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Here and Now

If you read my last column, you’ll know that my sweet little family has been in growth mode; in December we welcomed precious little Edwin Lewis (Winn) Lovel to our world! He arrived healthy, pink, chubby, and beautiful beyond belief, and every moment I’ve spent with him so far has deserved its own glass dome. He brought extra joy to the holidays, and when I look at my 6’4” son holding that tiny bundle of love, my thoughts race over all the life changes his future now holds. The miracle of baby Winn is a wonderful life-changing event, as are all births, marriages, deaths and the other routine hoped-and-planned-for happenings of our days. But today I’m writing beyond these milestones of life; let’s talk about Life-Changing MAGIC. 

The Cambridge Dictionary defines magic as “a special and exciting quality that makes something seem different from ordinary things.” So, what special and exciting things have the power to change a life? If you search Google for “life-changing magic,” you’ll see that you can learn to find life-changing magic in tidying up, sports betting, keeping absolutely everything, hanging out, not giving a [flip], making do, validating your own feelings, and even by sharing your data! The phrase was first popularized by Marie Kondo in her 2011 book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and if the number of blogs and spinoffs found on the interweb are any indication, it is indeed life-changing to tidy up with her method. Your formerly cluttered house will acquire a special and exciting quality that sparks your own personal joy, and it will definitely seem different from ordinary (still cluttered) houses. If you have tried Marie’s method and it changed your life, I’d love to hear about it!

You don’t have to buy a book to experience Life-Changing Magic, though. It can happen any time, in many different ways, and all that’s needed is the awareness to know it when it does. Sometimes Have you ever experienced Life-Changing Magic? Here and Now with Nina Lovel you can make it happen yourself (as in tidying up), sometimes you just hope it happens, and sometimes you’ll never know how it happened. Life-Changing Magic changes the trajectory of your life for good and forever, and often the lives of your loved ones as well. Have you experienced Life-Changing Magic? I have, twice. Dig deep. Maybe you had a long-ago conversation with someone who activated your life’s vision. Maybe a mentor inspired you to follow your bliss. Perhaps you took a class in which a spark of curiosity became the guiding light of your career. Did you apply for a long-shot scholarship that came through and funded an education you would otherwise not have had? Maybe you heard a song that inspired you to pick up a guitar and play the first notes in a lifetime of music that has thrilled you and everyone who heard it. Read on for some of the Life- Changing Magic around us.

The Magic of Commitment 

Were it not for the commitment made to me by a sweet childless couple way back when, you would not be reading this. I was the third-born to a mother who had five babies by four different men. Every day I thank God for the parents who adopted and loved me so well. I was born into Life-Changing Magic. 

Were it not for the commitment of caring citizens in our area, dozens of men, women and children would have no shelter tonight and no hope tomorrow that they’ll ever work their way out of life’s lowest places. And more commitments are under way, laden with hope for the poorest among us. A small group of volunteers is leading the inaugural “Getting Ahead” workshop, a series of sessions proven to help those born into poverty to build the life-skill resources needed to grow in prosperity. Proof of the Life-Changing Magic in Getting Ahead is found in this story from another town: 

(A participant) was late to the session and came in begging our forgiveness. She said “I’m sorry I’m late, but I was pulled over for a broken tail light on the way here. Six weeks ago, I would have gone off on the cop and probably wound up in jail. But now that I’ve learned better ways to talk to people, instead of getting mad I was just honest and told him I was on my way to a Getting Ahead meeting. He let me go with a warning; can you believe that?” Life-Changing Magic happens when committed volunteers help you grow into a better life.

The Magic of Recovery 

Two people I dearly love are in their fifth year of sobriety. They are heroes to me. Everyone in recovery is a hero to me. When you’ve been in the grip of addiction and hit your life’s rock bottom and then chosen a sober life, you’ve created your own Life-Changing Magic. When you chose to search yourself completely and ask (and give) forgiveness, you’ve created your own Life-Changing Magic. With intention, you chose to enter a different world where others who have been where you are come alongside and shepherd you, and you have gained attitudes and built behaviors that not only change your own life, they change the lives of all around you. You will pay it forward by creating Life-Changing Magic for others in the recovery world. You are my heroes. 

The Magic of Abundance 

Our community has abounded with holiday stories of generosity and love for one another. Churches and community groups fed the hungry, toys were given to tots, kids shopped with cops with money cheerfully given, and shelter residents and the homeless received gifts of warmth. Even the dogs at PAWS were blessed with sleepovers where they got to know prospective families. Prosperity was shared in all the best ways; generosity flourished. Those of us who have abundance gave generously, and those of us who have less abundance also gave generously. Our neighbors who struggle with life and money were collectively cared for, and I’m hopeful it will always be this way. 

I used to observe such outright generosity thinking “maybe someday I’ll have enough to spare so that I, too, will be able to give that plentifully.” Feel free to call me a slow-learner, but it hasn’t been that long since I realized that I don’t have to have “enough to spare” in order to be generous; all I have to have is enough, period. When you have enough, there is always something to spare. 

Now, please don’t think I’m preaching a prosperity gospel; this just happened to coincide. Not long after I got my head straight on generosity, my second Life-Changing Magic happened: I received the gift of abundance. Kind of a reverse-abundance, really; I didn’t win the lottery and no rich uncle died and left me in his will. It was something promised that I had spent twelve years working on and hoping for. It had been denied me seven times, each for a different reason, and I was very close to giving up when I learned that the balance of my student loan debt had, at long last, been forgiven. The sudden unexpected receipt of an abundance of money is Life-Changing Magic, and so is the forgiveness of a debt. I am nothing but grateful. I hope your life is full and wonderful. 

I hope that you’ve had as many happy days as sad ones, and that your health is where you can enjoy every day in one way or another. If you’ve never experienced Life- Changing Magic, then my wish is that you will, but it’s really not essential for a life well lived. After all, it’s magic and magic happens in its own good time. And if you get impatient you can always create your own; just Google it and get yourself some of those books! 

Nina loves to hear from you. Please email her at ninalovel@gmail.com with your thoughts about her columns.