On Misogyny

Mary, the Mother of God

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in the calm waters all our lives.” ~ Jane Austen, Persuasion

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.” ~ Bette Davis

“As long as she is thinking of a man, no one objects to a woman thinking.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Orlando

“Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of women hating.” ~ Andrea Dworkin

“The misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who’s confronted with it.” ~ Joss Whedon

I’ve been reading A Brief History of Misogyny: The Worlds Oldest Prejudice by Jack Holland as part of my research for the sequel novel to The Space Between Time. In the new book, Morgan in the past becomes part of the suffrage movement, and Jenna in the present faces terrible misogyny because of what she has written. As I’m reading this book, I’m not finished with it yet, these are some things I discovered.

First, misogyny is ancient. I knew this from my studies of the Old Testament in college, but Holland places its introduction into written documents at the eighth century BC when Hesiod, a farmer turned poet, writes the story of Pandora. This means that misogyny was probably around long before that. Of course, the Greeks aren’t the only ones to use misogyny as part of their culture and or religion. Which means It’s so deeply ingrained into our way of thinking that it makes it extremely difficult for us to notice, let alone change.

Second, the root of misogyny has to do with man’s self-hatred or at the very least lack of self-worth in comparison to women. This produces a deep seated fear and a desperate inner struggle. Perhaps the ancient Greek myth of Zeus creating man first and then woman as an after thought to punish him, was the male writers way of trying to make themselves feel in control. Because that’s a common reaction to fear, we want to control people and events on the outside so we feel better, without doing the inner work necessary to bring about lasting peace. Trying to control things on the outside eventually backfires, people rebel, and events go against us. To truly get rid of fear, we have to pay attention to our thoughts and feelings, what triggers them, and then change our thinking. That’s an inside job.

The thing that makes misogyny so insidious, is the fact that the Greeks weren’t the only men who had this idea. The Hebrews wrote a similar kind of myth, God created Adam first, then Eve from his rib as an afterthought. Even when I was a child, I didn’t believe that story. If God created man first, then why didn’t they have the babies? And men say women are illogical.

It also seemed to me that Adam was lazy. He was content to have all his needs met without doing any work, while Eve was curious and wanted as much knowledge as she could get. And the final point of that myth that I just can’t buy is that God takes his vengeance out on the couple. If God is love, then that’s the most illogical part of the story. God doesn’t take revenge. She would celebrate Eve’s desire to become more than she was when she was first created.

Other ancient cultures around the world have different creation myths with a woman being the first created, or as female and male energies creating the cosmos together. But since Holland is tracing the origins of misogyny, he goes back to the most dominant myths that include it, and have influenced much of the worlds thinking.

Third, for some reason for centuries, dating back to the Greeks again, men have thought that if they wanted to get closer to the divine, they must deny the pleasures of the flesh. Those pleasures are, decadent food, and environment, and most importantly, sex. And it’s my opinion that this is where the twisted rape culture logic was born. It’s the whole, “The devil made me do it,” mentality. A man has a goal to become closer to God. That’s great, but studies have shown that men think about sex a whole lot more often than women do. So, he thinks he has to deny his natural inclination for sex, (another idea that is illogical. God created it, so what’s wrong with it?) and then a woman enters his awareness. She’s beautiful, he’s aroused. Does he blame himself? Of course not, because he’s got to control his outer environment, and a woman just entered his environment, so, of course, it’s her fault. Not one moment of self-examination about whether what he’s thinking and doing is right or wrong. Bah humbug!

Since misogyny is ancient, some people think, “Well, that’s just how it’s always been, so why change it now.” I think that kind of thinking is lazy and cruel. It’s a kind of thinking that says, “The way things are benefits me and my kind, so we’re not going to change it.” And since for much of history there were more men than women it’s been easy to maintain.

“More men than women?” I’m sure you’re asking that question. Yes, here are some facts Holland points out about why there were so few women in the ancient world. Male babies were highly prized, so when a girl baby was born, she would more than likely end up dumped on the garbage heap to die. Some of these girl babies were saved by men running brothels to replenish their prostitute population, but most of them died. To be fair, some male babies ended up on the trash heap if they were deformed, or not deemed worthy to live. However, this meant that there were few women to have babies in the first place. Then, getting pregnant and having a child was a dangerous and life-threatening situation for women who did not have the proper medical care. Which meant, that often more women died in childbirth than the number of men getting killed in wars.

Since, for centuries, there were more men than women, it was difficult to fight misogyny. It was only during more modern times when medical care was better, and more women survived child birth, that they were able to begin fighting back. Oh, there were some notable women throughout history who defied male domination, but not often, and they usually didn’t live for long. (I won’t go into the whole convoluted theology about Mary, the Mother of God, as they call her. She’s a woman who could never really exist.) There have been cultures that valued women, but again they were often conquered, or annihilated.

And that brings us to our current situation. Feminists, and that includes some wonderful men as well, have only been fighting for women’s rights with growing success for perhaps two hundred years. Compare that to approximately twenty-six centuries of entrenched misogyny. Thinking of it that way, I say we’re doing pretty well in our quest for equal rights, even given the current backlash against women. Most of the time attempts to go backwards wake people up. It seems to me that women all over the globe are standing up for themselves. That indicates to me that we will one day win equality among all people, because when one group wins equality, other groups will too.

For an interesting take on a strong man supporting a strong woman, read this article from the New York Times, “Behind Wonder Woman is a Great Man.”

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical fantasy involving time travel. It’s available in ALL ebook formats at Smashwords. The print-on-demand book will soon be available as well.

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What I Know So Far

Anne Lamott Quote

“Our true person is outside of time and space, but looking at the paperwork, I can, in fact, see that I was born in 1954. My inside self is outside of time and space. It doesn’t have an age. I’m every age I’ve ever been, and so are you …” ~ Anne Lamott

The other day I saw a TED talk by Anne Lamott about twelve things she knows for sure. I have to say I haven’t read much of her work, but I’ve heard her speak many times and I love her humor and outlook on life. So taking a cue from her, since I’ve recently turned sixty-four, I’m going to write some things here that I know for sure. At least, so far. These are not in any particular order.

I don’t have children, and though most people don’t say it, I know many of them are thinking that I have no legacy to leave behind me, as if that’s a big deal. I don’t believe that. I think we’re made up of energy and we can’t help but leave our energy signature behind us. Even if a person seems to be leading a negative life, their energy might have positive consequences for those left behind. For example, many people saw the kind of life Hitler led and said, “Oh, heck no, I’m not living that kind of life.” What’s more, anyone who is creative leaves their work behind, and that’s a lovely legacy for all who come after.

Second, there is no reason to worry about the younger generations coming behind you. Each generation progresses, and the generations that come after build on what the ones before have done. I’ve been a teacher of both high school and community college students and I can say from experience that my students were for the most part, responsible, thoughtful, hardworking people. I’m not worried at all about the wonderful things they will accomplish. In fact, I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Third, nothing matters. Before you tie yourself into knots about that, just think about it. Everything that exists just is. We are the ones who assign a meaning to things and situations. The house is not good or bad, it just is. The situation at work is not good or bad, except what we think about it. Whether or not our lawn is mown is not good or bad, it’s just the way people pressure you to think about it. So, take a breath, and see how you feel about what happens to you. Ask yourself whether or not it will matter in a hundred years. If not, then it might be good to let it go.

Four, If you want people to be trustworthy, you have to trust them. My dad used to say that all the time, and it’s true. I practice this principle when I’m teaching. If I expect a lot from my students and trust that they will put their all into doing the work, for the most part they do. If not, I follow what Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” And as Iyanla Van Zant says, “If you see crazy, cross the street.”

Five is related to four, if someone is entrenched in their beliefs, don’t try to change their mind. That’s a situation in which we find ourselves on a huge scale right now, and it’s distressing because the people who believe in hatred and separation are making life miserable for the rest of us. But, as my dad also used to say, it’s best to lead by example. So be persistent in sharing love, compassion, and understanding. Eventually, when the tide turns and love is the way we conduct our places of business, and our government agencies, the haters will either change or die off.

Six, there is so much good in the world. Make a practice of looking for, and being grateful for it. When you do, your life will be so much happier. Tell people you appreciate them, be thankful for even the smallest things that go right during the day.

Seven, loving yourself is the best gift you can give the world. When you love yourself, the mistakes, the dark places, the triumphs and all, then you have added to the expansion of the human race, because we’re all connected, you know. So, take the time to forgive and love yourself. You will contribute to changing the world.

Eight, there is only now. As so many teachers have said, we can’t change what happened in the past and the future isn’t here yet, so pay attention to the moment you’re in, cherish it and/or learn from it.

Nine, love is stronger than hate, the sensitive, empathetic, compassionate people are the ones who are changing the world.

Ten, I wanted to mention chocolate, since Anne Lamott did in her list. I’m not funny like she is, so I’ll just say that drinking my supercharged hot chocolate every morning is one of the great pleasures of my life. I’m grateful that its rich goodness was discovered and developed for all of us to enjoy.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment sharing something you know for sure.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time which is available in ebook format at Smashwords and on the iBooks store. It will soon be available at Amazon.

Take a Breath

Deer Visit

“He who puts out his hand to stop the wheel of history will have his fingers crushed.” ~ Lech Walesa

“It’s television’s version of taking a deep breath … a very long, very slow, deep breath. It’s called “Slow TV”, and it’s a smash-hit in Norway.” Seth Doane, CBS Sunday Morning

“Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Last Saturday I was working furiously on the latest revisions of my soon (I promise) to be published book, The Space Between Time, when nine deer wandered past my office window. My husband got photos and video of them eating our rosebush. As you can see he had to take them through the blinds of one of our windows. I hope you can see them. We just stood and watched for several minutes as they meandered through the yard eating. I felt more calm after watching them and decided that what I got done that day on my book would be enough.

Then on CBS Sunday Morning there was a segment about a popular show in Norway called “Slow TV”. It is such a contrast to the fast paced life we lead here in the U.S. And I ask myself, do we need to do everything at such a fast pace? Do we rush because we think if we don’t get there first there won’t be anything left for us? That’s pure nonsense. To paraphrase the T-shirt slogan I saw on Facebook, “Life is not a pie.” There is plenty of everything to go around for ALL of us. We don’t have to fight for the crumbs when there is something better waiting for us, if we’d just slow down and focus within.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I feel a deep need to slow down. I want to appreciate every moment and let the stresses and strains of life take care of themselves. Part of that means reducing the amount of time I check into my social media feeds. If I let them, they can make me crazy with posts pointing out the problems in the world. I don’t want that kind of negative energy in my space. If I can do something about a situation, I will. If not, I trust that there will be people who can help.

So, lately, I’ve been taking deep breaths. I’ve committed to daily meditation, sending Reiki to family and friends and to listening, to nature, other people, and my inner voice. I’m taking some workshops that help me focus on my own spiritual growth and hopefully eventual enlightenment. One effect of this course of action, or non-action, as the case may be, is that I’m feeling happier. I can hear guidance that was downed out by all the noise I was paying attention to, and I can see a happier future for myself with lots of wonderful possibilities. I forgot to do this for a while. I’m glad I got back to just being.

My husband and I are watching Genius, a short series on NatGeo. It’s about Albert Einstein. Once I watched a biography about him, and they shared a story about his process. When he got stuck on the next step in something he was working on, he’d ride the street car and let his mind drift. I do this sometimes when I get stuck on my writing, let my mind drift.

When I was a teacher, I had to drive an hour to get to school. That was often the most productive time of my day, because as my mind was focused on the mundane task of watching the road, the back of my mind was working on a problem I had with a student, or with the play I was directing, or how to present a lesson. I loved day dreaming when I was younger. I think I’ll go back to doing it more often.

I encourage you to get off the merry-go-round that surrounds you for at least a few minutes a day, take a breath, and appreciate the great things in your life. That’s how even greater things come to us. Gratitude and appreciation allows that still small voice to open up worlds that we were not previously aware existed.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Deer Lunch

The Gifts of Restlessness

Apollo Launch

“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I’ll show you a failure.” ~ Thomas Edison

“No, it’s not dissatisfaction that inspires me to tinker with my songs, it’s just restlessness.” ~ Andrew Bird

“I believe that curiosity, wonder and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds and great teachers; that restlessness and discontent are vital things; and that intense experience and suffering instruct us in ways that less intense emotions can never do. ~ Kay Redfield Jamison

I once heard a poet tell of her writing process. She’d be out gardening, or maybe doing housework when suddenly she could feel a poem galloping toward her. To capture the poem, she’d have to stop what she was doing and run to get pen and paper before the poem passed her by. Sometimes she wouldn’t get to the paper fast enough to catch the poem and it would gallop on never to return. At other times she would miss the beginning of the poem, so she’d have to catch the tail and drag it back. In those cases, she’d have to write the poem down backwards. I wish I could remember her name. I’d love to read her poems.

This story stuck with me because that’s how I know change is coming. I can feel it coming long before it arrives at my doorstep. A mild restlessness and dissatisfaction with the way things are going in my life are the first indications that big changes are on their way.

This feeling of restlessness applies to all aspects of my life, even writing. I can feel that there is something I’m supposed to write about, but sometimes the horse has stopped to snack on luscious grass and I feel frustrated that I have to wait until the horse is ready to continue the journey. No amount of coaxing works. I have to wait to be able to grasp the entire idea.

Or sometimes I feel restless, like now, because I’m waiting on others to do their part so I can publish my work. Then, just when I’m about to explode with frustration, something will happen and I’ll read an article with a writing tip that I can use to improve my work, and that sends me to do another round of revisions. That happened to me last week. So, while my husband is creating the cover art for The Space Between Time, I’m making minor changes to my manuscript.

The thing about restlessness is that it’s not random. When it sneaks in to my life, it’s telling me something important. It appears when I’ve gotten too comfortable and am about to stagnate, which is never a good thing for any of us. We’re meant to grow and evolve and we can’t do that if we cling to our routines and never venture to try anything new.

Maybe our trip to Portland intensified my current restless feelings. I mean for a couple of years, I’ve been examining my belief systems and attitudes, and working to open myself to new ways of thinking and being. Just these past few months, I’ve decided it’s time for some new experiences. But when we went back to a place we had lived for fifteen years, after being away for nearly twenty-one years, I saw how much the city had changed. I didn’t fit there any longer and that shook something loose in me. I think it shook something loose in Barry too because it feels like our horizons have been expanded.

I’m not quite sure how all these feelings will manifest yet, but I know that for the first time, my dreams for the future are far larger than I’ve ever dared hope for and I’m excited for what comes next.

By the way, I hope to reveal the cover art for my novel soon. The restlessness is fading. I don’t think I’ll have to wait long for the changes that have been germinating to appear.

If you’re feeling restless, take that as a sign that better things are on their way and look for new and exciting things to be presented to you.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Life is an Adventure

Aisle at Powell’s Bookstore

“Never be afraid to try a new experience, and keep an open mind about everything and everybody.” ~ Marian Tanner

“Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.” Mame in Auntie Mame

As I write this, we have just returned from our trip to Portland, Oregon. It’s a kind of ritual for me to take stock of what I learned when I travel. This trip made me feel hopeful and excited for the future. It made me want to be even more whole-hearted in my approach to life. Here are some reasons why.

We got to connect with lots of old friends, and some family. It’s always great to catch up with people and find out how they have been and what they’ve been doing. Interacting with others is a great way to take a vacation from my own challenges.

We stayed with a dear friend, Jean, that we have kept in contact with but not seen in about twelve years. I enjoyed our talks and having tea with her every afternoon. She also took me to have high tea with a woman in her nineties that we used to do Reiki with. She still lives alone in her lovely home. We had a stimulating talk. The thing that impressed me about Mary was that she is still interested in everything and everyone. She was a good example for me. I want to be like that too.

Another person we got to connect with was Barry’s boss at Sophia Center, Sister Kathryn. She’s a story teller and just as we were leaving from our second visit, she told a story about the Sisters of the Holy Names in the 1800s Jacksonville, Oregon that I want to use in my sequel novel. The sisters established a convent in Jacksonville but were not well received until a small pox epidemic broke out. They worked tirelessly to help save as many people as they could. After the epidemic was over, the hearts and minds of the community were changed and the sisters were not only accepted into the life of the town, but appreciated so much that a picture of their founder was hung in City Hall. That reminded me of the movie we had watched with Jean just a few days before, The Letters, about Mother Teresa. Both stories are a testament to the fact that one or a handful of people can make a huge impact on the lives of people around them.

One of the most fun things I did was to take a trip to Powell’s Bookstore. It was a place I loved when we lived in Portland and I had a wonderful lunch, browsed and bought books, and took pictures for an episode of Loving Literature. I’m one of those crazy people who loves having lots of books around me even ones I may never get to read. It’s like having a favorite blanket. Books comfort me, so being in Powell’s was a little like sitting on a comfy couch, wrapped in a throw reading.

This morning I was catching up with my email and social media. I flipped past all the negative stuff and found a blog post by one of my favorite authors, Pam Grout. The title is, “Why I’m the luckiest person on the planet, Episode 23.” Obviously her blog is about the wonderful things that happen to her because that’s what her books are about, helping people learn how to allow great things to happen to them. I liked this quote from the post, “I get interviewed a lot. One of the common questions is, ‘What kind of goals do you set for yourself?’ And sometimes my interviewers scratch their head with my answer. ‘I don’t. Rather, I trust the universe so much that I let it set the agenda. It’s so much wiser and sees so many more possibilities than I ever could.'” Then she goes on to tell about her latest free trip to Italy where she got an invite to meet famous people and stay in fabulous places.

Now that’s that kind of life I want! Today I’ve decided to allow the universe to introduce me to more fabulous people and places.

As I look back on our trip, I find so many things to be grateful for. The beauty of the blooming flowers, (something Portland is known for), the abundance of love we shared with friends and family, Portland’s fabulous public transit system, helpful people at the Oregon Historical Society, unexpected conversations with strangers, and for great inventions like airplanes.

And thinking back on our trip this morning I’m amazed at how much I’ve changed over the almost twenty-one years since we moved from Portland. When I was younger, I was so serious. I saw life as hard. I didn’t ever dream I’d get to live the life I wanted. Paula, another boss of Barry’s that we connected with, reminded me of that. She told us about an artists retreat she attended that helped her see that she had blocked her own creative dreams. She decided not to do that any more. It was so much like my own awakening experience. It reminded me that we are way too hard on ourselves, and eat the same dreary experiences over and over again, instead of partaking of the banquet of life.

I’ve said for a long time that life is an adventure. I finally believe that, and am looking forward to more fabulous experiences.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Journal and candle
Journal and candle

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~ Brené Brown

People are like stained-glass windows, they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in; their true beauty is revealed only if their light is from within.” ~ Elizabeth Kübler Ross

“The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness – even our wholeheartedness – actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls.” ~ Brené Brown

I hope this post makes sense. This has been a stressful and tiring few days putting the finishing touches on our student written plays. There are always so many little problems to find solutions for to prepare for performances. All that work means I haven’t had time to continue reading Brené Brown’s latest book Rising Strong.

Last week before the last minute frenzy began, I was struck by a section in the book about how when we fail at something, or some negative event, big or small, happens to us, we make up a story about why it happened, how everyone else is to blame, and that we are the victims. In fact, she says that we’re wired to tell stories. She cites Neuroeconomist Paul Zak who “has found that hearing a story–a narrative with a beginning middle, and end–causes our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin. These chemicals trigger the uniquely human abilities to connect, empathize, and make meaning. Story is literally in our DNA.” (pg. 6 Rising Strong.)

So when we have an argument with a loved one, or someone at work, we tell ourselves their side of the story so we can get that rush of chemicals and feel better. The thing is, we’re probably lying to ourselves. We can’t possibly know how the other person was feeling, or what they were thinking during the argument. We tell ourselves stories about all kinds of encounters. Yet, if we want to grow, we have to deconstruct our own emotions over the encounter.

One of the things I love about Brené is that she tells stories about her own life struggles. She just puts her own process out there for her readers. She’s vulnerable. That’s something I’m struggling to be, open, honest, and transparent.

So, here goes. I sometimes encounter people who want to tell me how to do my writing process. That irritates the heck out of me, especially if they aren’t writing themselves. Going back to another Brené Brown book, Daring Greatly, if you’re not in the arena, then I don’t want to listen to your criticism, or helpful hints about how to do my job! In my opinion every artist has their own unique process, which should not be interfered with. As a teacher, I seek to guide students to find their own creativity not make them cookie cutter extensions of me.

So, when someone, who is not a writer, gives me advice, I make up all kinds of stories in my head about why they do that! I want to blame them for being controlling, or superior when I have no idea why they feel the need to “help” me. But what I’m really doing when I blame them, is avoiding something inside myself, or failing to set my boundaries.

These are the things that are going on in my head, “I’m new to writing. I’m not an expert. I flying by the seat of my pants and following some invisible creativity muse that only I can hear. Or maybe I’m just crazy.” I mean, I make up all kinds of stories about me, and the other person when they try to HELP me. When I should just calmly set a boundary and say that if you’re not an artist of some kind, then I would appreciate it if you didn’t tell me how to do my job. No blame, no shame. I won’t tell you how to live your life. I’ll be there for you if you need me and I may ask for your advice from time to time, and within those guidelines, we can still be friends.

The interesting thing is, I don’t tell myself stories when my writer friends make comments on my work. They are in the arena with me, struggling just like I am, so any help they can give me along the way is welcome.

Brené suggests you get a journal and investigate your negative feelings when they arise. They are sign posts pointing you to something vital that you need to deal with. I’ve been keeping a journal for almost forty years and I can say without a doubt, it is one of the most valuable personal growth tools I’ve got in my self-help tool box. I use my journal to examine the stories I make up in my head for big devastating events, and small irritating ones as well. Lately, I’ve been writing about my issues with people who are trying to help me. I understand you want to help. But sometimes creativity is a solitary process and the best way you can help an artist is to allow them to do their process and just support them with silence and good thoughts sent their way.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Feminist Traitors?

Working Mom
Working Mom

“Solitude is strength; to depend on the presence of the crowd is weakness. The man who needs a mob to nerve him is much more alone than he imagines.” ~ Paul Brunton

“There’s just as many different kinds of feminism as there are women in the world.” ~ Kathleen Hanna

“My feminism is humanism, with the weakest being those who I represent, and that includes many beings and lifeforms, including some men.” ~ Sandra Cisneros

I came home from teaching on, 2/11/16, and my husband was watching the pundits dissect the Democratic debate. I sat and listened for a while, and then was shocked when they mentioned the disparaging comments by Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright chastising young women who don’t support Hillary. I’m a Baby Boomer who doesn’t support Hillary, at least right now, and I was disturbed. I had to go listen to what they said but had to stop listening when Madeleine Albright said, “Just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” All night I dreamed about this situation and the next morning I sat down to write the post for this week. Needless to say it was filled with angry retorts. When I calmed down, I realized that true feminism isn’t about yelling and calling each other names. It’s not about coercion, or emotional blackmail.

Even though I was extremely disappointed that two such outstanding members of the feminist movement had lost sight of what it is women have been fighting for, I had to allow them the benefit of the doubt. We learn from our mistakes and maybe given the negative reaction to their statements, they’ve learned something. In any case, they are entitled to their opinions.

To me, feminism is all about empowering women to make their own choices, on any issue they face. Gloria Steinem has even said, “After feminism, I suddenly realized (sic): not everyone has to live the same way. Imagine that!” They don’t have to think the same way, or even vote the same way either.

Fortunately, Hillary stated during the debate that she thought women should be able to choose any candidate, even if it wasn’t her. I liked that and I will definitely vote for her if she gets the nomination. But for now, Bernie’s plans and policies are more in line with the changes I want to see happen in this country. Because I support a man, doesn’t mean I’m not a feminist. I guess what it means is that I’m a humanist. I’m for the advancement and enlightenment of all humanity.

Often when I write these posts I feel like I’m a broken record writing about how we’re all in this together and we should be working on ourselves so that all of humanity can expand. Today I have to confess that many times I’m trying to get you, my readers, to see things my way and act accordingly. That’s not ethical. We all have an inner journey that is ours alone. No one should interfere with that. So, I’ll continue to share my thoughts. If they touch you and spur your thinking, great. If not, that’s great too.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Mind Shift from Amateur to Professional

Shakespeare - There's a Professional
Shakespeare – There’s a Professional

“Turning pro is a mindset. If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we’re thinking like amateurs. Amateurs crap out. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.” ~ Steven Pressfield

“Fairness is not an attitude. It’s a professional skill that must be developed and exercised.” ~ Brit Hume

“At 20, I realized that I could not possibly adjust to a feminine role as conceived by my father and asked him permission to engage in a professional career. In eight months I filled my gaps in Latin, Greek and mathematics, graduated from high school, and entered medical school in Turin.” ~ Rita Levi-Montalcini

About a year or so ago, I read the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and it changed my life. Six years earlier I’d retired from teaching public school to follow my dream of being a writer. I thought it would be easy to work from home, another dream come true, but it wasn’t. Every morning I found all kinds of excuses and tasks to do INSTEAD of making writing my first priority. I don’t know why we do this to ourselves, but I’ve seen lots of people do the same thing when they attempt to follow their dream. What is it about humans that makes us sabotage ourselves? Anyway when I read Pressfield’s book I realized that there was a switch in my head that had not been flipped from amateur to professional. By the end of the book, I’d flipped the switch and I’m immensely happy that I did.

Steven Pressfield’s concept of what it means to be a professional is very simple. A professional puts the work they want to be doing first every day no matter what. For me that means that I have to set a time to be in my office everyday with my hands on the computer keys working on my latest project. Writing is my work, and I must treat it like any other job even on the days when the ideas don’t come easily, or when there is a shift from one task to another. At the end of the writing day, I may throw out all that I’ve written, but at least I stuck to my commitment.

Being creative is like anything else in life, sometimes it flows easily and other times we’re faced with difficult challenges and feel like we’ll never create anything wonderful again, we’ll never be happy again, and we’ll be stuck in our misery forever. Yet, if we are willing to do the work, we always come through to a happier situation. Our muse comes back and we find the solution to the problems we’d been struggling with.

I’m in a little bit of a lull period in terms of my fiction writing right now. My novel is in the hands of writer friends and I’m waiting to get their comments back so I know whether I need to do more work or if I can have my manuscript edited and published. That’s a completely different set of tasks. My fingers itch to be working on something creative, but so far all I’ve been writing are this blog and pieces I hope to use in marketing my book. It’s good to work on those types of writing too, but I don’t find as much joy in writing them as I do creating characters and the worlds in which they live.

As I was typing that last paragraph, I remembered a story Pressfield shares in the book about finishing his first novel. When he’d finished the first draft, he went to tell his mentor that he’d finished the book. He felt a great sense of accomplishment, but his mentor said, “Good. Now go start the next one.” Remembering that little story helps me realize that I’ve fallen down on my commitment to myself. I did what Pressfield’s mentor said when I finished the rough draft of The Space Between Time. I sat down immediately and started the sequel. But then I got caught up in revisions of the first book, which were rather extensive. I haven’t gone back to the second book even though I’ve got this span of time while I’m waiting for feedback. That’s not good. I need to be working on the sequel in addition to my promotional materials.

I’m convinced that every creative person has to find their own “voice”, their own method of creating and being a professional. Maybe it’s more about finding their own rhythm. I’m still new to this writing thing and still learning how to juggle the various parts of the process. For now, I plan to go back and do more work on the sequel to my first novel. Who knows perhaps parts of the sequel novel can be things I include in the promotional materials for this first book.

Thanks for reading. I hope you don’t mind that I used Shakespeare’s picture again this week. He’s my idea of the ultimate professional. If you’ve got ideas about how I can improve my creative process, feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Why I Left Organized Religion

Grace Cathedral Window
Grace Cathedral Window

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

“True religion is real living; living with all one’s goodness and righteousness.” – Albert Einstein

Rarely do I talk or write about my break, twenty-five years ago, with organized religion but recently two things happened that made me feel the need to tell my story.

Recently, former President Jimmy Carter announced he is leaving the Baptist Church behind because it has lost its message of love and the Pew Research Center released a report about the decline of all organized religions in the U.S. You can follow the links to read the articles for yourself. When I read those stories, I wasn’t surprised.

My quest for a deeper connection to God began the day I was confirmed into the church. Several generations of my family had been members and that is the reason I joined. I was eight years old. My father, a lay minister in the church, had baptized me the week before and on that Sunday, my father and Al Gardner, another minister in our congregation, placed their hands on my head to bless and confirm me as a member of the church. The moment they touched me, I felt a loving presence surround and permeate my body and I knew it was God. I felt such peace. There was no question in my mind that God and I were friends and would have or perhaps already had had a long relationship with each other.

As I grew up, I forget my connection with God often getting caught up in the events happening around me. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, a very turbulent time. My ego sometimes convinced me that its message was better or stronger than God’s. However, God was always there with open loving arms whenever I remembered S/He was there. Every valuable thing I’ve learned throughout my life is because of my conversations with God.

Over the years I grew to understand that I’m connected to everything that exists, but that each individual must make their own discoveries about who they are and what their purpose is in the grand scheme of this thing we call life.

When I began college, I decided to study religion. I wanted to know all I could about the relationship between humans and the divine. My studies were both joyous and deeply distressing. Each religion began from a pure message that we must love ourselves and one another, but then power hungry men developed doctrines to control the members of their particular brand of religion. Each religion claimed to be THE ONE TRUE FAITH and the original message got distorted causing great conflicts. Many terrible acts of violence throughout the centuries have been committed in God’s name. I didn’t understand the purpose of it all. All I knew was I had to keep my connection to God open and I had to keep searching.

After my husband finished his degree and we moved to Portland, Oregon we were happy with our church duties for a time. We’d chosen Portland because it was one of the more progressive areas of the country and within the church as well. But things changed within the church and our local congregation and my husband and I began to feel like round pegs trying to fit into square holes. The only way we could describe how we were feeling at the time was that we wanted “more” out of our spiritual life. More than the church encouraged and more than any religion that we knew of seemed to offer.

A member of our congregation suggested we read The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. Reading that book was the beginning of the end of our commitment to the church. After that we read in rapid succession, Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine, Quantum Healing by Deepak Chopra, Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav and Awakening to Zero Point by Gregg Braden, which he later rewrote and I think is now titled Fractal Time.

In our deliberations about leaving the church we waffled a great deal. First of all, there was the tradition of our family connection to the church. Then there was the uncertainty of where to go from there? Attending church every Sunday morning, going to church camps and retreats and having a spiritual community were compelling reasons to stay. But two things happened to help us break the ties that held us once and for all. First, we attended two or three spiritual growth retreats developed and offered, ironically, by a minister in our church. He had been a dear friend of our parents and we were so hungry for spiritual connection and answers to our dilemma, that we gladly signed up.

The spiritual growth retreats were designed to be silent for the most part. There were short sessions where we were taught various journaling techniques designed to enhance our skills in listening to God’s voice. We learned meditation and were encouraged to be silent out in nature and wherever we went as often as possible. In fact, each participant had a cabin all to themselves so we could have a quiet place to meditate and contemplate at the end and beginning of each day. Silence during those retreats healed some deeply wounded places in my soul and I will be forever grateful for the various practices I learned during those weekends which I still use today.

The other thing that happened was we had an amazing session with Neale Donald Walsch, author of the Conversation With God books, who was working as a psychic in Portland at the time. The actual sequence of events leading up to my disassociation with the church is now a blur in my mind because one aha led to the next in such rapid succession, but I can say without question seeing Neale was the most profound experience of all.

We’d found Neale’s card on the bulletin board in the dressing room at Common Ground Communal Hot Tubs. A church friend of ours cleaned the place and got free tickets, which she shared with us. Our friend and her husband, my husband and I would go soak and talk every two or three weeks or so. I remember on one visit I saw Neale’s business card, pointed at it and Barry nodded. We took down the number and made the appointment. This was really going out on a limb for us. We felt like we were entering woo woo land. But, Neale’s voice and manner of speaking was so kind and gentle. He was open and accepting and the things he said to us rang true in our hearts. The main thing he said was that we were wasting our talents and that we were embarking on an exciting spiritual journey. That was the confirmation we needed to hear. It wasn’t long after that that we relinquished all our responsibilities within our congregation and stopped attending church.

For awhile we searched for a new spiritual home. We attended Silent Friends meetings, the local Unity Church, and a mega New Thought church. None of them felt like home for long. One of the ministers at the New Thought church once said in a sermon, “Religion should be in the business of putting itself out of business. It should give each individual the foundation to establish their own personal spiritual practice.” That’s what my husband and I came to understand was what we had longed for all those years. We wanted a deep personal relationship with God in which we could shed all the things that don’t serve us or the world. We wanted to allow ourselves to be instruments in God’s hands.

I’m deeply grateful for the foundation I received from my spiritual upbringing in the church of my family. It was within the church that I understood that I could have a personal relationship with God. My daily spiritual practice is deeply enriching to my life, however, I know now I don’t need all the trappings of religion to be the conduit between me and God. It seems to me that the Pew research might indicate that there are others who feel the same way I do.

Thank you for reading this long post. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Joie de Vivre

Calla Lilies
Calla Lilies

“People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them.” – Tony Robbins

“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.” – Joseph Campbell

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

Tuesday is the day I write my weekly blog. Sometimes it’s a struggle to express the things I’ve been thinking about over the last week. Today is especially difficult because it’s the day I’ve finished the grading for the classes that just ended yesterday. Some semesters go smoothly and all my students receive passing grades but as with this semester, sometimes I have students who fail. When that happens, I am tempted to blame myself for their failure. But, the other day I watched the Super Soul Sunday with Dr. Christiane Northrup and something she said was particularly appropriate for how I’m feeling today. She said something like, “If I feel the need to fix other people, that’s my addiction. Each person must find their own way.” Sometimes I want to fix my students and force them to succeed. I felt like that this semester. But that doesn’t help anyone.

I guess I come by it naturally because for most of my life I’ve been a fixer. In fact that was my role in the family. So when my students, friends or family struggle, I’m tempted to help them find their way out of the darkness. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned that the best way to help someone through their dark times is just to be there for them. If I do the fixing for them, it never lasts because it’s as if I don’t trust them to be strong enough to fix their own lives.

It’s interesting that I have such a deep pull toward helping others when most often I keep my own council. For most of my life I’ve felt I had help beyond who or what I could see and I’ve trusted it to guide me. When I was quite young, I felt that one day I would find a deep love of life even when what was happening on the outside wasn’t so very happy.

Now my life is becoming more and more joyful. I wake up every morning excited about the day ahead. So, when Dr. Northrup also said, “Getting older is inevitable, aging is optional,” I felt like she was talking about my life. We choose whether or not to shrivel up and become old, or we choose to learn from the things that happen to us and find a joy in life. Other times we choose to give up and fail. But that’s never the end. We can always make a new choice and transform our lives. That’s grace.

I hope that my students who failed my class will understand that one, two or even twenty failures doesn’t define who they are. There is so much more to each of us than anyone, even we, can see. Digging deep inside to find that larger part of us is what will eventually bring joy to our lives.

This post feels like it’s a bunch of gobbledeeguck, but if there is one thing I hope you get out of it, it’s this: keep plugging along. Keep looking for the things that make you happy. Keep choosing to love, rather than be angry, hurt and upset. Keep telling yourself you’re worthy and one day you’ll find joie de vivre, the joy in living as I have done. When one person finds that, they leave bread crumb clues for those who come along behind.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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