On Specialness

California Coast
California Coast

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ ” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” ~ Boris Pasternak

“Some of us think that holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” ~ Hermann Hess

Does this happen to you? It’s your birthday, or anniversary, or some other special day for you, and you don’t get the present you were hoping for, or your loved ones don’t even notice that’s it’s a special day? Or you’re telling a story and something interrupts and no one notices that you didn’t get to finish your story? Or you’re feeling down and no one notices? Then in each instance you feel irritated, angry and upset because other people didn’t respect or understand you? They were so wrapped up in their own little worlds that they completely forgot about you? That’s happened to me more times than I care to count and for years I didn’t understand why I would get so upset.

As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been studying A Course In Miracles this year. One of the concepts has baffled me a great deal. It’s the idea of “specialness”. The first time I read about this concept, which the course says “…is a lack of trust in anyone except yourself.” I felt extremely uncomfortable. Aren’t we supposed to feel that we are special? That we have gifts and talents the world needs which only we can share? In a way I was affronted by the idea that none of us are special. However, I have to admit that I have had an internal battle for most of my life between feeling ordinary and feeling special, humble and arrogant. I never understood what that struggle was about until I began studying A Course In Miracles.

Last week the concept came up again in my studies and this time I understood the idea that was being conveyed. As I’ve written many times, each of us lives in our own little world. We think of our ideas and our lives as paramount. Our well being is more important to us than that of others. I didn’t like to accept that fact about myself. The Course says it this way, “He who is ‘worse’ than you must be attacked, so that your specialness can live on his defeat.” It’s sad to say but I’ve done that, and had it done to me. I’ve rejoiced when I got the better of others and I’ve suffered when others have defeated me. Maybe it was just the fact that I was praised for something I did, and others weren’t. Or someone cheated me out of some money, or got the job I wanted and made me feel terrible. As I was reading that section of the course, I realized that it is this concept of specialness that has caused so many problems for us throughout the ages.

Something I’m still working to understand is that we are all part of God which means that every single person, maybe even every single thing that exists is my brother. Someone once said it this way, we’re all drops in the larger ocean. God is the ocean. One drop is not better or worse than any other drop but we’re all needed to complete the ocean. We all have our specific function to perform to keep the ocean healthy.

I am happy that with all that’s been going on over the last few years, I finally understand on a new level why we lash out at each other. Self-preservation is one of the most fundamental reactions we experience whenever something happens to us. If we don’t feel like we’re being understood and appreciated over a long period of time, then the pressure builds up and our hurt and anger blow the lid off the cooker and that’s when bad things happen.

My husband and I were talking about this concept in the car as we were driving on our vacation. I said, so now I understand that when we attack others we think we’re protecting ourselves, but it never works. It makes the situation worse. I loved what my husband said, “Yep. The human race hasn’t learned that one yet.” Jesus asked us to turn the other cheek and to love those who despitefully use us. Do I have enough courage to put away my sword? I very much want to. I want to stand defenseless, which is another concept of the Course, that defenselessness is strength.

When I think of the concept of defenselessnes as strength I think of the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza, whose entire family was killed during the Rowandan genocide in the early 1990s. She wrote about her extraordinary experience of survival with seven other women confined to a bathroom for 91 days in her book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rowandan Holocaust, written with Steve Erwin. I saw her speak during one of Wayne Dyer’s talks on PBS. She told about how she and the other women were found by the men perpetuating the terror. Some of them were men she knew. She stood her ground ready to give up her life and she told them she forgave them. When she told that story, I thought that I would not have been able to stand among the murderers as they held their machetes ready to kill me, nor would I have been able to forgive them for killing my loved ones. Yet she was able to do that and they bowed to her strength. She lived to tell the tale of what she learned from those horrific events.

I began these posts over two years ago as a forum for myself to write out and make sense of my experiences and the things I’m learning as I live my life. I write today’s post because I feel I’m at a turning point. I can’t see the world in the ways I used to. And I’m inspired to continue on this journey to become a better, stronger, more loving person. I hope you will continue to come along with me. And if you don’t understand what I’m writing about, I hope you’ll ask questions, or challenge my attempts to express what I’m learning.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Why I Left Organized Religion

Grace Cathedral Window
Grace Cathedral Window

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

“True religion is real living; living with all one’s goodness and righteousness.” – Albert Einstein

Rarely do I talk or write about my break, twenty-five years ago, with organized religion but recently two things happened that made me feel the need to tell my story.

Recently, former President Jimmy Carter announced he is leaving the Baptist Church behind because it has lost its message of love and the Pew Research Center released a report about the decline of all organized religions in the U.S. You can follow the links to read the articles for yourself. When I read those stories, I wasn’t surprised.

My quest for a deeper connection to God began the day I was confirmed into the church. Several generations of my family had been members and that is the reason I joined. I was eight years old. My father, a lay minister in the church, had baptized me the week before and on that Sunday, my father and Al Gardner, another minister in our congregation, placed their hands on my head to bless and confirm me as a member of the church. The moment they touched me, I felt a loving presence surround and permeate my body and I knew it was God. I felt such peace. There was no question in my mind that God and I were friends and would have or perhaps already had had a long relationship with each other.

As I grew up, I forget my connection with God often getting caught up in the events happening around me. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, a very turbulent time. My ego sometimes convinced me that its message was better or stronger than God’s. However, God was always there with open loving arms whenever I remembered S/He was there. Every valuable thing I’ve learned throughout my life is because of my conversations with God.

Over the years I grew to understand that I’m connected to everything that exists, but that each individual must make their own discoveries about who they are and what their purpose is in the grand scheme of this thing we call life.

When I began college, I decided to study religion. I wanted to know all I could about the relationship between humans and the divine. My studies were both joyous and deeply distressing. Each religion began from a pure message that we must love ourselves and one another, but then power hungry men developed doctrines to control the members of their particular brand of religion. Each religion claimed to be THE ONE TRUE FAITH and the original message got distorted causing great conflicts. Many terrible acts of violence throughout the centuries have been committed in God’s name. I didn’t understand the purpose of it all. All I knew was I had to keep my connection to God open and I had to keep searching.

After my husband finished his degree and we moved to Portland, Oregon we were happy with our church duties for a time. We’d chosen Portland because it was one of the more progressive areas of the country and within the church as well. But things changed within the church and our local congregation and my husband and I began to feel like round pegs trying to fit into square holes. The only way we could describe how we were feeling at the time was that we wanted “more” out of our spiritual life. More than the church encouraged and more than any religion that we knew of seemed to offer.

A member of our congregation suggested we read The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. Reading that book was the beginning of the end of our commitment to the church. After that we read in rapid succession, Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine, Quantum Healing by Deepak Chopra, Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav and Awakening to Zero Point by Gregg Braden, which he later rewrote and I think is now titled Fractal Time.

In our deliberations about leaving the church we waffled a great deal. First of all, there was the tradition of our family connection to the church. Then there was the uncertainty of where to go from there? Attending church every Sunday morning, going to church camps and retreats and having a spiritual community were compelling reasons to stay. But two things happened to help us break the ties that held us once and for all. First, we attended two or three spiritual growth retreats developed and offered, ironically, by a minister in our church. He had been a dear friend of our parents and we were so hungry for spiritual connection and answers to our dilemma, that we gladly signed up.

The spiritual growth retreats were designed to be silent for the most part. There were short sessions where we were taught various journaling techniques designed to enhance our skills in listening to God’s voice. We learned meditation and were encouraged to be silent out in nature and wherever we went as often as possible. In fact, each participant had a cabin all to themselves so we could have a quiet place to meditate and contemplate at the end and beginning of each day. Silence during those retreats healed some deeply wounded places in my soul and I will be forever grateful for the various practices I learned during those weekends which I still use today.

The other thing that happened was we had an amazing session with Neale Donald Walsch, author of the Conversation With God books, who was working as a psychic in Portland at the time. The actual sequence of events leading up to my disassociation with the church is now a blur in my mind because one aha led to the next in such rapid succession, but I can say without question seeing Neale was the most profound experience of all.

We’d found Neale’s card on the bulletin board in the dressing room at Common Ground Communal Hot Tubs. A church friend of ours cleaned the place and got free tickets, which she shared with us. Our friend and her husband, my husband and I would go soak and talk every two or three weeks or so. I remember on one visit I saw Neale’s business card, pointed at it and Barry nodded. We took down the number and made the appointment. This was really going out on a limb for us. We felt like we were entering woo woo land. But, Neale’s voice and manner of speaking was so kind and gentle. He was open and accepting and the things he said to us rang true in our hearts. The main thing he said was that we were wasting our talents and that we were embarking on an exciting spiritual journey. That was the confirmation we needed to hear. It wasn’t long after that that we relinquished all our responsibilities within our congregation and stopped attending church.

For awhile we searched for a new spiritual home. We attended Silent Friends meetings, the local Unity Church, and a mega New Thought church. None of them felt like home for long. One of the ministers at the New Thought church once said in a sermon, “Religion should be in the business of putting itself out of business. It should give each individual the foundation to establish their own personal spiritual practice.” That’s what my husband and I came to understand was what we had longed for all those years. We wanted a deep personal relationship with God in which we could shed all the things that don’t serve us or the world. We wanted to allow ourselves to be instruments in God’s hands.

I’m deeply grateful for the foundation I received from my spiritual upbringing in the church of my family. It was within the church that I understood that I could have a personal relationship with God. My daily spiritual practice is deeply enriching to my life, however, I know now I don’t need all the trappings of religion to be the conduit between me and God. It seems to me that the Pew research might indicate that there are others who feel the same way I do.

Thank you for reading this long post. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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What’s in a Word?

December Sunrise
December Sunrise

“The mind that opens up to a new idea never returns to its original size.” – Albert Einstein

“We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another.” – Janis Ian

“If man understood that ‘what I create has nothing to do with what anybody else is creating’ then he wouldn’t be so afraid of what others are doing.” – Abraham

“People who are given whatever they want soon develop a sense of entitlement and rapidly lose their sense of proportion.” – Sarah Churchwell

I have a double major BA, Religious Studies and Theatre and Speech, and I have a MA in Theater Arts. I don’t write that to brag. I write it to let you know that I have lots of experience with the use of words and how they can be used to bend a group of people to a certain point of view.

Words are symbols for ideas. Duh, you might say, but there are two different meanings ascribed to the words we use. There is the denotative, or dictionary meaning and there is the connotative meaning, or the meaning we attach to a word. Some words set off deep emotions within us. And sometimes those emotions are used to bend us to a certain point of view. The people who are doing the bending, don’t always have our best interests at heart. In fact, most of the time they don’t.

Let me give you some examples of words that have been given a new connotative meaning through propaganda. Patriot, liberal, conservative, and entitlement. Those are words we twist in propaganda messages to attack those we don’t like or want to keep in a weakened position. I guess, in that case, we should include in the list, propaganda and persuasion. They are both very powerful ways to sway people to your way of thinking, but they use very different tactics. Look up the words patriot, liberal, conservative, and entitlement for yourself. What does the dictionary say they mean? And do they mean what you think they mean?

I would like to comment on the difference between persuasion and propaganda. When I taught English, we studied the difference between propaganda and persuasion. I wanted my students to begin to think critically about the messages they get through the media.

Persuade: 2. to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince.

Propaganda: 1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc. 2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.

The difference between persuasion and propaganda is clear in the dictionary meanings. But it seems to me that most people don’t do the critical thinking necessary to determine whether what is said in the media, by politicians, the clergy, the business person, banker, or clerk at the grocery store is in fact using persuasion or propaganda.

And that brings me to the current unrest in the world. Accusations are hurled like swarms of bees, but is the buzz the words make true or is it manufactured? Have you bothered to investigate what’s being said? We’re at a critical time in human history where we can destroy ourselves or we can change the world for the better. Which do you hope for? If you want the world to be a peaceful, loving place in which to live, then you need to start to examine the ideas expressed in the books and articles you read, the news you listen to, and even the things your friends say. Our country was founded on debate, but it doesn’t help if you only listen to the words that make you feel comfortable, or that support the way you’ve been indoctrinated to think.

One of my favorite movies is The American President, written by Aaron Sorkin. In that movie two characters, the president, and one of his aides are arguing about whether or not the president should make counter comments to the attacks by the man who is his primary challenger for president in the next election. President Shepard says, “Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. The drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.”

I urge you not to be one of the ones who doesn’t know the difference between the sand and the water. I hope you’re someone who questions everything you read and hear that have to do with the myriad of important issues we face. Examine not only the meaning behind the words people use, but their intent in using them. We can’t afford to be lazy and let things happen to us. We need to be challenging the way we think so we can create a new way of being in the world with our new thoughts.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Discipline

Barry's pottery
Barry’s pottery

“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.” – Jim Rohn

“Confidence comes from discipline and training.” – Robert Kiyosaki

“Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference.” – Lou Holtz

“For those who have been trained by it, no discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful…” – Bobby McFarrin, “Discipline” from Medicine Music

Lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about discipline for various reasons. Some are related to my work as a writer, others have to do with my work as a college instructor, others have to do with my spiritual work. My thoughts are too many and convoluted to enumerate here. However, I want to share some of the things I’ve gleaned from my thinking.

It takes discipline to:

Discover your purpose.

To make your dreams come true.

To educate yourself.

To change your perceptions.

To change from complaining all the time, to being happy each and every day.

To feel empathy by walking in another persons shoes.

We can choose self-discipline or we can choose the opposite.

It takes NO discipline to:

Complain.

To be angry about events outside your control.

To hate those who are different from ourselves.

To blame others for our circumstances.

To roll up in a ball and let fear overtake us.

Whichever we choose, we are responsible for our choices no matter how much we’d like to blame others.

It seems to me humanity is at a cosmically important crossroads. Do you want to, as Wayne Dyer says, die with your music still in you?

If you want a better world in which to live you must choose one way or the other.

If you want to have a happier life, remember what Dr. Christiane Northrup says, “Rather than think you need to go on an archaeological dig into your past, just look at your life in the present moment to see what your past beliefs have created.”

Do you like where you’re living? If not consider employing discipline which is choosing to take one step toward who you want to be, then another step, and another. One day you’ll be glad you started the journey. And remember that every lesson you learn, adds to the advancement of the human race.

Which path do you choose?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Joie de Vivre

Calla Lilies
Calla Lilies

“People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them.” – Tony Robbins

“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.” – Joseph Campbell

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Tuesday is the day I write my weekly blog. Sometimes it’s a struggle to express the things I’ve been thinking about over the last week. Today is especially difficult because it’s the day I’ve finished the grading for the classes that just ended yesterday. Some semesters go smoothly and all my students receive passing grades but as with this semester, sometimes I have students who fail. When that happens, I am tempted to blame myself for their failure. But, the other day I watched the Super Soul Sunday with Dr. Christiane Northrup and something she said was particularly appropriate for how I’m feeling today. She said something like, “If I feel the need to fix other people, that’s my addiction. Each person must find their own way.” Sometimes I want to fix my students and force them to succeed. I felt like that this semester. But that doesn’t help anyone.

I guess I come by it naturally because for most of my life I’ve been a fixer. In fact that was my role in the family. So when my students, friends or family struggle, I’m tempted to help them find their way out of the darkness. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned that the best way to help someone through their dark times is just to be there for them. If I do the fixing for them, it never lasts because it’s as if I don’t trust them to be strong enough to fix their own lives.

It’s interesting that I have such a deep pull toward helping others when most often I keep my own council. For most of my life I’ve felt I had help beyond who or what I could see and I’ve trusted it to guide me. When I was quite young, I felt that one day I would find a deep love of life even when what was happening on the outside wasn’t so very happy.

Now my life is becoming more and more joyful. I wake up every morning excited about the day ahead. So, when Dr. Northrup also said, “Getting older is inevitable, aging is optional,” I felt like she was talking about my life. We choose whether or not to shrivel up and become old, or we choose to learn from the things that happen to us and find a joy in life. Other times we choose to give up and fail. But that’s never the end. We can always make a new choice and transform our lives. That’s grace.

I hope that my students who failed my class will understand that one, two or even twenty failures doesn’t define who they are. There is so much more to each of us than anyone, even we, can see. Digging deep inside to find that larger part of us is what will eventually bring joy to our lives.

This post feels like it’s a bunch of gobbledeeguck, but if there is one thing I hope you get out of it, it’s this: keep plugging along. Keep looking for the things that make you happy. Keep choosing to love, rather than be angry, hurt and upset. Keep telling yourself you’re worthy and one day you’ll find joie de vivre, the joy in living as I have done. When one person finds that, they leave bread crumb clues for those who come along behind.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Fear Or Love

Our Rosebush
Our Rosebush

“You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success – or are they holding you back?” – W. Clement Stone

“If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” – Ellen DeGeneres

“Imagine what seven billion humans could accomplish if we all loved and respected each other. Imagine.” – A. D. Williams

Today’s post has been a long time formulating in my mind and heart. I’m not sure I will explain it very well, or whether you will understand it, but I think now is a good time to write about some very profound insights I’ve had over the last few years.

This year I decided to study A Course In Miracles. I started on January first and every day I read a portion of the text and do one lesson. This isn’t the first time I’ve begun to study the book, but I guess I just wasn’t ready, until now, to give up my old ways of thinking and being to stick with it.

The main message of the book is that fear is connected to the ego which we created when we separated ourselves from God. There are so many erroneous things we believe that we created with our egos during this long separation. Too many to innumerate here but we cling to our beliefs. When they are challenged conflict ensues. The point of the Course is that God is love. That there is nothing else but love. That we are a part of God and always have been. She waits for us to wake up and realize that. When we do wake up and remember our connection, all our other erroneous beliefs fall away. We see the world, ourselves and our purpose for being here in a completely new way.

Now I know that sounds impossible. Fear is real most people moan. The problems of the world are so numerous we may never be able to solve them all. The world is a dangerous place. That’s the way things have always been and that is how things will always be. That’s the way things will always be IF that’s what you want to believe.

My journey to letting go of all the junk my ego fed me over the years hasn’t been a straight or an easy one. But something deep inside me looked at the world around me and said, “This is insane. There has to be something better.” So, I looked for the better. I looked for God in my studies, in my meditations and contemplations and through my creativity. Little by little I’ve shed the illusions that we humans have lived with for centuries. No millennia! And now I’m beginning to feel hope that we can wake up from this long nightmare we’ve been living.

A vital step on my journey to finding true love and peace happened when I read Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. In the book she describes exercises she does when conducting workshops at the Omega Institute which she cofounded. One of them stuck out for me as quite profound. She has the participants in her class imagine that they are dead and gone from the demands of this earthly world. At first I thought the exercise a bit gruesome, but then I decided to try it. When I did the most extraordinary thing happened. All the cares that I thought were so important fell away and I was immersed in the most profound peace I’d ever felt in my life. There were no white lights or anything like that, but I was completely relieved of my burdens of this world and was free to go anywhere I liked, to become anything I liked. I could BE with God in a new and profound way. That experience was the beginning of a new direction that has led me to my study of A Course In Miracles and in letting go of the fear that had been such a large presence in my life.

Just these past weeks I’ve experienced another profound shift in the way I experience life. I was studying a section about how the ego thinks we need to attack those around us. The ego convinces us that if we attack first we’ll be protected, but the opposite is true. When we attack another, we are attacking ourselves. When I understood that, I knew that I had to let go of all the resentments I’d been holding on to. I needed to let go of the wish for revenge, or for accountability, or for apologies from those I thought had attacked me. I needed to forgive completely and totally. As I did that, again, I felt a deep sense of peace. I’ve been able to see each person I might want to hold a grudge against for who they really are, a child of God just like me.

I won’t say I’m perfect at this practice yet. It’s a day to day choice to turn away from those terrible feelings of fear, anger and resentment. When I’m tempted to be angry at some politician who does something I feel is hateful, or against the common good, I have to remember that he or she is a child of God. That person just hasn’t let go of their fear yet. When tensions arise with friends, family and coworkers, I tell myself that God is with me wherever I go, and all is well, even if it doesn’t look like it at the moment. If I just send out love to everyone and everything, that is more powerful than the hatred and fear that is being spread by those who are still asleep. It’s more powerful because love real and fear is not.

I don’t know if you will understand this post. I hope that something I’ve written here will prompt you to allow your connection to God to grow stronger. That’s how we will change the world, and as those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while know, I’m all for making this world a better place in which to live.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Late Bloomers

Fall Flowers at La Fuente
Fall Flowers at La Fuente

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” – Betty Friedan

“No one can avoid aging, but aging productively is something else.” – Katharine Graham

“The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.” – Doug Larson

“The great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece. The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. The experience of spiritual power is basically a joyful one.” – M. Scott Peck

I’m proud to say I’m a late bloomer. It’s not that I didn’t accomplish anything when I was younger, I did. It’s just that it took me a long time to put down roots deep enough to realize what it was I really wanted to do when I grew up. When I could finally say I loved myself, I was mature enough to be able to acknowledge that I was a loving, talented woman who could admit my mistakes and embrace myself as I am. In other words, I finally let all the silly ego stuff go and just loved myself. And I’m grateful for that because I love what I’m doing now, writing. It’s the happiest work I’ve ever done, except maybe being on stage. Being an actor was exhilarating, but it wasn’t quite the right fit in terms of my deepest passion. Teaching has also been a joy in my life, but I never felt the deepest ecstasy I feel when I’m writing.

The thing about being a later bloomer, is that I’ve lived long enough now to have a measure of wisdom to share with others. When I was younger, my mind was cluttered with erroneous ideas, and assumptions. I’ve had lots of years to weed out my mental and emotional garden so I can bloom.

Some place along the line of my study of spirituality, I picked up the idea that true happiness comes by delaying our urge for instant gratification. I think that idea may have come from M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled which was one of the first books that opened my eyes to a much wider and deeper spiritual world. When I read that book, I dedicated my life to learning to love myself first, then sharing it with others through my talents. It hasn’t always been easy, as I’m sure you know. But my dedication has brought me to a place where I am not afraid to follow my passion. If I can do it so can everyone else. It’s important to follow your dreams and do what you love, because it’s in doing that that the world is healed.

I don’t mean to belittle those who find their passion early. No, we need all the flowers in the garden to make the world a much more beautiful place in which to live. So, my advice is, no matter what your age, go find the thing that makes you the most happy and pursue that. At some point your passions may change. That’s okay. Mine did. When you find a new passion pursue that. The benefits to your soul are immeasurable, and the service you bring by sharing the love of what you’re doing sends out positive ripples. We may never know the effect we have, but in a way, that’s leaving a very powerful legacy for the future.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog. Pass it on, leave a comment if you choose, and connect with me on social media.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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A Thing Worth Doing

Julia working at the wheel.
Julia working at the wheel.

“It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just do.” – Eric Jerome Dickey

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

Faster isn’t always better. Fast food isn’t always the best for us and fast isn’t always better when working on any kind of project. Unfortunately, we live in a fast food society. We want instant gratification in many aspects of our lives from our food, to our entertainment, to our success. My father used to say that it was better to pay more and get exactly what you want than to save a few dollars and buy junk. And it’s better to spend time and effort on something worth doing than to rush the process.

Artist, scientists, and inventors all know about taking your time to make sure the painting, the experiment, the invention is done in the best way possible. Teachers know that their students can’t learn their lessons all in one day. Each school year’s lessons build on what the children learned the year before, the semester before, the day before. So why do some people want to rush the process of what matters most in life?

This morning the title of the one of the instructional writer’s blogs I read was this: “How fast can you write a book? (and why that’s the wrong question)” In the post, Jurgen Wolff, was cautioning his readers not to fall for any program or book that states that you can write a best selling book in only a few days, weeks or months. I know from experience that he’s right.

In the last month, I’ve been contemplating the amount of time it has taken me to get my novel, The Space Between Time, finished and ready for publication. I started it in 1999, set it aside for ten or so years and then picked it up again in 2010. Once I’d started the book, it was always in the back of my mind. I was thinking about the characters of Morgan and her father Thomas. Since I’d started the book as a tribute to my father, I didn’t want to give up the idea of finishing it. Now, of course, the main theme has changed slightly. There are two main characters, Jenna and Morgan. They connect through time to learn from one another. But it was my father who inspired me to write the book and that fact keeps me plodding along toward publishing the work he inspired. My father didn’t know that he was my inspiration and now he’s gone yet isn’t that how it is. Little and big things speak to us and help us grow, or inspire us to create something beautiful.

I’ve written before, that I finished the rough draft of this novel a year ago last December. Over these last fourteen months, I’ve allowed myself to take a step back to get a more objective view of the story lines and see where they can be improved. Writing a book is a long and sometimes tedious process. At one point I was feeling impatient. I wanted the book to be finished and I said something to that effect to my husband. I nearly wept when he said to me, “What you’re doing isn’t easy. It takes time to create something worthwhile.” I was so grateful to him for saying that because it’s true. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. So I’m an advocate for slowing down allowing yourself to take your time to build your success, to get that education, to heal your wounds and build a life worth living.

I’m happy to say that my manuscript is nearly finished now. I can feel it in my bones. That doesn’t mean there still won’t be some tweaks to be made to it. But I feel proud that I didn’t rush the process to publish it last year. It wasn’t ready then. I have to admit, I’m glad I’m a plodder when it comes to any creative project I do whether it’s writing a book, or directing a play. Taking the time to examine all the layers of what needs to be accomplished is a good thing. Whenever I’ve rushed through any project, I’ve been sorry. Rushing creates stress and stress isn’t good for optimal success on what you want to accomplish. So I encourage everyone to use slow and steady progress where creativity is involved.

Thank you to all my followers, new and old. Feel free to leave a comment and connect with me on any of my social networks.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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The Essence of a Person

Calla Lilies
Calla Lilies

“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” – Charles de Lint

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“The strangest part about being famous is you don’t get to give first impressions anymore. Everyone already has an impression of you before you meet them.” – Kristen Stewart

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” – Albert Einstein

Last week as I was browsing Facebook, I found a link to an article in The Guardian in which it was lamented that Colleen McCullough’s obituary in an Australian newspaper was more about her looks and relationships with men, than about her brains and the many best selling books she created over her long career. As the reporter points out, it’s not the first time that articles about women concentrate more on a woman’s physical attributes and role she has played as a mother, or lack of it, before listing her other accomplishments.

That got me thinking. What is the essence of a person? Are we our looks, our family relationships, our job, or our accomplishments? Or is there something much more mysterious deep inside each of us? I think that many of us are afraid to explore who we really are which makes me sad. Think of all the wonderful things that could be accomplished if everyone was completely self-actualized.

Women are particularly plagued with image comparisons, but men face this problem too. There is a nebulous measuring stick out there for what constitutes an attractive, successful, smart man or woman. It’s a set of qualities that no one, or very few people can live up to. And if they could live up to them, would they want to? Who wants to be put into a category?

Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of looking at someone’s physical appearance, education, or situation in life, we could look into their soul and see the real person underneath? What would we find I wonder? Why is it most of us don’t care to look farther than skin deep? I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but this whole idea has been on my mind lately.

I wrote several weeks back about the fracas in my family at the end of last year. One effect of that event is that I struggled to see my sister and brother for who they really are at their essential level, rather that to judge their actions which at first caused so much pain. When I calmed down, two things came to my mind. First, they either didn’t have any idea of the effect of their actions or they thought they were doing the right thing. Second, when we have a conflict with someone, they are in essence holding up a mirror so we can examine our own motives and unhealed places. So how can I fault anyone who irritates, or attacks me? When that happens, I’m getting a chance to learn a great lesson about myself. Once I came to that conclusion, I realized that we’ll never really know another person unless we allow ourselves to look with different eyes so we can get a glimpse of their soul. To do that, we must delve deeply into our own soul. We must accept ourselves as we are with no recriminations.

The fact that Colleen McCullough’s fans raised an outcry about her obituary is just one sign that maybe people are waking up to the fact that each person is a unique gift to the world and should be honored. After all, her fans saw into her soul through the many books she wrote. When you become a fan that way, you accept the beauty of the artist’s soul and it doesn’t really matter what they look like. Maybe her fans find it easier to honor the people they meet in their everyday lives as well. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true?

Today as I sat down to write this blog installment, a Facebook friend posted a list of qualities that are not measured by academic tests. The list was developed my Maria Montessori, a pioneer in the field of education. As I read the list, I felt that many of the things on it are also qualities that are overlooked when we reduce someone to the superficial things we first notice about them. Here are just a few things on the list: creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, humor, self-awareness, self-discipline, empathy, compassion, sense of wonder, and humility. We each have so many qualities inside of us. We are so much more than a small list of qualities that are supposed to be important. It’s my hope we will all discover who we really are so that we can appreciate others at a deeper level thus honoring who they really are.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Following My Own Star

Stars
Stars

“The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” – Benjamin E. Mays

“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’ve always had a longing to follow a different star than many of my classmates, family and friends. For many years I kept that desire hidden because I was afraid. I was afraid of what others would think, of what I’d have to sacrifice, but mostly I was afraid to trust that all would be well if I threw caution to the wind and followed the guidance I was being given. Oh how I wish I hadn’t wasted all that time.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve stopped caring about the opinions of others. The voice, or feeling drawing me toward complete immersion in joyous creation is stronger than all my petty fears ever were. I’m so much happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. Each morning I wake up looking forward to the day instead of dreading doing work that kills my soul.

This phenomenon of following your own star isn’t new nor is it happening only to me. Every single one of us have our own star to follow, our own purpose to fulfill. Some of us grab ahold and have the ride of our lives. Others are like Ivan Ilyich, a character in the story, “The Death of Ivan Illyich” by Leo Tolstoy. Ivan Illyich has taken pains to build a life that looks great from the outside, but he has never fulfilled the purpose he came to live. Perhaps he was too afraid of who he really was, or he didn’t want to do the work necessary to follow his heart. Who knows what blocks us from fulfilling our dreams. On his death bed Ivan realizes that because he tried to make his life look good, he was selfish. He didn’t offer up his talents to help anyone else. I like the way Wayne Dyer says it, “Don’t die with your music still in you.” The saddest thing is when someone realizes in their final moments, that for whatever reason, they wasted their life doing things they hated. It’s sad when people ignore their calling.

The paradoxical thing is that to be of service to the world, we must often appear selfish when it comes to listening to our inner guidance. It’s only when we listen and follow that we can be in true partnership with the Divine, and bring something extraordinary to help lift humanity out of darkness. There have been many people throughout history that we identify as those types of people. The thing is we don’t allow ourselves to think that we can be one of them too. At least I didn’t allow myself to think that until recently. We don’t have to be Jesus, or Buddha, or Gandhi, or any of the other giants of history to make our contribution. Think of life as a puzzle. If one piece is missing the picture isn’t finished. Not all pieces are bright and prominent, but each piece is needed.

You might ask, how will I know what my purpose is? The way I knew was by paying attention to my feelings. I asked myself what activities and tasks brought me joy. When I was in the midst of doing what I loved, time stood still and at the end of it I felt energized, not drained. The trick is to put more of your focus and determination into doing what brings you joy rather than the things that don’t. Little by little you will be able to drop what doesn’t serve you and live a purpose driven life.

That’s actually been my goal in life all along, to live in partnership with the Divine, to fulfill my purpose. To listen to that still small voice and follow It’s guidance. Over the years I’ve come to understand that everything I do, whether I’m letting my ego take control, or I’m listening to the Divine whisper, I’m affecting the world. It’s not a new concept, the idea that we’re all connected. The thing is, once I felt the truth of this idea, I was much more careful about what I thought and did.

I know now that Marianne Williamson’s quote above is right. It doesn’t help anyone to play small. That quote is one of my favorites, because it’s as if she wrote it directly to me. Many times I felt the pull to blend into the background and play small. I was afraid of my own light. Not anymore.

It’s long been my mission to empower people. No matter what work I was doing, that has always been my goal, to help people come out of the shadows and shine so the whole world benefits from the light. That’s been my goal because it’s what I most need to learn. Let’s learn it together.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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