Judgment and Forgiveness

April Morning Rose

April Morning Rose

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” ~ Marianne Williamson

“The deepest fear we have, ‘the fear beneath all fears,’ is the fear of not measuring up, the fear of judgment. It’s this fear that creates the stress and depression of everyday life.” ~ Tullian Tchividjian

“If there’s any message to my work, it is ultimately that it’s OK to be different, that it’s good to be different, that we should question ourselves before we pass judgment on someone who looks different, behaves different, talks different, is a different color.” ~ Johnny Depp

If you’ve been reading this blog this year, you may remember that I’ve been studying A Course in Miracles. Last week I was studying a chapter on judgment and how when we judge another, we’re judging ourselves because every person on this planet is part of God. We’re connected and we’re one.

Interestingly enough, just as I was studying this concept two things happened that gave me a new perspective on just how damaging judgment can be.

Saturday my husband and I turned on the TV and the movie, Judgment at Nuremberg was on. It’s about the last of the Nuremberg trials of high ranking Nazi officials of all kinds after WW II. In this case it’s about the trial of several judges who were part of the Nazi war machine. They had followed orders to condemn anyone, even if they were innocent of committing any crimes, who was not considered by the party to be a desirable citizen. So those who were Jews, Gypsies, Liberals, the mentally impaired or anyone else not pure enough to be a German citizen were condemned to sterilization or death. I have always loved this movie partly because of the extraordinary performances, but also because of the message: That we are all capable of terrible deeds and that when those deeds come to light we must stand up for what’s right.

However, when I saw the last few scenes this time, I had a shift in perception. It’s ironic that the Tribunal judges in this movie were all from the United States, a country that had dropped two atomic bombs on Japan to end the war. No one in the international community put us on trial for that. Lots of innocent people were killed when those bombs were dropped. But no one questioned our “right” to commit that horrendous deed.

In the very last scene of the movie, Ernst Janning, played by Burt Lancaster, is an internationally renowned judge and a defendant in the trial asks to see lead Judge Dan Haywood, played by Spencer Tracy. I’ve always found their exchange to be a most devastating moment.

Ernst Janning: Judge Haywood … the reason I asked you to come: those people, those millions of people … I never knew it would come to that. You must believe it, you must believe it!

Judge Dan Haywood: Herr Janning, it came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.(Haywood and Janning look each other in the eye for several seconds then Haywood walks out leaving Janning with a devastated look on his face framed by the jail cell door.)

When I saw that scene this time I asked myself, “What would have happened if Judge Haywood had forgiven Ernst Janning? What would have happened if everyone on both sides of the war forgave each other for all the death and destruction the conflict caused? What would happen if we forgave the annoying neighbor, or the nasty teller at the bank, or our loved ones when arguments arise? What would happen to the world if forgivingness was the rule instead of judgement?

The next day after the movie Judgment at Nuremberg got me thinking, Barry and I were talking about an ongoing problem he has with his weekly chats via computer with his parents. I started to make a long drawn out correlation to the microwave dish used to connect us to the internet and our satellite dish. My point was that they may both be out of alignment. But instead of just saying that, I started to tell the whole story of how I came to that conclusion, which irritates Barry. When I do that, he interrupts with questions, that sometimes have nothing to do with where I’m going with the story to make my point. When he did that this time, I got really angry with him for not listening, for not waiting to find out what I was going to say. It’s a situation that we have faced often in our thirty-five years of marriage and it never seems to get better. We never change our modus operandi. Of course all communication between us stopped for a while. During that quiet time, I began to make a correlation between the movie situation, and my own personal situation. What would happen if I apologized for yelling at Barry and said he didn’t deserve that? What if I forgave him for what I think are his offenses against me instead of demanding that he conform to some ideal I have in my head? What if I just modify my way of communicating? And, what would happen if everyone did that on all kinds of levels?

I have to say, I’m so tempted to justify my position just like Judge Haywood did in the movie. I’m tempted to take the moral high ground and point out that I sit and listen until the end when Barry is telling me a story and then I ask my questions. I’m tempted to feel offended that he thinks I’m illogical, or not very smart, or that he doesn’t value what I have to say. But I would be wrong on all those counts. We just have different ways of communicating and of processing information.

To attack another person is to attack yourself. That’s another lesson from A Course in Miracles. So attacking Barry, or anyone else doesn’t bring peace to me personally, or to the world. It only causes more conflict. I very much want to bring peace to my home and to the greater world rather than conflict. The question I ask myself is, do I have the courage to give up having to be right? I’m working on that one.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment and connect with me on any of my social networks listed below.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Why is Change Hard?

Hot Air Balloons Above Dallas

Hot Air Balloons Above Dallas

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~ Maya Angelou

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ~ Alan Watts

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” ~ Margaret Mead

The beginning of this month my car died. It was thirteen years old and served me well. At first we, the people at our car dealership and my husband and I, thought all it needed was a new hybrid battery. That would have been expensive enough. But it was discovered that it needed a new inverter as well, which put fixing the car out of range for our budget. So … what to do? We live in the country half an hour from town, so unfortunately, since my husband still works full-time, we need two cars. Most people would be panicking about the situation. For some reason I’m not. When the car was safely at the dealership, I relaxed. Hmmm. Things are changing. How exciting.

In reality things are always changing in our lives. We don’t notice or care about the small changes most of the time, but many times we get all bent out of shape, or depressed about the big ones. I’ve always wondered why? Why do we resist change so much?

Right now we’re experiencing great changes in the world and there are lots of people determined to stop it, or to go back to a time when they felt more comfortable. The thing is, you can never go back, nor can you stop change. It’s inevitable. So, the wiser, better course to take if you want your life to be happier, is to embrace change.

Maybe it’s because of my upbringing, but my family faced lots of changes and we embraced them. That doesn’t mean the changes were always smooth or easy, but they were good in the end. One of the changes we faced pretty often was moving. All-in-all I moved ten times before I went off to college. After a while I came to embrace the possibilities of the new life in a new place with new people. Though it was hard, I learned some great lessons from moving so much. The foremost of those was to assess the new situation and see where I could fit in as quickly as possible. That one skill has served me very well over the years.

Most of us dread change because we are used to where we are. We are a body at rest and we want to stay at rest. We see the motion of change as bad or disruptive. However, there are advantages to change. You get to see the world from a new perspective. Travel can do that for you, especially if you travel outside the country. But even traveling from region to region within your own country will do that for you too, if you’re open to it. Why would I want to change my perspective you might ask? Because that’s how humans are designed. We’re designed to grow, and explore, and learn new things. If we don’t we atrophy.

Our culture is so into anti-aging that there is enormous business in creams, exercises, diets and the like to keep us young and vital. But what about our attitudes and our minds? If you don’t learn new things and gain a new perspective on your life, you “gradually decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect.” The quote is the second definition of atrophy from the dictionary. I definitely don’t want to atrophy. I want to remain as vital and effective as I can for as long as I can.

So, change is happening at my home whether we like it or not. However instead of panicking, we’re taking our time to look at all our options and to choose the best one for us moving forward from here.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share my post or connect with me on one of my social networks below.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Possibilities

Pumpkin Possibilities

Pumpkin Possibilities

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” ~ Ralph Marston

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” ~ Gloria Steinem

“That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.” ~ Leonard Nimoy

“To be hopeful means to be uncertain about the future, to be tender toward possibilities, to be dedicated to change all the way down to the bottom of your heart.” ~ Rebecca Solnit

Every fall feels like a new beginning because of the resumption of school. I’m not a parent, but I assume many are glad to have their children back in school so they don’t have to plan activities for their children every minute of the day. Though, I suppose many parents are glad to have extra uninterrupted time with their children during the summer months.

As a teacher, I always feel that the summer is too short, but on the other hand a new semester stretches out like a new sheet of paper waiting for us to write upon. New possibilities are always attractive. However, it’s what we do with them that makes all the difference. Even if it’s just loving myself a little more, that’s a positive thing I can do create more possibilities and change the world in some small way.

I don’t know if it’s just me, or if it’s because I’m a teacher, I see possibilities in everyone I meet and in every situation. The other day, one of my friends called to say that the book club group that I’m taking a sabbatical from, was having lunch together and she wanted me to come because as she said it, “we miss your positive spin on things”. I know it’s difficult to have a positive outlook on life and to see the possibilities of what’s going on. Even I, who was born with a positive outlook, sometimes wonder if I’m being a Pollyanna. But here’s the thing, being positive and seeing the possibilities, and the opportunities is a choice and many of us think we don’t have a choice. But we do.

My thinking on what I’d like to say today isn’t fully formed, but here’s something that might point you in the direction my thoughts are going. I’m used to collaboration. Having over thirty years experience in the theatre has helped set my modus operandi to look for ways to collaborate with others, whether it’s in a project or in a new way of being and thinking. On the other hand, in this country we admire the maverick. The man or woman who stands out from the rest and who gets the job done alone on shear willpower. Yet no one becomes successful alone. Being a self-made man, or woman is a myth. We all have lots of help along the way. Granted we have the power to interpret what’s offered to us. But without each other, we’d be sunk. There would be no new possibilities for us to work toward. No fresh ideas would come forward. Those happen when we collaborate. Something new is born.

So, as we move into a new season, think of finding a buddy or small group with whom you can collaborate to turn the negatives in your life, or your community into positives. Find someone to help instead of complaining. That’s one of the reasons I like a new semester. I get a whole new set of students to collaborate with to make their dreams come true. When I help them, I help everyone around me. And I try to help them see that when they can change their lives for the better, everything around them gets better. It’s a ripple effect.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Writer Expectations

My book shelves

My book shelves

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” ~ C. S. Lewis

“My literature is much more the result of a paradox than than of an implacable logic, typical of police novels. The paradox is the tension that exists in my soul.” ~ Paulo Coelho

“Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.” ~ Helen Keller

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.” ~ Barbara Tuchman

“In my teaching, I try to expose my students to the widest range of aesthetic possibilities, so I’ll offer them stories from Anton Chekhov to Denis Johnson, from Flannery O’Connor to A.M. Homes, and perhaps investigating all that strange variation of beauty has rubbed off on me. Or perhaps that’s why I enjoy teaching literature.” ~ Change-Rae Lee

At present I’m writing a novel. I’m in the revision stages and I’m struggling with a fundamental problem for writers. A writer friend of mine said, “You’ve got to get your main character into trouble and keep her there.” I know she’s right. That’s been the rule for literature since story telling began. It’s been that way because stories imitate life. However, just recently, I’m feeling worn out by conflict.

That might not be a good thing for my writing because readers expect adventure from their books. Yet I feel drawn to create characters who learn from the things that happen to them, and who find peace in the process. My protagonists could be a new kind of character. For the most part they stay calm while helping to solve the conflict around them.

I have to say that my favorite books are ones much like that. It’s not that the protagonist doesn’t face problems, it’s their attitude in facing them that is different. Jane Eyre is one such character and many of Jane Austen’s heroines are the same. They are determined to make the best of any situation in which they find themselves. Because they look for ways to be useful and happy no matter what, good comes to them. Maybe it’s the difference between male and female writers. I’ve read lots of exciting books by male authors, books I loved, but they’re a little bit different than the books that I love by female authors. The male created protagonists struggle and push to make things happen, while the female created protagonists look for subtler ways to get what they want. I don’t mean to imply one approach is better than the other, they’re just different.

The Harry Potter series, all of Jane Austen’s books and many other books written by women seem more intimate. The Mists of Avalon and The Crystal Cave series by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Mary Stewart respectively, are completely different tellings of the Arthur myth than those written by men. What’s going on inside the characters and what they’re learning along the way is more important than the plot.

I guess I’m thinking about all of this because I’m just finishing a fantasy series that I found through BookBub. I loved the first three books, but as I began the second series, I had battle fatigue. The books are written by a man with a young woman protagonist. It’s one of those series where one person has to save the world she lives in. But there is no respite from battle at any time. No time for reflection on what she’s learned. Mostly, she just reacts with no chance to assess the situation and to use her wisdom. Another thing that bothers me about the series is that story lines are left unfinished. It’s a great adventure series but what good comes to the society at the end of it all? Admittedly, I still have a little bit more to read in the sixth book and maybe the unfinished storylines will be resolved, the main characters will have learned something and find a measure of peace. Or maybe he’s planning another series that will do that. But as a reader I’m left unsatisfied. I don’t want to write books like that.

Recently I saw links on Facebook to articles by movie and TV critics of the Outlander series. I love those books because there is a strong female protagonist who finds herself in an extraordinary situation. She doesn’t panic. She finds a way to cope with her situation and in the process, affects everyone around her, including the men. One of the things that was controversial about the book and TV series is a horrific rape scene. But it’s not the rape of Claire, the main character, but her husband. After she saves him, they have to find a way to heal. They do that together. The rape is an integral part of the development of Claire and Jamie’s relationship. It’s not there for exploitation, or because there was a hole in the plot and “so why not put a rape scene in.” When I read that section of the book, I was amazed at the courage Diana Gabaldon showed in writing it. We find ourselves in horrific or traumatic situations at one time or another in our lives. Often we ask ourselves how can we cope with the pain. Ms. Gabaldon is one among many authors who have shown us a way to heal by writing honestly about life.

To me, literature should help us go places, both inside and outside ourselves, that we have never gone before. The beauty of reading is that we go on a journey with the characters and learn from the mistakes they make or the situations in which they find themselves so we don’t have to experience them ourselves. That’s the kind of literature I want to write. I want people to have fun while getting something to take away with them and use in the future.

Writing isn’t an easy profession. Even those who’s books aren’t huge sellers, I hope their work touch someone. I hope my book touches someone too.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a great week. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Never Give Up!

Earth from the Moon

Earth from the Moon

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” ~ William A. Ward

“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Strength and growth come only from continuous effort and struggle.” ~ Napoleon Hill

There is a great deal that can be said for never giving up on something you want. There have been times when I’ve wanted to quit a project, or give up striving for that degree. But when I didn’t it turned out to be a good thing.

I’ve recently finished another round of revisions on my novel. This time I had to make some major changes. There might be people who would balk at the tedious work of going through their manuscript page by page to catch mistakes and to take big blocks of text and either eliminate them, or put then in a new place. Yet this is my passion so every word closer to publication is a victory.

The best most successful stories and the lives of real people who inspire us are the ones where the protagonist or the real person kept persevering even through all of the pain and heartache. If I could, I’d include a photo of the Sistine Chapel. Talk about being dedicated to your work.

So many people have told me how much they admire my stick-to-itiveness when it comes to working on my book. Many of them say, “I don’t think I would have the patience to stick with writing through all the years and all the meticulous work as you have done. I admire you.” It’s nice to have their admiration. However, when someone compliments me like that, it makes me more determined to keep working because my job isn’t finished yet. On the other hand, I hope that they find the one thing that they would dedicate their life to because it is a joyous feeling to wake up in the morning and know you get to do what you love.

That’s all I had to say today. I’m just coming home from vacation and don’t have lots of time to get this post ready for publication. Besides, I’ve got to go through my manuscript again to make sure the changes I made to it make sense then send it off to my writer friends for more comments.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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On Specialness

California Coast

California Coast

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ ” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” ~ Boris Pasternak

“Some of us think that holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” ~ Hermann Hess

Does this happen to you? It’s your birthday, or anniversary, or some other special day for you, and you don’t get the present you were hoping for, or your loved ones don’t even notice that’s it’s a special day? Or you’re telling a story and something interrupts and no one notices that you didn’t get to finish your story? Or you’re feeling down and no one notices? Then in each instance you feel irritated, angry and upset because other people didn’t respect or understand you? They were so wrapped up in their own little worlds that they completely forgot about you? That’s happened to me more times than I care to count and for years I didn’t understand why I would get so upset.

As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been studying A Course In Miracles this year. One of the concepts has baffled me a great deal. It’s the idea of “specialness”. The first time I read about this concept, which the course says “…is a lack of trust in anyone except yourself.” I felt extremely uncomfortable. Aren’t we supposed to feel that we are special? That we have gifts and talents the world needs which only we can share? In a way I was affronted by the idea that none of us are special. However, I have to admit that I have had an internal battle for most of my life between feeling ordinary and feeling special, humble and arrogant. I never understood what that struggle was about until I began studying A Course In Miracles.

Last week the concept came up again in my studies and this time I understood the idea that was being conveyed. As I’ve written many times, each of us lives in our own little world. We think of our ideas and our lives as paramount. Our well being is more important to us than that of others. I didn’t like to accept that fact about myself. The Course says it this way, “He who is ‘worse’ than you must be attacked, so that your specialness can live on his defeat.” It’s sad to say but I’ve done that, and had it done to me. I’ve rejoiced when I got the better of others and I’ve suffered when others have defeated me. Maybe it was just the fact that I was praised for something I did, and others weren’t. Or someone cheated me out of some money, or got the job I wanted and made me feel terrible. As I was reading that section of the course, I realized that it is this concept of specialness that has caused so many problems for us throughout the ages.

Something I’m still working to understand is that we are all part of God which means that every single person, maybe even every single thing that exists is my brother. Someone once said it this way, we’re all drops in the larger ocean. God is the ocean. One drop is not better or worse than any other drop but we’re all needed to complete the ocean. We all have our specific function to perform to keep the ocean healthy.

I am happy that with all that’s been going on over the last few years, I finally understand on a new level why we lash out at each other. Self-preservation is one of the most fundamental reactions we experience whenever something happens to us. If we don’t feel like we’re being understood and appreciated over a long period of time, then the pressure builds up and our hurt and anger blow the lid off the cooker and that’s when bad things happen.

My husband and I were talking about this concept in the car as we were driving on our vacation. I said, so now I understand that when we attack others we think we’re protecting ourselves, but it never works. It makes the situation worse. I loved what my husband said, “Yep. The human race hasn’t learned that one yet.” Jesus asked us to turn the other cheek and to love those who despitefully use us. Do I have enough courage to put away my sword? I very much want to. I want to stand defenseless, which is another concept of the Course, that defenselessness is strength.

When I think of the concept of defenselessnes as strength I think of the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza, whose entire family was killed during the Rowandan genocide in the early 1990s. She wrote about her extraordinary experience of survival with seven other women confined to a bathroom for 91 days in her book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rowandan Holocaust, written with Steve Erwin. I saw her speak during one of Wayne Dyer’s talks on PBS. She told about how she and the other women were found by the men perpetuating the terror. Some of them were men she knew. She stood her ground ready to give up her life and she told them she forgave them. When she told that story, I thought that I would not have been able to stand among the murderers as they held their machetes ready to kill me, nor would I have been able to forgive them for killing my loved ones. Yet she was able to do that and they bowed to her strength. She lived to tell the tale of what she learned from those horrific events.

I began these posts over two years ago as a forum for myself to write out and make sense of my experiences and the things I’m learning as I live my life. I write today’s post because I feel I’m at a turning point. I can’t see the world in the ways I used to. And I’m inspired to continue on this journey to become a better, stronger, more loving person. I hope you will continue to come along with me. And if you don’t understand what I’m writing about, I hope you’ll ask questions, or challenge my attempts to express what I’m learning.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Ego Games

Journal and candle

Journal and candle

“The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lighting bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there’s ongoing creative revelations. Yes, it’s really helpful to be marching toward a specific destination, but, along the way, you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow.” – Carlton Cuse

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” – Julia Cameron

“ ‘Romance’ is based on my entire creative process. I fall in love with an idea, obsess over it, isolate myself with it, and when I eventually introduce it to my friends, they all tell me that it’s stupid.” – Chuck Palahniuk

“Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.” – Flannery O’Connor

“Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.” – Red Haircrow

Does this happen to you? You’re working on a project. You love doing it and you’re inspired every day by what you’re working on. Even when you’re having a frustrating day, it’s great to be part of the creative process. Then others, knowing that you are doing something creative, send you tips on how to do the work. And that makes you feel irritated. That happened to me the other day. A friend of mine posted something on my wall about writing a novel, which made me feel really irritated. It’s one thing to post it for the general public to read, but I didn’t like that he posted it on my personal wall like I needed help with the project I’m working on. Okay, admittedly, I do need help from time to time but I’m going to seek the help of people who are writers and who understand the personal nature of the writing process.

I find that often the people who are sending me tips, aren’t engaged in the same work I’m doing. That irritates me even more. Who do they think they are telling me how to do my work, when they aren’t working in my field? I begin to engage in mental ego games. I want to tell them to shove their advice in a … well, we won’t go there. Then I begin to get my ego in check and I realize they’re just trying to be supportive. They want to encourage me and be my cheerleaders. Sometimes I find myself getting irritated even when fellow writers send me tips on writing. They believe that everyone should approach writing the same way they do, and they are very didactic about it. Maybe that’s why I dropped out of both writing groups I used to belong to.

It’s a rule in the theatre that an actor never tells another actor how to portray their character. That’s the job of the actor playing the role in collaboration with the director. I feel it should be the same with other forms of artwork. My way of writing isn’t going to be the same as your way. Your way of painting that picture isn’t going to be the same as someone else’s way. The creative process is deeply personal and unique to the artist.

While I was mulling this “helpful” post by my friend, I read a post on Facebook by Diana Gabaldon, author of the hugely popular Outlander series. The other day she wrote about her experiences at writer’s conferences both as a new writer and now as a successful author. She enumerated the ways new writers sabotage themselves by listening to all the advice from the successful writers who present their method for writing at the conferences as THE way to do it. They, the new writers, think they have to write just like she does, or like Dan Brown, or James Patterson, or J. K. Rowling. She was telling how it was for her when she began to write the first in what is now nearly a nine book series. Though she attended writer’s conferences, she didn’t pay attention to anyone’s formula for writing. She took what was helpful, then just started to write and followed where her characters led her. She followed her own instincts. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve gone to only a few writer’s conferences because I didn’t want someone telling me I’m doing it wrong. As far as I’m concerned, there is no right or wrong when it comes to creativity. The few conferences I have attended didn’t really offer much help for me and my process. I’m the only one who can find my inner path to the truth I’m trying to convey.

Having written all of that, I have had fantastically helpful comments from reader and writer friends. But I chose their advice very carefully. The ones I trust don’t try to speak to my process, they only make comments on their reaction to the work I’m creating. They know that writing is a painstakingly slow process and sometimes we can get mired down in all the details of our story and loose track of where we were going with it. We throw unnecessary events and characters into the story and we need one or two helpful people to point out where we’ve gone off track. The people who are the most helpful, are those who point out where the story bogs down, tell me what’s working and encourage me to continue writing.

As for my friends who try to help me, I’m grateful that they are interested in what I’m working on. It’s nice to have cheerleaders encouraging you to keep up the good work. Maybe some of them want me to succeed because if I do, then it’s a sign that they can succeed at making their dreams come true too. When they send me advice, that I don’t really want, I’ll just remember that my ego is the one who is offended. The real me will accept the good wishes of my friends and keep writing.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Tipping Point

Supreme Court building

Supreme Court building

“People say, ‘I want to change the world!’ Wonderful! I’ve got a great place to start – look in the mirror and get to work!” – David Roppo

“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” – Jimmy Carter

“What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.” – Voltaire

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” – Dalai Lama

Last week I was away at a family wedding and all kinds of great things happened during that time which make me think we’ve reached a tipping point in the direction of choosing love instead of hate.

The wedding was beautiful, as was the scenery along the way and at our destination. I don’t know the couple well, but everyone who spoke of them said they are two exceptional people. That in itself is hopeful. Weddings are a celebration of love. That’s what made the Supreme Court decision about making sure marriage equality is accepted in all 50 states an extra bonus to the weekend.

The Supreme Court also upheld The Affordable Care Act, and they upheld the use of an independent commission made of up citizens to draw Arizona’s congressional districts. In other words, they stood for the citizens of this country in three different ways. Hurray! It’s another few steps in the right direction.

Though I was very happy about all the decisions, the one that surprised and delighted me the most, because I didn’t think it would happen, was the one that upheld the rights of THE PEOPLE of my state of Arizona to decide how to to organize the voting districts. The politicians have to stay out of such decisions. If they upheld the vote of the people on this issue in my state, it can be the beginning of the end for gerrymandering in other states as well. This decision was big, and went mostly unnoticed with the news of the other two decisions. However, all three, in my opinion, point to the beginning of the end of lots of injustices that have been in place in this country.

As I’ve emphasized many times in the two years I’ve been writing this blog, there are positive things happening. The tide is turning toward more tolerance, and more fair treatment for all our citizens. I think what happened last week is definite proof that what I’ve been saying is true.

Other positive things are happening as well. Look at what’s been happening since the shooting in Charleston. I have to say that I was moved by the statements of the families of the victims. They shared love and forgiveness for the poor young man who allegedly did the shooting. Because of their forgiveness, lots of people are engaging in actual, serious conversations about not only the symbol of the confederate flag, but how blacks, and other ethnic groups, have been treated. We’re examining our unacknowledged and unexamined attitudes about each other. (Thank you Donald Trump!)

If you watch Fox news you probably still think the world is going to hell in a hand basket, (Sorry for the over used metaphor.) that liberals are taking over the world and persecuting conservative Christians and wealthy white people. It’s not, and we’re not. We’re just standing up for the rights of ALL people.

Here are some more positive signs that the tide is changing and that we’ve reached the tipping point toward the positive. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have had huge turnouts at their rallies, and raised enormous amounts of money donated mostly by ordinary citizens. The Republicans who are running for office sound more and more like people high on drugs or people who are mentally ill living in world of their own creation. The Girl Scouts refused a $100,000 anti-transgender donation, the attacks on the president by the Koch brother’s and the Tea Party are failing, and many people around the world continue to speak out on issues from guns to women’s rights, education for all, and how damaging it is to use religion to attack others. Wow! The good news is everywhere.

Now I understand that most of us automatically go to the negative when events happen. My friend Jean, who had brain surgery almost two years ago, has been studying books about brain research. One thing she told me was that scientists have discovered that we’re hard wired to embrace the negative first and that turning our thinking around to the positive can be difficult. But it can be done. It just takes practice.

I have to admit that I grew up in a positive environment, so it’s easier for me to change those initial negative thoughts to positive ones, however, I too feel despair at times about all the bad news. That’s why I seek out positive news items, TV shows, movies and supportive messages on social media. If we feed our minds negative images and messages, that’s what we’ll think about. Conversely, if we feed our mind positive messages, it becomes easier to think in the positive. Maybe recent events show us that people ARE beginning to embrace positive thoughts which produce positive change. I hope so.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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About Women and Our Changing Culture

Business Women in Indonesia

Business Women in Indonesia

“I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.” – Georgia O’Keefe

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher

“Clearly older women and especially older women who have led an active life or elder women who successfully maneuver through their own family life have so much to teach us about sharing, patience, and wisdom.” – Alice Walker

“You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.” – Erica Jong

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” – Rebecca West

Somehow what I wrote in the last post just didn’t seem like it covered all the ideas that have been rattling around in my head for the last few months. So many things are happening to lots of different groups of people and they all look like different issues, but in my opinion, they are the same issue. We need to learn to value others so much that it won’t matter what color, sexual orientation, gender, or level of prosperity they might have or be. However, it’s hard to value others if we don’t value ourselves.

As I’ve written many times in this blog, valuing myself has been a big theme in my life and one of my main cheerleaders was my father. I couldn’t articulate until I was much older that he had lots of great feminine qualities that I wanted to emulate. Because he was a man, I got the idea that all men would be like my dad. But as I grew older and bumped up against barriers that were constructed to keep out anyone who wasn’t a white male, I started to rethink who I was and what it was that made me valuable. And the answer is: Because I’m here! This has been a lifelong process, you understand, to know that I’m valuable just because I exist. This and all the ideas I’m expressing today have taken me a long time to be able to articulate.

This is what I now know. We are each a piece of God. As I’ve studied the religions of the world, I’ve come to think that there is something within women that understands that fact. Way back in human history, men knew it too, because they worshiped the Goddess. But then things changed and men took charge. Women adapted. They kept their strength to themselves and learned to make a place for themselves within the male dominated societies. On the outside it looked like men were in charge, but there were often great women behind the great men. And almost every woman who became ruler of a country, did not have a husband, which allowed them to rule the way they thought best.

But I don’t want to go into the entire history of moving from female based cultures to male based cultures and back again. There are lots of fantastic books about that subject. No, what I want to do is express what I think is happening now. I think we’re moving from a completely male dominated world, to one of cooperation between the sexes. And one where every single person is value and honored. The evidence I provide for this is just what’s happening in the news almost every day.

In this country, the male dominated congress is in deadlock. There are white men who are going ballistic because they see their domination crumbling. They’ve been in control for so long. They liked it and they don’t want to lose the upper hand. Each time there is a new shooting, or new restrictive legislation introduced, or progressive legislation that’s voted down, there are people who wake up and say, “Wait a minute. That’s not right.” And the more people who say that and band together with other’s who are awakening, the pendulum swings ever so slightly in the direction of more equality all around.

One of the things I was going to mention in this post was the fact that women need to stand with and for other women. I’ve always thought that was important but this morning as I was thinking about that I was challenged to back that up with action. I’ve received a number of invitations from my new Representative Martha McSally to follow her Facebook page. I’ve refused to follow her because she’s from a much more conservative party than I am. I was angry that she won the election, and that she won it by a minuscule amount of votes. But if I’m going to stand up for having more women in leadership roles in this country, then I need to support Martha McSally. I’ve just taken the time to like her page. Now I’ll be able to tell her how I feel about the important issues that we face in this country. I don’t know if she’ll pay attention to anything I write to her, but she’ll never even consider them if she doesn’t know what I think. As Malala Yousafzai says, “Sometimes we wait for others and think that Martin Luther should raise among us, Nelson Mandela should raise up among us and speak up for us, but we never realize they are normal humans like us – and if we step forward we can also bring change just like them.” So, I’m taking one step forward and telling my Representatives what I want this country to look like.

I’m given hope that maybe Ms. McSally will pay attention, because I saw a news segment not long ago about the gatherings the women in Congress hold regularly to create a bridge between the parties to get things done. They may not always agree on an issue, but they look for ways to work together. I like that!

There is so much more to say about how to help this country grow into one where every single person, no matter who they are, can be honored and valued but I’ll leave that for future posts.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Working Mom

Working Mom

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Cancer of Our Society

Hands of different races

Hands of different races

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Islam teaches tolerance, not hatred; universal brotherhood, not enmity; peace, and not violence.” – Pervez Musharraf

“Prejudice of any kind implies that you are identified with the thinking mind. It means you don’t see the other human being anymore, but only your own concept of that human being. To reduce the aliveness of another human being to a concept is already a form of violence.” – Eckhart Tolle

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” – Isaac Asimov

“Dignity does not come from avenging insults, especially from violence that can never be justified. It comes from taking responsibility and advancing our common humanity.” – Hillary Clinton

Something important I’ve learned in my sixty-two years is that we repeat a lesson over and over again until we learn it. That goes for individuals as well as groups, businesses, societies, and nations. As I write this, there has been another mass shooting this time in a church. I guess we haven’t learned that violence only begets more violence which means, we’ll keep repeating this insane scenario until we get it. Humans are stubborn and we often have to be pushed to the brink before we are willing to change.

Violence in all its forms in our country is a cancer that is eating away at our society from the inside out. It’s exactly what our enemies are hoping for, that our society will collapse in on itself. And we are teetering on the brink of doing just that because the people haters are declaring their right to freedom. But what of the rights and freedoms of those who become victims of violent acts? They get blamed for not carrying a gun.

This is what I think about the gun debate. This country was founded on the fight for freedom against tyranny. Each member of the army had to own a gun, and that was even written into our constitution that individuals have the right to own a fire arm. The reasoning behind that was obvious. This was a wild country at the time, not to mention many people needed to hunt to provide food for their families. Do we really need to own so many guns now? I guess we do if we see every other person as a threat. That’s sad. We’re so busy being proud of our heritage of standing up to the bullies that we continue to look for them everywhere and have become the thing we fight against.

In my opinion, our country was founded on the masculine ideal. We think of a man as being tough, stoic, invulnerable, and he rules his domain with an iron hand. And if a man isn’t like that we look down on him, or at least we used to.

Basing our culture on those principles may have helped us grow and develop at one time, but that time has passed. We’ve evolved as a nation as evidenced by the way we treat our returning soldiers now as opposed to the way we treated them after WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. During WWI men who suffered from PSD, or shell shock as it was called back then, were treated with distain, disrespect and if they were in the field and were unable to perform their duties, they were shot for cowardice. With each successive war the attitude about PSD changed ever so slowly. Now we understanding that being a part of all the violence that is a part of war, is highly corrosive to a person’s psyche. In other words, again in my opinion, our society is moving toward a more feminine perspective.

Those with feminine qualities are loving, vulnerable, understanding, supportive, inclusive, peacemakers, and healers. All the people most of us profess to admire and aspire to emulate throughout the ages have had more feminine qualities than masculine, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to name just a few.

So I ask, do we want to heal the cancer, or kill ourselves because we don’t want to acknowledge the diagnosis?

I hope you will consider this quote from the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. My copy was translated and annotated, and with an afterward by Victor H. Mair, thus the two different numbers.

41 (76)
Human beings are
soft and supple when alive,
stiff and straight when dead.

The myriad creatures, the grasses and trees are
soft and fragile when alive,
dry and withered when dead.

Therefore, it is said:
The rigid person is a disciple of death;
The soft, supple, and delicate are lovers of life.

An army that is inflexible will not conquer;
A tree that is inflexible will snap.

The unyielding and mighty shall be brought low;
The soft, supple, and delicate will be set above.

In other words, the meek shall inherit the earth. I believe that if our society is to survive, we need to become soft and supple with each other.

I’ll write one last thing. I saw Malala Yousafzai on Jon Stewart’s show last night and I’ll paraphrase something she said that I’m trying to get across with this post. She said that one person can do one thing to make the world a better place. And I say, if each of us does one thing, then it won’t be long before the world we live in becomes a very different place than the one we’re living in now.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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