The past week offered me experiences of either end of the Personal Magic that comes through live theatre. On Tuesday I visited with the costumer at the incredible Arizona Broadway Theatre, and on Thursday the elementary school children with whom I have been working presented their show at the school.

Visiting with the costumer at AZ Broadway Theatre was a tangible connection to a past that has been informed by theatre and teaching since before my daughter was born. Martha was a student in my very first days teaching 23 years ago at Linfield College, Oregon! Since then, she has taught and costumed her way around much of the USA, and landed 5 years ago as a founding member of the a theatre here in AZ.

I didn’t feel old (although it was noted!) so much as incredibly awestruck and delighted by the successful, varied journey in the performing arts by someone I really only remembered as a college student in Oregon, acting in her only play there and terrified. (After all, she wanted to be a costumer!)  Today she is just down the road from me, both of us still in the field through which we had met in such different capacities, and now equals in our respective specialties in the theatre world.

The elementary students this time last week were not even a solid group and in fact the very night of their show were not even all the same people whose names were in the program! The power of the collaborative creative endeavor, however, waved its magic wand.

One of the Kings Horses stepped in for the missing Wall and the Kings’ Woman took the horses’ line. The Cupboard managed his cardboard box costume even after the front fell off during a rowdy dress rehearsal (the hour before their parents arrived), and the Hungry Dog preferred that his ears be worn more as a collar rather than hanging from a girl’s headband.

Observing this disparate crew of 1st to 6th graders exhibit the same sorts of scared, overwhelmed, unsure and excited behaviors as many adults do when in challenging new circumstances was strangely reassuring.  We are all on the journey of discovery – who we are, how we behave, adding skills and building confidence in our sense of Self.

In the Personal Magic book I write:

“… 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. … 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.”

The difference between those who become adults in awareness of and thus control over their behavior is the opportunity to experience, uncover and practice strengths and skills, in a safe, supportive environment.

Martha studied at an undergraduate college that gave her a good solid basis in her field of interest and skills working in a collaborative environment. She had supportive family and friends and took her own determination and power into the world she wanted for herself.

The children pulled their fears into a powerful force of focus and determination. A mere 45 minutes before the show there had been tears, near mutinies, costume refusals, absolute line losses and a desperate need for hugs, reassurance and pizza. When the time came, they worked as a team in front of their amazed and delighted parents. The vibration of their experience of pride and joy rings in me even as I write this.

Our Personal Magic is truly awakened when we move into places that challenge us, when we do so with people who love and encourage us, when we are rewarded with well-deserved pride in the accomplishment.

Martha started her journey long ago and seeing her last week as a fully-grown woman running a huge, beautiful costume shop in a strong theatre is a perspective that encourages me to keep on in my work.

The elementary kids are just beginning and the struggle to the reward of Thursday was a visceral reminder. It is urgent that as adults who care for the wellbeing of others, we bring what we can, when we can, to the children we meet wherever that is.

May your Personal Magic shine on others around you and may you experience the glow of another’s Personal Magic in your life.

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