Tenacity

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” ~ Amelia Earhart

Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.” ~ Thomas Huxley

“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 don’t show up. 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

People succeed not so much because they are smart, but because they don’t give up. There will always be the naysayers. The people who take cheap shots from the top row seats, but who are afraid to get down and do the work to make their own dreams come true. The winners never listen to them. They don’t complain, they find their way around obstacles. But one thing is sure, they keep moving forward no matter how slowly.

Now that I’m about to publish my first book after seven years of work, what have I learned?

One of the things I’ve learned is that the work feeds the work. When I made a commitment to work on my novel a little bit every day, more ideas came and soon I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning to begin working.

I’ve also learned that the work feeds the work only when you’ve found the RIGHT work for you. I was fifty-four years old when I found the right work for me. Yet no time was wasted while I was looking for my place in the world. Everything I’ve learned along the way contributes to what I now write.

Another important lesson has been that the time to be the most tenacious is when you’re stuck.

For five years I developed Morgan’s story in the past. It was the easier story to tell because I saw Morgan as distant from me. But eventually I was stuck. I couldn’t move on with her story until I wrote Jenna’s story in the present. I didn’t want to write Jenna’s story because much of what happens to her happened to me in different forms. I didn’t want to relive those tough times. But I learned something else that is vital for a writer, you can’t close the books on one part of your life until you’ve wrung out every bit of the lesson your soul desires to learn. As the character Pi in Life of Pi says of not saying goodbye to Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger he’s just crossed the Pacific Ocean with, “It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse. That bungled goodbye hurts me to this day.” pg. 414

I don’t know if it’s this way for all writers, but for me, writing is the way I say the proper goodbyes. It’s the way I can reimagine or redefine what happened to me and put closure on those things that nag at my psyche, and my emotions.

One of the things Jenna suffers is being unjustly fired from her job, and then accused of embezzling money from the publishing company she worked for. I included that situation in my book because I lost a most beloved job teaching drama. I lost it unjustly. Years later one of my students told me that the story told by those who had engineered by dismissal was that I was let go because I had mishandled the drama club funds. It was a lie of course. In fact, the woman who handled the accounting for all the clubs had thanked me earlier that school year for making sure my accounts were accurate when I turned them in.

I used Jenna’s situation as a way to put some closure on my own story. In The Space Between Time, the lie was exposed and the perpetrators were tried and found guilty of not just one embezzlement scheme but of many. I used Jenna’s predicament as a way to get that negative energy out of my body. I didn’t want it to continue to rumble around in my head and heart.

Will the truth ever be revealed about that situation? I don’t know, nor do I care. I’ve had a chance to tell my story the way I wish it had happened and that helped me forgive my accusers once and for all.

Maybe the naysayers will be right. Maybe my book won’t sell no matter how hard I market and promote it. But I still have the advantage over them. I created something and if I did it once, I can do it again and again. One day there will be people who appreciate what I’ve written. I’d rather be working on something I love than dying in anguish and desperation doing work that I hate.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden @ 2017

Another Sample from The Space Between Time

Civil War Woman

Civil War Woman

“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” ~ George Burns

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

This week I thought you might like to read a section from early in Morgan’s story in the past from my soon to be published novel, The Space Between Time. This segment takes place in the past. Morgan is Jenna’s three-times great-grandmother and upon finding Morgan’s journals, Jenna sat down to read. When she did she entered Morgan’s consciousness. This scene takes place on the day of Morgan’s father’s funeral.

At that moment, her Aunt Veronica opened the sliding doors and stood glaring at her. Morgan’s heart took a little summer salt but seeing her aunt’s face cemented her resolve. She stood up, straightened her spine and stepped past her aunt. Jenna’s panic drained away as Morgan relaxed her face so that no emotion showed at all while staring into her aunt’s cold eyes. While neither woman spoke, Jenna felt the vast difference between the woman standing in front of them, and Morgan’s mother Julia.

Gold, silver and shimmering diamond described Veronica. She was a handsome woman, but cold, ambitious, and hard-hearted. Morgan’s mother Julia, on the other hand, had been made of different colors, pink, green, and lavender. She had been a loving, open minded, and caring woman.

Veronica closed the sliding doors and said with malice, “So, you and your father decided to deceive me. How do you think this will look when my friends back in Boston hear that you did not inform me of Thomas illness? Don’t you think I had a right to know? After all, I am family.”

A shiver ran down Morgan’s spine but she suppressed it. “Father wanted us to be left in peace, to spend what time we had together uninterrupted by fussing nurses, which you no doubt would have insisted upon.”

Veronica sniffed. “Your father never knew what was best for you. I’m sure he did this to spite me because I wanted to take you away and give you every advantage he couldn’t.”

Jenna shuddered as Morgan crossed the room and stood in front of her aunt. “Aunt Veronica, father was a good and kind man who loved me very deeply. He knew that I would be just another bobble for you to polish and have admired.”

At this statement Veronica bristled and lost control of herself. “Morgan, you are too independent by half. I see now that your father has taught you too much and not had a thought for your future. If he had cared about you, he never would have raised you to think like a man nor would he have involved you in this underground railroad nonsense.”

Morgan gasped. How had her aunt found out about that? But her part was small. Other members of the congregation had larger roles in helping escaped slaves cross the border to freedom.

A malicious smile spread across Veronica’s face. “Ah, you’re surprised I knew about that. Your father exposed you to filthy, shiftless slaves who ran away shirking their duty to their masters. Any number of terrible things could have happened to you because of your father’s thoughtlessness. I intend to change your foolish notions by taking you back to Boston with me and see that you marry the right sort of man. I will brook no refusals. You’re not getting any younger, you know. Go upstairs this instant and pack your things. We’re leaving on the evening train.”

Deep calm swept over Morgan. Ignoring the old argument, she spoke softly. “No, Aunt Veronica. I am not going with you.”

I hope you enjoyed this little segment. You can join my mailing list here if you are interested in receiving notification on this and other of my creative projects.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

The Space Between Time Sample #1

A Woman

A Woman

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” ~ Yehuda Berg

“And it’s human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible.” ~ Alan Rickman

Since I’m getting close to publishing my first novel The Space Between Time, I thought I’d share a scene from the book.

This is scene with Jenna in the present.

Sitting in the chair in front of Jenna’s desk Joan said, “Hey, are you all right? You look like your dog just died.”

Jenna took in a deep breath, needles pricking her heart. “Sam walked out this morning.”

“Oh man. That S.O.B. Did he say why?”

Jenna rolled her eyes. “The usual crap, ‘It hasn’t been working for a long time.’ Oh, and he got a promotion and he’s moving to L.A.”

Joan clasped her hands. “Well, good riddance. You were thinking of ending it anyway. Now you can move on.”

Wiping away a tear, Jenna said, “Yeah, but when it finally happens, it’s still a shock. And as usual I blame myself.”

Joan got up and walked around to sit on the edge of the desk closest to Jenna. “Oh, sweetie, just because he wasn’t the right guy doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.”

Jenna took Joan’s hand and gave it a little squeeze. “Keep telling me that until I believe it will you?”

Joan squeezed her hand back. “I’ll take you to lunch and we can talk, okay?”

“That’d be great. Thanks. We better get to work. I don’t want to lose my job too.”

Standing up, Joan said, “Okay. We’ll go to Chin Yen’s and boil him in oil.”

Jenna laughed. At the door Joan said, “Still haven’t heard anything about your promotion?”

“Not yet.” Just then Jenna’s phone rang. They both jumped.

Joan said, “Maybe this is it.”

Jenna cleared her throat. “Jenna Holden.”

A female voice on the other end of the line said, “Miss Holden, this is Officer Parker from the Roseburg PD.”

“Yes. What can I do for you?” She looked at Joan and shook her head. Joan waited to find out who was on the phone.

“I’m sorry to tell you that your mother’s been in a car accident. Can you come as quickly as possible? She’s just gone by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center.”

Trying to make sense of what the officer had said, she felt the blood drain from her face as she looked up at Joan. “What? What did you say?”

“You’re mother has been in a serious accident. You need to come right away.”

The room began to spin. “No. It can’t be. Oh, God in heaven, Mom.”

The officer said, “I’m so sorry Miss Holden.” her voice was so kind that Jenna nearly lost her composure. “Can you drive yourself here? Or is there someone who can drive for you?”

“What? No.”

“I’m sorry, what do you mean? Do you want us to arrange for a State Policeman to drive you down?”

Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath to help herself think, Jenna said, “Um. No, I’ve got my car here. I can drive myself.” First Sam, now this! Jenna looked at Joan who had a concerned look on her face while she waited to hear what new disaster was unfolding.

The officer was saying something. “… All right?”

“Thank you. I’ll leave as soon as I can.”

“I’ll let the hospital know you’re on your way. Again, I’m sorry to be delivering such bad news.”

Jenna couldn’t say anything more. The phone beeped three times indicating the officer had rung off.

Joan’s voice floated into Jenna’s consciousness. “What is it?”

“It’s Mom. She’s been in a terrible accident.”

Joan knelt down next to Jenna “Oh, man! I’m so sorry and on top of Sam walking out. Do you want me to go with you?”

Clenching her jaw with determination, she said, “No. I’ll call you when I know something.”

I hope you enjoyed this little segment from, The Space Between Time. Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

The Work of Writing

Kate Chase by Brady-Handy

Kate Chase by Brady-Handy

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie

“Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.” ~ John Updike

So, how does a writer get ideas? Last week I told about how I got my idea for my soon to be published novel, The Space Between Time after a weekend with my mom and dad. When I began writing, the storyline that was most vivid to me was the father-daughter relationship in the past. I wanted to link Morgan to someone in the present but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Then I had to set the story aside. When I picked the book up again years later, I was still baffled about how to link Morgan to someone from the present time period. By then, though, I was able to trust that one day the answer would come so I continued to flesh out Morgan’s story.

Perhaps I should write here that I did not create a plot outline before I began writing. I just sat down and let the ideas flow until they stopped and then I’d go do something else while the story simmered on the back burner of my mind. It often happens that the best ideas come to me in that netherworld between sleeping and waking. But there came a point when I was was stuck. I knew the story needed something, but I didn’t know what. Though I was frustrated, I trusted that if I was patient the answer would come and it did some weeks later at a writer’s group meeting.

A local writer came to speak to our group. He asked each of us to tell what we were working on. When my turn came, he commented that it might be nice to have a character in the present somehow linked to the storyline in the past. Of course, I told him that had been my original idea but that I had not been able to figure out how to do it. That storyline wasn’t alive for me yet. But it occurred to me that I was stalled on Morgan’s story because I needed that other timeline. So on the drive home I let my mind wander about how to use a character in the present to finish my book. Miracles do happen because on the drive home the idea came. The woman in the present would find her three-times great-grandmother’s journals, and that’s how Jenna was born.

Though I was jazzed about writing Jenna’s story, it was the most difficult. Many of the things that happen to her are altered versions of events in my own life. I didn’t want to go back to those dark emotions much less put them down on paper. So in the first drafts, I glossed over the pain Jenna feels. I tried to rush her to healing before she was ready. And that’s why I had to be open to allowing people to critique my work. It’s scary. I often felt angry, or stupid and ripped apart after hearing my friends comments. For a short time I wondered if I should continue working on the book at all.

But through that process I learned that I had to be careful who I trusted with my manuscript. There are people who will rip you and your work apart just because they like to see you squirm, or they’re jealous, or they wish their work was as good. I encountered a person like that. However, I was fortunate to find one writer friend who was compassionate, yet firm. She encouraged me to keep writing and told me that the story was worthwhile. Yet she pushed me to let my characters get beat up by events and go to dark places so that in the end what they learned would mean more to the reader. As hard as it was to hear some of her comments, I knew she was on my side and after each read through, I felt energized to get busy on the next draft.

In the end The Space Between Time has become a story of two women, linked by blood but separated by time, who experience life shattering events. They must find ways to rebuild their lives. When Jenna finds the journals, she enters Morgan’s consciousness and through their link they help each other heal and discover who they really are. They each find their true life’s purpose.

More on the story in a later post.

If you’d like to join my mailing list to get updates about this and subsequent books, you can join here.

Thanks for reading. Welcome to my new followers.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

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