Mind Shift from Amateur to Professional

Shakespeare - There's a Professional

Shakespeare – There’s a Professional

“Turning pro is a mindset. If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we’re thinking like amateurs. Amateurs crap out. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.” ~ Steven Pressfield

“Fairness is not an attitude. It’s a professional skill that must be developed and exercised.” ~ Brit Hume

“At 20, I realized that I could not possibly adjust to a feminine role as conceived by my father and asked him permission to engage in a professional career. In eight months I filled my gaps in Latin, Greek and mathematics, graduated from high school, and entered medical school in Turin.” ~ Rita Levi-Montalcini

About a year or so ago, I read the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and it changed my life. Six years earlier I’d retired from teaching public school to follow my dream of being a writer. I thought it would be easy to work from home, another dream come true, but it wasn’t. Every morning I found all kinds of excuses and tasks to do INSTEAD of making writing my first priority. I don’t know why we do this to ourselves, but I’ve seen lots of people do the same thing when they attempt to follow their dream. What is it about humans that makes us sabotage ourselves? Anyway when I read Pressfield’s book I realized that there was a switch in my head that had not been flipped from amateur to professional. By the end of the book, I’d flipped the switch and I’m immensely happy that I did.

Steven Pressfield’s concept of what it means to be a professional is very simple. A professional puts the work they want to be doing first every day no matter what. For me that means that I have to set a time to be in my office everyday with my hands on the computer keys working on my latest project. Writing is my work, and I must treat it like any other job even on the days when the ideas don’t come easily, or when there is a shift from one task to another. At the end of the writing day, I may throw out all that I’ve written, but at least I stuck to my commitment.

Being creative is like anything else in life, sometimes it flows easily and other times we’re faced with difficult challenges and feel like we’ll never create anything wonderful again, we’ll never be happy again, and we’ll be stuck in our misery forever. Yet, if we are willing to do the work, we always come through to a happier situation. Our muse comes back and we find the solution to the problems we’d been struggling with.

I’m in a little bit of a lull period in terms of my fiction writing right now. My novel is in the hands of writer friends and I’m waiting to get their comments back so I know whether I need to do more work or if I can have my manuscript edited and published. That’s a completely different set of tasks. My fingers itch to be working on something creative, but so far all I’ve been writing are this blog and pieces I hope to use in marketing my book. It’s good to work on those types of writing too, but I don’t find as much joy in writing them as I do creating characters and the worlds in which they live.

As I was typing that last paragraph, I remembered a story Pressfield shares in the book about finishing his first novel. When he’d finished the first draft, he went to tell his mentor that he’d finished the book. He felt a great sense of accomplishment, but his mentor said, “Good. Now go start the next one.” Remembering that little story helps me realize that I’ve fallen down on my commitment to myself. I did what Pressfield’s mentor said when I finished the rough draft of The Space Between Time. I sat down immediately and started the sequel. But then I got caught up in revisions of the first book, which were rather extensive. I haven’t gone back to the second book even though I’ve got this span of time while I’m waiting for feedback. That’s not good. I need to be working on the sequel in addition to my promotional materials.

I’m convinced that every creative person has to find their own “voice”, their own method of creating and being a professional. Maybe it’s more about finding their own rhythm. I’m still new to this writing thing and still learning how to juggle the various parts of the process. For now, I plan to go back and do more work on the sequel to my first novel. Who knows perhaps parts of the sequel novel can be things I include in the promotional materials for this first book.

Thanks for reading. I hope you don’t mind that I used Shakespeare’s picture again this week. He’s my idea of the ultimate professional. If you’ve got ideas about how I can improve my creative process, feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

How I Get My Ideas

Shakespeare - Great ideas

Shakespeare – Great ideas

“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.” ~ Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

“I don’t know exactly where ideas come from, but when I’m working well ideas just appear. I’ve heard other people say similar things – so it’s one of the ways I know there’s help and guidance out there. It’s just a matter of our figuring out how to receive the ideas or information that are waiting to be heard.” ~ Jim Henson

“My creative process is quite slow. I hear melodies in my head while I’m washing the dishes and I allow my subconscious to do the work.” ~ Sinead O’Connor

I’m in the process of writing my first novel and the question I get asked the most when people hear me talk about it is, “How did you get the idea for your book?” That’s something that’s kind of hard to explain unless you’re a writer too. I don’t think the muses visit people who are highly creative in exactly the same ways, but here’s how it happens for me.

First of all, a writer doesn’t get just one idea. Okay, maybe initially we do get one idea. But during the writing process I’ve had hundreds of ideas. Some ideas made it into the book, others I chucked because they slowed down the story, or I discovered they didn’t fit with the overall message I was trying to get across.

To tell you how I got the initial idea for my novel, first I have to tell you my internal thought process. The way I learn from my experiences. When something happens, or a new idea occurs to me, I often set it on the back burner of my mind. I let it simmer along with all the other things I’m trying to figure out. I’m not really paying active attention to those simmering ideas, yet they are there. At some point I may see a movie, read a book, hear a song, or someone says something to me that applies to one of those pots that I’ve got simmering and I make a connection. A light bulb goes off and I have an aha moment. The two seemingly unrelated concepts have come together to give me a completely new idea. They finally make sense.

That’s also often how I get material for this blog. That’s definitely what happened when I got the idea for The Space Between Time, my novel. And it keeps happening little by little as I continue to work on and revise the book.

The initial incident was this: It was 1999. My husband and I had moved to Arizona three years earlier to be near our parents who had all retired here. Part of our motivation for moving was because my father had heart disease and not knowing how long he had to live, we wanted to be close to him. One weekend, we drove the five hours to see my parents. Something about that weekend made me feel that my father had taken a turn for the worse and was on a descent to his eventual death. As we drove home, I was thinking about my father and all the wonderful things he’d taught me and wondering how I’d cope with his not being here. Then the kernel of an idea for a book about the relationship between a father and a daughter came to me. In a way, it would be my tribute to my father. When I got home I began to write.

Unfortunately for the book project, I got a full-time teaching job very soon after and didn’t have time for writing. However, I put it on the back burner of my mind and thought about it often.

Finally, several years later, I’d had enough of teaching high school and began my writing career. But for some reason, I felt compelled to write a memoir first. However, when it was finished, I decided not to publish it. There was one advantage to writing the memoir before the novel. I got a perspective on all the things I’d learned over the years especially those things I’d learned from my father.

At first, after finishing my memoir, I was a little stumped what my next writing project should be. Then I remembered the novel I’d started all those years ago. This was now 2010 and my father had passed away in 2004. I’d had sufficient time to mourn his passing and to get a handle on the nature of our relationship. When I hit upon going back to the novel, I was happy to pick up where I’d left off.

I’d set my story in the past, 1858 was where it began, but at about the half-way point of finishing my manuscript, I came to stand still. My novel needed something new. For a month or two I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to say with my story. Just when I was beginning to get frustrated, I got the inspiration I needed. Something someone said, clicked with my thoughts and feelings about my novel, and I had that blessed aha idea that helped send me off in a new direction with my book. All of sudden I was energized. It wasn’t long, relatively speaking, until I had finished the rough draft. Now, of course, the real work of revising and polishing began.

As I worked on the book revisions, I understood that the real technique I use to help me find inspiration is related to daydreaming. When I was stumped about how to fix a scene, I’d spend a little bit of time allowing my mind to wander. I’d read a book, or watch a movie, or sit and watch the sunrise or sunset then the answer would come. Every day I give myself time to have no mental tasks at all, or at least not strenuous mental tasks. In all honesty, I can’t say my mind is ever quiet, except for short periods during meditation. I’ve learned that answers to questions I’m asking about any aspect of my life, can’t be forced. I have to let go and trust that the perfect answer for whatever dilemma I’m wrestling with will present itself in time.

Most of the time my best ideas come in the netherworld between sleeping and waking, or while driving, or taking a shower, or doing housework, because all the while, I’m still connected to all those simmering ideas on the back burner of my mind but I’m not consciously thinking about them. I give myself permission to allow something in the movie, or book, or song to trigger an idea that fits the project I’m working on. In fact, I got the idea for the title to my novel while listening to a Beatles song one night on the way home from teaching my college class. And the funny thing is, I don’t remember which song it was, but that’s not what’s important. It’s that my mind was open to suggestions from the ethers to the problem of what to name my book. Then at the right time, the answer came.

Let me say that just because I’ve shared my method for getting ideas for creative projects with you, doesn’t mean you have to do it like I do. Everyone has their own way. The important thing is to let go and let yourself discover how ideas come to you. Being creative involves trust. You have to trust that a way to express what you’ve longed to share will come to you. Then when it does, create whatever you’re inspired to create.

One final important thing to remember is, don’t judge your work, especially when you first start out. Just create the work and let it go. You’ll get better as you practice, and more ideas will come to you. It’s kind of like learning to walk or talk. When we first stood on our feet, we fell down, when we first tired to speak we couldn’t pronounce the words very well, but the more we practiced the better we got, because we learned to use our muscles to the best advantage. Creativity is another muscle that needs to be developed and the more we use it the stronger it gets.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

On Death and Life

Butterfly Close up“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” ~ Rumi

My dear Aunt Nila died on Saturday. I wasn’t able to be with her in her last days, which makes me sad. However, my mother was with her, the sister she shared a bed with. She could be extremely sad, but she’s not. She told me that her sister was surrounded by so much love that she was happy to share in a most beautiful experience. In fact, I could feel the love when I sent Reiki after hearing that my Aunt had collapsed and was in a coma. Not only was my Aunt surrounded by family, many friends came to say their goodbyes as well. That’s how I want to go, surrounded by love.

My Aunt Nila was a fierce and loyal friend. She was funny and gregarious. I wouldn’t say she was a great cook or housekeeper, but that didn’t matter to those she who knew her. She had an open heart and was willing to help anyone in need. People loved her because she accepted them without judgment. My Aunt Nila left the world a better place in which to live and that’s the best epitaph anyone can have.

While I was thinking about this post not only contemplating what to write about my Aunt’s life, but what to write about death in general, I realized that I’ve done a great deal of thinking about death and the meaning of life in the past few years. In fact, that’s one of the themes of The Space Between Time, the novel I’m writing. One of my readers said it was a dark book, but I don’t see it that way. We all ask the question, what is the purpose of living in this human form and then leaving it? Granted the death of a loved one can be a sorrowful experience, but I believe every experience we have, gives us an opportunity for deeper understanding about ourselves and our purpose for being here.

It’s true most of us don’t like to think or talk about death. Beyond this earthly life is the unknown, and that’s really scary for most people. I’ve had a chance to observe three or four people during their death process and there is something so beautiful about embracing what comes after leaving this earthly body. It’s sad when the process is filled with fear. My father’s death process was one that had a big impact on me. We talked quite a bit about what he’d learned during his lifetime that helped him approach his death without the anxiety many people feel. He believed that death is just a kind of portal to another chapter in our lives.

I know my father was right. It’s hard to explain how I know this, it’s really just a feeling because I’ve never had a near death experience, but I think that when our physical bodies die, we’re set free. I don’t know the full meaning of why we’re here on earth or that of our bigger lives after we leave it. But it feels to me like there is a plan for this living and dying thing that we go through. It’s just that when we’re in our dense human bodies it’s difficult to understand the bigger picture.

Just because I feel that there is life after death, doesn’t mean I don’t mourn my loved ones when they die. I miss talking to them, and in my Aunt’s case, I won’t get to see her one last time to say goodbye. That makes me weep, but I’m weeping for myself and the lost moments with my Aunt Nila that I failed to gather. And yet, she’s not gone. The love we felt for each other still lives on. That gives me comfort and hope.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Bridging the Gap

Earth from the Moon

Earth from the Moon

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” ~ Malala Yousafzai

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

During the spring, I was kind of stuck with my novel, The Space Between Time. I felt like it was pretty good, but even I got bored in the middle of the book. I couldn’t quite identify what was wrong with it. When you’ve lived and breathed a project like writing a novel for so long, I’ve been working on it for five years, you need outside help to point out the weak parts of the story. Then a writer friend of mine said something that helped me see the problem with the story arc I had created. She said, “Get your main character into trouble and keep her there.” On one level I knew she was right. On another, I felt resistance. I didn’t want to admit that there was a gap between where I was headed in my personal life and where the lives of my characters needed to go. My characters needed to get into sticky situations, the kind I avoid like the plague.

At first my heart sank at having to go back to my novel to add more complications for my main characters. But the more I thought about it, I realized that the stories I love best are the ones where the characters face very difficult challenges, learn something profound and are changed in the process. So my challenge became, can I do that in my novel too?

Yesterday, I finished another round of major revisions, which I started in May, and am ready to send the manuscript off to my writer friends to get comments and suggestions for more revisions. I like what I’ve done, but I have to admit that sometimes I shy away from too much conflict. Maybe I empathize with my characters too much. Feeling such deep empathy for others can be a problem at times and when I’m writing I sometimes weep for my characters because of the situations I’ve put them into. Maybe that’s a sign I’m on the right track. Even though I like the complications I’ve added, I also think I might need to take them even farther. That’s what I hope to get advice about from my beta readers.

There are many times when I have to remind myself that this writing a novel business is a long process and it doesn’t do to rush it. So, for a couple of weeks I’ll rest my mind, focus on other projects and deal with whatever needs to be changed when I get the comments back from my friends.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015


Nothing Matters

Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula

“Bad news is: You can’t make people like, love, understand, validate, accept, or be nice to you. You can’t control them either. Good news is: It doesn’t matter.” ~ Daily Vibes on Facebook

“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there.” ~ The ManKind Project on Facebook

“Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you.” ~ A Course in Miracles, pg. 728

Years ago when Neale Donald Walsch said to me, “Contemplate these words: Nothing matters and you think it does.” I was appalled at his attitude. How could he say such a thing when there was so much suffering in the world! Yet on some level, I already knew that there was much more going on behind the scene of the world I was living in than was readily visible. I asked myself, “Do I trust God or not?” Though on one level I thought Neale was daft, I did as he said. It took me several years of contemplation to understand what he meant by those words.

Finally, in the early nineties I had a huge aha moment. My experience was so profound that I began to talk about what I’d learned and immediately was met with resistance and condemnation. People said to me exactly what I had thought when Neale had given me the assignment. “How dare you say nothing matters. Look at all the suffering in the world. Look at the injustice.” Well that shut me down pretty quickly. I didn’t know how to make others understand what I knew to be true. God’s reality is something you must experience for yourself. Some people just don’t want to change their perspective. However, I didn’t give up what I’d learned.

Fast forward to these last couple of weeks. In the interim, I’d been very selective about sharing my huge aha. Some people get it, others look at me as if I have two heads. But I knew that whenever anything rocked my personal life, or the lives of millions around the world, that there was a much larger purpose to those events. I knew that what my friend John Berger says is true, “There are no victims, only volunteers.” What I’ve come to realize is that the world is as we choose to see it. If we see a dangerous world, that’s what we experience. If we see a friendly, supportive world that’s what we experience. It’s our choice while we’re in this physical form. The thing is once we leave this physical body, we’re back with God and part of the real reality once more. However, we can live in God’s reality while in our physical bodies. We can that is if enough of us choose to let go of our old ways of thinking and being.

Last week I wrote about seeing the movie Judgment at Nuremberg again and how what I’d been studying in A Course in Miracles affected my viewpoint of the movie. History tells us that the Allies thought they were so superior to the Nazis, as if we haven’t committed our own atrocities, that they put the Nazi leaders on trial for crimes to humanity. They condemned many Nazi leaders to death or life imprisonment. I was reminded of just how sacred and profound a change forgiveness can make in the life of a person, or in a society. While withholding forgiveness can devastate and perpetuate suffering.

A week later my husband and I were watching CBS Sunday Morning. On it was a segment about Dick Cheney and the new book he and his daughter have written together. I was appalled when Cheney’s daughter said, with such love in her eyes, that her father had more integrity than anyone she’d ever known. My reaction was not kind or forgiving. Oh how I wanted to blame him for the Iraq war, for his warmongering and greed. I wanted to see him get punished for all the lives lost, and proliferation of the war machine under his watch just like the Nazi’s had been. Then I stopped. Here was my opportunity to learn a new part of that old lesson.

As you might imagine, I’ve had to take some time to think and reconnect with the idea that nothing matters. Fortunately this morning as I was again studying A Course in Miracles, I understood that I’m no better than Dick Cheney and I have no right to judge him. The old part of me wants to punish him for seeing a dangerous world and for condemning all of us who strive to see a world filled with God’s love. But condemnation is not love. I can’t return attack for attack and make the world a better place. If I condemn Mr. Cheney, then I put myself right back into that dangerous world we see on the nightly news.

The problem with condemnation is that it ignores the spiritual beings underneath all of our attitudes and actions. We are more than our physical bodies and our lives continue after our bodies deteriorate. We don’t have to suffer pain and strife. We can choose to see the world differently. We must be willing to let go of what we were taught about the world and how it works. We need to get a new vision of who God is and who we are in relation to Her/Him.

When I’m confronted with someone like Dick Cheney, I’ll have to remind myself that he doesn’t know his own connection to the Divine. Eventually it will become second nature for me. That’s when I will live in love and peace completely. Until that time, I’ll continue to write and speak about what I’m learning. If I’m not understood, if I’m condemned as a Pollyanna, if I’m told I don’t understand the real world, that’s okay. The world I see is a much more loving and peaceful place in which to live and all I can do is to hold that vision so that, hopefully, others will join me there. Eventually enough of us will make the shift and the old world of struggle and strife will fade away.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to make a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015


Drama Fatigue

Marco Polo“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself, or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“You know the value of every article of merchandise, but if you don’t know the value of your own soul, it’s all foolishness.” ~ Rumi

“No critic ever changed the world.” ~ Robin Sharma

“Do not fear to lose what needs to be lost.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd

Last week a student in one of my theatre classes came to class with yet another crisis in her life. She reminds me so much of myself at her age which is a little bit disconcerting. Pain and suffering exude from her every pore and many of the other students merely tolerate her because every week it’s some new crisis. Seeing her struggle week after week, this is her fourth class with me, it finally came to me that I have some tools that may help her break the cycle of continual drama in her life.

Looking back on my life, I can see now that I was once addicted to lots of drama. I don’t think I’m alone in that. After all, it’s drama that sells in the media. My teen years and early twenties were filled with one crisis after another that would eat away at what little self-esteem and peace of mind that I gathered during the times of quiet. Finally in college, two wonderful mentors suggested that I begin keeping a journal and that I get involved in theatre. That was the beginning of a life long climb out of the vortex of pain, fear and suffering. It seems ironic that acting helped me reduce the drama in my life, but I used it as a tool rather than as a way to create more angst. I have been grateful for those mentors and their suggestions. Using those tools has helped me come to an extremely peaceful place in my life. But my student helped me see that, in a way I have become peaceful, but in another way I still have lots of work to do.

Because of this student, I realize that there are times when my first reaction to a situation is to go back to those old feelings that I’ve worked so hard to expunge. I’m now determined to do another round of letting go of old habits, for that is what I believe all our negative emotions are.

One of the things I love about working at home is the fact that I don’t have to be immersed in other people’s negative stuff all day everyday. It’s difficult for me to maintain my calm in public sometimes because I’m highly empathetic. Just a few weeks ago I forgot to put up my guards when I atttended the convocation for the associate faculty and I got really riled up in one of the break out sessions over stuff that doesn’t really matter. It took me a while to get over that. So, I have lots of work to do to be calm and peaceful no matter what the situation and this students is reminding me that the work is always on going.

Fear is never a good state to be in, nor is guilt, or suffering. If I can help one student, and myself let go of those feelings, then I’ve done something helpful for more people in our circle of influence.

I’ve decided that I’ll present her with a gift of a journal during Wednesday night’s class. Maybe she’ll begin to feel better if she writes her troubles down like I did. It’s definitely worth a try.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015


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


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



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


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