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!

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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!

The last week has seen me in the garden every morning, right after coming back from feeding the horses (most mornings), and just after the sun has cleared the hills around where I live. This is not unusual. Ever since I started following the Shamanic way I have incorporated the Morning Water Ritual into my day with very few misses.

A daily ‘quiet connect time’, even when as short a time as this takes, really warms up your Personal Magic. Here is what I have been doing.

I leave in the barely opening dark to feed the horses, returning about 30 minute later. Collecting a glass of water I walk out to the side garden and stand the with cactus, mesquite and rose bushes, my feet (even in their shoes) firmly and consciously on the earth. My face is turned toward where the sun is finding its way through the parting darkness. (This was a challenge on the Oregon coast where I often had to imagine the path of the sun through fog and rain.)

This time of day, before any food or liquid enters my body, when I connect with myself through the earth, air, sun and water has become a ritual that anchors and lifts me into the activities to come.

It goes like this.
• First, lift the glass of water toward the sun, ideally in a direct shaft of light, and focus attention on the four basic elements that make up life. Feel through the solid earth below you to the depth beneath; note the touch of early morning air cold on your face with the warmth of the sun brushing over it, and really look at the water clear in the glass. Give thanks for all that surrounds you and these four elements.

• Next, still holding the glass up in the light, acknowledge where you need assistance, place your Attention on Intention. Try and be specific. You may also simply ask for help and leave it at that.

• Now move your awareness to friends and family and even those outside your immediate world, whom you know need assistance. Ask Spirit/Creator/God (however you name it) to bring empowerment to those people in the way that best helps.

• Lastly, pour some of the water into the earth (or if inside onto a potted plant), offering power back to the earth.Then drink some of the water, with thanks and intention clearly in your mind. Pour the rest of the water to the earth (or plant) with those others in mind.

In the summer, the cold of the morning before the heat increases is a promise that things renew. In the winter, this morning sun is a reminder that the warmth is coming. I love to be still and totally in the present standing there. It feels like camping, when you are exposed to the natural air without the filter of indoors. It feels huge, as if all is possible. I am in the space between the resonance of past mornings and the promise of those to come.

On these cold mornings I am grateful to head back inside, hold the hot coffee mug in my hands and stand in front of the wood fire. However, that ‘connect’ I bring in with me from the Morning Water Ritual will sustain me through the day regardless of challenges and darkness. My Personal Magic is percolating steadily and underlies whatever the next 24 hours brings me.

In the Personal Magic book I address the value of daily warm-ups for good health and nurturing your Personal Magic. I write:

The trio that serves your needs (body-mind-spirit) responds well to a daily workout or at least regular recognition. Like athletes or old friends, they are then more able to be there when you really need them! The following is a sampling of some simple ways to stay in touch with the trio. You will add your own as you go through these and as you further uncover what it is that YOU need.

 Daily Rituals

Morning

Begin with acknowledging you are awake and alive, even if you feel rotten or have a really hard day ahead. That moment that you first come to consciousness can set the tone for what is ahead.

Greet the day – consciously and with attention to the sun, sky, air and where you are standing/seated.

Stretch and breathe – honor your Body.

 During the day
Drink lottsa real water.

Evening
Stretch and breathe – honor your Body.

Oils – lavender in the room.

These and others can be found in the Personal Magic book and I encourage you to find and develop your own Personal Magic warm-ups. I invite you to post one of your favorites here and we can all  add them to our Personal Magic tool kit.

I am delighted to introduce you to a new friend in the Blogging world, Leigh Gaitskill, who writes at www.bluegrassnotes.wordpress.com. Her down-to-earth h0nesty and humor combined with her wise insights make her regular posts a must-read. As we head into the new year the following blog, reposted from November 18, 2011, seems particularly relevant.

In my explorations of what it means to be truly empowered, resulting in the book about what I call Personal Magic, the importance of facing the truth of who you are in your various levels of Self is paramount. I particularly like Leigh’s reminder that we can sometimes be so focused on the means by which we cope, that we actually cover up the deeper truth that is the most difficult piece of what we are trying to manage!

Thank you for sharing this post here Leigh and for all your  offerings. This post in particular has given me something to truly contemplate as I prepare for 2012.

LIVING FROM ESSENCE
first posted November 18,2011. To view the beautiful art work, please go to the original post

During the Fisher Hoffman work my teacher, the late Ellen Margron, gave us an image that has been one of my teaching touchstones ever since, the diamond heart.* I tried to make a drawing but I’m hopeless with the drawing programs so I can only describe: there’s a diamond in the center, around that is a circle full of roiling darkness, around that is another circle. The diamond is the spiritual essence or Buddha nature or God Self (you pick). The circle around it is all the negativity we pick up in early childhood and along the way that tells us we are not God, we are not perfect, we are loud, dirty, dumb, whatever. The circle around that one is the personality layer we put on the outside so that no one will see the roiling mass of yuck underneath.

All spiritual and/or personal growth requires penetrating the outer mask and finding a way to go through the dark circle in order to reach the Diamond Heart or essence. Ultimately, of course, the basic point of all spiritual pursuit is to be able to live from that place of essence or from Buddha nature. The aspect of the journey that people most often want to sidestep is facing the dark circle where issues and negativity and unpleasantness dwell.

It is also possible to create a third circle around the outside of the other two. This happens when you meditate or do spiritual practice or stress management with a determination to avoid looking at the dark circle. You wind up creating this extra layer around your being that just traps the dark circle farther beneath the surface and actually takes you farther from the diamond in the center. I’ve met many people over the years who meditated or did some other practice regularly for decades but refused to allow their issues to arise into consciousness. To me they always feel as if they have a tough layer of laminate encasing them. I can feel the unresolved issues beneath.

I saw it in myself when Ellen introduced the concept. I’d been living with a roommate who mistreated me, my cats and my belongings. I taught stress management at the time and I found myself incessantly using those techniques. I succeeded in keeping myself calm in the midst of the madness but I really just created an outward facade of calm while pushing justifiable anger below the surface.

I spent the first five or six years of my journey by and large resistant to prolonged and serious inner work but the Fisher Hoffman process (as facilitated by Ellen – quite different from the process at the Hoffman Institute) not only opened me to deep and intensive work but convinced me that it has to be done in one way or another in order to progress. I don’t say everyone has to do Fisher Hoffman; I know many who have succeeded with Almaas’ work, I know people who have done very well with the more advanced levels of vipassana that start deconstructing thought and belief patterns and there are many more. Doesn’t matter what you pick, just decide to face the shadow.

ABOUT THE ART: My friend, Ann Wasserman (http://www.annquilts.com/ ), created the above quilt many years ago and with a personal story that I leave her to tell. I’ve always felt it portrayed the diamond heart idea even though it isn’t an exact replica of the chart.

(to see the art go to the original post.)

* I understand that this or a similar chart is also used in H. Almaas’ Diamond Heart work. I could never make it through more than a page or two of his writing so I can’t vouch for it. Almaas and Ellen were both students of Claudio Naranjo so it’s possible that the idea is something they both adopted from his work or that she picked it up from Almaas there.

http://www.ahalmaas.com/
http://hoffmaninstitute.org/

Related articles
Everyday Essence
(joyofspa.com)
A. H. Almaas on Emptiness and The Void

(mettarefuge.wordpress.com)
Why are we here anyway?
(bluegrassnotes.wordpress.com)

LEIGH GAITSKILL BIO
Leigh Gaitskill studied yoga for five years with Bill Hunt http://www.oakparkyoga.com/oakpark_yoga_instructors.html   and in 1988 earned a teaching certificate from the Temple of Kriya Yoga http://www.yogakriya.org/ Chicago.  During those years she was introduced to meditation and metaphysics by a transpersonal psychologist. In 1990 she went through the Nine Gates Mystery School (www.ninegates.org) program, then went on to study Huna, completed the Fisher Hoffman process, explored Buddhist practices and sat vipassana, and worked with Hopi elder Jeremie Jackson for two years.  She has taught classes on right speech, prosperity, and yoga.  She also has second degree Reiki and Amanohuna attunements.  She’s created movement classes that combine Robert Masters’ Psychophysical Method with yoga that are available for CE massage hours see her website (www.artofspiritandyoga.com).  Read about her journey on:  Bluegrass Notes (www.bluegrassnotes.wordpress.com)


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’.)

I am delighted to introduce you to my third guest blogger, Jason Bourne. with whom I connected through the magic of the Twitter and intersection of writers. His story and ongoing blog, including many guest posts through his generous outreach to so many other bloggers, exemplifies the power of Personal Magic. Jason embraces his personal power, is responsible for his life, and articulates much of that through the arts such as writing and photography. The ultimate empowerment, as I write in the Personal Magic book, is to be a gift giver. Jason does this through his work, writing and photography, bringing his unique magic as a gift and inspiration to many.

I am honored to be in such illustrious company on his Guest Blogger list and welcome him in meeting those of you who read my blog posts.
(Be sure to click on the links to the utubes at the end!)

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The Lord is MY Shepherd

The last week, and the past few years, have been really tough on our family, and if you’ve been following the blog, you probably know what I’m talking about. My grandfather has Alzheimers, and it’s really hit me hard personally especially since I saw him on Thanksgiving, and I just wanted to share with all of you what’s been on my heart lately…

We had Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ (mom’s parents) house this year, like we normally do, and I had a great time seeing my aunts, uncles, granny and grandpa, but I noticed that my grandpa wasn’t acting right when we got ready to eat because he said he wasn’t hungry. It turns out that he wasn’t feeling good, and after everything he has been through the past few years I really can’t blame him. When we got ready to leave later Thursday evening, I went over to where grandpa was relaxing in his recliner and just held him for a few minutes. I sat there talking to him and told him how much I loved him, and if he needed anything to call us. While I was sitting there holding him and talking to him, the emotions just took over, and I started crying my eyes out and told my grandfather I loved him and didn’t want him to die. He said he didn’t want to say goodbye or have to make “a call.”

When he told me that, I started crying even more because I knew exactly what he meant. He doesn’t want to leave his family behind and have to say a final “goodbye” or have my grandmother make the most horrible phone call I think she ever will have to make. I thought about my grandfather all the way home and all that night. The next morning, I was talking to mom and I started crying AGAIN because I was telling her what my grandfather said. Then later Friday, or it might’ve been Saturday, my sisters were talking about Christmas and asked me when I was going to go shopping with them. Then I just broke down and lost all control…

I forget exactly what I said, but I remember I said something like, “Can’t we just skip shopping this year? Can’t we just go over and spend some time with grandpa and enjoy this Christmas? Doesn’t ANYBODY care about what I want???” Keep in mind I was frustrated and fighting back tears while saying this because I was and still AM heartbroken that my grandfather is slowly dying, and I’m having to just sit on the sidelines and watch.

Before I go any further, I want to back track and mention that I have always believed in God, and He has always, and I do mean ALWAYS, been there for me through a lot of sad times and a lot of great times. God has really lifted my family up the past few years, especially my mom’s family, having to deal with my granny’s diabetes and my grandpa’s Alzheimer’s, but lately I think my faith has been lacking in God’s ability to shelter us from Satan’s blows and attacks.

You see, sometimes I really have no idea what to pray for, or for that matter HOW to pray, and I just do not want to seem foolish or stupid to God. But yesterday morning, thanks to my very best friend and a dear co-worker, I now know I am never foolish in God’s eyes because He created me and He knew me before I was even born. I know my grandpa is going to heaven one sweet day to live side-by-side with our Heavenly Father, but lately I’ve been so caught up in my grandpa slowly dying that that’s all I can think about… Maybe I’m being selfish because I don’t want my grandpa to die and leave ME and his family, but I need to shift my focus to what waits for my grandpa on the other side. I know God already has a place for him in the middle of a beautiful meadow overlooking a valley or lake, with a new house where he will never be in any pain, won’t have to face the horrors and torment of a cruel world and can live forever rejoicing that he can remember who he is and who his family is. As I close, I am reminded of what Charles and Caroline Ingalls said when they found out their newborn son had just passed away….

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

And Vince Gill’s moving tribute to his brother, which is a great reminder to all of us who’ve lost a loved one that they have gone to heaven “a-shouting, love for the Father and the Son.”

Or Brooks and Dunn’s amazing reminder that “There’s more to life than just what I can see.”

Or Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s powerful, heart-warming proclamation: “My God, How GREAT Thou Art.”

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Jason is 29 years old and has been disabled since birth. Diagnosed with spina bifida, he has no feeling below the waist and can’t feel his legs. He graduated in Dec. 2006 from Kennesaw State University, about 20 minutes north of Atlanta, with a B.S. degree in communications. He works with the city of Marietta, Ga.’s, public information office, writing press releases and taking pictures for the city’s website, mariettaga.gov. He loves reading, writing and taking pictures in his spare time.

Follow his Blog
and Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wrote in the introduction to my book:

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

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

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

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

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

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