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

This is Our Phoenix Moment

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” – Joseph Campbell
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes
it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”  – Maya Angelou

I’ve had a difficult time writing this week’s post. There is so much acrimony in the air over the government shutdown. I live in an area that is deeply affected and many of my friends and acquaintances are understandably fearful, angry and full of resentment about what’s happening. I sympathize with them. The world is changing rapidly and it’s hard to keep ones equilibrium. I think we’re at a turning point. Events all over the globe indicate to me that humanity is changing. Thousands, maybe even millions, of people are standing up and saying “I’m not going to take this any more,” while others are pushing back trying to keep the status quo. But, change is here. We can’t stop it, so we might as well embrace it.
When my friends say, “I’m so angry, I can’t see straight.” or, “I’m afraid of what’s going to happen,” I understand why they say that. All they see is our physical world. They don’t see what lies behind it. It’s times like this that I rejoice. Because, it’s when things fall apart that something new can be born out of the ashes, like the Phoenix.
You may say I’m crazy, but I think we’ve got a fantastic opportunity to get rid of old patterns and structures and build a new kind of world. A more authentic world. One where people are valued and honored above money, power and prestige. Creating this new world isn’t going to happen over night. It’s going to take commitment. It’s going to take a willingness to look deep within ourselves at our values, traumas, darkness and light and to do some healing. I can speak from experience, doing healing work is worth it.
My conscious spiritual journey began in the mid-80s. Barry and I were recent college graduates, but our life didn’t look at all the way we’d dreamed. Our jobs were unfulfilling and the familiar comforts of our church community no longer fit who we were. We longed for the stimulating atmosphere we’d loved about our college community. The more we talked about how we felt, the more confused we became. We needed someone impartial to help us find the way.
One day we saw a flyer for psychic readings with Neale Donald Walsch. We made the appointment feeling apprehensive. We’d never done anything so daring. Neale was welcoming and put us at our ease. During the session, we got the answers we needed. It was time to leave the church and live a bigger spiritual life. Wow! How scary to leave the familiar cocoon of the church. Of course, we faced what writer Steven Pressfield calls, resistance. Resistance happens when we have an opportunity to take a big evolutionary step. When that happens, we’re faced with two choices. 1) We can step into the unknown and trust the process, or 2) we can shy away and close ourselves off. Neither Barry nor I wanted to continue being miserable, so the decision was clear. I’m not saying it was easy informing our family. But, when we made the break, we were so much happier.
As Barry and I started a new spiritual practice of study, meditation and talking with other friends who’d also left, our life was better. But something Neale had said in our session was nagging at the back of my mind. “Contemplate these words.” he said, “Nothing matters, and you think it does.” What on earth could he be talking about? Of course everything matters. People are dying, starving, being oppressed, abused and disrespected. How could that not matter? The idea that nothing mattered was like sand in an oyster. I couldn’t let that idea go, so I contemplated those words in my journal, meditations and prayers for years until just before my fortieth birthday.
I was visiting my Naturopathic Doctor for a spinal adjustment. He was telling me about the skiing trip his best friend had gifted him for his fortieth birthday just a few months before mine. From the outside, the ski trip looked like a disaster. Their old equipment malfunctioned and broke and they were unable to ski. Then he laughed and said, “But it didn’t matter. We had such a great time being together on the snow covered mountain looking out at the gorgeous vistas. It’s a birthday I’ll never forget.”
When he said that something snapped in my head and heart. “That’s it!” I said.
He was startled. “What!”
I told him what Neale had asked me to think about years before, and said. “I understand now what he meant by nothing matters. It’s our response to what’s going on that matters. It’s our willingness to accept and trust. But more than that, all this,” and I patted the table I was on, “All this is illusion. It’s like we’re all in a play that God wrote and there’s some larger purpose to the events than we can understand.”
He squinched up his face and then relaxed it and said, “Oh, yeah. I see that too.”
“Thanks for helping me figure that out.” I said, “I’ve been trying to understand what Neale was getting at for years now.”
“You’re welcome. And thanks for sharing that with me. I wouldn’t have understood it either until you explained it to me.”
Since that day, no matter what disaster happens, there’s a part of me that trusts that Divine Oneness is in control and there’s a deeper purpose for events than my little human brain can comprehend. My job is to try to grasp the lesson, to move forward, to overcome resistance, and to commit to growing into a more open, loving person. That’s only possible when I let go of attachment to a particular outcome. What Neale saw in me was the need to know how things were going to turn out before I’d be willing to take the first step. I wanted to take God’s place and be in control of the final outcome. That’s just not possible.
We’re living in a scary time. Lots of people are fearful. We’re facing a great unknown. The only way we’re going to get through it, is to look inside ourselves and see where we’re being led and allow Divine Oneness to take care of the rest. It’s okay to feel the fear and anger. It’s okay to be uncertain about our future, as long as we also continue to seek guidance for our next step.
© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden, 2013

Let’s Talk, and Listen

“Whether clear or garbled, tumultuous or silent, deliberate or fatally inadvertent, communication is the ground of meeting… It is, in short, the essential human connection.” – Ashley Montagu and Floyd Matson

“Talk and change the world.” – Slogan espoused by a group of U.S. Senators who happened to be female. (as reported in Communication Works tenth edition, by Teri Kwal Gamble and Michael Gamble.)

My husband’s six year old computer finally died. He gave it a hard workout with all the high powered graphics programs he uses and it served him well. But, that means he and I are now sharing my computer, which reminded me of when we first moved here. We had only one car. That meant we drove to work together every morning and home together every night. We did that for about six years until we moved out into the country, twenty miles or more from town. Then I took a job forty-five miles in one direction and Barry continued to drive twenty-one miles in the opposite direction. That made two cars necessary and everything changed.

Once we were driving in opposite directions, the nature of our communication deteriorated. We didn’t talk as much as we had before, because our schedules were so different. I had to leave very early in the morning and usually got home three hours before having to go to bed so I’d be fresh for the next day. Every weekend I was working on school projects and Barry had his activities. We barely saw each other and little by little got out of the habit of talking, except for vital communications.

The thing that was so wonderful about driving to work together was that we got an extra twenty minutes to an hour to be with each other every day. Barry and I enjoyed that extra time. If we’d been having a conversation at breakfast, we could finish it in the car. At the end of the day, we could decompress. We both missed that. There’s something cold about going out for dinner, or going to some event and having to interrupt your lovely conversation to drive home in separate cars.

Recently,when I began to teach an introductory communication course at the local community college, I realized that Barry and I had lost some of our communication skills.  As the students and I talked about the skills necessary for good communication, I realized that I needed to do as much work to improve my skills as my students did. It takes practice to have meaningful conversations with your spouse, or anyone for that matter. It’s so important to see body language, facial expressions and to truly listen to what another person is saying. It’s also important to be able to put your own feelings aside long enough to try to understand what the other person is saying.

When I look back over the years Barry and I’ve spent together, some of the moments I cherish most are when we’ve had a good talk, or worked together on a project and were communicating well. It’s been a challenge to get our communication mojo back. Fortunately we were lucky to have good teachers in how to communicate well. My dad was an exquisite listener and communicator. By observing how he listened, considered and then responded to people, I learned how to be fully present for someone else. Our home was a great learning lab. My dad taught me that listening is at the heart of good communication. Thinking about what you’re going to say before you’ve heard what the other person is saying is not communicating. Maybe that’s part of our problem at the moment. We don’t listen to each other. We don’t take time to try to understand each other. We don’t trust each other because we think that everyone else should see the world the way we do. But that’s impossible. A good communicator tries to understand how the person their talking to sees the world and then find common ground.

Maybe my communication students are right, we need to redevelop our face-to-face communication skills again. I’m in favor of that. Having good technology skills is important, but being able to understand and be understood by your family, friends and colleagues is so much more important.

Just Keep Going

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. Brené Brown

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with what to write in this blog. Now that I’m teaching, I have less time to ponder, write and revise my entries and after five months of entries, I feel dry, with nothing to write. But, I got the message from several sources, just keep writing. I knew that if I stopped writing this blog this week, it would be easier to make an excuse next week and the next and then stop writing it all together. So, I resolved to write something even if it was bad.

Then two things happened. I asked for help in my journal, because I was stalled on my novel as well, and I watched Dr. Brené Brown on Oprah’s Lifeclass. Ideas about my novel started coming to me and keep coming, and I was reminded why I started this blog in the first place. I started it because of Dr. Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection.

One of the things she writes about in that book is how to practice vulnerability. We think of vulnerability as weakness, but it’s actually strength. When I read that, I knew she was talking to me personally. We moved a lot when I was a growing up and I got used to being the new kid. I didn’t like having all the attention, because I was new in small towns where everyone had known each other since Kindergarten. So I practiced being in the background. Oh, I always had lots of opinions about what was going on around me, but I rarely voiced them. If I did, it felt weird and I felt apologetic, like my opinion didn’t matter. The truth of the matter was, I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I didn’t think what I thought mattered, I didn’t think I mattered.

I’m older now and have done lots of personal work learning to love myself. Interestingly, I’ve sought out careers and situations that have forced me to use vulnerability a great deal. For a number of years I was involved in theatre, often as an actor. Then I was a teacher, I’m still a teacher, and now I’m a writer.

You can’t get much more vulnerable that those activities. I know many teachers who don’t practice vulnerability, but to be an excellent teacher you have to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable allows your students to be that too, and risk asking dumb questions, or exploring and expressing their ideas. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with our educational system. Not enough teachers are vulnerable. I just thought of that as I was writing it. That could be an entire blog post on it’s own.

Having been an actor and now a writer, I can say that the process requires me to dig down into my soul and bring out my deepest experiences to create the work. That’s not easy, it not comfortable and it takes time and effort. I often fail, or at least don’t quite hit the mark. That’s okay. I’ll never hit the mark, if I don’t try. So, I’ve decided to keep writing, even if it’s not my best work. I’ll just keep going.