Rejoice for the Truth

Earth from the Moon
Earth from the Moon

“We can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” –Plato

“When negative feelings move upon you, reflect, and recognize the danger of feeding those feelings and keeping them alive.” –Bryant McGill

“Owning your own feelings, rather than blaming them on someone else, is the mark of a person who has moved from contracted to expanded awareness.” –Deepak Chopra

“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learn here.” –Marianne Williamson

In recent days I’ve been sick to my stomach about current events like, the decisions of the two Grand Juries made regarding the deaths of two black men, and the reports of torture that our government carried out in the years after 9/11. In fact, almost everyday there is some news story that makes my skin crawl. Maybe you feel the same way. It’s so easy to get discouraged about all the bad news. Yet, I have to rejoice. The truth is coming out!

In a way it’s like we’re doing an intervention for ourselves. A large number of people in this country are waking up to the fact that we had slid down that slippery slope toward evil with justifications that this police officer, or that official was only trying to protect the public, or the national interest. A growing number of everyday citizens aren’t buying that old excuse. They’re saying, “This isn’t right!” Other governments, regimes and groups down the ages have tried to cover up their misdeeds, all in the name of protecting the populace, or their business. We’re in a new era now, and those old shenanigans won’t work anymore.

A few days ago I finished reading I am Malala, our latest book club group selection. In my opinion it is a must read for everyone in the Western world. Most of us, and I mean mostly white people, have no idea what it’s like to live in fear for our lives every single moment, to have our freedoms restricted, and to witness terrible atrocities day after day. In the book Malala describes in compelling detail how the Taliban used insidious tactics to gain a foothold and then spread terror. While I was reading, it was almost as if I were living in her village, feeling the fear that my school would be bombed, or my friends and family killed. I dreaded reading the parts when she described walking to school and seeing the bodies of those the Taliban killed during the night piled among the rubble of bombed out buildings. We in this country haven’t had to face that amount of devastation, unless we’ve fought in a war.

While I was reading the book, it occurred to me that people who fear will go to the greatest of lengths to make themselves feel safe. And when they are steeped in the largest amount of fear, like the Taliban, or the ultra-conservatives in this country, there is no reasoning with them. Their minds and hearts are closed. They think that obstructing anything they see as threatening is going to make them feel better. Mistakenly, they think their fear comes at them from the outside so they try to make the fear go away by controlling events and people within their influence. So anyone who’s stuck in fear will do all they can to make themselves feel better. This is not a conscious decision you understand. It’s part of the fight-or-flight response.

We say that it’s human nature to react this way. But studies are showing that we can change that nature. We can change our feelings, and our ingrained patterns of thinking. People like Bruce Lipton, Nick Ortner, and organizations like the Heart Math Institute, have written about how we can turn away from fear toward love. It takes commitment and willingness to look into the dark places we’ve been avoiding. That’s why I’m grateful that the truth is coming out about the actions of corporation and our government. More and more people are willing to examine the situations that devalue human beings, and to speak up and call for accountability.

When we act out of fear, we’re not acting out of strength. Violence, external power, and the misuse of money show weakness. So how do we change the minds of those who are so gripped by fear? Their minds and ears are closed and their hearts are hardened. How do change that? We pray for them and send them love. The Dalai Lama says it better than I can. “Being concerned about other people is especially relevant in today’s world. If we consider the complex inter-connectedness of our modern lives, how we depend on others and others depend on us, our outlook will change. We’ll begin to see ‘others’ not as somehow distant from us, but as people we are in touch with, people close to us; we will no longer feel indifferent to them.” In other words, we are them, and they are us.

Today, as I write this, The Master Shift World Peace Meditation, narrated by Julian Lennon, is being launched. I hope they keep it on YouTube long enough for you to go experience this beautiful meditation. It can be the beginning of letting go of fear and realizing that we’re all connected. We can be instruments of a powerful shift from greed, hatred and terror, to peace. That’s part of my mission. To spread peace and love. Working to accept myself and find inner peace has been one of the most profound and exciting journeys of my life. Will you join me?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Giving Back

Library Book shelves

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Happiness … consists in giving, and in serving others.” –Henry Drummond

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” –Lao Tzu

As many of you who’ve been following for a while know, I’m getting my first novel, The Space Between Time ready for publication. (Thanks to all you new followers. I’m happy to welcome you to my blog.) The process of revising and editing my book has taken much longer than I thought it would. There is an upside to that, however. I’ve had time to grow my contacts via social media, some of those include fellow authors. This is the exciting part, because some of those authors have been kind enough to help me improve my work, or have offered to help me promote my book once it’s published.

One such person is Nicholaa Spencer. I don’t remember how we found each other. It was probably through WordPress. She has a blog and website which she uses to review the work of up-and-coming authors. Recently she proposed a blog tour to exchange promotion services. Those of us participating review and promote her book on our blogs and she would do the same for our work on her blog.

I was happy to agree to participate. Her book, Marrying A Wannabe Nun, is available in ebook format. The links are below.

The thing that I’ve enjoyed about my association with Nicholaa is that she’s open to suggestions about her own work, and she’s enthusiastic about helping others promote their books as well. She wants to give back to her fellow writers. That’s so important. None of us becomes a success by ourselves. We have to have help.

As I write this, I’m reading NIcholaa’s book and sending comments back. I love that about the ebook format, you can make improvements and resubmit the manuscript without having to pull old editions.

Two years ago my husband and I published a children’s book, Scottosaurus The Little Dinosaur, that I’d written and my husband illustrated as a gift for our oldest nephew. We published it through CreateSpace, which is a print-on-demand publisher, and later, when the technology advanced enough to be able to publish pictures, we published an ebook version on Smashwords. When we were getting the ebook version ready for publication, we realized the book needed some revisions. The corrections were so easy to make for both publishers, because there weren’t a pile of books waiting to be sold.

But back to Nicholaa’s book. Her story is about a wealthy U.S. businessman who, for reasons you’ll have to read the book to find out, sends his young daughter to Rome to live with her uncle who just happens to be a Priest. That situation in itself could make an interesting book, but Nicholaa has added a twist. Marcus calls his daughter Alynna, who was ready to become a nun, back to New York to marry her off into the Rothschild family so he can save his business. In this day and age, we might think that’s a bit old fashioned, but it’s the kind of situation that makes for an interesting romance novel.

Isn’t that the way life is for most of us anyway? Life presents us with twists and turns that surprise us and with which we must cope.

I’m happy to have connected with Nicholaa. She’s a writer, book reviewer, editor, and blogger. Her favorite authors are some of mine as well: Dan Brown, Ken Follett, Jude Deveraux, J.K. Rowling, and Julie Garwood. She recently went back to university to further her education in Information Technology, while continuing her writing career. She currently lives in The Philippines.

If you want to connect with her you can find her at any of the networks below.

Twitter: @NichSpencer
Facebook: Nicholaa Spencer
Website: nicholaaspencer.wordpress.com
Goodreads: Nicholaa Spencer

And if you want to read A Wanna Be Nun it’s available at Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

I encourage you to find small ways to give back to the people you love and/or work with not only this holiday season, but in the year to come. Gifts come in all kinds of packages, not necessarily with wrapping paper and bows attached. I hope your holidays are rich with the gifts of the heart.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

Cynical No More

Arizona Butterfly
Arizona Butterfly

“…that the sage awakes to light in the night of all creatures. That which the world calls day is the night of ignorance to the wise..” –The Bhagavad Gita

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” –Buddha

“When you feel the suffering of every living thing in your own heart, that is consciousness.” –The Bhagavad Gita

“I won’t let others stoke fear in my heart. I choose to remain true to who I am and where my dreams direct me, no matter the hardship I might incur. I remember it always: Fear wins or Freedom wins, and I choose Freedom.” –Brendon Burchard from page 49 of his book The Motivation Manifesto

As you might guess from all the quotes I chose today, I’m trying to make sense of what happened with the elections. I’m not too proud to say I was devastated, then angry and afraid. What’s going to happen to all the gains we’ve made in the last six years? I wanted to punch someone, scream …  and yell at God, “How could you let this happen?” Then quiet-calm came over me and I started to think more clearly.

We have a choice: We can follow the old us-against-them paradigm, OR we can turn away from that idea and create a grass-roots peaceful revolution and build a completely new society. We can continue to live in fear and think that those with the external power are stronger than those of us without it, OR we can look around our communities and find something that we have the power to address, roll up our sleeves and get to work. We can be cynical, my personal favorite when bad things happen, OR we can turn away from calling those who don’t agree with us all manner of nasty names, and just send them love. I’m choosing love.

A dear college friend of mine, Marjie Siegfried Foster, posted a similar manifesto on Facebook on Friday. Here’s what she wrote: “It is not okay to label people and then insult them. When we call any group of people names – those ‘stupid Democrats’ or those ‘hateful Republicans’ or ‘those lazy people on welfare’ or ‘those bigoted whites/blacks/immigrants’ or whatever – we are calling our neighbors, family members, friends, and colleagues those names. Would you really look me in the eye and call me stupid or hateful or lazy, just because I happen to ‘belong’ to one of the narrowly-defined demographic groups that’s been created by the media or by a political party or by you? Or do you have the courage to get to know me, to love me despite (or because of) our differences, to understand that it is our diversity that creates opportunities for collaboration? The polarizing name-calling, the labeling, the vitriolic language … all serve no purpose other than creating more division, building more walls, and hurting our fellow human beings. What happened to United We Stand? I’m standing here. Who stands with me on this?”

Marjie stated so beautifully exactly what I was feeling. Take a moment to think: Who benefits from the divisions we’re experiencing now? Do you really want those who hate and fear to have the power? We’ve been hypnotized into thinking our darker feelings are so much stronger, but they’re not. Love and light are so much more powerful. We can help dispel the darkness by facing our own fears, turning toward the light, and sending love and light out into the world.

To help make the change in the world, I’m resolved to change my thinking isn’t going to happen over night. I know from experience that I’ll fall back into name calling. When that happens, I’ll have to acknowledge what I’ve done and make a conscious effort to change my outer and inner dialogue. I can’t get away from the fact that, I am the only one in charge of my actions and thinking.  My real power, and yours lies in taking control of our actions and our thinking. So, I’m going to use my authentic power to stop being cynical. I’m going to stop calling people I don’t agree with names, even in the privacy of my head. I’m going to search out opportunities to get to know my neighbors and I’m going to help solve problems in my community. And finally, every day, I’m going to send Reiki and prayers of love to our country and the people who run it. As Gandhi said, I’m going to be the change I want to see in the world. Will you join Marjie and me?

One last quote for your consideration: “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth. –William Faulkner. I’ll keep raising my “voice” every week in this blog.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Where Are We After 9/11?

U.S. Constitution
U.S. Constitution

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” ― David Levithan, Love Is the Higher Law

“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” –Henry Van Dyke

Tomorrow is the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11. There’s been a bit of traffic on the social networks about the attacks with people reminiscing about their experiences and what they learned from the events of that day. I was deeply touched by a heart wrenching article by a journalist who interviewed the husband of one of the victims on flight 93 a few days after the plane crashed. He was remembering how open the husband was with his feelings of loss and grief. He was deeply touched when the husband asked him if he wanted to listen to the wife’s last messages. Her voice was calm and full of love.

At the end of the article the author stated that he believes good always overcomes evil, and he enumerated the various times in history when good has prevailed. But now, he pointed out, we’re facing a new threat from ISIS. His focus was on all the things going on in the Middle East. In doing so, he missed a big problem right here in this country.

Understandably the events of that terrible day sent us into shock, grief and fear. For those of us who were old enough to remember, the images of that day and the emotions we felt are seared into our memory. We will never forget them as long as we live. I want to say right now that I honor all those who died, whether they were in the planes, buildings, or trying to save people. But I feel like we’ve let the fear and confusion of that day rule our choices. We’re not as tolerant as we used to be.

Okay, I know I can put a positive spin on any situation. If you’ve been reading my blog this past year and a half, you know that. But as I wrote in my last post, we’ve come to a dangerous crossroads in this country. The evil isn’t only in the Middle East, or in the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine. It’s here in our cities and towns. We’ve let fear co-opt our better judgment in many ways. At least some of us have.

In recent weeks police departments armed with military gear, have attacked peaceful demonstrators protesting against racially motivated police attacks. They’ve arrested fast-food workers, who, again, were demonstrating peacefully trying to get their companies to pay them a living wage, and we continue to have a whole section of the Republican Party treat our President and anyone who doesn’t think like they do with blatant disrespect.

I didn’t like President Bush. I thought he was a terrible President, but I didn’t blast him publicly. He was the President, and I kept my mouth shut, except in private conversations. Now days it seems like bashing the President and his policies is a game of one-up-manship. It’s just one indication that some people have closed their minds and are increasingly hateful and intolerant.

Those who criticize the President, and who advocate using extreme force against our citizens, are proving to me that we’re dangerously close to a Nazi Germany type climate operating right here in the U.S., and I think it all started on September 11, 2001. We got so caught up in protecting ourselves, that it’s had unexpected consequences. I believe many people live in the fear that we’ll experience another day just like that one, even though it was thirteen years ago and the world is a very different place now.

Go back to our Constitution and take a good look at the rights it gives us as citizens.

Amendment I states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment IV states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Admittedly I’m not an expert on the Constitution of the United States. But, it seems some people’s rights have been seriously violated of late. Those who have acted against the Constitution have acted out of fear. I know from personal experience that fear can rule your life to such an extent that you are able to twist authoritative documents to support your position no matter how paranoid or hateful your position may be. There are sectors of our society that have become so focused on self-preservation, that they are willing to do anything to protect themselves. They can’t see that they’ve gone over to the dark side and are violating the rights of others.

I agree with that journalist who remembered the interview so long ago that still affects him to this day. Good does always overcome evil. But good has to be awake and paying attention or things can get out of hand. I think we’ve come to the point where we’re in danger of evil getting a strong foothold. If it does, we’ll have a very difficult time overcoming it.

How do we overcome the extremists who are so full of fear that they can’t see straight? This is a secret they can’t understand, “…the energy of a loving thought is enormously more powerful than that of a negative one.” –David R. Hawkings, M.D., Ph.D., Power VS. Force. And as he points out on page 282 of his book, one individual who calibrates at the level of 300 counterbalances 90,000 individuals who calibrate below 200. Of course, the higher your calibration, the higher the number of people below 200 you counterbalance.

Trying reason with the extremely fearful won’t work, nor will resisting what they’re trying to do. The only thing that will work is to practice meditation, self-discipline, and love. Cleaning up our issues, releasing our fear and learning to love ourselves and others will help set our country and the world on a new path away from fear and hatred. That’s how we shrink evil. That’s how we heal the world.

Lucinda Sage-MIdgorden © 2014

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Empathy is Good

Earth from the Moon
Earth from the Moon

“We can cultivate empathy throughout our lives and use it as a radical force for social transformation.” Roman Krznaric

Almost all my life I thought being empathic was a curse. I’m deeply affected by what’s going on around me, and by what people around me are feeling. If you’re not a highly empathic person you may not understand what it’s like for those of us who are. Whenever I go out in public, I’m like a magnet. I pick up the feelings of those around me. When I was younger, I didn’t understand why my happy mood would suddenly turn to anger, or fear, or sadness. It was only when I was a little bit older that I realized that the feelings of those around me were attaching themselves to me. Often times my sudden mood swings had nothing to do with my own emotions.

Because I was an emotion magnet, I preferred to stay at home quiet and secure within my own family unit. School, church and going shopping were torturous experiences for me. I’d cry at movies, and feel the pretend injuries of the characters. When I was given a reading or song to sing at church or school, I’d often cry at the poignancy of the piece. Maybe people thought I was a wimpy girl. Good thing I was a girl, because it’s okay if you’re a girl and you have empathy, but it’s not okay for boys. I think that’s sad.

Over the years as I started to do deep spiritual work, practicing meditation and Reiki, I learned how to protect myself from other people’s emotions. When I did that I was able to see that some people shut themselves into cocoons to protect themselves. Maybe they are empathetic too. But some people are so disconnected from their feelings that they have become sociopathic. They can’t see or feel what is happening to the people around them. And frankly they don’t care. They don’t want to understand what it’s like to live another person’s life, as long as theirs is comfortable. It seems like there are a great many people like that in the world right now who fit that description. That makes me sad, because perhaps they started out with a large amount of empathy but got scared and chose to protect themselves.

It takes work to remain open to the feelings of others. Believe me there are times when I wish I could shut myself in a cocoon and not know the terrible things that are going on in the world. But that doesn’t help make a change for the better.

I’m a big believer in energy fields. One thing I can do is to send out positive energy to people in other parts of the world who are hurting. I’ve mentioned the Global Coherence Initiative in previous posts. That organization is all about focusing our collective energy toward a troubled place in the world. Meditation, Reiki, prayer, sending good thoughts are all ways you can send positive energy into the world. It may not always look like the positive energy is helping, but over time, it does.

Another way is to take action and actually do something. This may sound lame to you, but one of the reasons I continue to teach theatre classes, is because I like helping students open up to new abilities and talents. Theatre is an excellent way to open your empathy centers. You must identify with a character to be able to play her well.

I read about a study a few years back that measured how witnessing acts of violence or kindness affected the watcher. They found that witnessing something that’s happening to someone else causes us to feel as if it’s happening to us. I wish I could give you the link for the study, but it was so long ago I don’t have access to it any longer. It’s studies of this kind that prove why theatre, movies and TV are so powerful. It’s also one of the reasons I’m so excited that one of the most popular genres, Super Hero movies, are digging deeper into the struggles each hero goes through before they are able to take on the mantle of a true super hero. What makes them heroes is the fact that they’re willing to face their demons. It’s not just the fact that they have super powers, it’s the inner work they’re willing to do that helps them identify the suffering of others. They are able to empathize with the people they are trying to help.

The thing I liked about the article that if found on Facebook, “Six Habits of Highly Empathic People” by Roman Krznaric was his assertion that we can learn to be more empathetic. It just takes practice. The article was published almost two years ago, but I think it’s just as relevant as the day it was published. Maybe more so. There is a link on the site to a short test to help you see how empathetic you are. If you find your not very empathetic, don’t panic. You can become more so with practice.

I wasn’t surprised to find I rated very high on the empathy scale. I’m also very glad that I no longer feel like being empathic is a curse. On the contrary, it’s a huge blessing.

Lucinda Sage-MIdgorden © 2014

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We Need Compassion

 

Grace Cathedral Window
Grace Cathedral Window

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

“Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.” –Ellen DeGeneres

Recent events in my family have made me wonder why some people are filled with caring and compassion for their fellow human beings and why others aren’t. I guess it’s not only that. The political climate is so volatile right now, not just in our country but almost everywhere in the world that there are times when I wonder if we’re going to make it as a species.

Then I remember that there are lots of individuals and organizations that are working to make this world a better place to live. Some do it the way I do, on a one-to-one basis, and others are working on a global scale. That gives me hope, because just lately, I’ve been feeling down about the whole situation in the world. Sometimes it’s difficult being a very sensitive empath.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve picked up the feelings of others. For many years I didn’t understand why my mood would suddenly change from happy to sad, or anxious and fearful. Then I realized, it was because I was like a magnet, picking up the feelings of others. Even after learning how to shield myself from the feelings of others, I struggle with being extremely sensitive.

Some mornings I wake up feeling anxious and I don’t know why. For the most part my life is running smoothly. I’ve learned to accept that challenges happen, and though I may temporarily be thrown off balance, I’m able to right myself and move forward knowing all is well.

However, that’s not the case for everyone. Some people are so full of fear they do and say hurtful things to those around them.

So what can we do to change the situation in which we find ourselves besides work on finding our own inner peace? I think practicing compassion is something we can do to help move the evolutionary process along.

Right after I graduated from high school, I took a job at a Montessori school as a teacher’s aide. I’d decided that I wanted to work for a few years before attending college. One day something happened in the classroom, and I was dealing with an angry little boy. The specifics of the incident have faded over the years, but I remember saying to him, “It’s okay, you can be mad at me. I can take it.” I’ll never forget the look of relief on that boys face. So many conflicting emotions had been fighting for supremacy. I could see them reflected in his body language. That’s when I told him it was okay to feel anger. I don’t know what made me tell him it was okay, but I remember feeling compassion for him. He was a powerless child confronted by an adult who had power over him. Then I’d given him permission to feel his feelings.

I know that the people I’m angry with have more money and external power than I do. But, their world is crumbling and they have no idea how to stop it. They are resisting the tidal wave of change that they didn’t see coming. That makes me feel sad for them. Some instinct tells me that the one way we can speed up the awakening process is to practice compassion in every interaction in which we participate. Calling the bully names, and treating them the way they treat us doesn’t make them back down. It makes them dig in their heels and put up more resistance. So, I propose trying a different tack. Show them compassion.

Here’s a site where you can get some tips about how to do that, or even begin to participate in building a compassionate world. Karen Armstrong, author of many books including,  A History of God, and Twelve Steps for a Compassionate Life, has begun the organization Charter for Compassion which is a world wide project to educate people and inspire a change in the way we live our lives on all levels. This is just one of many organizations with whom I’m connected.

When I read the emails of groups like this that are trying to help us turn from fear, close-mindedness and hatred, to love and compassion, I’m encouraged. Maybe we can evolve. Maybe I can let go of my anger and help make the world a better place to live.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Happiness as Radical Love

Bazz & Luce in Quartzsite 2Maybe some of you felt the way I did when the Supreme Court chose to side with Hobby Lobby. I was sad, but not surprised. It’s just the latest attack on women’s freedom to choose for themselves. To soothe myself, I went to Facebook. I have lots of friends who post positive messages. Luckily I found a post by my friend Terri. She was sharing how happy she was about the little things in life. In the stream of comments to her post, someone put the link for the YouTube lyric video to Pharrell Williams song “Happy”. I like the song, so I followed the link to start my day off right, and was struck by these words from the song.

“Here come bad news, talking this and that.
Well gimme all you got and don’t hold back.
I should probably warn you, I’ll be just fine.
No offense to you, don’t waste your time.
Here’s why. Because I’m happy.”

That’s how I’m feeling about all of the people who are so frightened about what’s going on in our world. They’re the ones bringing bad news. They try to control every little thing around them and want to control us so they feel better.

I’ve got news for them. There are a growing number of people out there who have decided that they aren’t going to allow those fearful people to control them, no matter what. I say yay to that!

I’m going to join them and go on building my happy life and not pay any attention to the haters, the conservative politicians, the fearful people who want to tell me how to live my life. They mistakenly think that if they control everything outside themselves, they’ll feel better. They won’t.

Our inner state is our choice. I choose to be happy. I’ll let them be miserable if they want to be.

Eckhart Tolle says “What you resist persists. What you fight you strengthen.” It’s a hard concept to get. We’re so used to putting up resistance when we feel like someone is in our face. But think about these things: The opossum plays dead when it feels threatened. It takes two to keep a fight going. It’s better to be for something than against it.

Wayne Dyer tells the story of Mother Teresa turning down an invitation to attend a protest rally against a war. I don’t know which war. She was gracious about it, but she said, “I’ll attend when you have a rally ‘for’ peace.”

I’m not only for peace, I’m for everyone being able to live the life that will make them happy.

One solution to help yourself achieve happiness amid all the chaos, is to follow The Four Agreements. Someone posted them on Facebook the day after the Hobby Lobby decision. I love number two: “Don’t take anything personally”. That was a difficult one for me to learn. For many years I didn’t love myself, so I thought the world was against me. It’s not. The Universe is always on your side, whether you believe it is or not. It’s when we are fearful that things don’t go the way we’ve planned. That doesn’t mean The Universe is against us. It just means we’re being offered a new opportunity to find our place in the world. If we take the opportunity provided, eventually we find peace.

True peace, happiness and joy can coexsist with all the turmoil going on in the world. We can choose to be an influence for good. I love what Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist, “No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”

What role will you play in the history of the world? I want to be remembered for spreading love, light, healing and happiness.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Forgiveness As Radical Love

December Sunrise
December Sunrise

“A Rattlesnake, if cornered will become so angry it will bite itself. That is exactly what the harboring of hate and resentment against others is – a biting of oneself. We think we are harming others in holding these spites and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves.” E. Stanley Jones

“Treat people as if they were what they should be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Forgiveness is not an easy thing to accomplish. However, it’s essential to self-healing. You can’t give Radical Love, without being willing to forgive. Here’s my forgiveness story.

Twelve years ago, the job I thought was my dream job, and the purpose of my life, was yanked out from under me. The father, a powerful person in the school district, thought his daughter should have been hired two years earlier, when they hired me. We were the only two candidates for the job. A year later she was hired for the second position in the department, and they set out to discredit me in any way they could. At the end of my second year, budget cuts came to my department, due to a failed bond measure. Since I had just earned my teaching certificate, I thought for sure, I’d be the one to keep my position. That was not the case. I was in shock.

I was furious, helpless against their attacks, wanted revenge, and hated them for treating me as if I was an obstacle instead of a human being. The fact that they could dispose of me so easily was a complete shock. I had been working for the school for six years and had a good reputation, yet I was as disposable as if nothing I had done mattered.

My supporters who were officers in the teacher’s union, confirmed that the daughter did not hold a teaching certificate, and urged me to sue. But something told me that wasn’t what I was supposed to do. I’d been given a great gift, even though I couldn’t see what that was at the moment. So, I found another teaching job in a nearby town and set about healing.

It’s taken me from then until now to forgive everyone involved in what I considered a betrayal by the school district. I had to let go of denial, and wishing the outcome had been different. At first I allowed myself to feel completely angry. I dreamed of revenge. Like the rattlesnake, I was biting myself, thinking the father and daughter were going to be poisoned. Even though the poison didn’t feel good, I wasn’t ready to let it go quite yet. My anger turned to self-recrimination. Why hadn’t I seen what was coming and blocked their efforts?

One day, about two months into the new school year, I was coming out of the local grocery store, and the father was coming in. He smiled and said, “Hi. How are you?” I just glared at him and didn’t say a word. How do you think I feel after you stole the job I loved, you B___d? What was wrong with him, why couldn’t he see what he’d done to me?

Later, when I cooled off, it hit me, He’s completely asleep. He has no idea how much he hurt me. I’m not a person to him. When I realized that, I remembered an interview on Inside the Actor’s Studio a few years earlier. I think James Lipton was interviewing Christopher Walken, but I may be wrong. In any case James Lipton asked the actor how he felt about playing so many villains. The actor said “Well, you know, the villain is the hero of his own story.” Ah, the father and daughter are the heroes of their own story. To them, I was the villain. It’s all a matter of perspective isn’t it? Somehow this little aha made me feel better. That was the day I began to heal, though I was still wounded.

For years, every time I drove by the high school, I felt physical pain at my loss. I refused to step foot in the school for blood drives, or for civic events. Eventually I was forced to do so, because of a county wide teacher’s conference, which was to be held at my former high school.

It helped that many of my former colleagues came to greet me, and tell me how much they missed me. Some of them even told me that things weren’t going so well in my old department. I know this sounds bad, but I was glad. I felt vindicated. But by then, I’d found my place in my new school district. They appreciated me, and I saw the contrast between the two districts. I was in a much better place. After that event, I was able to let go of wishing things had been different. Instead of looking back, I was determined to look forward.

Little by little I let go of parts of my anger, hurt and blame. I saw that I had called this situation to me for some larger reason that I couldn’t see at the moment. I let go of the biggest chunk of my grudge the day I realized that my new teaching position had led me toward writing. In the old position, I might never have allowed myself to uncover my long held desire to be a writer. I’d have been too busy to think about old, unrealized dreams.

I thought I’d let all the pain of that time in my life go, but a few months ago, I realized that I wasn’t completely finished with my forgiveness process. I set about letting go of those old, old hurt feelings.

As you might guess, since I came to the realization that we must practice Radical Love to heal the world, I’ve been working on sending love to people, and situations that need it. This morning in my mediation, the faces of the father and daughter came into my mind. Without any shred of anger or desire for revenge, I was able to send them love.

What a relief! I can move on. I can learn to practice Radical Love, for myself and others.

Thank you to all of my followers. I love your comments, they help me grow.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Radical Love

Celeste and Shane IMG_0040 “True words aren’t eloquent;
eloquent words aren’t true.
Wise men don’t need to prove their point;
men who need to prove their point aren’t wise.

The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others,
the happier he is.
The more he gives to others,
the wealthier he is.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 34-35. The New Revised Standard Version

I don’t usually quote The Bible even though I graduated with a Religious Studies degree. The reason I don’t is because we think we know what the quotes mean from years of going to church school classes and listening to sermons. I’d like for us to consider a new, deeper way of thinking about the above Bible quote. I’d like us to consider that Jesus was asking his disciples, us, to practice Radical Love.

What is Radical Love? I don’t claim to have any special insight on that subject. This blog is prompted by something I saw on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last week. Jon’s guest was a man who had written a book about the Koch brothers. During the course of the interview, the guest said something like, “These brothers are so wealthy that they’ll never know what it feels like to have to live on $2.00 a day.” When he said that I turned to Barry and said, “How do you reach someone like that? How do you help them find empathy for others less fortunate than they are?”

The next morning the answer came to me. We have to learn to practice Radical Love. Love is the only thing that will melt the hard-hearts of people who’ve never had to struggle to feed their family, or who’ve never lost everything. Practicing Radical Love is the only thing that will soothe the wounded hearts of people who’ve known nothing but struggle, discrimination, hatred and unending fear.

I don’t claim to be good at practicing Radical Love. Oh how often I want to make snarky comments on Facebook, or Twitter. But then I remember that we’re all connected by some indefinable something that’s linked to the Divine. And that stops me from writing the remark. Making sarcastic remarks on social media and in our daily discourse isn’t going to help the situation.

All I know is that we can change the world. But to do that, we have to be willing to change ourselves, as I’ve been writing in this blog for the last few weeks. We have to change ourselves so that we can look at another human being and see their beautiful soul, the soul that connects each of us to the greater Soul. We need to have empathy for what they are going through, and we need to love them, no matter what we think they’ve done.

That’s a tall order. I don’t do it all the time. My ego gets in the way. I get angry that the other person doesn’t see the world the way I do. When we fight against a person, we make them angry. When we fight a situation we make it worse. As Eckhart Tolle says in A New Earth, “Discontent, blaming, complaining, self-pity cannot serve as a foundation for a good future, no matter how much effort you make.”

So, all I can say about the Koch brothers and everyone like them, is that I have to send them love. I have to visualize that the love I send is getting through to their hearts so that they can become compassionate, and have empathy for others. When they feel that, they’ll stop fighting to keep the billions of dollars they own all to themselves. They’ll be willing to share it with those less fortunate.

What are your thoughts about what Radical Love might be? I’m interested to know what you think.

Ariel and Daddy (31)

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014
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You Get More With Honey Part 2

Lucinda and Barry Christmas 2013“I wish to live without hate, whim, jealousy, envy, and fear. I wish to be simple, honest, frank, natural…to face any obstacle and meet every
difficulty unabashed and unafraid.”-Elbert Hubbard

Something about the article about Donald Sterling that I wrote last week stirred up lots of discussion, and made me go back to take another look at what I was trying to say.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of personal work, which started with listening to, and observing my dad. He used to say, “You can’t change another person’s mind. You can only change yourself, and hope they’re paying attention.” I’ve taken that advice to heart. Over the years I’ve discovered something really amazing. If I stop pushing against what I don’t like in others, and just accept them for who they are, amazing changes happen.

I’m a very sensitive person, so I feel the pain of others deeply. It’s hard for me not to speak up when someone is getting abused. Here’s an example. When I was teaching high school, I had two students who were named to the State All Star Football team. They were full of themselves, and thought they ruled the world. This created a very bad situation in our classroom. There was a student in that class that everyone assumed was gay. The football players treated him very badly. When I tried to stop them from harassing him, they acted as if I had no power over them.

I called their parents, I talked to their coach, I talked with the Principal trying to get support to back me up. I got support, but the boys were convinced that they were gods, and nothing could touch them. They continued to treat that student badly. Of course, they treated everyone else with distain as well. One day I’d had enough. I took them outside the classroom individually, and told them that in my classroom everyone gets treated with respect. If they weren’t willing to do that, then I would have them removed, which would mean they’d have to make up the English class. I left the choice up to them. If I saw improvement in their behavior, we’d say no more about it. Otherwise they were out. They straightened up. Part of what made that work was their eligibility to play football during their senior year.

They stopped harassing the student they thought was gay during class time. I don’t know what happened outside of class.

Something happened to me during that incident. I had to accept that the two football players were probably not going to change their minds about gay people just because I said they should. The only thing I could do was to protect the other student, and show as much respect for everyone in the class as possible. Maybe it made a difference, maybe it didn’t. I’ll never know. However, by the end of the school year, the relationships among the students seemed to be much more amicable.

My dad was right. We can’t change someone else. We can only change ourselves. That’s been a big lesson in all my relationships, but particularly in my marriage. Like most of us, I thought once Barry and I got married, life would be perfect. But, of course, it soon wasn’t perfect. Over the years, I’ve learned that if I want Barry to love and accept me, I’ve got to stop expecting him to be someone other than who he is, and I’ve got to love him the way I want to be loved. I’ve realized that I can’t make him responsible for making me happy. Being happy is my job, not his.

Having written all that, I have to admit, that staying silent about issues as big as the way we treat others from different races, creeds and genders, isn’t good. We have to speak up. We have to engage in discussion. We have to look at our own attitudes, and admit when we’re wrong. We also have to treat the people who are racist, and full of hate with the kind of respect we wish they’d show to others, even though we’d like to punch them out.

Not long ago there was a great example of that. The Pastor of the Kansas church that makes a practice of demonstrating at funerals, showing signs full of hate, died. I’m sorry I don’t remember his name or the name of his church. This group was particularly hateful toward gays. A large group of people got together for a different kind of demonstration at his funeral. They stood outside the church, with signs of love. They could have returned hate with hate. But they didn’t. They turned the other cheek and returned hate with love. I don’t know if that act of kindness will make a difference in the lives of the people of that congregation or not. I do know that being kind to someone has a better chance of affecting change than treating them with hate. Treating someone who’s mean and hateful with love is a lot harder to do than lashing out in anger, but it’s the only way I know to bring about positive change.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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