Hope and Love

Daffodils serenading the sun.

“There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who do not. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.” ~ José N. Harris

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

You might think I’m going to join the chorus of people commenting on the situation with the virus, but I’m not. Okay, not entirely.

I make connections between things that seem to be totally unrelated. This morning as I was thinking what to write for this week’s post, the movie we watched last night kept running through my head. It’s a survival/love story and aren’t we in the middle of that kind of situation right now?

The movie is The Mountain Between Us with the wonderful Kate Winslet and Idris Elba in the lead roles. I recorded it a few weeks ago on a whim. I’d never heard of it before, but I thought, “Hey, we can’t go wrong with Kate Winslet and Idris Elba at the heart of the story.” If you don’t know the movie, I suggest you rent it.

Alex, played by Kate is trying to get to her wedding, but her flight to Denver has been cancelled because of an impending storm. Ben, played by Idris, is a surgeon trying to get to an important surgery, but is in the same boat. They happen to be going in the same direction. Alex suggests they charter a plane. The pilot, Walter, played by Beau Bridges, has a small two seater. This makes Alex and Ben nervous, but they are hell bent on getting to their destinations as quickly as possible so they charter the plane. While over the mountains, Walter suffers a massive stroke and they crash. It’s January! Walter dies, and they are both injured, Alex the most severely with a broken leg. They are faced with the problem of how to survive the mountains in winter. They only have each other, a small amount of survival gear and Walter’s dog. It takes them weeks to get down to the valley floor to find help.

Near the end of the movie I said to Barry, “How do you come back to your life after an experience like that?” To which he replied, “I don’t know. Maybe you can’t.” That’s so true. Adversity of any kind alters us. It changes our trajectory. We have to navigate the world in a new way.

That’s what happens to Ben and Alex. She couldn’t marry her fiancé when she gets back. She’s forever bound to Ben. He’s altered too, but thinks that Alex has gone through with her wedding. So, he goes back to London to practice a different kind of medicine, one that requires him to be more involved with his patients. After many calls to Ben, Alex sends him the photographs she took during their survival journey. I forgot to mention that she’s a photojournalist. When he gets the photos, he sets up a meeting in New York where she lives. Their meeting is awkward at first. But when he finds out that she didn’t get married, we see hope in his eyes. Alex thinks they’ve missed their chance, but she tells Ben she thinks it was love that helped them survive. Outside the restaurant, they part. Alex going one direction, Ben the other. But their connection to each other is so strong, they turn around and run back into each other’s arms.

So, even though what we’re going through right now isn’t a movie with a completely happy ending, change is going to happen whether we like it or not. I know from personal experience that giving into fear and fighting to keep things the same only makes life more difficult. I have hope that we won’t do that. That we’ll navigate through these rough times and come through the better for it.

I’m sending love and prayers to all of you, to all of us. I hope you are well, or getting well.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020

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

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.

A New Plan

Architecture plans“And it’s a human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible.” ~ Alan Rickman

“Fairy tales are more than true not because they tell us that dragons exist but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ~ Neil Gaiman

I’ve been thinking for a long time about making some changes to this blog. The subtitle for what I’ve been writing is “The Arts, Spirituality, Life.” I chose those things to focus upon because they gave me a great deal of leeway. I could write about anything that came into my head and whatever I wrote would fit into one of those categories. But I’ve become restless of late. I needed a better focus for what I was writing. Over the next few weeks I’ll be changing the focus and look of this site. I hope you’ll stay with me on this new adventure.

After a lot of thought, I realized that I’ve been in love with stories my entire life. Our family would watch movies and then discuss them. Eventually it was just my dad and me discussing something we’d watched together. Those discussions could go on for days afterward. They were a great way to understand my dad’s philosophy of life, and to connect with him on a deep level.

I didn’t realize this at the time, but I gravitated toward degrees that focus on story telling because those discussions with my dad helped me understand human behavior and interactions better. I loved that I could have experiences, make mistakes, and learn things all from the comfort of my couch. Eventually I also fell in love with books for the same reason.

So, from now on I’m going to share things I learn about being a human from the books I read, the movies, TV shows, and plays I see. Stories will be my way to examine the big questions that baffle me, or insights, or new perspectives I gain from consuming them.

Having written that, I’d like to write about an Amazon series that I’ve written about before. It’s The Man in The High Castle. My sister and I were discussing it because she and her husband have begun watching the first season. Our discussion brought back so many memories and insights I gained from watching.

The series is based on the book of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It’s a dystopian story which takes place in the 1960s in an alternate reality in which the Nazis and Japanese won WW II and divided up most of the world between them. The former United States is ruled by the Japanese in the West and the Nazis in the East with a neutral zone in the Rocky Mountains. A key point of the plot is the existence of news reel type films showing events in the reality we know where the Allies won the war. The Nazis and to a lesser degree, the Japanese want to find “the man in the high castle” and end the distribution of these films. The reason is obvious, they challenge their power. And it’s this idea of the different kinds of power that my sister and I were discussing.

In the book Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav, which we have both read, Zukav outlines two kinds of power. External power is based on our perceptions of the five senses. The idea is that, there is not enough to go around, so I need gather as much power as I can to protect myself and my loved ones. The Nazis and most of the Japanese characters are driven by external power. They need to control external circumstances to make themselves safe.

The other kind of power that Gary Zukav says we’re moving toward is authentic power, that is based on the perceptions and values of the spirit. In other words, what is good for all of humanity is good for me too. This power comes from within each of us not as power over anyone, but power to cultivate creativity, compassion, and trust. Though the various resistance groups struggle with trust and how to accomplish their goal of overcoming the superpowers, their main focus is to make sure everyone has the necessities and opportunities they need to create good lives.

The book ends rather abruptly when the main character, Juliana Crain, finds the man who has been distributing the videos. But meeting him doesn’t answer the question of why he’s doing this. It doesn’t seem he has any purpose except to cause chaos. The series, on the other hand, uses the plot device of the videos as a way for various resistance movements to gain momentum in their fight against tyranny. The man is producing and distributing these films attempting to foster an evolution to authentic power. He is spreading hope that love and brotherhood is more powerful than the fear the Nazis and Japanese dish out.

An interesting part of the story for me are the traveling characters who can travel between dimensions or timelines. One of these is the Japanese Trade Minister. He and Juliana have an interesting relationship, sometimes bridging the two timelines. All the characters who travel to the timeline we know, either gain strength from their visits, or are confronted by the bad decisions they made. And those kinds of character studies are always interesting to me because some characters make expedient decisions instead of thinking of the consequences they will face further down the road. When their lives end up badly, it’s like a warning sign to the audience, “Don’t make these mistakes.”

It seems to me that stories can also help us make sense of what we experience in the outer world at the time of their creation. The Man in the High Castle is a piece of art that shows us a version of what we are experiencing right now. There are leaders who want to control their citizens by denying their basic needs. They control by using fear to keep the population down. On the other hand, there are leaders who seem to feel the trials of their fellow human beings and want to do something to relieve their suffering.

Stories give us a chance to explore the consequences of the choices the various characters make without experiencing them personally. Sometimes mental distance can be a good thing.

I hope you will stay with me on this ride. Stories permeate our lives and as the quotes above advocate, we need them. We need them to give us courage, or to weigh possibilities, or to help us get new perspectives, or even to connect emotionally with people (characters) we might never encounter in our real lives. Stories help us develop empathy. And in my estimation, we can use a lot more of that.

So, welcome to my new followers. Thanks so much for reading. Please leave a comment or a like, and if you feel so inclined, share this site with your family and friends. I’m a story nerd and would love to discuss the stories you love too.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020

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

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.

Women’s Stories

Working Mom

“And one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong, and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.” ~ Mark Anthony, The Beautiful Truth

This week I’ve been immersed in stories. Dave, my acting friend, had auditions for Twelfth Night on the weekend. I was there since I am, as one of the cast members labeled me, the “Producer”. It was a long weekend, but watching actors bring characters to life is an exhilarating experience. Twelfth Night has a female protagonist who must dress up like a man so she can survive the loss of her brother and all her possessions. And just now as I write this I’m putting the dots together, that I’ve been immersing myself in women’s stories for quite some time.

Also in Dramatic Structure class this week, we watched the movie, Easy Virtue, which has a female protagonist played by Jessica Biel. She’s recovering from the trauma of the terrible illness and death of her first husband when she meets a fresh young man and falls in love with and marries him. He takes her home to his family’s estate, and there, as an American, she has a difficult time fitting in. Living in the English countryside with people who are, for the most part, close minded, almost ruins her. But she’s a survivor.

When I was choosing the movies for the class, I realized almost half of them had female protagonists. At first I thought the young men in the class might not be able to connect with these movies because of that. But, I think I underestimated them. They seem to have enjoyed the female driven movies we’ve watched so far as much as the male driven ones. It’s encouraging to hear their insights when we discuss the movies.

This desire to immerse myself in women’s stories started several years ago. I realized that I was reading books that were almost exclusively by and about women. And that the stories I love the most are about characters who find themselves in unusual situations in which they must learn to adapt. The other stories that speak to me are the ones where the characters have unusual relationships that lead them to profound self-discovery.

Maybe I’m drawn to these kinds of stories because they are personal. I’ve had to navigate new situations often because I’ve moved a lot. Taking the lay of the land and how I can fit into the new situation is a skill I’m glad I’ve developed. And self-discovery has been a lifelong theme for me.

Immersing myself in the stories of other people has been beneficial for me in some profound ways. Even though I was born with empathetic skills, I’ve developed them to a higher degree because of analyzing the stories I watch and read. I understand human behavior and motivation better now than I did when I was younger. That helps me be more tolerant but also makes me want to dig deeper into what makes up human nature. I love it when I get aha moments that allow me to get new insights about who we are and why we’re here.

Stories are food for my soul and I love sharing the meal with others.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. It’s a lovely time of year. I hope you get to go out and enjoy nature.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

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

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

A New Venture

Woman Listening

“I’m a freelance person, and I’ve always been able to support myself.” ~ Gloria Steinem

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I know, I know, how many new things can I put on my plate? Right now I’m teaching a class at the college, working on the audiobook for The Space Between Time, working on Time’s Echo, writing these blog posts, helping a friend with her audiobook, and, of course, trying to keep up with domestic chores. But, everyone is busy, right? I’m ready for a change I just didn’t know how to make what I wanted to do happen.

For quite some time I have been looking for a way to increase my income by selling more books and perhaps using other of my talents so I can quit teaching. Last week, in my journal, I asked for help in achieving my goals. Though I didn’t expect it, my answer came that very day. I had signed up for an information workshop for a coaching program to help people become freelancers. I’ve wanted to do this for quite sometime, but had no idea where to begin.

As I listened to the presentation, I got very excited. 12 weeks of coaching on how to identify the skills I want to offer, how to find clients, and much more. I’ve only just signed up with The No Pant’s Project. (No pants as in wearing shorts to work instead of business clothes.) I will be sure to keep you informed about how it’s going. The goal is to help freelancers work smarter, not harder, and to help us have time freedom and income to do the things we love doing.

Part of becoming a freelancer is to find your “Super Power”, or the thing you are most passionate about, then offer that skill to people and businesses that need it.

As you know, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, I love discussing all the layers of meaning in movies and novels. The reason I chose theatre as one of my majors was so I could examine the characters in the plays we studied. What motivated them do the things they did in the story?

It’s my belief that most of the time our actions are a result of things we were taught and believed, or experiences in our past. So, if we can identify with and understand characters in a book or movie, we might have a chance at understanding ourselves just a little bit better, and begin to make new choices.

Some months, or maybe a year ago, I read an article that illustrates what I mean. I think it was in the magazine, Psychology Today. The article described a new technique in couples counseling, where the couple would watch a romantic movie, and then share with each other the characters they identified with and why. Watching the movie also gave them an opportunity to examine how well the movie couple communicated with each other and relate those situations with their own relationships. Whoever came up with the idea to help couples by having them watch and discuss movies was a genius. This technique gives couples a chance to distance themselves from their own troubles, yet, it helps them make a correlation between the couple on the screen and themselves.

If I can use my knowledge to help people learn more empathy, and self-understanding, I’ll be a happy woman.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much.

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.

Louis L’Amour and Omega Men

“I think of myself … as a troubadour, a village storyteller, the guy in the shadows of the campfire.” ~ Louis L’Amour

“If you write a book about a bygone period that lies east of the Mississippi River, then it’s a historical novel. If it’s west of the Mississippi, it’s a western, a different category. There’s no sense to it.” ~ Louis L’Amour

The first quote above sums up most of Louis L’Amour’s characters, which is one of the things I like about his books. They are what psychologists would call omega males. An omega male is most often an introvert. He’s confident in his skills, but doesn’t need to boast about them. He only fights when pushed into it, but not to prove himself. He doesn’t countenance ineptitude, or dishonesty. He’s loyal, honest, and honorable. And he protects people who need it. His emotions run deep, but he shows them only when he thinks it’s appropriate. As I was thinking about what it is I love about L’Amour’s characters, I couldn’t help thinking about my dad. He would have made a great character in one of L’Amour’s books.

What started this train of thought was an episode of my favorite podcast, “What Should I Read Next?” with Anne Bogel. A couple of weeks ago Anne’s guest, Chatti Phal-Brown said that she would like to try reading some westerns. As Anne does when a guest says that, she suggested Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. It’s great that Anne loves that book. It’s on my TBR list because I loved the mini-series. However, when Anne suggested it, I wanted to get in on the conversation and suggest that Chatti try reading some Louis L’Amour too.

My dad loved the western movie genre. I can’t say whether he read any of the novels the movies were based upon, but dad and I would watch the movies together and then discuss them. Our favorites were the ones with characters and stories much like those Louis L’Amour wrote, where the main male character isn’t a carousing gunfighter, but a humble, hard working cowboy or lawman. I think we loved them because our ancestors traveled west and had to carve out a living much as the characters in the movies did.

The first story I read by Louis L’Amour was “The Gift of Cochise” which he later turned into the novel, Hondo which at the same time became the movie of the same name with John Wayne in the lead. I was teaching alternative school and that was one of the stories my students were required to read. I was captivated by the story partly because it takes place in the region of Arizona where I live. I could see the countryside, L’Amour described. But mostly I was impressed with the characters and the mostly gentle way the story unfolds. I liked the story so much that I sought out other of L’Amour’s books. In every one I’ve read, the women are strong and capable, the men are the “strong, silent,” omega male types.

One of my favorite Louis L’Amour book/movie connections, and there have been a lot of them, is Conagher. It’s a story about a family who have moved west to become ranchers. When the husband dies on his way to buy the herd, the widow, Evie, and her children must try to make their own way. They have an extremely difficult time of it. Along comes Conagher, a local cowboy who, until he meets this family, has drifted from job to job. He’s a bit of a legend since he’s loyal to the brand he rides for, and doesn’t make any bones about disliking men who are out for what they can get. This makes him a bit of a target for the insecure cowboys he meets.

Of course Conagher, like all Louis L’Amour’s books, is a romantic story too, in more than one way. The countryside is gorgeous, there are cattle rustlers, and, fist fights. And, of course, Conagher falls in love with Evie and her children and they with him. It’s a story that makes you feel good about human nature. That’s probably the thing I like best about Louis L’Amour’s books, they make you feel good.

So, if you’re into trying something new, you might want to check out Louis L’Amour’s books and the movies based on them.

Have a fabulous weekend. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate 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, women’s 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.

Eye of the Storm

“May you live in interesting times.” ~ Chinese curse

“The power of creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by so quickly you hardly catch it going.” ~ Tennessee Williams

Sometimes I feel like I live in a constant storm. I’ve been thinking a great deal lately of how that stresses me out and I don’t like that feeling. It’s been a goal of mine for several years to stop living in the future and just appreciate the present moment. But those lessons I learned early on about making goals for each day and plans for years to come are extremely difficult to break. I mean, I still wake up every morning with a list in my head of things I want to accomplish that day so I can feel good about myself. I do this even though I know, intellectually, that my worth has nothing to do with my accomplishments.

Yesterday I watched the movie The Intern with Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. It’s this great story about a seventy year old widower, played by De Niro, who feels like being retired is just not fulfilling. Since he’s alone, and he’s not interested in any of the women of his acquaintance, he decides to apply for an intern position at a new internet company. He’s not well versed on how internet commerce works, but he was an executive at DEX and knows how business works and the principles are pretty much the same. He is paired up with Anne Hathaway, the owner of the company, against her wishes. But she does it to please her investors.

The company has been such a huge success that they met their five year goals in eighteen months. Which means, Jules, Hathaway’s character, is extremely busy. She’s still in the mode of doing everything herself. At first she ignores Ben, De Niro, but he makes himself useful and soon all the young employees love him, so Jules reluctantly begins giving him more and more work and, true to Hollywood form, they become friends. Ben helps Jules over some really tough decisions about her business and her personal life.

What I took away from watching the movie was that Jules and I are a lot alike. Okay, I’m not a high powered executive with a husband and a young child, but I do pay attention to the little details of my work. And often I’m thinking about the next task I need to do while supposedly paying attention to the one I’m currently working on. I think that’s kind of a common human practice. But it’s not good. Multi-tasking doesn’t work.

This morning as I was thinking about what I was going to write for this post, I felt harried. A lot has been going on in Arizona and the country over the last few days. On top of that today is the primary elections and I’ve been stressed about all of that. But I’ve had this strong feeling that I want to be less stressed, and then I remembered Jules in the movie. She learns that she is the only one who can decided what is important in her life and her business. And that helped me remember that I’m in control of my thoughts and actions. If I turn my attention to the present moment, I can avoid feeling beleaguered by events going on around me.

After all, we only have the present moment. We can’t manipulate the past or the future. But we can influence the future by the choices we make today. So, today I’m heading for the eye of the storm and staying there in the present moment where it is for the most part calm. If I get caught up in the storm, I’ll remember to take a breath and make the appropriate decisions one at a time that will help me get back to that calm place that is always inside me. I’ll probably have to remind myself of this many times before it becomes habit but it’s worth the work.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate 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, women’s 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.

A Simpler Time – Historical Novels

Cadfael’s herb garden

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always trumps over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” ~ Robert Fulghum

“I never feel lonely if I’ve got a book – they’re like old friends. Even if you’re not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they’re part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life.” ~ Emilia Fox

I’ve always been a fan of historical novels, movies and TV shows. My particular favorite time period for some unknown reason, is the Middle Ages. In fact, I’ve recently read six or seven series that take place from the late 800s to the 12th century. The Cadfael Chronicle series is my latest binge reading pleasure.

I’ve been pondering my fascination with what most of us would consider simpler times. There are so many stresses in our modern culture and as an introvert and empath, sometimes being out and about can be torture. So, losing myself in a story is very soothing. It’s my attempt to escape being bombarded with people’s stressed emotions, all the noise of technology, and fast pace of modern life.

And yet, if you’re a student of history or read historical novels, you know the times may have been slower, but they were anything but simple. There was just as much conflict between people and countries, travel was always perilous, and health care was much more primitive. There was just as much political infighting and intrigue as there is now. But what makes us think those times were simpler is the fact that there were fewer distractions. Nevertheless, suffering was the same, as was love, and all the other things that make us human. And maybe all of the above is what attracts me to historical novels. The characters have time to listen to and observe each other. They have time to develop relationships over long periods of time. I’m envious of that slower pace of life. As I read or watch, I get to see how the characters deal with their challenges and that helps me deal with my own.

Since we’re going through a particularly stressful time at present, I was happy when I got an offer for several Cadfael ebooks at a fantastic price. One thing I loved about the Cadfael series when I was introduced to it on Masterpiece Mystery twenty-five plus years ago, is the title character. Plus, I’m a pushover the a story told in an unusual way. The series is a wonderful mashup of the 12th century and someone we wouldn’t normally think of as a crime fighter, a monk!

Cadfael is a Welshman who is a Benedictine monk at the monastery in Shrewsbury, England. He came to that calling late in life. Before becoming a monk, Cadfael was a soldier in The Crusades, and later a sailor. In the series, he’s the monastery herbalist making healing tinctures, salves, syrups, and ointments for his fellow brothers and the wider community. Because of his past experiences, he’s learned a great deal about wounds, and to be highly observant of human behavior, which makes him good at solving murders.

Another thing I love about Cadfael is that he is no starry-eyed religious zealot. He’s seen life, and though he believes in God, he has a much more open minded view of theology than many of his brothers. His more humanistic take on God appeals to me because of my religious studies degree. Cadfael has no illusions that the church is completely holy. It is after all run by men, who he well knows, are fallible. And yet, he longs for a quieter life where he can do some good, and that’s what he has found by becoming a monk.

One thing I love about not only the Cadfael series, but all of the book series that are historical, the authors have done meticulous research about trade, travel, politics, war and battle techniques, medical practices, the different professions, and just day-to-day life. The influence of the Catholic Church was very strong during most of Europe from the early middle ages, though remnants of the pagan religions remained. Because of my background, I find that fascinating.

I’ve learned so much about historical events and figures, and of the various time periods from reading these books. They were definitely more fun to read than a dry history book describing events, dates, and names of historical figures. And yet, I often do a little extra research to find out more about these historical figures and the times in which they lived.

Perhaps, the thing I love most is how these novels have helped me get a glimpse into the lives of normal, everyday people who lived centuries ago. And in a strange way, it’s comforting to know that the experiences of those people were not so very different than my own.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in The Cadfael Chronicles series.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Here’s to a fantastic weekend for you all.

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, women’s 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.

How We Treat Children

Unbridled Joy

“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ~ Fred Rogers

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.” ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

There is a saying that you can tell a lot about a society by the way they treat animals. I contend that you can also tell a lot about a society by the way they treat children. I’ve been thinking a great deal about children lately and the way we’ve been treating them.

Last weekend my husband and I went to see the documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? about Fred Rogers and his PBS children’s show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred Rogers’ approach to dealing with children was so loving and kind. It’s the way we should be treating all the children we come into contact with, even if their parents came into this country illegally.

Mr. Rogers was an ordained minister who used television to help children feel like they were heard, seen, and appreciated. He also used the show to help young children deal with things that most adults have trouble dealing with as well. Things like death, divorce, tragic events, being bullied, and even social issues that might impact them. No topic was off limits for Mr. Rogers. During the Civil Rights movement when people were having black children removed from public swimming pools for no other reason than they had a different skin color, Mr. Rogers invited the neighborhood police officer, who happened to be black, to join him in cooling off his feet with him in a little wading pool. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and then Robert Kennedy were assassinated, he did a show about what the word assassination meant. He did shows about divorce, disabilities, and so much more. He always ended his show by telling the children that he liked them just the way they were. He meant it and they knew it.

Even though many parents and children loved him because of who he was and how he treated them, he had his detractors too. Some journalists, or psychologists, or politicians said that because of Mr. Rogers’ show, a whole generation of children were growing up entitled and narcissistic because he told them they were special. Not everyone is special, they reasoned, and we shouldn’t tell them they are.

I don’t understand the human predilection for blaming the wrong people when bad things happen.

The argument that Mr. Rogers was to blame for the failure of parents to love their children, reminds me of the parents who would say to me, “I want you to fix my child.” I had a whole raft of thoughts going on in my head that I was too nice, or unable to say because of school policy; things like, “I teach five classes a day with 25 to 30 students in each class, and you want me to fix your child? And I see your teenager five hours a week. How many hours do you see your child in a week? If you want them ‘fixed’, you’ll have to change your own behavior. I’ll try to help them deal with the bleep you put them through, but you need to take a good look at how you’re interacting with them if you want them ‘fixed’.” I tried to help teens deal with the things they were concerned about, but I wasn’t always successful. I made mistakes, and I couldn’t reach every student.

In the same vein, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was on for one hour every weekday, that’s five hours a week. Yet people were blaming him if their children didn’t turn out the way they thought they should? Who’s the narcissist blaming others for their own mistakes?

And then, this week, I discovered that my favorite version of Jane Eyre is on Amazon Prime Video. As I watched the first segment, I remember how I felt when I read the book in high school. I was so angry with Jane’s aunt. She treated Jane horribly and encouraged her children to do the same thing. Here was Jane, an orphan being blamed for all sorts of wickedness that, of course, she was not responsible for. Her aunt hated her so much that she sent her to a horrible school for girls, which was more like a prison. The girls were not fed properly, didn’t have proper heat, or warm clothes, and they got punished often for tiny little infractions that really didn’t matter at all. I just didn’t get that? And we’re still doing similar things to children today.

Most people claim they want children, then some treat them abominably when they begin to walk, talk, and think for themselves. You hear parents in the grocery stores, or at the soccer field, or in restaurants yelling at their children for all kinds of trivial things. Heaven forbid a child should have their own feelings. This kind of abuse leads some, when they get to be adults, to have a difficult time relating out in the world and we wonder why.

While I wrote all of that, I was thinking of all the years I worked with young children. I started before I was out of high school, teaching Bible School classes and graduated to being an aide in Montessori Schools, child development and day care centers. In the mid to late 1980s, I was a teacher in one of the four year old classrooms at the child development center sponsored by my congregation. For the most part it was fun creating the projects and choosing the books to read to the children. But sometimes I encountered a child with severe problems. I had one little boy who would get extremely angry, throw chairs and other things around the room, and hurt the other children. The director and I didn’t really know what was going on. We informed the parents of the boy’s behavior and asked the other staff to keep watch. One day one of the teachers found the boy in the bathroom with another boy doing things that little four year old boys should not know anything about. That’s when we got a clue that this little boy had been sexually abused. We called in the parents and told them our suspicions. They had emigrated from one of the war torn African countries to avoid such things and were appalled. They began an investigation and discovered that the abuser was their baby sitter, a woman who had been recommended by their pastor. If I remember correctly, it was discovered this was not the first time the woman had done this. She was arrested and I think convicted of child abuse. And the parents had to send their beautiful little boy for counseling. He got better, but oh my, what a heartbreaking situation that family had already suffered just to get here and then to have that happen. I sometimes think of that little boy, who is now a man, and wonder if he healed from that traumatic time in his life. I hope he did.

That little boy makes me wonder what will happen to the children who were recently ripped from their parents arms and locked away. Will they be able to heal after they are reunited with their parents? I hope so, but I feel terrible what happened to them in my country.

In my opinion, children are our most precious gifts. Fred Rogers knew that and tried to make the lives of children easier. He tried to help them process their feelings and understand the world a little better. We need more people like Mr. Rogers in the world.

I encourage you to go see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Mr. Rogers was the perfect example of the meek, gentle person, who is dismissed and sometimes ridiculed by more outgoing types, but nevertheless changes the world. If you’re sensitive like me, you might want to take plenty of tissues when you go see the movie.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and liking. I appreciate 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, women’s 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. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Dune – Evil Kills Itself

Dune SONY DSC

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will let it pass over me and through me. And when it has passed I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where it has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ~ Paul Atredies in Dune

The other morning as I was in that nether world between sleep and waking I heard a voice say, “Evil always kills itself.” I opened my eyes and thought back to all my favorite novels, movies, and events in history and confirmed the truth of what I’d heard. It may take a long time, but people who lust for power are eventually crushed under the weight of all they try to control.

Later that week several things happened, too numerous to relate here, in which various people expressed fear over current events. These two ideas converged in my head and I thought that I’d write about the book and movie/mini-series, Dune, which is one of the great examples of what I heard in my head that morning.

One of the things I love about the fantasy/sci-fi genres is that they can take the things we struggle with everyday and show them in a new way. The authors and movie makers put their stories of human experience on a distant planet, in space, in a parallel universe, or in the struggles of superheroes so we can examine ourselves at a safe distance.

Frank Herbert’s Dune, is such a story. The power struggles in his story are not confined to one planet, but to an entire universe. Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV is trying, desperately, to hold on to his power, but there are many forces against him, The Baron Harkkonnen, the Spacing Guild, and the Bene Gesserits, an all female order, all want to control the spice melange on the planet of Arrakis. This spice extends life and enhances certain psychic powers. Whoever controls the spice, controls the universe.

In the middle of this struggle is Duke Leto Atreides and his family. The Duke has no taste for power other than to rule his own home planet of Caladan. He’s a benevolent ruler and his people love him. His humility and humanity makes him popular with the lesser nobles in the universe as well and a threat to the balance of power. This makes him a target. The Emperor and the Baron, commanded by the Spacing Guild, join forces to destroy not only the Duke but his entire family.

Meanwhile, extended use of the spice has caused the Spicing Guild leader to become something other than human. He can see the future and knows that the precarious balance that exists will be upset by the unexpected coming of a super being created by ninety years of genetic manipulation of the Bene Gesserits. This being is called the Kwisatz Haderach. The Spicing Guild wants to kill this being to maintain their power, the Bene Gesserits want to control him to gain theirs. Their plans are upset, however, when Duke Leto’s concubine, the Lady Jessica, a Bene Gesserit who was to have had only daughters, disobeys because the Duke wanted a son. This makes her son, Paul, a dark horse, and a target for all those struggling for ultimate power.

The Fremen, the native inhabitants of Arrakis, are another dark horse element in the struggle. Everyone assumes that the Harkkonnens, who have governed spice production on the planet for centuries, have killed off most of them. When the Emperor orders Duke Leto to become the new governor of Arrakis, the Duke sends out a trusted ambassador and discovers that the Fremen have been living in hiding in the deep desert. Their numbers are vast, and they want their planet back. Duke Leto vows to help them do that, but before he can put his plan into motion, he’s betrayed and killed. Jessica and Paul escape, unbeknownst to the four groups struggling to gain the upper hand.

In the end, Paul, Jessica and his young sister Alia, become Fremen. It is revealed that Paul is the Kwisatz Haderach. When he announces himself after the Fremen win the final battle on Arrakis, all power shifts to them. All the maneuvering, to gain power by the four main combatants falls apart and balance is restored to their universe.

I love all versions of this story because it shows that the lust for power destroys those who attempt to control everything. It also shows that “the powerful” really aren’t. They live in fear for their safety far more than those they dominate. They think that what they have accumulated will protect them. It won’t. It’s like mist and can dissolve in a moment. What the power hungry don’t understand is that there are larger forces that work to maintain true balance.

Frank Herbert and the movie/mini-series makers did a fantastic job of weaving an intricate story to show that real power is embodied by the humble, intelligent, loving and fair rather than the arrogant and cruel. It may take a very long time to restore the balance of power, but it always happens.

And I believe what our good friend John Berger used to say, “There are no victims, only volunteers.” So, going back to our current political situation in this world, though it appears that people’s lives are ruined, or they die as a result of cruel leaders, those “victims” have volunteered on some cosmic level, to help us choose which master we’re going to serve. The stories I love the most all have characters who choose to stand up to cruel tyrants and claim their personal power. I want to do the same.

I just occurred to me that, though it doesn’t look like it, this is an appropriate post for The Fourth of July.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much. For those in the United States, happy Fourth of July. I hope you remember why we celebrate this day.

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, women’s 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. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

The Razor’s Edge

Gene Tierney and Tyrone Power in The Razor’s Edge

“The sharp edge of the razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to salvation is hard.” ~ Katha-Upanishad

“The enjoyment of art is the only remaining ecstasy that’s neither immoral nor illegal.” ~ Elliot Templeton in The Razor’s Edge

“As long as man sets his ideals on the wrong objects there can be no real happiness. Until men learn it comes from within themselves.” ~ Holy Man in The Razor’s Edge

“If I ever acquire wisdom, I suppose I’ll be wise enough to know what to do with it.” ~ Larry Darrell in The Razor’s Edge

What I first saw the movie The Razor’s Edge, I felt as if the author had written the story just for me. I’m so much like Larry Darrell. Seeking wisdom is so much more important to me than earning money. I know money is important too, but after a while using it to accumulate things gets boring. I mean if I had lots of money, I would like to use it for things I want or need to enhance my search, like books and edifying travel. But mostly I’d like to use it to help people. To me self-improvement, and helping improve the lives of others is the best way I can use this life I have.

I think W. Somerset Maugham poses interesting questions in The Razor’s Edge and the movie follows the outline of Maugham’s story almost to the letter. Is there value in searching for self-knowledge over seeking wealth, and who is happier, the wealthy person or the seeker? Who contributes more to society the artist, philosopher, or mystic, or the consumer? Maugham offers the reader an interesting mix of characters to help us make up our own minds about these questions.

Elliot Templeton is a vain American who has denounced his country in favor of living in Paris and ingratiating himself with the wealthy and titled. He helps them sell their precious artwork to survive economic hard times after WW I. Since he is cultured and quite knowledgeable about art and antiques, he becomes indispensable, and thus builds up vast wealth of his own. He becomes the man everyone invites to their parties. However, though he appears completely self-absorbed, he can be extremely generous and kind at the most surprising times.

His Niece, Isabel on the other hand is rather cold, or maybe practical is a better word for her. She claims to love Larry Darrell, her childhood friend, with a deep and profound love. We discover later, however, that part of why she “loved” him was because she thought she could manipulate him to do what she wanted. When he asks her to share his three thousand dollars a year and travel the world to discover the meaning of life, she refuses to marry him. She wants to have fun and in her mind you can’t do that without lots of money.

So, Isabel marries another childhood friend, Gray Maturin who’s father owns a stock brokerage firm. Contrary to the picture painted of stock brokers today, these two are honorable men. Their goal is to help their clients build a secure future by investing conservatively. Unfortunately they are seduced by the craze that leads to the Great Depression and not only lose everything for their clients, but they lose their personal fortunes as well. Isabel and Gray end up living on about three thousand dollars a year. I love the irony of that little twist. Isabel turns out to be loyal, however, when Gray is so wracked with guilt about losing his client’s fortunes that he suffers from debilitating headaches and is unable to work.

Somerset Maugham uses himself as a connecting character in the story. He’s the outsider and thus observer who ruminates on the various characters, their actions and motivations and whether they learn anything or remain as they were when he first met them.

The main character of Maugham’s story is Larry Darrell. He, Isabel, Gray, and another character who plays a big role in the turning point of the story, Sophie, all grew up together in Chicago part of a rather smart set. But when Larry lies about his age and enlists in the Canadian Air Force to fight in WWI, he’s changed by the experience. Gray tells Somerset at one point that Larry was always a different kind of person. He didn’t care about money, always seemed a little bit detached and would disappear from parties without a word. When he returns from the war, he’s even more of a loner than he was before he enlisted. Even Maugham, who is a keen observer of human nature, can’t quite make him out. But he suspects that Larry is looking for something most people don’t even know exists and that thing can only be found inside himself.

Larry tries to tell Isabel what it is he’s chasing when he proposes she join him on his quest. “The only thing that makes me unhappy is making you unhappy. I don’t think I’ll ever find peace until I make up my mind about things. It’s difficult to put into words. The minute you try, you feel embarrassed. You say to yourself, who am I to bother my head about this, that or the other. Wouldn’t it be better just to follow the beaten path and let what’s coming to you, come? And then I think of the guy I knew, a minute before he was full of life and fun, and then … he was dead. I’ve seen many men die; but, this one was different. It was the last day of the war, almost the last moment. He could have saved himself, but, he didn’t. He saved me, and died. So, he’s gone and I’m here, alive. Why? It’s all so meaningless! You can’t help but ask what life is all about. Whether there’s any sense to it or whether it’s just a stupid blunder!”

Because of that one segment, I loved Larry. I understood his inability to put into words not only his deep need for his quest, but for his hope of finding the answers he was seeking.

And so Larry goes in search of the meaning of it all. And in the end, he finds it. But it’s not something he can tell other people. He has to live the truth of what he’s discovered. He knows every person who asks these same questions must find the great truth for themselves.

My favorite scenes in the movie are after Larry has had his profound experience in the Himalayas. The light in his face is extraordinary. You know he’s been touched by something deeply profound and personal. Tyrone Power plays the part of Larry and his performance riveted me to the film.

Now that I’ve read the book, I find that the screen play follows the text of the book most carefully except that it is Larry who does a few things at the end, like confronting Isabel with what she did to break up his upcoming marriage to Sophie, that are done by Maugham in the book. I think Larry making these discoveries himself strengthens his character, which I like very much. But perhaps in the end it doesn’t matter. This book is about people like Larry who hunger to find something meaningful beyond themselves and that is accomplished in both versions. That’s why this is one of my favorite stories of all time. I’m on a similar journey. It’s comforting to know that an author the caliber of W. Somerset Maugham has noticed and written about people like Larry and me.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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, women’s 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. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.