"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 22, 2018

Why do I write?




“I write now, to move into a different consciousness; one that might be called ‘poetic’ or mindful, or simply slowed down enough so that I can extract the sweetness of life. I write in order to be both present to the moment and removed; to be here and there; to be the witness.  I yearn to catch glimpses of synchronicity and meaningfulness around me.  I want to engage the inner Self in my life, to reach down deep enough into the moment to notice nuances…so that I can dream again with the dark lover who is myself….”  Elizabeth Spring

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Sweater

 
                                                  This is a poem that was inspired by this old sweater which Harry gave to me 35 years ago on a vacation on Martha's Vineyard. I tend to keep things I love, and yesterday I gave it to my daughter and snapped this picture.

                                                   Early today, over coffee,

                                                  I told her I was going home

To clean closets and write a poem—

Such ambition and pride!

As if I could summon the Muse at will…

 

Smiling now

As I stand over the sink eating my

Sardines and onions

Dripping oil,

Marveling at my delicious weakness

For these easy fish—

I wonder if I will rise to the occasion

Of such poetic ambition or collapse beneath the weight of words

And closets that remain undone?

 

What is a poem anyway?

A thoughtful madness or a soulful necessity?

The heart spilling over on itself

Searching for words

Can be harder to face

Than the cave of the closet

But sometimes.

I call it delicious.

 

The closet calls to be cleaned.

The under-seams of my broken life

Pile up like soiled clothes; lost loves, lost shoes…

The wrinkles in my face, my dress—

They startle me, demand words, demand attention.

 

Existential questions rise before the pile of clothes

As well as the empty page.

Who am I becoming? Who will I be today?

What will I wear?

 

This chance mood tonight; this reprieve

Demands a singular courage.

It calls me to order—

Entices me to make an effort.

I listen well, re-defining the fabric of my life—

By swift decisions, I declare:

I’m not tailored, stark or sleek.

 

Ruthlessly discarding outgrown clothes

I allow space for the new—

And caress the memory of the old.

Smelling the wooliness

Of the old red-ribboned sweater

I remember the trip to the islands,

And how we loved then.

Squeezing the torn yarns between my fingers

I hold the memory of that day

Till my heart relaxes--

Then fold it tenderly

And tuck it back in the drawer.

 

The torn sweater must be sown together, healed.

A poem will help…

Sorting and savoring what is good

I let the rest go—

Remembering and releasing…

The effort will be worth it—

So this is my pleasure tonight!

And sometimes I call it delicious.

Elizabeth Spring

 

 

 


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Give Back Your Heart to Itself



Give Back Your Heart To Itself

“The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”

 Derek Walcott

When I think of conscious aging as a spiritual path I think of this getting to know oneself better…getting to know “this stranger whom you ignored.” Conscious aging comes from paying attention to our emotions and reconnecting to ourselves through reflection, writing, and creative works, as well as through relating to nature as subject rather than object…

The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung speaks of the years in his eighties as a time of freedom from individuality and a “growing kinship with all things.” He says, “there is so much that fills me: plants, animals, clouds, day and night, and the eternal in man. The more uncertain I have felt about myself, the more there has grown up in me a feeling of a great kinship with all things.”

Conscious aging as a spiritual path is what this blog is really all about…and I love what Jung has to say about that:

“The decisive question for man is this: Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his life. Only if we know that the thing which truly matters is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interests upon futilities, and upon all kinds of goals which are not of real importance.

 The more a man lays stress on false possessions and the less sensitivity he has for what is essential, the less satisfying is his life…if we understand and feel that here in this life we already have a link with the infinite, then desires and attitudes change. In the final analysis, we count for something because of the essential we embody, and if we do not embody that, life is wasted.” Carl Jung

Perhaps it sounds a little harsh to say wasted—aren’t we all on a journey to find what really matters--to embody the link with the infinite? This staying connected with the infinite may be the work we have to do, but there are so many ways to do it. Whether through nature, prayer, random acts of love or sweet conversations…there are numerous ways to be conscious in our living. And ultimately to be conscious in our dying… 

I love to think that glimpses of the infinite can be as simple as looking into the loving eyes of a dog or looking through a microscope and watching the atoms dance…or simply standing in awe of the night sky.

For me, living in relationship to the infinite means being mindful of both the God within--the “loving the stranger who was yourself.” and the God out there who shows up in the sunrises, sunsets, and the loving eyes of a baby.

And to end, some profound words from Elbert Hubbard: “Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”
www.ElizabethSpring.com  

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