Thanks Pam Grout

This picture speaks for itself

“Show up, show up, show up and after a while, the muse shows up, too.” ~ Isabel Allende

This week I’ve been doing the week 6 exercises from Pam Grout’s Art & Soul Reloaded. We were supposed to write seven blog posts, which was a bit of stretch for me. I’ve been posting once a week since spring or summer of 2013, yet as I put my mind each day to what I was going to write for the next post, ideas came to me. Now I won’t say that they were fantastic ideas, but since I’m in the habit of doing lots of self-reflection, I was able to come up with enough ideas to complete my assignment.

The amazing thing is that this week my in-laws have been visiting and we’ve been doing some galavanting. So, I’ve had to fit my writing in where I could. And that’s the real advantage of doing this exercise, making writing my priority. Doing that is what Steven Pressfield calls being a professional. In his book The War of Art, he explains the difference between being an amateur and a professional: Don’t fit your creative endeavors around the rest of your life,  make your art a priority and do it every day no matter what.

I have to say that I write almost every day, but I’m not sure I’ve got that professional attitude quite yet when writing my novels. I am always thinking about my novel, but I’m not always sitting in the chair writing new scenes, rearranging, or revising everyday.

After doing these exercises, however, I’m going to commit to two things, I’m going to add a blog post on Saturdays so that I’m posting twice a week, and I’m going to sit down and do some work on my novel every day.

That’s all for today. We’re going on an outing again today, the last day or my in-law’s visit, so see you Wednesday.

Thanks for reading, commenting and liking my posts. I appreciate it.

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 print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list

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Week 6 Exercise

Let’s Get Working

“The Assumption that art is a regal robe which falls upon your shoulders magically, bestowed upon you as an heir apparent rather than achieved through slinging the pickax across your shoulder every morning and making off to the mine, was revealed as the greatest hinderance of all to artistic work.” ~ Jane Lazarre, Author of The Mother Knot

I think I’ve written before that my husband and I are taking a year to expand our artistic flow by doing the exercises from Pam Gout’s new book Art & Soul Reloaded. This week she challenges us to write a blog post each day until the week 7 exercise. The title of the chapter is “Fear And Insecurity, Be Gone! I’ve Got Brilliance To Create.”

I’ve written and posted a blog once every Wednesday since the spring or summer of 2013. I’ve felt good about that consistency, but to write a post for every day of the week? Not sure I want to take that much time away from my fiction writing. But I think I can write one post a day for one week. So, here goes.

For the last few days my husband and I have been doing thorough house cleaning in preparation for his parent’s visit. One thing is painfully, and I mean PAINFULLY, clear to me is that I need to get out of my writer’s chair more often and move around more. I may have written before that I do not like doing housework. I do it if I need to, but my dream is to have someone come once or twice a month to do a good sweep through our house leaving Barry and me free to do our respective artwork.

About a year or so ago, when I was complaining about having to clean house, Barry surprised me by saying he loves to do housework. This weekend he proved to me that he wasn’t lying. He gets a job between his teeth and doesn’t let go until he’s finished. I told him he’s hired.

He’s also really handy. We live in a manufactured home in the country. Fifteen years ago the company we bought our home from provided us with TEMPORARY stairs for the front and back doors. Well, of course, we have needed to replace them for a long time, and finally, knowing his aging parents needed sturdy stairs to get into our house, he designed and built some beautiful front steps.

Preparing for my in-law’s visit has reminded me of one thing, we sometimes get stuck in one way of thinking. I did that so much so about housework that I’ve let it go far too long. As I look around at our newly clean house, I think I need to reconsider the way I feel about housework. A clean house is certainly a joy to behold, and one way to get up and move around more is to vacuum, dust and mop floors. See you tomorrow.

Thanks so much for reading and making comments.

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 print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

I am Enough

Tarantula Nebula

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.” William Shakespeare

“If a man wants to be sure of his road he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.” ~ St. John of the Cross, Mystic and Saint

I’m kind of stubborn and sometimes unteachable. I’m like my dad in that way. There are certain activities that I want to discover for myself. I want to find my own way of doing it and I get irritated when someone tells me I have to do it exactly the way they do.

When I had an idea for the novel that became The Space Between Time, I just started writing even though my degrees were in religion, theatre and education. I came back to it, after having to put to it away because I became a full-time teacher. At that point I did take one writing class. But I realized that each writer has their own method and taking classes in writing can be learning someone else’s method. That hinders the student’s work because they try to fit into a mould that might not work for them. That is unless the instructor encourages his or her students to discover their own way of working. That’s my style of teaching. I give a framework, but the students must follow their own creative path.

When I read week four of Art & Soul Reloaded, including this week’s exercise, I was excited. Pam Grout encourages us to just start the project that has come to us. We don’t need to take a class, or read a book to create something remarkable.

One thing I love about this book is that Ms. Grout mentions all different kinds of creative people and the struggles they face producing their art because, for the most part they feel inadequate. In this chapter she writes about Tracy Morgan the Emmy-nominated actor and Saturday Night Live superstar. She opens her story about him with one of his quotes. “Society gave me a ten-foot wall and a five-foot ladder and then sat back to see if I’d get my black ass over that wall. It wasn’t impossible, but I had to be creative.” He has said that being funny was a way for him to survive living in the projects, and slowly it dawned on him that he might be able to be funny in front of an audience and make a living doing it. His first wife told him to go for it, but “… you’ve got to go all the way.”

When I read Tracy Morgan’s story, I compared myself to him, for just a moment. His life was much worse than mine and he learned to follow his bliss much earlier than I did. But then I remembered that as a young child, Divine Oneness and I became friends and I followed her lead in most of the decisions I made for my life. My theater training led me to teaching which led me to writing. For me, all that was the perfect path to take. Since we’re each unique, no decision is wrong, as long as we’re following our inner guides and offering up our talents to others. It took me a long time to understand that. There are still times when I want to beat myself up for taking soooooo long to get out of my own way and just commit to writing wholeheartedly. Thank heaven those times are now few and far between.

Wholeheartedly, that’s my word for the year. To me, one aspect of being wholehearted about something means you commit completely by taking time to finish all the steps necessary to make your vision come true. That may mean entering a degree program, or it may just mean starting that project that has been nagging at you. So, this year I have carefully, but wholeheartedly embraced publishing The Space Between Time. I say carefully, because I’ve discovered that I’m not a slap-the-book-together kind of person. I like to make sure not only the story is as good as I can make it, but that all the mechanical stuff is right too. I’m happy to say that Barry and I finished the final corrections this past weekend. Barry has uploaded the final manuscript for both ebook and print-on-demand versions. Hopefully we’ll get through the approval process, and the physical book will be available by next week for you to order.

I often wonder what it would be like if all parents and teachers allowed their children and students to create anything they wanted, instead of making them follow some pre-conceived notion of what makes good art, or music, or dance, or stories. To me allowing someone to express themselves in their own true way is the ultimate act of love. If more people gave encouragement to their friends, family and coworkers to listen to their inner creative voices, wow! think how wonderful the world would be.

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.

Inspiration

Charles Dickens

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell

“Watch out or you might end up in my novel.” A T-shirt given to me as a gift.

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us become better too.” ~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

“If you’re reading this … Congratulations, you’re alive. If that’s not something to smile about, then I don’t know what is.” ~ Chad Sugg, Monsters Under Your Head

So, I know, scrolling through Facebook doesn’t seem to be a creative act. In fact, Pam Grout author of Art & Soul Reloaded, asks us to reduce the amount of time we waste on social media in order to carve out time for at least one creative endeavor a day. But over the weekend the trailer for a new movie popped up in my feed and I was inspired. The movie is The Man Who Invented Christmas, starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer. Just the trailer shows what an author goes through when working on a story. Inspiration comes from so many different unexpected places, a bedtime story, offhanded remarks, getting the right name for a character, or the right title for the piece. Any one of those are fodder for someone who uses their imagination.

The movie is about how Charles Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol. From the trailer, it looks like a fanciful and funny rendering of the real story. One thing is true to life, Charles Dickens was in financial difficulty when he wrote the novella. His last two novels had not been received well by the public. He needed a hit and was fortunate that inspiration struck. He wrote the book in October. It was published on December 19th 1843 only a few weeks later, and has never been out of print since. So, this Thanksgiving, I will be in the theatre watching this delightful, funny film and taking comfort in the fact that if we allow it, anything can inspire our creativity.

I have a confession to make. I read A Christmas Carol for the first time last Christmas. I know, how can that be. One of my brothers-in-law reads it every Christmas. Since I’ve seen many film and stage adaptations of the story, I thought I didn’t need to read the book. But last Christmas was particularly bleak for many people, including me, and I wanted to remind myself that carrying the spirit of Christmas with me all the year, is better than giving into despair. Christmas is a good time to reinvigorate hope and there are lots of wonderful Christmas books and movies that have that as a central theme. They are meant to inspire us and help us embrace loving life, and offering help to those less fortunate. Something good to remember any time of the year. I may read the book again this Christmas.

As if that little bit of inspiration from watching the movie trailer wasn’t enough, I was inspired by another post in my feed by Diana Gabaldon. She was promoting the new season of Outlander, a series I love, and wrote about how she approached each of the eight books, almost nine, in the series in a different way. That one statement sent my imagination flying to my new novel. I’ve been making progress on it, but the other day I was thinking that it was kind of boring and needed a new angle. Well, thank you Diana Gabaldon, I got a flash of inspiration about a new direction I could take the book.

One thing I’ve been learning as I’ve focused my attention of being creative every day is that, inspiration comes easier the more you commit to being open to it. Pam Grout says, “Look at it from the muses’ point of view. If you have an important project to present to the world, would you pick some two-timing, tap-dancing Willy too scared to commit? Or would you nominate the person who shows up every day, who is loyal, like the backyard dog?” I want to be loyal, maybe not like the backyard dog, but like a good friend. That’s why I’m always open and working, even if it’s just paying attention to what’s going on around me. I’m looking for that song lyric, which by the way is how I got the title for my first novel, The Space Between Time, thanks to The Beatles, or that thing someone does or says that give me an idea. Inspiration will find the right person at the right time. I want to be in the right place at the right time to catch a spark of inspiration that will be of benefit to me and those around me.

Oh, and if you want to see the trailer for The Man Who Invented Christmas, you can click here.

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.

Letting Go of the Old, Welcoming the New

Revised book cover for The Space Between Time

“What if imagination and art are not frosting at all, but the fountainhead of human experience?” ~ Rollo May, Existential Psychologist

“Creativity, it seems, has much in common with spirituality and may, in fact, be the same thing.” ~ Pam Grout, Art & Soul Reloaded

“Be Loki. Be Coyote. Be willing to stir the world’s soup pot. Spit at the stars, show your backside to the council, whoop in church.” ~ Jame Yoder, Author

How do you cope during extremely stressful times? I do it by finding a creative project.

When I was first teaching drama, I was also going to school full-time, and directing plays. I didn’t have one moment of the day to just breathe and relax. However, when I was at play rehearsals, I did get a bit of the rest and replenishment I needed because it was collaborative and creative.

When I was in college studying both religion and theatre, I learned something valuable. That art, or creativity, are spiritual in nature. Over the years I’ve come to understand that we all have the ability to tap into the well of creativity to heal, renew, and connect with other people. Even though I’m now a writer as well as a theatre instructor, I’m fascinated with how others view creativity.

That’s why I bought Pam Grout’s new book Art & Soul Reloaded. It’s a book with a creative exercise for each week. I’ve only read the first few pages, but I found it interesting that I have much in common with her. Like Pam, I’m the daughter of a minister with two sides to my personality. I have been the good girl, good in school, and done all the conventional things we’re told human beings are supposed to do. But, like Pam Grout, I’ve been secretly drawn to the bohemian life. I’ve wanted to be like Auntie Mame, and “live, live, live!” But most of the time I’m more like June Cleaver, only without The Beaver.

Like Pam Grout, I’d dabble in being a bohemian. When I was acting, I’d hang out at the bar after rehearsal, and go to the opening night, and end of the run parties. However, though I might sing along with the rest, and share war stories of things that happened during the show’s run, I didn’t drink much, nor did I act with crazy abandon. I stayed on the fringes enjoying other people’s freedom but not fully participating. I wanted to shed my inhibitions, but rarely did. Yet, from my theatre experiences I did learn some extraordinary lessons. That we all want the same basic things, to love and be loved, to find our purpose, to be useful. This is true for all people no matter their gender, color, sexual preference, or race.

I bought Pam’s book because even though I work on creative projects nearly every day, I feel like I’m still stuck back in that conventional life of working and teaching. The pull has been strong to follow the crowd and do all the appropriate things like buying a house, keeping the yard nice, planning for retirement, and such. I have not always followed all those “must do’s” and there is a part of me that rejoices that I’ve made some pretty bold choices in my life. Yet, I’d like to be the old woman that people either say, “Watch out here comes, Lucinda.” or “I want to be alive and vibrant like that when I’m old.”

It’s when I’ve made the bold choices that I’ve felt most alive and happy, as opposed to the sinking feeling of living out the conventional choices I’ve made. And now seems like a good time to get rid of more of those old beliefs about what living a good life looks like.

I think there has always been a tension inside me between committing absolutely to a creative life as opposed to living a more conventional one. But, even as I worked those 8:00 to 5:00 jobs, I looked for ways to break out of the crush of routine. And even though I’ve only just begun to read Art & Soul Reloaded, I feel that we can all find ways to fill our souls with the beauty of creating something wonderful. Maybe it’s gardening, or gourmet cooking, or doing hand crafts of some sort. I don’t think it matters what the creative endeavor is as long as we give ourselves time to let go of the cares of the world and let the creativity that we were born with flow through us.

What I hope to get out of doing the exercises in this book is to become more open to what life has to offer me instead of worrying about all the ugly things that are happening in the world. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative. I want to focus on the positive so I can contribute to love and beauty for all to enjoy.

By the way, the second proof for my novel has arrived. It won’t be long now before it’s available for purchase. In the mean time, I’m enjoying teaching acting and working on the sequel novel.

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.

Topsy Turvy

U.S. Constitution

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” ~ George Orwell

“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The universe as we know it is a joint product of the observer and the observed.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

In the U.S. we have just celebrated Independence Day. This year I have been reflecting on the importance of the words in The Declaration of Independence and The United States Constitution, which are known world wide for the concepts behind the words in them. Those words changed the world. They express concepts that were new at the time, like freedom for all, equality, the pursuit of happiness, self-governance and so many others. Our country became an experiment in working together so that all our citizens would prosper in peace.

We created this country so we could live in peace, but peace doesn’t come out of conflict. I use our history as evidence. Not long after we won our independence, we were at war again in 1812. Then many wars followed: The Civil War, the Indian wars, the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, Korean War, the Viet Nam War, and … you get the idea. We’re so used to what it feels like to be at war, that we have created the Temperance Movement to combat drunkenness. That left the door open for organized crime to move in which created more fighting. We now have the war on cancer, war on drugs, war on HIV/AIDS, war against poverty, and so on.

The use of the word war in all these instances, reflects our mindset. What if, instead of creating war monuments, we honored our war heroes by helping the family members left behind, and helped the living reintegrate into society? I have often heard war heroes say they hate it when we put them up on a pedestal. I’ve never been a warrior, but I imagine that those who must go and fight are the ones who want peace the most. They have seen horrendous things that haunt them for the rest of their lives. What if we helped them deal with their PTSD and find a measure of peace instead of asking them to be in parades with the weapons of war? I mean, do we really want to continue to glorify something so horrific?

Over the last three years I’ve learned some important lessons about words, the concepts behind them, and how we have misused them. Take for example the axiom, “Seeing is believing.” Most people would agree that that is true. But what would happen if we turn that phrase on its head and say, “I’ll see it when I believe it?”

I follow Pam Grout, author of E Squared, E Cubed, and Thank and Grow Rich. In a recent blog post she pointed out that we are “connected to everyone and everything that exists through an invisible field of intelligence and energy.” Scientists call this entanglement. If you want to know more, click here to read her blog post. In it she writes about recent discoveries about entanglement. I don’t want to get too technical, but these experiments by physicists prove that what we think, creates our reality. So, the phrase, “I’ll see it when I believe it,” is completely true.

Since scientists are turning what we thought we knew upside down, and recent events in this country and around the world are topsy turvy, it must be time to take a closer look at what we were sure we knew as fact.

This past weekend my husband and I watched the movie Arrival again. It perfectly illustrates what I’m trying to express here rather clumsily.

In the movie, Earth is visited by twelve large craft from outer space. Whenever that happens in movies, and I assume it would happen in real life too, the first reaction is one of fear. In the movie, the world leaders put the military on alert so they can defend our planet. But a main plot point is the difference between making decisions based on what has happened in the past on this planet, and learning new ways of thinking and being based on the language of the aliens. The protagonist is a woman linguist named Louise. She’s able to both teach the aliens our language and then learn theirs as well. In the process she begins to “dream” about future events in her own life. Learning the language of the aliens rewires her brain. She sees time and space the way the aliens do. In one crucial scene, Louise tries to get the government and military officials to understand the difference between the way we use the word weapon, and the way the aliens use it. But, as you can imagine, since that is a word with lots of baggage attached to it, she is not successful. So she takes desperate measures.

What this movie says to me is that we are often reacting to the words used by the people around us. We often make expedient choices based on fear rather than thinking of the long term consequences of our actions. The movie points out that words are inconsistent things. Their meanings really depend on who is using them, and how they are perceived. Therefore, sometimes we get angry at what someone says, thinking we understand what they mean, when in reality, they may mean something completely different. Some words are so charged with emotion that they trigger a violent response. In such cases, it’s hard to calm down enough to contemplate other possible meanings. A quote from a book Louise has written before her encounter with the aliens is this: “Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.”

We find ourselves in conflict all over the world right now, and the question is, will we react to the words that fly around the news and social medias, or will we take time to look at the intent behind the words? Or maybe better still, find a balance between challenging the words, and believing that we can create a better world by using better words. We can practice seeing and feeling what it’s like to live in peace rather than in war. If we do that, eventually we will see the world we have wanted ever since The Declaration of Independence was written.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, paranormal novel in which two women must rebuild their lives. 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.

Life is an Adventure

Aisle at Powell’s Bookstore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

Cover art for A Tale of Two Cities
Cover art for A Tale of Two Cities

“The truth is, we are all one connected thing.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” ~ Albert Camus

“Countless scientific studies show that steeling yourself against the negative, preparing for the worst, actually puts you on a trajectory heading straight for the very thing you’re hoping to escape.” ~ Pam Grout, Thank and Grow Rich

I don’t believe in coincidence, so when Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey recently offered a new meditation series and it was titled “Creating Peace from the Inside Out”, I knew it was just what I needed to ease my frazzled nerves from the din of the election noise. The meditations went right along with the Pam Grout books I’ve been reading, E Squared, E Cubed, and Thank and Grow Rich. They are all about changing our focus from always seeing the negative things around us, to finding the abundant beauty that most of us miss everyday.

Here is an example: As I began this post, the sun was just coming up. I love to watch the sunrises and sunsets here in Arizona. I can’t get enough of them, and my photos file proves it. I love them because, you see, I lived in Portland, Oregon for fifteen years prior to moving here. As my father used to say of living on the western side of the Cascade Mountains, “It just get’s light, then it gets dark.” There is almost constant cloud cover. Okay, I haven’t been back in twenty years since global warming has changed climates everywhere. They may see the sun more often now, but while living there I never saw the lavender tinge to the sky on the opposite horizon when the sun was rising or setting. It’s just one of the pleasures of living where the sun shines almost every day.

Another pleasure of living in the desert is the night sky. Every night that I drive home from teaching my class, I stop outside my car before going into the house and look at the abundance of stars. We’re lucky to live in the country where there is little light pollution.

I have to say I do miss the proliferation of flowers in Portland in the spring, and how the gorgeous colors make up for the gray skies. I especially miss the pink dogwood tree that my husband gave me for my birthday. I loved watching it bloom as I worked in the kitchen. I must now keep the beauty of that tree in my mind.

Since doing the twenty-two meditations and reading Pam Grout’s books, I now wake up grateful for a new day and all the blessings it will bring. When I’m feeling down, I listen to “Happy” by Pharell Williams, (Right after the election I listened to it about twenty times one day when I was feeling particularly off balance.) or some other happy song. I watch happy movies and TV shows and I’ve decided to stay away from negative posts on social media. Thankfully, I gave up watching the news years ago. In short, I’ve decided to follow my inclinations to spread, and feel as much joy as I can.

To this end, I’m focusing on my latest fun creative project, my video series, “Loving Literature.” It’s so much fun learning to create and edit the videos. (It’s much more work than you might think watching the finished products.)

Originally the series was going to focus mostly on tutorials, but lately I’ve been thinking of books I’ve read that have inspired me, and I want to include them in the series as well. The first of these books was A Tale of Two Cities. I read it and Jane Eyre in senior English class many years ago. They ignited my love of British literature. As I was thinking of A Tale of Two Cities, it struck me that we could use that title for the times in which we are living.

If we focus on just the negative, it is the worst of times. But if we turn our attention slightly it can also be said to be the best of times. In the two weeks since the election, I’ve read of people being attacked and then others coming to their rescue, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood and other such organizations are enjoying an increase in donations and memberships. I choose to be grateful for those and so many other blessings big and small. It’s amazing how many blessings I’ve found since I decided to look for them.

Yesterday I was thinking about how in the end of A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton gives his life so that Lucy’s husband Charles Darnay may live. He does it out of love for her. On the night before his execution, he imagines the joy that his death will bring the couple as they raise their children and honor him for what he did for them. He imagines the good they and their children will bring to the world. In fact, that was the thing that grasped me about the book, how love can change people. Amidst all the chaos and violence of the French Revolution, Sydney Carton was redeemed.

Though it sometimes feels odd to do so, I have begun sending love to Mr. Trump, his cronies, the KKK and any other people and places where strife is happening. My prayers join with those of others doing the same thing. It becomes an invisible force for good and hopefully more and more people will join in and accelerate the change which is already happening.

I didn’t mean to get so preachy. It’s difficult to express how deeply I’m affected by current events, and how I gain comfort from what I’ve read, the guidance I receive during meditation, and from the beauty around me. I share my thoughts with all of you in the hope that maybe you too will find the kindness, love, and beauty that can be found everywhere we look.

Thanks to my new followers for joining me, and thanks to you all for reading.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Thank You Mr. Trump!

Caring Hand
Caring Hand

“When we see others as less than perfect, we move out of alignment with the field of infinite potentiality. We clog up the pipes of our own good.” ~ Pam Grout E Cubed.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~ Melody Beattie, Author of Codependent No More

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” ~ Dalai Lama

I know what your thinking. How can she say thank you to Donald Trump? He’s the most hated man in the world at present and most people think he’s an embarrassment to our country. Because of him we’ve lost all the respect we gained by having Barack Obama as our President. Well, I traveled outside our country twenty years ago and I can say maybe we gained some respect because of President Obama, but we’ve had a bad reputation around the world for quite some time. We just didn’t want to face up to why that is. Donald Trump revived old feelings and attitudes that have been festering under the surface for perhaps the entire life of our country. He’s the head on the pimple at the end of our collective nose and we can’t ignore the infection any longer.

There is a big difference between his supporters, and detractors. His supporters see him as the get out of jail pass. Because he speaks his mind about … do I really need to enumerate the list again? … he garners support from the people who were too afraid to express those same feelings out loud. They love him for reinforcing their fear and hate. They don’t want to do any self-examination, he gives them permission not to.

Those who oppose Trump go on and on about how horrible he is, but find it easier to tear him apart than to admit that he’s made us take a good look at the unsolved problems in this country. He’s sticking our faces in the cow pie. We don’t like it so we’re waking up.

For a number of months I’ve been thinking about writing this very post, but the ideas wouldn’t gel. I was appalled by Trump’s antics. Like lots of other people, I couldn’t figure out how he got to be the GOP nominee. I hated the fear and hate he spews, his blatant disrespect for others, and the way he never takes responsibility for what he says and does.

Then it it me, I HATED! I’d rather hate him than look at all the unresolved issues we face in this country, and that I need to address in myself.

For so long we patted ourselves on the back because of the outcome of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Women’s Movement, and the demonstrations against the Viet Nam War. Most of us thought we’d conquered our demons. There was no more work to do. We now had the perfect society. But underneath the surface, tensions were building. Policies were made that helped the rich get richer, kept the military machine growing, big pharma gouging, big oil, gas, and coal raping the environment, while the middle class shrunk and we pointed fingers at each other blaming this group or that for the erosion of our lives.

Then Donald Trump came along, (and Bernie Sanders) and blew the lid off our delusions. And here is the good thing about that … we’re talking, we’re examining, we’re looking at the causes and how we can fix things.

I thank Donald Trump for that because he made me take a good look at how I sat by passively thinking that I didn’t need to do any more work. But the truth is, I live one mile from the Mexican boarder. Yet I have no desire to visit Mexico, because of the rape gangs, the drug trafficking and the like. (Those are real by the way, just like it’s real that people from other countries hesitate to visit the U.S. because of our gun violence.) It’s ironic that I feel that way because I taught school in a border town. Most of my students were of Mexican descent and I can honestly say, I had never in my teaching career been treated with such respect by both students and parents as I did while teaching in that town. Trump is making me take a really good look at all my prejudices, and helping me make new choices about how I see and treat people.

I laughed out loud this morning as I picked up E Cubed To do the next experiment “I’m Loving and I know It.” I had been contemplating what to write in this post, and it reinforced the way I have been feeling. In the chapter Pam tells a story about something she once heard Wayne Dyer say, that he had a photo of Rush Limbaugh on his alter along with a lot of other masters, because loving Rush “offers us a Ph.D. program in loving unconditionally.”

I don’t have an alter, but Donald Trump is the person I pick to learn to love unconditionally. If he hadn’t come along it might have taken me, (and the country) a lot longer to get off my tush and examine all those holes where I stuffed my prejudices. He showed me the kind of person I DO NOT want to be.

How do I learn to love Donald Trump you might ask. I took Pam’s advice and thought of him as a little boy being taught to hate, fear, and treat people terribly by his father and grandfather. He didn’t have a chance. Now he’s so used to his way of life, he doesn’t want to change, or maybe he doesn’t think he can change. He has really bought into Worldview 1.0.

In E Cubed, Worldview 1.0 is the old adage, “It’s me and you (and I’m not so sure about you) against the world.” It’s outdated and needs to be changed. Worldview 2.0 is “Being in love with everyone and everything brings me into alignment with the FP.” The FP is the field of infinite potentiality, or God if you prefer. That’s where we’re headed. In fact, even mainstream politicians, thinkers and journalists are saying that we’re on the brink of great change for the better. We had to have several national crisis events (Donald Trump is only one of those) to help us see that we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for to fix the world. It’s only through loving and caring each other that we can transform problems into opportunities for all.

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Trump.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Default to Happiness

Pumpkin Possibilities
Pumpkin Possibilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016