Tag Archives: Spirituality

AWAKENING TO GIVE THANKS

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  Oprah Winfrey

Susie Q

Susie Q

I hope you enjoy this post from a few years ago.  It says so much that I think is relevant during these times and any others.  This honors Thanksgiving but also Susie who has aged considerably and may not be around as long as we would like.  So Happy Thanksgiving to you All!

For the last several years, I have focused on the philosophy that Oprah espouses, and it has served me well.  It has reprogrammed my previous disappointment with the specific aspects of my life with a belief that there is more good than bad in the challenges I’ve encountered.   I have grown in many ways that have made me a wiser person because I have often been forced to change the way I see things.

Pets Offer Us to Love

I know that most people prefer dogs, but I’ve always preferred cats.  They’re so cuddly like holding a baby in your arms, and they take care of their own cleaning, eat when they feel like it, and use a litter box so you don’t have to walk them on rainy days.  They are much easier to live with than a dog if you live in apartments as I usually have, and their need for some “private time” works nicely with my need for time alone.  While many people see them as indifferent, I have always felt very loved by my cats.

Cats0001

I never wanted a dog.  You have to walk them, bathe them, give them lots of attention, and they are rather scary if they don’t like you, especially if they are large.  However, I’ve been around many dogs because I live in a dog-loving city where many people have bumper stickers that read “Dog is Love” and take their dogs into stores and out to dinner with them.  Asheville has been called “The Paris of the South” partly because it has so many restaurants with outdoor dining areas.  Personally, I believe these areas were created for the customers who refuse to be separated from their dogs even for a meal.

Receiving Two Gifts, Not One

I never expected to have a dog in my life on a daily basis, but here I am, the adopted mother of a dog named Susie Q.  She is in my life because one of the great gifts I’ve received this year is a relationship with a loving man, her “daddy,” a man who has all the qualities I had on my list for the perfect partner. I didn’t realize when I started seeing him that I had received two treasures, not just one.

Dogs Can Teach Us to Be Thankful for Small Things

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t choose to be involved with a man who deeply loves another woman, but I decided to make an exception in this case, and I’m glad I did because Susie Q is a wise woman dog.  She has taught me so much about love and thankfulness.  In a time when people often don’t say thank you when you open the door for them, I truly appreciate how thankful Susie is.

Each time we meet, she is so excited she comes running up to me with her tail wagging, barking, and jumping around like a happy little kid.  When I pet her, she looks at me with her dreamy brown eyes like I’m the most wonderful person in the world.  She shows her affection for me by sitting on my foot, or if I’m sitting, she sweetly lays her head on my shoe.  If I would let her, I’m sure she would crawl into my lap, but she’s a little large for that.

dog3

Animals Demonstrate the Love They Are Shown

With a tail that wags “thank you” for each good thing she experiences, no matter how small, she reminds me to appreciate all that I experience in life.  She accepts me when I am joyful, and when I am sad, she is nearby looking for an opportunity to show her concern.  It is clear to me that she is able to love so much because she has been loved and that says a lot about her “daddy” –a man who knows a great deal about giving and receiving love.  Susie Q and I are very lucky women.

Be Open to Unexpected Gifts

So, on this day before Thanksgiving, with the first snow of the year falling, I am reminded that some of our greatest gifts come from unexpected places in unexpected ways.  If we are willing to keep an open mind, we will be present to accept them.

Thanks to each and every one of you who read and follow my blog.

May you have an abundant Thanksgiving!

© 2013 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:   Staying Thankful by Wayne DyerGratitude by Wayne DyerA Dose of Gratitude: How Being Grateful Can Keep You Happy, Being Thankful Is Good for Your Heart

AWAKENING TO LEARN FROM NATURE

      “Adopt the pace of nature.  Her secret    is patience.”  Emerson

How often are you in nature?  How do you feel there?  What do you most love about nature?

We are not currently living in a time when it is easy to be patient.  We all want things to return to normal.  We want to work again, visit friends and relatives, eat out for dinner, or visit an art festival.  When we are feeling irritable or anxious, nature can offer us some peace and help us find the patience we need to slow down.

Once I’m in nature, tension drops away.  It’s affected me that way as long as I can remember because I spent a lot of time in the forests of Arkansas as I grew up.  Hiking and swimming in streams were two of my family’s favorite outings and as a kid I thought this activity was fun.

Now, stepping into the forest or my shady backyard takes me to a peaceful place immediately.  So today, I’m offering you a different kind of blog post—one with photos of natural scenes I’ve observed, and I do include animals as a part of nature.  I hope this experience will bring you peace and laughter.

What is Suz hunting for?

Suz is snoozing. “Don’t bother me!”

Owen Lake

Ducks at Owen Lake

The beauty of nature

Neighborhood bear family enjoying our dinner of acorns.

Very rude squirrel eating dinner on St. Francis’s head.

Giant mushroom tent

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

AWAKENING TO STILLNESS

 

 

AWAKENING TO LIGHT THE DARKNESS

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.” Francis of Assisi

Who or what is the sunbeam in your life?  Is it you? How do you shine your light?

Light comes to us early in the summer and stays late although rainy days cast shadows across the mountains.  Still the sun peaks through every day and at times surrounds us as a reminder there is at least one sunbeam in our lives.

But besides the physical light, what other sunbeams appear in your life?

Some Elements of Our Lives Lift Us Up

Is your spouse or are your children or other family members lights in your life?  My husband certainly is.  The depth of his ideas often opens my mind and takes me down a path I have not seen before.  He also lightens my mood with his humor and the jazz he plays on his saxophone.

My nephews and niece, who live halfway across the country, all have children.  I miss seeing them face to face, but I often feel “lit up” by the kids’ antics and accomplishments when their parents’ share their activities on Facebook.

Do you ever feel enlightened by what you read?  I am often amazed by the ability of some people to rise above their limiting backgrounds.  Recently, I was deeply touched by James McBride’s story, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.  While he was a black man learning to survive in a white world, his white Jewish mother was living most of her life among black people who kept her at a distance.  Their heroic stories lifted my heart and brought light to my understanding.

How Light Slips Through the Darkness

Although we are surrounded by much negativity today, the light slips through the news with  stories of people surviving the virus, taking care of the natural environment by reviving plants and animals that have almost disappeared, and feeding the hungry and helping the homeless.

But the stories that often touch me the most deeply are those of people, who having been wrongly accused and put in prison for years, are finally released.  Imagine your life and reputation being falsely stolen for most of your adult years. Thank goodness for DNA, for it is often the evidence that allows these human beings to step out of the prison darkness into the light of a real life.

Focusing to See the Light

What about the times when our lives contain light but we don’t see it?  Aristotle once said, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”  I’ve known people who invariably saw the dark side of a situation first and become so caught up in that that they missed what was positive.

In 1999 I sadly discovered I had chronic fatique syndrome.  Living near my family in New Orleans, the hot, damp weather had made me sick.  I longed to move to Asheville to be near mountains and a couple of friends, but my doctor insisted I could only heal in a dry climate.  I was very depressed about this.Fortunately, a friend had recently moved to Albuquerque which I assumed was a boring landscape.  I visited her and was amazed by the beauty of the sunsets and the Latino and Native American art and culture.  Moving there, not only healed me, it helped me grow by expanding my awareness as I taught in high schools filled with students of diverse cultures.

How Can We Change This Dark Time

We are now living in a dark time when our democracy is significantly endangered. We can either let this depress and limit us or we can see that it is an opportunity to shine a light on what needs to be changed.

Each day there are more displays of light: peaceful protesters, politicians speaking out against what is corrupt even when it may risk their careers, and citizens who give money to organizations that feed the hungry or help those losing their homes.  Those who faithfully wear masks despite the discomfort are also beings of light protecting themselves and others.

How are you the sunbeam that shatters the darkness and chases the clouds away?

©2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO TRUE ENLIGHTENMENT

LIGHTING OUR DARKNESS

AWAKENING TO DISCOVER THE LIGHT

AWAKENING TO OUR SOUL’S GARDEN

“Our uniqueness is God’s garden and God calls us to walk in this garden in love…for one another.” Reverend Naomi Tutu

Does your spiritual belief allow you to love all people? Does your life include diversity?  How are you able to accept those who are different?

On Sunday, August 16, I was very moved by the main message Rev. Naomi Tutu gave at the online Jubilee Community service in Asheville, NC.  Related to her statement that I have quoted, she talked about how diverse her mother’s garden was and how much she loved that diversity in nature. I was very moved by the metaphor of the garden.  Although I have rarely grown gardens, I love the natural gardens of the forest.

Most of us would find a garden with a wide variety of blossoms to be very beautiful.  Around here, the Biltmore Estate has a popular flower garden filled with color especially in the spring and summer where people love to walk and relax.

My husband and I recently wandered off a hiking path to discover a lovely community garden.  We were amazed by the wide diversity of colorful fruits and vegetables that lusciously feed those who cultivate the field.

We are blessed to live in this Appalachian area around Asheville because the natural environment is the most diverse in the world.  It is a gold mine for those who wish to explore the diversity of the natural environment and we frequently find flowers or mushrooms we’ve never before seen.

Most of us appreciate the diversity in our natural garden, but what about our human garden?  Are we comfortable walking among its diversity?  Does the variety of humanity feed us in some way?

What Diversity Can Teach Us

Our ability to be comfortable with human diversity is deeply rooted in our background, experiences, and open mindedness. As a child I was taught to respect all people, but for many years the only people I was around were white like me.  In high school and college, I had minor contacts with people of African descent but did not really know anyone until I acted alongside a black student in a theatrical performance. It was the first time I realized I really had no idea what it was like not to be white.

Later, living in Washington, D. C., I encountered few people in the suburbs unlike me except when I was teaching at a Catholic girls’ school.  I’d grown up Protestant so I had to get used to the culture of nuns, dress more conservatively, and adjust to attending the school’s religious masses.

It was not until I lived in Denver in the eighties that I experienced an even more diverse spiritual environment.  I had always been searching for something without knowing what it was that was missing in my Christian spiritual life.  I had long ago stopped attending services, and because of a deep friendship with a man who was a Buddhist, I became curious about his faith.  I studied eastern religion, learned to meditate, and taught dance for a short time at the Naropa Institute in Boulder.

From this new experience, my understanding of God’s love expanded.  I dealt with life’s challenges in a calmer, more centered manner.  As I moved through this new spiritual garden, I enjoyed its diversity because it opened my mind to an expanded understanding of humanity.  I felt connected to people from Eastern countries in a way I had never before experienced.

Differences May Teach Us

Diversity is easier to accept when we understand the nature of our differences.  Except for the gender prejudice I had experienced as a woman, I had never been treated differently because I was white until I lived in New Orleans where, in some areas, whites did not feel welcome.

It is hard to imagine any place on earth that is more unique than New Orleans.  It is a multicultural city with a large black population, where most of all families are Catholic, and the food is unique, based on French and African influences.  I moved there to be with my family.

Having previously taught in a Catholic school helped me understand those I met who were dedicated to Catholicism.  Teaching multiracial gifted students in the inner city helped me understand their challenges and I felt compassion for the difficulties they faced trapped in poverty. I still remember the girl with a dysfunctional mother who got pregnant so someone would love her and the boy who feared his brother would be shot by a gang member.

Accepting Diversity Opens Hearts

It is so easy to judge people at a distance because we cannot see who they truly are.  It is much easier to simply dismiss them as different, but when we take the time to know them, they can potentially enrich our lives.

The diversity in my life experiences has taught me that we must learn to love those who are different from us and to respect all humanity.  When we focus on what we share in common rather than only on what is different, we plant seeds of love that will grow into a garden of understanding and respect.  Anais Nin has said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

The more we open our eyes and our hearts and come to understand that we are all God’s children, the more our soul’s garden will expand and feed us abundantly.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO LOVE THE WORLD Part 2, DIVERSITY

AWAKENING TO COMPASSION

AWAKENING TO OUR WORLD COMMUNITY

 

AWAKENING TO IMPROVISE OUR LIVES

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

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

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

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

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

We Can Learn About Life From Jazz

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

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

Following the Unknown Path

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

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

Making Changes

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

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

The Value of Choices We Prefer Not to Make

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

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

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

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

The Values of Improvisation

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

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

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

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

TRANSFORMING THE FEAR OF CHANGE

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

AWAKENING TO UNEXPECTED FEAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO LAUGH AT SIMPLE THINGS

“Laughter is the sunbeam of the soul.” Thomas Man

How are you spending your time indoors?  Does it feel confining or like a vacation?  How do you feel about the solitude if you are alone?

Life is relatively simple now.  I’m able to ease my way through the day, not willing to set a schedule yet, although I may need to do that in the future.  Yesterday morning I was out running necessary errands and was amazed by how few cars were on the highway.  It reminded me of the Asheville I knew many years ago before the tourist trade exploded.

While life may seem boring as we are confined to our homes, fortunately spring is approaching, and I’m delighted each day as I see the azalea blossoms quickly growing in size.  When I walk in the neighborhood, people are keeping their distance but always wave and smile.  And of course there are also those moments we don’t expect that may awe us or bring us laughter.

Comedy  Shows

A couple of sunny days ago, my husband and I took Susie our dog out for a walk on our street.  I was so glad to get out because I had been spending too much time on Facebook and reading emails.  Too much sitting time!

When we are ready to walk Susie, we try to get her to poop in our yard.  But no matter how much we try to get her to do this, she usually saves it and drops it next to the curb on the street in front of one our neighbors’ yards.

But this time as we walked to the center of the intersection close to our house, Susie stopped in the middle of the intersection and pooped just as a neighbor stopped at the nearby stop sign.  We were all surprised and laughed.  As Charlie gathered up the poop, he was laughing so hard I was afraid he would fall over.  Susie strutted off with her head held high, as if she had just shit diamonds.

We couldn’t stop laughing as we continued to walk up the street thinking how grateful we were for a good laugh that day.  This was not the end of it however.  In the distance, we heard several people yelling and laughing.  As we approached the house two people were hanging off their balcony laughing hysterically.  Everyone was at a good distance, so we stopped to see what was so funny.

It was a dog.  A little boy with a hose in hand was spewing water in circles around the yard. The dog chased the water like he was chasing a cat, barking and jumping around, pouncing on the water as it hit the ground. What we thought would be a quiet walk had turned into a comedy show.

The Healing Power of Laughter

Isn’t it amazing how unexpected things can suddenly appear to spark our laughter?  To say Charlie and I felt uplifted after these experiences would be an understatement!  Positive energy flooded our bodies and brightened our souls.  William James was right when he said, “We don’t laugh because we are happy, we’re happy because we laugh.”

We all need humor in our lives as we must now for safety keep our distance and avoid friends.  It’s true that technology has made connection easier.  Although I always prefer face to face contact, I do truly appreciate the funny posts people put on Facebook.  It gives me many opportunities to laugh or at least smile as I read them.

These simple things in life can lift us up even if only for the moment, and for that moment the sun shines in our souls.  The burdens and challenges drop away and we feel freer, ready to go on to the next challenge.  Sometimes,  simple things take us the deepest, and then we feel like we’ve discovered the diamonds.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Readings : AWAKENING TO THE LAUGHTER WITHIN

AWAKENING TO THE HOME WITHIN

AWAKENING TO LOVE ALL WE ARE

 

AWAKENING TO REALITY NOW

“I’ve always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.” James Baldwin

How do you see the current situation?  Does it depress you every day?  Do you ignore what is happening outside your house?  How does it affect your thinking?

The thought comes up several times a day – Is this really happening?  It’s like a bad dream from which I keep hoping I will awaken.  It’s a sunny day, a rarity among the many rainy ones, and I want to walk around the lake, either of the two nearby, but there’s a ban on going to the public parks that surround them.  I feel angry about that.  Isn’t that too extreme?

FACING REALITY

Then I remember.  A public park is where my brother caught polio when he was two years old.  The family was at a church picnic in a large crowd.  Lots of little kids were playing together.  His experience with polio was a tragedy and a miracle.  He was in an iron lung for many weeks and died three times but came back to life each time.  Despite having many surgeries as a child, he grew up to live a productive life, working and doing good in the world.

But not all tragedies are followed by a miracle.  Many children died from polio or were seriously handicapped.  It is always easier to believe bad things will not happen to us.  I suspect at least some of the people who have died from the coronavirus have thought so.

It is always a good thing to be able to think positively, but it’s not good to ignore reality.  So when reality is unpleasant, how can we think positively about it?  Is there something we can learn?  I think so.

FACING INDIVIDUAL REALITY

Perhaps it is easier for me to accept staying at home right now because I’m an introvert and I have a husband who is an interesting companion.  I love to read.  I love to write and that requires staying in.  But staying in may push us to face the need to start spring cleaning early, get back in touch with an old friend, learn to use more technology, communicate with family and friends, meditate to calm our overactive minds, or play more Scrabble with family members.

Of course, if we have been laid off or the business where we work has been closed, we have much more to worry about.  There are far too many people in this country who make little money for full-time work or have to work several part-time jobs to survive.  They are the ones hardest hit by this pandemic.

FINDING ANSWERS WITHIN

So, what can we do to manage the fears that come with this hardship?  We can take time each day to sit quietly, breathe deeply, direct our minds to release our fear, and choose to let it go, flowing outward with each breath.  Sit until the mind is clear, then ask “What do I need to do today?”

Our inner selves know the answer to that question and it may take some time and more than one sitting to hear the answer.  Sometimes we need to be quiet and take the time to find something positive about a situation that we would never notice if we stay “in action” all the time. And when we are dealing with many negatives, the silence may help us see what we need to do given limited circumstances.

Perhaps this event can be the opportunity to deepen and enrich our lives, to look for and experience a positive way of thinking about change that we have rejected in the past.  One thing already clear about this pandemic is how unprepared the country was.  It has brought to light much that needs to be changed.  Perhaps it has also brought things to light that need to be changed in our own lives.  And that is good.  While changing them may be extremely difficult in some instances, we may now have the time to evaluate what we need to do.

Blessings to you all.  Stay safe.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

AWAKENING TO BEFRIEND OURSELVES

 

Awakening to Our Challenges

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”  Maya Angelou

What has happened to you recently that was disturbing?  What did you think about it?  How did you handle the situation?

We all have times in our lives when things don’t go the way we want.  When that happens, how do we handle it?  What we do can make all the difference in how we experience the situation.  More than once I’ve lost a job.  The reasons varied.  When I was young I thought I could speak honestly with my boss, but I quickly learned that bosses often only want to hear what they want to hear.  You play the game or you lose, but I was too naïve to understand this.

Being Shocked By The Challenge

For two years, I worked as an employment counselor at a fine arts school.  My boss had helped found the school and had developed very specific procedures for my job.  I loved the work and I was very successful helping students find employment while in school.

We were doing so well that we needed another counselor and the boss hired a second woman to fill the gap.  After a while, I realized she wasn’t following the boss’s guidelines.  As a result, her actions created conflict and affected my work, and she often flirted with him and behaved unprofessionally.

I became very upset and every day there was a new challenge that wore me down.  The only other “adult” in the office refused to become involved, and when things reached the breaking point for me and I talked again with my boss, he fired me despite the fact I was the one getting the students the most jobs.

How could I be fired for doing the best job?  The unfairness stunned me, and when I complained to the president, she apologized but did nothing.  Being fair was a basic part of my moral values and I was devastated by this experience. How could I trust any school or business?

Looking At the Source of the Challenge

I was angry for a long time and deeply sad because I had loved the job and nothing else like it was available in the area.  I didn’t understand why this could happen, but when I stopped feeling sorry for myself and analyzed the situation, I realized the attention my boss received from the other woman made him feel good and that was more important than production.

He was a hugely overweight single man whom I suspected lived a rather solitary life.  Suddenly, every day he had this attractive woman fawning over him, getting him coffee, making him laugh, behaving like his girlfriend despite the fact that she lived with a boyfriend.  While I was pleasant interacting with him, I had maintained  professional behavior.

Letting Our Negative Thoughts Feelings Go

Accepting that some situations are not fair is difficult.  One feels helpless.  While it is important to examine the situation and try to understand what, if anything, we did wrong, it is also important to let go and move on.  I had to accept the fact that I did my best, and that I did the right thing by continuing to behave professionally.

So, what can we do when these negative experiences overwhelm us?  I’ve always found that quiet time is very valuable and helps to release the negative thoughts that keep circling through my mind.  Some people may “run-off” the stress through exercise, talk to a best friend, meditate or go hiking through the woods.

Releasing the Fear

Regardless of the practice we use, we must release the fear beneath our feelings of anger or inadequacy.  My method is to quietly breath deeply and when I feel the tension releasing, I direct my mind “Release this fear (name it), it has no power over me.”  I take another deep breath and feel positive energy rising through my body, and I repeat the phrase until I feel my mind release the fear.

Using Affirmations

The validation that we are good must come from within.  Self-affirmations may also help heal for they remind us who we really are.  Regardless of what others say, I accept that “I am a loving and competent person.”  Repeating this positive message helps us to remember there is much good about us; we don’t need to believe in the negativity that limits us.  The exact words we use must be fashioned to fit our particular situation.

After this experience at the art school, I had another negative experience in the business world.  This was very scary because I was barely supporting myself on low wages and needed reliable employment.  I had thought I could make better wages in the business world, but in the end  I returned to teaching, my first love.  While the wages were low there, I was doing work that really mattered to my teenage students, and that lifted me up regardless of the challenges.

What self-affirmations work for you?

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

DANCING TO CHALLENGING EXPERIENCES

AWAKENING TO BE IN THE MOMENT

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

 

LETTING GO OF THE BAGGAGE

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”  Steve Maraboli

Who have you forgiven lately or who do you need to forgive and haven’t?

One Sunday morning I woke from a dream.  It had been lengthy but I only remembered the last moment.  I was walking through an airport on the way to catch a flight that was leaving soon and I stopped, suddenly realizing I had left my luggage at home.  After I got out of bed and unsuccessfully tried for a few minutes to remember more, I walked over to my husband and said, “I just dreamed that I was in an airport about to catch a flight when I realized I had left my baggage at home.”

Why did I say baggage?  Then it hit me – that’s what the dream was about!  My husband who is a retired therapist began asking me questions about what I thought my emotional/psychological baggage was.  I gave it serious thought but nothing came up.  In fact, other than being disturbed by our president’s behavior and dealing with some back problems that have greatly improved, I’ve been feeling very peaceful.

Baggage I Needed to Release

Later that morning, I remembered a very significant time in the past when it had taken me a long time to forgive and when I finally did, it was transforming.

During college, I had fallen in love with a man six months before he went to the Vietnam War.  We became engaged and when he returned a year later, we married rather quickly and lived together for the next ten years before divorcing.  During those years, I taught in high school and taught some modern dance when I could.  Eventually I was able to dance with a small company fulfilling one of my life’s dreams.

But this didn’t work well for my husband who wanted a divorce.  He later admitted he had had affairs while we were married.  My love of dance angered him because he felt I loved dance more than I loved him.  

“But,” I said, “I told you before we married that I had to dance, that it was part of me, and you said that was okay.”

“Well, I thought you’d get tired of it – outgrow it.”

I was stunned by that revelation, and the pain of his betrayals haunted me for years.

Learning to Forgive

Then one day, many years after the divorce, I finally understood how I had not understood his needs.  Of course he needed a partner totally devoted to him.  His mother had been single, working a job that left him alone most of the day and evening, even when he was in elementary school. He had to fix his own dinner, which often involved opening a can of food and heating it.   He didn’t know his father who had left when his mother became pregnant.  

When his mother married, it was to a man who was untrustworthy and whose mother treated  my ex like he was a nuisance.  These were the only relatives he had to live with as he completed high school.  No wonder he joined the Marines!

Compassion Leads to Forgiveness

Reflecting on his early years, I was suddenly filled with a deep sadness.  On an emotional level for the first time, I understood how deeply he had needed a wife who was motherly, and I was not.  I was an independent woman on her own path when that was not an acceptable way for a woman to be.  For the first time, I truly forgave him for the hurt he caused me, and I forgave myself for being so blind to his needs.  Finally, I was able to leave that baggage behind.

But why was this dream coming up now?  I don’t know.  But I suspect there may be more baggage lurking in my mental closet.  Only time will tell.  

Whom do you need to forgive today?

© Georganne Spruce

Readings:  My Memoir:  Awakening to the Dance: a Journey to Wholeness

AWAKENING TO ACCEPTANCE

AWAKENING TO COMPASSION

 

AWAKENING TO THE SHADOW OF LOVE

“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking.  The one is the shadow of the other.”  Carl Jung

Do you struggle with the conflict between love and power?  How does that manifest in your life?  What must happen for you to choose love over power?

Recently, we have seen far too many examples of the ruthless use of power. The consequences of the recent government shutdown hurt many citizens who on a normal day work  for the government.  People risked losing their homes, had to seek food for their families at food pantries that usually serve only the poor, and did not have the money to pay their bills.

Why did this happen?  Because the power to control others has become the dominant motivation of many in our government, rather than using their power to serve those who elected them. Where is the caring, love, and devotion to service that we expect from those we elect?

A VOICE FROM THE PAST

About a month ago, I was cleaning out a closet and found an old album of my high school years. It was falling apart and there were some things I didn’t want to keep so I threw them out.  Others were mementos I wanted to keep so I transferred them to a new notebook. But among the items I found, the one that surprised me the most was an essay I had written during my junior year in high school.

I had gotten a “A” on it, but I usually made good grades on essays.  So why had I kept this one?  Was it just a coincidence that I found it at this time? As I read it, I was shocked by how relevant it was.  Every day we either read, hear about or experience the prejudice and horrendous treatment of minorities and immigrants and the persistent inequality toward women.

I don’t like to write about politics on this blog, but I believe this essay makes an important point for us to remember as we navigate today’s muddy waters.

THE SLAVE DRIVER WILL BECOME THE SLAVE

Written November 17, 1960

Those who believe themselves to be supreme cannot endure.  Any man who is so self-righteous is defying the moral laws given to us by a just and true God.  The man who believes he is master of all will fail in the end, for his thinking has become twisted by selfishness, prejudice, and ignorance.

The American Civil War resulted in the abolition of the southern confederacy.  The Southerners had been the masters of slavery, chaining the Negro to a cruel, inhumane life.  This the southern gentleman did in order to provide himself with riches.  After the war, this same gentleman found himself a slave. He was a slave to poverty, hunger, devastation, and depression.  The suppresser had fallen headlong into his self-made pit.

From this has stemmed the discrimination we have today.  It has been vicious and it is almost unbelievable that such a thing exists in this democracy. Prejudice is a master.  It enslaves those who are ignorant and cruel enough to refuse the divinely-given freedom to others.  Its agitators have been filled with a superstitious tradition that comes from lack of reason and the lack of knowledge of truth.

They are not aware that they are dragging the name of liberty through the mud.  They do not care if they are mocking man’s greatest dream.  These people, who at the risk of doing this, are willing to join in mob violence against a minority, are forging the chains of their own slavery.

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God cannot long retain it.”  These words of Abraham Lincoln are the greatest hope we have for the future.  At times it seems as if men who are evil receive all the power and benefits.  They certainly do not deserve it.  We must continue to believe that they cannot triumph. We must continue to believe in the providence of God.  We must learn to respect our fellow man and let liberty’s torch shine bright.  Only then can we feel free from the slavery of prejudice and the punishment of a true, just God.

The End

After reading this, I felt sad that these same issues are still dominant today, that the shadow of love, the need to be powerful, fills our society with injustice.  Over fifty years after Martin Luther King’s death we have still not “reached the mountaintop.”  While we cannot change our government over night, the energy we put out into the world in our daily lives does matter.  We may choose to step out of the shadow of power and act in the light of love.

What love will you express today?

Readings:  AWAKENING TO THE POWER OF PLEASANT THOUGHTS, 

AWAKENING TO COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION

©2019 Georganne Spruce