My Quest

Stars

“Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright’s pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.” ~ Maya Angelou

My life long mission has been to understand human nature. That’s why I became a writer, and why I am now preparing to launch a podcast about the importance of story. As my first three guests all expressed, stories are what makes us human. It’s why stories were told around campfires, why civilization after civilization created myths that we still study today. That’s why we continue to create modern myths. On some level we’re on our own quests to understand ourselves.

These ten weeks of staying at home, I’ve been writing and exploring the stories that have great meaning to myself and my podcast guests. And I’ve been reading a lot. I’m trying to make sense out of all the crazy stuff going on.

The latest book I picked up is Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer by Gregg Braden. As I read the second chapter about the link between hurt, love, forgiveness, and wisdom, I realized why millions of people flock to the box office to see some of the big block buster movies of the recent past. These movies are our modern myths. They examine the link between experiencing pain and suffering and the decision to heal or not and they do it on an epic scale. The characters make a kaleidoscope of choices that we get to examine. Actually all stories do this for us. That’s why we’re such big story consumers.

Gregg Braden wrote something that made me pause. He asserts that the size of our “hurt” reflects the size of the opportunity to open up to love and forgiveness, which eventually leads us to wisdom. And I found that to be extremely profound. Braden has studied ancient cultures all over the planet and our human story throughout the centuries has always been the same. No one escapes experiencing pain. The wisdom that’s been passed down to us is a result of people who have dealt with their suffering. We don’t learn anything positive from avoiding feeling our pain.

When I have suffered huge painful events, I’ve recognized that I have a choice. There are two paths I could take. I could try to avoid the pain. Or I could embrace my suffering and move toward, forgiveness, love and eventually the gift of understanding what wisdom the pain was trying to get me to see. It’s my choice.

After a particularly life shattering incident years ago, I wanted to mask my pain, to blame others for it, and to seek revenge. I held onto those feelings and made my life miserable. I fell into a kind of dark pit and don’t really remember much about those years. I was going through the motions of being alive as I nurtured the hurt. I had put myself into a cage.

I’m not sure what brought me out of my stupor. It might have been my father’s death. When the extended family gathered, we shared so much love, and some family drama too as happens during family crises. Suffering brings out our best and worst natures. But one thing was clear, we shared stories about my father that showed what a positive influence his love had on all of us. I thought, “I want to be a person like my dad. I want people to remember me with love.” And so I acknowledged that it was time to examine my pain and start working on forgiveness.

Fortunately, I was teaching English at the time and in some of the stories, the characters had to deal with horrendous situations. I was able to do some self-examination through osmosis. The characters kind of pointed the way for me to deal with my own pain. Forgiveness and healing didn’t come to me for a long time, but I felt better and better as I let go of my suffering.

I’ve taken this great opportunity of being home, to re-evaluate my life. What grudges have I been holding onto, what wounds have I left unhealed. It’s been a revelation how many wounds and grudges I’ve glossed over and ignored. But I want to deal with them now or else I won’t be able to move forward when we come out of this crisis. Of course, it will be an ongoing process, but I know from experience, it’s worth my efforts.

I hope you are staying safe and healthy and maybe even doing some reevaluation as well.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. Welcome to my new followers. I’d love to hear the creative projects you’re working on or any “aha” moments you’re experiencing.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, 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 when the audiobook version is published.

If We Really Want to Change the World …

Earth from the Moon

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

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here we go again! Another controversy. Only it’s not about some dirty dealings by a politician or scandal about a celebrity. Nope! Ellen DeGeneres was NICE to George W. Bush at the Dallas Cowboy’s game! And she got a lot of online flack for that. Really!? One online news commentator said her behavior was disgusting. It was disgusting because George W. Bush, in her opinion, was a war criminal. I’ve never heard anyone say that being kind to someone was disgusting behavior.

Here’s what Ellen had to say about it, “When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way you do. I mean be kind to everyone. It doesn’t matter.”

That’s an idea and practice I can get behind. Now that doesn’t mean I’m perfect at it. I catch myself saying unkind things, even if it’s only to the TV, or the driver who cut me off. But I am getting better at recognizing when it happens, that when I send out nasty energy, it’s going to come back and stick to me at some point. So, I ask for those nasty thoughts and words to be taken back or transformed. One way I do that is to imagine what it’s like to be that other person. That makes it easier for me to be kind.

I want to only send out love and kindness because that’s how we change the world.

After hearing about the attacks on Ellen, I continued to think about why some people want to tear others down instead of build them up. My dad used to say, “Wounded people, need to wound other people. They think it will make them feel better.” I agree with dad, but I think there is something else going on. We come into this world with what Caroline Myss calls our “Sacred Contract”. And I think there are three basic categories of contracts or points of view when it comes to human interactions. There are the adherents to the Old Testament, eye for an eye, vengeful God, we carry out God’s judgment, kind of people. There are the New Testament, God is love, love thy neighbor as thyself, those who are without sin cast the first stone, kind of people. And there are those that mash up some Old Testament teachings with the new teachings of Jesus.

To be fair to people who are not of the Christian persuasion, maybe I should categorize these groups as those who think they have the mandate of the Divine Being to carry out His judgment, those who follow the path of pure love, and those who mix love with judgment.

I first became aware of these three points of view while I was getting my Religious Studies degree, though I couldn’t articulate the differences then. As I’ve done my own personal work, I’ve had time to think more deeply about what attitudes and beliefs make us who we are.

For millennia we’ve lived in a world that is clearly not in the love thy neighbor category. But that might be changing. To help good triumph over evil, maybe we should follow Ellen DeGeneres example and try to love one another, because I think we can all agree the world is a pretty messed up place right now. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not go on as we have been.

The thing that impresses me about Ellen is that she must have done a great deal of personal work to be able to show love to people who criticize her. I say this because she gives love so freely, and seems to let all the flack that comes her way roll off her back. She doesn’t let it shake her resolve to continue to show kindness to everyone she meets. That takes a strong person. It’s so easy to slide into condemnation. It’s harder, or maybe it takes more discipline, to show compassion, kindness, and love no matter what.

Here’s what I’ve learned doing my own personal work. When I get upset with someone, I’m not really angry at them. I’m angry at the ugly part of myself I see in their actions or attitudes. What others do, holds up a mirror in front of my face and shows me something I don’t want to acknowledge about my own foibles.

So, if we really want to change the world, we have to take a good long look at ourselves and accept that we’ve made some pretty big mistakes. We have to realize that no one who has ever lived, except maybe one or two, have lived a spotless life. We have to acknowledge our mistakes and love ourselves anyway, because only then can we love everybody else. And this may be difficult to wrap your head around, but God doesn’t judge us. She/He loves us no matter what. We all go to heaven.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Have a fun 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. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered and she must find a way to put it back together. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than 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 and for Kindle at Amazon, 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 when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

What is Love?

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

“Real love is a permanently self-enlarging experience.” ~ M. Scott Peck

Lately I’ve been faced with the fact that I don’t understand all the aspects of love. About thirty years ago I read The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. A certain passage in the book confused me. He said that love is not a feeling. Wait. What? Then, as I recall he went on to write that love is commitment to accept people as they are, faults and all. It took me a long time to even partially understand what he meant. I don’t remember what started me thinking about this recently, probably some news story.

There are always people in our lives who are easy for us to love. But the true test of loving is caring for individuals we don’t understand, or even like. I want to love everyone unconditionally, but I find myself calling people names and then I remember, oh, yeah, they deserve my love too.

M. Scott Peck and other teachers have pointed out that we don’t have to like everyone we meet. But we do need to treat everyone with respect. We need to see past their behaviors. I’m not very good at that part of love. I call drivers who cut me off, or politicians, or people at work, idiots. I judge them for not acting or behaving the way I think they should. That’s not love.

The other day we got a message from my cousin in Vermont that his mom had died. She was my father’s sister and though I didn’t see her much throughout the years, when I did the encounters stuck with me. She was a quiet, contemplative person with a light that emanated from her being. She was kind and loving.

Twenty-three years ago, Barry and I took a side trip to Vermont to visit my aunt, uncle and cousin, as part of our trip around the world. People in town greeted my aunt and uncle with such warmth. That kind of response is only given to those who are highly esteemed. I want to be like that, leaving people feeling good.

Of course, I’ve encountered people who leave me feeling yucky. And though it is counterintuitive, those are the people who need love the most. My dad used to say that. I think that’s what M. Scott Peck was getting at. When I encounter those hard to love people, I feel an inner resistance. And it’s that resistance that I have begun to question. Why do I feel it, and how can I let it go so I can just love those hard to love individuals?

Maybe the resistance is a learned thing. We think we have to build walls around ourselves for protection. What would the world be like if we all tore down our walls and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable. Whoa. That’s a bit of a scary, yet intriguing thought.

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of internal shifting in my thinking and emotions. It’s a signal to me that perhaps I’m not the only one whose world view is being challenged. It’s exciting and unnerving at the same time. Lots of my long held beliefs are crumbling and falling away. The future is not as set as I thought it was. It’s time for some cosmic closet cleaning and personal recalibration.

I’m not sure where I’m going with these thoughts and emotions. I just wanted to note that I’m beginning to feel different about my fellow humans in recent weeks. It’s an exciting new state of being.

If you’re in the U.S. I hope you get to spend time with your loved ones this Labor Day weekend.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Love and blessings to you all.

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. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than 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 and for Kindle at Amazon, 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 when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

What I Know So Far

Anne Lamott Quote

“Our true person is outside of time and space, but looking at the paperwork, I can, in fact, see that I was born in 1954. My inside self is outside of time and space. It doesn’t have an age. I’m every age I’ve ever been, and so are you …” ~ Anne Lamott

The other day I saw a TED talk by Anne Lamott about twelve things she knows for sure. I have to say I haven’t read much of her work, but I’ve heard her speak many times and I love her humor and outlook on life. So taking a cue from her, since I’ve recently turned sixty-four, I’m going to write some things here that I know for sure. At least, so far. These are not in any particular order.

I don’t have children, and though most people don’t say it, I know many of them are thinking that I have no legacy to leave behind me, as if that’s a big deal. I don’t believe that. I think we’re made up of energy and we can’t help but leave our energy signature behind us. Even if a person seems to be leading a negative life, their energy might have positive consequences for those left behind. For example, many people saw the kind of life Hitler led and said, “Oh, heck no, I’m not living that kind of life.” What’s more, anyone who is creative leaves their work behind, and that’s a lovely legacy for all who come after.

Second, there is no reason to worry about the younger generations coming behind you. Each generation progresses, and the generations that come after build on what the ones before have done. I’ve been a teacher of both high school and community college students and I can say from experience that my students were for the most part, responsible, thoughtful, hardworking people. I’m not worried at all about the wonderful things they will accomplish. In fact, I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Third, nothing matters. Before you tie yourself into knots about that, just think about it. Everything that exists just is. We are the ones who assign a meaning to things and situations. The house is not good or bad, it just is. The situation at work is not good or bad, except what we think about it. Whether or not our lawn is mown is not good or bad, it’s just the way people pressure you to think about it. So, take a breath, and see how you feel about what happens to you. Ask yourself whether or not it will matter in a hundred years. If not, then it might be good to let it go.

Four, If you want people to be trustworthy, you have to trust them. My dad used to say that all the time, and it’s true. I practice this principle when I’m teaching. If I expect a lot from my students and trust that they will put their all into doing the work, for the most part they do. If not, I follow what Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” And as Iyanla Van Zant says, “If you see crazy, cross the street.”

Five is related to four, if someone is entrenched in their beliefs, don’t try to change their mind. That’s a situation in which we find ourselves on a huge scale right now, and it’s distressing because the people who believe in hatred and separation are making life miserable for the rest of us. But, as my dad also used to say, it’s best to lead by example. So be persistent in sharing love, compassion, and understanding. Eventually, when the tide turns and love is the way we conduct our places of business, and our government agencies, the haters will either change or die off.

Six, there is so much good in the world. Make a practice of looking for, and being grateful for it. When you do, your life will be so much happier. Tell people you appreciate them, be thankful for even the smallest things that go right during the day.

Seven, loving yourself is the best gift you can give the world. When you love yourself, the mistakes, the dark places, the triumphs and all, then you have added to the expansion of the human race, because we’re all connected, you know. So, take the time to forgive and love yourself. You will contribute to changing the world.

Eight, there is only now. As so many teachers have said, we can’t change what happened in the past and the future isn’t here yet, so pay attention to the moment you’re in, cherish it and/or learn from it.

Nine, love is stronger than hate, the sensitive, empathetic, compassionate people are the ones who are changing the world.

Ten, I wanted to mention chocolate, since Anne Lamott did in her list. I’m not funny like she is, so I’ll just say that drinking my supercharged hot chocolate every morning is one of the great pleasures of my life. I’m grateful that its rich goodness was discovered and developed for all of us to enjoy.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment sharing something you know for sure.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time which is available in ebook format at Smashwords and on the iBooks store. It will soon be available at Amazon.

Radical Love

Caring Hands

“I believe in love. Not just getting it, but giving it. I think that if you’re able to love someone, even if they don’t know it, even if they can’t love you back, then it’s worth it.” ~ Dorothy in Gosford Park

“… Now I know she’ll never leave me, even as she fades from view. She will still inspire me, be a part of everything I do. Wasting in my lonely tower, waiting by an open door. I’ll fool myself she’ll walk right in, and as the long, long nights begin, I’ll think of all that might have been, waiting here forevermore.” ~ Beast singing “Evermore” from Beauty and the Beast

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” ~ Maya Angelou

Many years ago I read an amazing book, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. That book helped me change my perspective about life and love. Until I read that book I thought that something was terribly wrong with me because I was miserable while everyone else around me seemed to be so happy. I thought their lives were easy. That bothered me because mine was not. Oh, how wrong I was. We all struggle, we all want to live a meaningful life and most especially we all want to be loved.

Peck’s book opened my eyes to a new concept about love. He wrote, “Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth … Love is as love does. Love is an act of will – namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”

Reading that was like a slap in the face. I was so used to trying to get people to love me that I never considered that choosing to love was my responsibility. If I loved myself, loving other people would be easy, and my life would be enriched whether they loved me back or not. But more than that, I understood that I had access to a well of love that I could rely upon whenever I needed it. All the love that has been shared throughout the history of the human race still exists. We can add to it and access it to help us through any challenges we might face.

Many people read The Road Less Traveled. It was on The New York Times Best Seller list for a very long time. I think perhaps Peck’s assertions about love have affected not just spiritual seekers, but artists as well. The kind of love M. Scott Peck talks about in his book permeate movies, books and television shows. Look at some of the latest crop of Disney movies, to name just a few. Maleficent, Tangled, Frozen, Cinderella, and the new Beauty and the Beast. They all have sweet, seemingly innocent, weak characters who are unwavering in their love for someone who needs it, or they are sustained by the love when they need it most. Because of love characters are transformed. But the endings aren’t the artificial, “And they lived happily ever after kind.” In each case, the characters learned important lessons from their trials that will help them the next time challenges come.

And radical love is not a major theme only in Disney movies. It shows up in lots of places in popular culture. One of my favorite places it shows up is in, Gosford Park, written by Julian Follows. He’s one of my favorite screen writers because he conveys important concepts with so few words. The quote above by Dorothy, one of the maids in the country house, Gosford Park, rang so true for me, and reminded me of what Peck had written in his book. Love isn’t a prize. It’s something you cultivate within yourself and give freely to others without expecting anything in return.

The song “Evermore” that I quote above, from the live action Beauty and the Beast has the same sentiment. The Beast is changed because he allows another person into his life. Something about Belle helps him venture to love enough to let her go to do what she needs to do. And as the quote above tells, he will never be the same even if she never returns to him. He has made a decision to uncover the loving person who got buried by an uncaring father. If you haven’t seen this latest version, I highly recommend it. It’s an extremely beautiful movie.

I didn’t realize that love was such an important theme in my own life until I wrote my book, The Space Between Time, I didn’t intend to have a deeply wounded character be transformed by love, at least not consciously. It just kind of happened that way. But when I was writing a pivotal scene, all the things I’ve learned about love since reading The Road Less Traveled, kind of coalesced. Here is a bit of what came out of the computer key board:

“Aris waited a moment or two to see if he would continue. When Seth was quiet, he asked, ‘Do you think you’ll ever tell her what you’ve told me?’

Seth took a deep breath. ‘I have to don’t I? Even if she can’t love me, I must tell her how much loving her has changed my life.’”

It feels like we human beings are waking up to the fact that to have a loving world, we must not SEEK love, but BE love. To me that means to be there for the people who need us, or to leave people who are toxic. We can’t share love if we hate ourselves. Love has to begin within us. I believe it’s the lack of self-love that has caused all the conflicts throughout history.

I’m not sure this post has an end. We are sustained by the love left behind, and If we tend our love, it will only grow larger and stronger. We’ll continue to be transformed by it.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017