To Risk or not to Risk

Earth from the Moon

Earth from the Moon

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. be patient. The storm will pass. the spring will come.” – Robert H. Schuller

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

“I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it.” – Kristin Armstrong

This weekend I attended a practice workshop put on by a friend of mine. It was a vision workshop and she’s just beginning her new coaching business so she invited a few friends to be her guinea pigs. I’ve attended these kinds of workshops before but it was good to be reminded that we can create the life we want first by visualizing it then by taking action.

I thought I had the process down after practicing the steps for seven years, but now I’m coming to the culmination of a long project in which I am deeply invested. I’m ready to send the baby out into the world and I’m anxious. My first novel, The Space Between Time is about to be criticized not only by friends and family but by people I don’t even know.

I’m not new to being criticized. Working in the theatre you get criticized by the director, and even the audience. The process of putting a play together is about six weeks long and the work is intense. I never minded getting notes from the director. If the audience didn’t like the play, or if we got mixed reviews, I was sad, but there was always the next production and a new start. Not to mention, theatre is a collaborative art, so if the production doesn’t live up to the highest expectations, it’s usually a combination of factors that contribute to the failure. Because of that I didn’t feel as personally responsible.

Writing, on the other hand, is a solitary endeavor and I think that’s why I’m feeling so anxious now just as I’m getting comments from friends and fellow writers. I started this book in 1999, set it aside until 2010 and have been working steadily on it ever since. If it’s a flop, it’s all my fault and no one else’s.

One thing we didn’t talk about in that vision workshop was how to pick yourself up from a colossal failure.

I’ve had plenty of minor failures in my lifetime but I’ve never had as much on the line as I do now. I’ve never felt completely invested in anything as I feel with this novel. The thought that is making me anxious is that now I know writing is my life’s purpose, what happens if I fall flat on my face?

After years of spiritual searching and learning, I know one thing for sure. I’m not alone. God is always there for me and I’m safe no matter what. Just today I have to remind myself of that fact about every few minutes. I know that I’m not what others think of me. I’m the being God created and nothing can change that even if my book flops and no one reads it.

On the other hand, though it’s a paradox, I feel confident that this book is good. That there will be people who will be touched by it and that’s why I felt compelled to write it.

So, I’m scared, and excited to put the finishing touches on my work and send it out into the hands of those who need it. If it’s a failure, or if there is just a lukewarm response to it, I’ll be sad, but I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned from writing this novel and put the lessons to work as I write the next one. I’m not going to let one setback keep me from doing what I love doing. Since that is the case I will definitely write another novel. Actually, I’ve already started it.

For all of you who are scared to try to go for that big dream, I understand. It’s not a comfortable feeling being where I am now, but this too shall pass. I weigh what I’m feeling now against not even trying to make my dreams come true and my stomach sinks. I could hate myself, shrivel up and not even try. But that outcome is much worse than failing at making my dream come true and I’d rather take the big risk and fail than never to have tried.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Self-love, Helping, and Dreaming

Dad, Lucinda, Mom

Dad, Lucinda, Mom

“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm. As you get older, remember you have another hand: the first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.” – Audrey Hepburn

“There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains.” – Unknown

“You should take some responsibility for the way you present yourself. But you should not be hung up on your looks, whether you are ugly or handsome, because it isn’t an achievement.” – Christopher Reeve

Today’s post is kind of a jumble in my mind so I’m not sure how much sense it will make.

First of all, I’m in the final stages of finishing my first novel. Because of that I’ve been thinking a great deal about what will happen after it’s published and out in the world. I’ve been thinking about what will I do if no one buys my book or what will I do if lots of people buy it? What do we do when our dreams come true?

Which brings me to the second thing I’ve been thinking about, helping others. Since I’m older now and have learned a few things, I feel a great desire to be of help to others. But I’ve been thinking, is there ever a time when giving assistance to a person who needs it is not a good idea? And what constitutes help? Are we enabling someone’s addiction to be helpless if we give help over a long period of time?

The third thing I’ve been thinking about which ties the first two things together is self-love. Can we do anything significant with our lives without loving ourselves first?

What precipitated this seemingly disjointed series of thoughts was a conversation I had with someone over the weekend. They wanted me to apologize, again, for something I’d done to hurt another person. And I got to thinking about people who think that happiness and self-love come from outside themselves. In the above mentioned incident, I did apologize. But the person I spoke to thought I needed to continue to apologize over and over again so that the person in question could feel better.

People who require multiple apologies for the same incident are, in my estimation, insecure and lack self-love. I know from experience that on the one hand I was suspicious of assurances from outside and on the other craved attention to bolster my withered sense of self. Someplace deep inside I knew that I was the only one who could choose to do the work to believe in myself. As I began the work toward loving myself, I let go of the need for approval from others. I was able to let go of imagined or real hurts and forgive.

It has taken years of work to fully love myself and now that I do, life is opening up for me in a most profound way. Once I accepted that I was a good person no matter what, I realized that every issue I faced in life lead back to my ability or inability to love myself.

Okay, self-love is good but how does self-love connect to being there for others. I believe that we are best able to help others when we feel secure in knowing who we are and when we know that security doesn’t come from outside ourselves. There are those who help others from an ego perspective. They want to look good so they offer help in order to be seen to be doing good. But how long are they able to maintain their good works? Eventually the ego tells them that they are in a dangerous situation and that they are jeopardizing their own safety and security. Then to save themselves, they stop helping saying that continuing to help will encourage the one being helped to becoming dependent.

Now here’s a curious thing. Sometimes people with poor self-esteem just need a cheerleader, someone who will be there for them without any expectations or demands. It’s amazing how just loving someone can help them heal. The best cheerleaders are those who’ve gone through similar situations as the person they are helping and can say, “See, I did it. So can you.” It’s the same for all of us. Once we’re on our way to loving ourselves our minds are open to creating bigger and more wonderful dreams.

Deepak Chopra says, “If you want to do really important things in life and big things in life, you can’t do anything by yourself. And your best teams are your friends and your siblings.” In other words we all need help from time to time. There is no shame in asking for it, and at some point we’ll all be able to give help where needed.

So to bring this full circle, everyone deserves to love themselves, have their dreams come true and then offer the wisdom they’ve gained along the way to help others. In my opinion everyone is valuable enough to garner help from someone and in turn give it to others.

Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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The Hard, but Satisfying Part of Writing

My copy of Outlander

My copy of Outlander

“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

“Character, I think, is the single most important thing in fiction. You might read a book once for its interesting plot – but not twice. – Diana Gabaldon

“Humans aren’t as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were ‘reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.’ “ – Neil deGrasse Tyson

As most of you know, I’m working on my first novel, The Space Between Time. Because of that, I’ve been reading voraciously. Some years ago, someone mentioned the Outlander series to me. For some reason I got the wrong impression about their subject matter, so I wasn’t eager to read the books. However, a few months ago someone else mentioned the books and my interest was peaked. After reading the first in the series at the end of last year, I was hooked and bought the first seven of the books of the series with an Amazon gift card that I got for Christmas.

The thing that I love about Diana Gabaldon’s books is their density. Almost everything that happens and everything that the characters say, even the minor ones, is memorable and significant. She doesn’t use pedestrian language. Granted the main part of the books take place two hundred or more years in the past, but still, her writing is beautiful. I’m envious and inspired.

I write all of that to make a point about one particularly controversial scene in Outlander, the first book, which got me thinking about my own work. Claire, the main character, has been transported two hundred years in the past and though she’s assimilated fairly well, at one point she violates some code of conduct. She has no idea that she’s stepped way out of bounds given the time she’s landed in, and how much danger she’s brought upon herself and her cohorts. Jamie, Claire’s new husband, must impress upon her the transgression she’s committed. The way he does it is to spank her with a strap. It was a shocking scene to read from a twenty-first century point of view. But what I marveled at was Ms. Gabaldon’s courage in writing it. When I read it I was in the scene but also I wondered if she had a difficult time writing it. Reading that scene made me compare this scene to a couple in my book that were particularly challenging for me to write.

While working on my own book, I was sometimes surprised by my character’s actions. In one such scene one of my characters commits suicide in a very gruesome way. I remember being shocked when I wrote it. I didn’t know it was going to happen. And when I wrote it, I looked at the way I’d written the lead in and aftermath and realized that I hadn’t set up the events very well. I hadn’t done the scene justice at all. Rewriting that particular section wasn’t easy and it took several versions before I felt happy with that portion of the book. I’m sure it’s this way for other writers too. Very few scenes just roll out of our minds, through our fingers and onto the page in the exact way they will appear when the book is published.

What I’m learning as I continue to revise my manuscript, is that the exquisitely written work of Ms. Gabaldon must have been crafted one sentence at a time through numerous rewrites. Writing is a little bit like mining. We have to dig deep into places we’d sometimes rather not go. It’s a painstaking process. I had to do that with my character Chloe. She lived in a very dark place. Every work of art contains large parts of the artist’s heart and soul. After all, we’re trying to interpret the human experience so it can be felt by another. When we touch someone with our work, that’s a sacred moment. One the receiver will never forget.

I’ve been touched by art in ways that will stay with me always. Like the effect of being inside the exquisite architecture of Notre Dame in Paris and seeing the statue of Joan of Arc, or the Van Gogh and Picasso paintings in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, and so many other beautiful pieces of art. It’s like the artwork speaks to me and I see the world in a different way. Great books affect me the same way, as if my heart is touched by the feelings of the characters and the artist as they created the work. Somehow, I understand humanity better. My outlook is larger and more expansive.

I don’t know if my book will touch people that way, but that’s my goal. Maybe it will never happen, but I want people to be thinking and talking about my posts and books long after they’ve read them as people are doing with Diana Gabaldon’s books. To have a positive affect on other people through my writing is, in my estimation, a great goal.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Fear Or Love

Our Rosebush

Our Rosebush

“You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success – or are they holding you back?” – W. Clement Stone

“If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” – Ellen DeGeneres

“Imagine what seven billion humans could accomplish if we all loved and respected each other. Imagine.” – A. D. Williams

Today’s post has been a long time formulating in my mind and heart. I’m not sure I will explain it very well, or whether you will understand it, but I think now is a good time to write about some very profound insights I’ve had over the last few years.

This year I decided to study A Course In Miracles. I started on January first and every day I read a portion of the text and do one lesson. This isn’t the first time I’ve begun to study the book, but I guess I just wasn’t ready, until now, to give up my old ways of thinking and being to stick with it.

The main message of the book is that fear is connected to the ego which we created when we separated ourselves from God. There are so many erroneous things we believe that we created with our egos during this long separation. Too many to innumerate here but we cling to our beliefs. When they are challenged conflict ensues. The point of the Course is that God is love. That there is nothing else but love. That we are a part of God and always have been. She waits for us to wake up and realize that. When we do wake up and remember our connection, all our other erroneous beliefs fall away. We see the world, ourselves and our purpose for being here in a completely new way.

Now I know that sounds impossible. Fear is real most people moan. The problems of the world are so numerous we may never be able to solve them all. The world is a dangerous place. That’s the way things have always been and that is how things will always be. That’s the way things will always be IF that’s what you want to believe.

My journey to letting go of all the junk my ego fed me over the years hasn’t been a straight or an easy one. But something deep inside me looked at the world around me and said, “This is insane. There has to be something better.” So, I looked for the better. I looked for God in my studies, in my meditations and contemplations and through my creativity. Little by little I’ve shed the illusions that we humans have lived with for centuries. No millennia! And now I’m beginning to feel hope that we can wake up from this long nightmare we’ve been living.

A vital step on my journey to finding true love and peace happened when I read Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. In the book she describes exercises she does when conducting workshops at the Omega Institute which she cofounded. One of them stuck out for me as quite profound. She has the participants in her class imagine that they are dead and gone from the demands of this earthly world. At first I thought the exercise a bit gruesome, but then I decided to try it. When I did the most extraordinary thing happened. All the cares that I thought were so important fell away and I was immersed in the most profound peace I’d ever felt in my life. There were no white lights or anything like that, but I was completely relieved of my burdens of this world and was free to go anywhere I liked, to become anything I liked. I could BE with God in a new and profound way. That experience was the beginning of a new direction that has led me to my study of A Course In Miracles and in letting go of the fear that had been such a large presence in my life.

Just these past weeks I’ve experienced another profound shift in the way I experience life. I was studying a section about how the ego thinks we need to attack those around us. The ego convinces us that if we attack first we’ll be protected, but the opposite is true. When we attack another, we are attacking ourselves. When I understood that, I knew that I had to let go of all the resentments I’d been holding on to. I needed to let go of the wish for revenge, or for accountability, or for apologies from those I thought had attacked me. I needed to forgive completely and totally. As I did that, again, I felt a deep sense of peace. I’ve been able to see each person I might want to hold a grudge against for who they really are, a child of God just like me.

I won’t say I’m perfect at this practice yet. It’s a day to day choice to turn away from those terrible feelings of fear, anger and resentment. When I’m tempted to be angry at some politician who does something I feel is hateful, or against the common good, I have to remember that he or she is a child of God. That person just hasn’t let go of their fear yet. When tensions arise with friends, family and coworkers, I tell myself that God is with me wherever I go, and all is well, even if it doesn’t look like it at the moment. If I just send out love to everyone and everything, that is more powerful than the hatred and fear that is being spread by those who are still asleep. It’s more powerful because love real and fear is not.

I don’t know if you will understand this post. I hope that something I’ve written here will prompt you to allow your connection to God to grow stronger. That’s how we will change the world, and as those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while know, I’m all for making this world a better place in which to live.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Stories Matter

My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books

“Whoever has learned to love new thoughts can never be threatened by them.” – Deepak Chopra

“Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. Let this be a sign that you’ve got a big heart and aren’t afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength.” – Brigitte Nicole

“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” – Stephen King

Just lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about the power of literature. It’s partly because I’m working on a novel. However, I’m surrounded by story telling all the time, because I also teach theatre classes at the local community college. In each of the three classes we discuss the story arcs, character motivations, and themes of the stories. These are things I’ve always been interested in from a young age when my parents introduced me to fairy tales. The best most enduring stories are based on characters who grow while facing everyday challenges. In my opinion, what is the point of telling the story if the characters don’t learn anything?

The thing I love about literature is that we can learn something from the trials and tribulations of the characters and as a result not have to go through the same horrible situations ourselves. We can embrace the lessons as the characters make their choices and grow. What a relief. We don’t have to experience every possible challenge ourselves.

Last week I wrote about being a late bloomer and this past weekend my husband and I went to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which was a delightful experience and an affirmation that growing older doesn’t mean you’re out of the game. It’s a continuation of the first movie in which a group of elderly people from England, who for one reason and another, choose to retire in India. They are attracted to ads for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, because the room rates are very reasonable. The hotel proprietor is a young idealistic young man who has a dream, but not much talent for making his dream work. So there are lots of things to adjust to for the retirees. What makes the story endearing is the way the characters from such vastly different cultures learn from each other. And they learn important things about themselves as well. One of the most profound things they learn is that they can still grow and make a contribution. My favorite exchanges from that movie is this: Evelyn says, “Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected,” to which Muriel replies, “Most things don’t. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.” An affirmation that not everything that happens unexpectedly is bad.

Both movies are about ordinary people trying to make sense out of the things life throws in their path. Isn’t that what we are each faced with on a regular basis? Each day we wake up and must put one foot in front of the other in new tracks if we want to accomplish our goals. Not everyone does this for one reason or another. Some get up and put one foot in front of the other in the same old tracks and dig themselves into deeper and deeper boring, meaningless lives. But the thing I loved about the second movie was that most of the characters realized that it’s never too late to reinvent your life. My favorite quote from the second movie is spoken again by Evelyn, “How many new lives can we have? As many as we like.” I agree with her. We can climb out of the rut we’ve dug for ourselves and invent a new more meaningful life for ourselves if we have the courage to do so.

Some people might say I’m silly or crazy for not facing the real world but for me, literature helps me make sense of my life whether I’m reading the book or writing it. What some people call the real world can be a cruel place. Literature, and by extension movies and plays, helps me and millions like me find a way to wend our way toward peace. The best stories, in my opinion, point us toward triumph not destruction, even if the triumphs are small.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Late Bloomers

Fall Flowers at La Fuente

Fall Flowers at La Fuente

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” – Betty Friedan

“No one can avoid aging, but aging productively is something else.” – Katharine Graham

“The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.” – Doug Larson

“The great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece. The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. The experience of spiritual power is basically a joyful one.” – M. Scott Peck

I’m proud to say I’m a late bloomer. It’s not that I didn’t accomplish anything when I was younger, I did. It’s just that it took me a long time to put down roots deep enough to realize what it was I really wanted to do when I grew up. When I could finally say I loved myself, I was mature enough to be able to acknowledge that I was a loving, talented woman who could admit my mistakes and embrace myself as I am. In other words, I finally let all the silly ego stuff go and just loved myself. And I’m grateful for that because I love what I’m doing now, writing. It’s the happiest work I’ve ever done, except maybe being on stage. Being an actor was exhilarating, but it wasn’t quite the right fit in terms of my deepest passion. Teaching has also been a joy in my life, but I never felt the deepest ecstasy I feel when I’m writing.

The thing about being a later bloomer, is that I’ve lived long enough now to have a measure of wisdom to share with others. When I was younger, my mind was cluttered with erroneous ideas, and assumptions. I’ve had lots of years to weed out my mental and emotional garden so I can bloom.

Some place along the line of my study of spirituality, I picked up the idea that true happiness comes by delaying our urge for instant gratification. I think that idea may have come from M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled which was one of the first books that opened my eyes to a much wider and deeper spiritual world. When I read that book, I dedicated my life to learning to love myself first, then sharing it with others through my talents. It hasn’t always been easy, as I’m sure you know. But my dedication has brought me to a place where I am not afraid to follow my passion. If I can do it so can everyone else. It’s important to follow your dreams and do what you love, because it’s in doing that that the world is healed.

I don’t mean to belittle those who find their passion early. No, we need all the flowers in the garden to make the world a much more beautiful place in which to live. So, my advice is, no matter what your age, go find the thing that makes you the most happy and pursue that. At some point your passions may change. That’s okay. Mine did. When you find a new passion pursue that. The benefits to your soul are immeasurable, and the service you bring by sharing the love of what you’re doing sends out positive ripples. We may never know the effect we have, but in a way, that’s leaving a very powerful legacy for the future.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog. Pass it on, leave a comment if you choose, and connect with me on social media.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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A Thirst for Silence

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, AZ

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, AZ

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence … We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” – Confucius

“The quieter you become the more you can hear.” – Ram Dass

Lately I’ve had a deep desire to be home, be silent, and work on my writing. Actually for most of my life, I’ve loved being alone, thinking my own thoughts and forging my own path. I’ve never been a joiner, and there have been times when I was misunderstood because I didn’t ascribe to the accepted point of view on a subject. For the most part that’s been okay with me because somewhere deep inside I felt connected to something much greater than myself. This isn’t a feeling I can articulate very well. It’s only been in the last few years when more and more spiritual teachers and scientists are espousing silence as a stress reliever and way to make sense of our lives, that I feel vindicated in my life long search for silence.

The other day a college friend of mine, Terry Green, who is an independent film maker and screen writer, wrote an interesting post on Facebook which described this feeling I’ve had for most of my life. He wrote that writers need to have a quiet, private place to write so we can hear what our characters have to say to each other. If we get out of their way, they will speak and all we have to do is write down their conversation. I love that. It’s so true. When I’m writing I have to get into a zone and allow what wants to come through speak to me. If I get out of the way, the voice that speaks is so much more articulate than I could ever be. I love this life of daily silence. What I’ve learned is that when I listen, I hear deep levels of wisdom that I would never have heard if I were still out in the noisy world.

It seems to me that anyone who is creative, and I believe that’s all of us, need silence to regroup and regenerate. If I don’t have silence during my waking hours, then I find it harder to sleep because my mind is too busy with the noise of the day to allow me to relax enough to go into deep sleep which is where we have the opportunity to be renewed. I also wonder if we would have any of the wonderful inventions, scientific theories, or artwork we enjoy today if it weren’t for the inventor, scientist, or artist taking time to be silent and listen to the inspiration that was trying to get through the noise of their everyday thoughts.

There is a great story about Albert Einstein I heard on a biography of him on one of the science channels. When he was stuck on the next step of a theory or mathematical problem he was working on, he’d ride the trolley car. He’d ride until his head had cleared and the answer to his dilemma presented itself. I loved that story because, in essence that’s what I do when I’ve got a dilemma.

The last five years of my public teaching career, I had to drive an hour each way to get to and from school. Though the drive was long, it was also a great time to have silence. There were so many times while I was driving in silence, that the answer to some problem at school with a student, or the play I was directing, or a lesson I was going to teach would come to me. When someone asked me why I didn’t listen to music, or audio books as I drove, I said, “Because driving in silence allows solutions to my problems to come to me.” Our minds need time to process so we can come up with an entirely new solution to whatever project we happen to be working upon.

I’ve found silence to be of great solace and source of my own creativity and I believe everyone, even extroverts need some of it every day.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Compassion Can Change Lives

SOO-wreath - Creative Commons.org“Freedom cannot be learned by tyranny of any kind, and the perfect equality of all God’s Sons cannot be recognized through the dominion of one mind over another.” – A Course in Miracles

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama

“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” – Maya Angelou

What if you made a huge mistake? I mean a really big one that society says is unforgivable? How would you feel? I don’t know about you but when I make even little mistakes, I beat myself up over it. If I made a huge mistake, I’d feel so much shame, I’d never want to show may face out in the world again. But if someone showed me compassion and forgave me, I’d be able to feel better about myself.

Last Sunday my husband and I saw a segment on CBS Sunday Morning, one of my favorite shows. My husband and I watch it faithfully every Sunday morning. Almost every Sunday I cry during at least one of the segments.

Last Sunday there was a story that made me think again about compassion and forgiveness, and how it can transform someone’s life. The title of the story we saw was “The Gainesville Tornadoes Thank Their Unexpected Fans” filed by Steve Hartman. Click Steve’s name to go to the CBS Sunday Morning page and watch the segment. I was touched by the story because it’s about the Gainesville Tornadoes who are young men serving time for felony offenses at the Gainesville, Texas Juvenile Correctional facility. The team is made up of students who have been on their very best behavior. When they get to play, they play teams from private schools like Vanguard College Prep in Waco, TX. The remarkable thing about this story is that the Gainesville Tornadoes rarely, if ever, have any fans. They are, after all, from a correctional institution, so none of their classmates can attend the games and most of the time their parents aren’t able, or don’t want to attend their games either. So not long ago, two Vanguard basketball players cooked up a scheme. They asked half their fan base to cheer for the Gainesville team, because as one student put it, “It’s no fun playing when the other team has no fans.” The thing is, by the end of the game, all the fans were rooting for the Gainesville players, and that was just fine with the Vanguard team. When Steve Hartman said, “This is not what I’ve ever seen sports be.” One of the students responded, “I think in a way this is kind of how sports should be and kind of showing you the real impact that encouragement and support for anybody can make.” Go watch the segment and if it doesn’t touch your heart, then you won’t understand the point I’m trying to make in this post.

We all need to be shown compassion when we make mistakes. It shows us that someone understands us. I know it’s hard sometimes to show compassion when we’ve been wounded by another. When that happens, we put on our armor and think that we’ll be safe inside it. But what retreating inside our armor does, is separates us from others.

Most of us are wounded people lashing out at other wounded people thinking we’re going to feel better by being the first to attack. This sets up a vicious cycle. The only way to stop the cycle is to do what Atticus Finch tells Scout to do in To Kill A Mockingbird, “You’ve got to put on another man’s shoes and walk around in them for awhile; see things from his point of view.” That’s how you cultivate compassion. If each of us stays inside our armor, we’ll never change the world for the better.

When I see a story like the ones Steve Hartman files on Sunday Morning, I rejoice. His stories always make me cry, because they are so hopeful. He tells about people in the world who are willing to set aside their personal goals of winning or being successful to help another person feel like there is someone who cares about them. Isn’t that what we all want? We want to feel needed and heard. We want to feel useful and we want to feel like we’re not the only ones who make mistakes. And on the other side, we want to feel like we’re making the world a better place in which to live. To do that we have to shed our armor and be the person who makes a difference in someone else’s life.

Thanks to my new and old followers. Please leave a comment below and connect with me on one or all of my social networks.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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A Thing Worth Doing

Julia working at the wheel.

Julia working at the wheel.

“It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just do.” – Eric Jerome Dickey

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

Faster isn’t always better. Fast food isn’t always the best for us and fast isn’t always better when working on any kind of project. Unfortunately, we live in a fast food society. We want instant gratification in many aspects of our lives from our food, to our entertainment, to our success. My father used to say that it was better to pay more and get exactly what you want than to save a few dollars and buy junk. And it’s better to spend time and effort on something worth doing than to rush the process.

Artist, scientists, and inventors all know about taking your time to make sure the painting, the experiment, the invention is done in the best way possible. Teachers know that their students can’t learn their lessons all in one day. Each school year’s lessons build on what the children learned the year before, the semester before, the day before. So why do some people want to rush the process of what matters most in life?

This morning the title of the one of the instructional writer’s blogs I read was this: “How fast can you write a book? (and why that’s the wrong question)” In the post, Jurgen Wolff, was cautioning his readers not to fall for any program or book that states that you can write a best selling book in only a few days, weeks or months. I know from experience that he’s right.

In the last month, I’ve been contemplating the amount of time it has taken me to get my novel, The Space Between Time, finished and ready for publication. I started it in 1999, set it aside for ten or so years and then picked it up again in 2010. Once I’d started the book, it was always in the back of my mind. I was thinking about the characters of Morgan and her father Thomas. Since I’d started the book as a tribute to my father, I didn’t want to give up the idea of finishing it. Now, of course, the main theme has changed slightly. There are two main characters, Jenna and Morgan. They connect through time to learn from one another. But it was my father who inspired me to write the book and that fact keeps me plodding along toward publishing the work he inspired. My father didn’t know that he was my inspiration and now he’s gone yet isn’t that how it is. Little and big things speak to us and help us grow, or inspire us to create something beautiful.

I’ve written before, that I finished the rough draft of this novel a year ago last December. Over these last fourteen months, I’ve allowed myself to take a step back to get a more objective view of the story lines and see where they can be improved. Writing a book is a long and sometimes tedious process. At one point I was feeling impatient. I wanted the book to be finished and I said something to that effect to my husband. I nearly wept when he said to me, “What you’re doing isn’t easy. It takes time to create something worthwhile.” I was so grateful to him for saying that because it’s true. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. So I’m an advocate for slowing down allowing yourself to take your time to build your success, to get that education, to heal your wounds and build a life worth living.

I’m happy to say that my manuscript is nearly finished now. I can feel it in my bones. That doesn’t mean there still won’t be some tweaks to be made to it. But I feel proud that I didn’t rush the process to publish it last year. It wasn’t ready then. I have to admit, I’m glad I’m a plodder when it comes to any creative project I do whether it’s writing a book, or directing a play. Taking the time to examine all the layers of what needs to be accomplished is a good thing. Whenever I’ve rushed through any project, I’ve been sorry. Rushing creates stress and stress isn’t good for optimal success on what you want to accomplish. So I encourage everyone to use slow and steady progress where creativity is involved.

Thank you to all my followers, new and old. Feel free to leave a comment and connect with me on any of my social networks.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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On Reading and Writing

My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” – Octavia Butler

“Learn as much by writing as by reading.” – Lord Acton

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” – Stephen King

I’m a member of Goodreads social network. At the beginning of the year I pledged to read 50 books. That’s a small amount of books compared to the number some of my friends and family members read every year. However, I enjoy savoring a book. I look forward to going to bed early, reading and then dreaming about the book. I find myself thinking about it at various times during the day and if the book is good the characters come alive for me.

About a year or so ago, I joined a book club group made up mostly of women who had taken my journaling class. It’s interesting to be part of the group because many of the books we read are not ones I would ordinarily choose. The latest book the group chose was, in my opinion, boring. It’s always distressing to me when I begin a novel that fails to grasp my attention because I know how much time goes into writing a novel. In a way, I feel like I’m betraying the author by not liking his or her book. Writing a novel is a huge investment of time and effort. I always want to be completely enthralled by every book I pick up, so when I begin one that I don’t like, I feel sad. I was going to slog through this particular book to the end because I felt a responsibility to the author and my fellow book club members. However, eventually, I just couldn’t continue reading.

Part of me felt bad about putting aside a book that was written by a New York Times best selling author. I thought, “Who am I to say the book wasn’t good.” Then I thought, “I’m a reader, that’s who I am. I have a right to say whether or not a particular book speaks to me.” The wonderful thing for readers is that there are so many books available. We will undoubtedly find many books that touch our lives throughout our reading lives and some books just won’t be worth our time.

As a writer, I feel sad about this particular book because I wanted to like it. It’s historical fiction during the time of the Civil War. Part of the novel I’m writing takes place during the Civil War, I was hoping to get a different perspective about the war from reading this book. I have to say that some of the scenes did give me a different perspective on the war, which is something I always look for in a good book.

As is my custom, I thought long and hard about what it was about the book that made me dislike it. I believe that’s an important exercise for all writers to undertake. The answers can help us become better writers. I’m lucky because I have a background in theatre. I’ve done lots of analyzation of plays and characters. In my opinion, what was missing from this particular book was an emotional connection among the characters. In my mind, all the greatest stories have something in common. They are multilayered and deal with universal themes. When the reader or audience can get a glimpse into a character’s soul, that’s what grasps our hearts and makes us continue reading. This particular book missed the mark in terms of character motivation and connections among the characters.

I’m in the final stages of getting my novel ready for publication. You can be sure, I’ll be going through my manuscript to make sure I’ve done the best I can to make the characters live on the page. At the same time, I’ll have to remind myself that not everyone is going to like my book. That will have to be okay. It will hurt when people write bad reviews, but as the Octavia Butler quote above says, this novel I’m working on might be crap, but I’ve got to keep writing so I can improve my skills. And I’ll keep reading to learn as much as I can from both good and bad books.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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