My Life Flows On In Endless Song

California Coast

California Coast

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Wayne Dyer

This morning I woke up with one of my favorite hymns in my head.

“My life flows on in endless song; Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the real though far off hymn That hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, How Can I keep from singing?”
Text: Robert Lowry, 1826 – 1899
Tune: Quaker Hymn; harm. David N. Johnson, 1922 – 1987; copyright 1977 Praise Publications, Inc.; used by permission for Hymns of the Saints 1981, Herald Publishing House.

Let me back up so you’ll understand why I was comforted by this song this particular morning.

Last night was the first Presidential Debate. I didn’t watch it for a number of reasons. One, two people who are running for President were left out, I know who I’m voting for come November 8, and I’m a highly sensitive person. An excessive amount of drama is extremely unsettling to me. After seeing the chatter on Facebook last night and this morning, I think I made the right decision.

I find it also interesting that we had a large thunderstorm over our heads starting at about 3:30 a.m., lasting until Barry left for work. It’s almost as if Mother Earth is disturbed by all the political, social and military confrontations and upheavals as well.

Having that particular hymn flit through my brain is comforting. It reminds me that I can allow life to toss me about, or I can find a rock to cling to, and rejoice that I’m safely anchored and well cared for. Mother Earth, or God, or the Universe, or any name you choose, is in charge. Which means I don’t have to be.

I think it was Eckhart Tolle who said, “What you resist persists, what you focus on grows stronger.” That’s been a really difficult thing for me to learn, to turn away from the negative people, events, and thoughts in my head, and focus on loving, positive things. I’m grateful for the gentle reminder that no matter how things appear, all is well as evidenced by my remembering a hymn that continues to bring me peace. I never want to turn away a good message.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Opportunities

My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” ~ Milton Berle

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” ~ Napoleon Hill

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” ~ Betty Friedan

Recently I’ve been helping my sister brainstorm ideas for a series of YouTube videos to help promote her life coaching business. While we were talking, I got the urge to create my own videos. I have my own YouTube channel created some years back so I could post videos of my students performing their acting scenes. It helps if they can see themselves and the mistakes they make, but also seeing how well they do gives them confidence. For the most part, the videos are not public, only the people with the links can view them.

So, I already have a channel set up and I’ve been thinking how I can monetize it. There are people who make a great living posting videos. Maybe I can earn a little money too. But what would my videography theme be? Finally the idea crystallized through a series of events, to complicated to enumerate here, of creating videos tentatively titled “Loving Literature.”

It’s funny how lots of experiences and elements in my life collate and synthesize into a new, better understanding. When that happened last week, I got energized and I can’t wait to begin making videos.

What will the videos be about? The importance of reading and understanding literature, of course. In fact, to me it’s the most important basic skill we need because without being able to read, our learning is handicapped. It’s not that we can’t learn, it’s just a great deal more difficult.

Reading literature, watching plays, movies, and television are ways we can walk a mile in another person’s shoes. That’s what makes storytelling in all its forms so compelling. We’re fascinated by other human beings and their experiences. Stories help us widen our world view and understand people who have a very different outlook on life than we do. We can learn from their experiences. To me understanding what it means to be human is the basis for building societies, cultures, even governments.

In my opinion, if you don’t understand other human beings and why they feel and act the way they do, you can’t be a completely successful person. I’m not talking about gaining wealth, I’m talking about gaining friendships, nurturing families, and being part of a team at work, all of which make having the money worthwhile.

When I’ve got the first few videos posted, I’ll include the link here.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Rethinking Meandering

Star Trek Logo 50 Years

Star Trek Logo 50 Years

“Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.” ~ Phillips Brooks

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” ~ Douglas Adams

“Artistic self-indulgence is the mark of an amateur. The temptation to make scenes, to appear late, to call in sick, not to meet deadlines, not to be organized, is at heart a sign of your own insecurity and at worst the sign of an amateur.” ~ Harold Prince

“Typically creative people are usually not clock-slaves or list-makers, so the idea of enforcing goals and deadlines can be somewhat daunting.” ~ Kristin Armstrong

Last week I wrote a post titled, “Determined Meandering.” In it I was exploring the advice my writer friends gave me about the seemingly endless rewrites of my novel. They advised not to get impatient to publish my book. That was probably their way of telling me that I still have a great deal of work to do before it’s ready, which is true. However, since last week, two things happened that have made me rethink my daily agenda.

First, I admit it, I’m impatient to publish my novel. It’s not that I’m sick of it, it’s more of a feeling that the time is now to publish it. I can’t really explain why I feel that way, except that when I meditate I feel that I need to get on with the rewrites, or be more efficient about how I accomplish the work.

Second, I’ve been reading the book E Squared by Pam Grout, who happens to be a full-time freelance writer herself. In the book she gives practical experiments to help the reader retrain their thinking so that they can accomplish their dreams and goals. One of the things about the experiments is that each one has a deadline, 48 hours.

As I was reading, and thinking about my current situation, I came to the conclusion that, though I hate deadlines, I must set one for myself in regards to my book. It occurred to me that sometimes people do their best work when they have limited time to finish it.

And thinking of the analogy of the meandering river, there are slow moving rivers and fast moving ones. When I was a child, I lived near the Columbia, which is a fast moving river. For years I’ve been telling myself I’m a slow writer, when I could be telling myself I’m a fast writer. So, I decided to change my mind and become a faster writer since perfection is impossible anyway.

Other interesting little tidbits have contributed to my shift in thinking. Barry and I’ve been watching the original Star Trek series again since September 8 was the 50th anniversary of the premiere. We’ve also watched some of the special features with segments by the writers. More than once writers related times when they were up against the clock to finish the script for the next episode, and how, by some miracle, they managed to produce an exceptional story, one the fans and critics loved. Thanks again, Star Trek for saving the day!

So, my conclusion: I can finish the rewrites and have an exceptional manuscript ready in about a month by being focused and determined. To that end I’ve changed my daily schedule around. So that I go straight to my office to write first thing. This way all the ideas I woke up with are emptied out onto the computer screen and later in the day when I go to meditate etc., my mind is less cluttered. It’s working so far, four chapters down, thirty-one to go.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment, or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Determined Meandering

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.” ~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

I had a very different idea for today’s post until I met with my writer friends to discuss my manuscript.

The good news is, the plot is much improved. The other news, I refuse to say bad news, is that there is still work to do, and I’m dedicated to doing it.

Never before have I felt so engaged by my work. While I love being a teacher, there are aspects of the job that are annoying. Not so with writing. Working on this book is a little bit like watching a beloved movie over and over again and noticing things I had never seen before. Each time through the manuscript I understand a little bit more about my characters, I see places that need to be consolidated or cut, and I clean up sloppy sentence structure. Each improvement feels good.

At first when my friends gave me suggestion after suggestion, my heart sank a bit. I was hoping the manuscript was closer to being ready for publication. But as I digested their comments and where they want me to go with the book, I began to feel renewed excitement. They think the story is engaging which makes me determined to keep working.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been times when I long for the book to be finished. It’s a little bit like being on a teeter totter. Some days I’m up and some days I’m down. But isn’t that what life is all about anyway? Taking the challenges in our stride is what makes life interesting.

The other day I was checking into my Facebook feed, I’ve been taking a little break from it of late, and I followed a link to an article about a group of people living on the Greek island of Ikaria who are long lived, and extremely happy. They don’t have lots of possessions, many worries, or health problems. They sleep late, work in their gardens or at their jobs until mid-afternoon, then take a long nap. They eat simple meals and in the evening they socialize with their family and neighbors. As I read the article, I was thinking that’s the life for me! In the next moment I laughed at myself because for the most part, that’s the life I live, only instead of working in the garden, I write.

What can be more satisfying than to do what you love. You can have your rush to success. I’ll meander like the river and eventually reach a quiet cove, then be off again on another adventure.

P.S. I used to live on the Columbia River Gorge. I miss the reminder to go with the flow.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

My Guest Post: Moving Forward

Dorothy Hoffman Sander

Dorothy Hoffman Sander

Today my weekly Sage Woman Chronicles post will appear on Dorothy Hoffman Sander’s blog at agingabundantly.com. I don’t remember exactly how we met, except that it was through social media. She and I have similar educational backgrounds, though her B.A. is in Economics, she studied Theology and spiritual direction, and my first major was in Religious Studies. By coincidence we graduated with those degrees in 1979, though hers was an M.Div. and mine a B.A.

Though our life paths have been different in many ways, in others they are very similar. Dorothy was a stay at home mom, and entrepreneur. My husband and I have no children, we’re both artists. I studied and taught theatre he is a visual artist. However, Dorothy’s story and mine come back together as we both became full-time writers in our fifties. We are also both seekers and that has been one thing that brings us together again and again in our various social connections.

You can find Dorothy Hoffman Sander on Facebook at, Aging & The Inner Life, Aging Abundantly Writer’s Meet Up, or you can connect with her on her personal page. She is also on Twitter at Aging Abundantly.

Thanks for reading. Please go read my post at the above link, ageingabundantly.com. Feel free to leave a comment there.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Restless Curiosity

Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~ Walt Disney

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein

“As children, our imaginations are vibrant, and our hearts are open. We believe that the bad guy always loses and that the tooth fairy sneaks into our rooms at night to put money under our pillow. Everything amazes us, and we think everything is possible. We continuously experience life with a sense of newness and unbridled curiosity.” ~ Yehuda Berg

For the last week or so I’ve been getting ready for a new semester, while at the same time doing a long overdue clearing, and reorganizing of my office. I thought I’d feel better getting these tasks done, but I don’t. I feel anxious and restless as evidenced by the fact that I’m having a difficult time meditating, not able to concentrate on my Tai Chi, and on top of it all, reading at night has become a chore. All of this is not like me at all. Finally this morning I understood what’s going on. It’s because I’m not making time to write. My mind is filled with all kinds of ideas for the projects I’m working on, but I haven’t taken the time to put them into the computer. The only writing I’ve done is to keep up with these weekly blog posts.

This break in my creative expression has caused a great deal of tension between what needs to be done, and what I long to be doing. The tension is getting so bad that I’m feeling shaky, muddled, and irritated.

My sister and I were talking on the phone about this very thing the other day – we talk almost every day – and she was saying that her back has been bothering her, she’s having trouble sleeping, and her job has become extremely boring. The reason she is experiencing these irritations is because she’s planning a new venture but there have been irritating little things holding up the process. However, instead of waiting for the perfect time to get started, she’s just going to begin. I’m excited for her and I completely understand what she’s experiencing. I’m feeling like that too. So I’m going to follow her example and go back to making writing my top priority again, even though I’m not quite finished with my other tasks. I know doing this will restore the balance in my well-being.

Recently I’ve written about how I’m working on changing my thoughts so I can create a new life, and during that process it has been driven home in a bigger way than ever before that our health and happiness depend on being able to do what we love. Yes, we may have to hold down that job to be able to write or paint, or garden, but making as much time to do what we love best in the world is extremely important. I feel sad for people who don’t know what it is they love doing above all else.

Some advice I picked up from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, is just what I need to be concentrating on right now. Perhaps it will help you too. The advice is this, if you want to live a creative life, you need to follow your curiosity. I love doing this. It’s something I learned from my dad. He would watch something on television, or get an idea from something he read and then he’d follow the thread to learn more about the subject. His curiosity knew no bounds. Often when we were taking family trips, he’d look for fun detours so we could learn something new and interesting. I loved those side trips.

My recent descent into restlessness just points out the fact that I’ve let myself get into a rut. It’s time to shake up my life and try some new activities. Which is why I’ll go back to writing the fantasy story I began this summer about a girl and a dragon. To that end I’ve been reading lots of young adult fiction, fantasy and medieval historical books. Though I love reading these types of stories, I’ve never tried to write one before. These books have given me an education about how to turn a known genre on it’s head and make it new and exciting. That’s what I’d like to do. It’s a fun challenge. But just recently I tripped myself up when I made the decision to read a mystery. While I love a good mystery, reading one now doesn’t help my process of writing a fantasy story, which is why I’ll go back to learning as much as I can from the genre I’m now working on.

As the summer is winding down and we’re getting back into fall and winter routines, I will look for other interesting opportunities and activities to help feed my creativity. I hope you’ll join me in trying something new. Who knows where our curiosity will lead us.

Thanks for following. I hope you share this with your friends and family.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Lessons from the Heat Pump Saga

Human Brain Thinking

Human Brain Thinking

“Everyone is handed adversity in life. No one’s journey is easy. It’s how they handle it that makes people unique.” ~ Kevin Conroy

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.” ~ Carl Jung

“The more you do stuff, the better you get at dealing with how you still fail at it a lot of the time.” ~ John Mulaney

It’s most likely happened to you, those times when the refrigerator or stove gives out just when a house full of people are coming for dinner, or your car breaks down on a trip. Even though they are small annoyances, they drive us batty. We recently had just such a small, and expensive annoyance. Our heat pump, which is both our heating and cooling system, blew the motor two weeks ago. Admittedly it is old for a machine. We had some minor repair done to it during the winter, signed up for the maintenance program and took a sigh of relief. But the company never called to do the spring maintenance and didn’t returned our phone call to ask when they would come. Then the motor blew on the unit. Fortunately the issue with the old company was resolved, but that meant starting over again with a new company.

I won’t relate the whole boring story. Let’s just say that after four repair visits and more money spent than we wanted, I learned something important. It’s how we handle the little annoying events in our lives that help us identify areas in our thinking and feeling that can be improved.

I’m not proud to say, sometimes when tiresome little things happen, I get upset. And being an observer of human nature, I wonder why I let those little things get to me. I’ve been thinking about that a great deal these last two weeks.

Like the quote by Carl Jung above suggests, I’ve spent a lifetime examining my dark side and it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve felt less haunted. Most of the time now, I’m happy. So why let something so small get to me. It may have to do with the fact that for most of the summer, I’ve been doing some reprograming of my thought and emotional patterns.

A few years ago I came across articles, books and interviews about the exciting advances in brain research. Contrary to what doctors and brain researchers thought previously, our brains are elastic rather than becoming set once we reach a certain age. This “neuroplasticity” allows us to change the neural pathways in our brains throughout our lives. When I read The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles by Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D, I was convinced that I could rid myself of ways of thinking that still held me back.

In my search for a program to fit my needs, I discovered people like John Asseraf, Drs. Daniel Amen, David Krueger and Joe Dispenza. Their work gave me the tools I needed to rid myself of old limiting patterns of thought so I could be free to enjoy success when I published my books. In the spring I began a meditation program with Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of the book and meditation series, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. And that brings me back to my reactions to each new little setback with the heat pump repair.

When anyone decides to create new thought patterns, part of the work is to recognize the old ones we’ve held onto for so long. Most of what we think is automatic, like programs running in the background on our computers. We’re completely unaware of them, unless we take the time to do some deep self-examination. It takes diligence and questioning why we’re thinking and feeling the way we are in any given situation to make the necessary changes. That’s difficult because most of the emotions we feel are triggered by learned subconscious responses, and unraveling those takes dedication.

That was a great deal of technical jargon to get to my point. What I’ve learned from these past two weeks is that my decision to change my thinking is working, because as soon as I got upset about the heat pump, I was conscious that I had more old thought patterns which need to be disconnected. Just observing those patterns helps me replace them with the new happier ones I’m creating. I’m grateful for this new knowledge and even though it may take me a long time, I will continue to work toward a happier more successful life.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments. Feel free to share these posts with your friends.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Deep Listening

Woman Listening

Woman Listening

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” ~ Bryant H. McGill

“The art of effective listening is essential to clear communication, and clear communication is necessary to management success.” ~ James Cash Penney

“Efforts to develop critical thinking falter in practice because too many professors still lecture to passive audiences instead of challenging students to apply what they have learned to new questions.” ~ Derek Bok

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.” ~ Adrienne Rich

Every few semesters, I revamp the classes I’m teaching. I think it’s boring to teach the same thing over and over again. I’m in the process of revamping the acting class materials for this fall and I decided to incorporate more exercises in listening. It’s a great skill for acting and for life in general. In fact, my first instructor in good listening skills was my father. That skill has served me well both in my work in the theatre, but also in teaching, and in life.

To me listening is much more than just hearing the words someone is using to express their ideas. Deep listening involves matching what the person is saying with their body language, facial expressions, and the emotion behind their words. In a way, listening involves our entire body. Empathy is part of it but trying to decipher all the physical, emotional and cognitive messages is part of it as well. It’s such an important skill I wish we were using it more.

It’s sad to say, but in a way we read the memes, or the one liners coined by the media and think we understand what someone is saying. We think we understand their point of view. But what my dad, and theatre have taught me is that there are many layers of meaning behind what someone says, and you can’t sum it up in a headline. When we do that, we belittle that person in our mind. It’s disrespectful. That’s why it’s important to listen to what people from a political, religious, or social group are saying, and to actually consider their point of view and why they feel the way they do. Which means critical thinking is a big part of listening. It takes a great deal of worthwhile effort to even remotely understand another person’s perspective. When we take the time to try to understand another person, even if we fail, it honors both them and us because we learn something.

Listening also helps us distinguish between propaganda and persuasion. When I taught American Lit at the high school level, I designed a unit on the difference between the two. Sometimes the lines between them get blurred. We all fall into those traps of believing the propaganda, thinking that we know the truth. The bad thing is, propaganda is subtle brain washing. That’s why listening and critical thinking skills are such important things to teach ourselves and our children. In my opinion, not knowing how seductive propaganda is might be part of why we’re in this weird situation this political season.

I won’t go into all of the propaganda techniques here, you can look them up for yourself, but advertisers, the media, and politicians use propaganda to get us to buy their product, believe what they are saying or vote for them. It takes a lot of diligence to sort through the red herrings, attempts to divide us, or buy into their false causes.

Images can also be propaganda. I showed lots of examples of posters which use images, mostly from WW II, to skew the audience’s thinking about the enemy. Now we have social media to spread images which divert our attention from the real issues at hand. And that brings me back to deep listening.

It’s important to watch people as they talk, and to try to understand exactly what they’re saying. What emotions do they express? Does their body language and do their facial expressions match their words? Are they really saying anything of consequence? If we practice deep listening in our work places, with our loved ones, in chance encounters, and to people in the media, we might learn something important about them and ourselves.

So, I’m making it my mission this semester to teach my acting students better listening skills, and I hope that they use them long after the class is over.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments and hope you share this post with your friends.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

“Yes” for Everyone

Star Trek Logo 50 Years

Star Trek Logo 50 Years

“The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.” ~ Sue Patton Thoele

“There will always be bumps along the road to real solutions. Getting past the bumps requires attention and awareness.” ~ Deepak Chopra

“Until we learn to honor and respect what other people believe, I think we are doomed.” ~ Patricia Polacco

This election season I have felt so stressed out. I know I’m not alone in that. Moderate Republicans no longer recognize their party, and far left progressives, like me, are angry about being marginalized. It’s almost like I’m back in the 60s and 70s with so much unrest going on. Sometimes it feels like we’ll never accept people of other races, religions, or political points of view, or that the poor will ever have a chance at a good life. The problems in our world seem insurmountable. No wonder so many people are discouraged.

Yesterday while I was looking at Facebook, I saw a link to an article on Unworthy about just how deep the corruption of our government goes. It was depressing to see the data collected from records going back over 20 years or longer. The study was done by Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University and it points out that our elected officials don’t listen to us. Instead they cater to the wealthy and powerful that give them money. No surprise there. It was another depressing confirmation that everything is falling apart in our country. But then I realized that’s been true throughout history. From the earliest civilizations down to now, the wealthy manipulated Emperors and crushed the poor. Kings and despots conquered and pillaged to gain vast territories. There really is no difference between then and now. However, it’s also true that there have been revolutions, and rebellions against what the wealthy think is the natural order of things. Perhaps we are at a critical point in human history since millions of people all over the world are demanding more equality.

About a month ago, I got to a point where I was so angry about all the, excuse my language, crap that’s going on, that I had an extremely painful gall bladder attack. That was a wake up call because according to Louise Hay, the gall bladder is where we hold our anger. I was forced to take a good look at what it was that was ticking me off. And I was grateful when shortly after my attack, Deepak and Oprah had another 21-day meditation experience about “Getting Unstuck.” I was stuck and needed to find a way out.

On day 19 the centering thought was “I want a ‘yes’ that’s good for everyone.” It was just what I needed to hear. No matter what the situation in which I find myself, I need to remember that everyone deserves to live well, they deserve to be heard and appreciated. It’s hard to do that when someone wants to grab all the good stuff for themselves, but I’m working on appreciating those people too. After all, we sometimes need to be presented with what we don’t want to get a clearer picture of what we do want.

Most of us believe that there has been progress throughout the centuries. Evolution is helped by individuals doing their own personal work, which has helped humanity move ever so slowly from the win/lose mindset to the win/win mindset. It’s exciting to see so many groups arising to take care of the needs of the poor, or the disenfranchised. If we were to do a true comparison between societies now, and those back through the centuries, we’d see how far we’ve come, though there is always more work to do.

So for today, at least, I feel comforted and optimistic about our future. I remind myself that things change whether we want them to or not. It’s probably my positive outlook on life, but to me, what looks like a disaster is just another opportunity to make a new, better choice. That’s how I choose to see this crazy political season. I also remind myself that all kingdoms fall, eventually. So, the hold the wealthy have over our government won’t last forever and I’m going to be voting for the people who will put a few more nails in the coffin.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts or share this post with your friends.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Words, Words, Words

Classic Books

Classic Books

“I never feel lonely if I’ve got a book – they’re like old friends. Even if you’re not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they’re part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life.” ~ Emilia Fox

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” ~ Will Rogers

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

It’s ironic that someone like me, who loves solitude should also love words both spoken and read. Or maybe it’s that I love stories. Stories in all forms, visual, aural, and on the page touch my soul. I just finished reading a fascinating book series by Marissa Meyer using the fairy tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White and weaving them together in a Sci-Fi/fantasy world where the evil queen is ruler of Luna but wants to conquer Earth. After finishing the first book, Cinder. I was hooked and now that I’ve finished the last book, Winter, I can’t stop thinking about the characters and events of the books. I highly recommend them for all you Sci-Fi/fantasy lovers out there.

The fact that I’m having a hard time letting go of the story of these four strong women characters got me thinking about other novels, or short stories that have had a deep impact on me. So for today’s post, I thought I’d share an abbreviated list of my all-time favorite books.

The first book of quality that grasped me was A Tale of Two Cities. The character of Sydney Carton is my favorite from the book. He’s a flawed character who redeems himself by taking Charles Darnay’s place to face the guillotine during the French Revolution. The speech he gives as he faces his death is one of the classics for all time. I love the theme that people can change, and in the direst of circumstances make a difference, no matter how small. This book ignited my love of British literature, both classic and modern.

Later, my perspective of the world changed when I read first Roots and shortly after Shogun. Both books put me into the heads of characters who lived in very different cultures and circumstances than I did and I still feel their influence to this day. Who could have read, or seen Roots and still think slavery was a tenable practice? When I read it with one of my English classes, my students were just as appalled at what the slaves experienced as I was. It’s a book that helps the reader develop empathy, and that makes it a classic in my mind. Any book that can give the reader new insights speaks a universal language for the ages.

In recent years I have been deeply affected by each of the books in the Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Outlander series, and I loved The Book Thief, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Go Set A Watchman. Each of those books showed the strength and resilience of the women main characters, a trend I love.

In general I don’t read short stories often because I like to take my time and savor the story, but one collection that changed my perception of spirituality was The Way of the Wolf: The Gospel in New Images by Martin Bell. It was first published in 1968. I discovered it in the early 80s when I was still very involved in church. One story in particular continues to influence my thinking. It’s “What the Wind Said to Thajir”. In the very short story, Thajir, a young boy, goes out to play. He loves the wind. On the fall day in the story, the wind speaks to Thajir and shares three great life secrets with him, everything that is is good, at the center of things life belongs to life, and that the meaning and purpose of life is in dying on behalf of the world. Recent events have brought back to mind the importance of these three great secrets. For that reason, I read the story again to refresh my memory of the important message shared in the story.

What I look for when I read a book, is to get inside someone else’s world and experience it with them. A book that allows me to get inside a character’s head to feel their confusion, fear, despair, awakening and finally growth is to me the epitome of a great story. There are so many superb books that I’ve read that I continue to think about long after I’ve read them. Too many to mention here. If I’m still thinking about a book years after I’ve read it, that’s the sign of a great author.

I understand that we all come into this world with different agendas and points of view, so these books I’ve mentioned might not speak to you the way they do me. That’s okay as long as we each remain open to new ideas however they come to us, that’s the point. The people I’m concerned for are those with closed minds who think they already have all the knowledge they need. Hopefully they are few and far between.

I hope you will share some of your favorite books in the comments below. I’m always looking for the next life changing book.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016