Inner Life of a Late Bloomer Baby Boomer

Free picture (Abdeckung. Herbst Blumen.)fall-flowers-very-vivid-colours-fragment-58174

Sometimes, pardon the expression, it sucks to be an empath and an introvert. For years I’ve been a magnet for other people’s emotions which has caused me lots of confusion and emotional turmoil. And yet, now that I’ve learned to separate my emotional states from current events and the people I’m interacting with, I’m grateful that I have the ability to understand how someone else is feeling. I think we could use more empathy in the world right now.

While I was growing up, I felt like an outsider. For one thing we moved a lot, so I was always the new kid. And then I seemed to feel things more deeply than the other kids about events in the world, about the characters in the stories we read, or history we were studying. I had lots of thoughts and emotions going on in my head and heart, but I learned to keep them to myself to keep from being ridiculed. I wasn’t comfortable with this decision. I longed to be the person who said and did outrageous things and didn’t care what other people thought. But that always came with consequences of being bombarded with their emotions. I wasn’t brave enough to be that vulnerable.

One great thing about getting older, I know that I’m not in charge of how other people react, or respond to the things I say and do. So, I’m using this as a kind of test essay for a book I’ve been thinking about writing for eleven years. I’m finally ready to be outrageous and share some of the things I’ve been thinking about religion, politics, human relationships, and life in general. I’ve kept them locked in my head and heart for so many years, they are bursting to get out. So here goes.

Sunday August 12, Barry and I were watching CBS Sunday Morning, as is our Sunday ritual. This episode had a piece about the German artist, Georg Baselitz, one of the world’s most famous and highly sought after living artists. He grew up during and after WW II, the son of a wounded Nazi soldier, in the rubble of a destroyed landscape. When he became an artist trying to make sense of his topsy turvy world, he eventually turned his paintings upside down as well.

Something Stephan Akin, (not sure that’s spelled correctly), who is curator of the Hershorne Museum, said about Baselitz, “(It) is a sign of his great intellectual honesty, he has struggled, but accepted the fact that he was German. He could never be anything but German …”

That was one of those Wow! moments for me. I’ve lived through so many terrible and great things as an American. As a kid I was proud to be an American, a member of the greatest country on earth. But after years of demonstrations, brutality, scandals and revelations about our government, my pride eroded. As my husband said once, “I’m grateful to be an American, but I’m not always proud.” I’ve struggled to make sense of our real history with so many mistakes, atrocities, triumphs and tragedies. I’ve felt the burden of the genocide and oppression we’ve perpetrated, so much so that at times I wished I could be from some other country. And yet … I’m an American and will never be anything other than an American. Which means I’ve got a responsibility to be part of the self-examination we need to be doing right now.

It’s difficult to face reality. I loved that illusion from childhood that I lived in this open hearted melting pot where we learned from each other and everyone was treated equally. But shattering illusions isn’t always a bad thing.

In my personal life, I had to learn to accept the entirety of who I was, even though I wasn’t perfect and have made many mistakes. As I’ve been able to do that, my life has become more joyful. I interact differently with people than I did when I was younger. I’m now more loving and accepting. One of the spiritual teachers I follow said that the way to heal the world is to heal yourself first. I’m still working on myself, but I’ve made progress, which gives me hope that not only can individuals heal their wounds, but our country and the world can too.

I want to say one more thing that I might normally keep to myself. I’m glad we’ve been knocked off our pedestal as the world leader. Being on a pedestal is an extremely lonely place to be. To quote Bing Crosby’s character in White Christmas after Betty tells him he’s her knight in shining armor, “Well, it’s mighty lonely up there on that charger. A fella’s libel to fall off.”

But falling off can be rewarding. Once we’ve fallen off our pedestal, we find there are lots of people and nations who’ve had similar experiences and not only survived but thrived. We find allies, support groups, and eventually friends we can play and work with.

I long for the day when we act as a global community appreciating each culture and working together to ensure the health and safety of each individual and the planet as a whole.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much.

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 about the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Musings

July Moonrise - 1…that to find beauty in everyone you must see beauty in everyone, then announce that you see it for, in announcing it, you place it there in their reality. –Neale Donald Walsch

“Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Sometimes it’s the pits being a highly empathetic person. Just lately I’m exhausted because of it. No matter where I go, people are complaining about this, that and the other thing. They want other people to change so they can feel better, or they want this, or that from the Government. I want to scream and tell them they need to stop looking outside themselves for the things that will make them feel better. It’s only possible to find happiness and peace by doing your inner work. I’ve even written many a blog post about this topic hoping to influence my readers, so that our inner healing, will affect an outer healing. Most of the time I feel like I’m beating my head against a stone wall. I’m discouraged about that.

Then a couple of Sunday’s ago I was listening to Marianne Williamson and Oprah having a discussion on Super Soul Sunday. They were talking about Marianne’s recent political aspirations. She ran for Congress, and though she didn’t get enough votes to be nominated, the experience taught her a great deal about our political process. She’s been speaking, and posting things in Facebook about the need for us to become more active in changing our political landscape. Most of us feel beaten down by the system, which makes us apathetic. But, Marianne is calling us to action. Being a Baby Boomer, I automatically felt that I needed to be demonstrating on the streets, marching, and doing all those things I didn’t get to do as a teenager during the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Movements and the protests against the Vietnam War. I felt guilty about spending so much time working in private to become a more wholehearted, open and loving person.

So, today I was going to use my metaphorical pen to urge you to action. Then, I was reminded of something my father used to say: “You can’t change other people’s minds. You can only be a good example.” He was right. We each have our own path. Caroline Myss calls it our sacred contract. In fact she wrote an entire book about that. Anyway, while thinking about all my mixed up feelings and what’s happening in our country these last years, and what I can do to help bring about positive change, I decided that I’m going to stop preaching and just go back to being quiet, and doing my own spiritual work. I’ve never been one of those dynamic people who can rally thousands to their cause. I’m like my Dad. He influenced people just by being who he was, and he did that a few people at a time. Over a lifetime, he influenced a lot of people. When I decided that, I remembered something else that Marianne has said for years. Find your purpose and use it to change yourself and the world. My purpose is to interpret my personal perspective into the things I write. You can take or leave what you read here. There may be times when someone will be touched by my reflections. To influence one person for the better is a tremendous gift to the world. I’ll be happy with that.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Movies As Art – Ripples in Time

“This world spins from the same unseen forces that twist our hearts.” Spoken by the character Robert Frobisher played by Ben Whishaw in Cloud Atlas

Sunrise for Skin

For several weeks I’ve been struggling with who I am as a writer. Writers write what they know. That’s why in this blog I write about my spiritual journey, my creative life, and about movies. I’ve learned a lot from these aspects of my life. But, I’ve been examining what it is I’m trying to say with my writing. What is my message?

In the midst of this self-examination a couple of things happened. The first was, I attended my women’s book club group. As always, the conversation turned to what’s going on in the world. On more than one occasion I’ve put my two cents worth in that the events we see on the news are just one level of reality. There’s another level that most people don’t see. I appreciate the ladies in my group. They don’t think I’m crazy when I talk like that. They struggle to understand my point of view. It’s nice to have friends who accept me as I am. Bless you ladies.

A few days later, my sister reposted a portion of Wayne Dyer’s new book, I Can See Clearly Now. When I read the excerpt, I knew what my message is and how to express it.

Since I was a young girl, I’ve understood that there are two realities. There is the normal, everyday world of going to school, work, church, doing chores and the like. Then there is another, more ephemeral reality. One we can only feel. When I’ve expressed this point of view, many people don’t understand what I’m talking about. To help you understand, I’ll share a movie example. There have been many movies that have tried to express this dual reality. The one I’m going to write about today is Cloud Atlas.

The movie got mixed reviews. Some critics got the point others didn’t. Granted, it is a movie you have to pay attention to. In fact you may need to watch it multiple times, because there are six intertwining story lines, with the actors playing multiple roles. I love what Roger Ebert wrote about the movie. “Any explanation of a work of art must be found in it, not taken from it. …Maybe it’s just the telling of itself.” He went on to write that he had no explanation for what the movie meant. And to my mind that’s the point of the movie. Do we ever know the meaning, or impact of our lives as we live them? Maybe mystics, or philosophers, or poets, or artists do, to a certain extent. But, most of us are just drifting through life in what Carlos Castaneda calls normal awareness. Only a small amount of the population is aware of other forces, or other realities affecting our lives.

Cloud Atlas, is a work of art that expresses these two competing realities. Sonmi-451, a character in the movie says, “Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” If we take that one quote, and feel it’s impact, we’d understand that everything we do reverberates throughout time. We feel the reverberation of people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, and Buddha. On the other hand, we also feel the shock waves of powerful politicians, princes of industry and science. Some of those shock waves are good, some not so good. But, my question is: Do you ever think about the smaller ripples you make by your choices? I do, and a movie like Cloud Atlas points out the importance of every single person’s contribution to the unseen reality. Every action we take, moves us in a direction. The movie suggests that the direction is toward higher awareness. I agree, and feel that everything that happens moves us in a positive direction. What looks like a tragic event, can be the awakening moment for a person, or a group of people. In fact this happens in more than one of the story lines in Cloud Atlas. As an example I’ll use the 1849 storyline.

A man, Adam Ewing, goes to secure a contract for slaves for his father-in-law. He becomes the victim of a greedy doctor who wants the gold he knows the man is carrying, not to mention every single thing of value Adam has. Dr. Goose says, “There is only one rule that binds all people. One governing principle that defines every relationship on God’s green earth: The weak are meat, and the strong do eat.” He states the mantra of those living in normal awareness.

Fortunately, Adam is saved by choosing to help a slave who stows away on his ship home. He had witnessed the slave being brutally whipped earlier in the movie, and was appalled by the brutality. He helps the slave gain a position as sailor on the ship. Because Adam rejected Dr. Goose’s philosophy, he’s saved by the slave from being poisoned to death. When he arrives home, he confronts his father-in-law about his inhumanity. He and his wife move north to join the abolitionist movement. In a later story line, they are again revolutionaries working to change the world for the better.

Cloud Atlas is a movie that shows us there is more to our lives than our short physical lifespans. Ephemeral reality is trying to help us to expand and grow. The question is, do we feel the gentle push, and follow, or do we wait until our lives fall apart before we wake up to the bigger and better possibilities we can experience in our lives? It’s up to you to decide what impact you’re going to make throughout time.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

The Power of Play

“Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.” – John Lennon

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”  — Mark Twain

Recently, a debate arose on Facebook among my college friends about the possible elimination of winter term from Graceland University’s educational year. (A note to Elvis fans, Graceland University was in existence long before Elvis’ Graceland.)

It started off by one of my friends saying he thought it was a good thing to eliminate winter term so that students could focus on real learning. He set off a firestorm of discussion. I found out later he’d never attended Graceland, even though it is sponsored by the Church he belongs to, so he’d never experienced the benefits of such a program. In his defense I’ll say, it’s like him to post comments that promote discussion.

Let me explain what winter term was when I attended Graceland. During the month of January, students had a chance to sign up for one seminar type class. These were outside the normal college curriculum. Students could try out a discipline they were interested in, but didn’t have time to fit into their regular schedule, or they could take a trip to exotic places. Others opted to take art or music classes, or classes in their subject area that weren’t offered at any other time. Students were encouraged to play, and explore. The schedule was relaxed and we had lots of one-on-one time with the instructors.

Two good things about winter term: It was a way to ease back into the intensity of the spring semester. And it was a great chance to get to know a new set of people while exploring a new subject area. Yes, some students did a lot of goofing off, however, there were required assignments to do as part of these classes, though the requirements were more lenient. I have to say, I got a lot out of playing and learning at the same time.

Now maybe it’s because I’ve studied theatre, but I think play is a very important component to learning. Our minds and bodies get tired when we work too hard. It’s good to give them both some rest through play. When I taught High School English classes, I’d build in creative projects, or activities that encouraged discussion and an element of fun. It was a necessity since the classes were one hundred minutes long. I did this based on my feeling that play enhances learning. However, I was supported in that notion when I took a series of workshops meant to help ELL students (English Language Learners) succeed in not only learning the language, but learning the information being presented in class. Many of the activities presented in those workshops encouraged us to help the students talk with each other so peer learning could take place. The activities got the students out of their seats moving around and thinking in new ways.

While I was doing my guided meditation this morning, I had a new insight about hard work VS play. I’m one of those people who believed the axiom that to be prosperous, you need to work hard and sacrifice you free time. This morning that was shattered by the knowledge that the opposite is actually true. If I hadn’t been involved in theatre all these years, where it’s fun to do the “work”, I might never have seen the error in my thinking.

What I realized is that, “hard work” is something you do when you’re not aligned with you’re task. It’s a struggle to do the job, because it’s not your highest purpose. Nearly six years ago, I found that I was a good teacher, but it wasn’t my highest purpose and I was exhausted at the end of each day, unless I was directing a play. Then the day ended on a high note and I felt energized.

So, the word play can mean different things. It can mean goofing off and neglecting the task at hand. But, I think the best interpretation of play is, engaging in something you truly love to do, something that energizes and enriches your life. When we play to enrich our lives, we become more relaxed and the creative ideas flow.

The day I knew that I was meant to be a writer was one of the best days of my life, though I didn’t know it at the time. I’ve learned the joy of “playing” every day doing what I love. My life is rich and full and I’ve let go of the need to control events so that I can become prosperous. My little voice tells me to concentrate on perfecting my skills and let serendipity guide me when it’s time to promote and market my work.

I’m wondering, do you play to enhance your life? Are you doing what you love? If not, how could your life be better by doing so?

© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden
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A New World

“Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can find his way by moonlight, and see the dawn before the rest of the world.” Oscar Wilde

“Don’t let yourself be weighed down by what other people think, because in a few years, in a few decades, or in a few centuries, that way of thinking will have changed.  Live now what others will only live in the future.” Paulo Coelho

Just recently my husband and I started watching a new summer series The Bridge on FX. We wanted to watch it partly because we live one mile from the border of Mexico. Would the series tell of the story of what it’s like to live on the border? We were pleasantly surprised.

The first episode begins when a body is found on the bridge from El Paso, Texas to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. One half of the body is in Mexico, one half in the U.S. and law enforcement on both sides must work together to solve the murder mystery. As we get to know the two main police officers on the case, we also get to see how differently their departments work. But more than that, we get to see life on both sides of the border and how interconnected it is. In some ways, life on the Mexican side is much like ours and in others, it’s vastly different. It’s much more violent and threatening. That’s what makes the series compelling. The writers are letting us see into each character’s life experience. They’re letting us get a glimpse into a world we might not ever get to experience. To me that’s great art.

As, I was thinking about that show, I was thinking about my own creative process. What is my creative process and how do I describe it? Serendipity gave me a helping hand. Yesterday, while I was cooking, I was watching a movie I’d recorded some time back, The Magic of Belle Isle, with Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen. He’s an alcoholic writer, who’s lost his writing muse, until he goes to Belle Isle for the summer and meets a newly single mother and her three daughters. The middle daughter waltzes over to his house uninvited and demands that he teach her how to use her imagination to write. As incentive to accept her as a student, she offers to pay him $34, all the money she has. Since he’s short on cash, he accepts.

In her first lesson in imagination Freeman’s character asks her to look down the road and tell him what she sees.

She says, “Nothing, it’s just a road.”

“Okay,” he says, “tell me what’s not there.”

It takes her a few lessons before she can tell him a story about something that only she sees. That’s the beginning of her writing career. In the end he tells her to “Never stop looking for what isn’t there.”

I realized that’s what I do. That’s what other creative people do. They look for what’s not there and then they use their chosen media to make it a reality and we’re all affected by the new vision we see. That’s what Steve Jobs did when he created the iPod, iPhone and iPad. We didn’t know we needed those things until he invented them. We might not see the horror of war until we see it presented graphically on the screen, we don’t know the beauty of the wheat field until we see it in a painting. We don’t know the anguish of living in a hostile environment on the border of Mexico, until we see it portrayed on the screen. That’s why we need artists. They show us a new world.

Word Power

“The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, And let it spring from love. Born out of concern for all beings.”

– Buddha, was the central figure of Buddhism.

Words have been on my mind a great deal since I began writing my novel and this blog. That’s not true, I’ve always been fascinated with words. I’m told I spoke clearly before I could walk. None of that baby talk for me. When I was in grade school, my teacher praised me to the class for saying the word “multiplication” clearly, enunciating all the parts of the word. The other kids looked at me with perplexed expressions on their faces as if to say, “What difference does it make”?

My favorite subject in school was English where I learned to love great literature. In college my majors were Religious Studies and Theatre and Speech and my Masters degrees are in Theater Arts and Education. So, as you can see, words and the ideas behind them matter to me.

That’s why I’m concerned. There seems to be a growing trend of speaking before thinking about the consequences of what we’re saying. Is it just me, or are we lashing out at one another more than we used to do? We’re making a habit of using personal invective against one another without realizing that words are made up of energy. When spoken they are sound vibrations that we’re sending out into the world. When read silently, they stir or damage our soul.

Maybe you don’t know what I’m getting at. Okay, let me demonstrate. In the “Declaration of Independence” the line we revere the most is this: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” As Americans, aren’t we proud of that document? Would we be as proud if Thomas Jefferson hadn’t been such a good writer? What if it said: “This is what we believe to be the truth, that everyone’s created equal, with rights that can’t be denied. We state that some of those rights are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It doesn’t have the same ring does it? Here’s another example of a document we hold dear, “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” What if Lincoln had started his address with, “One hundred and seven years ago our nation was created.” See what I mean?

My point is that words have power. We continue to study the works of Shakespeare because of the way he stated his ideas through characters in interesting, sometimes desperate situations. It’s the same with all great literature, but our popular entertainment, with a few exceptions, is made up primarily of reality shows where the “real” people are bickering, tearing each other down with their brutal honesty, or using profanity that has to be bleeped out. What kind of negative energy are we saturating the air waves with and how does that affect us? I’m not saying that a good swear word should never be used. Sometimes that’s the best way to express our feelings. What I object to is yelling them in someone else’s face.

In a fantastic book I read last year, Every Word Has Power, Yvonne Oswald writes about the power the words we think and speak have on our lives. If we’ve got the habit of denigrating ourselves, it’s nearly impossible to be successful out in the world. For that reason she helps the reader notice their self-talk. Beginning to change ourselves is the way to change our outer world. For that reason, I don’t watch all those negative reality shows, or the news. However, because I’m sensitive, I feel overwhelmed by the negativity of our dialogue with each other. I can feel it in the ethers and I feel sad that we’ve lost much of our civility.

Now that I’ve written about the negative aspects of our media, I do want to point out that I see glimmers of hope. I think the big wigs at the networks underestimate those of us who are viewers. The popularity of Downton Abbey, on PBS no less, took everybody by surprise. It’s a literate television show. Oh, there are characters who can deliver a cutting remark with flair. But, we get to see them suffer the consequences of their actions. They don’t get away with being nasty for long. Another glimmer of hope is the fact that OWN is doing better than ever, and while I don’t watch all the shows on that network, the programming is heavy on personal growth and healing. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I know this one blog post, which will reach maybe 50 people, isn’t going to change the way we think about each other, or talk to each other over night. My goal is to be one voice added to many others, saying, we need to pay attention to how we treat ourselves and others. We need to think, and not just drift along. We need to wake up and be conscious of our actions. If we’re compassionate with ourselves, it’s easier to show compassion for others.