What’s Most Important?

Getting a hug from Dad

“One of the most important things one can do in life is to brutally question every single thing you are taught.” ~ Bryant H. McGill

“One of the most important things you can do in your life is to learn to pull back the curtain of fear so you can see it for what it really is – the enemy blowing a lot of smoke and pushing your buttons. ~ Victoria Osteen

I’ve been mostly at home for sixteen weeks which has given me a lot of time to think about what is most important to me. It probably comes as no surprise that human connection is my number one priority. I call or text loved ones often. And part of the reason I’m creating the podcast Story~Power is because I crave connection with people who have as much passion for stories as I do. Consuming stories connects me with the author or movie maker and gives me an opportunity to gain new insights.

My other top priority, and this might seem antithetical to my desire for human connection, is to experience mental silence. I don’t think these two concepts are mutually exclusive and here’s why.

I’ve recently discovered this amazing motivational speaker on YouTube named Simon Sinek. I’ve watched four or five of his motivational videos and the main message in all of them is that leaders, and of course regular people as well, need to be focused on creating real, caring relationships with the people they live and work with. Paying more attention to financial gain over the people who create the products and services isn’t a good business model anymore, if in fact it ever was.

This morning, as I’m writing this, I listened to a short video in which he outlines the 5 Rules That Will Change Your Future. In rule number 5, he talks about Nelson Mandela who is universally regarded as the best leader in recent times. Simon tells why. When asked what made him such a great leader, Mandela said he watched how his father, who was a tribal leader, conducted himself at tribal meetings. His father listened to what every member of the council had to say before he spoke. I imagine he even sat silently thinking, or perhaps more accurately, feeling everything that was said before he ventured to offer his opinion. That’s exactly the kind of person I want to be, someone who is silent and listens not just with my mind but with my heart to what others have to say. Then take the time to evaluate what has been said before I speak.

As I’ve been recording and editing the chats with my podcast guests, I realize, I need to listen to what my guests have to say more than talk myself, because what they have to share is extremely interesting. I’m learning important things from them and I hope my listeners do to.

And one last thing, mental silence is restful and I don’t know about you, but I need to disconnect from all the noise that’s being generated right now. When my mind in silent, and believe me some days that’s difficult to achieve, I can truly rest. Being stressed out and combative on social media, or with acquaintances doesn’t help solve any problems at all. It only causes more stress.

That’s really all I have to convey, that I feel the need to chat with people, listen to their stories, and contemplate their points of view before I share my own thoughts. Because my mind gets caught in a loop of thinking the same thoughts over and over again. And listening to other people share their experiences and opinions interrupts all the meaningless stuff running rampant through my brain. Thinking the same thoughts over and over again is both boring and non-productive. I think that’s one of the reasons I consume books, movies and TV shows, so I have new things to think about.

I plan to launch Story~Power on July 22 and publish a new episode every two weeks. There will be a page on this site exclusively for the podcast, with show notes and a short bio for each guest. I’m getting excited to share my conversations with all of you.

Have a lovely weekend. Thanks for reading, commenting, and liking. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you stay healthy and safe.

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.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

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.

Quality of Sight

Woman Listening

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” ~ Helen Keller

“We’re a whole culture of people who have a really hard time seeing beyond ourselves.” ~ Jill Soloway

Have you ever looked into someone’s eyes and felt like you were seeing into their soul, as if you could see their true essence? It’s happened to me on more than one occasion. The most profound was when my husband and I realized we not only loved each other, but that we’d known each other before.

In a way, seeing into someone else’s soul is jarring, because when we use our eyes to look at other people, we are seeing external things that don’t really matter. On the other hand the experience can be liberating because you, or at least I, feel a deep connection with that other person.

The thing that prompted this line of thought was a TV series my husband and I have been watching, See on Apple +. The premise is fascinating. The story takes place five hundred years in a dystopian future where a plague has rendered the population blind. In the first episode we see a woman about to give birth. Her twins are born with vision and we learn that they were fathered by a sighted man who abandoned the woman and her children. Fortunately she had been accepted into a village where the unmarried leader marries her and vows to raise her children as his own. As the children grow the fact that they can see is kept a secret to protect them from ridicule and abuse. This sets up the question, what advantages does sight give the children? The children’s birth father left messages and a box of books so they could learn to read and write with the express purpose of building a better world. But is that a good thing? The blind people have learned to use their other senses to their benefit. They know how to navigate to travel, to read knotted twine, communicate silently by signals in each others hands. It’s obvious that sometimes they have an advantage over the children, who rely very heavily on their sight. In this story, sometimes the blind characters see more deeply into situations, and other people’s motives than the sighted children do.

True sight involves discernment of the unseen as well as evaluating what we can see with our eyes. And the show raises the question, is it possible to see people for who they really are? Is it possible to see into another person’s soul? After watching this series, I have to ask myself do I try to see a person’s soul, or just their outer appearance, or behavior?

There is a really great classic movie that raises similar questions called The Enchanted Cottage (1945) in which a homely maid working at the cottage, marries the burned and disfigured soldier who rents it. They marry out of loneliness, but living in the romantic location of the cottage, they eventually bond and then fall deeply in love. The most touching scene is when they tell the landlady the miracle that has happened to them. That they were transformed and have become beautiful. The beauty they see, of course, is in their hearts. They “see” the other as beautiful and whole because their outer appearance no longer matters because of their love for each other.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about how I see people and situations. Do I look only at the surface and not try to see deeper? I know I can’t ever fully understand what’s going on in someone else’s mind and heart, but if I try, I might get a glimpse of their true essence, and what’s really happening behind their masks.

That’s my goal, to see into the beauty of people’s souls rather than at their appearance, or their behaviors. Sometimes I forget. I judge and blame and then I remember, “Oh, yeah, I need to look under the surface.”

This is short today because I’ve been busy recording and editing episodes of my soon to be launched podcast Story~Power. It’s interesting how many of my guests have expressed similar sentiments to the ones I wrote about above; how the stories they love help them see into a characters soul. The stories they consume help them understand themselves and others better. That has been the most fun aspect of my conversations, hearing what my guests have learned from the stories they love.

I hope the summer/winter is looking bright for you. Stay safe and healthy.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I appreciate your support.

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.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

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.

Featured

Progress Not Perfection

Hands of different races

“Believe in life! Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader, and fuller life.” ~ W. E. B. Du Bois

“We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

As you can see, I’m reworking my website. I’m getting ready to launch my podcast, and I wanted to have one place where my blog and podcast posts can be accessed.

The day I started this project, I was hoping to get it all set up, but of course, not being technology minded, I got only so far. My site doesn’t look the way I want it yet, but I’m determined to learn how to make it look exactly as I envision. It will take time and effort to learn how to do that.

As I walked away from my computer with what I call a technology headache, I remembered what Denzel Washington’s character, Robert McCall says to more than one of the other characters he’s helping in the movie, The Equalizer. He helps them keep moving toward their dreams by reminding them, “Remember, progress not perfection.”

It’s a violent action movie of a different kind. Robert McCall has a mysterious past. The viewer soon realizes that Robert must have been in a special military unit, or worked for the CIA, or NSA, because of his skills. But from the things he says, he has promised never to use those skills again. He’s trying to be a better person, to care for the others in a peaceful way. But then, of course, there are characters that need his special skills and he has to make a choice. Use them to help the helpless, or turn away and let them suffer.

I used to believe that there was never a reason to use violence. But as God points out to Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations With God, sometimes a person like Hitler can only be stopped by armed resistance. Those kinds of people don’t understand anything else and they won’t stop their dreams of domination unless they are stopped by force.

I hope that we are finally coming to a time when we don’t have to use force to stop people who have no regard for human lives, but I have to remember we’re in a transition period. Sometimes we may have to be like Robert McCall and use violence to stand up for people who are weaker than we are.

However, I have been encouraged to see that the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations are mostly peaceful. That demonstrators are covering the fence around the White House with posters and artwork advocating for the end of violence against blacks, and some of the protestors are using music and dancing as part of their demonstrations.

As human beings we, hopefully, are working toward progress in our personal growth and in the establishing of more loving and equitable societies. Change is sometimes a long process. I’m happy to see the tide turning. I’m envisioning living in a peaceful society where people are too busy fulfilling their dreams to be hateful toward each other and people like Robert McCall’s character are no longer needed.

Have a blessed weekend. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting.

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.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

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.

 

Love Salvation

Empathy is emotional intelligence
– Marianne Williamson

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi

“Blessed is the man who has suffered and found life.” ~ Gospel of Thomas

This has been an extremely emotional two weeks for me and anyone else who is sensitive and wanting to see our society change. When I’m feeling emotionally overwhelmed, I want to escape into a book, a movie, a game, or just sleep. But the time for all that is past. I need to wake up and ask myself the hard questions about how I’ve contributed to racism.

I guess I started the process when we were asked to stay home because of the virus. It seemed like the perfect time to dive deep into myself to heal all the old wounds I thought I’d healed long ago.

Healing takes a spiral path. Part of the wound gets healed, then when more growth has taken place, the old wound circles back around and more healing can take place. So what’s happening now is just giving me another opportunity to heal more old stuff.

I have a theory about how we can make some progress toward personal and social healing. We white people have to acknowledge our part in the problem. We have to allow ourselves to feel shame about that and then become vulnerable, and imagine what it’s like to be a person of color. Even if we imagine just a little bit of the fear they feel, the preparation they have to do to even go outside, then we’ve made a start to detoxing from being white and not having to think about what an encounter with a police officer will bring, or a white neighbor, or someone in a coffee shop, or even just someone on the street.

I love Brené Brown’s work because she addresses these kinds of issues. Reading her books has helped me uncover long held beliefs and attitudes I didn’t even know I had. If you don’t know her, here’s a little info. She the Endowed Chair at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work. Her work is groundbreaking because it’s all about courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She’s also a visiting professor in management at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. She’s written several books, most of which I’ve read, The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead. She hosts a podcast, Unlocking Us, and her filmed lecture, Brené Brown: The Call to Courage, debuted on Netflix in 2019. She burst onto the scene a few years back with her TED talk on shame and vulnerability. It’s one of the top five most viewed TED talks of all time.

You may have seen her photo on social media this past week of a sticky note which reads, “The system isn’t broken, it was built that way.” She’s right. We have to go back to the founding of this country to unravel all the ways our systems were built to benefit whites and keep people of color in their place.

What’s happening now has come to the surface again and again, been squashed and come to the surface once more. Each time a little bit more progress has been made, but now I think lots of people, whites and people of color are becoming more united in tearing down the old systems so we can create new ones that work for all of us.

Brené Brown is only one of the current teachers that have helped me along my awakening/healing process. Gregg Braden is another one. About thirty-five years ago, I read his first book, Awakening to Zero Point, which he revised and republished. I think the new book is titled, Fractal Time. In any case, in that first book, Braden, along with other writers I was reading at the time, predicted this time of awakening of humanity. I was excited to witness the awakening not realizing the turmoil I was going to have to live through. I was naive to think I would just stand by while the change happened around me.

At the moment, I’m reading Braden’s book, Wisdom Codes, in which he gives mantras and prayers from all the great world religions to help us navigate the most difficult times of our lives. His theory is that words are keys to connecting us to our emotions, which is how we communicate with the Divine.

I’m currently on the section on love and he uses only one wisdom code from the Gospel of Thomas, which was discovered in it’s complete form as part of the Nag Hammadi Library in 1945. It states: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

Braden points out that to truly love others, we have to practice forgiveness, for to love is to forgive those who have harmed us, and to forgive ourselves for the harm we’ve participated in.

If you don’t think it’s possible to forgive the most horrendous crimes, here are some examples from Braden’s book, Terry Waite, who survived 1,763 days of captivity in the hands of Hezbollah extremists, Alison Botha’s miraculous survival following being left for dead after the brutal attack that is the subject of the 2016 documentary Alison, and I add Immaculée Ilibagiza, surviver of the Rwandan Holocaust which she relates in her book, Left to Tell.There are so many others of course which you can find for yourself.

I’m in awe of people who can forgive after such horrendous experiences. I’ve had a hard time forgiving being maneuvered out a job that I thought was my destiny. It wasn’t and I’m happier now, but by comparison, I see my experience was small potatoes. And yet, a counselor once said to me, trauma is trauma. There is no scale from worst to least. It’s all in our perception.

So, we have to forgive and love each other for all the perceived and real hurts we’ve caused each other. But to do that we have to dig deep inside ourself and try to walk in the other persons shoes.

Love to you all. I hope you are safe and healthy. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Blessings to you.

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.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

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.

Sad and Confused

“We are living in the world of pandemic. Life is not the same as it was before. We have to choose new ways of living. Being ignorant or in denial won’t make you immune to the virus. Choose to be responsible and always be careful. Watch what you do, where you go and what you touch. You can practice your freedom by choosing to be safe.” ~ De philosopher DJ Kyos

“We are not going to get the racism out of us until we start thinking about racism like we think about misogyny. Until we consider racism as not just a personal moral failing but as the air we’ve been breathing.” ~Glennon Doyle from Untamed

I’ve been feeling sad and confused these past few days with all the turmoil that’s been going on. It has shattered the quiet of the cocoon I’ve been living in for the past two and a half months.

My husband has been working from home for about 63 days. This arrangement is coming to an end. The other day we admitted to each other that we were feeling sad about that. We like being home together. There is still so much uncertainty about the virus that it makes his going back to work scary.

Some people seem to think it’s a hoax and don’t follow the CDC guidelines. They think that reopening means that everything is going to go back to normal. But I hope we don’t go back to the way things were.

The other day a Facebook friend posted three or four pictures of trash on beaches, in parks, and even around trash cans as an example of how people have gone back to abusing the planet. I don’t know if the photos were recent but if they were, I’m sad and confused about that.

Then there are the photos of people flocking to parks and beaches with no masks, congregating close to each other having a grand old time as if nearly two million cases and over one hundred thousand deaths in this country alone doesn’t affect them.

I can hear their inner dialogue. “The danger is past. We can get back to normal.” As if what they want and need is more important than the safety of their friends, family, and neighbors. I don’t think those people took the opportunity to do any self-examination while they were in quarantine. They were just biding their time until they could get back out into the world and resume the lives they’d been living before the pandemic.

What I’ve been hoping would happen during this world wide crisis, is that most people would take the opportunity to do some reevaluation of how we’ve been running the world. But it seems fewer people have been doing that than I’d hoped.

And then there was George Floyd’s death caused by a white police officer kneeling on his neck to restrain him. And stories of people calling 911 complaining about people of color going about their normal lives but somehow the caller thought they were a threat. The police discovered in many of these cases that there was no emergency, the caller said they were just afraid.

Maybe fear is at the bottom of both situations. People are so afraid of all the changes taking place that they act irresponsibly and hurt themselves and others.

The thing some of us don’t get is that fear is internal, not external. No one can make us feel afraid. We do it to ourselves. Once we allow fear in, it can’t be ignored. Sometimes, though, we try to push fear away. At those times fear can manifest in really strange ways. Like, claiming to be afraid of people wearing masks. Or rebelling against businesses requiring their customers to wear them. Or getting upset when we find black, brown, or asian people occupying spaces we’ve claimed as our own. It’s becoming too common for people to make fear an excuse for bad behavior without taking responsibility for their emotions and actions.

To be fair, fear has been nurtured by so many sources in this country for a very long time. Pharmaceutical companies spread fear by advertising medications for this or that condition. Certain politicians spread fear by targeting this or that group telling us they are the cause of our problems. The NRA tells us that we’ll be safe if we own automatic weapons. Certain religions spread fear by telling us we won’t go to heaven if we do thus and so. It goes on and on. We’ve given our power away and allowed ourselves to be brainwashed. But we can stop the madness. We just have to take a step back to examine the messages and motives behind them.

Recently I read Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed. In it she has a chapter titled “Racism” which I found disturbing and profoundly accurate. Her premise is that we have all been so deeply immersed in the toxicity of racism, that we don’t even know that our thinking and feelings are tainted. We need to admit that we’re affected by the generations of racism we’ve been exposed to. Once we do that we need to do the work to detox from it.

Glennon’s assertion hit close to home. Years ago I was forced out of a teaching position at the largest high school in our county. I had two or three weeks to find a new teaching assignment for the upcoming school year. There were two positions in a school district about an hour from my house for which I was qualified. It’s a border town and most of the students are of Mexican descent. As I sat in the school district office filling out the application, my heart sank for a number of reasons. I knew nothing about the Mexican culture, I’d be one of a minority of white teachers, the school district was not as financially well off as the one I’d left, I’d be getting up at 4:00 a.m. to get to work on time, and I’d be teaching English, not drama which I was educated to teach. There were lots of unknowns and I was a little scared.

Here’s what I learned from teaching in that border district. The students were, for the most part, hard working. Their parents valued education and they valued me as a teacher. None of them ever asked me to fix their child, as one parent asked, and others implied at that old school. Family was extremely important to those students so they were motivated to study hard. Oh, of course, there were the same kinds of personality clashes as there had been at the other school. But in the end, I felt more at home, accepted and supported in the border school district than I had at the more wealthy district. And in the end, I had to admit, I’d been prejudiced against these students until I learned I was completely wrong about them.

To be sure, what is happening now shows us the tangled web in which we are caught. But we can extricate ourselves if we choose to do so. It will take time. It will take support from people like us who’re doing the work to get free of the old ways of thinking. It will take continued vigilance.

We have to admit that things are not ever going to go back to the way they were before. My husband got the message from one of his bosses yesterday that an employee has come down with Covid-19 symptoms. All employees who went back to work this week were sent home and City Hall will be closed until June 15 at the least. So he has two more weeks at home.

I’m hoping instead of weeping and whaling on social media about how terrible this or that incident is, we use those events to wake up and start taking better care of each other.

I’m going to keep wearing a mask, and using personal distancing when I’m out and about and when I begin teaching my classes in the fall. And I’m going to continue my process of self-examination. I know I harp on this theme a lot, but it’s the only way I can see for us to make a better world.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I hope you are staying safe and healthy.

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.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

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.