Tag Archives: Transformation

AWAKENING TO YOUR TRUE SELF

“Find out who you are and be that person. That’s what your soul was put on this Earth to be.  Find that truth, live that truth and everything else will come.”  Ellen De Generes

Are you who you want to be? If not, how do you need to change? Are you willing to make that change?

I recently finished reading “Ellie and the Harp Maker” by Hazel Prior.  It is certainly one of my year’s favorites, a story about a woman who discovers who she really is when she learns to play a harp.  The sound of the harp and the joy of playing it opens a part of herself that she had closed off to please her husband.  He didn’t like the sound of the harp and thought her wanting a harp was foolish.

While learning to play the harp and keeping it secret from her husband created many problems, her choice eventually led her to a life that allowed her to love herself and be loved for who she truly was.  It was truly an uplifting story and a joy to read.

Challenging the Norms

Growing up in the 1940’s and 1950’s, I often lived with the conflict between who society thought I should be as a woman and who I thought I was.  In a way, hitting adulthood in the 1960’s did lighten the load and offer more possibilities on the surface.  But the reality was that I was still expected to be a devoted wife and mother and put my interests in second place.  My desire to be a modern dancer did not please anyone.

Those were the expectation’s Ellie’s husband had for her, so it was easy for me to relate to this story.  But how many of us – men or woman – are not being who we truly are?

How do we find who we truly are?  How do we feel about the work we do?  Do we enjoy it or do it only because it’s the only way we can find to make money?

Going Deeper

When we feel drawn to something like music, art, or running long distance races, or any pursuit that goes against our family or society’s concept of who we should be, it is a challenge.  Often, we begin to do it as something “on the side.”  With time, it may become more than a hobby.

When this activity or desire comes from deep within and nourishes us in more than an external way, it may very well be an expression of our soul.  Our soul is our core.  It is the deepest part of us and when we do not feed it, we are only a part of who we are.

While religious beliefs and activity may be at the core of our spiritual being, feeding the soul may also be experienced in many ways.  I suspect the runner, at some point, feels totally in the moment, allowing all worries to drop away, and being at one with all that is.

As a dancer I certainly experienced the feeling of going beyond just the pleasure of physical activity.  When I am writing, the room often drops away.  Words and ideas flow through my hands into the computer.  Many of them are not expressions I would have “thought of.”

A similar experience may also be experienced by mathematicians and scientists looking for a new solution to a problem or inventing a new device.  A new idea appears that the logical mind may have missed.

Seeing the Soul Beneath the Surface

When we are being who we truly are, we still have challenges, but we solve them based on who we are, not on who others expect us to be.  As we age, our challenges may make it impossible to continue a physical activity. There came a point where I had to stop dancing or undergo knee surgery.  I realized that without the stress of dance, I could live normally with my knees and repair the problem with physical therapy.  I had seen many other dancers go through the surgery, not once, but many times because it did not permanently solve the issue.

Fortunately, by this time, I had come to realize that I was not just a dancer. I was a creative, spiritual person.  I could express who I was in many ways.  I had already learned to be creative as a high school teacher and as a writer and found pleasure in helping others explore their creativity.  Having the surgery was unnecessary.  I was fine as I was.

Many years later, I now possess the energy and strength to ballroom dance, write, and walk through the forest.  That’s all I need.

Like Ellie, when we become who we truly are, we will make “music” from the soul.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:

AWAKENING TO DEEPEN OURSELVES

ART: A FEAST TO AWAKEN THE SOUL

AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL CREATIVITY

 

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 TODAY’S DREAMS

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities.  Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”  Gloria Steinem

What dreams do you have for today or next week? Do you have to postpone some dreams because of the pandemic? Has this situation pushed you to create new dreams?

These are certainly days that challenge the dreams we used to have during “normal” times.  Depending on the nature of the dream, there may be some we have to put aside or release completely.  I won’t be traveling on an airplane halfway across the country to see the rest of my family.  My husband and I won’t be traveling to Ireland or Scotland this year.

Having to put aside our dreams may depress us.  Langston Hughes describes the situation very dramatically, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”  While his statement is more poetic and I may sometimes feel like the “broken-winged bird, I prefer Steinem’s approach.

If We Begin, Others May Help Us Complete the Plan

For a number of years, I attended writing workshops and developed on-going relationships with more experienced writers.  I dreamed about writing a memoir, hoping that the story of  my spiritual journey would encourage others to follow their dreams.  However, my fears of the publishing process kept me from completing the book.  No publishing company was going to publish a memoir by an unknown person.  Finally, I decided to do one thing at a time and the first thing was to simply complete the writing.

After the memoir  was written, I was delightedly surprised by two experienced writers in my critique group who offered to help.  They guided me through the technical details to self-publish a paperback book and one actually did the technical work on the e-book.  Without the dream, this book would never have been created.

Overcoming Roadblocks

Dreaming is actually the first step in planning, for we have to imagine what we want to do before we can take any steps to get there.  But even in the dreaming stage we may come across roadblocks, such as fear or limited time.  What internal or external blocks do we have to overcome?

Self-doubt is often a major roadblock.  If we feel we’re not good enough to achieve our desire, we may not even make the effort.  I dreamed of being a dancer from a young age, but I was weak and my parents couldn’t afford classes.  Still, I kept imagining what it felt like and improvised in my own ways.  It wasn’t until I was in high school and had regular modern dance classes that my dream became a possibility.

As I gained strength and continued to train, I knew I was behind most dancers in those two areas, but what had once seemed totally impossible became a planned attempt to accomplish the goal of becoming a dancer.  In the 1970’s the dream became reality when I was chosen to dance in a modern company.

What roadblocks do you have to overcome to make your dreams come true?  Are they internal or external?  It is not unusual to have both.  Sometimes there is a roadblock because we have not taken the time to explore and imagine the many ways we could make a dream become a reality.

Explore A Dream Like A Detective

Why not approach the problem we wish to change as if we are detectives?  What is really involved?  Is what we need available?  If not, is there another way to approach the challenge?  Whose help do we need? What steps need to be taken?  Do we have the ability to take these steps?  If not, do we need to change our goal or find other steps to take?

During this challenging time of the pandemic, I am impressed by the way that people who have time on their hands are filling it.  Some musicians are playing online daily and poets are presenting a poem every day.  Those with carpentry skills are enlarging windows or making porches into bedrooms.  Friends often mention they are cleaning or fixing parts of the house they had put off in the past.  Since it’s warm weather, many are growing vegetables or sprucing up their simple yard with flowers and creating a beautiful garden.

Others who have lost jobs are creating new ones by sewing masks and clothing and selling them online.  Restaurants and grocery stores have increased delivery service. Writing teachers are creating virtual classes as are many schools.  These creations began with dreaming that became a plan and then reality.

Dreaming allows us to open our minds to a wider understanding than what the logical part of our minds can envision and to move forward in ways we may never have anticipated.  Dreaming is creative and creativity is magical.  It can open doors to amazing places.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

AWAKENING TO EXPERIMENT WITH LIFE

 

AWAKENING TO LIFE NOW

“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”  Mark Twain

How does your age affect the choices you make now?  Are you happier at this age?  What do you consider the perfect age?

When I first read this quote by Mark Twain, I chuckled.  He always makes me laugh, but underneath the humor is often wisdom.  I’ll admit that at seventy-five I wouldn’t mind being a bit younger with a body that requires less upkeep and has unlimited energy.  On the other hand, at this age it’s easier to let go of irritations and live more in the moment.

Most of all, I’m glad I’m not approaching eighteen.  I was extremely limited at that time in terms of dealing with life’s changes and disappointments.  I had more illness because I didn’t know about my food intolerances.  At nineteen I lost the boyfriend I thought I would marry after college.  But I did have a lot of fun:  being in plays, singing, going to parties.  It’s just that I didn’t have the maturity to always make good choices.

Regardless of whether we are eighty or eighteen, our lives now are full of challenges we could never have dreamed and we have no way of knowing if life will return to “normal.”  In this situation we need some of age’s wisdom as well as the optimism of youth.

Age Teaches Us How To Deal With Change

Life continues no matter how much we may try to stop the change.  But when we’ve been around quite a few years, we’ve learned what we can change and what we can’t and how much time it is reasonable to take in order to make a change.

As we grow, hopefully, we learn how to deal more positively with the difficulties of the emotional stress that change may create.  With years of regular meditation behind me, I’ve learned that when I get emotionally upset, it is best to take a few deep breaths and that calms me.  Walking briskly also works off the adrenal response and strengthens my body at the same time.

After the initial response, I sit quietly and think about what I need to do, if anything.  How can I solve this problem?  Can it be solved or do I need to just accept it?  Does solving the problem involve other persons?  If so, how can I calmly and positively approach them so that they will want the help?  If it can’t be solved, how do I live with it?

Failure Is Not Always Negative

How we deal with a problem is not only related to what it is, but also how we feel about ourselves. If we were not given positive messages about our worth as a child, we may question our abilities as an adult. In this case, it is important that we get the help we need to heal those wounds so that we see ourselves as good and capable people.  If we trust our abilities, we won’t push problems aside or expect someone else to solve them for us.

Hopefully long before we head toward eighty, we have healed any lack of self-worth and learned to accept who we are, not judging ourselves for what we perceive as our failures.  We all experience failures. Sometimes those failures are positive in the sense that they send us down a different path of learning.  Failure may also allow us to explore an aspect of life that we would never have consciously chosen but which presents us with opportunities for growth.

Ballet East Dance Company

One twist of fate in my life began when my family moved to Tulsa when I was about thirteen.  I was not happy at all about leaving my friends.  But there in high school, modern dance was part of the physical education curriculum.  Taking that class, I began to develop muscles and feel physically strong for the first time in my life.  I loved it so much that modern dance became a part of my life for many years. It helped improve my physical health and developed my creativity.

Valuable Aspects of Aging

What I like most about approaching eighty is that I no longer feel driven to accomplish anything.  I write because I love to do it, not because I’m driven to become a famous writer.  I enjoy sharing my ideas with others and especially like it when my blog followers make comments letting me know how my words touched them.

I’m more able to accept my failures or the areas where I lack talent such as my limited cooking skills.  I used to be a perfectionist.  Although that aspect of my personality rears its head from time to time,  I don’t feel a slave to it.  I do the best I can and forgive myself for what I lack.  Growing older has brought me more peace, which is truly a gift, even though I’ll never be eighteen again.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

AWAKENING TO SHARE HAPPINESS

AWAKENING TO LOVE ALL WE ARE

 

AWAKENING TO OUR PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” Aldous Huxley

Have you ever noticed a prejudice you have?  How did you deal with it?  Do you accept your preconceived notions as the only truth?

There is a street in my neighborhood that I use as a convenient cut-through from a major street onto the road that runs to my subdivision.  The street has modest houses on it and a small park.  Just before I reach the park is a house that always attracts my attention.

The house and yard are similar to those around it but it is quite different in one way.  It has lots of “junk” in the yard including a group of shovels, hoes, pitch forks, and other items surrounding and tied to the mailbox.  Other miscellaneous items are grouped in different areas of the lawn – not just dumped there, put arranged in a somewhat artistic order.

I know there is at least one man who lives there because I’ve seen him working in the yard in his jeans and hat.  As I drive by, I scan the yard to see what new items may have been added.  I think, “A ‘red neck’ must live here” and smile to myself as if this is a joke.  “Still, he is rather creative.”

Perceptions Not Based On Reality

But yesterday as I approached the house, I saw the heaps of things on the lawn and thought, “I bet he’s a “red neck.”  Then I hit the brakes.  Hanging underneath the mailbox was a sign, Black Lives Matter.  I was stunned.  Clearly, I had made a very wrong judgement about the man who lived there.

Then I realized that I was perceiving “red necks” as racist.  I was shocked.  I’m not a racist.  Even as a child growing up in the South with a racist father, I had a mother who taught me to care about all people and see them as equals.  I’ve taught Black and Native American teenagers and loved and nurtured them when dealing with administrations who couldn’t have cared less about them.

Defining People Who Differ From Us

But this time the sign’s message slapped me in the face so that I could not avoid the reality that my perception of a person I had never met was tainted with cultural prejudice.  What did I mean by “red neck?”  Well to be honest, I see that as a person who is rural, uneducated, very conservative and narrow-minded.  But of course, I’m not prejudiced!

I explored my thoughts further.  In my mind “red necks” were white people who attacked black people, carried guns, and wanted to fight anyone who disagreed with them.

So what did I know about the man in the house with the Black Lives Matter sign?  Mary Browne once said, “Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.”  I had decided who this man was when I had only my perception to guide me and I had clearly gone down a back alley.

I think of myself as a liberal, open-minded person, yet my perception had veered into a place that shocked me.  As I continue to think about this incident, I feel humbled by the experience.  I’m not so different after all.  I have a weakness for imagining another’s life with only superficial information.  How often do we all do that?

Changing To Create Equality

Now is a critical time.  How many of us who are white think we know what racial justice looks like when we have never been racism’s target?  Fortunately, the present protests and actions around racism have taken on a new power to educate us and hopefully will change the structures of our nation to create true equality.  It is a potent time for us all to explore in depth our own thinking and clean out the muck!

As Mary Browne suggested, it is time not to judge so that we can open the locked doors of our preconceived notions and allow wisdom to enter.  It is time for us to find peace and experience love for all humans, knowing that there is a reason why people feel as they do based on what they have experienced in life.

I will probably never meet the man whose sign stunned me, but I don’t have to.  I just have to remember to open my mind to all possibilities so that wisdom can enter.

©2020 Georganne Spruce

Additional Readings:

DANCING TO THE DANGER OF ASSUMPTIONS

AWAKENING TO RACIAL EQUALITY

AWAKENING TO LIVE HONESTLY

 

 

 

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 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