Doing It Anyway

Rainbow

“Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.” ~ Bo Bennett

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” ~ Cecil Beaton

I’ve been thinking a great deal about my writing process lately. After several months of concentrating on other projects, I’ve finally gone back to my sequel novel, Time’s Echo.

I’ve heard that Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, writes in blocks of scenes. They aren’t connected until she gets to a certain point, and then she shapes them into the story she wants to tell. In a way, I do the same thing. I get an idea for something that happens to my characters. I begin writing that situation. Often I have to go back to it to add more details, or I realize that something needs to be changed. Once it’s in a presentable rough state, I move on.

When I got the idea to write The Space Between Time, my original idea was to write about a father, daughter relationship and how what the daughter learned from her father helped her once he was gone. But as I got into the nitty gritty of the story it became clear that it wanted to be about how my two main characters deal with life shattering events. The death of a parent, loss of a job, loss of romantic relationships, dealing with difficult people. Each woman must face hardships, learn from them, and then build a better life for herself.

While I was writing, I thought this first book would stand alone. But the moment I finished the rough draft, I knew I had to write a sequel novel. The second book would address women’s issues. That was in 2014. I had a clear idea where I wanted Morgan’s story in the past to go. But what Jenna had to deal with in the present was not as clear. So, her story didn’t develop very quickly. Then the @Me Too movement happened, and it has opened up Jenna’s story line. There are now so many possibilities for her character to choose to do. Since it’s the harder of the two storylines to write, I’m letting it percolate on the back burner of my mind while I work on what Morgan’s timeline.

As I’ve been working on Time’s Echo, the idea that we can’t escape our life’s purpose keeps coming up as one of the themes. Morgan in the past, and Jenna in the present come face to face with the way women are treated in their time period. They each have an unavoidable choice to make, get involved, or sit back on the sidelines. I chose for them to become involved, even though that creates tension in their home lives.

While writing about the struggles of Jenna and Morgan, I’ve realized that I’m inspired by people who see some problem that needs to be fixed, and even though the work is dangerous, or seemingly impossible, they do what they can to make things better. And being who I am, those stories make me think about my own life’s purpose. I don’t think I have a huge function in the grand scheme of things. And yet, I do want to change the world in the small ways that are within my power. I’ll never be a Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, or Jesus. But no matter what I’m meant to do, if I try to deny or ignore it, my life will become shallow and vapid. That’s an unacceptable prospect for me.

I think I’m so caught up in all forms of story telling, especially the ones I’m telling, because I get a chance to examine situations that I would never experience in real life. I ask myself, what I’d do if I were in that situation? Would I fight until the end, even if I knew the cause was hopeless? Would I join a cause even if my life was in danger, or I might never see the culmination of all the work I’d put in?

Those are the kinds of questions I’m asking about my characters as I write Time’s Echo. And one more, when someone makes a commitment to a cause that will change society, how does it affect their family? I’m fascinated by the tension between the life a person has been living and the realization that they’re called to step outside their comfort zone. What effects do their decisions make on those around them?

I’m happy to say that I’m nearing the end of Morgan’s storyline. Now to tackle Jenna’s. I’ll keep you posted about how that goes.

Welcome to my new followers. Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments. Have a wonderful 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.

Life is Messy. Why That’s a Good Thing!

Marco Polo Sings A Solo

“The one thing that I keep learning over and over again is that I don’t know nothing. I mean, that’s my life lesson.” ~ Dwayne Johnson

“My greatest life lesson has been that life can change in a second. This is why it’s important to always live your best possible life and to do what you can for others.” ~ Niki Taylor

This has been a devastating week both on a national level and in the lives of my students. I never know what to say at such times. I want to be of comfort. I want to assure my students, or friends that when things fall apart, they are really falling together. I even said that to one of my students when she said, “My life is a mess.” But later I thought, “That was stupid. She needed comfort not platitudes.”

The thing is, I’m old enough now to have lived through lots of life shattering events and I know that when my life falls apart, I have this extraordinary opportunity to build something new with the pieces. And some of you might think I’m crazy, but I know that there is some power guiding us through such trying times. We just have to trust that’s true and then try to listen to what that still small voice is telling us. I know these things, but when I say them, or share them on social media, people can’t understand what I’m driving at. They get angry with me or they say, “Yeah, but …”. I can’t blame them. When you’re in the middle of the drama, it’s hard to see that outside the theatre there is something more wonderful going on.

After that encounter with my student, I berated myself for not being caring enough. I felt like I failed and I started thinking about how to share what I’ve learned about life being messy and how failure and loss can be the beginning of a more fulfilling life. Then I had to laugh at myself. My book, The Space Between Time is my life philosophy expressed as a story. Jenna and Morgan face life shattering events, they embrace the messiness of their lives and come through to happier plateaus.

I’ve always loved fairy tales, myths, movies, and books. I didn’t know why, but when I became involved in theatre it dawned on me that stories give us the chance to open up to new perspectives. And when we allow ourselves to be influenced by the story we get a glimpse of new ways of thinking and being. That’s what propelled my drive to begin writing.

In real life encounters, all I can do is BE with those who are suffering while they find their own way through the darkness. But as a writer, I have an opportunity to give comfort in a different way. Stories give us a chance to learn at a safe distance. That’s exciting! Now that I’ve realized the truth of that, I’m more determined than ever to keep working on improving my story telling skills.

Here is an audio recording of the second segment of chapter one of The Space Between Time. I’m experimenting with creating my own audio segments, so this is not perfect, but I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for reading and listening. I appreciate your likes and comments.

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

Marriage Lessons

Wedding Photo

“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” ~ Simone Signoret

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin

Today is my thirty-seventh wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that my husband and I have been married that many years, but then his parents celebrated their sixtieth anniversary last month, so Barry and I have a long way to go to beat that record.

For obvious reasons it feels appropriate to look back and reflect upon all the things I’ve learned from being married.

First of all I should say that we have no children, so the things I might have learned from being a parent I’ve had to learn in other ways, or not at all. I don’t regret that decision one bit. It was right for us.

The way Barry and I realized we were in love was right out of a movie script. We were in one of the college choirs together, and were preparing for a tour during Winter Term. It was January in Iowa. One evening at the end of rehearsal, the director told us to go ahead and put on our coats and other winter gear while we sang one of our encore songs, which happened to be “Let It Be Me”. Barry and I were goofing around pretending we were in a play singing to each other, when all of a sudden, looking into each other’s eyes, something changed. We both felt it. That was the beginning of our romantic relationship.

Relationships can begin like that. But romance is only the spark that brings a couple together. I was naive and thought that that tingly all over feeling was love and would last forever. I assumed that Barry was supposed to be my everything, meet all my needs, and I was in turn to be that for him. It was a shock when I understood that that is not realistic. A marriage where the two people are completely dependent on each other is not healthy. That couple is codependent and for awhile that applied to Barry and me. However a few years into our marriage, I learned one of the most important lessons of my life. I had to take responsibility for myself and make sure I did the personal work necessary to bring my best self to my relationship with Barry.

This led to another huge realization. Barry is my beloved and I rely on him for many things. But now I know that if something were to happen to him, I’d miss him terribly but I’d be okay.

Learning the above lessons started the day Barry and I were having an argument and I said to him, “When you say that, I feel …” The look on his face told me he was appalled, and he told me what he had intended by what he said. It was completely opposite to what I assumed he meant. What I assumed and what he intended were two completely different things. That was a big revelation. I learned that day that we hear one thing based on our past experiences, when in fact the other person might be trying to say something else. From that day onward, I checked in with him when we were having a discussion so that I understood just what he intended before getting all bent out of shape.

Over the years, I learned another vital lesson; that every day I must make the choice to commit to making our marriage work. For several years, I was sure that Barry would realize that I wasn’t worth his time and would leave me. So to protect my heart, I held back. I didn’t fully share my thoughts, or my affections. No relationship can work if one or both people are hiding behind their fear. When I was able to love and accept myself as I was, faults and all, I was able to open up and allow Barry his imperfections, and not try to change him.

My relationship with Barry has changed me in other ways. When he came into my life, I was an extremely serious person. I saw the world as a scary, hostile place. He, on the other hand, has a fantastic sense of humor and most of the time sees life as fun rather than a chore to get through. I’m forever grateful that he taught me how to laugh. Because of him, I now see life as an adventure. There are so many people to connect with, love and compassion to share, and beauty and wonder to experience everywhere. If it hadn’t been for him, I would never have had the courage to follow my dreams and try lots of daring new things. I hate to think what might have happened to me if I hadn’t married him. Though I do remember saying months or maybe even a year before Barry and I got together, that I deserved to find a true and lasting love and I wasn’t going to settle for anything less. I guess I was on my way to trusting that I lived in a friendly universe after all. Falling in love with Barry was confirmation of that fact.

In these last few years of our marriage, I’ve learned the largest lesson of all, that each person is much more than all the outer things we associate with being human. At the core of each of us is a shining, creative, loving human being full of talents to offer the world. Most of the time we get bogged down by self-hatred, or the things we own, or by seeking the house, job, or education we think of as necessary to live a happy life. But none of those things are the true essence of who we really are.

Since we’re both artists in our different ways, there have been times when Barry and I have found common ground struggling to find our place in the world. Much of the time people don’t understand or appreciate that artists and creatives look at the world in new and different ways to come up with their theories, or inventions, or artwork. Having so much in common with Barry has given me the freedom to explore and create. These thirty-seven years are ones I’m extremely grateful to have lived. I look forward to many more wonderful years of creativity and self-discovery with my beloved husband, Barry.

Post Script: A couple of days ago I went to the dentist. I mentioned our upcoming anniversary. Since he’s a former student of mine, he knew me well enough to ask what was the secret for such a long and happy marriage. Without thinking I said that each couple needs to figure that out for themselves, that there isn’t one right answer to that question. I did qualify that statement by saying that I think good communication is a key component to all good relationships. He and his assistant agreed.

I added that little story to say that I’ve shared what I’ve learned, but those are my lessons and realizations and might not necessarily apply to you and your relationships, so happy discoveries to you all.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

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

Life Lessons

At rehearsal for The Tavern
At rehearsal for The Tavern

“It is a universal principle that you get more of what you think about, talk about, and feel strongly about.” ~ Jack Canfield

“I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others.” ~ Muhammad Ali

The other day I had an encounter that woke me up to the fact that I’m a helper, and not always in a good way.

Being a helper is a good skill to have if you’re a teacher but not so good if you’re in a group of business owners and creatives. One of my strengths is helping people make connections. Connections between disparate bits of information, or connections between people and resources. But the other day, I overstepped my bounds and made someone angry, understandably so. This person rankled when I made suggestions about connections she could make for her business. She then turned the tables on me telling me about a course she had taken that I might need. When I responded that I didn’t really need the class, she asked me if I was teachable. Baffled by her question, I said yes. The encounter stayed with me and I went home to examine what I had done that made our interaction go south. After several days of thinking and meditating, it came to me that I had tried to be a helper, when what she needed was a listener.

This encounter came at a time when I’m actively working on discovering my true self. That means shedding old behaviors and allowing myself to become more open to others. For that reason, I’m grateful that this incident happened because I needed to face a part of myself that I must release. I love the way the universe works, because this morning as I was getting ready to finish this article, I read a post that applies to the above incident.

I follow Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook. Today her post was titled THE ALPHA MARE. She wrote it in response to an online conversation she was having with a woman who wants to lead with an open heart but who has been hurt because of that. To help the woman, Elizabeth cited this information she got from Martha Beck about the psychology of horse herds. Herds of horses are lead by an alpha mare who keeps the herd together. (Apparently the stallions come and go.) The skill the alpha mare exhibits best is boundaries. “She knows exactly who she is, and nobody messes with it. … The alpha mare never lets herself be influenced by another horse’s fears or anxieties or aggression.” When I read that I understood that, as an empathetic person, I often take on other people’s emotions. I haven’t completely mastered setting up good boundaries. So, sometimes I absorb the emotions of others instead of blocking them. Today it hit me that’s part of what I’ve been working on is cleaning up and sweeping out all the cobwebs of other people’s stuff that I’ve been holding onto for years. I’m learning who I really am. I’m learning to set my boundaries so I can be calm in any situation.

And thanks to the above encounter, I realized that I no longer need to be a helper. I can follow my father’s advice and let people figure stuff out for themselves. That’s really the only way we can learn anything valuable anyway. We may meet people along the way who point us in the right direction, but what works for me may not necessarily work for you. That’s as it should be. We’re all trying to figure out what it means to be a human being in our own unique way. I hope I can maintain my empathy, while not taking on the fears and anxieties of others and at the same time be supportive and a good listener. I no longer want to be so arrogant as to think I have the answers for someone else.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Things I Learned from My Father part 2 – Kindness

Dad and me on Easter Sunday
Dad and me on Easter Sunday

“No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.” ~ Aesop

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ~ 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

The other day I was trolling Facebook and saw a video that fits perfectly something I learned from my father: it’s important to always be kind and give people the benefit of the doubt. My dad was almost always kind to others. He rarely lost his temper even at home, even when people were in his face challenging, or yelling at him.

But back to the video. In it a man with a “Trump Supporter” T-shirt and a sign that asked for hugs was standing outside a Bernie Sanders rally. He had a camera crew with him, so I don’t know if he was a real Trump supporter, or someone doing a social experiment. In any case as the rally ended and people poured out, he held up his sign asking for a hug. Only one person said, “F**k you.” Many people walked by without saying a word, but once the first person gave him a hug, many others followed. One woman even said, “Oh, you poor guy.” There was one man who wasn’t sure he wanted to give this Trump supporter a hug, he kind of hemmed and hawed, but finally he approached and gave the best hug. At the end of the video the young man said something like, “See we can overlook our differences and find common ground.”

In this season of so much controversy, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my dad taught me about being kind.

The summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school, we moved from Wilbur, Washington to a five acre lot, twelve miles south of Spokane. There I was starting at a new country school that just happened to be rivals with the school I had been attending. The students at the new school were much nicer to me than the ones at the old had been when I started school there. That was wonderful, but church wasn’t so wonderful. My father was a progressive thinker in every aspect of his life. The members of the three congregations in Spokane were mostly conservative which as they got to know my father caused some real problems for our family.

At various times my father was, the district wide youth leader, and later pastor of our congregation. As youth leader, he wanted to broaden our experiences, so he did things like start a “Coffee House” in the basement of our congregation every Friday or Saturday night. We drank soda or tea, ate cookies or popcorn and had an open mic where people could sing, or recite or read what they’d written. We were encouraged to invite our friends. The atmosphere was dark with candles on the tables which made it feel very intimate. We kids loved it. The parents did not. We were, of course, chaperoned, but that didn’t matter. There was an uproar that inappropriate things were happening at the coffee house and the experiment was shut down.

Then dad started a program with the local mental hospital. Those of us who attended their monthly socials, would just talk to the inmates of the hospital, play games or read to them, or maybe dance with them. But again, people objected. Why should we be subjected to those unsavory people in the mental hospital? Maybe the parents were jealous. My father was very popular with the younger generation. Whatever the case, our trips to the hospital stopped.

When my father became pastor of our congregation, he started a relationship with the minister of the Baptist church a few blocks away. The congregation was made up of mostly black people and the two ministers cooked up a scheme where the two congregations would get to know each other so we could do some community outreach together. Unfortunately, that too fell flat.

Each of these attempts by my father to help get us out of our insular activities and worship, caused great anger toward him and our entire family. My parents received hate mail and terrible phone calls from congregation and district members. Though my parents tried to shield us from the controversy, I was old enough to catch snippets of conversations that gave me a pretty clear picture of what was going on. My father was considered a rabble rouser and many people didn’t like him. There were times when I witnessed people confronting him at church. No matter what they said or how they treated him, he was always kind.

Witnessing the way my father interacted with people left a deep impression on me. I asked myself how he was able to stay so calm and return hatred with kindness? One thing I noticed was that after such confrontations, he’d go to his bedroom, or some other quiet place to be alone for awhile. When I took up this same practice, I found that it helped me in my attempts to be kind to others.

I’m not perfect. There are times when I feel overwhelmed by emotions I don’t understand and I want to make nasty comments either in person, or on social media. But that would only escalate an already volatile situation. When I feel strong negative emotions, I follow what I learned from my father, I go to a quiet place, write down my feelings and meditate to calm myself. I wish we taught those skills in our schools because if we did, we might have a more peaceful world. I’m grateful I learned them from my father.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Things I Learned from My Father

James Calvin Sage
James Calvin Sage

“Here is my secret, A very simple secret, It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ The Little Prince

“We are approaching a new age of synthesis. Knowledge cannot be merely a degree or a skill … it demands a broader vision, capabilities in critical thinking and logical deduction without which we cannot have constructive progress.” ~ Li Ka-shing

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and aiming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.” ~ Adrienne Rich

“Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.” ~ Richard W. Paul

Yesterday, March 8, would have been my father’s 86th birthday. I still miss him though it’s been twelve years since his death. He was my mentor, and on this anniversary of his birth, I’d like to share some of the wonderful things he taught me.

First and foremost was to Question everything. My father was extremely intelligent, even though he had to drop out of school. His teachers called him lazy, and told him that he’d never amount to anything. Boy were they wrong. It’s amazing the extent of influence one person has on the world.

After years of struggling, my dad discovered that he had dyslexia, which was unheard of in the 1930s and 40s when he was in school. But by the time he had a label for his condition it didn’t matter because he had taught himself how to read. And what he read about was history and historical places. He loved biographies like those of the Founding Fathers. When my brother and I began college he read philosophy and theology, which was what we were studying. In fact, dad was interested in everything, especially what was going on in the present. “It’s history in the making,” he’d say. So, of course, he read news magazines, the newspaper and watched both the early and late news every night. And he questioned all of it.

He taught me never to assume that I understood what someone was saying or writing. We each attach different meanings to the same words. So, I should analyze information by asking lots of questions. He taught me this, oddly enough, by watching movies with me. When I was a teenager, we’d stay up late on weekend evenings watching and discussing old movies. We’d talk about the plot and characters, their motivations and what we thought the theme might be. Every question he asked me sent me to a deeper level of thinking.

Because he watched movies with me, I began to watch the news with him. I’d ask him questions like, why the police were beating the peaceful demonstrators, or why people were killing black people who wanted equal rights, or why we were fighting the Viet Nam War, and he would say things like, “People hurt others because they’re deeply wounded themselves. They’re scared.” “Scared of what?” I’d ask. “Scared of losing their way of life,” he’d answer. Another thing he used to say was, “People who are in great pain don’t know what they’re doing. They just want to feel better. They think hurting someone else will get rid of their pain, not realizing that one violent act leads to another.” So I began asking lots of questions no matter what I was listening to, or reading, or who I was interacting with.

When I became a public school teacher I learned that asking questions is called the Socratic Method. It’s the method Socrates used to help his students learn to think. Thanks to dad, it’s the way I teach, it’s the way I live my life.

Asking questions about why people do what they do is a particularly valuable tool for me in my day to day life. It’s extremely important to ask what a commentator, a politician, a TV ad, or a writer means by the words they use in their news and TV shows, ads, articles, movies and books. When I ask questions, it causes me to take a deeper look and helps me understand someone’s intent, or their motives. When I have a clearer picture, I’m better equipped to make decisions, and understand my family, friends, students and colleagues in a way I might not have realized had I not asked questions.

This method has also helped me a great deal as a writer. Because as I ask questions about the challenges I face in my personal life, what I learn becomes part of my novel or these blog entries. I’m mining my own life to help me convey complex undercurrents of thoughts and feelings that are pushing their way to the surface of my consciousness hoping to be expressed. I don’t always understand what wants to come forth until I begin writing.

Asking questions has helped me in other ways as well. There have been times when some tragedy happens and because I’ve asked lots of questions for so long, I can make connections between historical events and what’s happening in the present moment. What looks like chaos is really an opportunity for all of us to grow.

Hmmm, I took up so much time on this first important thing I learned from my father, that I didn’t have time to write about the other wonderful things he taught me. I guess I’ll have to turn these posts about my dad into a series. I’m happy to take another look at what he taught me and share it with you. I’ll probably gain some new insights by doing that which is a good thing. Thanks, Dad.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

On Strength and Weakness

It's a Wonderful Life Village
It’s a Wonderful Life Village

“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.” ~ Bill Bullard

“We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.” ~ T. D. Jakes

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I’ve been thinking a great deal about strength and weakness as we approach this most sacred time of the year. We often think that a show of force is strength, as in military retaliation, or getting revenge on our enemies. To me that’s the weakest kind of human interaction. I think strength is having the courage to accept and feel all our emotions. To cry and not be ashamed, to love with abandon, to be kind and compassionate, to feel another’s pain. When we can do that we can effect real change.

While revising my novel, I came to a section where Jenna, one of the main characters, is fired from a position that she thinks is her dream job. That and other life shattering events force her to face herself and who she is meant to become. If her life hadn’t been shaken up in such a cruel way, she would have continued to follow the path she was on and not reached her full potential.

Though the circumstances are different, the situation I wrote for Jenna came from an experience in my own life. I was fired from a much beloved teaching position. It was a political thing. Shortly after I lost that job, I was having breakfast with a friend of mine from the school and I was stunned when she said, “I hate to say this but you were weak and they took advantage of that.” I’ve thought a great deal about that statement over the years because I think my friend is dead wrong.

One of the major lessons I learned from that experience is that we each live in our own little worlds with a set of goals we want to accomplish. We see anybody who stands in the way of achieving those goals as our enemy. In fact one day as I was driving by the turn off to the school I remembered something an actor, I don’t remember who, said when asked why he played so many villains. He squinched up his eyebrows and said, “Well, you know, the villain is the hero of his own story”. I had a huge aha in that moment. I was the villain to my school enemies and they were the villain to me. We had opposing goals and stood in each other’s way to accomplishing them. All of a sudden I thought of those two people differently. They weren’t evil, they were just righting a situation they thought was wrong. I wasn’t supposed to be hired for the job, you see, the daughter was. Someone was going to lose the fight and it was me.

Now I can’t say I forgave them that very day. Oh, no. I wanted to hang on to my anger a while longer. I wanted the situation made right, which meant I wanted them to apologize for wounding me so deeply. I wanted them to see that I was really the better teacher for that position. I wanted my job back. It wasn’t until I gave up wanting a different outcome that I was able to look for what I could learn from the situation. Once I did that I began to make the steps toward forgiveness and toward finding my true purpose in life. In fact it was only a few weeks ago as I was meditating that I saw myself hugging them and telling them they had done me a huge favor and I thanked them for helping me find the most happy and fulfilling life that I now enjoy.

Over those several years when I was struggling to make sense of why my perfect life was shattered, I’ve learned that real power is wielded by the compassionate, the loving, and the empathetic because they are the ones who see the true souls of others. They are the ones who know that who we really are is not the things we own, our bank account, our jobs, our belief systems, or our behaviors. Most of us are completely unaware that we are beautiful light beings connected to each other and to the Divine.

One of the reasons I love this time of year is because almost all of us celebrate the sacred. Instinctively we know that light is more powerful than darkness for it is easy to dispel darkness by lighting one candle. Spiritual light shining from within is much the same. It can lead us to peace and happiness if we commit to loving those who are drenched in the darkest of places.

I know it’s a little early for making resolutions, but this is mine for the new year. To be one light that helps dispel darkness by embodying love, empathy and peace as much as I possibly can. If we band together in our intention to be the peace we wish to see, it can’t help but happen one day soon.

I hope you have a blessed holiday season.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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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Memories of India

“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” – Steven Pressfield

Seventeen years ago this month, Barry and I arrived home from our three month trip circumnavigating the globe. It was a trip of a lifetime. The lessons I learned have been invaluable to my personal growth. I would not have been able to understand some of the things that happened to me without my journal.

Barry and I were reminiscing about our trip the other day, and we both agreed that, it’s India we think of most often. India was the most challenging place for us to be. The contrasts were so stark, modern high rise buildings with cardboard villages at their base, people sleeping on the street, whole families riding on one scooter, the din of traffic, the brilliant colors of the women’s saris, the hands out stretched waiting for baksheesh. To say we experienced culture shock is putting it too mildly. I experienced sensory overload. Thank heaven for my journal to help me organize the chaos of emotions I experienced every day we were there.

Last month at our book club meeting, I related an experience from those days in India that I’m just now understanding. I’ve written many pages in my journal over the years trying to understand my feelings about this incident. Something about the book we’re reading, Women Who Run With the Wolves, and the course of our discussion made me relate the story. Here’s what happened.

Barry and I were walking down the sidewalk in Delhi, headed to the government tour office to arrange our trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. I felt a light brush on my elbow. I’d seen the mother and her small child sitting near the wall that surrounded the lush grounds of a four star hotel. As we passed, the mother sent the child to beg for money. The touch was so delicate. I wanted to turn and look at the tiny girl, but I ignored her. The day before, we’d taken the government sponsored tour of Delhi, and our guide had cautioned all of us to ignore beggars when they approached us. Even to look at them would invite them to press harder for money. If we acknowledged them, or gave them money, we could be mobbed by others wanting money too. Tourists had been seriously injured and even killed in such situations. My heart was broken and I cried. I cry still when I think of that little girl’s light touch.

One of the women asked, “Why do you feel so bad? Was it because you didn’t give her any money, or was it because you have so much and she so little?”

“No. The reason I felt bad was because I wanted to look into her eyes and see her. All I could do was send out a prayer for her.”

“But at least you did that. Most people wouldn’t even do that.” the other woman said.

Yes, at least I did that. Prayer can be a powerful thing. Maybe it helped the girl in some way. All I know is, the brief encounter with that little girl continues to teach me something. I hadn’t been able to articulate what it was about that encounter that still haunted me until that day. Now I know. I wanted to let that girl know, I acknowledged her existence. I think of her often and every time I do, I send up a prayer for her. She must be a grown woman by now. I wonder what her life is like and if she knows that she’s much more than her life circumstances. I think of her as changing the world in some profound way. She certainly changed my world in ways I would never have imagined. I guess I was ready for the lesson she was teaching.

That brings me back to my practice of keeping a journal and now this blog. We can learn important lessons without writing about them. But, I think it’s important to do the inner work necessary to understand what we’ve experienced, then share what we’ve learned with others. We never know who we’re going to affect. We never know the change we’re going to bring about. I don’t let anyone read my journal. It’s my private friend a place where I can go to make sense out of confusing situations. However, after I’m gone, my friends and family members may read my complied journals and may gain some insights that will help them with their own challenges. I don’t expect my journals to affect large groups of people. Blogging is different.

Blogging is a more immediate journal. I’d resisted writing a blog for a number of years thinking I didn’t have anything important to share. Or maybe I liked the anonymity of keeping a journal. Once you publish a blog entry, your thoughts are out in the world and they can affect people for good or ill. Not only that, you invite comments back about what’s been written. I’ve hidden my true thoughts for so long that I was surprised when I felt the urge to express ideas that I’ve held inside for most of my life. Like the story about the little beggar girl and what I learned from her.

Now that I’ve been writing a weekly entry for three months, I find blogging helps me do deeper inner work. I feel good about sharing my personal outlook on life with others. I guess at this stage in my life, it’s time to share a little of what I’ve learned. I’m excited to say, I’m still learning.