August the First was also the full moon. I sat out on the step and looked up at her, that particular white light of the moon shining on my legs in the warm night air. It was a rare experience to be sitting so still at that hour because the last 6 weeks have been very, very busy and un-still. Even late at night.

My last blog entry (good heavens, as long ago as June 20!) focused on the refurbishing aspects of my life and work – theatre and horses. Well, the refurbishment was so all consuming that for 5 weeks I was completely engrossed to the exclusion of almost everything else! My little grey horse took a back room as the play with all its challenge, delight and anxiety as well as ultimate success, required literally all of me.

I then had to take conscious steps to unwind, come down off the mountaintop of energy and focus of the play, that creative and administrative endeavor. It has been hard to allow the time for just sitting. It has also meant that the rest of my life, with the financial, human and logistical needs, now stands before vividly me, the abandoned orphan of the last 6 weeks saying, ‘What about me?’

So, when I actually stopped, under the light of the moon, I remembered all the times I have sat with her before. The long period in my life when I never missed saying goodnight to her, when I always knew when the full moon was due, when I wrote my book, was regular with the blog. When I was very alone.

However, I was also in a kind of holding pattern. That was time for creating space, building the foundation, preparing to fly. Then suddenly, I did fly off and crashed in some sense of the metaphor, but rose again right into the power and joy of creative endeavor with others, having been so solitary.

No wonder I am a little dizzy! I am a pendulum that has been swinging from one extreme to the other, accidentally tossed by tornadoes or selectively riding biggest waves I can find. In between swings I am deposited, sometimes not so gently, on a rocky beach.

So, as I perch on my pebbles today? I note that I have been sitting more, jogging regularly again, riding more often and paying attention the messengers from nature I meet along the way.

There was the Falcon who dived out of a tree, about 10 feet to my left as I rode along the trail, and then back up into the next door tree, where it sat quietly amidst the tangled limbs of the juniper. Stopping my horse I knew, ‘see the big picture and when you act do so at the right time with full commitment. Otherwise sit and wait.’

One day, when walking, the Heron standing patiently and alone at the edge if the marsh reminded me to be steady, independent and balanced. Deer have been with me since I came back to Sedona. Riding or walking they appear glimpsed in the trees along the water edge, sometimes in small groups, most recently singly. Strong and springy in step they are gentle, delicate creatures.

The Bobcat just 4 days ago zigged across a little back road barely 10 feet in front of Mariah and I, and then zagged back even closer, before vanishing, just out of sight at the moment of truth, in the edge of the bushes. There was a high scream and silence. Until the birds launched into a rather hysterical, full-throated discussion on what had happened right underneath them.

She was beautiful that cat – fast and focused, graceful and shiny-coated. My horse just stood and watched. I was mesmerized and suddenly very grateful for some reason. Perhaps she had just re-affirmed my capacity to switch on and off the creative torrent, to keep the secrets and be alone when I need to.

The Rattlesnake who lay stretched out near the path I was walking, didn’t move at all. His presence quietly urged me to toward careful awareness, healing and to embrace the transitions. Always with me is the Raven. They come to where I am, wander about, talking and arguing, laughing and mocking, daring me to be bold and see humor in life.

Traveling with all these visitors, though, the most consistent animal in my life is Horse. Ever since I was born and always since, I have been in close relationship with horses. So much so I perhaps take that energy for granted. So, to my horse totem, today in material form as Mariah, I thank her for encouraging and feeding my sense of freedom and power.
I have been out of balance (gloriously so) and am now landing back into center again. This means allowing the wild, boisterous sweeps of energy and ‘doingness’ to subside into a rhythm that will be once again provide a place of peace and calm.

In the Personal Magic book I note that we need to cultivate time for just being, in order to connect to that power greater than ourselves.

‘Investigate and experience a range of opportunities to open up your heart, blend the intellect with intuition, create ritual and rhythm in your life. Ultimately, how that is for you, how that magic works for you, is yours. There is the power, arising within your Being, expressed in the world.’

Paying attention to the nonhuman living creatures we meet in our daily lives is one way to make that connection. So, who have you met the last week? month? year? And what did they have to show you?

(Many thanks to this wonderful website for insight into understanding the  animal messengers. Lins Domain )

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Hello All. It has been a long, strange, many-stringed journey since late  March this year. Much has changed, much has been released and more  has been added, blooming in the desert of letting go.

I find myself invigorated through the deep work of live theatre even as I am almost totally bobbing like a cork on the oceans of uncertainty. The energy of creating in collaborative endeavor is like the sun and rain that feeds the vastness of an otherwise desolate terra firma. Fred & Mary, the world premier production that I began with in September last year, is finally fully underway. 14 actors, 4 designers, the playwright and director, stage manager and volunteers – we are all only 2.5 weeks from that surely coming opening.

Directing!

With so much of my life spread out among 4 different locations as I slowly drift into the unfolding of this next chapter there are two pillars of strength. One is the daily responsibility and community of the theatre work. It reminds me I am valuable, worthy, capable and smart. The other is the little grey horse who has managed to stay pretty close to me as I survey the possibilities while living in the moment.

Riding in the red rocks of Sedona, my path blessed by the heron, coyote and deer whose creeks and land I travel through on my four-footed partner, any fear and doubt is gently lifted. I am reminded that the universe is far greater than the tiny piece of my corner of it. Conversely ,and perfectly aligned, is also knowing that my corner of it is the most valuable gift that I have been offered.

Magic indeed is all around me and while there are times when it seems almost impossible that any order will come from the chaos, I am nestled in the arms of something as ordered, as calm and as powerful as any reality I could conjure.

Red Rocks/Grey Horse

As I say in the very first paragraph of the introduction to the Personal Magic book, ‘Personal Magic offers a way of being in the world, a way to live your life with power, resilience, hopefulness  and – ultimately – with joy.’

I am glad that I have spent a life time uncovering and embracing my personal magic, that I took time last year to articulate that in a book. It is guiding my ‘walk’ now as I have to follow up on that ‘talk’.

There will be more work and sharing of the book, more blogs and newsletters. For now I am busy and spreading out into myself again after a hiatus both of choice and circumstance. The balancing opposite poles of my life, the creative arts (theatre) and the earth (horses) are both, in their own ways, giving me haven and strength to nurture and share my magic.

I can only wish you similar opportunity and joy.

(My apologies for the unready send of this a few minutes earlier – WordPress went mad! read this one and delete the other! Thank you, Kate.)

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Last week I wrote about two of the Personal Magic activities with which I have been involved. Maybe it is the coming of Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere but it seems to be bursting out all over (to badly paraphrase an old line!)

The next three stories that I will share with you also relate to live theatre in some way. As I write in the book:

‘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 center of your story.’

Perhaps that analogy works so well because indeed we are all players on our personal stage and, through our ‘performance’ have the capacity to reach and touch others. The challenge is how to be empowered when so much of the time it seems that we are dependent on the actions of others. I hope the next three short stories will exemplify how your Personal Magic can shine even when you are not running the show.

Fred & Mary Auditions:

In July 2012 as part f the AZ Centennial Celebrations, a world premier play by Micki Shelton will open at the historic Elks Opera House stage in Prescott, AZ. I am the honored and terrified director! The script for Fred and Mary: An Unconventional Romance is in hand, a start on raising the money needed has been made, and so we finally stepped right to the heart of it – finding the actors the show needs! Last Saturday we held the first round of auditions. (A second opportunity will take place on the 17th in the Phoenix area.)

There is not much that is more courageous than auditioning. Think about it. You come in with only your body, voice, and your brain and say, ‘Here I am. Will I work for your needs?’ There is not much more that relies to such a great degree on you displaying your shining, inner self more necessarily than auditioning.

Somehow, through the prepared piece (someone else’s words), the scenes you are given to read (someone else’s words), you have not only bring to life a different character but do so with all of your power and strength and, yes, joy. When you can love what you are doing even when you are scared to pieces that power will show. Your Personal Magic is essential to being able to give yourself to the work at hand, creating a character in which the audience can believe.

Ultimately you are offering the gift of yourself without attachment to outcome and with delight in what you bring. You become the hero at the center of the story.

The Artist’s Path:

The following Monday I met with a small group of talented, creative and hard working people for the first rehearsal of the April 2012 Artist’s Path production, ‘Love Make The World Go Round’. I was there as an actress, holding 2 monologues in my hands written by people I didn’t know, which I will inhabit over 6 performances in April.

Under the leadership of Gail Mangham, visionary and stalwart Artistic Director of the company, and with actors – some of whom I had worked with and others I met for the first time that evening – we began the process of creating a show. There is something very exciting about the first time you hear words out loud in a group. Something that says, ‘The Creation begins!’ Something that also says, ‘And you had better do it justice!’

The mix of doubt and hope, fear and delight that the actor has to accept, offers an opportunity to truly embrace Personal Magic. Placing yourself firmly at the center of creation, owning the responsibility, and then giving it away, you are empowered.  In the service of another you are enlarged and empowered.

Students:

Throughout all of this runs the ongoing thread of the Students with whom I meet twice a week. The daily courage it takes to be an engaged, open, responsible student, should not be understated. That each student is a unique individual, with a personal story, challenges, passions and dreams, brings to the group a myriad plethora of Personal Magic! They require that I keep owning my magic, that I raise my bar and keep expanding my capacities.

We are each, the students and myself, at the heart of our individual unique stories, and those story-circles intersect and inform each of the other personal circles of magic.

And perhaps that is the true magic of Personal Magic. As it grows you so it also has the possibility to inspire others to engage and express their Personal Magic. The dancers in the art gallery, veterans embracing the theatre, auditioners offering their gifts to me in a cold hall, the group of fellow actors with scripts in hand for the first time, and the students balancing their lives with the demands of the course work, all bring their magic to me in ways that inspire me to my Personal Magic.

As I write in the book;

“… share the story, creation, gift with someone, somehow. The sharing increases its power, magnifying the magic from its beginnings as your Personal Magic into the power of a gift to others. Personal Magic is just that, something which journeys out into the world beyond self.’

In what ways do you take your Personal Magic into the world?

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?

This is the 3rd and last in this 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 time I offered a way into being a realistic Optimist  and the blog before encouraged you to embrace Resilience.  Today I consider choosing to be Kind in your interactions in the world.

Kindness, or compassion, is an action and attitude that is most useful when directed both out to others and also toward your self.  Like Resilience and Optimism, it is not befuddled by avoiding facts, and sidestepping reality in a syrupy wash of ‘feel good’ babble.

Kindness is marked by the capacity to both see the reality without emotional attachment or the need to prove something, and at the same time with a generosity of heart. A kind person can offer support without dismissing the others’ experience or behavior nor using that as an excuse to exact a lesson. Kindness expects nothing in return and is independent of outcome.

In many ways, kindness is a gift that we can give to another. In the book I write this about Gift giving:

When you are empowered, you can choose what to receive  (allow in) and what to give (offer out). The feelings – and indeed the tangible outcome of giving – often elicit a smile on the face of the giver as well as the receiver, a sensation of warmth, peace of mind. Most of us want to feel good, to be at peace. Giving a welcome gift with an open heart and with no expectation of ‘reward’ brings its own reward – of goodness, of peace and of honorable power.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, you are most empowered when you give, and the gifts that have the greatest capacity to stimulate empowerment are those that are created with courage and truth, offered as gifts with no expectation of reciprocity. A gift is only a gift if offered as such. When we place a condition or price on it, it becomes a ‘deal’ or a sale.

You can see how kindness must be offered with a clear intention, distinct from your fear and needs.

Earlier in the book I write about Attachment, Detachment (really the flip side of attachment – it is still hooked into the drama) and the only powerful place of all, Non-attachment.

Non-attachment – the state we are in when we are not caught in the drama. We have nothing to prove, win, defend, get or make happen. So we can pay attention to the entire interaction because we are not blocking or manipulating the material.

Ultimately true kindness, offered without expectation of return and clear of personal agenda, empowers others. Especially with regard to the children/youth with whom you engage, kindness and compassion that does not excuse nor blame, offers a foundation from which they can gain their own empowerment.

In the final chapter of the Personal Magic book I write about the role we all have in empowering the children we meet.

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.

Those opportunities will vary widely based on age, ability and circumstance. It does mean that you 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.

Kindness as the foundation from which you engage the world allows you to be both honest and supportive, hold others accountable and forgive their mistakes.

As valid as all that is, most importantly is to practice kindness toward yourself. When you provide the same kind of clear, honest and compassionate support in your own journey, so you will be more able to truly shine your Personal Magic for others.

KINDNESS EXERCISE

• Take a moment and consider who in your life has been kind to you. Define ‘kind’ as something that encouraged you to grow, supported on you in your journey.
• Write a short description of something they did that stands out for you.
• Write a short letter of thanks (even if you do not send it or that person has passed on.)

• Now, write a letter of kindness to yourself.

Looking back on the last two posts and this, take a moment to pull them together for yourself.  How do they relate for you? ResilienceOptimism – Kindness. Your Personal Magic will bring you to this place. As you negotiate and embrace to opportunities of 2012 and beyond, that empowerment will be the strongest foundation from which sustain, evolve and participate fully in your life.

Please share your thoughts with us by posting in the comments below.

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)

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!