Writer Expectations

My book shelves
My book shelves

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” ~ C. S. Lewis

“My literature is much more the result of a paradox than than of an implacable logic, typical of police novels. The paradox is the tension that exists in my soul.” ~ Paulo Coelho

“Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.” ~ Helen Keller

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.” ~ Barbara Tuchman

“In my teaching, I try to expose my students to the widest range of aesthetic possibilities, so I’ll offer them stories from Anton Chekhov to Denis Johnson, from Flannery O’Connor to A.M. Homes, and perhaps investigating all that strange variation of beauty has rubbed off on me. Or perhaps that’s why I enjoy teaching literature.” ~ Change-Rae Lee

At present I’m writing a novel. I’m in the revision stages and I’m struggling with a fundamental problem for writers. A writer friend of mine said, “You’ve got to get your main character into trouble and keep her there.” I know she’s right. That’s been the rule for literature since story telling began. It’s been that way because stories imitate life. However, just recently, I’m feeling worn out by conflict.

That might not be a good thing for my writing because readers expect adventure from their books. Yet I feel drawn to create characters who learn from the things that happen to them, and who find peace in the process. My protagonists could be a new kind of character. For the most part they stay calm while helping to solve the conflict around them.

I have to say that my favorite books are ones much like that. It’s not that the protagonist doesn’t face problems, it’s their attitude in facing them that is different. Jane Eyre is one such character and many of Jane Austen’s heroines are the same. They are determined to make the best of any situation in which they find themselves. Because they look for ways to be useful and happy no matter what, good comes to them. Maybe it’s the difference between male and female writers. I’ve read lots of exciting books by male authors, books I loved, but they’re a little bit different than the books that I love by female authors. The male created protagonists struggle and push to make things happen, while the female created protagonists look for subtler ways to get what they want. I don’t mean to imply one approach is better than the other, they’re just different.

The Harry Potter series, all of Jane Austen’s books and many other books written by women seem more intimate. The Mists of Avalon and The Crystal Cave series by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Mary Stewart respectively, are completely different tellings of the Arthur myth than those written by men. What’s going on inside the characters and what they’re learning along the way is more important than the plot.

I guess I’m thinking about all of this because I’m just finishing a fantasy series that I found through BookBub. I loved the first three books, but as I began the second series, I had battle fatigue. The books are written by a man with a young woman protagonist. It’s one of those series where one person has to save the world she lives in. But there is no respite from battle at any time. No time for reflection on what she’s learned. Mostly, she just reacts with no chance to assess the situation and to use her wisdom. Another thing that bothers me about the series is that story lines are left unfinished. It’s a great adventure series but what good comes to the society at the end of it all? Admittedly, I still have a little bit more to read in the sixth book and maybe the unfinished storylines will be resolved, the main characters will have learned something and find a measure of peace. Or maybe he’s planning another series that will do that. But as a reader I’m left unsatisfied. I don’t want to write books like that.

Recently I saw links on Facebook to articles by movie and TV critics of the Outlander series. I love those books because there is a strong female protagonist who finds herself in an extraordinary situation. She doesn’t panic. She finds a way to cope with her situation and in the process, affects everyone around her, including the men. One of the things that was controversial about the book and TV series is a horrific rape scene. But it’s not the rape of Claire, the main character, but her husband. After she saves him, they have to find a way to heal. They do that together. The rape is an integral part of the development of Claire and Jamie’s relationship. It’s not there for exploitation, or because there was a hole in the plot and “so why not put a rape scene in.” When I read that section of the book, I was amazed at the courage Diana Gabaldon showed in writing it. We find ourselves in horrific or traumatic situations at one time or another in our lives. Often we ask ourselves how can we cope with the pain. Ms. Gabaldon is one among many authors who have shown us a way to heal by writing honestly about life.

To me, literature should help us go places, both inside and outside ourselves, that we have never gone before. The beauty of reading is that we go on a journey with the characters and learn from the mistakes they make or the situations in which they find themselves so we don’t have to experience them ourselves. That’s the kind of literature I want to write. I want people to have fun while getting something to take away with them and use in the future.

Writing isn’t an easy profession. Even those who’s books aren’t huge sellers, I hope their work touch someone. I hope my book touches someone too.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a great week. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Happiness as Radical Love

Bazz & Luce in Quartzsite 2Maybe some of you felt the way I did when the Supreme Court chose to side with Hobby Lobby. I was sad, but not surprised. It’s just the latest attack on women’s freedom to choose for themselves. To soothe myself, I went to Facebook. I have lots of friends who post positive messages. Luckily I found a post by my friend Terri. She was sharing how happy she was about the little things in life. In the stream of comments to her post, someone put the link for the YouTube lyric video to Pharrell Williams song “Happy”. I like the song, so I followed the link to start my day off right, and was struck by these words from the song.

“Here come bad news, talking this and that.
Well gimme all you got and don’t hold back.
I should probably warn you, I’ll be just fine.
No offense to you, don’t waste your time.
Here’s why. Because I’m happy.”

That’s how I’m feeling about all of the people who are so frightened about what’s going on in our world. They’re the ones bringing bad news. They try to control every little thing around them and want to control us so they feel better.

I’ve got news for them. There are a growing number of people out there who have decided that they aren’t going to allow those fearful people to control them, no matter what. I say yay to that!

I’m going to join them and go on building my happy life and not pay any attention to the haters, the conservative politicians, the fearful people who want to tell me how to live my life. They mistakenly think that if they control everything outside themselves, they’ll feel better. They won’t.

Our inner state is our choice. I choose to be happy. I’ll let them be miserable if they want to be.

Eckhart Tolle says “What you resist persists. What you fight you strengthen.” It’s a hard concept to get. We’re so used to putting up resistance when we feel like someone is in our face. But think about these things: The opossum plays dead when it feels threatened. It takes two to keep a fight going. It’s better to be for something than against it.

Wayne Dyer tells the story of Mother Teresa turning down an invitation to attend a protest rally against a war. I don’t know which war. She was gracious about it, but she said, “I’ll attend when you have a rally ‘for’ peace.”

I’m not only for peace, I’m for everyone being able to live the life that will make them happy.

One solution to help yourself achieve happiness amid all the chaos, is to follow The Four Agreements. Someone posted them on Facebook the day after the Hobby Lobby decision. I love number two: “Don’t take anything personally”. That was a difficult one for me to learn. For many years I didn’t love myself, so I thought the world was against me. It’s not. The Universe is always on your side, whether you believe it is or not. It’s when we are fearful that things don’t go the way we’ve planned. That doesn’t mean The Universe is against us. It just means we’re being offered a new opportunity to find our place in the world. If we take the opportunity provided, eventually we find peace.

True peace, happiness and joy can coexsist with all the turmoil going on in the world. We can choose to be an influence for good. I love what Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist, “No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”

What role will you play in the history of the world? I want to be remembered for spreading love, light, healing and happiness.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Radical Love

Celeste and Shane IMG_0040 “True words aren’t eloquent;
eloquent words aren’t true.
Wise men don’t need to prove their point;
men who need to prove their point aren’t wise.

The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others,
the happier he is.
The more he gives to others,
the wealthier he is.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 34-35. The New Revised Standard Version

I don’t usually quote The Bible even though I graduated with a Religious Studies degree. The reason I don’t is because we think we know what the quotes mean from years of going to church school classes and listening to sermons. I’d like for us to consider a new, deeper way of thinking about the above Bible quote. I’d like us to consider that Jesus was asking his disciples, us, to practice Radical Love.

What is Radical Love? I don’t claim to have any special insight on that subject. This blog is prompted by something I saw on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last week. Jon’s guest was a man who had written a book about the Koch brothers. During the course of the interview, the guest said something like, “These brothers are so wealthy that they’ll never know what it feels like to have to live on $2.00 a day.” When he said that I turned to Barry and said, “How do you reach someone like that? How do you help them find empathy for others less fortunate than they are?”

The next morning the answer came to me. We have to learn to practice Radical Love. Love is the only thing that will melt the hard-hearts of people who’ve never had to struggle to feed their family, or who’ve never lost everything. Practicing Radical Love is the only thing that will soothe the wounded hearts of people who’ve known nothing but struggle, discrimination, hatred and unending fear.

I don’t claim to be good at practicing Radical Love. Oh how often I want to make snarky comments on Facebook, or Twitter. But then I remember that we’re all connected by some indefinable something that’s linked to the Divine. And that stops me from writing the remark. Making sarcastic remarks on social media and in our daily discourse isn’t going to help the situation.

All I know is that we can change the world. But to do that, we have to be willing to change ourselves, as I’ve been writing in this blog for the last few weeks. We have to change ourselves so that we can look at another human being and see their beautiful soul, the soul that connects each of us to the greater Soul. We need to have empathy for what they are going through, and we need to love them, no matter what we think they’ve done.

That’s a tall order. I don’t do it all the time. My ego gets in the way. I get angry that the other person doesn’t see the world the way I do. When we fight against a person, we make them angry. When we fight a situation we make it worse. As Eckhart Tolle says in A New Earth, “Discontent, blaming, complaining, self-pity cannot serve as a foundation for a good future, no matter how much effort you make.”

So, all I can say about the Koch brothers and everyone like them, is that I have to send them love. I have to visualize that the love I send is getting through to their hearts so that they can become compassionate, and have empathy for others. When they feel that, they’ll stop fighting to keep the billions of dollars they own all to themselves. They’ll be willing to share it with those less fortunate.

What are your thoughts about what Radical Love might be? I’m interested to know what you think.

Ariel and Daddy (31)

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014
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You Get More With Honey

“It’s not what enters men’s mouths that’s evil. It’s what comes out of their mouths that is.” –Paulo Coelho The Alchemist

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” –Virginia Woolf

Cochise Flowers
Cochise Flowers

 

Recent events, and subsequent comments about them in the media have got my ire up. A white man, Donald Sterling, shows his true colors, and the brouhaha is on. In an” Open Letter to White People: Why I’m Donald Sterling and So Are You,” The gist was that all white people are racist, and we’d better admit it. What made me so irritated wasn’t what the author wrote, but the tone of the article. If you want to influence people, you get more with honey than you do with vinegar.

I’m not saying that this article is completely wrong. What I’m saying is that if you want us to take a good hard look at ourselves,accusing all whites of being racist is the wrong approach. In fact, EVERY SINGLE PERSON on this planet, except for those who are enlightened, like Jesus, Buddha and others have been, carry some kind of prejudice around with them. And we ALL need to check ourselves for prejudices of all kinds.

I know I’m not perfect, but I am continually working on becoming more open and loving. I’m always double checking my attitudes. I’m working on myself, so that I can be an influence for good in the world, and help humanity evolve to a deeper level of being. And I don’t believe in the “when one person messes up, everyone in the class gets punished,” mentality. So, I get angry when someone tells me I’m prejudiced just because I’m white.

We can’t know what is in the deepest heart of another person. To lump an entire group together, and accuse them of having exactly the same feelings, is unrealistic. Not all Germans are bad, because Hitler was the leader of Germany during WWII. Not all people from Arab nations are bad because those who were behind the 911 tragedy were from Arab countries. Not all Mexicans are in this country illegally. Not all Black people are gang members, and commit crimes. Not all Asians are smart, and make cheap products that fall apart the first time you use them. Not all white people feel entitled because they’re white. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

We have a lot of problems in this world. As I see it, the only way to solve them is for every single person to take a close look at themselves, as the article suggests. If we take care of the mess in our own backyard, and every single person does that, it makes solving the world wide problems so much easier.

In my opinion, we need to thank the Donald Sterlings in our world. They point out areas in our society where we still have work to do. He’s not the only one who has made comments that we need to be scrutinizing. There are lots of intolerant people mouthing off in the media. We need to be examining what they’re saying as well, and checking our attitudes about their points of view. They are showing us areas in our society where we need to work on becoming more tolerant of the plight of others.

I know this much about myself, when I’m judgmental of other people’s actions, I’m doing that because they’re showing me an area of my life that I don’t want to look at. I’m trying to blame them for the mess in my own backyard. If I resist hiding my head in the sand, and look at my faults, my heart opens up. I understand myself, and the faults of others.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone needs to accept responsibility for what they do. But, if we’ve done our own work, it’s easier to have compassion for someone when they mess up. We are after all, imperfect human beings.

I read another article last week that helped me feel better about what’s going on in the world. The title is “7 Things Self-Actualized People Do Differently” It’s an article that gives us all something to shoot for in our self-improvement journey. If we can achieve the seven states of being described in this article, we’ll be contributing to the growth of the human race.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014
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Resenting the Success of Others

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson

December Sunrise
December Sunrise

One day this week, Mastin Kipp’s blog Daily Love made me do a bit of thinking about my own creative process. The title was “Is it okay to share your success too?”

I read Daily Love every day, because in each blog Mastin is vulnerable. He writes about how he’s messed up, and what he’s learned from his experiences. Lately he’s been blogging about some recent successes. Interestingly, he’s been getting negative feedback about these posts, which made me think about my own process, and ask some important questions.

Why do we do that? Why do we get upset when someone with whom we’ve had a relationship, finds success? I have a theory about that. I’ll use myself as an example, because that’s the only perspective I’ve got, but see if this is true for you too.

For most of my life, I wallowed in self-hatred. I don’t know why I did that, because I had great parents who loved me. Though over the years, I’ve come to see that I picked up some of those feelings from my mom. She had a really hard childhood, and has struggled to like herself too. Whatever the reason, I set out to let go of the self-loathing and learn to love myself. It took me many, many years. When I had achieved a measure of self-esteem, I could allow myself to let go of the small life I had been living, and strive to become who I’d always wanted to be, a story teller through the written word.

For a while I rejoiced that I was doing what I loved most in the world. But, after a while, I was getting impatient. I wanted success to come knocking on my door. Other writer acquaintances in my area were becoming successful, and I was envious. Though I never gave them negative feedback, I understand why we sometimes snipe at people who’ve achieved success. I wanted what they had. I wanted to have people read my blog, and my stories. However, I wanted it to come easily. I didn’t want to do the work necessary to create that success. I mean, I’d have to go outside my comfort zone, and learn how to put myself out in the world. Yikes! That was scary.

What’s more, I had all these new feelings. I was living in a kind of transitory place. The self-hatred was gone, but I had no idea what being a success in my chosen work felt like. While I was in this netherworld, I was irritated when another local writer would talk about the number of books they’d written, their fan base, or that their latest book had been optioned for a movie. How did they do it? How did they get to be successful?

It’s fortunate that I think about questions like that. I can be an obsessive thinker, but that was a good thing in this case. I decided to do a bit of study about how to be my own boss. Sifting through all of the information out there took some time. Eventually I chose Marie Forleo and her weekly business videos, Marie TV. Something about her “you can do it approach” appealed to me.

Be advised, that you have to find your own tips and teachers. What works for me, might not work for you.

I’ve written in past blogs about the necessity to just do the work. Along the way something triggered that idea for me. Every morning I made writing my top priority, and slowly my feelings about other writers began to change. The reason they were successful, was because little by little they worked to perfect their writing. Their commitment was to pay attention to what they were doing, and not compare themselves to anyone else. That’s the key. Each creative person is unique, so is their artwork. We become envious of someone else’s success when we haven’t found our own voice, or we are afraid to step into the world in which we want to live.

No one achieves success over night. It takes work to find your own unique expression, and to make connections that will spread the word about you, and what you do. You have to be willing to be vulnerable, and open to whatever may come. And, you have to have a great imagination about the new life you’re going to be living. There are lots of great teachers out there to help you along the way.

If you want to sample Mastin Kipp’s work, here’s a link to his website where you can sign up to receive his daily blog: Daily Love. In my opinion, he’s got great insights about the struggles, and joys we face every day. Here’s the link to Marie Foleo’s site as well. She’s got great tips for entrepreneurs, which is what you are if you’re an artist. Last week on Marie TV, she interviewed Arianna Huffington about her new book Thrive, which is what we all want to do.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

Live in the Moment

“I find it unusual that it is more socially acceptable to complain about what you have than it is to ask for what you want.”- Phil Lout

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”- Harriet Beecher Stowe

December Sunrise over the San Jose Mountains

The photo above is of an early December sunrise over the San Jose Mountains in Mexico. It’s a perfect visual representation, for, here we are again at the dawning of another new year. Each new year, my friends and colleagues make their resolutions and share them on social media sites. I rarely make New Year’s resolutions, because I like to examine my life day-to-day and make changes and adjustments as I go along. However, this time of year does invite reflection and, so, I’ve been thinking back over the past year and what I’ve learned. The things that stick out most as I write this is that each day is a new beginning, and I’ve learned to appreciate this very moment. I now appreciate where I am, what I’ve got, and trust that what I need will appear when I need it.

I don’t know about you, but for years I lived only in the future, “I can’t wait until such and such happens,” or I lived in the past, “What if this hadn’t happened, or I’d made that choice, or I wish I’d done this or that.”

In 2013, I worked hard on living in the present moment and appreciating my life as it is “right now”. I started a gratitude journal. In it I wrote down all the good things I had in that moment. That’s a practice I’ll continue, because it helps me focus on the positive rather than the negative.

Another miraculous realization was how concentrating on the task at hand, and telling myself, “At this moment, I have everything I need”, makes me feel less stressed and so much happier. Giving up complaining was a big adjustment in my thinking, but I’m so glad I turned away from it toward gratitude.

This is what happens when I tell myself I have everything I need in this very moment: The knot in my stomach relaxes, so does the tension in my shoulders. And something else happens; I let go of having to control the outcome of anything that is playing out in my life. It’s such a relief to trust God, or the Universe, or Higher Power to take care of my life. When I do that, it feels like I’m not alone, and like I have a partner watching my back.

If you don’t believe in a Higher Power, you can still benefit from living in and concentrating on the present moment. After all, as many a wise teacher has said, now is all we have. Worrying about how things are going to turn out just makes life miserable and it doesn’t help you, or anybody else you’re worrying about. As my sister says, “People think worry is love, but it’s not.” She’s right. Worry is a negative state of being, and if I’ve got a resolve for this or any year, it’s to get rid of as much negative thinking as I possibly can. Everyone can benefit from turning their thinking to more positive directions.

Another great thing happened to me this year. I changed the way I think about my writing. I found that when I concentrate on the work of writing, it flows. Worrying about all the stuff I’ll have to do after my book is ready to be published bogs down my creative process. So, living in the present moment and dipping into my creative fountain, makes me much more productive. When it’s time to turn my attention to marketing and promotion, I’ll concentrate on those tasks.

So, Happy New Year to all my readers. I’m grateful for your comments and continued support by reading and sharing these posts. I send my good thoughts out to all of you and hope you’ll find more positives in your life this year.

Another Golden Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden

Our Collective Ego

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” – Eckhart Tolle

“Words are things. You can put some words together and make people want to go to war. Put together another few words and make them long for peace. Words are so important, and this is what you take to God. Words.” – Maya Angelou

“The past is not the future unless you live there.” – Tony Robbins

When I was younger, I thought there was some force “out there” that I’d have to conquer so I could live a happy life. The battle ground was my mind and the weapons were the contradictory voices in my head. The conflicting voices said things like, “You can be anything you put your mind to. There isn’t enough abundance to go around, so you’ll have to fight for everything you get. There’s something inherently wrong with you. You are greatly loved. There will never be peace in the world.” On and on my thoughts swirled until I was weary of the contradictions. That’s when I intensified my spiritual quest. One of the most significant things I learned was about how the ego works. It’s a small, sneaky part of us that wants to be master over all we think, do and accomplish. But, the ego, while necessary to function in the physical world, is not the sum total of who we are.

After years of study, everything I’d learned about my ego was summed up beautifully by Eckhart Tolle in his best selling book A New Earth. The ego takes things personally and feels the need to defend itself, it likes to complain and find reasons to resent what it believes have been attacks on itself, it has to be right, it buys into the illusion that we are separate, and finally it uses the “us” VS “them” mentality. As I read the book, I could see how my ego had controlled my life and that I could break it’s control. What a relief it was to stop listening to it and follow the guidance of the larger part of me that is connected to God.

It hasn’t been easy, getting out of the clutches of my ego, but it has been worth it. The voices in my head are quieter now and I can feel my connection to the Divine and to everyone else much more clearly. What a relief. Until the outer world came crashing in around me.

Now, I’m not saying that what’s going on in the outside world has shaken my faith in my connectedness to all that exists. On the contrary, what’s been happening the last several years has confirmed that we’re connected, because I can’t ignore the pain, blame, struggle for supremacy and adherence to deeply held beliefs like “we’re right and they’re wrong and the past was better than our present,” that are the battle cries of those who live completely in their egos. You all know the differing points of view. I’m not the only one who’s tired of the conflict. I see these conflicts as a call to let go of the old ways and create something new.

Here’s what came to me today in my meditation. We’re going through a collective ego cleansing. We’re reaching critical mass. Millions of people are awakening to the fact that they’ve been slaves to their egos. Those who choose not to wake up, are fighting hard to keep conditions the same. They want the political, financial, national and religious structures to continue as they have for centuries. However, all the structures that don’t serve our awakening are crumbling and new structures will be built in their place.

The thing is this, everything we react to shows us patterns in ourselves that we need to dismantle. So, when I get emails that say, “We need to FIGHT…whatever it may be,” I say, “I don’t want to FIGHT, or RESIST the opposition. I want to be FOR healing, peace and to finding creative solutions to our problems.” And the way I do that is to ask the Divine: “How can I serve the collective awakening?”

Sometimes I think I should be out there in one of those arenas working toward a better world. But, the answer I keep getting is to write this blog and my novel. To keep teaching theatre classes that help my students take a deeper look into what it means to be human, and to encourage creativity in any way I can. That’s how I’m serving now. What I do isn’t very flashy, or important, but as we say in the theatre, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Since I don’t want to be a small actor, I’ll do my best to make the most of my small contributions to putting our collective ego in its place.

Have you thought about how you are meant to serve? It may be something simple, yet vital, like raising well adjusted, loving children, or being a good friend. It might be creative like planting a beautiful garden that brightens the neighborhood, or writing poetry that touches people’s hearts. What it is doesn’t matter. What matters is that we each embrace our purpose, each day. Over the years, our purpose will change. That’s okay. Nothing ever stays the same, even though we’d like it to.

What is your vision of a better world and how can you bring it about?

© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden 2013

This is Our Phoenix Moment

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” – Joseph Campbell
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes
it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”  – Maya Angelou

I’ve had a difficult time writing this week’s post. There is so much acrimony in the air over the government shutdown. I live in an area that is deeply affected and many of my friends and acquaintances are understandably fearful, angry and full of resentment about what’s happening. I sympathize with them. The world is changing rapidly and it’s hard to keep ones equilibrium. I think we’re at a turning point. Events all over the globe indicate to me that humanity is changing. Thousands, maybe even millions, of people are standing up and saying “I’m not going to take this any more,” while others are pushing back trying to keep the status quo. But, change is here. We can’t stop it, so we might as well embrace it.
When my friends say, “I’m so angry, I can’t see straight.” or, “I’m afraid of what’s going to happen,” I understand why they say that. All they see is our physical world. They don’t see what lies behind it. It’s times like this that I rejoice. Because, it’s when things fall apart that something new can be born out of the ashes, like the Phoenix.
You may say I’m crazy, but I think we’ve got a fantastic opportunity to get rid of old patterns and structures and build a new kind of world. A more authentic world. One where people are valued and honored above money, power and prestige. Creating this new world isn’t going to happen over night. It’s going to take commitment. It’s going to take a willingness to look deep within ourselves at our values, traumas, darkness and light and to do some healing. I can speak from experience, doing healing work is worth it.
My conscious spiritual journey began in the mid-80s. Barry and I were recent college graduates, but our life didn’t look at all the way we’d dreamed. Our jobs were unfulfilling and the familiar comforts of our church community no longer fit who we were. We longed for the stimulating atmosphere we’d loved about our college community. The more we talked about how we felt, the more confused we became. We needed someone impartial to help us find the way.
One day we saw a flyer for psychic readings with Neale Donald Walsch. We made the appointment feeling apprehensive. We’d never done anything so daring. Neale was welcoming and put us at our ease. During the session, we got the answers we needed. It was time to leave the church and live a bigger spiritual life. Wow! How scary to leave the familiar cocoon of the church. Of course, we faced what writer Steven Pressfield calls, resistance. Resistance happens when we have an opportunity to take a big evolutionary step. When that happens, we’re faced with two choices. 1) We can step into the unknown and trust the process, or 2) we can shy away and close ourselves off. Neither Barry nor I wanted to continue being miserable, so the decision was clear. I’m not saying it was easy informing our family. But, when we made the break, we were so much happier.
As Barry and I started a new spiritual practice of study, meditation and talking with other friends who’d also left, our life was better. But something Neale had said in our session was nagging at the back of my mind. “Contemplate these words.” he said, “Nothing matters, and you think it does.” What on earth could he be talking about? Of course everything matters. People are dying, starving, being oppressed, abused and disrespected. How could that not matter? The idea that nothing mattered was like sand in an oyster. I couldn’t let that idea go, so I contemplated those words in my journal, meditations and prayers for years until just before my fortieth birthday.
I was visiting my Naturopathic Doctor for a spinal adjustment. He was telling me about the skiing trip his best friend had gifted him for his fortieth birthday just a few months before mine. From the outside, the ski trip looked like a disaster. Their old equipment malfunctioned and broke and they were unable to ski. Then he laughed and said, “But it didn’t matter. We had such a great time being together on the snow covered mountain looking out at the gorgeous vistas. It’s a birthday I’ll never forget.”
When he said that something snapped in my head and heart. “That’s it!” I said.
He was startled. “What!”
I told him what Neale had asked me to think about years before, and said. “I understand now what he meant by nothing matters. It’s our response to what’s going on that matters. It’s our willingness to accept and trust. But more than that, all this,” and I patted the table I was on, “All this is illusion. It’s like we’re all in a play that God wrote and there’s some larger purpose to the events than we can understand.”
He squinched up his face and then relaxed it and said, “Oh, yeah. I see that too.”
“Thanks for helping me figure that out.” I said, “I’ve been trying to understand what Neale was getting at for years now.”
“You’re welcome. And thanks for sharing that with me. I wouldn’t have understood it either until you explained it to me.”
Since that day, no matter what disaster happens, there’s a part of me that trusts that Divine Oneness is in control and there’s a deeper purpose for events than my little human brain can comprehend. My job is to try to grasp the lesson, to move forward, to overcome resistance, and to commit to growing into a more open, loving person. That’s only possible when I let go of attachment to a particular outcome. What Neale saw in me was the need to know how things were going to turn out before I’d be willing to take the first step. I wanted to take God’s place and be in control of the final outcome. That’s just not possible.
We’re living in a scary time. Lots of people are fearful. We’re facing a great unknown. The only way we’re going to get through it, is to look inside ourselves and see where we’re being led and allow Divine Oneness to take care of the rest. It’s okay to feel the fear and anger. It’s okay to be uncertain about our future, as long as we also continue to seek guidance for our next step.
© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden, 2013

Let’s Talk, and Listen

“Whether clear or garbled, tumultuous or silent, deliberate or fatally inadvertent, communication is the ground of meeting… It is, in short, the essential human connection.” – Ashley Montagu and Floyd Matson

“Talk and change the world.” – Slogan espoused by a group of U.S. Senators who happened to be female. (as reported in Communication Works tenth edition, by Teri Kwal Gamble and Michael Gamble.)

My husband’s six year old computer finally died. He gave it a hard workout with all the high powered graphics programs he uses and it served him well. But, that means he and I are now sharing my computer, which reminded me of when we first moved here. We had only one car. That meant we drove to work together every morning and home together every night. We did that for about six years until we moved out into the country, twenty miles or more from town. Then I took a job forty-five miles in one direction and Barry continued to drive twenty-one miles in the opposite direction. That made two cars necessary and everything changed.

Once we were driving in opposite directions, the nature of our communication deteriorated. We didn’t talk as much as we had before, because our schedules were so different. I had to leave very early in the morning and usually got home three hours before having to go to bed so I’d be fresh for the next day. Every weekend I was working on school projects and Barry had his activities. We barely saw each other and little by little got out of the habit of talking, except for vital communications.

The thing that was so wonderful about driving to work together was that we got an extra twenty minutes to an hour to be with each other every day. Barry and I enjoyed that extra time. If we’d been having a conversation at breakfast, we could finish it in the car. At the end of the day, we could decompress. We both missed that. There’s something cold about going out for dinner, or going to some event and having to interrupt your lovely conversation to drive home in separate cars.

Recently,when I began to teach an introductory communication course at the local community college, I realized that Barry and I had lost some of our communication skills.  As the students and I talked about the skills necessary for good communication, I realized that I needed to do as much work to improve my skills as my students did. It takes practice to have meaningful conversations with your spouse, or anyone for that matter. It’s so important to see body language, facial expressions and to truly listen to what another person is saying. It’s also important to be able to put your own feelings aside long enough to try to understand what the other person is saying.

When I look back over the years Barry and I’ve spent together, some of the moments I cherish most are when we’ve had a good talk, or worked together on a project and were communicating well. It’s been a challenge to get our communication mojo back. Fortunately we were lucky to have good teachers in how to communicate well. My dad was an exquisite listener and communicator. By observing how he listened, considered and then responded to people, I learned how to be fully present for someone else. Our home was a great learning lab. My dad taught me that listening is at the heart of good communication. Thinking about what you’re going to say before you’ve heard what the other person is saying is not communicating. Maybe that’s part of our problem at the moment. We don’t listen to each other. We don’t take time to try to understand each other. We don’t trust each other because we think that everyone else should see the world the way we do. But that’s impossible. A good communicator tries to understand how the person their talking to sees the world and then find common ground.

Maybe my communication students are right, we need to redevelop our face-to-face communication skills again. I’m in favor of that. Having good technology skills is important, but being able to understand and be understood by your family, friends and colleagues is so much more important.