My Guest Post: Moving Forward

Dorothy Hoffman Sander

Dorothy Hoffman Sander

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Restless Curiosity

Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Lessons from the Heat Pump Saga

Human Brain Thinking

Human Brain Thinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Deep Listening

Woman Listening

Woman Listening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

“Yes” for Everyone

Star Trek Logo 50 Years

Star Trek Logo 50 Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Words, Words, Words

Classic Books

Classic Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Review: Army Brats

Army Brats Cover

Army Brats Cover

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

“What underlies great science is what underlies great art, whether it is visual or written, and that is the ability to distinguish patterns out of chaos.” ~ Diana Gabaldon

“When I am writing best, I really am lost in my world. I lose track of the outside world. I have a difficult time balancing between my real world and the artificial world.” ~ George R. R. Martin

“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

I love sharing the work of fellow writers, so this post is about my friend, Michael G. Cerepanya’s new book, Army Brats. I got to read it through several drafts and it was exciting to see how he developed the story and grew as a writer. This is not his first book (the other is about his hiking adventures) but this one is more personal. It’s a novelization of his experiences being an Army brat in the late 1950s and early 60s in Germany.

One thing I loved about the book was that it’s funny, poignant, tense, and sad. It’s about difficult family relationships, and can’t we all relate to that? Michael doesn’t shy away from the torment of feeling his father doesn’t love him, or having a sister who is always trying to trip him up. I cheered when he gets in a good hit to his father during a boxing lesson, and it was particularly satisfying when his sister finally gets punished for being a tattle tale. What I particularly liked about the book is that by the end, his main character finds self-confidence.

Another thing I loved was the glimpse it gives into what life was like growing up with a dad who was career military. My dad hated his stint in the Air Force and was openly anti-military, so it was nice to see what life was like for Lucas Baryskivka and his family as they moved from posting to posting. Luke, the oldest boy in a family of five children, is sensitive and Michael relates with equal sensitivity how he learns to cope with his domineering father while at the same time managing to enjoy many funny and even dangerous adventures. Some of the adventures of Luke and his friends made me gasp with anxiety, or laugh out loud, a sign of a well written adventure. The relating of those childhood antics alone are worth your time.

Some writer once said, and I’m paraphrasing, the best writers mine their own lives for material for their books. Michael has done this with Army Brats. He has shown courage in examining his life and in the end we get a sense that he’s come to terms with the ups and downs of his childhood in a particularly satisfying ending.

Army Brats is available as an ebook or in paperback at his website. I hope you’ll consider adding it to your late summer reading list.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

What If We Could Change the World?

My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books

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

“Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.” ~ George Lois

“It takes a different value system if you wish to change the world.” ~ Jacque Fresco

“We will leave a legacy, whether by choice or unconsciously. So why not intentionally create the legacy?” ~ Dr. Maria Church

Wow! What a tumultuous few days we’ve just lived through. For me it has been doubly so because of my gall bladder attack and trip to the hospital. All of which has caused me to do a great deal of soul searching.

I do not believe our physical ailments are hereditary. I think what Caroline Myss says is true, “our biography becomes our biology,” which means that my gall bladder was kindly telling me that I still have things to work out. Thank heaven it was only a gall bladder attack and nothing really serious. In meditation I’ve been asking to be shown what unhealed issues I have been hiding from myself. And little by little I’ve been getting answers. The first of which is, I’ve let all the societal turmoil get to me so that I’ve become angry while at the same time feeling helpless to effect any kind of real change. That’s not helpful so I’m working on that. Instead of worrying, I’m going with the flow right now to see what God has in mind rather than to try to make things come out the way I want them to. It’s a little bit of a balancing act.

I think similar wake up calls happen in society. Events slap us in the face with increasing rapidity to wake us up, to get us out of our complacency. And they keep happening until the day we pay attention and do something about them. So when bad things happen, like the shootings last week, I always try to figure out what I can do to help facilitate the change? How can I bring peace instead of violence and hatred? What keeps coming to me is to keep writing.

At first I thought that being a writer was kind of wimpy talent to offer to the problems of the world until the day after I got home from the hospital. Barry and I watched the movie Network. I had never seen it so when TCM had it on their schedule, I thought I’d watch it because it was made in 1976, another tumultuous time in our history. WOW! What a prophetic movie! If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do. Screenwriter, Paddy Chayefsky, tells the story of how one network turns real news reporting into entertainment. “Sound familiar?” Host Ben Mankiewicz asked when introducing the film. Yeah!

Watching the movie got me to thinking that the 60s and 70s are kind of like one book end to the continuing progressive movement, with now as the other end. We had a lull there for a while, but you can’t cover up a festering wound and expect it to heal. We’re in the middle of ripping off the the overgrown skin and letting the putrid junk we tried to cover up seep out so the wound can truly heal.

So, my thinking was influenced by watching Network, but throughout the years I’ve read many thought provoking books and seen movies that make a statement about situations in our society that we can do something about. We just have to speak up and I’m excited to see that there are lots of people speaking up right now about all kinds of human rights issues. That gives me hope.

To do my part I’ll state right now that I support the rights of ordinary human beings to have a decent place to live, food on the table, a job they can be proud of with access to health care and proper education. In other words, I think we should take care of each other and not let corporations dictate what we can and can’t have. Ned Beaty gives a very chilling speech in Network that might just sound like a familiar mantra of some big business owners and conservative politicians. However, nothing stays the same and their days of control are numbered.

Because of who I am, I’m never going to be the writer who examines the dark side of life. Yes, dark things happen to people, but I want my characters to face the bad things that happen and allow themselves to heal and move on to a better life. That’s what my book, The Space Between Time is about. I want to be like Gene Roddenberry and write a version of society that some people call unrealistic because if I write a vision of the way we CAN live, and other authors do too, that’s one way to influence change. As Dumbledore says in Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows, “Words, in my not so humble opinion, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” I think so too because that’s how ideas are disseminated. So, read, watch, talk, and think.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Circle of Ideas

April Morning Rose

April Morning Rose

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.” ~ M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

“We cannot control what emotions or circumstances we will experience next, but we can choose how we will respond to them.” ~ Gary Zukav

“There is a divine purpose behind everything – and therefore a divine presence in everything.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

“Non-attachment is about not being attached to anything – including non-attachment itself.” ~ Peter Merry

I must apologize if there are mistakes in this post. Shortly after I wrote this rough draft I had to go to the ER with severe abdominal pain which turned out to be gall stones. Needless to say, my preparation for this week’s post was delayed. Thanks for reading anyway.

Ideas fascinate me. I’m kind of an idea collector. I pay attention to the ideas in books, movies, TV shows, what my acquaintances, family and friends say. When a new idea comes my way, I love to pick it apart and examine the many layers that it expresses. Throughout the years, I’ve made connections from one idea to the next and sometimes the pattern blesses me with a deeper understanding of one or more of those ideas.

Last week I posted a quote, “There are no victims only volunteers” that our friend John Berger stated years ago in a small group meeting. One of my readers didn’t agree with the quote. I completely understand why she didn’t. We’re taught that the world happens TO us and all we can do is react or respond. On one level that is true on another level I believe that we have a hand in what happens to us, kind of like the sacred contract that Caroline Myss writes about in her book of the same title. Our soul knows that what is written in the contract is there to help us grow, if we choose to do so. However, our ego selves sometimes balks at this.

See what I mean about ideas? Since that last paragraph may be baffling to you, let me make it more personal.

In the ‘90s my husband and I were restless and felt constrained by the church we’d grown up in. The story is rather long and involved, but it ended with our seeking a deeper spiritual connection elsewhere. There were several of us in our home congregation on the same journey. John Berger was one of them. We were all reading the same authors, M. Scott Peck, Deepak Chopra, Gary Zukav, Marianne Williamson, Gregg Braden, and many more. We even attended a new thought church together for a time. That’s where I came across the notion that what we call reality isn’t reality at all. It’s more like the quote from Shakespeare about all the world being a stage and all the men and women merely players. The idea was that if we can understand that there is a much larger plan for humanity throughout the ages than just being born, living and dying, then we might be able to see that we volunteer to participate in events so our soul can help us gain wisdom.

I have to admit this idea that I volunteered for all the things that happen to me was disconcerting. That meant I would have to take responsibility for my life on all levels. On the one hand it was nice to believe that I had volunteered for the good thing that happened, but not so much the bad. I mean, who deserves for bad things to happen to them right?
Yet I contemplated that idea, and one related to it, “nothing matters.” How could nothing matter? What was the purpose of being then? What was the purpose of going through the motions of living?

As I approached my fortieth birthday I got the answer in an unusual way. Every month I went to my naturopathic doctor for chiropractic treatments. During the one right before my birthday he and I were talking about what it was like to turn forty. He was only three months older than I. He told me about the skiing trip his friend had gifted him. They had gone up to Mt. Hood where they used to ski when they were both younger and had fewer responsibilities. The experience could have been a disaster. Their equipment was old and kept breaking making skiing impossible. When he told me how they had laughed in spite of the fact that their ski trip had been ruined, I got it. In fact that’s exactly what I said. “Oh, I get it now!” He asked me what I was referring to and I told him that his story helped me see that no matter what happens to us, it is neither good nor bad. It’s just what happened and we are the ones who put a value on the event. He got it too when I said, “You and your friend could have been bummed about the broken equipment but you weren’t you both decided to have a great time being together not matter what.”

From that moment on it was as if I could see the dividing line between our ego reality and our soul reality. Not long after my epiphany, there was a terrible earthquake in India. Many hundreds of people died and I could see that all those people had volunteered to be a part of that event. Something about their suffering and deaths affected all of humanity in some way. I couldn’t say exactly what we could learn from it, except perhaps to have empathy and care more for each other, but I was sure there was a much larger purpose to the event than I could see with my ego eyes.

Of course, there were some people who thought I was the complete opposite of empathetic because I wasn’t wallowing in tears and sorrow. It wasn’t that I wasn’t sad about what had happened, it was that I saw an eternal plan at work.

From that moment on when disturbing things happen, I see them from that dual vision. When I lost my beloved job teaching drama, I knew I was meant to go down different path than one I had been on. Was I hurt, angry and vengeful? Oh you bet. I was encouraged to sue the school district for age discrimination because I had just turned fifty years old. But what I’d learned on my fortieth birthday stuck. To bring a lawsuit would be trying to stay stuck instead of moving forward to the future my soul was trying to get me to see. Deep down I didn’t want that. I have never wanted that. I’ve always wanted to evolve, so I gritted my teeth and found a new teaching job to put food on the table until I could heal enough to be able to be open to the messages about what I was supposed to learn. Losing that job led me to a job teaching English, which led me to realize that my true purpose was to be a writer. And here I am today writing about important life lessons.

I know some of you won’t understand the concept of what the Buddhists call non-attachment, which is what “nothing matters” and “there are no victims only volunteers” has to do with. To me non-attachment to events leaves me open to hear the voice of God leading me ever closer to my purpose.

Trying to practice non-attachment isn’t easy and doesn’t take the pain out of the bad things that happen to me. It just gives me hope that there is a larger purpose to it all.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

What We Leave Behind.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

“There are no victims, only volunteers.” ~ John Berger

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” ~ George Eliot, Middlemarch

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” ~ William Shakespeare

“I hear my father-in-law’s response: ‘Oho, fine, Whiggish sentiments, Adam. … He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay it along with him! & only as you grasp your dying breath shall you understand your life amounted to no more than one drop in the limitless ocean!’ Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” ~ David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

“All the world’s at stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” ~ William Shakespeare

It’s Monday morning as I write this and as usual my mind is a jumble of ideas all fighting for a way out of my head. Normally, my morning routine is to get my husband off to work, then meditate, write in my journal and do tai chi, or yoga before starting my writing day. This morning I had to get these ideas down before they flitted away.

Sometimes I have felt like my little life is extremely insignificant. I guess as a teacher, I have the opportunity to influence more people than most, but still I will probably never have a large range of influence. When I was younger and felt extremely inadequate, that bothered me. I wanted to be famous and adored by millions. But as I’ve grown older and learned to love myself, I have come to see that my job was to be as loving to others as possible. That’s it. That means learning to love myself so I can be authentic when I interact with others.

Since I graduated with a religious studies degree, I’ve read lots of spirituality books. Many of the authors state that we are actually made of energy. Most of us don’t even think about the energy we are sending out into the world. We think our bodies are the container that holds us, but that is not true.

In the novel series His Dark Materials of which The Golden Compass is the first, Philip Pullman uses the device of having a character’s, daemon, or soul, outside their body. Characters have conversations with their daemons, and get advice from them. I believe it’s much the same with us and our energy. Just think about it. Haven’t you noticed situations when someone entered a room and everyone stopped for a heartbeat because they felt the energy change? They may not have known, consciously that’s why they stopped talking to look, but they did. Or haven’t you come into a room where two or more people were arguing, and it was almost as if you were slapped in the face with their anger? Aren’t there people you want to be around and others you can’t stand? It’s their energy which is either compatible with yours or not and on some level you know it.

So, we’re all here on this planet playing our parts for some reason beyond our human understanding. And every single life affects many other lives down through the ages. I see this played out on shows like Who Do You Think You Are, and Finding Your Roots. Both shows use genealogy to trace the celebrity guest’s family tree. It’s amazing the emotions that are brought up when a person discovers something about their ancestors and how what their ancestor went through has influenced their outlook on life even though they knew nothing of them before the show. Time and again I saw that no one is ever completely anonymous. The lives of those in the past have tremendous influence on people and events now.

So, if everything I’ve written above is true, we each contribute to wherever humanity is headed be it awakening or destruction. Things look pretty dismal right now if you’re only looking at the mainstream media. But I don’t think the human race is on a path over the cliff. I don’t think once we’ve expanded, we can force our larger selves back into that smaller shell. One thing I say often is that we can find the good and positive things that are happening in the world if we look for them or if we choose to look at events with new eyes. Instead of looking at horrific events and seeing only evil, look for what good came out of that event.

It feels to me like the human race is learning to walk. At first we learned to roll over and only a few people tried to make the world a better place. Then we learned to crawl and people like Jesus and Buddha came along and taught us how to truly love ourselves and others. More people understood that to defend another person is to defend yourself. Now we’re learning to walk. Many more people see through the lies that oppress groups of people.

The problems we face are so overwhelming. Maybe you’re like me and you think, what can I, just one person, do to help solve them. What I decided to do was to pick just one or two problems and put my energy into solving them. I’ve chosen education and hunger. If my money and time can influence a handful of people, the ripple effect can be enormous.

A former student of mine sent me a message the other day, reminding me of just how powerful the ripple effect one person can be. He wrote, “…you have always inspired me, both for the type of teacher you were and the type of person you are. This year I will be starting at ___ as the new Freshman English teacher and I don’t think I would have found the drive or willingness to pursue it if it wasn’t for your caring heart and inspiring work ethic. Thank you.” I’m humbled by his words and find great hope in the influence he will have on his students. He is passing on the legacy I inherited from my parents, friends and teachers, which they got from their parents, friends and teachers and on back through the ages.

You have that kind of influence on the future too.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016