My Five Things

Northern Cardinal

This week’s podcast “What Should I Read Next” hosted by Anne Bogel was extremely thought provoking. Anne had Tara Anderson as her guest. Tara hosts the NPR podcast Five Things. Here is the description from the NPR site: “How do the objects we love define us? What can we learn from the things we treasure? And how can we discover a life story through those objects? Five Things, from 89.3 WFPL and Louisville Public Media, explores those questions and more.” As you might guess, I subscribed to that podcast right away.

I was grasped by the idea and began thinking about what five things I cherish. It was a little hard to identify things that I would be sad to live without. Years ago, when we were in the midst of the Monument Fire, I came to the conclusion that if the fire took everything we owned, I’d be okay even though there are things I would miss.

The first thing that came to my mind was my wedding ring set. Barry and I were poor college kids when we got engaged. We decided to go to Des Moines, Iowa, the closest big city, to select our rings. We put all three rings on lay-a-way. Each month we’d pool our money for the payment and I feel like that says a lot about our relationship. I love my ring. We selected a pear shaped diamond for the engagement ring and the wedding ring has two rubies and a diamond hugging the big stone. The only thing I wish now is that I’d chosen emeralds instead of rubies. Emerald is Barry’s birthstone. Maybe one day I’ll switch them out.

The second thing that came to mind was my autographed photo of Gregory Peck that I won in a silent auction at an International Thespian Festival. The photo hangs in my office right above a photo of my father. Gregory Peck is one of my favorite actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Part of the reason I love him so much is because there is a kind of goodness that shines through from his real personality to almost all the roles he played. And I love him because his most famous role, Atticus Finch, was very much like my own father.

The third thing is not just one item but a whole raft of original artwork on our walls and shelves by friends and acquaintances. None of the artwork is by anyone famous, but it gives me pleasure every time I look at each one. Two of the works are by Barry. One, “Toucan Snail”, we’ve tried to give to various family members at various times, but it always comes back to us. This makes me happy, because I love that painting. The other is a pointillist drawing called “Elepot”. It’s a coffee pot with an Elephant trunk for the spout and hoof foot, a human ear for the handle and an eye as the nob on the lid. I told Barry some years back that I was claiming it and he didn’t object.

The fourth thing, again, is not just one item, but all of the books we possess. Okay that includes all our movies and music we own as well. I know that one day soon I’ll have to go through and weed out books to get rid of, but that thought pains me. Even though I haven’t read all of the books we possess, The Great Ideas series for example, it’s somehow comforting and maybe a little weird that I feel the accumulated knowledge and experiences they hold enhances my daily life. It’s as if I’m supported by all the wisdom gained throughout the ages.

The final thing took a while for me to come up with. Again this is not one thing, and it’s not even mine. It’s nature and it belongs to everyone. We live in the country and I love going out to feed the birds every morning, then watching them out our back windows. I love watching all the wildlife, the deer, bobcats, javelina, and hearing the coyotes howl at night. There are times when I wish I was a great hiker and nature enthusiast, but just living in the country and watching the wildlife from my front or back porch is so nurturing that for now that is enough for me.

What are your five precious things? Are they items, or something more etherial or not tangible?

Welcome to my new followers. Thanks for all your thoughtful comments. I appreciate them. Have a fantastic weekend.

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. 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.

To Redo or Not to Redo

Stressed Out.

“Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.” ~ Denis Waitley

This summer I’ve gone back to a project I started last summer. It’s the audiobook for my first novel, The Space Between Time. Over the intervening year I’ve learned a lot about audiobook production. I stopped working on my book to record one for a friend of mine, The Dragon’s Gold, by Debrah Strait.

But now that I’m back to recording my book, I realized I needed to begin again and apply my new knowledge. I’m grateful I did my friend’s book first and I’m still learning. After recording about six chapters, I realized I needed to save recordings of the various voices so I can replicate them in later chapters. Doing the different voices is a challenge for me. As an actor, I was never good at impressions or mimicry. And yet, it’s fun to make up different voices because the quality of a character’s voice can tell the listener something about his or her personality.

Something else has happened as I make the recordings. I find there are mistakes in the manuscript, or the writing is a bit clumsy. Part of me wants to go back and clean up the writing. I mean, my name is on it and I want it to be the best it can be. When I mentioned that I might want to make corrections to the book, Barry said, “We can do a second edition.” Wow! I loved that idea, but now I’m thinking that I should leave that project for another day. Perhaps after I finish the sequel, Time’s Echo. There is such a thing as overworking a piece.

This situation has me thinking about do overs and wondering if they are worth the time and effort. George Lucas did rereleases the first Star Wars movies he produced with upgraded special effects. As I recall, there was a lot of controversy about that. Some critics said the movies were like time capsules, they reflected the technology of the time in which they were made and that he should have left them alone.

I know that first books are, in general, not always the best work of an author. I freely admit I’m learning to be a good writer as I go along. But The Space Between Time has not been read by millions of people. If I improve it now, maybe years down the road after I’ve written many more books, I might have enough fans who will want to go back to read this first one. I want those people to enjoy it. Is that crazy?

I have to remember what I tell my students, you didn’t learn to walk in one day. It takes babies lots of practice to be able to walk without falling down. In terms of writing and producing a book and audiobook, the same principle applies. In a way, I’m a perfectionist, but it might be nice for people to see the progression of my work.

There is another thing that has been nagging at the back of my mind.My characters have been called too perfect by some fellow writers, and maybe they have that point of view because most of my characters reflect the people I was surrounded by as I grew up. Our family social life revolved around our church friends. And though no one is perfect, I saw my parents friends as kind, compassionate, and caring. There were, of course, conflicts but until I was a teenager, I was unaware of them. Those early years of feeling nurtured by my church family had a big affect on my outlook on life.

I’ve mentioned Anne Bogel’s podcast, “What Should I Read Next”, in previous posts. She has a new short podcast called “One Great Book” in which she pulls a book she enjoyed off her own book shelves and tells the listeners about it. I was catching up on this podcast this week and listened to one about Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. Anne quoted Jane Austen from her book Mansfield Park, as an example of Marisa de los Santos’ work. “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery,” and Marisa takes that same view. Anne said, Marisa believes her role is to tell stories with happy endings. That resonated with me. That’s the kind of novels I write.

Since we writers create from our biographies, I can’t do anything but write what I know. But even good people face challenges and tragedies both external and internal. I certainly have. And though my characters experience dark events and feelings, they don’t wallow in them. At the end of each book I want my characters to have learned something about themselves and human nature.

Some people may say I write the kind of books Hallmark could produce. That’s okay with me. Right now, I’m into feel good entertainment. So, I’ll continue to write books with happy or hopeful endings. But my goal is to improve my writing skills, to be less wordy, and to create interesting characters and situations that give insights into what it means to be a human being.

Thanks for putting up with my recent political posts. One of the things I’m attempting to do is to be vulnerable and truthful about my feelings and point of view. That’s always a struggle for a devout introvert like me.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

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. 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.

The Writing Life

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act – truth is always subversive.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

I don’t often post about what it’s like for me to be a writer, but today Anne Bogel’s blog was about her writing life. I love her podcast, “What Should I Read Next,” and have mentioned it before. But I’ve never mentioned that she not only has two podcasts, but a blog as well. I don’t know how she keeps up with those endeavors along with social media, writing books, and being a mom all at the same time. I have a hard enough time teaching one or two classes, writing this blog once a week and working on my books. I admire people who are organized.

It’s not that I’m not organized, it’s that I’m not the spread-sheet-making-lists-ticking-every-item-off-the-list kind of organized. My organization is more in the keeping-a-notebook-with-all the-jumble-of information-in-it kind.

Many articles and books have been produced about the different types of writers. Some writers create outlines and once they’ve plotted everything out to their satisfaction they then sit down and follow that outline to the letter. There are those who do a little bit of plotting, but leave it flexible in case inspiration strikes. Other writers get ideas for individual scenes write them and then organize them later into a viable story. Then there are writers at the opposite end of the spectrum from the plotters who sit down with an idea and begin to write. They may have only a starting and maybe an endpoint but they trust that the story will appear as they write. These writers are called “pantsers,” because they write by the seat of their pants.

I’m a little bit of a “get an idea for a scene” type, and a “pantser.” Oh, I do write a brief timeline for my characters at the beginning of the process, but often inspiration leads me in other directions and the original timeline is left behind.

For me, the hardest part of writing is the initial getting the story down on paper stage. It’s a little bit like listening to a voice on a mistuned radio. I know the voice has great ideas, I just can’t hear them clearly. So, I write in starts and stops to begin with. Once I get about 15,000 words in, the story begins to take shape in my mind. That’s when I wake up with more scene ideas to add to the story.

Once I get to a certain point, which I feel in my gut, I know it’s time to revise. I love revising the various drafts, because I get more ideas in that netherworld between sleeping and waking, or when I’m doing some tedious household chore. The feeling such inspiration gives me is exhilarating. It’s that feeling that keeps me writing.

Okay, I admit the final line editing process is tedious. When we were editing The Space Between Time, it seemed as if the process would never end. Even after printing out the entire book and going over it more than once, with what I thought was great care, we still had to order more than one proof because we found so many errors in each one. That kind of detail work is just not for me.

Having written all that, I have to say that no matter what method a writer uses, to make any progress, we have to sit down and write almost everyday. If we don’t the creativity well dries up.

Also, the environment might be important. Some people can write no matter where they find themselves. As a highly sensitive person, I need quiet to be able to concentrate so I can hear the subtle guidance that comes when I’m working. If there is too much noise, I can’t concentrate.

When the fire was lit under me to commit to being a writer, I realized what had been holding me back. It was self-doubt and believing that there were too many obstacles in the way to accomplish my goal. Those are difficult hurdles to overcome. I do not blame anyone for having self-doubt staring them in the face. It takes a great deal of personal work to overcome our demons to start whatever creative project we feel compelled to begin. At least, it did for me. But now that I’ve been writing for several years, I’ve found such fulfillment that I’m grateful I ignored those nasty little voices in my head and jumped in.

Even though I’ve published a novel and a children’s book, I still feel vulnerable about whether or not they are good. But here’s another thing about engaging in any creative endeavor, you get better the more you practice. I’m a much better writer than I was when I began eleven years ago. I may never be as good as the great authors, but there’s a part of me that knows it doesn’t matter. There is something about creating a work of art that has never existed before that is important. Figuring out myself, and making my contribution, no matter how humble, is why I write.

Oh, and by the way, I will begin the audiobook for The Space Between Time, on Monday. My husband and I are uploading the ebook version to Amazon this weekend.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you get to enjoy your weekend.

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. 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 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 copy at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. You can follow her on Facebook or Goodreads. 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.

Taking Stock

Dad and me on Easter Sunday

“Have you ever stopped for a moment and looked at yourself through the eyes of the ultimate observer?” ~ Ramtha, What the Bleep do We (K)now!?

“No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.” ~ Neal deGrasse Tyson

“If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.” ~ Maya Angelou

I’m one of those people who is always asking questions, always seeking deeper meaning from outside and inside myself. I guess I’m a perpetual student. I come by it naturally, I learned it from my father. He wanted to know everything there was to know and so do I. I understand that won’t be possible while I’m alive in this physical body. Though, I’m pretty certain that once I pass into the next dimension, I’ll be immersed in the true reality.

Having written that, I want to stop a moment and take stock of what I’ve learned so far. I’ll be turning sixty-five at the end of this month so it seems like a great time for reflection.

I started this blog five years ago to be an electronic journal. I’ve been keeping one since I was twenty-four years old. I do still hand write in a paper journal occasionally, but I like the speed at which my ideas come out onto the screen as I type. That led me to create Sage Woman Chronicles. It’s my way of taking my ideas and experiences out and examining them.

A life long passion of mine has been to understand the relationship between Divine Oneness and human beings. That’s what led me to study religion in college, then theatre, then to become a teacher, to travel, to read extensively, to write. And it all started when, at eight years old, I felt the presence of Divine Oneness on the day I was confirmed. That connection has rarely been broken. When it was I was the one who broke it.

You might be surprised to know that one of the ways I reconnect with the Divine is by reading and watching movies and TV. I’m picky about what I watch. A healthy dose of PBS, Natgeo, the Science and Learning channels are part of my viewing fare. But I’m also always on the lookout for good story telling in a variety of genres. It may seem odd that I seek spiritual enlightenment from those sources, because we think of them as pure entertainment. Some people use entertainment as a drug to numb their stress, or pain. But I don’t think that’s true for everyone.

Here’s one small piece of evidence to support my premise. Every week I listen to a podcast titled “What Do I Read Next” hosted by Anne Bogel. Her format is to have one guest on and they talk books. At one point she asks the guest to talk about three books they love and one they hate. This is a version of what many of them say about the book they hate, “I just didn’t connect with it.” Many of the guests talk about how they read to get a new perspective on life, or to learn something about a different culture or country. Reading isn’t just entertainment to them, though it’s that too, but it’s a way to expand and grow. At the end, Anne recommends three books for them to read and she always wants to hear back about what they thought of the books she recommends. She and the guest have made a connection.

To me, art is a profound attempt by the artist to make a connection with their audience. I teach theatre classes. One thing I’ve noticed about my students, especially those who take acting because they need a fine art credit, is that they are surprised to learn that theatre is all about the examination of human behavior. It teaches methods for getting to motivations, why people do what they do. And that’s a skill we can use in all aspects of life. Because that’s true, plays, movies, and episodic TV shows can do the same thing. And now that I’m a novelist, I find that the fiction writer must show the character’s thoughts and feelings so their readers get a glimpse into their motivations and hopefully gain a deeper understanding.

This semester I’m directing the Shakespeare play Measure for Measure. It’s not one of his more well known plays but what happens in the play is so contemporary. The main event that the play revolves around an incident of severe sexual harassment. One of my students said, “This play is so full of unanswered questions.” And I agreed with him. As I examined the script, I came to understand that Angelo, the abuser, has cut himself off from other people by cultivating an image of the pure, faultless human being, while all the time seething underneath with self-doubts, suppressed passions, and dark emotions that he doesn’t want to face. The Duke of Vienna goes undercover into the city for reasons which are not clear, and leaves Angelo in charge of cleaning up the moral degradation that has occurred throughout the city. The first thing Angelo does is arrest one of the most prominent citizens for getting his fiancé pregnant. His downfall begins when the man’s sister comes to beg for her brother’s life. Angelo is smitten with her and offers to save her brother if she will “give me love.”

I’ve seen two versions of this play. Both directors chose to take a dark view of Angelo and people like him. I found something different in the play. At the end, the character Mariana, who was abandoned by Angelo, says, “They say, best men are moulded out of faults;/ And, for the most, become much more the better/For being a little bad: so may my husband.” It’s this idea that we have chosen to emphasize in our production. We all make mistakes and if we learn from them we can become more understanding, less judgmental, and more loving. Measure for Measure, and all of Shakespeare, have layers upon layers of themes for us to examine. All good literature and movies do. They are a doorway into the human soul and that’s what I find fascinating about them.

As I was writing this post, it went in a little bit different direction than I was originally intending. That’s okay, I’ve got another post on Saturday, when I may write more about the connections between seemingly disparate media that I’ve been making lately. I’ll leave you with this quote from my A Course in Miracles lesson for today. It struck me as profoundly comforting and perhaps it’s an idea that you need too. “Try to remember when there was a time, perhaps a minute, maybe even less when nothing came to interrupt your peace; when you were certain you were loved and safe. Then try to picture what it would be like to have that moment be extended to the end of time and to eternity.” Maybe that’s what we seek when we pray, meditate, read, watch content, talk to our friends and family, to find those moments of profound peace and extend them for as long as we can.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much. I hope you have moments of peace today.

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. I 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.

On the Precipice

Lighthouse

“First, accept sadness. Realize that without losing, winning isn’t so great.” ~ Alyssa Milano

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” ~ Carl Jung

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” ~ Jimmy Dean

“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” ~ Hugh Prather

For some reason I’m feeling melancholy today. I don’t feel this way very often so it has thrown me off balance a little bit.

After writing in my journal, I realized that my emotional state has to do with a number of factors. I’ve been feeling like I’m in a rut and need to make some changes. One thing I need to do is get out and do some face-to-face book marketing. That’s a scary prospect. Another is my body is telling me to get back into exercise again, and the another is that I want to learn something new and meaningful.

This weekend a confluence of events helped break me out of my rut a bit. First, I found a new podcast to listen to, suggested by Anne Bogel of the “Modern Mrs. Darcy” blog and “What Do I Read Next” podcast. The new podcast is right up my alley in terms of my interest in spirituality and creativity. The title is, “The One You Feed” with Eric Zimmer. After listening to two podcasts in which Eric has a conversation with Father Richard Rohr, I was hooked.

The next thing that happened was I began reading my friend Cappy Love Hanson’s memoir, Love Life, With Parrots. When I first quit teaching to become a full-time writer, I wrote a memoir, but it wasn’t good. The woman I asked to read it said I was too guarded. And I do feel that way when I write. I don’t want people to know anything about my faults. I don’t want to be vulnerable on the page. It’s okay to do that with my fictional characters, but to put all my flaws out there for everyone to read is just too scary. Yet, as I was reading Cappy’s book, full of all her vulnerability, and thinking back on the podcast I’d listened too earlier in the weekend, I had this overwhelming feeling that one day I was going to go back to that memoir, revise and publish it. Yikes! That’s another scary thought.

Another thing that occurred to me this weekend is that I’ve been feeling quite dissatisfied with my reading life lately. It’s not that the novels I’ve been reading are bad. I have enjoyed the stories and learned some really interesting things from them. But my inner student is feeling neglected. So, I’m going to finish my Goodreads reading challenge by devouring some of Richard Rohr’s books and other non-fiction books that I have on my reading list.

As the days go along and I continue to examine my inner landscape, I will probably discover unfinished business that needs attention, or I’ll finally face the changes I need to be making that I have been resisting. That’s a good thing. Sometimes I need to do some cosmic closet cleaning to make room for new experiences to come into my life.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. For those of you in the U.S., I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

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, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Some of My Favorite Things

Albert Einstein and wife Mileva Maric

“People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. Live your truth and don’t EVER stop!” ~ Steve Maraboli

“There was a definite process by which one made people into friends; it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time.” ~ Rebecca West

I have never written a blog post enumerating some of my favorite things even though there have been times when I’ve written reviews of books and movies I liked. Today I want to share some things I like, from television shows, to podcasts, to my new morning ritual. I hope you enjoy.

First favorite thing: I have a new pre-writing ritual. It’s this week’s assignment from Art & Soul Reloaded. I’ve never had a set ritual before sitting down to write, so coming up with something to summon the muses has been fun. I tend to over think these little assignments Pam Grout gives us every week. This time I decided not to do that and just choose some things to do that satisfy me right now. I can always refresh my ritual later.

I have two current favorite songs that I listen to often. The first is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. He has a series of one hour YouTube videos made at different times of the day in different locations. He sings the song and dances to it the first time through and then each successive time through different people dance to his sound track. I’m not a good dancer, but I do dance to this song. It’s a good way to get my blood flowing in the morning and to remind myself that I can choose to be happy no matter what is going on. For me it’s better to write from a happy place rather than from self-torture.

The second song I love is “Evermore” from Beauty and the Beast. The composer wrote it especially for this new live action version of the movie. The Beast sings it after realizing that he has fallen in love with Belle as she is riding away to save her father from Gaston. In the song he sings, “Now I know she’ll never leave me, even as she fades from view, she will still inspire me, be a part of everything I do …” That touches me so deeply because we do need each other more than we realize. And those we love are still inspiring and supporting us even if they’re gone. So, as I sit down to write, I remember that I’m not writing alone. My ideas come from everything that has happened to me, and all the love I’ve shared. That gives me the courage to try to put into words the feelings and ideas that rattle around in my head.

Second favorite thing: I’ve never been a fan of listening to podcasts on a regular basis. My husband has several that he listens to on his way to and from work. I prefer silence when I’m driving, but a few months ago one of my Goodreads friends suggested I try Anne Bogel’s “What Do I Read Next” podcast and her blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy. After listening to an episode, I was hooked. Anne talks to regular everyday readers, who as it turns out, aren’t ordinary at all. Like the woman who owns, CW Pencil Enterprise – Purveyors of Superior Graphite. Who would have thought that someone could maintain a thriving business selling pencils, and all the accouterments that go with them? Even though this woman was a guest because of the books she loves, we got to hear enough of her story that I want to travel to New York just to visit her store. (Don’t despair, if you can’t travel to New York, she does have an online store.) Or another guest owns a bookstore devoted entirely to books about food. She sells a good number of cookbooks, naturally, but she also carries novels that center around food, or books about celebrations involving food. She even hosts book and food related events in her store. These are creative, interesting women I never would have known about if not for Anne Bogel’s podcast. I love it when people follow their passion and the universe rises up to meet them.

My third favorite thing is the television station NATGEO. When I was younger I was a television addict. I’d sit down with the TV Guide and plan out what I was going to watch during the coming week. In recent years, Barry and I have paired down our television watching and looked for unusual and informative shows rather than the same old sitcoms, or scripted dramas. Earlier this year NATGEO ran their first scripted series, Genius directed by Ron Howard. This first season was about Albert Einstein. It was fascinating. I didn’t know much about Einstein’s early life, his struggles to get his ideas published, his turbulent first marriage, or how he and his second wife eventually emigrated to the United States. It was riveting television, and I learned a great deal about physics in the process. The next season of Genius is going to be about Pablo Picasso. I’m looking forward to that one.

Another series on NATGEO I love is The Story of … with Morgan Freeman. Last year’s series was The Story of God, this season it’s The Story of Us. Morgan Freeman is on a mission, with both series, to help us understand each other better. I have found each episode compelling and even life changing, as he travels around the world asking questions and meeting people with extraordinary stories to tell. I hope you’ll check out both of these shows.

I have other favorites which I may share in future podcasts but until then, have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Am I Too Nice?

Octavia E. Butler At a Book Signing

“Being nice doesn’t necessarily mean you’re weak. You can be nice and be strong at the same time. That’s a character trait that we need more in Washington.” ~ Shelley Moore Capito

“Certain people are like ‘Oh, here come the Feminazis!’ You end up acting 10 time nicer than you even need to be, to be the opposite of the stereotype like ‘You’re the man haters!’ We’re always bending over backwards being extra nice. And I don’t know if being nice is my legacy.” ~ Kathleen Hanna

“All that you touch, you Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change. God is Change.” ~ Earthseed: The Books of the Living, from Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Today a bunch of things I’ve listened to and read have collided in my heart and head. The collision brought tears to my eyes. I’ve been living in a kind of cocoon for the last few years only going out occasionally to teach a class, or go grocery shopping, have a date with my husband, or meet with my writer friends. For the most part it’s been lovely. On the other hand there have been times when I’ve felt like I was stagnating. Today it feels like big changes are coming to my life, that I’m going to break out of my safe little nest and move into something I never expected would happen to me.

One of the shifts that I know I have to make is to just let my real feelings spew out onto the page. Since I’m highly sensitive, I almost ALWAYS think twice before I speak or write. One particular time when I didn’t, I hurt someone and made them angry. Since I’ve been hurt so many times in my life, I don’t want to be the cause of pain for anyone else. But today I realize that I can’t control that, because deciding whether or not to be hurt by what I say or write isn’t up to me. It’s in the hands of the people I interact with. So here goes, I’m going to attempt to be totally honest about a couple of things I’ve been thinking about.

Last week I wrote about finally finding a label for my spiritual and religious beliefs. That word is Omnism. It’s the idea that truth doesn’t reside in just one religion, but that it can be found in all religions. That word describes my deepest feelings perfectly. Since I wrote that post, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about truth. It can be found not just in religions but in lots of places, if we are looking and listening deeply enough. I found it today while listening to Anne Bogel interview poet, Amena Brown on the “What Should I Read Next” podcast.

Amena was describing what it was like for her to write her poems and how that is completely different than writing the nonfiction book she has coming out in November. I was in tears because everything she said broke open my soul. The discussion was funny and light, but also so honest. In a flip of the emotional coin, I knew that the reason my book of essays that I have been working on has been falling flat is because I was hiding my true inner reality. For some reason it’s easier for me to be honest when writing fiction, but even there I have to work hard not to be too easy on my characters, and not to shy away from the darkness they feel when bad things happen to them.

Though I’ve been trying to be more open emotionally in these posts, I often continue to hide behind nice words and sentiments. But I can’t fool myself any longer. I’m almost as mad as hell as Peter Finch in the movie Network, and I’m not going to take it any more. This anger has been building for many months. One part of me knows that the way things are going in the world right now is leading toward an eventual awakening of humanity, and an overhaul of our systems of government, business, education, and all the rest. But I’m completely exhausted by the violence, and total disregard for human life running rampant in almost every aspect of our current reality. We’re in such a dark place of fear that it’s really difficult for me to feel that we might actually find the light at the end of the tunnel.

I want to be one of the people persisting in shining the light of love, but I’ve been afraid to go out and participate in those demonstrations because of my hyper empathy. That’s a term I learned from reading the book, Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler. The main character is hyper empathetic because her mother took a certain drug while she was pregnant with her. She not only feels other people’s emotions, she feels their physical pains as well. When she was really young she even bled with the injured person. There are times when I feel like that, like I’ve been shot, or my head bashed in, or I’ve been betrayed by loved ones, or even the system.

I’m almost half way through Octavia Butler’s book. It’s almost a prophecy of what could happen to our society if we don’t examine our fear and look for ways to heal ourselves. It’s so dark that I nearly put the book back on the shelf last night. I didn’t think I could finish it. And yet, the main character, Lauren, has connected to profound truths about God that she hopes to share once she leaves her walled in neighborhood. What she has written about God, has touched me deeply.

When I heard the podcast with Anne and Amena, I knew I had to finish reading the book. Lauren has found a way out of the darkness. Maybe I will too if I finish reading.

Another insight came to me as I listened to Anne and Amena talk. I’m still ticked about things that happened to me while I was in college. Today’s insights actually began when I read the book, A Brief History of Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice. by Jack Holland.

I have always been deeply interested in the mysteries of God and the spirit world. So, it was natural that I should study religion when I attended my church college. This was in the mid ‘70s. The population was small, and like small towns, everyone could potentially know everyone else’s business. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when a group of extremely conservative male students, tried to convince me, over a series of weeks or months, (I honestly don’t remember how long this went on.) that because I was a woman, I had no business studying religion. I would never be ordained a minister in the church. I was wasting my time. (A side note: Just a few years later, our church did begin to ordain women into the priesthood.)

Here is where my highly sensitive nature worked against me. I was furious with those young men. I wanted to tell them to piss off and leave me the hell alone. I wanted to yell and scream at the injustice of being a woman with road blocks in my way and nasty people telling me how to live my life. But I didn’t. I was a good girl. I didn’t want to cause them the same pain they were causing me, so I stuffed those feelings. I engaged them intellectually countering their Bible quotes with other Bible quotes, and with discoveries in Biblical Criticism. And I built a trench with a resolve to stay on the front lines until they gave up and went away. Which they eventually did. But rage had taken up residence in every cell of my body. It was eating me up. I deceived myself for a long time that I was fine. That I had won, having graduated with my religion degree, and I need never think of that chapter in my life again.

It was reading, The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck that woke me up. I did a great deal of personal work to heal that rage. And I thought I’d finished until I read, A Brief History of Misogyny. Wow, I’m still holding remnants of anger, and the situation with the GOP declaring a war on women is bringing it all up again.

I still don’t have a clear idea of what I’m going to do to persist in asserting that men have been in charge long enough, and that it’s time men and women learned to work together as equals.

I do know that the ideas for my sequel to The Space Between Time are crystalizing in interesting ways. Jenna and Morgan are going to engage as advocates for women in their separate time periods. Their story lines are becoming more clear in my mind. I’m excited to get off of the hump I’ve been stuck on for these last few months and be able to move forward with the book.

Maybe I never will be a marcher. Maybe I’ll work one on one, or in small groups with women to heal their wounds through journaling or through activism, or creating artwork. I don’t know. I just know I feel the Change coming and maybe that Change is God.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

What I Learned from Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

“I’m full of fears and I do my best to avoid difficulties and any kind of complications. I like everything around me to be clear as crystal and completely calm.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

I’m a little slow on the uptake, or maybe it’s just that now I fully understand, on all levels, that key ingredient that makes great writing endure. It’s emotion. You have to engage the reader, or audience member emotionally, or they won’t remember your work. “I remember most how the books made me feel.” A recent guest said on the “What Do I Read Next” podcast by Anne Bogel, that I have recently subscribed to.

I’m also taking a course through Turner Classic Movies about Alfred Hitchcock. An interesting thing I’ve learned about his style was that he always wanted his audience to connect emotionally with his main characters.

Then I felt chagrin when I realized, my last two posts, which got no likes or comments, were too intellectual. They didn’t express the emotion that I always feel when I make connections between big ideas. I often feel a sinking or rising feeling in my solar plexus. What I feel physically confirms what I think I know intellectually. But now I see that I have not done a good job expressing those emotion so you, my readers can connect to my excitement, or dismay, or whatever the heck I’m feeling. In a way, I’m just following my strengths.

I don’t mean to play “The Devil made me do it,” card. Let me explain before I go on. When I was teaching high school, someone recommended that I read the book Teach With Your Strengths, by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller. I love finding out more about my personality traits, so I bought the book. At the end you take the quiz to discover what your top five strengths are. Mine are empathy, intellection, connectedness, ideation, and strategic. Four of those strengths have to with the way I use my brain. Even though empathy is at the top of the list, I have to admit, I was completely surprised by the last four traits. Never before had I even thought about why I love to analyze everything. But when I watched the interview segments last week with Alfred Hitchcock, I got it. I’m a little bit like him, deadpan on the outside, swirling with emotions on the inside.

When something happens to me, lots of emotions are churning around inside me. But over the years through lots of moves, and toxic school, and work environments, I’ve learned to play ‘possum. It’s my defense mechanism to keep myself from getting ridiculed. So on the outside I look perfectly calm, while inside my emotions are doing somersaults. Alfred Hitchcock was the same way during the interview we watched in class. He was so deadpan. Yet what his many biographers, the instructor, and many movie critics have said is that, what makes his movies endure is how they make us feel. So, he must have been in touch with universal human emotions on some level.

That’s something I need to keep working on as a writer, especially when I’m working on these blog posts and other non-fiction work. Because the best non-fiction books I’ve read tell personal stories that engage my emotions as a reader. I can relate to the feelings expressed by the author.

This insight couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve begun working on a new book titled, Inner Life of a Late Bloomer Baby Boomer, and even though it’s not a memoir, the essays do express my personal viewpoint about life. Each piece needs to reveal my emotions about the ideas I’m sharing. I think this will be easier now that I’m older and have been more open about expressing how I really feel instead of keeping silent. No more playing ‘possum for me.

Just now as I write this post, I know why I didn’t continue on with a higher degree in religion. It’s because theater grasped my emotions and taught me many of the same things that were expressed in my religion classes. But, theology is too academic. I honestly don’t remember many of the concepts I learned during those years of studying religion. What I do remember was how excited my instructors were to share the subjects they loved. Their excitement rubbed off on me and my world view was expanded, but the details of the concepts are gone.

So, I feel I must apologize to all of you. I’m going to work on infusing my work with more emotion, even while sharing the interesting ideas that spark my imagination. It’s a goal that should keep me busy for the next twenty or thirty years, and I hope will improve my writing.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.