Trust Serendipity

Our rosebush

Our rosebush

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – St. Francis of Assisi

This morning as I was thinking about what to write for this week’s post, serendipity came to my rescue. The above quote was in my email inbox. When I read the quote, I was reminded of the process I’ve used while writing my first novel, The Space Between Time. It spoke to me because it implies the miracle of serendipity. As I’ve been writing my book, serendipity has played a big part in my creative process.

I began writing this novel in 1999 after a visit with my Mom and Dad in Quartzsite, Arizona. My dad had heart disease, and though he’d been active for more than ten years, I could tell during that visit, that he was beginning to decline.

On the five hour drive home, the idea for one of the story lines of the novel came to me. I wanted to write a kind of love letter to my dad with a relationship between a father and daughter reflecting the relationship I had with my father. This is what came to me: In 1858 Vermont, a minister and his daughter are nearly the only family they have. Their relationship is very close. A letter arrives from a former student of the father’s urging them to come to Southern Oregon. The town where he lives needs a teacher and since the town is growing so fast the father could find work as well. Unfortunately, by the time the letter arrives, the father has been diagnosed with cancer. During his illness he encourages his daughter to travel West, which she does after his death.

After a few months of writing, life intervened and I got a full-time teaching job, which took up so much of my time, I had to set the novel aside. It wasn’t until 2010, six years after my father’s death, that I was able to pick up where I’d left off. By then I had an idea, which I didn’t know how to execute, of having a storyline in the present that somehow intertwined with the events in the past. That idea rumbled around in my mind nagging at me for about a year, until one day a guest speaker came to the writing group I was attending.

The guest speaker was a local writer who had published several books, all military intrigue and action, one of which was about to be made into a movie. At the beginning of the session, he asked each of us to describe what we were working on. When I described my book, he said, “You know, you could have a link between someone in the present with the woman in the past. Something unusual like that is kind of popular right now.” I told him I had been wanting to do just that, but I hadn’t been able to come up with a plausible way to make that happen. Well, of course, on the drive home the idea of how to link the two timelines came to me.

As I was nearing the San Pedro River, I seem to get a lot of inspiration from that river, it occurred to me that the woman in the present could find some journals written by her many times great-grandmother and when she opened the first book to read, her consciousness would merge with her great-grandmother’s and she would experience portions of life with her. I knew this was just the right direction to take my book because the familiar feeling of elation descended upon me. It happens whenever I think of the best possibility, direction, or action to take.

For the next several months, I woke up every morning excited to develop the timeline in the present and linking the two women in the past. I liked the way the book was taking shape, but try as I might, I couldn’t think of a title. Whenever I talked about working on my novel, the first question people would ask was, “What’s the title?” I had no idea. Nothing I’d come up with so far seemed right.

Again serendipity came to my aid. It was late in the fall semester 2013. I was driving home from teaching my evening college class and I was listening to The Beatles on my iPod. I don’t even remember the song that was playing but something about the lyrics clicked and I knew that I was going to title my book, The Space Between Time. Again, I felt that tingle in my stomach, and goose bumps came up on my skin. I knew that was the right title for this book.

I finished the rough draft in December 2013. For the next year, I made revisions and found an editor, all the while considering how I was going to promote my book. I don’t have much experience with marketing and promotion. Since I was going to self-publish, I was concerned about how to get the word out about my book to potential readers, but no solutions presented themselves. I was getting anxious.

I think it was in the spring or maybe summer of last year, that a friend I’d met on Facebook, Dorothy Sander, sent me a #FF message, along with several other women, on Twitter. Dorothy is a writer as well and we had exchanged messages on her Aging Abundantly Writer’s Meet Up page on Facebook. Her latest book, Finding Hope: Inspiration for the Midlife Journey, is available at Amazon. You can also find her blog, “Manifest Me” on WordPress. Now I have to say, I’m old enough that I don’t fully understand all the etiquette of social networking. But on the day I got Dorothy’s message, I thought Oh, Dorothy must be encouraging all of the women listed to connect with each other. So, I went and followed each of them and sent them a short personal message. When they followed me back, I sent each one an individual thank you. Since I didn’t send these as private messages, they showed up on the public stream of tweets. The next day I was astonished to find four or five new follows in my Twitter feed. I thanked them as I had the original women, and so my Twitter group began to grow. Each day I would get new followers and every few days I would go and send a personal thank you to each new follower. Often, if I like their profile statement, I’ll follow them back. The day Dorothy sent me that #FF message, I had about 180 followers. This morning when I checked Twitter I found I have 742 followers. Now, I know that’s not a huge amount over a six month period, but by sending a personal thank you to each follower, I increased my social media influence, and I didn’t have to buy followers who aren’t interested in me personally.

Another way I’ve grown my Twitter presence is to retweet posts that I like. Many of them are about books coming out. It’s my way of paying it forward. If I help other authors promote their work, perhaps when I publish my book they will return the favor.

Who knows if my strategy of building a social networking presence will help me create a following of readers. I’m trusting serendipity to continue to come to my aid in that respect as well. All I know is that I’ve met some wonderful creative people along the way. Twitter is just one of my successes in increasing my web presence. More about that in next week’s post.

I don’t have all the answers about how to gain followers and readers. When I think of spending hours reading books, or taking courses about marketing and promotion, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. When I think of concentrating on my writing and devoting a few hours a week connecting with people on social media, I feel much better. So, I’ll let go of trying to control events and I’ll let serendipity be my guide.

Watch for news of the launch date for The Space Between Time this spring 2015.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Following My Own Star

Stars

Stars

“The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” – Benjamin E. Mays

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

I’ve always had a longing to follow a different star than many of my classmates, family and friends. For many years I kept that desire hidden because I was afraid. I was afraid of what others would think, of what I’d have to sacrifice, but mostly I was afraid to trust that all would be well if I threw caution to the wind and followed the guidance I was being given. Oh how I wish I hadn’t wasted all that time.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve stopped caring about the opinions of others. The voice, or feeling drawing me toward complete immersion in joyous creation is stronger than all my petty fears ever were. I’m so much happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. Each morning I wake up looking forward to the day instead of dreading doing work that kills my soul.

This phenomenon of following your own star isn’t new nor is it happening only to me. Every single one of us have our own star to follow, our own purpose to fulfill. Some of us grab ahold and have the ride of our lives. Others are like Ivan Ilyich, a character in the story, “The Death of Ivan Illyich” by Leo Tolstoy. Ivan Illyich has taken pains to build a life that looks great from the outside, but he has never fulfilled the purpose he came to live. Perhaps he was too afraid of who he really was, or he didn’t want to do the work necessary to follow his heart. Who knows what blocks us from fulfilling our dreams. On his death bed Ivan realizes that because he tried to make his life look good, he was selfish. He didn’t offer up his talents to help anyone else. I like the way Wayne Dyer says it, “Don’t die with your music still in you.” The saddest thing is when someone realizes in their final moments, that for whatever reason, they wasted their life doing things they hated. It’s sad when people ignore their calling.

The paradoxical thing is that to be of service to the world, we must often appear selfish when it comes to listening to our inner guidance. It’s only when we listen and follow that we can be in true partnership with the Divine, and bring something extraordinary to help lift humanity out of darkness. There have been many people throughout history that we identify as those types of people. The thing is we don’t allow ourselves to think that we can be one of them too. At least I didn’t allow myself to think that until recently. We don’t have to be Jesus, or Buddha, or Gandhi, or any of the other giants of history to make our contribution. Think of life as a puzzle. If one piece is missing the picture isn’t finished. Not all pieces are bright and prominent, but each piece is needed.

You might ask, how will I know what my purpose is? The way I knew was by paying attention to my feelings. I asked myself what activities and tasks brought me joy. When I was in the midst of doing what I loved, time stood still and at the end of it I felt energized, not drained. The trick is to put more of your focus and determination into doing what brings you joy rather than the things that don’t. Little by little you will be able to drop what doesn’t serve you and live a purpose driven life.

That’s actually been my goal in life all along, to live in partnership with the Divine, to fulfill my purpose. To listen to that still small voice and follow It’s guidance. Over the years I’ve come to understand that everything I do, whether I’m letting my ego take control, or I’m listening to the Divine whisper, I’m affecting the world. It’s not a new concept, the idea that we’re all connected. The thing is, once I felt the truth of this idea, I was much more careful about what I thought and did.

I know now that Marianne Williamson’s quote above is right. It doesn’t help anyone to play small. That quote is one of my favorites, because it’s as if she wrote it directly to me. Many times I felt the pull to blend into the background and play small. I was afraid of my own light. Not anymore.

It’s long been my mission to empower people. No matter what work I was doing, that has always been my goal, to help people come out of the shadows and shine so the whole world benefits from the light. That’s been my goal because it’s what I most need to learn. Let’s learn it together.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Leaving the Past in the Past

December 2, 2014 sunrise over the San Jose Mountains

December 2, 2014 sunrise over the San Jose Mountains

“Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” –Kristin Armstrong

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” –Aristotle

“If you want to reach out for something new, you must first let go of what’s in your hand.” –Sonia Choquette

I’m in a period of transition. Last month my husband and I made the last payment to our credit card debt, I’m turning 62 this year and the publication date for my first novel is fast approaching. My life is changing in a big way, which I love. Yet, it’s strange to have this new life stretching out in front of me. I don’t know what to expect and that’s at once liberating and daunting. How do I allow new things to come into my life without assuming that my future will be very much like my past?

Part of what prompted this post is the fact that I picked up A Course In Miracles again and was reminded that the past isn’t real. What happened to me in the past is gone and will never occur again. Yet, sometimes I allow it to continue to affect me in a big way. There have been times when I’ve assumed that life will continue on much as it has gone before. A Course in Miracles points out that our minds are powerful creators, and sometimes we recreate what has happened in the past over and over again. But it needn’t be that way. It’s kind of paradoxical that we can learn from what happened to us in the past, but our present and subsequent future is a blank. We can create it any way we want. It’s all in the way we “think” about what is to come.

In the past, when I was on the threshold of a new life, I wanted a new fresh start, but leaving old attitudes and expectations behind was really difficult. First of all I had a hard time imagining how I would feel living my new life. Second, My little ego thought it knew what was best for me and so tried to be the guide. Third, I didn’t trust that I could really let go and let God fashion a new life for me. I was afraid. This time I want things to be different.

As we grow we are taught by our parents and society that we can be anything we want to be if we’re lucky, or that we’re worthless if we’re not. Many of the things we’ve learned hold us back. They clog up our mind and we keep repeating patterns from our past that don’t serve us. We don’t love ourselves enough to allow in all the great things that the Divine wants to give us. Our ego defeats us. This has been my lifelong struggle between being of service to fulfill my purpose, and to be hampered by wanting to be in control of my own life. Maybe you too have experienced this struggle. Over the years as I’ve studied, prayed and worked at letting go of my past, I’ve made some progress in understanding my place in the world.

What I’ve learned is that we are connected to each other and the Source of All that is. We’re all part of something bigger than ourselves, something bigger than we can imagine. Our ego doesn’t see this connection and wants to be in control of directing our choices so we can end up with all the toys. That gets us into trouble.

When we let go of trying to control every little thing that happens to us, and allow our Source to be in charge, there is a joyful bond to our purpose. We know we’re in partnership with our Source when fear leaves us and we feel the ecstasy that comes from co-creating with Her.

Letting go of the past, releasing the old beliefs that no longer serve us and realizing that our ego does not have our best interests at heart is a deeply personal, internal journey. It’s something that we chip away at a little at a time. I believe it takes courage to grow. However, I’m happy to say that for me, it has been worth it. I’m committed to letting the past go and becoming a partner with the Divine so I can fulfill my place in whatever the bigger plan for our world might be.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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New Year Resolutions, Bah Hum Bug!

Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” –Neil Gaiman

“If you live your life with the regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow, you will have no today to be thankful for.” –as posted by The Master Shift on Facebook

I’m not big on making New Year Resolutions. I’ve rarely made them. It’s not that I don’t resolve to make changes in my life, I just don’t confine making resolutions to the beginning of the new year. I do understand why people make New Year Resolutions. It’s the perfect time to take stock of your life and look back at where you’ve been and where you’d like to go in the coming year. It’s goal setting. However, every day is a new beginning and that’s why I don’t make resolutions at the beginning of every new year.

For many years now, I’ve been practicing living in the moment. I can’t say I’ve mastered the technique. However, the more I practice, the more I realize that I may make a resolution, then discover on the next day it has nothing to do with what I learned yesterday. That means I’m constantly doing course corrections. I know the common wisdom is to make daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. That’s just not how my mind works. There will be days when my head is so full of the things I want to accomplish, that I write them down and check them off as I go just to be sure I’ve accomplished what needs to be done. That is a rare occasion, however.

Some years ago I read an article about birth order. The study had shown certain traits that most first borns, which is what I am, second borns and so on exhibit. I didn’t fit the first born mold at all. Most first borns are over achievers, they like to make lists, they follow the rules, they like order. As I wrote in a blog post earlier this year, I’m a pantser. In other words I like to fly by the seat of my pants. It makes me extremely uncomfortable to be forced to follow strict rules, or to set goals and then stick to them even if they no longer apply. When I was teaching, I had to write lesson plans but I always left room for the miracle question, or the thing that would happen in class that was the teachable moment. You can’t plan those kind of moments. I knew this about myself at an early age and that’s why I chose the direction of theatre, teaching and writing. Being creative means you’re breaking the rules, or creating new ones, not following them.

I will say I have overall goals for my life, but I know from experience that often what I envision doesn’t happen in the way, or in the time span that I thought it might. That’s perfectly okay with me. There is something so exciting about being open to all the wonderful possibilities that might come my way. And boy, have I had some amazing things happen to me.

If you’re a person who needs to set goals and make resolutions, I applaud you because it shows a desire to make positive changes in your life. There are so many different personality types, and ways of being in the world. We need them all. Without the people who like to follow the rules and stick to schedules, planes, trains and buses wouldn’t run on time. The fabric of society would be strained. We need all personality types, and approaches to life. I celebrate all of us.

My point of this post is this: Be open to altering your resolutions, and don’t think you have to wait until New Years Day to make them. You can choose to make a change for the better at anytime. If you pay attention to the events of your life, you’ll get clues about possible changes you could make. Most people call them mistakes, or disasters. I call them opportunities. Sometimes we need to be shaken up to see a road that was invisible to us before. Take heart when seemingly bad things happen. Every moment is a new beginning. Just keep moving forward. The answers will come to you.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a fabulous 2015.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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