What Writing Has Taught Me

All the Love and Support We Need

“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.” ~ Brené Brown

My husband and I had an intimate conversation the other day on the way home from the memorial for a fellow writer. I met Cappy about eight or so years ago through a writer’s group she and her best friend Ross started. Cappy always had a smile on her face, her critiques were kind, but insightful, and enormously helpful. When I talked with her one-on-one, she was genuinely interested in what I had to say. She didn’t talk a lot about herself, but if you asked, she was happy to share insights she’d learned from her experiences.

The way I really got to know Cappy was from reading her memoir, Love Life, With Parrots. Her openness about all aspects of her life made me realize that I’m a guarded person and thus a guarded writer. And that’s what my husband and I were talking about, how I wished I could be more open like Cappy. Her open, welcoming nature left an indelible impression on those she met.

I must acknowledge that I come by my caution honestly. My father and mother were/are both introverts. My father, in particular, was a very private man. The way he shared his values with us was through the discussions we had about the media we consumed, or about things that had happened to us at school or church. I know that he had a very deep and active spiritual life because of the sermons he preached, but he hardly ever shared how he felt about the experiences themselves.

As a result, I followed his example. I kept my thoughts to myself most of the time because I was sure I would cause shock and controversy if I shared the commentary running through my head. In fact, I did cause a huge controversy in college when I wrote an letter to the editor of our newspaper after the campus minister preached a sermon about love right before Valentine’s Day. His thoughts reinforced traditional doctrine, but in my opinion his view of love was severely constrained, which I pointed out in my letter. Why hadn’t I kept my thoughts to myself? But good things came out of that controversy. I should have learned that sometimes rocking the boat is a good thing. However, I was extremely uncomfortable with the personal attacks and attention and so went back into my shell.

Fast forward to 2008 when I decided to become a writer. Up until that point I had kept a personal journal in which I was completely open about my dilemmas, failures, relationship issues, and aha moments. But, when I began writing for public consumption, I found ways to conceal my true thoughts and feelings. Fortunately, someone pointed that out, and encouraged me to pull back the layers to reveal how I truly saw the world. Wow! That challenge was the most frightening thing I’ve ever had to face. I didn’t want to do it, yet I knew if I was going to affect people with what I wrote, I’d have to.

Sharing my true self was extremely difficult at first. It has become easier over the six years of writing this blog but I’m not a completely open book yet. And in a way, maybe that’s a good thing. Brené Brown says it’s important to be selective when sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings. We need to protect ourselves from energy vampires and human werewolves who take pleasure in ripping people apart. On the other hand, being open like Cappy was by revealing personal insights can be of enormous help to those who read the work.

Since attending Cappy’s memorial, I’ve been doing a great deal of self-examination with regards to my life and work. The area I tend to protect most is my spirituality. I have a difficult time sharing with people that I’ve had many spiritual experiences. Silly as it may sound, until recently I felt a bit ashamed of this aspect of who I am. I felt different from everyone else because it seems to me spirituality is not accepted as an integral part of every day life. If you’re spiritual you must live in special communities and never partake in ordinary activities. But as my sister says, “It’s just one way of living.” Spiritual people do not have to be saints. They can be your next-door neighbor, your garbage man, or your boss. As a spiritual person, I struggle with the same fears and challenges as everyone else on this planet. It’s just that I know I’m not alone. I’ve got lots of assistance to help me work though any problem.

Being a person who has regular spiritual insights, I’m sensitive to the shifting energy of our times. Just lately I’ve felt an extreme tension between the way we used to operate in the world and what I think humanity is evolving into, which is a more spiritual approach to life. And this tension has affected how I feel about the business side of writing. I want more people to read my blog and books. I would love to have a steady stream of income from what I write. But I cringe at doing the promotion and marketing. I swing back to the idea that maybe it’s enough to just create the work because any act of creativity affects the energy that connects us all. And I ask myself, do I shy away from doing more aggressive marketing because I don’t see that as spiritual? I guess I’m going to have to wrestle with this issue for a while.

In any case that brings me back to Cappy. She left behind a great deal of written work. She didn’t make loads of money from selling it, but she didn’t let that stop her from creating it. Ross announced at the memorial that he and Cappy’s husband are going to compile her poems, essays and stories into new works of art that can be shared. So, even though Cappy is no longer physically with us, her insights and particular observations about life are going to live on. That makes me very happy because her vision of the world was unique and beautiful.

Maybe that’s the most important thing about being human, we leave ripples of influence behind us. They may not be works of art, but our interactions with others influence the future in ways we can’t possibly foresee.

Thanks for reading. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you have meaningful interactions with friends and love ones this 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. Only Jenna joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of 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, 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.

Legacy of a Life

Getting a hug from Dad

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~ Norman Cousins

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” ~ Robert Frost

As I sit down to write this blog post, I’m very emotional because it’s about my father. Even though he’s been gone for twelve years, I’m still learning from the lessons he taught me. His influence runs so deep that it is often difficult for me to put my thoughts and emotions into words. But, about a month or two ago, I got the idea to write a book with my sister, Celeste, about the conversations we had with Dad. The book started out to be about what we learned from the many discussions we had with him about movies.

When I proposed the idea to Celeste we decided we wanted to concentrate on the way dad used questions as a teaching tool and how parents and teachers can also do the same thing.

The thing is, when a writing project idea comes to me, it often morphs into exploring ideas and relationships that I had not envisioned when I started the project. This one is no different. As Celeste and I have talked about all that we’ve learned from Dad, it is clear to me that we have more things to say about him than just the discussions we had about movies. It seems to me that we need to write a kind of memoir about him rather than just a cheesy little book about using movies to have those difficult discussions with children.

I haven’t read many memoirs, which may or may not be an advantage. All kinds of ways I could approach the writing have been swirling around in my head. How do we structure the book? How do we even begin it? Then I remembered something Brené Brown said. The best way to connect with people is to tell stories. That is what Celeste and I have decided to do and this morning a story about dad came to me that I want to share.

When I was ten, we moved from the comfortable cocoon of church friends and close family to an extremely small town where I didn’t know anyone. There were a few church families living in this small community, and, as I remember it, Dad was to be the pastor of the small congregation. The town was on the Washington side of the Colombia River Gorge across from The Dalles, Oregon. We moved from our lovely home that mom and dad had had built in Gresham, Oregon to a 55 ft long, 10 ft wide trailer, with my brother and I sharing a tiny bedroom. My new baby sister, not Celeste she came later, slept in her bassinet in Mom and Dad’s room.

I was an extremely sensitive and shy girl. The move was difficult for me. I don’t remember having many friends the three years we lived there.

Dad often had assignments to preach at congregations up and down the Gorge. When he traveled, he would take either my brother or me, or sometimes both of us with him. Those were precious times, because though we lived 70 miles from Portland, dad still worked at Freightliner building big rigs. He spent the weekdays away from home. Even so, he found time to coach one of my brother’s teams and he came to many of our school events.

When I was in seventh grade, the principal of our school decided to put on a play. The population of the school was small, and I don’t remember if all students in the seventh and eighth grades were encouraged to audition, or if it was just a seventh grade project. In any case, I think I surprised my parents when I auditioned for the play. I didn’t get a part, but I helped backstage. One of my duties was to prompt students on their lines. I was so enthusiastic that I memorized the entire script. I didn’t think anyone knew this, or even cared, but I wanted to be prepared in case something happened and an actor couldn’t perform.

At the end of the school year, the principal gave me a special award for all my hard work and he told the assembly that I had learned all the lines to the play and done other extra work backstage. I still have the drama pin Mr. Hemple gave me, but the best award I got that night was Dad telling me how proud he was of me. I’m sure he had told me that before, but for some reason, that night his words meant so much more to me.

Over the years dad did that a lot, told me he was proud of me. I found out not too many years ago, that Dad had told Mom, “Lucinda is a sensitive soul.” Or words to that effect. I think he told me he was proud of me because he knew I was filled with self-doubt and needed to hear that he understood who I was.

That was one of the things that made Dad a genus. He observed people. He had empathy for them and could often see talents in them they didn’t even know they possessed. I believe Dad saw my love for storytelling in all it’s forms and he began watching movies and TV shows with me not only to help me learn, but to connect with me in a non-threatening but emotional way. Because you see, my father was an extremely private person himself. We could talk about the events and characters in the movie or TV show and in an oblique way, talk about how we felt and what we thought about things happening in our personal lives as well.

So, even though this memoir that Celeste and I are going to write together will contain stories about the movie discussions we had with Dad, it will contain other stories as well. Stories of how little things Dad did and said to us had a great impact upon the way we live our lives now.

I miss you, Dad. I’m grateful to have had you as my father, and for all the things I learned from you.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I appreciate it very much. Have a restful weekend.

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.