Terrible TV

Statue of Zeus in Greece

Statue of Zeus in Greece

“A moment of anger can destroy a lifetime of work, whereas a moment of love can break barriers that took a lifetime to build.” ~ Leon Brown

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~ Anne Frank

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” ~ Joseph Campbell

The other night I had a rare evening to myself and I thought I’d watch something on television. I’m pretty picky about what I watch. The series, movie, or educational program has to be informative, positive, and/or shed some light on the human condition. I couldn’t find anything to watch that I thought was worthwhile, or that I thought was interesting.

Ever since the first episode of Survivor aired, I’ve watched television decline into competitions, name calling, with a dog-eat-dog kind of mentality as a major part of the program. TV, like all visual/emotional story telling, is a powerful tool for impacting the viewer. We are often unaware of how deeply our thinking and feeling has been influenced by what we watch. I believe these divisive kind of shows have contributed to the change in our society from kind to mean.

I know that TV is entertainment and people have the choice to watch what they want. But I wonder if this kind of dumbed down programming has also contributed to other declines in our society. The masses get one kind of entertainment, while the more well-to-do get another. If that’s the case it makes me sad.

Yet there may be hope. Great programming has emerged in unlikely places. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other networks outside the traditional stations are offering interesting documentaries, and fictional shows that people are talking about. PBS is enjoying a resurgence in popularity since Downton Abbey aired. They, of course, have always offered great programs of all kinds. Choosing our entertainment is just a matter of deciding what kind of energy we want to put into our brains, mindless bickering, or something enriching.

Not all modern programs and movies are bad. For example, I have heard people lament the proliferation of superhero movies. Some people think that we should watch nothing but classic movies and television. But I disagree. Entertainment reflects what’s happening in our society. So to me, the abundance of fantasy, sci-fi, and superheroes in our entertainment is a clue to what is going on in our collective unconsciousness at this juncture in history.

I think it was Joseph Campbell who said about the popularity of the Star Wars movies, that we modern humans hunger for our own myths. These new kinds of stories strike a cord with people who want their own kinds of heroes to look up to and emulate. These modern mythological characters deal with their inner and outer demons much like in ancient myths, however, they do it differently.

One of the ways heroes in modern mythological stories are different than those of old, is that they band together to face the common foe. Like Harry says to the villain in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, “I’ve never fought alone, you see. And I never will.” It is only in working together that wrongs can be righted, or a problem solved. It is tempting to think that we are fighting the big battles alone, but we don’t have to. It’s harder to break ten sticks bound together than it is one lone stick. That’s a good thing to teach our young people.

Okay enough ranting about television for today. Maybe I shouldn’t care since I have reduced the amount of TV I watch over the years. However, I do want to see good stories being told in all kinds of mediums. I want to see stories where the characters learn something valuable, and are able to make themselves and their world a better place in which to live. Those are the kinds of stories that inspire me.

I will most likely address this issue again in my upcoming YouTube series, “Loving Literature.” Stay tuned for the launch date.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Thank You Mr. Trump!

Caring Hand

Caring Hand

“When we see others as less than perfect, we move out of alignment with the field of infinite potentiality. We clog up the pipes of our own good.” ~ Pam Grout E Cubed.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~ Melody Beattie, Author of Codependent No More

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” ~ Dalai Lama

I know what your thinking. How can she say thank you to Donald Trump? He’s the most hated man in the world at present and most people think he’s an embarrassment to our country. Because of him we’ve lost all the respect we gained by having Barack Obama as our President. Well, I traveled outside our country twenty years ago and I can say maybe we gained some respect because of President Obama, but we’ve had a bad reputation around the world for quite some time. We just didn’t want to face up to why that is. Donald Trump revived old feelings and attitudes that have been festering under the surface for perhaps the entire life of our country. He’s the head on the pimple at the end of our collective nose and we can’t ignore the infection any longer.

There is a big difference between his supporters, and detractors. His supporters see him as the get out of jail pass. Because he speaks his mind about … do I really need to enumerate the list again? … he garners support from the people who were too afraid to express those same feelings out loud. They love him for reinforcing their fear and hate. They don’t want to do any self-examination, he gives them permission not to.

Those who oppose Trump go on and on about how horrible he is, but find it easier to tear him apart than to admit that he’s made us take a good look at the unsolved problems in this country. He’s sticking our faces in the cow pie. We don’t like it so we’re waking up.

For a number of months I’ve been thinking about writing this very post, but the ideas wouldn’t gel. I was appalled by Trump’s antics. Like lots of other people, I couldn’t figure out how he got to be the GOP nominee. I hated the fear and hate he spews, his blatant disrespect for others, and the way he never takes responsibility for what he says and does.

Then it it me, I HATED! I’d rather hate him than look at all the unresolved issues we face in this country, and that I need to address in myself.

For so long we patted ourselves on the back because of the outcome of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Women’s Movement, and the demonstrations against the Viet Nam War. Most of us thought we’d conquered our demons. There was no more work to do. We now had the perfect society. But underneath the surface, tensions were building. Policies were made that helped the rich get richer, kept the military machine growing, big pharma gouging, big oil, gas, and coal raping the environment, while the middle class shrunk and we pointed fingers at each other blaming this group or that for the erosion of our lives.

Then Donald Trump came along, (and Bernie Sanders) and blew the lid off our delusions. And here is the good thing about that … we’re talking, we’re examining, we’re looking at the causes and how we can fix things.

I thank Donald Trump for that because he made me take a good look at how I sat by passively thinking that I didn’t need to do any more work. But the truth is, I live one mile from the Mexican boarder. Yet I have no desire to visit Mexico, because of the rape gangs, the drug trafficking and the like. (Those are real by the way, just like it’s real that people from other countries hesitate to visit the U.S. because of our gun violence.) It’s ironic that I feel that way because I taught school in a border town. Most of my students were of Mexican descent and I can honestly say, I had never in my teaching career been treated with such respect by both students and parents as I did while teaching in that town. Trump is making me take a really good look at all my prejudices, and helping me make new choices about how I see and treat people.

I laughed out loud this morning as I picked up E Cubed To do the next experiment “I’m Loving and I know It.” I had been contemplating what to write in this post, and it reinforced the way I have been feeling. In the chapter Pam tells a story about something she once heard Wayne Dyer say, that he had a photo of Rush Limbaugh on his alter along with a lot of other masters, because loving Rush “offers us a Ph.D. program in loving unconditionally.”

I don’t have an alter, but Donald Trump is the person I pick to learn to love unconditionally. If he hadn’t come along it might have taken me, (and the country) a lot longer to get off my tush and examine all those holes where I stuffed my prejudices. He showed me the kind of person I DO NOT want to be.

How do I learn to love Donald Trump you might ask. I took Pam’s advice and thought of him as a little boy being taught to hate, fear, and treat people terribly by his father and grandfather. He didn’t have a chance. Now he’s so used to his way of life, he doesn’t want to change, or maybe he doesn’t think he can change. He has really bought into Worldview 1.0.

In E Cubed, Worldview 1.0 is the old adage, “It’s me and you (and I’m not so sure about you) against the world.” It’s outdated and needs to be changed. Worldview 2.0 is “Being in love with everyone and everything brings me into alignment with the FP.” The FP is the field of infinite potentiality, or God if you prefer. That’s where we’re headed. In fact, even mainstream politicians, thinkers and journalists are saying that we’re on the brink of great change for the better. We had to have several national crisis events (Donald Trump is only one of those) to help us see that we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for to fix the world. It’s only through loving and caring each other that we can transform problems into opportunities for all.

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Trump.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Default to Happiness

Pumpkin Possibilities

Pumpkin Possibilities

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.” ~ Tecumseh, Native American Leader

“The simplest way to say it is that I think we’re all dealt these cards in life, but the cards in and of themselves don’t read one way or the other. It’s up to you to home in and cultivate whatever you’ve got in your hand.” ~ Pharrell Williams

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

This past week I had a big “AHA” moment. Even though I think of myself as a mostly happy person, I’m not. Or at least, my first reaction to things is negative rather than positive. The thing is I thought I’d taken care of this 30 years ago. But as with any healing process, you have to revisit the issue and do more work until the change is complete.

This new aha came by doing the first experiment from the book E Cubed. In this, and the first book E Squared, Pam Grout teaches the reader how to change the way we look at the world by doing thought experiments. This latest experiment that I’m doing has to do with setting my day for happiness and calling for amazing things to happen to me.

This first experiment is accomplished by playing a series of games. This first one is called “The Right Side of the Bed (or Start You Day with a Laugh Track).” For the first five minutes after getting out of bed, you throw a “feel-good party” for your brain. You listen and even dance to one or more joyful songs. The first one on her list is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. It happens to be one of my favorite songs. The second thing you do is to pump your fists in the air with complete glee, repeating this movement five times. The third thing is to pretend you just made a goal in the finals, when the score was tied. Fourth do the Harlem Shuffle on your way to the bathroom, (I don’t know what that is, so I just do some kind of dance as the song plays). The fifth thing I haven’t done outside, but it’s to stretch your arms wide to salute the sun that comes up everyday without having to pay for it.

This is what happened the first day. I found and hour long version of “Happy” on YouTube. The song is looped. The first time through, Pharrell is singing and dancing to the music, then regular people follow. As I watched and sang along, I started to cry at the line, “Clap along if you think that happiness is a truth,” and it hit me that I want to think happiness is a truth, but I don’t. I’m one of those billions of people who thinks that happiness is always followed by something sad or bad. Yikes! How did I become that person?

The truth is things in my outer world often set me off. Like hearing all the stupid things Trump does, or sometimes personal circumstances set me off. I feel frustrated and angry that this or that keeps happening. Just today, I’m working really hard to keep my equilibrium. I want to be happy all the time and see my life changing for the better. I want to see things in a positive light first, rather than complaining. Maybe it’s just part of human DNA that we assume the worst first. But somehow I feel that’s wrong. I don’t believe that God sent us here to suffer. I never believed that, but somehow those ideas wormed their way into my thinking.

That’s why I bought Pam Grout’s books and started doing the experiments because I want to get rid of negative thinking and bring happiness and amazing things into my life. As Pam, quantum physicists, and so many spiritual teachers point out, our thoughts create our reality. When I look around at the world we’ve created, I’m sad and dismayed. I don’t want to live in that world any longer. So, I’m  going to continue to work at changing my personal reality.

I know some people think that’s magical thinking, or that I’m a Pollyanna. And I say, “Yep! I’d rather be Pollyanna than someone like Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, certain politicians, or religious leaders.” I want to see the world as a beautiful place full of happiness and love. I want that way of seeing the world to be my default setting. To that end, I’ve decided that when things look bleak or I’m out of sorts for any reason, I’ll plug in my headphones and listen to “Happy” or some other uplifting song until my mood has changed. I did that yesterday and this morning while I was working in the kitchen. It was fun. I may do that every morning until I wake up feeling like every new day is going to be amazing and fun. So, with that in mind, I’m off to do more writing and working on my soon to be launched video series.

I hope you have an amazing day. Thanks for reading.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

The Importance of Story

Dad and me on Easter Sunday

Dad and me on Easter Sunday

“Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.” ~ Helen Keller

“Every man’s work, whether it be literature, or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.” ~ Samuel Butler

“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” ~ Boris Pasternak

“No matter what is happening in life or in the world – war, natural disaster, poor health, pain, the death of loved ones – if existence is filled with art, music and literature, life will be fulfilling, a joy.” ~ Karen DeCrow

In the next week or so, I’m going to launch a video series on YouTube titled, “Loving Literature”. At first I thought, “This can be a tool for teachers to use.” But later I realized that the real reason I’m doing this series is to relive some of the great things I learned as a result of my dad staying up late with me on Friday and Saturday nights watching movies. I loved those times together with him and I loved that he helped me understand that even if a story is deceptively simple, there are always layers of meaning hidden within the plot, characters and setting.

I was gratified last week, when one of my acting students said to me, “You’re right. This scene seems simple, but there is a lot going on between the two characters.” Hah, another student won over! Thanks dad.

I’ve learned it’s like that in life too. When I have an encounter with someone there are so many things going on. There is what’s going on inside me, and what’s going on inside the other person. Sometimes outside circumstances even play a part in the encounter. Because of my practice analyzing fictional stories, I can analyze the situation with that other person, and hopefully either work things out, or help the relationship deepen. It’s all because I had a great dad who asked me all kinds of questions about the movies we watched together. Because of that, I understand a little bit more about why people do what they do.

I don’t know if my video series will help anyone understand themselves and others better. Or if it will help them learn to think more critically. I hope it will. All I know is that I have a passion for discussing all kinds of literature and I want to share that love with others.

My husband and I were watching an episode of Ancient Aliens the other day. It was about the similarities in the mythologies of all the ancient cultures and how we’ve taken the basics from those stories and created new mythologies in the science fiction and superhero stories we tell today. They cited Joseph Campbell and his work in finding the similarities in the myths of ancient cultures. He said, “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.” In other words, story is in our DNA. we need stories to help us make sense of our world.

So, I’m embarking on this new adventure. (Don’t fret. I’m nearly finished with The Space Between Time, and I will continue to post this blog weekly.) I don’t know where it will take me, but I think it’s going to be fun. I’ve got the “donut”, as my husband says the intro and outgo are called, created and the first episode ready to place in the middle. And I have ideas for at least four or five more episodes. I’d love to hear your ideas of what I could talk about. Feel free to leave them in the comments below, or at my writer’s site on Facebook. You can also tell me why you love reading, watching movies or TV. Is it more than entertainment? It is for me.

Thanks for reading. I hope you leave a comment and share this post with your friends and family.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016