Having Money Give Options

Julia working at the wheel

Julia working at the wheel

“Without Freedom, creativity cannot flourish. The right to freedom is crucial to progress in any society; and the context is having a sense of global responsibility.” –Dalai Lama

“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.” –Nelson Mandela

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.” –Mark Twain

This past weekend The Pottery Studio At Sierra Vista, which evolved out of my husband’s pottery classes, held their seventh annual Empty Bowls Project fund raiser. To find out more about the history of how The Empty Bowls Project got started, click here.  It’s now an international movement of loosely organized, local groups. Each group solicits donations of handmade pottery bowls, soup and bread. Those attending the event, pick out a bowl, give a suggested donation of $10 and then they sit down to a simple meal of soup and bread. The handmade bowls are a reminder that there a many bowls that remain empty in our communities. The funds raised go to local food banks.

The studio in our town is located inside one of the community centers run by the city, which supports and sponsors our local Empty Bowls Project every year. We’re fortunate to live in a generous community that has helped the project become a must attend event each year.

To give you a perspective on how much our little event has grown, the first year there were about 200 donated bowls and about $2,000 dollars was earned. All proceeds were given to local food banks. Over the past 7 years many people have become involved to make the event a success. Schools, the local community college and individual artists donate their talents at special events to create the bowls, and each year more local restaurants donate soup and bread. By comparison, this year, over 2,000 bowls were donated, and about $15,000 was raised. For a community of between 50,000 and 65,000 people, if you count the outlying areas, that’s a huge amount of growth. Needless to say, our county agencies can use all the help they can get.

I don’t think the county I live in is much different than others around the country. There are a lot of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and a large percentage of those people are children. $15,000 will be a big help, but it won’t stretch to feed all the hungry people in our area for long.

On Sunday, after the Empty Bowls event, Barry gave a talk about the Project at the Unitarian Universalist church. During the talk, I overheard one gentleman say, “It’s sad that we live in the wealthiest country in the world and yet there are so many homeless and hungry people.” That is sad. But it doesn’t need to be our story. We can change it by rolling up our sleeves and getting to work, healing our inner money issues, and helping each other.

I wrote all of the above to help you understand the point of this post. To be free each person needs enough money so that they don’t have to worry about having enough food, a decent place to live, clothes on their bodies, proper health care, and all the other essentials of a good life. I get that because Barry and I have been struggling with money issues our entire married life. That’s why I decided to begin the tapping regimen that I mentioned last week. There have been times when Barry and I had to decide between paying a bill or buying groceries. We’ve never been destitute. We’ve always had a roof over our heads. But, to get just a taste of the struggles some people experience for long periods of time, makes me feel compassion for them.

Something we don’t often think about is that struggles with money are not just about earning a living wage. They’re also about finding your place in the world, and fulfilling your purpose.

For the last five years, Barry and I have been paying off our credit cards. It’s part of our long term plan to find financial freedom. During that time, we’ve been living within our means. It’s been a hard, but good lesson. Now we are on the verge of having surplus money and as a result, we’ve been talking about how to best use it. On the way home from church, we decided that we can give a monthly donation to our local food banks. This will help families who struggle each month to put food on the table.

To give food to people in need is one thing, but we decided we also need to support agencies that help provide education. We believe the old saying, “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” With proper education, many struggling families can find not only higher paying jobs, but self-esteem and hopefully their true purpose.

Of course there are so many other problems around this issue that need to be addressed, like raising the minimum wage, providing low income housing to more families and the like. However, one person can only do so much. It’s better to address one or two problems than to get overwhelmed and not do anything.

I’m glad to say that now that I’m seeing money in a new way, I feel more generous. For a long time when I got money, I wasn’t sure when I’d be getting more, so I hoarded it. I know now there is always more money on it’s way to me, which makes me more determined to share what I’ve got.

Barry and I are using our talents and our money to help people have enough food to eat and education to help them feel better about themselves. How will you help?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
LinkedIn

Suffering is Optional

Calla Lilies

Calla Lilies

“Let us never allow our daily doubts or private fears to blind us to the blessings all around.” –Brendon Burchard

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

“The only difference between heaven and hell is believing a thought.” –Byron Katie

Sometimes the cosmic tumblers fall into place and the door opens up to a new level of growth and healing. This recently happened for me. For years I’ve been working to clean up all the beliefs that I learned growing up that no longer serve my present life. I thought I was pretty close to being finished with that phase of growing into my full potential, but wouldn’t you know it, I got hit in the face with a big road block that I thought I’d healed these past few years.

About a year ago, I was introduced to The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner. Tapping is a way to reprogram your brain to release old, long-held beliefs that no longer serve you, or that have been holding you back. It’s also a great way to heal physical conditions or pain that you might be experiencing. I’ve used it off and on since my introduction to it and I’ve had fantastic results.

Last week I saw an invitation on Facebook from Nick to a free webinar about using Tapping to heal money issues and gain true abundance. I knew this was a teaser for a web course, but I decided to attend the webinar anyway. Tapping had been working for me in other areas of my life, why not see if it would help me get over the last humps of my money blocks. I decided not to sign up for the course, however, I did learn great techniques from the webinar. I’m going to use them to take another step on my healing journey.

As we practiced the tapping techniques, I was surprised to find a much larger network of beliefs, some of them long forgotten, about money that have been holding me back. I took the worksheet that Nick so generously gave us for free and began to dismantle those old beliefs. Each day tapping is part of my morning regimen. I record the shifts in my consciousness in my journal, and send Reiki to myself to help speed this process along.

I was reminded about how much suffering I can endure. It’s sad that most of us have learned to bury our pain deep inside and cover it over thinking that’s the best way to deal with it; that if we do that we won’t have to face the pain and suffering ever again. That’s not what happens, though.

I wish I could remember which spiritual teacher said, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” In my case, I’ve been choosing to believe something about my relationship with money that’s not true. And my husband and I have suffered because of those erroneous beliefs.

As I was thinking about this post, I was reminded of the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that illustrates so perfectly where I am in my life.

Commander Benjamin Sisko is assigned to clean up a situation in a far outpost of the Federation at a space station, Deep Space Nine. It orbits the planet Bajor. Benjamin has recently lost his wife in a terrible battle. He’s emotionally wounded. When he arrives he finds that the Bajorans are a very spiritual people and their government is run by spiritual leaders. He’s surprised to find one of the leaders, Kai Opaka, has come to inform him that his coming was foretold. He is the long awaited emissary. Of course, he’s skeptical. But when Kai Opaka presents him with the Tear of the Prophet, a mysterious looking orb, and he touches it, he enters an alternate reality where he has conversations with the Prophets. They ask him questions about his life. To his frustration, they take him back, again and again, to the moment of his wife’s death. They’re curious about these images he holds in his consciousness. He asks the Prophets why they keep taking him back to this moment in his life that is so painful. Their answer: “You exist here.” Sisko has been unable to heal after his wife’s death, so he relives the moment he found her, and realizes he can’t save her. The pain is so great, he can’t get past it. It’s in that confrontation with the Prophets that he knows he’s been torturing himself by being unwilling to face losing his beloved wife. He can’t face building a new life for himself and his son without her. This encounter with the Prophets helps him choose healing over repeated suffering.

I don’t think I’m alone in doing what the character Benjamin Sisko did in the TV show. I’ve been living with a certain set of beliefs about myself and money. I’ve been blocking a more prosperous and fulfilling life for myself. Experience has taught me that sometimes we hold onto our suffering thinking we deserve it, or if we deal with our pain, we’re being disloyal to those we’ve lost. Or we can’t see the path before us without the pain and suffering. We can’t imagine a better life. Sometimes we believe we will never be happy again. There are lots of reasons why we get emotionally and mentally stuck. I’ve been stuck and I’ve decided to allow myself to move on.

As Pema Chodron says, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” I find that idea comforting. I get a second and a third chance to improve my life by dealing with the issues that I’ve not yet finished healing. Now is the time for me to finish the work of healing my relationship with money. Who knows what issues I’ll be healing this time next year.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
LinkedIn

Fear and Decisions

Fear“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” –Pema Chodron

“Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Fear is a liar. It whispers in our ear that if we control that person, circumstance or situation, we’ll feel better. But fear lives inside not outside of us. So when your attempts to control outside events fail, it grows into a monster threatening to eat us alive. It cripples all aspects of our life, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, unless its faced. I know this from personal experience.

There have been times in my life when I made a choice based on fear’s advice. One instance was when, as a new college graduate, I took a job I knew in the pit of my stomach was not the right situation for me. Fear said, “Take the job. You might not get another offer. You need the money.” Foolishly I listened and for two years I worked for a toxic company. It was only when I nearly had a nervous breakdown, as we used to call them, that I woke up and faced my fear. Leaving that supposedly secure position was one of the best decisions of my life.

Elections are a prime time for politicians and commentators to spew fear. Natural disasters, war, or health threats are other times when fear whispers to those vulnerable to its call. Right now we’re in a vortex of events where, in my mind, Fear is rejoicing that there are so many people to feed upon. That’s a metaphor I chose on purpose. Fear feeds upon us.

I want to make it clear, we ALL feel fear from time-to-time. We can’t escape that fact. However, we can reduce or eliminate it with practice.

This is what I’ve learned in my process of facing fear. Its not strong. We think of fear as all powerful. Maybe because of the powerful emotions it evokes. But fear can’t stand up to scrutiny. When I’ve allowed myself to face my fear fully, then look beyond it to the myriad possibilities that fear is trying to hide from me, it dissolves. Not all at once, but the more I turn away from my fear, the more it shrinks.

There have been a number of times in my life when I know my family, and even some of my friends did not understand the choices I made. They thought I was crazy. Quitting my teaching job to become a writer, selling my house to fund a trip around the world, quitting that first job that was so toxic to get my Master’s in theatre. Oh, I’m sure many of my family members still shake their heads at the choices I’ve made.

But the thing is, it’s the people who look fear in the face that we admire. I admire Gabby Giffords, who was my Congresswoman, and now advocates for stricter gun regulations. Malala Yousafzai who promotes education for girls all over the world. The fearful tried to silence them by shooting them, but when they didn’t die, those two women became more powerful than ever before.

There are so many other people who’s names we don’t know, who are facing fear every day and winning. They are becoming powerful and doing great and creative things that contribute to all of humanity. We need them all if we’re going to create a new way to live that is more loving, more sustainable, more joyful.

We can’t control events outside ourselves. All we can control is our response to what happens to us. We can control our response to fear. Remember that when you go into the voting booth in a few weeks, or choose what to watch on TV or which pundits to listen too. Are they spreading fear, or hope?

It’s my prediction that the tide will turn away from fear. That we’ll take responsibility for embracing hope and love instead. That we’ll accept that life is unpredictable which makes living exciting. There can be a bright future ahead of us, if we choose it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
LinkedIn

How I Got the Idea for My Book

Dad, Lucinda, Mom

Dad, Lucinda, Mom

“If you want your children to be trustworthy, you have to trust them.” –James Calvin Sage

“People who hurt others are wounded themselves. They think hurting others will help them feel better, but that never works. It makes them feel worse. The only way to help them heal is to love them.” –James Calvin Sage

When authors are interviewed, they are almost always asked, “How did you get the idea for your book?” I’m about to publish my first novel, The Space Between Time, and I’ve been thinking about the answer to that question. The answer is: I wrote it for my Dad.

I started the book in 1999 after a visit to my parents. They lived in Quartzsite, Arizona at the time. My father had his first open heart surgery in the mid-80s and though I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that he would die of the disease one day, up until that trip, he had seemed much the same as he’d always been. That weekend I knew that he’d taken a turn for the worse.

On the five hour drive home, the idea for the book formed in my mind. I wanted to write about a father and daughter and their close relationship. I also wanted to have the twist of a character in the present with some connection to father and daughter but that storyline was very unclear to me.

When Barry and I got home, I sat down at the computer and began writing the storyline that was most vivid, the one set in 1858 Vermont with Morgan and her father Thomas. Of course, the character of Thomas Carlyle was designed after my Dad. In tribute to him, I gave him the professions he would have loved, minister, scholar, writer and teacher. Though, in a way those professions did describe my Dad. His daytime job was as a machinist, but he was a lay minister in our church as well. And even though he’d dropped out of school because of undiagnosed dyslexia, he taught himself to read, which he did voraciously. My father was infinitely curious about everything. So, in a way, he was very much like Thomas Carlyle.

The other things that I incorporated into Thomas that were like my Dad, was his wanderlust, and a deep love and understanding of his fellow human beings. Though Thomas hadn’t traveled a great deal, he wanted to travel west to build a new life. Unfortunately, he fell ill, making the trip impossible for him. He does, however, encourage Morgan to make the journey on her own and build a new life for herself. That’s very much like my dad. He was always encouraging us to go do things he’d never been able to do himself.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, shortly after I started the book, I had to set it aside because I began teaching full-time. So the book sat unfinished for eleven years. In the mean time, things happened to me that helped me understand how to write the timeline in the present. Also, my father died in 2004. That was ten years ago this month. It’s fitting that the novel that he inspired is now nearly ready for publication. I’ve got a better perspective on my relationship with my Dad, what I learned from him and how those lessons helped me navigate some deeply challenging times in my own life. I’m grateful to have had him as my father. I know he’d be proud of my accomplishment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
LinkedIn

Fall Cocoon

My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books

“How beautiful it is to do nothing at all and then rest afterwards.” –Spanish Proverb

“I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it.” –Shirley Conran

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” –Alan cohen

Every fall I feel myself going into hibernation, or cocoon mode. It feels like lots of transformation is going on under the surface, but whatever changes are happening to me aren’t ready to see the light of day as yet. I’m not quite sure what it’s all about, except that I have to stop trying to do so much and allow the process to happen. All I know is I’ve entered a season of quiet, and I must honor it.

In this country we think that to be worthwhile, we must be active, always doing, accomplishing something. I think it’s our Puritan work ethic which is slowly killing us. Work is good if it’s meaningful, but too much is detrimental to our health. Our bodies are designed to rejuvenate in sleep. The mind needs to be quiet. We need to refresh and renew every so often, instead of pushing ourselves to the limit. I believe that when we don’t allow ourselves to relax, we develop insomnia, nervous disorders, and other health problems. I’m not a doctor, or scientist. I didn’t take the time to research my statements. I’m just going by what happens to me when I try to push myself too hard.

This past spring, we had a short visit from a friend from Australia. He’s a Law Professor. His University gives him $25,000.00 travel stipend every year. They want him to go explore, make connections, get out of the office and learn something new. On top of that Australians get four weeks of paid vacation, and paid maternity leave. I’m envious. There are times when I wish I lived in a country that valued planned idleness and play, because that’s when inspiration and innovation come to us. I know my mind works much better when I’ve allowed myself to rest and focus on something other than the current project on which I’m working.

So, I’m going to follow my inclination to read lots of books, allow what I write to meander in fanciful ways. I’m going to take naps and generally enjoy myself this fall and winter. I hope you take some time off to play and relax when you need it too.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
LinkedIn