How Writing Is Like Life

April Morning Rose
April Morning Rose

“That’s why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. You can’t control life, at least you can control your version.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, Stranger than Fiction

“I have spent a good many years since – too many, I think – being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.” ~ Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“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

Today I’m feeling reflective. I finished yet another round of revisions to my novel, The Space Between Time. I’ve been working on it for six years this summer, more if you count the months I spent on it in 1999 when I first began writing it.

Eight years ago when I quit teaching to write full-time, the first thing I did was take a writing course. I wanted to be a writer, but I lacked experience. My degrees are in religious studies and theatre not creative writing. But I felt drawn to writing so I took the course to help get me started. I nearly quit after that course.The instructor said that my writing was guarded. She suspected there was deep feeling behind what I had written but I needed to strip away the layers and get down to the raw emotions that I was trying to express. After I recovered from my hurt feelings, I made that my goal. I reminded myself what I told my students, that it takes time to learn a new skill. After all they didn’t learn to walk the first time they got up on their feet. So, I did as I had told them, I began writing every day. That was the only way I was going to be able to peel away the layers.

Over the years I’ve come to discover that my writing was guarded, because I had spent a lifetime hiding my true feelings. It wasn’t that I didn’t have deep emotions, quite the contrary. It was that for the most part, I didn’t express them. However during a particularly painful time in my life, I used journaling as a way to heal. Three years ago when I began this blog it was another attempt to become more vulnerable in both my writing and in my personal life.

Many years ago, Mary Manin Morrissey, said something in one of her sermons that has been of great comfort to me. Life is like a spiral. When something happens to us we do the most healing we can in the time period right after the incident. Then at some point, the issue will circle back around and we get a chance to do more healing work. The problem, or wound, will continue to circle around until we’ve completed the work. We get many chances to improve our lives when whatever it is we’re working on comes back around. Writing is like that. We write the first draft, but the work is not finished. We must allow the characters and story to circle back through our consciousness so we can see new facets, deeper emotions and nuances of motivations. That’s why revising is so important.

During this latest round of revisions, I have finally allowing my characters to make mistakes, be vulnerable, to feel pain, be confused, and to not know how to find their way. I think I still have a way to go before they are well rounded and more like real human beings, but it feels good to be digging deeper into how they cope with their pain and their mistakes.

The thing I’m most grateful for about being a writer is that I’ve become more vulnerable. It’s helped me dismantle the walls I hid behind thinking that they would both protect me and keep me from making mistakes. Writing has helped me accept myself as a flawed human being who is just trying to figure out how to live and connect with those around me. It’s allowed me to learn through my characters and thus discover my own personal truth.

Like what Stephen King expresses in the above quote, sometimes I feel apologetic that it is taking so long to finish this book. However, I don’t feel like I’m wasting my God-given talent. And as the Anne Lamott quote states, I’m using my talent as God intended to write toward vulnerability and to tell the truth as I understand it. The way I, and all artists do that, is to plumb the depths of their humanity to bring some reflection of themselves to light. I think we need more people to do that and that’s why I’m proud and excited to be able to do this work.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

*Go Set A Watchman* – A Review

Go Set A Watchman Cover Art
Go Set A Watchman Cover Art

“One of the most powerful tools for transformation is the willingness to ask ourselves, ‘Could I be mistaken?’ “ ~ Marianne Williamson

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; As I have loved you, That ye also love one another.” ~ John 13:34 The Bible

“Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.” ~ Wes Angelozzi

This week’s post was going to be about a completely different subject. Well, not so different I suppose. I was going to comment on my feelings about politics, and not just the elections. Then last Friday morning I finished reading Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman and my plans changed.

When I began reading the book, even though I had tried not to, I was comparing it to To Kill A Mockingbird. Somehow I got through 12 years of school, college, and graduate school without ever having read the book. I’d seen the movie numerous times, but I didn’t read the book until about two or three years ago. When I read To Kill A Mockingbird it affected me on a very deep level. Few books have affected me that way. Go Set A Watchman is one I will be thinking about for many years to come.

When the book first came out, I’d read reviews about it. Some people condemned it for ruining their love of the character of Atticus Finch. I loved him too, because the way Gregory Peck portrayed him in the movie was very much like my own father. I wasn’t sure I wanted that image destroyed. Yet, other review comments intrigued me, so I bought the book. I’m glad I did.

One of the main themes is that often we worship one or both of our parents. We think they are perfect. It’s part of growing up to understand that human beings are complicated. Often we have to learn to love and accept our family and friends as they truly are, not as we wish them to be.

Jean Louise Finch finds out some things about her father that make her sick because they convince her that who she thought her father was is a lie. But as the events of the book move along, she learns that the new information she discovered is not quite right either. The point of view about everyone being equal that she learned from him was partly her own interpretation of who he was. Every human being is a mass of contradictions. Jean Louise and her father Atticus are no different.

Near the end of the book, Hank, a life long friend of Jean Louise’s says that he’s trying to get her to see past her father’s actions to his motivations. I was so struck by that statement, because that’s what my father used to try to get us to do. We can’t always know what is in another person’s heart, and sometimes appearances can be deceiving.

By the time I finished the last page, I was grateful for the courage Harper Lee demonstrated in writing the book. Through the events and characters I came to understand the nature of the extremely complicated relationships and long held beliefs many Southerns hold on to. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I had no idea how tangled the layers of not only race relations, but the staunch belief in states rights, the class system, and even the proper roles of the sexes are in the South. Then, of course, I realized that’s the truth for the entire country. The issues of race relations aren’t going to be healed until we are willing to take a new look at our long held attitudes about people who happen to be of a different race or social class than we are.

In my opinion, To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman, are companion books and should be studied together. The first describes race relations and how Jean Louise’s father fits into that picture from a child’s point of view. In the second, she is shaken awake and must confront herself, her town and finally her father. When we grow up and realize our perceptions about our loved ones is incorrect, that’s the day we can learn to accept the flaws in ourselves and everyone else. In my opinion, we all need to do that on a personal and national level.

Relations among the races in this country is an unhealed wound. As my father used to say, you can’t legislate morality. Well you can’t pass laws that say all men are created equal and make people honor it either. It’s distressing to me because it seems whites have expanded racial hatred to include anyone who isn’t white. It seems that way only if you listen to the corporate media. There are rays of hope, but you have to be dedicated to finding them.

I’ve written this before, and I’ll emphasize it again, we’re at a crucial point in our country’s development. It’s time for us to grow up and acknowledge our mistakes and find ways to untangle the many threads that got us to where we are today so we can weave them into a beautiful pattern. That to me, is the theme of Go Set A Watchman. Those of us who are courageous enough must be the watchmen and stand up for caring for ALL people wherever and whenever we can in our day to day lives. If enough people do that, then we can truly become the melting pot we’ve been purported to be.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share any of my posts with friends.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Drama Fatigue

Marco Polo“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself, or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“You know the value of every article of merchandise, but if you don’t know the value of your own soul, it’s all foolishness.” ~ Rumi

“No critic ever changed the world.” ~ Robin Sharma

“Do not fear to lose what needs to be lost.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd

Last week a student in one of my theatre classes came to class with yet another crisis in her life. She reminds me so much of myself at her age which is a little bit disconcerting. Pain and suffering exude from her every pore and many of the other students merely tolerate her because every week it’s some new crisis. Seeing her struggle week after week, this is her fourth class with me, it finally came to me that I have some tools that may help her break the cycle of continual drama in her life.

Looking back on my life, I can see now that I was once addicted to lots of drama. I don’t think I’m alone in that. After all, it’s drama that sells in the media. My teen years and early twenties were filled with one crisis after another that would eat away at what little self-esteem and peace of mind that I gathered during the times of quiet. Finally in college, two wonderful mentors suggested that I begin keeping a journal and that I get involved in theatre. That was the beginning of a life long climb out of the vortex of pain, fear and suffering. It seems ironic that acting helped me reduce the drama in my life, but I used it as a tool rather than as a way to create more angst. I have been grateful for those mentors and their suggestions. Using those tools has helped me come to an extremely peaceful place in my life. But my student helped me see that, in a way I have become peaceful, but in another way I still have lots of work to do.

Because of this student, I realize that there are times when my first reaction to a situation is to go back to those old feelings that I’ve worked so hard to expunge. I’m now determined to do another round of letting go of old habits, for that is what I believe all our negative emotions are.

One of the things I love about working at home is the fact that I don’t have to be immersed in other people’s negative stuff all day everyday. It’s difficult for me to maintain my calm in public sometimes because I’m highly empathetic. Just a few weeks ago I forgot to put up my guards when I atttended the convocation for the associate faculty and I got really riled up in one of the break out sessions over stuff that doesn’t really matter. It took me a while to get over that. So, I have lots of work to do to be calm and peaceful no matter what the situation and this students is reminding me that the work is always on going.

Fear is never a good state to be in, nor is guilt, or suffering. If I can help one student, and myself let go of those feelings, then I’ve done something helpful for more people in our circle of influence.

I’ve decided that I’ll present her with a gift of a journal during Wednesday night’s class. Maybe she’ll begin to feel better if she writes her troubles down like I did. It’s definitely worth a try.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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A Dish of Forgiveness All Around

Chapel of the Red Rocks
Chapel of the Red Rocks

“When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear …. When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all.” –Gerald G. Jampolsky

“When you know better, you do better.” –Maya Angelou

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a fan of Super Soul Sunday on OWN. Last Sunday, Oprah’s guest was one of my favorite teachers and authors, Marianne Williamson. They began talking about Marianne’s campaign for nomination as a Congressional candidate, but late in the discussion their conversation turned to the violence in Ferguson, Missouri and what that’s all about. Oprah brought up an article that Marianne had written for the Huffington Post. You can click the link and go read it for yourself. I don’t want to rehash what Marianne has already written so beautifully. What I do want to write about is the mental and emotional journey I’ve been taking since listening to Marianne and Oprah’s discussion.

First of all let me state that I am a white person. I was raised to believe that EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect, so some of the discussions that have been going on lately about how white people need to take a good look at their attitudes about racism, rubbed me the wrong way. But Oprah and Marianne’s discussion got me thinking about forgiveness. Slavery was one of the most horrendous episodes in our nation’s history. Another one is how we treated the Native Americans. White people, for the most part, were behind both of those terrible situations. I think Marianne is right, white people don’t want to think of the horrible things that whites did in our country’s past. Most of us think that we weren’t alive then, so it has nothing to do with us.

But here’s the thing, we’ll never heal our racial wounds if we don’t forgive ourselves for our impulse to ignore what happened. We can’t expect anything to get better if we don’t take responsibility for what’s happening right now. And what’s happening right now is, whites want to point to the Civil Right’s Movement of the 60s and 70s and say, “It’s already been healed. The laws have been passed, we’re all equal now.” As we’re seeing in recent events, that’s just not true. The discussion and practice to make everyone equal is far from over.

So, I take responsibility for my assumption that African American’s just needed to forgive us and move on, and for not forgiving myself and my ancestors for what they may have done. We as white people need to stop glossing over our discomfort with what has happened to African and Native Americans due to white aggression and greed. We need to look into those dark places and expose our true feelings about the differences of race and culture in this country. We need to acknowledge that we’re not the top of the heap, and in reality, never have been.

If we’re going to survive the myriad problems we face right now, we need to do some deep soul searching and forgive ourselves and then others. We’ve got to stop letting the past get in our way of creating a new future.

This blog is my public declaration that I’m committed to healing and forgiving myself for not acknowledging the deep wounds caused by white people in our country’s history. I’m with Marianne and support any efforts our government makes to make reparation to any group that we’ve wronged. Making reparation is our collective acknowledgement of what happened, and that we want to make it as right as possible and build a new future together.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Suffering is Optional

Calla Lilies
Calla Lilies

“Let us never allow our daily doubts or private fears to blind us to the blessings all around.” –Brendon Burchard

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” –Carl Jung

“The only difference between heaven and hell is believing a thought.” –Byron Katie

Sometimes the cosmic tumblers fall into place and the door opens up to a new level of growth and healing. This recently happened for me. For years I’ve been working to clean up all the beliefs that I learned growing up that no longer serve my present life. I thought I was pretty close to being finished with that phase of growing into my full potential, but wouldn’t you know it, I got hit in the face with a big road block that I thought I’d healed these past few years.

About a year ago, I was introduced to The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner. Tapping is a way to reprogram your brain to release old, long-held beliefs that no longer serve you, or that have been holding you back. It’s also a great way to heal physical conditions or pain that you might be experiencing. I’ve used it off and on since my introduction to it and I’ve had fantastic results.

Last week I saw an invitation on Facebook from Nick to a free webinar about using Tapping to heal money issues and gain true abundance. I knew this was a teaser for a web course, but I decided to attend the webinar anyway. Tapping had been working for me in other areas of my life, why not see if it would help me get over the last humps of my money blocks. I decided not to sign up for the course, however, I did learn great techniques from the webinar. I’m going to use them to take another step on my healing journey.

As we practiced the tapping techniques, I was surprised to find a much larger network of beliefs, some of them long forgotten, about money that have been holding me back. I took the worksheet that Nick so generously gave us for free and began to dismantle those old beliefs. Each day tapping is part of my morning regimen. I record the shifts in my consciousness in my journal, and send Reiki to myself to help speed this process along.

I was reminded about how much suffering I can endure. It’s sad that most of us have learned to bury our pain deep inside and cover it over thinking that’s the best way to deal with it; that if we do that we won’t have to face the pain and suffering ever again. That’s not what happens, though.

I wish I could remember which spiritual teacher said, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” In my case, I’ve been choosing to believe something about my relationship with money that’s not true. And my husband and I have suffered because of those erroneous beliefs.

As I was thinking about this post, I was reminded of the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that illustrates so perfectly where I am in my life.

Commander Benjamin Sisko is assigned to clean up a situation in a far outpost of the Federation at a space station, Deep Space Nine. It orbits the planet Bajor. Benjamin has recently lost his wife in a terrible battle. He’s emotionally wounded. When he arrives he finds that the Bajorans are a very spiritual people and their government is run by spiritual leaders. He’s surprised to find one of the leaders, Kai Opaka, has come to inform him that his coming was foretold. He is the long awaited emissary. Of course, he’s skeptical. But when Kai Opaka presents him with the Tear of the Prophet, a mysterious looking orb, and he touches it, he enters an alternate reality where he has conversations with the Prophets. They ask him questions about his life. To his frustration, they take him back, again and again, to the moment of his wife’s death. They’re curious about these images he holds in his consciousness. He asks the Prophets why they keep taking him back to this moment in his life that is so painful. Their answer: “You exist here.” Sisko has been unable to heal after his wife’s death, so he relives the moment he found her, and realizes he can’t save her. The pain is so great, he can’t get past it. It’s in that confrontation with the Prophets that he knows he’s been torturing himself by being unwilling to face losing his beloved wife. He can’t face building a new life for himself and his son without her. This encounter with the Prophets helps him choose healing over repeated suffering.

I don’t think I’m alone in doing what the character Benjamin Sisko did in the TV show. I’ve been living with a certain set of beliefs about myself and money. I’ve been blocking a more prosperous and fulfilling life for myself. Experience has taught me that sometimes we hold onto our suffering thinking we deserve it, or if we deal with our pain, we’re being disloyal to those we’ve lost. Or we can’t see the path before us without the pain and suffering. We can’t imagine a better life. Sometimes we believe we will never be happy again. There are lots of reasons why we get emotionally and mentally stuck. I’ve been stuck and I’ve decided to allow myself to move on.

As Pema Chodron says, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” I find that idea comforting. I get a second and a third chance to improve my life by dealing with the issues that I’ve not yet finished healing. Now is the time for me to finish the work of healing my relationship with money. Who knows what issues I’ll be healing this time next year.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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We Need Compassion

 

Grace Cathedral Window
Grace Cathedral Window

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” –Dalai Lama

“Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.” –Ellen DeGeneres

Recent events in my family have made me wonder why some people are filled with caring and compassion for their fellow human beings and why others aren’t. I guess it’s not only that. The political climate is so volatile right now, not just in our country but almost everywhere in the world that there are times when I wonder if we’re going to make it as a species.

Then I remember that there are lots of individuals and organizations that are working to make this world a better place to live. Some do it the way I do, on a one-to-one basis, and others are working on a global scale. That gives me hope, because just lately, I’ve been feeling down about the whole situation in the world. Sometimes it’s difficult being a very sensitive empath.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve picked up the feelings of others. For many years I didn’t understand why my mood would suddenly change from happy to sad, or anxious and fearful. Then I realized, it was because I was like a magnet, picking up the feelings of others. Even after learning how to shield myself from the feelings of others, I struggle with being extremely sensitive.

Some mornings I wake up feeling anxious and I don’t know why. For the most part my life is running smoothly. I’ve learned to accept that challenges happen, and though I may temporarily be thrown off balance, I’m able to right myself and move forward knowing all is well.

However, that’s not the case for everyone. Some people are so full of fear they do and say hurtful things to those around them.

So what can we do to change the situation in which we find ourselves besides work on finding our own inner peace? I think practicing compassion is something we can do to help move the evolutionary process along.

Right after I graduated from high school, I took a job at a Montessori school as a teacher’s aide. I’d decided that I wanted to work for a few years before attending college. One day something happened in the classroom, and I was dealing with an angry little boy. The specifics of the incident have faded over the years, but I remember saying to him, “It’s okay, you can be mad at me. I can take it.” I’ll never forget the look of relief on that boys face. So many conflicting emotions had been fighting for supremacy. I could see them reflected in his body language. That’s when I told him it was okay to feel anger. I don’t know what made me tell him it was okay, but I remember feeling compassion for him. He was a powerless child confronted by an adult who had power over him. Then I’d given him permission to feel his feelings.

I know that the people I’m angry with have more money and external power than I do. But, their world is crumbling and they have no idea how to stop it. They are resisting the tidal wave of change that they didn’t see coming. That makes me feel sad for them. Some instinct tells me that the one way we can speed up the awakening process is to practice compassion in every interaction in which we participate. Calling the bully names, and treating them the way they treat us doesn’t make them back down. It makes them dig in their heels and put up more resistance. So, I propose trying a different tack. Show them compassion.

Here’s a site where you can get some tips about how to do that, or even begin to participate in building a compassionate world. Karen Armstrong, author of many books including,  A History of God, and Twelve Steps for a Compassionate Life, has begun the organization Charter for Compassion which is a world wide project to educate people and inspire a change in the way we live our lives on all levels. This is just one of many organizations with whom I’m connected.

When I read the emails of groups like this that are trying to help us turn from fear, close-mindedness and hatred, to love and compassion, I’m encouraged. Maybe we can evolve. Maybe I can let go of my anger and help make the world a better place to live.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Forgiveness As Radical Love

December Sunrise
December Sunrise

“A Rattlesnake, if cornered will become so angry it will bite itself. That is exactly what the harboring of hate and resentment against others is – a biting of oneself. We think we are harming others in holding these spites and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves.” E. Stanley Jones

“Treat people as if they were what they should be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Forgiveness is not an easy thing to accomplish. However, it’s essential to self-healing. You can’t give Radical Love, without being willing to forgive. Here’s my forgiveness story.

Twelve years ago, the job I thought was my dream job, and the purpose of my life, was yanked out from under me. The father, a powerful person in the school district, thought his daughter should have been hired two years earlier, when they hired me. We were the only two candidates for the job. A year later she was hired for the second position in the department, and they set out to discredit me in any way they could. At the end of my second year, budget cuts came to my department, due to a failed bond measure. Since I had just earned my teaching certificate, I thought for sure, I’d be the one to keep my position. That was not the case. I was in shock.

I was furious, helpless against their attacks, wanted revenge, and hated them for treating me as if I was an obstacle instead of a human being. The fact that they could dispose of me so easily was a complete shock. I had been working for the school for six years and had a good reputation, yet I was as disposable as if nothing I had done mattered.

My supporters who were officers in the teacher’s union, confirmed that the daughter did not hold a teaching certificate, and urged me to sue. But something told me that wasn’t what I was supposed to do. I’d been given a great gift, even though I couldn’t see what that was at the moment. So, I found another teaching job in a nearby town and set about healing.

It’s taken me from then until now to forgive everyone involved in what I considered a betrayal by the school district. I had to let go of denial, and wishing the outcome had been different. At first I allowed myself to feel completely angry. I dreamed of revenge. Like the rattlesnake, I was biting myself, thinking the father and daughter were going to be poisoned. Even though the poison didn’t feel good, I wasn’t ready to let it go quite yet. My anger turned to self-recrimination. Why hadn’t I seen what was coming and blocked their efforts?

One day, about two months into the new school year, I was coming out of the local grocery store, and the father was coming in. He smiled and said, “Hi. How are you?” I just glared at him and didn’t say a word. How do you think I feel after you stole the job I loved, you B___d? What was wrong with him, why couldn’t he see what he’d done to me?

Later, when I cooled off, it hit me, He’s completely asleep. He has no idea how much he hurt me. I’m not a person to him. When I realized that, I remembered an interview on Inside the Actor’s Studio a few years earlier. I think James Lipton was interviewing Christopher Walken, but I may be wrong. In any case James Lipton asked the actor how he felt about playing so many villains. The actor said “Well, you know, the villain is the hero of his own story.” Ah, the father and daughter are the heroes of their own story. To them, I was the villain. It’s all a matter of perspective isn’t it? Somehow this little aha made me feel better. That was the day I began to heal, though I was still wounded.

For years, every time I drove by the high school, I felt physical pain at my loss. I refused to step foot in the school for blood drives, or for civic events. Eventually I was forced to do so, because of a county wide teacher’s conference, which was to be held at my former high school.

It helped that many of my former colleagues came to greet me, and tell me how much they missed me. Some of them even told me that things weren’t going so well in my old department. I know this sounds bad, but I was glad. I felt vindicated. But by then, I’d found my place in my new school district. They appreciated me, and I saw the contrast between the two districts. I was in a much better place. After that event, I was able to let go of wishing things had been different. Instead of looking back, I was determined to look forward.

Little by little I let go of parts of my anger, hurt and blame. I saw that I had called this situation to me for some larger reason that I couldn’t see at the moment. I let go of the biggest chunk of my grudge the day I realized that my new teaching position had led me toward writing. In the old position, I might never have allowed myself to uncover my long held desire to be a writer. I’d have been too busy to think about old, unrealized dreams.

I thought I’d let all the pain of that time in my life go, but a few months ago, I realized that I wasn’t completely finished with my forgiveness process. I set about letting go of those old, old hurt feelings.

As you might guess, since I came to the realization that we must practice Radical Love to heal the world, I’ve been working on sending love to people, and situations that need it. This morning in my mediation, the faces of the father and daughter came into my mind. Without any shred of anger or desire for revenge, I was able to send them love.

What a relief! I can move on. I can learn to practice Radical Love, for myself and others.

Thank you to all of my followers. I love your comments, they help me grow.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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We Still Have Time to Change pt. 2

Early June Yucca
Early June Yucca

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. – Rumi

“Love is the deepest gift that we could be ever be given by someone and it’s the greatest gift that we could ever give to ourselves.” –Mastin Kipp

Continuing on the theme from last week, I’d like to write about one of my experiences, as a Reiki practitioner. I learned a great lesson during this period of my life.

For those of you who don’t know what Reiki is, it’s also known as, The Usui System of Natural Healing. It’s an ancient laying on of hands healing technique, and can be used to heal health issues, life situations, mental and spiritual issues, in other words, virtually anything we will ever face. I won’t go into the history of how Reiki came to this country now. It’s much too long. Besides, you can do some research on the internet if you’re interested. What I want to share is my experience of using it as a spiritual practice.

My husband and I were on a spiritual quest when we were introduced to Reiki. Since the church we had grown up in used hands on healing, we felt immediately connected to the practice and decided to become initiated.

Some time after I was initiated into second degree, I volunteered to give Reiki once or twice a week to the daughter for an old family friend. She had full-blown AIDS. This was early in the days of the AIDS epidemic, and not much was known about it. After my short time of practicing Reiki and seeing amazing results, I felt confident that I could be the conduit through which L could be healed. The Reiki practitioner is just a conduit for the healing energy, you see, but in my hubris, I wanted her to be physically healed. I didn’t understand that healing can take many forms. The person receiving the Reiki is in partnership with the energy, I was just the garden hose through which the energy flowed.

I think it’s a common feeling among people when they find a new talent or skill to be excited about what they can do, without understanding the depths it will take to become a master of the practice. Offering Reiki to L for the remainder of her life, was a huge lesson for me. No one knows the life contract, as Carolyn Myss puts it, of the person who has requested the healing. In the case of L, there were many family and personal issues she needed to deal with before leaving the planet. As the months wore on, and her health continued to deteriorate, I learned a great lesson from her and her family. Life is ephemeral, and death can be a beautiful, mysterious process. L and her family took the time to heal old wounds and peel back the layers that had kept unconditional love at bay. I became a humble witness to the transformation of their family dynamics.

At L’s memorial service, I got to observe the love shown to the family, and from the family to all those present. It was one of the most loving experiences of my life, and I was grateful that I got to help with the healing process of L and her family.

That experience taught me that to become a true healer takes lots of practice, and personal work. A healer can’t do their job well unless they have dealt with their own dark places. At that point in my life, I had many dark places that needed to be examined and exposed to the light. Reiki has been a powerful force in my own self-healing journey. And if that’s all I use it for, that and to help my family and friends, then that’s a wonderful use of my practice.

I’d like to close this post by sharing the Principles of Reiki with you. These are principles that could be used by anyone to help them improve their life, whether they are a Reiki practitioner or not. They’ve been of great comfort to me.

Just for today, do not worry,
Just for today, do not anger,
Honor your parents, teachers and elders,
Earn your living honestly,
Show gratitude to every living thing.

Blessings to you on your healing journey.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Another Golden Opportunity

“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” – J.K. Rowling

“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” – Chuck Palahniuk

It’s happened again. Another school shooting. As I wrote two or three weeks ago, I refuse to be pessimistic about these violent acts. I choose to believe they’re part of our growing up as a species. We think we’re so advanced, and in a way we are, but in other ways we’re still children who don’t understand ourselves. We haven’t yet matured.

As I was thinking about this latest act of violence, I remembered an incident that happened when I was nineteen years old. I was working as a teacher’s aide at a Montessori school in Spokane, Washington. I worked in the three year old room. In the room were large windows and on one of the window sills was a pencil sharpener. It was low enough for the students to use. And it was a fascinating piece of equipment. One day, I was sent to find a couple of students who were supposed to be on the playground or at another activity. When I came into our room, the missing boys were playing with the pencil sharpener. One was sticking his finger into the hole where the pencil goes. The other was turning the handle. Before I could stop them, the first boy’s finger was lacerated by the blades inside the sharpener. I’ll never forget the look on the second boys face. He was shocked. He had no idea of the effect that turning the handle of the sharpener would have on the boy who’s finger was inside the device.

The thing is, we’re all a little bit like those little boys. We don’t always understand that our actions affect others. Though we should, because when bad things happen we’re shocked and disturbed. We don’t understand what’s happened or why. The thing is we’re being presented with an opportunity to wake up and see a bigger picture. We get a chance to learn more about ourselves and why we’re here bumping up against each other. There must be a reason why we’re all here experiencing the things that happen to us.

Unfortunately, what happens most of the time when bad things happen is we push the opportunity away. I don’t know why we do that. Maybe we think it will be too much work, or maybe we think we’re the only one who’s got a dark side and so we try to hide it. The thing is we all have a dark side. We all have violent feelings from time to time. The question is, how do we deal with them?

I used to think I could avoid more pain if I ignored it. I found that didn’t work. What happened was that another devastating incident would happen, only this time carrying much more angst. Eventually, after my life feel apart, I got it that if I deal with the challenges of life the first time around, my life is much easier. I’m still faced with challenges, but they aren’t as desperate, or seemingly insurmountable as they once appeared.

I guess my point is this, there will be more violence with guns and other weapons, until enough of us examine all the issues that are a part of why we continue to lash out at each other. As I’ve written many times in these posts, that’s an inside job. Each person must examine their own tendencies toward violence. We have to do as my sister says,  and “throw out our trash”. It’s a matter of getting down to the root causes of why we lash out, and heal them.

I have faith that the human race is growing up and waking up to how interconnected we are. What affects me, affects you too. That goes for the good experiences as well as the bad.

© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden

Forgiveness and Compassion

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” – Bernard Meltzer

“Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world. But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.…So, the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all. Life is a procession you walk together towards your god-self. You are the way and the wayfarers.” “On Crime and Punishment” The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran.

When I began the rough draft of this blog, I realized this is the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. What a perfect time to write about forgiveness and compassion. Then serendipitously, I had an opportunity to revisit an incident in which I’m working on those very things.

Last night one of my college acting students, who was also a high school student of mine, asked me why I was let go from teaching at her school eleven years ago. She knew there was a big hoopla about it, because she was still attending the high school and taking drama classes. Those who’d seen to my demise never failed to tell the students about my faults and even indiscretions regarding money, which of course were not true. Being loyal to me, however, she didn’t believe the stories and wanted to know my side. I told her what happened from my point of view. I also told her that I had recently been working on forgiving the people involved. It was a political situation, and I was made to look like the villain. Funny how wolves can hide in sheep’s clothing and make the sheep look like the wolf. I told her how I’d held onto the pain of that horrible event for ten years, but how freeing forgiveness could be.

I didn’t give her details, but what happened to change my desire for revenge to one of forgiveness was studying A Course In Miracles. As I studied, I was faced with the reality that by holding a grudge, I was in a very real way, attacking myself. I was hurting myself by wanting revenge, so I let go of that anger and hurt. I’m still letting go of it. I had to admit, that were it not for the attack on my character and competence to do my job well, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post. I wouldn’t be writing a novel. I wouldn’t have found the thing that makes me supremely happy. I’d still be teaching drama and find myself in constant battles. I’d be stressed out.

That brings me back to the 9/11 attacks and my use of the Kahlil Gibran quote.

Any attack, whether it’s personal, or on a group, or on a nation, is not a one sided affair. I wasn’t the innocent victim of an attack on my character and teaching ability. Something in me attracted the attack upon me. Now I understand that it was my soul trying to get my attention. I wasn’t fulfilling my purpose. The only way I’d see that fact was to lose the job I thought was meant for me.

Just like my personal story, the 9/11 attacks weren’t perpetrated on an innocent nation. Something about who we are, called those attacks to us. Maybe we don’t see it, because we live in the most powerful nation in the world. But we’ve influenced the art, fashion, politics, religion and cultures of almost every country in the world with our movies, literature, music, financial aid, and even things like the Peace Corps. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except that we have the attitude that our way is the best, so, of course, everyone everywhere should be happy to be changed by us. We’re a little bit like Ancient Rome, except that we don’t conquer with armies, we do it with all the things I’ve listed above. The thing is, we don’t open-heartedly respect what other countries and cultures have to offer us. And that makes me weep, because it contributes to more conflict in the world than any of us want. The conflicts that we’re faced with today are our chance to make a new choice, to change our attitudes, and to forgive ourselves and those who’ve transgressed against us.

On this September 11th anniversary, I hope we’ll focus on forgiveness, not rehashing what was done to us. I don’t mean we should forget those who died. But I hope we’ll give up some our arrogance and open our hearts and minds to the richness of the other countries and cultures of the world. I hope we appreciate the view points of other people at home and far away and consider the wisdom found there. I hope, we’ll be humble enough to give up our arrogance and entitlement. If we do, we can change the future and contribute to peace in the world.