Have you ever found yourself halfway back in time and space? Not entirely in the present and yet surely not having fully left the previous. This is where I am today.

It maybe because my present is so unformed and amorphous right now, unsettled, without shape or definition, that this slippage into a place from before could happen. Have I taken a step back? Am I searching in my past for some remedy to the present?

I have to look at that, see how it feels to wear that for a while. There is reason enough to feel that my current circumstances and choices are far from working in the practical, sensible, material sense. The past looks pretty damned good from that angle, with the little house and garden, predictability and companionship. It is easy to ignore the past discomfort, reasons I didn’t stay, and deny the person inside that I am re-finding now.

Much has changed for me, and those directly affected by my choices and the continuing unfolding of my life. It is true that we are independent beings, responsible for our own lives but we are also social beings living to a greater or lesser degree in community. The interactions with the other independent beings in that community impinge on our individual lives and choices.

I know that I cannot dismiss that reality and part of living as the independent being that I know I am, is to respond to the overlapping stories with integrity, compassion and truth. So, on the journey within my present there are times when the past asks to be seen and heard. It is not the same of course. I have evolved – things and people, times and places have changed. But the whisper of that reality, perhaps unresolved and still hanging, is in my present. So here I am.

  I realize, with a burst of clarity, that it is not because I  am physically and emotionally un-tethered in my present material circumstances, that I am in this current situation. It is rather because I am so fully in the present. The present that lives in me – in my center, my certainty and my comfort – that allows me to be again in a past physical place, with surprising comfort and ease.

Where am I? I am back in the house where I lived until six months ago. I am here to mind the dogs, water the garden and fill the space for the place-keeper who stayed when I left. He is away on a much needed and deserved break from this space. Time in a different space to re-find, as I have been doing, his present, new inner place.

It is testament to the patience, wisdom and courage we have both independently and uniquely drawn on that we can be in this place. A place of asking and receiving, giving and accepting. A place where each of us, for different reasons that have to do with our very different journeys, have to face whatever it is that is difficult to do. It is a step on the path to full healing from the old place, free of expectation or keeping a tab.

We can never go back – the past is the past. Looking forward robs us of the present and thus the opportunity to embrace the gift of the Now is missed. So I am indeed back where I used to live, temporarily, with no plans for the future beyond this Now. The trailing memories of the past after the initial explosion into my senses and heart, are now just that – soft clouds in the sky of my mind – as I am able to live in this Now.

The gift I was given, to come and be here for someone else, has given me peace and power in equal quantity. It is surprising isn’t it? When unexpected comfort rises from the discomfort, when the blind leap sets us free, when the conscious placement of old stories opens new possibilities.

So I am fully in the old space with a new present. I have picked tomatoes (new), watered roses (old) and worked out the new internet system. I am running the old trails, sleeping in the old bed oriented newly in the room. I clean the same counters and sit at a different desk.

I won’t be here when the present place-keeper comes back. But I will have had my present here and will give his to him – through my being here in this place while he is away in a different place making space for this one.

My story will continue, with a new present unfolding every day, and the memories of the past trailing quietly behind me. The demarcation between the past and present, the half way back and half way here, always gives way to and, in fact, is the present. Sometimes we just need to bump right into that line to know that. I am here, now, and doing fine.

And how is your Present?

 

August the First was also the full moon. I sat out on the step and looked up at her, that particular white light of the moon shining on my legs in the warm night air. It was a rare experience to be sitting so still at that hour because the last 6 weeks have been very, very busy and un-still. Even late at night.

My last blog entry (good heavens, as long ago as June 20!) focused on the refurbishing aspects of my life and work – theatre and horses. Well, the refurbishment was so all consuming that for 5 weeks I was completely engrossed to the exclusion of almost everything else! My little grey horse took a back room as the play with all its challenge, delight and anxiety as well as ultimate success, required literally all of me.

I then had to take conscious steps to unwind, come down off the mountaintop of energy and focus of the play, that creative and administrative endeavor. It has been hard to allow the time for just sitting. It has also meant that the rest of my life, with the financial, human and logistical needs, now stands before vividly me, the abandoned orphan of the last 6 weeks saying, ‘What about me?’

So, when I actually stopped, under the light of the moon, I remembered all the times I have sat with her before. The long period in my life when I never missed saying goodnight to her, when I always knew when the full moon was due, when I wrote my book, was regular with the blog. When I was very alone.

However, I was also in a kind of holding pattern. That was time for creating space, building the foundation, preparing to fly. Then suddenly, I did fly off and crashed in some sense of the metaphor, but rose again right into the power and joy of creative endeavor with others, having been so solitary.

No wonder I am a little dizzy! I am a pendulum that has been swinging from one extreme to the other, accidentally tossed by tornadoes or selectively riding biggest waves I can find. In between swings I am deposited, sometimes not so gently, on a rocky beach.

So, as I perch on my pebbles today? I note that I have been sitting more, jogging regularly again, riding more often and paying attention the messengers from nature I meet along the way.

There was the Falcon who dived out of a tree, about 10 feet to my left as I rode along the trail, and then back up into the next door tree, where it sat quietly amidst the tangled limbs of the juniper. Stopping my horse I knew, ‘see the big picture and when you act do so at the right time with full commitment. Otherwise sit and wait.’

One day, when walking, the Heron standing patiently and alone at the edge if the marsh reminded me to be steady, independent and balanced. Deer have been with me since I came back to Sedona. Riding or walking they appear glimpsed in the trees along the water edge, sometimes in small groups, most recently singly. Strong and springy in step they are gentle, delicate creatures.

The Bobcat just 4 days ago zigged across a little back road barely 10 feet in front of Mariah and I, and then zagged back even closer, before vanishing, just out of sight at the moment of truth, in the edge of the bushes. There was a high scream and silence. Until the birds launched into a rather hysterical, full-throated discussion on what had happened right underneath them.

She was beautiful that cat – fast and focused, graceful and shiny-coated. My horse just stood and watched. I was mesmerized and suddenly very grateful for some reason. Perhaps she had just re-affirmed my capacity to switch on and off the creative torrent, to keep the secrets and be alone when I need to.

The Rattlesnake who lay stretched out near the path I was walking, didn’t move at all. His presence quietly urged me to toward careful awareness, healing and to embrace the transitions. Always with me is the Raven. They come to where I am, wander about, talking and arguing, laughing and mocking, daring me to be bold and see humor in life.

Traveling with all these visitors, though, the most consistent animal in my life is Horse. Ever since I was born and always since, I have been in close relationship with horses. So much so I perhaps take that energy for granted. So, to my horse totem, today in material form as Mariah, I thank her for encouraging and feeding my sense of freedom and power.
I have been out of balance (gloriously so) and am now landing back into center again. This means allowing the wild, boisterous sweeps of energy and ‘doingness’ to subside into a rhythm that will be once again provide a place of peace and calm.

In the Personal Magic book I note that we need to cultivate time for just being, in order to connect to that power greater than ourselves.

‘Investigate and experience a range of opportunities to open up your heart, blend the intellect with intuition, create ritual and rhythm in your life. Ultimately, how that is for you, how that magic works for you, is yours. There is the power, arising within your Being, expressed in the world.’

Paying attention to the nonhuman living creatures we meet in our daily lives is one way to make that connection. So, who have you met the last week? month? year? And what did they have to show you?

(Many thanks to this wonderful website for insight into understanding the  animal messengers. Lins Domain )

Hello All. It has been a long, strange, many-stringed journey since late  March this year. Much has changed, much has been released and more  has been added, blooming in the desert of letting go.

I find myself invigorated through the deep work of live theatre even as I am almost totally bobbing like a cork on the oceans of uncertainty. The energy of creating in collaborative endeavor is like the sun and rain that feeds the vastness of an otherwise desolate terra firma. Fred & Mary, the world premier production that I began with in September last year, is finally fully underway. 14 actors, 4 designers, the playwright and director, stage manager and volunteers – we are all only 2.5 weeks from that surely coming opening.

Directing!

With so much of my life spread out among 4 different locations as I slowly drift into the unfolding of this next chapter there are two pillars of strength. One is the daily responsibility and community of the theatre work. It reminds me I am valuable, worthy, capable and smart. The other is the little grey horse who has managed to stay pretty close to me as I survey the possibilities while living in the moment.

Riding in the red rocks of Sedona, my path blessed by the heron, coyote and deer whose creeks and land I travel through on my four-footed partner, any fear and doubt is gently lifted. I am reminded that the universe is far greater than the tiny piece of my corner of it. Conversely ,and perfectly aligned, is also knowing that my corner of it is the most valuable gift that I have been offered.

Magic indeed is all around me and while there are times when it seems almost impossible that any order will come from the chaos, I am nestled in the arms of something as ordered, as calm and as powerful as any reality I could conjure.

Red Rocks/Grey Horse

As I say in the very first paragraph of the introduction to the Personal Magic book, ‘Personal Magic offers a way of being in the world, a way to live your life with power, resilience, hopefulness  and – ultimately – with joy.’

I am glad that I have spent a life time uncovering and embracing my personal magic, that I took time last year to articulate that in a book. It is guiding my ‘walk’ now as I have to follow up on that ‘talk’.

There will be more work and sharing of the book, more blogs and newsletters. For now I am busy and spreading out into myself again after a hiatus both of choice and circumstance. The balancing opposite poles of my life, the creative arts (theatre) and the earth (horses) are both, in their own ways, giving me haven and strength to nurture and share my magic.

I can only wish you similar opportunity and joy.

(My apologies for the unready send of this a few minutes earlier – WordPress went mad! read this one and delete the other! Thank you, Kate.)

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Last week I wrote about two of the Personal Magic activities with which I have been involved. Maybe it is the coming of Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere but it seems to be bursting out all over (to badly paraphrase an old line!)

The next three stories that I will share with you also relate to live theatre in some way. As I write in the book:

‘There is an old adage, ‘There are no small roles, only small actors.’ Likewise, there are no small people, only the small self. By embracing your Personal Magic and bringing that to the world, you can be the hero at the center of your story.’

Perhaps that analogy works so well because indeed we are all players on our personal stage and, through our ‘performance’ have the capacity to reach and touch others. The challenge is how to be empowered when so much of the time it seems that we are dependent on the actions of others. I hope the next three short stories will exemplify how your Personal Magic can shine even when you are not running the show.

Fred & Mary Auditions:

In July 2012 as part f the AZ Centennial Celebrations, a world premier play by Micki Shelton will open at the historic Elks Opera House stage in Prescott, AZ. I am the honored and terrified director! The script for Fred and Mary: An Unconventional Romance is in hand, a start on raising the money needed has been made, and so we finally stepped right to the heart of it – finding the actors the show needs! Last Saturday we held the first round of auditions. (A second opportunity will take place on the 17th in the Phoenix area.)

There is not much that is more courageous than auditioning. Think about it. You come in with only your body, voice, and your brain and say, ‘Here I am. Will I work for your needs?’ There is not much more that relies to such a great degree on you displaying your shining, inner self more necessarily than auditioning.

Somehow, through the prepared piece (someone else’s words), the scenes you are given to read (someone else’s words), you have not only bring to life a different character but do so with all of your power and strength and, yes, joy. When you can love what you are doing even when you are scared to pieces that power will show. Your Personal Magic is essential to being able to give yourself to the work at hand, creating a character in which the audience can believe.

Ultimately you are offering the gift of yourself without attachment to outcome and with delight in what you bring. You become the hero at the center of the story.

The Artist’s Path:

The following Monday I met with a small group of talented, creative and hard working people for the first rehearsal of the April 2012 Artist’s Path production, ‘Love Make The World Go Round’. I was there as an actress, holding 2 monologues in my hands written by people I didn’t know, which I will inhabit over 6 performances in April.

Under the leadership of Gail Mangham, visionary and stalwart Artistic Director of the company, and with actors – some of whom I had worked with and others I met for the first time that evening – we began the process of creating a show. There is something very exciting about the first time you hear words out loud in a group. Something that says, ‘The Creation begins!’ Something that also says, ‘And you had better do it justice!’

The mix of doubt and hope, fear and delight that the actor has to accept, offers an opportunity to truly embrace Personal Magic. Placing yourself firmly at the center of creation, owning the responsibility, and then giving it away, you are empowered.  In the service of another you are enlarged and empowered.

Students:

Throughout all of this runs the ongoing thread of the Students with whom I meet twice a week. The daily courage it takes to be an engaged, open, responsible student, should not be understated. That each student is a unique individual, with a personal story, challenges, passions and dreams, brings to the group a myriad plethora of Personal Magic! They require that I keep owning my magic, that I raise my bar and keep expanding my capacities.

We are each, the students and myself, at the heart of our individual unique stories, and those story-circles intersect and inform each of the other personal circles of magic.

And perhaps that is the true magic of Personal Magic. As it grows you so it also has the possibility to inspire others to engage and express their Personal Magic. The dancers in the art gallery, veterans embracing the theatre, auditioners offering their gifts to me in a cold hall, the group of fellow actors with scripts in hand for the first time, and the students balancing their lives with the demands of the course work, all bring their magic to me in ways that inspire me to my Personal Magic.

As I write in the book;

“… share the story, creation, gift with someone, somehow. The sharing increases its power, magnifying the magic from its beginnings as your Personal Magic into the power of a gift to others. Personal Magic is just that, something which journeys out into the world beyond self.’

In what ways do you take your Personal Magic into the world?

The last couple of weeks have been very full, hence the delay with the new blog! I have been engaged in a range of activities all of which have been shimmering with expressions of Personal Magic. Today I will share two with you and, in the next blog post, another two.

At the very end of the Personal Magic book I write:

‘If you are to rise above mere survival and to thrive in the years to come, you will need to be aware of – and have the courage to manifest – your Personal Magic in the world. I cannot write this too often or strongly enough – you already are a powerful, kind, resilient and confident individual with an unique magic to share with the world. Own it! The World needs it!’

I have been privy to much of that magic lately and here is a sample.

Bricks and Bones:
I attended the opening of a unique and thought provoking interactive sound installation created by Tamara Albaitis. Not withstanding the detailed and elaborate weave of wires punctuated with speakers, in a beautiful wood floor space, the opening included a collaborative sound/sculpture/performance. Created by four dancers from Prescott with Tamara (who is from San Francisco) the art was introduced to us through the added layer of movement and bodies in space.

While I may not have totally understood or even be able to tell you what it was about, being present, in the presence, of art being created, offered and witnessed (the room was full) was in itself enough. The different bodies of the dancers each brought a unique quality to the group movements, a sound-scape subtly took us on a journey, and the focus and attention of the standing audience together created community magic, brought to us by the initial vision, courage and work of one individual.

(This installation in on display at the Prescott College Art Gallery, Prescott, AZ, until March 24, 2012)

Veteran’s Theatre Scene:
I have been working with a group of veterans at the Prescott VA for the last 6 weeks, assisting in creating a 3-minute original scene for submission to the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. (This year hosted by the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System in Boston, Massachusetts October 8-15, 2012.)

A few of the group have had theatre experience, most have not. Each individual is working through personal issues that require courage and commitment to overcome. The group has slowly consolidated itself into those who are able to make the commitment to this project.

Creating and sharing live theatre requires the kind of courage and commitment we often need in our ‘real’ lives. Yesterday we had the last rehearsal before we filmed it today, in order to submit it. Personal Magic is most needed when we face fear of possibility of failure. That is when you need to dig into your deeper self to stay with it even when you are terrified. Working with this group of people, each of whom are learning how to face their personal challenges, I saw clearly that this theatre process was a microcosm of that work.

Witnessing each individual’s process as they worked through that passage of fear and courage, I was again reminded of the power of live theatre to encourage and build Personal Magic, while also sharing that with others.

These two experiences were at very different ends of the creative performing arts scale. One was a group of women with many years of work and creative experience between them who came together to create a living sculpture for a live audience of art supporters.

The other, a group of men and women with almost no experience who came together to create something with very defined parameter (3minutes and a set of rules) and purpose, (to submit to a conference) for an audience they will not see.

Both groups, while so very different on the surface, are the same: individuals working collaboratively to bring something new to the world. Each individual took risks, experienced courage and ultimately brought their Personal Magic to the group. Each individual discovered a new level and depth of resilience, kindness and power.

When did you last experience an awareness of your Personal Magic?

Since the last blog post on Kindness I have had the experience of true kindness in action. This was kindness of a practical and unselfconscious nature. There was nothing sentimental, reluctant or even ‘special’ about how it was expressed. It was simply what is, how it is and part of this household’s living arrangement.

That the average age of these kind, strong and creative people was about 30 added to the delight of it all. Whoever thinks that the 30-somethings of today are self-indulgent, lazy, disinterested or inept have not met enough 30-somethings.

In my book ‘Personal Magic’ I write a little about the digital age:

We live in an age where friends are found and made on the net, and many of our interactions, dialogue and socializing occurs through a medium that precludes direct human touch, sound and visuals. Personal Magic becomes more valuable as well as possibly more elusive.

I visited with Teresa in Santa Fe last week, and stayed in her house shared with other young people. Even though there were computers and a TV, the expression of direct human interaction daily in that environment was visceral, real and natural.

Teresa is a vibrant, beautiful, smart and creative 28 year old woman. She is also quadriplegic, on a remarkable journey of healing. Teresa, like many of her age, shares a house. In this case it is a spacious Santa Fe house with 2 others; Jen who is a long time Yoga instructor and studying massage, and Jafari, a young man returned from service in Iraq studying Somatic Polarity. Regular visits from other young women – most of whom are also practicing or studying in similar areas – allow Teresa to be at home, with people of her age, engaging in meals, discussion and work as well as her therapy and healing.

From the moment I arrived I felt welcome and as if I had landed in some kind of protected space. I had driven many miles up from Arizona, leaving the beaten path to camp in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. It had been a small adventure, deliberately invited, instead of making a straight-line trip. After circuitously arriving at a place I had never been and didn’t know existed, I hiked for an hour in the moonlight, bright enough that no hand-light was needed. Snuggled into my sleeping bag, car-camping in an area of absolute silence, I slept with the moon on my face through the windows.

Waking to incredible cold, the sun rising almost before the moon had left, I had to find my way out before heading on to Santa Fe. It was a long way and I was glad to land in the sunlit house, with its aura of peace and power.

The work that Teresa and I did together was not easy. There is much sadness and struggle when you are finding your way back to wellbeing from such catastrophic injury. We did some guided writing, healing with essential oils and Shamanic Chakra work. We also addressed the needs of the nonprofit organization that Teresa is founding and on whose board I am honored to serve. (Check her site, Our Nerve To Breathe and offer your support.)

Another unique young woman that I know from my theatre days in Oregon had, barely 3 weeks before, moved to Santa Fe. I introduced her to Teresa. Turned out they live less than ½ a mile apart! The spiritual practice and personal journey that Teresa follows offers much to Cecily as she explores and grows her capacity for facilitating healing and her spiritual journey.

We read a short play I had written and needed to hear, sitting around a table, laughing and being ‘actors’. Another shining young woman who is apprenticing to be a midwife and is also a musician, came by. We sat in the sun on the porch, talking about fundraisers using music and writing. Teresa is creating her story as a performance piece with Cecily as her actress until such time as Teresa is ready to perform it herself.

This house, with its wooden floors and cabinets, group artwork canvases waiting to be completed and hung, opens its doors from the front and the rear, with people moving into the space and out again in easy flow. The fridge was thoughtfully stocked with good healthy food, and bursts of sustained kitchen activity – knives chopping, pots boiling and yes, the microwave beeping – brought meals made by hand and offered to whomever was there.  Coffee in the morning, chocolate after dinner and hot tea during the day. The entire place hummed with kindness and energy, independence and solitude, balanced with community and care.

Personal Magic can be expressed in myriad ways. When you bring it to community the power of magic is enhanced and nurtured even as you are giving out. When you offer your hands for lifting and cooking; when you hold someone’s hand and let them cry out their sadness; when you share your laughter and joy in life, then you share the magic together.

I define Personal Magic as:

“… the uniqueness that you, and only you, bring into the world. It is the tangible expression of your connection through your Soul to the Great Spirit, Creator, Higher Power, God, whatever language you wish to use, by which we are all connected. It can be directly accessed through the creative endeavor. Personal Magic both encourages and is encouraged by Awareness of Self, leading to true Empowerment and Freedom, most of all, freedom from fear.”

 The less than 48 hours I spent with the household in Sante Fe gave tangible expression to the words above. I wish for you all to experience such simple, straightforward magic in your daily life. Please share your story of this kind of Personal Magic with us!

This is the 3rd and last in this series of three blogs where I am exploring the opening sentence of my Personal Magic book:
You can be someone who is resilient, optimistic and kind while being realistic in the present world.’

Last time I offered a way into being a realistic Optimist  and the blog before encouraged you to embrace Resilience.  Today I consider choosing to be Kind in your interactions in the world.

Kindness, or compassion, is an action and attitude that is most useful when directed both out to others and also toward your self.  Like Resilience and Optimism, it is not befuddled by avoiding facts, and sidestepping reality in a syrupy wash of ‘feel good’ babble.

Kindness is marked by the capacity to both see the reality without emotional attachment or the need to prove something, and at the same time with a generosity of heart. A kind person can offer support without dismissing the others’ experience or behavior nor using that as an excuse to exact a lesson. Kindness expects nothing in return and is independent of outcome.

In many ways, kindness is a gift that we can give to another. In the book I write this about Gift giving:

When you are empowered, you can choose what to receive  (allow in) and what to give (offer out). The feelings – and indeed the tangible outcome of giving – often elicit a smile on the face of the giver as well as the receiver, a sensation of warmth, peace of mind. Most of us want to feel good, to be at peace. Giving a welcome gift with an open heart and with no expectation of ‘reward’ brings its own reward – of goodness, of peace and of honorable power.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, you are most empowered when you give, and the gifts that have the greatest capacity to stimulate empowerment are those that are created with courage and truth, offered as gifts with no expectation of reciprocity. A gift is only a gift if offered as such. When we place a condition or price on it, it becomes a ‘deal’ or a sale.

You can see how kindness must be offered with a clear intention, distinct from your fear and needs.

Earlier in the book I write about Attachment, Detachment (really the flip side of attachment – it is still hooked into the drama) and the only powerful place of all, Non-attachment.

Non-attachment – the state we are in when we are not caught in the drama. We have nothing to prove, win, defend, get or make happen. So we can pay attention to the entire interaction because we are not blocking or manipulating the material.

Ultimately true kindness, offered without expectation of return and clear of personal agenda, empowers others. Especially with regard to the children/youth with whom you engage, kindness and compassion that does not excuse nor blame, offers a foundation from which they can gain their own empowerment.

In the final chapter of the Personal Magic book I write about the role we all have in empowering the children we meet.

No-one empowers another. That is something each person must accomplish for him/herself. However, as parents or teachers, you can (and, in fact, must) seed opportunities for that Empowerment of Self to arise in others.

Those opportunities will vary widely based on age, ability and circumstance. It does mean that you find ways to expand the horizons, broaden the activities and environments, and widen the range of relationships and activities for each individual. Through your efforts others may find ways to attempt, fail, succeed and finally experience the true exhilaration of well-earned pride and the empowerment that struggle and outcome can bring.

Kindness as the foundation from which you engage the world allows you to be both honest and supportive, hold others accountable and forgive their mistakes.

As valid as all that is, most importantly is to practice kindness toward yourself. When you provide the same kind of clear, honest and compassionate support in your own journey, so you will be more able to truly shine your Personal Magic for others.

KINDNESS EXERCISE

• Take a moment and consider who in your life has been kind to you. Define ‘kind’ as something that encouraged you to grow, supported on you in your journey.
• Write a short description of something they did that stands out for you.
• Write a short letter of thanks (even if you do not send it or that person has passed on.)

• Now, write a letter of kindness to yourself.

Looking back on the last two posts and this, take a moment to pull them together for yourself.  How do they relate for you? ResilienceOptimism – Kindness. Your Personal Magic will bring you to this place. As you negotiate and embrace to opportunities of 2012 and beyond, that empowerment will be the strongest foundation from which sustain, evolve and participate fully in your life.

Please share your thoughts with us by posting in the comments below.

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