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.

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?

Since the last blog post on Kindness I have had the experience of true kindness in action. This was kindness of a practical and unselfconscious nature. There was nothing sentimental, reluctant or even ‘special’ about how it was expressed. It was simply what is, how it is and part of this household’s living arrangement.

That the average age of these kind, strong and creative people was about 30 added to the delight of it all. Whoever thinks that the 30-somethings of today are self-indulgent, lazy, disinterested or inept have not met enough 30-somethings.

In my book ‘Personal Magic’ I write a little about the digital age:

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.

I visited with Teresa in Santa Fe last week, and stayed in her house shared with other young people. Even though there were computers and a TV, the expression of direct human interaction daily in that environment was visceral, real and natural.

Teresa is a vibrant, beautiful, smart and creative 28 year old woman. She is also quadriplegic, on a remarkable journey of healing. Teresa, like many of her age, shares a house. In this case it is a spacious Santa Fe house with 2 others; Jen who is a long time Yoga instructor and studying massage, and Jafari, a young man returned from service in Iraq studying Somatic Polarity. Regular visits from other young women – most of whom are also practicing or studying in similar areas – allow Teresa to be at home, with people of her age, engaging in meals, discussion and work as well as her therapy and healing.

From the moment I arrived I felt welcome and as if I had landed in some kind of protected space. I had driven many miles up from Arizona, leaving the beaten path to camp in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. It had been a small adventure, deliberately invited, instead of making a straight-line trip. After circuitously arriving at a place I had never been and didn’t know existed, I hiked for an hour in the moonlight, bright enough that no hand-light was needed. Snuggled into my sleeping bag, car-camping in an area of absolute silence, I slept with the moon on my face through the windows.

Waking to incredible cold, the sun rising almost before the moon had left, I had to find my way out before heading on to Santa Fe. It was a long way and I was glad to land in the sunlit house, with its aura of peace and power.

The work that Teresa and I did together was not easy. There is much sadness and struggle when you are finding your way back to wellbeing from such catastrophic injury. We did some guided writing, healing with essential oils and Shamanic Chakra work. We also addressed the needs of the nonprofit organization that Teresa is founding and on whose board I am honored to serve. (Check her site, Our Nerve To Breathe and offer your support.)

Another unique young woman that I know from my theatre days in Oregon had, barely 3 weeks before, moved to Santa Fe. I introduced her to Teresa. Turned out they live less than ½ a mile apart! The spiritual practice and personal journey that Teresa follows offers much to Cecily as she explores and grows her capacity for facilitating healing and her spiritual journey.

We read a short play I had written and needed to hear, sitting around a table, laughing and being ‘actors’. Another shining young woman who is apprenticing to be a midwife and is also a musician, came by. We sat in the sun on the porch, talking about fundraisers using music and writing. Teresa is creating her story as a performance piece with Cecily as her actress until such time as Teresa is ready to perform it herself.

This house, with its wooden floors and cabinets, group artwork canvases waiting to be completed and hung, opens its doors from the front and the rear, with people moving into the space and out again in easy flow. The fridge was thoughtfully stocked with good healthy food, and bursts of sustained kitchen activity – knives chopping, pots boiling and yes, the microwave beeping – brought meals made by hand and offered to whomever was there.  Coffee in the morning, chocolate after dinner and hot tea during the day. The entire place hummed with kindness and energy, independence and solitude, balanced with community and care.

Personal Magic can be expressed in myriad ways. When you bring it to community the power of magic is enhanced and nurtured even as you are giving out. When you offer your hands for lifting and cooking; when you hold someone’s hand and let them cry out their sadness; when you share your laughter and joy in life, then you share the magic together.

I define Personal Magic as:

“… 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. Personal Magic both encourages and is encouraged by Awareness of Self, leading to true Empowerment and Freedom, most of all, freedom from fear.”

 The less than 48 hours I spent with the household in Sante Fe gave tangible expression to the words above. I wish for you all to experience such simple, straightforward magic in your daily life. Please share your story of this kind of Personal Magic with us!

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.

This is the 2nd is a series of three blogs where I am exploring the opening sentence of my Personal Magic book:

‘You can be someone who is resilient, optimistic and kind while being    realistic in the present world.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exercise POSITIVE BEING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the final chapter of Personal Magic I write this:

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

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

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

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

Further in this chapter I write:

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

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

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

Resilience Exercise from the Personal Magic Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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