Change of Heart

Old Woman Lisbon, Portugal by Pedro Rebeiro Simões

“We need to hear stories from older women. There’s a wealth of wisdom and real resilience there, but they’re silenced.” ~ Hanna Gadsby

“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

For the last few years I’ve been learning to be a crone. The origin of that word has it a negative connotation, as illustrated in many fairy tales with wicked witches who capture and eat children. Baba Yaga is the prime example of an ugly, ill-tempered crone. Thankfully in the last decades, crone has been redefined as a wise older woman who has much to teach others. That’s the part of me I embrace, a woman who has experienced much, learned from her mistakes, and now has wisdom to share.

One of the big mistakes I’ve made has been to keep my mouth shut when I should be speaking out about how I view situations in the world. When I’ve broken my rule of silence, I’ve created controversy by stating my true opinion. Standing in the eye of a storm of controversy is an uncomfortable place to be. And yet, today, I’m going to change my rules and begin to express exactly how I feel about a number of topics beginning with our current political landscape.

Over the past two and a half years, I’ve felt disbelief that there are people who can’t see that Donald Trump, by his own statements and actions, has proven to be an immoral misogynist, racists, narcissist who only cares about making himself look good. He has incited hatred and violence. Investigators and reporters are discovering just how deep his corruption goes. He’s not fit to be our president in any way shape or form. And yet, I can’t deny that before the electoral college made him president, I was asleep politically and the shock of such a person rising to the Oval Office made me wake up. I firmly believe that it is no accident that he became president. Some force bigger than us is looking out for our best interests. They know we resist change until we’re forced to do so by being confronted with dark events or people.

Before the 2016 election, I thought I was becoming enlightened because I studied and listened to spiritual teachers like Marianne Williamson and tried to practice what they taught. A few years before the 2016 election, she and other teachers of her caliber, were urging their followers and students to become politically involved. The idea is that if enough of us who desire a new society become active participants, instead of hiding away from all the bad things happening in the world, we will actually be able to transform our society. That’s why she became a candidate for president in the 2016 election and is running again for the 2020 election. She wants to bring her ideas for a more peaceful and humanitarian society to the national discussion. She believes that we need to educate ourselves and not only vote, but engage with our elected officials, and possibly even run for office.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I said to myself. I hate politics because whether it’s at the office, school, or in government, it always seems to be about jostling for power, control, or for financial gain. It never seems to be about what might be best for the people involved. But as I walked through the door on election night after teaching my class and was greeted with the news that Trump had won the election, I changed my mind. My unease got worse when the news pundits said that Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump the electoral college. That wasn’t right! The electoral college is supposed to support their state’s vote count. Then stories began cropping up in the news that the Russians had interfered in our elections and that was the clincher. Marianne was right. I needed to pay attention and stop insulating myself from what I perceived as negative news.

I was finally ready to pay more attention, even though it was detrimental to my nervous system. However, I knew I could find a balance between being an informed citizen and discovering a way to release all the negativity I stored up from the seemingly never ending horror of current events.

These past two and half years of trying to find the balance, I’ve come to some important discoveries. First, I still need to limit my news intake. When I get stressed out by the day’s events, I read a book, meditate, watch a movie, or enjoy listening to and laughing with comedians like Stephen Colbert. Surprisingly it also helps to listen to more than one side of any news story. It’s difficult when my take on a situation is challenged by a pundit, or reporter, but it has helped me form a more well rounded picture of what’s actually going on.

Another thing I decided to do was to sit down and read The Mueller Report. In the past when these types of reports came out, I would assume they were written in legalese, which makes my head spin. But, when I began reading the report I was happy to find that it is in plain language that anyone can understand. Just reading the introduction and first few pages made me cringe. By accounts from people in both parties, Robert Mueller is a man of high integrity which means that as the report states, the Russians did interfere in our elections. In fact the Russians began their attack as early as 2014. Instead of declaring actual warfare, they are using information, and social media in their march to expand their influence. And it seems we’re not the only country they’ve targeted.

Another thing has become clear to me as I’ve become more aware of what’s happening politically; the Republican party has been quietly advancing their agenda for thirty or forty years by voter suppression, gerrymandering, blocking any legislation that doesn’t suit their goals, and placing as many of their cronies around the country in positions of power as they can. They use propaganda language to influence people’s thinking using words like liberal as a dirty word, calling us snowflakes, and using other nasty language against their opponents. Their tactic is to strike first, because we often believe the first thing we hear. The person put on the defensive looks weak. The leaders of the Republican party are bullies who think that if they control people and circumstances on the outside, they’ll be safe.

Here’s what I know about bullies after 48 years of teaching and observing them at work. They become bullies to protect themselves because they are deeply afraid. In reality bullies are cowards. The only way to stop them is to stand up and challenge them. When we do that, they eventually crumble. They have an opportunity to learn a great lesson from being forced to face their own fears. But as history shows, most of them don’t repent. They either destroy themselves, or they are exiled or killed by their opponents.

Now, I’m not saying that Democrats and progressives are perfect. Some are just as afraid and dictatorial as conservatives. Nevertheless, there are many more people on their side who use their political positions to be FOR PEOPLE rather than to gain power or prestige. I’ve listened to several of the many Democratic candidates for president and am happy that they are willing to address the tough questions facing our country. That’s refreshing. I’m sure there are moderate Republicans who are more people oriented than the current group in power. I hope they stand up for what they believe in. Also it would be nice if we all began true dialogue to dispel this us-VS-them mentality. I believe one day that will happen.

I wrote this post as my pledge to take my head out of the sand, face the situation in the United States as forthrightly as I can, and do something about it in ways that suit my talents. Writing my authentic feelings about the situation is one way. To be informed is another. That’s why I’m reading The Mueller Report and I encourage you to do the same. If he testifies before Congress, I’ll be watching.

But remember, I stand by your right to disagree with me. I just hope you do it as a caring informed citizen.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments. Welcome to my new followers.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

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

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, 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 when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

The Writing Life

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act – truth is always subversive.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

I don’t often post about what it’s like for me to be a writer, but today Anne Bogel’s blog was about her writing life. I love her podcast, “What Should I Read Next,” and have mentioned it before. But I’ve never mentioned that she not only has two podcasts, but a blog as well. I don’t know how she keeps up with those endeavors along with social media, writing books, and being a mom all at the same time. I have a hard enough time teaching one or two classes, writing this blog once a week and working on my books. I admire people who are organized.

It’s not that I’m not organized, it’s that I’m not the spread-sheet-making-lists-ticking-every-item-off-the-list kind of organized. My organization is more in the keeping-a-notebook-with-all the-jumble-of information-in-it kind.

Many articles and books have been produced about the different types of writers. Some writers create outlines and once they’ve plotted everything out to their satisfaction they then sit down and follow that outline to the letter. There are those who do a little bit of plotting, but leave it flexible in case inspiration strikes. Other writers get ideas for individual scenes write them and then organize them later into a viable story. Then there are writers at the opposite end of the spectrum from the plotters who sit down with an idea and begin to write. They may have only a starting and maybe an endpoint but they trust that the story will appear as they write. These writers are called “pantsers,” because they write by the seat of their pants.

I’m a little bit of a “get an idea for a scene” type, and a “pantser.” Oh, I do write a brief timeline for my characters at the beginning of the process, but often inspiration leads me in other directions and the original timeline is left behind.

For me, the hardest part of writing is the initial getting the story down on paper stage. It’s a little bit like listening to a voice on a mistuned radio. I know the voice has great ideas, I just can’t hear them clearly. So, I write in starts and stops to begin with. Once I get about 15,000 words in, the story begins to take shape in my mind. That’s when I wake up with more scene ideas to add to the story.

Once I get to a certain point, which I feel in my gut, I know it’s time to revise. I love revising the various drafts, because I get more ideas in that netherworld between sleeping and waking, or when I’m doing some tedious household chore. The feeling such inspiration gives me is exhilarating. It’s that feeling that keeps me writing.

Okay, I admit the final line editing process is tedious. When we were editing The Space Between Time, it seemed as if the process would never end. Even after printing out the entire book and going over it more than once, with what I thought was great care, we still had to order more than one proof because we found so many errors in each one. That kind of detail work is just not for me.

Having written all that, I have to say that no matter what method a writer uses, to make any progress, we have to sit down and write almost everyday. If we don’t the creativity well dries up.

Also, the environment might be important. Some people can write no matter where they find themselves. As a highly sensitive person, I need quiet to be able to concentrate so I can hear the subtle guidance that comes when I’m working. If there is too much noise, I can’t concentrate.

When the fire was lit under me to commit to being a writer, I realized what had been holding me back. It was self-doubt and believing that there were too many obstacles in the way to accomplish my goal. Those are difficult hurdles to overcome. I do not blame anyone for having self-doubt staring them in the face. It takes a great deal of personal work to overcome our demons to start whatever creative project we feel compelled to begin. At least, it did for me. But now that I’ve been writing for several years, I’ve found such fulfillment that I’m grateful I ignored those nasty little voices in my head and jumped in.

Even though I’ve published a novel and a children’s book, I still feel vulnerable about whether or not they are good. But here’s another thing about engaging in any creative endeavor, you get better the more you practice. I’m a much better writer than I was when I began eleven years ago. I may never be as good as the great authors, but there’s a part of me that knows it doesn’t matter. There is something about creating a work of art that has never existed before that is important. Figuring out myself, and making my contribution, no matter how humble, is why I write.

Oh, and by the way, I will begin the audiobook for The Space Between Time, on Monday. My husband and I are uploading the ebook version to Amazon this weekend.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you get to enjoy your weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

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

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and Amazon, 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 copy at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. You can follow her on Facebook or Goodreads. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Life’s Tapestry

Antigone burying Polynices, her brother.

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength. Thanks to the teachings of Buddha, I have been able to take this second way.” ~ Dalai Lama

“The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.” ~ Richard Bach

I’ve written more than once recently about how current events are affecting me. I’ve been extremely tired. Some days I feel despair that we’re going to destroy ourselves and the planet. And yet, something in my DNA turns me toward optimism. I believe each of us is part of a huge ultimate plan for a better collective life. None of us can see the big picture but I cling to the hope that we as a species are going to survive and more than that thrive, eventually.

This past semester my acting friend and I mentored an honors student for the honors colloquy. My friend suggested a fantastic historical monologue for her. She planned to give a short presentation about the historical context of the play, and then perform the monologue. As we rehearsed, we all felt like the monologue had so much to say about current events and I think we were all deeply affected by the ideas expressed in it.

The monologue came from the play Antigone by Jean Anouilh, based on the ancient Greek play of the same name by Sophocles. It’s a famous Greek tragedy and in true tragedy, each character’s fate is predetermined before they are even born. There is no escape no matter how hard they try. In most tragedies there is an imbalance in the society and the main character, usually the king, must be brought down. They usually die in their effort to set things right. Needless to say, all versions of Antigone are very heavy plays.

I’m not sure I believe in fate the way the ancient Greeks did. Yet I do believe we choose the outline of the life we are going to live before we are born, which is a kind of fate. There are lines in the monologue that resonate with me because in my mind they support my point of view and yet offer new things to consider. Here’s a section that I continue to think about. “In tragedy, nothing is in doubt and everyone’s destiny is known. … HE WHO KILLS IS AS INNOCENT AS HE WHO GETS KILLED: IT’S ALL A MATTER OF WHAT PART YOU ARE PLAYING. Tragedy is restful; and the reason is that hope, that foul deceitful thing, has no part in it. There isn’t any hope. You’re trapped. … and all you can do is shout. … you can get all those things said that you never thought you’d be able to say – or never even knew you had it in your to say.”

Sometimes I wish I were more blunt and just said what’s actually in my mind. There are things I’d love to say, but I don’t want to create more division than there already is. There is so much imbalance in societies all over the world. I struggle with what part I’m playing in what’s going on. I want to help effect positive change, but I’m often confused. Ultimately, I feel like none of the roles people play are right or wrong, they are all part of the bigger tapestry that humans have been weaving since we were created. Yet, it’s one thing to be looking back at times like these. Living in the chaos is difficult. What I take from the monologue is that we all have opportunities to shout. To say things that we never thought we’d be able to say, or even knew we had it in us to say. I struggle with just blurting out the way I see the world, or to do as I have been doing, quietly suggest new ideas for consideration.

The end of the line I quoted above helps me a bit. “And you don’t say these things for their own sake; you say them because you learn a lot from them.” I believe when I express my true opinion respectfully, others learn something from it. And maybe that’s the thing I love so much about this monologue. If we not only speak our minds, but listen to each other, especially those who don’t agree with us, we have a possibility to learn vital new things that might change the pattern of the tapestry and make it more beautiful.

I don’t agree with Sophocles and Anouilh about hope. To me there is always hope that we can create new more beautiful sections of the tapestry if we’re open to new ideas. There are people I love who do not have the exact same opinions I do about politics, or religion, or even basic things like how to do household chores. I could get angry and demand that they change to come into alignment with me. Or I could remember that everyone is as innocent as I think I am. It feels like time to stop drawing lines in the sand and feeding conflict and divisiveness. I don’t always feel courageous enough to let go of my prejudices and reach out to people who don’t have the same background I do. However, no matter what is going on in my life, I keep coming back to the fact that love and cooperation feels so much better than conflict. I believe it’s collaboration, caring and compassion that will get all of us through all the challenges we face personally and collectively.

Here is an interesting historical note: Anouilh’s play was written during the Nazi occupation of France. At first performances were banned because of its controversial nature. But in 1944 the Nazi’s changed their mind. When it was performed an interesting thing happened, the Nazi’s thought it was a validation of their quest to rule the world. While the French citizens saw a deeper meaning. Neither group knew their ultimate fate, but the play gave the people who saw it hope that maybe the Nazi’s fate was to fail in their quest to rule the world. In the play, Creon, Antigone’s uncle and the new king asserts his power without mercy. He wins his political cause but he loses the moral one. Even though Antigone dies for her convictions, she’s the moral winner. The play was Anouilh’s statement that there is no way for us to know the ultimate fate of humanity, or sometimes even the role we play in each lifetime. All we can do is to live our lives the best we can and occasionally shout against our fate. If we do, we might help ourselves and someone else understand something that was never thought of before, something vital to the big tapestry we’re all creating together.

Thanks for reading my musings. I appreciate your likes and comments. I hope you nurture hope and shout against injustices whenever you feel compelled to do so.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

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

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

Emotions, Strong or Weak?

Lucinda’s Birthday with Arielle

“A work of art is a world in itself reflecting senses and emotions of the artist’s world.” ~ Hans Hofmann

Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.” ~ Gretchen Rubin

I’ve been thinking about emotions or the lack thereof a great deal lately because of all the things going on in the world. There are so many people who seem to be completely disconnected from empathy and compassion that it’s distressing to me. On the other hand people are emerging who are just the opposite. It’s as if we’re having actual battles between good and evil, just as is reflected in our popular entertainment.

Where did that notion come from that showing our emotions is weakness I wonder? If a person being interviewed on TV cries, or if someone shows emotion in real life, they say “I’m sorry” as if showing their true feelings is bad. That makes me sad. I know showing vulnerability is difficult. But think of the alternative. Would you rather have relationships with people who are in touch with their emotions, or with people who are emotionally absent?

This spring Barry and I have been watching the third season of Masterpiece Mystery’s Unforgotten. It’s about a team of detectives in London who investigate crimes from the past. A body that has been long buried is found and the team must try to find the murderer. This season was quite chilling. When the team discovered who the murderer was, it turned out he was a psychopathic psychiatrist. He bragged about being a serial killer of young teenage girls. The actor playing the psychopath gave a chilling performance countered by the emotional performance by the actress playing DCI Stuart. Which character was stronger? The one with no emotions at all, or the one so connected to the dead girls and their families that she could barely stand to be in the same room with the killer? I go with DCI Stuart. Her compassion for the families helped them heal years of uncertainty and pain.

As a writer I struggle with writing emotions. It’s so much easier to reproduce them as an actor because replicating body language and facial expressions help me connect with the character and audience. But when I write character emotions, I must think of how my body feels when I’m experiencing various emotions. Where does fear reside in my body, or grief, anger, or joy? And then how do I write those physiological responses so the reader feels those emotions with my characters?

Of course, what happens in the real world influences my writing. I’m nearly finished with the rough draft of Morgan’s timeline in, Time’s Echo. And all of my thoughts about emotions made me notice the holes in my character’s emotional lives. I’m going to have to do a better job of describing their emotional states. A year or so ago, I might have been tempted to rush through this book, but it feels too important to get the emotional component right. Not that I did a terrible job on the first book, but the stakes are much higher for my two main characters in this one. I want to take greater care with writing what they’re going through and how they feel about it.

Being able to write what I’ve been contemplating has done one thing for me. I’m not as ashamed to show my true emotions as I used to be. I used to be an observer. A fly on the wall rarely interacting with people I didn’t know. But over the years of acting, teaching and writing, I’ve learned to make deeper connections with those around me. That’s a good thing I think. I’d rather risk making emotional connections than be completely alone. That’s extremely sad and stressful and it doesn’t help anyone, especially me.

So, now that my teaching semester is over, I’ve got more time to do a better job of writing the emotional lives of my characters. Oh, and finally get back to recording the audio version of my first book.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Welcome new to my new followers. I hope you have a fabulous weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

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

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

Reading Lessons

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~ Charles W. Eliot

Reading grasped me when I was a senior in high school. We studied British Literature that year. I was enamored with A Tale of Two Cities, Jane Eyre, and Shakespeare. Everything we read opened up my perspective on history, and how the different characters lived. I knew I didn’t want to be like Miss Haversham in Great Expectations. On the other hand I very much liked Jane Eyre’s self-confidence, and A Tale of Two Cities immersed me in the horrors of The French Revolution.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t been a reader before, but we didn’t have access to libraries, except for the school libraries, in the small towns in which I grew up. The Scholastic Book Fair was always a treat and I did buy books that I enjoyed reading. But those were held only once or twice a year, and so it was often months between reading the books I wanted to read, and the ones I had to read for school.

But senior year I became a real reader. What I mean by that is that a real reader is always on the lookout for the next book they are going to read. And now that I’m semi-retired, and have more time for reading, I feel uneasy if I have to wait even a day to find the next book to sink into. That rarely happens, though, because most of the time, I have a list of two or three possibilities waiting in line.

The advent of social media groups like Goodreads has helped me up my reading game with their yearly reading challenge. For the last few years I’ve pledged to read 50 books a year. I know for some people that’s not a lot, but I like to read a book slowly, savoring and living within the lives of the characters.

I’ve tried to understand why I feel this need to sink into other people’s lives. I do it with movies and TV too. Maybe I’m a voyeur, but I think it’s because I’m just one person and I can’t possibly experience every aspect of life. Yet I have this need to understand the world from different perspectives. And when I talk or listen to other readers, they say similar things about why they read.

I secretly wanted to be a writer for many years. When I finally acknowledged that fact, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to write effectively. After all my degrees are not in English. But when I read a quote I believe was by Stephen King, “You can’t be a good writer if you don’t read,” that made me feel better. I am learning how to be a good writer by reading both good and bad books. A poorly written book can sometimes teach me more than great ones because they show me in glaring detail the mistakes I make, or ones I need to avoid.

On the other hand there are great books that I still think about many years after I first read them. And maybe that’s the highest praise I can give an author, to continue to contemplate their work and how it affected me. And then try to write as powerfully as they did, only using my personal experiences and point of view.

I’m grateful to be a reader. It’s hard for me to imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t read. I think it would be lots smaller and maybe even sadder. Reading about characters who experience terrible things, then grow, and even flourish as a result, gives me great hope.

Welcome to my new followers. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Have a fabulous weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

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

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

Star Wars Day – Life Choices

Tarantula Nebula

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” ~ Carol Burnett

“Familiar things happen, and mankind does not bother about them. It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.” ~ Alfred North Whitehead

I love the Star Wars series. I love it because to me it’s one example of our modern mythology. The way I see mythology, the stories are created to help us understand who we are, where we came from, and why we’re here. And the Star Wars series is just one group of modern tales that attempt to do that.

If nothing else, what the popularity of the Star Wars franchise teaches us is that if we’re not open to change, we can get caught up in destructive thought patterns. Literature and movies are filled with characters who latch onto something they desperately want but can’t have, or that they fear will happen to them. Darth Vader is so afraid of losing first his mother, then Padme, that his fear left him vulnerable to the dark side. And we all know where that leads him. He’s miserable and because of that he leaves a trail of destruction in his wake, especially for those he professes to love. He’s a very sad figure. His teachers try to help him let go of his fear, but for some reason, he is unable to do so.

In a book I’m currently reading, Sidroc: The Dane, a side book in Circle of Ceridwin series by Octavia Randolph, Ingirith, Sidroc’s step mother, is so angry that she was not free to choose her own husband that it sucks not only her happiness, but that of the entire family. Hrald, her husband is a good, kind, honorable man. But she’s too filled with resentment. She can’t let go of the dreams she built up in her head. The result is that she is unable to open her heart. She can’t see that she chooses not to allow herself to be happy.

I’ve been thinking of lots of other stories with characters who blame their lot in life, or what they think is wrong in the world/universe, on outside circumstances because I’m preparing the dramatic structure class that I will be teaching next fall. Each movie I watch has characters who hold fast to their view of the world and then cause pain for themselves and others. I love teaching this class because I’m enough of a nerd to enjoy diving deep into the stories and characters to see if I can learn anything new about my own life.

Last weekend, Barry and I went to see Avengers: Endgame. (Don’t worry, no spoilers here.) Thanos, the villain, is convinced that there are not enough resources to go around for all the gazillions of people in the universe, so he devises a plan to eliminate half of all living things to right this imbalance. He sees the problem as outside himself. He’s not willing to entertain the idea that perhaps there are other solutions to the problems faced by the populations on each planet. Nope, he’s convinced he’s got the solution and nothing is going to stop him from fulfilling his plan. As a result, he wreaks havoc. He’s the only one who appears to be happier as a result of his actions. But as a spiritual teacher I follow says, “Darkness always serves the light.” And in the case of Thanos, and other fictional arch villains, that is the case. Maybe it’s the case in real life too.

I’ve got a character in Time’s Echo that is caught in a loop of destructive thinking. At first I created Morgan’s daughter, Georgiana, to show the stresses women face trying to balance care of home and family with work and involvement in worthy causes. Thanos, and Ingirith made me think about Georgiana in a new way. She was born with a chip on her shoulder and nothing Morgan and Seth do helps. In fact, their efforts to help her, cause her to dig in her heels even deeper.

I have to admit, I don’t understand people like that, however, we all know those kinds of people. Nothing is ever their fault and the world is out to get them. On the other hand, we all know people who bring joy to everything they do. When they enter a room, it feels lighter and even when these happy people are faced with extreme challenges, they manage to find the bright side of the situation.

It’s my opinion that we choose what Caroline Myss calls our “sacred contract”, before we’re born. Even though I don’t fully understand it, I think we do choose who we’re going to be in any given incarnation. And to me that indicates that there must be a reason we do this.

There is a theological system called Process Theology, developed from Alfred North Whitehead’s Process Philosophy that might explain what I’m trying to say. The main idea is that in part God grows and learns from what we experience. Which makes me think that we may be part of a huge experiment to see if we can grow as a species, or if we’ll crash and burn.

I’m fascinated by the mystery of life, the fact that we each have unique personalities, perspectives, and roles to play in each lifetime. I have to admit that if we were all the same, life would be extremely boring.

Thanks for reading my current musings. Writing fiction makes me examine almost everything that happens to me personally, and in the greater world. And then it all becomes compost for what I’m working on.

Welcome to my new followers. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I hope you have a fabulous weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

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

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

Pick a Little, Talk a Little

Caring Hands

“Fire and swords are slow engines of destruction, compared to the tongue of Gossip.” ~ Richard Steele

“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” ~ Will Rogers

A couple of nights ago The Music Man was on TCM. We tuned into it just as one of my favorite songs “Pick a Little, Talk a Little” started. Professor Harold Hill is trying to get some information about Marion the librarian. He’s a con man, and she’s a target who can help him achieve his goal. The song is so great because Meredith Wilson makes the women dishing dirt on Marion sound like a flock of chickens; “Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep cheep, talk a lot pick a little more.” The thing about the women is that they think they know all about who Marion is and what she’d done, but, of course, they’re wrong. And their gossip is potentially destructive. But it’s a musical comedy, so everything turns out right in the end.

That song was just another example of things I’d been thinking about, how negative attacks, particularly in all kinds of media, erode society. It prompted me to write this post.

I’ve never liked gossip. I can’t say that I’ve never done it. I’ve said my fair share of negative things to and about people. After all, I’m human. However, acknowledging that fact does not make me proud, nor does it make me feel good when I’ve done it. In fact, it feels corrosive to my soul when I say nasty things about people. If it makes me feel bad, I wonder what is going through the heads of people who troll public figures and spew nasty comments about them as if it’s their life’s work. Do they think it will make them feel superior, or good about themselves? If my father was right, that is exactly what they think. But they’re wrong. If I attack another person, it damages me as much as it does them, maybe more.

Since the advent of social media, gossip seems to have become more prevalent. We’re no longer gossiping across the backyard fence. Nope, we can now throw nasty comments at people we don’t even know while we think we’re remaining anonymous. Some people wear their corrosive opinions like a badge. All the hate language online shows me that self-hatred is an epidemic that we need to address. It’s as damaging as any virulent disease that attacks the body.

I often ask myself what can I do about this epidemic? The only true cure that I know of is for each person to clean out their own dark corners. I know from personal experience that it’s scary to look into those dark places. I’ve been attempting to love myself for fifty plus years and though I’ve come a long way, there are still times when that ugly self-hate demon rears its ugly head. When my self-hatred is triggered I’ve learned to take a deep breath and ask myself, “What am I supposed to be learning from this?” Then I get out my journal and write. Writing helps me figure out what is truly going on inside my head and heart.

This may sound naïve, but to stem the tide of hatred in the media, I ignore the articles or string of nasty comments that come through my feed. Oh, man sometimes I’m almost drawn in by those tantalizing headlines. I know, I’m just one potential consumer, however, if enough people get fed up with all the negativity, we will make an impact.

Part of the reason I decided to stop reading stories aimed at ripping someone apart is that I want to preserve the ground I’ve gained to become a happier person. Reading negative stuff makes me feel out of sorts. In fact, the other day after consuming lots of news, I yelled at Barry for some innocent remark he made. I knew immediately that I wasn’t angry with Barry. Nope, it was misplaced aggression. I’d fallen into the trap of consuming negative news.

Gregg Braden, an author and scientist I follow, marries science with spirituality. In a recent interview he said that scientific studies have shown that when we observe something happening, our brain thinks it’s happening to us in real time. So, if we’re watching movies containing brutal violence, it’s as if we’re either the perpetrator or victim of the violence. If we’re watching a sporting event, it’s as if we’re running on the court, or the field with the other athletes. Conversely, if we observe someone doing kind and loving things for others, it’s as if we are the beneficiaries of those kind deeds. Our brains and hearts are sponges. They take in everything that goes on around us. Knowing that makes me much more careful about the media I consume.

Sometimes when I’m writing this blog I feel like I get really preachy. I don’t want to do that but I do want to share what I’m thinking, because maybe I’m not the only one who’s questioning the situation I’m focused on that week. And as I learned from my father, asking questions is the beginning of learning something really important.

Truthfully, I don’t have any blanket answers about how to stop the hatred that seems so prevalent right now, except to keep working on being as loving as I can be. Maybe I’ll help someone absorb the kindness I’m dishing out.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I hope it’s spring where you are and you can enjoy the flowers and warm weather. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you get to see a splash of fall colors to dazzle your senses.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

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

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

Reinforcement is Good

In rehearsals for *The Tavern*

“Properly used, positive reinforcement is extremely powerful.” ~ B. F. Skinner

As I wrote in the post last week, I attended a writer’s celebration sponsored in part by the local community college where I teach. It was a fun event. The guest authors were amazing. I enjoyed Ann Garvin’s workshop so much that I attended two sessions even though they contained the same information.

Ann was engaging and funny. I’m assuming her books are too given the title of her most recent book, I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around. She’s written several books and the thing I loved right off the bat was her willingness to tell us that she didn’t really know how to write a good book until after she finished her fourth. It was then she realized the things she was going to teach us.

Much of what Ann and the other writers taught was information I already knew. For example, even if you’re writing nonfiction, you have to tell a story, otherwise, as Ann puts it, you’re reading the manual to your newest household appliance. Even though I already understood that, it was great to be reminded to engage my readers with stories. I’m working on doing that here more and more.

Another reminder was, when writing fiction, you have to figure out what your character wants and let them fail, and fail, and fail, until eventually they get what they want, or what they want changes and they get that instead. But the most important thing is your characters need to be flawed. That’s one of the hardest things for me to do. I want to think of myself, and by extension by characters as perfect, enlightened beings. Of course, none of us is perfect. So, that reminder was something I needed to hear to help me as I write my current novel.

Ann’s method of writing a novel is almost the same method actors use to create their characters. Actors and directors have to figure out what the characters want, and the tactics they use to try to accomplish their goal. That was a big relief to me, because I don’t have an MFA in creative writing. I was happy to learn that neither does Ann.

Even though I don’t have degrees in English, I am a big story nerd. I love listening to people tell about their personal triumphs and tragedies. I love analyzing books, documentaries, and movies. I learn something when I pay attention to how the people or characters are affected by the things that happen to them and what they learn along the way.

Sometimes I wonder what the purpose of my passion for story telling might be. I mean, I’m not saving someone’s life. And yet, maybe storytellers do save lives in a way. We can help change the world by examining how characters react to what happens to them.

Alan Alda expressed exactly how I feel about story telling during his acceptance speech for the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year. “I see more than ever now how proud I am to be a member of our brotherhood and sisterhood of actors. When we get a chance to act, it’s our job, at least in part, to get inside a characters head and to search for a way to see life from that person’s point of view, another person’s vision of the world. And then to let an audience experience that. It may never have been more urgent to see the world through another person’s eyes than when the culture is divided so sharply. Actors can help at least a little, just by doing what we do. And the nice thing is, it’s fun to do it.”

I think storytellers of all kinds do that same thing. We try to get into other people’s heads and hearts and share their stories. Consuming those stories gives us a chance to expand our world view just a little bit. And I don’t know about you, but I need to see the world from different perspectives so I can contribute to positive change.

I want to suggest one example of a series that has changed my perspective about relations between blacks and whites in this country. Barry and I have been watching the PBS series, Reconstruction by Henry Louis Gates Jr. The Reconstruction period in U.S. history is one not covered very extensively in school. I certainly didn’t know much about it. The Civil War ended, there was Reconstruction to help rebuild the South and then we had the Civil Right’s Movement. That’s all I remember from my school history lessons. The history books didn’t cover all the years in between Reconstruction and the Civil Right’s Movement. Something must have happened, but I didn’t even question the fact that there had to be more to the story than that.

The stories of how many former slaves became politicians, business and land owners, and journalists is inspiring. And then to have their gains slowly chipped away by whites who didn’t believe blacks were real human beings, is heartbreaking. The story of Reconstruction shows me that our problems over race in this country are much more complicated than I ever imagined. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn about this crucial time in history, and how the attempts to equalize the black and white races succeeded at first and then, for the most part, failed. This documentary series showed me that we have a lot of work to do yet before we can truly call our country a melting pot. And the sad thing is that what happened with the former slaves is repeated over and over when people from other countries immigrate here. It’s difficult to acknowledge that many white people fear losing their dominant position and that is one of the biggest things that drives discrimination.

It might not seem like the story of the Reconstruction era relates to the book I’m writing now about the Suffrage and current women’s movements, but discrimination plays out the same way no matter which group is being oppressed. The dominant group do everything they can to hold on to their power.

Ann Garvin says, “Write ‘in scene’ so your readers can feel the emotions of your characters.” That’s one of the most important things writers can do, help the audience empathize with their characters. My readers and I can’t change unless we open ourselves up to new experiences, even if it’s only by reading a book or watching a movie.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. And welcome to my new followers. If you celebrate Passover or Easter, I hope you discover new and inspiring things in those historical stories.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

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

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

Sometimes the Story has a Mind of Its Own

My Mug Reminder

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ~ Anaïs Nin

I admire writers who plot out their entire book and then stick to their outline as they write. For them adhering to a schedule and using spreadsheets to track their progress ensures they finish their book. I admire that, but my brain doesn’t work that way.

When I’m in the flow, I get snippets of ideas for my projects. They come at odd times, just as I’m waking up, when I’m in the shower, or while I’m cooking. I have a general idea of the themes I want to express in my work, but writing for me is a little bit like driving at night. I can only see what’s lit up by my headlights. I used to feel bad as if my process is not as good as those who plan, and plot and don’t waver. I used to compare myself to other writers but I’ve been changing my perspective this year. So I bought the above mug to remind myself to be myself no matter what I’m doing.

It’s hard to admit sometimes, but the inspiration I get is so much better than my original ideas. To maintain the flow, however, I have to make sure I write every day. If I don’t the inspiration faucet doesn’t work. If I take a break for longer than a few days, inspiration flows off to some other creative person’s well and it takes a while to get my creative plumbing working again.

During the fall, I loaded myself up with so many endeavors that I wasn’t working on Time’s Echo and when I got back to it months later, I sat and looked at the page feeling lost. I wasn’t sure where the story wanted to go next. To prime the pump, I wrote for half an hour or so everyday. I am happy to say that the faucet is working again and I’m waking up with new ideas on a regular basis.

I don’t know if this is true for other writers, but I love being home in the quiet working on my blog or book. I don’t like showing my work until I feel it’s ready to be shared for critique. That means, the work has gone through several revisions before anyone else sees it. I used to feel bad about this. It’s one of the reasons why I quit attending writing critique group. Most of the time I didn’t have anything to submit for critique and the group got so large, reading everyone else’s work took away from my own writing.

Now that I’ve been writing for almost eleven years, I understand my writing process. It’s okay to keep my own council about the piece I’m working during the early stages because my personal muses help me shape the story as it wants to be told not as someone else wants to impose upon it. But I’ve also realized that I need to be open to learning new things about writing.

The college where I teach has what they call a writing celebration every spring. I went once a few years back and was disappointed, but I think it was only in its infancy then. This year they have some interesting guest writer/presenters. Still, it took me a long time to decide to register for the event. It’s this weekend. I’m still tempted to shut myself up with my novel as I’ve been doing for many years now. For an introvert, that’s so tempting. But I think it’s time to meet other authors and hopefully pick up some important writing tips that I didn’t learn because my degrees are not in English.

No matter where I get tips for improving my writing, I intend to continue to let the stories I write lead me in unexpected ways. Some writer said, “I write to figure out what I’m thinking and feeling.” That’s me and I like it that way.

I’ll let you know if I had any profound realizations as a result of attending this conference.

Thanks for following, liking and commenting. Welcome new followers. I hope you are able to enjoy warm weather this weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden ©2019

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

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

What Writing Has Taught Me

All the Love and Support We Need

“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.” ~ Brené Brown

My husband and I had an intimate conversation the other day on the way home from the memorial for a fellow writer. I met Cappy about eight or so years ago through a writer’s group she and her best friend Ross started. Cappy always had a smile on her face, her critiques were kind, but insightful, and enormously helpful. When I talked with her one-on-one, she was genuinely interested in what I had to say. She didn’t talk a lot about herself, but if you asked, she was happy to share insights she’d learned from her experiences.

The way I really got to know Cappy was from reading her memoir, Love Life, With Parrots. Her openness about all aspects of her life made me realize that I’m a guarded person and thus a guarded writer. And that’s what my husband and I were talking about, how I wished I could be more open like Cappy. Her open, welcoming nature left an indelible impression on those she met.

I must acknowledge that I come by my caution honestly. My father and mother were/are both introverts. My father, in particular, was a very private man. The way he shared his values with us was through the discussions we had about the media we consumed, or about things that had happened to us at school or church. I know that he had a very deep and active spiritual life because of the sermons he preached, but he hardly ever shared how he felt about the experiences themselves.

As a result, I followed his example. I kept my thoughts to myself most of the time because I was sure I would cause shock and controversy if I shared the commentary running through my head. In fact, I did cause a huge controversy in college when I wrote an letter to the editor of our newspaper after the campus minister preached a sermon about love right before Valentine’s Day. His thoughts reinforced traditional doctrine, but in my opinion his view of love was severely constrained, which I pointed out in my letter. Why hadn’t I kept my thoughts to myself? But good things came out of that controversy. I should have learned that sometimes rocking the boat is a good thing. However, I was extremely uncomfortable with the personal attacks and attention and so went back into my shell.

Fast forward to 2008 when I decided to become a writer. Up until that point I had kept a personal journal in which I was completely open about my dilemmas, failures, relationship issues, and aha moments. But, when I began writing for public consumption, I found ways to conceal my true thoughts and feelings. Fortunately, someone pointed that out, and encouraged me to pull back the layers to reveal how I truly saw the world. Wow! That challenge was the most frightening thing I’ve ever had to face. I didn’t want to do it, yet I knew if I was going to affect people with what I wrote, I’d have to.

Sharing my true self was extremely difficult at first. It has become easier over the six years of writing this blog but I’m not a completely open book yet. And in a way, maybe that’s a good thing. Brené Brown says it’s important to be selective when sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings. We need to protect ourselves from energy vampires and human werewolves who take pleasure in ripping people apart. On the other hand, being open like Cappy was by revealing personal insights can be of enormous help to those who read the work.

Since attending Cappy’s memorial, I’ve been doing a great deal of self-examination with regards to my life and work. The area I tend to protect most is my spirituality. I have a difficult time sharing with people that I’ve had many spiritual experiences. Silly as it may sound, until recently I felt a bit ashamed of this aspect of who I am. I felt different from everyone else because it seems to me spirituality is not accepted as an integral part of every day life. If you’re spiritual you must live in special communities and never partake in ordinary activities. But as my sister says, “It’s just one way of living.” Spiritual people do not have to be saints. They can be your next-door neighbor, your garbage man, or your boss. As a spiritual person, I struggle with the same fears and challenges as everyone else on this planet. It’s just that I know I’m not alone. I’ve got lots of assistance to help me work though any problem.

Being a person who has regular spiritual insights, I’m sensitive to the shifting energy of our times. Just lately I’ve felt an extreme tension between the way we used to operate in the world and what I think humanity is evolving into, which is a more spiritual approach to life. And this tension has affected how I feel about the business side of writing. I want more people to read my blog and books. I would love to have a steady stream of income from what I write. But I cringe at doing the promotion and marketing. I swing back to the idea that maybe it’s enough to just create the work because any act of creativity affects the energy that connects us all. And I ask myself, do I shy away from doing more aggressive marketing because I don’t see that as spiritual? I guess I’m going to have to wrestle with this issue for a while.

In any case that brings me back to Cappy. She left behind a great deal of written work. She didn’t make loads of money from selling it, but she didn’t let that stop her from creating it. Ross announced at the memorial that he and Cappy’s husband are going to compile her poems, essays and stories into new works of art that can be shared. So, even though Cappy is no longer physically with us, her insights and particular observations about life are going to live on. That makes me very happy because her vision of the world was unique and beautiful.

Maybe that’s the most important thing about being human, we leave ripples of influence behind us. They may not be works of art, but our interactions with others influence the future in ways we can’t possibly foresee.

Thanks for reading. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you have meaningful interactions with friends and love ones this weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden ©2019

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

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