My Writing Life

Dad and me on Easter Sunday

Dad and me on Easter Sunday

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~ Ray Bradbury

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ~ Anais Nin

“An artist’s job is to make us feel less alone.” ~ Viola Davis

“I always wrote. I wrote from when I was 12. That was therapeutic for me in those days. I wrote things to get them out of feeling them, and onto paper. So writing in a way saved me, kept me company.” ~ Carrie Fisher

As you might surmise from the various quotes above, I’m having difficulty pinning down what I want to express about my writing life. It’s a most profound privilege to wake up every morning and try to grasp those wispy thoughts and feelings that are demanding to be expressed. But they’re capricious; they like to be chased. They run and hide until I catch their shirt tails and drag them out into the open.

I’ve always had lots to say, even though most of my life I kept my thoughts and feelings to myself. During one very short period in my life, I ventured to share what I had been feeling on an empathetic level, but that hadn’t gone so well, so I retreated and kept quiet. But I met people who told me I had a facility for writing, and what they said planted seeds. It took them a long time to grow, but finally one day I gained enough self-confidence to allow myself to begin to express what had been dammed up for so long.

In almost any story no matter how it’s told, there is always an inciting incident that begins the main character’s journey. My inciting incident was a visit to my parents in 1998 or 1999. My father had been living with heart disease for many years and something about his manner, or the way he talked that weekend, gave me the clue that he was on the downward path toward his eventual death. I was stunned. My dad was my mentor. What would I do without him? It was then the beginnings of The Space Between Time, came flitting through my consciousness. I began work on the book the day after our return home. All I had at that time was Morgan’s story, though her name was Anna in those early drafts.

I was a substitute teacher at the time, and shortly after I began working on the book, I was given first one, then two more long term substitute teaching assignments. Those led me to get my Master’s degree in Education and becoming a full-time teacher. If you’re a teacher you know that there is little time for anything other than your job. But the way I felt about my relationship with my father and the story I wanted to tell about the close relationship between Morgan and her father never left me. In fact I thought a great deal about those two characters. It was as if the story was simmering on the back burner of my mind.

Skip ahead ten years. My father had died in 2004. I missed him terribly, but his influence and love for me continued to guide me. A lot had happened by then. I was forced out of my position teaching drama in one school district and began teaching English in another. In some ways my life had been shattered. In others I was discovering talents I had not known I possessed. Then one day I knew that what others had told me was true. I could be a good writer, and I had lots I wanted to say.

I didn’t go back to my novel when I first began writing full-time. But when I did, it felt right. Every morning I was excited to get to work. I won’t lie and say that it has been easy. There were stretches of weeks when I had no idea how to get from point A to point B in my story, or when I fought writing the raw emotions that the characters were experiencing. I wanted my main characters to learn their lessons without going through the pain and suffering I had gone through because I didn’t want to drag myself through the muck again.

Thank heaven for good friends who kept pushing me to “beat up” my characters. Finally my resistance crumbled, and I made the connection between the satisfaction we feel at the end of a good story, and the main characters overcoming frightening and/or tragic obstacles to win or grow. We can’t skip to the end and be healed in life or in literature. I’ve started work on a sequel novel and a fantasy story and this time I’ll be looking for the best trials and tribulations to get the characters to their eventual transformations.

Next week, I’ll give you a little glimpse into the story of Jenna and her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan and how I came up with the idea to intertwine the two timelines.

If you would like to join my mailing list and get updates on the publication of my books, and new installments to my video series, “Loving Literature”, here is the link.

Welcome to my new followers and thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share this post.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Living Out Loud

meryl_streep_at_the_2014_sag_awards_12024455556_cropped“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just a place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Do not consider painful what is good for you.” ~ Euripides

“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” ~ Emile Zola

I don’t watch award shows even though I think honoring great work in the arts is fitting. I don’t like the hype of most of those events. But when I woke up to a string of posts about Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes, I found the video and listened to what she had to say. One thing she said was, “An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.” And Viola Davis said when she introduced Meryl for her Cecil B. DeMille award, “An artists job is to make us feel less alone.” That’s why I’m an artist, to help myself and others feel less alone. And to try to understand people who are not like me.

I loved Meryl Streep’s speech. All of it, but I’m not going to comment today about our next President or his actions. I’m not a political pundit and I’ve already written in past posts about how I feel about his behavior and the result of it.

Today and for the next few entries, I’m going to write about what it has meant to be to be an actor, director, writer, and teacher of the arts.

But let me back up a bit. I have a writer friend I met though social media. Her name is Julie Christine Johnson author of, In Another Life. On January first her blog post was titled, “A Word of Resolution for 2017.” Each year she picks a word to focus on for the year. I’m not big on making resolutions. I have life goals, but those are on going and don’t end when the calendar says the year is over. Anyway, I liked Julie’s idea of having a word to focus on for 2017 and I chose the word wholehearted. I borrowed the word from Brené Brown who says that living a wholehearted life, is to be vulnerable and open hearted no matter what happens to us. It means to embrace life and to live it out loud.

I have not been a person who has lived life out loud. For most of my life, I kept many thoughts to my self. I had lots of thoughts about what was happening in our society, in church, at school, or in our personal family life. But I didn’t want to make waves or stir up controversy. I was quiet until I became involved in theatre. Then slowly, through the years I have opened up and begun to say all those things I’d been thinking. Now I’m becoming more brave and writing my true thoughts. This year I’m committing myself to becoming even more wholehearted in my writing.

When I first began writing, an instructor told me my work was guarded. It’s been difficult to write exactly what I’m thinking and feeling. I’m still not very good at being completely honest about my opinion. I learned from my father that it’s almost impossible to change someone’s mind once it’s made up. And I’ve found that to be mostly true. Often I have wished I were more like my sister, Celeste. She never holds back her opinion. We think alike, but I’m the quiet one; she’s not. Yet, as a teacher, I learned to express my opinion by posing questions to my students. I think they found this technique to be less threatening, yet opened their minds to new possibilities.

I will break my promise not to say anything about our incoming President. Maya Angelou used to say, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Donald Trump has shown us who he is. He’s not a nice person, nor is he going to be a good leader. He doesn’t care about us or the problems we face. He only cares about how he can leverage his position to get more for himself. But he has done us the great service of opening up societal wounds that have not ever healed. We now have this fantastic opportunity to examine our wounds and mistakes, and expose them to the light so they can finally be resolved.

So to follow my intention to become more wholehearted, I’m going to follow something else Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” I may not be able to change the people who are bullies, or who want to spread hatred, but I’ll never know if I don’t listen to their concerns and point out how much they are hurting others. Oprah Winfrey said that one of the greatest lessons she learned while doing her television show all those years was that people just want to be heard. They want to feel like they matter.

That’s why I was drawn to the arts. When we are exposed to art, they show us the light and the darkness inside people. Through stories we have an opportunity to get new perspectives and learn something vital about others from vastly different cultures and backgrounds than our own. I want to listen and observe so I can “see” and “hear” people who don’t think exactly the way I do and then incorporate what I’ve learned into my stories.

That’s why I think the arts are vitally important. They help us walk around in another person’s life for a while. What can be more life changing than that?

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Just Keep Swimming

Blue Tang (Dory) Fish

Blue Tang (Dory) Fish

“If you go to a tree with an ax and take five whacks at the tree every day, it doesn’t matter if it’s an oak or a redwood; eventually the tree has to fall down.” ~ Jack Canfield

“Just as your car turns more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.” ~ Brian Tracy

A few days ago we watched Woman in Gold with Barry’s parents. It’s a movie I’ve wanted to see for quite some time. It’s based on the true story of Maria Altmann and her battle to recover five extremely valuable paintings by Gustav Klimt that had belonged to her family. The most famous of the paintings is of Maria’s Aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer, also known as The Woman in Gold. The paintings, now considered Austrian national treasures, were confiscated at the beginning of WW II by the Nazis just after they peacefully annexed Austria. Maria witnesses the degradation of her fellow Jews until finally, it’s her family’s turn. The Gustapo comes. She, her new husband, and parents are under house arrest in an apartment stripped of all valuables including the paintings.

I won’t tell all the details of the story. It’s enough to say that what struck me about the movie was the amount of effort and years it took for Maria and her young lawyer to win their case and get the paintings back from the Austrian Government. It’s a David and Goliath story in which Maria and her lawyer, Randol Schoenberg took one step, then the next for nearly ten years not knowing if they would win or lose. In fact, no one thought they would win the case. Even Maria wanted to give up at times but Randy wouldn’t let go. In the end she won a huge victory for herself, her family, and for other Jews as well.

We each have those things that we want to accomplish. They are probably not as large a task as fighting an entire government to reclaim our stollen possessions, but that doesn’t mean they are not important. At times they seem too big to accomplish, but like any large task, it’s important to keep plugging away to finish the job.

I’ve been actively working on my first novel for about seven years. It’s nearing completion and I’m so delighted that I just kept working on it each day. Even though I still need to finish the polishing, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment which motivates me to continue on with new writing projects.

I’m also determined to apply the “just keep swimming” principle to other things in my daily life. There are so many people who need help, so many situations that need to be addressed. I feel overwhelmed at times to know where to put my efforts. Yet, I remember that it’s better to choose one or two areas where I can make my contribution rather than running around accomplishing nothing. Others have talents to meet the challenges that I can’t solve and I’ll trust that progress will be made.

I hope you find reasons to keep plugging away at your dreams, and find cheerleaders to help you keep swimming in 2017.

Welcome to my new followers. Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

If you would like to receive email updates about my video series, “Loving Literature” or the launch date for my novel, The Space Between Time, you can sign up here.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden @ 2017

Reflections

Taj Mahal at sunset

Taj Mahal at sunset

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” ~ Margaret J. Wheatley

“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.” ~ Marcus Tillius Cicero

“My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.” ~ John Lennon

“Many scientists think that philosophy has no place, so for me it’s a sad time because the role of reflection, contemplation, meditation, self-inquiry, insight, intuition, imagination, creativity, free will, is in a way not given any importance, which is the domain of philosophers.” ~ Deepak Chopra

I’m a bit of a rebel. I don’t usually create New Year’s resolutions, or do the end of the year reflections. I don’t do them because resolving to improve myself and reflect on what I’ve learned is something I do on a continuing basis. However, after the year we’ve just had, I have some things I’d like to express.

2016 has been a fantastic year for me! For a while I got caught up the crazy political shenanigans, read lots of articles and such, got angry and sad. Then I realized that what was happening in society was part of the current of growth and change that is always flowing. Sometimes it’s underground, and other time, like now it’s more apparent. It was then that I gave up focusing on the outside and realigned myself to continuing to become a more open, loving, joyful and compassionate person. I felt like that’s how I can best contribute to our awakening.

This is a process I committed to on January 1, 2015. I was tired of my bouts of being unhappy and critical of my life choices. That felt like it didn’t fit with where I see humanity headed. So, I began the work of clearing out old thought patterns and embracing a new, or rather the real me.

I’m so glad I made that choice, because today I can say that every morning I wake up choosing to be happy and noticing all the abundant beauty and opportunities that come my way.

It sounds like becoming happy was easy. It wasn’t. I fought it for so many years because I thought we were meant to suffer. Letting go of that idea took way too many years. The day I acknowledged how I had tortured myself thinking I was getting closer to God by doing so, was my liberation day. I’m excited about the new life I’m creating.

I participated in several activities this year that helped contribute to the next step in my awakening.

I had a great time teaching two performance classes at the college, during the 2015, 2016 school year. My students wrote their own plays. It was great fun for both students and audience members. In the spring, most of the plays made reference to, or actually had a Star Wars storyline. Seeing the joy of creation on the students faces helped me embrace joy too.

Since I began writing in 2008, I have felt great satisfaction of creation. This year I finally finished my novel, The Space Between Time, except for minor edits. It’s been a nearly seven years journey of learning how to construct the plot, develop the characters and improve my overall writing. When I read Steven Pressfield’s book Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, his insights helped me put the final plot points together. It was kind like he knocked me up the side of the head and all the puzzle pieces landed into place. Not only that, I now have the tools to plot out the next novel and reduce the time I will need to create the story.

Something about Pressfield’s book along with other events, gave me the idea to create my video series, “Loving Literature”. This is a long term project that I’m looking forward to working on. Stories help me make sense out of my life and the world. I began the series hoping to be able to define for myself, and hopefully others, why story is so important. Then I read an article on Upworthy, about a little girl, born 16 weeks too early, who lived because her father read her the entire Harry Potter series. The mom, Kelley, said, “Stories were invented to conjure meaning from randomness. They give us our history, even our identity.” Tom, the father said of deciding to read the stories to his daughter, “Stories are a promise. They are a promise that the ending is worth waiting for.” What touched me the most about it was that when J.K. Rowling heard about Juniper and her parents, she sent them a special gift of the entire Harry Potter series for Juniper to read for herself. The inscription on the first books reads, “To the girl who lived.” Now that’s the power of story and how sharing stories with each other connects us in profound ways. If you want to read the article for yourself, here is the link. Or you can buy the book, Juniper: The girl who was born too soon by Kelley and Thomas French.

So, I’m committed to telling lots of stories both written and on video during 2017 and hopefully connecting with my readers in profound ways, and learning lots more great things about myself. I want to listen and support, I want to make a difference in at least one person’s life with my creative endeavors.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Four Days Before Christmas and …

It's a Wonderful Life Village

It’s a Wonderful Life Village

As this is posted, it’s four days before Christmas. I’m in Missouri with the Midgorden clan and we’re having a wonderful time.

Since the election, I’ve been soothing my frazzled nerves by watching lots of Christmas movies. I don’t watch the news and have even cut back on my check-ins on social media since I’m highly sensitive to the emotions of others, and lot’s of people are angry and hurting. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate my emotions from those of others.

These past two years I’ve been working on changing my thought patterns so that I can maintain my calm while chaos is happening around me. It’s my goal to be more trusting and loving to all people no matter what. I knew this when I was younger, but I let life beat me down. It’s been a challenge to regain that infallible knowledge that God, or the Universe, or the Field of All Possibilities has my back no matter what.

Anyway, as I was watching all the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, for which I’m grateful by the way, I got to thinking about the people who aren’t Christian. How do they soothe their fear, anger and disillusionment in this season of discontent? Reading, watching movies and focusing on my creative projects helps me feel better. Yet, it would be nice to read more books by authors from different countries, and to see movies about people from other cultures so I can get a feeling for the insights they gain from their experiences.

To that end, I’ve decided that this coming year I’m going to widen my reading and watching fare so I can deepen my understanding of people from other parts of the world. It’s one of the ways I can advance the cause of peace within myself and in my interactions with other people. If I’ve learned anything from the election, it’s that insulating oneself and being unwilling to change is not a good thing. I don’t want to do that. I want to be open, accepting, compassionate and loving.

Another thing I’ve been thinking is that it would be nice if the networks would open up their programing during this time of year to be more inclusive. It must sometimes feel quite oppressive to have so many programs centered around just one religion’s celebration. It’s just a thought. I know ratings are the name of the game, but I’d watch.

I thought I’d share a list of books and movies that helped me get a different perspective of the world, and the people in the stories.

The first three books and their corresponding movie, or mini-series, that were deeply affecting were, A Tale of Two Cities, Roots, and Shogun. Once I’d read those books and seen them on TV, I was irrevocably changed, especially given the fact that people really were beheaded because of their class, or association with that class, people were captured and transported here against their will, and foreigners were treated with deep suspicion.

Other stories that widened my world were:

A Price Above Rubies with Reneé Zellweger. It’s about a young woman who is married to a devout Jew. It tells of the problems the main character has in her marriage. She wants something more out of her life and eventually breaks free. This movie affected me long after I saw it. It’s a beautiful story of a woman searching for herself and her place in the world.

Loving Leah – A Hallmark Hall of Fame quirky love story revolving around the unexpected wedding and unconventional married life of a 26-year old devout Jewish widow and her late husband’s brother, a handsome 30-year old cardiologist. I loved this movie because it showed a bit about the Jewish culture and how love is something we all hope for.

The Book Thief – Both the book and the movie are fantastic. While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being protected by her adoptive parents. I loved both the book and the movie because it showed how some of the ordinary people of Germany might have coped under the oppressive Nazi regime.

Memoirs of a Geisha – Again, both the book and the movie are touching and poignant. Nitta Sayuri reveals how she transcended her fishing-village roots and became one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha. It’s a world shrouded in mystery. Again, we see how the ordinary people coped with World War II, and how the role of the Geisha was changed forever.

Bridge to the Sun – Based on a true story, this compelling drama relates the difficulties of a young woman married to a Japanese diplomat during World War II, a victim of suspicion and animosity from her husband’s government. I loved this story because it showed, like The Book Thief, and Memoirs of a Geisha, the life of the ordinary people during World War II, some of them not agreeing with their government.

Cheyenne Autumn – In the light of the stand off at Standing Rock, this might be of interest to you. It’s an older movie based on true events. When the government agency fails to deliver even the meager supplies due by treaty to the proud Cheyenne tribe in their barren desert reserve, the starving Indians having taken more abuse than it’s worth, break the treaty too by embarking on a 1,500 miles journey back to their ancestral hunting grounds. It paints some of the whites in a rosy light, but what is particularly interesting is the way the Native Americans are portrayed. They are proud and determined to live life on their own terms. They have conflicts among themselves but manage, at least for a time to gain their freedom. You can fast forward through the scenes with James Stewart playing Wyatt Earp which was added in leu of an intermission.

To round out my movie suggestions, you might want to watch Babette’s Feast. It’s based on the novel by Karen Blixen, of the Out of Africa, fame. I suggest it because it’s climax is a feast which most of us will soon be enjoying as well. In a remote 19th-century Danish village, two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister, and their church. They both have had opportunities to leave, but ended up taking care of their father. After his death, they take in a French refugee, Babette Hersant, who agrees to work as their servant. When Babette wins the lottery, she offers to repay them by cooking an elaborate French meal in honor of their father’s 100 birthday. The meal turns out to be an eye opening experience for everyone in attendance.

I hope you are able to have feasts and share lots of love this holiday season. Cooking and sharing a meal with those you love is one of the things we all have in common.

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

If you would like to receive notifications about my upcoming book, The Space Between Time, or my “Loving Literature” videos, you can join my email list by clicking this link.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Serendipity

Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan

Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan

“Most discoveries even today are a combination of serendipity and of searching.” ~ Siddhartha Mukherjee

“In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is dues to our efforts.” ~ Peter McWilliams

“I’ve always loved life, and I’ve never known what’s ahead. I love not knowing what might be round the corner. I love serendipity.” ~ Twiggy

The other day, a writer acquaintance of mine shared a story on her blog about how choosing to visit the Grand Canyon by herself on her birthday changed her life. She invited her readers to share a similar story, and I was moved to share the story below.

My husband, Barry and I live in rural Arizona, and one of the great pleasures of living here is the night sky. Other pleasures are the sunrises, sunsets and the wildlife outside our windows. How we came to move here twenty years ago is the story I’d like to tell today because I’ve been reminded lately about how often serendipity works in our lives. Often it goes right by and we don’t grab ahold of it’s shirt tail.

Barry and I had been living in Portland, Oregon for fourteen years. One of our dreams was to travel, but money was tight. We met a woman from Germany at a Reiki retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat Center. She needed a place to stay for a week until the next leg of her journey to New Zealand. Wanting to hear of her travels, we offered her our guest bedroom.

That week she regaled us with the stories of all the places she’d visited, and each night my husband and I went to bed talking about how we could take a trip outside the country.

One night as the three of us talked again about her travels, we told her of all the friends and family we had in various parts of the world. Viv said, “Well you know, a round the world trip ticket only costs about $3,000.”

All of a sudden our dreams became possible. We knew we were going to take the trip, but how to finance it?

On the day Viv was leaving, it was my husband’s birthday and we were going to a party for him at his place of work. I stopped at a local bank so she could exchange some money. While she was inside I said to the Universe, “How can we pay for our trip?” The answer came, “You could sell your house.” I felt a tingle run through my body starting at the top of my head and traveling all the way down to my toes. Right then I planned to talk my idea over with Barry on our way to his birthday weekend trip to the Oregon Coast.

When we were on our way, I waited, heart pounding until I thought it was the right time. Then I said, “I’ve thought of a way we can pay for our trip.”

He said, “Really, so have I. I wonder if it’s the same idea.”

“We can sell our house,” I said.

“That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

The energy inside the car was palpable. We knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime and we had to grab it. The entire weekend we made plans about when to leave, the things we needed to do to the house to get it ready to sell, what countries we’d visit, how long we’d be gone, and where we would land when we got back to the U.S.

Some people, mostly family members, thought we were crazy. But it was amazing how many people said, “I wish I were brave enough to to that.”

Everything fell into place so easily. It was as if God wanted us to take the trip. We found the perfect real estate and travel agents. Our house sold at the first open house. The housing market had just begun to boom so we made a ridiculous amount of money. We were offered a place to stay for the month before our departure. Everything worked out well, except for one thing, which in the end turned out to be the reason we moved to Arizona.

My father had had heart bypass surgery several years prior to our planned trip. Before we left, he had another emergency surgery and nearly died on the operating table. This was April, about three weeks before our departure. The weather in the Northwest that spring was cold, wet and miserable.

We flew to Phoenix to be with my mom and dad at the Phoenix Heart Hospital. My parents had retired there, and so had Barry’s parents. They lived in the Phoenix area and were there to meet my youngest sister, her husband, and us at the airport. It was 80 degrees and gorgeous.

My father lived, but almost losing him was a shock. For the first time it occurred to us that our parents were getting old. We wanted to be near them as much as we could during their remaining days. So the four of us discussed moving to Arizona, because even my brother-in-law’s parents lived in Tucson.

While we were on our fabulous trip, Barry and I discussed moving to Arizona instead of Southern Oregon, as we had dreamed of doing. Finally, when we were stuck in Olympia due to the death of a Greek national hero and statesman, we decided on Arizona as our new home. It’s been a good decision.

The trip was life-changing. If you’ve never traveled outside the country, I highly recommend it. Being in a new place can’t help but change your perspective. You learn something new about yourself along the way. Even after all these years, something will pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, or I’ll hear something on television and I’ll be transported back to one of the wonderful countries we visited.

Moving to Arizona without jobs was difficult at first, but we managed to find a lovely part of the state to live in, and as I wrote in the first paragraph, we have gorgeous scenery, plenty of wildlife, and quiet to keep us company. It’s a nurturing place for both of us because we’re creative types.

I’m so grateful for the times when something amazing has presented itself to me, and I’ve climbed aboard and gone along for the ride. I hope you do that too, because we don’t want to die with our music still in us, as Wayne Dyer used to say. That would be a tragedy.

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

If you’d like to join my email list to receive information about my soon to be published book, The Space Between Time, or my video series, “Loving Literature”, here is the link.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Literature and the Human Soul

Classic Books

Classic Books

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain … To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” ~ Kevyn Aucoin

“Literature must rest always on a principle, and temporal considerations are no principle at all. For, to the poet, all times and places are one; the stuff he deals with is eternally the same: no theme is inept, no past or present preferable.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“I found that dance, music, and literature is how I made sense of the world … it pushed me to think of things bigger than life’s daily routines … to think beyond what is immediate or convenient.” ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov

“I pray for the change in perception that will let me see bigger and sweeter realities.” ~ Anne Lamott

This past weekend I uploaded the first episode of my “Loving Literature” series. I’ve been having so much fun learning iMovie, finding the photos, writing the copy, and recording the talking head and voiceover segments. It’s a joy to wake up feeling energized, to know that I get to work on the videos and my writing. Why did I wait so long to allow myself to have this much fun?

As I’ve been working on the series, I’ve refined my ideas about why literature is so important to me. Over these last years of writing, a transformation, or perhaps a revelation has been going on in my consciousness. This revelation has been like chipping away pieces of marble to get to the sculpture living inside the stone, or maybe it’s cutting the jewel to reveal the fire within. Whatever the process has been, I’m coming to understand in a profound way why authors, poets, and playwrights feel compelled to write. We need to convey to our audience and ourselves the depths of what it means to be a human being.

This feeling about literature began to gel during Thanksgiving weekend as I talked with my second cousin about my video project. He’s a mathematician, and has a very different idea of how the world works than I. He told me he doesn’t understand literature. That got me thinking about different personality types and how we are each oriented to view the world in unique ways. I couldn’t articulate why I felt literature was so important during that discussion. But it got me thinking. Today I can. In posts earlier this fall, I said that the idea for the videos came to me because of some students who were struggling with reading, but it’s really more than that. The arts provide us with a way to change our perception of the world.

Now don’t get me wrong. I admire people who can do math and see the connections between numbers and abstract ideas. We need those kinds of people to help us figure out so many things, but there is no equation that can reveal the pain, fear, frustration, compassion, joy, or love humans experience every day. Mathematics is a function of the mind. Literature reveals what is going on in someone’s heart. And that’s what compels me to write my blog, books, and do this video series. I want to help people understand a little bit more about what it means to be a human being, and maybe even why we’re here interacting with each other.

I know that we each live in our own little universe and see the world in a unique way. From my viewpoint, it is through reading and watching plays and movies that I can get a glimpse into the way someone else experiences life. When that happens, my world view expands. I cherish the times when I open up to a new perspective. Somehow the connection between me and everything else on the planet deepens and I feel great joy in that moment. I want to help foster those kinds of experiences in others. It seems to me that feeling empathy for each other is something we need very badly right now. That’s the purpose of my video series.

In case you are interested in seeing what I’ve created, here is the link to the introduction video on YouTube. I hope you’ll go watch, and subscribe to my channel.

If you would like to join my email list to receive notifications of new additions to the series, or information about my soon to be published novel, The Space Between Time, you can join by using this link.

Thanks for reading. Welcome to my new followers. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Hummingbird Magic

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

I have a friend, Rita. She has struggled with finding a career she loves that will provide her with enough money to live comfortably. I can relate to her struggles, but just a few weeks ago she had something wonderful happen. During one of her meditations, she got the message to apply to be a Prayer Facilitator with Unity Village in Missouri. She is a member of Unity Church and felt like this was the perfect solution for her. When she followed her guidance and applied, everything fell into place with amazing speed. Yesterday she left for her new home and job.

I offered to help her finish her packing and cleaning of her little house so she could get on the road to Albuquerque by early afternoon. While I was there, I noticed that a hummingbird had become trapped in the closed-in porch. I wanted to help it get out so it could be on its way. Another woman and I tried to shoo it out by using newspapers to guide it toward the open door. But it was in the opposite direction that the bird wanted to go so every time we got it close to the door, it flew back to the direction it was headed.

Finally the other woman went and got a small tub, and she and I covered the bird, and wedged newspaper between the bird and the screen. When we took the bird outside and took off the paper, it was sprawled in the corner looking like it was in shock. One of its wings was spread at a strange angle and we thought we had injured it. Since I’m a Reiki practitioner, I gently picked up the poor thing and held it in my hands for a few seconds, then I opened my hands so it could fly away if it was able.

In those few seconds I could feel the birds little claws on my finger and its rapid heart beat. The other woman and I spoke gently to it and prayed that this beautiful little creature would be able to fly. In a matter of moments it did take off and we rejoiced with each other.

The light touch of that little creature has affected me in profound ways that I can’t really describe. In the book, Medicine Cards, by Jamie Sands and David Carson, Hummingbird is the symbol of joy. And I have to say that that was the theme of the day yesterday. Rita felt such joy to be starting a new happy phase in her life. And it was contagious. I was happy for her and felt that if wonderful things can happen for her, they can for me too.

As I’ve written before, I’ve got two major projects about to come to fruition. Three of my beta readers for my novel have told me how much they are enjoying my book. One of my writer friends, who has read multiple versions, told me she was having a hard time putting the book down. I rejoiced when she said that, because she already knows the story so well. And I’m nearly ready to launch my video series. So it looks like 2017 will be a good year for both Rita and me, and I will take the memory of that little hummingbird resting in my hands with me every day.

Though I’m not an outdoors woman, I am blessed to live in the country with lots of wildlife all around me every day. I love seeing the deer outside our windows right next to the house, and the roadrunners, quail, hawks, ravens, rabbits, bobcats, even the snakes and bugs of all kinds. They come and bless us and remind us that we are part of a much bigger family than we have previously been aware of. This morning just after sun up, a coyote walked beneath my office window and reminded me to laugh at myself and the silly mistakes I make.

After the visit from the hummingbird yesterday, I plan to pay a great deal more attention to nature and gain strength from the connection between me and the other creatures on this planet that we share.

Thanks for reading. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you have a wonderful encounter with nature this holiday season.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

Cover art for A Tale of Two Cities

Cover art for A Tale of Two Cities

“The truth is, we are all one connected thing.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” ~ Albert Camus

“Countless scientific studies show that steeling yourself against the negative, preparing for the worst, actually puts you on a trajectory heading straight for the very thing you’re hoping to escape.” ~ Pam Grout, Thank and Grow Rich

I don’t believe in coincidence, so when Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey recently offered a new meditation series and it was titled “Creating Peace from the Inside Out”, I knew it was just what I needed to ease my frazzled nerves from the din of the election noise. The meditations went right along with the Pam Grout books I’ve been reading, E Squared, E Cubed, and Thank and Grow Rich. They are all about changing our focus from always seeing the negative things around us, to finding the abundant beauty that most of us miss everyday.

Here is an example: As I began this post, the sun was just coming up. I love to watch the sunrises and sunsets here in Arizona. I can’t get enough of them, and my photos file proves it. I love them because, you see, I lived in Portland, Oregon for fifteen years prior to moving here. As my father used to say of living on the western side of the Cascade Mountains, “It just get’s light, then it gets dark.” There is almost constant cloud cover. Okay, I haven’t been back in twenty years since global warming has changed climates everywhere. They may see the sun more often now, but while living there I never saw the lavender tinge to the sky on the opposite horizon when the sun was rising or setting. It’s just one of the pleasures of living where the sun shines almost every day.

Another pleasure of living in the desert is the night sky. Every night that I drive home from teaching my class, I stop outside my car before going into the house and look at the abundance of stars. We’re lucky to live in the country where there is little light pollution.

I have to say I do miss the proliferation of flowers in Portland in the spring, and how the gorgeous colors make up for the gray skies. I especially miss the pink dogwood tree that my husband gave me for my birthday. I loved watching it bloom as I worked in the kitchen. I must now keep the beauty of that tree in my mind.

Since doing the twenty-two meditations and reading Pam Grout’s books, I now wake up grateful for a new day and all the blessings it will bring. When I’m feeling down, I listen to “Happy” by Pharell Williams, (Right after the election I listened to it about twenty times one day when I was feeling particularly off balance.) or some other happy song. I watch happy movies and TV shows and I’ve decided to stay away from negative posts on social media. Thankfully, I gave up watching the news years ago. In short, I’ve decided to follow my inclinations to spread, and feel as much joy as I can.

To this end, I’m focusing on my latest fun creative project, my video series, “Loving Literature.” It’s so much fun learning to create and edit the videos. (It’s much more work than you might think watching the finished products.)

Originally the series was going to focus mostly on tutorials, but lately I’ve been thinking of books I’ve read that have inspired me, and I want to include them in the series as well. The first of these books was A Tale of Two Cities. I read it and Jane Eyre in senior English class many years ago. They ignited my love of British literature. As I was thinking of A Tale of Two Cities, it struck me that we could use that title for the times in which we are living.

If we focus on just the negative, it is the worst of times. But if we turn our attention slightly it can also be said to be the best of times. In the two weeks since the election, I’ve read of people being attacked and then others coming to their rescue, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood and other such organizations are enjoying an increase in donations and memberships. I choose to be grateful for those and so many other blessings big and small. It’s amazing how many blessings I’ve found since I decided to look for them.

Yesterday I was thinking about how in the end of A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton gives his life so that Lucy’s husband Charles Darnay may live. He does it out of love for her. On the night before his execution, he imagines the joy that his death will bring the couple as they raise their children and honor him for what he did for them. He imagines the good they and their children will bring to the world. In fact, that was the thing that grasped me about the book, how love can change people. Amidst all the chaos and violence of the French Revolution, Sydney Carton was redeemed.

Though it sometimes feels odd to do so, I have begun sending love to Mr. Trump, his cronies, the KKK and any other people and places where strife is happening. My prayers join with those of others doing the same thing. It becomes an invisible force for good and hopefully more and more people will join in and accelerate the change which is already happening.

I didn’t mean to get so preachy. It’s difficult to express how deeply I’m affected by current events, and how I gain comfort from what I’ve read, the guidance I receive during meditation, and from the beauty around me. I share my thoughts with all of you in the hope that maybe you too will find the kindness, love, and beauty that can be found everywhere we look.

Thanks to my new followers for joining me, and thanks to you all for reading.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

It’s An Opportunity

Earth from the Moon

Earth from the Moon

Like many people I thought that once the elections were over, we would have some peace from the political insanity. Nope. Not gonna to happen. But maybe that’s a good thing.

Like many of you, I’m exhausted. But I just keep thinking that I have to continue plugging along trying in my small way to make changes for the better. I’ve got to continue to spread love where I can and continue to work on myself so that my peace can contribute to the peace of the world. Okay all that sounds grandiose but I have decided that I can’t give in or give up. I’ve worked all my life on making small changes in my life. I will continue to do so.

I must admit that my head is still reeling from the outcome of the elections, not that I was all that surprised. I feel the hatred, anger and rising up of frustrated people all over this country. It’s as if we’re mobilizing for war but this is war of a different kind. It’s a revolution for the little people.

It’s difficult to think coherently about what the future might hold. I’m scared but determined too. It’s one thing to read about such monumental times in history with all the good changes brought about by events. It’s another to live in such times. All I can do is cling to the thoughts of some great people and try to follow their examples. Here are some that I’m contemplating so I can marshal myself to stand up to hate.

“Peace begins with a smile.” ~ Mother Teresa

“The requirements for our evolution have changed. Survival is no longer sufficient. Our evolution now requires us to develop spiritually – to become emotionally aware and make responsible choices. It requires us to align ourselves with the values of the soul – harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for life.” ~ Gary Zukav

“What we think determines what happens to us, so if we want to change our lives, we need to stretch our minds.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“As someone who has faced as much disappointment as most people, I’ve come to trust not that events will always unfold exactly as I want, but that I will be fine either way.” ~ Marianne Williamson

“I think if you follow anyone home, whether they live in Houston or London, and you sit at their dinner table and talk to them about their mother who has cancer or their child who is struggling in school, and their fears about watching their lives go by, I think we’re all the same.” ~ Brené Brown

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“I think the biggest disease the world suffers from in this day and age is the disease of people feeling unloved. I know that I can give love for a minute, for half an hour, for a day, for a month, but I can give. I am very happy to do that, I want to do that.” ~ Princess Diana

“The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

I don’t remember who said that we’re all just doing the best we can all the time, but I think that’s right. And though it goes against my learned feelings, I have to give the people who oppose my point of view the same love and understanding as those who agree with me. I don’t have all the answers, and I mess up plenty of times. Yet, helping one person, then another and another makes me feel better. Maybe it makes them feel better too.

Thanks for reading.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016