My magic castle

My magic castle

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Magic of Boy Scouts/Weight Watchers/Sunday School etc

You may not want to solve your particular need for magic (life problem) by going to any of the groups I mention in my title.  But they embody some of the principles of magic.  You may remember: As above, so below- As within so without.- As without so within.  Sunday school, Weight Watchers, Boy Scouts and many other groups send out the message that you can choose beneficial actions.  They may seem to be telling you what these actions are, but still the choice is left in your hands.  You can choose habits of movement, habits of speech, and habits of mind.  This last one is truly where magic resides.  You can choose how you think.  If you find you are thinking habitually negative thoughts you can learn how to derail these thoughts.  You can take a break from these thoughts.  Today someone told me about her husband feeling really depressed but when he got up and took a walk around the block he found he had regained his balance.  He could once again deal with the teenagers in the home.  I myself, have been struggling with anxiety and mental fatigue at certain times of day for years.  I had been offered medication for it a year of so ago but a side effect was hair loss.  It didn't seem to help that much anyway.  I had discovered that there are articles and videos about brain plasticity at the time.  I had to try to re-wire my brain.  I'm not as far along as I hope to be some day.  But for a few weeks I have noticed a definite increase in my moods.  The big basket of hopelessness just doesn't get dumped over my head like it did.  Even if I do get a whammy again from time to time, I believe I have learned strategies that will enable me to cope.  My two favorite "get away from the anxiety hag" tips are: to think about things for which I am thankful and to connect with people in some way.  So, I suggest to all wise magicians that you set up your own self-improvement meetings.  It can be just you, yourself and you.  But on a regular basis it will help you to visit the idea that you have the power to do things to make your life better.  You can reach out.  You can learn. You can learn from your experiments.  You can get help from friends.  The magic is yours.  May the spark be with you.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Magic of Taking a Break

Please do not think I am being stuck on the same idea by posting about 'taking a break' right after suggesting 'taking a step back'.  I am sure there are similarities but taking a step back may keep the project or problem in view. Getting a different perspective is one of the reasons to 'take a step back'. However, at times you need to take a small but complete break from your efforts.  I recently read advice from someone else who suggest things like brushing your teeth to get your mind off things.  That seemed bizarre to me at first but made me realize the magic in taking a break.  I tend to really get into what I am trying to solve or create.  At times I come up against a wall of frustration.  I don't know what the next good step should be.  Then I tend to feel depressed.  If I had taken a break a bit sooner I might have been able to prevent the poisoning of my project with that sense of depression.  I guess that the saying "quit while you are ahead" has some validity.  You can 'un-quit' when you need to, but maintaining the sense of excitement that helps the project along is important. I suggest to all wise magicians that you take a break from time to time to recharge your batteries.  If the project is  a valid expression of who you are, you will come back to it when the time is right. Remember the basic axiom, magic is well formed.  We may agonize as we work to create our magic but it is also acceptable for the working of magic to be smooth and flowing.  Our minds love to create and will give us the ideas we need more easily when we get in the 'magic zone' rather than tying ourselves up in knots.  I suggest that we take a break before the knots get too bad.  I also suggest that when the knots are there that connecting to friends, or even acquaintances, and going over what we are grateful for are two ways we can 'take a break' from stress, if we didn't take the break while we were on a roll. So here is to the enjoyment and peacefulness that magic can bring.  May the spark be with you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Magic of a Step Back

Sometimes we are in the middle of a problem, or a situation, and things just aren't working the way they should.  It is time to take a step back.  This step back may be a breather, a chance to collect our breath, get new energy and be ready to go again.  Or it may be a way to get a new perspective on things. It may be that it is time to try something else.  In the 1950's the mathematician George Polya published a book that has become a classic, "How To Solve It".  It is good advice for life as well as for mathematics.  In it he suggests that when a problem seems too hard  you step back and solve a similar problem that you can solve.  This often teaches you what you need to know to go back to the original difficult problem.  Taking a step back not only helps when you are facing difficulties, it also adds to life in another way.  If you are busy getting things done you may be failing to 'stop and smell the roses'.  From time to time it is essential to step back and appreciate what a fine craftsman you are at life.  Or step back and appreciate the people around you.  Another way that taking a step back is when you really need to put out a lot of effort on something.  Step back, gather your forces, be well prepared and get a good running start.  Stepping back is not giving up or running away.  Rather it is a way to gather the magic that will help you succeed and have a more magical life.  So, I suggest to all wise magicians, at times it is well to step back so that you can better go forward.  May the spark be with you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Magic of Healing Kindness

Sometimes we have the opportunity to do a kindness to others that we wish had been done to us.  That is a kindness that should be seized upon quickly and thoroughly.  It can help us believe in the goodness in life.  Even though we are the ones who act to smooth over the rift that took place years ago, there has still been a healing, in ourselves and in the fabric of the universe.  If we have been without shoes and then give shoes to another, that act has  extra charges of goodness.  It has the charge we give it by our understanding of how painful the need for shoes can be.  There is the charge given by our knowledge that kindness can be given to those in need.  The charge that comes from the gratitude the recipient feels also adds to the positive charge in the universe.  Then there is the charge we put in place by connecting to another person.  More energy is freed up as well by the unblocking of  of the energy hopelessness.  Blocked energy can cause paralysis or other illness. So I suggest to all wise magicians, set out sparks of energy into the universe that you know are needed.  Heal your own pains by healing the pain of others.  May the spark be with you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Magic of Being Flamboyant and Weird

I have to admit right off that flamboyance is hard for me. I have been strongly groomed all my life to be a good girl, to be proper, to be aware of what others think.  That is not my basic nature, however.  Truth trumps acceptability when it gets right down to it.  I must admit though,  that I have often been wimpy, and therefore guilt-ridden, about speaking out for truth.  I am getting better as I mature.  I am even becoming open to the kernel of truth that may exist in opposing viewpoints.  Sometimes, though, I have felt discouraged about important truths ever being accepted by the people they will most benefit.  But I came across a 'magic wand' or idea and a tool from political theory that wise magicians can use. I am heartened and want to pass this on. This concept goes under the name of  The Overton Window.  The tool is 'the door in the face' technique.  The Overton Window is named after Joseph P. Overton, who wrote about the way a politician's public will react to what he suggests if they think it is acceptable.  When a lot of attention is given to what may seem as very unacceptable ideas, they can seem to become more acceptable over time. At one time in American history it was unthinkable that women vote.  After a lot of agitation, a lot of flamboyant activities, like women chaining themselves to railings, enough people began to let the idea into their mind that women had to right to vote and today it is accepted and expected.  The way the 'door in the face' works is for someone to be asked to do something to which they are very resistant, and it is expected they will say no.  They are later asked to do something that is more acceptable and they are likely to agree. Somewhat like the teen who wants $10 from his dad and asks for $100. Father says no.  The boy then asks for $50.  The father offers less, but it isn't a complete no.  They settle with both feeling in agreement, usually for more than the $10 originally wanted.
When groups in society want to move the Overton Window, to sell ideas that would be rated more towards a certain point on the spectrum they put a lot of effort into saying and doing things that are more on the fringes, more extreme.  They may actually be working for the extreme position, but a more moderate one does become acceptable.  Say that in a culture it was only permissible to wear blue.  The change makers would agitate for red.  Eventually hues of blue that moved towards purple might become the norm. The flamboyance and weirdness of certain people does get attention.  Then that attention can be turned to the ideas those people are pushing.  I was talking about this with a friend and he said, "But the problem is that people who know the truth, the way things should be, are reasonable people.  Reasonable people don't do weird and flamboyant things."
That may be a problem.  But a wise magician is creative.  Perhaps change can come through wildly, beautiful, weird and flamboyant ways that will grip the hearts and minds of others.  It is the place of a wise magician to get the ideas out there.  I suggest you consider using the magic wands of weirdness and flamboyance, in your own special way of course.  May the spark be with you.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Magic Of Cycles

In Western cultures we tend to look at life as something that progresses in a linear manner.  I was taught that Eastern cultures believe more in cyclical nature of life.  We tend to resist the idea of cycles, saying that being frustrated is "going around in circles".  Not only do we expect to progress in a linear way, it must also be upward.  Yet to deny the place of cycles is to forget how pleasant it is to meet Spring each year as new and also as an expected old friend.  Coming home at the end of a long day is a cycle, yet it is welcome and renewing.  We do not have to let cycles be closed loops.  There is a spiritual concept of a gyre, a spiral that moves us towards Heaven or a deeper understanding of that which is more profound in life.  Each evening, as you come into your home, you can spiral a little deeper into the wonderful haven you have.  You can focus on something that you have been taking for granted.  Perhaps there is a stone near the sidewalk that has an interesting curve and texture to it that you have not appreciated before.  Perhaps you have not noticed how the light plays on the face of one dear to you, showing the depth of character they have developed over the years.  As you revolve you can evolve.  Your progress does not have to be a journey of simply passing through life, moving ever upward and onward, without ever really experiencing the beauty that is there.  Cycles let you come once more to something that you may have glossed over before.  When you next feel that you are 'going around in circles' break out of the frustration and look to the lessons and gifts you can gain this time around.  May the spark be with you.

The Magic of 'Hatching'

Hatching is what you do for yourself when you push past the obstacles and barriers that are holding you back and come out of your shell, ready to learn how to fly.  In Ann Lamott's wonderful book Bird by Bird, she talks about recovering from having her tonsils out.  She had used all the pain medication they would give her.  When she asked for more they told her the pain was from not using the muscles of her throat and she should just chew some gum.  It was painful but she pushed past it and the pain soon went away.  One could wonder how many physical and mental muscles we have frozen by being afraid to use them.  Many the loss of energy we sometimes feel when we are starting out on a creative project is not tiredness but fear of flexing our creative muscles.  Maybe perfectionism or some other bad habit has us in a state of creative paralysis. In one of the Harry Potter movies there is a scene where a baby dragon hatches out of his shell.  The dragon has a bit of a horn on his beak to use to break out of the shell.  I suggest to all wise magicians that you too, are equipped with a spike of the tip of your beak to help you hatch yourself.  There may be a mother hen or a mother dragon around to help you chip out of the shell, but basically you are the one who has to push and chip until you can emerge into the opportunities that await you.  Flex your hatching skills.  You don't have to fly right away.  But until you push yourself past a few things, you don't have a chance to learn how to fly.  Take a chance and hatch yourself.  May the spark be with you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Magic Will Come

Weather has been bad.  I wouldn't be able to step out on to my deck if I wanted to because of the drift against my office door.  We had over 14" of snow since night before last.  I had been trying too hard, as well, to figure out how to bring the success into my life that will one day come.  I had been feeling at the end of my rope.  I knew the magic was there but I couldn't find it for myself.  I was beating myself up for that also, and feeling guilty because I knew better.  But I just couldn't create any zing, any endorphins, in the amount I wanted.  So I began to organize my office.  Notes to file, books to shelve, paper to put in the recycle bin, and so on.  I couldn't pull magic up myself but it was out there, waiting.  Then I came across a short item mentioning the 'beginner's mind'.  It said that we need not look at failure as failure but as a chance to start over again, as a fresh new page on which to write a new story.  It took a bit because I was not thinking that I had failed, exactly.  Then it sank in.  I might not need to write a whole new story, but I could write a new chapter.  As I had been sorting and filing I had also been sorting out my ideas for several of my projects as well.  The perspective from this unknown writer became a spark of magic for me.  I was no longer at the 'end of my rope' but I had a chance to try again.  This time I would probably get further than I had before.  I had not been able to wield my own magic wand but another magician had waved one for me.  So I suggest to all wise magicians that if you need a bit of magic that you look around you.  Perhaps someone else has discovered a idea or a bit of inspiration that they will share with you.  May the spark be with you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Magic of Naming the Bad

Sometimes we feel down, on edge or blah and call on a bit of magic to give us more energy or to keep on coping. That is acceptable.  But there is a power in naming, and therefore facing the "isms" and other messes that are keeping us from our best life. We can go beyond 'coping' to working for change.  In the United States there has been movement going on for a year or so (maybe longer but I have only become strongly aware of it in the last couple of years) to move towards a better life for more of our citizens.  This movement speaks out against corruption, discrimination, financial imbalance, racism, and mistreatment of our environment, among other things.  It takes courage to face and name problems.  But apartheid ended in Africa because people faced it as a problem. We can end some of the imbalances in the U.S. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."  By the very act of choosing to be courageous and name the "bad" we have taken on a magical aura, we are magicians with a latent power to make a change.  Whether it is a change we want to make in ourselves, our life or our society we must first conceive of the need for that change.  Sometimes the road to change can be started with a simple step, looking at the "bad" as a starting point then deciding exactly what is bad.  A client recently told me that her doctor told her she needed to engage in 'diet and exercise' but they weren't her thing.  She didn't want the ill health she was facing by not dieting and not exercising, however.  So we examined what 'diet and exercise' meant to her.  When she realized they meant 'discomfort and deprivation' we agreed that 'discomfort and deprivation' was never a good goal.  But she became excited about "sensory celebration' , 'dance', 'self expression through movement', and 'creative cooking for health'. Often the essence of what is "bad" is that you are denied your voice and control over your own life.  By realizing that you have a voice and the right to that, you are moving towards more power in your life.  People will try to 'groom' you to take on a certain role or submissive position.  You will encounter 'isms' all over the place. That isn't necessary. Speak truth to yourself and then it will be easier to speak truth to others.  I was heartened to read the the state of Delaware is suing to revoke the charter of Massey Energy.  This is a big corporation that mines coal and has been abusing the environment as they operate.  If they have their charter (right to do business) revoked  a powerful message will be sent to other companies that are abusing our Mother, our Earth.  So, I suggest to all wise magicians, that if there is something dark that needs to be named, light up your world, name the 'bad' and open the way for that which is better.  May the spark be with you.