Procrastination

Mary Engelbreit’s calendar art

“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” ~ Mason Cooley

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” ~ Pablo Picasso

I’ve never thought of myself as a big procrastinator, but recently I’ve had to acknowledge that I have been procrastinating for the last few months on my second novel.

This same thing happened to me when I was writing my first novel, The Space Between Time. I came to a place in the story where I got stuck. Something was nagging at the outer edges of my mind, but I couldn’t quite grasp it. At first I reread what I’d already written over and over, revised, and eventually set the book aside to work on other projects. The story was still alive and percolating on the back burner of my mind. But the story hadn’t matured quite yet.

That’s where I’ve been with the sequel novel, Time’s Echo for quite some time. It’s frustrating because the subject matter is very relevant to what’s happening right now with the women’s movement. I want to get it finished, and yet … I have to acknowledge I’m not sure where the story wants to end up. I also feel like maybe the story will be shallow if I push it through to publication. And I have a bit of self-doubt. Do I have what it takes to write this storyline?

There is another aspect to the almost complete shut down of this novel. I’m a recovering people pleaser. I struggle with putting other people’s needs before my own.

This fall a writer friend of mine suffered some serious health issues and is now in a care center. She won’t have to be there forever, but she’s obviously depressed. I wanted to make her feel better, so when I told her I was working on the audiobook of my novel, she brightened up and asked if I would be willing to do the audio version of a middle grade novel she had written titled, The Dragon’s Gold. I loved the book, so, of course, I said yes without thinking of the consequences. I could have asked her to wait until I’d finished my own book, but I wanted to pay her back for all she has done for me, so I suggested recording a couple of sample chapters and that was it, what I was working on went by the wayside.

Doing an audiobook is very time consuming. I had only begun to learn how to do the recording and editing process, but I wasn’t proficient quite yet. Her project became my lab experiment. It took me a little over two months to complete the nearly 250 page novel. And, once I had put my novel plans on hold, other projects swept in to take up my time.

The Dragon’s Gold is now in my friend’s hands to approve, and I’ve come to my senses. I need to make myself and the things I’m working on the highest priority. I need to stop procrastinating, rest and fill up my own well. If I don’t I won’t be of any use to myself, or anyone else.

The thing I’m learning about procrastination is that once I’ve decided to go back to my various ventures, it’s hard to get the momentum back. However, I am relieved by something my sister said recently when we were talking about this. She’d heard an interview with Ken Follett, in which he said that it takes him a long time to write his novels partly because they are so dense. They take place over many years, there are lots of characters, and a lot things happen to them during the course of the book. That made me feel better because The Space Between Time was a little bit like that and Time’s Echo is likely to be the same. They don’t take place over as many years as Follett’s books, but my characters do go through tribulations that cause them to grow. As my writer friend I just did the audiobook for once said, “You can’t rush your characters through their process. If you beat them up a bit, the reader feels more satisfied at the end when the characters learn their lessons.”

As an empath, I shy away from beating up my characters. That might be part of my procrastination as well. I know I need to create drama for them, but man it’s difficult to feel their pain and write it down so the reader does too. But that’s my job, and I need to do it. However,I guess I can’t rush the writing process either.

I’ll let you know how that’s going. No more taking on other people’s stuff until I’m on a better footing with my own.

Thanks for reading, liking, commenting, and for the reblog of one of my recent posts. Have a fun weekend and stay warm if you’re expecting winter storms.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back and apply what she’s learned to her real life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Don’t Judge a Story by Its Reputation

“As I get older, the more I stay focused on the acceptance of myself and others, and choose compassion over judgment and curiosity over fear.” ~ Tracee Ellis Ross

“The anarchist painter is not the one who will create anarchist pictures, but the one who will fight with all his individuality against official conventions.” ~ Paul Signac

The other day I was working on an essay for the memoir book my sister and I are writing about movie chats with our father. The essay is about the movie Back Street, with Susan Hayward, John Gavin, and Vera Miles (1961). The story is based on a book by Fanny Hurst. And being a movie nerd, I did a bit of research on the production and on Fanny Hurst, who created the original source material. When she was alive, her work was considered to be popular pulp fiction, not high brow literature and not worthy of scholarly notice. But in the 1990s scholars began reexamining Hurst’s work. The Feminist Press published a collection of her work which dated between 1912 to 1932. They praised her “depth, intelligence, and artistry as a writer,” (as reported in an article about her in Wikipedia). Hurst was an activist for feminist and human rights causes and her views are reflected in her stories.

I’m attracted to stories that challenge our conventional view of reality. Fanny Hurst did that with more than one of her stories. Cultural conventions in the twentieth century taught us that marriage was sacred. To have an affair broke the rules of society. But in Back Street, Hurst creates an abusive, narcissistic wife, Liz who will not consent to a divorce. She likes the prestige and power that comes with her marriage. Liz is contrasted to “the other woman”, Rae who is successful, independent, loving and kind. If I were in the character Paul’s shoes, I’d fall in love and break the rules with Rae too. After all, we all need love no matter where it comes from.

Since I can’t keep myself from thinking about how other stories might relate, I connected Back Street to Aquaman, which we just saw last weekend. Barry and I are big fans of the movies based on graphic novels including the DC and Marvel superhero genre of movie. We don’t read the books, at least we haven’t started reading them yet, but the stories are compelling and relevant for what’s happening in society now. We have brilliant people like Stan Lee to thank for making great stories accessible to everyone, not just people who might be inclined to read only highbrow literature.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think any story is worth examining, whether it’s considered high or low brow. There can be important messages hidden in both. And one of the most important messages in Aquaman is that sometimes qualities taken from two or more different races can combine to make an extraordinary human being. Arthur who becomes Aquaman, is both human and Atlantean. He grew up in the human world but must unite both worlds to prevent a war that will destroy the planet. He’s a humble man with great integrity and a desire to help others. He doesn’t think of himself as a great leader. When the moment comes for him to face the creature protecting the symbol of his leadership, he tells the creature, “I’m nobody.” And that’s something no one trying to gain the object of power had ever said. Arthur doesn’t want to be a leader, but he’s willing to become one to save the planet.

When Stan Lee died a couple of months ago, I heard that there were people who scoffed at the outpouring of grief over his passing. The sentiment was that he ONLY wrote graphic novels. He didn’t cure diseases, or invent some monumental thing that would help humanity. But that’s not true. He invented so many characters who have helped change the way we view ourselves and our world. After all, he created Black Panther, one of the most influential characters in any movie to come along in a very long time.

There are other writers who have created enduring characters, like William Moulton Marston who created Wonder Woman, another iconic character who has changed the way we view women.

It’s my theory, and maybe I got this from Edward R. Morrow, that stories have power to change our attitudes, emotions, and in the long run our societies. It may take centuries for that change to take effect, but at some point critical mass can’t be avoided. The balance teeters in a new direction and society is made anew, sometimes almost without notice. I’m grateful when I find writers, like Fanny Hurst, Stan Lee, and William Moulton Marston, who help me examine my long held beliefs and think of human interactions in new ways.

In the past I’ve been guilty of looking down my nose at certain types of fiction, romance novels for one, as light entertainment with not much redeeming value. But one never knows when the catalyst for change will come along. I think I’ll change my mind and reserve judgment and just enjoy the ride a story takes me on and see how I’m changed in the process.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Have a fabulous weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back and apply what she’s learned to her real life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

The Answers are Inside You

All the Love and Support We Need

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ~ Rumi

“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” ~ Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Over the last few years I’ve been much more conscious of living in the present moment. This has affected the way I look at the noise of the media and the things they think are important.

The media, social and otherwise, like to spew information for how we can all be living a better life. On any given day you will find articles about the 10 foods you should never eat, the 5 best exercises, tips for growing your business, how to remove belly fat, and on-and-on. This has all begun to grate on my nerves.

As I’ve focused on the present moment, I’ve become less tolerant of the tsunami of advice circulating over all the media networks. For the last few months I’ve been contemplating why I’m so impatient with all this free, and sometimes not so free, advice.

Today I can finally articulate what has been bothering me. All of the people offering advice are asking me to depend on them, or someone else, for the answers to my problems. In reality, I am the repository of all the help and support I will ever need. The answers to the questions I have about my life can’t be found “out there” unless my inner guides point me to bit of information I need.

I think I’ve known this all along. I’ve never been big on joining groups or organizations, particularly ones that want it’s members to follow a set of rules or policies. When I was growing up during the 60s and 70s it was fashionable for people on a spiritual quest to find a guru. There were even TV shows, like Kung Fu, that were enormously popular with that idea as a central theme. But as I progressed along my own spiritual growth, I discovered that I may connect with certain teachers for a time, but after I gained the insights I needed, I felt it was time to move on.

When I began teaching public school and now at the college level, I have been an advocate for students finding their own answers to the questions we all inevitably have about life. What works for me, might not work for you. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, we must all do the work of figuring out our purpose for being on this planet. That’s a lifelong process. I’m still working on how I can best be of use to the other beings living here.

Being your own guru means you’ve got to trust yourself. That’s sometimes a difficult and scary thing to do, but take it from someone who’s been at this a long time, you can do it! It’s all a matter of changing your focus from the outside noise to the quiet inside yourself. You might be amazed at how much happier you will be if you listen to what it is you really want and go for it.

I wrote this post to remind myself that I may find answers outside myself from time to time, but I was really the one who pointed that information out to myself. And I’m reminding myself to be a better listener to my emotions and inner guidance.

By the way, I’m applying one thing I learned this fall from The No Pants Project by adjusting the description of my novel, The Space Between Time, below. See what you think of it and let me know.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. It’s a fresh new year to learn, grow, and create something amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing what develops.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate all of you.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back and apply what she’s learned to her real life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Family Connections

Arizona Butterfly

“Forgiveness is the final form of love.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

“Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they talk sense.” ~ Robert Frost

During this visit to family for the holidays, we’ve been able to reconnect with my father’s last living brother. It’s been over twenty years since we last saw him, and we’ve all been through lots of life altering experiences. Seeing my uncle again and hearing the stories of his painful experiences has caused me to reflect on relationships and just how complicated they are. Each of us carry wounds, some healed, some still seeping. But for me the meaning of Jesus life, and that of the other great teachers like him, is that we must learn to forgive those who have wounded us, and forgive ourselves for being thoughtless.

When we think of forgiveness, we often think of the person who has been hurt, but not about the person who caused the pain. Having been the perpetrator of hurt feelings, I know that when I hurt someone else, I feel terrible that I could have done such a thing and I berate myself endlessly. Okay, I know not everyone is sensitive, or has empathy enough to regret what they did, but still there are always two sides to any story when someone gets hurt. And often there are two wounds that need to be addressed and healed.

This year there has been a lot of talk about how uncivil our society has become, and that we need to be kinder to each other. Social media has become littered with landmines of nasty comments. But I have to remind myself that when someone lashes out with hate, they are trying to get rid of their own negative feelings. So, I go back to one of my life themes, if we want to rebuild our personal relationships and create a kinder society, we have to begin with loving ourselves. Then we can spread kindness within our smaller circle of friends and family. This creates a ripple effect that will transform our personal relationships and our society into one that most of us say we want.

I try to remember that we’re all a member of the human family and that no one is perfect. Often we’re in our own little worlds and aren’t as mindful as we could be when interacting with others. We cause harm where none was intended. I’m a firm believer in the idea that we’re all doing the best we can all the time. And that not everyone has the same level of life coping skills. So, maybe we should do what Atticus Finch suggests to Scout; put on someone else’s shoes and walk around in them for a while. Doing that might help us not only see where we’ve caused pain, but also see that the people who hurt us might not have intended what happened. They were just living their lives and doing the best they could at the time.

Here’s to creating a great 2019!

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Christmas Gift

Olympic Mountains in Washington State

“I think the most important thing in life is self-love, because if you don’t have self-love, and respect for everything about your own body, your own soul, your own capsule, then how can you have an authentic relationship with anyone else?” ~ Shailene Woodley

Here it is Christmas time again. As I get older it comes faster every year. Of course, each Christmas, my focus turns to what gifts to give family and friends. This year, I’ve been thinking not just about physical gifts, but about the intangible gifts we give all throughout the year. And the biggest gift we can give is love.

Over the years I’ve learned that to give love, I must first learn to love myself, no easy task, but so worth it. Recently, I watched a few YouTube videos by a woman named Marisa Peer, a therapist who says that to become happy, all we really need to do is to tell ourselves over and over again that we are enough, that we are worthy, that we love ourselves. When we do that we change the negative self-talk that runs in our heads on a constant feed back loop. It seems so simplistic, and maybe even like wishful thinking to do such a thing because we’re so used to making everything hard. And it’s work to turn our attention away from the familiar mind numbing thoughts that we think we can’t control. It takes commitment. We can’t just say these things once and expect to change our thinking. Nope, we have to put post-it notes around the house, we have to remind ourselves over and over again until a new groove is etched into our brains and the old thinking fades away.

I’ve been practicing this new way of thinking this fall, and I have to say I’m feeling better about everything that is happening around me. I’m more open to people and experiences. Here’s an example: My husband and I are now with family in Seattle. Flying is not always a pleasant experience because of all the security hoops we have to jump through. But both Barry and I decided we were going to change our minds about going through security and then sitting for an hour or more waiting for our flight. We decided it was going to go smoothly. Our check-in process was much more pleasant this time around. The TSA agent even joked with us, which made having to go through the process fun. We struck up a conversation with a couple sitting across from us as we waited to board the plane. And even though it was a long day, I felt much less stress this time than on previous trips.

In fact, I’m feeling better about everything in my life. So, this year and for the months to come, I’m going to follow Marisa’s advice and give myself the gift of self-love so I can spread more of it around and hopefully effect change in a gentle one-on-one kind of way.

If you celebrate Christmas, have a blessed one, and if not I hope your end of the year festivities are full of warmth and love because you are worth it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

This and That

It’s a Wonderful Life Village

“As you grow older, you learn a few things. One of them is to actually take the time you’ve allotted for vacation.” ~ John Battelle

My husband and I are about to go on a Christmas vacation to be with my mom, sister and her family. We haven’t spent the Christmas holidays with them for five or six years and we are looking forward to it immensely.

On the other hand, I find myself torn between setting aside all the projects I’ve been working on this fall, and taking work with me. I will keep up my blog posts, but other than that, I’m fighting with myself. Should I take things along so I can work on my books? This dilemma forces me to ask myself, why am I having such a hard time unplugging?

I’m a bit sad to say that since I retired from full-time teaching eleven years ago, I’ve gotten into the habit of doing some amount of work on my creative projects every single day. When I wake up in the morning, my mind is full of all the things I want to accomplish that day. And just now as I’m about to take a two-and-a-half week vacation, the thought of not working at all leaves me feeling a little bit unmoored.

This feeling is unsettling because I’m a firm believer in taking time to do nothing. In fact, I have a page from one of my Mary Englebreit calendars framed and in plain view in my office that reads, “How beautiful is it to do nothing and then rest afterward.” It’s a Spanish proverb.

Somehow working all the time becomes addictive and it snuck up on me unawares. I’ve got to break the habit. That’s probably why I’ve felt a little stuck on my novel, too many things going on in my head.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the work I’ve been doing is really important. I’m learning vital things that will help me sell my books, and develop my narrating career. But a break from work every so often is something I’ve been neglecting doing.

Getting ready for this vacation, as is usually the case, has been a bit stressful. I’ve just finished my semester of teaching. And though it’s only one class, there are grading and other duties to finish before I can take my month break until the next semester begins. I just finished the work on my friend’s audiobook. It’s in her hands now for final approval. We’re finally signing the contract this weekend before I leave. And there are the tasks I’ve had to suspend while working on the audiobook. A person could go crazy trying to clear the decks so they can relax while on their vacation.

With all that’s been going on this fall, I’ve come to one conclusion. It’s not worth trying to do everything at once. I’m not a good multi-tasker, never have been, never will be. So, these last weeks I chose to concentrate on only one thing at a time, and only do a couple of urgent tasks in one day. Slowly my brain is beginning to unwind. I’m feeling a bit less stressed thank heaven.

We can go a bit crazy this time of year trying to fulfill our expectations of what makes a perfect holiday season. I think I’m just going to enjoy being with distant family laughing and enjoying each other’s company. All the tasks I set for myself will still be here when I get back.

Here’s hoping your end of the year celebrations help you connect with those you love, even if that’s only yourself.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Next blog post will be from the Seattle area. Have a great weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Legacy of a Life

Getting a hug from Dad

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~ Norman Cousins

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” ~ Robert Frost

As I sit down to write this blog post, I’m very emotional because it’s about my father. Even though he’s been gone for twelve years, I’m still learning from the lessons he taught me. His influence runs so deep that it is often difficult for me to put my thoughts and emotions into words. But, about a month or two ago, I got the idea to write a book with my sister, Celeste, about the conversations we had with Dad. The book started out to be about what we learned from the many discussions we had with him about movies.

When I proposed the idea to Celeste we decided we wanted to concentrate on the way dad used questions as a teaching tool and how parents and teachers can also do the same thing.

The thing is, when a writing project idea comes to me, it often morphs into exploring ideas and relationships that I had not envisioned when I started the project. This one is no different. As Celeste and I have talked about all that we’ve learned from Dad, it is clear to me that we have more things to say about him than just the discussions we had about movies. It seems to me that we need to write a kind of memoir about him rather than just a cheesy little book about using movies to have those difficult discussions with children.

I haven’t read many memoirs, which may or may not be an advantage. All kinds of ways I could approach the writing have been swirling around in my head. How do we structure the book? How do we even begin it? Then I remembered something Brené Brown said. The best way to connect with people is to tell stories. That is what Celeste and I have decided to do and this morning a story about dad came to me that I want to share.

When I was ten, we moved from the comfortable cocoon of church friends and close family to an extremely small town where I didn’t know anyone. There were a few church families living in this small community, and, as I remember it, Dad was to be the pastor of the small congregation. The town was on the Washington side of the Colombia River Gorge across from The Dalles, Oregon. We moved from our lovely home that mom and dad had had built in Gresham, Oregon to a 55 ft long, 10 ft wide trailer, with my brother and I sharing a tiny bedroom. My new baby sister, not Celeste she came later, slept in her bassinet in Mom and Dad’s room.

I was an extremely sensitive and shy girl. The move was difficult for me. I don’t remember having many friends the three years we lived there.

Dad often had assignments to preach at congregations up and down the Gorge. When he traveled, he would take either my brother or me, or sometimes both of us with him. Those were precious times, because though we lived 70 miles from Portland, dad still worked at Freightliner building big rigs. He spent the weekdays away from home. Even so, he found time to coach one of my brother’s teams and he came to many of our school events.

When I was in seventh grade, the principal of our school decided to put on a play. The population of the school was small, and I don’t remember if all students in the seventh and eighth grades were encouraged to audition, or if it was just a seventh grade project. In any case, I think I surprised my parents when I auditioned for the play. I didn’t get a part, but I helped backstage. One of my duties was to prompt students on their lines. I was so enthusiastic that I memorized the entire script. I didn’t think anyone knew this, or even cared, but I wanted to be prepared in case something happened and an actor couldn’t perform.

At the end of the school year, the principal gave me a special award for all my hard work and he told the assembly that I had learned all the lines to the play and done other extra work backstage. I still have the drama pin Mr. Hemple gave me, but the best award I got that night was Dad telling me how proud he was of me. I’m sure he had told me that before, but for some reason, that night his words meant so much more to me.

Over the years dad did that a lot, told me he was proud of me. I found out not too many years ago, that Dad had told Mom, “Lucinda is a sensitive soul.” Or words to that effect. I think he told me he was proud of me because he knew I was filled with self-doubt and needed to hear that he understood who I was.

That was one of the things that made Dad a genus. He observed people. He had empathy for them and could often see talents in them they didn’t even know they possessed. I believe Dad saw my love for storytelling in all it’s forms and he began watching movies and TV shows with me not only to help me learn, but to connect with me in a non-threatening but emotional way. Because you see, my father was an extremely private person himself. We could talk about the events and characters in the movie or TV show and in an oblique way, talk about how we felt and what we thought about things happening in our personal lives as well.

So, even though this memoir that Celeste and I are going to write together will contain stories about the movie discussions we had with Dad, it will contain other stories as well. Stories of how little things Dad did and said to us had a great impact upon the way we live our lives now.

I miss you, Dad. I’m grateful to have had you as my father, and for all the things I learned from you.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I appreciate it very much. Have a restful weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm!

Pumpkin Possibilities

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” ~ Albert Einstein

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I stole my title from comedian, Gallagher. Barry and I used to watch him in the ‘90s on one of the cable networks. His routine was wild and wacky. For example, at the end of each show he’d take a sledge hammer to big cantaloupes and watermelons. The audience would scream with laughter behind their sheets of plastic. In his routine, he included a segment titled “Things that make you go hummm.” And it always made the audience think. One I remember was, “Why is it called a ‘hot water heater?’ If the water’s already hot, why do we need to heat it?” Stuff like that. Well, I’ve been confronted with some things that have made me go hummm in the last few days.

I have a couple of acting students doing a scene from the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, and naturally, we got to talking about what might have motivated Jordan Belfort to defraud so many investors just to fund his wild and crazy lifestyle? The movie is based on actual events and people, which makes it all the more chilling.

I have not seen the movie. I may at some point. However, this is not the first movie about business people who have no empathy or compassion and who are only interested in how much money they can make for themselves and sometimes for their stockholders. I can name any number of classic movies that show the slide capitalism made into the realm of callous greed.

That was Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning I was looking at my news app, and there was an article titled, “‘When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit:’ The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg.” It was not published by The Wall Street Journal, but surprisingly, by Vanity Fair. It was an unflattering article about the Harvard Business School’s “leadership” industry, and how it has effectively eliminated a functioning moral compass as part of it’s curriculum since 1977. And how the ideas they teach have been detrimental to business practices in this country general ever since.

Now, I do not profess to understand how business works. Not even a little bit. That’s why I’m taking the No Pants Project course to help me sell more books, and market other of my talents. The thing that made me want to take this course, over others I’ve investigated, is that Michael Shreeve, founder of the NPP, emphasizes developing empathy in doing business with people. He says doing business should be all about establishing long and meaningful relationships based on integrity and empathy. In every lesson Michael reiterates that we need to find a balance between helping others, and taking care of our own needs. Fortunately, I don’t think this is a new trend, but like all change in thinking and practice, it will take a while for the effects of doing business this way to spread.

As I discussed the acting scene and read the above article, I was tempted to sit in judgement of the people who live by the “greed is good,” or “it’s nothing personal, it’s just business,” codes of conduct. But the truth is, I struggle with some of these same moral dilemmas. I don’t have billions, millions, or even thousands in the bank, but there are times when I want to hoard what I have just in case something unexpected happens. It’s kind of a weird mindset. We are trained to think that little pieces of paper, or for those of us who don’t use paper money anymore, groups of digital numbers beside our names in a bank account can protect us. We think that if we have money we’ll be safe from future disaster. Of course, that’s not true. Fires rage, flood waters come, loved ones die, economies fail and we can’t stop the disasters.

So the thing that is making me go hmmm at the moment is the idea that security comes from outside myself. I don’t think that’s true. I think it comes from trusting that all is well no matter what happens. That’s not to say we don’t suffer. We do, but there are lessons to be learned from living through tough times and coming out the other side.

I’m finding it hard to discard the lessons I learned that money, or owning a house, or having a steady job is security. I want to feel that ultimately I’m secure no matter what happens. I’m secure because I’ve got loving family and friends. And I’ve even got great support in other dimensions. I want to feel that, but unlearning those old lessons is difficult.

One of the ways I plan to change my fear of not having enough, into feeling generous, is to give small amounts of money every month or so to worthy causes. I want to be like the motel owner who, after one of the hurricanes this year, opened his doors to people who had lost everything. He gave them rooms for free, fed them, and helped them get back on their feet. His generosity spilled over to other business owners in the community. Hair dressers came and gave free hair cuts, people gave food, donated clothes, personal care items, and donated money to the cause of getting those people back on their feet. What I plan to do is minor by comparison, but if I commit to doing this, hopefully my money fears will change into a feeling of satisfaction that I have helped others and ultimately help me relax and enjoy life as a grand adventure.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. I hope the end of the year celebrations are fun and meaningful for you rather than stressful.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Black Friday Blues

Lucinda’s birthday present, painted by Xo Terra

“I think the manufacturing and consumption cycle is completely out of hand, and our footprint is doing irreversible damage to the earth.” ~ Venus X, owner of Planet X, from an article in Vogue

So, here we are at the biggest purchasing time of the year and I’m not really in the mood to buy, buy, buy. To tell the truth, I’ve never been a big consumer. The one exception to that rule are books and movies. But they contain knowledge and an understanding of human nature. They are, relatively speaking, inexpensive, thought provoking ways to be educated and entertained. That’s a consumption of a different kind.

I think my attitude about making do with what I’ve got instead of buying the latest, hottest items has to do with the fact that we didn’t have lots of disposable income when I was growing up. When I got money to spend, I had to consider how long I was going to use the item I was considering buying. Would it last? Was I going to use it over and over again? Would I enjoy having it in the years to come? Did it add anything to my existence?

That mindset has carried over to my adult life. For example, my Prius is 16 years old and still runs well. It’s not as pretty as it once was, but it gets me where I want to go, and, big bonus, it’s environmentally friendly. And, believe it or not, I have a few clothes I purchased for our trip around the world 22 years ago, that I still wear.

Oh, there are times when I wish I could go on a shopping spree and buy a whole new wardrobe, new furniture, all the movies and books I want, or any number of other products. But I’m now to the age where reduction of all the stuff we’ve collected over the years and don’t use any more, is a high priority. It’s time to get rid of things I haven’t used in years. I want to let someone else get use out of them, or let them be recycled.

I think my New Year’s resolution will be to take a week or two before the next semester begins and clear out all the stuff I don’t use or want any longer. It just feels like time to free myself up and make room for something new.

Maybe that’s what’s happening on a much larger scale in our country. I was thinking of writing today’s post a few days ago, relating my personal consumer fatigue, when what should I come across this morning but an article titled, “Forget the Mega Sales This Black Friday and Try Investing in ‘Savage Capitalism’ Instead,” by Brooke Bobb in today’s Vogue fashion section posted today in my news app. The above quote is from that article.

I’ve read other articles recently with the same idea. They ask vital questions for us to consider. Is it good to continue producing goods to be consumed, only to break then be thrown away a short time later, inviting a purchase of the newest version of that item? What does that do to our environment and our economy? Do companies need to be making billions of dollars month after month producing disposable items? How does advertising seduce us into thinking we must buy things we don’t need?

Even I realize that this indoctrination into consumerism is a hard habit to break when companies like Amazon exist and offer merchandise at low prices. While on the other hand local artists, and business owners often offer higher quality, hand made merchandise but at higher prices so the artist can pay their bills too. Do I stretch my buying power and take advantage of the great deals, or support a local artisan?

In my heart I side with the local artisan. My husband has sold his pottery, and other artwork. I write books and try to sell them. Sometimes it is hard to resist the siren call of companies like Amazon and instead buy local. But I have to say it’s so satisfying to see a one of a kind piece of artwork hanging on my wall, or to have signed copies of books by my local author friends. I love the painting my husband commissioned for my birthday from an artist friend of ours and the other original artwork displayed in our home. I love it far more than home decor that was mass produced.

My father’s consumer philosophy was this: buy the best even if it is more expensive. In the long run it will last longer and provide more pleasure than something cheap that breaks soon after you bring it into the house. I want to embody his philosophy and add this idea to it: Think before you buy. Don’t purchase things that will not be used. We don’t have to be seduced by advertising that tries to convince us we’ll be more content if we buy the most popular products. Most of us are extremely fortunate and have everything we need to live a full and happy life.

This Holiday season I want to concentrate on the people I love and be grateful for what I already have and maybe help others who are in need so they can have a happy holiday season as well.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it so much. Have a restful weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Food, Family, and Friends

Harvest Feast

“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. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” ~ Tecumseh

“Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.” ~ Guy Fieri

A week, from the day I write this, it will be Thanksgiving in the U.S. I’ve been thinking for quite some time about which foods makes me feel good, which foods don’t, and how it connects us with our friends and family. Food is much more than just fuel to keep our bodies going. There is something spiritual about it too. That’s why we use it in our rituals, ceremonies and celebrations.

I’m an adequate cook not an exceptional one because I’ve almost always thought of meal preparation as a chore. Since I’m going through a kind of personal revolution, I’d like to change my thinking about cooking. I want to enjoy cooking. I admire people who put so much love into the dishes they create that just eating it is a spiritual experience. When I cook the food keeps hunger away but that’s not necessarily the best reason to eat.

Barry and I have been watching Native America on PBS. In the first episode they concentrated on one main site, Chaco Pueblo in Northern New Mexico that is estimated to be 13,000 years old. It’s one of the oldest historic sites in the world. At the site they found cylindrical drinking vessels that had remnants of chocolate in them. It is believed that the chocolate, which comes from cacao beans native to South America, was used as a ceremonial drink. I knew there was a reason I love chocolate. This, and other artifacts, was evidence that the people of Chaco traded with native groups in various South American regions. Which proves these ancient civilizations had much more vibrant societies than previously thought. The cultivation of food, not just hunting and gathering, was, of course, extremely important for these ancient people as well. We enjoy the fruits of their development of various crops and farming methods even today.

As I was falling asleep after watching this program, I was thinking of movies like Chocolat, Babette’s Feast, and Like Water for Chocolate, all having to do with the transforming and sometimes even healing power of lovingly prepared food. There are other stories along this same vein of course. In them people are brought together by food, which promotes enjoyment, openness and sometimes even helping to heal relationships. This time of year, particularly, food warms and sustains us through the long dark months.

After all this thinking about the significance of food, I’m ready to break out of my food rut and try some new recipes, and maybe even take a cooking class or two, and do more cooking with Barry. Meal time should be a time to stop work and just enjoy not only the food but the people we eat it with because fellowship is nourishing too.

I plan to take time this holiday season to appreciate my family, friends and the food we prepare and eat together. I hope you do too.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Happy eating this weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.