Default to Happiness

Pumpkin Possibilities
Pumpkin Possibilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

How Writing Is Like Life

April Morning Rose
April Morning Rose

“That’s why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. You can’t control life, at least you can control your version.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, Stranger than Fiction

“I have spent a good many years since – too many, I think – being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.” ~ Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act – truth is always subversive.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Today I’m feeling reflective. I finished yet another round of revisions to my novel, The Space Between Time. I’ve been working on it for six years this summer, more if you count the months I spent on it in 1999 when I first began writing it.

Eight years ago when I quit teaching to write full-time, the first thing I did was take a writing course. I wanted to be a writer, but I lacked experience. My degrees are in religious studies and theatre not creative writing. But I felt drawn to writing so I took the course to help get me started. I nearly quit after that course.The instructor said that my writing was guarded. She suspected there was deep feeling behind what I had written but I needed to strip away the layers and get down to the raw emotions that I was trying to express. After I recovered from my hurt feelings, I made that my goal. I reminded myself what I told my students, that it takes time to learn a new skill. After all they didn’t learn to walk the first time they got up on their feet. So, I did as I had told them, I began writing every day. That was the only way I was going to be able to peel away the layers.

Over the years I’ve come to discover that my writing was guarded, because I had spent a lifetime hiding my true feelings. It wasn’t that I didn’t have deep emotions, quite the contrary. It was that for the most part, I didn’t express them. However during a particularly painful time in my life, I used journaling as a way to heal. Three years ago when I began this blog it was another attempt to become more vulnerable in both my writing and in my personal life.

Many years ago, Mary Manin Morrissey, said something in one of her sermons that has been of great comfort to me. Life is like a spiral. When something happens to us we do the most healing we can in the time period right after the incident. Then at some point, the issue will circle back around and we get a chance to do more healing work. The problem, or wound, will continue to circle around until we’ve completed the work. We get many chances to improve our lives when whatever it is we’re working on comes back around. Writing is like that. We write the first draft, but the work is not finished. We must allow the characters and story to circle back through our consciousness so we can see new facets, deeper emotions and nuances of motivations. That’s why revising is so important.

During this latest round of revisions, I have finally allowing my characters to make mistakes, be vulnerable, to feel pain, be confused, and to not know how to find their way. I think I still have a way to go before they are well rounded and more like real human beings, but it feels good to be digging deeper into how they cope with their pain and their mistakes.

The thing I’m most grateful for about being a writer is that I’ve become more vulnerable. It’s helped me dismantle the walls I hid behind thinking that they would both protect me and keep me from making mistakes. Writing has helped me accept myself as a flawed human being who is just trying to figure out how to live and connect with those around me. It’s allowed me to learn through my characters and thus discover my own personal truth.

Like what Stephen King expresses in the above quote, sometimes I feel apologetic that it is taking so long to finish this book. However, I don’t feel like I’m wasting my God-given talent. And as the Anne Lamott quote states, I’m using my talent as God intended to write toward vulnerability and to tell the truth as I understand it. The way I, and all artists do that, is to plumb the depths of their humanity to bring some reflection of themselves to light. I think we need more people to do that and that’s why I’m proud and excited to be able to do this work.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

*Go Set A Watchman* – A Review

Go Set A Watchman Cover Art
Go Set A Watchman Cover Art

“One of the most powerful tools for transformation is the willingness to ask ourselves, ‘Could I be mistaken?’ “ ~ Marianne Williamson

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; As I have loved you, That ye also love one another.” ~ John 13:34 The Bible

“Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.” ~ Wes Angelozzi

This week’s post was going to be about a completely different subject. Well, not so different I suppose. I was going to comment on my feelings about politics, and not just the elections. Then last Friday morning I finished reading Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman and my plans changed.

When I began reading the book, even though I had tried not to, I was comparing it to To Kill A Mockingbird. Somehow I got through 12 years of school, college, and graduate school without ever having read the book. I’d seen the movie numerous times, but I didn’t read the book until about two or three years ago. When I read To Kill A Mockingbird it affected me on a very deep level. Few books have affected me that way. Go Set A Watchman is one I will be thinking about for many years to come.

When the book first came out, I’d read reviews about it. Some people condemned it for ruining their love of the character of Atticus Finch. I loved him too, because the way Gregory Peck portrayed him in the movie was very much like my own father. I wasn’t sure I wanted that image destroyed. Yet, other review comments intrigued me, so I bought the book. I’m glad I did.

One of the main themes is that often we worship one or both of our parents. We think they are perfect. It’s part of growing up to understand that human beings are complicated. Often we have to learn to love and accept our family and friends as they truly are, not as we wish them to be.

Jean Louise Finch finds out some things about her father that make her sick because they convince her that who she thought her father was is a lie. But as the events of the book move along, she learns that the new information she discovered is not quite right either. The point of view about everyone being equal that she learned from him was partly her own interpretation of who he was. Every human being is a mass of contradictions. Jean Louise and her father Atticus are no different.

Near the end of the book, Hank, a life long friend of Jean Louise’s says that he’s trying to get her to see past her father’s actions to his motivations. I was so struck by that statement, because that’s what my father used to try to get us to do. We can’t always know what is in another person’s heart, and sometimes appearances can be deceiving.

By the time I finished the last page, I was grateful for the courage Harper Lee demonstrated in writing the book. Through the events and characters I came to understand the nature of the extremely complicated relationships and long held beliefs many Southerns hold on to. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I had no idea how tangled the layers of not only race relations, but the staunch belief in states rights, the class system, and even the proper roles of the sexes are in the South. Then, of course, I realized that’s the truth for the entire country. The issues of race relations aren’t going to be healed until we are willing to take a new look at our long held attitudes about people who happen to be of a different race or social class than we are.

In my opinion, To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman, are companion books and should be studied together. The first describes race relations and how Jean Louise’s father fits into that picture from a child’s point of view. In the second, she is shaken awake and must confront herself, her town and finally her father. When we grow up and realize our perceptions about our loved ones is incorrect, that’s the day we can learn to accept the flaws in ourselves and everyone else. In my opinion, we all need to do that on a personal and national level.

Relations among the races in this country is an unhealed wound. As my father used to say, you can’t legislate morality. Well you can’t pass laws that say all men are created equal and make people honor it either. It’s distressing to me because it seems whites have expanded racial hatred to include anyone who isn’t white. It seems that way only if you listen to the corporate media. There are rays of hope, but you have to be dedicated to finding them.

I’ve written this before, and I’ll emphasize it again, we’re at a crucial point in our country’s development. It’s time for us to grow up and acknowledge our mistakes and find ways to untangle the many threads that got us to where we are today so we can weave them into a beautiful pattern. That to me, is the theme of Go Set A Watchman. Those of us who are courageous enough must be the watchmen and stand up for caring for ALL people wherever and whenever we can in our day to day lives. If enough people do that, then we can truly become the melting pot we’ve been purported to be.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share any of my posts with friends.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

We All Have Scars

Chapel of the Red Rocks
Chapel of the Red Rocks

“Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities … always see them … for they’re always there.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~ Maya Angelou

After nearly three years of writing this weekly blog, I have to make a confession to you. I get impatient with people who are bonded to their negativity. I don’t often talk about it, or show my irritation outwardly. After all, you can’t change another person’s mind. They have to do that themselves. However, it has been difficult for me to be around people who only see death and destruction when I’ve worked so hard to seek out evidence to the contrary. Just recently I became aware that I’ve felt superior to anyone who’s got a negative outlook, because I can always find the positive side of any situation.

For many years I’ve worked to find the lessons in traumatic situations and difficult circumstances in which I found myself. I’ve made a concerted effort to become more loving and accepting, more peaceful and joyful. I’ve sought ways to heal myself. So when I FELT, during meditation, that I was wearing those terrible events like badges of honor, I had to admit that I was no different than anyone else. It was difficult to acknowledge that I had felt just a little bit superior to people who are stuck in their pain. Believe me, pain is addictive and I have finally admitted that I was an addict too. The good news is that if I can learn such a big lesson and let go of old patterns, so can anyone else who chooses to do so.

As, I’ve written before, this latest self-understanding is the result of a many year process. Last year on January 1, I began studying A Course in Miracles. We bought the book twenty years or more ago, but for some reason, I didn’t feel drawn to study it until last year. Every day I read a lesson and did an exercise. I have to credit the study of this book with helping me shift my thinking about myself. It’s difficult to describe how I felt internally, but it always seemed as if there was a huge barrier between me and what I wanted my life to look like. ACIM helped me begin to dismantle the mental wall I’d built up.

Nothing happens by accident and in November I was introduced to Dr. Joe Dispenza. He’s one of a number of people who are studying the brain. His book, Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One, uses science to explain how we can cut our ties to old ways of thinking and reacting to external stimuli. He shows the reader a step by step process to form new neural pathways so that we can be free to create a new life. Part of his procedure is to get the reader to face up to the unconscious thought patterns we’ve adopted but which hold us back from the happy life we’d like to live. It was while following his meditation techniques that I was blessed with my profound aha moment.

For many years I’ve known, intellectually, that everyone has scars. You can’t live on this planet without having had some traumatic experiences. During my meditation, however, I FELT the truth of that, and the fact that no one’s trauma is more special than anyone else’s. We often think ours is the most special but that’s not the truth. I certainly thought that. But now I’m ready to just get on with cutting away my old way of being and thinking about what happened to me and see myself in a new way. I’m no longer allowing my past to be a barrier between me and the life I’ve always wanted to live.

This is a new beginning for me so I’ll have lots of self-examination to do over these next months. However, I have to say, for the first time in my entire life, I feel free to be the real me. It’s a wonderful feeling and I hope that you can feel that way too one day.

This is my dream for all of us, that one day we will live in a world where, when a baby is born, they automatically know they can create the life of their dreams without going through such terrible life lessons. I know there will still be challenges but I hope that future generations will begin with a more positive mind set. I hope they come into this world understanding human behavior and know how to forgive without allowing the trauma to stick to them like superglue. It may take a long time before we get to that place but I still dream of a world like that.

I hope you have a wonderful year of new discoveries and adventures. I plan on having a few.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

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

Drama Fatigue

Marco Polo“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself, or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“You know the value of every article of merchandise, but if you don’t know the value of your own soul, it’s all foolishness.” ~ Rumi

“No critic ever changed the world.” ~ Robin Sharma

“Do not fear to lose what needs to be lost.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd

Last week a student in one of my theatre classes came to class with yet another crisis in her life. She reminds me so much of myself at her age which is a little bit disconcerting. Pain and suffering exude from her every pore and many of the other students merely tolerate her because every week it’s some new crisis. Seeing her struggle week after week, this is her fourth class with me, it finally came to me that I have some tools that may help her break the cycle of continual drama in her life.

Looking back on my life, I can see now that I was once addicted to lots of drama. I don’t think I’m alone in that. After all, it’s drama that sells in the media. My teen years and early twenties were filled with one crisis after another that would eat away at what little self-esteem and peace of mind that I gathered during the times of quiet. Finally in college, two wonderful mentors suggested that I begin keeping a journal and that I get involved in theatre. That was the beginning of a life long climb out of the vortex of pain, fear and suffering. It seems ironic that acting helped me reduce the drama in my life, but I used it as a tool rather than as a way to create more angst. I have been grateful for those mentors and their suggestions. Using those tools has helped me come to an extremely peaceful place in my life. But my student helped me see that, in a way I have become peaceful, but in another way I still have lots of work to do.

Because of this student, I realize that there are times when my first reaction to a situation is to go back to those old feelings that I’ve worked so hard to expunge. I’m now determined to do another round of letting go of old habits, for that is what I believe all our negative emotions are.

One of the things I love about working at home is the fact that I don’t have to be immersed in other people’s negative stuff all day everyday. It’s difficult for me to maintain my calm in public sometimes because I’m highly empathetic. Just a few weeks ago I forgot to put up my guards when I atttended the convocation for the associate faculty and I got really riled up in one of the break out sessions over stuff that doesn’t really matter. It took me a while to get over that. So, I have lots of work to do to be calm and peaceful no matter what the situation and this students is reminding me that the work is always on going.

Fear is never a good state to be in, nor is guilt, or suffering. If I can help one student, and myself let go of those feelings, then I’ve done something helpful for more people in our circle of influence.

I’ve decided that I’ll present her with a gift of a journal during Wednesday night’s class. Maybe she’ll begin to feel better if she writes her troubles down like I did. It’s definitely worth a try.

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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Changing My Mind

Tarantula Nebula
Tarantula Nebula

“Detachment is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you.” – Ali ibn abi Talib

“Contemplate these words: Nothing matters, and you think it does.” – Neale Donald Walsch

For nearly five years, my husband and I have been paying off our credit card debt. Life has been quite difficult. I know some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. Not having money made us feel constrained. There was no possibility for travel, or any extras. Sometimes even things that were necessary had to wait. These five years, I’ve had to delve deeply into my attitudes about money. So often the things that hold us back are a result of beliefs we picked up as children and because we believe them without question, it’s hard to shake them off. Many of my money beliefs held me back. I didn’t believe I deserved to have money. I thought the amount of money I had defined who I was as a person and I thought that being prosperous took affluence away from others. None of that is true.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I was beginning a tapping regimen to dig up some of those destructive thought patterns I’d accepted as truth. It’s amazing how much I’m changing because of concentrated effort to get myself straight about the purpose of money and my relationship to it.

Something I learned early in this journey was that I am NOT defined by personal possessions, the amount of money I have in the bank, or even my accomplishments. Just getting clear about that was a big relief. However, that wasn’t the end of my awakening, though for a while, I thought it was.

We’re each so much more than we show the world in our everyday lives. Some of us sense that. We know on some level that the things we do in our day-to-day lives doesn’t really matter to the Soul. We’re expanding through experiencing life, and that’s what matters. Others take life at face value and believe that the events that happen to them personally and the events out in the world, are all there is. They don’t believe there is anything more. I feel sorry for them for they must live what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls “lives of quiet desperation”. Maybe they are happy. I can’t say, since I’ve always felt that there is much more to living than can be perceived with my six senses.

I’m describing humans, who really defy description, as having an either/or approach to life. That’s not really fair, but for the purposes of my point, perhaps you will forgive me.

Anyway, for those of us who are seekers, we’re often rewarded with the perfect tool, or lesson, or friend, or teacher, when we need them most. And I was blessed just at this turning point in my life with the tapping technique and a focused meditation that have helped me dig down to those detrimental buried beliefs that I picked up along the way. As I tap, send Reiki to myself, and meditate, I see the error in concepts and beliefs that I’ve held as true for so long. I pick up each one, examine it to see if it fits who and where I am now. If it fits, I keep it. If not, I let it go. What is required is a change in perspective. That sounds easy enough, but if you’ve tried to change anything about your life, you know it takes a concentrated effort before the new habit, or attitude takes hold.

When I chose this undertaking to change my attitudes about money, I had a big obstacle to overcome. For years I’ve felt a huge block between me and money. It was almost like a physical wall inside my head. Whenever I dared dream of becoming prosperous in whatever endeavor I happened to be working on, that wall would loom large. It seemed insurmountable. I felt, for some reason, like I wasn’t meant to be successful, and have money flow to me easily. What’s more I couldn’t imagine what it felt like to never worry about money. This is the one thing I’ve been working on these five years. I’m happy to say, that with the help of the tools I’ve been given and determination to change my perception, the wall is coming down.

Even though I’ve made that big breakthrough, I’ve got more tangled emotions around money that need to be changed and healed. Just today in my meditation it came to me that I’ve held onto the belief that if I’m successful, or prosperous, that someone else is deprived. Intellectually, I know that’s hogwash. But, the thing about belief systems is they get handed down generation after generation and the idea that there isn’t enough of anything to go around is a pernicious belief that just isn’t true. What’s so bad about this particular belief system, is that we blame those who HAVE, for the poverty of those who DON’T HAVE. So, all these years, I’ve blamed people who are so much more prosperous than I am, when where I really needed to look was at myself and my beliefs about success and money. The bottom line about that is: I didn’t think I deserved it. The focus for my next stage in my healing process, is to allow myself to know that there is abundance enough for all of us. I won’t have to feel guilty about the success that I create. I can be an example for others of how to find their own success.

I’m grateful for the shifts in perception I’ve had so far. I’ll keep you posted when more insights come my way.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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A Dish of Forgiveness All Around

Chapel of the Red Rocks
Chapel of the Red Rocks

“When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear …. When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all.” –Gerald G. Jampolsky

“When you know better, you do better.” –Maya Angelou

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a fan of Super Soul Sunday on OWN. Last Sunday, Oprah’s guest was one of my favorite teachers and authors, Marianne Williamson. They began talking about Marianne’s campaign for nomination as a Congressional candidate, but late in the discussion their conversation turned to the violence in Ferguson, Missouri and what that’s all about. Oprah brought up an article that Marianne had written for the Huffington Post. You can click the link and go read it for yourself. I don’t want to rehash what Marianne has already written so beautifully. What I do want to write about is the mental and emotional journey I’ve been taking since listening to Marianne and Oprah’s discussion.

First of all let me state that I am a white person. I was raised to believe that EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect, so some of the discussions that have been going on lately about how white people need to take a good look at their attitudes about racism, rubbed me the wrong way. But Oprah and Marianne’s discussion got me thinking about forgiveness. Slavery was one of the most horrendous episodes in our nation’s history. Another one is how we treated the Native Americans. White people, for the most part, were behind both of those terrible situations. I think Marianne is right, white people don’t want to think of the horrible things that whites did in our country’s past. Most of us think that we weren’t alive then, so it has nothing to do with us.

But here’s the thing, we’ll never heal our racial wounds if we don’t forgive ourselves for our impulse to ignore what happened. We can’t expect anything to get better if we don’t take responsibility for what’s happening right now. And what’s happening right now is, whites want to point to the Civil Right’s Movement of the 60s and 70s and say, “It’s already been healed. The laws have been passed, we’re all equal now.” As we’re seeing in recent events, that’s just not true. The discussion and practice to make everyone equal is far from over.

So, I take responsibility for my assumption that African American’s just needed to forgive us and move on, and for not forgiving myself and my ancestors for what they may have done. We as white people need to stop glossing over our discomfort with what has happened to African and Native Americans due to white aggression and greed. We need to look into those dark places and expose our true feelings about the differences of race and culture in this country. We need to acknowledge that we’re not the top of the heap, and in reality, never have been.

If we’re going to survive the myriad problems we face right now, we need to do some deep soul searching and forgive ourselves and then others. We’ve got to stop letting the past get in our way of creating a new future.

This blog is my public declaration that I’m committed to healing and forgiving myself for not acknowledging the deep wounds caused by white people in our country’s history. I’m with Marianne and support any efforts our government makes to make reparation to any group that we’ve wronged. Making reparation is our collective acknowledgement of what happened, and that we want to make it as right as possible and build a new future together.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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