This is the 2nd is a 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 Wednesday I offered a look at Resilience and today I recommend Optimism. Unlike the pessimist who can only see the negative, dwells in the difficulty of a situation and expects the worst possible outcome, the Optimist is not a victim and ascribes to the possibility of a better outcome.

A true optimist deals with reality. Sidestepping the facts, avoiding the lived-felt experience or ignoring the challenges means that you are engaging in escapism, lacking responsibility. It is not optimism to say ‘Oh, everything will be fine. I am just going to think positively.’ That is avoidance. Inevitably you will come face to face with reality and you might as well be prepared rather than broadsided.

I write about the difference between Positive Thinking and Positive Being in the Personal Magic book.

I think real positive thinking is truly seeing what is, with clear vision, from an emotionally nonattached place. This requires courage and an open mind. And what is an open mind? It is being open to anything, working with what is, regardless of what you fear or want it to be.

Positive means being in tune with the universe, aware of and open to something that is greater than the ego, inviting in the Spirit and then truly listening to it. It is not a fighting, demanding or fearful energy. That takes from you, is a negative.

Conversely it is not negative to recognize and engage with the events, circumstances and feelings that may ‘feel negative’. In the experiences of loss, fear, sadness and challenge we actually have enormous opportunity to grow. Thus, these are ultimately a vital aspect to Positive Being – in that you are willing and able to recognize this in your life.

Being in a positive state often means experiencing some discomfort. It is not simple or simplistic but does require a lightness of touch, a joy and a delight and love. It is a way of being in the world, that accesses something greater than just how you are treated, what you have lost or are working on getting.

A true optimist does not allow the reality to overwhelm their sense of possibility, because they are able to assume responsibility for their actions and know the potential of their personal empowerment. When you are open to discovering and then nurturing that powerful being, when your Personal Magic shines for yourself and others, you can be both realistic and optimistic.

Exercise POSITIVE BEING

Select something about which you tell your self ‘Think Positive.’

Now, be positive with all the information there is about that event, physical position, whatever, without emotional attachment to outcome.

Jot down the information in any kind of form on the page.

Consider all the possible outcomes, different points of view, and allow them to be what they are – possible, different.  

Make a list of actions you can/will truly take, now.

Make another list of what you cannot change or do right now.

Then sit with what is. See the truth without the emotional baggage. See the present state and accept that picture without undue hope, criticism or fear or anxiety. It just is.

(If you start to feel anxious, take a minute or two and breathe, consciously in and out. Feel the air move from the top of your head, down through the center of your being to  the bottoms of your feet and out to the earth. You will feel grounded and clear.)

Now that is Positive Being. Nothing is hidden, and nothing is pulling at you, and nothing is there that can make you feel inadequate.

When you are in a state of Positive Being then you are almost by accident an optimist.From this powerful state of connectedness to all the possibilities, your Personal Magic, take a moment to look ahead into your year with real Optimism. I’d love to hear about your view and how this worked for you. Share your story in the comments below.

The next post will address Kindness. Click on the Follow button to make sure you get it!

January can be a challenging month. After all the rushing excitement of the end of December and the New Year, back to everyday life reality can bring us down with a thump. The unremitting parade of bills to pay, winter’ s cold surges or summer heating up (depending on your hemisphere), everyone back to work if they have it or refocusing on the search again if they don’t, can have the effect of dimming the hope and energy of the previous few weeks.

Additionally, here in the USA we are currently assaulted with the nonstop lunacy of political campaigning and the promise of it lasting through almost the end of the year. It is easy to get depressed, irritated and feel hopeless resorting to either belligerence or escapism as a means to try and cope.

The very first line of my book Personal Magic in the Prelude is:
You can be someone who is resilient, optimistic and kind while being realistic in the present world.’

These are big words and require some thought as it applies to you and your situation. What exactly does it mean? In this blog and the next two I will explore each of these words. Today let’s look at Resilience.

In the final chapter of Personal Magic I write this:

Resilience can be (simply) understood as the capacity to overcome fear, helplessness and anxiety in the face of  great difficulty and challenge, without resorting to violence, escapism or victim-hood. Studies of people who do well, rather than those who do not, have revealed common attributes of well-ness.

One of these is resilience, a normal human quality, not a rare thing for some. It can be learned. The opportunities and skills developed through living in community assist greatly in evolving resilience. A personal relationship/experience of Spirituality also seems to be related to levels of resilience. 

So the good news is that it is not the prerogative of a few. When you are able to face the reality of your situation and stay engaged in life, you begin to practice resilience. How do we get there?

Resist the urge to self isolate, seek out community, engage in learning life skills, exercise and include artistic endeavor in your daily routine. For many people facing incredible personal health challenges and social difficulty, writing, art, music and dance have formed the bridge between helplessness and hopefulness. That is the difference between believing there is no point and realistic optimism.

Further in this chapter I write:

Likewise, as medical practice has begun to reconnect the body-spirit again, the link between resilience and the individuals’ interaction with their environment became clearer and clearer.

Resilience appears to related to the ability to connect with others and to deal with the present as it is, while taking responsibility for oneself and those immediately in your circle. Ultimately the resilient person has a strong personal Self.

As you advance into the year, pay attention to your skills of resilience and include on a regular basis the activities that will nurture and develop that most powerful aspect of your Personal Magic.

Resilience Exercise from the Personal Magic Book:

Using your own experience, explore the word and the meaning of ‘Resilience’ as it applies to you.

Create an art piece of it. It may be a one-dimensional drawing or an actual 3-D piece.

Imagine Resilience as a mobile or chimes that sway in the wind, all the swinging strands remaining free and clear of each other, creating a beautiful sound.

Perhaps words dangle, what is the cross bar made of?

And what is the music it sings? Make a cd to go with this image.

I’d love to hear about your exploration and experience of Resilience. Leave us a comment!

The next post in this series will bring us Optimism! Click on Follow if you are not already subscribed to be sure you get it.

I also encourage you to read the book by Anne Deveson, ‘Resilience’. (Allen & Unwyn Australia, 2003)

The last week has seen me in the garden every morning, right after coming back from feeding the horses (most mornings), and just after the sun has cleared the hills around where I live. This is not unusual. Ever since I started following the Shamanic way I have incorporated the Morning Water Ritual into my day with very few misses.

A daily ‘quiet connect time’, even when as short a time as this takes, really warms up your Personal Magic. Here is what I have been doing.

I leave in the barely opening dark to feed the horses, returning about 30 minute later. Collecting a glass of water I walk out to the side garden and stand the with cactus, mesquite and rose bushes, my feet (even in their shoes) firmly and consciously on the earth. My face is turned toward where the sun is finding its way through the parting darkness. (This was a challenge on the Oregon coast where I often had to imagine the path of the sun through fog and rain.)

This time of day, before any food or liquid enters my body, when I connect with myself through the earth, air, sun and water has become a ritual that anchors and lifts me into the activities to come.

It goes like this.
• First, lift the glass of water toward the sun, ideally in a direct shaft of light, and focus attention on the four basic elements that make up life. Feel through the solid earth below you to the depth beneath; note the touch of early morning air cold on your face with the warmth of the sun brushing over it, and really look at the water clear in the glass. Give thanks for all that surrounds you and these four elements.

• Next, still holding the glass up in the light, acknowledge where you need assistance, place your Attention on Intention. Try and be specific. You may also simply ask for help and leave it at that.

• Now move your awareness to friends and family and even those outside your immediate world, whom you know need assistance. Ask Spirit/Creator/God (however you name it) to bring empowerment to those people in the way that best helps.

• Lastly, pour some of the water into the earth (or if inside onto a potted plant), offering power back to the earth.Then drink some of the water, with thanks and intention clearly in your mind. Pour the rest of the water to the earth (or plant) with those others in mind.

In the summer, the cold of the morning before the heat increases is a promise that things renew. In the winter, this morning sun is a reminder that the warmth is coming. I love to be still and totally in the present standing there. It feels like camping, when you are exposed to the natural air without the filter of indoors. It feels huge, as if all is possible. I am in the space between the resonance of past mornings and the promise of those to come.

On these cold mornings I am grateful to head back inside, hold the hot coffee mug in my hands and stand in front of the wood fire. However, that ‘connect’ I bring in with me from the Morning Water Ritual will sustain me through the day regardless of challenges and darkness. My Personal Magic is percolating steadily and underlies whatever the next 24 hours brings me.

In the Personal Magic book I address the value of daily warm-ups for good health and nurturing your Personal Magic. I write:

The trio that serves your needs (body-mind-spirit) responds well to a daily workout or at least regular recognition. Like athletes or old friends, they are then more able to be there when you really need them! The following is a sampling of some simple ways to stay in touch with the trio. You will add your own as you go through these and as you further uncover what it is that YOU need.

 Daily Rituals

Morning

Begin with acknowledging you are awake and alive, even if you feel rotten or have a really hard day ahead. That moment that you first come to consciousness can set the tone for what is ahead.

Greet the day – consciously and with attention to the sun, sky, air and where you are standing/seated.

Stretch and breathe – honor your Body.

 During the day
Drink lottsa real water.

Evening
Stretch and breathe – honor your Body.

Oils – lavender in the room.

These and others can be found in the Personal Magic book and I encourage you to find and develop your own Personal Magic warm-ups. I invite you to post one of your favorites here and we can all  add them to our Personal Magic tool kit.

January 2012: So the iconic 2012 is finally here. Did you notice? Did you recognize this turning of the year any differently to previously? Did you make resolutions, promises or just blow the whole thing off?

Regardless of the spiritual, historical, cultural, ‘woo-woo’, that you may or may not be aware of around this new year, surely the waves of change are rolling. Worldwide efforts to expedite, promote, instigate change are felt from the ‘Arab Spring’, through Occupy Wall Street and even in Russia. The Euro crisis, small victories for the individual in China, continued resistance in Burma (Myanmar), Tibet and other places where traditional authority is challenged and asked to in some way justify itself, indicate a shift of power.

There is no doubt that the struggles of those who are being challenged, who can’t accept change, will increase as their hold is further threatened. Some, like the leaders in Bahrain, will become more vicious and less tolerant. Others will work out compromises and try new means by which to meet the demands of those less powerful than themselves. Some may even vanish altogether, like the Gaddafi regime.

No matter the outcome or your immediate involvement in the struggles, overall there is a good reason for you, for each of us, to find our personal power, and use it with responsibility. Some places will call to continue the struggle, others will focus on healing, some will offer a peaceful place to restore and find balance.

As you find your place in this shifting world and work, play, engage with life’s ups and downs, you will want to be as empowered as possible. Empowerment can be a tricky concept. It is not grabbing all that you can and telling everyone else what to do. It is doing the work you are meant to do, owning your place in life. I write in the Personal Magic book:

“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.”

This year, accept the responsibility to really get to know yourself and tell your story. It takes some commitment, often a burst of courage and a certain amount of discipline. However the absolute experience of Joy, a felt experience of being in the right place at the right time, will emerge along with that journey. Again from the book:

“… it is a neat little paradox that the Empowerment that comes with being in Joy entails a certain Responsibility as well. Just as the journey to Joy requires Discipline, so when you have that Empowerment, it will only remain if you behave with Responsibility. It takes Discipline and Responsibility to grow your Empowerment, (and thus open you to your Joy,) and that will stay with you only if you behave Responsibly. A circle, a spiral, but not a straight line to nowhere.”

Cultivate hope and resilience, build skills of discipline and responsibility, practice kindness and compassion. When you get to know yourself, really deeply – your Personal Magic, the unique strength and Empowerment that is YOU – you will feel Joy. Your Personal Magic is needed today and tomorrow and next week. Begin now, spend some quality time with yourself!

How do you plan to spend Quality time with yourself this year? Leave a comment and let us know.

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!

This week between the 25th with whatever celebrations one participates in (or not) and the 31st is always to me sort of limbo-Time-Between.

Staying in touch with yourself includes both looking back in honor of choices made, failures, successes and simply what it was to live the last year, as well as visioning into your New Year.

I don’t make New Year resolutions. They seem to be fraught with a great deal of judgment, way too much possibility for failure and are often based on outside ideas of what a resolution should be!

I also don’t feel dizzily relieved that the new year has arrived and Oh thank goodness I can rush into it and get out of the old.

When my daughter was young we had a candle lighting ritual, which I sort of still do but it is much quieter with only myself rather than with 3 or 4 little-middle school girls. About 10 minutes before midnight we ‘d light as many candles as we could muster – (a few years we even had candle making parties in advance!) – and place them all on a small table, light them, turn off the electric lights, and then stand hand in hand in a circle around the glow. Each of us would quietly recall the past year and the dreams for the future.

Then we’d blow them out, have a beat or two in the dark, then the 2nd New Year Celebration would ensue with age appropriate kafuffle!!

I also started the New Year Box with my daughter when she was about 3. Ideally we did it the last day of the year or the very first of the new. Now it seems to be any time in the first week after the 1st. But as I am in this Time-Between week going into 2012 I am going to be diligent about sitting quietly with the box and the writing piece within the magic passage of ‘limbo time’.

(See below this post for the details of the New Year Box if you wish to incorporate it into your rituals and self-empowerment care.)

I love the New Year Box. It holds the stories and gifts of the past year, the dreams and wisdom brought forward to the future. After you have made the deposit, close it and put it carefully away. It doesn’t come out again until next year.

How does this help your Personal Magic? It gives you a place that is private, arises from contemplative time, lays out a wise and calm story in which you are the hero/ine. Over time you will build a relationship and awareness of and through your deeper wiser Self. You will see yourself like the earth that lays down the layers of herself with the leaves, water and soil, creating a rich tapestry and depth that can be tilled and revisited year after year. Each visit feeds the new growth to come.

Embrace your Personal Magic, from both the perspective of where you have come and the vision into where you are headed. Wrap up the present of the past, lay out your intention and then, remarkably, let go of outcome. 2012 will become the new present and you will be perfectly placed to make the most of it with all the joys, challenges, delights and surprises.

I wish you a healthy, balanced 2012, with growth, rest, curiosity, and wonder in rich diversity. May your Personal Magic shine its light on all whom you meet, and open you to your great power and joy in the world.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

CREATING THE NEW YEAR BOX

1. Look over the appointment books, journals, letters written and saved, received – any way that you have in somehow documented your year.

Simple read it as if exploring a wonderful old trunk of treasure. No judgments, or should haves. It just is.

2. Summarize the story in a letter to yourself. This is the letter of dear friend –unconditional, nonjudgmental, but truthful and clear. It is a succinct and unemotional look at the past 12 months and begins something like this:

Dear (Kate), Well, it has been quite a year. Look at all you have done. (list them)
I know that there have been some disappointments and some real challenges as well.(list those)

And that is the first part of this letter to yourself.

3. Then pull out the letters from of previous years. (I have 20 of them now.)

These begin with the ‘what happened in the year just wrapping up’ as you have just done for this year. Reading these, I see patterns, the slow tides of success, the ribbons of repeated struggles and get the wonderful Aha!s.

(Notice that? The year that is closing is like a present you are putting away to open another time.)

4. (This maybe your Step 3 if this year is the first time you are doing a New Year Box) Vision the next – 2012. This arises out of the immediate year past (2011) and the previous letters that  both looked back and forward. With that wisdom, I can vision the future. These are not resolutions. There are hopes, reminders, compassionate warnings, and big dreams.

Write this part of the story to yourself. It might go something like this:

Looking into 2012, I intend to make a trip back to Australia to see the family. I will overcome my anxiety and allow myself to develop and make available Personal Magic workshops. I will challenge myself to step out of the current inertia and run a half marathon. I will pay attention to my relationship with money.

 This the 2nd part of the letter to yourself.

5. Now, place into the box the letter and anything special from the year. This is usually – if I have done it – the Christmas/New Year letter I create with text/pictures to send out. Over the last few years, as my daughter has left home and we now live in different houses and States even, the import of getting out a chatty Christmas letter with its news and photos has diminished. Instead I am drawn to a more reflective letter that goes out in the limbo-Time-Between.

After you make the deposit, close the box and keep it in a safe place until you open it again next year.

A Word about the Box

This is most powerful if it is something that you have had had a hand in making.

Use a cardboard box that has a lid of some kind – not too small. (You know what will be going into it and hopefully it will last 20 years – mine has!)

Decorate it – colored paper, tissue, glue, scissors, stickers, glitter, ribbon, whatever to make it yours.

If this is your first New Year Box, take an evening or afternoon to make it before hand. That way, when you write your first letter to yourself, you have the perfect treasure chest ready on hand.

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)