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