"Are we the generation that will redefine aging?

Can aging be not just growing older but growing wiser?

Isn't there a little Zen in all of us?

Although 'growing old is not for sissies' this writer hopes that aging well is a real option."

Monday, January 15, 2018

Putting On My Astrologer's Hat




I was just asking myself why I was feeling this impatient, edgy mood. I haven’t been in the “groove” of my life today. I’ve been floundering in-between things and haven’t had good exercise or good work or anything to make me feel…what? Happy? Accomplished? Worthy? Yes, all of it; or rather none of it.

And so I decided to check it out astrologically. Wow! Four planets plus the Sun and Moon in serious Saturn ruled Capricorn, and tonight is the dark of the New Moon. Add to that, it’s so cold outside it hurts to walk, and top that off with an un-deliciously gray palor to everything! This weather shuts us all inside and the mood here almost matches the grayness out there. Even if you live in sunny California you’ll notice a serious tone to the emotional weather pattern for the next few weeks..and then it breaks.

But why so bleak now? The Capricorn New Moon is tonight, and each year it typically delivers the goal setting and new beginning boost we often feel at New Year’s. But we have to do it, create it. With 6 heavenly bodies ruled over by Saturn, it’s not a gift this year—we have to do it the old fashioned way; we have to earn it.

 We have to—or rather I have to---apply myself to doing something I care about, so I’m writing. And not I hope, into empty space either. I’m writing to you, the reader. (Maybe you’ll let me know you’re there?)

 As an astrologer I take it seriously that part of my job is to deliver the astrological weather forecast. The current climate is tough, gray and needing work. Today I need to translate this weather forecast from the Universe: dig your heels into something and do it! Today. Tomorrow. Now. Wash the kitchen floor or paint a picture. Make some soup and share it with a friend. Plan your year. All these will do to turn the tide or as the Zen Buddhist’s say: To enable you to be in the Tao…in the flow of things.

This is a time to think about your goals and to begin to act. Sure, make a list, but be sure to begin something. This is a time to turn alone time into creative solitude.…in whatever way you determine that to be.

Saturn is depicted in mythology as a tough old man. He’s a no frills or thrills kind of guy. But he has a promise for you: if you do what needs to be done in your life, he will deliver the goods. Simply take the next step in the direction of your dreams…or your survival. Saturn richly rewards those who roll up their sleeves and use elbow grease!  

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Whatever you can do or think you can do, do it. Boldness has genius, power and magic.”   Goethe

 


Thursday, January 11, 2018

The House As Mirror of the Soul



One of my astrology clients just wrote to me about a book called: The House As Mirror of the Self. I knew immediately that I loved this idea because I’ve been living it, and perhaps you have too

 Have you ever walked into a house and felt it its mood and character right away? Has a house told you about the unspoken life of the person who lived within it?

Have you ever thought of all the different places you’ve lived in your life and how each space reflected something of your inner life as well? Think of the progression from your childhood room to the dorm room, to the first apartment to the first house…can you see what has endured and what has changed with each move?

Have you noticed how your living space reflects you? Do you need to be spacious with an “open floor plan” or are you like me, going for an older house of character that has “cozy rooms.” No place is perfect: we must sacrifice something in every choice we make with a house, but we also make conscious and unconscious decisions along the way: I want this color in the living room,  I want this comfy chair, or I must knock down this wall…who knows all the reasons why?

The author of this book says that what is most revealing about ourselves—and the inner/outer metaphor—is less about the building itself and more about what we choose to put in our space, and how we arrange things. How do we feather our nest? How will we paint the walls? And what cherished objects will we choose to have around us that we’ve carried from house to house?

Although our house reflects something about who we are, it never seems to be quite perfect. Perhaps that makes room for growth to happen, both within our psyches and within our rooms For me, as much as I love the little rooms in this old house, I often feel the need to stretch those walls out! But I can’t. However, I see myself in the objects on the mantel over the fireplace: the old clock, my astrolabe, the zither, and that photograph.  I see myself in the cozy kitchen with the sturdy red chairs I’ve carried with me from house to house. Some things I need.

Interesting too how the rooms in this house feel so different from each other—is it true too for the rooms in my psyche? For me there are public rooms and private rooms. Rooms that are dressed and rooms that are simply meant for work; rooms for comfort and rooms for utility. Like me, the house “needs work still.”

The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, had the resources and time to play out this idea of house as mirror for the Self. In his later life he built a separate house for himself away from his family house—a  stone house on the shores of a lake. In this cherished house he cooked without electricity in a primitive kitchen and painted oversized murals on the stucco walls. What started out as a one room tower grew larger every year…and he wrote that each addition to his house was a growth in consciousness. He saw himself as being less of a Swiss gentleman and more of a “natural man” so his creation reflected that part of himself. Ah…we should all be so lucky to be able to do that!

But I love my home, and I’ll continue to live within this space that holds me so well now. Yes, this house holds me, and I feel blessed to live in a place that has sheltered people for almost 200 years. I am grateful too for the chance to have rescued this house in foreclosure and bring it back to life. A house that was unloved for so many years.

 Hm…what in me was rescued? Something to ponder; meanwhile I’ll continue to bless these wide floorboards and these salmon colored walls that have kept the fury of the winter storms away…and will there ever be another house? Am I always like a potted plant whose roots press against the container? We'll see. But for now I am loved and held.
elizabethspring@aol.com                                www.elizabethspring.com  


Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Comfort of Words



 




I like the early morning hours…although five may be a little too early. Well…if I’m honest here I should admit that the waking hour is 4:00 am (but stayed in bed to almost six…does that count for normalcy?)  

The morning hours feel precious, sacred and steeped in quietness….no one is on the street. The darkness is deep. Here in the center of town, the quietness is not even broken up by the sound of a car.


“All morning I worked to clear a space, a place

For the comfort of words.

Now it is done: the slow ordering of familiar objects:

The old chair cleared of its pile of books,

The cobalt canisters aligned like a row of school children

The desk relieved of its weight of papers.

 

The clearing brought a peace—or at least a cautious truce

Between the never ending disarray of chaos

And the promise of a clean new slate.

And this I have done before.

I have cleared away and begun anew.

 

Looking around the room

The yet undusted objects speak to me--

My old friends: the antique clock

The brown pottery bowl

The amber lamp--

Must these too be cleaned; renewed?

To make way for what?

I take my pen in hand

Seeking the comfort of words.

 

Beginnings demand endings

As birth demands death

Yet I remain curiously in-between worlds.

I’m not ready to release. I will wait.

Closing my eyes, my hand clenches and unclenches the pen

While I sink into finer worlds, where timelessness,

Like the gently falling dust and snow,

Covers me, as I give way…

To the comfort of words.”

Elizabeth Spring

 
 
 

 




Friday, January 5, 2018

Taking a Look at Fear: Inviting Our 'Little Schmoos' for Tea




It's a snow day. Remember those days from school days? Fun! Now a day at home—with  a mega blast snow blizzard whipping around the house—is beautiful but edgy. There are threats of no electricity. It has a different feel to it from when we would call up our friends to "come out and play." (Although I still do that sometimes!) Now my dearest friend lives 3000 miles away and the one who lives nearby won’t risk the icy drive.  

The older we get the more we think in terms of our survival. Will there be no heat when the electricity goes off? Where will I go? And when we do go outside, we walk so gingerly you'd think we were on a tightrope....we can't afford to slip on the ice anymore. 

It's interesting to watch the mind's antics: instead of playing with our friends, perhaps we read or catch up on our FB time and try to stave off a subtle ache of vulnerability...is that what the feeling is? We stare out the window...and feed the birds.  I suspect one of the reasons we enjoy feeding these little chickadees is that we marvel at their tiny size and robust attitude against the storms. They stand strong and perky against the elements. We humans don't do as well.

I'm beginning to witness it all. Especially fear. Witnessing is another way of saying, be "mindful" of what my mind does, and noting the difference when I actually look at a fear instead of identifying with it. There is the fear of slipping and falling. It's not my fear, it’s not me, it's just a fear. Perhaps I can invite it in for tea? Oh here's the fear of loneliness. Oh yeah, haven't seen you for a while. Would you like some tea? Fear of dying? This one comes pretty often in the middle of the night. Come closer, let me invite you in. too. After I let all these little 'schmoos' come in to be seen and heard and let go of....well, they don't look so scary anymore.

Little schmoos? Yes, I'm taking our very serious fears and pains very lightly. It's easy to sink into them and become one with our problem: "I'm a diabetic" Or "I'm single and depressed." Or "I'm home with the flu." We have these things but we are not these things. The times when we catch ourselves witnessing instead of identifying we catch a space between--like a breath of fresh air-- and then we know we're spiritual beings having a human experience.

We are more than our pain or fear. We can sit with the pain for tea, then let it go...even if just for a moment. Same with fear...I will sit with this niggling fear of my vulnerability and look it directly in the face--yup, I've got it. It has tea with me, then I ask it to leave. Thank you and good by.


Perhaps humans are more like these little birds than we realize. We are brave. We put up with a lot. Some of us aspire to be like chickadees. 

Gandhi once said: "Fearlessness is the first prerequisite of a spiritual life." I think it's time to feed the birds and to allow myself to know that I too am being fed and cared for in more ways than I admit. Who shall I invite in for tea today? And after tea….time to write in my gratitude journal…

www.elizabethspring.com                             elizabethspring@aol.com

 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Pillbox

 


Each day I take 14 pills. I take them 4 times a day spread out from 8:00 am to 3:00 am—yes, I wake up at 3:00!

Without these pills I wouldn’t be alive—I have to take a blood thinning pill, a blood pressure pill, a statin for heart issues and a post herpatic pill for nerve pain. Yes, I had shingles about 5 years ago. And then there are the supplemental  others…you don’t need to know the list.

Why do I mention this? Because I don’t want my readers to think I’m unfamiliar with illness and the necessary requirements to stay ‘healthy.’

When I entered what is called by astrologers the Second Saturn Return at age 59, I began writing books. I willingly lived with a schedule that got me up and at my writing desk at seven am most days. I gladly pushed myself….the adrenaline was flowing, and many cups of coffee later I ended up with four published books.

When I turned sixty-five, and too many cups of coffee later, I began four years of dealing with the ‘demons’ brought about by too muchness—I was afflicted with issues with the heart, the GI, and anxiety and insomnia brought about by 3 visits to the ER due to uncontrolled blood pressure and atrial fibrillation. It was made worse by a cardiologist who gave me even more dangerous pills than I needed. Gratefully, my new cardiologist found the right combination of medicines—and I’m  now “healthy.”

So does this qualify me to write a blog about aging?  Does seventy years and fourteen pills help me to qualify?

Many of you know the story of Ram Dass, a spiritual leader of many, and the author of “Be Here Now”.  He was writing a book on aging when he was sixty-three. One day, as he was laying down resting, the phone rang. It was his publisher saying that his book was good; but not good enough; it lacked depth and conviction. Puzzled, he laid down again and proceeded to have a major life threatening stroke. For the next 5 years Ram Dass fought for his life and his ability to speak again and finally emerged with a best-selling book called “Still Here” which spoke to his experience of aging and illness. Now, he had no lack of conviction.

Most of us don’t need to have a stroke of enormous “bad luck” like that. But sometimes that is what it takes to do the humbling things that age demands. In my case it was four years of illness and fourteen pills. For Ram Dass it was a phoenix like recovery; a near death experience that took enormous courage and work. Interesting though, he admitted that before the stroke he knew he had high blood pressure and simply didn’t take the pills. Sometimes it takes a lot to acquire “depth” and perhaps humility.

                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~

What were we not conscious of before we became ill? What did we not want to admit? Was it tiredness or a deeper unwillingness to slow down?

 I believe the grace of humility and consciousness can walk hand in hand as we age.

“When an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate.” Carl Jung
 
 
www.elizabethspring.com                                             elizabethspring@aol.com  

 


Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Poetic State of Mind: a Revolution in Consciousness from the "Me-Generation"



I forget the words she said that day as we were having coffee together. But they were similar to a George Eliot quote I was familiar with: "It is never too late to be who you might have been."

I've loved the idea of that quote all my life, but at seventy it has a hollow ring to it. Sure, we can go back to school or take up ballroom dancing. Hopefully many of us will blossom now. But...

...at this age I like Rilke's quote better: "And then the knowledge comes to me that I have space within me for a second timeless larger life." Yes!

This is not about a radical career change or a marriage or divorce. This is making space within me for that timeless larger life. This is making space for mindfulness.

Of all the ways our generation has redefined aging, it is most powerful in the way we have redefined consciousness. Our minds! We have rediscovered that through becoming aware of the clutter of thoughts in our psyche, we can clear it out, make space, make 'moments' in which we can slow down the endless chatter of the mind. We can make room for that second timeless life. We can acquire spaciousness...

Whew! I love that thought--it's not unlike the idea of being in a poetic state of mind where the flow of life comes into us in such a way that it is both slow and intense...a way in which we can process it and write about it. Or paint it...or sing it.

That's my hope for this on-line journal...that I will slow down long enough to notice how the sunlight shimmers on the blue and white vase on the windowsill in the morning when I wake up....that I will notice the luminosity of last night's snow as I look out the window, and will pause long enough to take in the sweet smell of brewing coffee. Mindfulness will allow me the space to not be repeating the grocery list I need to know later.

And then I can write. That is the hope. Just like in meditation we have the thought and then the space...groceries and the luminous light. Washing the mug and remembering the day I made the mug. Then and Now! I will take in this NOW and make it a special moment.

When I was young I remember how old people always talked about the past. My hope is that our generation--the ME generation--will remember the past, but talk about our lives now, bringing to consciousness the full beauty and the poignancy of each moment. ME-FULNESS can transform to MIND-FULNESS....and out of that, a larger kinder life can be born. 






Thursday, December 28, 2017

Heaps of Hope



Every January I do some version of this: I vow to drink less, eat more leafy greens, exercise more and allow myself time for creative solitude: “Me time.” Sounds good, right?

And every year it kind of works. At least for a while…and something abides throughout the year. But…

…when I get on Face Book and see my friend vacationing in Morocco or starting her new business proving the medicinal values of mushrooms and making money at it, I wonder if my small efforts at self-improvement are worth feeling good about? It matters too, that a couple of my friends were diagnosed with cancer this year. It matters that another friend died. What is the story I’ll be telling myself this year?

I want to take a deep breath and hit the refresh button. I want to hear the whoosh of my text message sent off to the Universe. I want to know that the Universe will respond in a timely manner and I want my message to be fresh and full of the new freedom I feel inside.

I sense something in the collective psyche that says “You don’t have to compare yourself anymore…there is no “one size fits all road map” that you need to follow.

Basically, I am unsubscribing from SHOULD-ING on myself. I will eat leafy greens when I feel like it, and I know that one glass of wine is just perfect with dinner, not two. (But that’s me.) It’s true that I’m not great at yoga but I’m good enough at it to do it occasionally. My favorite exercise is still dog walking…and I know I won’t make any money on blogging, but I’m still going to do it. And I refuse to eat mushrooms that look like they belong underground with ringworms and earthworms.

So it may be small potatoes that I’ve started a blog this year or that I’m finally feeling healthy again, but for me it’s BIG. I can easily take time to turn solitude to creativity, and when I think of the choice for fear or for love, fear loses every time. It’s not that I don’t care about what’s happening in the world or the precipitousness of my age, but rather that it’s taken me to the age of seventy not to care any more about worrying and comparing.  Let them travel and eat fungi--! It’s my freedom that I’m staring at, and I’ve got heaps of hope for this new year.

                                                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
If you're interested in an astrological reading or a counseling session, either by phone or in person contact me at elizabethspring@aol.com and check out website: www.elizabethspring.com