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.

Quickie Post

I’m working on the audiobook for a friend of mine, Debrah Strait, who is having some health issues and can use a boost in sales for her middle grade book, The Dragon’s Gold, and  completely forgot to write a blog post for today. The work is fun, but consumes a lot of time with both recording, then editing each chapter.

As I’ve been reading not only my book, but Debrah’s, I have decided that this is something I would like to do for other writers. I know how difficult it is to write the book then, do all the work of the audio version as well. During this process I’ve learned a lot about time management, and am still learning how to get all the tasks that I set for myself completed. I see this as a fantastic opportunity to keep track of the time it takes to not only read, but edit the book, which in turn should give me an idea of how much to charge for my services.

Something really great happened in the last few days. I asked my fellow No Pants Project participants for advice on becoming an audiobook reader and got some wonderful ideas about where to submit my name and samples of my work. Once I get Debrah’s book, The Dragon’s Gold finished, I’ll have a better idea of where to look for clients.

Watch for a real post on Wednesday. In the meantime, have a fabulous weekend.

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

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.

We Need Empathy Now

Empathy is emotional intelligence

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” ~ Stephen Covey

“Humans aren’t as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they human or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were ‘reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.’” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” ~ James Baldwin

I was having a difficult time getting a handle on how to write this post. I knew I wanted to write about empathy, but what can I say that I haven’t already said, or that is new? Even so, I sat down and wrote a rough draft, before doing my morning meditation. This is not my usual routine but I had lots of ideas running in my head and I needed to get them out to clear my mind.

After my meditation I came into the kitchen and saw the white tailed deer family. They had come to drink out of our birdbath as they often do. I felt bad, though, because earlier this morning I saw that the water level was low but it has turned unseasonably cool here in Arizona and I decided to wait until it was warmer to go outside. The mother had been able to drink, but the young ones couldn’t because the water level was so low. I went out immediately to fill the bowl. I was a little surprised that the mother didn’t run away immediately as I went to get the hose. Maybe she sensed that I wanted to help. I don’t know. I hope they come back.

I felt like I had failed the deer by thinking of my own comfort before theirs. And after yesterday’s announcement from scientists that we have ten years to reverse the damage to the environment that we’ve caused, I feel like we have had a complete lack of empathy toward Mother Earth and the other beings who share this planet with us. We’ve been callously focused on what we want at the expense of all else. The reckoning has come and we are suffering now for our selfishness. It will only get worse if we don’t do something immediately.

Our lack of empathy has played out in so many other ways over the millennia. The individual lives, civilizations and ancient knowledge that has been lost because of greed, or fear, or the need to control. It’s staggering. Sometimes I despair that we will ever learn to feel the pain of our neighbors, friends, and family and we’ll just keep focusing on our own desires. It might be better for the planet if humans ceased to exist. And yet, there must be a reason for us being here? I’m constantly in the search for the meaning of past and current events and why humans even exist.

Last week my husband was watching a video of Bill Maher interviewing historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin on his show. She’s written several books about presidents. The most famous ones are about Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson. The two were talking about the Kavanaugh hearings, and Donald Trump’s presidency, and Goodwin said something that I believe to be true. “Empathy is the number one quality a president should have and this president doesn’t have it.” I’ve thought about that a great deal since I saw that interview.

I think Goodwin is right. But I think empathy is the number one quality all of us should have. It seems we’ve lost a good deal of it over the last few years, or maybe only a few of us ever had it to a large degree to begin with. It’s just that, for some reason, we’re more aware that we need it now.

We are all born with a certain amount of empathy. It’s part of our emotional intelligence tool box. I’ve heard experts say that empathy is like a muscle. We can develop it to a high degree if we choose to do the exercise necessary to help it grow. At various times, I’ve thought that I’d like to develop a course in empathy. Maybe I’ll get help in doing that from the coaches at The No Pants Project. One reason Michael Shreeve developed the program was because he believes helping others succeed is extremely important. His clients can’t do that without having empathy. It’s one of his major business tenets.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to develop a set of teaching tools, or a program that will help people grow their empathy muscles. I just know it feels like that might be one of the things I’m supposed to do.

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.

Don’t Give In

Arizona Butterfly

“I think we live in a pretty shallow time and I think we long for that depth, we long for that honesty …” ~ Lady Gaga

You know how you’re going along, everything seems great and then something happens and you get tripped up by a huge load of self-doubt? That happened to me recently and I nearly let it over take my feelings about all the projects I’m currently working on.

I have a virtual friend who is a writer. I’ve read several of her books and loved them. I’m not going to tell you her name because I don’t want you to be angry with her after I write this story. Some time back she put out an email to her fans to ask us to read her latest book and write a review. This was the third book in a series that I had never heard of. I loved her first series I had discovered a few years ago. It’s in a completely different genre, even so I was in. I requested and got the third book in this new series, then went and bought the first two books so I could have a context for writing my review. I liked this new series, but not as much as the first fantasy series she created.

As I was reading the second book, I kept coming across mistakes, which wasn’t like her previous work. So, I emailed her to tell her that I thought the wrong version of her manuscript had been mistakenly uploaded. She emailed back saying she was mortified, and confirmed my suspicions. That began an email conversation which I enjoyed very much. In the process, she discovered that I had written a book and I asked her if she would read it and write a review.

Last week she finally got back to me to tell me she didn’t like my book, she liked the concept, but thought it moved too slow, (like a glacier). She didn’t like the historical timeline, or the protagonist in the past. She did say she was very sorry that she didn’t like it and hoped we could still be friends. Though I was surprised, I emailed back immediately and told her, of course, we were still friends. I admired the fact that she had the courage to tell me she didn’t like my book. One thing that gave me hope was that she said for me to keep writing.

All of this happened while I’m working through the No Pants Project tutorials, an endeavor that is making me do lots of deep thinking about my talents and skills, and what I can offer potential clients. Sometimes the thought of putting myself out there causes me to doubt myself, so that on top of my writer friends comments, played upon my insecurities.

About an hour after receiving the email, I began to feel devastated by my writer friend’s comments. So far, most of the comments I have received about my book have been positive. But that didn’t matter. I felt dreadful, like everything I put into my book was worthless, that I was worthless. Those feelings extended to what I was attempting to do by becoming a consultant. You probably know the feeling. Self-doubt spreads like poison and contaminates our confidence, even in things we’ve felt competent about doing for a long time. Oh, I forgot to mention this came on the day I was scheduled to teach my acting class.

It was performance night so I couldn’t call in sick. Yet, I was feeling horrible about myself. As I was getting ready to go, I got one bit of inspiration. Wear something in my favorite color, something that makes me feel good. In the spring I had purchased some new clothes. One of the items was a skirt that is variegated colors from peach at the top all the way to dark blue at the bottom. I had never worn it, and that skirt called to me. I had a peach blouse of exactly the same shade on the skirt. I wore it to finish my ensemble. When I put on those clothes, I felt better. My female students even commented on how lovely I looked. I told them I’d been feeling off and I just had to wear my power color.

Later that week, I was reading Rebecca, by Daphne de Maurer which, I picked up because it’s the September/October book club pick for the #oursharedshelf, social media group. In fact, I joined the group BECAUSE they were reading Rebecca. I had read it years ago after watching Alfred Hitchcock’s and the PBS versions of the story. I wanted to make a comparison of the three versions. (Yeah, I’m nerdy like that.) Anyway, as I was coming to the end of the book, it occurred to me that I read lots of classic British fiction. If you’re not into classic British fiction, you might not know that most of the stories unfold very slowly.

Side note: I once belonged to a book club group that enjoyed reading mostly contemporary fiction and nonfiction. But at one point they got it into their heads they wanted to read some classics. The book they chose was Middlemarch. I have read Middlemarch. I warned them that reading this book was going to be different than the fiction they were used to and that they might want to choose an easier classic their first time out.

In the first third of the book George Eliot is building the world by informing the reader about the relationships of all the characters who will play a big part in the story she’s about to tell. If she didn’t do that, we as the reader would be very confused about how intertwined the members of the community are, what their histories are together, and why they choose to act as they do. In other words, their stories wouldn’t have as big an impact as George Eliot wanted them to make.

When it came to the day to meet and discuss the book, no one had finished reading it. They said it was boring, or they didn’t understand it. And I have to admit, I was rather disgusted with them. I’ve read some pretty incomprehensible stuff. Theology and philosophy, for example, while working on my B.A. in religious studies. I’d have to read the assignments over and over until finally some of what the writer was trying to get across began to become clear to me. Even though it was tough reading my college textbooks, I’m so grateful I stuck with it because they were full of deep concepts that I still contemplate today. So because of that, maybe I was a little hard on these women. I like a challenge but a challenge in reading isn’t for everyone.

Jane Austen, George Eliot, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and William Makepeace Thackeray, all of whom I’ve read, construct their stories to unfold slowly. That’s not to say there is no action or conflict in their stories, but most of it is quieter, and more internal than modern readers are used to. Because a book speeds along at a fast pace doesn’t mean you can’t find deep meaning in it. Even among the classics, there are books that are funny, some might say a romp, but they also contain meaningful themes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love action stories. But at dinner with Barry this last Tuesday night when I had to teach, I told him I had made a discovery. My book has been greatly influenced by the classic British literature I’ve read. And I said, “I loved The Da Vinci Code and all of Dan Brown’s books, but sometimes when I’m reading them, I feel breathless and say to myself, “Can’t we slow down for just a little while?”

My book is paced slower than some of the current popular fiction. It’s not as slow as a glacier, but it takes place over a matter of a couple of years in the storyline in the past, and several months in the storyline in the present. In it, my characters are going through a process of grieving/awakening. You can’t do that kind of character transformation in a short, fast paced book. I mean, I suppose someone could, but not me. And I can only write in my own style.

So the moral of this post is, when self-doubt hits, embrace it and allow it to have it’s way for a while. Then kick it to the curb and move on with your life. Not only do I feel better about my current published book, but the sequel I’m working on as well. I also feel better about what I’m learning about starting my own business.

A day or two ago, I started a conversation with another person in the NPP, and he made the comment that I was an expert story teller. That comment took me back as much as the one about my book being slow. The conclusion I came to is that we are all so much more than our talents, skills, or how people perceive us. When self-doubt rears it’s ugly head again, I’m determined to remember that.

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

Parents are Important

Dad, Mom and Me on my wedding day.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ~ Fredrick Douglas

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

I’ve been thinking a lot about the developments in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings since my last post. I have more thoughts, not just about Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh’s situation, but about the #MeToo movement and relationships between men and women in general.

I’m not a parent, but I am a teacher and upon occasion, I’ve had parents say to me, “I want you to fix my child.” In my head I’d be thinking, “What! I see your child maybe six hours a week and you want me to fix them? You want me to do the job you are supposed to be doing?” And that attitude of some parents, I think, is a real problem in our society, on lots of different levels. Most assuredly it’s a problem when it comes to teaching children the best way to interact with their fellow students, and other human beings.

I don’t remember where I heard this analysis, but it has stuck with me. It may have been an actual study, but the writer, or person being interviewed said that in lots of families, in the evenings after dinner I presume, everyone scatters to their rooms, or personal spaces. They don’t interact with each other. Children are left to learn from the TV shows they watch, or games they play. These are not monitored, as evidenced by the children’s behavior in school. Often the children’s behavior is completely inappropriate. I think that’s tragic and I wonder, do those parents love their children? I’m sure the children feel their parent’s detachment and lack of involvement in their lives. How can they learn appropriate ways to interact with other people if they don’t learn it at home?

I have to say that I’ve been extremely lucky as a woman. I’ve never been violently assaulted sexually or otherwise. I have had minor incidences with men touching me inappropriately, or trying to get paid back with sexual favors at the end of date. And I think I have my parents to thank for the fact that I got myself out of those situations.

My parents thought it was their job to have the difficult discussions with us about drugs, alcohol, and sex. It was embarrassing but I’m so grateful that they warned me about what could happen to me. I remember one private conversation I had with my father telling me how boys think, and that it was okay for me to stand up for myself and say no in a clear and confident voice.

I think I escaped being raped or assaulted because my parents taught me that my body was mine. That I didn’t have to give in to anyone who wanted any kind of sexual relations with me. Maybe I exuded a kind of “keep your hands to yourself unless I say it’s okay” kind of attitude. If a boy or man crossed the line, I wasn’t afraid to report the incident to someone in authority and I was believed. I know I’m extremely lucky. My parents taught me and my siblings how to respect ourselves and other people. I’m grateful to them for that. I wish everyone could have parents like mine.

I don’t have any answers about how to untangle the messy relationships between men and women. It’s clear to me that there are men who have not been taught respect for women, and women who don’t know they can stand up for themselves. I wish we could send people to parenting school whether they are going to have children or not. If we did that it might help all of us learn things we should have learned from our parents particularly about the proper way to treat our fellow human beings. If the classes were backed up with scientific data, it might help prospective parents see just how important they were to their current or future children, and that would be a good thing.

Obviously, I have to do more thinking about this. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Have a fabulous hump day.

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.

The Flow of History

Lighthouse

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If you’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

The above quote by Carl Sagan is referring to cognitive dissonance, a term used by psychologists to identify the mental discomfort, (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. According to the dictionary, this discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a belief or a person clashes with new evidence perceived by that person. When confronted with facts that contradict personal beliefs, ideals and values, people will find a way to resolve the contradiction in order to reduce their discomfort. We’ve all been confronted by cognitive dissonance in a big way since the election of 2016. Some of us are burying our heads in the sand and hoping nothing will change while others are waking up and saying, “Wait a minute, things aren’t right here and I need to pay attention.”

You know that saying, “Time and tide wait for no man?” I’ve thought lately, that we could include history in that phrase as well. I see the events of history as a kind of energy current, or maybe like the current in a river. Sometimes it flows along slowly, with not much turbulence, and other times we’re in the rapids trying to avoid getting sucked under the water’s surface and smashing into rocks. We’ve hit the rapids, we’re getting tossed about trying to keep our heads above water.

My life has been shattered more than once. It felt like I was in the middle of white water trying to survive. One thing I learned from those experiences was I had a choice, I could swim upstream trying to cling to my old life, or I could look around at all the new scenery (possibilities) that I had never noticed before. The process of examining my belief system was painful but once I got through to calmer waters, I was glad I chose not to hold onto the past.

My sister and I were talking sometime back. She was telling me about the movie, Kung Fu Panda 3 that she watched with her family. In it Po must fight the supernatural villain Kai, who is killing all the kung fu masters so he can absorb their chi and become all powerful. My sister said something profound that she got out of the movie, “When you try to take everything you end up with nothing.” Oogway, Po’s teacher, says it this way in the movie, “When will you realize the more you take the less you have.” It seems to me that Republicans and the wealthy who back them need to learn that lesson. If they don’t they are going to end up with nothing. In fact, it’s already begun to happen as more and more people leave the party and more wealthy people back politicians, and organizations that have humanitarian missions. It’s an example of those who are ignoring their cognitive dissonance, and those who are examining just why they feel so uncomfortable.

I’ve been confronted most of my life in large and small ways by people who want to maintain the status quo. They want everything to go their way, they don’t want to change, and they want to force me, to think or act the way they do. But as we’ve seen throughout history, the people who have tried to rule the world, or tried to control through religion, or male domination, have ended up losing it all. It takes a long time sometimes, but the people who are being controlled eventually rebel. The conqueror loses.

The ultra-conservatives have been losing since November 6, 2016 whether they know it or not. Yesterday, according to reports, Dr. Ford’s testimony handed them a big loss. I didn’t watch the proceedings because I knew how she was going to be treated and that brings up lots of rage about something over which I have no immediate control. I believe her, and I’m focusing my attention on the fact that no matter what the outcome of the vote for Judge Kavanaugh, the tide has turned. So many people from all subgroups are speaking up about being mistreated. And fortunately more and more of us are listening. I feel hope that humanity is going in a new, more healthy direction.

Living through these new changes is not going to be easy. The way I defend myself when I’m feeling particularly frightened and vulnerable, is to take time to do some self-examination. I feel shaky, and off balance when I do that, but one way I help myself feel better is to look for positive stories. I recently found a new writer that I like very much. Her name is Rebecca Traister. I read two articles by her in the last few days published in The Cut that have given me hope. It’s not a publication I’d heard of before reading her articles, but I think I may check out other stories they publish. There are TV shows, movies, and documentary series that help me feel positive, and sometimes just teaching my class and seeing the enthusiasm on my student’s faces helps me feel that eventually all will be right with the world.

There are so many great things happening. All we have to do is look around and find them. And we can also generate positive change by cultivating discussions with our family and friends and know that we don’t have to have all the answers. It’s okay to feel that the world has been turned upside down. It won’t stay like that forever.

Another way I help myself is to find people to help, or maybe teach. My students help me get a new perspective on life all the time. Putting myself in situations where my long held beliefs are challenged is also a great way to break out of that cognitive dissonance trap. I do not want to be one of those people who have been bamboozled and believe the lie because in the end instead of feeling protected, I feel dead inside. My goal is to feel good while helping others feel way that too.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I appreciate it very much. Have a wonderful weekend with family and/or friends.

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.

Climbing Out of the Rut

Oregon Trail Wagon Wheel Ruts, by Doug Letterman

“Growth is painful. change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.” ~ N. R. Narayana Murthy

“If you experience that feeling of being in a rut in your life, then something’s not right. A lot of people who feel that way don’t take the time to say, ‘O.K., well, what am I doing? Is that what I want to be doing? What is it making me feel this way?’ You have to identify what specifically is making you feel stuck. ~ Joy Mangano

I don’t know about you, but I get into routines that become ruts. Please don’t misunderstand me, I think routines are valuable. But sometimes I let them rule my life. I get comfortable and don’t seek new adventures. I don’t try to learn anything new, change my attitudes, try new restaurants or recipes, or challenge myself even in the entertainment I choose to enjoy. It all becomes a round of the same-old, same-old.

For quite some time, I’ve felt a vague dissatisfaction with my life, a kind of rumbling beneath the surface, but I didn’t take time to examine why. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other day after day doing the same old things and feeling stagnant.

Climbing out of my rut really started when my sister told me that her husband wanted to walk The Camino, in Spain to celebrate his upcoming 50th birthday. The whole family was going along to be tourists while he walked and they wanted Barry and me to come along. Barry decided he wanted to walk The Camino with my brother-in-law and I decided it was time to learn Spanish.

Maybe it was the daily short Spanish lessons I was doing on Duolingo on my phone that started to shake things up in my mind. I mean, I had been feeling like I needed something new, but learning a new language wakes up different parts of the brain, and I guess that’s what I needed because I finally responded to the ads I’d been seeing on social media about The No Pants Project. It’s a program that teaches participants how to become freelancers. Doing that has really stirred up my thinking. I’ve realized, in a life changing way, that I’ve been in a deep rut for quite some time. The walls of my rut are so big that it’s a bit scary trying to climb out.

This morning I awoke feeling jittery in my solar plexes. Yesterday I watched the NPP video starting the second week of the program, designed to help us identify the superpowers we can use to help businesses and individuals be more productive, or learn something new. I let my unease lead me to their source. I found dark attitudes and emotions lurking that I’ve been hiding from myself for a very long time.

The first thing that came to me is that I really hate business culture that is all about the bottom line and in the process devalues the human beings who work so hard to help the company succeed. And that prejudice could be a real problem, because the whole point of NPP is to find niches to use my superpowers to help individuals, and businesses owners. Okay, I’ve got to reframe how I view business owners, especially of huge businesses. I need to see them as human beings just like me.

The next thought that came to me was that part of my dislike has to do with the fact that I have never felt completely valued for my knowledge, experience, or the talents I was born with. I mean my top strength, according to the strength finder questionnaire at the end of the book, Teach With Your Strengths by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller with Jennifer Robison, is empathy. Empathy! Who’s going to want that skill? Who is going to want to hire someone who feels the emotions of others? That just doesn’t seem to fit into any business model I know of.

Maybe part of my hesitation has to do with the fact that I was once passed over as a candidate for house president at my undergraduate school because they thought my answers were unsatisfactory. I think the question/answer that killed my chances was: What would you do if a girl came back to the dorm late at night drunk? I said I’d find out why she was drinking so heavily and see if I could get her some help. That’s what I learned from my dad, you find out the reasons behind the behavior. But, that’s not what they wanted to hear. They wanted me to say I’d turn her in to the higher ups so they could discipline her. Yes, they were right, we should face consequences for our actions. But punishment without finding the reasons behind the behavior, in my experience, creates more wounds. And isn’t that what education should be about. Not just the acquisition of knowledge, but self-discovery as well.

The next thing that came to me is that most of my superpowers, are what I would call soft skills. According the above mentioned questionnaire, my other top strengths are intellection; I like to think, connectedness; I see everything in the world as connected, Ideation; I’m fascinated by ideas, and my last strength is strategic. In other words, I can look at the clutter and find a way out, I can identify patterns and consequences that will occur if a certain decision is acted upon.

Now, I’m only in the second week of my twelve week coaching program so I’m sure the coaches will be able to help me focus in on one marketable superpower. But this morning I was feeling extremely skeptical about that possibility and I just have to work through those feelings. I’m going to continue doing the self-examination they recommend so I can move forward with my goal of becoming a freelancer.

I want to make one last observation. I’ve tried to build a business using my knowledge and skills before, but none of the programs fit my mode of thinking and working. I always felt like they were speaking a language that was completely foreign to me. I didn’t understand the steps I was supposed to take and they didn’t help me with that. Nor did I understand the vocabulary they used. I was left feeling stupid and unsatisfied. It’s so nice to finally find a program that speaks my language and lays out the process of creating a business in little manageable chunks.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Have a happy hump day.

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.

Never Stop Learning

Inside Powell’s bookstore

“There is a cure for anti-aging that actually works – it’s called lifelong learning.” ~ Robin S. Sharma

“The great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece. The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. The experience of spiritual power is basically a joyful one.” ~ M. Scott Peck

My dad was curious about everything. He encouraged me and my siblings to seek lifelong learning. Because of his passion for learning, he had a huge influence on my life. He asked questions about everything, the news, about the articles and books he read, about things that were happening in our lives. Two things I learned from Dad were to think critically, and to look deeper into any event or story. If I did, I’d find something not readily identifiable that affected what was going on. Dad and I would have discussions about what I was reading in school, or for fun. But my favorite time spent with my dad was when he’d sit and watch a movie with me and the subsequent discussions we’d have about them. Because of Dad, I too am a lifelong learner.

So, here I am at sixty-five embarking on some new learning experiences. I may have mentioned in this blog before that, after twenty-two years of living in Arizona, I’m finally learning Spanish on the Duolingo app on my phone. I just completed my ninty-sixth day! I’m enjoying learning Spanish very much because it’s in anticipation of a trip to Spain in a year or so. After I learn Spanish, I think I’ll work on French, which is the language I always wanted to learn. Who knows which language I’ll choose after that.

And as I wrote in the last post, I’m also learning to become a freelancer. I’m one of those Baby Boomers who always wants to be working because that’s one way to learn new things. This week, the exercises with The No Pants Project, were all about taking a look at my current lifestyle, dreaming of the lifestyle I want, and then doing some math to discover what I need to charge per hour for my services. I have to say I had a bit of a panic attack when the number came out to be $95 an hour. I was stunned. I’ve never earned that much for any job, whether working for someone full-time, freelancing, or as a contracted employee.

After I calmed down, I realized that I have been selling myself short all these years. Because I’ve worked in the arts, I’ve accepted that no one will pay me for my expertise. The world is a little bit upside down in that way, the professions that have to do with expressing emotions and turning the human experience into something visual, and visceral, pay poorly. Unless, of course, you are one of the chosen superstars in that artistic field. And yet, regular ordinary people like me, who have lots of experience and knowledge, deserve to earn more than a pittance for what they can offer audiences and clients. Maybe programs like The No Pants Project, will help change that.

Of course, as writer, I’ve learned a great many things about how to express my thoughts clearly. And more than that, how to express emotions in a way that helps my readers feel what is going on with my characters. I’m still new at writing. But then, writing is one of those professions where you never stop learning. At the beginning of each semester, I tell my acting students that taking this one acting class will not give them all they need to know about acting. It’s a discipline in which the participants are still learning after thirty, forty, fifty years of work. Like all the arts, acting is about mining your inner world. Artists are attempting to define what it means to be human for themselves and by extension the rest of us. My plan is keep writing as long as I can in order to continue to learn about what it means to be a human being.

I think my Dad would be proud that I still have a hunger for knowledge and self-improvement. I hope it continues to help me feel young.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Have a fun weekend and maybe enjoy some artwork.

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.

A New Venture

Woman Listening

“I’m a freelance person, and I’ve always been able to support myself.” ~ Gloria Steinem

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I know, I know, how many new things can I put on my plate? Right now I’m teaching a class at the college, working on the audiobook for The Space Between Time, working on Time’s Echo, writing these blog posts, helping a friend with her audiobook, and, of course, trying to keep up with domestic chores. But, everyone is busy, right? I’m ready for a change I just didn’t know how to make what I wanted to do happen.

For quite some time I have been looking for a way to increase my income by selling more books and perhaps using other of my talents so I can quit teaching. Last week, in my journal, I asked for help in achieving my goals. Though I didn’t expect it, my answer came that very day. I had signed up for an information workshop for a coaching program to help people become freelancers. I’ve wanted to do this for quite sometime, but had no idea where to begin.

As I listened to the presentation, I got very excited. 12 weeks of coaching on how to identify the skills I want to offer, how to find clients, and much more. I’ve only just signed up with The No Pant’s Project. (No pants as in wearing shorts to work instead of business clothes.) I will be sure to keep you informed about how it’s going. The goal is to help freelancers work smarter, not harder, and to help us have time freedom and income to do the things we love doing.

Part of becoming a freelancer is to find your “Super Power”, or the thing you are most passionate about, then offer that skill to people and businesses that need it.

As you know, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, I love discussing all the layers of meaning in movies and novels. The reason I chose theatre as one of my majors was so I could examine the characters in the plays we studied. What motivated them do the things they did in the story?

It’s my belief that most of the time our actions are a result of things we were taught and believed, or experiences in our past. So, if we can identify with and understand characters in a book or movie, we might have a chance at understanding ourselves just a little bit better, and begin to make new choices.

Some months, or maybe a year ago, I read an article that illustrates what I mean. I think it was in the magazine, Psychology Today. The article described a new technique in couples counseling, where the couple would watch a romantic movie, and then share with each other the characters they identified with and why. Watching the movie also gave them an opportunity to examine how well the movie couple communicated with each other and relate those situations with their own relationships. Whoever came up with the idea to help couples by having them watch and discuss movies was a genius. This technique gives couples a chance to distance themselves from their own troubles, yet, it helps them make a correlation between the couple on the screen and themselves.

If I can use my knowledge to help people learn more empathy, and self-understanding, I’ll be a happy woman.

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

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.