I was half listening to the Diane Rehm show recently (as I a wrestled with the numbers for grant application) when I was suddenly pulled out of the $ morass by a new voice on the radio.

The topic was ‘The State of the American Dream’, the details concerned how many people through no real fault of their own, find themselves on the brink of losing everything  – their homes, health care and safety nets – especially as their older age and retirement years approach.

The voice I suddenly heard was educated, carefully modulated and well-spoken. But I could hear the effort it took to remain in control ‘on the radio’ and bleeding through that effort what hit me the hardest was the shakiness, the rising edge of panic, rage and despair. The story may have been familiar but something in the desperation of her vocal tone caught me even before I heard the words she spoke near the end of her piece.

“I look at our savings that have dwindled to almost nothing. We are in our late 50s. If we don’t have a way to earn back money, I thought about, well, then it’s going to be trying to take our lives because what will be there for us? What will be there in this world for us? And I don’t see anybody proposing anything that gives me any hope.”

I wanted to take her hand, look her right in the eyes and say, ‘You have You. It may not seem much right now when you are so afraid, when you are so justifiably angry, when the expectation of the effort to survive is crushing. But there is your Soul and your creativity and your very breath.’

We forget that, in this culture with its emphasis on what we have, ie. material objects; when the value we give ourselves and others is rooted in the $ and how we exchange that for the possessions that keep us ‘safe’.

It may well be true that we could not have a home or our savings but does that mean we are without hope? without power? without personal strength and capacity? I don’t think so.

I wrote in the introduction to my book:

“… there seems to be an inability to squarely face our lives and the world in which we live without dissolving into fear, intolerance and/or depression. It is symptomatic of a nation of people who have no center of true Self, no connection to something greater than their own apparently disintegrating universe. Call it no hope, no resilience, no soul even.”

When you are surrounded by powerless, fearful people, when you are separated from your richly creative, resilient self, then of course you feel hopeless. However when you connect with the stories about and with people who have faced great losses, traumas and personal re-alignments yet emerged with grace, power, dignity and, remarkably, often Joy, then you glimpse the possibilities. When you engage your creative Self you will touch that spark of real power within.

I call it Personal Magic, that uniqueness that is You, your gift and your strength. It is an empowerment from within independent of outside sources. Ultimately, what there is in the world for you, is YOU – the powerful, giving, responsible, disciplined You. Do not confuse power with having. Resist feeding the scared, needy, grasping, punishing you that reacts to the fear around you. Instead, nurture the resilient, creative being you are.

While you may not be able to immediately change your circumstances you will find creative ways to live with the reality. You will perceive your place in that story not as a victim of it but as a one who tells the story. You will be able to make choices and take action from a place of calm confidence. In the shedding of fear, disappointment and anger you will find you can think, act and Live, finding your hope and strategies to manage the Now life.

The Personal Magic book can begin you on that journey and support you in nurturing your Magic Self. There are other great resources as well. Check out GoodNews Network, volunteer in your community, visit the Family Dollar store and get together a little arts kit (crayons, paper, felt pens, scissors, glue and glitter); ask for support and offer support.

Most of all, claim your personal power. Even if from the outside it appears nothing has changed inside you will find all the hope that you need in the world for you.