Where is the Love?

Dad, Mom and Me on my wedding day.

“Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.” ~ Roger C. Schank, Cognitive Scientist

Ever since I started my Story-Power podcast, I’ve been trying to put my finger on the ultimate reason I love stories so much. I’ve talked with several guests about how we humans tell ourselves stories about what’s going on in our lives. Most of the time the stories aren’t true. If that’s the case, why do we tell them to ourselves? And why do we read, watch, and tell each other stories in the first place?

Over the last few years, world events have pointed out how detrimental telling untrue stories can be. There have been so many tragic events that I can’t keep up with them. So what do we do about that? How do we combat the fear, the hatred, and the power grabbing stories that are in the news every day?

My teaching buddy, Dave Dahl, always asks our acting students, “Where is the Love?” in their monologue, or scene. It’s something one of his favorite playwrights, or friends says when they are working on a play. He asks it no matter what play he’s working on. Where is the love? The first time he asked our students that question, my heart filled with love and appreciation for him. That’s the perfect question to ask ourselves in any given situation.

That quote goes along perfectly with A Course in Miracles, a spiritual system that has been around for maybe 40 years. The exercises ask the student to consider that the way we were taught to see the world is wrong. What we think of as truth, isn’t. The one thing I take away every year as I do the lessons is my favorite quote, “Only love is real”. Everything else is a construct of our minds. So, when I’m confronted with difficult situations, or tragic things happening in the world, or even when I’m consuming a story with lots of violence and hatred in it, I look for the love in the story.

It’s hard to find the love sometimes. But there are those heart opening stories where forgiveness happens in the midst of some horrific crime. Even in the midst of war, we can find love. Think of stories like Schindler’s List. There are lots of real life stories like that to be found if you look for them. Some of them are being reported right now.

I teach a class called Dramatic Structure. And not long ago, I realized that almost all of the movies I choose to show, both classics and more modern, have themes centered around love. Even really violent ones like The Equalizer, which I mentioned when I was being interviewed by Angelina Carlton for an upcoming episode for her podcast, “Designing Your Legacy”. Surprisingly, it’s a story about love. Denzel Washington’s character is a mysterious person, who we discover as the movie goes along, has black ops type skills. He’s a widower and promised his wife that he wouldn’t use those skills any longer. But then he meets a teenage woman who he discovers has been a victim of sex trafficking. That sets up this dilemma inside him. He likes the girl and wants to see her be able to be free to follow her dreams. He has the skills to free her, but what about his promise to his late wife? Eventually he decides that using his dubious skills to help someone is better than not caring at all. He finds love for a fellow human being who is suffering and he comes to her rescue. 

And maybe The Equalizer is the perfect illustration of why I love digging deeply into the themes of stories. The world isn’t perfect but we can make choices every day that help make it a better place to live.

I am determined to look for the love even in the most horrific situations. It might be hidden but it’s always there. If I focus on loving the people who only know hatred, fear, and greed, maybe that act of loving will make a small difference in our shared experience. I don’t always find it easy to do this. My first reaction is to blame and condemn. But then I remember, “Only love is real”, and that I have all those dark feelings inside me too. In different circumstances, I could be the person perpetrating that crime, or starting the war, or cheating people. So it’s a balancing act. I need to heal my own dark emotions, forgive those who have wounded me, and I need to show compassion and love to those who are deeply wounded themselves.

The best times for me to look for the love is when I’m deciding which candidates to vote for, or organizations to support, or when someone I know needs help, or when some negative reaction is triggered in me. And then I have to love enough to forgive. 

Where do you look for love?

Welcome new followers. Thanks to all of you who like, or occasionally comment on these posts. I appreciate you very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2022

I’m so passionate about stories that I created the Story-Power podcast and Patreon communities so I’d have an excuse to talk story with other story lovers. If you’re passionate about stories too, and want to talk about what you’ve learned from your favorites, come join me at patreon.com/StoryPower.

If you are a podcaster, or have a message or fantastic product you want to share with the world, I encourage you to check out PodMatch. Use the affiliate link and tell them, Lucinda sent you. Then contact me so we can set up a chat.

What I Learned From Jane Austen

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in Pride and Prejudice

“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” ~ Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

“Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.” ~ Jane Austen

Barry and I were binge watching Sanditon last week and it occurred to me that Jane Austen always includes vital life lessons in her books.

Sanditon, as you may or may not know is a series on PBS, in the U.S., that is based on the unfinished final novel of Jane Austen (1775 – 1817). It was created by oft-time adapter of Austen’s work, Andrew Davies. The first season aired in early 2020. Then it was canceled in the U.K. for some reason, which caused a huge outcry by the fans in both the U.K. and U.S. It was a long battle, however, they were finally heard and the series was brought back, to finish off the three season plot/character arc that Davies had originally planned. Barry and I just finished watching season two.

After I watch or read anything, I ruminate about the story and while I was doing that with Sanditon, it occurred to me that Austen was a master of including very useful life lessons in her novels. She was a radical. I think that because of a wonderful, scholarly book I read about her a few years ago called Jane Austen: the Secret Radical, by Helena Kelly. I hope, if you’re an Austen fan, you’ll read the book.

But without further ado, here are some things I’ve learned from Jane Austen.

  1. Beware of the person who tells you, in confidence, salacious and/or deleterious  details about the character of someone else. They are most surely telling you this to gain some advantage. Almost all of Austen’s works have characters who do this. If you’ve read the novels and/or seen the movies/mini-series, think: Mr. Wickham in Pride and Prejudice. In Sanditon it is Col. Lennox but there are characters like this is almost all of the books.
  2. First impressions are often wrong. It takes time and effort to get a glimpse of a person’s true character. There are so many instances in the novels of characters forming an opinion, an attachment, or even a strong dislike, for characters they meet; only to learn later that their first impression was completely wrong. That’s actually part of the fun of reading Austen’s books, discovering the true nature of the various characters she has created.
  3. Allow people an opportunity to explain themselves. If you do, you might learn something vital about them. Everyone, whether it’s in fictional stories or real life, has demons. When we allow another person to share those with us, we honor them and allow ourselves to find some common ground with them. That’s a theme throughout all of Austen’s novels.
  4. Never take advice concerning your most important life decisions. Your heart should be your only guide. In almost every novel, except perhaps Lady Susan, Austen’s last completed one, the protagonist gets unwanted advice from more than one source. These bits of advice cause no end of problems given the fact that the protagonist knows her own mind. Though in Persuasion, Anne gives into the outside pressure at first. Thankfully everything works out for her in that novel in the end.
  5. If you wait for it, love always arrives. Many of the characters in Austen’s novels hold out for true and lasting love, even if they think they will never get it. In the end, their determination not to settle serves them well.

There are more lessons, I suppose, but you’ll have to read the books to unearth them.

In all of Austen’s novels, the protagonists are women. All, except Lady Susan, are honorable women who want to live meaningful lives in a world dominated by men. For the most part they are intelligent, caring, courageous, and indefatigable. The men they love, honor who they are and form lasting and satisfying partnerships with them. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Jane Austen’s books are still so popular today. She gives her female characters a voice and paved the way for modern women to speak up as well.

I don’t like giving advice, but if you haven’t read Jane Austen’s work, I highly recommend reading at least one of her books. I didn’t discover her work until the late 1990s, and I’m so glad I finally sat down and read the entire collection. It takes a little while to get used to the language, but once you’ve crossed that bridge, the stories and characters almost feel modern. Their world is lots less complicated, on the one hand, but on the other they are faced with familial and societal expectations just like we are. And they struggle to find as much freedom as they can given their circumstances.

It’s almost summer. I may have other book recommendations for you. I love reading at any time of the year, but when you’re a teacher, summer is the best time for reading.

Thanks for reading my musings. Have a lovely week ahead. I hope things are going well in your world.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2022

I’m so passionate about stories that I created the Story-Power podcast and Patreon communities so I’d have an excuse to talk story with other story lovers. If you’re passionate about stories too, and want to talk about what you’ve learned from your favorites, come join me at patreon.com/StoryPower.

If you are a podcaster, or have a message or fantastic product you want to share with the world, I encourage you to check out PodMatch. Use the affiliate link and tell them, Lucinda sent you. Then contact me so we can set up a chat.

Excellence is the Best I Can do With What I Have Now

Leon Battista Alberti (1404–72) said “a person can do all things if they will.” I live and create by that motto. When it comes to writing I have created a series of epic length fantasy novels. That work of art is supported by woodworking, linguistics, Photoshop, Indesign, podcasting, Audible, 3D jewelry design and any other venture I care to tackle to make my stories worth listening to. With such a wide variety of experience and interests I am a fascinating author to interview and connect with. I look forward to meeting you. 

I am 60 years of age and have lived a very full life. I follow a creed that no matter what your hand finds to do, you should throw yourself at it and enjoy every minute of the experience. Don’t waste your time with complex personal plans, get moving and do something. I spent 8 summers planting trees and in the end I planted over half a million of them. I learned to keep moving, plant one at a time and go on to the next one. The same philosophy saw me create an amazing set of fantasy novels that also total a half a million words. You just keep going, one word at a time. My personal core values of Community, Celebration and Creativity are guided by my Creativity Manifesto and I create every single day. I have many personal stories that I would love to share with your listeners.

Vance’s Website, Facebook, LinkedIn

  His Cor Series, The Hammer, The Medallion

  The Scroll, A book about The Bible chapter of Ecclesiastes author Kohelet

Yorick Radio Productions with Rosie Beech, Lucinda as guest, Rosie as guest on Story-Power, Ep. 39 “Dreams Do Come True, Eventually” on Apple Podcast, or at Sage Woman Chronicles, at SageWoman.life

The Space Between Time, Lucinda Sage-Midgorden

Anthony Trollope (1815 – 1882) Doctor Thorne and many other books

The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

Three Hills, Alberta, Canada

Dark of the Moon, Howard Richardson Broadway production, 1945, based on the ballad, “Barbara Allen”

Dungeons and Dragons game

Ivan Bodley, Story-Power Ep. 35 “Am I Famous Yet?” Or at Sage Woman Chronicles, at SageWoman.life

John Horner, Story-Power Ep. 47 “The Writing Life” Or at Sage Woman Chronicles, at SageWoman.life

This episode is brought to you by PodMatch, the dating service for podcasters. They introduced me to Vance, and I’m so glad they did. I hope you’ve enjoyed our conversation and remember that if you have a podcast or something to share with the world, check out PodMatch and tell them Lucinda sent you.

I’m so passionate about stories that I created the Story-Power podcast and Patreon communities so I’d have an excuse to talk story with story lovers like me. If you’re passionate about stories too, and want to talk about what you’ve learned from your favorites, come join me at Patreon.com/StoryPower. 

“Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.” ~ Roger C. Schank, Cognitive Scientist

The Effort of Control

Cart – Before – Horse

“I can do nothing for you but work on myself … you can do nothing for me but work on yourself.” ~ Ram Dass

“Knowing others is wisdom; knowing the self is enlightenment.” ~ Tao Te Ching

Some years ago I learned a big lesson. The only thing I can control is myself. These past weeks and months have been rough since so many people are trying to control things outside themselves. They are trying to uphold the old institutions and maintain the patriarchy. But when we do that, eventually everything crumbles. Trying to control everyone and everything outside ourselves is like trying to put out the flames of a burning building with a pastry baster, or a syringe. The effort is futile. 

I think everyone comes into this world with a life theme. Mine is learning to love myself and I can’t do that without clearing out lots of old gunk. I’ve been working on this project for a long time and learned to use lots of great tools along the way. I thought I was doing well until I decided to start my Patreon Community. I have had money issues for most of my life, believing I didn’t deserve to be prosperous. I have enough money to live on, but nothing more and though I have done a lot of work to clear the blocks, I was still feeling stuck once I decided to try to gather a following of patrons who would be willing to support my Story-Power work.

For years I thought of money as one of those things that comes from my job and when I work I’m at the mercy of my employer. So, when I decided to break away from full-time work, I was convinced that less money was going to flow to me. I knew I needed help to flip the switch to a better view of money and it’s purpose in my life. Little by little I’ve been getting the help I need but recently I found a course that is helping me clear out the last remnants of my incorrect beliefs about money.

I’m a Youtube junky, in a way. I love to use it for meditation music, I follow spiritual teachers and sometimes news and entertainment on that platform. So, when a particular Mindvalley video ad came up with Jeffrey Allen advertising his Duality course, which is all about clearing and managing our energy, I decided to check it out. Now, mind you, I’m a bit suspicious of YouTube ads, so it took me awhile to decide to take his sample mini-class, but once I did I was hooked. His energy as a teacher is amazing. I signed up for a year subscription to Mindvalley that very day and will have access to their entire range of quests, as they call them.

Because I’m a Reiki practitioner, I thought I understood energy and how it flows through everything. Now that I’ve been doing Jeffrey’s course for two or three weeks, I realize there were lots of gaps in my understanding and practice. One thing Jeffrey emphasizes is that we can heal the energy within ourselves, but even though we can send healing energy to others, it’s up to them to accept it. We can’t control anyone or anything outside ourselves unless they allow it. And even attempting to do so creates yucky energy. I don’t want to do that. I want a clean flow of loving supportive energy to stream between me and my followers.

For the first time in my life, I don’t feel weird about sharing my creative journey. I don’t mind tooting my own horn and inviting people to listen to Story-Power and join the conversation about stories on my Patreon Community page. 

During the process of creating the Story-Power podcast and now the Patreon Community, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why stories are so important to us as human beings. What I’ve come up with so far is that they are a way for us to communicate ideas, emotions, and insights with others. When we touch someone emotionally, that is the best way to effect change a lasting change. That’s why I want to foster more conversations about the stories that mean something to us.

In the outer world, it may look like darkness is creeping in and about to swallow us. But stories are a great example of how the world really works. The protagonists, us, go through dark times, but the light always wins, even if the protagonist dies at the end of the story, their vision of a better world lives on. (And so do they in another dimension.) Balance is restored. Don’t despair. If we want to, we can create a new happier story by healing ourselves.

If you want to join my Patreon Community go to Patreon.com/StoryPower. You can listen to episodes of Story-Power here or on Apple, Google, and Spotify every other week. The next episode will air May 11 where I will be sharing my conversation with the highly creative, Vinnie Neudorf an author, theatre artist and much more.

My work is supported by PodMatch. If you have a story to share, or a podcast of your own, consider checking them out. They have been a godsend for my podcast Story-Power.  

I hope you are all well. Thanks for reading each week, liking and commenting. I’m sending good thoughts for you, your life journey, and creative endeavors.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2022

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When I Make a Growth Step

Thunderstorm over Corfu

The journey is never ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment. ~ Antonio Brown

Recently I signed up for the Duality course at Mindvalley Academy. It’s all about how to better connect with the energy that is all around us so that I can clear old patterns and beliefs, ground myself better, set better boundaries, set intentions and send energy to projects I’m working on and so much more. I’m half way through the course, taking it at my own pace, since I’ve worked with Reiki and done other energy work before this class. I love it, because Jeffrey Allen, the instructor, is so positive and many of the techniques he teaches are helping fill in the blanks in my knowledge that I didn’t even know were there. 

One of the things he says is that when we’re making a growth step, we are often off balance, which makes us irritable and hard to live with. The reason for this is because our inner landscape, as I call it, is changing. What was familiar is shifting and we’re getting a new perspective so that the world around us begins to look very different. This can be quite unsettling. And it can draw situations to us that help us use the new knowledge and skills that we are learning. 

This week I’ve been having one such challenge with a growth spurt. A set of supplements that I take for my health did not arrive when they were supposed to. I got the email from the company informing me they had been delivered Friday a week ago, but they were not in our general delivery box. I thought perhaps they had been delivered to the post office, but not to our box yet. It was the weekend. When they weren’t in our box on Monday, I sent and email to the company telling them that I did not get the pills. It has been a week of consumer hell. 

Instead of apologizing and either sending me a new bottle of pills, or giving me a refund as other online businesses have done for me, I was told to canvass my neighborhood to see if we could find out who had received the package. I won’t go into all the details but that is just not a feasible thing for us to do because we live in the country. I wrote and explained the situation. I got a thank you back for my response, then a day later got an email telling me the matter had been resolved because the pills had been delivered. 

This went on for two or three more rounds. Finally today, feeling very angry, I acknowledged that I must be going through a growth period and was being presented with an opportunity to set my energy boundaries. So, I sent one final email telling the company that I didn’t blame them for the item not being delivered. It was clearly my mail carrier’s mistake, but I was not going to go to the post office to see if they had it, because if they did, they would deliver it to my mailbox. I also asked for my money back and told them that depending on their response, I would be reporting them to the Better Business Bureau. Furthermore, I was not going to continue to do business with them. 

This kind of response has not been like me in the past. In general I try to be cordial, but am sometimes a door mat. I guess those days are over. I don’t want to be unpleasant, but I have tried to help this company understand that them asking me to track down the product that has obviously gone astray, is not my job. It feels strange to stand up for myself and to declare that I don’t think they have very good customer service and that they’ve lost me as a customer. But part of me feels that it is important for me to set good boundaries for myself so that I don’t let my energy spill out into meaningless exchanges like the one I had this week.

A counter point to this episode is an exchange I had with a young woman at the Cochise Expo last night. Cochise College has events throughout the year trying to attract graduating seniors, or even juniors who are eligible to take college classes. I was manning the theatre, Cochise Actors Troupe (club) table at the Expo. Almost all of our club members are involved in the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by my co-sponsor and co-teacher, so I was going to be alone. Barry graciously came to sit with me. 

About halfway through the evening, a young woman came by our table. She was striking with a frizz of hair, that we used to call “a natural”. She was dressed in a sleek black outfit with a tie, vest and slacks. I complimented her on her hairdo and she came to speak with me. I told her a silly story of when I was young working in a school that was about 98% African American children and how one day they asked me why I didn’t wear my hair in a natural. I thought about it and said, “Well, this is how my hair grows, so this is a natural for me.” To which they began to chant, “Miss Sage has a natural.” She was gracious and smiled and then we began to have a conversation about the theatre program and the club. She didn’t take her eyes off of me and I remembered one of Jeffrey’s lessons about being present behind our eyes so that we can be more focused in our listening to the person we are talking to. She was definitely present in our conversation and I was too. It was an amazing moment in an evening that I had considered to be a chore. (I’m really ready to be finished with teaching and all that goes with it.)

So stepping outside my comfort zone to learn new ways to be present in the world has its ups and downs. I guess that’s life, isn’t it?

I am definitely looking forward to more lessons about how to manage the energy around me.

Have a blessed week ahead.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2022

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I’m passionate about stories. That’s why I created Story-Power and now my Patreon Community. Here are some upcoming events.

May 21, Live chat with author, Moshe Mikanovsky about his book, The Resurrector about the Levi family during a dark time after the death of middle child, Nir. I found the book riveting because I learned so much about the rituals of honoring the dead among orthodox Jewish families. I will post the unedited version of Moshe’s Story-Power episode from 2021 where we discuss his life and his book this week.

June 4, Live chat with author, Teri M. Brown about her book Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, about three generations of women in one family living in Ukraine from 1973 to 2016. The book is timely, but I found it fascinating because I felt like I was living in Ukraine first under the Soviet Union, then as they struggled to create a viable democratic government. My unedited conversation with Teri is already up on Patreon.

As many of you know, I’ve been busy with my podcast, Story-Power, which I started in July of 2020. It was going great for about 10 months. I had lots of former students, colleagues, friends, and family to have as guests, but eventually I ran out of guest ideas. I was feeling a little bit of panic. My one year anniversary was approaching. I loved doing the podcast so much, but I needed guests. Fortunately, out of the blue, I received an email from PodMatch inviting me to join their podcasting “dating service” as I call it. I loved that they suggested matches for me and made it easy to schedule guests. Soon, I had so many guests lined up that I was working several months out. It’s been like that ever since. 

I also liked that I could sign up to be a guest on other people’s podcasts. I’m so happy to be a member of PodMatch that I want to share this wonderful platform with all of you. I love their mission to help promote conversations. I have been able to chat with people from all over the world, learning about their cultures, and points of view. 

If you are a podcaster, or have a message or fantastic product you want to share with the world, I encourage you to check out PodMatch. Use the affiliate link and tell them, Lucinda sent you. Then contact me so we can set up a chat.