Marriage Lessons

Wedding Photo

“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” ~ Simone Signoret

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin

Today is my thirty-seventh wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that my husband and I have been married that many years, but then his parents celebrated their sixtieth anniversary last month, so Barry and I have a long way to go to beat that record.

For obvious reasons it feels appropriate to look back and reflect upon all the things I’ve learned from being married.

First of all I should say that we have no children, so the things I might have learned from being a parent I’ve had to learn in other ways, or not at all. I don’t regret that decision one bit. It was right for us.

The way Barry and I realized we were in love was right out of a movie script. We were in one of the college choirs together, and were preparing for a tour during Winter Term. It was January in Iowa. One evening at the end of rehearsal, the director told us to go ahead and put on our coats and other winter gear while we sang one of our encore songs, which happened to be “Let It Be Me”. Barry and I were goofing around pretending we were in a play singing to each other, when all of a sudden, looking into each other’s eyes, something changed. We both felt it. That was the beginning of our romantic relationship.

Relationships can begin like that. But romance is only the spark that brings a couple together. I was naive and thought that that tingly all over feeling was love and would last forever. I assumed that Barry was supposed to be my everything, meet all my needs, and I was in turn to be that for him. It was a shock when I understood that that is not realistic. A marriage where the two people are completely dependent on each other is not healthy. That couple is codependent and for awhile that applied to Barry and me. However a few years into our marriage, I learned one of the most important lessons of my life. I had to take responsibility for myself and make sure I did the personal work necessary to bring my best self to my relationship with Barry.

This led to another huge realization. Barry is my beloved and I rely on him for many things. But now I know that if something were to happen to him, I’d miss him terribly but I’d be okay.

Learning the above lessons started the day Barry and I were having an argument and I said to him, “When you say that, I feel …” The look on his face told me he was appalled, and he told me what he had intended by what he said. It was completely opposite to what I assumed he meant. What I assumed and what he intended were two completely different things. That was a big revelation. I learned that day that we hear one thing based on our past experiences, when in fact the other person might be trying to say something else. From that day onward, I checked in with him when we were having a discussion so that I understood just what he intended before getting all bent out of shape.

Over the years, I learned another vital lesson; that every day I must make the choice to commit to making our marriage work. For several years, I was sure that Barry would realize that I wasn’t worth his time and would leave me. So to protect my heart, I held back. I didn’t fully share my thoughts, or my affections. No relationship can work if one or both people are hiding behind their fear. When I was able to love and accept myself as I was, faults and all, I was able to open up and allow Barry his imperfections, and not try to change him.

My relationship with Barry has changed me in other ways. When he came into my life, I was an extremely serious person. I saw the world as a scary, hostile place. He, on the other hand, has a fantastic sense of humor and most of the time sees life as fun rather than a chore to get through. I’m forever grateful that he taught me how to laugh. Because of him, I now see life as an adventure. There are so many people to connect with, love and compassion to share, and beauty and wonder to experience everywhere. If it hadn’t been for him, I would never have had the courage to follow my dreams and try lots of daring new things. I hate to think what might have happened to me if I hadn’t married him. Though I do remember saying months or maybe even a year before Barry and I got together, that I deserved to find a true and lasting love and I wasn’t going to settle for anything less. I guess I was on my way to trusting that I lived in a friendly universe after all. Falling in love with Barry was confirmation of that fact.

In these last few years of our marriage, I’ve learned the largest lesson of all, that each person is much more than all the outer things we associate with being human. At the core of each of us is a shining, creative, loving human being full of talents to offer the world. Most of the time we get bogged down by self-hatred, or the things we own, or by seeking the house, job, or education we think of as necessary to live a happy life. But none of those things are the true essence of who we really are.

Since we’re both artists in our different ways, there have been times when Barry and I have found common ground struggling to find our place in the world. Much of the time people don’t understand or appreciate that artists and creatives look at the world in new and different ways to come up with their theories, or inventions, or artwork. Having so much in common with Barry has given me the freedom to explore and create. These thirty-seven years are ones I’m extremely grateful to have lived. I look forward to many more wonderful years of creativity and self-discovery with my beloved husband, Barry.

Post Script: A couple of days ago I went to the dentist. I mentioned our upcoming anniversary. Since he’s a former student of mine, he knew me well enough to ask what was the secret for such a long and happy marriage. Without thinking I said that each couple needs to figure that out for themselves, that there isn’t one right answer to that question. I did qualify that statement by saying that I think good communication is a key component to all good relationships. He and his assistant agreed.

I added that little story to say that I’ve shared what I’ve learned, but those are my lessons and realizations and might not necessarily apply to you and your relationships, so happy discoveries to you all.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

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

Advertisements

Evolution

Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan

“The requirements for our evolution have changed. Survival is no longer sufficient. Our evolution now requires us to develop spiritually – to become emotionally aware and make responsible choices. It requires us to align ourselves with the values of the soul – harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for life.” ~ Gary Zukav

“Only choices made in love are compassionate. There are no exceptions. Do you have the courage to act with an empowered heart without attachment to the outcome? If not, you have no ability to give or experience compassion. That is the shocking truth.” ~ Gary Zukav

The Sunday morning ritual in our house is to watch Sunday Morning on CBS. Last Sunday there was a segment on Kellyanne Conway. I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch but I’m glad I did.

My first impressions were that her life has changed in ways she had not anticipated. That she gets attacked, like lots of public people do, for things that don’t matter like what she’s wearing. I don’t agree with her politics, but seeing that interview, which I admit is the first time I’ve seen her talk, made me feel sorry for her. She seems afraid and out of her depth. But what she said about being hounded for everything she does is a reflection of our hunger for “the dirt” on people. That’s not fair no matter who is in the public eye. I think we judge others when we feel out of balance and helpless. We think it’s a way we can control the outside world.

Watching the interview caused me to do a great deal of thinking about the discourse among the various political factions in this country. I’ve struggled since the election with the best way to help the evolution of our country, culture and myself. And for some reason seeing this woman trying to express herself clearly during the interview, helped me see that the great divide has more to do with our evolution as a species, and not for any other reason. And what does the evolution have to do with politics?

Not long ago I found a link on Facebook to an interesting article by Edward Morgan. It was on the site Prepare For Change about scientific evidence that the human race is waking up. The earth vibrates, as does every living thing on the planet. These vibrations are connected and have an effect on all the others. The very first sentences of the article states, “On 1/31/17, for the first time in recorded history, the Schumann Resonance has reached frequencies of 36+. This is a big deal. In 2014, it was considered anomalous for the frequency to have risen from it’s usual 7.83 frequency to somewhere in the 15-25 levels.” The article goes on to say that the spike in the Schumann Resonance is not returning to it’s usual 7.83 Hz. Why is this significant? Because, “These emerging resonances are naturally correlated to human brainwave activity.”

It seems to me that if the earth’s frequency has been raised by the elevation in human brainwave activity, then perhaps there are people who feel the change and are deeply frightened by this unseen vibration that they sense but can not define.

Years ago, in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, when I was going through a significant spiritual upheaval, I read the book The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav. It was not only eye opening, but comforting as well. In it Gary Zukav says, “We are evolving from five-sensory humans into multi-sensory humans. … The perceptions of a multi sensory human extend beyond physical reality to the larger dynamical systems of which our physical reality is part. The multisensory human is able to receive, and to appreciate, the role that our physical reality plays in a larger picture of evolution, and the dynamics by which our physical reality is created and sustained. This realm is invisible to the five-sensory human.” pg. 27.

We’re struggling all over the world with what it means to be human and whether to continue on in the same old patterns, or to embrace new ways of being. The political climate has forced us to take a good look at ourselves and examine what we’ve created. If the article published by Prepare For Change is right, most of us are choosing to evolve and become multi-sensory. If that’s true, then we have to show compassion to those who are not yet ready to evolve.

I have to say that I have struggled a great deal about how to do that. We can’t let the people who are asleep run the world. That is proving to be counter productive. So, I have considered marching. I do sign petitions and send massages to my elected officials. But for some reason the words resist and protest seem wrong to me.

A local friend of mine posted her thoughts on this issue in a very long essay. She may have borrowed it from someone else, but the gist of it was that we should use the word persist instead of resist. I loved that because as a writer, I’m a big fan of using words carefully. They can be like daggers, or they can heal. We can be like the drops of water that eventually split the rock in two through persistent dripping. So, to help humanity continue to evolve, I will persist in my own awakening, in being kind and compassionate, in listening, in working to help others become successful. I will persist in urging our elected officials to think of every one of their constituents instead of lining the pockets of the wealthy and in turn getting rich themselves. But most of all, I will trust that even though it looks like everything is falling apart, it is really falling together. Sometimes you have to tear down the old to reconfigure it into something new.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Perceptions and Filters

Mom and Dad
Mom and Dad

I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” ~ Viola Davis

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” ~ Aldous Huxley

“Our minds influence the key activity of the brain, which then influences everything; perception, cognition, thoughts and feelings, personal relationships; they’re all a projection of you.” ~ Deepak Chopra

One thing I’ve learned is that we each see the world from our unique perspective and often, because of our personal filters, what we think is true, isn’t true at all.

I first began to consider this through someone else’s story. This woman is a kind of mentor figure to me and she told me of an incident with one of her children. They were reflecting on some event when he was young and she said to him, “And do you remember the love?” to which he replied, “No, what I remember is the condemnation.” This was, of course, a shock to her.

As she and I talked I understood that no matter what happens to us, we interpret the events through the filters of the way we feel about ourselves, and through our responses or reactions to what has happened to us in the past. My friend taught me to take a step back when I was in conflict with someone else. I had to take a breath and ask myself, through what lenses am I seeing this situation? Is my perspective affected by my reaction to past events? Asking those kinds of questions is a vitally important communication tool.

With that in mind, here is another short section of The Space Between Time. In this scene, Jenna and her new friend Jack, have gone to a barbecue with some of her high school friends. Here Jenna finds that maybe she had been wrong about her mother’s reasons for being distant. Perhaps her mother did love her and one of the ways she showed that was to support Jenna’s school activities. There is more to that backstory, but you get the idea.

Let me know what you think, and don’t be afraid to point out any errors, or improvements that I could make.

 

During dinner, Jenna was surprised when the conversation turned to her mother.

“Remember the sleep overs your mom let us have?” Matt said.

Jenna crinkled her brow. “Sleep overs?” She had no idea what Matt was talking about.

“Well that’s what we called them. You remember, when we had a deadline for the paper. Sometimes Mr. Stevens would have to go home to be with the kids because his wife had the night shift at the hospital. When that happened, we’d go to your house to finish the mockups.”

Gina chimed in, “Those were fun nights. All our parents knew if we were at your house, we were okay. And your mom was great bringing us snacks and making suggestions. She would stay up all night with us, then feed us breakfast before sending us home to get ready for school.”

Jenna was stunned. She didn’t remember those times at all.

Fred said, “You had the cool mom. We loved hanging out at your house. It’s sad she’s not here to see you become a writer. I think she would have loved that.”

“Yeah, I miss her,” was all Jenna could choke out. I had the cool mom? Why had she blocked out those memories? The swirling telescoping feeling she had the day she stood on her mother’s front porch after the funeral came back. Guilt engulfed her. I have blamed you for my unhappiness all these years. She couldn’t wait to get home to her journal to process her tumultuous emotions.

 

I wanted to include this little scene in my book because I, like many of us, blamed my parents for things that happened in my childhood. But, as children, we never know what our parent’s are dealing with. We don’t know their whole story. We forget that they have challenges and emotional baggage too. Most of them are doing the very best they can. I wanted to show that Jenna was finally growing up and able to understand her mother a little better just as I did my parents.

By the way, I had the “cool parents,” and I loved that.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

It’s An Opportunity

Earth from the Moon
Earth from the Moon

Like many people I thought that once the elections were over, we would have some peace from the political insanity. Nope. Not gonna to happen. But maybe that’s a good thing.

Like many of you, I’m exhausted. But I just keep thinking that I have to continue plugging along trying in my small way to make changes for the better. I’ve got to continue to spread love where I can and continue to work on myself so that my peace can contribute to the peace of the world. Okay all that sounds grandiose but I have decided that I can’t give in or give up. I’ve worked all my life on making small changes in my life. I will continue to do so.

I must admit that my head is still reeling from the outcome of the elections, not that I was all that surprised. I feel the hatred, anger and rising up of frustrated people all over this country. It’s as if we’re mobilizing for war but this is war of a different kind. It’s a revolution for the little people.

It’s difficult to think coherently about what the future might hold. I’m scared but determined too. It’s one thing to read about such monumental times in history with all the good changes brought about by events. It’s another to live in such times. All I can do is cling to the thoughts of some great people and try to follow their examples. Here are some that I’m contemplating so I can marshal myself to stand up to hate.

“Peace begins with a smile.” ~ Mother Teresa

“The requirements for our evolution have changed. Survival is no longer sufficient. Our evolution now requires us to develop spiritually – to become emotionally aware and make responsible choices. It requires us to align ourselves with the values of the soul – harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for life.” ~ Gary Zukav

“What we think determines what happens to us, so if we want to change our lives, we need to stretch our minds.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“As someone who has faced as much disappointment as most people, I’ve come to trust not that events will always unfold exactly as I want, but that I will be fine either way.” ~ Marianne Williamson

“I think if you follow anyone home, whether they live in Houston or London, and you sit at their dinner table and talk to them about their mother who has cancer or their child who is struggling in school, and their fears about watching their lives go by, I think we’re all the same.” ~ Brené Brown

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“I think the biggest disease the world suffers from in this day and age is the disease of people feeling unloved. I know that I can give love for a minute, for half an hour, for a day, for a month, but I can give. I am very happy to do that, I want to do that.” ~ Princess Diana

“The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

I don’t remember who said that we’re all just doing the best we can all the time, but I think that’s right. And though it goes against my learned feelings, I have to give the people who oppose my point of view the same love and understanding as those who agree with me. I don’t have all the answers, and I mess up plenty of times. Yet, helping one person, then another and another makes me feel better. Maybe it makes them feel better too.

Thanks for reading.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

My Guest Post: Moving Forward

Dorothy Hoffman Sander
Dorothy Hoffman Sander

Today my weekly Sage Woman Chronicles post will appear on Dorothy Hoffman Sander’s blog at agingabundantly.com. I don’t remember exactly how we met, except that it was through social media. She and I have similar educational backgrounds, though her B.A. is in Economics, she studied Theology and spiritual direction, and my first major was in Religious Studies. By coincidence we graduated with those degrees in 1979, though hers was an M.Div. and mine a B.A.

Though our life paths have been different in many ways, in others they are very similar. Dorothy was a stay at home mom, and entrepreneur. My husband and I have no children, we’re both artists. I studied and taught theatre he is a visual artist. However, Dorothy’s story and mine come back together as we both became full-time writers in our fifties. We are also both seekers and that has been one thing that brings us together again and again in our various social connections.

You can find Dorothy Hoffman Sander on Facebook at, Aging & The Inner Life, Aging Abundantly Writer’s Meet Up, or you can connect with her on her personal page. She is also on Twitter at Aging Abundantly.

Thanks for reading. Please go read my post at the above link, ageingabundantly.com. Feel free to leave a comment there.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Lessons from the Heat Pump Saga

Human Brain Thinking
Human Brain Thinking

“Everyone is handed adversity in life. No one’s journey is easy. It’s how they handle it that makes people unique.” ~ Kevin Conroy

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.” ~ Carl Jung

“The more you do stuff, the better you get at dealing with how you still fail at it a lot of the time.” ~ John Mulaney

It’s most likely happened to you, those times when the refrigerator or stove gives out just when a house full of people are coming for dinner, or your car breaks down on a trip. Even though they are small annoyances, they drive us batty. We recently had just such a small, and expensive annoyance. Our heat pump, which is both our heating and cooling system, blew the motor two weeks ago. Admittedly it is old for a machine. We had some minor repair done to it during the winter, signed up for the maintenance program and took a sigh of relief. But the company never called to do the spring maintenance and didn’t returned our phone call to ask when they would come. Then the motor blew on the unit. Fortunately the issue with the old company was resolved, but that meant starting over again with a new company.

I won’t relate the whole boring story. Let’s just say that after four repair visits and more money spent than we wanted, I learned something important. It’s how we handle the little annoying events in our lives that help us identify areas in our thinking and feeling that can be improved.

I’m not proud to say, sometimes when tiresome little things happen, I get upset. And being an observer of human nature, I wonder why I let those little things get to me. I’ve been thinking about that a great deal these last two weeks.

Like the quote by Carl Jung above suggests, I’ve spent a lifetime examining my dark side and it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve felt less haunted. Most of the time now, I’m happy. So why let something so small get to me. It may have to do with the fact that for most of the summer, I’ve been doing some reprograming of my thought and emotional patterns.

A few years ago I came across articles, books and interviews about the exciting advances in brain research. Contrary to what doctors and brain researchers thought previously, our brains are elastic rather than becoming set once we reach a certain age. This “neuroplasticity” allows us to change the neural pathways in our brains throughout our lives. When I read The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles by Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D, I was convinced that I could rid myself of ways of thinking that still held me back.

In my search for a program to fit my needs, I discovered people like John Asseraf, Drs. Daniel Amen, David Krueger and Joe Dispenza. Their work gave me the tools I needed to rid myself of old limiting patterns of thought so I could be free to enjoy success when I published my books. In the spring I began a meditation program with Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of the book and meditation series, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. And that brings me back to my reactions to each new little setback with the heat pump repair.

When anyone decides to create new thought patterns, part of the work is to recognize the old ones we’ve held onto for so long. Most of what we think is automatic, like programs running in the background on our computers. We’re completely unaware of them, unless we take the time to do some deep self-examination. It takes diligence and questioning why we’re thinking and feeling the way we are in any given situation to make the necessary changes. That’s difficult because most of the emotions we feel are triggered by learned subconscious responses, and unraveling those takes dedication.

That was a great deal of technical jargon to get to my point. What I’ve learned from these past two weeks is that my decision to change my thinking is working, because as soon as I got upset about the heat pump, I was conscious that I had more old thought patterns which need to be disconnected. Just observing those patterns helps me replace them with the new happier ones I’m creating. I’m grateful for this new knowledge and even though it may take me a long time, I will continue to work toward a happier more successful life.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments. Feel free to share these posts with your friends.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

How Writing Is Like Life

April Morning Rose
April Morning Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

We All Have Scars

Chapel of the Red Rocks
Chapel of the Red Rocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

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

Writer Expectations

My book shelves
My book shelves

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” ~ C. S. Lewis

“My literature is much more the result of a paradox than than of an implacable logic, typical of police novels. The paradox is the tension that exists in my soul.” ~ Paulo Coelho

“Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.” ~ Helen Keller

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.” ~ Barbara Tuchman

“In my teaching, I try to expose my students to the widest range of aesthetic possibilities, so I’ll offer them stories from Anton Chekhov to Denis Johnson, from Flannery O’Connor to A.M. Homes, and perhaps investigating all that strange variation of beauty has rubbed off on me. Or perhaps that’s why I enjoy teaching literature.” ~ Change-Rae Lee

At present I’m writing a novel. I’m in the revision stages and I’m struggling with a fundamental problem for writers. A writer friend of mine said, “You’ve got to get your main character into trouble and keep her there.” I know she’s right. That’s been the rule for literature since story telling began. It’s been that way because stories imitate life. However, just recently, I’m feeling worn out by conflict.

That might not be a good thing for my writing because readers expect adventure from their books. Yet I feel drawn to create characters who learn from the things that happen to them, and who find peace in the process. My protagonists could be a new kind of character. For the most part they stay calm while helping to solve the conflict around them.

I have to say that my favorite books are ones much like that. It’s not that the protagonist doesn’t face problems, it’s their attitude in facing them that is different. Jane Eyre is one such character and many of Jane Austen’s heroines are the same. They are determined to make the best of any situation in which they find themselves. Because they look for ways to be useful and happy no matter what, good comes to them. Maybe it’s the difference between male and female writers. I’ve read lots of exciting books by male authors, books I loved, but they’re a little bit different than the books that I love by female authors. The male created protagonists struggle and push to make things happen, while the female created protagonists look for subtler ways to get what they want. I don’t mean to imply one approach is better than the other, they’re just different.

The Harry Potter series, all of Jane Austen’s books and many other books written by women seem more intimate. The Mists of Avalon and The Crystal Cave series by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Mary Stewart respectively, are completely different tellings of the Arthur myth than those written by men. What’s going on inside the characters and what they’re learning along the way is more important than the plot.

I guess I’m thinking about all of this because I’m just finishing a fantasy series that I found through BookBub. I loved the first three books, but as I began the second series, I had battle fatigue. The books are written by a man with a young woman protagonist. It’s one of those series where one person has to save the world she lives in. But there is no respite from battle at any time. No time for reflection on what she’s learned. Mostly, she just reacts with no chance to assess the situation and to use her wisdom. Another thing that bothers me about the series is that story lines are left unfinished. It’s a great adventure series but what good comes to the society at the end of it all? Admittedly, I still have a little bit more to read in the sixth book and maybe the unfinished storylines will be resolved, the main characters will have learned something and find a measure of peace. Or maybe he’s planning another series that will do that. But as a reader I’m left unsatisfied. I don’t want to write books like that.

Recently I saw links on Facebook to articles by movie and TV critics of the Outlander series. I love those books because there is a strong female protagonist who finds herself in an extraordinary situation. She doesn’t panic. She finds a way to cope with her situation and in the process, affects everyone around her, including the men. One of the things that was controversial about the book and TV series is a horrific rape scene. But it’s not the rape of Claire, the main character, but her husband. After she saves him, they have to find a way to heal. They do that together. The rape is an integral part of the development of Claire and Jamie’s relationship. It’s not there for exploitation, or because there was a hole in the plot and “so why not put a rape scene in.” When I read that section of the book, I was amazed at the courage Diana Gabaldon showed in writing it. We find ourselves in horrific or traumatic situations at one time or another in our lives. Often we ask ourselves how can we cope with the pain. Ms. Gabaldon is one among many authors who have shown us a way to heal by writing honestly about life.

To me, literature should help us go places, both inside and outside ourselves, that we have never gone before. The beauty of reading is that we go on a journey with the characters and learn from the mistakes they make or the situations in which they find themselves so we don’t have to experience them ourselves. That’s the kind of literature I want to write. I want people to have fun while getting something to take away with them and use in the future.

Writing isn’t an easy profession. Even those who’s books aren’t huge sellers, I hope their work touch someone. I hope my book touches someone too.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a great week. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
LinkedIn