Woes and Rewards of Writing

My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books

“Honesty is your innate ability to stand completely exposed, allowing the world to do what it may and say what it will so that you may know who you are beyond the realm of ideas.” ~ Matt Kahn, Whatever Arises, Love That.

“When I run after what I think I want,
my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety;
if I sit in my own place of patience,
what I need flows to me, and without pain.
From this I understand that what I want also wants me,
is looking for me and attracting me.
There is a great secret here
for anyone who can grasp it.” ~ Rumi

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way,
that some poems don’t rhyme,
and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end …
Life is about not knowing,
having to change,
taking the moment and making the best of it,
without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity …” ~ Gilda Lee Radner

“Do not compromise your artistic principles, ever. Know who you are and know how you got there. And choose your associates wisely. The ones who believe in you will stay by your side through thick and thin. The rest will disappear and you must allow them to disappear. Please yourself first. Be your own worst critic. Dive fearlessly into your own soul. Everything else is minutia. ~ Terry Green

In Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows part 2, Dumbledore says that “Words, in my most humble opinion, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” I agree with him, or rather Steve Kloves who wrote the screenplay. But sometimes finding the right words to express the inner experience is difficult. I’ve been struggling with that as I continue the seemingly endless revisions to my first novel, The Space Between Time.

Part of the difficulty I’m having has to do with the fact that I’ve come to a peaceful place in my life and I find that it’s difficult to remember all the pain and suffering that brought me here. But conflict is the heart of story and if my two main characters are a reflection of my own life’s journey, then I’ve got to put them through the same kind of life shattering situations I experienced. My characters have to make mistakes and the wrong assumptions, they have to struggle to grow and improve their lives just like I’ve had to do. If I don’t write them this way, they won’t be well rounded characters.

At first I resisted going back and digging up my past. Who wants to live their own dark times? I wanted my characters to be happy enlightened people. But my book was boring and didn’t reflect real life. Something interesting has happened as I’ve worked to remember. I’ve discovered that issues I thought were healed long ago, still have rough edges that prick and hurt. Writing and working on myself are like a dance. Sometimes my toes get stepped on, but that wakes me up to the next round of healing I need to do, which in turn helps me make the situations in my book more realistic.

There are times when I feel very vulnerable and exposed by what I’ve written. It can be such an uncomfortable place in which to be. Yet creativity is impossible if we’re not open to uncertainty. Ah, delicious ambiguity! That’s where the possibilities lie. Writing reveals the heart of the writer and exposes it to the world. Artists know that none of us can move forward, we can’t have that happy life we long for without becoming vulnerable. When we embrace uncertainty, possibilities open up for us. That’s what my characters are teaching me. I hope doing all this self-examination is helping to improve my book. I guess we’ll see.

Ah, well, back to revising and peeling back the layers.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Compromise Is Not Always Good

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” ~ Janis Joplin

“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“If you want to do anything, do it now, without compromise or concession, because you have only one life.” ~ Gao Xingjian

“Tragedy in life normally comes with betrayal and compromise, and trading on your integrity and not having dignity in life. That’s really where failure comes.” ~ Tom Cochrane

I’m going to come right out and say that I’ve decided to support Bernie Sanders for President.

Obviously I’m an extreme liberal. It’s the way I was raised and it’s in my DNA. I’m not telling you that you must be liberal too. The point of this post is to encourage you to examine your values and choose to back the causes, and candidates that are aligned with what you believe and don’t compromise them for any reason.

Until this year, I’ve waited to see who is nominated for president and then choose to vote for the best candidate. You see I hate politics, the wrangling, the negotiations, the compromises, the mud slinging. Ack, it makes me crazy. But last year as the presidential race got into full swing, more than a year before the elections, I had an epiphany. What if I studied all the candidates running and backed the one who reflected my values? Would that make a difference?

Most people will agree that we’ve come to a crossroads in our country. Do we let the wealthiest among us take over and turn our country into something different than the Founding Fathers intended, or do we take back our voice, and our rights? Where we differ is on which presidential candidate will help turn the tide. As I wrote, you have to decide which one you should support. That’s a personal decision that you must make. What I’m advocating is that you examine your values, study the candidates and their platforms, and then choose the one that fits what you believe in rather than just vote for the most popular candidate. I decided this elections season I needed to make my decision earlier than normal, and that’s when I had my epiphany.

At first I backed Hillary, because she’s a woman and I think it’s high time we have a woman president. But as I studied her platform and compared it to Bernie’s, I was faced with a decision. Do I back Hillary because she’s a woman, and because she’s more electable than Bernie is? When I thought of it that way, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t compromise my principles and back a person because she was more electable than an old Jewish man with fly away hair who speaks his truth unabashedly. It’s not that Hillary doesn’t have a plan, but there’s the matter of who is giving her money. Would she feel more obligated to her wealthy contributors than to the welfare of ordinary Americans? On the other hand, Bernie’s money comes from ordinary people not the wealthy. He’s got a solid plan for how to turn this country away from being governed by big corporations. And he’s like me, an ordinary hard working man. When I made the commitment to back Bernie, I let out a big sigh of relief. I’d made a decision that was in alignment with who I am.

All the personal work I’ve been doing in the last year or so has changed me. I don’t want our country to go down the road of any number of dystopian novels and movies that have come out in the last few years. I don’t want corporations to run the world as they do in Cloud Atlas, or to have a wealthy dictator living in a luxurious central city, while people on the outskirts barely have enough to eat like in The Hunger Games. I want a Star Trek kind of society where everyone has an opportunity to live the life of their dreams with no fear of discrimination because of their race, gender, or place of birth. I think Bernie Sanders is working for that that’s why I support him.

My epiphany has more significance than backing a certain candidate for president. I’ve decided that I must make little contributions to the change I want to see, like writing this post, contributing to causes that are working to make life better for the poorest people on the planet. Little by little, I’ll find ways to get involved in making change happen, just like I changed myself a little at a time. That’s how the big changes are made, one little step at a time.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

The Blessing of Patience

My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books

“The longest journey
is the journey inwards.
Of him who has chosen his destiny,
Who has started upon his quest
For the source of his being.” ~ Dag Hammarskjöld

“Imagination is what is there after you know everything; without knowledge, one’s imagination may be too thin – lacking in strength and too fragile to build on.” ~ American director Zelda Fichandler

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” ~ E. L. Doctorow

I’ve discovered this book revision business is not for sissies. It’s a long process of peeling back the layers to get to the real thing I’m trying to say.

Before Christmas, I was very impatient to get the revisions finished during my month long break from teaching. But, of course, my hopes did not come true and in a way that’s a blessing. To tell you the truth I’ve been impatient to finish my novel for a year or more. That was part of the problem with earlier drafts. I rushed through important sections of the story. It’s never good to cheat the reader by not exploring an issue the characters must deal with.

The other day I watched Sense and Sensibility as my personal tribute to actor Alan Rickman who died last week. He’s one of my favorite actors. Part of the reason I love his work is because he never rushed through his lines. In his movies, you always know exactly what he’s saying because he enunciates every word enhancing the emotional emphasis.

After watching the movie, I was reading the trivia on Internet Movie Database. In it Emma Thompson, the screenwriter, stated that she’s a slow writer. It took her three years to finish the screenplay. When I read that, I had to admit I’m a slow writer too. And something about her saying that, allowed me to finally let go of trying to finish my book quickly. I am going to hold it within my being so I can more easily see beneath the surface of where the story is leading me.

Something else helped me decide that working slowly but steadily is a good thing. I watched the movie Proof in preparation for my dramatic structure students watching it tonight. It’s about Catherine, a mathematics genius, who has to put her life on hold to take care of her mentally ill father, Robert, who is a mathematics legend for solving an important proof when he was in his twenties. Catherine and Hal, Robert’s former student, are talking about Hal’s work in mathematics. He’s discouraged and doesn’t think he’ll ever make any significant contribution to the field. Catherine encourages him by saying something like, “You have to chip away at a problem. Sometimes you have to come at it sideways.” That’s what creative people do. They think outside the box.

It’s too bad we live in a fast food society where we demand instant gratification because the invention, the social change, the play, musical piece, or painting all take time. Sometimes many years. Building a healthy business takes lots of work too. Just as changing your life for the better takes a consistent effort and sometimes you have to sneak up on your problems from the side to get the perspective you need to solve them.

I’m not quite sure how I’ll approach my novel from the side. Perhaps being silent and listening to my characters speak to me is the best way to do it. In any case, I’ll keep chipping away at my novel until it tells me it’s finished. I’ll let you know from time to time how it’s coming.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

My Favorite Class to Teach

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

“I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.” ~ Frank Capra

“A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” ~ Stanley Kubrick

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.” ~ Barbara Tuchman

“You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies – all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” ~ Steve Martin

“God made Man because he loves stories.” ~ Elie Wiesel

Last week I wrote about the profound experience I had during meditation on December 31, 2015. One of the things I realized at that time was that I’m a person who says “no” more than I say “yes”. For most of my life I’ve been a fence sitter. Often I want to say “yes” to life, but I allow the not knowing what the future will look like to hold me back. This coming year is about saying “Yes!” to more new things that come my way. I’m going to get off the fence, embrace the unknown and do the things I love to do without apology.

As I was getting ready for this new semester, it occurred to me that when I tell people I teach theatre classes, I often feel like I’m not as good as the instructors who teach the core subjects. Then I remembered that I decided to say “Yes!” to the things I love so I plan to enjoy the classes I’m teaching this semester to the fullest. Tonight I’m going to begin teaching my favorite class of all time. It’s Dramatic Structure. The name is kind of weird, however, what we do is watch plays and movies and analyze them. We try to get through the many layers of meaning to the core ideas the playwright or screen writer is trying to express. I hope this process will be as helpful and enriching to my students as it has been for me.

I learned to love play analysis with my father. When I was in high school, dad and I would stay up late on weekends watching old movies. Then we’d discuss the characters, plots and what the movie meant to us. Our family would also watch the Sunday Night Movie and do the same thing. It was a great way to get to know myself, my family, and to have the skills to interact with the kids at school, or the people I worked with. I loved doing this so much that I found a wonderful purpose in working in the theatre, teaching, and writing. Analyzing plays and movies has helped me become more compassionate and empathetic as well. I’m grateful that my father was willing to watch and discuss movies with me. We got close and had lots of fun too.

So as I begin this new semester, I’m going to tell my students that I love teaching these classes and why. Hopefully that will inspire them in ways that I can’t even imagine.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

We All Have Scars

Chapel of the Red Rocks

Chapel of the Red Rocks

“Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities … always see them … for they’re always there.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~ Maya Angelou

After nearly three years of writing this weekly blog, I have to make a confession to you. I get impatient with people who are bonded to their negativity. I don’t often talk about it, or show my irritation outwardly. After all, you can’t change another person’s mind. They have to do that themselves. However, it has been difficult for me to be around people who only see death and destruction when I’ve worked so hard to seek out evidence to the contrary. Just recently I became aware that I’ve felt superior to anyone who’s got a negative outlook, because I can always find the positive side of any situation.

For many years I’ve worked to find the lessons in traumatic situations and difficult circumstances in which I found myself. I’ve made a concerted effort to become more loving and accepting, more peaceful and joyful. I’ve sought ways to heal myself. So when I FELT, during meditation, that I was wearing those terrible events like badges of honor, I had to admit that I was no different than anyone else. It was difficult to acknowledge that I had felt just a little bit superior to people who are stuck in their pain. Believe me, pain is addictive and I have finally admitted that I was an addict too. The good news is that if I can learn such a big lesson and let go of old patterns, so can anyone else who chooses to do so.

As, I’ve written before, this latest self-understanding is the result of a many year process. Last year on January 1, I began studying A Course in Miracles. We bought the book twenty years or more ago, but for some reason, I didn’t feel drawn to study it until last year. Every day I read a lesson and did an exercise. I have to credit the study of this book with helping me shift my thinking about myself. It’s difficult to describe how I felt internally, but it always seemed as if there was a huge barrier between me and what I wanted my life to look like. ACIM helped me begin to dismantle the mental wall I’d built up.

Nothing happens by accident and in November I was introduced to Dr. Joe Dispenza. He’s one of a number of people who are studying the brain. His book, Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One, uses science to explain how we can cut our ties to old ways of thinking and reacting to external stimuli. He shows the reader a step by step process to form new neural pathways so that we can be free to create a new life. Part of his procedure is to get the reader to face up to the unconscious thought patterns we’ve adopted but which hold us back from the happy life we’d like to live. It was while following his meditation techniques that I was blessed with my profound aha moment.

For many years I’ve known, intellectually, that everyone has scars. You can’t live on this planet without having had some traumatic experiences. During my meditation, however, I FELT the truth of that, and the fact that no one’s trauma is more special than anyone else’s. We often think ours is the most special but that’s not the truth. I certainly thought that. But now I’m ready to just get on with cutting away my old way of being and thinking about what happened to me and see myself in a new way. I’m no longer allowing my past to be a barrier between me and the life I’ve always wanted to live.

This is a new beginning for me so I’ll have lots of self-examination to do over these next months. However, I have to say, for the first time in my entire life, I feel free to be the real me. It’s a wonderful feeling and I hope that you can feel that way too one day.

This is my dream for all of us, that one day we will live in a world where, when a baby is born, they automatically know they can create the life of their dreams without going through such terrible life lessons. I know there will still be challenges but I hope that future generations will begin with a more positive mind set. I hope they come into this world understanding human behavior and know how to forgive without allowing the trauma to stick to them like superglue. It may take a long time before we get to that place but I still dream of a world like that.

I hope you have a wonderful year of new discoveries and adventures. I plan on having a few.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Art Changes People

Carved African Faces. One of my cherished Christmas Gifts

Carved African Faces. One of my cherished Christmas Gifts

“The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed – because people are changed by art – enriched, ennobled, encouraged – they then act in a way that may affect the course of events … by the way they vote, they behave, the way they think.” ~ Leonard Bernstein

Last week I wrote that my resolution for 2016 was to be one light that helps dispel darkness by embodying love, empathy and peace as much as I possibly can. And one of the ways I do that is through my creative endeavors.

I don’t write much about the fact that I teach theatre classes at our local community college. It’s only part-time after all, because as Leonard Bernstein pointed out, the arts don’t get people jobs. It’s the artists struggle to get paid for the work they create. Some garner recognition, but most struggle along working to pay the bills while doing their artwork on the side. I’ve been caught up in those same struggles, but the point of this post is to share my thoughts about why it’s important to be creative.

I teach theatre because I love to see the light in my students eyes when they’ve taken my class because they need an art credit to complete their degree, then they receive compliments on their acting. Or the light of understanding dawn when they connect with the multi-layers of meaning in a play or movie. I love helping them discover things about themselves that they would never have experienced if they hadn’t taken one of my classes.

This past semester, I taught a class called theatre workshop. It’s a performance class where students get a chance to produce and perform in a play. This time, however, we performed five short student written plays. It all came about because somehow, miraculously, a few of my acting students began to write their own scenes. One thing lead to another and I thought of offering this class. I’m so glad I did because it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

The plays were fantastic and the audiences liked them so much that I decided to offer the class again this coming semester. I have students who had written plays that we didn’t get to perform the first time around. Getting recognition for something you’ve created is life changing. I want my students to know what that rush feels like. I want them to become empowered by the process of creating so that they will continue to produce art long after they’ve finished their school work.

If you’ve never taken an art class, this might be the year to stretch your creative horizons. The camaraderie that develops among the artists is one of the fantastic side effects, but you might also find a new passion that will enrich your life and make it happier and more worth living.

Here’s one final quote to end this post and this year. “We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.” ~ John Lennon.

Creating artwork is one way to nurture ourselves and others, to spread love and compassion, both internally and externally. We humans are imbued with creativity and like plants we wither and die if we are unable to use our talents. I hope you find new ones to share with the world this coming year.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a blessed 2016. Feel free to leave a comment, or share this post with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

On Strength and Weakness

It's a Wonderful Life Village

It’s a Wonderful Life Village

“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.” ~ Bill Bullard

“We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.” ~ T. D. Jakes

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I’ve been thinking a great deal about strength and weakness as we approach this most sacred time of the year. We often think that a show of force is strength, as in military retaliation, or getting revenge on our enemies. To me that’s the weakest kind of human interaction. I think strength is having the courage to accept and feel all our emotions. To cry and not be ashamed, to love with abandon, to be kind and compassionate, to feel another’s pain. When we can do that we can effect real change.

While revising my novel, I came to a section where Jenna, one of the main characters, is fired from a position that she thinks is her dream job. That and other life shattering events force her to face herself and who she is meant to become. If her life hadn’t been shaken up in such a cruel way, she would have continued to follow the path she was on and not reached her full potential.

Though the circumstances are different, the situation I wrote for Jenna came from an experience in my own life. I was fired from a much beloved teaching position. It was a political thing. Shortly after I lost that job, I was having breakfast with a friend of mine from the school and I was stunned when she said, “I hate to say this but you were weak and they took advantage of that.” I’ve thought a great deal about that statement over the years because I think my friend is dead wrong.

One of the major lessons I learned from that experience is that we each live in our own little worlds with a set of goals we want to accomplish. We see anybody who stands in the way of achieving those goals as our enemy. In fact one day as I was driving by the turn off to the school I remembered something an actor, I don’t remember who, said when asked why he played so many villains. He squinched up his eyebrows and said, “Well, you know, the villain is the hero of his own story”. I had a huge aha in that moment. I was the villain to my school enemies and they were the villain to me. We had opposing goals and stood in each other’s way to accomplishing them. All of a sudden I thought of those two people differently. They weren’t evil, they were just righting a situation they thought was wrong. I wasn’t supposed to be hired for the job, you see, the daughter was. Someone was going to lose the fight and it was me.

Now I can’t say I forgave them that very day. Oh, no. I wanted to hang on to my anger a while longer. I wanted the situation made right, which meant I wanted them to apologize for wounding me so deeply. I wanted them to see that I was really the better teacher for that position. I wanted my job back. It wasn’t until I gave up wanting a different outcome that I was able to look for what I could learn from the situation. Once I did that I began to make the steps toward forgiveness and toward finding my true purpose in life. In fact it was only a few weeks ago as I was meditating that I saw myself hugging them and telling them they had done me a huge favor and I thanked them for helping me find the most happy and fulfilling life that I now enjoy.

Over those several years when I was struggling to make sense of why my perfect life was shattered, I’ve learned that real power is wielded by the compassionate, the loving, and the empathetic because they are the ones who see the true souls of others. They are the ones who know that who we really are is not the things we own, our bank account, our jobs, our belief systems, or our behaviors. Most of us are completely unaware that we are beautiful light beings connected to each other and to the Divine.

One of the reasons I love this time of year is because almost all of us celebrate the sacred. Instinctively we know that light is more powerful than darkness for it is easy to dispel darkness by lighting one candle. Spiritual light shining from within is much the same. It can lead us to peace and happiness if we commit to loving those who are drenched in the darkest of places.

I know it’s a little early for making resolutions, but this is mine for the new year. To be one light that helps dispel darkness by embodying love, empathy and peace as much as I possibly can. If we band together in our intention to be the peace we wish to see, it can’t help but happen one day soon.

I hope you have a blessed holiday season.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

The Gifts of Controversy

U.S. Constitution

U.S. Constitution

“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

“We write for the same reason we walk, talk, climb mountains or swim the oceans – because we can. We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings. That’s why we paint, that’s why we dare to love someone – because we have the impulse to explain who we are.” ~ Maya Angelou

I know, I know, controversy is difficult on the nervous system, at least it is on mine, so how can it be a blessing? These are somethings I’ve been thinking about recently. At first they seem disjointed but they will come together, I promise.

A couple of weeks ago I met with my friend Debrah to discuss changes to my novel. She’s a writer too and extremely honest in her assessment, that’s why I asked her to give me feedback. What was supposed to be a lunch meeting ended up being a six hour discussion. One thing she said to me was that some of the characters are too good and everyone loves them. It’s her philosophy that writers need to beat up on their characters so that when they finally learn their lessons, the reader is satisfied. Hmmm, why do I shy away from putting my characters into difficult situations?

While I was ruminating on that problem, Donald Trump declared that he’d ban Muslims from entering the country, the latest in a long line of such declarations, which caused a huge outcry from individuals, newspapers, business owners, and religious organizations. Hmmm. Here we are again at another time of great upheaval. It seems like my entire lifetime has had very few peaceful times. I’d like to see what living in true peace would feel like.

Then I saw an interview with Deepak Chopra, one of my favorite spiritual teachers, on Conan O’Brian’s late night talk show. Conan said he’d heard that Deepak was meditating with members of congress and he asked if Deepak thought Donald Trump could benefit from meditation, Deepak shot back, “some people are past hope.” The audience howled with laughter. But something about that interview got me to thinking that Donald Trump might be a catalyst so that we are finally willing to take a good look at ourselves and our society. This is our time to evolve to the next level as a country, or to shrink back into fear, isolationism, and hatred.

It seemed to me that what Deepak Chopra was trying to point out was that some people choose not to wake up and some of them, like Hitler, and so many others throughout history give us the opportunity to make great changes in history. I think Donald Trump may be one of those people.

Years ago I read the book, Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav. In it he says that for some reason humans have chosen to learn through crisis. That’s what’s happening now. Throughout history people like Trump have brought us to the brink of a decision that we’ve put off for a very long time. We have to decide once and for all what kind of society we want to live in and we’ve got to take a good hard look at ourselves. How have we perpetuated discrimination, fear and all the other negatives about our society?

I look at myself and I don’t think I’ve done enough for those who are truly in need of love and compassion. I’m looking for ways to do more because I want to hurry up and get to the good stuff. I don’t know about you but I’m tired. I hope we can pull together to create a new friendlier society.

As I was thinking about this post, I remembered when I was in college and I became the center of controversy at two different times. One thing I learned from those situations is that controversy causes conversation and I think that’s a good thing. It’s one time when people get riled up and state what they really think and feel without reservations. They hope to change the minds of their opponents. That’s what we’re seeing that in our country right now. People are standing up and often shouting that we’ve got to protect ourselves, while others are saying that hatred is always wrong. I think Deepak’s point was that once a person’s mind is made up, it’s difficult to get them to change it and we should stop trying. The only person we can change is ourselves. It is sometimes possible to affect others when we do our personal work because of a ripple effect.

Which brings me back to my novel. It occurred to me that I wanted my characters to get to the good life quickly. I didn’t want them to have to suffer too much. I suspect it’s because I’m tired of suffering through all the unrest both inward and outward that I’ve witnessed throughout my lifetime. However, I’ve learned some great things about myself and about what it means to be a citizen of the world because of those struggles. Those insights didn’t come easily but I’m grateful for every one of those difficult people and situations. I wouldn’t change any of those situations now if I could. Which means I can’t deprive my characters and readers from going on the same kind of journey. I think I’m finally ready to go do those major revisions Debrah and I talked about.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Fear of Success

Our Road

Our Road

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” ~ George S. Patton

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.” ~ Billie Jean King

“Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.” ~ Tom Petty

My sister Celeste and I were talking the other day about pursuing our life’s dreams and some realizations we’ve had along the way. She is a certified life coach, but has had difficulty getting her career started. However, since moving to the Seattle area, it looks like her business will be taking off. That’s what started our conversation about success. As we were talking she said, “I think I’m afraid to succeed.” Boy could I relate to that because I’ve felt the same way about my writing.

As we talked we acknowledged that the same situation applies to both of us. We get used to our life circumstances and it’s hard to visualize living any other way. Does that ever happen to you? It takes a great deal of effort to create a new way of living. If you choose to create an unconventional life, you have to give up some things that are fun but not productive in your old life. And you face opposition, people will not hesitate to tell you that your dream is not worth the effort, or that you will never succeed so you may as well give up. It’s difficult to shut out the naysayers. You have to be willing to fail, perhaps many times before you succeed and that’s scary.

Celeste and I both want to live a new kind of life. We want to help people while we do what we love and make money doing it. We both long to travel, be open to new and unexpected experiences,  and we want to meet new and interesting people with a different perspective than our own. These are dreams we’ve talked about over the years, but for some reason it’s been difficult for us to break out and go for that new life. Both of us have suffered through some difficult times, especially financially. That’s one thing that is the hardest to overcome, our financial circumstances. We get so used to living with less that it becomes hard to see ourselves as being prosperous.

Celeste and I both think that visualizing what it feels like to have abundance and success while at the same time helping others is essential to making our dreams come true, which got me to thinking about the circumstances in which we were born. Our parents struggled with money until later in their marriage. I’m the oldest so life was more difficult for me than for Celeste who is the youngest. For example, I wore lots of hand-me-down clothes growing up. When mom and dad had more money, mom continued to act as if they didn’t have enough to buy my younger sisters the clothes they needed. She was stuck in her old thinking that they had to do without many of the nicer things in life. Dad on the other hand embraced their more prosperous situation and always made sure my sisters had the things they needed. Sometimes Celeste and I find ourselves stuck in our mom’s pattern of thinking instead of our dad’s. That’s one of the struggles we each face in making our dreams come true.

Most people continue on much as their parents did. There is nothing wrong with that, but there are people who long for a different kind of life. They have dreams that go in a different direction from their “tribe”, as Wayne Dyer called it. My sister Celeste and I, and our husbands are such people. Something inside drives us to seek out a new kind of life, one that doesn’t appear to be outwardly secure but is highly creative. We want to take the road less traveled and that’s the tension we feel each day as we struggle to support our families yet create something new.

Even though we’re taking the road less traveled, there are others who have forged the paths that we want to take, it’s just that not as many have chosen these paths and that makes our desire to follow them a little scary. There aren’t as many footprints to follow. Sometimes the footprints are lost all together and we have to guess how to reach our destination. Every day we have to reassess and move forward with our plans. We have to give ourselves a break if we take two steps forward and one step back. That’s all part of the game.

So, we’re both excited and a little frightened to think about how we’ll react when we succeed. Celeste and I feel that if we’re not a little frightened of the outcome, it’s not worth doing. The thing we look forward to is the fact that we’ll both be living very different lives than the ones we’re experiencing now and as far as we’re concerned, that will be wonderful.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

We Can Change the World

Earth from the Moon

Earth from the Moon

“Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, or hidden by deceit of any kind, if it would be escaped. It must be seen exactly as it is, where it is thought to be, in the reality which has been given it, and with the purpose that the mind accorded it. For only then are its defenses lifted, and the truth can shine upon it as it disappears.” ~ A Course In Miracles Lesson 333, “Forgiveness Ends The Dream Of Conflict Here.”

I’m a big fan of reading fiction and watching plays and movies. I say that because there have been so many books, plays and movies that have changed the way I see the world. I believe I’m a better person because I love to be transported by the stories.

This past weekend my husband and I went to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. I had read the books and seen the first three movies. In general I’m not a fan of dystopian books and movies, because most of the time they don’t end on a note of hope. I believe in hope. This series has a large dose of hope at the end. If you haven’t read them, I suggest you do because the main characters must deal with the horrendous mental and emotional wounds they suffered throughout the arch of the story. They must find hope and healing. And they do, as much as they are able.

At the end of the movie, Katniss Everdeen is on an outing with her family. It’s many years after the events that transformed her society. She’s holding her baby, while Peeta, her husband and fellow sufferer, is playing with their young toddler. The baby jerks awake, as if from a nightmare. Katniss then tells the baby how she deals with her nightmares. She makes lists of all the acts of kindnesses she’s seen people do. It helps her remember that there are good and kind people out there and that eases her memories of the horrors she’s experienced.

I can’t say I’ve witnessed horrors first hand, though I have seen real horrors on TV. I’ve never lived in a war torn country, or had to flee my home, but none of us get through this life without scars. According to studies done on the effects of witnessing horrendous events, it doesn’t matter whether we experience them in person or see them on TV or in movies. They don’t even have to be real for us to feel them as if they happened to us. We are affected no matter what the delivery system. The same goes for acts of kindness. If we witness an act of kindness, it’s as if the kindness was done to and for us.

So, we live in a violent world. It’s always been violent. That’s nothing new. However, we’re at a turning point. We have an opportunity to change the world from a violent environment to one of peace. But to do that we have to focus on the problems we face, acknowledge that we’ve allowed them to go on unchallenged and find a way to solve them.

Some of the people I know focus only on the negative. Maybe we’re wired to notice negativity first, but the thing is that people who study the brain, like Dr. Joe Dispenza, and Bruce H. Lipton, have discovered that we can rewire our brains so that we notice the positive first instead of the negative. That’s what I advocate and try to do. That’s why some friends I know want to be around me, because when the conversation turns to all the problems we face in this world, I point out good things that are happening and they feel better.

The thing is, each person must decide to focus on the positive themselves. We each must choose to see beneath the surface behaviors of the people in our lives and in the media as well. That’s not always easy. It’s comfortable assuming we know all there is to know about people we see in the media, or even people we live or work with. But we can’t ever know the deepest hopes and dreams of another person unless they reveal themselves to us. That requires trust.

The media can be our enemy when trying to discover the true nature of people in the spotlight, or it can help us see another side of a person. Not too long ago my husband and I were watching CBS Sunday Morning. It’s a Sunday morning ritual with us. This morning they interviewed Charles Koch. I’ve not been a fan of the Koch brothers because they donate outrageous amounts of money to political causes that I abhor, however, we watched the interview to see if our assumptions about this man were correct. We found that they weren’t. Yes, he supports a large number of causes that I think are destructive. On the other hand, the Koch brothers, Charles and David support causes that I too support. That interview was an eye opener. It made me take a good look at the assumptions I make about people. Each one of us is a bundle of contradictions. What I learned was that I can’t condemn the Koch brothers just because they have billions of dollars and I don’t. Having billions of dollars doesn’t automatically make them evil, as some people would have us believe. And just because they have billions of dollars doesn’t mean I can point my finger at them and lay all the world’s problems at their feet. Oh no, I too have to take responsibility for the mess we find ourselves in.

I often say, and people look at me as if I have two heads, that our thoughts create our reality. Quantum physicists figured that out many years ago, but that idea is just now taking root. Not long ago someone shared this article on Facebook about that very thing, that what we think, creates the events and even the physical things we use in our world. Generation after generation of humans have created the conflicts that have plagued us for millennia and now we have a clue why. Once it got started, nobody thought it could stop. Oh, a few highly enlightened people tried to show us the way, but we thought they were anomalies and we didn’t follow their lead. We clung stubbornly to our old thought patterns because changing was too difficult.

So here we are. We’ve got scientific proof that what we think creates the events out in the world, and that we can change our thought patterns. The question is, will we do it? Will we get up off the couch, figuratively speaking, and actually do something concrete to change the world? Will we notice all the kind things people do for each other? Will be find opportunities to be kind and compassionate? Will we change the focus of our thoughts? Those seem like ephemeral things to do, but they have a huge impact. I’ve been watching it happen. You have to look outside the media in this country to find evidence of change. You have to dig for the stories of goodness happening. You have to lay your assumptions aside and be willing to see the world with new eyes. And then you have to be willing to change yourself to bring about peace. Take it from a Baby Boomer, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015