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2019: Advocacy Magic

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Happy (belated) new year everyone! I hope everyone is doing well. I have missed you all and missed blogging. I’ve been doing a lot of writing and reading for grad school, but not always on topics of my preference. All this writing has made it a challenge to write for fun, as my “creativity tank” has been on empty after turning in so many other writing assignments. Reading other blog posts has unfortunately presented a similar challenge.

This winter holiday provided a much-needed break and also some time to reflect, both on what I’ve learned in school and on what I want this blog to look like moving forward. For the past few years, I have struggled with wanting to incorporate more advocacy and social change into my blog, but also wanting to keep the focus on finding life’s magic. I felt somehow that these two ideas were in conflict. I think this is because there was a part of me that felt that pointing out the things in the world around me that were not ideal was a negative approach, something that conflicted with my concept of the Enchanted Outlook.

Recently, however, I realized that this does not need to be the case. If I can use the concept of having an Enchanted Outlook to find the magic in life’s personal struggles, why not use this concept to find more positive ways to deal with struggles in the world at large? That’s when I settled on the main focus of my blog for 2019, which is Advocacy Magic.

So, what is Advocacy Magic? It’s using the concepts from my blog, namely, cognitive reframing, positive psychology, and metaphors in fantasy literature and, instead of focusing on personal happiness, focusing instead on making the world a happier place. It’s doing so in a way that will, fingers crossed, be full of joy, fun, interconnectedness, a quest for knowledge, and most importantly, hope. 

I plan on starting each blog post off with a topic highlight of something in the world that could stand to change. My hope is to make this brief, to the point, impactful, and, of course, to make sure that my sources are solid and my facts well-researched. Then, I plan on offering some solutions. While I understand that not EVERY solution, and not EVERY problem is best addressed in a lighthearted manner, the focus of Advocacy Magic will be on solutions that could be seen as enjoyable, rewarding, or that require easy lifestyle changes. I don’t do this against, but rather in addition to, other advocacy styles, because I want the approach of Advocacy Magic to be true to the heart of The Enchanted Outlook, which is to say, a joyful approach.

Finally, I intend to incorporate elements of positive psychology to the idea of advocacy itself, to help others find the joy in being an advocate and maybe take away some of the fear and doubts that can prevent people from working towards positive change.

So that’s it, folks. I hope this is something that will be interesting and fun. Please let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for topics to cover.

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Back to School!

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It’s official: I’m going back to school next year to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Now, whenever I tell people this, they tend to assume that I’ll be working in child protective services. So, if you’re unfamiliar with  the degree, I’ll give you some information about social work and explain how it relates to what I do here on this blog as well.

Social work can be defined as work done by trained individuals with the goal of aiding and empowering those in need. Lots of different occupations can be considered social work; for instance:

  • positions in nonprofit management
  • individuals in hospitals who develop plans of care
  • government workers who see if individuals qualify for assistance
  • counselors
  • people who work in politics and advocate for individuals’ rights

Social work also encompasses a wide variety of fields, including education, healthcare, mental health, economics, politics, urban development, and more. So, you can imagine it’s a broad degree that is applicable to a lot of areas.

What exactly will I be doing, and how does it relate to The Enchanted Outlook? Well, I’m pursuing a clinical track, and my goal is to become a licensed counselor. There are several different degrees which lead to clinical licensure, including social work, counseling, and psychology; one reason that I chose the social work track, besides the broadness of the field, was because it takes a slightly different perspective. Instead of a primary focus of adapting an individual to their environment, as some other counseling degrees would, a social worker also takes into account sociological factors and aims to help adapt environment to the individual.

For instance, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) counseling a client who had been raped might connect their client with legal resources. An LCSW counseling a client who was disabled and out of work might take some steps to assist that client in finding appropriate employment. LCSWs are frequently found in public and nonprofit settings, but counsel in the private sector as well. While there are a lot of overlaps between this and other forms of counseling, I really liked the sociological perspective that social work provides, especially with where my country is at the present, and the opportunity to advocate for individuals and groups that it gives.

My intent is to have a very balanced approach to my counseling, though, which brings me back to this blog. In The Enchanted Outlook, I talk a lot about cognitive reframing, which is about changing the way we perceive things and viewing them in a more helpful way. This is a technique which I intend to bring into my counseling. I hope that all of my future clients will be able to walk away from their sessions seeing life in a bit more “magical” way. I also intend to share counseling tips and tricks regarding cognitive reframing here, so I hope that having this advanced degree will enrich my blogging and be helpful to you all as well.

I will have two years of school, and then two to three years of post-graduate field work, before obtaining licensure, so this will be a long and arduous journey, but I’m so excited to get started this fall! I am apologizing in advance for inconsistent blogging that is sure to come once I’m in the thick of it, but hopefully the quality of my information obtained through my education will compensate for lack of quantity of posts. That’s it; I hope this wasn’t too boring and that it clarified some things for you. Thanks for stopping by!

Enchantment in Light and Darkness

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I have been studying the concept of magic and its connection to the concept of happiness for about four years now.  It has been an incredible journey so far and has lead me down all sorts of paths I never thought I would travel. I would like to revisit one aspect of the subject today and clarify an opinion that has… not so much changed, but has lately been easier to put into words.

I have defined enchantment in relation to how the term is used in fantasy literature. In fantasy, an enchantment is a type of magic that alters the perception of the individual, rather than altering the world around them. When a person is enchanted, they see things differently. In this way, The Enchanted Outlook is a term I made up for the concept of learning how to alter our perspectives to see things in a more imaginative and positive way. In other words, it’s about cognitive re-framing.

However, because  I have spent my career working in settings where I see social injustice on a daily basis, one concept that I have personally grappled with is where cognitive re-framing fits in with inequality and injustice. Certainly, to suggest that any person suffering from an external cause would have their problems disappear by simply shifting their perspective is irresponsible and blames the wrong source. Trust me: I’ve been given this advice myself during times of grief and loss and it wasn’t comforting. Changing how we view the world does not make the world change, and it does not make the monsters go away.

I turn, instead, to one of my favorite passages, from G. K. Chesterson about the power of fairy tales for children:

Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.

You may have seen this condensed as the quote, “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”

I don’t present the concept of an Enchanted Outlook because I don’t know the world can be ugly or because I want to blame those who suffer at its expense. Rather, I present this concept because I DO know that it can be an ugly place. I hope that the Enchanted Outlook serves as inspiration to defeat whatever monsters may be out there through offering hope.

And so, with this blog, I offer a shift in perspective that I hope will provide courage to face the world with a renewed spirit, regardless of your circumstances or your beliefs. For, whether you are trying to make small changes in your life, or you are going through a terrible darkness that feels completely out of your control, we all need a spark of hope and happiness in order to fight our own dragons.

 

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