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)

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.

Last night I was privileged to participate in an extraordinary dance performance as one of the dancers. Now let it be said, I am NOT a dancer but I am an actress and willing to learn and this was not a ballet. It was, quite simply, one of the most challenging, empowering and remarkable performing arts experiences I have had.

‘Prima Spira’ is the creation of a young woman at Prescott College. She took the roles of writer, choreographer, director and also both danced and sang in it. Lest she sound like an egomaniac, know that she also opened it to the group who assembled to bring the idea to the stage. Thus she was also collaborator, teacher, member of a team and a real person with fears, frustrations, hopes and vision.

The team that finally stuck over a period of 4-5 weeks of development, consisted of 8 dancers, a costumer, violinist, a hoop-dancer, an acrobat, lighting person, a little girl and me, 50+. All female.

The final scenes of the story brought  all the dancers onto the stage, slowly moving toward each other, under soft red-blue-yellow lights to some of the most beautiful music I have heard. As if we were underwater reeds, fish or sea nymphs, all from our different places on the stage, we moved, sleep-like, into one slowly falling, melding of soft bodies.

Lying on the floor, each of us on one and supporting another, our eyes closed, hearing the breath, feeling the rise and fall of oneself and another. Smelling the work of these bodies, aware of the pressure of hip-bone or foot, ribcage or thigh, the finger tips of a hand held lightly. Not knowing where one body begins, or another ends, even the boundaries of ones own shape blended to others.  It was perhaps the most non-sexual, sensual experience one could ever have. A oneness like no other.

Arising out of all the work and effort of the preceding weeks, culminating in only 2 public performances, we arrived at this perfect place in the journey unfolding on stage, and our journey with the creation and performance of it. We came together in a literal ONE for a minute or so of rest. When the final gentle, soft ‘a cappella’ song ended, our mass slowly awoke, stretching upward, separating and parting gently, beautifully waving out of the ground and slowly, almost footlessly, leaving the space.

Backstage the joy of the work/play achieved beamed from all faces and the final mad dance curtain call was the precisely perfect opposite and balance to the slow, soft end scenes of the story-dance we had just completed.

In an era where this sort of engagement is not the norm I was profoundly grateful to be a member of this ensemble. And beyond that, the depth of compassion, support, honesty and courage each and every member of this group lived was enormously encouraging. I did not hear any of the fabled ‘girl bitchiness’; I didn’t notice any prima donnas, nor experience any discrimination with these young women.

In my Book Personal Magic I write:

 ‘We live in an age where friends are found and made on the net, and many of our interactions, dialogue and socializing occurs through a medium that precludes direct human touch, sound and visuals. Personal Magic becomes more valuable as well as possibly more elusive.’

Remember, I define Personal Magic as:

‘Personal Magic is the uniqueness that you, and only you, bring into the world. It is the tangible expression of your connection through your Soul to the Great Spirit, Creator, Higher Power, God, whatever language you wish to use, by which we are all connected. It can be directly accessed through the creative endeavor.’

‘Prima Spira’, the performance, was a mirror-opposite to the digital experience. This group used their bodies – touch; worked with breath and sound; engaged minds and hearts in direct conversation to raise concerns and solve problems. Each person had to work through their own fears and doubts, in a piece of work that dove deeply into the depths of what it is to be human. Finally, we had to give that in real time to a live audience.

Dancers who really embody their characters’ intention and the needs, ultimately have to trust their creative instinct – that connection to something bigger than their bodies, deeper than their minds. It is that Spirit from which all the movement ultimately arises and moves through us. This performance gave each of us the opportunity to really Do and Feel that connection.

From the little girl to the lighting girl, the hoop-dancer to the extraordinary costumer who turned us into trees, mermaids, skeletons, mythological beings like Coyote, Kali and La Llorona and even the Scales of Justice. The violinist who improvised with the recorded sound, the woman who brought her makeup magic to augment the costumes – and this middle aged woman who had never danced like this in private, let alone in public.

And the dancers, the creator herself among us, changing in and out of costumes, silently backstage reminding each other of moves and counts, high-fiving and hugging. All of us brought our unique personal magic to the live performance and each of us were enhanced by sharing that – in real time, together, literally body to body.

May you find a living, breathing community with whom you can create, share and grow. You may not think of yourself as an artistic person, any more than I think of myself as a dancer. You may think you are too old or not old enough – try it anyway. Ultimately, allow yourself the joy of physical ‘here and now space’, interpersonal creativity and work and play. Dance with another – or a group of them!

(PS. the music is ‘The Night Knows Nothing at All’ by ‘Six Organs of Adventure’.)