Why I Won’t “Resist”

California Coast

“This is one of the great metaphors of life: Move with the flow. Don’t fight the current. Resist nothing. Let life carry you, don’t try to carry it.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

“There are three words that convey the art of living, secret of all success and happiness: One with life.” ~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth.

“Life can take care of itself. … Most of us are so used to the idea that we need to control our lives. The notion that life can take care of itself from our awareness seems impossible but the infinite intelligence of consciousness has always been taking care of life.” ~ Deepak Chopra

“I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightness. I do not judge the universe.” ~ Dalai Lama

This has been the longest three months of my life. But it’s been a great time of growth too.

When Trump was inaugurated and the roll-back of all the social services that protect the environment and help people began, I was ready to join the resistance movement. Yet, over the years I’ve learned that when I resist events in my life, I’m more miserable because my problems grow bigger. Resistance keeps me stuck in victimhood and focused on my problems rather than looking for a solution.

I was fortunate to learn this fairly early in my life. When I was in college I experienced a series of life shattering events. During this time, someone suggested I buy a journal, which I did. For the first month or two, or three, all I did was complain. But miraculously one day I wrote, “What am I supposed to be learning from all this?” And that’s when my life began to transform. That question moved my attention from my problems to possible solutions. It helped me begin to examine my attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that were contributing to my unhappiness.

Change happens whether we want it to or not. It’s like waves lapping up on the shore. We can’t stop them even if we wanted to. I’m not a surfer, but I imagine that to be good at that sport you have to learn to go with the flow. Once you’re up on that board riding that wave, you have to be sensitive to the flow of the water and make adjustments accordingly. It seems to me that if you misread the flow, or the new direction the wave is headed, you fall. But the beauty of surfing is that you can get up and ride the next wave, and possibly end up in a different place from where you began. I think it’s better to go with the flow rather than try to make the water go where we want it to. That never works. And besides, we’re not God. We can’t see the whole ocean. We can either trust the flow of life, or we can cause ourselves all kinds of pain fighting against the current.

For this reason, I trust life to take care of life. Whether we want it to or not progress happens, and right now I think old structures are getting washed away. We’ve fallen into the water and are trying desperately not to drown. We can relax, hold on to the board and let the wave take us safely to shore, or we can yell at the wave and fight to get back to where we fell. It’s our choice.

When I hear the word resistance, I think back to all the times in my life when I resisted growth, or the truth about myself. When I fought, I was miserable. When I allowed myself to feel my true emotions, they dissipated much faster, and I could see solutions that were hidden in plain sight while I was focusing on the problem.

Two weeks ago I joined Oprah and Deepak’s latest 21 day meditation series, “Hope in Uncertain Times.” As they have guided me through these powerful meditations, I have come to understand that the tide of human evolution has turned. Most of us have been shaken from our apathy. We’re finding purpose in standing up for the world we’d like to live in. We’re doing that in big and small ways. The phone calls, and demonstrations are peaceful, but powerful because we know what we want and we’re not giving up.

The contrast between those of who are going with the flow of change, and those who are fighting the current is very apparent. Some of our leaders want to turn back the clock, but that’s impossible. Therefore I have to trust that soon the wave will rush into shore and we’ll see ways to build better systems to replace the old.

Recently a Facebook friend of mine showed me a great way to contribute to the rebuilding process. She shared that her life has been very stressful for some time now. Yet, one day she passed a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk in the rain near her house. It seemed to her that his need was greater than hers, so she made a sandwich and took it too him. She wrote that she was learning to “Give what you can when you can.” Giving that man a sandwich helped her feel better about herself and her situation. I found that inspiring. When she helped that man, her focus changed from her problems to a small solution for someone else. I think I’ll follow her lead, because when more of us do what we can, when we can, we create a larger and larger flow of change. And change, like water, cuts through the hardest substance given enough time.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend. To join my mailing list, click here.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

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

Fear of Success

Our Road

Our Road

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” ~ George S. Patton

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.” ~ Billie Jean King

“Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.” ~ Tom Petty

My sister Celeste and I were talking the other day about pursuing our life’s dreams and some realizations we’ve had along the way. She is a certified life coach, but has had difficulty getting her career started. However, since moving to the Seattle area, it looks like her business will be taking off. That’s what started our conversation about success. As we were talking she said, “I think I’m afraid to succeed.” Boy could I relate to that because I’ve felt the same way about my writing.

As we talked we acknowledged that the same situation applies to both of us. We get used to our life circumstances and it’s hard to visualize living any other way. Does that ever happen to you? It takes a great deal of effort to create a new way of living. If you choose to create an unconventional life, you have to give up some things that are fun but not productive in your old life. And you face opposition, people will not hesitate to tell you that your dream is not worth the effort, or that you will never succeed so you may as well give up. It’s difficult to shut out the naysayers. You have to be willing to fail, perhaps many times before you succeed and that’s scary.

Celeste and I both want to live a new kind of life. We want to help people while we do what we love and make money doing it. We both long to travel, be open to new and unexpected experiences,  and we want to meet new and interesting people with a different perspective than our own. These are dreams we’ve talked about over the years, but for some reason it’s been difficult for us to break out and go for that new life. Both of us have suffered through some difficult times, especially financially. That’s one thing that is the hardest to overcome, our financial circumstances. We get so used to living with less that it becomes hard to see ourselves as being prosperous.

Celeste and I both think that visualizing what it feels like to have abundance and success while at the same time helping others is essential to making our dreams come true, which got me to thinking about the circumstances in which we were born. Our parents struggled with money until later in their marriage. I’m the oldest so life was more difficult for me than for Celeste who is the youngest. For example, I wore lots of hand-me-down clothes growing up. When mom and dad had more money, mom continued to act as if they didn’t have enough to buy my younger sisters the clothes they needed. She was stuck in her old thinking that they had to do without many of the nicer things in life. Dad on the other hand embraced their more prosperous situation and always made sure my sisters had the things they needed. Sometimes Celeste and I find ourselves stuck in our mom’s pattern of thinking instead of our dad’s. That’s one of the struggles we each face in making our dreams come true.

Most people continue on much as their parents did. There is nothing wrong with that, but there are people who long for a different kind of life. They have dreams that go in a different direction from their “tribe”, as Wayne Dyer called it. My sister Celeste and I, and our husbands are such people. Something inside drives us to seek out a new kind of life, one that doesn’t appear to be outwardly secure but is highly creative. We want to take the road less traveled and that’s the tension we feel each day as we struggle to support our families yet create something new.

Even though we’re taking the road less traveled, there are others who have forged the paths that we want to take, it’s just that not as many have chosen these paths and that makes our desire to follow them a little scary. There aren’t as many footprints to follow. Sometimes the footprints are lost all together and we have to guess how to reach our destination. Every day we have to reassess and move forward with our plans. We have to give ourselves a break if we take two steps forward and one step back. That’s all part of the game.

So, we’re both excited and a little frightened to think about how we’ll react when we succeed. Celeste and I feel that if we’re not a little frightened of the outcome, it’s not worth doing. The thing we look forward to is the fact that we’ll both be living very different lives than the ones we’re experiencing now and as far as we’re concerned, that will be wonderful.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

How Do You Know When It’s Finished?

Approved by my readers

Approved by my readers

“The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lighting bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there’s ongoing creative revelations. Yes, it’s really helpful to be marching toward a specific destination, but, along the way, you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow.” ~ Carlton Cuse

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” ~ Julia Cameron

“Any creative process is about being in a territory which isn’t secure, isn’t necessarily familiar, and isn’t convenient in any sort of way. And that’s the excitement of it.” ~ Susanne Bier

“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.” ~ Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

When I first thought of writing this post, I was asking myself, “How in the heck will I know when my book is finished?” It’s been such a long time in coming. Years in fact. After so many revisions, so many I’ve lost count, I wonder if I will know when my manuscript is ready to publish.

Many authors think they are finished with their manuscript so they go through the long process of finding an agent, then a publisher, then there are more edits according to the advice of the publishers. No wonder so many people who think they want to write the next great American novel give up. You spend years writing and revising and then you will probably get rejection after rejection before, or if, someone decides they want to publish your book. And then it takes another year or two before its available in bookstores. I’m not sure I have that much time. After all, I’m a late bloomer. I didn’t begin writing until I was fifty-four years old. I’m now sixty-two. I don’t want to wait another two or three years to see my book published.

That’s why I’ve decided to publish my book myself instead of waiting until a publisher decides its worth their time. Maybe I’m crazy, but something inside tells me to follow my own instincts about every aspect of this process and not rely on the approval of other people. In any case, the way the publishing world has evolved, even a new writer backed by a traditional publisher, needs to have a following in place and they have to do much of the marketing themselves. So, why not self-publish? The process of publishing a book is fairly easy now days.

Even though I’ve decided to publish the book myself, I still have the question in my head, “How will I know when its finished?” This is what I think happens. There is a click in an artists head that tells him or her when their piece is complete. That doesn’t mean perfect, it just means that the work is as finished as the author’s abilities allow at that time. Nothing created is ever perfect, but there comes a point when any changes made to the painting, or the song, or the book are just changes. They don’t improve the piece.

I read a quote recently, I can’t remember where, that said something like, “An author writes the book, it’s the reader who attaches the meaning.” Since I believe that is true, it’s my job to finish telling the story that wants to be told and then send it out into the world. No one will be able to attach the meaning to it that I do because they didn’t live the experiences that brought the book into being. I just hope it touches people. That’s the most I can hope for. Writing this article has helped me see that my manuscript IS nearly finished. There may be a few more tweaks after my writer friends give me their comments, but my instincts tell me that I don’t need to make any more major changes. It’s as good as I can make it and that has to be good enough for me. I hope it’s good enough for my readers.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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

How I Get My Ideas

Shakespeare - Great ideas

Shakespeare – Great ideas

“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.” ~ Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

“I don’t know exactly where ideas come from, but when I’m working well ideas just appear. I’ve heard other people say similar things – so it’s one of the ways I know there’s help and guidance out there. It’s just a matter of our figuring out how to receive the ideas or information that are waiting to be heard.” ~ Jim Henson

“My creative process is quite slow. I hear melodies in my head while I’m washing the dishes and I allow my subconscious to do the work.” ~ Sinead O’Connor

I’m in the process of writing my first novel and the question I get asked the most when people hear me talk about it is, “How did you get the idea for your book?” That’s something that’s kind of hard to explain unless you’re a writer too. I don’t think the muses visit people who are highly creative in exactly the same ways, but here’s how it happens for me.

First of all, a writer doesn’t get just one idea. Okay, maybe initially we do get one idea. But during the writing process I’ve had hundreds of ideas. Some ideas made it into the book, others I chucked because they slowed down the story, or I discovered they didn’t fit with the overall message I was trying to get across.

To tell you how I got the initial idea for my novel, first I have to tell you my internal thought process. The way I learn from my experiences. When something happens, or a new idea occurs to me, I often set it on the back burner of my mind. I let it simmer along with all the other things I’m trying to figure out. I’m not really paying active attention to those simmering ideas, yet they are there. At some point I may see a movie, read a book, hear a song, or someone says something to me that applies to one of those pots that I’ve got simmering and I make a connection. A light bulb goes off and I have an aha moment. The two seemingly unrelated concepts have come together to give me a completely new idea. They finally make sense.

That’s also often how I get material for this blog. That’s definitely what happened when I got the idea for The Space Between Time, my novel. And it keeps happening little by little as I continue to work on and revise the book.

The initial incident was this: It was 1999. My husband and I had moved to Arizona three years earlier to be near our parents who had all retired here. Part of our motivation for moving was because my father had heart disease and not knowing how long he had to live, we wanted to be close to him. One weekend, we drove the five hours to see my parents. Something about that weekend made me feel that my father had taken a turn for the worse and was on a descent to his eventual death. As we drove home, I was thinking about my father and all the wonderful things he’d taught me and wondering how I’d cope with his not being here. Then the kernel of an idea for a book about the relationship between a father and a daughter came to me. In a way, it would be my tribute to my father. When I got home I began to write.

Unfortunately for the book project, I got a full-time teaching job very soon after and didn’t have time for writing. However, I put it on the back burner of my mind and thought about it often.

Finally, several years later, I’d had enough of teaching high school and began my writing career. But for some reason, I felt compelled to write a memoir first. However, when it was finished, I decided not to publish it. There was one advantage to writing the memoir before the novel. I got a perspective on all the things I’d learned over the years especially those things I’d learned from my father.

At first, after finishing my memoir, I was a little stumped what my next writing project should be. Then I remembered the novel I’d started all those years ago. This was now 2010 and my father had passed away in 2004. I’d had sufficient time to mourn his passing and to get a handle on the nature of our relationship. When I hit upon going back to the novel, I was happy to pick up where I’d left off.

I’d set my story in the past, 1858 was where it began, but at about the half-way point of finishing my manuscript, I came to stand still. My novel needed something new. For a month or two I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to say with my story. Just when I was beginning to get frustrated, I got the inspiration I needed. Something someone said, clicked with my thoughts and feelings about my novel, and I had that blessed aha idea that helped send me off in a new direction with my book. All of sudden I was energized. It wasn’t long, relatively speaking, until I had finished the rough draft. Now, of course, the real work of revising and polishing began.

As I worked on the book revisions, I understood that the real technique I use to help me find inspiration is related to daydreaming. When I was stumped about how to fix a scene, I’d spend a little bit of time allowing my mind to wander. I’d read a book, or watch a movie, or sit and watch the sunrise or sunset then the answer would come. Every day I give myself time to have no mental tasks at all, or at least not strenuous mental tasks. In all honesty, I can’t say my mind is ever quiet, except for short periods during meditation. I’ve learned that answers to questions I’m asking about any aspect of my life, can’t be forced. I have to let go and trust that the perfect answer for whatever dilemma I’m wrestling with will present itself in time.

Most of the time my best ideas come in the netherworld between sleeping and waking, or while driving, or taking a shower, or doing housework, because all the while, I’m still connected to all those simmering ideas on the back burner of my mind but I’m not consciously thinking about them. I give myself permission to allow something in the movie, or book, or song to trigger an idea that fits the project I’m working on. In fact, I got the idea for the title to my novel while listening to a Beatles song one night on the way home from teaching my college class. And the funny thing is, I don’t remember which song it was, but that’s not what’s important. It’s that my mind was open to suggestions from the ethers to the problem of what to name my book. Then at the right time, the answer came.

Let me say that just because I’ve shared my method for getting ideas for creative projects with you, doesn’t mean you have to do it like I do. Everyone has their own way. The important thing is to let go and let yourself discover how ideas come to you. Being creative involves trust. You have to trust that a way to express what you’ve longed to share will come to you. Then when it does, create whatever you’re inspired to create.

One final important thing to remember is, don’t judge your work, especially when you first start out. Just create the work and let it go. You’ll get better as you practice, and more ideas will come to you. It’s kind of like learning to walk or talk. When we first stood on our feet, we fell down, when we first tired to speak we couldn’t pronounce the words very well, but the more we practiced the better we got, because we learned to use our muscles to the best advantage. Creativity is another muscle that needs to be developed and the more we use it the stronger it gets.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Bridging the Gap

Earth from the Moon

Earth from the Moon

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” ~ Malala Yousafzai

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

During the spring, I was kind of stuck with my novel, The Space Between Time. I felt like it was pretty good, but even I got bored in the middle of the book. I couldn’t quite identify what was wrong with it. When you’ve lived and breathed a project like writing a novel for so long, I’ve been working on it for five years, you need outside help to point out the weak parts of the story. Then a writer friend of mine said something that helped me see the problem with the story arc I had created. She said, “Get your main character into trouble and keep her there.” On one level I knew she was right. On another, I felt resistance. I didn’t want to admit that there was a gap between where I was headed in my personal life and where the lives of my characters needed to go. My characters needed to get into sticky situations, the kind I avoid like the plague.

At first my heart sank at having to go back to my novel to add more complications for my main characters. But the more I thought about it, I realized that the stories I love best are the ones where the characters face very difficult challenges, learn something profound and are changed in the process. So my challenge became, can I do that in my novel too?

Yesterday, I finished another round of major revisions, which I started in May, and am ready to send the manuscript off to my writer friends to get comments and suggestions for more revisions. I like what I’ve done, but I have to admit that sometimes I shy away from too much conflict. Maybe I empathize with my characters too much. Feeling such deep empathy for others can be a problem at times and when I’m writing I sometimes weep for my characters because of the situations I’ve put them into. Maybe that’s a sign I’m on the right track. Even though I like the complications I’ve added, I also think I might need to take them even farther. That’s what I hope to get advice about from my beta readers.

There are many times when I have to remind myself that this writing a novel business is a long process and it doesn’t do to rush it. So, for a couple of weeks I’ll rest my mind, focus on other projects and deal with whatever needs to be changed when I get the comments back from my friends.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Possibilities

Pumpkin Possibilities

Pumpkin Possibilities

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” ~ Ralph Marston

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” ~ Gloria Steinem

“That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.” ~ Leonard Nimoy

“To be hopeful means to be uncertain about the future, to be tender toward possibilities, to be dedicated to change all the way down to the bottom of your heart.” ~ Rebecca Solnit

Every fall feels like a new beginning because of the resumption of school. I’m not a parent, but I assume many are glad to have their children back in school so they don’t have to plan activities for their children every minute of the day. Though, I suppose many parents are glad to have extra uninterrupted time with their children during the summer months.

As a teacher, I always feel that the summer is too short, but on the other hand a new semester stretches out like a new sheet of paper waiting for us to write upon. New possibilities are always attractive. However, it’s what we do with them that makes all the difference. Even if it’s just loving myself a little more, that’s a positive thing I can do create more possibilities and change the world in some small way.

I don’t know if it’s just me, or if it’s because I’m a teacher, I see possibilities in everyone I meet and in every situation. The other day, one of my friends called to say that the book club group that I’m taking a sabbatical from, was having lunch together and she wanted me to come because as she said it, “we miss your positive spin on things”. I know it’s difficult to have a positive outlook on life and to see the possibilities of what’s going on. Even I, who was born with a positive outlook, sometimes wonder if I’m being a Pollyanna. But here’s the thing, being positive and seeing the possibilities, and the opportunities is a choice and many of us think we don’t have a choice. But we do.

My thinking on what I’d like to say today isn’t fully formed, but here’s something that might point you in the direction my thoughts are going. I’m used to collaboration. Having over thirty years experience in the theatre has helped set my modus operandi to look for ways to collaborate with others, whether it’s in a project or in a new way of being and thinking. On the other hand, in this country we admire the maverick. The man or woman who stands out from the rest and who gets the job done alone on shear willpower. Yet no one becomes successful alone. Being a self-made man, or woman is a myth. We all have lots of help along the way. Granted we have the power to interpret what’s offered to us. But without each other, we’d be sunk. There would be no new possibilities for us to work toward. No fresh ideas would come forward. Those happen when we collaborate. Something new is born.

So, as we move into a new season, think of finding a buddy or small group with whom you can collaborate to turn the negatives in your life, or your community into positives. Find someone to help instead of complaining. That’s one of the reasons I like a new semester. I get a whole new set of students to collaborate with to make their dreams come true. When I help them, I help everyone around me. And I try to help them see that when they can change their lives for the better, everything around them gets better. It’s a ripple effect.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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What’s in a Word?

December Sunrise

December Sunrise

“The mind that opens up to a new idea never returns to its original size.” – Albert Einstein

“We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another.” – Janis Ian

“If man understood that ‘what I create has nothing to do with what anybody else is creating’ then he wouldn’t be so afraid of what others are doing.” – Abraham

“People who are given whatever they want soon develop a sense of entitlement and rapidly lose their sense of proportion.” – Sarah Churchwell

I have a double major BA, Religious Studies and Theatre and Speech, and I have a MA in Theater Arts. I don’t write that to brag. I write it to let you know that I have lots of experience with the use of words and how they can be used to bend a group of people to a certain point of view.

Words are symbols for ideas. Duh, you might say, but there are two different meanings ascribed to the words we use. There is the denotative, or dictionary meaning and there is the connotative meaning, or the meaning we attach to a word. Some words set off deep emotions within us. And sometimes those emotions are used to bend us to a certain point of view. The people who are doing the bending, don’t always have our best interests at heart. In fact, most of the time they don’t.

Let me give you some examples of words that have been given a new connotative meaning through propaganda. Patriot, liberal, conservative, and entitlement. Those are words we twist in propaganda messages to attack those we don’t like or want to keep in a weakened position. I guess, in that case, we should include in the list, propaganda and persuasion. They are both very powerful ways to sway people to your way of thinking, but they use very different tactics. Look up the words patriot, liberal, conservative, and entitlement for yourself. What does the dictionary say they mean? And do they mean what you think they mean?

I would like to comment on the difference between persuasion and propaganda. When I taught English, we studied the difference between propaganda and persuasion. I wanted my students to begin to think critically about the messages they get through the media.

Persuade: 2. to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince.

Propaganda: 1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc. 2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.

The difference between persuasion and propaganda is clear in the dictionary meanings. But it seems to me that most people don’t do the critical thinking necessary to determine whether what is said in the media, by politicians, the clergy, the business person, banker, or clerk at the grocery store is in fact using persuasion or propaganda.

And that brings me to the current unrest in the world. Accusations are hurled like swarms of bees, but is the buzz the words make true or is it manufactured? Have you bothered to investigate what’s being said? We’re at a critical time in human history where we can destroy ourselves or we can change the world for the better. Which do you hope for? If you want the world to be a peaceful, loving place in which to live, then you need to start to examine the ideas expressed in the books and articles you read, the news you listen to, and even the things your friends say. Our country was founded on debate, but it doesn’t help if you only listen to the words that make you feel comfortable, or that support the way you’ve been indoctrinated to think.

One of my favorite movies is The American President, written by Aaron Sorkin. In that movie two characters, the president, and one of his aides are arguing about whether or not the president should make counter comments to the attacks by the man who is his primary challenger for president in the next election. President Shepard says, “Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. The drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.”

I urge you not to be one of the ones who doesn’t know the difference between the sand and the water. I hope you’re someone who questions everything you read and hear that have to do with the myriad of important issues we face. Examine not only the meaning behind the words people use, but their intent in using them. We can’t afford to be lazy and let things happen to us. We need to be challenging the way we think so we can create a new way of being in the world with our new thoughts.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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To Risk or not to Risk

Earth from the Moon

Earth from the Moon

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. be patient. The storm will pass. the spring will come.” – Robert H. Schuller

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” – Ralph Marston

“I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it.” – Kristin Armstrong

This weekend I attended a practice workshop put on by a friend of mine. It was a vision workshop and she’s just beginning her new coaching business so she invited a few friends to be her guinea pigs. I’ve attended these kinds of workshops before but it was good to be reminded that we can create the life we want first by visualizing it then by taking action.

I thought I had the process down after practicing the steps for seven years, but now I’m coming to the culmination of a long project in which I am deeply invested. I’m ready to send the baby out into the world and I’m anxious. My first novel, The Space Between Time is about to be criticized not only by friends and family but by people I don’t even know.

I’m not new to being criticized. Working in the theatre you get criticized by the director, and even the audience. The process of putting a play together is about six weeks long and the work is intense. I never minded getting notes from the director. If the audience didn’t like the play, or if we got mixed reviews, I was sad, but there was always the next production and a new start. Not to mention, theatre is a collaborative art, so if the production doesn’t live up to the highest expectations, it’s usually a combination of factors that contribute to the failure. Because of that I didn’t feel as personally responsible.

Writing, on the other hand, is a solitary endeavor and I think that’s why I’m feeling so anxious now just as I’m getting comments from friends and fellow writers. I started this book in 1999, set it aside until 2010 and have been working steadily on it ever since. If it’s a flop, it’s all my fault and no one else’s.

One thing we didn’t talk about in that vision workshop was how to pick yourself up from a colossal failure.

I’ve had plenty of minor failures in my lifetime but I’ve never had as much on the line as I do now. I’ve never felt completely invested in anything as I feel with this novel. The thought that is making me anxious is that now I know writing is my life’s purpose, what happens if I fall flat on my face?

After years of spiritual searching and learning, I know one thing for sure. I’m not alone. God is always there for me and I’m safe no matter what. Just today I have to remind myself of that fact about every few minutes. I know that I’m not what others think of me. I’m the being God created and nothing can change that even if my book flops and no one reads it.

On the other hand, though it’s a paradox, I feel confident that this book is good. That there will be people who will be touched by it and that’s why I felt compelled to write it.

So, I’m scared, and excited to put the finishing touches on my work and send it out into the hands of those who need it. If it’s a failure, or if there is just a lukewarm response to it, I’ll be sad, but I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned from writing this novel and put the lessons to work as I write the next one. I’m not going to let one setback keep me from doing what I love doing. Since that is the case I will definitely write another novel. Actually, I’ve already started it.

For all of you who are scared to try to go for that big dream, I understand. It’s not a comfortable feeling being where I am now, but this too shall pass. I weigh what I’m feeling now against not even trying to make my dreams come true and my stomach sinks. I could hate myself, shrivel up and not even try. But that outcome is much worse than failing at making my dream come true and I’d rather take the big risk and fail than never to have tried.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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