The Power of Play

“Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.” – John Lennon

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”  — Mark Twain

Recently, a debate arose on Facebook among my college friends about the possible elimination of winter term from Graceland University’s educational year. (A note to Elvis fans, Graceland University was in existence long before Elvis’ Graceland.)

It started off by one of my friends saying he thought it was a good thing to eliminate winter term so that students could focus on real learning. He set off a firestorm of discussion. I found out later he’d never attended Graceland, even though it is sponsored by the Church he belongs to, so he’d never experienced the benefits of such a program. In his defense I’ll say, it’s like him to post comments that promote discussion.

Let me explain what winter term was when I attended Graceland. During the month of January, students had a chance to sign up for one seminar type class. These were outside the normal college curriculum. Students could try out a discipline they were interested in, but didn’t have time to fit into their regular schedule, or they could take a trip to exotic places. Others opted to take art or music classes, or classes in their subject area that weren’t offered at any other time. Students were encouraged to play, and explore. The schedule was relaxed and we had lots of one-on-one time with the instructors.

Two good things about winter term: It was a way to ease back into the intensity of the spring semester. And it was a great chance to get to know a new set of people while exploring a new subject area. Yes, some students did a lot of goofing off, however, there were required assignments to do as part of these classes, though the requirements were more lenient. I have to say, I got a lot out of playing and learning at the same time.

Now maybe it’s because I’ve studied theatre, but I think play is a very important component to learning. Our minds and bodies get tired when we work too hard. It’s good to give them both some rest through play. When I taught High School English classes, I’d build in creative projects, or activities that encouraged discussion and an element of fun. It was a necessity since the classes were one hundred minutes long. I did this based on my feeling that play enhances learning. However, I was supported in that notion when I took a series of workshops meant to help ELL students (English Language Learners) succeed in not only learning the language, but learning the information being presented in class. Many of the activities presented in those workshops encouraged us to help the students talk with each other so peer learning could take place. The activities got the students out of their seats moving around and thinking in new ways.

While I was doing my guided meditation this morning, I had a new insight about hard work VS play. I’m one of those people who believed the axiom that to be prosperous, you need to work hard and sacrifice you free time. This morning that was shattered by the knowledge that the opposite is actually true. If I hadn’t been involved in theatre all these years, where it’s fun to do the “work”, I might never have seen the error in my thinking.

What I realized is that, “hard work” is something you do when you’re not aligned with you’re task. It’s a struggle to do the job, because it’s not your highest purpose. Nearly six years ago, I found that I was a good teacher, but it wasn’t my highest purpose and I was exhausted at the end of each day, unless I was directing a play. Then the day ended on a high note and I felt energized.

So, the word play can mean different things. It can mean goofing off and neglecting the task at hand. But, I think the best interpretation of play is, engaging in something you truly love to do, something that energizes and enriches your life. When we play to enrich our lives, we become more relaxed and the creative ideas flow.

The day I knew that I was meant to be a writer was one of the best days of my life, though I didn’t know it at the time. I’ve learned the joy of “playing” every day doing what I love. My life is rich and full and I’ve let go of the need to control events so that I can become prosperous. My little voice tells me to concentrate on perfecting my skills and let serendipity guide me when it’s time to promote and market my work.

I’m wondering, do you play to enhance your life? Are you doing what you love? If not, how could your life be better by doing so?

© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden
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Be Bold

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
– Franz Kafka

“Freedom lies in being bold.” – Robert Frost

These are two new favorite quotes of mine. When I read the quote by Kafka, I had to admit that for many years, I did edit my soul. I hid my true self. We all do it to a certain extent. We want to be liked, and to fit in. But I think there comes a point when we have to make a choice to be true to ourselves, or follow the crowd.

As I became older and got bolder about sharing my point of view, I was told my ideas were unique. Like most people, I longed to be unique and special, so little by little I blossomed and gained confidence in who I was.

Now that I’m 60 years old, I’m much bolder about sharing what I think. I still temper what I’m saying. Being sensitive enough to know how to state your truth is important. I’ve never been blunt like my youngest sister, even though over the years I’ve envied her “I don’t care what you think of me” attitude. I’ve learned a great lesson from her, however. It doesn’t matter what others think. What matters is what I think of myself. It’s nice to know we’ve influenced each other. She’s softer in her interactions with people and I’m more open about sharing my true self.

One of the ways I share my inner most thoughts is through my “intense obsession”, writing. Sometimes I think it’s not a very important contribution to make to a changing world. Yet, it’s the thing that grasps me. My writing projects are the first thing I think about when I wake in the morning and the last thing I think about upon going to sleep.

When people ask me why I chose to quit my full-time teaching job to write, I struggle with what to tell them. Then this week I watched an episode of Super Soul Sunday. Oprah was interviewing Rob Bell author of What We Talk About When We Talk About God. During the interview, he mentioned two words that describe perfectly what makes me write. The first is a German word GRENZBEGRIFF: “That which is real but beyond analysis and description.” I believe all creative people follow something that is real to them, but beyond analysis and description.

The second word that is now one of my favorites, is the ancient Hebrew word, RUACH, which means: “an explosive, expansive, surprising, creative energy that surges through all things.” Oh, how I’ve tried to describe that surge of energy that is with me every waking moment, and often in my dreams. It’s that energy that urges me to follow the flow, be bold and write.

Have you experienced a reality that is beyond description and a surge of energy that calls to you be bold and follow your dreams? If so, be bold and go for it!

© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden
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Our Collective Ego

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” – Eckhart Tolle

“Words are things. You can put some words together and make people want to go to war. Put together another few words and make them long for peace. Words are so important, and this is what you take to God. Words.” – Maya Angelou

“The past is not the future unless you live there.” – Tony Robbins

When I was younger, I thought there was some force “out there” that I’d have to conquer so I could live a happy life. The battle ground was my mind and the weapons were the contradictory voices in my head. The conflicting voices said things like, “You can be anything you put your mind to. There isn’t enough abundance to go around, so you’ll have to fight for everything you get. There’s something inherently wrong with you. You are greatly loved. There will never be peace in the world.” On and on my thoughts swirled until I was weary of the contradictions. That’s when I intensified my spiritual quest. One of the most significant things I learned was about how the ego works. It’s a small, sneaky part of us that wants to be master over all we think, do and accomplish. But, the ego, while necessary to function in the physical world, is not the sum total of who we are.

After years of study, everything I’d learned about my ego was summed up beautifully by Eckhart Tolle in his best selling book A New Earth. The ego takes things personally and feels the need to defend itself, it likes to complain and find reasons to resent what it believes have been attacks on itself, it has to be right, it buys into the illusion that we are separate, and finally it uses the “us” VS “them” mentality. As I read the book, I could see how my ego had controlled my life and that I could break it’s control. What a relief it was to stop listening to it and follow the guidance of the larger part of me that is connected to God.

It hasn’t been easy, getting out of the clutches of my ego, but it has been worth it. The voices in my head are quieter now and I can feel my connection to the Divine and to everyone else much more clearly. What a relief. Until the outer world came crashing in around me.

Now, I’m not saying that what’s going on in the outside world has shaken my faith in my connectedness to all that exists. On the contrary, what’s been happening the last several years has confirmed that we’re connected, because I can’t ignore the pain, blame, struggle for supremacy and adherence to deeply held beliefs like “we’re right and they’re wrong and the past was better than our present,” that are the battle cries of those who live completely in their egos. You all know the differing points of view. I’m not the only one who’s tired of the conflict. I see these conflicts as a call to let go of the old ways and create something new.

Here’s what came to me today in my meditation. We’re going through a collective ego cleansing. We’re reaching critical mass. Millions of people are awakening to the fact that they’ve been slaves to their egos. Those who choose not to wake up, are fighting hard to keep conditions the same. They want the political, financial, national and religious structures to continue as they have for centuries. However, all the structures that don’t serve our awakening are crumbling and new structures will be built in their place.

The thing is this, everything we react to shows us patterns in ourselves that we need to dismantle. So, when I get emails that say, “We need to FIGHT…whatever it may be,” I say, “I don’t want to FIGHT, or RESIST the opposition. I want to be FOR healing, peace and to finding creative solutions to our problems.” And the way I do that is to ask the Divine: “How can I serve the collective awakening?”

Sometimes I think I should be out there in one of those arenas working toward a better world. But, the answer I keep getting is to write this blog and my novel. To keep teaching theatre classes that help my students take a deeper look into what it means to be human, and to encourage creativity in any way I can. That’s how I’m serving now. What I do isn’t very flashy, or important, but as we say in the theatre, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Since I don’t want to be a small actor, I’ll do my best to make the most of my small contributions to putting our collective ego in its place.

Have you thought about how you are meant to serve? It may be something simple, yet vital, like raising well adjusted, loving children, or being a good friend. It might be creative like planting a beautiful garden that brightens the neighborhood, or writing poetry that touches people’s hearts. What it is doesn’t matter. What matters is that we each embrace our purpose, each day. Over the years, our purpose will change. That’s okay. Nothing ever stays the same, even though we’d like it to.

What is your vision of a better world and how can you bring it about?

© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden 2013

Everything Has Changed

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

I had a different post planned for this morning. It was going to be about books that have changed my life and I struggled with which books to include. There have been so many. I could write an entire book about the books, both fiction and non-fiction that have changed my life. But this morning I was blown away as I read Mastin Kipp’s blog The Daily Love. This is what I read:

“I’m so excited and energized right now!

It’s an incredible day for you, for me, for America and for the entire spiritual movement.

Why?

Because this past Sunday, my dear friend Marianne Williamson announced that she is running for the US House of Representatives.”

My life was changed in that moment because I’ve been feeling the call to become my authentic self and not continue my spiritual work all by myself. And one of my spiritual mentors, Marianne Williamson, has followed the same urge and stepped out into a new arena. The political arena, which most of us think is broken beyond repair. She’s someone who’s been broken, and found her way back to herself, and God. I can’t wait to see what her campaign is going to be like. She’s not going to be shouting about the problems we face, she’s not going to be tearing down her opponent. We’re going to see a completely new approach. She’s going to be suggesting peaceful, loving solutions to the problems we face. I’m so inspired by her willingness to be the trailblazer in finding new, previously unthought of solutions to our country’s problems.

As I wrote above, I’ve been feeling a call to get my message, if you want to call it that, out there to a larger audience. That’s why I started this blog. I’ve learned so much about myself and my relationship to the Divine over the years. I’ve been broken and built a new life and now it’s time to share what I’ve learned. And one of the people who has helped me on my spiritual journey, Marianne Williamson, is following her guidance and showing us all the way again. Only this time it’s not just by her words but also by her actions.

I have to say that I hate politics, because to me it’s all a bunch of posturing and a grab for power. Egos are at full inflation. At least that’s what it has been. The thing is we haven’t been able to get away from the old structure of politics, because politics play a part in every aspect of our lives. We’ve been taught that it’s bad to be the man or woman on the bottom. That’s why failure is so painful. We think we’ve lost our power. Marianne Williamson and so many other spiritual teachers, the list is too long to name them all here, are showing us that power doesn’t necessarily mean what we have traditionally thought. True power is knowing who we really are, and why we’re here. If we accept all of who we are, both the dark and light, and love ourselves, then we have authentic power. Nothing can shake us. Jesus knew that, Buddha new that, Lao Tzu knew that. Mahatma Gandhi knew that. Nelson Mandela knows that. The encouraging thing is that more and more people are waking up to that fact. And Marianne Williamson declaring her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives signals a shift from focusing on external power to focusing on internal power and changing the world using inner wisdom. When we connect with the Divine inside ourselves and look for solutions there, the solutions are so much more powerful and effective than manipulating the external world.

So, I encourage you to keep doing your personal, spiritual work to love yourselves and see where your guidance takes you. That’s what I’m doing. Who knows where it will take us. I know that if each of us follows our inner guidance, all the problems of the world will be solved, because we will each be doing the part for which we are designed.

© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden 2013

When My Life is Falling Apart, How do I Move Forward?

“The past is not the future unless you live there.” – Tony Robbins

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

The debt ceiling looms. Things look bleak Yet, I’m hopeful. Last week I wrote that I believe this is our phoenix moment. The time when we can create something new. In my opinion the best place to begin creating a new society is to create new lives for ourselves. If you’re happy with your life, that’s great. But, many of the people I know, aren’t satisfied. Instinctively they feel like there’s something more to life than getting up going to work, coming home doing house and yard work, watching TV and making sure the kids do their homework. And many more, their lives are falling apart. How do we create a happier, more fulfilling, loving life?

My answer is this: First we have to make the decision to face ourselves. For a number of years I looked outside myself for the happiness I sought. But, of course, it wasn’t there. It was only when Neale Donald Walsch told me that I was wasting my talent, that the last nudge to take responsibility for my life made me admit it was time to wake up. Oh, for a while I whined that I didn’t know where to begin. But, the books I’d started reading paved a pathway. I knew I had to look into that scary dark place deep inside that I’d been avoiding so long. There I discovered that I’d been holding on to anger and fear and so many other yucky feelings. There were so many times over the years when I felt misunderstood, and dishonored. Having been taught to be a good girl, I stuffed all those negative feelings instead of expressing them. I thought the pain would eventually go away. Instead of evaporating, they grew and festered, bubbling up every so often, making me and everyone around me miserable.

Second, I had to commit to doing the work necessary to heal. To make that commitment we have to believe it’s possible to heal and that we’re not alone in doing so. It means giving up control and surrendering to someone or something larger than ourselves. The small, human part of ourselves can’t see the big picture, but our soul is tapped in and turned on. I believe our soul works in partnership with the Higher Power, or God, or whatever you call it for our benefit.

Third, as we heal, we have to give up the notion that everyone should believe and operate the same way we do. That’s just not possible. The truth is that my ideal life will look different than yours. We each have different talents for a reason. We’re born in different places in the world for a reason. We get to heaven by different paths. We have to allow that to be okay.

Finally, the most important thing to remember is, that you have all the answers inside you. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Your inner guide may be leading you to fascinating and unusual places and pursuits. Embrace them. We need the talents of every single person in the world if we’re going to create a new way of living and interacting with each other. I plan to follow Mozart’s advice. “I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.” And I’d add I follow my own guidance. But remember this: You can’t hear your inner guidance without clearing out the guck that is clogging up the channel. That’s what we’re faced with right now. Cleaning up the guck. As each of one does her or his part to heal, the world reflects a much happier place to live.

© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden 2013