What I Learned from Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

“I’m full of fears and I do my best to avoid difficulties and any kind of complications. I like everything around me to be clear as crystal and completely calm.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

I’m a little slow on the uptake, or maybe it’s just that now I fully understand, on all levels, that key ingredient that makes great writing endure. It’s emotion. You have to engage the reader, or audience member emotionally, or they won’t remember your work. “I remember most how the books made me feel.” A recent guest said on the “What Do I Read Next” podcast by Anne Bogel, that I have recently subscribed to.

I’m also taking a course through Turner Classic Movies about Alfred Hitchcock. An interesting thing I’ve learned about his style was that he always wanted his audience to connect emotionally with his main characters.

Then I felt chagrin when I realized, my last two posts, which got no likes or comments, were too intellectual. They didn’t express the emotion that I always feel when I make connections between big ideas. I often feel a sinking or rising feeling in my solar plexus. What I feel physically confirms what I think I know intellectually. But now I see that I have not done a good job expressing those emotion so you, my readers can connect to my excitement, or dismay, or whatever the heck I’m feeling. In a way, I’m just following my strengths.

I don’t mean to play “The Devil made me do it,” card. Let me explain before I go on. When I was teaching high school, someone recommended that I read the book Teach With Your Strengths, by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller. I love finding out more about my personality traits, so I bought the book. At the end you take the quiz to discover what your top five strengths are. Mine are empathy, intellection, connectedness, ideation, and strategic. Four of those strengths have to with the way I use my brain. Even though empathy is at the top of the list, I have to admit, I was completely surprised by the last four traits. Never before had I even thought about why I love to analyze everything. But when I watched the interview segments last week with Alfred Hitchcock, I got it. I’m a little bit like him, deadpan on the outside, swirling with emotions on the inside.

When something happens to me, lots of emotions are churning around inside me. But over the years through lots of moves, and toxic school, and work environments, I’ve learned to play ‘possum. It’s my defense mechanism to keep myself from getting ridiculed. So on the outside I look perfectly calm, while inside my emotions are doing somersaults. Alfred Hitchcock was the same way during the interview we watched in class. He was so deadpan. Yet what his many biographers, the instructor, and many movie critics have said is that, what makes his movies endure is how they make us feel. So, he must have been in touch with universal human emotions on some level.

That’s something I need to keep working on as a writer, especially when I’m working on these blog posts and other non-fiction work. Because the best non-fiction books I’ve read tell personal stories that engage my emotions as a reader. I can relate to the feelings expressed by the author.

This insight couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve begun working on a new book titled, Inner Life of a Late Bloomer Baby Boomer, and even though it’s not a memoir, the essays do express my personal viewpoint about life. Each piece needs to reveal my emotions about the ideas I’m sharing. I think this will be easier now that I’m older and have been more open about expressing how I really feel instead of keeping silent. No more playing ‘possum for me.

Just now as I write this post, I know why I didn’t continue on with a higher degree in religion. It’s because theater grasped my emotions and taught me many of the same things that were expressed in my religion classes. But, theology is too academic. I honestly don’t remember many of the concepts I learned during those years of studying religion. What I do remember was how excited my instructors were to share the subjects they loved. Their excitement rubbed off on me and my world view was expanded, but the details of the concepts are gone.

So, I feel I must apologize to all of you. I’m going to work on infusing my work with more emotion, even while sharing the interesting ideas that spark my imagination. It’s a goal that should keep me busy for the next twenty or thirty years, and I hope will improve my writing.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

The Magic is Within You

Red Shadow Sky
Red Shadow Sky Magic Wand Sunset Cloud Girl

“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” ~ Jane Austen, from Mansfield Park

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” ~ Gloria Steinem

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The main thing to do is relax and let your talent do the work.” ~ Charles Barkley

“Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.” ~ Hillary Clinton

“I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” ~ J. K. Rowling

Recently my Facebook feed has been inundated with ads for apps that help writers come up with plots, market their books, create great characters, create a best seller, or yada, yada, yada. I’m sorry, but I don’t think an algorithm can create a better book, or article than the one that comes from a human being’s imagination, experience, and heart. The magic is within the artist to follow unlikely trails that lead to a piece of artwork that touches others. We all have the magic inside of us.

I’ve always had, at least since I became self-aware, an internal advisor that I called my “Little Voice”. This voice is different than my inner critic, which I also had and sometimes they would battle for my attention. But as I grew, I learned that if I followed my little voice, things would turn out well. If I followed my inner critic, I’d find myself in the middle of a disaster.

I’m convinced that we all have an inner guide. It’s just that we don’t learn how to use our intuition from our parents, in school, at church, or other organizations. Well, I did, but then I have unusual parents and a rather unusual church. But eventually I had to leave my church because I found that my spiritual journey was going in one direction while the church was going in another. My little voice told me I could leave and live or stay and die. I chose to leave, and I’ve never been sorry I did. I would not be here writing this blog post, or about to publish my first novel if I had not listened to my little voice.

It’s sad that we’re taught to conform instead of listen to our intuition and follow our own sacred path. It’s been that way for millennia, except now there are a growing number of schools around the world that are teaching their students to meditate, to examine and express their feelings in constructive ways so they can find their inner guidance system. Actually, many adults are incorporating meditation into their daily routines as well and I say woo hoo for that!

My point in writing all of the above is to say that we all have a genius for something creative inside us. We all have a little voice and following it can not only make our lives happier, but just think of the impact what we create may have on others. If we all share the talents we have, the ripple effect will be enormous. You don’t have to take classes to begin, unless your little voice guides to take them.

I trust my intuition to put the books, or courses, or people in my path that will help me in some way. Just this past week or so, as I’ve been waiting for my husband to create the cover art for my book, I came across an article that helped me improve my novel. Then I was gathering maps to include in my book and I discovered that I had made mistake on the wagon trail route my main character in the past was to take. Fortunately those adjustments didn’t take long, but I must say, I’m extremely grateful to have been able to improve my manuscript before publication.

So, in a week or two my husband and I will do a soft launch of The Space Between Time. We’ve decided to publish the ebook first, then the print on demand books a week or two later. I hope to have the cover art for you to see next week and news of the launch dates. This may not be what many marketing experts say to do, but it feels right to me.

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

If you would like to join my mailing list, click here.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Art is Fundamental

Toucan Snail by Barry Midgorden

“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” ~ Martin Luther

“The world is but a canvas to our imagination.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ~ Edgar Degas

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” ~ Jonathan Swift

Many of you know that I have degrees in theatre, I’ve taught English and theatre for many years. And I’m married to an artist. Which means, art of all kinds is extremely important to me. I think it’s important to all of us, though often we don’t know it.

Last night my husband and I watched an episode of Origins: The Journey of Humankind on NatGeo. The episode was about how, beginning with graphic representations, communication helped make humans the dominant species on the planet. It happened as those graphic communications morphed into story telling with words and dance. From there we developed ever more complex ways of communicating with each other until now we can reach anyone on the globe in an instant.

It’s the art left behind on cave walls, in archeological digs, and in ancient writings that help us understand how we have evolved, and how we have stayed the same. Art is communication. As the narrator of Origins, Jason Silva says, “Studies have shown creating art rewires our brain, increasing the gray and white matter in the cerebellum. This increases overall cognitive function.” Creating art helps us understand the intangible undercurrents of human emotion. And because of art we have the ability to get underneath the artist’s skin and experience life from his or her point of view. Because of this, art is fundamental.

I hate it when school districts need to make budget cuts, it’s always the arts that get cut first. As if communicating on deeper levels, is not important. So, I’m against this current push toward STEM education, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. I know that those things are important, but we wouldn’t have any of those disciplines without first having invented art. Art encourages creative thinking because to participate in art is to think outside the limits of what we already know.

I don’t mean to say that scientists and mathematicians are not creative. They can be but they need to be able to do what Picasso says, “The artist is a receptacle for emotions (ideas) that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” In my limited experience, people who are involved in the STEM disciplines see the world in a particular concrete way and are uncomfortable with ambiguity. Artists love ambiguity because it’s not linear thinking. Ambiguity is where the magic happens, the visions for a better world, and the innovations come from. I believe great scientists use ambiguity too.

I would love it if art were given its due and instead of this push for STEM in education, we included education in the arts as well. We should make our educational model STEAM instead to include all students. Not everyone is suited to think in linear ways. Some of us are out on the edges of human emotion and thought. We see things others may not even have a clue exist. I don’t want us to leave those students behind as if they’re not important. After all, how many novels, movies and TV shows have predicted, or caused future inventions. I don’t think it’s an accident that the novels, 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale are flying off the shelves during these turbulent times. Those and many authors, felt the coming of dark times and wrote about them. Some of them envisioned solutions that have little or nothing to do with mathematical equations, building structures or proving new scientific theories.

It takes all kinds to make this world a better place, and to paraphrase Winston Churchill, if we don’t appreciate art, then what’s the use of all the struggle? It’s the beauty of the flowers, the sunrise, or sunset, the fluidity of the moving human body, the smile on the face of another, the colors of the painting, or the words or music that touch our heart and make life worth living. Jason Silva also said on Origins, “No human society has ever been found without music. It lies at the core of our culture.” So, it is art that touches our souls and help us appreciate each other. That’s where the next innovation needs to take place, in our hearts. We can have all the fabulous gadgets in the universe, but what good are they if we are fighting with each other and destroying our planet?

I didn’t mean to get so philosophical. It’s just that as I develop as a writer, I’m able to express that I’ve felt for a long time that we humans sometimes get our priorities mixed up. We think that art is a frivolous thing, but without art, we never would have evolved to where we are now. I know from experience that every time I see a movie, or a play, read a book, listen to music or see a painting, my point of view about the world is altered. I can’t say that about seeing a mathematical theorem. That might happen when I see great architecture, but then again, an artist had to create the design for the building. It seems to me without art, STEM might never exist.

Thanks for reading. I hope you leave a comment or share with friends and family.

If you’d like to join my email list click here.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Mother of Invention

Apollo Launch

“The Cold War did a lot for us. Just think of it, we went to the Moon and back because we wanted to win the “Space Race.” ~ Aaron Sneary

“Don’t be so gloomy. After all it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.” ~ Harry Lime in The Third Man

A few weeks ago we had dinner with a friend who is going through huge life changes. During our discussion, he pointed out that the Cold War helped us with a great many technological advances. My husband and I agreed with him. It seems to be our way for necessity to be the mother of invention.

Last week I used some quotes from Gary Zukav’s book The Seat of the Soul, to make my point that the human race is evolving. Sometimes we need to take a look back to discover where we are going. Near the end of his book, Gary Zukav points out that at some point near the beginning of our existence, we five-sensory human beings chose “to learn through fear and doubt instead of through wisdom.” Yet the point he is making with his book is that we now have a chance to choose a new way to learn and evolve.

Here we are at this crucial time in human history, not just in this country, but all over the planet. What will we invent? How will we grow? Will we choose to set aside our petty squabbles and begin to work together? I hope we really do move away from inventing ever more complex technology, and instead make deeper connections with each other and with who we really are.

Last week I also referenced an article on the site, Prepare For Change that gave evidence that humanity is waking up because the frequency of the earth has risen drastically in the last few months and years. If you didn’t read my post, just know that the frequency of the planet is linked to human brainwave activity. Maybe we’re finally using parts of our brains that have been dormant for so long.

If you look back at history, it takes a lot to shake us up enough to make us adopt major changes in the way we think, in the way we treat each other, and in our societies. Usually most of us fight that change with everything we’ve got. It doesn’t seem to be that way this time. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that the number of people trying to hold on to the old ways of being and doing are relatively small. Unfortunately, at the moment they also happen to be those in power positions, at least in this country. But the flow of history has changed. The old ways no longer work. We can’t abuse the environment, or people and assume the planet or people will lie down and take it. This is illustrated by the multitude of demonstrations, calls, emails, and snail mail being sent to our elected officials. It’s also reflected in our art.

I think I can speak for other artists when I say that the work we create is our attempt to understand, and maybe even define what it means to be a human being. And some artists of late have attempted to point out that humanity is standing on the precipice. We can either evolve or die. The remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Matrix series, and Arrival are just a few of the movies that use human evolution as themes. There are also other art forms that do that same thing, but I don’t need to list them all here.

Arrival is particularly interesting because it advocates cooperation as a way for the human race to save itself so that millennia in the future humans can help save the alien race that has arrived. I’m all for using more cooperation probably because that was a major lesson I learned from my involvement in theatre. If the director, producer, actors, designers and crew don’t work together, the production falls apart. It’s like that for companies, sports teams, educational classrooms, families, and so many other life situations

In Arrival, the key to human evolution has to do with changing the way we think by learning the language of the aliens who have come to earth. I loved the idea that the language we speak causes us to think in specific ways and one way to change the way you think is to learn a new language. So, maybe we need to require that all students learn one language other than English by taking six or eight years of the language they choose. Wouldn’t that be great, to have lots of different language offerings for students. I for one am sad that I attended a series of small towns with scant foreign, (I don’t like that word) language offerings. I wanted to learn French, but when we moved to a new school, they only offered Spanish and German. I wish now living so close to the Mexican border that I had taken Spanish. Instead I took one year of German. Not enough to learn the language properly.

What we need is one universal language that everyone on the planet learns, like everyone on the planet eventually learns in the movie Arrival. I think it would be great if it was a completely new language not spoken by anyone on the planet at this time. Maybe some linguist will come up with such a language, or the one that they created for the movie could be developed further and we could use it. I’d learn it. What do you think?

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Tenacity

Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” ~ Amelia Earhart

Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.” ~ Thomas Huxley

“Turning pro is a mindset. If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we’re thinking like amateurs. Amateurs don’t show up. Amateurs crap out. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.” ~ Steven Pressfield

People succeed not so much because they are smart, but because they don’t give up. There will always be the naysayers. The people who take cheap shots from the top row seats, but who are afraid to get down and do the work to make their own dreams come true. The winners never listen to them. They don’t complain, they find their way around obstacles. But one thing is sure, they keep moving forward no matter how slowly.

Now that I’m about to publish my first book after seven years of work, what have I learned?

One of the things I’ve learned is that the work feeds the work. When I made a commitment to work on my novel a little bit every day, more ideas came and soon I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning to begin working.

I’ve also learned that the work feeds the work only when you’ve found the RIGHT work for you. I was fifty-four years old when I found the right work for me. Yet no time was wasted while I was looking for my place in the world. Everything I’ve learned along the way contributes to what I now write.

Another important lesson has been that the time to be the most tenacious is when you’re stuck.

For five years I developed Morgan’s story in the past. It was the easier story to tell because I saw Morgan as distant from me. But eventually I was stuck. I couldn’t move on with her story until I wrote Jenna’s story in the present. I didn’t want to write Jenna’s story because much of what happens to her happened to me in different forms. I didn’t want to relive those tough times. But I learned something else that is vital for a writer, you can’t close the books on one part of your life until you’ve wrung out every bit of the lesson your soul desires to learn. As the character Pi in Life of Pi says of not saying goodbye to Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger he’s just crossed the Pacific Ocean with, “It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse. That bungled goodbye hurts me to this day.” pg. 414

I don’t know if it’s this way for all writers, but for me, writing is the way I say the proper goodbyes. It’s the way I can reimagine or redefine what happened to me and put closure on those things that nag at my psyche, and my emotions.

One of the things Jenna suffers is being unjustly fired from her job, and then accused of embezzling money from the publishing company she worked for. I included that situation in my book because I lost a most beloved job teaching drama. I lost it unjustly. Years later one of my students told me that the story told by those who had engineered by dismissal was that I was let go because I had mishandled the drama club funds. It was a lie of course. In fact, the woman who handled the accounting for all the clubs had thanked me earlier that school year for making sure my accounts were accurate when I turned them in.

I used Jenna’s situation as a way to put some closure on my own story. In The Space Between Time, the lie was exposed and the perpetrators were tried and found guilty of not just one embezzlement scheme but of many. I used Jenna’s predicament as a way to get that negative energy out of my body. I didn’t want it to continue to rumble around in my head and heart.

Will the truth ever be revealed about that situation? I don’t know, nor do I care. I’ve had a chance to tell my story the way I wish it had happened and that helped me forgive my accusers once and for all.

Maybe the naysayers will be right. Maybe my book won’t sell no matter how hard I market and promote it. But I still have the advantage over them. I created something and if I did it once, I can do it again and again. One day there will be people who appreciate what I’ve written. I’d rather be working on something I love than dying in anguish and desperation doing work that I hate.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden @ 2017

The Space Between Time Sample #1

A Woman
A Woman

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” ~ Yehuda Berg

“And it’s human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible.” ~ Alan Rickman

Since I’m getting close to publishing my first novel The Space Between Time, I thought I’d share a scene from the book.

This is scene with Jenna in the present.

Sitting in the chair in front of Jenna’s desk Joan said, “Hey, are you all right? You look like your dog just died.”

Jenna took in a deep breath, needles pricking her heart. “Sam walked out this morning.”

“Oh man. That S.O.B. Did he say why?”

Jenna rolled her eyes. “The usual crap, ‘It hasn’t been working for a long time.’ Oh, and he got a promotion and he’s moving to L.A.”

Joan clasped her hands. “Well, good riddance. You were thinking of ending it anyway. Now you can move on.”

Wiping away a tear, Jenna said, “Yeah, but when it finally happens, it’s still a shock. And as usual I blame myself.”

Joan got up and walked around to sit on the edge of the desk closest to Jenna. “Oh, sweetie, just because he wasn’t the right guy doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.”

Jenna took Joan’s hand and gave it a little squeeze. “Keep telling me that until I believe it will you?”

Joan squeezed her hand back. “I’ll take you to lunch and we can talk, okay?”

“That’d be great. Thanks. We better get to work. I don’t want to lose my job too.”

Standing up, Joan said, “Okay. We’ll go to Chin Yen’s and boil him in oil.”

Jenna laughed. At the door Joan said, “Still haven’t heard anything about your promotion?”

“Not yet.” Just then Jenna’s phone rang. They both jumped.

Joan said, “Maybe this is it.”

Jenna cleared her throat. “Jenna Holden.”

A female voice on the other end of the line said, “Miss Holden, this is Officer Parker from the Roseburg PD.”

“Yes. What can I do for you?” She looked at Joan and shook her head. Joan waited to find out who was on the phone.

“I’m sorry to tell you that your mother’s been in a car accident. Can you come as quickly as possible? She’s just gone by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center.”

Trying to make sense of what the officer had said, she felt the blood drain from her face as she looked up at Joan. “What? What did you say?”

“You’re mother has been in a serious accident. You need to come right away.”

The room began to spin. “No. It can’t be. Oh, God in heaven, Mom.”

The officer said, “I’m so sorry Miss Holden.” her voice was so kind that Jenna nearly lost her composure. “Can you drive yourself here? Or is there someone who can drive for you?”

“What? No.”

“I’m sorry, what do you mean? Do you want us to arrange for a State Policeman to drive you down?”

Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath to help herself think, Jenna said, “Um. No, I’ve got my car here. I can drive myself.” First Sam, now this! Jenna looked at Joan who had a concerned look on her face while she waited to hear what new disaster was unfolding.

The officer was saying something. “… All right?”

“Thank you. I’ll leave as soon as I can.”

“I’ll let the hospital know you’re on your way. Again, I’m sorry to be delivering such bad news.”

Jenna couldn’t say anything more. The phone beeped three times indicating the officer had rung off.

Joan’s voice floated into Jenna’s consciousness. “What is it?”

“It’s Mom. She’s been in a terrible accident.”

Joan knelt down next to Jenna “Oh, man! I’m so sorry and on top of Sam walking out. Do you want me to go with you?”

Clenching her jaw with determination, she said, “No. I’ll call you when I know something.”

I hope you enjoyed this little segment from, The Space Between Time. Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Living Out Loud

meryl_streep_at_the_2014_sag_awards_12024455556_cropped“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just a place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Do not consider painful what is good for you.” ~ Euripides

“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” ~ Emile Zola

I don’t watch award shows even though I think honoring great work in the arts is fitting. I don’t like the hype of most of those events. But when I woke up to a string of posts about Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes, I found the video and listened to what she had to say. One thing she said was, “An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.” And Viola Davis said when she introduced Meryl for her Cecil B. DeMille award, “An artists job is to make us feel less alone.” That’s why I’m an artist, to help myself and others feel less alone. And to try to understand people who are not like me.

I loved Meryl Streep’s speech. All of it, but I’m not going to comment today about our next President or his actions. I’m not a political pundit and I’ve already written in past posts about how I feel about his behavior and the result of it.

Today and for the next few entries, I’m going to write about what it has meant to be to be an actor, director, writer, and teacher of the arts.

But let me back up a bit. I have a writer friend I met though social media. Her name is Julie Christine Johnson author of, In Another Life. On January first her blog post was titled, “A Word of Resolution for 2017.” Each year she picks a word to focus on for the year. I’m not big on making resolutions. I have life goals, but those are on going and don’t end when the calendar says the year is over. Anyway, I liked Julie’s idea of having a word to focus on for 2017 and I chose the word wholehearted. I borrowed the word from Brené Brown who says that living a wholehearted life, is to be vulnerable and open hearted no matter what happens to us. It means to embrace life and to live it out loud.

I have not been a person who has lived life out loud. For most of my life, I kept many thoughts to my self. I had lots of thoughts about what was happening in our society, in church, at school, or in our personal family life. But I didn’t want to make waves or stir up controversy. I was quiet until I became involved in theatre. Then slowly, through the years I have opened up and begun to say all those things I’d been thinking. Now I’m becoming more brave and writing my true thoughts. This year I’m committing myself to becoming even more wholehearted in my writing.

When I first began writing, an instructor told me my work was guarded. It’s been difficult to write exactly what I’m thinking and feeling. I’m still not very good at being completely honest about my opinion. I learned from my father that it’s almost impossible to change someone’s mind once it’s made up. And I’ve found that to be mostly true. Often I have wished I were more like my sister, Celeste. She never holds back her opinion. We think alike, but I’m the quiet one; she’s not. Yet, as a teacher, I learned to express my opinion by posing questions to my students. I think they found this technique to be less threatening, yet opened their minds to new possibilities.

I will break my promise not to say anything about our incoming President. Maya Angelou used to say, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Donald Trump has shown us who he is. He’s not a nice person, nor is he going to be a good leader. He doesn’t care about us or the problems we face. He only cares about how he can leverage his position to get more for himself. But he has done us the great service of opening up societal wounds that have not ever healed. We now have this fantastic opportunity to examine our wounds and mistakes, and expose them to the light so they can finally be resolved.

So to follow my intention to become more wholehearted, I’m going to follow something else Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” I may not be able to change the people who are bullies, or who want to spread hatred, but I’ll never know if I don’t listen to their concerns and point out how much they are hurting others. Oprah Winfrey said that one of the greatest lessons she learned while doing her television show all those years was that people just want to be heard. They want to feel like they matter.

That’s why I was drawn to the arts. When we are exposed to art, they show us the light and the darkness inside people. Through stories we have an opportunity to get new perspectives and learn something vital about others from vastly different cultures and backgrounds than our own. I want to listen and observe so I can “see” and “hear” people who don’t think exactly the way I do and then incorporate what I’ve learned into my stories.

That’s why I think the arts are vitally important. They help us walk around in another person’s life for a while. What can be more life changing than that?

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

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

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

Opportunities

My Favorite Books
My Favorite Books

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” ~ Milton Berle

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” ~ Napoleon Hill

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” ~ Betty Friedan

Recently I’ve been helping my sister brainstorm ideas for a series of YouTube videos to help promote her life coaching business. While we were talking, I got the urge to create my own videos. I have my own YouTube channel created some years back so I could post videos of my students performing their acting scenes. It helps if they can see themselves and the mistakes they make, but also seeing how well they do gives them confidence. For the most part, the videos are not public, only the people with the links can view them.

So, I already have a channel set up and I’ve been thinking how I can monetize it. There are people who make a great living posting videos. Maybe I can earn a little money too. But what would my videography theme be? Finally the idea crystallized through a series of events, to complicated to enumerate here, of creating videos tentatively titled “Loving Literature.”

It’s funny how lots of experiences and elements in my life collate and synthesize into a new, better understanding. When that happened last week, I got energized and I can’t wait to begin making videos.

What will the videos be about? The importance of reading and understanding literature, of course. In fact, to me it’s the most important basic skill we need because without being able to read, our learning is handicapped. It’s not that we can’t learn, it’s just a great deal more difficult.

Reading literature, watching plays, movies, and television are ways we can walk a mile in another person’s shoes. That’s what makes storytelling in all its forms so compelling. We’re fascinated by other human beings and their experiences. Stories help us widen our world view and understand people who have a very different outlook on life than we do. We can learn from their experiences. To me understanding what it means to be human is the basis for building societies, cultures, even governments.

In my opinion, if you don’t understand other human beings and why they feel and act the way they do, you can’t be a completely successful person. I’m not talking about gaining wealth, I’m talking about gaining friendships, nurturing families, and being part of a team at work, all of which make having the money worthwhile.

When I’ve got the first few videos posted, I’ll include the link here.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016