The last couple of weeks have been very full, hence the delay with the new blog! I have been engaged in a range of activities all of which have been shimmering with expressions of Personal Magic. Today I will share two with you and, in the next blog post, another two.

At the very end of the Personal Magic book I write:

‘If you are to rise above mere survival and to thrive in the years to come, you will need to be aware of – and have the courage to manifest – your Personal Magic in the world. I cannot write this too often or strongly enough – you already are a powerful, kind, resilient and confident individual with an unique magic to share with the world. Own it! The World needs it!’

I have been privy to much of that magic lately and here is a sample.

Bricks and Bones:
I attended the opening of a unique and thought provoking interactive sound installation created by Tamara Albaitis. Not withstanding the detailed and elaborate weave of wires punctuated with speakers, in a beautiful wood floor space, the opening included a collaborative sound/sculpture/performance. Created by four dancers from Prescott with Tamara (who is from San Francisco) the art was introduced to us through the added layer of movement and bodies in space.

While I may not have totally understood or even be able to tell you what it was about, being present, in the presence, of art being created, offered and witnessed (the room was full) was in itself enough. The different bodies of the dancers each brought a unique quality to the group movements, a sound-scape subtly took us on a journey, and the focus and attention of the standing audience together created community magic, brought to us by the initial vision, courage and work of one individual.

(This installation in on display at the Prescott College Art Gallery, Prescott, AZ, until March 24, 2012)

Veteran’s Theatre Scene:
I have been working with a group of veterans at the Prescott VA for the last 6 weeks, assisting in creating a 3-minute original scene for submission to the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. (This year hosted by the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System in Boston, Massachusetts October 8-15, 2012.)

A few of the group have had theatre experience, most have not. Each individual is working through personal issues that require courage and commitment to overcome. The group has slowly consolidated itself into those who are able to make the commitment to this project.

Creating and sharing live theatre requires the kind of courage and commitment we often need in our ‘real’ lives. Yesterday we had the last rehearsal before we filmed it today, in order to submit it. Personal Magic is most needed when we face fear of possibility of failure. That is when you need to dig into your deeper self to stay with it even when you are terrified. Working with this group of people, each of whom are learning how to face their personal challenges, I saw clearly that this theatre process was a microcosm of that work.

Witnessing each individual’s process as they worked through that passage of fear and courage, I was again reminded of the power of live theatre to encourage and build Personal Magic, while also sharing that with others.

These two experiences were at very different ends of the creative performing arts scale. One was a group of women with many years of work and creative experience between them who came together to create a living sculpture for a live audience of art supporters.

The other, a group of men and women with almost no experience who came together to create something with very defined parameter (3minutes and a set of rules) and purpose, (to submit to a conference) for an audience they will not see.

Both groups, while so very different on the surface, are the same: individuals working collaboratively to bring something new to the world. Each individual took risks, experienced courage and ultimately brought their Personal Magic to the group. Each individual discovered a new level and depth of resilience, kindness and power.

When did you last experience an awareness of your Personal Magic?

The past week offered me experiences of either end of the Personal Magic that comes through live theatre. On Tuesday I visited with the costumer at the incredible Arizona Broadway Theatre, and on Thursday the elementary school children with whom I have been working presented their show at the school.

Visiting with the costumer at AZ Broadway Theatre was a tangible connection to a past that has been informed by theatre and teaching since before my daughter was born. Martha was a student in my very first days teaching 23 years ago at Linfield College, Oregon! Since then, she has taught and costumed her way around much of the USA, and landed 5 years ago as a founding member of the a theatre here in AZ.

I didn’t feel old (although it was noted!) so much as incredibly awestruck and delighted by the successful, varied journey in the performing arts by someone I really only remembered as a college student in Oregon, acting in her only play there and terrified. (After all, she wanted to be a costumer!)  Today she is just down the road from me, both of us still in the field through which we had met in such different capacities, and now equals in our respective specialties in the theatre world.

The elementary students this time last week were not even a solid group and in fact the very night of their show were not even all the same people whose names were in the program! The power of the collaborative creative endeavor, however, waved its magic wand.

One of the Kings Horses stepped in for the missing Wall and the Kings’ Woman took the horses’ line. The Cupboard managed his cardboard box costume even after the front fell off during a rowdy dress rehearsal (the hour before their parents arrived), and the Hungry Dog preferred that his ears be worn more as a collar rather than hanging from a girl’s headband.

Observing this disparate crew of 1st to 6th graders exhibit the same sorts of scared, overwhelmed, unsure and excited behaviors as many adults do when in challenging new circumstances was strangely reassuring.  We are all on the journey of discovery – who we are, how we behave, adding skills and building confidence in our sense of Self.

In the Personal Magic book I write:

“… as parents or teachers, you can (and, in fact, must) seed opportunities for that Empowerment of Self to arise in others. Those opportunities will vary widely based on age, ability and circumstance. … find ways to expand the horizons, broaden the activities and environments, and widen the range of relationships and activities for each individual. Through your efforts others may find ways to attempt, fail, succeed and finally experience the true exhilaration of well-earned pride and the empowerment that struggle and outcome can bring.”

The difference between those who become adults in awareness of and thus control over their behavior is the opportunity to experience, uncover and practice strengths and skills, in a safe, supportive environment.

Martha studied at an undergraduate college that gave her a good solid basis in her field of interest and skills working in a collaborative environment. She had supportive family and friends and took her own determination and power into the world she wanted for herself.

The children pulled their fears into a powerful force of focus and determination. A mere 45 minutes before the show there had been tears, near mutinies, costume refusals, absolute line losses and a desperate need for hugs, reassurance and pizza. When the time came, they worked as a team in front of their amazed and delighted parents. The vibration of their experience of pride and joy rings in me even as I write this.

Our Personal Magic is truly awakened when we move into places that challenge us, when we do so with people who love and encourage us, when we are rewarded with well-deserved pride in the accomplishment.

Martha started her journey long ago and seeing her last week as a fully-grown woman running a huge, beautiful costume shop in a strong theatre is a perspective that encourages me to keep on in my work.

The elementary kids are just beginning and the struggle to the reward of Thursday was a visceral reminder. It is urgent that as adults who care for the wellbeing of others, we bring what we can, when we can, to the children we meet wherever that is.

May your Personal Magic shine on others around you and may you experience the glow of another’s Personal Magic in your life.

Many people work hard on self-awareness. They want to be aware of their emotions, beliefs, attitudes, modes of communication and deep-seated fears. Self-awareness implies being self-conscious, conscious of self, having an identity. Identity is generally a pretty static thing. ‘This is who I am, how I live, what I believe and what I give and do in the world.’ It is closely associated with ego. If that self-awareness is fraught with anxiety at what you see then you can be crippled with embarrassment or shyness. And sometimes that self-awareness, anxiously competing for a place in the world, exhibits itself as brash, overbearing, loud and selfish.

(Time for a Word on the Ego.  As I am using it in this book it is the foot  soldier of the earth conscious self, the aspect that works to ensure that you are safe, happy and secure in this earthly realm. The ego is not a bad thing unless it allowed to be in charge, and runs the show.)

You hope to be objective in your self-awareness and know yourself honestly. The problem with that is your evaluative measures are generated from Self. The tools of evaluation are those by which you have built the self-awareness. (The student setting and grading the paper.) Standing in the center of your self you fashion a self and then evaluate that self. The entire focus is both from and to that ego-ic center, the Self. A self-generated and re-generating closed circle.

There is nothing inherently wrong with cultivating self-awareness, just as there is nothing inherently wrong with the ego, but it is only a step on the road to really knowing who you are. If you get stuck there, self-awareness begins to stagnate and perhaps even to rot…

What if you turn the words around? Awareness of Self. That implies that there is an outside observer to the Self, one that is aware of it without being inside or of it. Awareness of Self conjures up an image of something greater than the Self, that can therefore know the self more objectively than mere self-awareness. When you are Aware of Self you are not inside the experience or defined by it, and thus can accept what you see without arrogance or editing, justification or apology.

When in Awareness of Self you will never be embarrassed or shy, nor overbearing and controlling. Your ego will have no place to impose its will although you will be aware of those concerns and needs. This is because that ego is part of the circle of which you are aware – and not dictating the circle and whom is doing what within it. The Acting-Ringmaster has ended up on the edges of the circle, and is not holding the whip!

On my simple continuum, Awareness of Self is the third stage of ‘self’ in human development. I summarize three main stages in the maturing of ‘self’ in human beings within society and culture.  (1) First the baby becomes self aware, aware that there is him/her (Self) with other objects and beings beyond his/her own flesh.

(2) Second, human beings become self-conscious, that is he/she begins to see him/herself in comparison to others, to judge and evaluate his/her own Self in relation to the other human beings in the immediate and then the larger community and the world.

(3) Thirdly, and not a given as are the other two, Awareness of Self.  Somehow there is another Being in the room – not just My-self and the Other-selfs, by whom I live in comparison, but an objective, removed from the fray of everyday life Being. Your level of consciousness has taken a quantum leap forward in this stage! Unfortunately, we can get stuck before we arrive there, or we visit in short intermittent bursts.

Simply, it is an Awareness of Spirit. It may sound paradoxical, but think about it; we are all an expression of Spirit and it is through Spirit that we can have Awareness of Self!

AND the creative endeavor gets you there. The art you create in that mode is the purest expression of that Awareness of Self, manifest as your Personal Magic.

(© from the upcoming new book Personal Magic, by Kate Hawkes)