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

On Strength and Weakness

It's a Wonderful Life Village

It’s a Wonderful Life Village

“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.” ~ Bill Bullard

“We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.” ~ T. D. Jakes

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I’ve been thinking a great deal about strength and weakness as we approach this most sacred time of the year. We often think that a show of force is strength, as in military retaliation, or getting revenge on our enemies. To me that’s the weakest kind of human interaction. I think strength is having the courage to accept and feel all our emotions. To cry and not be ashamed, to love with abandon, to be kind and compassionate, to feel another’s pain. When we can do that we can effect real change.

While revising my novel, I came to a section where Jenna, one of the main characters, is fired from a position that she thinks is her dream job. That and other life shattering events force her to face herself and who she is meant to become. If her life hadn’t been shaken up in such a cruel way, she would have continued to follow the path she was on and not reached her full potential.

Though the circumstances are different, the situation I wrote for Jenna came from an experience in my own life. I was fired from a much beloved teaching position. It was a political thing. Shortly after I lost that job, I was having breakfast with a friend of mine from the school and I was stunned when she said, “I hate to say this but you were weak and they took advantage of that.” I’ve thought a great deal about that statement over the years because I think my friend is dead wrong.

One of the major lessons I learned from that experience is that we each live in our own little worlds with a set of goals we want to accomplish. We see anybody who stands in the way of achieving those goals as our enemy. In fact one day as I was driving by the turn off to the school I remembered something an actor, I don’t remember who, said when asked why he played so many villains. He squinched up his eyebrows and said, “Well, you know, the villain is the hero of his own story”. I had a huge aha in that moment. I was the villain to my school enemies and they were the villain to me. We had opposing goals and stood in each other’s way to accomplishing them. All of a sudden I thought of those two people differently. They weren’t evil, they were just righting a situation they thought was wrong. I wasn’t supposed to be hired for the job, you see, the daughter was. Someone was going to lose the fight and it was me.

Now I can’t say I forgave them that very day. Oh, no. I wanted to hang on to my anger a while longer. I wanted the situation made right, which meant I wanted them to apologize for wounding me so deeply. I wanted them to see that I was really the better teacher for that position. I wanted my job back. It wasn’t until I gave up wanting a different outcome that I was able to look for what I could learn from the situation. Once I did that I began to make the steps toward forgiveness and toward finding my true purpose in life. In fact it was only a few weeks ago as I was meditating that I saw myself hugging them and telling them they had done me a huge favor and I thanked them for helping me find the most happy and fulfilling life that I now enjoy.

Over those several years when I was struggling to make sense of why my perfect life was shattered, I’ve learned that real power is wielded by the compassionate, the loving, and the empathetic because they are the ones who see the true souls of others. They are the ones who know that who we really are is not the things we own, our bank account, our jobs, our belief systems, or our behaviors. Most of us are completely unaware that we are beautiful light beings connected to each other and to the Divine.

One of the reasons I love this time of year is because almost all of us celebrate the sacred. Instinctively we know that light is more powerful than darkness for it is easy to dispel darkness by lighting one candle. Spiritual light shining from within is much the same. It can lead us to peace and happiness if we commit to loving those who are drenched in the darkest of places.

I know it’s a little early for making resolutions, but this is mine for the new year. To be one light that helps dispel darkness by embodying love, empathy and peace as much as I possibly can. If we band together in our intention to be the peace we wish to see, it can’t help but happen one day soon.

I hope you have a blessed holiday season.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

We Can Change the World

Earth from the Moon

Earth from the Moon

“Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, or hidden by deceit of any kind, if it would be escaped. It must be seen exactly as it is, where it is thought to be, in the reality which has been given it, and with the purpose that the mind accorded it. For only then are its defenses lifted, and the truth can shine upon it as it disappears.” ~ A Course In Miracles Lesson 333, “Forgiveness Ends The Dream Of Conflict Here.”

I’m a big fan of reading fiction and watching plays and movies. I say that because there have been so many books, plays and movies that have changed the way I see the world. I believe I’m a better person because I love to be transported by the stories.

This past weekend my husband and I went to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. I had read the books and seen the first three movies. In general I’m not a fan of dystopian books and movies, because most of the time they don’t end on a note of hope. I believe in hope. This series has a large dose of hope at the end. If you haven’t read them, I suggest you do because the main characters must deal with the horrendous mental and emotional wounds they suffered throughout the arch of the story. They must find hope and healing. And they do, as much as they are able.

At the end of the movie, Katniss Everdeen is on an outing with her family. It’s many years after the events that transformed her society. She’s holding her baby, while Peeta, her husband and fellow sufferer, is playing with their young toddler. The baby jerks awake, as if from a nightmare. Katniss then tells the baby how she deals with her nightmares. She makes lists of all the acts of kindnesses she’s seen people do. It helps her remember that there are good and kind people out there and that eases her memories of the horrors she’s experienced.

I can’t say I’ve witnessed horrors first hand, though I have seen real horrors on TV. I’ve never lived in a war torn country, or had to flee my home, but none of us get through this life without scars. According to studies done on the effects of witnessing horrendous events, it doesn’t matter whether we experience them in person or see them on TV or in movies. They don’t even have to be real for us to feel them as if they happened to us. We are affected no matter what the delivery system. The same goes for acts of kindness. If we witness an act of kindness, it’s as if the kindness was done to and for us.

So, we live in a violent world. It’s always been violent. That’s nothing new. However, we’re at a turning point. We have an opportunity to change the world from a violent environment to one of peace. But to do that we have to focus on the problems we face, acknowledge that we’ve allowed them to go on unchallenged and find a way to solve them.

Some of the people I know focus only on the negative. Maybe we’re wired to notice negativity first, but the thing is that people who study the brain, like Dr. Joe Dispenza, and Bruce H. Lipton, have discovered that we can rewire our brains so that we notice the positive first instead of the negative. That’s what I advocate and try to do. That’s why some friends I know want to be around me, because when the conversation turns to all the problems we face in this world, I point out good things that are happening and they feel better.

The thing is, each person must decide to focus on the positive themselves. We each must choose to see beneath the surface behaviors of the people in our lives and in the media as well. That’s not always easy. It’s comfortable assuming we know all there is to know about people we see in the media, or even people we live or work with. But we can’t ever know the deepest hopes and dreams of another person unless they reveal themselves to us. That requires trust.

The media can be our enemy when trying to discover the true nature of people in the spotlight, or it can help us see another side of a person. Not too long ago my husband and I were watching CBS Sunday Morning. It’s a Sunday morning ritual with us. This morning they interviewed Charles Koch. I’ve not been a fan of the Koch brothers because they donate outrageous amounts of money to political causes that I abhor, however, we watched the interview to see if our assumptions about this man were correct. We found that they weren’t. Yes, he supports a large number of causes that I think are destructive. On the other hand, the Koch brothers, Charles and David support causes that I too support. That interview was an eye opener. It made me take a good look at the assumptions I make about people. Each one of us is a bundle of contradictions. What I learned was that I can’t condemn the Koch brothers just because they have billions of dollars and I don’t. Having billions of dollars doesn’t automatically make them evil, as some people would have us believe. And just because they have billions of dollars doesn’t mean I can point my finger at them and lay all the world’s problems at their feet. Oh no, I too have to take responsibility for the mess we find ourselves in.

I often say, and people look at me as if I have two heads, that our thoughts create our reality. Quantum physicists figured that out many years ago, but that idea is just now taking root. Not long ago someone shared this article on Facebook about that very thing, that what we think, creates the events and even the physical things we use in our world. Generation after generation of humans have created the conflicts that have plagued us for millennia and now we have a clue why. Once it got started, nobody thought it could stop. Oh, a few highly enlightened people tried to show us the way, but we thought they were anomalies and we didn’t follow their lead. We clung stubbornly to our old thought patterns because changing was too difficult.

So here we are. We’ve got scientific proof that what we think creates the events out in the world, and that we can change our thought patterns. The question is, will we do it? Will we get up off the couch, figuratively speaking, and actually do something concrete to change the world? Will we notice all the kind things people do for each other? Will be find opportunities to be kind and compassionate? Will we change the focus of our thoughts? Those seem like ephemeral things to do, but they have a huge impact. I’ve been watching it happen. You have to look outside the media in this country to find evidence of change. You have to dig for the stories of goodness happening. You have to lay your assumptions aside and be willing to see the world with new eyes. And then you have to be willing to change yourself to bring about peace. Take it from a Baby Boomer, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Nothing Matters

Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula

“Bad news is: You can’t make people like, love, understand, validate, accept, or be nice to you. You can’t control them either. Good news is: It doesn’t matter.” ~ Daily Vibes on Facebook

“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there.” ~ The ManKind Project on Facebook

“Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you.” ~ A Course in Miracles, pg. 728

Years ago when Neale Donald Walsch said to me, “Contemplate these words: Nothing matters and you think it does.” I was appalled at his attitude. How could he say such a thing when there was so much suffering in the world! Yet on some level, I already knew that there was much more going on behind the scene of the world I was living in than was readily visible. I asked myself, “Do I trust God or not?” Though on one level I thought Neale was daft, I did as he said. It took me several years of contemplation to understand what he meant by those words.

Finally, in the early nineties I had a huge aha moment. My experience was so profound that I began to talk about what I’d learned and immediately was met with resistance and condemnation. People said to me exactly what I had thought when Neale had given me the assignment. “How dare you say nothing matters. Look at all the suffering in the world. Look at the injustice.” Well that shut me down pretty quickly. I didn’t know how to make others understand what I knew to be true. God’s reality is something you must experience for yourself. Some people just don’t want to change their perspective. However, I didn’t give up what I’d learned.

Fast forward to these last couple of weeks. In the interim, I’d been very selective about sharing my huge aha. Some people get it, others look at me as if I have two heads. But I knew that whenever anything rocked my personal life, or the lives of millions around the world, that there was a much larger purpose to those events. I knew that what my friend John Berger says is true, “There are no victims, only volunteers.” What I’ve come to realize is that the world is as we choose to see it. If we see a dangerous world, that’s what we experience. If we see a friendly, supportive world that’s what we experience. It’s our choice while we’re in this physical form. The thing is once we leave this physical body, we’re back with God and part of the real reality once more. However, we can live in God’s reality while in our physical bodies. We can that is if enough of us choose to let go of our old ways of thinking and being.

Last week I wrote about seeing the movie Judgment at Nuremberg again and how what I’d been studying in A Course in Miracles affected my viewpoint of the movie. History tells us that the Allies thought they were so superior to the Nazis, as if we haven’t committed our own atrocities, that they put the Nazi leaders on trial for crimes to humanity. They condemned many Nazi leaders to death or life imprisonment. I was reminded of just how sacred and profound a change forgiveness can make in the life of a person, or in a society. While withholding forgiveness can devastate and perpetuate suffering.

A week later my husband and I were watching CBS Sunday Morning. On it was a segment about Dick Cheney and the new book he and his daughter have written together. I was appalled when Cheney’s daughter said, with such love in her eyes, that her father had more integrity than anyone she’d ever known. My reaction was not kind or forgiving. Oh how I wanted to blame him for the Iraq war, for his warmongering and greed. I wanted to see him get punished for all the lives lost, and proliferation of the war machine under his watch just like the Nazi’s had been. Then I stopped. Here was my opportunity to learn a new part of that old lesson.

As you might imagine, I’ve had to take some time to think and reconnect with the idea that nothing matters. Fortunately this morning as I was again studying A Course in Miracles, I understood that I’m no better than Dick Cheney and I have no right to judge him. The old part of me wants to punish him for seeing a dangerous world and for condemning all of us who strive to see a world filled with God’s love. But condemnation is not love. I can’t return attack for attack and make the world a better place. If I condemn Mr. Cheney, then I put myself right back into that dangerous world we see on the nightly news.

The problem with condemnation is that it ignores the spiritual beings underneath all of our attitudes and actions. We are more than our physical bodies and our lives continue after our bodies deteriorate. We don’t have to suffer pain and strife. We can choose to see the world differently. We must be willing to let go of what we were taught about the world and how it works. We need to get a new vision of who God is and who we are in relation to Her/Him.

When I’m confronted with someone like Dick Cheney, I’ll have to remind myself that he doesn’t know his own connection to the Divine. Eventually it will become second nature for me. That’s when I will live in love and peace completely. Until that time, I’ll continue to write and speak about what I’m learning. If I’m not understood, if I’m condemned as a Pollyanna, if I’m told I don’t understand the real world, that’s okay. The world I see is a much more loving and peaceful place in which to live and all I can do is to hold that vision so that, hopefully, others will join me there. Eventually enough of us will make the shift and the old world of struggle and strife will fade away.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to make a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Judgment and Forgiveness

April Morning Rose

April Morning Rose

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” ~ Marianne Williamson

“The deepest fear we have, ‘the fear beneath all fears,’ is the fear of not measuring up, the fear of judgment. It’s this fear that creates the stress and depression of everyday life.” ~ Tullian Tchividjian

“If there’s any message to my work, it is ultimately that it’s OK to be different, that it’s good to be different, that we should question ourselves before we pass judgment on someone who looks different, behaves different, talks different, is a different color.” ~ Johnny Depp

If you’ve been reading this blog this year, you may remember that I’ve been studying A Course in Miracles. Last week I was studying a chapter on judgment and how when we judge another, we’re judging ourselves because every person on this planet is part of God. We’re connected and we’re one.

Interestingly enough, just as I was studying this concept two things happened that gave me a new perspective on just how damaging judgment can be.

Saturday my husband and I turned on the TV and the movie, Judgment at Nuremberg was on. It’s about the last of the Nuremberg trials of high ranking Nazi officials of all kinds after WW II. In this case it’s about the trial of several judges who were part of the Nazi war machine. They had followed orders to condemn anyone, even if they were innocent of committing any crimes, who was not considered by the party to be a desirable citizen. So those who were Jews, Gypsies, Liberals, the mentally impaired or anyone else not pure enough to be a German citizen were condemned to sterilization or death. I have always loved this movie partly because of the extraordinary performances, but also because of the message: That we are all capable of terrible deeds and that when those deeds come to light we must stand up for what’s right.

However, when I saw the last few scenes this time, I had a shift in perception. It’s ironic that the Tribunal judges in this movie were all from the United States, a country that had dropped two atomic bombs on Japan to end the war. No one in the international community put us on trial for that. Lots of innocent people were killed when those bombs were dropped. But no one questioned our “right” to commit that horrendous deed.

In the very last scene of the movie, Ernst Janning, played by Burt Lancaster, is an internationally renowned judge and a defendant in the trial asks to see lead Judge Dan Haywood, played by Spencer Tracy. I’ve always found their exchange to be a most devastating moment.

Ernst Janning: Judge Haywood … the reason I asked you to come: those people, those millions of people … I never knew it would come to that. You must believe it, you must believe it!

Judge Dan Haywood: Herr Janning, it came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.(Haywood and Janning look each other in the eye for several seconds then Haywood walks out leaving Janning with a devastated look on his face framed by the jail cell door.)

When I saw that scene this time I asked myself, “What would have happened if Judge Haywood had forgiven Ernst Janning? What would have happened if everyone on both sides of the war forgave each other for all the death and destruction the conflict caused? What would happen if we forgave the annoying neighbor, or the nasty teller at the bank, or our loved ones when arguments arise? What would happen to the world if forgivingness was the rule instead of judgement?

The next day after the movie Judgment at Nuremberg got me thinking, Barry and I were talking about an ongoing problem he has with his weekly chats via computer with his parents. I started to make a long drawn out correlation to the microwave dish used to connect us to the internet and our satellite dish. My point was that they may both be out of alignment. But instead of just saying that, I started to tell the whole story of how I came to that conclusion, which irritates Barry. When I do that, he interrupts with questions, that sometimes have nothing to do with where I’m going with the story to make my point. When he did that this time, I got really angry with him for not listening, for not waiting to find out what I was going to say. It’s a situation that we have faced often in our thirty-five years of marriage and it never seems to get better. We never change our modus operandi. Of course all communication between us stopped for a while. During that quiet time, I began to make a correlation between the movie situation, and my own personal situation. What would happen if I apologized for yelling at Barry and said he didn’t deserve that? What if I forgave him for what I think are his offenses against me instead of demanding that he conform to some ideal I have in my head? What if I just modify my way of communicating? And, what would happen if everyone did that on all kinds of levels?

I have to say, I’m so tempted to justify my position just like Judge Haywood did in the movie. I’m tempted to take the moral high ground and point out that I sit and listen until the end when Barry is telling me a story and then I ask my questions. I’m tempted to feel offended that he thinks I’m illogical, or not very smart, or that he doesn’t value what I have to say. But I would be wrong on all those counts. We just have different ways of communicating and of processing information.

To attack another person is to attack yourself. That’s another lesson from A Course in Miracles. So attacking Barry, or anyone else doesn’t bring peace to me personally, or to the world. It only causes more conflict. I very much want to bring peace to my home and to the greater world rather than conflict. The question I ask myself is, do I have the courage to give up having to be right? I’m working on that one.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment and connect with me on any of my social networks listed below.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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On Empathy and Courage

Welcoming Jean

Welcoming Jean

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” – Lao Tzu

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Harper Lee

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” – Stephen Covey

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin

I had a very different blog post in mind for today, but in light of all that’s going on around the world, I have to return to an idea I write upon often in my posts. That is: that the only way to heal the world is by healing ourselves first.

With the riots going on in Baltimore, the terrorist threats around the world, the battle over rights for the poor, gays, and women we’re living in the middle of a war zone. Our instinct is to wall ourselves off, attack before being attacked and blame people and societal forces for all the bad things that happen to us personally and out in the world. The answer to solving our problems, however, is to do the opposite of what we’ve always done. We must learn to be empathetic.

Perhaps I’m an advocate for using empathy as a healing tool because I’m an empath. I was born that way so I can’t help it. But I’m with Neil deGrasse Tyson, empathy can be taught. You don’t have to be born that way. He advocates teaching empathy as part of our school curriculum. It’s the only way we’ll change the world for the better. For those of us who are adults, we’ve got to teach ourselves how to climb inside another person’s skin and walk around in it for awhile. Choosing to be empathetic takes courage.

My first reaction to the riots in Baltimore when I heard about them, was to condemn the rioters. But then I reminded myself to step back and try to understand why they feel so much rage. I could condemn anyone who turns to violence rather than looking for common ground to solve the issues but like my Dad used to say, “People who lash out at others are in so much pain they think that attacking others will help them get rid of it.” The thing is, that never works. I know because I’ve attacked people thinking the attack was deserved and that I’d feel better afterwards but I always felt worse.

There’s a great quote from the movie Ben-Hur that illustrates why violence never works. (I love picking up little gems of wisdom from movies and books.) Esther, the woman Ben Hur loves, says to him, “I know there is a law in life, that blood gets more blood as dog begets dog. Death generates death, as the vulture breeds the vulture!” We know that violence begets more violence, but for some reason we don’t stop ourselves. We attack others in big and small ways insanely thinking that we’ll get rid of our rage, that people will listen, that things will change for the better. The only way things will get better is if we feel empathy for others, forgive and stop attacking.

Healing is about forgiving ourselves and everyone we think injured us. Forgiveness is letting go of blaming and needing apologies. Forgiveness is about seeing the light of God in another person even if they can’t see it in themselves. We have to allow ourselves to understand that every human being longs for complete love and understanding just like we do. The best way to get that love and understanding is to give it away to others then it will come back to us.

I know it takes courage to go against the majority way of thinking. I know it’s scary to show empathy to a person who is in a great deal of pain and who might lash out. But the alternative is for violence to escalate. I’m tired of that, aren’t you? We’re at a turning point and only you can decide what you’ll do.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Fear Or Love

Our Rosebush

Our Rosebush

“You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success – or are they holding you back?” – W. Clement Stone

“If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” – Ellen DeGeneres

“Imagine what seven billion humans could accomplish if we all loved and respected each other. Imagine.” – A. D. Williams

Today’s post has been a long time formulating in my mind and heart. I’m not sure I will explain it very well, or whether you will understand it, but I think now is a good time to write about some very profound insights I’ve had over the last few years.

This year I decided to study A Course In Miracles. I started on January first and every day I read a portion of the text and do one lesson. This isn’t the first time I’ve begun to study the book, but I guess I just wasn’t ready, until now, to give up my old ways of thinking and being to stick with it.

The main message of the book is that fear is connected to the ego which we created when we separated ourselves from God. There are so many erroneous things we believe that we created with our egos during this long separation. Too many to innumerate here but we cling to our beliefs. When they are challenged conflict ensues. The point of the Course is that God is love. That there is nothing else but love. That we are a part of God and always have been. She waits for us to wake up and realize that. When we do wake up and remember our connection, all our other erroneous beliefs fall away. We see the world, ourselves and our purpose for being here in a completely new way.

Now I know that sounds impossible. Fear is real most people moan. The problems of the world are so numerous we may never be able to solve them all. The world is a dangerous place. That’s the way things have always been and that is how things will always be. That’s the way things will always be IF that’s what you want to believe.

My journey to letting go of all the junk my ego fed me over the years hasn’t been a straight or an easy one. But something deep inside me looked at the world around me and said, “This is insane. There has to be something better.” So, I looked for the better. I looked for God in my studies, in my meditations and contemplations and through my creativity. Little by little I’ve shed the illusions that we humans have lived with for centuries. No millennia! And now I’m beginning to feel hope that we can wake up from this long nightmare we’ve been living.

A vital step on my journey to finding true love and peace happened when I read Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. In the book she describes exercises she does when conducting workshops at the Omega Institute which she cofounded. One of them stuck out for me as quite profound. She has the participants in her class imagine that they are dead and gone from the demands of this earthly world. At first I thought the exercise a bit gruesome, but then I decided to try it. When I did the most extraordinary thing happened. All the cares that I thought were so important fell away and I was immersed in the most profound peace I’d ever felt in my life. There were no white lights or anything like that, but I was completely relieved of my burdens of this world and was free to go anywhere I liked, to become anything I liked. I could BE with God in a new and profound way. That experience was the beginning of a new direction that has led me to my study of A Course In Miracles and in letting go of the fear that had been such a large presence in my life.

Just these past weeks I’ve experienced another profound shift in the way I experience life. I was studying a section about how the ego thinks we need to attack those around us. The ego convinces us that if we attack first we’ll be protected, but the opposite is true. When we attack another, we are attacking ourselves. When I understood that, I knew that I had to let go of all the resentments I’d been holding on to. I needed to let go of the wish for revenge, or for accountability, or for apologies from those I thought had attacked me. I needed to forgive completely and totally. As I did that, again, I felt a deep sense of peace. I’ve been able to see each person I might want to hold a grudge against for who they really are, a child of God just like me.

I won’t say I’m perfect at this practice yet. It’s a day to day choice to turn away from those terrible feelings of fear, anger and resentment. When I’m tempted to be angry at some politician who does something I feel is hateful, or against the common good, I have to remember that he or she is a child of God. That person just hasn’t let go of their fear yet. When tensions arise with friends, family and coworkers, I tell myself that God is with me wherever I go, and all is well, even if it doesn’t look like it at the moment. If I just send out love to everyone and everything, that is more powerful than the hatred and fear that is being spread by those who are still asleep. It’s more powerful because love real and fear is not.

I don’t know if you will understand this post. I hope that something I’ve written here will prompt you to allow your connection to God to grow stronger. That’s how we will change the world, and as those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while know, I’m all for making this world a better place in which to live.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Compassion Can Change Lives

SOO-wreath - Creative Commons.org“Freedom cannot be learned by tyranny of any kind, and the perfect equality of all God’s Sons cannot be recognized through the dominion of one mind over another.” – A Course in Miracles

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama

“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” – Maya Angelou

What if you made a huge mistake? I mean a really big one that society says is unforgivable? How would you feel? I don’t know about you but when I make even little mistakes, I beat myself up over it. If I made a huge mistake, I’d feel so much shame, I’d never want to show may face out in the world again. But if someone showed me compassion and forgave me, I’d be able to feel better about myself.

Last Sunday my husband and I saw a segment on CBS Sunday Morning, one of my favorite shows. My husband and I watch it faithfully every Sunday morning. Almost every Sunday I cry during at least one of the segments.

Last Sunday there was a story that made me think again about compassion and forgiveness, and how it can transform someone’s life. The title of the story we saw was “The Gainesville Tornadoes Thank Their Unexpected Fans” filed by Steve Hartman. Click Steve’s name to go to the CBS Sunday Morning page and watch the segment. I was touched by the story because it’s about the Gainesville Tornadoes who are young men serving time for felony offenses at the Gainesville, Texas Juvenile Correctional facility. The team is made up of students who have been on their very best behavior. When they get to play, they play teams from private schools like Vanguard College Prep in Waco, TX. The remarkable thing about this story is that the Gainesville Tornadoes rarely, if ever, have any fans. They are, after all, from a correctional institution, so none of their classmates can attend the games and most of the time their parents aren’t able, or don’t want to attend their games either. So not long ago, two Vanguard basketball players cooked up a scheme. They asked half their fan base to cheer for the Gainesville team, because as one student put it, “It’s no fun playing when the other team has no fans.” The thing is, by the end of the game, all the fans were rooting for the Gainesville players, and that was just fine with the Vanguard team. When Steve Hartman said, “This is not what I’ve ever seen sports be.” One of the students responded, “I think in a way this is kind of how sports should be and kind of showing you the real impact that encouragement and support for anybody can make.” Go watch the segment and if it doesn’t touch your heart, then you won’t understand the point I’m trying to make in this post.

We all need to be shown compassion when we make mistakes. It shows us that someone understands us. I know it’s hard sometimes to show compassion when we’ve been wounded by another. When that happens, we put on our armor and think that we’ll be safe inside it. But what retreating inside our armor does, is separates us from others.

Most of us are wounded people lashing out at other wounded people thinking we’re going to feel better by being the first to attack. This sets up a vicious cycle. The only way to stop the cycle is to do what Atticus Finch tells Scout to do in To Kill A Mockingbird, “You’ve got to put on another man’s shoes and walk around in them for awhile; see things from his point of view.” That’s how you cultivate compassion. If each of us stays inside our armor, we’ll never change the world for the better.

When I see a story like the ones Steve Hartman files on Sunday Morning, I rejoice. His stories always make me cry, because they are so hopeful. He tells about people in the world who are willing to set aside their personal goals of winning or being successful to help another person feel like there is someone who cares about them. Isn’t that what we all want? We want to feel needed and heard. We want to feel useful and we want to feel like we’re not the only ones who make mistakes. And on the other side, we want to feel like we’re making the world a better place in which to live. To do that we have to shed our armor and be the person who makes a difference in someone else’s life.

Thanks to my new and old followers. Please leave a comment below and connect with me on one or all of my social networks.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Truth and Perception

Julia working at the wheel.

Julia working at the wheel.

“The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.” –Captain Jack Sparrow

“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” –Dennis Wholey

“Becoming yourself is really hard and confusing, and it’s a process. I was completely the eager beaver in school. I was the girl in the front of the class who was the first person to put her hand up and it’s often not cool to be the person that puts themselves out there, and I’ve often gotten teased mercilessly, but I found that ultimately if you truly pour your heart into what you believe in – even if it makes you vulnerable – amazing things can and will happen.” -Emma Watson

“Just like there’s always time for pain, there’s always time for healing.” –Jennifer Brown

Life is difficult and messy. It’s a mystery and most of the time we bump up against other humans with our set of values and what we think of as the truth and there’s friction. When that happens there are often hurt feelings.

My post last week was about something that had happened the week before within my family. I was trying to figure it all out. In the process I made the older of my sisters angry. She felt ambushed by what I wrote. I hadn’t cleared it with her. I regret that I ambushed her. That’s happened to me several times in my life and it doesn’t feel good. However, the exchange between us over the “facts” and the “truth” of the incident in question has made me do some deep thinking about what is truth and fact. I’ve also been thinking about whether or not I should apologize for speaking my truth.

I’ll write first about truth. There is one thing I know for sure about truth, there are as many versions of it as there are human beings living on this planet. And as most of us know, facts can be manipulated. So I ask, is there an ultimate truth? The way human beings determine what is truth, is by their perception of how the world works. We can’t help seeing the world in our own unique way. The factors that determine our perceptions are DNA, place of birth, order of birth in the family, gender, and on and on. So, no matter what I say, or how well I think I’ve described something, there will be people who just won’t get what I’m trying to express. This is what happened with my sister. An event happened in my family. I see it one way, my sister sees it another. Who’s right? Is there even a right or a wrong? Should I apologize for seeing a different truth than my sister? At one time I would have said yes. I would have apologized just to smooth things over so there would be peace in the family. I’m not so quick to do that now and here are the reasons why.

I have a right to my opinion about what happened. Something tells me to keep silent for a while and give everyone involved time to consider and sort out their individual feelings. This may sound bad, and you might not understand it. However, I’ve learned the most about myself from the times when I’ve been broken open by being hurt. Things were said, and misunderstandings happened in my family. Instead of whining, complaining, I immediately started asking, “What is this trying to show me?” I want to give my siblings a chance to ask the same question. I want to give us all time to calm down and get the lesson. If I take time to calm myself, I have an opportunity to understand my siblings better. I want to accept them as they are and not try to change them, because I believe we each have what Caroline Myss calls a Sacred Contract. Every single person has a purpose for being here, and it’s not my place to judge what that purpose might be. That goes for my siblings as well.

I must admit I did judge my brother and sister at first. But, I’m starting to get over that now, though I’m still not to forgiveness yet. I just keep remembering what my Dad used to say, “Once a person’s mind is made up, you can’t change it.” I may not be able to change my brother and sister’s minds. I have to be okay with that. Eventually I will be able to love and accept them as they are.

Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that being vulnerable is one of the best ways to connect with others. When someone shares their story with me, I don’t feel so alone. For most of my life, I was an observer. I didn’t share my deepest thoughts and feelings, because I was afraid of making mistakes. I didn’t want to stir the waters. I didn’t want people to be angry with me. But as I’ve gotten older, I realize, everyone makes mistakes. There is no getting away from that. I can either accept myself as I am, mistakes and all, or I can crawl into a cocoon and not have any impact on changing the world at all. When faced with the prospect of not having any effect, I can’t go down that road. Something drives me to help make the world a better place in which to live, which means over these last seven years of being a writer, I’ve come out of my shell. I’ve written about my mistakes, and things that confuse me. I’ve ranted about situations around the world that make me angry. I’ve mused about my writing process. I may have made people angry like I did my sister and all I can say is, anytime we move out of our comfort zone it’s a good thing.

Today is the last day of 2014. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, because I attempt to live in the moment, and who knows what lessons the next moment will bring? I’ll continue to make mistakes, which I embrace. It shows that I’m moving forward, that I’m trying to become a better person. I don’t want to go back to being that quiet observer afraid to say or do anything just in case I might cause a reaction. Growth comes from shaking up the status quo, throwing out what no longer works, and building something new out of what’s left.

So here’s to a great New Year for all of you, my readers. I hope 2015 is full of successes and mistakes and falling down and getting up for all of us. Here’s hoping your dreams come true.

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Compassion and Generosity Never Go Out of Style

It's A Wonderful Life Village

It’s A Wonderful Life Village

“Instead of judging people by their past, stand by them and help repair their future.” –Heidie Diasanta

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” –Abigail Van Buren

This week’s blog post is a difficult one to write, because this past week my family was split in two. I won’t recite every detail, except to say that my brother and the older of my sisters felt it necessary to accuse my youngest sister of abusing our mother and their children. Harsh words have been exchanged with plenty of blame to go around. This incident has made me think long and hard about forgiveness, compassion and generosity.

My youngest sister and brother-in-law have been struggling financially for about six months. It’s hard to understand if you’ve never been in their position, but being poor takes a lot of effort. I’ve done what I can to support them along the way. I think they are amazing, because they have never given up. From my perspective, they’ve been on an amazing spiritual journey, learning about themselves and trusting that the trials they’re going through are leading them to their purpose. I’m amazed that their relationship with each other has grown stronger, and their children continue to thrive, even with all the chaos going on around them. Both my sister and her husband have finally found jobs that are both meaningful, and that will help them build the life they want.

What distresses me the most is that from my point of view, my brother and sister lack compassion for my youngest sister’s situation. Oh I understand my brother and sister think they are protecting our Mother. At least that’s what I hope motivates them. The thing is, they’ve been off living their own lives, and not really engaged with the rest of us for many years. They don’t understand how the relationships among the rest of us have grown over the time they’ve been away. So why my siblings feel the need to kick my youngest sister and her husband just when they’re picking themselves up, I can’t fathom.

On the one hand I’m shocked and hurt by what has occurred. On the other, I know that the only way I can help heal the rift is to send love and light to the situation every single day. Miracles can happen. This miracle may take some time to manifest, but I know from experience that relationships can be healed. My youngest sister and I were estranged from each other for some years, but after much forgiveness work on both sides, we’ve built a stronger relationship than we had previously.

As you probably understand, this fracas has caused me to think deeply about compassion, generosity, and forgiveness all of which I learned from my parents. As I struggle to try to understand what’s happened in my family, today I found two things that helped me recommit to follow my parents lead of being generous and compassionate.

The first was a video published in Nick Ortner’s The Tapping Solution newsletter. It was originally a TEDx talk by Michael Norton at Harvard University in 2011. The title of the talk is: “How to buy happiness.” The point of the video is that money CAN buy you happiness, if you give some away to help others. The study the talk is based on gives amazing evidence to support Michael Norton’s premise. As I listened, I was struck with the fact that the reason Christmas is such a joy-filled season, is because we’re spending money on the perfect gifts to give others. The amazing thing is, the amount of money you give away doesn’t have to be large to make you feel better about your life. The reverse is true if you hoard money, your life is not any happier, and possibly less happy. Hum, I couldn’t help but think of my sister and brother.

The second inspirational piece was an article posted by A Mighty Girl, a group I follow on Facebook. The article was about a young woman, Dominique Harrison-Bentzen, who is a college student in Preston, England. She’d lost her ATM card, and was stranded after an evening out with friends. She had no money for a taxi. A homeless man, Robbie, offered her all the money he had, about $5 so she could get home. She was able to find her way home without using the money he so generously offered. However, she so touched by his gesture, that she started a fund raising page on Facebook so she could raise enough money to pay for an apartment for him. Well, of course, much more money than was needed for the apartment came in and she was able to give the money to other charities in the area that provide for the homeless. Needless to say, her story went viral and she’s starting a new campaign on Facebook to help others.

Both those stories inspired me. First off, compassion and caring not only makes us happier, it’s also big news. We want to hear inspirational stories like these. Forgiveness, compassion and caring are what’s going to change the world. If you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time, you know I’m continually writing about turning away from negative thoughts and feelings and embracing the positive. In the past I’ve apologized for that, but not any longer.

I’ll end this post with a quote from A Course In Miracles which I found just after the blow up in my family. It has helped me put my feelings into perspective. “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” I know that my youngest sister, her husband, my husband and I have been seeking the barriers within ourselves that keep us from accepting love. I write from experience, when you go inside and break down those barriers, your life will become messy for a while. You have to go though a time of what I call cosmic closet cleaning. However, when things in our lives fall apart, we’ve got a golden opportunity to build something new. That’s what I celebrate, because the alternative is to stagnate, which, in my opinion, is a very dark place in which to live.

I hope your holidays with family and friends are rich and happy, though I know that sometimes they are quite stressful. There can be a blessing in that for you. And remember, being generous, sharing money and compassion to others makes you feel better about yourself, and makes you happier.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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