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.

Changing Roles of Woman

Susan B. Anthony

“Because you are women, people will force their thinking on you, their boundaries on you. They will tell you how to dress, how to behave, who you can meet and where you can go. Don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement. Make your own choices in the light of your own wisdom.” ~ Amitabh Bachchan

“No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men.” ~ Muhammad Ali Jinnah

The other day as I was working on Time’s Echo, I realized I have too much story to tell in this second book. So, I’m going to need to write a third book in the series.

Time’s Echo is about Jenna’s involvement in the current women’s movement, and Morgan’s decision to become a suffragist in the past. Because of the subject matter and my research, I’ve been thinking about how many decades, and even centuries women have been attempting to gain the same rights that men have.

We modern women often think women throughout the ages suffered suppression at the hands of all men all the time. I don’t think that’s a completely accurate picture. Women have been quite resourceful and found ways to accomplish their goals, and to carve out fulfilling lives for themselves. It’s just that in these modern times the clearly defined roles men and women used to perform have blurred and in a situation like that interpersonal relationships can get messy.

Because of the work I’m doing on my book, I’ve been noticing women characters in the movies I watch and the books I read.

Recently I’ve been hooked on The Cadfael Chronicles mystery series. This series takes place during the 1140s and was written by Ellis Peters. The main character, Cadfael, is a sixty something Welsh monk living at the monastery at Shrewsbury, England on the Welsh border. The interesting thing about him is that before he became a monk, he was a crusader in the Middle East, and a ship’s captain eventually deciding to settle down to a quieter life as a monk.

However, it turns out trouble often finds Cadfael in the form of murders, thefts, or mysteries to be solved. Since he is the monastery herbalist, and has seen many dead and dying people, he’s the perfect person for Hugh Berignar, the Deputy Sheriff, and later in the series Sheriff, of the shire to consult during the investigations of the crimes.

The thing that I have found extremely interesting about this series is the way most of Peter’s female characters manage to get exactly what they want by standing up for themselves. In one of the books, the thief and murderer turns out to be a woman. She’s a sympathetic character, though, because her father never showed her any love. He gave it all to her spoiled brother. She was denied the chance to marry and have a household of her own, because her mother had died and her father insisted she run his household. She loses her position when her brother marries. So she steals a fortune from her father in order to begin a new life. It’s tragic what happens to her. Yet in almost every other book, the women characters take great risks for the people they love.

In book eleven, An Excellent Mystery, a young woman, Julian, takes it upon herself to become her betrothed’s constant companion and nurse, when he comes home from the Crusades severely injured. He is now unable to have children and declares she is free to marry another as he is going to become a monk. Instead of marrying again, she declares that she wishes to become a nun. She rides off with an escort and her father’s blessing. He dies shortly after. Her half-brother doesn’t give her another thought as he takes over management of the manor and the family holdings.

But, a mystery is about to unfold when Brother Humilis, the former Godfrid Marescot and Julian’s betrothed, arrives at Shrewsbury monastery seeking a new community after his former monastery was destroyed by war. He has with him a young monk, Brother Fidelis, who is his constant companion. It is obvious to Cadfael, that Brother Humilis is slowly dying from his wounds.

Not long after his arrival at Shrewsbury, one of Godfrid’s former comrades in war, Nicholas, arrives asking permission of his former commander to court the woman he was betrothed to. He was taken with her when he delivered the news about Godfrid’s terrible injury. However, when he arrives at her former home, he discovers that she has taken the veil. Yet, her convent has also been burned to the ground in the midst of the civil war fighting between the Empress Maud and her cousin King Stephen. So, Nicholas goes in search of her and can’t find a trace. Everyone assumes she’s dead.

Spoiler alert here just in case you choose to read the book, I’m giving away details of the story.

Peters unfolds the mystery of what happened to Julian Cruce in very subtle ways. The day I realized that Brother Fidelis was in fact Julian, I couldn’t wait to see how she would be able to go back to her former life, without being imprisoned and/or excommunicated.

What made this story so satisfying for me was the relationship between Godfrid and Julian. Even though she had met him only once, she felt herself bound to him no matter what injuries he’d suffered. She took the steps necessary to be able to care for him. Through the years of being his nurse and constant companion the two developed a deep and holy kind of love for each other. In the end just before Godfrid’s death, he reveals that he knows who Julian is, and that he loves her. Cadfael, of course, finds a way to help Julian return from the dead to resume her former life.

Julian’s story affected me on a deep emotional level. How many of us would give up everything to risk imprisonment and excommunication for a person we loved? Julian does this with no qualms, knowing that she will probably pay a heavy price. But fortunately, she meets kind and caring men who are on her side and help her make the transition back into her old self. The love she exhibits affects other characters in the book. Everyone who observes the two monks together are affected by their devotion to one another. A fellow monk who’s wife had betrayed him is healed by her selfless act. I’m always touched by such stories. This seemingly insignificant mystery series shows just how complex women are. I love that.

I’m excited to see what will happen in our country now that we have so many women taking their place in our government at the federal and state levels. I hope they will act out of love for our country and humanity.

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

Words, Words, Words

Classic Books

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” ~ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.” ~ Swami Vivekananda

I’ve been thinking a great deal about words and their meanings since I had an online conversation the other day with a college friend about a meme she posted. I won’t included the entire meme, but here’s a bit that I took exception to: “Jesus … was anti-wealth, ant-death penalty … was never anti-gay, …”

Now I can’t argue with the sentiment of the meme. It was implying that Jesus loved, where some people hate. No, what I took exception to was the word ANTI. If, as I believe, Jesus was a man of peace and love, then he wouldn’t be anti anything. That’s not to say that he didn’t want to right wrongs or hold people accountable. But the word anti implies combat. You can’t have combat and win peace. Well my friend and I had a lively few exchanges about that in which I related something I learned in a teacher training that expressed my take on the uselessness of combat.

The workshop was on classroom management. That means how we teachers keep our students working and not goofing off. This particular workshop suited my style perfectly. It was on the Fred Jones method, in which the teacher never nags students to do their work. Instead he or she walks around the room while the students are working saying nothing. If a student isn’t doing their work, the teacher simply walks up to them with a neutral face, remains silent, staying until the student gets busy. I loved it and used it in my classroom of high school students to great effect. I rarely got into arguments with my students, because when you argue no one wins.

I decided to end the conversation with my friend when I realized I was not going to change her mind, nor she mine. But the conversation stayed with me. It’s one of lots of little interactions I’ve had lately that have a kind of theme. We get a notion into our heads. If it suits us, whether it’s right or wrong, we cling to it, never question it, and defend it sometimes at a high cost.

I know I’m no different from anyone else. I have things I believe and when my beliefs are challenged, I don’t like it. I feel threatened, and uncomfortable. But, I’m different than other people too, because my father taught me to question everything. Doing that can be very uncomfortable. It feels like my inner anchors are being pulled up and I’m adrift at sea with no land in sight. But, though I’d like to stay comfortably holding my old beliefs, something bigger is tugging at my consciousness telling me to take a closer look at all the things I thought I knew. And at this turbulent time, I feel like I need to be looking for ways to contribute to peace and love rather than hate and fear. Which means I’ve got to do lots of examination of my belief system.

After my online conversation, I remembered a story Wayne Dyer told about Mother Teresa. She was once invited to speak at an anti-war rally. But she responded by saying something like, “I will not attend anything that has anti as it’s intent. If, however, you choose to have a rally for peace, I will be happy to attend.” That story has stayed with me ever since I heard it. I want to always be FOR good causes, not against situations I don’t like. I don’t want to condemn anyone, because as my father also taught me, people who do terrible things are fearful and wounded. I don’t believe we can help them heal by condemning, or shaming them. But we can use a version of the Fred Jones method of discipline. We can stand in front of them in silence.

Another meme I saw this week showed a practical way we can do this. It was about a group of protesters in Turkey, who just stood in complete silence, creating, as the meme states, “a calm curiosity, instead of tension and aggression.” Deep down most of us know the difference between what’s the right thing to do, and what’s wrong. Sometimes we just need someone to remind us.

Another interesting, seemingly unrelated thing happened to me as a result of my contemplations about words and their meanings.

On Halloween morning as I was meditating, I had a huge aha moment. I’ve been struggling writing my second novel. For quite some time I’ve made little progress. I blamed it on working on my friend’s, and my audiobooks, on doing the No Pants Project homework, on teaching my class. But the real reason I was stalled was because my emotions about being a woman, and having to navigate through a world dominated by men are so tangled, that I don’t have the words to express my frustrations, and sometimes even rage over them. The two main characters in my book are part of their respective women’s movements. I’m trying to show how they are affected by their efforts against misogyny. But I’ve had trouble finding the words to express what I want to say. I’m not even sure I know what I want to say.

I do know this, I can’t find the words if I don’t sit down everyday and dig deep into my own emotions on the subject. Sometimes I want everything to just be sunshine and light, but a woman I follow on YouTube, Jenny Burack, said recently, “The dark always serves the light.” We can’t find joy if we don’t struggle with all the negative emotions that we try so hard to suppress. The stories I enjoy the most are ones where the characters face their demons and come out into the light at the end. I have to do that now as I work on this book full of complicated situations and emotions.

Words, words, words. They are such an imperfect way to express concepts and emotions, but they’re almost all we’ve got to communicate with. As a writer, I’ll keep examining their deeper meanings.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. I hope you enjoy your 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.

When Kids Talk, Adults Should Listen

Dad and me on Easter Sunday

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” ~ Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” ~ Jane D. Hull

I think learning to communicate is a rather difficult thing to do, especially if you are constantly being told to shut up and listen. We are supposed to learn communication from our parents and siblings. Some parents are fantastic at teaching this skill, others not so much. But I believe most parents want to have clear lines of communication with their children, they just don’t know how because they were never taught.

My youngest sister, Celeste and I have been talking about writing a book about how we learned not only good communication skills, but critical thinking, and understanding human behavior from our conversations about movies and TV with our father.

When I suggested writing this book together, I didn’t have a clear idea of how we could structure it, except to reconstruct the questions Dad used to ask us after watching a movie. This morning it came to me what genius practice my father, and mother too, used to keep the lines of communication open with us even through our teen years.

The secret is: They were truly interested in our opinions.

I was proud of the fact that we had the “cool” parents. Our church, and even school friends liked coming over to our house and hanging out because our parents were interested in them. They wanted to know what they were doing in school, what their passions were, and what their plans were for the future. Our friends loved that they could ask questions on any subject and our parents were willing to talk about the ins and outs of any problem. That wasn’t always the case for them at home.

My father in particular was fantastic at exploring every facet of an issue. He was never afraid to say that he didn’t understand all the implications of a situation. And he and my mother were also willing to tell us when they had been wrong.

I think Celeste will agree with me when I say, I always felt safe in our home, because I was a valued by my parents.

One of the primary ways our parents taught us good communication skills was by watching movies as a family and then discussing them. It was a fun and non-threatening way to examine why people do what they do, how to look at the deeper implications of events and then try to find meaning in them. And it gave all of us an easy way to learn to communicate with respect for every family member’s opinions.

Because our father watched movies with us individually as well, Celeste and I watched the news with him. It wasn’t particularly comfortable watching the news when we were growing up. There was lots of unrest with the Civil Rights movement, and all the violence surrounding that, the Vietnam War and the protests against that, and the women’s movement for equal rights. There were so many opportunities to ask questions and discuss current events with Dad that we learned to think critically about the motivations of politicians, business owners and even everyday people who did not want things to change.

The thing I remember most about having a discussion with my father was the constant questions he would ask himself and me as we watched together. His questions invited both Celeste and me to think and I will be eternally grateful to him for that.

So, Celeste and I are going to write this book. We’re not sure what we’re going to call it yet. It will be part memoir, part guide to talking with and listen to children. I’ve learned from my students that sometimes they have more wisdom than we give them credit for. And as far as Celeste and I are concerned, we can always use more wisdom in the world.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Have a glorious weekend, and if you live in the U.S., don’t forget to vote.

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.

Writing Prompts from the Universe

Thunderstorm over Corfu

“Without disruptions in life, where would we be?” ~ Sarah Gadon

Just lately I have found inspiration for my second novel from some unusual places.

A week or so ago, my husband and I watched My Mother and Other Strangers on our local PBS station. It’s the story of the narrator remembering his childhood during WW II in Northern Ireland. His reflections are about his mother an English woman living in a foreign land. For the most part she’s lived a happy life, teaching at the local school, helping her husband with his grocery store, and pub. Then the Americans establish a training base for flyers nearby. Rose, the narrator’s mother, is most affected by the arrival of the Americans, though the entire village is disrupted by prejudice and resentment.

In the first episode, the base liaison officer, Captain Dreyfuss meets Rose Coyne on her daily walk by the lake shore. He surprises her by quoting her favorite poet and that more than anything disturbs her efforts to be content in a place she never felt she truly belonged. They meet again when Captain Dreyfuss is looking to establish a relationship with a local person with whom he can work to solve issues pertaining to the base and their presence in the town. His intention is to ask Rose’s husband Michael to be that person, but due to Michael’s schedule, Rose ends up taking on the role.

As I was watching Rose’s awakening to the forgotten parts of herself she left behind when she married, I felt I could understand her. And Rose’s experience prompted me to think about Jenna, Morgan, and the other women in the novel I’m working on in a new way. They are all struggling with being a women in their respective time periods. It’s such a complicated situation for each group of women. I want to show how my characters deal with their personal and political struggles. How does their involvement in their respective women’s movements affect their families, and their communities?

Life can be capricious. Sometimes it’s just a little thing that happens to disrupt our view of ourselves but when it happens it feels like a tsunami. All the pieces of our nicely constructed lives fall apart and we have to decided to rebuild it exactly as it was before, or build something new.

Then last night Barry and I were watching the third season of Shakespeare Uncovered, again on PBS. The segment we watched was about The Merchant of Venice, a play Barry and I did his first year in college. It’s how we began getting to know one another. When the segment was over, Barry said, “I don’t remember us discussing, or stressing all those layers of meaning in our production.” And I had to agree with him. It was forty years ago, after all. But having just directed a Shakespeare play last spring, and taking two classes studying his plays, I have to say that Shakespeare was a master of intertwining many themes into his stories. One director and cast could pick one play, do it every year or so, and still keep learning from it.

And listening to F. Murray Abraham talk to cast members, directors, and scholars about the play, sent me back to my novel. The best stories, in my opinion, have many different themes, like all of Shakespeare’s plays. I guess that’s why we have used stories for centuries to teach our values to our children, define our cultures, and figure out the complexities of life. The stories that survive do that so well that we can still relate to them centuries later.

I want to write a story like that one day. I’ll never be Shakespeare, but if I keep practicing writing, I may write a story that will live on past my lifetime. Is it presumptuous to have such a goal?

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I’ll have another post for you next Saturday. Have a fantastic 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.

Teach Listening by Listening

Mom and Dad

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” ~ Bryant H. McGill

“I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.” ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ~ Philip Pullman

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about my love of stories and how I can use that passion to help people. Story telling is central to the subjects I’ve been teaching for years, but I’ve felt like I need to break out of my old routine and use my passion in a new way. But how? What would that look like? Then I got a bright idea.

My youngest sister and I often reminisce about discussing movies with our father and how that taught us a great deal about how to deal with life issues. As I’ve been thinking about my passion for stories, I got the idea that my sister and I could write a guide for parents and teachers about using movies to help children deal with the things that happen to them every day.

As I’ve been thinking about how to structure the book, so many memories have come to mind. One of the most meaningful things I learned from those movie discussions that my father, and sometimes mother, had was that my opinions were important to them. I felt like they wanted to know who I was and what I thought.

Now I don’t want you to think I had a perfect family. We had our problems, just like every family does. But it helped me find confidence in myself to know that my parents listened to my side of any situation that arose. They taught me how to communicate effectively by practicing good communication skills with me and discussing movies was a big part of that.

I want to cry when I hear parents say to their children, “Shut up and listen to me.” I think Oprah is right, every person just wants to feel like they are heard. Watching a movie is a fun activity and a great way to give each member of the family a chance to give their opinions about something non-threatening.

So, my sister and I are going to begin working on this book this week. I’m sure it will take us awhile to finish even though it’s going to be short. Perhaps the first tip in the book will be: Use movie discussions to listen to your children.

I’ll probably be trying out other ideas for the book in this blog. You can tell me what you think.

About that, I’ve decided to cut my blog back to one post a week again since my life has become extremely busy. I want to make time for the projects that have been shoved out of the way. I’ve chosen Saturday as the one day, so I’ll write a post on Saturday October 20, then every Saturday after that. I hope you stick with me.

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.