The art of becoming a sage mixes personal life experience with learning from ancient and historical people who have gathered their own wisdom. Sages know that they stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before.
In Becoming a Sage, international bestselling author and master storyteller Wegscheider-Cruse encourages readers to find their own personal path through a series of short stories, lessons learned and prudent quotes that validate each experience. Her stories span deep lows and soaring highsa lifelong journey of lessons learned and a celebration of living with those lessons. Each tale will bring solace, comfort, and joy to readers, and inspire and teach them how to record their own stories. It will bring readers through guilt, fear, and forgiveness to reach personal transformation.
Wegscheider-Cruse knows that it's not always easy to tell our stories; they can be scary or feel too private. But, as we grow older, we find courage and confidence by deciding to become "a teller of the truth." Our sharing is the legacy that we leave to family and friends; Becoming a Sage is the remarkable legacy Wegscheider-Cruse leaves to us all.
|Publisher:||Health Communications, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse is the founding Chairperson of the National Association of Children of Alcoholics, and founder of Onsite Workshops. She has brought hope and healing to millions as an author, counsellor, trainer, consultant, and lecturer. She has written 18 books translated into 13 languages, and broke ground and fostered a movement with her works, Another Chance: Hope and Health for the Alcoholic Family and Learning to Love Yourself. Sharon has traveled the world and developed programs in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Canada, and has appeared on The Phil Donahue Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Larry King Show, as well as in multiple media events.
Read an Excerpt
Sages are people who have reached a time of inner wisdom and peace and yet yearn for more. The art of becoming a sage mixes personal life experience with learning from ancient and historical people who have gathered their own wisdom. Sages know that they stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. When ancient wisdom and current wisdom collide, they activate the process of becoming a living sage.
Sages are radiant, vital, grateful, curious, settled, accepting, and responsible. They are mystics, psychics, shamans, and wise men and women. By their very presence, they lay down paths and lead others to find their own path. Gurus encourage people to follow their teachings; sages encourage others to find their own personal path.
Historian and author Tamara Hareven identifies 'time' as a life span, an approach that helps us to see the developmental transitions and changes that are the defining moments in our lives. Some of these moments we choose and others are thrust upon us, testing our resiliency. Sages are the mentors, leaders, and teachers who honor our stories that have shaped us and then help pass them on to the people of the future. Our memories are transmitted in words, traditions, and wisdom.
Writing this book at this time is recapturing and sharing my memories one more time. We live in a culture and era where many things have been kept private and unspoken. For me, this is the time to tell some stories for the first time and retell others that are important. It's not always easy to tell our stories; it can be too scary and too private. As we grow older, however, we find courage and confidence by deciding to become 'a teller of truth.' We have earned that position, and we gain mastery as we tell our stories. Each of us has a first and last day of life. In between, each of us has an incredible number of stories. Our stories are the legacy that we leave to family and friends.
Dr. Tim Frank, a compassionate sage, once whispered in my ear, 'Keep the wisdom; let the experience go.' Little did he know the profound effect those words would have on me. He awakened in me the acceptance that I have lived with that 'letting go' process for a very long time. When I failed to heed those words, life became a painful struggle. My life has had soaring highs and deep lows. It has been a journey of 'lessons learned' and a celebration of living with those lessons. My hope is that my stories will bring you some solace, comfort, and joyand inspire you to write or record your own stories.
Once a great lesson has been learned, Dr. Frank explained, there is no going back. The butterfly never returns to the cocoon. In my programs of recovery in the Black Hills, I used to say, 'Once you know, you cannot 'not know' again. Information must lead to change or it becomes depression.'
Peter, Gary, and Dan
My life has been graced with many sages, female and male. In my family, strength, intellect, and goodness came through many powerful women; male energy, however, was glaringly absent. But the universe did provide me with masterful and loving male sages that have led me to a very balanced and rich adulthood that continues to this day.
Two special male sages, Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler, became my publishers. They, like other men before them, believed in me, and my talents. Peter and Gary moved to the United States from Canada with dreams and talents of their own. One of the gifts they both possess is an inner goodness that helped them discover the value of respect and relationships in both their personal and professional lives.
For me, there was no sharp distinction between being friends and coworkers. Professional distance was neither part of my training nor my value system. Meeting Peter and Gary was life-changing and affirming.
My first connection with them is a story on its own, and this book is told in a storytelling style because basically, I am a storyteller. When we met, I was a counselor and was setting up a practice in Minnesota to work with youth and adult children of alcoholics. Speaking in workshops and traveling for the agency that hired me had been the extent of lecturing that I had done, even though public speaking had come naturally to me ever since high school.
A telephone call brought an amazing invitation one day. Virginia Satir, a master family therapist well known in the field, was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at a major national conference in Colorado. Her topic was family therapy; hundreds were expected to attend. Virginia had fallen ill at the last minute and suggested that I replace her. I had about two days to prepare and get to Colorado. Without hesitation, I accepted. I was soon to meet Dan Bartmettler, another wonderful sage.
From Local Speaker to National Stage
The success of that conference is what brought me to the attention of Gary Seidler and Peter Vegso. They then invited me to speak at one of their conferences. These three dynamic men formed much of my professional male interaction for many years.
They helped me by putting me on several national stages. They also showed me what a team of healthy men running healthy organizations looked like. They built a field of addiction, family, and codependency knowledge that had not existed before. Their conferences, the books they published, and the workshops they staged have saved and enriched the lives of countless people. The training they developed has produced competent therapists and innovative leaders in the fields of addiction, codependency, and mental health. I am humbled to have been part of the birth of a movement and development of a field.
Storytelling as an Art
I can't help being a storyteller. Life reveals itself to me and directs me through stories. When someone brings up a topic, I think, I have a story about that. The stories just flow out of me. Once one of my children said, 'Mom, you tell too many stories.' Then she added, 'You also sometimes embellish those stories and they are not exactly the way I remember it.'
I took that to heart and thought about it. I decided that being a storyteller is just who I am, embellishments and all. I hope my stories will mostly be a source of joy to me and of interest to others. I do add texture, color, and details. Hemingway once said, 'All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened.' As long as they are true, the details can afford to be rich and colorful.
I love this quote from Madeleine L'Engle: 'Stories make us more alive, more human, courageous, and loving.' When I tell a story, it will contain many facts, and it will also contain my memory of an incident that is true for me. Others might have different memories. I will be sharing many stories from the people who have enriched my life. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
As this book took shape, it became clear to me that a pure memory is only pure when you are asleep or in a coma. Otherwise we are changing every single time we remember something, maybe changing every hour and every day. My rewrites have been persistent and plentiful. Each time we remember, we remember differently because we are different. It has been hard work to freeze-frame life, story by story, to capture the memories that have made me who I am today.
Some of my journey is heavy, some is light, some is dark, and some is full of joy. Understanding my life has become increasingly focused, serene, and empowering. I have been able to understand the stages that defined me inward and outward. Going deep inside to find my shadows and bringing them forward to take their place beside my gifts was a brutally honest journey. It has brought me inspiration, inner peace, and personal power. As Joan Didion said, 'We tell ourselves stories in order to live life.'
I invite you to share my journey through storytelling with Carl Jung's words in mind: 'Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.' Each story calls to us and presents a karmic lesson. The word karma will be used often in this book; the definition I refer to is 'a person's actions in this world that help decide their fate in future times.' The action can be words spoken or deeds done. It is the principle of causality, which holds that an individual's intent and action influence his or her future. There are many schools of thought about, and definitions of, this principle, but this is the one I will be referring to in my writings about karma.
Sometimes people are stuck in their lives and cannot get past certain situations. I hold that when someone stays stuck too long, he or she may be doing someone else's work. Each of us has a karmic ancestry; it's important that we separate from it so we can move on. Sometimes we have to leave a situation and accept that it is not ours to solve. It belonged to our ancestry and we have just carried it.
Becoming a sage is not defined by age. Each life is lived individually. Not everyone lives through all the natural cycles. Some lives are shorter, and some manage to live through all the cycles in that shorter life span. Some people advance in years but never make it through all the cycles. My plan is to go through each of the cycles and transformations and let you decide where you are and where you might like to go in your journey.
I believe in stories, in their ability to keep the dead alive and the living engaged. There are no rules in storytelling; your story is your truth.
To have known the extremes of joy, grief, loss, birth, letting go, poverty, wealth, fame, rejection, comfort, and fear is to be fully aware of one's self. When all the ingredients come together in a recipe of life, we become a personal masterpiece. The sweet and the sour blend in the production of each life. So it is. We are the sum of our experiences and choices.
For me, the decision to tell my story at this time, both personally and professionally, is because I accept myself as a link in a chain. The intensity of my relationships with people who have gone before me needs to be linked to those who come after me. I hold stories that no one else knows and it's time to tell them.
Even though my name has been before the public for forty-three years through my books, movies, workshops, and lectures, my private life has been private. That was always my choice because I believed that my soul mate, my children, and my grandchildren deserved autonomy. They have their own views and their own stories.
I want to be clear that I love them all with my whole heart and soul; they are the most important people in the world to me. They will only be mentioned indirectly throughout, unless it's integral to a certain story. I have tried to keep it my story and not their story. Hopefully, some day they will each write their own story. My story is mine to share and these are the reasons for choosing now as the right time. I choose:
Engagement over retreat
Passion over leisure
Redirection over retirement
Joy over depression
Small over big
Manageability over overwhelm
Curiosity over 'been there, done that'
Learning over knowing
As Robert Browning wrote, 'Grow old along with me!/The best is yet to be.' I invite you to share my journey and my stories.
The first eight chapters of this book comprise Part One. It focuses on telling some of my stories and inviting you to share in the life lessons that have brought me to this time. A reflection that sums up the lesson learned follows each story. As a therapist, public speaker, entrepreneur, and author, I've already told many of these stories. They cover so many extraordinary experiences and events and hold so many lessons. I love telling them.
©2016 Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Becoming a Sage: Discovering Life's Lessons, One Story at a Time. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Early Years
My Restless Soul 9
The Hobos 12
Chicken Sexing 14
Pheasant Hunting 16
Smells and Memories 18
Special Aunts: My Family Sages 21
What Is Being Poor? 23
Stockings: Its All About Status 28
Brass Bed 32
Stuttering and Speaking: Finding My Voice 34
Spirituality and Holy Hell as a Child 36
Childhood Resiliency 39
Chapter 2 High School Years
Growing Up 41
Two Alcoholic Parents 44
Inside Life and Outside Life 46
Alcohol and Cigarettes 48
Mrs. Mett, My Speech Sage 50
Mr. Halos, My Business Sage 52
Hard Times 54
Sex Ed 56
Social Life 58
The Fire 60
Chapter 3 Becoming Responsible
Move to the Big City 63
Fairy-Tale Wedding 66
Eden Prairie: My Own Home and Family 68
My Dad's Suicide 71
Prayer Table 74
Time, Energy, and Money 78
Heartview Treatment Center 81
Divorce from Tom 83
Chapter 4 Evolution
Friendship Club 89
University Years: The Sixties 92
Family Time with Don 95
Nurturing Networks, Inc. 98
Healing in My Thirties 100
Disneyland and Walt Disney World 101
The Family Factory 104
The House 106
My Search for Virginia Satir 109
Virginia Satir, My Professional Sage 111
The Esalen Institute 114
The Johnson Institute 116
Changes at the Johnson Institute 118
Air Force Family Programs 120
Freedom Fest 122
Minnesota North Stars 124
Olga Worrall, Psychic and Sage 126
The Freedom Institute 128
Struggles Writing My First Book 129
Leaving the Johnson Institute 131
Don and I Divorce 133
Chapter 5 Onsite Begins
Angels Appear 135
Texas Invitation 138
Red Rose 139
Conferences, Keynotes, and Workshops 141
Texas Surprise 143
Meeting Joe Cruse 145
Restless in Palm Springs 147
Back in the Business of Onsite 149
A Home in the Black Hills 151
A Place for Our Programs 153
Chapter 6 Golden Years of Onsite
Nicotine Addiction 162
Coupleship Programs 165
Living Centered Program 167
Twelve Steps of Recovery 169
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics 172
Lady in the Red Dress 174
Mystical Happenings: Danny 175
Favorite Group-Leader Stories 177
Marty Mann Award 179
Jerry Florence, My First Musical Sage 182
Lace Afghan from the Homeless 184
Retirement or Redirection 185
Jobs Versus Careers 186
All Teachings Axe the Same 188
Chapter 7 Las Vegas
Culture Change: Learning How Not to Work 191
Timeless Time 194
The Minnesota Vikings 195
President Gerald Ford's Funeral 197
The Giraffes 199
Cancer, the Hard Word 201
Trip Around the World 203
Spa Experiences 206
Chapter 8 From Restless Seeker to Sage
2012: Three Crises 211
Grief, Guilt, and Forgiveness 217
Forgiveness Is Freeing 221
The Courage to Change 223
Living Smaller 225
The Apple Dishes 228
Prayer Table 231
Marine on St. Croix 233
Crisis and Caretaking, Again 236
Who Takes Care of the Caretaker? 238
Reflections on Family and Relationships 240
My Children 241
My Grandchildren 245
My Soul Mate 248
Memories of My Mom 250
Memories of My Dad 252
Legacy Conflicts 253
My Grandma's Funeral 255
Dogs Are Important! 257
Contentment in Colorado 260
Chapter 9 What is a Sage?
Basics of Wisdom 269
We Choose Our Journey 270
The Meaning of Harvesting 272
Harvesting My Life 273
Sages Celebrate What They've Done Right 275
Bob Subby, Spiritual Sage 277
Jerry Moe, Children's Sage 278
Claudia Black, Helping Professionals' Sage 279
Larry Cumpston, My Financial Sage 280
Peter Alsop, My Second Musical Sage 281
Getting Rid of What Doesn't Matter 282
Sage Training 284
Sages Are You and Me 286
Choosing to Harvest 291
The Now 292
About the Author 294