Tag Archives: Transformation

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 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

AWAKENING TO ACT WITH COMPASSION

THIS POST APPEARS ON BARBARA FRANKEN’S BLOG SITE, ME MY MAGNIFICENT SELF.  PLEASE VISIT THE SITE TO READ MY POST AND CONNECT WITH HER WONDERFUL BLOG.  MAY YOU ALL FIND COMPASSION IN YOURSELVES AND OTHERS.

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

“WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE LOVE OF POWER, THE WORLD WILL KNOW PEACE.” JIMI HENDRIX

Which do you prefer to be—loving or powerful?  What do you do when you feel powerless?  When you act in a loving way, how does that feel?

We are living in a world where too many countries are under the control of people obsessed with power and who are committing horrendous crimes against their own people in order to show how powerful they are. But their power is only external.

 External Power Has A Limit

External power has its limit. Sooner or later it comes crashing down because its own corruption undermines its authority by not respecting reasonable limits, or those whose needs are ignored rebel. In this country, our new administration is ignoring the needs of those who elected the president; instead, he is serving the corporations who are obsessed with making exorbitant amounts of money.

In this country, the rebellion has already begun. People are speaking up at town halls and by writing, calling those in Congress, and voting. These are the external actions required in order to make the necessary changes. They require time, energy, and commitment.

These are powerful actions, but there is another equally powerful aspect of life that must accompany action. Within each of us is the capacity to love. Those who are obsessed with power often see love as weakness. But it is, by far, the strongest weapon we have.

When we act from love toward another, we fill our deepest need. When we feel loved, we feel secure, knowing that we can weather the storm because love holds us together deep inside.  Love is the power within that leads us to compassionate solutions.

Love Leads Us To Share

Loving others encourages us to reach out to those in need.  It means we act from the heart.  We act from within because we love and care about others.  If we act from love, we don’t eliminate programs that feed hungry children or provide medical care for low-income women. We don’t prevent immigrants from war-torn nations from entering our country.  If we act from love, we respond responsibly to prevent further crisis from climate change, provide health care for everyone, and support programs that train people who have lost their industrial jobs so they can move to jobs in sustainable energy fields.

 

Not Loving Ourselves Leaves Us Powerless

So, what keeps us from doing what will help everyone? Here’s the problem: we have to love ourselves before we can love others. When we don’t love ourselves, we feel weak, powerless, and need external power over others to feel we are okay. In addition, we may look down on those who have less. We make the excuse for not sharing because we believe those who have less don’t deserve help because they haven’t worked hard enough.

Our Obsession With Money Is Unwise

In this country, making money is a major way to obtain power, and now those who make the most money are determined, in many instances, to retain the power to make more money without any controls. There is no limit to the amount of money they need, and they are allowed tax loopholes that make it possible for millionaires to pay a smaller amount of tax than the middle class.

Helping Others Strengthens Us

When we love ourselves, we don’t see helping others as taking something away from us. We see it as sharing, an expression of the love and compassion we feel for others. When others are taken care of, we feel peaceful. We feel good about ourselves and our communities.  We don’t need to acquire large amounts of things to feel good.  We value family, friends, and enjoying the work we do because love grows within us as we travel this earthly journey.

Stopping Violence With Love

It is no surprise that the places where we see the most violence in our cities are the areas where the poorest and most neglected people live.  When you lack so much, how can you not be angry, and anger leads to violence. But what if we spent tax money, not on the military and wars that make the president feel powerful, but instead channel our love and money into the inner cities to create education, jobs, and health resources that will empower those who are mired in poverty.

We will never lose if we do what is loving, for love is the most powerful force that exists.  It is deep and rich and guides us to find what we need to do in life to make a difference that counts. It leads us to peace.

What loving thing will you do today?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:  The Power of Love (Huffington Post), 5 Ways to Deal With Conflict Effectively, Awakening to Effect Change