Guest Bloggers


I am delighted to introduce you to a new friend in the Blogging world, Leigh Gaitskill, who writes at www.bluegrassnotes.wordpress.com. Her down-to-earth h0nesty and humor combined with her wise insights make her regular posts a must-read. As we head into the new year the following blog, reposted from November 18, 2011, seems particularly relevant.

In my explorations of what it means to be truly empowered, resulting in the book about what I call Personal Magic, the importance of facing the truth of who you are in your various levels of Self is paramount. I particularly like Leigh’s reminder that we can sometimes be so focused on the means by which we cope, that we actually cover up the deeper truth that is the most difficult piece of what we are trying to manage!

Thank you for sharing this post here Leigh and for all your  offerings. This post in particular has given me something to truly contemplate as I prepare for 2012.

LIVING FROM ESSENCE
first posted November 18,2011. To view the beautiful art work, please go to the original post

During the Fisher Hoffman work my teacher, the late Ellen Margron, gave us an image that has been one of my teaching touchstones ever since, the diamond heart.* I tried to make a drawing but I’m hopeless with the drawing programs so I can only describe: there’s a diamond in the center, around that is a circle full of roiling darkness, around that is another circle. The diamond is the spiritual essence or Buddha nature or God Self (you pick). The circle around it is all the negativity we pick up in early childhood and along the way that tells us we are not God, we are not perfect, we are loud, dirty, dumb, whatever. The circle around that one is the personality layer we put on the outside so that no one will see the roiling mass of yuck underneath.

All spiritual and/or personal growth requires penetrating the outer mask and finding a way to go through the dark circle in order to reach the Diamond Heart or essence. Ultimately, of course, the basic point of all spiritual pursuit is to be able to live from that place of essence or from Buddha nature. The aspect of the journey that people most often want to sidestep is facing the dark circle where issues and negativity and unpleasantness dwell.

It is also possible to create a third circle around the outside of the other two. This happens when you meditate or do spiritual practice or stress management with a determination to avoid looking at the dark circle. You wind up creating this extra layer around your being that just traps the dark circle farther beneath the surface and actually takes you farther from the diamond in the center. I’ve met many people over the years who meditated or did some other practice regularly for decades but refused to allow their issues to arise into consciousness. To me they always feel as if they have a tough layer of laminate encasing them. I can feel the unresolved issues beneath.

I saw it in myself when Ellen introduced the concept. I’d been living with a roommate who mistreated me, my cats and my belongings. I taught stress management at the time and I found myself incessantly using those techniques. I succeeded in keeping myself calm in the midst of the madness but I really just created an outward facade of calm while pushing justifiable anger below the surface.

I spent the first five or six years of my journey by and large resistant to prolonged and serious inner work but the Fisher Hoffman process (as facilitated by Ellen – quite different from the process at the Hoffman Institute) not only opened me to deep and intensive work but convinced me that it has to be done in one way or another in order to progress. I don’t say everyone has to do Fisher Hoffman; I know many who have succeeded with Almaas’ work, I know people who have done very well with the more advanced levels of vipassana that start deconstructing thought and belief patterns and there are many more. Doesn’t matter what you pick, just decide to face the shadow.

ABOUT THE ART: My friend, Ann Wasserman (http://www.annquilts.com/ ), created the above quilt many years ago and with a personal story that I leave her to tell. I’ve always felt it portrayed the diamond heart idea even though it isn’t an exact replica of the chart.

(to see the art go to the original post.)

* I understand that this or a similar chart is also used in H. Almaas’ Diamond Heart work. I could never make it through more than a page or two of his writing so I can’t vouch for it. Almaas and Ellen were both students of Claudio Naranjo so it’s possible that the idea is something they both adopted from his work or that she picked it up from Almaas there.

http://www.ahalmaas.com/
http://hoffmaninstitute.org/

Related articles
Everyday Essence
(joyofspa.com)
A. H. Almaas on Emptiness and The Void

(mettarefuge.wordpress.com)
Why are we here anyway?
(bluegrassnotes.wordpress.com)

LEIGH GAITSKILL BIO
Leigh Gaitskill studied yoga for five years with Bill Hunt http://www.oakparkyoga.com/oakpark_yoga_instructors.html   and in 1988 earned a teaching certificate from the Temple of Kriya Yoga http://www.yogakriya.org/ Chicago.  During those years she was introduced to meditation and metaphysics by a transpersonal psychologist. In 1990 she went through the Nine Gates Mystery School (www.ninegates.org) program, then went on to study Huna, completed the Fisher Hoffman process, explored Buddhist practices and sat vipassana, and worked with Hopi elder Jeremie Jackson for two years.  She has taught classes on right speech, prosperity, and yoga.  She also has second degree Reiki and Amanohuna attunements.  She’s created movement classes that combine Robert Masters’ Psychophysical Method with yoga that are available for CE massage hours see her website (www.artofspiritandyoga.com).  Read about her journey on:  Bluegrass Notes (www.bluegrassnotes.wordpress.com)


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I am delighted to introduce you to my third guest blogger, Jason Bourne. with whom I connected through the magic of the Twitter and intersection of writers. His story and ongoing blog, including many guest posts through his generous outreach to so many other bloggers, exemplifies the power of Personal Magic. Jason embraces his personal power, is responsible for his life, and articulates much of that through the arts such as writing and photography. The ultimate empowerment, as I write in the Personal Magic book, is to be a gift giver. Jason does this through his work, writing and photography, bringing his unique magic as a gift and inspiration to many.

I am honored to be in such illustrious company on his Guest Blogger list and welcome him in meeting those of you who read my blog posts.
(Be sure to click on the links to the utubes at the end!)

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The Lord is MY Shepherd

The last week, and the past few years, have been really tough on our family, and if you’ve been following the blog, you probably know what I’m talking about. My grandfather has Alzheimers, and it’s really hit me hard personally especially since I saw him on Thanksgiving, and I just wanted to share with all of you what’s been on my heart lately…

We had Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ (mom’s parents) house this year, like we normally do, and I had a great time seeing my aunts, uncles, granny and grandpa, but I noticed that my grandpa wasn’t acting right when we got ready to eat because he said he wasn’t hungry. It turns out that he wasn’t feeling good, and after everything he has been through the past few years I really can’t blame him. When we got ready to leave later Thursday evening, I went over to where grandpa was relaxing in his recliner and just held him for a few minutes. I sat there talking to him and told him how much I loved him, and if he needed anything to call us. While I was sitting there holding him and talking to him, the emotions just took over, and I started crying my eyes out and told my grandfather I loved him and didn’t want him to die. He said he didn’t want to say goodbye or have to make “a call.”

When he told me that, I started crying even more because I knew exactly what he meant. He doesn’t want to leave his family behind and have to say a final “goodbye” or have my grandmother make the most horrible phone call I think she ever will have to make. I thought about my grandfather all the way home and all that night. The next morning, I was talking to mom and I started crying AGAIN because I was telling her what my grandfather said. Then later Friday, or it might’ve been Saturday, my sisters were talking about Christmas and asked me when I was going to go shopping with them. Then I just broke down and lost all control…

I forget exactly what I said, but I remember I said something like, “Can’t we just skip shopping this year? Can’t we just go over and spend some time with grandpa and enjoy this Christmas? Doesn’t ANYBODY care about what I want???” Keep in mind I was frustrated and fighting back tears while saying this because I was and still AM heartbroken that my grandfather is slowly dying, and I’m having to just sit on the sidelines and watch.

Before I go any further, I want to back track and mention that I have always believed in God, and He has always, and I do mean ALWAYS, been there for me through a lot of sad times and a lot of great times. God has really lifted my family up the past few years, especially my mom’s family, having to deal with my granny’s diabetes and my grandpa’s Alzheimer’s, but lately I think my faith has been lacking in God’s ability to shelter us from Satan’s blows and attacks.

You see, sometimes I really have no idea what to pray for, or for that matter HOW to pray, and I just do not want to seem foolish or stupid to God. But yesterday morning, thanks to my very best friend and a dear co-worker, I now know I am never foolish in God’s eyes because He created me and He knew me before I was even born. I know my grandpa is going to heaven one sweet day to live side-by-side with our Heavenly Father, but lately I’ve been so caught up in my grandpa slowly dying that that’s all I can think about… Maybe I’m being selfish because I don’t want my grandpa to die and leave ME and his family, but I need to shift my focus to what waits for my grandpa on the other side. I know God already has a place for him in the middle of a beautiful meadow overlooking a valley or lake, with a new house where he will never be in any pain, won’t have to face the horrors and torment of a cruel world and can live forever rejoicing that he can remember who he is and who his family is. As I close, I am reminded of what Charles and Caroline Ingalls said when they found out their newborn son had just passed away….

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

And Vince Gill’s moving tribute to his brother, which is a great reminder to all of us who’ve lost a loved one that they have gone to heaven “a-shouting, love for the Father and the Son.”

Or Brooks and Dunn’s amazing reminder that “There’s more to life than just what I can see.”

Or Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s powerful, heart-warming proclamation: “My God, How GREAT Thou Art.”

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Jason is 29 years old and has been disabled since birth. Diagnosed with spina bifida, he has no feeling below the waist and can’t feel his legs. He graduated in Dec. 2006 from Kennesaw State University, about 20 minutes north of Atlanta, with a B.S. degree in communications. He works with the city of Marietta, Ga.’s, public information office, writing press releases and taking pictures for the city’s website, mariettaga.gov. He loves reading, writing and taking pictures in his spare time.

Follow his Blog
and Twitter

I am so very pleased to introduce you to my second guest blogger, Rae, whose wonderful blog The Art Of Collecting Yourself caught my attention a while ago. The one we are sharing here, Cultivating ART-itude, was first posted on September 8th this year.

I was particularly struck by this post because it addresses something many of us experience; self-doubt and the false belief that we are not good enough to bring our gifts into the world. It takes courage, commitment and a certain joy in our creativity to stay the course. In my book Personal Magic I write:

‘To be empowered, very simply you need to find ways by which you can authorize yourself to know your own story, sanction your personal truth, entrust that to those to whom you choose give it, and thus ratify the magic that is yours. Not simple enough? Empowerment is when you embrace and own your magic, through the courage, freedom and joy found in the personal story. That magic is the energy/power that we all carry in our Being – the capacity to see, be and do.’

 Rae’s work and her new Creativity Tribe group is precisely the opportunity and celebration of that urge to create, share and empower not just ourselves but others as well. Enjoy the following and then follow her on twitter (@collectyourself)find her on Facebook and bring your Personal Magic to the Creativity Tribe.

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Cultivating ART-itude  by Rae
I have a daily ritual that includes beginning and ending my day by thumbing through some of the blogs I subscribe to.  I have a reader app on my phone that puts them right in the palm of my hands.  I started doing this a few months ago and have found the process inspiring because the blogs I subscribe to are so inspiring.

I subscribe to blogs for a number of reasons.  Some inspire me because they are about art or the art process, some get my attention because the blogger has an interesting personality or perspective, and some (like the one that threw me for a loop today) is about professional blogging.

As many of you know, I have been busy working on developing a creative business that I am planning on revealing at months end.  This push to redesign my blog and offer my art to the world has guided me to blogs with wisdom about reaching more people, offering them quality products, and maintaining a personal connection even as the numbers of followers increases.

One of the blogs I read this morning featured a post about a blogsite that helps on-line businesses grow and prosper.  The site sounded interesting, so I hopped over for a look-see.  Once on the site, I found that the writer communicated authority on her subject, which was backed up by the original blogger’s high recommendation of her.  She discussed having had a woman, a new blogger, ask her if it was possible to make money blogging, and then the author went on to talk about everything the new blogger was doing wrong….and how the new blogger needed her expertise to make it work.  I felt bad for the new blogger.  Embarrassed for her.  The woman who was an authority on blogging made some very strong points that made sense, so at the end of her post, when she offered an opportunity to sign up for her newsletter that promised tips and how-to’s, I entered my email and hit send. Then, the anxiety hit.

I sure didn’t want to be the new blogger who wasn’t doing it “right.”  I really needed the professional’s help.  But as the day progressed, I began thinking about the doubt she had in the new blogger.  Suddenly, I could feel my dreams for my creative business becoming foggy and losing shape.  I started to doubt myself and question what I thought I knew.

The voice was a familiar one.  It is that voice we all have that CHATTERS on about can’t and shouldn’t, the voice that squelches creative urges.  The voice warns about telling others that it exists, lest we be looked upon as insecure.  But the truth about the voice is that it is Universal.  It comes with the package of being human.  Sometimes it is louder and more paralyzing than others, and sometimes it says stop to things that are more important than others, in the scheme of our lives.

So when my dreams got foggy this afternoon, I knew it was time to cultivate my Art-itude, that inner force that subdues the Chatter Box.  Art-itude stood tall and calm within me.  It looked the Chatter Box in the eyes….and as Art-itude is apt to do, it spoke first from the heart, telling the Chatter Box what the Chatter Box never thinks anyone will ever see.  Art-itude gently said, “I know you are scared, and that is okay.”  Chatter Box became still.

Be Still.

Over the course of the day, the inner dialogue went back and forth.  Chatter Box offered its yah-but’s to which Art-itude responded with love and support for the creative dreams.  Sometimes the Chatter Box would go on wild raging adventures down the road of Must-Not, but Art-itude kept vigil.

In the end, my dreams are in tact.  We never know when or where self-doubt will strike or what will set it off, but if we learn to recognize a deflation in our dreams, we can quickly swoop in and protect them.  If we don’t, who will.

Have you intervened when your Chatter Box threatened your dreams?  What tips could you offer to help others recover the vision they have for themselves?

To more closely follow the progression of creative business, subscribe to this blog and consider subscribing to the new arts network I am developing by clicking the Creativity Tribe button on the right sidebar.  I will be previewing some of my artwork, the steps I am taking to create my creative business, and inviting you to participate in one of the most creative parties on the planet.

Creatively Yours, Rae

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Clicking on her link to this blog you will also be treated to the incredible images and art that accompany her writing. She can also be found at her new facebook page Creativity Tribe.

Short Bio
Rae has been in the pursuit of creative living for over 25 years. Her adventure began as a young woman studying theatre in school, and it went on to include other forms of art: movement, visual art, writing, and ritual. Eventually, she found that creativity could be a way of life and the path of creativity can become the avenue to self-discovering myself.

Rae followed that idea of healing through the arts back to school for a career in Counseling.  ‘The Art of Collecting Yourself ‘offers a peak into her journey and the lessons that she is learning along the way.  Rae hopes that it might help make your journey more meaningful.

I am delighted to introduce you to my first Guest Blogger, the wonderful Kathryn Cloward. I first ‘met’ her through Twitter when I saw that she had written a book called Kathryn the Grape- Just Like Magic.  Here is this powerful, real woman who is writing books for children about their inner magic.

It was serendipitous for me as I launch Personal Magic to know that I am working in good company, that my passion and belief in the unique capacity of every individual is so perfectly expressed by another writer, and for children.

In Personal Magic I write:

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….  Most of all, offer them the time and permission to interact with a living, breathing person – YOU! Bring your Personal Magic to assist in uncovering theirs.”

Kathryn does this in a myriad of ways. Get her book and share it with the children in your life. Oh, she also has words to the wise for us grown ups as well!  Enjoy the following from her August 13th, 2010 blog It will be a step toward knowing your Personal Magic.

………..

WHO ARE YOU?  by Kathryn Cloward

 I recently had a meeting with one of my mentors where we were discussing a variety of important things going on in my life. As I was speaking, I apparently made a few statements that included phrases like:

“…..who I am.”

“….my true self.”

“….reflecting who I am.”

Abruptly, my mentor asked me, “Who are you?”

Caught off guard, I said, “What?”

She said, “Who are you?”

I laughed out loud. Not my normal thundering “that-was-so-funny-I-can’t-help-myself” laugh. It was my “I’m-kind-of-feeling-uncomfortable” laugh. The “let’s-move-onto-another-subject” laugh.

It’s my…space filler laugh.

People who know me well, call me out on this laugh. My mentor knows me well, and thus, she called me out on it.

“Seriously, Kathryn. Tell me, who are you?”

Feeling a little off track from the flow of our original conversation (and mildly annoyed with my discomfort), I quickly answered, “Well, I am my son’s mom. I’m an entrepreneur. I…”

She cut me off and said, “Kathryn, get out of your head. This is important. Close your eyes and sit with it. Allows the words to come to you. Don’t force it.” Then she asked again gently, “Who are you?”

By now my smile had subsided. I knew this question wasn’t going away. It couldn’t go away. I agreed with her, it was important. It was a question that needed to be answered, not for her benefit, but for mine.

The question lingered….Who are you?

She waited patiently for my response. Just like a seasoned business negotiator, she asked the question and didn’t say another word.

So… I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath, exhaled, and sat in the stillness. I shut down the chatter in my mind (which took a fair bit of time) and allowed space to open up.

Then…

Stillness.

Stillness.

Within a few moments the visual appeared on my mind’s blank canvas. I saw my tree. The tree that started out as the logo for Natural Kidz, and then evolved to be the tree that brands and binds all of my businesses, the businesses I love and invest my work energy into.

I saw my tree.

The multi colored tree that has ultimately come to represent…me.

I am the tree.

Grounded.

Sturdy.

Flexible.

Growing.

Nurturing.

Colorful.

Colorful!

Moisture was gathering behind my eyelids and a small smile formed. Then my mentor broke the silence and asked, “What is your smile saying?”

I smiled wider, opened my eyes, and with a confident voice I spoke the words that had come to me when I saw the tree appear in my mind’s eye. I said, “I am wildly colorful!

She smiled and nodded with confirmation of my breakthrough. Oh yes! Now, I was most definitely out of my head and into my heart. I took a deep breath and continued with the self-defining statements that were flowing out of me.

I am wildly colorful.

I am compassionate.

I am courageous.

I am a great mom.

I felt good. I felt centered. I felt clarity.

I drove home in silence feeling peace in allowing and accepting my true nature to come forth.

My true nature is not first defined by my roles. When asked to describe myself, I normally respond with my roles, as I did when the question was first asked by my mentor. And while I am proud and honored to be my son’s mommy, my parent’s daughter, my (three) brothers’ sister, my friend’s friend, my own boss, I am also proud to be….wildly colorful!

At one point in my drive home that day, I recall laughing out loud, thinking: from now on when someone asks me a question that requires an answer of “I am…” I may just have to say: “Hi. I am Kathryn. I am wildly colorful!”

How is that for an ice breaker?

So…I raise the question to you. When you sit with yourself in quiet space and you get out of your head and into your heart, how do you answer the question; “Who are you?”

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Kathryn can be found at:
http://www.kathryncloward.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/kathryncloward
Find her at Facebook: and LIKE her show The Ripple Effect
http://www.naturalkidz.com/

Read the original post with a beautiful illustration at: http://www.kathryncloward.com/who-are-you/

Short BIO:
Kathryn Cloward is a passionate and purposeful entrepreneur who is known for her dedication to creating dynamic companies. She is the founder and president of Natural Kidz and Kandon Unlimited, which is home of Kandon Publishing and Kathryn the Grape Company. Bringing her childhood nickname to life in the Kathryn the Grape children’s book series has been one of the most fulfilling projects in her life.