Have you ever found yourself halfway back in time and space? Not entirely in the present and yet surely not having fully left the previous. This is where I am today.

It maybe because my present is so unformed and amorphous right now, unsettled, without shape or definition, that this slippage into a place from before could happen. Have I taken a step back? Am I searching in my past for some remedy to the present?

I have to look at that, see how it feels to wear that for a while. There is reason enough to feel that my current circumstances and choices are far from working in the practical, sensible, material sense. The past looks pretty damned good from that angle, with the little house and garden, predictability and companionship. It is easy to ignore the past discomfort, reasons I didn’t stay, and deny the person inside that I am re-finding now.

Much has changed for me, and those directly affected by my choices and the continuing unfolding of my life. It is true that we are independent beings, responsible for our own lives but we are also social beings living to a greater or lesser degree in community. The interactions with the other independent beings in that community impinge on our individual lives and choices.

I know that I cannot dismiss that reality and part of living as the independent being that I know I am, is to respond to the overlapping stories with integrity, compassion and truth. So, on the journey within my present there are times when the past asks to be seen and heard. It is not the same of course. I have evolved – things and people, times and places have changed. But the whisper of that reality, perhaps unresolved and still hanging, is in my present. So here I am.

  I realize, with a burst of clarity, that it is not because I  am physically and emotionally un-tethered in my present material circumstances, that I am in this current situation. It is rather because I am so fully in the present. The present that lives in me – in my center, my certainty and my comfort – that allows me to be again in a past physical place, with surprising comfort and ease.

Where am I? I am back in the house where I lived until six months ago. I am here to mind the dogs, water the garden and fill the space for the place-keeper who stayed when I left. He is away on a much needed and deserved break from this space. Time in a different space to re-find, as I have been doing, his present, new inner place.

It is testament to the patience, wisdom and courage we have both independently and uniquely drawn on that we can be in this place. A place of asking and receiving, giving and accepting. A place where each of us, for different reasons that have to do with our very different journeys, have to face whatever it is that is difficult to do. It is a step on the path to full healing from the old place, free of expectation or keeping a tab.

We can never go back – the past is the past. Looking forward robs us of the present and thus the opportunity to embrace the gift of the Now is missed. So I am indeed back where I used to live, temporarily, with no plans for the future beyond this Now. The trailing memories of the past after the initial explosion into my senses and heart, are now just that – soft clouds in the sky of my mind – as I am able to live in this Now.

The gift I was given, to come and be here for someone else, has given me peace and power in equal quantity. It is surprising isn’t it? When unexpected comfort rises from the discomfort, when the blind leap sets us free, when the conscious placement of old stories opens new possibilities.

So I am fully in the old space with a new present. I have picked tomatoes (new), watered roses (old) and worked out the new internet system. I am running the old trails, sleeping in the old bed oriented newly in the room. I clean the same counters and sit at a different desk.

I won’t be here when the present place-keeper comes back. But I will have had my present here and will give his to him – through my being here in this place while he is away in a different place making space for this one.

My story will continue, with a new present unfolding every day, and the memories of the past trailing quietly behind me. The demarcation between the past and present, the half way back and half way here, always gives way to and, in fact, is the present. Sometimes we just need to bump right into that line to know that. I am here, now, and doing fine.

And how is your Present?

 

So here we are embarked upon the December month and whether or not you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or the Solstice, it is unlikely that you will avoid the energy of the season.

This may be felt in the endless and loudly persistent sales pitches, the repetitive music, plethora of lights, trees, candy canes, and general assumption that all of us are ready to buy and have to buy and will buy. The advertising assures us it is how our love for those we care about will be measured.

It is also in many ways under all that spin and glitter, a season of magic. It is the magic that arises in the very young, whose innocence embraces the color, noise, expectative excitement and coming together of family. It is in the recollection of where these ‘holidays’ originated. The magic of a child’s birth, whose arrival inspired so many; the miracle of the 8 days of Holy Temple oil; the awareness of humanity’s direct connection to the earth and sky.

In the introduction to the book Personal Magic I write:

“Magic is something you can only practice by doing. You do not become magic by watching a magician. Everyone has their own expression of magic in the world, and you will only experience your true power and joy when you find and live that uniquely you magic.”

It occurs to me that this is the ideal time to at least have a taste of the magic that is uniquely yours. It is easy to lose your balance in the rush to fit into the expectations and clamor of December. You can slip unawares into only seeing magic in the gifts you give (and receive) or in the way you are seen to celebrate the holiday. You can be caught up in the urgency and counting, and the expectations that are made and not met.

How much more powerful and peaceful to bathe in your own magic throughout the magic of the season?  It is like revealing a coat or a pair of wings that says, “This is my magic and through that I will be able to recognize the real magic in others. I will choose how to engage other magic.”

You do not have to adopt the rituals and expression of the culture around you. Nor do you to completely avoid or dismiss them. Your magic is in Your uniqueness and the power within you to make choices.

Try this simple art-play to begin to picture yourself as the powerful, unique, magical being that you are. And take that image with you throughout this magical season named December. Bring your Personal Magic to the celebrations. The measure of your love to those about whom you care will be recognized in the gift of yourself first and foremost.

ART-PLAY- The Personal Magic Coat/Wings
You will need an 8×11 blank piece of paper, a pencil and box of crayons.

This should take no longer than about 15 minutes – it is not the Sistine chapel!

You can come back and add it over time but for the initial look at your magic self, do it fast, lightly with play – avoid thinking or planning.

Remember to do this with/as your Wild Child. The Wild Child is not a child so much as that aspect of you that is curious, uninhibited, willing to try anything, say anything, go anywhere. He/she is uncritical, doesn’t care what anyone thinks, and is always sure and right! And can change his/her mind at the drop of a hat and that is OK!

Draw the basic stick person, about 3 inches long in the torso.
Add stick arms and legs and a classic oval head.

If you go with the coat, draw another outline about ½ inch out from the stick torso and arms, and either full length or ¾ down the legs. This is the basis of the Coat.

If you see wings, start in the middle of the stick torso, and draw 2 of the classic, one-side curved, wing-shape of the angel or TinkerBell or whomever comes to mind. Make sure they reach at least one inch higher than the head. They can come all the way to the feet if you wish! This is the basis of the Wings.

Now, with the crayons, using color and freestyle lines, decorate, fill in, add to, enhance, expand the coat/wings.

This is your pocket Magic Self, and a bare hint of all there is beneath. Cut it out from the paper (like those paper dolls!) and carry it with you, or place in a safe place.

When you feel as if your Magic is being overwhelmed by the rest of the hoopla say hello to this pocket self. (This is for you, not the world in general – your touchstone by which the world can meet the Magic you.)

(For more art-plays, writing and other ways to reveal your Personal Magic check out the Personal Magic Book.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wrote in the introduction to my book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It has been a big week and today is Veteran’s Day – 11.11.11. – remembered all over the world also as Armistice Day. I know many veterans and for me the date now has a resonance beyond chanting as a child, “On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour we shall remember them.”

Today the 11.11.11 stories hurt my heart because now I know that the remembering is not only for the dead but the terribly injured at so many levels.

It is also (and this feels so unimportant in some ways), a date that those in tune with the Mayan calendar recognize as a date/doorway/major opening for love and alignment, or the end of the world, or whatever interpretation is surfacing. I am quite open to the power of a date in providing us a time to reflect upon our history, possibilities and the need for change.

This leads me directly to the other thing that happened this week – the shocking, sickening and almost unbelievable series of events at Penn State. Uncovering the appalling lack of responsibility, common decency and courage that festered, hidden beneath the rock of the sports’ lights, has been painfully unremitting. The rape and sexual abuse of young boys by the adults they worshipped and to whom they looked up, not only occurred (we have seen that before) but this time was witnessed in real time by other adults, who did nothing.

My book, Personal Magic, is about Empowerment as a conscious choice. The endless cycles of war, and the re-learned and forgotten and re-learned lessons of that, the disturbing lack of moral capacity exhibited at Penn State, and the idea that the world is perhaps on the brink of ending – or is it realigning with love? – makes some kind of sense to me today.

We are in the midst of waves of change, coming into awareness of who we are not. The crop grown from the seeds of greed, fear, selfishness and irresponsibility is being reaped today. This is perhaps one of the most disempowered cultures in a long time. Lack of discipline, of healthy pride, courage and kindness leads to what we are witnessing on a grand scale now.

As we honor and remember the veterans from wars past, we are still failing those in need so that we can pay for the ongoing wars and be ‘prepared’ for others. The adults with the most power over the young people in their care not only fail them, but do so deliberately from their place of disempowerment and lack of discipline. And we cling to a date as means by which all will be either mercifully swept away so we don’t have to deal with it, or magically healed.

There are no short cuts. We need to face our fear, find the courage to move deeply into our inner, wiser, selves and do the work. In Chapter 3 of Personal Magic I write:

“I think 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.”

You can get there, you can help others get there. Embrace your creativity, allow your heart and soul to be heard, and begin to experience true empowerment, your Personal Magic.

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.

I was listening to the Diane Rehm show today and her interview with Peggy Orenstein  about her book Cinderella Ate My Daughter.

It was very thought provoking and relevant not just to daughters and mothers but to all of us. If marketing and social/cultural norms are defining at younger and younger ages just how our lives and way of being in the world is valued, then what can we do to resist that?

The book by Orenstein and this discussion was also connected, it seemed to me, with the recent interview on Fresh Air with Stephanie Coontz about her book A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s. In this book she explores the phenomena of Friedan’s book and the women of the 50s many of whom had no real sense of self. They too were at the mercy of an imposed set of values and rules for living in society.

The connection is the dis-empowerment of individuals and entire sections of society that pervades and overwhelms the autonomous, responsible individual. Scarily, it is happening at younger and younger ages, and thus is even more difficult to recognize and resist.

Personal Magic (the promised upcoming book!) offers a context and activities to facilitate Personal Empowerment. When you are truly empowered, then no-one can impose anything on you. Real empowerment is about choice and not necessarily about material possessions and power over others. It is an inner strength that comes from and is nurtured by discipline, responsibility and a willingness/capacity to know your true Self.

I would like to write directly to the two radio discussions but owing to the insanely full schedule of rehearsal with the play I am directing about to open, writing time is limited!

So, I am posting the following, excerpted from Personal Magic – Engaging the Arts and Spirit for Empowerment in Times of Change

(excerpt)

Why be empowered at all if it doesn’t give you all the material tangibles that you want? And is a whole lot of work and responsibility? Because, if nothing else, when you are empowered – that is, fully in awareness of self and knowing from within your Soul – you are quite simply Free. You are free from being at the mercy of others. No-one can make you anything. No-one can make you sad, angry, happy or guilty. You are free to respond as you truly are not as your ego or history demands. People can and will still do things that affect you emotionally but what you Do with that in the form of feeling and behavior is up to you. That is real power, and it is real freedom.

Freedom, according to my little desk dictionaries can be defined as ‘personal or civil liberty’, ‘able to do something at will’, ‘ease in action’, and ‘boldness of conception’. (These last two are precisely what we are able to do when in the creative state!) The other freedoms are only extensions of these basic precepts.

In short, it is being able to choose. It doesn’t mean changing what is except in how you perceive, understand and then relate to it. It may mean being better able to change it, once you are free from the entanglements of emotional turmoil. It does mean you are less likely to expend energy by trying to make ‘things’ change when it is not possible, and you will certainly be ready when a new opportunity presents itself.

I think of Empowerment as being your own hero (or heroine) rather than a victim. Sit with that a moment, how would this change your life? Look back the image you created for Personal Magic #4. What if you were able to appreciate your self as the hero in your story, free from being one of the people on the periphery, or the means by which the hero does his/her thing, or worst of all the slave. Real heroes, not just those of whom we tell battlefield tales, live their lives with courage, honor and in the service of their community.

Much has been written about heroes, heroism and heroic deeds. Most relevant to your journey are the stories of those individuals who, in the face of great odds, and often the derision of others, quietly go about their work and their calling. Certainly no hero is ever a victim, regardless of the circumstances.

In theatre, as actors, our task is to find the journey our character is on, by looking at the given circumstances (the what, where, who and how) and then asking, What is it I (the character) want? What is the goal, the objective of this journey? By placing the character firmly at the center of the story, the actor is able to inhabit fully the emotional, psychological and behavioral world. The best actors, and the ones with the most courage, also access the spiritual or Soul aspect of their character.

There is an old adage, ‘There are no small roles, only small actors.’ Likewise, there are no small people, only the small self. By embracing your Personal Magic and bringing that to the world, you can be the hero at the centre of your story. You will know your given circumstances, name your goal, and fully inhabit the emotional, psychological and behavioral aspects of your story. Most wonderfully in real life, you can do so without being a puppet at the mercy of some other writer. Rather you the writer and the director and the lead actor.

Bringing these two ideas together, the empowered person is both the hero and the story teller, is both at the center and also outside the story able to see it all. The hero doesn’t escape the story nor is he/she devoured by it. The real hero/heroine is truly Free and Empowered.

………….

To return to the discussions that inspired this blog, as adults we need to uncover, access and manifest our Personal Empowerment. We also have a mandate to facilitate that power for and in our children. This doesn’t mean we all run amok in the world grabbing what we can for ourselves. In fact, it is the dis-empowered who have to do that.

The truly empowered are fully in their own center, free of all pressure to prove anything. You are free to give and to reject without harming others in the expression of your Personal Magic. You are the hero/ine in your personal story.

Peace is every step.
The shining red sun is my heart.
Each flower smiles with me.
How green, how fresh all that grows.
How cool the wind blows.Peace is every step.
It turns the endless path to joy.

This is a quote from Peace Is Every Step, a book by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and great teacher of the C20. The peaceful state that meditation brings can be found in the daily, habitual, active mindfulness of body and soul. Peace and happiness are available for all of us if we can quiet our racing thoughts, notice the present joys of everyday life.

Peace begins inside each individual. Cultivate inner peace, then we can have family peace, urban peace, national peace and world peac

Our society fosters quick fixes, escapism, tangible, material, quantifiable results. Alternatively, inner discourse, small individual moments of truth and wisdom, allowing ourselves to feel fear and doubt, have no place in the race to be safe, comfortable and above all, in control.

Peace, you see, is not for the faint-hearted, or the philosophically certain. Peace is for the explorer, the collaborator, the rationally realistic, happily hopeful, patiently pragmatic. Peace presents a challenge and an opportunity to anybody who is willing to embrace it.

Peace requires that you take the ultimate journey. It is time-consuming, scary, exhausting, a struggle with doubt. It is easy to become lost, confused, and certainly you cannot hang it on the wall in a nice little frame, or buy your dream home with it.

Peace is an active, passionate process. It does not stand by, inactively hoping for better things. It requires creativity and nurturing, an engagement with the business of living. It can be confrontational and far from simple.

The business of living is your business, and my business, and the business of each and every individual.  And the business begins at home and goes out into the world. Before you can connect with others, it helps to have a pretty good connection with yourself. The business of peace, a foundation of healthy of living, is in constant motion, requiring constant maintenance, input and plenty of  Intra-personal Rest.

It is no accident that any of the Great Wisdom Traditions to which you belong, refer, or draw from, have as a cornerstone, time to be with yourself. You can reach this through meditation, prayer, vision-quests, time with nature; breathing, stretching and vocal exercises; writing, painting, music, food-preparation; activities that focus us inward, that incorporate our minds and bodies in harmony.

In that way, you connect to Spirit, the Higher Power, Source, God, Creator – whatever you choose to name this Life Force that is greater than the small ego-ic self.

Peace means “living in harmony with”. First you find the harmony within yourself, who you are.  Then harmonize with life outside – with the air, the earth, the animals, plants, and people. And then you go back to yourself and then out again, then in and out. Like breathing isn’t it?

Our world feels very disconnected, in fragments. We have detached ourselves from the things that cause us to hurt, to fear, to sorrow. We have pulled away, not to fill ourselves up from the inside but to cover ourselves from the outside with layers of insulation. And by that isolation the world and even ourselves become places of which we are fearful.

Insulated from your own soul, your own peace-spring, and from the peace and soul of the cosmos, of others, you are adrift. As your sense of isolation increases, you panic, lash out in fear, grab in desperation and set up a huge, frantic din of activity and noise.

Where is the possibility for peace then? Still within. There are words for it – quiet time, down time, alone time. Peace AND quiet. When you stop, you notice peace around you. A bird call, a child’s laugh, sunset, tree trunks, hard earth, sweet grass! And you start to feel – your heart beat, blood flow, arms hanging, fingers tingling, tongue on teeth.

Now you can cry, rage, you can celebrate, wonder and can be. It is peaceful enough that you can face your fears and dreams.

Peace does not deny pain and loss. Peace does not paint the world in rosy hues. Peace provides a nesting place for expansion into all that is out there. It expands your concept of who you are, of what the world is. Peace is inclusive.

If you want to feel at peace with yourself, if you want to live in the world as an active, peaceful being, turn off the noise, peel off the layers, reach in as you reach out. Only when you are connected to peace within, can you spread peace without. Peace is worth the price of silence.

Peace is also worth the effort/restfulness; struggle/release and activity/stillness of being peaceful. It brings a paradoxical state of grace, the tension of being one with the other and, ultimately within the sea and sky, earth and air, a filament of the one.

When fear and anxiety threatens to overwhelm you, step into your peace. When there are stands to be taken, take them from that place of peace. When you need to rest from the whirling dervishes of the political, economic and social world, go to nature, create through the arts, breathe from within. Embrace Peace in your every step.