Tag Archives: Spiritual Journey

AWAKENING TO THE SILENCE OF SNOW

“A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky-unbidden-and seems like a thing of wonder.” Susan Orlean

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Back in the days when I taught full-time, a snow day was truly a gift from the Divine. To have the day off, I didn’t have to get permission, find a substitute, or prepare another lesson in advance, nor did I have to leave the house. It was a free vacation day, and I always felt that I could do anything I wanted that day, even when I had papers to grade.

Love the Silence of the Snow

Now, what I love is the silence. The way the snow wraps around the earth, the trees, and buildings. Bare brown branches become beautifully outlined in snow and silhouetted against a blue sky. The snow becomes a blanket of diamonds as it reflects the sun’s light.

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Snow Days Are For Snuggling

It is a snuggly morning, and now I have a snuggly partner, my husband. We linger under the warm covers until hunger hits and then we eat pancakes with eggs and oatmeal. The dog who is let out to “do her business” finds a lot more business to do than usual, sticking her nose into the snow up to her eyes, trying to find a scent that tells her this is her usual place.

Snow Is For Playing

The teenager across the street is trying to learn to ski on the small slope from the street to his house, but soon his friends arrive with an array of winter equipment, none of which they actually use. Before long, it becomes party-time and they disappear into the house.

The daily parade of dog walkers has begun thanks to the city that was well-prepared and cleared the street rather early this morning. The little dog that is of a strange mix and usually wears a sweater has on red shoes today. Our dog, which is out in the yard and usually barks loudly at this one, just sits and stares. I suspect the little dog’s outfit doesn’t fit with her fashion sense, but she’s too polite to express her dismay.

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The Silence Of Snow Connects Us With Spirit

It is strange how something as cold and wet as snow can create the feeling of warmth, but then I am reminded that when I meditate, I often reach a point where I feel warm and protected, aware of that peace of being in touch with something greater than myself, that loving energy of Spirit.

It is not a day for deep mental meandering. It is a day just to be.

How do you like to spend a snow day? Please comment.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

AWAKENING TO OUR WILD CREATIVITY

“Without wildness we have no creativity. No species does.” Matthew Fox

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Is your wildness alive in you? How does it express itself? Is it part of your creativity?

Recently, when I watched the film Marion Woodman: Dancing in the Flames, I was moved by her comments about integrating her perfectionist and wild aspects. I definitely related to her comments and challenges because, as I explained in last week’s blog Awakening to Release Our Perfectionism, these aspects are parts of my personality.

We Can Express Our Wildness Through Creativity

I remember only too well playing in the mud, climbing trees and hiking in the forest where I had so much freedom, but like Marion, on Sunday I had to dress up in a dress and patent-leather shoes and move in a very lady-like fashion. It didn’t help that I was often ill as a child and confined to my bed.

Instead of experiencing my wildness by running around the yard, I spent many hours in bed designing paper doll clothes, reading, or sewing. It was then that my mind learned to run wild even when my body couldn’t. There was no teacher there to critique my artistic work and my mother never criticized it. In fact, she always encouraged my creative expression.

Perhaps I didn’t need to run wild so much because we lived close to nature with chickens and rabbits in the back yard pen and a garden that produced corn, potatoes, green beans, and lettuce. The chinaberry tree in the back yard produced leaves, flowers, and berries that we used to spice up our mud pies. When the family did something together it was usually outdoors in a park or by a stream where my brother and I swam and our parents fished for bass or catfish.

Wildness Is A Natural Aspect Of Nature

Living so close to nature, its cycles seemed natural just as it seemed natural, although not pleasant, that during tornado season when the sirens sang, we hid in the safest part of the house. We knew the chaos of nature as well as its serenity. We accepted it as part of life.

When we create a work of art or any creative thing, it appears first within us. It may be only a glimmer of an idea, swimming around in our mental fog, and we may not be quite clear what it wants to be: a project, a poem, a song, or a new way to cook chicken.

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Creativity Comes From Chaos

Matthew Fox says, “Creativity happens at the border between chaos and order. Chaos is a prelude to creativity. We need to learn, as every artist needs to learn, to live with chaos and, indeed, to dance with it as we listen to it and attempt some ordering.” This learning to create order from chaos may well be one of the most useful aspects of being creative, regardless of what activity we embrace.

We Discover Who We Are Through Creativity

It is in these creative moments, trying to create form from chaos, that we use our minds in ways that benefit us mentally and emotionally. Through this process we also express who we are, allowing our wildness to take us into unknown territory and express and create in the way that only we can. What we create may surprise us as well as those around us.

In the ninth grade, I drew a charcoal picture one day in art class that totally mystified my teacher. “Different,” she said to my parents who visited the class on parents’ night. In the foreground was a phoenix and in the background were dark clouds and fallen Greek columns from the front of what was probably a Greek temple.

Neither the teacher, nor I, nor my parents had any idea of the symbolism contained in the picture. It was only years later when I studied mythology and symbolism that I understood. In Greek mythology, the phoenix is a bird that dies and is reborn, a symbol of immortality. I don’t know what the storm was in my life at the time, but clearly, I survived it for, in some sense, I was the phoenix. There was life in the midst of destruction.

Nature Teaches Us About Natural Wildness

Because my life has been so enriched by my closeness to nature and the seasons and I see the cycles as opportunities to explore various aspects of myself, I have found peace with my wildness. I understand that the best way to tame it is through loving it and expressing it through creative activity, just as the earth cycles through its version of death and rebirth.

2014 012On her website, Jennifer Currie interprets the meaning of the Tarot cards and she speaks about wildness as it is expressed by the Strength card where a woman usually embraces a lion. “You don’t tame the beast by beating it down—you tame it through love and acceptance.” And I would add—by using it to create.

Being Close To Nature Reduces Stress and Violence

Too often when we are children, our wildness is squelched without a creative alternative being offered that allows us to tame our own wildness with love. Perhaps one of the reasons inner city youth become violent is that they do not have a place where they can “run wild” without causing harm or being harmed. Instead of encouraging them to express that wildness creatively, the environment models being “lawless.”

I am thankful that there are now many programs that take youth out into the wilderness and introduce them to authentic wildness. Scientific studies are beginning to show that the time we spend in the forest or on the mountain have a calming effect on the brain and help to release stress. Therefore, it is very beneficial for adults and children to find time when we can just be with the natural world.

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Creativity Connects Us With All That Is

While we need to be able to live with the wildness that comes as a normal part of life, we also need to learn how to find peace with it and allow it to feed our creativity in ways that will bring new awareness and expression into our lives. It is in our creative moments that we often connect with Spirit and become One with all that is.

Are you in touch with your wildness?  How do you express it in your life?  Please share and comment. 

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet by Matthew Fox(video)Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning Through Emersion in Natural Settings, Does Nature Make Us Happy?

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR PERFECTIONISM

“It is easier to be better than you are than to be who you are. The point here is that perfection belongs to the gods; completeness or wholeness is the most a human being can hope for.” Marion Woodman Serene pool

Are you a perfectionist? Does that work well for you? Does it create problems with other people or your family? Do you see an advantage to letting go of it?

Why do we try to be perfect? Perhaps because somewhere in our lives we received the message that it was not acceptable to be anything less. In my case, I thought if I could do everything correctly that my parents wouldn’t scream so much, but of course they screamed at each other more than at me. Despite that, I felt I should be able to make my mother, especially, more happy.

High Expectations in Childhood Create Fear of Failure

The other part of it that came from my childhood was that my parents said I was special and intelligent; therefore, I should always make straight A’s in school and do things well. I shouldn’t waste my intelligence or talents but always do my best.

This made more of an impression on me than it might have because I was weak from illnesses and was a disaster playing any physical game at school—even simply throwing a ball. I needed to make up for that somehow and I did do very well in academics and reasonably well in music, especially singing.

We Want to Be Perfect Because We Want To Be Loved

Sadly, when we follow the perfectionist path in life, we are destined to fail often. We set our standards so high they are virtually impossible to attain and so we often feel inadequate. This disappointment is inevitable because as Marion Woodman points out “perfection belongs to the gods.”

Often the need for perfection is focused on external creations rather than going within to find ways to grow and evolve. We need to look perfect, do our jobs perfectly, find the perfect mate, say the perfect thing, and paint the perfect picture. We crave the love and attention that we believe will result from this, and we often do not see the connection between our trying to be perfect and our failure in relationships and other areas of our lives.

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Becoming Whole Is More Important Than Being Perfect

This pursuit often takes us away from what is most important—becoming whole and complete as our true selves because this journey requires us to take chances. If we take a chance, we may fail—it’s very risky and it conjures up an enormous amount of fear. We have to go within and there are no clear guidelines for succeeding. We have to rely on our very unconcrete intuition.

Pursuing perfection in many areas of our lives will often lead us to moments when we are confronted with how unhealthy or stressful our pursuit really is. These times are opportunities that offer us the possibility of change, moments when we can see there is a connection between what is not going well in a relationship or with our health and the demands we make on ourselves.

Health Challenges May Teach Us Lessons

In the late 90s I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My adrenals were depleted, my cortisol levels were off the chart, and I was vitamin and enzyme deficient. I lived in New Orleans, down river from chemical plants and in a climate where mold thrived. Most doctors didn’t acknowledge the existence of the syndrome at that time, but I found a doctor in Tucson who specialized in treating this naturally and whose plan had been helpful to a friend of mine.

I spent several days at the Tucson clinic with many different practitioners. The phrase they kept repeating to me was “you’re being too hard on yourself.” When the therapist there told me I needed to be kinder to myself, I insisted, “I don’t feel like I’m so hard on myself—I just want to do things well. Why is that a bad thing?”

“It’s a matter of degree,” he said and recommended I read The Spirituality of Imperfection. I felt so overwhelmed that I broke down in tears. He continued, “Remember, there’s always light in the darkness, and even if it’s a small glimmer, pay attention to it.”  (Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness, p. 186)

Releasing Our Perfectionism Frees Us

By the time I left the clinic, I was able to see some of the ways that perfectionism was harming me. I was dedicated to healing naturally, and that was a major challenge because I had to change my diet, take many supplements at different times, and be in bed at 9:00 pm every night. In addition, I had to continue teaching so I could afford the treatment.

Chronic-Fatigue

This journey of healing took me inside the deepest part of myself and I had to let go of so many things I had thought were absolutely necessary and fed my perfectionism. At first I felt deprived by having to eat only healthy, organic food, but with time it became a satisfying habit. I became adept at reading food labels to avoid preservatives, sugar, and all chemicals.

I revived my meditation practice and read spiritual and inspirational books. I became used to not going out at night and had long conversations with two friends who also had chronic fatigue. I began recording my dreams which often revealed significant messages.   Within two years, I was significantly better and within four years I was completely healed. Unfortunately, others I knew healed much more slowly. I was blessed.

Releasing Perfectionism Is An Internal Journey

Throughout this process, I learned to accept my imperfections and to love myself despite them. Most significantly, I learned to ask others for help when I needed it and not feel I was a failure because I couldn’t completely take care of myself. Although the process of healing often frustrated me, I learned I had no alternative but to release those feelings. Hanging on to anger and frustration only made me feel worse.

If we are wise, we will recognize there is a difference between pursing perfectionism and simply doing something well. One often distresses us and those around us while the other brings delight to all. By developing those aspects of ourselves that complete us and make us whole, we are honoring our most sacred selves, and we learn to love ourselves. After all, wanting to be loved is often why we pursue perfectionism. By nurturing our spiritual cores we are developing our wholeness and that is an inspiring journey.

What has been the most important part of your journey to become whole?  Please share a comment.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  Loving Yourself: Getting Beyond Approval and Perfectionism (video)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May this year bring all you desire and especially peace, love, and joy!

St Francis under a blanket of snow. Photo:Georganne Spruce

St Francis under a blanket of snow.
Photo:Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO SYNCHRONICITY

“According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying….The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.” Deepak Chopra

enlightenment imageDo you see enlightenment as a destination or journey? Where are you on that path? Do you worry a great deal? How often do you experience synchronicities? What do they mean to you?

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in the Asheville Bookfest, selling my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness, and visiting with an array of interesting people. I always enjoy these events because I have interesting conversations with other writers as well as with the people who attend.

Synchronicity Initiates Sharing

At this event, sponsored by Grateful Steps Publishing and Bookstore, I experienced some synchronicities that were interesting. In one instance, a man who bought the book was drawn to it initially because, although he wasn’t a professional dancer, he had danced in a dance production choreographed by Liz Lerman whose choreography often included non-trained dancers. What he had experienced was very meaningful to him.

 

What was interesting was that when I danced with a modern company in Washington, DC in the 70s, Liz choreographed a dance for the company. The man had connected with her elsewhere. As a result of this synchronicity, the man and I shared the deep meaning dance had for us both and the wonderful experience of working with Liz.

Highland Books with Georganne Spruce, Celia Miles and Nancy Cash Photo: Jenny Munro

Highland Books with Celia Miles and Nancy Cash
Photo: Jenny Munro

Art May Create Synchronicities In Life

He bought the book and I smiled as he walked away because I knew there was a surprise waiting for him in the book. There was more synchronicity to my connection with Liz Lerman. In the dance Liz created for the company, I danced a role that was a reflection of what I was experiencing in my life and dreams. In the dance I wore a red dress just like my self who was appearing in my dreams at the time. Both in the dance and in real life and in the dream, I was the woman in the red dress, rejecting traditional feminine choices.

Then yesterday as I signed books at Highland Books in  Brevard, NC with two other authors, Celia Miles and Nancy Cash, I met a young woman who had studied with many of the same teachers with whom I had studied when I was a modern dancer.  It was delightful to share these experiences.

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Silence Helps Us See Deeper Connections

We all may experience synchronicities, but we may not be aware of it. If we are constantly rushing around without time to experience silence, we simply may not notice the new idea that pops up in our heads or the person who wants a moment of our time who may offer us a wonderful opportunity.

I can remember a time, after my divorce many years ago, that I was so determined to learn to be independent that I often rejected the help people offered me that would have been valuable. My unconscious had called for the help, but my conscious mind ignored it. I have often seen others do this as well, not only because they don’t want to appear weak, but also because the idea may seem strange and they are unwilling to pursue it to understand if it could be valuable.

I have been on a spiritual journey for as long as I can remember and have experienced many synchronicities so I suppose that’s a sign I am continuing to become more aware, for enlightenment is a journey, not a destination. When I was young, I looked at these unexpected connections and pleasant happenings as nice surprises. It felt like I had nothing to do with creating them.

Focusing On Positive Thoughts Creates Positive Experiences

When we are aware that we are all energy, our energy around a certain issue or need may help manifest what we want. Our thoughts are energy too, and as Chopra points out, we are more enlightened when we learn not to worry. At the root of worry is fear, negative energy, and that may attract to us exactly what we don’t want. When we ask the Universe to fill our needs and don’t worry about what happens, we help clear the way for what we need to manifest.

When we are more aware, we don’t miss out on as many opportunities. We are open to the synchronistic events that arrive unconnected to any rational choice. Certainly the most amazing synchronicity I’ve experienced in recent years was the way my husband and I met online in the very few hours that we were on the same sight. You can read about this at Awakening to True Love. There were many synchronicities including the fact that he was preparing to move to the area where I live and that I was teaching a workshop on how to release your fear a few days after he arrived in the area.

As a result of the many positive synchronicities I’ve experienced in life, I expect surprises to be good ones. When I can’t solve a problem, I trust the answer will appear when needed or I do the best I can, knowing that guidance will come at the right time. But I’ve also noticed that the more positive my general attitude toward life has become, the more I am drawing good experiences into my life. Spirit and I are One now and that’s the greatest miracle of all.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                             ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Deepak Chopra–Video on Synchronicity, Wayne Dyer: Faith, Synchronicity,Consciousness – video

JOIN ME AT THE ASHEVILLE BOOKFEST

This Saturday I will be participating with other area authors in the Sixth Annual Asheville Bookfest at the Haywood Park Hotel in the Atrium from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.   For the schedule see http://www.ashevillebookfest.com/bookfest-events.html.

Four other authors and I will be reading at 4:30 followed by Thomas Rain Crowe, the featured speaker.

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AWAKENING TO HIDDEN GIFTS

“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”  Rene Magritte

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Do you live your life on the surface or do you look within for answers and guidance?  Do you tend to hide unpleasant feelings?  Do you make a point to get in touch with all your feelings?

Life is full of hidden gifts.  In the summer, leaves are green and then they begin to turn a multitude of colors in autumn—colors hidden from us until the season shifts into a new one.  They fall away and we find silhouetted in the winter sky branches curling and twisting against the deep blue of the approaching night, revealing what was hidden the rest of the year.

Good Can Come From What Appears To Be Negative

We’ve all had experiences where something disappointing happened, but what came out of it was positive.  When it first happened, we could only see the negative and couldn’t imagine anything good could spring from it.

Last week, I wrote about the two writing contests I had entered and how I didn’t win a prize in either one, but my book was recommended on the Huffington Post, and I received a high evaluation and good review from the other.  So, what initially was a disappointment resulted in a positive outcome.

Negative Experiences Can Be Learning Opportunities

There have been other times that a loss or disappointment has opened the way to something new.  When I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I connected with a wholistic doctor who taught me almost everything I would ever need to know to become healthy and stay healthy.  He taught me that there was so much more I needed to learn that went beyond what western medicine recognized and introduced me to acupuncture and herbs, among other things.

Since that time, I have never had the flu or a cold and I never get “bugs.”  I’m gluten and dairy intolerant and can’t handle preservatives or artificial anything, so I eat organic food.  If I don’t know what an ingredient is in a food, I don’t eat it.  Now, some people would say this is extreme and just not worth doing.  I guess it depends on what you are willing to do to stay healthy, and for me, not being sick is a priority.

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 We Can Grow By Being Open To Learn From Disappointments

So, when these hidden gifts appear, we may not always see them as gifts at first.  I was in a relationship with a man for two years, thinking we would marry, so I was devastated when we broke up.  Before that, I had not been in a long-term relationship since 1986.  I had experienced short ones and then a long period of many years when I never really dated.  I just didn’t seem to click with anyone.

However, I learned so much about being in a relationship, what would work and what wouldn’t, that despite the original grief I felt, the experience prepared me for meeting the man to whom I am now married.  Since I had made a lot of compromises in that two year relationship that didn’t work for me, I realized afterwards more clearly what I needed in a relationship.  No doubt that helped draw into my life the man who is my perfect mate.

A Loss May Make Room For A New, Beneficial Experience 

Then there was the time I lost my teaching job.  I was put on administrative leave because I was unable to control a belligerent class that had been a problem long before I was given the class.  The principal offered no support and the students received little punishment when I wrote discipline referrals on them.  I was absolutely devastated.

Photo: nyul/Fotolia

Photo: nyul/Fotolia

However, with time on my hands while still receiving a pay check, I had the time to write and I decided to write my memoir.  As I read through the journals I’d written since 1962, something very profound happened.  I cried often, and through the process, I relived and healed so much that needed healing.  It took ten years for me to finish and publish the book, but that initial commitment to do it led me down a new path that opened my life in many ways.

Because so much time had passed since many of the events in the journals happened, I was able to see some situations in a more mature way.  I could see, for example, that my ex-husband behaved the way he did because he had never had guidance from parents who taught him a way to live with integrity.  With that insight, I was able to forgive him more deeply and to feel compassion for him.

He was a man who had been taught never to show his hurt feelings.  He’d had to be tough because, even as a child, his mother often worked at night and he came home from school to an empty house. In addition, his stepfather was not an honest man, so without his real father, he had no one to guide him.  I came to the point where I realized it was somewhat of a miracle he was as good a person as he was, and I not only forgave him, but I felt at peace with all that happened.

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We Can Only Know Ourselves When We Go Within

When we are unable to look beneath our surface, we not only miss the gifts hidden there, but we are unable to know who we truly are.  Living a purely external life means we are only feeding our egos and ignoring our deeper selves where we will find love and a spiritual connection that will guide us to be the best we can be.

So often the best solutions to problems are not the obvious ones.  They also may be hidden deeper if we look beneath the surface.  The principal who let me go because I couldn’t manage a troublesome group of teenagers never really dealt with the problem.  Getting rid of me solved nothing; in fact, he taught the students that their negative behavior would get them what they wanted.

Often like that principal, we are unwilling to do what is difficult because it is risky.  But it’s been my experience that when I go deeper and ask for spiritual guidance, the solution that will work arises, and over time, I’ve learned to trust that.  What’s hidden is often the buried treasure we seek—the solution that will enrich our lives.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                              ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Learning to Let Go of Past Hurts, 10 Tips to Overcoming Negative Thoughts, Positive Thinking  Made Easy