challenges of life.  The only winner we need to be in this situation is the one that goes on making our lives the best we can under the circumstances, letting our struggles feed us with resolve.

How To Deal With Our Challenges

So how do we do this?  I think Francis of Assisi has some good advice.  “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Now, just doing what’s necessary can be challenging because so many stores are closed and even food markets don’t always have what we need.  This week, two of the vegetables we get every week were so bad they weren’t worth taking home, but they were the only ones the grocery could get.  To stay healthy, we need to eat vegetables every day, so if the fresh aren’t available, we’ll have to eat the canned or frozen ones.

If we have a problem with our backs and need acupuncture or massage, we’re taking a risk even if we find a practioner who will do the work.  Otherwise, we pull out the heating pad or massager at home.  If we need to see a doctor, it will probably be a telehealth connection, definitely not the normal experience.

When what we usually do can’t be done, we have to consider what is possible and perhaps be more creative like some of the people who are creating vegetable gardens in their yards.  It’s more challenging for those who aren’t urban farmers or who live in a high-rise although some apartments do have gardens on the building’s roof.

In some instances, it simply isn’t possible to get what we want or need, so obtaining the impossible isn’t always about doing.  Just accepting the reality can make us stronger, and not letting disappointment become depression that takes over our lives.

We Must Rely On Inner Strength

The strength that will sustain us through difficult times lies within us.  When we face a disappointment, it is wise to take a deep breath, meditate, find the stillness within, and remind ourselves that essentially we are fine.  In that stillness we find the light within that allows us to accept the situation or that presents a solution that has not occurred to us.

Years ago when I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatique Syndrome and told I had to stop eating gluten and dairy, that seemed impossible.  There was virtually no prepared food like that and anything baked had to be made from scratch. Despite the challenge, that diet became my norm. Because I chose to do what was difficult,  that decision  resulted in good health.

Many necessary changes in life are not easy, but when we find we can make those changes, other changes seem more possible.  We simply need to embrace the seemingly impossible and refuse to surrender.  Therein lies our strength.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

AWAKENING TO ACCEPTANCE

AWAKENING TO STILLNESS

AWAKENING TO STILLNESS

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

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

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

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

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

How Confinement Affects Us

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

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

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

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

The Unknown Makes Us Fearful

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

Finding Our Hearts

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

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

“When the praying mantis opens its wings

it becomes a green flower.”

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

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL SURRENDER

AWAKENING TO RELEASE ILLUSIONS

AWAKENING TO NOW

AWAKENING TO OUR DANCE OF LIFE

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

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

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

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

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

Following Our Own Paths

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

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

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

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

Finding Inner Peace and Vitality

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

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

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

Finding Your Dance Beyond the External

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

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

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

What Is the Core of Your Dance of Life?

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

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

© Georganne Spruce

The Martha Graham Company

READINGS:  AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT

AWAKENING TO THE HOME WITHIN

AWAKENING TO THE ONENESS WITHIN

 

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

“Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions.  It needs the whole sky to fly in ….  A place apart—to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.” Mary Oliver

Do you find any value in meditation or writing?  Are they similar in some way?  What does quiet time mean for you?

The Challenge of Distractions

I keep planning to do daily meditation again.  The life in this country seems so chaotic and crazy that it’s too easy to get upset and distracted and I know meditation will help me find the peace for which I long and clear my head and heart.  It will also help me get back to writing, quieting my mind so new ideas may rise to the surface.

But I don’t.  I need to check my email.  See if I have enough left-overs for lunch.  Make another doctor’s appointment.  Check next week’s meeting time.  It never ends – because I don’t end it.

I’m old enough to remember the time when we all communicated only with phones.  We didn’t have the distractions of Facebook or even email.   I also was unmarried most of my life.  Now I’m married but to a man who is very disciplined about doing his writing work in his home office.  While we do have a life together, I can’t blame him for my inability to find time alone. He respects whatever I need.

Sitting in Silence

In some way, I think I’ve forgotten how rich the aloneness of meditation is, but I was reminded in a very dynamic way last week at the Jung meetup we attended.  The topic was “projections.”  After the speaker gave us a meaningful introduction to the topic, we sat in silence in the dark to get in touch with our inner Selves.

At first, I was just grateful that this quiet time was structured into the event.  I had no excuse not to do it.  I was so involved with the evening’s topic that I had already let go of the day’s annoyances.  Taking a few deep breaths, my mind cleared and kundalini energy raced up my spine and opened my mind to the universe.  I was so surprised by this that I dropped back into my body.

Wisdom of the Inner Self

Slowly, I moved back into a meditative space to ask, “What do I need to release?”  The quiet settled in.  The answer came—“jealousy and anger.” The anger didn’t surprise me, but the jealousy did.  “I’m not jealous of anyone,” I thought.  “I have everything I need.”  But that wasn’t what my deeper Self was saying.

Then a picture formed in my head.  I was sitting and listening to a person talk about his years growing up and all the advantages he had, and I was overcome with a deep sadness that he had opportunities I never had growing up as a child whose family had little money.  There were many things we didn’t have or couldn’t afford that others I went to school with had.  I couldn’t buy a dress because we could only afford what my mother made for me.  I couldn’t take dance lessons or buy the best dolls.  We couldn’t afford to go to Disney World.

As the meaning of this message became clear, I took a deep breath, I smiled and sent love to the child within me, letting go of the feelings of lack that accompanied the message. I’m an adult now and have more than I need.

Our time was up, but I felt peaceful.  I would look more closely at my anger issues another time.  We wrote in our journals then left in silence.  I wrote, “The Universe is there for me with its gifts of silence and love.  Within it, I am One and all creativity connects and flows through me.”

Loving Our Inner Selves

Today, after many months of not writing my blog, I have written. It feels good.  I love writing because my inner Self is good company.  She thinks a lot and feels many emotions.  She perceives life in interesting ways.  She reveals insights that my mind alone would never conjure up. She can also be outrageous and crazy, but she’s never boring.

And perhaps this is the greatest gift that solitude affords us even if we aren’t writers:  to like whoever we are in that solitude and to be a friend to ourselves.  We may be different out in the world where so many challenges press upon us.  We may not always handle them well.  We may not always find the best solution to a problem, but whoever we are in that solitude is the self we must love.  By doing so we can become the person we truly desire to be.

Footnote: On the day I started writing this blog, Mary Oliver died.  I love her poetry and am very connected with nature.  I feel a tremendous loss as, I’m sure, many of you do. That day my husband sent me the following piece written by Mary Oliver.  Please read it.  It is beautiful as always and applies to any creative endeavor.

https://voxpopulisphere.com/2016/10/23/mary-oliver-the-artists-task/

 

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO TRUST YOURSELF

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

University of Nebraska at Kearney dance students 1979

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

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

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

Strengthening the Body Develops Confidence

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

Dance Can Be A Spiritual Practice

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

Silence Takes Us Deeper

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

Balance Requires Being Open

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

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

Confidence Allows Us To Take Risks

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

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

Dance Connects Us With Nature and Trust

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

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

AWAKENING TO SHARE

“Democracy must be built through open societies that share information.  When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation.” Atifete Jahjaga

A few days ago, I had a remarkable dream.  Several women were on a panel to give a young girl an award.  The prize was three dolls.  Three girls had been selected for the first, second, and third places, but only the girl who was in first place would receive the three dolls.  One woman in the group suggested that instead of giving only one girl a prize, they should give each of the three girls a doll.

The other women weren’t so sure that was a good idea. Some were afraid that the first prize girl would be disappointed.  They discussed the issue back and forth without really agreeing, so the person who had suggested it said, “Let’s try it and see what happens.” The rest reluctantly agreed.

They brought the first prize winner in and handing her the doll, the woman said, “We’ve decided to give the second doll to Mary. We hope you don’t mind.”  The girl’s face brightened with a huge smile.  “That’s wonderful,” she said, “then Mary and I can be friends and play with our dolls together!”

DREAMS CARRY SIGNIFICANT MESSAGES

I was rather dumbfounded as I quickly recorded the dream, especially since I rarely remember anything of my dreams these days, much less, the whole thing.  But I was also amazed by how timely the message was.  Isn’t this what so much of the political debate is about these days?  Just how much are we going to share and help everyone, particularly those in the most need?

Habitat For Humanity

As a former teacher who retired several years ago, I made a very small salary compared to what men made; therefore, my social security and retirement are very small.  And they have grown so little over the years compared to the growth of basic expenses like utilities that if I were not married, I could not even survive on my income.  Many woman and some men are in a similar situation and share that same fear.

INEQUITY DOESN’T SUPPORT DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES

The inequity in all areas that has existed for many years has increased because of the continued movement in this country to support the top 1% at the expense of everyone else.  Now we are dealing with Congress, many of whom depend on the wealthiest to run their campaigns, and a president who is worth billions (if what he says is true) who wants to cut any programs that help the middle and lower classes survive, much less flourish.

There is nothing wrong with making large amounts of money if it is not made at another’s expense, and people like Melinda and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett give generously to those in need. They believe in sharing their good fortune. But with the system the way it currently is set up, those making the most money don’t pay their fair share of taxes. I always thought that democracy was about sharing and being sure everyone has an equal chance to succeed.

Now we are faced with a president who has lied repeatedly, ran a university that was a scam, and failed to pay people who worked for him what he had promised to pay them.  Now he is planning to destroy many programs that help the very people he swore to help.  His often outrageous comments are meant to deflect attention away from unpleasant truths about himself and lead his followers down a false path.  He is a master manipulator.

Our president is not a role model any of us need.  We have to be our own role models and to share in every way that we can in our own lives.  We also need to observe what our representatives and senators support.  Are they supporting the middle and lower classes which are the bedrock of a democracy?  Are they standing up for truth? Do they believe our democracy should be based on sharing? Many clearly are not.

SHARING MEANS HELPING

Not everyone has an equal chance in life, but many of the programs Trump wants to cut are there to help those who are not born into privilege.  They help provide education for those whose jobs have been eliminated by the move from industry to technology.  They provide food for children that come from homes where the parents do not have the means to feed them properly.  They provide school systems with the teachers who can meet the needs of those with various disabilities.  They provide arts programs that help develop young brains in beneficial ways.

These needs are not theoretical to me.  They are very real.  I have taught in private schools and some of the poorest areas in this country, including inner city New Orleans, where 99% of my students were African-American, and a school serving Hispanic and Native-American students in New Mexico.  I have had students who did not get enough to eat, who were afraid of being killed by gangs, who had parents who were addicts or who worked two jobs and were rarely at home except to sleep. I always believed they deserved the guidance to create a better life for themselves.

When I was very young, we only had the necessities, no frills, but I was loved.  Growing up, I was taught to share what I had even when it wasn’t very much because there was always someone who had less.  But we now live in a society where we base our worth on the things we have and enact laws that support only those who are making millions.

What I love most about my dream is the delight the prize winner feels when she can share her good fortune. She doesn’t need three dolls.  She’d rather have a friend.  I believe that is what democracy is about—connecting with others, sharing what we have so we all have enough.

What can you share today?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  Awakening to Effect Change, Where Kindness Has Gone, Awakening to Accept Reality

 

AWAKENING TO EFFECT CHANGE

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  George Bernard Shaw

BostonZest.com

BostonZest.com

Jonquils are filling the yards with their bright yellow blossoms although it is still February and technically winter.  I want to enjoy them while I can because I am suspicious of how long they will last.  We still have March ahead, that crazy month that can’t decide if it is winter or spring, creating infinite frustration for those of us who want the winter to be over.

Much more than human nature, the nature around us has, in the past, been more predictable.  We could count on the seasons to appear at appropriate times, trees to leaf out, and flowers to bloom at approximately the same times every year.  But this predictability is less certain now with the extreme changes caused by climate change.

CHANGE IS OCCURRING

You don’t have to be a scientist to know that something different is occurring.  All you have to do is pay attention.  Perhaps those who have never been close to nature really don’t notice the changes.  It is hard to imagine that, but perhaps it’s true.  Still the scientists are the ones who have been paying the closest attention and have collected the data.

Unfortunately, we are now living in a world of “fake news” and “alternative facts.”  Still, if you take the time to pay attention to what is going on and have been living for at least 20 years, you cannot help but see some changes are real.  This winter where I live has had weather in the same week that varied from the 30’s to the 60’s.  This is not ordinary winter weather.

IGNORING CHANGE IS UNWISE

There is no value in ignoring change. When we refuse to accept change and keep believing we can recreate the same life despite enormous changes, we are dreaming.  At some point, we need to act.  For example, many people in the coal-mining parts of our country really believe that their coal mining jobs will come back.  Despite what Trump says, this is highly unlikely.  So, what are the choices?  They can move or live in poverty or live on welfare.  Those who have been able to get training in another field or have moved to areas where there are jobs have created new lives for themselves.

Since I’ve moved more than once in my life to get a better job or one I like better, I have had trouble understanding people who remain stuck to only one vision of what life can be.  But reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance helped me understand the dynamics of this situation, and I highly recommend the book.

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With Trump’s actions and threats, many of us feel fearful of how our lives will change.  After the election, I delusively hoped that somehow Hillary would become president particularly when it became clear that she had received three million more votes than Trump.  But at least I knew how the system worked and knew I was delusional.

But what we have seen in this election is that many people believe that Trump cares about them, and if they are white males, I guess that’s probably true.  But everyone else is clearly in jeopardy because of the changes he is making and wants to make.  Change is afoot like Bigfoot rampaging through the village.

CHANGE OFTEN REQUIRES WISE ACTION

So how are we reacting to this?  Some people are just throwing up their hands and saying they have to accept it.  This is the way it is.  Give him a chance.  But sometimes accepting change means acting.  It involves realizing that a change has occurred that has shifted the core of our lives.  Life is not the same, so we have to change if we want to see progress rather than stagnation.  We have to adapt to the change.

The question is always how do we do that?  Well, we have to take action, meaningful action.  Currently, huge numbers of people across the nation are protesting and communicating with their senators and representatives on the national and local level to protect their rights and the rights of others and to try to solve the problems that are burdening their communities.

womens-march

PRESERVING DEMOCRACY REQUIRES ACTION

As a democracy, people should be active.  We have to vote.  We have to educate ourselves about issues and candidates.  We have to participate in local issues.  What we are seeing now is that the populace, in many instances, will stand up for itself and that is a very good thing.

So, what can you do in your life?  With so many changes taking place, it can be intimidating.  But choose just one thing and begin to do that regularly.  Make it something that matters, and that will vary depending on where you live.  When that one action becomes a part of your life, if you have time, add another.

CHOOSE ONE ACTION A DAY

Although I’m still in the middle of trying to decide where to direct my action and integrate it into my life, I have become involved with a group working to end child poverty.  It breaks my heart to think any child is hungry, and I’m afraid there are many in my state.  We can’t always depend on the government to solve our community problems, so we have to be the ones to effect the change.  After all, that’s what a democracy is really about.

What change can you effect change this week?

©2017 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR,   DANCING TO THE DANGER OF ASSUMPTIONS, AWAKENING TO TAKE THE NEXT STEPAWAKENING TO OUR MISDIRECTED PASSIONTRANSFORMING THE FEAR OF CHANGE

 

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

“Reality is how we interpret it.  Imagination and volition play a part in that interpretation.  Which means that all reality is to some extent a fiction.”   Yann Martel

Home at Ocean

How do you envision reality?  Is it based on facts or feelings?  How can you determine what is real in your life?

In the United States, we are all having some difficulty determining what is real. We elected a man who tweets whatever he is feeling or thinking at the time, and what that response is may change the next minute.  So how can we know what to take seriously that he says and what we should ignore?

Reality Isn’t Clearly Defined

It’s quite a challenge.  Although some of us may have had people in our lives like that, it doesn’t necessarily mean we know how to deal with the constantly changing dynamics.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that we know what reality is with these people.  It would be nice if reality were always obvious and clearly defined.

As Yann Martel points out, “Reality is how we interpret it.”  It isn’t cut and dried.  It isn’t a set scientific principal we can count on.  When my first husband left, it seemed like a terrible thing.  This man I loved had betrayed me.  The marriage I valued was over, yet the result of that experience, painful as it was at time, was in the end a good thing for me.  A least that’s how I interpret it.

With more freedom in my life, I was able to pursue my love of modern dance and take chances I would never had taken before.  Because I was so heart-broken at first, I went into therapy and through that came to understand myself more deeply.

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Passage of Time Affects Our Interpretation

Time also makes a difference.  As time passes, the way we interpret an event may change because we are able to see the consequences of the action that took place.  For example, right now we are dealing with the results of an election that some celebrate and others despise.  While we may predict what will happen when Trump actually becomes president, we do not know exactly what that reality will bring.

If We Don’t Like the Facts, We May Ignore Them

Throughout the election many voters ignored several realities.  Trump never paid many people who worked for him and had had thousands of law suits filed against him.  Why aren’t more people uncomfortable with this.  This behavior does not indicate he’s someone who will keep his word or that he has respect for the working man or woman.  Why do they think he’s going to save them?

In order to vote for someone like this, the voter has to ignore this record of reality.  This is a factual type of reality. The law suits are on the books.  There is only one reasonable interpretation of these facts.  He doesn’t keep his word in business deals, so why would anyone believe he will keep his word as president?

We May See Only What We Wish to See

Many created the fictional character Trump to fit their own wishes and desires.  That fictional character will “drain the swamp,” create jobs, and make like better for all who voted for him.  He will also focus on helping those in need despite choosing people for his cabinet that have little experience in the area they will manage or who are billionaires more likely to preserve their privilege than increase their taxes to pay for what the average citizen needs.  The idea that these people will act totally out of character when there is little in their backgrounds to support that hope is truly fiction.

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So why do we choose to believe things that don’t seem reasonable.  Perhaps we get false news so the choice seems reasonable based on the “facts” we’ve found.  Maybe we just believe that if we believe it, it will come true.   I suspect we believe it because it is what we want to hear.  It looks good, it sounds good, it smells good.  Until we look at the underside.

Ignoring Facts May Be Dangerous

Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  It was a shock.  I’ve always lived a healthy life except for the 30 years I smoked cigarettes when I was younger, but I believed that I would never have cancer.  However, the doctor could see the tumor and when it was biopsied, the test was positive, so there was no doubt that it was cancer.

It was difficult to accept this reality because I felt fine and had no symptoms.  But there was that positive test.  Could it be wrong?  I could have chosen to ignore it, but I had had a friend a few years earlier who ignored her colon cancer until she was in Stage 4.  She died a few months after being diagnosed because nothing could be done to save her.  That was the reality.

So, I had the surgery and it was successful.  I am fortunate.  My cancer was slow growing and had not grown into the muscle layer around the bladder.  I have regular checkups and they have been clear.  I’m so glad I decided to face the facts, make a wise decision based on them, and as a result, I have been able to continue a full and healthy life.

Patterns of Behavior Reveal Reality

It is true that the facts are not always the only thing we need to take into consideration when we make a decision.  We have emotional and spiritual considerations also, but it is important to observe what is actually taking place in a situation and if there is a pattern of behavior to observe.

Father Tossing Daughter

I’ve read too many stories where women who are in abusive relationships keep thinking the abuser will change his behavior although he never does.  That pattern of behavior is a fact, just as Trump’s belittling of women or the disabled is a fact.  We heard the words directly from his mouth.  It tells us that this person does not respect others, so why would he respect us.  To expect respectful behavior from someone who constantly disrespects others is a delusion.

Why is it important to face reality?  Because it can help us to live a better life, make better decisions, and be more successful in all we do.  It may remind us that our imagination and choices help shape our reality, but that reason and observation as part of our decision-making will serve us as well.

© 2017 Georganne Spruce