Curiosity and Wonder

Taj Mahal at sunset
Taj Mahal at sunset

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” –Linus Pauling

“Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery.” –Victor Hugo

Wonder and curiosity have been a part of my life since I was very young. I remember as a girl sitting for a very long time looking at what I thought were Fairy footprints in the dirt in the empty lot across from our house. The other kids poo pooed my assertion that the marks were indeed made by Fairies and ran off to play war. But I saw Fairy prints because my parents had been reading us stories from a volume of Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and I was convinced they really existed.

Because of my parents, I grew up with a sense of curiosity and wonder about the world around me. I came by it naturally. Both mom and dad believed in the unseen world. But my father particularly wanted to know about everything. Even though he dropped out of school he read voraciously, and paid attention to current events. That’s why we were watching as the first man stepped foot on the moon, and saw the horrors of war, and all the assassinations that took place during the 60s. When you’re curious, you have to take the good with the bad.

To me curiosity and wonder are a major component of creativity. Maybe I think that because of my parents, but just think of it, would humans be where we are today without curiosity? Would there be art, science, music, social structures, civilizations, religions, philosophies, or technology without wonder and curiosity? There are always more things to learn, more things to create and discover. There are always deeper interactions between humans that can be achieved if we use our curiosity.

One of the most profound experiences of my life was a trip my husband and I took circumnavigating the globe. It was 1996, before all the fear about traveling abroad. That experience changed my life. It was the result of our burning curiosity to immerse ourselves in other cultures around the world. We accomplished this amazing trip by following our unseen guides, or intuition, or if you prefer, messages from God.

It all started when we hosted an acquaintance we’d met at a Reiki gathering in Oregon. She was from Germany but was going to New Zealand a week after the Gathering. So, we offered our guest room to her so she wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel. Each night she would regale us with tales of her travels to different places around the world. And each night Barry and I would go to bed talking about our desire to do the same. As we talked, we decided we wanted to visit several friends and family around the world, which would mean we’d need to circumnavigate the globe. It seemed impossible. Then on the last night of our friend’s visit we told her what we wanted to do and she said, “You can get an around the world trip ticket for about $3,000.” All of sudden the trip seemed possible, even though we didn’t have that amount at the time.

The next day it happened to be Barry’s birthday. We were going to have a birthday party for him at the Sophia Center where he worked, and then I was going to take him on a weekend trip to the Oregon Coast. On our way to the party, I took our friend to a bank where she could exchange some money before flying to New Zealand. While she was in the bank, I said casually to Divine Oneness, as I call God, “I wonder how we can pay for our trip around the world?” Immediately I heard a voice in my head say, You could sell your house. I waited for that sinking feeling I get when I know I’m about to make the wrong decision, but it never came. Instead I felt elated. I couldn’t wait to tell Barry.

After the party as we were driving to the Coast, I said as casually as I possibly could, “I have an idea how we can fund our trip around the world.”

Barry said, “Oh really, I have one too. Let’s see if they’re the same idea.”

My heart started pounding as I said, “We could sell our house.”

Barry turned and looked at me and said, “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

From that moment on, we knew that’s what we were going to do. While we were on our romantic weekend, we began making plans for selling our house to take the most amazing trip of our entire lives. Everyone we told about our plans from the real estate agent, to the travel agent said, “That’s so fantastic. You’ll never regret it.” And we never have. We got to see more wonders than we could ever have imagined we’d experience in one life time.

That trip has been a source of great wonder, curiosity and creativity for me. And I’ll never regret selling our house, which after all is just a thing, to see the amazing sites I saw in various places around the world.

Contemplate what life would be like if we weren’t curious about how things worked, or weren’t filled with wonder when we looked up at the night sky filled with stars. What would happen if we felt no wonder when we fell in love, or when a friend stood by us no matter what was happening? Worst of all, what if we woke up every day feeling sure that this day was going to be just like the next? Just thinking of living without curiosity gives me the willies. What about you?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Who Am I?

Cochise Campus Flower
Cochise Campus Flower

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched – they must be felt with the heart.” –Helen Keller

“There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.” –Elie Wiesel

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” –Viktor E. Frankl

My posts lately have been increasingly introspective. They’ve been my spiritual musings directed at how we can make the world a better place in which to live. Today I’m hoping to finish the series with this basic question. Who am I?

I’ve asked myself that question often, especially in the last seven years when life has been a bit more of a struggle than it had been previously. Who am I without all the possessions, titles, opinions of others and of myself? If I had nothing but what I came into this world with, who would I be?

You might wonder why I ask that question. What difference does it make? How can it help us solve the dire problems we face in the world? If you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time you know that my premise is that we must change ourselves to change the world.

Right now close family members of mine are going through an extremely rough time. In many ways they’ve been stripped of the things that we often think define us. It’s been a dark time for them, and for me, because I love them and feel connected to them. Their struggles have made them ask the question, who are we really? By extension, I’ve gone back to asking myself again, who am I without all the outer trappings of life?

It’s important to keep asking that question for two reasons. First, it helps us discover why you’re here on the planet. It points to our life’s purpose. Second, as we grow and change the answer shifts a bit because we discover we possess new talents and abilities of which we were previously unaware.

When we go through dark times and are stripped of our ego identify, it’s rough. If you’ve gone through it, you know the feeling. You’re lost. It feels like you’ll never get out of the hole in which you find yourself. You feel despair.

We often think of despair as a bad thing. However, having gone through what some call “the dark night of the soul,” I can say with confidence that despair can be a very good thing to feel, if you allow yourself to really feel it instead of avoiding it with medication, alcohol, TV, video games or any other distraction. I have to say here that some people need the medication just to get to the place where they can deal with their despair.

The thing about being in a dark place is this: At some point in our lives, we have to face our true selves. Being in the dark place gives us an opportunity to do deep soul searching. When we do that, we are confronted with the reality of how much more there is to us than we ever could have imagined possible. That can be a scary proposition because it means we’re responsible for using our gifts and talents. It means we can’t sit back and complain, or be lazy any longer.

Many people around the globe are facing their true selves. Some, maybe even most, would rather live in despair than to acknowledge the shining light within. Despair is familiar. We think we deserve it. That’s not true. We deserve to be happy. We deserve to contribute our wisdom and light to others in the world.

How do we break the cycle of centuries of living in the dark? Think about this: What if the ideas that the powerful always win, violence is the norm, and that most of us are put on this earth to struggle, are completely wrong? What if we are light beings with talents beyond our imagination? What if we ordinary people could change the world by changing ourselves? Who would you be then?

This is something I’ve been contemplating for a very long time. I harp on it a lot in these blog posts because something compels me to love myself, and allow myself to be who I really am. If I’m compelled to learn self-love, it must be important for others to learn as well. At this juncture in history, I don’t see how we can continue unless each person takes a good look at themselves and asks themselves who they really are.

I can’t say I know who I am quite yet, because I feel like there are parts of myself I’ve kept hidden, or that I’m not ready to see. On the other hand, I’m not going to give up trying to answer that question. I want to know myself. I want to be my true self so I can help others answer the question, who am I?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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We Need Compassion

 

Grace Cathedral Window
Grace Cathedral Window

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

“Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.” –Ellen DeGeneres

Recent events in my family have made me wonder why some people are filled with caring and compassion for their fellow human beings and why others aren’t. I guess it’s not only that. The political climate is so volatile right now, not just in our country but almost everywhere in the world that there are times when I wonder if we’re going to make it as a species.

Then I remember that there are lots of individuals and organizations that are working to make this world a better place to live. Some do it the way I do, on a one-to-one basis, and others are working on a global scale. That gives me hope, because just lately, I’ve been feeling down about the whole situation in the world. Sometimes it’s difficult being a very sensitive empath.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve picked up the feelings of others. For many years I didn’t understand why my mood would suddenly change from happy to sad, or anxious and fearful. Then I realized, it was because I was like a magnet, picking up the feelings of others. Even after learning how to shield myself from the feelings of others, I struggle with being extremely sensitive.

Some mornings I wake up feeling anxious and I don’t know why. For the most part my life is running smoothly. I’ve learned to accept that challenges happen, and though I may temporarily be thrown off balance, I’m able to right myself and move forward knowing all is well.

However, that’s not the case for everyone. Some people are so full of fear they do and say hurtful things to those around them.

So what can we do to change the situation in which we find ourselves besides work on finding our own inner peace? I think practicing compassion is something we can do to help move the evolutionary process along.

Right after I graduated from high school, I took a job at a Montessori school as a teacher’s aide. I’d decided that I wanted to work for a few years before attending college. One day something happened in the classroom, and I was dealing with an angry little boy. The specifics of the incident have faded over the years, but I remember saying to him, “It’s okay, you can be mad at me. I can take it.” I’ll never forget the look of relief on that boys face. So many conflicting emotions had been fighting for supremacy. I could see them reflected in his body language. That’s when I told him it was okay to feel anger. I don’t know what made me tell him it was okay, but I remember feeling compassion for him. He was a powerless child confronted by an adult who had power over him. Then I’d given him permission to feel his feelings.

I know that the people I’m angry with have more money and external power than I do. But, their world is crumbling and they have no idea how to stop it. They are resisting the tidal wave of change that they didn’t see coming. That makes me feel sad for them. Some instinct tells me that the one way we can speed up the awakening process is to practice compassion in every interaction in which we participate. Calling the bully names, and treating them the way they treat us doesn’t make them back down. It makes them dig in their heels and put up more resistance. So, I propose trying a different tack. Show them compassion.

Here’s a site where you can get some tips about how to do that, or even begin to participate in building a compassionate world. Karen Armstrong, author of many books including,  A History of God, and Twelve Steps for a Compassionate Life, has begun the organization Charter for Compassion which is a world wide project to educate people and inspire a change in the way we live our lives on all levels. This is just one of many organizations with whom I’m connected.

When I read the emails of groups like this that are trying to help us turn from fear, close-mindedness and hatred, to love and compassion, I’m encouraged. Maybe we can evolve. Maybe I can let go of my anger and help make the world a better place to live.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Happiness as Radical Love

Bazz & Luce in Quartzsite 2Maybe some of you felt the way I did when the Supreme Court chose to side with Hobby Lobby. I was sad, but not surprised. It’s just the latest attack on women’s freedom to choose for themselves. To soothe myself, I went to Facebook. I have lots of friends who post positive messages. Luckily I found a post by my friend Terri. She was sharing how happy she was about the little things in life. In the stream of comments to her post, someone put the link for the YouTube lyric video to Pharrell Williams song “Happy”. I like the song, so I followed the link to start my day off right, and was struck by these words from the song.

“Here come bad news, talking this and that.
Well gimme all you got and don’t hold back.
I should probably warn you, I’ll be just fine.
No offense to you, don’t waste your time.
Here’s why. Because I’m happy.”

That’s how I’m feeling about all of the people who are so frightened about what’s going on in our world. They’re the ones bringing bad news. They try to control every little thing around them and want to control us so they feel better.

I’ve got news for them. There are a growing number of people out there who have decided that they aren’t going to allow those fearful people to control them, no matter what. I say yay to that!

I’m going to join them and go on building my happy life and not pay any attention to the haters, the conservative politicians, the fearful people who want to tell me how to live my life. They mistakenly think that if they control everything outside themselves, they’ll feel better. They won’t.

Our inner state is our choice. I choose to be happy. I’ll let them be miserable if they want to be.

Eckhart Tolle says “What you resist persists. What you fight you strengthen.” It’s a hard concept to get. We’re so used to putting up resistance when we feel like someone is in our face. But think about these things: The opossum plays dead when it feels threatened. It takes two to keep a fight going. It’s better to be for something than against it.

Wayne Dyer tells the story of Mother Teresa turning down an invitation to attend a protest rally against a war. I don’t know which war. She was gracious about it, but she said, “I’ll attend when you have a rally ‘for’ peace.”

I’m not only for peace, I’m for everyone being able to live the life that will make them happy.

One solution to help yourself achieve happiness amid all the chaos, is to follow The Four Agreements. Someone posted them on Facebook the day after the Hobby Lobby decision. I love number two: “Don’t take anything personally”. That was a difficult one for me to learn. For many years I didn’t love myself, so I thought the world was against me. It’s not. The Universe is always on your side, whether you believe it is or not. It’s when we are fearful that things don’t go the way we’ve planned. That doesn’t mean The Universe is against us. It just means we’re being offered a new opportunity to find our place in the world. If we take the opportunity provided, eventually we find peace.

True peace, happiness and joy can coexsist with all the turmoil going on in the world. We can choose to be an influence for good. I love what Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist, “No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”

What role will you play in the history of the world? I want to be remembered for spreading love, light, healing and happiness.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Forgiveness As Radical Love

December Sunrise
December Sunrise

“A Rattlesnake, if cornered will become so angry it will bite itself. That is exactly what the harboring of hate and resentment against others is – a biting of oneself. We think we are harming others in holding these spites and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves.” E. Stanley Jones

“Treat people as if they were what they should be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Forgiveness is not an easy thing to accomplish. However, it’s essential to self-healing. You can’t give Radical Love, without being willing to forgive. Here’s my forgiveness story.

Twelve years ago, the job I thought was my dream job, and the purpose of my life, was yanked out from under me. The father, a powerful person in the school district, thought his daughter should have been hired two years earlier, when they hired me. We were the only two candidates for the job. A year later she was hired for the second position in the department, and they set out to discredit me in any way they could. At the end of my second year, budget cuts came to my department, due to a failed bond measure. Since I had just earned my teaching certificate, I thought for sure, I’d be the one to keep my position. That was not the case. I was in shock.

I was furious, helpless against their attacks, wanted revenge, and hated them for treating me as if I was an obstacle instead of a human being. The fact that they could dispose of me so easily was a complete shock. I had been working for the school for six years and had a good reputation, yet I was as disposable as if nothing I had done mattered.

My supporters who were officers in the teacher’s union, confirmed that the daughter did not hold a teaching certificate, and urged me to sue. But something told me that wasn’t what I was supposed to do. I’d been given a great gift, even though I couldn’t see what that was at the moment. So, I found another teaching job in a nearby town and set about healing.

It’s taken me from then until now to forgive everyone involved in what I considered a betrayal by the school district. I had to let go of denial, and wishing the outcome had been different. At first I allowed myself to feel completely angry. I dreamed of revenge. Like the rattlesnake, I was biting myself, thinking the father and daughter were going to be poisoned. Even though the poison didn’t feel good, I wasn’t ready to let it go quite yet. My anger turned to self-recrimination. Why hadn’t I seen what was coming and blocked their efforts?

One day, about two months into the new school year, I was coming out of the local grocery store, and the father was coming in. He smiled and said, “Hi. How are you?” I just glared at him and didn’t say a word. How do you think I feel after you stole the job I loved, you B___d? What was wrong with him, why couldn’t he see what he’d done to me?

Later, when I cooled off, it hit me, He’s completely asleep. He has no idea how much he hurt me. I’m not a person to him. When I realized that, I remembered an interview on Inside the Actor’s Studio a few years earlier. I think James Lipton was interviewing Christopher Walken, but I may be wrong. In any case James Lipton asked the actor how he felt about playing so many villains. The actor said “Well, you know, the villain is the hero of his own story.” Ah, the father and daughter are the heroes of their own story. To them, I was the villain. It’s all a matter of perspective isn’t it? Somehow this little aha made me feel better. That was the day I began to heal, though I was still wounded.

For years, every time I drove by the high school, I felt physical pain at my loss. I refused to step foot in the school for blood drives, or for civic events. Eventually I was forced to do so, because of a county wide teacher’s conference, which was to be held at my former high school.

It helped that many of my former colleagues came to greet me, and tell me how much they missed me. Some of them even told me that things weren’t going so well in my old department. I know this sounds bad, but I was glad. I felt vindicated. But by then, I’d found my place in my new school district. They appreciated me, and I saw the contrast between the two districts. I was in a much better place. After that event, I was able to let go of wishing things had been different. Instead of looking back, I was determined to look forward.

Little by little I let go of parts of my anger, hurt and blame. I saw that I had called this situation to me for some larger reason that I couldn’t see at the moment. I let go of the biggest chunk of my grudge the day I realized that my new teaching position had led me toward writing. In the old position, I might never have allowed myself to uncover my long held desire to be a writer. I’d have been too busy to think about old, unrealized dreams.

I thought I’d let all the pain of that time in my life go, but a few months ago, I realized that I wasn’t completely finished with my forgiveness process. I set about letting go of those old, old hurt feelings.

As you might guess, since I came to the realization that we must practice Radical Love to heal the world, I’ve been working on sending love to people, and situations that need it. This morning in my mediation, the faces of the father and daughter came into my mind. Without any shred of anger or desire for revenge, I was able to send them love.

What a relief! I can move on. I can learn to practice Radical Love, for myself and others.

Thank you to all of my followers. I love your comments, they help me grow.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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