By Regina Pickett Garson
The last few years have been a time of intense change for me. Not exactly what I expected in the direction of my carefully plotted life. Nowhere close. A random choking incident and a month and counting of too many weeks that started to turn into months back and forth from the hospital, bedridden, living on various and sundry tubes, changed my world and everything in it. I just recently saw the third anniversary of the accident. In the last few years, a whole lot of days that turned into months, I did not honestly expect to see another day, much less the three year anniversary from the accident. It sure leaves one with a lot to think about. Reevaluating. Counting blessings. Thinking about the detours, the paths of my life.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that I still publish Magic Stream. I started it in 1994–95, not sure of the exact start date, but at any rate, it’s been online right at twenty years now. It could be it is time for a celebration for that too, or something.
When I first started Magic Stream, I am not sure I knew exactly what it was supposed to be. The Internet was just starting to move into the area of what would come to be known as the World Wide Web, home pages were new back then. The way it was presented to me, the Internet was going to be a place where everyday people could publish and even compete with the big publishing companies. Looking at it from that perspective, I did a whole lot of thinking; what would I publish if I could publish anything I wanted.
Back then, to get anything published, get started as a writer, you sent submission after blind submission. Likely as not, you also collected stacks of rejection slips. Some writers seem to gloat on how many rejection slips they have collected over the years, such as that never quite appealed to me though. I wanted to publish, not just “be” a writer, I wanted to be involved in whatever and any way I could in the publishing and media industry.
One thing that stuck in my mind. At that point, back then, when I first learned of what would soon be the World Wide Web, it maybe seems insignificant now, but back then it was a very big deal and that was the fact that information wasn’t so easily available like it is today. There is a very real reason this age we live in is called the information age.
Anyway, somewhere in that time, I had been to the doc and given a diagnosis, which we all do sooner or later. That was definitely my turn, long story short, PTSD, that would be post traumatic stress disorder, and a doozey of a case, probably an understatement on the diagnosis, but that’s enough on how crazy I am. The thing is, it is treatable, not to be confused with 100% curable, but I did get help. And if I have a problem, I try to stay on top of things. Really upsets me to realize all these homeless veterans suffering from PTSD, when it really is treatable. Getting the treatment you need is another story though. Coming back from war without the support and treatment they need is another story still. Get me going on that.
Anyway, at the time, I was overwhelmed with trying to find out what was going on with me. I’d go to the doc, okay, I’d go to the shrink, and he’d go yada yada, and the next shrink would go yada yada, “Leave it to us. Don’t worry your pretty little head.” And I’d head off to the library trying to find information on what I was dealing with. If you have ever taken a nose dive, and a detour to Flashback City, tried to find your way back out and you know exactly what I mean. Somebody saying, “Trust me, don’t worry your pretty little head,” doesn’t cut it. By the way, “never trust anybody who says trust me.” You can quote me on that.
Long story short, I’d spend hours at the library and never seemed to get very far. Part of the problem really was most likely the state of mind that I was in while I was looking for the information, which wasn’t wonderful. Don’t ask me how I made it through it all, including finding my way back out of Flashback City, but I did.
With those considerations, given the notion that I could publish anything I wanted, I thought about that time of frustration in finding information on mental health issues. And that was really only part of what I was dealing with at the time. We all have to deal with something though. Mine just happened to be the PTSD. That is a reality of life. And life does go on, but what could I do to make things better in the meantime. Make no mistake, for just about every diagnosis you can get, there is something you can do on the self-help level as well. Maybe not a cure, but there is always some little something that you can do to make yourself more comfortable, make things better and more bearable along the way.
Given the possibilities of the World Wide Web, I wanted to do something along the lines of self-help information resources, and making it easier to find everyday medical information, focus on mental health information. At the time, I did not have a clue what I was dealing with or where to start. I remembered vividly my own lapse into PTSD, the journeys through Flashback City. The hours spent in the library, never seeming to get much of anywhere. Wanting more information about what was going on with me and not being able to find it. Thinking hard about that time, when I realized the implications of what was coming with the World Wide Web, I decided that what I would like to do was publish a self-help and wellness information resource that focused mostly on mental health issues, helping people to connect and find the related information they needed, also the physical, and the spiritual, because in some kind of way, it is all related. Mind – body – spirit. You really do need it all.
That was the seed of Magic Stream. Other interests at the time, I had really wanted to get certified in bibliotherapy, which is the use of writing and literature for healing, started into it, but the certification is not recognized in Alabama and an unrecognized therapy certification is not worth much of a dime if you got bills to pay. So much for that, somewhere along the way though, I had written a fairy tale, by the name of “Magic Stream”; it is kind of gory when it comes to fairy tales, definitely not of the Disney sort, but the concept was people reaching out to each other for healing. None of us can honestly go it alone. So all that combined together was the start of Magic Stream.
This got long for a short little blog post about a calling. Over the years, I had a lot of ideas that came and went with the changing times of the Internet. Magic Stream was among the earliest, probably first dozen or so, self-help and wellness sites on the Internet. And being as it is still up, it is now one of the oldest continuously published, still up and running, self-help sites on the Internet. Through thick and thin, good times and bad, I’ve managed to keep it online.
There were times when I honestly thought about shutting it down, but at the end of the day, how do you build a mission and close the doors while people are standing there. When all was said and done, it really is a mission, always has been, and a mission to which I have devoted much of my life. And how do you build a mission, and close the doors while people are still coming there for help.
In my mind, and the way I’ve tried to live my life, it’s like crossing a bridge, it was a rough journey, the paths of my life, but if you look back and there is somebody behind you that all they need is a steady hand to get across, how can you not take one little moment to reach back. I always felt like in some kind of way, we should all do some little part to give back to the community as we are able. Magic Stream was my giving back. And so it continued. It was never anything grand, never the highest traffic site on the net, just a place where people went for mostly mental health and wellness information, to find what they needed to get on with their life. Sometimes teachers and counselors go there for information as well.
I never did make a lot of noise about it. There is something about mental health issues, people really aren’t into a lot of noise on that. We all have our little red wagon as they say, but blasting it all on a loud speaker is another matter. And I had no inclination toward being a professional patient. And we all know some of those. But I kept Magic Stream going, published it, maintained the site, and wrote the code. I have published a whole lot of really awesome people along the way, no way was it ever a one person project, never has been. I am really humbled at the caliber of people who have shared their writing, their own journey, and their stories on Magic Stream.
I’ve thought much at different times about where to go with it, and like others who work for a living, have often found myself severely limited in what I could realistically get done with it, especially after the accident. Talk about slow. Nonetheless, sometimes absolutely despite myself, Magic Stream is still there.
Funny thing is. I don’t know how as I got on this, what a rambling circle. I don’t generally talk a lot about Magic Stream, even to people I am around a lot. Some people have worked with me for years and never heard me say a thing about it, other than maybe passing mention of some kind of web publishing, they didn’t have a clue how I would know such. And I know I got some raised eyebrows over the years when in the middle of some meeting or something, some web issue or question would come up and I would have much feedback and people would be rolling their eyes, like where is this coming from and what does she know about the Internet, twenty some years’ worth of publishing actually.
I was never much into that part about blowing one’s horn though, could be that has been one of the big mistakes of my life. Could be I wouldn’t do that much different if I had it to do again. I’ve been building web pages since you pretty much had to write your own code, I still mostly do, old fashioned like that. Anyway, it is something I have always done on the side of whatever else I was doing. Folks who know me, and the site, also know there is a spiritual side of it all, it has always been there as well. Funny how things happen.
Lately it seems that things spiritual and ministerial have been on the brain and popping up here and there in various ways. Others have mentioned ministry related issues as well. Spiritual outreach very similar to what I have been doing with Magic Stream all these years. The mission has been open for a very long time, twenty years, and counting. It really is a mission, never was much of anything else. Could be I went about it in from a completely odd direction, bass ackards as they say, but the minute it was in my head, I knew it was right.
I went ahead with a Universal Life Church ordination. Nobody wants to get married, that I know about, but I can do it too. It is a non-denominational type ordination, although the term would seem to mean no denomination at all, from my perspective it is an inclusiveness thing. Magic Stream is very much about spiritual inclusiveness. Anyway, it is true that some people use the Universal Life Church ordination route for ceremonial purposes, to be licensed to perform weddings and such. I am not looking for a church or a congregation either, but the Magic Stream mission has had its doors open for the last twenty years. It is non-denominational in philosophy, not to be confused with lacking in spirituality or religious values. It is very much welcoming of religious diversity, especially the healing aspects. And interestingly, some of the earliest things I published were written by ministers.
It is the same old Magic Stream, but going into the ministry will allow me to extend some of the resources in various off line ways, into the community, and lend the resources I have already developed and sitting there to support various other of the causes and efforts that I already believe in for the common good.
After publishing Magic Stream for all these years, I actually have significant background and self-help type resources to pull from. It is way past time for a ministerial type, more spiritually focused presence at Magic Stream. And no I am not quitting my day job, nothing much is changing on the day-to-day, just a different direction for what I have been doing all these years.
Growing up as a preacher’s daughter, over the years, I remember when various stood up in church and said that they had “been called.” Called to the ministry that is. One doesn’t however always talk about everything they do. Could be I was called the day I decided to build the Magic Stream website. However, such that it is, the non-denominational ministerial ordination route, lends me to move in a new direction with some of the Magic Stream resources, more focus on the spiritual aspects of healing, which after dealing with my own especially, I really do feel is so important. I also think is very much needed in the world today, and timely, and coincidentally in the process, I am already ordained.
My mission is the same as it has been for the last twenty years. It won’t be over night, there is however going to be a change in the spirit at Magic Stream. This is after much consideration as to how I would commemorate the twenty year mark of Magic Stream. Coincidentally, I can also perform weddings, and funerals, and various such, licensed to do everything that goes with it, which I have actually done in some capacity for many years, I just used to be the piano player. Namaste, Amen and blessings to all.
Copyright © 2015 Regina Pickett Garson
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