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7 has huge significance. Of all the numbers, this probably is the most revered. Though I couldn’t find out precisely why.

God seems to like it. Maybe that’s the reason. It is all over the Bible, especially in Revelations. 7 churches, 7 trumpets, 7 stars . . .

It comes up easily in everyday speech: 7th heaven, 7 deadly sins, 7 seas. In science, too, you will find 7 colors in the rainbow, 7 phases of the moon and 7 circles of the universe.

Of course, there’s 7 days in the week. This seems to be more a religious divination as it doesn’t come out evenly in lunar counting. There are 7 holy days in the Jewish year and the Menorah has 7 branches.

Hindus use the number frequently. Hinduism is thought to be our oldest religion. There are 7 octats in Indian music. 7 chakras or energy centers in the body.

Earlier this year, The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom did a survey of favourite numbers. Guess what won? 7.

Evidently the number 7 figures prominently in mathematics, too. And the Harry Potter fans have found the number in unlikely places. Such as Ginny Weasely being the 7th child of the 7th generation of pure bloods. There are, coincidently, 7 letters in Weasely. I wonder if JK Rowling did all this deliberately or whether it just happened (as it can in storytelling).

James Hadley, LL.D., Professor of Greek in Yale College, said this, “It is well known that men of different times and nations have associated with particular numbers the idea of a peculiar significance and value. It is also well known that, of all numbers, there is no one which has exercised in this way a wider influence, no one which has commanded in a higher degree the esteem and reverence of mankind, than the number Seven.” He had a lot to say about 7.

Some sources say the number stands for togetherness. Another says, similarly, it is about completeness, or a unit. Perhaps we can speak of it as God’s number for our oneness.

Which brings us back to the beginning and the completion of my number series.

Next week I’ll be posting three different pieces to all The Positive Slant Blogs on Asking.

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I am a huge Harry Potter fan.  And I believe there is much to be learned about spiritual growth in its pages.

In “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,” Harry scores high marks in Potions class one day, with the help of the Half Blood Prince’s text book. His reward is a golden potion called “Felix Felicis.”  It’s a neat little elixir often referred to as “liquid luck.”  It takes six months to brew, is tricky to make right and is banned from using for competition or testing. It comes with a warning that too much can cause giddiness and reckless behavior.

Felix Felicis fills the taker with confidence.  When Harry takes a few drops to help him retrieve a memory from Horace Slughorn, he feels confident in the urges he feels from “Felix.”  Coincidences happen and synchronicity opens his path.  He seems to just know what to do. He listens to what the potion tells him to do and everything goes his way.  The confidence allows him to use his own talents with more expertise than he would without.

Readers of this Blog have heard me talk about the Spells of Doing.  I feel we all come equipped with certain magical spells, always at our disposal.  Confidence is certainly one of them.  It can be conjured up no matter what is going on outside.  Confidence is built-in and only needs your choice to use.  Anyone with a brain that functions normally is capable of trusting, using imagination, generating forgiveness.  These magic spells are within us all. If we try, it is not impossible to listen to what we’re telling ourselves.

So maybe we could make your own Felix Felicis. If so you would always know you could handle anything.  With that confidence flowing, you might trust more easily, listen more carefully and allow yourself to be led to just the right things, people, events, coincidences. If you are generating your own potion, maybe you could control it, as well.

Perhaps it is possible, with practice, to mix our own golden elixir of Felix Felicis.  Creating our own ethereal luck!

I feel blessed that I can do a variety of writing styles.  For a living, I write for business.  Marketing, technical, and content.  Which is, if I may say so myself, a nice range.

But I also really love writing from my heart for this Blog and some of my other projects like the book I’m working on called “Love Letters From Your Soul.”  I hope someday to publish a commercial personal/spiritual growth book.

Fiction probably brings me the most joy and delight.  I love to write rock fiction, or what I like to refer to as romance and passion in the exciting (and now relatively extinct) music business.  With, I always hope, a bit of growth mixed in.

I have to admit, more often than not, I am reading a spiritual/personal growth book.  I do get  into fiction now and again, though. I count myself as a Harry Potter devotee.  And I can gobble up books on Arthurian legend.  Not averse to a good cozy mystery either.  I have seen more than my share of movies and amazing films.  Soap operas have been my secret pleasure for years.  And am proud to count many fine story tellers among my close friends.  So I do know a thing or two about story.

For many years I held the notion that nonfiction expands and fiction is merely an escape.  But I am changing my mind about that.  I’m coming to see that fiction plays an important role in our growth as human beings.

Fiction, when done right, gives an intimate views into the minds and hearts of others.  We feel a connection with well crafted characters.  We see parts of ourselves acting through the story. And parts of others we know.  We may not like them all, but we can come to understand a little more about why they do the things they do. Good fiction makes clear the character’s motivation.  If you don’t buy that you’re unlikely to enjoy the story.  It’s like Science Fiction:  If they give you a good basis for belief, you will follow a good writer just about anywhere out there.

It is a study in understanding.  In the best cases, it can open us up to the experience of being the same. Seeing how we all share the same DNA and our motivated by many of the same things.  Even someone who appears to lead a live very different from ours.  It creates bridges into other worlds.  And has done so long before the Internet.

Story is a very powerful tool for learning, history, growth and motivation.  At the heart of all stories is a person, an entity, a living, breathing creature.  Relationship and struggle are the playthings of story, reflecting life as we know it.

At its best good fiction gives us a view of oneness. It talks of unity and how we are all the same.  The more we can feel that the better for all of us (for the one of us.)

I am beginning a new journey.  I am going to give something every day between now (or rather Monday) and Christmas.

In previous years, I’ve been a real grouch about Christmas, always complaining about the over-commercialization and that most of the people I know don’t really need anything. If they need socks or underwear, it’s probably best if they go purchase those things for themselves.  I hate Christmas songs – especially when used in ads.  I can take a little Christmas music, for a few days.  But by mid-December I am so sick of the same old simpering songs, I want to spit.  Don’t get me started on the whole shopping and decorating obsession. Family is a good thing, but not all of us can be with our families just because it’s December 25th.  Which only serves to make it that much harder . . . Not very positive of me, huh?

So, I’ve decided this year to fight back. I may not be able to volunteer every day.  Some days it might just be reaching out to an old friend or offering someone a ride.  I’m sure I’ll be giving away some food, clothes, money and who knows what.  I have a number of things on my list, but I’ll be doing research, poking around, asking questions and watching for what comes up.  It should be interesting.

I give credit to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for all this momentum.  Not to mention some faith that I’ll actually pull it off. It’s effects have been very positive.

It started with a pledge at the beginning of November to spend a specific amount of time on my novel.  (See The Secret Gem Inside NaNoWriMo.)   Not wanting to be boring about it, I also set a few goals.  I’m happy to report that as I close in on November 30th, I have accomplished nearly all my goals.  (I do have a little more time left.)  What did it, I believe, was sticking to that schedule I set for myself.  Not quite as sexy as finishing a chapter, but that’s what did it.  I promised that I would spend at least some time on the book, on the days I knew I could. Whether that was scanning a few pages, reading over something I’d written or giving it 20 hours, as I did over the recent Thanksgiving Day holiday.

It was the Time I gave it, which eventually piled up into something concrete: progress. It was simply a matter of paying attention to the project.  Some days I only had a few minutes, other days I had several hours.  I just stayed with it, doing a little bit when I could and so when Thanksgiving rolled around, I had accumulated quite a lot of attention, so it was easy to fall into working on it for long stretches of time.  I was into it and excited about it.  I applied a small amount of effort over and over and this is what I got!

I’m letting that flow into December onto this Giving Project.  But there’s so much of it, I thought I’d spread it around. The novel, this time around, is about fun. Keeping my fingers in fiction and my critique group happy. But I have this other project – Love Letters From Your Soul – that I want to apply the same process to and see what happens.

So, two projects.  The Giving is every day.  The writing is on a schedule that works with everything else in my life.  Like Harry Potter in The Prisoner of Azkaban, who was able to do the Petronus Charm because, through a twist of the Time Turner, had already seen himself do it.  I know I can do this: I’ve already done it.  Whether I’ll be able to prepare the Love Letters for publication by the end of December, I don’t know.  I only know I will give it Time and that will create progress.

P.S.  You will see reflections of my Giving Project throughout December.  I will be sticking to the subjects of Giving and Gratitude all month.

Friends and family alike told me watching the movies was NOT the way to experience Harry Potter.  That I had to read the books.  When I finally did it, I took it one step better and listened to the amazing Jim Dale read them.  But, when I finished each book, I watched the movies again.

The first time through the movies, I found that I tended to fall asleep in them.  I thought maybe that was because I liked the world so much, felt so good in it, I was lulled into sleep.

Now, as I make my way through them again, I’m finding both good and bad points to the film versions.

I did start with the movies so I always picture the characters as the actors who portrayed them.  I have to say, excellent performances all the way around. The kids were surprisingly good.  Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltraine . . .  need I say more?  No complaints with the cast.

Part of the fun of the movies is that you get to see some of the sights come alive.  Very often, I was not disappointed.  It’s quite amazing what you can do with money and talent.  When they portrayed some of the more elaborate adventures, I was duly impressed. The Tri-Wizard Tournament comes to mind.  The trip into the cave at the shoreline was good, too.  As was, I thought, the Ministry of Magic.  Some scenes they didn’t even try.  Like the Quiddich World Cup – I was hoping to see a lot more of that. I just saw The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and I was sorely disappointed in the tent.  I had thought it would be bigger inside.  That would’ve been easy to do.  I never even saw a kitchen.  I wasn’t too happy with Sirius’ house either. It seemed so much more interesting in the book.

Perhaps the biggest problems I found with the movies were the choices of what to include and what not to.  I have seen enough movies to know that some of those choices were made for dramatic effect.  And perhaps in some cases, some were left out because they were just too complicated to pull off.  The trickier ones were, I think, in the dialog.  I found several places where pertinent information was left out.  So much so, that if I didn’t know better, I would’ve been confused.  My husband, who is very clever and never misses a thing, asked me questions. (It’s usually the other way around.)  Some of these holes could’ve been filled with just a line or two.  I don’t know why they were skipped.

 I now think that the reason I feel asleep when I first watched the movies was because I was completely lost.

 

Sometimes it seems like everyone is scolding me for something or other.  Of course, my head is doing the same thing. But how do you change the soundtrack?

I’ve been struggling with this.  How can I, for instance feel like I do in summer, when it is so obviously not?  It was looking like I’d have to lie to myself.

But I forgot: you don’t have to go from 0 to 60 in one breath.  Sometimes it’s enough to just rev up the engine a little.

Whenever I’m feeling low I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.  Perhaps a list of some of my favorite things might help to have on hand: Summer breezes through my hair, getting into bed with clean sheets, new, colorful office supplies, any America song, finding the right answer, a few hours stretching out in front of me to write, or having nowhere to go.

So, when I find myself churning over some silly thing I can’t do anything about at the moment, I’m going to center myself.  Just a moment’s awareness will do. Then I can find something, anything at all that feels better than whatever nonsense or scolding is cluttering up my mind.  Maybe about the movie I’m going to be watching that evening.  If I’m having a hard time, I might try that the sun is shining or that my heart is pumping blood and I’m alive.  Usually there’s something I can go to.  Even a drink of cool water. 

I’ve come to see (though I knew before) with the help of Paulette Terrels, that it’s such a waste of time and energy to listen to those scolding voices. It does me no good to chew on the lousy weather or a tedious project I have to do, that it’s only Tuesday . . .   When all I have to do is think about Harry Potter and I’m back on track.  From there it’s not hard to find something better and better and then I’m cruising along at a comfortable 45.  Much easier to get to 60 from there!

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a review.  In order to counteract the commuting blues, I’ve been listening to Harry Potter books.

Up until this point I had only seen the movies. I enjoyed them very much, but I like all that magic and sorcery stuff.  The movies where a wonderful escape and better than average entertainment. But truthfully, I’m not sure I understood what all the fuss was about.  Friends and family alike, who had read the books. looked down their noses at me for only seeing it through the movies.

As a side note, let me say that the gentleman who reads the books for the audio version is marvelous, doing voices for everyone.  It brings it alive in a way that silent reading never could. The voices echo in my head long after the CD has been tucked away.

But it is the story of Harry Potter, along with the characters that make it so special.  After listening to the first book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” I went back to the movie.  What I saw shocked me.  As I said, I had gotten a kick out of it the first time. But this time I noticed how lightly the characters were sketched. How could anyone know who these people were?  I couldn’t believe I could’ve followed the story when great swatches were left out and new unnecessary scenes put in. When Dumbledore gave Hermione 50 points for using logic, why didn’t my logic ask. “Where did she do that?”  A small scene that probably could’ve been done without much fuss.  Where Hermione reads the instructions  and figures out which bottle isn’t poisonous, without using magic.  Done. Explained.  I know there are restraints in film making.  It really would not have made any sense to go through Uncle Vernon Dursley’s thinking that the book begins with. It’s nearly impossible to get the full range of the characters or scenes, I know that.  I just couldn’t believe how light it all felt.  They were so right.

Back to the book, I believe that story first, character second is what makes this so memorable. The story has great appeal for children, but also for adults. Perhaps the children miss some of the more subtle aspects, but not enough to detract from the adventure. It’s so wonderful and magical to go through their years at school, one by one, slowly watching as events from the past unfold, influence and crack open the present.

It’s a story with heart, so that even if you’ve never played “Quidditch” or taken a potions class, you can find a place to relate.  Harry’s longing to know his parents and find out who he is touches all hearts, whether a wizard or not.

The characters are a delicious variety of good guys, bad guys, friends and foes.  Professor Snape who seems so sinister, lurking around, wishing he could be the Defense Against the Black Arts teacher, secretly helping Harry.  Hagrid, big and bumbling, with such a soft inside. How can you not love someone who owns a vicious, three headed monster dog and calls him Fluffy? Harry himself is multi-dimensional character: half whining pedestrian kid and half great wizard with courage and cunning.  Dumbledore, the greatest head master in school history, one of the greatest wizards ever has a sparkle in his eyes and always speaks calmly. Each character is carefully drawn out.

A mark of a great writer is the details. And JK Rowling has given us so many palpable ones.  I love the way she marks the seasons with bits about the weather. The devices she uses to move the arc along shows you are in the hands of a master storyteller. The things she chooses make the story come alive and sparkle, down to the chocolate frogs with moving pictures of great wizards and witches for collecting and trading.

I am completely absorbed and don’t care a whit about the traffic!

 

 

I’ve been asked to write a piece for an e-Newsletter called Follow Your Bliss.  The November issue is going to be about Courage.  So I thought I’d dive in and  explore it a bit.

Courage is an interesting trait.  It’s one of those qualities we come equipped with if we choose to engage it.  Much like imagination or forgiveness.

Many times we are courageous without knowing it. Like young people who can do things older folks wouldn’t.  Maybe too much knowledge and well honed images of what could happen scare some people. I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter books on CD.  Harry does brave things without thinking, “Gee, aren’t I courageous!” He just does what seems to be best to do in the moment.

Perhaps there’s a factor of trust in Courage.  If you trust everything will be okay, you’re more likely to go where others dare not.  There is a point beyond trust even where Courage becomes superfluous.  We might call it Faith.  In that place you have a deep sense that you are protected.  You just know what you’re doing is Right (or you don’t even think about whether or not it’s right or wrong) and that’s enough.

Courage keeps you a safe distance from fear.  A timid person is always afraid of something. Courageous ones lower that number significantly.

“Fear is the little mind killer,” we were taught in Dune.  It’s true.  Nothing shoots down more dreams and great deeds than fear. We might define Courage as the absence of fear.

“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty,” Merriam Webster says. The origin of the word is Heart.  I like that.  We might say a person with courage has heart.

Perseverance is an important quality. Julia Cameron wrote a book called “Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance.” What good is anything you do if you give up at the first sign of struggle or fear?

Some may need to wield more courage than others.  But perhaps the more you use it, the less you need it.

I’m going to look for places in my life where I’m courageous without even knowing it. And when I start to feel scared or frustrated, I will engage my courage muscle and see what happens.

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