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.

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.