Christmas Gift

Olympic Mountains in Washington State

“I think the most important thing in life is self-love, because if you don’t have self-love, and respect for everything about your own body, your own soul, your own capsule, then how can you have an authentic relationship with anyone else?” ~ Shailene Woodley

Here it is Christmas time again. As I get older it comes faster every year. Of course, each Christmas, my focus turns to what gifts to give family and friends. This year, I’ve been thinking not just about physical gifts, but about the intangible gifts we give all throughout the year. And the biggest gift we can give is love.

Over the years I’ve learned that to give love, I must first learn to love myself, no easy task, but so worth it. Recently, I watched a few YouTube videos by a woman named Marisa Peer, a therapist who says that to become happy, all we really need to do is to tell ourselves over and over again that we are enough, that we are worthy, that we love ourselves. When we do that we change the negative self-talk that runs in our heads on a constant feed back loop. It seems so simplistic, and maybe even like wishful thinking to do such a thing because we’re so used to making everything hard. And it’s work to turn our attention away from the familiar mind numbing thoughts that we think we can’t control. It takes commitment. We can’t just say these things once and expect to change our thinking. Nope, we have to put post-it notes around the house, we have to remind ourselves over and over again until a new groove is etched into our brains and the old thinking fades away.

I’ve been practicing this new way of thinking this fall, and I have to say I’m feeling better about everything that is happening around me. I’m more open to people and experiences. Here’s an example: My husband and I are now with family in Seattle. Flying is not always a pleasant experience because of all the security hoops we have to jump through. But both Barry and I decided we were going to change our minds about going through security and then sitting for an hour or more waiting for our flight. We decided it was going to go smoothly. Our check-in process was much more pleasant this time around. The TSA agent even joked with us, which made having to go through the process fun. We struck up a conversation with a couple sitting across from us as we waited to board the plane. And even though it was a long day, I felt much less stress this time than on previous trips.

In fact, I’m feeling better about everything in my life. So, this year and for the months to come, I’m going to follow Marisa’s advice and give myself the gift of self-love so I can spread more of it around and hopefully effect change in a gentle one-on-one kind of way.

If you celebrate Christmas, have a blessed one, and if not I hope your end of the year festivities are full of warmth and love because you are worth it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Write What You Know.

Getting a hug from Dad
Getting a hug from Dad

“People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to.” ~ George Allen, Sr.

“Self-knowledge is essential not only to writing, but to doing almost anything really well. It allows you to work through from a deep place – from the deep, dark corners of your subconscious mind.” ~ Meg Rosoff

“Every writing teacher gives the subliminal message, every time they teach: ‘Your life counts for something.’ In no other subject that I know of is that message given.” ~ Roger Rosenblatt

The last time I had my writer friends read through the latest revisions to my manuscript, one of them said she thought the men were too soft. “That’s okay if you want this story to be used for a Hallmark movie but I think the men need to be rougher.” I was taken aback by that. I said, “Well, I’m writing what I know. My father was soft, my husband, brothers-in-law, father-in-law, uncles, are all like the characters in my book. I guess I don’t know how to write any other way.”

Since my conversation with my friend, I’ve been thinking a great deal about whether or not I should take her advice. I considered it for a while because some of the movies on Hallmark are sappy and the characters rather one dimensional. I considered making the change, but, I can’t. There are a few men in my book who are not kind. They are reflections of people I have known who treated me badly. But the rest are like the men at church when I was growing up, or the men in my family. Maybe my book is more positive and Jenna and Morgan are surrounded by lots of loving people, but to me that’s normal and I have to write what I know.

Still, my friend’s comment nagged at me, and made me doubt what I had written. “Maybe it’s not true to most people’s lives,” I thought. Maybe it is sappy, like some of those Hallmark movies and shows, but I’m writing what I know.

I have to admit, I’m growing tired of the on slot of dark books, movies and television shows. It’s almost like perpetual Halloween with all the vampires, zombies, and shows about ad men treating their coworkers badly, or brewing up crystal meth to make money to leave their family after they die. Yuck. I don’t want to watch those shows. At least, I don’t want a steady diet of them, and if I don’t, maybe I’m not alone in feeling that way. I may be wrong but it seems harder to find positive stories, with loving characters that are genuine and touching in an unsappy kind of way. When I read a book, watch a movie or TV show, I want to feel good at the end, and like I learned something.

Last week I was looking for a novel to read. I have several on my Amazon wish list but I didn’t want to spend the money now, so I went to the long lists of books I have on my iBooks and Kindle apps. I found, Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts. I saw the movie several years ago and I remember how it touched me. It’s a quiet story about a seventeen year old girl who is pregnant, and on a road trip with her boyfriend from Tennessee to California. When she asks him to stop so she can go to the restroom for the umpteenth time, he leaves her in a Walmart in a small town in Oklahoma. Abandoned with no money, she lives in the Walmart until the night her baby is born. Along her journey she finds a number of loving people who take her in as if she were family, and she learns a great deal about herself along the way. It’s one of those stories where the struggles are mostly internal. There are no vampires, zombies, werewolves, or angry aliens to defeat. Okay, full disclosure, sometimes I like those kinds of stories too. But not a steady diet of them.

I finished Where the Heart Is this morning. The end was so touching that I cried. The book is beautifully written, and as I read the last page, I felt like there is hope for the human race after all, that no matter how bad your life is, you can find love and forgiveness. That’s the kind of book I want to write even if it’s not popular. I want my readers to cry at the end, or feel the joy my characters find. I want them to feel like the human race, despite our struggles, is headed in a positive direction. I don’t know how to write anything else and that is, I can finally say honestly, okay with me.

If you like quiet more positive reading or viewing fare, here are some suggestions. In books: Winter Solstice, by Rosamond Pilcher. I’ve read a couple of her books now and they are thought provoking and positive. Any thing by Madeleine L’Engle, but my favorite is the series beginning with A Wrinkle in Time. They are categorized as Young Adult fiction but I found that the young people at the center of the books must deal with adult problems.

A couple of movies I’ve seen recently that I thought about long after the last frame went black are: The Age of Adaline and Brooklyn. In both, there is a woman protagonist, which I loved. The women in each of these movies have inner conflicts to work out which is what the story revolves around. I found both deeply satisfying.

There are many others, of course, like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies, or almost any movie written by women (or Joss Whedon). Then there are the classic movies like Random Harvest, Now Voyager, To Kill A Mockingbird (both the book and the movie), PinkyPeople Will Talk, and, of course, I Remember Mama about a writer who learns to write what she knows. You don’t want to get me started on classic movies. I could write a book about what I’ve learned watching them. Maybe someday I will.

I guess I’m on a mission to change the world through entertainment and through my own writing. I hope you won’t settle for watching only blockbuster movies or reading only the latest best sellers. While those may be fantastic, there are so many exceptional authors and movie makers doing extraordinary work. And if we celebrate their work, then maybe these quieter, deeply human stories will get more recognition.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. I just saw a trailer for a new Amazon series, Good Girls Revolt. It’s based on real events at a news magazine in the late 1960’s during the Woman’s Movement. This looks a lot more interesting than Mad Men. (I’ve never seen Mad Men. It may be really good, but it seemed to me that men behaving badly is what that story is about and I’m looking for some quite different.) I think I’ll check out this new series and see if it fits what I’m looking for.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Thank You Mr. Trump!

Caring Hand
Caring Hand

“When we see others as less than perfect, we move out of alignment with the field of infinite potentiality. We clog up the pipes of our own good.” ~ Pam Grout E Cubed.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~ Melody Beattie, Author of Codependent No More

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” ~ Dalai Lama

I know what your thinking. How can she say thank you to Donald Trump? He’s the most hated man in the world at present and most people think he’s an embarrassment to our country. Because of him we’ve lost all the respect we gained by having Barack Obama as our President. Well, I traveled outside our country twenty years ago and I can say maybe we gained some respect because of President Obama, but we’ve had a bad reputation around the world for quite some time. We just didn’t want to face up to why that is. Donald Trump revived old feelings and attitudes that have been festering under the surface for perhaps the entire life of our country. He’s the head on the pimple at the end of our collective nose and we can’t ignore the infection any longer.

There is a big difference between his supporters, and detractors. His supporters see him as the get out of jail pass. Because he speaks his mind about … do I really need to enumerate the list again? … he garners support from the people who were too afraid to express those same feelings out loud. They love him for reinforcing their fear and hate. They don’t want to do any self-examination, he gives them permission not to.

Those who oppose Trump go on and on about how horrible he is, but find it easier to tear him apart than to admit that he’s made us take a good look at the unsolved problems in this country. He’s sticking our faces in the cow pie. We don’t like it so we’re waking up.

For a number of months I’ve been thinking about writing this very post, but the ideas wouldn’t gel. I was appalled by Trump’s antics. Like lots of other people, I couldn’t figure out how he got to be the GOP nominee. I hated the fear and hate he spews, his blatant disrespect for others, and the way he never takes responsibility for what he says and does.

Then it it me, I HATED! I’d rather hate him than look at all the unresolved issues we face in this country, and that I need to address in myself.

For so long we patted ourselves on the back because of the outcome of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Women’s Movement, and the demonstrations against the Viet Nam War. Most of us thought we’d conquered our demons. There was no more work to do. We now had the perfect society. But underneath the surface, tensions were building. Policies were made that helped the rich get richer, kept the military machine growing, big pharma gouging, big oil, gas, and coal raping the environment, while the middle class shrunk and we pointed fingers at each other blaming this group or that for the erosion of our lives.

Then Donald Trump came along, (and Bernie Sanders) and blew the lid off our delusions. And here is the good thing about that … we’re talking, we’re examining, we’re looking at the causes and how we can fix things.

I thank Donald Trump for that because he made me take a good look at how I sat by passively thinking that I didn’t need to do any more work. But the truth is, I live one mile from the Mexican boarder. Yet I have no desire to visit Mexico, because of the rape gangs, the drug trafficking and the like. (Those are real by the way, just like it’s real that people from other countries hesitate to visit the U.S. because of our gun violence.) It’s ironic that I feel that way because I taught school in a border town. Most of my students were of Mexican descent and I can honestly say, I had never in my teaching career been treated with such respect by both students and parents as I did while teaching in that town. Trump is making me take a really good look at all my prejudices, and helping me make new choices about how I see and treat people.

I laughed out loud this morning as I picked up E Cubed To do the next experiment “I’m Loving and I know It.” I had been contemplating what to write in this post, and it reinforced the way I have been feeling. In the chapter Pam tells a story about something she once heard Wayne Dyer say, that he had a photo of Rush Limbaugh on his alter along with a lot of other masters, because loving Rush “offers us a Ph.D. program in loving unconditionally.”

I don’t have an alter, but Donald Trump is the person I pick to learn to love unconditionally. If he hadn’t come along it might have taken me, (and the country) a lot longer to get off my tush and examine all those holes where I stuffed my prejudices. He showed me the kind of person I DO NOT want to be.

How do I learn to love Donald Trump you might ask. I took Pam’s advice and thought of him as a little boy being taught to hate, fear, and treat people terribly by his father and grandfather. He didn’t have a chance. Now he’s so used to his way of life, he doesn’t want to change, or maybe he doesn’t think he can change. He has really bought into Worldview 1.0.

In E Cubed, Worldview 1.0 is the old adage, “It’s me and you (and I’m not so sure about you) against the world.” It’s outdated and needs to be changed. Worldview 2.0 is “Being in love with everyone and everything brings me into alignment with the FP.” The FP is the field of infinite potentiality, or God if you prefer. That’s where we’re headed. In fact, even mainstream politicians, thinkers and journalists are saying that we’re on the brink of great change for the better. We had to have several national crisis events (Donald Trump is only one of those) to help us see that we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for to fix the world. It’s only through loving and caring each other that we can transform problems into opportunities for all.

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Trump.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

My Life Flows On In Endless Song

California Coast
California Coast

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Wayne Dyer

This morning I woke up with one of my favorite hymns in my head.

“My life flows on in endless song; Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the real though far off hymn That hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, How Can I keep from singing?”
Text: Robert Lowry, 1826 – 1899
Tune: Quaker Hymn; harm. David N. Johnson, 1922 – 1987; copyright 1977 Praise Publications, Inc.; used by permission for Hymns of the Saints 1981, Herald Publishing House.

Let me back up so you’ll understand why I was comforted by this song this particular morning.

Last night was the first Presidential Debate. I didn’t watch it for a number of reasons. One, two people who are running for President were left out, I know who I’m voting for come November 8, and I’m a highly sensitive person. An excessive amount of drama is extremely unsettling to me. After seeing the chatter on Facebook last night and this morning, I think I made the right decision.

I find it also interesting that we had a large thunderstorm over our heads starting at about 3:30 a.m., lasting until Barry left for work. It’s almost as if Mother Earth is disturbed by all the political, social and military confrontations and upheavals as well.

Having that particular hymn flit through my brain is comforting. It reminds me that I can allow life to toss me about, or I can find a rock to cling to, and rejoice that I’m safely anchored and well cared for. Mother Earth, or God, or the Universe, or any name you choose, is in charge. Which means I don’t have to be.

I think it was Eckhart Tolle who said, “What you resist persists, what you focus on grows stronger.” That’s been a really difficult thing for me to learn, to turn away from the negative people, events, and thoughts in my head, and focus on loving, positive things. I’m grateful for the gentle reminder that no matter how things appear, all is well as evidenced by my remembering a hymn that continues to bring me peace. I never want to turn away a good message.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

My Father part 3 – Honoring Others

Getting a hug from Dad
Getting a hug from Dad

“Find the sweetness in your own heart, then you may find the sweetness in every heart.” ~ Rumi

“Some cause happiness wherever they go.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

There are some people who light up a room when they come into it, who make everyone feel good, and when you’re with them they make you feel like you are the most important person in the world. My father was one of those people. That was remarkable because he wasn’t the loud extrovert who makes a noisy entrance. He was a humble introvert, but when he spoke people listened, and when people spoke he listened with eloquence. He honored everyone he encountered. What this taught me was that if you are interested in people, you can make a big difference in their lives, and in your own life too.

From my father I learned to be empathetic, to listen and try to see past the outer behaviors and attitudes we all protect ourselves with; the faces we present to the world. These tools helped me as I went out into the world. I encountered people at school, college and work who didn’t know how to use empathy as a tool. Having to associate with them was extremely uncomfortable and confusing. I was surprised that not everyone had learned those skills from their parents. However, as I thought about how different I was from others, eventually, a kernel of an idea began to grow. Maybe everyone comes into this world with a hidden purpose that contributes to whatever it is that is driving all of humanity toward some eventual bright future.

It was at this point that I read the book, Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch. In the book Neale asks God why we had to have a person like Hitler? What was the purpose of having a person who was so filled with fear and hatred that millions of people were killed as a result of his drive for power? Why hadn’t He stepped in to protect us? God’s answer made so much sense to me. Humans have free will. People like Hitler show us the contrast between love and hatred. And when we’re confronted with those people, we have an opportunity to choose whether to follow them, or follow the path of love as set out by people like Jesus, or Buddha or other great teachers. When a Hitler comes into so much power, the only solution, if we choose love, is to stand up to them. In other words, God said World War II was necessary to affirm that we, as a human collective wanted to live by love rather than hatred. That made so much sense to me. Situations like that force us to come together to use our free will and choose what kind of society we want to live in. It is, of course, a slow process. More opportunities to choose, like the seminal moment in which we find ourselves right now, will present themselves. Each individual who chooses to honor others, rather than to grab for power, pushes us toward growth. The process isn’t easy. It’s messy and uncomfortable, but necessary.

We like to think that our lives don’t matter but they do. My dad was a humble man who didn’t aspire to be a world leader, but I felt good when I was around him. He made the people he associated with feel good about themselves. He helped us all discover talents we didn’t know we had, he honored us in ways not many other people did. I’m so grateful that he was my father because as I’ve tried to emulate him, I know that others who knew him are doing the same. The ripples of his influence continue out into the world. He wouldn’t want any more of a tribute than that. And I’m grateful for what I learned from him so I can make my own contributions for love. Thanks, Dad.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment, or share the link for this post with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016