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.

Publishing Anniversary

Revised book cover for The Space Between Time

“Don’t worry about writing a book or getting famous or making money. Just lead an interesting life.” ~ Michael Morpurgo

“Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.” ~ Hermann Hesse

Wow! The Space Between Time print-on-demand version was published a year ago this month. When I realized that, I started thinking of things I’ve learned over this past year and things I want to improve in both writing my next books, and in marketing.

The first thing that came to my mind was that I have to stop saying I’m bad at marketing. It’s not that I’m bad at it, it’s more a matter of not knowing much about it. So I’m now on a mission to find the right marketing techniques that fit my talents. I will probably be reading books and even taking some classes or getting some coaching to help me improve my skills.

Next, I have to do a better job of compartmentalizing my list of tasks for the day. Here’s an example: When I began working on the audiobook version of The Space Between Time, working on my new novel everyday went out the window. I haven’t even looked at it in three months. Now that’s not to say I haven’t been thinking about it, I have. But I need to sit down and work on it at least half an hour every day if I want to make progress on finishing the first draft. My problem is, I’m single minded, therefore, the more immediate tasks, like writing this blog, or things related to teaching, and my audiobook project take presidents. That’s not getting my novel written, which is a concern since an element of the book involves the current #metoo movement.

I don’t know, maybe I’m stuck a bit on my second novel because I’m secretly worried it won’t be good. The subject matter is so complicated. I don’t even know how I feel about what’s happening with women’s rights sometimes. That’s all the more reason to keep writing, because as some author said, “I write to figure out what I’m thinking and feeling.” Mostly, however, the thing that is keeping me from the new novel is that I still have things I need to do related to the TSBT, and that’s frustrating.

The other day I was watching the first episode of the PBS series, The Great American Read, first broadcast in the spring. The program encouraged Americans to go vote for their favorites among a list of 100 books so that this coming week they can reveal the number one favorite book in the country. One of the categories they discussed were books that did not become popular until late in the author’s life, or after they had died. That gave me hope for my book, though it would be nice if more people wanted to read it now.

I picked up another little tidbit in an interview Emma Watson did with Canadian poet, Rupi Kaur. Her book Milk and Honey, could be classified as a book of poems for women. But she said that she has been approached by men who have thanked her for writing the book. And that got me thinking that one of the promotion points I’ve used for my book is that it’s a woman’s book.

It is difficult to put The Space Between Time into a category. It’s part historical novel, part a contemporary story of young woman’s journey of discovery, it’s part magical realism with the characters having paranormal experiences. Now I’m thinking that also classifying it as a woman’s book may keep some readers away who might otherwise enjoy the book. After all, we pick up books to read that sound intriguing. I’ve read lots of books by male authors with male protagonists, and loved them. Why should I think that men couldn’t enjoy my book as well?

The best stories are about human beings dealing with challenges that we can relate to. In The Space Between Time, Jenna the protagonist in the present has experienced life shattering events. She was dumped by her fiancé, been fired from her job, and lost her mother in a terrible car accident. Most of us can related to one or all of those events. Now, getting help from her three-times great-grandmother by joining consciousness with her through her journals might be a bit odd to some people, but don’t we love reading about other people’s lives precisely because we learn something from what they went through?

Well, I’m rambling here, but I realize that embarking on this writing career has been, and will continue to be, a very important endeavor. I’m not giving it up and I’m looking forward to learning more things about myself and learning new skills along the way.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Have a fun and creative 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, women’s 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.

TV Lessons

Thunderstorm over Corfu

“This instrument can teach. it can illuminate, and yes, it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it toward those ends.” ~ Edward R. Morrow speaking about television

I’m a big TV and movie nerd. It’s not that I know everything about the latest shows and movies, but when I like a show or movie, I watch it many times and love discussing all the layers of meaning in the story. I feel the way Edward R. Morrow expressed in the quote above. One of the ways I use entertainment is to learn something new, or to get a new perspective.

I learned this from my parents. Mom and I would read the same books and discuss them. My dad would stay up late on Friday or Saturday nights and watch old movies with me and we’d discuss the story for days afterwards. From my parents I learned that every story, even personal ones, has many layers of meaning and to truly learn something, I needed to dig deep into the character’s motivations. Doing that was one way I could not only understand other people, but myself as well.

Over the weekend my husband and I finished binge watching Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Amazon. I had seen the other various Jack Ryan movies, and even read The Hunt for Red October, after seeing the movie. I liked them all because in each story we get to see into most of the character’s motivations. In Red October, for example, Captain Ramius, a legend in the Soviet Union, decides to defect and hand over the Red October, a state of the art submarine with a drive that makes it virtually invisible, sonically, in the water. We see that his reasons for betraying his country have more to do with the fact that his wife died while he was at sea, than anything else. He’s tired of war. If he hands over the sub, he might be able to prevent the human race from killing itself off.

Even though Tom Clancy does a good job of showing us his character’s reasons for their attitudes and actions, this new series takes that to a whole new level. It takes place in the present time where possible terrorist attacks are a constant worry for all government intelligence agencies in the U.S. and other Western nations. As in the books, Jack works for the CIA as an analyst. He’s a “think outside the box” kind of guy, which means he gets drawn into a mission out in the field because of his unusual abilities. However, this series is different than the previous Clancy stories. We see step by step how Suleiman, the villain of this season, became radicalized and even if we can’t condone what he does, we can understand his reasons for his actions.

In the first scene of the first episode, it is 1983 during the Lebanese Civil War. Suleiman and his brother are playing on the roof of their home, when fighter planes fly overhead and drop bombs nearby. Suleiman and his brother, we find out later, are the only ones in their family to survive the attack. As the episodes progress, more of Suleiman’s story unfolds so that by the end of the series, we can understand why he believes creating a new Islamic state is necessary.

Another thing I love about this series is that we get a view into the lives of Middle Eastern people from different countries. An important character is, Hanin, Suleiman’s wife. She does not like how her husband has changed. She decides to escape with her children, but unfortunately her son refuses to go. Getting her son back so that he does not become a terrorist as well, is central to her motivation for helping Jack and Greer, but it is central to the message of the entire series as well.

In my favorite segment, a drone pilot who killed a man thought to be a terrorist, but later discovers the intel was wrong, travels to the man’s home. We’ve seen the pilot going deeper into depression as his kill count goes up. When he gets the news that this particular man he killed was not a terrorist, he breaks down emotionally and is given ten days leave. Instead of going on binges, he goes to see the man’s father and son to confess that he was the one who killed their loved one. I weep even now as I remember the dead man’s father welcoming the pilot into his home. They don’t speak the same language. They communicate with gestures and facial expressions, which makes the moments between them so much more potent. The man serves the pilot tea. They sip as they look at each other, the pilot close to tears and full of remorse, the father with eyes filled with compassion and forgiveness. This encounter changes both men.

To me the deeper meaning of that scene is that we hurt each other and ourselves when we lump certain groups together and demonize them. I’m an imperfect student of A Course In Miracles. The scene with the pilot and the father of the man he killed, shows the main teaching of the course. We are all connected and if we look for the pure essence of God that resides in each of us, we find not only our own humanity but the humanity of our brother. This series emphasizes that message in other subtle ways as well.

At one point Jack and Greer are in France trying to track down Suleiman’s brother. The French agent Jack is teamed up with says to Jack something like, “In America you have African-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and so on. We don’t hyphenate in France. You are either French, or you are an outsider.” And it’s around that point in the story, we find out that Suleiman and his brother were sent to France as refugees after they were orphaned. Each of them attended college and got advanced degrees, but they were unable to get jobs in their fields because they were not considered “French”. Their skin color and country of origin was held against them. To survive they had to get jobs in restaurants, and live in neighborhoods filled with people without much hope just like them. Suleiman would have become a completely different person had he been given a chance to use his talents and education.

The world is such a complicated place. Every person and nation on earth has made mistakes. This series shows different facets of the conflicts we face today. Yes, Jack and Greer are the heroes of the story, but we find out they too have made mistakes that cost people their lives. They too suffer from old wounds. None of the characters in the story are completely unscarred. But in the end, when Hanin’s son is returned to her, we see that there might be a way to come together, forgive each other, and start over. Jim says to Jack, “You were right to try to get the boy back,” and Jack replies, “We’ll see.” When Jack says that, I think the writers are saying that we never know what is in another person’s heart. And even when we try to do the right thing, sometimes it goes horribly wrong.

And yet, the series does end on a hopeful note. In an interesting twist, Greer is a covert to Islam. He converted when he fell in love and married a Muslim woman, who is now divorcing him. We see him struggling with his faith at different points in the series. In the last episode, when Greer is packing to go to his new assignment in Russia, he says to Jack, “You know I went to pray the other day for the first time in a long time. It was good. In fact, it was really good and I was struck by the words of the prophet, ‘No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Felt like it was a very important lesson.”

If we can learn that lesson from an action TV show, maybe there’s hope for the human race after all.

Thanks for following, liking, and commenting. I hope you consider checking out, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.

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, women’s 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.

Potent Daydreaming

Clouds over the Huachca Mountains

“A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands, and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little relish.” ~ W.H. Auden

“Let’s detox our cluttered academic brain. That’s what the poet does. People call it daydreaming, detoxing our minds and taking care of that clutter. It’s being able to let in call letters from the poetry universe.” ~ Juan Felipe Herrera

“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.” ~ Bo Bennett

I’ve always loved daydreaming and saying “what if this or that happened?” And yet, I was also the “good” kid who, for the most part, did what she was told. I took responsibility very seriously but I was always planning when I could be alone with my own thoughts. In my daydreams I was free to be me without the masks that we all wear to protect ourselves.

When I dared to share how I dreamed the world could be, I was criticized for being a Pollyanna. I may not be a gourmet dreamer as the quote above states, but I learned pretty early in life, that the canned and frozen dinner type dreamers felt threatened by my world view. So I went underground and dreamed in secret.

Breaking the habit of hiding how I really feel about the things that are going on around me has been difficult. And yet, it’s the artists who are vulnerable and share their true thoughts and feelings with the world, who effect the most change. Today’s post is one of my attempts to share my true self with you.

Thursday as I was driving home from a hair appointment in Bisbee, the cloud formations were gorgeous. It reminded me of when I was a child and my friends and I would lie on the grass looking at clouds imagining they were horses, or ducks, or cars, or rocking chairs. I didn’t know it then, but we were doing something really powerful, imaging a different reality.

As I was driving, I was thinking about friends of mine who are going through extremely tough personal issues right now. And about my own little aches and pains as I grow older. Why do we make ourselves suffer so?

I don’t believe we need to suffer. It’s that we all accept without question that reality is particularly dark. But as Gary Zukav points out in his book Seat of the Soul, human existence has been dark because we have chosen it to be that way. And we have seduced ourselves into thinking it WILL ALWAYS be that way. In our minds and in the stories we tell ourselves, evil will always be battling against love and light. We also tell ourselves that we must all suffer with only occasional periods of joy, and then we die. What if all that is only “true” because we have never questioned the “fact” that suffering, or this war between good and evil will go on forever?

While I was on this train of thought, I turned the bend toward the valley where I live, and I gasped. In front of me was a most amazing sight. It was raining between where I was and home. The sun was low on the horizon behind the rain, and it lit up the droplets into a wall of radiant light. It was one of the most breathtaking sites I’ve ever seen. If there had been a place to pull off the road I would have taken a picture of it. It was so bright it lit up the surrounding landscape with the most amazing glow. That sight was so extraordinary it seemed to be the answer to what I had been thinking about just moments earlier.

I wish I could remember who said something like, “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” but the light seemed to be telling me that if I shift my thinking just a little bit; if I and a whole lot of other people play the “what if” game, we might be able to put evil back into the bottle, or at least confine it to a very small corner of our minds and hearts. Challenges will always be present in each of our lives. I don’t dispute that. But we don’t have to hang onto the pain until we make ourselves and everyone around us miserable.

This beautiful miracle caused me to ask some what if questions. And a kind of “what if” poem formed in my mind. I’m not a poet, but here are my what ifs.

WHAT IF:
We were taught to love ourselves,
have empathy for those we encounter everyday,
make sure the wounded were taken care of,
we were able to see the true essence of those around us,
we were able celebrate the successes of others?

WHAT IF:
People came before money,
Greed was a word in the dictionary that teachers and parents had to explain to their children, governments and corporations listened to their citizens and workers,
artists, creatives, and public servants were paid as much as lawyers, doctors, and other professionals,
religions were there to comfort rather than control,
nations worked together for the good of all beings on the planet?

WHAT IF:
Everyone was always safe,
had enough to eat,
had a proper roof over their heads,
had adequate health care,
a good education,
and work they loved?

Some people will say I’m crazy, or delusional to think that we can make radical changes to human existence. But I believe it’s possible for me to daydream new states of being into existence by examining my own and society’s long held beliefs. Think of it this way. What if what we have always thought to be real, or true, was just someone’s interpretation that took hold and now we accept as fact? If we knew that was true, would that change our outlook on life as we know it?

I’ve started to take a look at my personal thought patterns. When did I accept them as reality? Are they really true? If not, what new perspectives can I gain from looking at myself and the world in a new way? I hope if I continue to do this, I’ll be one of many dreamers who create a new world.

Thanks for following, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Have a fantastic weekend and take a few moments to watch some cloud formations.

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, women’s 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 Working Artist

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievements, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly …” ~ Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic.”

I have a confession to make and it’s probably not very surprising. I’ve pursued life as a theatre artist, and writer hoping for my big break so I wouldn’t have to split my focus and do some other job on the side just to pay the bills. In fact I’ve been irritated that I’ve had to work at conventional jobs to keep afloat financially. On the other hand, I’ve felt guilty that I wasn’t making much money while I stuck stubbornly to my creative endeavors. My focus has been fractured and I haven’t done a good job of financial planning for the future or promoting my work because of it.

Over the weekend I read an article on Mashable, about a nasty post on social media about actor Geoffrey Owens that made me feel a whole lot better. Owens was one of the children on The Cosby Show. He’s still a working actor, which means there are times when he’s between guest appearances. Last week someone snapped a photo of him bagging groceries in a New Jersey Trader Joe’s. They posted the photo which engendered some pretty nasty comments and even news stories criticizing Owens. However, he got lots of support from fellow actors who Tweeted the various jobs they’ve done to make ends meet between acting gigs. My favorite Tweet was from Patricia Heaton, “Again, why is this news? When I worked on “Thirtysomething” I was also summarizing depositions to pay my rent. Why are you trying to humiliate this honorable hardworking actor? Shame on you! #geoffreyowens – many great blessings are coming your way!”

I once read that George Clooney slept on his Aunt Rosemary’s couch for several months, a year, or longer while he was getting started as an actor, Jim Carrey lived in his car, and Mastin Kipp lived in a friend’s 10 x 10 shed until his blog began to get a huge following.

As the quote above says, if you’re not in the arena, you don’t get to criticize someone else’s choices.

The news story about Geoffrey Owens, and a meme I saw on Facebook not long ago, helped ease my feelings about my struggles to be an artist. The meme pointed out the imbalance in most people’s thinking about the work artists do as compared to more mundane types of jobs that can bring in more money. I wish I’d saved it, but it went something like this: “You resent how much that piece of artwork/book/movie/video game costs, thinking that the artist’s time isn’t valuable. They could make lots more money if they had a “real” job. But try to go without any kind of art for a month, or even a week. That would mean, no radio, TV, music, books, magazines, artwork on your walls, video games, no movies, theatre, or museums. And then come back and tell me art isn’t important.” I would also contend that without artists we wouldn’t have houses or other buildings. There would be no cars, airplanes, computers and all the other machines we use in everyday life that we take so much for granted. All those things have to be “designed” by someone.

The story about Geoffrey Owens, and this meme stirred up deep feelings about the choices I’ve made. Something inside me just couldn’t spend years sitting at a desk, or all my time preparing lesson plans and grading papers. A different kind of life called to me. I haven’t always heard it’s voice very clearly, but I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that what I’m doing is right for me and no matter what, I’m going to keep my main focus on my art, and work on the side if need be.

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

P.S. How do you like the new icon my husband designed for this site?

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, women’s 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.

Louis L’Amour and Omega Men

“I think of myself … as a troubadour, a village storyteller, the guy in the shadows of the campfire.” ~ Louis L’Amour

“If you write a book about a bygone period that lies east of the Mississippi River, then it’s a historical novel. If it’s west of the Mississippi, it’s a western, a different category. There’s no sense to it.” ~ Louis L’Amour

The first quote above sums up most of Louis L’Amour’s characters, which is one of the things I like about his books. They are what psychologists would call omega males. An omega male is most often an introvert. He’s confident in his skills, but doesn’t need to boast about them. He only fights when pushed into it, but not to prove himself. He doesn’t countenance ineptitude, or dishonesty. He’s loyal, honest, and honorable. And he protects people who need it. His emotions run deep, but he shows them only when he thinks it’s appropriate. As I was thinking about what it is I love about L’Amour’s characters, I couldn’t help thinking about my dad. He would have made a great character in one of L’Amour’s books.

What started this train of thought was an episode of my favorite podcast, “What Should I Read Next?” with Anne Bogel. A couple of weeks ago Anne’s guest, Chatti Phal-Brown said that she would like to try reading some westerns. As Anne does when a guest says that, she suggested Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. It’s great that Anne loves that book. It’s on my TBR list because I loved the mini-series. However, when Anne suggested it, I wanted to get in on the conversation and suggest that Chatti try reading some Louis L’Amour too.

My dad loved the western movie genre. I can’t say whether he read any of the novels the movies were based upon, but dad and I would watch the movies together and then discuss them. Our favorites were the ones with characters and stories much like those Louis L’Amour wrote, where the main male character isn’t a carousing gunfighter, but a humble, hard working cowboy or lawman. I think we loved them because our ancestors traveled west and had to carve out a living much as the characters in the movies did.

The first story I read by Louis L’Amour was “The Gift of Cochise” which he later turned into the novel, Hondo which at the same time became the movie of the same name with John Wayne in the lead. I was teaching alternative school and that was one of the stories my students were required to read. I was captivated by the story partly because it takes place in the region of Arizona where I live. I could see the countryside, L’Amour described. But mostly I was impressed with the characters and the mostly gentle way the story unfolds. I liked the story so much that I sought out other of L’Amour’s books. In every one I’ve read, the women are strong and capable, the men are the “strong, silent,” omega male types.

One of my favorite Louis L’Amour book/movie connections, and there have been a lot of them, is Conagher. It’s a story about a family who have moved west to become ranchers. When the husband dies on his way to buy the herd, the widow, Evie, and her children must try to make their own way. They have an extremely difficult time of it. Along comes Conagher, a local cowboy who, until he meets this family, has drifted from job to job. He’s a bit of a legend since he’s loyal to the brand he rides for, and doesn’t make any bones about disliking men who are out for what they can get. This makes him a bit of a target for the insecure cowboys he meets.

Of course Conagher, like all Louis L’Amour’s books, is a romantic story too, in more than one way. The countryside is gorgeous, there are cattle rustlers, and, fist fights. And, of course, Conagher falls in love with Evie and her children and they with him. It’s a story that makes you feel good about human nature. That’s probably the thing I like best about Louis L’Amour’s books, they make you feel good.

So, if you’re into trying something new, you might want to check out Louis L’Amour’s books and the movies based on them.

Have a fabulous weekend. 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, women’s 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.

Eye of the Storm

“May you live in interesting times.” ~ Chinese curse

“The power of creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by so quickly you hardly catch it going.” ~ Tennessee Williams

Sometimes I feel like I live in a constant storm. I’ve been thinking a great deal lately of how that stresses me out and I don’t like that feeling. It’s been a goal of mine for several years to stop living in the future and just appreciate the present moment. But those lessons I learned early on about making goals for each day and plans for years to come are extremely difficult to break. I mean, I still wake up every morning with a list in my head of things I want to accomplish that day so I can feel good about myself. I do this even though I know, intellectually, that my worth has nothing to do with my accomplishments.

Yesterday I watched the movie The Intern with Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. It’s this great story about a seventy year old widower, played by De Niro, who feels like being retired is just not fulfilling. Since he’s alone, and he’s not interested in any of the women of his acquaintance, he decides to apply for an intern position at a new internet company. He’s not well versed on how internet commerce works, but he was an executive at DEX and knows how business works and the principles are pretty much the same. He is paired up with Anne Hathaway, the owner of the company, against her wishes. But she does it to please her investors.

The company has been such a huge success that they met their five year goals in eighteen months. Which means, Jules, Hathaway’s character, is extremely busy. She’s still in the mode of doing everything herself. At first she ignores Ben, De Niro, but he makes himself useful and soon all the young employees love him, so Jules reluctantly begins giving him more and more work and, true to Hollywood form, they become friends. Ben helps Jules over some really tough decisions about her business and her personal life.

What I took away from watching the movie was that Jules and I are a lot alike. Okay, I’m not a high powered executive with a husband and a young child, but I do pay attention to the little details of my work. And often I’m thinking about the next task I need to do while supposedly paying attention to the one I’m currently working on. I think that’s kind of a common human practice. But it’s not good. Multi-tasking doesn’t work.

This morning as I was thinking about what I was going to write for this post, I felt harried. A lot has been going on in Arizona and the country over the last few days. On top of that today is the primary elections and I’ve been stressed about all of that. But I’ve had this strong feeling that I want to be less stressed, and then I remembered Jules in the movie. She learns that she is the only one who can decided what is important in her life and her business. And that helped me remember that I’m in control of my thoughts and actions. If I turn my attention to the present moment, I can avoid feeling beleaguered by events going on around me.

After all, we only have the present moment. We can’t manipulate the past or the future. But we can influence the future by the choices we make today. So, today I’m heading for the eye of the storm and staying there in the present moment where it is for the most part calm. If I get caught up in the storm, I’ll remember to take a breath and make the appropriate decisions one at a time that will help me get back to that calm place that is always inside me. I’ll probably have to remind myself of this many times before it becomes habit but it’s worth the work.

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, women’s 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 Simpler Time – Historical Novels

Cadfael’s herb garden

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always trumps over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” ~ Robert Fulghum

“I never feel lonely if I’ve got a book – they’re like old friends. Even if you’re not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they’re part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life.” ~ Emilia Fox

I’ve always been a fan of historical novels, movies and TV shows. My particular favorite time period for some unknown reason, is the Middle Ages. In fact, I’ve recently read six or seven series that take place from the late 800s to the 12th century. The Cadfael Chronicle series is my latest binge reading pleasure.

I’ve been pondering my fascination with what most of us would consider simpler times. There are so many stresses in our modern culture and as an introvert and empath, sometimes being out and about can be torture. So, losing myself in a story is very soothing. It’s my attempt to escape being bombarded with people’s stressed emotions, all the noise of technology, and fast pace of modern life.

And yet, if you’re a student of history or read historical novels, you know the times may have been slower, but they were anything but simple. There was just as much conflict between people and countries, travel was always perilous, and health care was much more primitive. There was just as much political infighting and intrigue as there is now. But what makes us think those times were simpler is the fact that there were fewer distractions. Nevertheless, suffering was the same, as was love, and all the other things that make us human. And maybe all of the above is what attracts me to historical novels. The characters have time to listen to and observe each other. They have time to develop relationships over long periods of time. I’m envious of that slower pace of life. As I read or watch, I get to see how the characters deal with their challenges and that helps me deal with my own.

Since we’re going through a particularly stressful time at present, I was happy when I got an offer for several Cadfael ebooks at a fantastic price. One thing I loved about the Cadfael series when I was introduced to it on Masterpiece Mystery twenty-five plus years ago, is the title character. Plus, I’m a pushover the a story told in an unusual way. The series is a wonderful mashup of the 12th century and someone we wouldn’t normally think of as a crime fighter, a monk!

Cadfael is a Welshman who is a Benedictine monk at the monastery in Shrewsbury, England. He came to that calling late in life. Before becoming a monk, Cadfael was a soldier in The Crusades, and later a sailor. In the series, he’s the monastery herbalist making healing tinctures, salves, syrups, and ointments for his fellow brothers and the wider community. Because of his past experiences, he’s learned a great deal about wounds, and to be highly observant of human behavior, which makes him good at solving murders.

Another thing I love about Cadfael is that he is no starry-eyed religious zealot. He’s seen life, and though he believes in God, he has a much more open minded view of theology than many of his brothers. His more humanistic take on God appeals to me because of my religious studies degree. Cadfael has no illusions that the church is completely holy. It is after all run by men, who he well knows, are fallible. And yet, he longs for a quieter life where he can do some good, and that’s what he has found by becoming a monk.

One thing I love about not only the Cadfael series, but all of the book series that are historical, the authors have done meticulous research about trade, travel, politics, war and battle techniques, medical practices, the different professions, and just day-to-day life. The influence of the Catholic Church was very strong during most of Europe from the early middle ages, though remnants of the pagan religions remained. Because of my background, I find that fascinating.

I’ve learned so much about historical events and figures, and of the various time periods from reading these books. They were definitely more fun to read than a dry history book describing events, dates, and names of historical figures. And yet, I often do a little extra research to find out more about these historical figures and the times in which they lived.

Perhaps, the thing I love most is how these novels have helped me get a glimpse into the lives of normal, everyday people who lived centuries ago. And in a strange way, it’s comforting to know that the experiences of those people were not so very different than my own.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in The Cadfael Chronicles series.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Here’s to a fantastic weekend for you all.

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, women’s 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.