Reflections

Taj Mahal at sunset
Taj Mahal at sunset

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” ~ Margaret J. Wheatley

“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.” ~ Marcus Tillius Cicero

“My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.” ~ John Lennon

“Many scientists think that philosophy has no place, so for me it’s a sad time because the role of reflection, contemplation, meditation, self-inquiry, insight, intuition, imagination, creativity, free will, is in a way not given any importance, which is the domain of philosophers.” ~ Deepak Chopra

I’m a bit of a rebel. I don’t usually create New Year’s resolutions, or do the end of the year reflections. I don’t do them because resolving to improve myself and reflect on what I’ve learned is something I do on a continuing basis. However, after the year we’ve just had, I have some things I’d like to express.

2016 has been a fantastic year for me! For a while I got caught up the crazy political shenanigans, read lots of articles and such, got angry and sad. Then I realized that what was happening in society was part of the current of growth and change that is always flowing. Sometimes it’s underground, and other time, like now it’s more apparent. It was then that I gave up focusing on the outside and realigned myself to continuing to become a more open, loving, joyful and compassionate person. I felt like that’s how I can best contribute to our awakening.

This is a process I committed to on January 1, 2015. I was tired of my bouts of being unhappy and critical of my life choices. That felt like it didn’t fit with where I see humanity headed. So, I began the work of clearing out old thought patterns and embracing a new, or rather the real me.

I’m so glad I made that choice, because today I can say that every morning I wake up choosing to be happy and noticing all the abundant beauty and opportunities that come my way.

It sounds like becoming happy was easy. It wasn’t. I fought it for so many years because I thought we were meant to suffer. Letting go of that idea took way too many years. The day I acknowledged how I had tortured myself thinking I was getting closer to God by doing so, was my liberation day. I’m excited about the new life I’m creating.

I participated in several activities this year that helped contribute to the next step in my awakening.

I had a great time teaching two performance classes at the college, during the 2015, 2016 school year. My students wrote their own plays. It was great fun for both students and audience members. In the spring, most of the plays made reference to, or actually had a Star Wars storyline. Seeing the joy of creation on the students faces helped me embrace joy too.

Since I began writing in 2008, I have felt great satisfaction of creation. This year I finally finished my novel, The Space Between Time, except for minor edits. It’s been a nearly seven years journey of learning how to construct the plot, develop the characters and improve my overall writing. When I read Steven Pressfield’s book Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, his insights helped me put the final plot points together. It was kind like he knocked me up the side of the head and all the puzzle pieces landed into place. Not only that, I now have the tools to plot out the next novel and reduce the time I will need to create the story.

Something about Pressfield’s book along with other events, gave me the idea to create my video series, “Loving Literature”. This is a long term project that I’m looking forward to working on. Stories help me make sense out of my life and the world. I began the series hoping to be able to define for myself, and hopefully others, why story is so important. Then I read an article on Upworthy, about a little girl, born 16 weeks too early, who lived because her father read her the entire Harry Potter series. The mom, Kelley, said, “Stories were invented to conjure meaning from randomness. They give us our history, even our identity.” Tom, the father said of deciding to read the stories to his daughter, “Stories are a promise. They are a promise that the ending is worth waiting for.” What touched me the most about it was that when J.K. Rowling heard about Juniper and her parents, she sent them a special gift of the entire Harry Potter series for Juniper to read for herself. The inscription on the first books reads, “To the girl who lived.” Now that’s the power of story and how sharing stories with each other connects us in profound ways. If you want to read the article for yourself, here is the link. Or you can buy the book, Juniper: The girl who was born too soon by Kelley and Thomas French.

So, I’m committed to telling lots of stories both written and on video during 2017 and hopefully connecting with my readers in profound ways, and learning lots more great things about myself. I want to listen and support, I want to make a difference in at least one person’s life with my creative endeavors.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

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Four Days Before Christmas and …

It's a Wonderful Life Village
It’s a Wonderful Life Village

As this is posted, it’s four days before Christmas. I’m in Missouri with the Midgorden clan and we’re having a wonderful time.

Since the election, I’ve been soothing my frazzled nerves by watching lots of Christmas movies. I don’t watch the news and have even cut back on my check-ins on social media since I’m highly sensitive to the emotions of others, and lot’s of people are angry and hurting. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate my emotions from those of others.

These past two years I’ve been working on changing my thought patterns so that I can maintain my calm while chaos is happening around me. It’s my goal to be more trusting and loving to all people no matter what. I knew this when I was younger, but I let life beat me down. It’s been a challenge to regain that infallible knowledge that God, or the Universe, or the Field of All Possibilities has my back no matter what.

Anyway, as I was watching all the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, for which I’m grateful by the way, I got to thinking about the people who aren’t Christian. How do they soothe their fear, anger and disillusionment in this season of discontent? Reading, watching movies and focusing on my creative projects helps me feel better. Yet, it would be nice to read more books by authors from different countries, and to see movies about people from other cultures so I can get a feeling for the insights they gain from their experiences.

To that end, I’ve decided that this coming year I’m going to widen my reading and watching fare so I can deepen my understanding of people from other parts of the world. It’s one of the ways I can advance the cause of peace within myself and in my interactions with other people. If I’ve learned anything from the election, it’s that insulating oneself and being unwilling to change is not a good thing. I don’t want to do that. I want to be open, accepting, compassionate and loving.

Another thing I’ve been thinking is that it would be nice if the networks would open up their programing during this time of year to be more inclusive. It must sometimes feel quite oppressive to have so many programs centered around just one religion’s celebration. It’s just a thought. I know ratings are the name of the game, but I’d watch.

I thought I’d share a list of books and movies that helped me get a different perspective of the world, and the people in the stories.

The first three books and their corresponding movie, or mini-series, that were deeply affecting were, A Tale of Two Cities, Roots, and Shogun. Once I’d read those books and seen them on TV, I was irrevocably changed, especially given the fact that people really were beheaded because of their class, or association with that class, people were captured and transported here against their will, and foreigners were treated with deep suspicion.

Other stories that widened my world were:

A Price Above Rubies with Reneé Zellweger. It’s about a young woman who is married to a devout Jew. It tells of the problems the main character has in her marriage. She wants something more out of her life and eventually breaks free. This movie affected me long after I saw it. It’s a beautiful story of a woman searching for herself and her place in the world.

Loving Leah – A Hallmark Hall of Fame quirky love story revolving around the unexpected wedding and unconventional married life of a 26-year old devout Jewish widow and her late husband’s brother, a handsome 30-year old cardiologist. I loved this movie because it showed a bit about the Jewish culture and how love is something we all hope for.

The Book Thief – Both the book and the movie are fantastic. While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being protected by her adoptive parents. I loved both the book and the movie because it showed how some of the ordinary people of Germany might have coped under the oppressive Nazi regime.

Memoirs of a Geisha – Again, both the book and the movie are touching and poignant. Nitta Sayuri reveals how she transcended her fishing-village roots and became one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha. It’s a world shrouded in mystery. Again, we see how the ordinary people coped with World War II, and how the role of the Geisha was changed forever.

Bridge to the Sun – Based on a true story, this compelling drama relates the difficulties of a young woman married to a Japanese diplomat during World War II, a victim of suspicion and animosity from her husband’s government. I loved this story because it showed, like The Book Thief, and Memoirs of a Geisha, the life of the ordinary people during World War II, some of them not agreeing with their government.

Cheyenne Autumn – In the light of the stand off at Standing Rock, this might be of interest to you. It’s an older movie based on true events. When the government agency fails to deliver even the meager supplies due by treaty to the proud Cheyenne tribe in their barren desert reserve, the starving Indians having taken more abuse than it’s worth, break the treaty too by embarking on a 1,500 miles journey back to their ancestral hunting grounds. It paints some of the whites in a rosy light, but what is particularly interesting is the way the Native Americans are portrayed. They are proud and determined to live life on their own terms. They have conflicts among themselves but manage, at least for a time to gain their freedom. You can fast forward through the scenes with James Stewart playing Wyatt Earp which was added in leu of an intermission.

To round out my movie suggestions, you might want to watch Babette’s Feast. It’s based on the novel by Karen Blixen, of the Out of Africa, fame. I suggest it because it’s climax is a feast which most of us will soon be enjoying as well. In a remote 19th-century Danish village, two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister, and their church. They both have had opportunities to leave, but ended up taking care of their father. After his death, they take in a French refugee, Babette Hersant, who agrees to work as their servant. When Babette wins the lottery, she offers to repay them by cooking an elaborate French meal in honor of their father’s 100 birthday. The meal turns out to be an eye opening experience for everyone in attendance.

I hope you are able to have feasts and share lots of love this holiday season. Cooking and sharing a meal with those you love is one of the things we all have in common.

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

If you would like to receive notifications about my upcoming book, The Space Between Time, or my “Loving Literature” videos, you can join my email list by clicking this link.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Serendipity

Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan
Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan

“Most discoveries even today are a combination of serendipity and of searching.” ~ Siddhartha Mukherjee

“In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is dues to our efforts.” ~ Peter McWilliams

“I’ve always loved life, and I’ve never known what’s ahead. I love not knowing what might be round the corner. I love serendipity.” ~ Twiggy

The other day, a writer acquaintance of mine shared a story on her blog about how choosing to visit the Grand Canyon by herself on her birthday changed her life. She invited her readers to share a similar story, and I was moved to share the story below.

My husband, Barry and I live in rural Arizona, and one of the great pleasures of living here is the night sky. Other pleasures are the sunrises, sunsets and the wildlife outside our windows. How we came to move here twenty years ago is the story I’d like to tell today because I’ve been reminded lately about how often serendipity works in our lives. Often it goes right by and we don’t grab ahold of it’s shirt tail.

Barry and I had been living in Portland, Oregon for fourteen years. One of our dreams was to travel, but money was tight. We met a woman from Germany at a Reiki retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat Center. She needed a place to stay for a week until the next leg of her journey to New Zealand. Wanting to hear of her travels, we offered her our guest bedroom.

That week she regaled us with the stories of all the places she’d visited, and each night my husband and I went to bed talking about how we could take a trip outside the country.

One night as the three of us talked again about her travels, we told her of all the friends and family we had in various parts of the world. Viv said, “Well you know, a round the world trip ticket only costs about $3,000.”

All of a sudden our dreams became possible. We knew we were going to take the trip, but how to finance it?

On the day Viv was leaving, it was my husband’s birthday and we were going to a party for him at his place of work. I stopped at a local bank so she could exchange some money. While she was inside I said to the Universe, “How can we pay for our trip?” The answer came, “You could sell your house.” I felt a tingle run through my body starting at the top of my head and traveling all the way down to my toes. Right then I planned to talk my idea over with Barry on our way to his birthday weekend trip to the Oregon Coast.

When we were on our way, I waited, heart pounding until I thought it was the right time. Then I said, “I’ve thought of a way we can pay for our trip.”

He said, “Really, so have I. I wonder if it’s the same idea.”

“We can sell our house,” I said.

“That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

The energy inside the car was palpable. We knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime and we had to grab it. The entire weekend we made plans about when to leave, the things we needed to do to the house to get it ready to sell, what countries we’d visit, how long we’d be gone, and where we would land when we got back to the U.S.

Some people, mostly family members, thought we were crazy. But it was amazing how many people said, “I wish I were brave enough to to that.”

Everything fell into place so easily. It was as if God wanted us to take the trip. We found the perfect real estate and travel agents. Our house sold at the first open house. The housing market had just begun to boom so we made a ridiculous amount of money. We were offered a place to stay for the month before our departure. Everything worked out well, except for one thing, which in the end turned out to be the reason we moved to Arizona.

My father had had heart bypass surgery several years prior to our planned trip. Before we left, he had another emergency surgery and nearly died on the operating table. This was April, about three weeks before our departure. The weather in the Northwest that spring was cold, wet and miserable.

We flew to Phoenix to be with my mom and dad at the Phoenix Heart Hospital. My parents had retired there, and so had Barry’s parents. They lived in the Phoenix area and were there to meet my youngest sister, her husband, and us at the airport. It was 80 degrees and gorgeous.

My father lived, but almost losing him was a shock. For the first time it occurred to us that our parents were getting old. We wanted to be near them as much as we could during their remaining days. So the four of us discussed moving to Arizona, because even my brother-in-law’s parents lived in Tucson.

While we were on our fabulous trip, Barry and I discussed moving to Arizona instead of Southern Oregon, as we had dreamed of doing. Finally, when we were stuck in Olympia due to the death of a Greek national hero and statesman, we decided on Arizona as our new home. It’s been a good decision.

The trip was life-changing. If you’ve never traveled outside the country, I highly recommend it. Being in a new place can’t help but change your perspective. You learn something new about yourself along the way. Even after all these years, something will pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, or I’ll hear something on television and I’ll be transported back to one of the wonderful countries we visited.

Moving to Arizona without jobs was difficult at first, but we managed to find a lovely part of the state to live in, and as I wrote in the first paragraph, we have gorgeous scenery, plenty of wildlife, and quiet to keep us company. It’s a nurturing place for both of us because we’re creative types.

I’m so grateful for the times when something amazing has presented itself to me, and I’ve climbed aboard and gone along for the ride. I hope you do that too, because we don’t want to die with our music still in us, as Wayne Dyer used to say. That would be a tragedy.

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

If you’d like to join my email list to receive information about my soon to be published book, The Space Between Time, or my video series, “Loving Literature”, here is the link.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Literature and the Human Soul

Classic Books
Classic Books

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain … To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” ~ Kevyn Aucoin

“Literature must rest always on a principle, and temporal considerations are no principle at all. For, to the poet, all times and places are one; the stuff he deals with is eternally the same: no theme is inept, no past or present preferable.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“I found that dance, music, and literature is how I made sense of the world … it pushed me to think of things bigger than life’s daily routines … to think beyond what is immediate or convenient.” ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov

“I pray for the change in perception that will let me see bigger and sweeter realities.” ~ Anne Lamott

This past weekend I uploaded the first episode of my “Loving Literature” series. I’ve been having so much fun learning iMovie, finding the photos, writing the copy, and recording the talking head and voiceover segments. It’s a joy to wake up feeling energized, to know that I get to work on the videos and my writing. Why did I wait so long to allow myself to have this much fun?

As I’ve been working on the series, I’ve refined my ideas about why literature is so important to me. Over these last years of writing, a transformation, or perhaps a revelation has been going on in my consciousness. This revelation has been like chipping away pieces of marble to get to the sculpture living inside the stone, or maybe it’s cutting the jewel to reveal the fire within. Whatever the process has been, I’m coming to understand in a profound way why authors, poets, and playwrights feel compelled to write. We need to convey to our audience and ourselves the depths of what it means to be a human being.

This feeling about literature began to gel during Thanksgiving weekend as I talked with my second cousin about my video project. He’s a mathematician, and has a very different idea of how the world works than I. He told me he doesn’t understand literature. That got me thinking about different personality types and how we are each oriented to view the world in unique ways. I couldn’t articulate why I felt literature was so important during that discussion. But it got me thinking. Today I can. In posts earlier this fall, I said that the idea for the videos came to me because of some students who were struggling with reading, but it’s really more than that. The arts provide us with a way to change our perception of the world.

Now don’t get me wrong. I admire people who can do math and see the connections between numbers and abstract ideas. We need those kinds of people to help us figure out so many things, but there is no equation that can reveal the pain, fear, frustration, compassion, joy, or love humans experience every day. Mathematics is a function of the mind. Literature reveals what is going on in someone’s heart. And that’s what compels me to write my blog, books, and do this video series. I want to help people understand a little bit more about what it means to be a human being, and maybe even why we’re here interacting with each other.

I know that we each live in our own little universe and see the world in a unique way. From my viewpoint, it is through reading and watching plays and movies that I can get a glimpse into the way someone else experiences life. When that happens, my world view expands. I cherish the times when I open up to a new perspective. Somehow the connection between me and everything else on the planet deepens and I feel great joy in that moment. I want to help foster those kinds of experiences in others. It seems to me that feeling empathy for each other is something we need very badly right now. That’s the purpose of my video series.

In case you are interested in seeing what I’ve created, here is the link to the introduction video on YouTube. I hope you’ll go watch, and subscribe to my channel.

If you would like to join my email list to receive notifications of new additions to the series, or information about my soon to be published novel, The Space Between Time, you can join by using this link.

Thanks for reading. Welcome to my new followers. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016