A Thing Worth Doing

Julia working at the wheel.

Julia working at the wheel.

“It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just do.” – Eric Jerome Dickey

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

Faster isn’t always better. Fast food isn’t always the best for us and fast isn’t always better when working on any kind of project. Unfortunately, we live in a fast food society. We want instant gratification in many aspects of our lives from our food, to our entertainment, to our success. My father used to say that it was better to pay more and get exactly what you want than to save a few dollars and buy junk. And it’s better to spend time and effort on something worth doing than to rush the process.

Artist, scientists, and inventors all know about taking your time to make sure the painting, the experiment, the invention is done in the best way possible. Teachers know that their students can’t learn their lessons all in one day. Each school year’s lessons build on what the children learned the year before, the semester before, the day before. So why do some people want to rush the process of what matters most in life?

This morning the title of the one of the instructional writer’s blogs I read was this: “How fast can you write a book? (and why that’s the wrong question)” In the post, Jurgen Wolff, was cautioning his readers not to fall for any program or book that states that you can write a best selling book in only a few days, weeks or months. I know from experience that he’s right.

In the last month, I’ve been contemplating the amount of time it has taken me to get my novel, The Space Between Time, finished and ready for publication. I started it in 1999, set it aside for ten or so years and then picked it up again in 2010. Once I’d started the book, it was always in the back of my mind. I was thinking about the characters of Morgan and her father Thomas. Since I’d started the book as a tribute to my father, I didn’t want to give up the idea of finishing it. Now, of course, the main theme has changed slightly. There are two main characters, Jenna and Morgan. They connect through time to learn from one another. But it was my father who inspired me to write the book and that fact keeps me plodding along toward publishing the work he inspired. My father didn’t know that he was my inspiration and now he’s gone yet isn’t that how it is. Little and big things speak to us and help us grow, or inspire us to create something beautiful.

I’ve written before, that I finished the rough draft of this novel a year ago last December. Over these last fourteen months, I’ve allowed myself to take a step back to get a more objective view of the story lines and see where they can be improved. Writing a book is a long and sometimes tedious process. At one point I was feeling impatient. I wanted the book to be finished and I said something to that effect to my husband. I nearly wept when he said to me, “What you’re doing isn’t easy. It takes time to create something worthwhile.” I was so grateful to him for saying that because it’s true. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. So I’m an advocate for slowing down allowing yourself to take your time to build your success, to get that education, to heal your wounds and build a life worth living.

I’m happy to say that my manuscript is nearly finished now. I can feel it in my bones. That doesn’t mean there still won’t be some tweaks to be made to it. But I feel proud that I didn’t rush the process to publish it last year. It wasn’t ready then. I have to admit, I’m glad I’m a plodder when it comes to any creative project I do whether it’s writing a book, or directing a play. Taking the time to examine all the layers of what needs to be accomplished is a good thing. Whenever I’ve rushed through any project, I’ve been sorry. Rushing creates stress and stress isn’t good for optimal success on what you want to accomplish. So I encourage everyone to use slow and steady progress where creativity is involved.

Thank you to all my followers, new and old. Feel free to leave a comment and connect with me on any of my social networks.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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On Reading and Writing

My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” – Octavia Butler

“Learn as much by writing as by reading.” – Lord Acton

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” – Stephen King

I’m a member of Goodreads social network. At the beginning of the year I pledged to read 50 books. That’s a small amount of books compared to the number some of my friends and family members read every year. However, I enjoy savoring a book. I look forward to going to bed early, reading and then dreaming about the book. I find myself thinking about it at various times during the day and if the book is good the characters come alive for me.

About a year or so ago, I joined a book club group made up mostly of women who had taken my journaling class. It’s interesting to be part of the group because many of the books we read are not ones I would ordinarily choose. The latest book the group chose was, in my opinion, boring. It’s always distressing to me when I begin a novel that fails to grasp my attention because I know how much time goes into writing a novel. In a way, I feel like I’m betraying the author by not liking his or her book. Writing a novel is a huge investment of time and effort. I always want to be completely enthralled by every book I pick up, so when I begin one that I don’t like, I feel sad. I was going to slog through this particular book to the end because I felt a responsibility to the author and my fellow book club members. However, eventually, I just couldn’t continue reading.

Part of me felt bad about putting aside a book that was written by a New York Times best selling author. I thought, “Who am I to say the book wasn’t good.” Then I thought, “I’m a reader, that’s who I am. I have a right to say whether or not a particular book speaks to me.” The wonderful thing for readers is that there are so many books available. We will undoubtedly find many books that touch our lives throughout our reading lives and some books just won’t be worth our time.

As a writer, I feel sad about this particular book because I wanted to like it. It’s historical fiction during the time of the Civil War. Part of the novel I’m writing takes place during the Civil War, I was hoping to get a different perspective about the war from reading this book. I have to say that some of the scenes did give me a different perspective on the war, which is something I always look for in a good book.

As is my custom, I thought long and hard about what it was about the book that made me dislike it. I believe that’s an important exercise for all writers to undertake. The answers can help us become better writers. I’m lucky because I have a background in theatre. I’ve done lots of analyzation of plays and characters. In my opinion, what was missing from this particular book was an emotional connection among the characters. In my mind, all the greatest stories have something in common. They are multilayered and deal with universal themes. When the reader or audience can get a glimpse into a character’s soul, that’s what grasps our hearts and makes us continue reading. This particular book missed the mark in terms of character motivation and connections among the characters.

I’m in the final stages of getting my novel ready for publication. You can be sure, I’ll be going through my manuscript to make sure I’ve done the best I can to make the characters live on the page. At the same time, I’ll have to remind myself that not everyone is going to like my book. That will have to be okay. It will hurt when people write bad reviews, but as the Octavia Butler quote above says, this novel I’m working on might be crap, but I’ve got to keep writing so I can improve my skills. And I’ll keep reading to learn as much as I can from both good and bad books.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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The Essence of a Person

Calla Lilies

Calla Lilies

“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” – Charles de Lint

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“The strangest part about being famous is you don’t get to give first impressions anymore. Everyone already has an impression of you before you meet them.” – Kristen Stewart

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” – Albert Einstein

Last week as I was browsing Facebook, I found a link to an article in The Guardian in which it was lamented that Colleen McCullough’s obituary in an Australian newspaper was more about her looks and relationships with men, than about her brains and the many best selling books she created over her long career. As the reporter points out, it’s not the first time that articles about women concentrate more on a woman’s physical attributes and role she has played as a mother, or lack of it, before listing her other accomplishments.

That got me thinking. What is the essence of a person? Are we our looks, our family relationships, our job, or our accomplishments? Or is there something much more mysterious deep inside each of us? I think that many of us are afraid to explore who we really are which makes me sad. Think of all the wonderful things that could be accomplished if everyone was completely self-actualized.

Women are particularly plagued with image comparisons, but men face this problem too. There is a nebulous measuring stick out there for what constitutes an attractive, successful, smart man or woman. It’s a set of qualities that no one, or very few people can live up to. And if they could live up to them, would they want to? Who wants to be put into a category?

Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of looking at someone’s physical appearance, education, or situation in life, we could look into their soul and see the real person underneath? What would we find I wonder? Why is it most of us don’t care to look farther than skin deep? I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but this whole idea has been on my mind lately.

I wrote several weeks back about the fracas in my family at the end of last year. One effect of that event is that I struggled to see my sister and brother for who they really are at their essential level, rather that to judge their actions which at first caused so much pain. When I calmed down, two things came to my mind. First, they either didn’t have any idea of the effect of their actions or they thought they were doing the right thing. Second, when we have a conflict with someone, they are in essence holding up a mirror so we can examine our own motives and unhealed places. So how can I fault anyone who irritates, or attacks me? When that happens, I’m getting a chance to learn a great lesson about myself. Once I came to that conclusion, I realized that we’ll never really know another person unless we allow ourselves to look with different eyes so we can get a glimpse of their soul. To do that, we must delve deeply into our own soul. We must accept ourselves as we are with no recriminations.

The fact that Colleen McCullough’s fans raised an outcry about her obituary is just one sign that maybe people are waking up to the fact that each person is a unique gift to the world and should be honored. After all, her fans saw into her soul through the many books she wrote. When you become a fan that way, you accept the beauty of the artist’s soul and it doesn’t really matter what they look like. Maybe her fans find it easier to honor the people they meet in their everyday lives as well. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true?

Today as I sat down to write this blog installment, a Facebook friend posted a list of qualities that are not measured by academic tests. The list was developed my Maria Montessori, a pioneer in the field of education. As I read the list, I felt that many of the things on it are also qualities that are overlooked when we reduce someone to the superficial things we first notice about them. Here are just a few things on the list: creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, humor, self-awareness, self-discipline, empathy, compassion, sense of wonder, and humility. We each have so many qualities inside of us. We are so much more than a small list of qualities that are supposed to be important. It’s my hope we will all discover who we really are so that we can appreciate others at a deeper level thus honoring who they really are.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Focused Attention

Cochise College Roses

Cochise College Roses

“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” – George Eliot

“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” – Elbert Hubbard

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” – Arnold J. Toynbee

Last week I wrote about serendipity and how it has worked for me in my writing career. Trusting that serendipity will happen is a key element to being successful, but you can’t just sit back and let serendipity happen. Some say it takes hard work, but instead of hard work, I like to think of it as focused attention.

The reason I like to replace the words hard work with focused attention is because when we think of hard work, we equate it with stress and strain. However, I’ve learned from being involved in the theatre that hard work can be fun, fulfilling and energizing. If you like what you do, you can be focusing your attention on the task at hand, but it won’t feel stressful; it will be fun.

I’m sure you’ve experienced what I’m writing about. You’re doing something that captures your attention. You love every aspect of whatever it is you’re doing. It might be building a sand castle, skiing, playing with you children, cooking, or gardening. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, it’s your feeling about it that makes the difference. Time slips by and suddenly you realize that you were so absorbed in what you were doing that it seems like only a moment has gone by since you started your project. That’s focused attention.

Our souls rejoice when we’re doing what brings us joy. Isn’t that a much better way to live than dragging yourself out of bed every work day and dreading being there for the interminably long hours before you can go home? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if everyone woke up excited to get to the work they love? So why do so many people stress themselves out doing work they hate?

Many of us cling to the old idea that we have to support ourselves somehow. Most of the time we think that means sacrificing doing what we love so we can put a roof over our heads and food on the table. I’d like to challenge that idea. Everyone of us can live the life of our dreams. It may take some effort to transition from our old life to our new, but that’s where focused attention and serendipity can help.

Our minds are powerful beyond what we may think. Many people are convinced that events happen TO us, but science and the ancient wisdom traditions tell us that what we think creates our reality. If we think we must stay trapped doing work we hate for twenty, thirty, or forty years before we can do what we love, we’ll be miserable most of our lives. I don’t know about you but I didn’t want to face that prospect.

I won’t say I was always completely successful in my efforts to find work I loved. I loved doing theatre, but it didn’t pay much and took up a great deal of my time. I missed many a family gathering because I was in rehearsal. The day came when I had to decided what was more important to me, my relationship with my husband, or theatre. I gave up theatre. But then a few years later, I got a job teaching drama. Ah, I could do what I loved and still go home at night to my husband. Yet there were aspects of teaching that were stressful. Teaching drama was nearly the right match but not quite. While I was getting my Masters in theatre, I discovered that I loved writing, but not many writers make a good living. So I buried the idea of becoming a writer and moved on.

The thing is that through the years I continued to believe that I would find the work I was meant to do. I kept my attention focused on doing what I loved to do as much as possible. One day, I remembered that I’d wanted to be a writer, but somewhere along the way I’d become convinced I couldn’t make a living doing what I loved most. My mind was split in two and clouded with thoughts that only the most special people are lucky enough to be successful at the thing they love doing. I tried to stay close to my first love. Almost all my jobs throughout the years involved some aspect of story telling, but I was never the story teller and that’s what I longed to do.

Who knows why we block our own happiness. However, something inside me kept prompting me to keep searching for the thing that would make me deeply and completely joyful. One day my focused attention paid off. Something clicked in my head and I realized I just needed to make the decision that writing is what I was going to do no matter what and that’s when serendipity began to work for me.

I haven’t published my first novel yet. Who knows if it will sell millions of copies. If it sells one or thousand copies, my efforts will be worth the years of work. Something else wonderful has happened during this process, I’ve met other authors by writing reviews of their books. I didn’t know that they would contact me when I wrote the reviews, it just happened that way. So, I’m creating positive change by meeting and supporting fellow authors and by allowing myself to tune into something greater than myself as I write my blog and books. Every little positive ripple changes the world. Because I believe that is true, I encourage you to find ways to do what you love even if it’s only in your spare time. Who knows where that focused effort will lead you.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Trust Serendipity

Our rosebush

Our rosebush

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – St. Francis of Assisi

This morning as I was thinking about what to write for this week’s post, serendipity came to my rescue. The above quote was in my email inbox. When I read the quote, I was reminded of the process I’ve used while writing my first novel, The Space Between Time. It spoke to me because it implies the miracle of serendipity. As I’ve been writing my book, serendipity has played a big part in my creative process.

I began writing this novel in 1999 after a visit with my Mom and Dad in Quartzsite, Arizona. My dad had heart disease, and though he’d been active for more than ten years, I could tell during that visit, that he was beginning to decline.

On the five hour drive home, the idea for one of the story lines of the novel came to me. I wanted to write a kind of love letter to my dad with a relationship between a father and daughter reflecting the relationship I had with my father. This is what came to me: In 1858 Vermont, a minister and his daughter are nearly the only family they have. Their relationship is very close. A letter arrives from a former student of the father’s urging them to come to Southern Oregon. The town where he lives needs a teacher and since the town is growing so fast the father could find work as well. Unfortunately, by the time the letter arrives, the father has been diagnosed with cancer. During his illness he encourages his daughter to travel West, which she does after his death.

After a few months of writing, life intervened and I got a full-time teaching job, which took up so much of my time, I had to set the novel aside. It wasn’t until 2010, six years after my father’s death, that I was able to pick up where I’d left off. By then I had an idea, which I didn’t know how to execute, of having a storyline in the present that somehow intertwined with the events in the past. That idea rumbled around in my mind nagging at me for about a year, until one day a guest speaker came to the writing group I was attending.

The guest speaker was a local writer who had published several books, all military intrigue and action, one of which was about to be made into a movie. At the beginning of the session, he asked each of us to describe what we were working on. When I described my book, he said, “You know, you could have a link between someone in the present with the woman in the past. Something unusual like that is kind of popular right now.” I told him I had been wanting to do just that, but I hadn’t been able to come up with a plausible way to make that happen. Well, of course, on the drive home the idea of how to link the two timelines came to me.

As I was nearing the San Pedro River, I seem to get a lot of inspiration from that river, it occurred to me that the woman in the present could find some journals written by her many times great-grandmother and when she opened the first book to read, her consciousness would merge with her great-grandmother’s and she would experience portions of life with her. I knew this was just the right direction to take my book because the familiar feeling of elation descended upon me. It happens whenever I think of the best possibility, direction, or action to take.

For the next several months, I woke up every morning excited to develop the timeline in the present and linking the two women in the past. I liked the way the book was taking shape, but try as I might, I couldn’t think of a title. Whenever I talked about working on my novel, the first question people would ask was, “What’s the title?” I had no idea. Nothing I’d come up with so far seemed right.

Again serendipity came to my aid. It was late in the fall semester 2013. I was driving home from teaching my evening college class and I was listening to The Beatles on my iPod. I don’t even remember the song that was playing but something about the lyrics clicked and I knew that I was going to title my book, The Space Between Time. Again, I felt that tingle in my stomach, and goose bumps came up on my skin. I knew that was the right title for this book.

I finished the rough draft in December 2013. For the next year, I made revisions and found an editor, all the while considering how I was going to promote my book. I don’t have much experience with marketing and promotion. Since I was going to self-publish, I was concerned about how to get the word out about my book to potential readers, but no solutions presented themselves. I was getting anxious.

I think it was in the spring or maybe summer of last year, that a friend I’d met on Facebook, Dorothy Sander, sent me a #FF message, along with several other women, on Twitter. Dorothy is a writer as well and we had exchanged messages on her Aging Abundantly Writer’s Meet Up page on Facebook. Her latest book, Finding Hope: Inspiration for the Midlife Journey, is available at Amazon. You can also find her blog, “Manifest Me” on WordPress. Now I have to say, I’m old enough that I don’t fully understand all the etiquette of social networking. But on the day I got Dorothy’s message, I thought Oh, Dorothy must be encouraging all of the women listed to connect with each other. So, I went and followed each of them and sent them a short personal message. When they followed me back, I sent each one an individual thank you. Since I didn’t send these as private messages, they showed up on the public stream of tweets. The next day I was astonished to find four or five new follows in my Twitter feed. I thanked them as I had the original women, and so my Twitter group began to grow. Each day I would get new followers and every few days I would go and send a personal thank you to each new follower. Often, if I like their profile statement, I’ll follow them back. The day Dorothy sent me that #FF message, I had about 180 followers. This morning when I checked Twitter I found I have 742 followers. Now, I know that’s not a huge amount over a six month period, but by sending a personal thank you to each follower, I increased my social media influence, and I didn’t have to buy followers who aren’t interested in me personally.

Another way I’ve grown my Twitter presence is to retweet posts that I like. Many of them are about books coming out. It’s my way of paying it forward. If I help other authors promote their work, perhaps when I publish my book they will return the favor.

Who knows if my strategy of building a social networking presence will help me create a following of readers. I’m trusting serendipity to continue to come to my aid in that respect as well. All I know is that I’ve met some wonderful creative people along the way. Twitter is just one of my successes in increasing my web presence. More about that in next week’s post.

I don’t have all the answers about how to gain followers and readers. When I think of spending hours reading books, or taking courses about marketing and promotion, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. When I think of concentrating on my writing and devoting a few hours a week connecting with people on social media, I feel much better. So, I’ll let go of trying to control events and I’ll let serendipity be my guide.

Watch for news of the launch date for The Space Between Time this spring 2015.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Following My Own Star

Stars

Stars

“The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” – Benjamin E. Mays

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

I’ve always had a longing to follow a different star than many of my classmates, family and friends. For many years I kept that desire hidden because I was afraid. I was afraid of what others would think, of what I’d have to sacrifice, but mostly I was afraid to trust that all would be well if I threw caution to the wind and followed the guidance I was being given. Oh how I wish I hadn’t wasted all that time.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve stopped caring about the opinions of others. The voice, or feeling drawing me toward complete immersion in joyous creation is stronger than all my petty fears ever were. I’m so much happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. Each morning I wake up looking forward to the day instead of dreading doing work that kills my soul.

This phenomenon of following your own star isn’t new nor is it happening only to me. Every single one of us have our own star to follow, our own purpose to fulfill. Some of us grab ahold and have the ride of our lives. Others are like Ivan Ilyich, a character in the story, “The Death of Ivan Illyich” by Leo Tolstoy. Ivan Illyich has taken pains to build a life that looks great from the outside, but he has never fulfilled the purpose he came to live. Perhaps he was too afraid of who he really was, or he didn’t want to do the work necessary to follow his heart. Who knows what blocks us from fulfilling our dreams. On his death bed Ivan realizes that because he tried to make his life look good, he was selfish. He didn’t offer up his talents to help anyone else. I like the way Wayne Dyer says it, “Don’t die with your music still in you.” The saddest thing is when someone realizes in their final moments, that for whatever reason, they wasted their life doing things they hated. It’s sad when people ignore their calling.

The paradoxical thing is that to be of service to the world, we must often appear selfish when it comes to listening to our inner guidance. It’s only when we listen and follow that we can be in true partnership with the Divine, and bring something extraordinary to help lift humanity out of darkness. There have been many people throughout history that we identify as those types of people. The thing is we don’t allow ourselves to think that we can be one of them too. At least I didn’t allow myself to think that until recently. We don’t have to be Jesus, or Buddha, or Gandhi, or any of the other giants of history to make our contribution. Think of life as a puzzle. If one piece is missing the picture isn’t finished. Not all pieces are bright and prominent, but each piece is needed.

You might ask, how will I know what my purpose is? The way I knew was by paying attention to my feelings. I asked myself what activities and tasks brought me joy. When I was in the midst of doing what I loved, time stood still and at the end of it I felt energized, not drained. The trick is to put more of your focus and determination into doing what brings you joy rather than the things that don’t. Little by little you will be able to drop what doesn’t serve you and live a purpose driven life.

That’s actually been my goal in life all along, to live in partnership with the Divine, to fulfill my purpose. To listen to that still small voice and follow It’s guidance. Over the years I’ve come to understand that everything I do, whether I’m letting my ego take control, or I’m listening to the Divine whisper, I’m affecting the world. It’s not a new concept, the idea that we’re all connected. The thing is, once I felt the truth of this idea, I was much more careful about what I thought and did.

I know now that Marianne Williamson’s quote above is right. It doesn’t help anyone to play small. That quote is one of my favorites, because it’s as if she wrote it directly to me. Many times I felt the pull to blend into the background and play small. I was afraid of my own light. Not anymore.

It’s long been my mission to empower people. No matter what work I was doing, that has always been my goal, to help people come out of the shadows and shine so the whole world benefits from the light. That’s been my goal because it’s what I most need to learn. Let’s learn it together.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Leaving the Past in the Past

December 2, 2014 sunrise over the San Jose Mountains

December 2, 2014 sunrise over the San Jose Mountains

“Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” –Kristin Armstrong

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” –Aristotle

“If you want to reach out for something new, you must first let go of what’s in your hand.” –Sonia Choquette

I’m in a period of transition. Last month my husband and I made the last payment to our credit card debt, I’m turning 62 this year and the publication date for my first novel is fast approaching. My life is changing in a big way, which I love. Yet, it’s strange to have this new life stretching out in front of me. I don’t know what to expect and that’s at once liberating and daunting. How do I allow new things to come into my life without assuming that my future will be very much like my past?

Part of what prompted this post is the fact that I picked up A Course In Miracles again and was reminded that the past isn’t real. What happened to me in the past is gone and will never occur again. Yet, sometimes I allow it to continue to affect me in a big way. There have been times when I’ve assumed that life will continue on much as it has gone before. A Course in Miracles points out that our minds are powerful creators, and sometimes we recreate what has happened in the past over and over again. But it needn’t be that way. It’s kind of paradoxical that we can learn from what happened to us in the past, but our present and subsequent future is a blank. We can create it any way we want. It’s all in the way we “think” about what is to come.

In the past, when I was on the threshold of a new life, I wanted a new fresh start, but leaving old attitudes and expectations behind was really difficult. First of all I had a hard time imagining how I would feel living my new life. Second, My little ego thought it knew what was best for me and so tried to be the guide. Third, I didn’t trust that I could really let go and let God fashion a new life for me. I was afraid. This time I want things to be different.

As we grow we are taught by our parents and society that we can be anything we want to be if we’re lucky, or that we’re worthless if we’re not. Many of the things we’ve learned hold us back. They clog up our mind and we keep repeating patterns from our past that don’t serve us. We don’t love ourselves enough to allow in all the great things that the Divine wants to give us. Our ego defeats us. This has been my lifelong struggle between being of service to fulfill my purpose, and to be hampered by wanting to be in control of my own life. Maybe you too have experienced this struggle. Over the years as I’ve studied, prayed and worked at letting go of my past, I’ve made some progress in understanding my place in the world.

What I’ve learned is that we are connected to each other and the Source of All that is. We’re all part of something bigger than ourselves, something bigger than we can imagine. Our ego doesn’t see this connection and wants to be in control of directing our choices so we can end up with all the toys. That gets us into trouble.

When we let go of trying to control every little thing that happens to us, and allow our Source to be in charge, there is a joyful bond to our purpose. We know we’re in partnership with our Source when fear leaves us and we feel the ecstasy that comes from co-creating with Her.

Letting go of the past, releasing the old beliefs that no longer serve us and realizing that our ego does not have our best interests at heart is a deeply personal, internal journey. It’s something that we chip away at a little at a time. I believe it takes courage to grow. However, I’m happy to say that for me, it has been worth it. I’m committed to letting the past go and becoming a partner with the Divine so I can fulfill my place in whatever the bigger plan for our world might be.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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New Year Resolutions, Bah Hum Bug!

Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” –Neil Gaiman

“If you live your life with the regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow, you will have no today to be thankful for.” –as posted by The Master Shift on Facebook

I’m not big on making New Year Resolutions. I’ve rarely made them. It’s not that I don’t resolve to make changes in my life, I just don’t confine making resolutions to the beginning of the new year. I do understand why people make New Year Resolutions. It’s the perfect time to take stock of your life and look back at where you’ve been and where you’d like to go in the coming year. It’s goal setting. However, every day is a new beginning and that’s why I don’t make resolutions at the beginning of every new year.

For many years now, I’ve been practicing living in the moment. I can’t say I’ve mastered the technique. However, the more I practice, the more I realize that I may make a resolution, then discover on the next day it has nothing to do with what I learned yesterday. That means I’m constantly doing course corrections. I know the common wisdom is to make daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. That’s just not how my mind works. There will be days when my head is so full of the things I want to accomplish, that I write them down and check them off as I go just to be sure I’ve accomplished what needs to be done. That is a rare occasion, however.

Some years ago I read an article about birth order. The study had shown certain traits that most first borns, which is what I am, second borns and so on exhibit. I didn’t fit the first born mold at all. Most first borns are over achievers, they like to make lists, they follow the rules, they like order. As I wrote in a blog post earlier this year, I’m a pantser. In other words I like to fly by the seat of my pants. It makes me extremely uncomfortable to be forced to follow strict rules, or to set goals and then stick to them even if they no longer apply. When I was teaching, I had to write lesson plans but I always left room for the miracle question, or the thing that would happen in class that was the teachable moment. You can’t plan those kind of moments. I knew this about myself at an early age and that’s why I chose the direction of theatre, teaching and writing. Being creative means you’re breaking the rules, or creating new ones, not following them.

I will say I have overall goals for my life, but I know from experience that often what I envision doesn’t happen in the way, or in the time span that I thought it might. That’s perfectly okay with me. There is something so exciting about being open to all the wonderful possibilities that might come my way. And boy, have I had some amazing things happen to me.

If you’re a person who needs to set goals and make resolutions, I applaud you because it shows a desire to make positive changes in your life. There are so many different personality types, and ways of being in the world. We need them all. Without the people who like to follow the rules and stick to schedules, planes, trains and buses wouldn’t run on time. The fabric of society would be strained. We need all personality types, and approaches to life. I celebrate all of us.

My point of this post is this: Be open to altering your resolutions, and don’t think you have to wait until New Years Day to make them. You can choose to make a change for the better at anytime. If you pay attention to the events of your life, you’ll get clues about possible changes you could make. Most people call them mistakes, or disasters. I call them opportunities. Sometimes we need to be shaken up to see a road that was invisible to us before. Take heart when seemingly bad things happen. Every moment is a new beginning. Just keep moving forward. The answers will come to you.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a fabulous 2015.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Truth and Perception

Julia working at the wheel.

Julia working at the wheel.

“The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.” –Captain Jack Sparrow

“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” –Dennis Wholey

“Becoming yourself is really hard and confusing, and it’s a process. I was completely the eager beaver in school. I was the girl in the front of the class who was the first person to put her hand up and it’s often not cool to be the person that puts themselves out there, and I’ve often gotten teased mercilessly, but I found that ultimately if you truly pour your heart into what you believe in – even if it makes you vulnerable – amazing things can and will happen.” -Emma Watson

“Just like there’s always time for pain, there’s always time for healing.” –Jennifer Brown

Life is difficult and messy. It’s a mystery and most of the time we bump up against other humans with our set of values and what we think of as the truth and there’s friction. When that happens there are often hurt feelings.

My post last week was about something that had happened the week before within my family. I was trying to figure it all out. In the process I made the older of my sisters angry. She felt ambushed by what I wrote. I hadn’t cleared it with her. I regret that I ambushed her. That’s happened to me several times in my life and it doesn’t feel good. However, the exchange between us over the “facts” and the “truth” of the incident in question has made me do some deep thinking about what is truth and fact. I’ve also been thinking about whether or not I should apologize for speaking my truth.

I’ll write first about truth. There is one thing I know for sure about truth, there are as many versions of it as there are human beings living on this planet. And as most of us know, facts can be manipulated. So I ask, is there an ultimate truth? The way human beings determine what is truth, is by their perception of how the world works. We can’t help seeing the world in our own unique way. The factors that determine our perceptions are DNA, place of birth, order of birth in the family, gender, and on and on. So, no matter what I say, or how well I think I’ve described something, there will be people who just won’t get what I’m trying to express. This is what happened with my sister. An event happened in my family. I see it one way, my sister sees it another. Who’s right? Is there even a right or a wrong? Should I apologize for seeing a different truth than my sister? At one time I would have said yes. I would have apologized just to smooth things over so there would be peace in the family. I’m not so quick to do that now and here are the reasons why.

I have a right to my opinion about what happened. Something tells me to keep silent for a while and give everyone involved time to consider and sort out their individual feelings. This may sound bad, and you might not understand it. However, I’ve learned the most about myself from the times when I’ve been broken open by being hurt. Things were said, and misunderstandings happened in my family. Instead of whining, complaining, I immediately started asking, “What is this trying to show me?” I want to give my siblings a chance to ask the same question. I want to give us all time to calm down and get the lesson. If I take time to calm myself, I have an opportunity to understand my siblings better. I want to accept them as they are and not try to change them, because I believe we each have what Caroline Myss calls a Sacred Contract. Every single person has a purpose for being here, and it’s not my place to judge what that purpose might be. That goes for my siblings as well.

I must admit I did judge my brother and sister at first. But, I’m starting to get over that now, though I’m still not to forgiveness yet. I just keep remembering what my Dad used to say, “Once a person’s mind is made up, you can’t change it.” I may not be able to change my brother and sister’s minds. I have to be okay with that. Eventually I will be able to love and accept them as they are.

Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that being vulnerable is one of the best ways to connect with others. When someone shares their story with me, I don’t feel so alone. For most of my life, I was an observer. I didn’t share my deepest thoughts and feelings, because I was afraid of making mistakes. I didn’t want to stir the waters. I didn’t want people to be angry with me. But as I’ve gotten older, I realize, everyone makes mistakes. There is no getting away from that. I can either accept myself as I am, mistakes and all, or I can crawl into a cocoon and not have any impact on changing the world at all. When faced with the prospect of not having any effect, I can’t go down that road. Something drives me to help make the world a better place in which to live, which means over these last seven years of being a writer, I’ve come out of my shell. I’ve written about my mistakes, and things that confuse me. I’ve ranted about situations around the world that make me angry. I’ve mused about my writing process. I may have made people angry like I did my sister and all I can say is, anytime we move out of our comfort zone it’s a good thing.

Today is the last day of 2014. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, because I attempt to live in the moment, and who knows what lessons the next moment will bring? I’ll continue to make mistakes, which I embrace. It shows that I’m moving forward, that I’m trying to become a better person. I don’t want to go back to being that quiet observer afraid to say or do anything just in case I might cause a reaction. Growth comes from shaking up the status quo, throwing out what no longer works, and building something new out of what’s left.

So here’s to a great New Year for all of you, my readers. I hope 2015 is full of successes and mistakes and falling down and getting up for all of us. Here’s hoping your dreams come true.

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Compassion and Generosity Never Go Out of Style

It's A Wonderful Life Village

It’s A Wonderful Life Village

“Instead of judging people by their past, stand by them and help repair their future.” –Heidie Diasanta

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” –Abigail Van Buren

This week’s blog post is a difficult one to write, because this past week my family was split in two. I won’t recite every detail, except to say that my brother and the older of my sisters felt it necessary to accuse my youngest sister of abusing our mother and their children. Harsh words have been exchanged with plenty of blame to go around. This incident has made me think long and hard about forgiveness, compassion and generosity.

My youngest sister and brother-in-law have been struggling financially for about six months. It’s hard to understand if you’ve never been in their position, but being poor takes a lot of effort. I’ve done what I can to support them along the way. I think they are amazing, because they have never given up. From my perspective, they’ve been on an amazing spiritual journey, learning about themselves and trusting that the trials they’re going through are leading them to their purpose. I’m amazed that their relationship with each other has grown stronger, and their children continue to thrive, even with all the chaos going on around them. Both my sister and her husband have finally found jobs that are both meaningful, and that will help them build the life they want.

What distresses me the most is that from my point of view, my brother and sister lack compassion for my youngest sister’s situation. Oh I understand my brother and sister think they are protecting our Mother. At least that’s what I hope motivates them. The thing is, they’ve been off living their own lives, and not really engaged with the rest of us for many years. They don’t understand how the relationships among the rest of us have grown over the time they’ve been away. So why my siblings feel the need to kick my youngest sister and her husband just when they’re picking themselves up, I can’t fathom.

On the one hand I’m shocked and hurt by what has occurred. On the other, I know that the only way I can help heal the rift is to send love and light to the situation every single day. Miracles can happen. This miracle may take some time to manifest, but I know from experience that relationships can be healed. My youngest sister and I were estranged from each other for some years, but after much forgiveness work on both sides, we’ve built a stronger relationship than we had previously.

As you probably understand, this fracas has caused me to think deeply about compassion, generosity, and forgiveness all of which I learned from my parents. As I struggle to try to understand what’s happened in my family, today I found two things that helped me recommit to follow my parents lead of being generous and compassionate.

The first was a video published in Nick Ortner’s The Tapping Solution newsletter. It was originally a TEDx talk by Michael Norton at Harvard University in 2011. The title of the talk is: “How to buy happiness.” The point of the video is that money CAN buy you happiness, if you give some away to help others. The study the talk is based on gives amazing evidence to support Michael Norton’s premise. As I listened, I was struck with the fact that the reason Christmas is such a joy-filled season, is because we’re spending money on the perfect gifts to give others. The amazing thing is, the amount of money you give away doesn’t have to be large to make you feel better about your life. The reverse is true if you hoard money, your life is not any happier, and possibly less happy. Hum, I couldn’t help but think of my sister and brother.

The second inspirational piece was an article posted by A Mighty Girl, a group I follow on Facebook. The article was about a young woman, Dominique Harrison-Bentzen, who is a college student in Preston, England. She’d lost her ATM card, and was stranded after an evening out with friends. She had no money for a taxi. A homeless man, Robbie, offered her all the money he had, about $5 so she could get home. She was able to find her way home without using the money he so generously offered. However, she so touched by his gesture, that she started a fund raising page on Facebook so she could raise enough money to pay for an apartment for him. Well, of course, much more money than was needed for the apartment came in and she was able to give the money to other charities in the area that provide for the homeless. Needless to say, her story went viral and she’s starting a new campaign on Facebook to help others.

Both those stories inspired me. First off, compassion and caring not only makes us happier, it’s also big news. We want to hear inspirational stories like these. Forgiveness, compassion and caring are what’s going to change the world. If you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time, you know I’m continually writing about turning away from negative thoughts and feelings and embracing the positive. In the past I’ve apologized for that, but not any longer.

I’ll end this post with a quote from A Course In Miracles which I found just after the blow up in my family. It has helped me put my feelings into perspective. “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” I know that my youngest sister, her husband, my husband and I have been seeking the barriers within ourselves that keep us from accepting love. I write from experience, when you go inside and break down those barriers, your life will become messy for a while. You have to go though a time of what I call cosmic closet cleaning. However, when things in our lives fall apart, we’ve got a golden opportunity to build something new. That’s what I celebrate, because the alternative is to stagnate, which, in my opinion, is a very dark place in which to live.

I hope your holidays with family and friends are rich and happy, though I know that sometimes they are quite stressful. There can be a blessing in that for you. And remember, being generous, sharing money and compassion to others makes you feel better about yourself, and makes you happier.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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