Creative Connections


Hello Everybody out in Blogger-land and beyond!

What a fabulous way to begin 2012!! I have the honor of passing on the Liebster Award. I was delighted and surprised to receive it from Carol LeFevre (Tips For Empowerment) back on Dec 23rd, 2011. Now, after all the rushing about and what-have-you that is the end of the year, I have been able to spend a glorious hour or so rambling around some of my favorite blogs and selected the requisite five choices listed below. As if that wasn’t hard enough, of these I had to choose one!

There are so many wonderful thinkers, dreamers, writers, healers, and creators out there, all fully engaging in their Personal Magic, how to choose? I finally simply went with the one that I have been reading the longest. When I first joined WordPress I found a namesake, Kate, aka Grateful Kate. Everyday since, she has sent  an image, a few sentences, delight and gratitude my way.

Many of us (me too) are wordy and while that is not necessarily bad, I admire Grateful Kate  so much for her joy, pithiness and her absolute regularity. Welcome her to your inbox, you’ll be amply and easily rewarded.

The Award; The Liebster Blog Award is given to up coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

The Meaning; Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The rules for the Liebster Blog Award are:
1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
3. Copy & paste the blog award on your blog
4. Reveal your 5 blog picks.
5. Let them know you choose them by leaving a comment on their blog.

So below are the total five wonderful bloggers I selected for this list. There are many more and I find more and more each day. The good that goes out into the world is worth connecting to, and only serves to expand all of us.

http://gratefulkate.wordpress.com
Kate, and her dog Sally, share pithy, fun, kind and beautiful thoughts and photographs.

http://collectingyourself.wordpress.com/
Rae is and offers an explosion of creative energy and building of community! Check it out and see which of her community endeavors you may join!

http://jbournesblog.wordpress.com/
Jason is another generous, sharing writer who both brings his personal journey to the table as well as offering a venue to others.

http://bluegrassnotes.wordpress.com/
Leigh is a writer who shares her story and insights with honesty and a unique take on everyday things  as well as a good dose of humor and great images.

http://pointsthruprose.com/
Jackie is the most recent queen of communal creativity that I have been lucky enough to meet – easy to read, beautiful to look at, and a wide variety of points of view and wisdom wrapped in the creative endeavor.

I am grateful for the opportunity to send these introductions out there, and know that I will meet others along the way. These writers both manifest and share their Personal Magic and in doing so inspire others to the same. Happy New Year Everyone!

Two weeks from today and the inaugural Prescott Little Black Dress Ink production will have opened and closed. (I say ‘inaugural’ because I hope and believe there will be more, right Tiffany?)

It’s hard to wrap my mind around that ‘two weeks and it is done’ bit. I guess that is the way with theatre though. It takes a month or more to plan and build the set, then it comes down in less than a night, all hands on deck, right after the last show.

From hearing about Little Black Dress, to writing a play, to hearing it was ‘in’ and then adding acting and directing, seems to have been both yesterday and a year. Am I getting older, that time both drags and flies? Or is it that I am better at being in the moment as well as keeping track of the journey?

A couple of weeks ago all of the Little Black Dressers (better short-hand than Inkers!) convened in the PFAA theatre for the first and only time before tech rehearsal, to share the gifts that we have in our care. I had not been in the space before except as a tourist, and to be there as a participant was, well, like coming home.

I think it is that way anytime I enter an active theatre space. I am immediately filled with the vibration of possibilities, redolent of hope and work, the blending energies of the imagined and the real, and the invitation to go forth, nestled in the surety of past creations.

There must have been more than 30 of us, perched in the steeply sloping auditorium, a pastiche of oldie opera-housey veneer within converted church. An empty stage, with a  5-chair barely curve, promised us the space to both offer and to receive.

Many people knew many others and some hardly any. It didn’t matter. We all recognized each other as being there for the one purpose. Like children at a birthday party where we were each both the guest and birthday girl/boy, we couldn’t wait to give and to open the presents.

The ring mistress alighted the stage, set a few rules, held out the lucky dip (to ascertain the order of gifts given) and the party began.

I love theatre people. No matter how scared they are, no matter how prepared or not, no matter that they are guessing what to do, know the audience or don’t, ultimately, they plunge in.

We’d make great English Channel swimmers. We brave the sharks and the cold, we take deep breaths, keep moving forward, paying attention to where we are right now, even as we have one eye in the horizon.

What was so wonderful about that informal ‘let’s share the stories’ get-together was the audience. We were all actually on the same team, working as a relay. Like a game of musical chairs, every ten minutes a sort of bell would go and the current guests on stage gave way to the next. They raced (or wandered) to the chairs and gave their gift to the array of birthday queens and kings in the audience.

Or, maybe it was when we were on stage we were on the birthday throne? I think so. That’s when we get to open the gift, play with the different elements, pushing the buttons, exploring its texture, trying it out with our friends.

That is how it felt to me. I was with friends, even though I’ll be hard put to name many of them on the 18th when we convene again. That work-party will be to add the next layer of texture (lights and sound), the next wave of musical chairs (getting on and of between gifts, this time not from the auditorium!) and I will be with friends.

The dissonance of feeling as if this journey began yesterday and a year ago, between the many hours to get it ready to give to public and the few minutes it will take to unwrap, makes perfect sense. It is the nature of the collaborative, ephemeral endeavor we call live theatre. And when it is created, shared and released within the safety of friends at a communal birthday party, then it is beautiful.

I am looking forward to being on the relay team that gives the gifts as well as the birthday girl who opens them. Yes, albeit again. Because each time I open the gift of the performance it is a brand new present.

That is the beauty of live theatre. As long as we brave the sharks, take the breaths and keep swimming it will keep unfolding. And each performance may be in the same body of water but it is a different series of waves and that redefines the gift. It cannot be repeated and cannot be reproduced. It is a new creation every time.

I hope that each of the playwrights who have so generously given their gift to us, mailed in as if from a far-away Aunt, will be happy with how we have treated their gift. I hope that when they see it, revealed on stage on the 20th, they will feel like both the birthday girl and the friend at the party.

I know that I will.

(note that this blog also appears on the Little Black Dress Ink website.)

August 1, 2011, and the last week of July brought one of the most amazing displays of failure to behave in a disciplined, dispassionate, responsible manner in the arena of political power and mandate to govern.

As I use these words, I mean: disciplined: self-controlled, within a set of rules; dispassionate: freedom from passion or bias, and responsible: answerable, accountable.

Without the interplay of this trio how can any decisions be made, or actions taken, that begin to look beyond personal immediate needs, fears and discomfort?

It occurs to me it is not just our politicians. If they are representatives of us – that is we are all cut of the same cloth – then where in our everyday lives do we fall short?

I just read an article where the parents of a 2yr old who likes to go to McDonalds could not refuse her. She is on track to become one of the too many obese children that we raise. I know people who know they shouldn’t spend their income that barely stretches to cover necessities, on unnecessary clothes, but do it anyway.

I have observed students settle for study outcomes far less than they are capable of, and to engage in behaviors that stunt healthy, risk-taking growth. When our youth disconnect from the urge to stretch and grow, when they engage in activities that belittle, confuse and separate them from their own power, how can we expect disciplined, dispassionate responsible adults?

And in my own life I admit the relationship between my egos’ needs and those greater than that, my bias and the facts, can be a little tenuous.  Often that which I am supposed to ensure is done and that which I actually so, is separated by a chasm!

So what is it that interferes with the capacity to behave as I think most of us fully intend to? Why is it that we lose our self-control, succumb to passion, and pass the buck to others?

It happens when we are feeling particularly powerless, when our sense of being a valuable, recognized human being is at a dis-embodyingly low level. A paucity of pride in Self leads to a desertion of that Self as she/he lives and moves in the world.

Because, after all, why go to the effort (and often discomfort) to behave in ways that can be difficult if you think you are not worth anything? The effort itself requires a level of disciplined, dispassionate responsibility.

It is surprising how any smear on your vision of Self as empowered and worthy can reduce you to precisely that which you fear. When you give away your empowerment, let others decide your power for you, you are indeed powerless.

Power resides not just in physical manifestation of free action and location, but more powerfully and deeply within. When we allow ourselves to be victims both in attitude as well as perhaps in physical fact, we have ceded our soul to another.

There are those individuals whom, regardless of the loss of freedom, desertion of wealth and health or in the face of direct challenge to their right to be at all, somehow retain their personal power.

Last night I watched The Way Back, a movie based on a maybe for real book. Regardless of the ‘truth’ or the ‘facts’, the reference to human capacity for rising above their circumstances is real. In this movie a group of men escaped from a Siberian gulag, leaving the horrific confines of an inhumane prison, and suffering through the unimaginable challenges of the wilderness to arrive at freedom of the geographic kind.

Throughout it they were confronted with and met the opportunity to also expand their personal freedom/power. By overcoming greed, selfishness, and fear in order to act for the well-being of all in the tiny band, each of them was enlarged in some way.

One character called it kindness. It can also be recognized as disciplined, dispassionate, responsible. Making choices and then actually following through with actions that place yourself in danger, or require you to forgo personal gratification to care for others, is the most empowering stimulant you can find!

So when politicians engage in behavior that appears to be wrapped in the cloak of personal dereliction of duty, evasion of actual decision-making and ugly bouts of name-calling, I also observe this.

Loss of power and control in the physical sense triggers episodes of knee-jerk, power-grabbing, self-distancing behavior. As the very real issues and changes come closer and closer, so those charged with ‘keeping us all safe’ and those who have handed off that charge to others, all suffer catastrophic meltdowns. If you can’t see the answer, if it requires behavior and attitude to which you are unaccustomed then you panic.

There is hope. There are avenues out of this terrified, selfish, narrow morass. Disciplined, dispassionate, responsible people do exist. These attitudes and ways being can be learned – uncovered.

One of the most immediate and easily accessible means by which to experience your power is through direct engagement in the arts. Creating art, particularly the performing arts, requires the participants to be disciplined, dispassionate and responsible. Theatre is a  collaborative endeavor, arising from the energy of each individual, and is only as powerful as the power that each brings to the process.

I believe that the power arising from our souls and within out hearts and minds, is the God-head, Creator, the Great Spirit.  We are each first and foremost responsible to our own Self, to manifest the potential that we hold within. It requires that each of us is disciplined, over-riding the ego’s fears and embracing the greater power of which we are part.

The dispassionate being, exercising an objective non-attachment to outcome, is most able to see and understand, offer compassion (possible only when you can put aside your own passions), take action and follow through.

Choose to be one of them. Claim your personal empowerment, manifest your Personal Magic and in doing so, empower those around you. Then, run for office!

The power of three. S0metimes unrelated experiences create the perfect mosaic. I have learned to pay atenti0n to the picture that emerges.

Late last month I read for the first time a terrific 10 minute play that I am directing. As a participant in a wonderful Women Playwright Festival in Prescott, Aug 20th, I wear several hats –  writer, actress and director. I am directing Color Separation by Jennie Webb.

The play explores choice, and consequence of not making a choice through a slightly absurdist lens. Ms. Webb looks at the way in which people drift into relationships, ‘find’ themselves to be pregnant and then maybe even then fail to make a choice, because, one could argue, in some places and ways government or religion has made the choice for women. Taking it a step further these young people take their to have baby or not ‘choice’ to facebook and ask their ‘friends’ to make the choice for them.

Last week I finally watched the documentary Ten Questions for The Dalai Lama (2006). Since it was released he has made the one most powerful and effective choice he could have in the face of China’s determination to corrupt the process of selecting the next Dalai Lama.

On March 14 of this year he announced that henceforth the role of the Dalai Lama as both spiritual and political leader of Tibet would be no more. The two would be separated. In this way no matter who the Chinese claim is the next Dalai Lama, that power he will have will not equal the  force of tradition. Thus the power of the Chinese over Tibet cannot be complete even with their own Dalai Lama.

[If you can, take the time to read the last 5 paragraphs found at this link from the website, dalailama.com/news It is wise, thoughtful, unemotional and committed to the cause of freedom.]

And then there was July 4th. As a non-American with more than 25 years here, I have picked up some of the dialect, humor and concerns of specific levels of the multi-layered society that is The USA.

I have been privileged to work with returned members of the Military, with doctors and families making through life-threatening illnesses, and side by side with educators whose commitment to their students is unwavering.

I lived in Oregon near the coast for more than 20 years and then moved to the warmer, drier climes in Arizona. I have been fortunate enough to be free to make my own choices, generally responsible enough to manage the outcomes of those choices and blessed with an incredible (albeit now older!) Honda CR-V which allowed me to travel anywhere. (Let’s hear it for car-camping.)

By being willing to live with less I have been able to do much. The journey has taken me to so many places, introduced me to very many different people, and expanded my awareness into experiences of which I had no idea when I arrived. One of those is the July 4th celebrations.

Every year on July 4th I am primarily concerned with the fast beating hearts of the creatures in my care who may not ‘get’ the excitement along with loud noises and blindingly sudden lights. This year in AZ I didn’t have to worry. The choice to let off fireworks in every backyard was pre-empted by the extreme heat and gusty winds with a resounding NO! from the powers that be.

(An instance of freedom and choice being curtailed? Maybe because we cannot be sure that all will behave responsibly or with self-discipline.)

Every year I also consider the veterans I know for whom the explosive noises and lights are no pleasure at all. For those people there is no freedom to celebrate the 4th with unfettered joy and delight. The cost has been too high in ways I can only imagine.

Susie Kincaid wrote a lovely response to July 4th for Body/Mind/Spirit group that I lead on the EmpowHer site. She embraced and honored the freedom and beauty of nature, in beautiful Vail, Colorado, where she lives.

She celebrated and urged ‘your personal independence. Which also means opportunity… to choose growth, awareness, our own path.’ She also wrote, ‘My freedom and personal power feed my purpose which is nurturing others to use their own power as a positive influence in their world.’

Given my history with those beings for whom so much is beyond their personal choice, for whom freedom to be whole and healthy and well has been challenged by events beyond their control, I responded with this addition.

‘Along with Freedom and Choice resides Responsibility and Self-Discipline. Freedom is not ‘free’ because it requires that we each, and then in community, accept the consequences of our actions and/or in-actions, as the case maybe. So, I embrace freedom and I practice responsible thought and action. Then indeed I am truly free within my own empowerment.’

What do these three unrelated experiences all have in common? I think each of them explores the balance of freedom, choice and responsibility.

Emma Lazarus (yes, of  Statue of Liberty fame) wrote: ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.’ True freedom exists in relation to community, involves thought before action, and responsibility to something greater than our personal freedom.

So, back to the emerging mosaic, and my much smaller but nevertheless important to me circle. I am face to face with this question: Why have I waited again for 3 weeks to write this blog?

The Three direct me to meditate on Freedom, Choice, Responsibility. I have had the freedom to do so and not to do so. I cannot claim that work or other activities have been so demanding that it would have been impossible to write.

I have chosen not to. Or did I choose? Did I abdicate that responsibility as well? This feels like the truth, because that is ultimately where the break is. It was a lack of conscious choice. I didn’t choose not to do it, I just didn’t do it.

The power of three has always resonated for me. So, for this theme, the three are; the play, the Dalai Lama and the 4th of July.

Bearing these in mind, I am aware that I have in some way not full-filled a certain responsibility – to myself, to the work I know I am called to do and ultimately to the future . This is not grandiosity. Simply by my presence here now, I am surely a part of the future.

And as the Dalai Lama has said, self discipline is the key to how we perceive, live and move through the word.

“Self-discipline, although difficult, and not always easy while combating negative emotions, should be a defensive measure. At least we will be able to prevent the advent of negative conduct dominated by negative emotion. That is ‘shila’, or moral ethics. Once we develop this by familiarizing ourselves with it, along with mindfulness and conscientiousness, eventually that pattern and way of life will become a part of our own life.”

The Dalai Lama in making the choice he did, to separate the powers church and state from the single person of Dalai Lama, demonstrated a high level of disciplined, responsible choice-making. He did so in the name of freedom, a decision made in exile, because the freedom to live in his ancestral home has not only been taken away but could also result in the disappearance of his culture and history.

In the play, Color Separation, the consequences of irresponsible lack of active choice lead to an ambiguous conclusion.

And the advent of July 4th continues to provide a specific date to consider the role and manner of Freedom in our society today.

As long as we truthfully hold ourselves in high regard, as long as (to quote E Roosevelt) ‘No-one can make you feel inferior without your permission’, then we are free in the most real sense of the experience. When we operate from a place of self-discipline and act with responsibility, we will maintain that freedom.

It arises from a deep sense of self, that connection to spirit; is articulated through a sharp intellect and willingness to learn, and manifests as conscious, disciplined action. Your freedom is deeply within, and how you manifest that enhances the world around you.

Be it quietly privately, loudly and publicly, in interaction with other human beings and the nurturing of your natural world and place, or through the art you create, freedom will ring. When you practice true freedom, held fast by self discipline, then we can all fly.

So, here is my blog offering and the book, Personal Magic, is coming right along! May you experience and manifest your freedom.

“Man shall not live by bread alone.” This is something Jesus said and is mentioned several times in the Bible. It is one of those sayings, now a proverb perhaps, that probably we all sort of know. (I thought it was Shakespeare but he was talking about poetry or music.) It is so familiar because we recognize the truth of it in our deepest selves. We know we are more than our physical bodies and that our souls need sustenance in order that we can truly live.

However, that said, we do need water and water has been much around lately. Or rather, more accurately, a cascading awareness of the lack. Here are a couple of links to the ‘incoming’ just in the last couple of weeks.

I just completed reading Salt Dreams  by William deBuys about the history of the Salton Sink and Sea. By necessity,that meant learning a great deal about what we have done to the Colorado, its delta (starved and dead) and other related bodies of water.

We watched the movie Up The Yangztse and were stunned by the arrogance of destruction along the mighty river. That was quickly followed up by an article in the NYT – well, two. One was about water woes in China with the forbidding lead “North China is dying” and this first paragraph:

“A chronic drought is ravaging farmland. The Gobi Desert is inching south. The Yellow River, the so-called birthplace of Chinese civilization, is so polluted it can no longer supply drinking water. The rapid growth of megacities – 22 million people in Beijing and 12 million in Tianjin alone – has drained underground aquifers that took millenniums to fill.”

The other was about a mighty hydro-electric dam proposed in Brazil.  This choice, in the name of water and power, was approved by their government regardless of the mistakes made and perhaps irredeemable with the Yangztse. And I do not even need to mention our messy river re-arrangements here in the USA.

Closer to home, last Thursday down the road at the community association meeting, a local expert on the subject took us on a lightening excursion through the history of water in AZ, sw AZ (where I am) and Phoenix in particular. As the graph rises up with heat increase, so it slants down with the decrease of water falling.

I hike around here a lot, and the evidence of waters’ previous power, the gradual loss of that bounty and the unfolding, not-so-slow desertification of my area, is unavoidable. It is not just in the deep gravelly beds, the huge dead trees and the exposed root systems.

It is in the loss of vegetation and grassland, the carpet of cactus where there used to be range land. It is the vanishing artificial lake in our town. No water coming down the little creek, less rain for run off and wells that are hard put to fill hungry houses and gardens let alone lakes.

I guess you could also say this water awareness is a kind of metaphor for my lack of writing since May 20th. I have been as dry as one of those not-so-old river beds, as low on focus as the sinking water table, as paralyzed and inert as the stagnating ponds we call lakes.

So, I have found other things to do, justified my existence in the more mundane, like getting my social media pieces in order, and earthy pursuits – like watering.

When I water my garden, I am conscious of the balance between keeping the roses bright, lilacs (way past their flower-by date) green and the hollyhocks alert, while knowing I am living in a desert! Hand-held hose and every drop falling where it can be useful, when I can manage that. I know I should mend the auto drip system. It’d be more effective, as long as I keep up with the popped off little nozzles and what-have-you.

It will show on my water bill that’s for sure. I get wet when the little hole in the hose suddenly faces me. I curse when it catches on the stone paving. And I struggle with what is too much or not enough. When am I just band-aiding to no effect? And when do I do the deep-soak that might serve the lighter watering better?

But there is something about face-to-face interaction with the living organism I am keeping alive that in its turn feeds me. The exchange keeps me anchored, grounded, as it were, to what water is. When I spray it on a distressed plant, less than an hour later its leaves have raised their tips upward. When I crouch down to reach the roots under the lilac and rose, my hair catches in the branches. The honeysuckle sends it soft scent out over the carport.

Cool air rises from the damp earth around the house and my nose takes me back to some primal place. I am both feeder and fed. I have power to give life. I am in control of the water flow. I am soothed and uplifted by the beauty of my garden, kept this way by the water I disperse.

There was also a story about the golf courses that have been closing all over the USA. (Although why some of them were built in the first place – in deserts! – eludes me.) The economic change means fewer people can afford to pay the fees to use them, communities can’t afford to support them. And, let’s face it, pouring water/money onto green spaces no-one uses? Insane. So what to do with them.

Here is what I heard. They’d make great cemeteries, nice and quiet for the neighbors. Turn them into parks in which to stroll, to experience the beauty and smell and texture of growing organisms. Here human beings can be uplifted and soothed.

And what about community gardens, a place to grow food for people? Create a place to put your hands in the earth, experience the rhythms of planting, tending, reaping and preparing for the next round. Food on the table right from your neighborhood. Water well spent.  After all they are doing it at the White House!

And here is the real link. Water and food go together. Another story. On All Things Considered, June 14,  NPR Melissa Block spoke with Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of the book World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, about what’s behind the doubling of grain prices over the last several years.

Toward the end of the interview he said: “Second thing we need to do is to begin focusing on raising water productivity. We’ve tripled world grain land productivity since 1950. We now need a worldwide effort to raise water productivity, because it is water now more than land that is constraining efforts to expand world food production.”

The ultimate power resides where the water is and who gets to control where that goes. I do it in my garden. I stand there with my hose and decide what plants get how much water. I don’t water the ones across the street. They miss out. They are not mine.

If water is the most precious resource, and food is essential then we all need to step up and take personal responsibility for our corner of that ‘market’. If the water and its bounty also feed the human Spirit, offering beauty and peace, then we all need to care for the gift that has been given.

Drinking in the stories, like the plants in my garden I lift my face from the ground of my lethargy and return to thoughts and words that sustain me. I acknowledge that while I might not be able to do much to stop what other people do with their water, I can make choices with mine.

I also allow that I cannot write all the right words and be assured I am heard let alone that I am understood. However, I can continue to explore the world in which I live. The need for storytelling is a foundational aspect of the human experience. It may be in 140 Twitter characters or it may be in endless new Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

It doesn’t matter. The urge to share our stories, articulate our view of the world, to find commonalities informs our journey. We are all on the journey, consciously or not, to know who we are, uncover our place in the world and the gifts we each have to offer. In short, we are in the process of plumbing the depths of the personal river.

The source of the personal river is your connection to Spirit/Creator/God/Life Source, whatever your term for it. Ultimately that river waters your garden. It is the means by which we ‘feed’ ourselves. “Man shall not live by bread alone.”

So tend your garden, water it carefully and with conscious awareness of that resource. You are your greatest garden. Your ultimate power resides in how you water it. Care for it and all who pass by will be uplifted by the aroma of fresh damp earth, soothed by the beauty of the blooms and nurtured by the gift of your being in the world.

As long as you can find the water that empowers you to care for your place on the earth you will have something to offer others. Pay attention to the stories that are out there and bring yours to the table. Be informed, be courageous in that truth and most of all, take action as it best fits your piece of the world.

Whether it is conserving the water running in the earth beneath your feet, protecting the places where the water emerges, or collecting that which falls from the sky, your actions will make a difference.

When you access your truth deeply from your Soul, and share your story, through dance, music, words, art, or simply by being present, you will make a difference.

Little wonder we are drawn to water. The water bodies around us mirror the river that runs through us. Take good care of both. It is what you have, it is what you are.

I have of course been reading about the Rapture and that means considering the meaning of the words Armageddon and Apocalypse. This is not the place to begin to delve through biblical and subsequent uses and meaning of the words. Suffice to say the original meaning/intention of the words and concepts is to ultimately arrive at a beginning.

Armageddon is where the ‘battle’ will take place, Apocalypse is the lifting of the veil that prevents us seeing the truth of our situation. So, the root problem faced by humanity is that in order to have real change and new beginnings there has to be some house cleaning. In order to do that each of us, in our personal lives, our communities and the planet as a whole, are required to look squarely at the present in which we are.

There is no option of escape in order to engage in the gift of life. The changes and shifts in the environment, socially and culturally, spirituality and practically, could be understood as a personal Armageddon of sorts. The ‘battle’ that is taking place (if there is one) is for each of us to emerge into our full potential, to find courage and truth within and bring that to the way in which we live.

The apocalypse is the burning away of all behind which we have hidden. The truth of who we are (personally) and as a collection of human beings can be overwhelming. So we hide deeply in our fear and sense of helplessness. The control we hope to maintain over people, environment, our future, traditional measures of success and well being is not so subtly vanishing. No wonder some would like to be lifted out of this uncomfortable place of evolution!

The idea that we can be let off the hook, as it were, of living and connecting to the godhead within, of attaining a level of being greater than we currently know, belittles the very notion of a higher power. If my awareness of Spirit were of such paucity that I were to believe that I had reached my full potential here on earth, then indeed, Beam me up Scotty.

Instead, what I feel deeply in my bones and heart, in the blood pumping through my body, is that I am being gifted with the greatest opportunity of all. I can expand into a wider, deeper, more powerful place when I relinquish the false comfort of fear in order to participate. When I choose to come from my center, in courage and compassion, peace and strength, my personal Armageddon is won.

It takes far more to stay and participate, to be open and embrace the challenges, to forgive and grow. I can’t help believing that Creator/Spirit/God, however we name that power, would have gifted us with the capacity to be more courageous, creative and powerful than the current smallness of humanity in its early evolutionary arc.

I am interested in the potential that already exists, hidden within. I want to assist in lifting that veil, empowering myself and others in burning away the rubbish. I want to be there to nurture the seeds of true prosperity and love. In short, maybe I am willing to be one of the horsemen/woman of the Apocalypse? Maybe we are all being called upon to ride into the future by engaging in the present?

If I believed that this weekend would bring my last day and lift me out of this place into heaven, would I be in front of the TV huddled in fear and hope? Cloaked in the smug safety of believing I was one of the chosen for the Rapture?

Not me. I’d be out there, my hands in the earth, feeling the sun and wind brushing my skin, giving thanks for this planet earth, offering prayers for her healing and good health. So right there I am definitely not a candidate for the Rapture.

If I thought the Rapture would come and not take me? Would I be trembling with fear in the basement? Getting permanently drunk for the last time? Loading my gun to defend myself in the disaster that is sure to follow?

No. I’d still choose to be in the air, by the water, firmly on the earth, wising her well for the promised horror of the months ahead. I would be wondering how it could be worse than now, as the skins of change continue to shed. I would be promising to be a healer in whatever comes.

And if I think there is no Rapture at all? If I believe that the journey we are all on – people, plants, animals and fish, the planet and very Life Force that surrounds and feeds all living beings – is unavoidable? Well, then even if I choose to ignore it, or to hasten myself off this life cycle, the journey continues.

Maybe I have painted myself into a corner, where I am helplessly stuck in the face of the unraveling of everything with no escape route. OR maybe I have just opened the gate and stepped out into something that is so vast and filled with potential that I cannot help but to grow myself.

I choose not leave under any circumstances. I will be a part of the evolution. I will envision the Phoenix rising from the ashes.

I might not be here to see the trees that will grow from this change but I can surely tend the soil from which they will grow. I will plant seeds of great love and peace. I will pour on the water of courage and compassion. I will warm them with joy and hope.

The children of this world cannot all ascend with the rapture. They will have to evolve into the capable, powerful beings they can be. I will not give them fear or hopelessness. I will give them encouragement and creativity, opportunity and personal empowerment. I will give them each a garden plot so that after the Armageddon and the Apocalypse, each can rise out of the ashes.

Back to the Rapture. A definition: an expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion: a state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion: a mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things.

No artificial rapture necessary. Each person can rise on their own powerful wings, feet in the earth and hearts open to all that is known and unknown, connected to the Spirit that is all around us, of us and in us. And that is the secret, the power within.

So, don’t leave just yet. You’d miss so much. And she’d miss you. Go out this weekend and enjoy the earth. She is yours and you are hers. Improvise a song, create a dance, tell a story. Bathe your feet in a stream, lean against a tree, cup a bloom in your hands. And there is your rapture – right here, right now.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, the day before that my birthday and 3 weeks ago I was married. Members of my family from Australia came and stayed for a week or so, my daughter came in from Oregon, his daughter and her husband arrived from Georgia (the daughters had never met!) and we held a party here.

There had been a concentrated effort to prepare the house and garden, find places for everyone to stay, and ensure that even though there was a wedding, excellent sightseeing was also achieved! It all worked perfectly. The ceremony was out in the desert, at the very place on the earth where we had met. It was simple and with immediate family. A picnic lunch afterwards at Red Rock Crossing in Sedona allowed us all to wander to Buddha beach, cool our feet and bask in the beauty under and on the rocks.

The party for everyone two days later was relaxed, casual and blessed with prefect weather. The famous wind of my little town even stayed low for the occasion. An eclectic mix of people, from the overlapping circles in our lives, arrived bringing delight and joy into our world.

Over a two-week period of family here we managed to go the Grand Canyon, Jerome, Prescott to a play (I was in Seven), do kayaking and shopping, make numerous trips to the Phoenix airport and walk to the heights of Cathedral Rock and into the deep of Montezuma’s Well. Always, it seems, traveling in a flock and coordinating who was in what vehicle and where we’d meet.

Finally there was just the four of us again. The two little dogs and these two people. We nestled into the space and the place, strangely quiet after so much activity. We wrote thank you notes, put away gifts and did a mere 2-person/1vehicle excursion out, a hike near the Crown King area one afternoon.

I went into the office where I work (sporadically the best of times anyway), rode my wonderfully patient and remarkably well-behaved little Arab horse again and guest-taught a workshop for a theatre/social justice course.

This past weekend, David and I chose to go away overnight. Now we had our space back, we were ready to go away! We hiked up the startlingly beautiful and varied elevations of the Granite Mountain Trail, in the Granite Mountain Wilderness, just out of Prescott. My gluteus maximus knew it had been on journey, my entire body relaxed after the workout and my eyes and mind were filled with such breadth and distance as I had forgotten was out there.

My life over the 4 weeks since I last wrote my blog have been filled with opportunity for gratitude, love, wonder and encouragement. It is impossible to be surrounded with so much heartfelt love such as I feel from family, friends and David, and not notice it seek to pour, through me, out into the world beyond me. When such a richness of gifts arrive then by the sheer physics of balance some has to go back out.

Surrounded by the magnitude, power and beauty of this AZ landscape where I now live I am empowered from deep and high, ancient and present. The magnificence of the Grand Canyon, vibrationry power of Cathedral Rock, the ancient ways at Montezuma Well and the endless expanse visible after the stiff climb to the top of Granite Mountain all ground me solidly in the earth even as I am urged to fly.

So it is the slow return to the day to day of life that reconnects me to all that is going on outside my immediate and very intense life circle of the last 3 weeks.

In my little town it is the Vinnie St Paul, housed in a little mobile home, providing food for those in need that calls to me, reminding me that there are stories out there to be told.  It is the surprising number of children in the street when the buses have driven away by 3pm who suggest a summer theatre program at the community center. It is the students and  actors, writers and artists in Prescott with whom I have brushed space over the last few months and in particular this past week or so who invite me to join their world.

Beyond that, it is the march of change in the greater world beyond even AZ that penetrates my cocoon. The ongoing struggle of the so-called Arab Spring, where people are willing to die for perhaps obvious human rights that I take for granted – freedom to think, live, love, pray and speak –juxtaposed, awkwardly, with the deliberate killing of a terrorist.

The endless cycles of natural change forced upon a landscape and those who live there – tornadoes in Alabama, flooding in Tennessee and elsewhere along the mighty Mississippi – place me in my context as a fortunate being in my geographical location.

The many whose lives do not change, but seem to harden into a shell of hopelessness, fear and victimization, demand my awareness. Young girls who give up the struggle to be free from a life on the street, single-mother families in mind-numbing poverty, or communities who exist within the sounds of guns and the silent screams of those on the other end of that equally hopelessly, helplessly repetitive pattern of trying to stay alive, trying to be someone.

With all the gifts that I have – education, love and respect, encouragement and opportunity, joy and intelligence, support and safety in my environment, creativity in my deeper soul – what am I to do? Blessed as well with awareness and willingness to see what is out there, with imagination to feel beyond my immediate experience, and a recall capacity at depth-charge level enough to draw on the DNA that connects me to all people, the time is coming to truly join the world again.

Rejuvenated and empowered by personal events of the last few weeks, arriving at aged 54, with a book just about done and its story more and more pressingly useful it seems to me, my gratitude must translate into action. Time is speeding up for all of us. We are almost half way through 2011.

Placed by Spirit/Creator to be here, now, with the support system and knowledge that I have, it is time to step into the arena of real gift-giving. My gift is the gift of the story, of sharing mine, of revealing to you your power to share yours.

If you read this, feel free to remind me of my promise, encourage me to stay on the path. If I can facilitate you on your path, ask me that as well. The garden is prepared, the guests are at the door. It is time to share the gift. Ultimately, that gift is to lead you to open your door to the unique personal gift that is You.

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