AWAKENING TO GRACE

“Listen to your life.  See it for the fathomless mystery it is.  In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”  Frederick Buechner

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What is grace?  How has it appeared in your life?  Where do you believe it comes from?

This year, more than ever, I am aware of how precious life is.  Two women I knew well died of cancer.  A man whom we all deeply admired in my spiritual community died suddenly of a heart attack.  We have also lost public figures like the beloved Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall.

No matter what difficulties arise, I am always reminded how fortunate I am to have the life I live, to have only medical problems that are not life-threatening, to have a loving husband, plenty of food, a home where I can live peacefully, and friends who are conscious and loving.  I am blessed.

Grace Is A Mystery

As far as experiencing grace, I’ve often felt like Anne Lamott who said, “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”  I am always drawn to mysteries without needing to solve them.  They always make me ponder and question aspects of life I wouldn’t have noticed if the mystery had not arisen.  In the pondering, a new awareness often arises that enriches my life.

Grace Enriches Our Lives

One of the most profound examples of grace in my life is how I met my husband.  We were both on different online dating sites, and I accidently clicked on something that put me on his site.  He was taking one last look before shutting down his account, saw me, and sent an email. But I never received it.  I had taken myself off that site, but the picture he saw of me included a poster of the Release Your Fear workshops that I facilitate, and that helped him search and locate me.

He could have given up when I didn’t return his original email, but he listened to his heart.   He was in the middle of one of those mysteries life throws our way, one of those key moments when, if we listen inside we will be guided by grace.

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We Don’t Have To Earn Grace Or Deserve It

A friend defined grace as “undeserved, unearned, unexpected, and life-giving.”   It just happens.  We don’t do anything to cause it.  We don’t have to earn it.  It isn’t a reward.  It just is—like our lives.  Grace and the other mysteries of life may teach us we don’t always need to know why something happens.  We just need to be grateful and accept the gift we are offered.

I am not suggesting that we always need to be passive, but I know that some things are beyond our abilities to fix.  When there is a problem, it is wise to try to solve it.  Many times when we have done all we know how to do, it is the acceptance that we don’t know the answer that opens the way for grace to enter and bless us with its wisdom.

We Need To Make Room For The Holy

Buechner says, “…touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it (life) because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” When we can wake each morning, grateful to live life, we fill the day with love and excitement, and we spread that energy to all around us.  Even in the midst of chaos and challenges, we need to find that moment to go within and listen, to make room for the holy, however we define it, to enter and bless us.

We Must Listen To Our Inner Selves

One time when I was in distress about how to solve a problem, I had a friend do a psychic reading for me.  She informed me that my spiritual guides were trying to speak to me, but I wasn’t listening.  She was right.  I was so focused on fixing what was “out there” that I wasn’t listening to my inner self.

We Must Be Open To Grace

Grace may visit us without our noticing it unless we are listening.  When difficulties arise and we shut down emotionally, we build a wall that closes us off from the mysteries and spiritual gifts of life.   We stop listening, and to listen, we have to risk hearing what we may not want to hear.  That is sometimes exactly what we need to hear.

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Living close to nature, even in a city, confronts us with the mysteries of life every day.  I have done nothing to earn the frequent visits of the turkeys that live in my subdivision, nor do I have any idea why my yard has become a playground for a couple of youthful rabbits.  But when I watch them wandering through my yard, I feel I have been touched with grace.  The pleasure that I receive by watching them is a gift from the Divine, and I am eternally grateful.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Anne Lamott on Robin Williams – Stories Worth Telling

AWAKENING TO BALANCE THE MIND

“No person, no place, no thing has power over us, for ‘we’ are the only thinkers in our mind.  When we create peace and harmony and balance in our minds, we will find it in our lives.” Louise L. Hay

coast What happens when we give in to bouts of irritation and mental chaos?  Why do we get out of balance?  How do we bring ourselves back to balance?

Over the last week, I was struggling with multiple computer problems.  Even with my husband’s help, it seemed that when one problem was solved, the solution created another problem.  We talked repeatedly with our email company and with Microsoft who created the email program I use to manage my email.  There were constant error messages.  The challenge seemed endless, and I was not happy these problems kept me from writing.

Resistance Always Blocks Solutions

Over the last two months, I have found it difficult to write the blog because of the attention I needed to give to my ankle when I broke it and preparing for our wedding.  Even thought the latter was a delight, it still took time, so when the computer problems arose and kept me from writing for over a week, I lost my patience with it.

I resisted admitting that these were serious problems and that, of course, was a mistake because resistance always blocks solutions.  Then I let them take control of me and I became a pathetic, complaining, angry person.  Despite that, I did attempt to calm myself through positive thinking, meditation, finally hiring a technical person to fix the problems.

Reflecting on all this, I am reminded again that getting upset never helps and it rarely feels good.  It’s about returning to my immature self who felt helpless and did not activate the part of me that is a strong problem-solver and takes full responsibility to find the solution.

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Positive Thinking Is Most Likely To Create Positive Results

Louise Hay is so right.  It is all about the way we chose to think.  The reason I have been so drawn to Science of Mind principles and the Law of Attraction is that they empower me to create in my life whatever I want.  How I think determines my experience.  When there is a crisis, like this week, I want to know I have the capability to solve it or to get the help I need to solve it.

At times, we just need to take a leap of faith.  We need to expect the problem to get solved, maintain a positive attitude toward it, and do whatever we can to fix it.  We can’t know ahead that the choice we make will work, but we have to have the courage to try.  If it doesn’t work, we simply need to try again, further analyzing the situation and experimenting.

Going within

The Answers Are Within Our Quiet Core

Allowing ourselves to be angry, to feel like a failure, or allow the problem to take over our lives has no benefit.  In that still, quiet place within, we have available to us information from our experiences in this life and information from our current and past spiritual life.  Or as in my case, we look around us and find someone who is more knowledgeable to solve the problem.

Without Fear, Our Minds Can Solve the Problems 

Feeling inadequate doesn’t help.  We all have different talents, and mine is definitely not computers; yet to some people who have never written a blog I seem accomplished.  It’s all in the mind, and operating from a peaceful place without fear is the place where we are most likely to find success.  What is going on in our minds has a ripple effect.  That energy can limit us or expand us.  We can choose.  As Louise Hay reminds us, “We are the only thinkers in our mind.”

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Create A Balance Between Dreams and Habits (Wayne Dyer), Meditation Techniques for Balancing the Mind

AWAKENING TO ABUNDANCE

“The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts.”  Marianne Williamson

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Is abundance based on what you have or how you perceive what you have?  Do you ever feel abundant?  Do you feel lacking no matter how much you have?

During the years I was teaching dance in Denver, I lived in a one-room apartment most of the time.  It contained a kitchen in one wall, one table, a single bed, a small closet, one chest of drawers, and one window.  Most people would consider that an extremely limited space, but for several years I was very happy there.

Abundance Isn’t About Quantity

The apartment was in a beautiful old Victorian house two blocks from Cheesman Park where there were walking trails and I could experience nature within the city.  The bay window covered one entire end of the apartment and filled the room with light and framed the upper branches of a large, beautiful oak.  It was a five minute drive from my part-time job on the edge of downtown.  With rent that was well within my meager means, I felt I had everything I needed.

Our Feelings of Lack Come From Inside Us

Our society has been so focused on money and things that people often feel poor if they don’t have much more than they need.  When we have plenty, yet feel lacking, we need to look within because what we are missing isn’t a thing; it’s what is inside of us.

What Makes Us Feel Abundant May Be Spiritual

What made me feel abundant during those years in Denver was that I was following my passion, teaching modern dance, and I had friends who shared my passion for dance and also my dedication to a spiritual journey.  Sharing their spiritual practices, my friends were also teachers who enriched my journey.  They introduced me to meditation, Eastern thinking, and Science of Mind philosophy.

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Charlie Davidson

Work That Doesn’t Offer Satisfaction May Feel Like Lack

There have also been times when I felt my life lacked abundance, when something significant was missing.  In New Orleans, I tried to work in sales because I wanted more money.  I had a larger, spacious apartment and newer car than in Denver, but my job took so much time and the contention in the office drained my energy.  Although I had more on the physical level, I didn’t feel abundant.  I felt drained and deprived of what made my life feel full.

When we at least have the basics that all people need, our definitions of abundance may vary widely, but it really comes down to how we see what we have.  For example, most people would feel very lacking without a smart phone and having the ability to text and use the internet.  If they can’t keep in constant contact with friends, they feel something is lacking.  I find that distracting.

When We Love Ourselves, We Feel Abundant

But at the base of our concept of abundance is the question:  Am I enough?  If we love ourselves, we more easily love others and share without feeling that sharing involves a loss.  In fact, sharing will make us feel richer.  When we love ourselves, we feel loved even without a romantic partner, and when we feel connected to Spirit, we feel loved in a deep spiritual way.

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Photo: Georganne Spruce

Thinking Positively Enriches Us

When we have our basic needs met, but still feel no abundance, what do we need to change?  Often we get caught up in negative thinking so that we are always seeing what is wrong with life rather than focusing on what is good.  Reality isn’t always smooth and peaceful, but if we focus on solving problems and maintain a positive attitude that most problems can be solved, we are more likely to find solutions.

Having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome many years ago was a gift.  Working with a wonderful holistic doctor, I learned how to use supplements, food, and alternative methods like acupuncture to attain and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  During that time, I had so little energy that everything I did seemed like a burden.  I also had to continue working in order to pay the bills.

I had to hunt for things to lift my spirits.  Sometimes it was simply the song of a bird or a cool breeze blowing through the window. (I lived in New Orleans)  I was always grateful when a friend came to visit, my mother brought me dinner, or I had more energy than usual.  But whatever I chose to focus on, I gave thanks for it as a form of abundance.

Enjoying the Moment Enriches Us

Making the time in each day to relax allows us time to be in the moment.  Just being in the moment can feel luxurious and special.  It is only then that we can take the time to truly look at our day and be thankful for what it has offered us.  At times, I start my day, before I even get out of bed with five minutes of meditation.  I welcome the silence and am thankful for that and then offer thanks for not only what I have but what I expect to experience that day.

Abundance is not only about what we have or our attitude about what we have; it is also about what we expect to have.  Positive expectations may draw to us what is most abundant in any area of our lives.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  How to Attract Abundance (Wayne Dyer), Manifesting What You Want – Pt. 1- with Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer (video), Exude an Attitude of Abundance

 

AWAKENING TO EXPERIMENT WITH LIFE

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Does everything happen exactly as you want it?  If it doesn’t, do you give up or try again?Is there any value in experimenting with your life even if you fail to reach your goal?

If I made a list of all the things I’ve tried to do, but failed, I think it might be a long list.  Despite that, I’m very happy I attempted most of those things because at least I can say I tried.  That makes me feel good.  My mother would be proud too because, despite her failed attempt to make me into a Southern Lady (of the 50’s variety), she always taught me to do the best I could, and I did.

Failures Are Just Steps To Success

One of the things I heard as a young person that motivated me to work at the things I loved was that Edison had 10,000 failed experiments before he created a workable light bulb.  He didn’t think they were failures; they were simply steps he had to take to succeed.  I didn’t feel so bad after that and I got the message:  if you give up too soon you may never reach your goal.

If I’d given up too soon and not kept experimenting, I would never have become a dancer, danced with a company, published a book, or married again.  If I had given up, it would have been a tragedy because I would have missed the joy of accomplishing what I wasn’t quite sure I could do.

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You Have To Experiment To Succeed

Each success required experimentation.   I had to stretch, bend, jump, and learn to lie still, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well.  I like what Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up everything I learned about life: it goes on.”  It went on despite the pulled muscles, torn up chapters, and a divorce.

But if we are willing to experiment as we live life, we may find the answers to remove the road- blocks that stand in our way.  For example, in dance, we perform the same movements over and over.  Through time, we learn just where our weight has to be placed in order to perform a pirouette or to leap and land in perfect balance.

A chef experiments with preparing Chicken Marsala until his creation fits his idea of perfection.  A teacher uses different methods for teaching writing until she finds the one that helps students succeed with the assignment.  A salesperson creates different pitches to sell his product to a variety of people.  Each successful accomplishment is preceded by experimentation.

Experimenting Teaches Us How To Find What Is Best

Every writer knows that the first draft isn’t the one that will be published.  It’s just the beginning and will be followed by editing and rewriting on every level.  We shift words around and rearrange the structure of sentences as well as the order of events.  The pattern we follow is the one that emerges as we begin to tell the story and often takes us to a place we never anticipated would be the ending.

Relationships are the same, although after my first marriage, I wondered how my life could go on.  I felt ill-equipped to take care of myself, especially when I quit my teaching job because I thought my husband would support me while I developed dance classes.  That was when he left.  I had never lived by myself or been on my own.  But had I not lost that relationship, I wouldn’t have been available for my current husband who is everything I ever wanted in a man.

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Experimenting Reveals New Viewpoints

In a relationship, even with friends, we often experiment in order to find the right words to discuss a delicate subject.  We have to find the best way to handle conflict.  We have to learn that the timing of a discussion is important.   We have to learn to express empathy and be open to shift our own thinking to solve problems and grow together.  We have to be willing to let go of the way we thought things would be to accept the way things are.

When something in life isn’t working, we can run, hide, or experiment with new possibilities.  There are no guarantees that we will make the right decision, but we’ll never know if we don’t try to find a solution to the problem or a way to adapt.

Like the plants in our gardens, we may not be planted in the perfect soil or get the right amount of rain, but as a part of nature, we are capable of adapting.  Like the plants, it’s in our nature to do the best we can.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                              ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Experimenting with Life, Keep Moving Forward and Let Go of Failure, Three Simple Steps to Turn Failure Into Success

AWAKENING TO WHAT IS HUMANE

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”  Marianne Williamson

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 Do you always think before you act?  How often are your actions based on your need to be right?  What do you do when being right conflicts with being humane?

What most often guides your actions—being right or being humane?  As I sat listening to the comments on what it means to be right during a group discussion the other night, I discovered I didn’t know what to say about my own concept of being right.  I kept thinking about all the destruction created in the world by those who believe they are so right that they have the right to destroy those whose beliefs differ from theirs.

Fear Is At the Core of Needing To Be Right

As the discussion progressed, I reflected on the past and times when I thought I knew what was right and how I tried to impose it on others.  Of course, fear was at the root of that.  I was afraid something bad would happen to me if I did the wrong thing or expressed an idea that would upset my parents, teachers, or friends.

But I’ve come a long way since then, realizing that, in some areas, it is clear to me what the right thing to do is because I have enough life experience to know what the possible outcome of certain actions are.  I think more often now before I speak or act and try to act in a conscious manner.

It Is Better To So What Is Humane Than What Is Right

Finally, toward the end of the discussion the other night, I realized that my intense discomfort with trying to decide what I thought was right was because it really is relative.  Several people had pointed this out quite vividly.  One action may be a good one in one sense but not in another.  Then I realized that instead of trying to do the right thing, perhaps doing the humane thing was a clearer guide.

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It appears that too many people in this world believe it’s all right to kill anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs.  So I have to ask, “Is it humane to kill innocent civilians who have had nothing to do with the political conflict that provoked this violence?  Why have we not developed a more humane way to resolve differences?”  Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Needing To Be Right May Make Us Blind

Unfortunately, much of the world seems to be blind.  As I follow the actions of the leadership of my state, North Carolina, I often wonder why they are unwilling or unable to find solutions to problems that are respectful of all people and their basic needs.  Where is their compassion?

To be humane means that we believe everyone’s basic needs are met by creating an economy that provides jobs for those who can work with salaries that allow even the most basic workers to make a reasonable living.  When middle and lower class workers pay a higher percentage in taxes than the most wealthy, there is a lack of conscience among those who allow such laws to exist.

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To Be Humane, We Must Find Inner Peace

When did we forget how to share as a nation?  How did we forget that democracy is about all the people?   Doing what is humane is always right because it is doing what will help or heal or support another who is in need. When we do that, we are expressing positive energy that flows out into the world, inspiring or helping others.  Every action we take affects those around us.

But our actions reflect our thinking, and until we can find peace and love in our own hearts, we cannot share it with others.  We must learn to accept different points of view and embrace those that are humane.  After all, the Spirit, of which we are all a part, has throughout time sent many holy ones into our world to teach us better ways to live with love and peace.

Shifting Our Thinking Can Change the World

When we look at the heart of the world’s main religions, there are few differences although each may emphasize different aspects of spirituality.  We would have a much more humane world if we would focus our efforts on seeing how alike we are rather than how different.  Shifting our thinking can literally change the world.  So how far are you willing to stretch out of your comfort zone to explore thinking that is different from yours?

I am always reminded of what my dear spiritual teacher Gladys taught me—that when I release my fear, my mind is free to find solutions to my problems rather than reasons to continue being afraid.  What would happen if we released our fear and allowed our most humane thoughts to direct our lives?  We could become the peace which we desire in the world.

©2014 Georganne Spruce                                          ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  A Human Approach to World Peace,  Peace Summit with Dalai Lama,Eckhart Tolle, and Nobel, 10 Eckhart Tolle Take-a-Ways for a Peaceful 2014

AWAKENING TO TRUE LOVE

“True Love is born from understanding.”  Buddha

Snow Bird Lodge

Snow Bird Lodge

For several weeks, I have not written a new post for the blog.  Life has become the priority—a mixture of joyous happenings and challenging struggles.  Dreams have come true and pleasures have been dashed.

Life Was Good

I was married in late June.  A year and a half ago, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible.  I had created a life, without a partner, that made me happy most of the time.  I had met a couple of nice men, but we weren’t really a fit.  I was promoting my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness and beginning to explore a way to publish some poetry.  I had found a stimulating discussion group where I was making new friends and was hiking with a nice group of people.  Life was good.

I Met the Love of My Life

Then I met my Love.  It was an accident.  I was on an online dating site and made the mistake of clicking on something that took me to a site I didn’t want to be on.  There he saw me with one of the posters beside me for the Releasing the Fear classes that I teach.  He said it was my eyes that attracted him.  When he later returned to the site, I was gone, but he didn’t give up.  He googled “releasing your fear” and information appeared that led him to my email address.

I’m glad he is a curious and sensitive man.  His email was thoughtful, letting me know he was not stalking me despite the search he had made, so I responded.  Of course, before doing so, I googled him as well and discovered he was a spiritual person and a writer.

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This was all a switch for me because in the past I had often been the one who made the most effort to get together with the men I met.  I liked being pursued, but I was cautious.  We used email and the phone to communicate and that went well, but I knew meeting him in person would tell me the most, especially since I am very sensitive to another person’s energy.

Spiritual Compatibility Is Important

The rest of the story is too long to tell here, but he came to a workshop and liked my work.  We read each others’ books and liked what we read.  Although our spiritual backgrounds are very different, we are very spiritually compatible and he has become a part of my spiritual community.  Still there are differences, and most conflicts came from not understanding one another.

Conflicts Often Result From Making Assumptions

So we learned along the way and will always be learning how to understand one another.  It is so easy to make assumptions and draw inaccurate conclusions about another’s behavior.  Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements advises us not to make assumptions, and that’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.  Our assumptions are always about us and rarely offer us truths about the other person.

Part of my journey in this relationship has been learning how to live with another person because, with the exception of one year with a roommate years ago, I have lived alone since 1977.  I never realized how set in my ways I am.  Fortunately, my Love has had more experience, but he’s also flexible.  Together we’ve learned what to do to make this work.

There were some challenges, especially when I fell hiking in mid-April and broke my ankle.  My Love moved in to take care of me so that I would not have to go to a rehab facility.  It stretched us both, but his love and care were wonderful.  We joke about him earning his nursing degree during this time.  What I saw was a man who simply does what he needs to do to care for those he loves even when it’s difficult.  I learned I could trust him and depend on him.  He had inner strength.

Understanding One Another Leads to a Deep Love

But here’s the bottom line.  Many of us want relationships and marriage.  I’ve wanted it all my life but was never willing to settle for a relationship with a man who was uncommitted or controlling or not on a compatible path.  I just knew it wouldn’t work.  The truth is that the most wonderful thing about this marriage relationship is something I had never felt—a feeling so wonderful that it still seems quite unreal.

It isn’t the illusion of “being in love.”  It is something so much deeper.  It is knowing that on a spiritual level you are a match, that your love is a healthy love that supports you both.  It is a feeling of deep peace and joy, knowing you are loved for who you truly are, and that you share the same kind of commitment.  It is knowing that the other person will be there for you, and that you, without a doubt, will be there for him.

We Cannot Truly Love Another Until We Love Ourselves

I thought I knew what True Love was, but I didn’t.  What I had felt once in the past doesn’t even come close to this, but I also realize that I can experience this True Love because I have spent many years learning to understand and love myself and created a life I liked.  With these two things in place I was energetically ready to attract my perfect mate and had become the person who could be his perfect partner.

I’m now back on my feet, walking almost normally, but still doing physical therapy so I can return to my former hiking strength.  Life never feels quite complete without my time on the forest trails.  I feel most grateful for this healing and also for the partner I now have who shares all the paths I follow.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Dr. Wayne Dyer:  Dating, Desire, and Attracting Love, Deeper Dating – Finding A New Approach to Love, Relationships: True Love and the Transcendence of Duality (interview with Eckhart Tolle)

 

 

INTERFAITH DIALOGUE EVENT

Grateful Steps Book Signing

Grateful Steps Book Signing

For several years, I was a member of a spiritual group that met once a month to share our spiritual journeys and to participate in programs that would teach us new spiritual techniques and expose us to a wide variety of spiritual beliefs.  It was one of the most enriching and inspiring experiences I’ve ever had, and I learned so much from what others shared.

I’m very excited about participating in the Interfaith Dialogue series on Thursday, June 19 at Grateful Steps Bookshop in Asheville, NC at 159 So. Lexington Ave.  I will present short readings from my memoir Awakening to the Dance:  A Journey to Wholeness.   As I read excerpts related to my spiritual journey, we will discuss the concepts presented and share experiences.  The event is free.

 My memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness is the story of a my search to find an authentic identity, creative expression, and a spirituality apart from traditional religion.  Although this spiritual journey began with attending a traditional church, I soon found that it was my love of dance and drama that really touched my spirit.  Through modern dance, I discovered the oneness of the mind body connection, and later began to explore other spiritual practices.  One by one, I enthusiastically explored techniques to release my fear, Buddhist teachings and meditation, Jungian dream interpretation, and Science of Mind manifestation techniques.  Each led me more closely to an authentic identity and a wholeness that transformed my life.

This is an opportunity to share and explore our beliefs, so please join us.