Routines and Ruts

Oregon Trail wagonwheel ruts

“As long as habit and routine dictate the pattern of living, new dimensions of the soul will not emerge.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

“I saw my mother in a different light. We all need to do that. You have to be displaced from what’s comfortable and routine, and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes.” ~ Amy Tan

Sometimes it’s good to have my regular routine shaken up a bit. My in-laws are visiting and we’ve been having so much fun doing things Barry and I wouldn’t normally do. That’s why vacations are so important. We get a chance to vacate our lives, to explore, or experiment, which in turn help us discover new things about ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but I get stuck in ruts and it’s sometimes hard to pry myself out of them. On the one hand, I’m attached to my daily routine, on the other I feel like I’ve become uninteresting because I’m bored but don’t want to admit it.

I know people who go to the same vacation spot every summer, or who eat at the same restaurants. I’ve never understood that. I know that there are multiple layers to be discovered about a place. If it’s true about people, it can also be true about places. But I also want to explore new places and see and feel the beauty and wonder they offer.

I’ve been reading Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin. At first I didn’t get what he was trying to do by describing New York City in such detail as the nineteenth century turned to the twentieth. I’m not a big fan of large cities, which has more to do with being a highly sensitive person than with the merits or downfalls of cities. But as I continued reading, I felt that Helprin was doing something I had tried to do in my book, he was giving the city and surrounding countryside different personality traits and he describes them in such interesting ways that I began to feel that I had misjudged them, especially New York City.

As I’ve traveled to various places around the world, I’ve felt subtle differences that a place embodies. When Barry and I took our trip around the world in 1996, we did have a stop for a few days in New York City. It was difficult for me to be in all that energy. It was the same at most of the large cities we visited in various countries around the world, but after reading Helprin’s book, I’m beginning to feel differently about cities.

Reading is much like visiting a new place. It’s a way to shake up our ideas about the world and the way it works. We get a chance to hear a character’s thoughts, and understand what motivates them. I’m looking forward to finishing reading Winter’s Tale. It’s a book one could read over and over and get something new from every time through.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments and likes.

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 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.

Serendipity

Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan
Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan

“Most discoveries even today are a combination of serendipity and of searching.” ~ Siddhartha Mukherjee

“In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is dues to our efforts.” ~ Peter McWilliams

“I’ve always loved life, and I’ve never known what’s ahead. I love not knowing what might be round the corner. I love serendipity.” ~ Twiggy

The other day, a writer acquaintance of mine shared a story on her blog about how choosing to visit the Grand Canyon by herself on her birthday changed her life. She invited her readers to share a similar story, and I was moved to share the story below.

My husband, Barry and I live in rural Arizona, and one of the great pleasures of living here is the night sky. Other pleasures are the sunrises, sunsets and the wildlife outside our windows. How we came to move here twenty years ago is the story I’d like to tell today because I’ve been reminded lately about how often serendipity works in our lives. Often it goes right by and we don’t grab ahold of it’s shirt tail.

Barry and I had been living in Portland, Oregon for fourteen years. One of our dreams was to travel, but money was tight. We met a woman from Germany at a Reiki retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat Center. She needed a place to stay for a week until the next leg of her journey to New Zealand. Wanting to hear of her travels, we offered her our guest bedroom.

That week she regaled us with the stories of all the places she’d visited, and each night my husband and I went to bed talking about how we could take a trip outside the country.

One night as the three of us talked again about her travels, we told her of all the friends and family we had in various parts of the world. Viv said, “Well you know, a round the world trip ticket only costs about $3,000.”

All of a sudden our dreams became possible. We knew we were going to take the trip, but how to finance it?

On the day Viv was leaving, it was my husband’s birthday and we were going to a party for him at his place of work. I stopped at a local bank so she could exchange some money. While she was inside I said to the Universe, “How can we pay for our trip?” The answer came, “You could sell your house.” I felt a tingle run through my body starting at the top of my head and traveling all the way down to my toes. Right then I planned to talk my idea over with Barry on our way to his birthday weekend trip to the Oregon Coast.

When we were on our way, I waited, heart pounding until I thought it was the right time. Then I said, “I’ve thought of a way we can pay for our trip.”

He said, “Really, so have I. I wonder if it’s the same idea.”

“We can sell our house,” I said.

“That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

The energy inside the car was palpable. We knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime and we had to grab it. The entire weekend we made plans about when to leave, the things we needed to do to the house to get it ready to sell, what countries we’d visit, how long we’d be gone, and where we would land when we got back to the U.S.

Some people, mostly family members, thought we were crazy. But it was amazing how many people said, “I wish I were brave enough to to that.”

Everything fell into place so easily. It was as if God wanted us to take the trip. We found the perfect real estate and travel agents. Our house sold at the first open house. The housing market had just begun to boom so we made a ridiculous amount of money. We were offered a place to stay for the month before our departure. Everything worked out well, except for one thing, which in the end turned out to be the reason we moved to Arizona.

My father had had heart bypass surgery several years prior to our planned trip. Before we left, he had another emergency surgery and nearly died on the operating table. This was April, about three weeks before our departure. The weather in the Northwest that spring was cold, wet and miserable.

We flew to Phoenix to be with my mom and dad at the Phoenix Heart Hospital. My parents had retired there, and so had Barry’s parents. They lived in the Phoenix area and were there to meet my youngest sister, her husband, and us at the airport. It was 80 degrees and gorgeous.

My father lived, but almost losing him was a shock. For the first time it occurred to us that our parents were getting old. We wanted to be near them as much as we could during their remaining days. So the four of us discussed moving to Arizona, because even my brother-in-law’s parents lived in Tucson.

While we were on our fabulous trip, Barry and I discussed moving to Arizona instead of Southern Oregon, as we had dreamed of doing. Finally, when we were stuck in Olympia due to the death of a Greek national hero and statesman, we decided on Arizona as our new home. It’s been a good decision.

The trip was life-changing. If you’ve never traveled outside the country, I highly recommend it. Being in a new place can’t help but change your perspective. You learn something new about yourself along the way. Even after all these years, something will pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, or I’ll hear something on television and I’ll be transported back to one of the wonderful countries we visited.

Moving to Arizona without jobs was difficult at first, but we managed to find a lovely part of the state to live in, and as I wrote in the first paragraph, we have gorgeous scenery, plenty of wildlife, and quiet to keep us company. It’s a nurturing place for both of us because we’re creative types.

I’m so grateful for the times when something amazing has presented itself to me, and I’ve climbed aboard and gone along for the ride. I hope you do that too, because we don’t want to die with our music still in us, as Wayne Dyer used to say. That would be a tragedy.

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

If you’d like to join my email list to receive information about my soon to be published book, The Space Between Time, or my video series, “Loving Literature”, here is the link.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Curiosity and Wonder

Taj Mahal at sunset
Taj Mahal at sunset

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” –Linus Pauling

“Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery.” –Victor Hugo

Wonder and curiosity have been a part of my life since I was very young. I remember as a girl sitting for a very long time looking at what I thought were Fairy footprints in the dirt in the empty lot across from our house. The other kids poo pooed my assertion that the marks were indeed made by Fairies and ran off to play war. But I saw Fairy prints because my parents had been reading us stories from a volume of Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and I was convinced they really existed.

Because of my parents, I grew up with a sense of curiosity and wonder about the world around me. I came by it naturally. Both mom and dad believed in the unseen world. But my father particularly wanted to know about everything. Even though he dropped out of school he read voraciously, and paid attention to current events. That’s why we were watching as the first man stepped foot on the moon, and saw the horrors of war, and all the assassinations that took place during the 60s. When you’re curious, you have to take the good with the bad.

To me curiosity and wonder are a major component of creativity. Maybe I think that because of my parents, but just think of it, would humans be where we are today without curiosity? Would there be art, science, music, social structures, civilizations, religions, philosophies, or technology without wonder and curiosity? There are always more things to learn, more things to create and discover. There are always deeper interactions between humans that can be achieved if we use our curiosity.

One of the most profound experiences of my life was a trip my husband and I took circumnavigating the globe. It was 1996, before all the fear about traveling abroad. That experience changed my life. It was the result of our burning curiosity to immerse ourselves in other cultures around the world. We accomplished this amazing trip by following our unseen guides, or intuition, or if you prefer, messages from God.

It all started when we hosted an acquaintance we’d met at a Reiki gathering in Oregon. She was from Germany but was going to New Zealand a week after the Gathering. So, we offered our guest room to her so she wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel. Each night she would regale us with tales of her travels to different places around the world. And each night Barry and I would go to bed talking about our desire to do the same. As we talked, we decided we wanted to visit several friends and family around the world, which would mean we’d need to circumnavigate the globe. It seemed impossible. Then on the last night of our friend’s visit we told her what we wanted to do and she said, “You can get an around the world trip ticket for about $3,000.” All of sudden the trip seemed possible, even though we didn’t have that amount at the time.

The next day it happened to be Barry’s birthday. We were going to have a birthday party for him at the Sophia Center where he worked, and then I was going to take him on a weekend trip to the Oregon Coast. On our way to the party, I took our friend to a bank where she could exchange some money before flying to New Zealand. While she was in the bank, I said casually to Divine Oneness, as I call God, “I wonder how we can pay for our trip around the world?” Immediately I heard a voice in my head say, You could sell your house. I waited for that sinking feeling I get when I know I’m about to make the wrong decision, but it never came. Instead I felt elated. I couldn’t wait to tell Barry.

After the party as we were driving to the Coast, I said as casually as I possibly could, “I have an idea how we can fund our trip around the world.”

Barry said, “Oh really, I have one too. Let’s see if they’re the same idea.”

My heart started pounding as I said, “We could sell our house.”

Barry turned and looked at me and said, “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

From that moment on, we knew that’s what we were going to do. While we were on our romantic weekend, we began making plans for selling our house to take the most amazing trip of our entire lives. Everyone we told about our plans from the real estate agent, to the travel agent said, “That’s so fantastic. You’ll never regret it.” And we never have. We got to see more wonders than we could ever have imagined we’d experience in one life time.

That trip has been a source of great wonder, curiosity and creativity for me. And I’ll never regret selling our house, which after all is just a thing, to see the amazing sites I saw in various places around the world.

Contemplate what life would be like if we weren’t curious about how things worked, or weren’t filled with wonder when we looked up at the night sky filled with stars. What would happen if we felt no wonder when we fell in love, or when a friend stood by us no matter what was happening? Worst of all, what if we woke up every day feeling sure that this day was going to be just like the next? Just thinking of living without curiosity gives me the willies. What about you?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Leave Behind Something of Value

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. ― Napoleon Hill

“Most people take the limits of their vision to be the limits of the world. A few do not. Join them.” Arthur Schopenhauer

“You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and that’s exactly what we are fighting for.” -Frank Stokes, played by George Clooney in The Monuments Men

Library Fantasy Books 

My dream is coming true. The novel I started fifteen years ago, then set aside for ten or eleven years, is nearly ready for final revisions and edits. I don’t know about you, but when I finish a big creative project, like directing a play, or finishing a semester of teaching, I like to spend a bit of time in reflection. So, even though my book isn’t completely finished, I’m already beginning that process.

Writing this book has taken much longer than I thought it would. There were times when I wasn’t sure I should stick with it. I mean, to commit to doing this project, my husband and I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices. What if my book doesn’t sell? Will the sacrifices have been worth it? My answer is an unqualified, YES!

Becoming an artist/entrepreneur was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in my life. Working for yourself, is completely different than working for someone else. First of all I had to get used to setting my work schedule. If you work in your home, there are so many distractions to keep you from getting down to the business of work. It took me a year or two to get into a productive routine.

For the longest time, I’d do all my teaching duties first. I teach online and face to face theatre classes at the local community college. In my mind, I was getting all the more mundane, routine tasks out of the way first, so I could concentrate on what I really wanted to do. I’d read that advice in a writer’s newsletter, and I bought into it. Unfortunately, when I did this, I never seemed to have much time to write. That was one of the things that contributed taking so long to complete my novel.

Not long ago, I read Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art. It’s a slim little volume, that is a must read for anyone who wants to create a business, or become an artist. Shortly before I read the book, I’d discovered that I had to devote myself to writing before I did anything else that day. I had to flip the paradigm of getting all the unpleasant tasks out of the way first. When I did that, my entire world changed. That realization, and Pressfield’s book helped me see that to make a difference in the world, I must commit to my calling first above all else. He calls it, becoming a professional, as opposed to being an amateur who just dabbles.

Another thing I’ve learned is that sacrifice is part of being a professional anything. Entrepreneurs don’t have an easy time of creating that business, or that piece of art. It’s normal to feel bogged down and depressed from time-to-time. Even though there is a tremendous amount of freedom in working for yourself, there are uncertain times ahead. Failure is a part of the process. You have to be willing to fall flat on your face, then pick yourself up and try again. Yet, I know if I don’t give up, what I create just might change someone’s life, and that makes what I do each day worthwhile. When I feel discouraged, I remember all the wonderful books, plays and works of art that have helped me throughout my life.

I can think of many examples of this from when Barry and I took our trip around the world. We made a point of seeing as much art as we could, partly because we’re both artists, though in different fields. But mostly because, you can’t really learn anything about a culture without seeing the artwork produced by the citizens of that country over the centuries. Art and architecture give vital clues to how people lived and thought.

When we were in Greece we climbed up the Acropolis. They were just beginning the process of restoring the Parthenon. Near it was a museum with many pieces of art from the Golden Age of Athens. They are many centuries old. I was inspired by it all. One particular piece I loved was The Charioteer of Delphi. Part of the reason I was drawn to it was because it’s a life size bronze sculpture with amazing detail. It has eyes that look almost real and even have eyelashes. Another reason I was drawn to it was because it comes from the era when theatre was born in Ancient Greece. I remember just standing and looking at it for a very long time. If you’ve never seen artwork by master artists, you’re missing something. They give off an energy that is beyond description. That’s how I felt time and time again during that trip. That’s how I feel when I read a great book or see a wonderful film.

The reason I mention this particular sculpture, is because I saw it again briefly in the movie The Monuments Men. The Charioteer was one of the millions of pieces of art that were stolen by the Nazi’s, and then recovered, and returned during WW II. If it hadn’t been recovered, I would never have been able to be touched by it’s immense beauty and detail.

Now, I’m not saying that my novel will survive for twenty-six centuries. We only have a fraction of the earliest Greek plays. Pottery, stone buildings, and sculptures last longer than the materials that the written word is recorded upon. But, again, my novel may help someone gain a new perspective, or pass some pleasant hours when they aren’t thinking about their problems. That’s good enough for me.

So, after working for other people, where most of the time I didn’t feel appreciated, I’ll take working for myself any day, because I want to create, and leave behind something of value.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

My Dream is Not Your Dream, and That’s Okay

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou

“Each of us has an inner dream that we can unfold if we will just have the courage to admit what it is. And the faith to trust our own admission. The admitting is often very difficult.”

“What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.” – Julia Cameron

A couple of things happened to me recently, which helped me get a clearer picture of what it is I want out of life.

First, my brother and sister-in-law celebrated their 30th anniversary with a trip to Mackinac Island in Michigan. When they started a Photo Stream of their trip, I said to Barry, “Why are they going to Mackinac Island? Why not some place exotic like Hawaii, or the Caribbean?”

Barry said, “I don’t know. Maybe they want to go to Mackinac Island. Maybe it’s exotic to them.”

Well, of course, he was right, and that got me thinking. What’s exotic to one person isn’t necessarily exotic or attractive to someone else. Also, Barry and I didn’t take a 30th wedding anniversary trip, because we didn’t have the extra cash. Granted, we took that trip around the world and that’s still good for a few more anniversary trips as far as I’m concerned. But, I had no room to talk about 30th anniversary trips since I hadn’t taken one.

Then I had to admit what was really going on for me. I have dreams of selling enough books, so that I can live the life I’ve always wanted to live, which includes travel to places I’ve always wanted to go. Exotic places, like Hawaii, New Zealand, Italy and revisit some of the places on our world tour. Everyone has a different list, different dreams, and that’s okay. After seeing all the pictures of their trip, I have to admit it looked like a fun place to visit. It’s just not high up on my list. Who knows one day I may get a speaking engagement, or a book signing there. Now wouldn’t that be interesting?

Just now as I’m thinking about how we each have different dreams, some large and some small, I realize that I’ve always had big dreams. I always thought there had to be more to life than what I was living. However, I didn’t think I deserved more. I settled for what I thought I could get. Until recently. My personal work is paying off. I’m feeling different about myself, who I am and what I can accomplish.

I have some pretty big dreams. I’ve been struggling to believe in myself for a long time. Now I think my dreams will come true. Some people may think I’m foolish for dreaming those big dreams. That’s okay. But, in turn, I don’t want to think someone is foolish if what they want is smaller.

It’s funny how Karma works, because last week, when I was at my book club group, I was telling the women that one day, Barry and I want to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico so Barry has more opportunity to sell his artwork. And one of the women said, “That’s a hard nut to crack.” In other words, “Good luck breaking into that closed group of artists.”

Now, I know she didn’t mean anything by that. Sometimes when we care about someone we want them to be cautious. We don’t want their feelings to get hurt. We want to protect them. But, it struck me that she felt the reverse of what I felt about my in-law’s trip. I may be wrong, but it sounded to me like she thought what I wanted was impossible. I’m beginning to see that nothing I want is impossible.

Barry and I’ve got bigger dreams than most of the people we know. Nothing anyone says to poo poo them is going to change my mind about seeing them come true. It’s my responsibility to do the artwork. I’ll let God take care of the rest. I want to remember that, “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. I’m going to give what I’ve got.

A Miracle, and What I Learned

Before you read my entry for today, I want to thank all of you who have liked and subscribed to my blog. I’m still learning the ins and outs of WordPress and have not figured out how to leave you personal messages. So, thank you all. I hope you enjoy today’s post.

 

Have you ever had something happen to you where all the dominos lined up and dropped in a perfect pattern? Something like that happened for me and my husband eighteen years ago. And I’m just now getting the lesson.

 

The first domino fell on my husband’s birthday. We’d been talking a great deal about taking an overseas trip to visit my sister and her husband who lived first in Taipei, Taiwan and then Tokyo. The thing is, though we’ve lived a comfortable life, we never had much surplus money, so we weren’t quite sure how we were going to be able to make the trip. All we had was the desire.

 

I know, some of you will say, “Why didn’t you just save the money for the trip.” And you’re right, but at that point in our lives, we lived pretty much paycheck-to-paycheck. That was okay with us. We saved enough money to buy small ticket items that we wanted or needed from time-to-time, but a trip to Japan? That was something different.

 

Then, in April 1995, we attended a Reiki retreat. At the event, we met a lovely young woman from Germany. She was headed to New Zealand a week after the retreat and needed a place to stay until the next leg of her trip. We offered her our small guest bedroom. Her visit changed our lives.

 

Every evening she regaled us with stories of her travels. Barry and I were envious. Each night we’d go to bed talking about traveling to visit friends in distant places. On the last night of her stay we were telling her about my sister and her family, and all the other people we’d met living in far off, but disparate places around the world. The first miracle occurred. She said, “Well, you can get an around the world trip ticket for about $3,000.00. That would make your trip affordable.”

 

$3,000.00 per ticket was a lot of money for us, but something about the matter of fact way she said it caused a shift in our consciousness. The trip was possible! Thinking it wasn’t possible is what had been holding us back.

 

The next day was Barry’s birthday. I’d planned a party for him at his workplace, Sophia Center. It was a spirituality center where women and men could go for healing, spiritual gifts, and support. Vivian and I stopped at the bank so she could exchange money for the next leg of her journey. While she was inside, I asked God, How can we pay for our trip? Immediately I heard the answer in my head, You could sell your house. As crazy as it sounds, I knew that was the answer, and we were supposed to do it. Vivian came out of the bank and without saying a word to her, I drove to Sophia Center. 

 

The party was fun, but I don’t remember much about it, because I couldn’t wait to tell Barry about my experience. Part of his birthday gift was a surprise trip to Lincoln City on the Oregon coast. It was an unusually bright sunny day in late May. Once we were out of the city, I brought up the subject of our trip. 

 

“I’ve thought of a way we can pay for our trip,” I said heart pounding. Would he like the idea?

 

“Oh, I’ve thought of a way too. I wonder if they’re the same,” He said. That was encouraging. 

 

“We could sell our house.”

 

“I was thinking the same thing,” he said and we looked at each other mouths open. What a miracle. We accepted it gratefully.

 

From that moment on, all we could do was make plans. Everything related to the trip fell into place with amazing ease. The first decision was, when to go. A year to prepare seemed like a good plan. We found a great realtor who was interested in us and not just in the money she could make helping us sell our house. We sold the house on the first open house for a great deal more than we paid for it. Someone told us about a fantastic travel agent. He helped us make plans and had great contacts to help us along the way should we need them. As it turned out we did, but that’s a story for another post. 

 

Almost everyone was encouraging and excited for us. Friends gave us the names of people in England, France, and Greece who would be contacts for us. We visited Vivian in Germany and another Reiki friend in The Netherlands. We had a college friend in Australia and Heather and John in Japan. The only place we were completely on our own was India. 

 

While making the preparations for our trip was easy, for the most part, so was the trip. Angels appeared at the most opportune times. Like the woman on the New York Subway who guided us in the right direction to our hotel, or the man in The Netherlands, who helped us find the right train at the transfer station, or the Greek hotel owner who gave us a discount on our room in Afitos, or our Sikh guide in Delhi. It’s almost impossible to express the growth we experienced as we traveled, met new people and experienced new cultures. 

 

Yet there is more that I’ve learned just now, eighteen years later. It’s this: For most of my life, I’ve blocked the good things that could come easily if I allowed it. I thought I didn’t deserve them. “Only you can deprive yourself of anything,” it says in A Course in Miracles. One big thing I didn’t deprive myself of was a trip around the world. I’m excited about all the other wonderful things that can happen to me if I allow them to come.