Things That Make You Go Hmmm!

Pumpkin Possibilities

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” ~ Albert Einstein

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I stole my title from comedian, Gallagher. Barry and I used to watch him in the ‘90s on one of the cable networks. His routine was wild and wacky. For example, at the end of each show he’d take a sledge hammer to big cantaloupes and watermelons. The audience would scream with laughter behind their sheets of plastic. In his routine, he included a segment titled “Things that make you go hummm.” And it always made the audience think. One I remember was, “Why is it called a ‘hot water heater?’ If the water’s already hot, why do we need to heat it?” Stuff like that. Well, I’ve been confronted with some things that have made me go hummm in the last few days.

I have a couple of acting students doing a scene from the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, and naturally, we got to talking about what might have motivated Jordan Belfort to defraud so many investors just to fund his wild and crazy lifestyle? The movie is based on actual events and people, which makes it all the more chilling.

I have not seen the movie. I may at some point. However, this is not the first movie about business people who have no empathy or compassion and who are only interested in how much money they can make for themselves and sometimes for their stockholders. I can name any number of classic movies that show the slide capitalism made into the realm of callous greed.

That was Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning I was looking at my news app, and there was an article titled, “‘When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit:’ The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg.” It was not published by The Wall Street Journal, but surprisingly, by Vanity Fair. It was an unflattering article about the Harvard Business School’s “leadership” industry, and how it has effectively eliminated a functioning moral compass as part of it’s curriculum since 1977. And how the ideas they teach have been detrimental to business practices in this country general ever since.

Now, I do not profess to understand how business works. Not even a little bit. That’s why I’m taking the No Pants Project course to help me sell more books, and market other of my talents. The thing that made me want to take this course, over others I’ve investigated, is that Michael Shreeve, founder of the NPP, emphasizes developing empathy in doing business with people. He says doing business should be all about establishing long and meaningful relationships based on integrity and empathy. In every lesson Michael reiterates that we need to find a balance between helping others, and taking care of our own needs. Fortunately, I don’t think this is a new trend, but like all change in thinking and practice, it will take a while for the effects of doing business this way to spread.

As I discussed the acting scene and read the above article, I was tempted to sit in judgement of the people who live by the “greed is good,” or “it’s nothing personal, it’s just business,” codes of conduct. But the truth is, I struggle with some of these same moral dilemmas. I don’t have billions, millions, or even thousands in the bank, but there are times when I want to hoard what I have just in case something unexpected happens. It’s kind of a weird mindset. We are trained to think that little pieces of paper, or for those of us who don’t use paper money anymore, groups of digital numbers beside our names in a bank account can protect us. We think that if we have money we’ll be safe from future disaster. Of course, that’s not true. Fires rage, flood waters come, loved ones die, economies fail and we can’t stop the disasters.

So the thing that is making me go hmmm at the moment is the idea that security comes from outside myself. I don’t think that’s true. I think it comes from trusting that all is well no matter what happens. That’s not to say we don’t suffer. We do, but there are lessons to be learned from living through tough times and coming out the other side.

I’m finding it hard to discard the lessons I learned that money, or owning a house, or having a steady job is security. I want to feel that ultimately I’m secure no matter what happens. I’m secure because I’ve got loving family and friends. And I’ve even got great support in other dimensions. I want to feel that, but unlearning those old lessons is difficult.

One of the ways I plan to change my fear of not having enough, into feeling generous, is to give small amounts of money every month or so to worthy causes. I want to be like the motel owner who, after one of the hurricanes this year, opened his doors to people who had lost everything. He gave them rooms for free, fed them, and helped them get back on their feet. His generosity spilled over to other business owners in the community. Hair dressers came and gave free hair cuts, people gave food, donated clothes, personal care items, and donated money to the cause of getting those people back on their feet. What I plan to do is minor by comparison, but if I commit to doing this, hopefully my money fears will change into a feeling of satisfaction that I have helped others and ultimately help me relax and enjoy life as a grand adventure.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. I hope the end of the year celebrations are fun and meaningful for you rather than stressful.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

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

Compassion and Generosity Never Go Out of Style

It's A Wonderful Life Village
It’s A Wonderful Life Village

“Instead of judging people by their past, stand by them and help repair their future.” –Heidie Diasanta

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” –Abigail Van Buren

This week’s blog post is a difficult one to write, because this past week my family was split in two. I won’t recite every detail, except to say that my brother and the older of my sisters felt it necessary to accuse my youngest sister of abusing our mother and their children. Harsh words have been exchanged with plenty of blame to go around. This incident has made me think long and hard about forgiveness, compassion and generosity.

My youngest sister and brother-in-law have been struggling financially for about six months. It’s hard to understand if you’ve never been in their position, but being poor takes a lot of effort. I’ve done what I can to support them along the way. I think they are amazing, because they have never given up. From my perspective, they’ve been on an amazing spiritual journey, learning about themselves and trusting that the trials they’re going through are leading them to their purpose. I’m amazed that their relationship with each other has grown stronger, and their children continue to thrive, even with all the chaos going on around them. Both my sister and her husband have finally found jobs that are both meaningful, and that will help them build the life they want.

What distresses me the most is that from my point of view, my brother and sister lack compassion for my youngest sister’s situation. Oh I understand my brother and sister think they are protecting our Mother. At least that’s what I hope motivates them. The thing is, they’ve been off living their own lives, and not really engaged with the rest of us for many years. They don’t understand how the relationships among the rest of us have grown over the time they’ve been away. So why my siblings feel the need to kick my youngest sister and her husband just when they’re picking themselves up, I can’t fathom.

On the one hand I’m shocked and hurt by what has occurred. On the other, I know that the only way I can help heal the rift is to send love and light to the situation every single day. Miracles can happen. This miracle may take some time to manifest, but I know from experience that relationships can be healed. My youngest sister and I were estranged from each other for some years, but after much forgiveness work on both sides, we’ve built a stronger relationship than we had previously.

As you probably understand, this fracas has caused me to think deeply about compassion, generosity, and forgiveness all of which I learned from my parents. As I struggle to try to understand what’s happened in my family, today I found two things that helped me recommit to follow my parents lead of being generous and compassionate.

The first was a video published in Nick Ortner’s The Tapping Solution newsletter. It was originally a TEDx talk by Michael Norton at Harvard University in 2011. The title of the talk is: “How to buy happiness.” The point of the video is that money CAN buy you happiness, if you give some away to help others. The study the talk is based on gives amazing evidence to support Michael Norton’s premise. As I listened, I was struck with the fact that the reason Christmas is such a joy-filled season, is because we’re spending money on the perfect gifts to give others. The amazing thing is, the amount of money you give away doesn’t have to be large to make you feel better about your life. The reverse is true if you hoard money, your life is not any happier, and possibly less happy. Hum, I couldn’t help but think of my sister and brother.

The second inspirational piece was an article posted by A Mighty Girl, a group I follow on Facebook. The article was about a young woman, Dominique Harrison-Bentzen, who is a college student in Preston, England. She’d lost her ATM card, and was stranded after an evening out with friends. She had no money for a taxi. A homeless man, Robbie, offered her all the money he had, about $5 so she could get home. She was able to find her way home without using the money he so generously offered. However, she so touched by his gesture, that she started a fund raising page on Facebook so she could raise enough money to pay for an apartment for him. Well, of course, much more money than was needed for the apartment came in and she was able to give the money to other charities in the area that provide for the homeless. Needless to say, her story went viral and she’s starting a new campaign on Facebook to help others.

Both those stories inspired me. First off, compassion and caring not only makes us happier, it’s also big news. We want to hear inspirational stories like these. Forgiveness, compassion and caring are what’s going to change the world. If you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time, you know I’m continually writing about turning away from negative thoughts and feelings and embracing the positive. In the past I’ve apologized for that, but not any longer.

I’ll end this post with a quote from A Course In Miracles which I found just after the blow up in my family. It has helped me put my feelings into perspective. “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” I know that my youngest sister, her husband, my husband and I have been seeking the barriers within ourselves that keep us from accepting love. I write from experience, when you go inside and break down those barriers, your life will become messy for a while. You have to go though a time of what I call cosmic closet cleaning. However, when things in our lives fall apart, we’ve got a golden opportunity to build something new. That’s what I celebrate, because the alternative is to stagnate, which, in my opinion, is a very dark place in which to live.

I hope your holidays with family and friends are rich and happy, though I know that sometimes they are quite stressful. There can be a blessing in that for you. And remember, being generous, sharing money and compassion to others makes you feel better about yourself, and makes you happier.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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