Granny Went Gaelic — And This Is What Happened

For every night there is a day. For every winter there is a summer.

And for every outing for a 64-year-old there is a price to be paid.

Maybe everyone has a yin with their yang. But mine just seem to come back and bite me in the buttocks. Every good time I have has a clip of wtf in it.

Like Friday. St. Patrick’s Day.

A night out with the hubby…something we haven’t had in a while. Went to an Irish band concert — Gaelic Storm — which I wrote about here. Was all pumped up. Sparkly nails, sparkly hat. Went to a great burger place for dinner, had a Bloody Mary. We were way early for the concert so we stopped into a bar across the street from the concert hall. Made some great temporary friends — had a great time. Went to the concert — had a great time. Went to the bathroom after the concert —

Dropped my phone in the toilet.

A thousand women hit that bathroom before and after me. How many of them do you think dropped their phone in the toilet?

Standing up for myself on wobbly legs, my phone was in my back pocket (I had no front pockets), and somehow in standing up my phone went for a swim. Since I still owe on the phone that now doesn’t work, and its too early to upgrade, I had to reactivate my old phone.

Only me.

This crashing course in reality happens to me all the time. I’m the only one who  flips the SUV on a barely-visible slip of ice, the only one who forgets major ingredients in recipes, the one who gets lost if I don’t write directions down.

I’m sure everybody goes through these things, but sometimes I feel like whenever I turn around there’s something embarrassing waiting for me.

There’s something about getting “older” that is to blame for every slip of the step. Even though it’s an inaccurate assumption, it’s the first one everyone runs to. Oh, she’s not playing with a full deck. She doesn’t remember what you tell her half the time. She just doesn’t pay attention. How easy it is for those words to fall out of one’s mouth. And I suppose the validity of such depends on what side of the fence you’re on.

My son has dropped his phone in the toilet. Very little fanfare was made of that. Mom? Whew! Too many Captain’s and Cokes. How can one get lost when you drive that way 25 times a year? Daydreaming out the window while someone else is driving is not an excuse. Can’t fall asleep? Turn off the TV and phone and just lay there in bed like a zombie for 3 hours!

It’s all so easy!

My husband has been pretty kind to me after the phone incident. He  accompanied me to U.S. Cellular to get my old phone activated, and even offered his new phone to me in exchange.

But somehow I know there’s a little chuckle going on inside, thinking he let me have too good a time at the concert that night.

Well, he just didn’t see the leprechaun that followed me into the stall, That’s all…

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Wearing Purple

I feel like I was shopping drunk yesterday evening. Of course, I did go out to dinner first, but I don’t believe either the walleye or the potato pancake contained any alcohol. Nor the McDonald’s ice cream cone.

But I digress.

In a couple of weeks I’m going to meet my bestie in Ashville, North Carolina, and hit the Art Scene like a internet data conversion analyst specialist online art director writer.  I was in need of a few new artsy outfits to fit in with my fellow abstractionists and surrealists, so I made a pit stop at the most fashionable store around — Walmart.

Now, I’m sure you have seen those pictures on the Internet of Walmart “shoppers”…the images that show off the uniqueness of the characters and their wardrobes. Well, walking out of of the store a half hour later, I am afraid I will be added to their hidden camera library.

First off, I bought a pair of capris. No problem. Except they’re purple. Which is to match the purple and teal print open style Kimono shawl. Which matches the teal peasant top.

What was I thinking?

Every early winter I write a blog about what women over 50 shouldn’t wear. Fuzzy purple leggings always leads the list. Now I’m afraid purple capris will be second. I am running parallel with all the advice I so willingly gave about dressing your age.

Now, the fuzzy purple leggings I’ve been exposed to and write about are a long way from the royal purple cotton capris that are peeking out of my Walmart bag. The fuzzy leggings are usually wrapped around legs that are too big to wear something that tight, and don’t have the advantage of a long tunic to hide additional large body parts. The purple cotton mid-calf pants hang loosely on my chicken legs, and the teal peasant blouse with the same undercurrent of blues will hang down far enough to semi-cover my estomac and derrière. (Sounds less offensive when spoken in French, no?) Then comes the flowery sheer scarf that set this whole wardrobe malfunction into motion. It’s really a pretty shawl thing…it’s sheer and light and one of those patterned things that chubby women shouldn’t wear.

Since I am in this wardrobe for the long hall, I don’t see myself as a chubby old lady in purple capris, but rather a tall, willowy creative artist with a thing for fashion. Since I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror too often, I can picture myself however I wish. When the breeze blows the kimono scarf around my body I can turn into the sultry maiden looking across the moors for her lost lover, or the skeleton thin strutter down the fashion runway. I can be the trendsetting Zelda Fitzgerald or the fashion pioneer Elsa Schiaparelli.

I can also be the poster woman for weird, over-colored, middle aged+ women. Pathetic, insecure, never quite fitting in, never really confident, drawing too much attention to herself wearing bright prints and too-bold colors.

But not today. Or tomorrow.

I’ll let you know how the outfit turns out in the light of day. After a good night’s sleep. And a shower. And some body spray. And a touch of makeup.

Oh my goodness — I just thought — is this totally unexpected phase reflective of the first few lines of Jenny Joseph’s poem….?

 

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!

 

 

 

 

Me and Motley REALLY Ain’t Old!

I was flipping through old posts today and came across this oldie but goodie from a couple of years ago. Just think — I’m two years older than when I wrote this. And I think I need this more than ever. Happy Thursday!

Motley Crue Then

Motley and Me Ain’t Old

There has been a lot of angst going around the blog world lately. Problems, thoughts, ponderings.  It seems to be hitting the 50+ group, although I’ve read quite a few -50 uncertainties as well.  It is like we all are jugging the self-esteem balls, and we keep dropping one or two on our foot. The foot doesn’t break, but it sure as hell hurts.

Motley Crue Now

I myself was going to write a blog about feeling like I’ve really aged in the past year. You know those movie stars and rock stars that come out of mothballs for one reason or another, and you find yourself saying, “Man, have they aged!”  You know — the ones you loved in your teens or 20’s or 30’s.  You cut them no slack for having lived — whether it be through raising a family or doing drugs or surviving tragedies. You want to see them fresh and perky and full of energy. Not wrinkled or bloated. For that reminds us of … us.

I find that at 60 I’m caught between making excuses and living them. The wrinkles and extra pounds and the inability to fall asleep at night and achy legs and feet are from meds, stress, drinking caffeine, sitting at a desk all day, walking the dog, and a hundred other things.  It can’t be that I’m getting old. I mean, Keith Richards looks old. Chevy Chase looks old. Surely ~I~ can’t be looking old like that.

Can I?

This goes beyond our sound reasoning, beyond the I-loved-raising-my-family and the I’ve-been-through-a-lot-of-stuff stuff. It’s the accumulation of all those years of self criticism and/or questionable choices that’s winds up as lines on our faces and girth around our middles. It’s all those rock-and-roll concerts, college parties, and lonely nights.  It’s the sleepless nights staying up with children, hard physical jobs, and watching all those soccer games in the rain.  All these things play with our skin, our circulatory system, our psyche. We do all kinds of good things for ourselves and others. Still the legs ache at night, the circles under our eyes remain, and our hair still turns gray.

The good news is that we can always steer ourselves in a positive direction. We can become pro-active, getting involved in projects and people that keep us too busy to be counting years. We can — and do — make a difference in the world, in other people’s lives.

But still, there are tinges of regret in the eyes of the woman who looks back at me in the mirror. To be honest, there will always be a tiny flicker of sadness that I will never be as beautiful as Angelina or as smart as Einstein or as successful as Steve Jobs.  Now and then there will be a faint whisper of shoulda, coulda, woulda. Looking backwards is a natural action; regret (in some form) a natural reaction. I don’t like the idea that the road is longer behind me than in front of me. Nor do I care for the fact that there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

But then I turn on the stereo or put my ear buds in and listen to my IPod, and my youth comes rushing back to me. And I realize it’s never been gone. And will never leave me.

Come on — I know you’ve got it in you. Put on your favorite music — country song, disco song, hairband song. Turn it on and TURN IT UP. You’ll see you’re not an age — you’re a legend.

When we started this band

All we needed, needed was a laugh

Years gone by

I’d say we kicked some ass

When I’m enraged

Or hittin’ the stage

Adrenalin rushing

Through my veins

And I’d say

We’re still kickin’ ass

Kick Start my Heart, Motley Crue

I Want It All

a4d9a6e95ab9b4ddaac67a2adb860cb5Are you your own best friend?
Or are you your own worst enemy?
Have you found a way to balance the two?

I have the world’s best intentions — I really do. And sometimes I’m even able to carry them out. On the other hand, sometimes my intentions last as long as a thought. Big burst of emotion/intention, then big hit of sidetrack/misdirection.

Now that I’ve finally found the loves of my life (except from 9-5), I am finding it nearly impossible to balance it all without falling asleep at my desk.

Everything is temporary, I know. My kids living with me for a few months has been the greatest gift I ever could have received. I spend my day thinking of what my GB and I can do when I get home. He is a bundle of energy (vs my total lack of it), so I try and plan accordingly. I also plan time for him to be alone with his parents. After all, they all WOULD be alone together if it weren’t for me. First act of balancing.

But spending the 5 hours (ideally) between work and bedtime have drastically cut the time I have to spend on the other love of my life: writing. Specifically (at least at this moment) my blog(s).

I know there is no comparison between flesh and blood and words on a screen. No comparison between talking to my daughter-in-law and responding to posts online. This time will soon be gone, and I’ll have evenings to myself once again. Every day is a new experience, a new adventure. Who want to miss that?

But I am a Sagittarius, and I want the glory, the excitement, the magic NOW. I am an adventurer, even though I may fall flat half way through my trek. And I (like all of you) are multi-dimensional. I love creating, researching, building, perfecting whatever it is that sets my heart a flutter. My blog (especially the Art one) is quenching my thirst for personal satisfaction. It is something I can call MY OWN. Not hunting or fishing like the boys; not going back to school like friends; not raising children like my kids and friends kids. It’s something created out of my soul and warmed by the sun and fertilized by the moon. It’s something that has turned from a fad idea to a real pursuit of the extraordinary.

I think I suffer somewhat from the life-is-running-out syndrome, too. I’m getting older:  there are fewer years ahead of me than behind, and there’s tons of things I still want to do. I’ve given up dreams of visiting the museums of Rome or wandering through the moors of Scotland. Discovering the planet China is off my list, too. But I can still do things that make me happy, that make me proud. I’m just running out of time to do them.

My circadian rhythm is so out of whack I doubt I could get it back in line with a baseball bat. I get home, am awake, creative, love the evening, the sunset, the kids, the night. Then I can’t fall asleep. Midnight, 1, 2 a.m. and I’m still cruising through the galaxy. I get up at 6 so four hours of sleep isn’t doing it for me. I’ve tried everything to calm down at night. My fear is that I’ll have to give up everything creative if I want to sleep. Or clean my house. Or even make it to work on time.

I admit it. I want it all. I’m too young to retire, too poor to quit working. All of you creative sprites know how it is when you just start getting into your project and you look up at the clock and it’s midnight. Einstein’s time travel continuum has struck again.

So. I ask you. Any suggestions on how I can do it all?

In this lifetime??

Reflections of Disney World Through Middle-Aged Eyes

0956dc8c1d8c51f1fab033809ce7a99fMy feet  are aching, my wallet is empty, and I have Wished Upon a Star. I’ve had an exhausting, sweaty, mostly wonderful time in the Big D; I’ve learned a lot and observed more. So here, for better or worse, are reflections about Disney and its mystique.

*   The Disney World transport system is a force come into its own. It’s slick, by golly. I hardly had to wait for a bus to go anywhere.

*  On top of that,  I have to stand up and cheer for the way the Disney System takes care of those with disabilities.  The buses are amazing; the entire fleet has wheelchairs down to a science. The drivers are patient and helpful; the rides in all the parks have special entrances and spots just for those who have to use a wheelchair to get around. Disability is just another word around there.

* The Fast Pass is the way to go. I can’t tell you the devilish delight I had passing those who stood in line for an hour and a half for a 1-1/2 minute ride. At 90 degrees, this quick fix beat melting into a puddle.

*  The biggest terrorist threat at the parks are people pushing strollers. Now, I understand that they, too, have little hot potatoes squiggling and crying and being totally unreasonable, but that doesn’t mean they have to run you down in order to get to the next ride/air conditioned show/home. I had my ankles nipped once and nearly pushed off the boat by parents who then look at me like I’m the alien. Steer clear if at all possible.

*  There is a total lack of modesty at the Magic Kingdom when it comes to Mickey Mouse Ears. I saw so many ears in so many colors and styles it made my head spin. Bride ears, groom ears, pink-and-white polka-dot Minnie ears, Minnie ears with Malificent horns, red velvet ears, sparkly silver ears, disco-flashing ears — the variety was endless. And that was mostly on adult heads.

*  It was great that there were 6 adults to one four-year-old. No one individual had the energy to keep up with the little guy. So, if possible, bring reinforcements.

*  I am the first to admit that I don’t get it. There were lots of people there with children under 3. I understand if the older siblings want to go on rides and meet Goofy, but it seems pretty goofy to me to take a 1-year-old on a spinning tea cup or a flying elephant. The kid doesn’t get it, won’t remember it, and will have sunstroke before noon. Plus — just the hassle of bringing your entire changing table everywhere you go. I don’t get it.

*  Every meal was $10+. No matter if it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Every small bottle of NesQuik was $2.79 and every ice cream bar $4.  I know a lot of people bring a lot of their own food, but practicality dictates it’s not worth it. Ask for ice water at any stand (it’s free), split meals, bring snacks. Share, share, share. It doesn’t take the entire bite out of the budget, but the sting becomes more like a sweat bee than a hornet.

*  I used to think I was a people person. Working in downtown Chicago didn’t bother me a bit. Alas, that was 30 years ago. My patience has, shall we say, waned a bit through the years, and my tolerance for stupid people has waned along with it. Sticking to the person sitting next to you on the bus ride back to the hotel just didn’t do it for me. I realize that, in an environment such as that, we all have our limits. I definitely am not a people person. And am glad for it.

*  I also noticed that obesity is rampant in America. I admit I add to that pool; being 20 pounds overweight didn’t help my sweat-energy factor. But there were a lot of BIG people out there — especially kids. I read a note online somewhere to not attack obesity when salads are $7 and burgers are $1, but come on. $1 burgers did not do the damage. Bad eating habits and lack of exercise did. Hopefully walking around the park for days was a start of a new exercise regime. It is for me, for sure.

*  Sun and chlorine are wonderful aging elements. I don’t think I looked this old when I started vacation. But a week in the pool didn’t do much to make me look younger.  Maybe all I need is some Wisconsin weather. And Wisconsin cheese. And Wisconsin beer.

*  And, lastly, bobbing around in the pool or waiting for the kids to get off the ride gave me a lot of time for thinking. For recalculating who I am and what I want from life. Most of what I wanted was right there. But there was something lacking.

When you’re traveling in a group, your say is only one fraction of the whole. In this case, my opinion was only 1/7th of the whole. And somewhere in that percentage I lost myself. Not on purpose — it was just the way of the percentages.

I found that I wanted to be seen and heard and felt in a whole new way. That sharing is all well and good, but I wanted to do something that stood up above and beyond my 1/7th. I’m working on that readjustment this Memorial Day Weekend. I’m working on the reality that I can be 1/7th of an opinion and be 100% of one, too.

You can too. Just find a way to be yourself.

Maybe that’s what the point of all those Mickey Mouse ears was!

Fashion Rule Number Two

CAM01211I didn’t think I’d be adding to my Fashion Advice Blog (my FAB blog…heh…) so soon. After all, I just packed two paper bags to give to Good Will.

But dressing this morning Lesson Two dawned on me:

Don’t let the crabbies dictate your outfit.

Now, being on a different shift than my other half, I’m often looking through my closet in the morning with the flashlight app on my smartphone. Yesterday I woke up crabby, and neglected — no, downright ignored — the outfit I had picked out the night before. I couldn’t fall asleep, I didn’t want to wake up. So why should I look fresh to the world?

Because of that frumpy choice I felt off-center all day. Even my bling of a necklace couldn’t push me left or right of the funk. By the end of the day, though, the temperature outside was near 60, the sun danced between the clouds, and I had a great time outside with my grandbaby.

Just think that I could have had that feeling all day long if I’d just dressed in what I had originally chosen.

We’re not big dresser-uppers at work; the younger generation does wear great outfits, but the middlers and post-middlers don’t often follow suit. Well, I want to follow suit. As I said in my earllier blog (Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter, http://wp.me/p1pIBL-ZR), I don’t want to be that monochrome person (paraphrasing, of course…)

This morning I was again crabby. Not the I’ll-knock-your-socks-off-if-you-talk-to-me crabby, just a why-do-I-have-to-do-this-five-days-a-week crabby. The sun was rising over the trees out my back window; the promise of 60 degrees in the air. So I went back and picked out yesterday’s outfit: a blue top and flowered skirt, and a pair of blue sandals.

And I feel young again.

Now, I hear many of you say, “I’m not a skirt/dress person.” During the winter I’m not either. But there’s something in a flowy skirt blowing in the breeze that makes me feel fresh. Different. Lighter. As if my cares have fluttered away. Lightweight pants and flowy tops can do the same. Or colorful scarves.

Kinda like church on Sundays back in the old days.

So that will be Lesson Two. Pick out your outfit the night before (when you still have some fun left in you), and don’t be swayed by the grump you can sometimes be. Lighten Up. Take a Chance. If you can’t do the night-before-thing, take an extra three minutes and do it right in the morning. Don’t go searching with the flashlight app. You may pull out blue bottoms and a different blue top.

Think of the horror of mass boredom you might create.

Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter

giphyFor all of you who are tired of making sure your blues are all the same blue and you wear only one pattern at a time:

This morning I complimented a girl on the color combinations of her outfit. She was wearing a purple t-shirt over a pink shell, with a bright green jacket. I didn’t notice her pants, because I’m sure they were the basic black/navy/dark brown. And that’s point number one.

I didn’t notice her pants because they were very basic.

Despite the fact that she was half my age and weight, she carried off the rainbow pretty well. And I told her so. (I like to give out compliments when I can.) That led to my second thought — if I were dressed like that, I’d look like I was heading off to the circus.

Tada dum. An instant putdown to a healthy thought.

Now, the outfit wasn’t offensive in any way. It wasn’t too short, too small, too tight, too sloppy. It was a play on colors I had not seen together. And — I liked it.

Yet I hide in my black-on-black and silver-and-black and pink-and-black. Summer may throw in some whites and greens, but it’s pretty much old lady old. Last year I wrote a blog called Old Lady BoHo (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-uu) where I was going to lighten up my wardrobe and wear flowy skirts and peasant tops and whatever felt good.

And here I am, writing this blog, dressed in black pants and a black-and-white mosaic shirt.

Woo hoo.

And I think — I can’t do this any more.

I know there are plenty of women who are perfectly happy in the monochromes of the world. But deep inside I am not. I think I’m so afraid of “stepping out of the (color) box” because I’m afraid of looking stupid, so I pass on a lot of fun, comfortable, ME things.

I’m not totally helpless yet — I do have tops with promise, and I have bought a few of those cotton dresses from India for summer evenings.  But I sure could use some advice — and a boost of confidence. I’m sure there are other readers out there who could use a boost in the wardrobe department, too. Or who have taken the plunge and never looked back.

I want to be that person.

I know I cant (nor do I want to) dress like I’m 20 or 30. I might have the legs for mini skirts, but my buttocks and stomach aren’t quite as accommodating — or forgiving. But there has to be fun colors and patterns out there I can put together and not look like the a haushalterin. But my color palate is like the image above and right. Always moving, always confusing.

So I am starting a class on Midlife Wardrobe Changes. Not a book/notes/regular attendance kind of thing. Just a blog now and then that gives suggestions on what looks good on a 62-year-old hip, fun granny.

And I sure could use your input.

Lesson One: Closet Cleaning.

Less is More. And less makes room for more. Get a paper bag. Open it. Go to your closet. Pick out three things you haven’t worn in a year. Ask yourself why not. If there is ONE NANO-SECOND of hesitation, put it in the bag.

Pick out three pieces you love to wear. Ask yourself why. If there is ONE NANO-SECOND of adoration, put them back.

Pick out three more pieces that you haven’t worn in quite a while. Ask yourself why not. And this time wait for the answer. Was it a little too tight? A little too short? A little too baggy? Be honest. Then put them in the bag.

It might take you a few weeks to do this, but trust me, you will have a thinner collection. It’s the too small/too tight/too silly looking pieces that make you look stupid, not some peasant blouse or Hawaiian shirt.

The next step is stepping over the conservative barrels your youth set out for you. Catholic schools are at one end of the horror spectrum, big city public schools the other. You either couldn’t afford the newest duds, or weren’t allowed to think about them. We have to shed this heavy coat of conservatism.

But that is Lesson Number Two. Fodder for another day.

In the meantime, if you want to give me some fashion advice, please do. What works for you or what you’re looking for.

I only have 20 or 25 years to get this right. Better start sooner than later.

 

 

Beauty IS Skin Deep — And Don’t You Forget It!

I am a deer hunting widow this weekend, lost between doing nothing and doing six things at a time. Laying in bed, flipping through old blogs (I love those old ones!), I came across this one that made me laugh. So, come have an after-Thanksgiving smile with me, and trip back to June of 2013…..

 

Do You Do That Beauty Do?w

This blog is mainly for my GFs, my BFFs, my Peeps, and my YTBM (yet-to-be-met) gal pals. Yes, it’s another “list” for us women who haven’t enough sense to come out of the proverbial beauty rain. It’s a list to remind us girls over 40 not to look like 80 — unless we are 80 — and then we just don’t need to look our age.

So from Yahoo to you, here are six beauty mistakes that make us look like an antique lamp:

 

Dark Lipstick — Deep shades make any surface look smaller, and that includes lips.    I wonder if I should wear a dark shade all over my body, then …

Too sleek hairstyle — This can make your face look drawn and emphasize every pore, wrinkle, and imperfection. Also, keep in mind that helmet-headed updos can be disasterously aging. Stay away from too-voluminous bouffants.    Seems the flat head is dead. Too bad no one seemed to tell my thinning hair that. And voluminous bouffants — I thought the boof was the dead head of the 50’s ….

Over-concealing dark circles — We want to hide those bags and under eye circles, and sometimes we get carried away. What happens if I’m one BIG bag — not only under the eyes but on the other 99% of my body? Can I over-conceal THAT?

Cakey foundation — Heavy foundation sticks to and emphasizes wrinkles.    Oh, come on now — who would want cakey without ice creamy? That sticks to EVERYTHING ….

Lower lash mascara — This packs a double aging whammy by bringing attention to crows feet and making eyes appear smaller and more tired.    I have lower lashes??!!

Short necklaces — Chokers are a bad move as they bring attention to your neck — an area that begins to show aging early on.    Ever notice that actresses of a certain age end up wearing scarves and choker necklaces and turtlenecks? Choking is bad for you in general. Leave my neck alone. 

Now, just to show you that I am all about beauty, I made up my own six beauty mistakes — and the remedies for them.

Red eye — Cameras are notorious for bringing this malady into the forefront. Ideas to reduce this bloodshot look include eyedrops, sunglasses, getting to bed before 1 a.m., and enlarging the type on your computer.

Upper lip hair — Some of us can’t help we inherited Uncle Stan’s mustache genes. Besides plucking and depilatoring, you can be super chic and drink a lot of milk. After all, look what a milk mustache did for Trisha Yearwood.

Thin lips — Except for Botox, the easiest thing you can do to enlarge your lips to either suck on a straw all day, or walk around and pooch them as if you are in deep thought. You won’t look strange, because everyone knows the older you get the harder it is to think.

Mummy skin elbows — Dry, crinkly skin making you want to hide your elbows? No need to wear long sleeves to the beach. Rub a little RumChada or Malibu Coconut Rum on the rough parts — you’ll smell great and everyone will know what you are drinking.

Flat hair — Flat hair makes you look shorter (I should know). To get that “tall girl” look at any age, turn your head upside down. Hang whatever hair you have towards the floor and spray with hairspray. Without touching a brush or comb, go drive around for about 20 minutes with the car windows open (preferably down a highway or freeway). You won’t believe the height that results! Width too!

Dry, wrinkly skin — Even the best moisturizers can’t keep our skin as smooth as a baby’s. So besides slopping on the goo, you can dip yourself in chocolate (and become a Raisinet), or soak in the pool, hot tub, lake, or bathtub, and plump up like a grape. Better yet, forget the soak — drink the grape. Trust me, you won’t notice one more wrinkle.

To conclude this beauty lesson, never forget: those who refer to our well-worn and well-loved bodies as snake skin, pigeon toes, crow’s feet, cat claws, chicken neck, raccoon eyes, and spider veins, know diddle about animals OR women. Rejoice in the fact that you are here today, proudly representing the animal kingdom in its bare naked finery. Your wrinkles, your skin, are just that – yours.

Wear your jungle with pride.

TunnelVision

xListening to some mellow middle-of-the-road music yesterday, I began feeling a little melancholy.  A little sad. But not for the reasons you — or I — would first think. A few fellow employees have retired these past few days, and I find that I’m saying goodbye, not to those who are moving into the glorious sunset of the future, but to my own last days before into that same glorious sunset.

The retiring of two more “oldies” was an inevitable step towards the future. The changing of the guard, so to speak. Stepping out the door were two more of the microfiche and typewriter world, making room for the tablet and Bluetooth generation.  And while that is the natural order of things, I found my dreams of being someone, something, more, walking out the door with them. And I didn’t like that feeling.

The working world is built for the fast, the curious, the nimble. It moves too fast for those who grew up on record players and black and white TVs. The harder I try and keep up, the further behind I fall. Which is also the nature of things.  But when I looked at the picture poster boards of those who have left, I saw young workers, bright workers, working and laughing and making the working world a better place. Forty years worth of working and laughing and making the working world a better place. And suddenly those 40 years were gone in a heartbeat; a glance backwards to that ever-growing tunnel of used-to-be.

Through their 40 years I see my own timeline. I see flashes of my kids playing soccer, or sitting on Santa’s lap, or singing in the grade school choir. I see my first job as a linofilm typist and my most exciting job working in downtown Chicago and my failed job as a bed and breakfast owner. And as the retirees walk away from the only life they’ve known for 30 or 40 years, I wonder where my own past 30 or 40 years have gone.

In the melancholy of the last few days of their structured work place, I find a lifetime’s worth of struggle and passion disappearing in a puff of smoke, replaced for a moment by a cake with too-sweet frosting and a card signed by well wishers. How can one’s life achievements be reduced to a single goodbye? To a “thanks for the memories” speech?

I want to stand in the middle of the street and scream, “I am so much more!”

Yet looking backwards it seems I never got a chance to prove it. The fog obscures my vision, 20 or 30 or 40 years looking the same as 2 or 4 or 6 months ago. The mistakes I’ve made, the choices I’ve made, may have brought me to this place, but so would other mistakes, other choices. Life is really a game of craps, throwing the dice a symbol of pretending to have a say in anything. We are our DNA; we are our chemical imbalances and out superstar achievements. So we have to work with what we’ve got.

The tears that stung and blurred my eyes were not so much for the old guard passing as they were for my own life passing. Wondering if all there is to life is 40 years and a super sweet cake. Guess I’ll just have to wait until my own super sweet cake comes along to see how I weather the foggy storm of retirement.

Suddenly the music changed. Kick Start My Heart. I cranked it up.  And all I wanted to do was smush that retirement cake into someone’s face.

Damn, I love being me.

 

 

Crone is So Much More Than a Word

cm07cover1aI just finished tooting my horn about my mammo (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-GG) and here I am, tooting my horn again. Directly, not indirectly. But it’s rare I get to toot about my second love (my first being family)…writing.

I have had the honor of being published in a delightful twice-yearly publication entitled, Crone: Women Coming of Age. It is a wonderful publication that that honors our deep wisdom as eldering women. Hand in hand with Humoring the Goddess, Crone celebrates women as they — we — get older, honing in on our experience, our heart, and our spirit.

The article is called, “We Need a New Name for Crone.”  It’s an upbeat piece about choosing our life’s direction, and the balancing of both the past and the future.

Open to women of all spiritual paths, Crone is a richly-illustrated, advertising-free 128-page magazine published twice yearly in both paper and PDF eZine formats and available by subscription only. It is filled with stories from women of all walks of life, all looking for their own path towards the future.

No one describes its purpose better than Crone itself:

“Our magazine exists to spread the message of Crone: that we need not lose value over time, indeed, that when we assume the mantle of crone, we gain value—both inside ourselves and in the larger world. For when we truly learn from experience, our perspective on life deepens and broadens; and our hearts, having known both suffering and forgiveness open in compassion for all of life.”

If you want to see what the world of life and spirit is like on the other side of 50, you will really enjoy a subscription to Crone.

You can find more information at http://www.bbmedia.com or http://www.cronemagazine.com.

Let’s hear it for getting older!

Writing Process Blog Hop

image-of-animated-book-to-useGood Evening Fellow Writers, Bloggers, Gardeners, Graphic Artists, Publicists, Homemakers, Students, and others in the Creative Art Field!

I have been asked to be a part of a fun, innovative way of introducing blogs to other bloggers, It’s called the Writing Process Blog Hop, and it’s a great opportunity to share my world and those of other writers.

I was introduced to this Hop by Carol Balawyder, a multi-talented writer who is in the process of getting her crime novel The Protectors published. She also is contemplating self-publishing her fiction novel The Dating Club, and is the creator of her fun blog under her name, http://www.carolbalawyder.com. I suggest you check out her site and find the gems waiting there.

The “quest” of this quest is to answer four questions about my writing, my books, my blog, and whatever else this branch of the Arts holds for me. So here we go!

 

What am I working on?

My writing time these days is split between writing for my blog, Humoring the Goddess: Managing the Madness and Magic of Middle Age (www.humoringthegoddess.com), and my current novel, Gaia and the Etruscans. I had a change of mind after my first draft to break my full-length novel into chapters, which has turned the art of editing into a pretzeled confusion, but I think it will make the story stronger. Gaia is a fantasy fiction piece about a middle-aged woman whisked to another world to deal with impersonation, romance, murder, and romance, in what I like to call “Ancient Rome on acid.” It’s fun, it’s intricate, and keeps me up way passed my bed time.

 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Both my blog and my novels deal with a middle-aged woman’s point of view. At this stage of our lives, our idea of romance, adventure, and curiosity are much different than they were in our 20s. I want to show that middle-aged (and older) women can be as much fun, as emotional, and as clever as those half their age.

 

Why do I write what I do?

I love writing my blog, because I feel it offers a wonderful blend of practicality and possibility. I believe in living every day to its potential, even if one’s potential is limited to sitting on the sofa and watching TV now and then. I believe one is never too old to be creative, and I want to encourage others to find their Muse and follow it through the creative landscape that’s available to all of us. There is so much magic out there in every day life, and I want to write about all of it.

 

 How does my writing process work?

My novels are inspired by the oddest things. My first two books, Corn and Shadows and Time and Shadows, were inspired by  role playing worlds I hung around in many years ago. Another time I wrote a story about four writers who win a writing contest, and I loved one of the characters so much that I created two novels around her. I have written a couple of short stories that are shadows of my father who has passed on, and poetry based on my love of faeries and magic. My blog is inspired by every day things — things I find hard to understand, things I fall in love with, insecurities and rewards that come and go through my everyday life.  I always know the ending of my story before I start writing, but how I get there is another story

 

 

One of the rewards of this Blog Hop is recommend other friends and their blogs who are on the writing bandwagon like me.  Here are two of my favorites who will be posting next week.

 

cropped-Updated-head-shot-in-chair-e1402426272272Jillian Maas Backman is a writer, intuitive, and radio show host. She is the author of BEYOND THE PEWS: Breaking With Tradition and Letting Go of Religious Lockdown, and  has developed her career around her empathic ability to work with people though the worlds of reality and spirituality. Open minded and energetic, you can find her at http://www.jillianmaasbackman.com.

 

 

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Hugmamma’s Mind, Body and Soul (www.hugmamma.com) is a delightful blog written by a woman who embraces getting older with hugs and humor. Huggy, as I love to call her, writes a blog full of love, hope, and laughter.  Her outlook is reflected by something I picked up from her blog:  “Would like humankind to follow the lead of the Venetians who have built a uniquely vibrant and colorful country with an eclectic mix of people, by connecting hundreds of small islands with bridges.”

Swirling Out

esher_loxodromeIIThis is going to be one of those depressing little ditties older people write when it looks like there is not much sunshine on the horizon. Oh, there is sunshine and flowers and soft breezes, to be sure, but I just don’t see them quite as brightly as before.

This is not an insurmountable-odds sort of thing; not a terminal disease or death of a loved one or a catastrophe of nature. This is a melancholy of a different kind. It’s the kind of thoughts you have when you have fewer years in front of you than behind, and realize that your contributions to society have been minimum (to say the least).

Not that I wanted to be a Congresswoman or a Rock Star. I’m happy with my choices in life. But it often seems that the choices I’ve made in my pretzel-logic sort-of-way have not always been the smartest ones. As much as I’ve always enjoyed my job, I’ve always been a little A.D.D., causing me to get an extra lecture or two along the way. Taking medication for the downs of my life have added more complications, as now I’m sleepy during the day, another lecture or three. I’m working on that, but, as usual, it’s after the damage has been done.

More to the point is what I’m finding as I get older. People’s attitudes, people’s opinions, are slowly becoming…mmm…a little more condescending. Tolerant. Indulging. As if I’m slipping slowly into dementia. Which, as far as I can tell, I’m not.

It starts slowly. Almost imperceptibly. People start questioning you. Telling you what to do. Turning you in the direction they think you are supposed to go. Telling you how you should respond. These people mean no harm — they are truly trying to be helpful.  I don’t think they even realize they are “telling” me more and more what to do. As you get older, you have a tendency to do both…tell people what to do and be told what to do.

I am beginning to realize why older people get grumpy and depressed and frustrated. Every time someone tells you what to do, what not to do, and it’s not what you want to do, you have to make a choice. Either don’t do it and get static, or do it and give up a little piece of yourself. Not hunks and chunks — just chinks. Fighting about who’s right isn’t always the answer. As through my whole life, I’ve had to pick my battles. Sometimes it seems that I could make a battle out of everything. And that’s not the way I want to live my life.

I am not always right.  Far from it. I’ve always been a little left of center, causing trouble where trouble shouldn’t be,  giving up when my career choices soured. I’ve never been Einstein, but I’ve never been a moron, either. Sometimes it takes me a while to “get it.” And I know as I get older, I frustrate those younger, as I don’t make decisions as quickly as I used to. I react with my emotions instead of my brain.

But that doesn’t mean my decisions are wrong.

I’m finding that these days my energy wanes, my writing suffers, and my dreams are popping like bubbles. Again, I’m working on all of that, but lately I’ve wondered if all of it’s worth the effort. For now I have my health, my family, and charm. Shouldn’t that be enough?

When you’re older, there’s not much room to turn around. You have to hold onto your job, your health, as long as you can. So it’s better not to make waves. Better to give in and do what you need to do to move on. I’m not saying everyone over 40 or 50 or 60 needs to roll over. There are many  sharp, successful working people that still have a chance to make a difference. They have dreams, they have potential. They are mentors and creators and holders of the future. They’re not flaky, left-of-center pretzel logic people like me. And I’m not sure I have what it takes to change at this point of the game.

I have to learn to let go.  To not challenge, not cause trouble. What is that saying —

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

As long as God doesn’t pat me on the head I’ll be fine.

Between a Rock and a Pretty Place

This has been one of those weeks that I would rather soon forget. I lost a loved family member, anheadd another lost their job. And so life goes twinkling and spinning on. I suppose things like this have always gone on at one time or another in my life; it’s just that it seems so much more common — and real — now that I’m older. As you get older you get less chances to make amends, to find new jobs, to see the world. It’s not that you’ve been bad or good, if you’ve tithed at church or stolen from the Salvation Army bucket. Life is going to tumble on however it will, and you just have to go along for the ride.

I had hoped not to make this blog the recipient of my shadows and blue thoughts. No one can be happy all the time; no one can be sad all the time, either. So to keep my perspective and keep looking towards the horizon, I do what I love. Write. Or, as in this case, share a couple of pictures I’ve kept from my wanderings on the Net. One of my favorite blogs is lead.learn.live.  http://davidkanigan.com/ The reason I smile at this blog is because often he just posts pictures. Pictures that are sweet or sentimental or mystifying or just plain neat. And that is what I need this eve.  So for your pleasure — and mine — have a peek at the unusual.

Love you guys.

water girl

weird cloth

eggs

drops

Just Call Me Granny

thI always thought I was a good mom. I attended every teacher/parent conference; endured freezing cold, blistering hot, and life-threatening thunderstorms, just to watch a soccer/baseball game; stayed up all hours of the night finishing last-minute (they said) homework projects; and did all other ups and downs a parent is supposed to do.  I adored my kids (still do), and there’s not much I wouldn’t do for them. But I find that is nothing compared to what I wouldn’t do for my grandson.

Is there a difference between being a parent and being a grandparent? Both are concerned for their welfare; both want to teach them right from wrong, A from K,  see them go to college, fall in love and marry (if that’s what they want), and produce many children/great grandchildren. 

Then why does it feel so different the second time around?

I am my kid’s worst nightmare. A granny with an unending source of patience and love and fun ideas. I am willing to go where no parent has gone before.

I laugh because I see my husband and I becoming my in-laws. When my youngest was born, it was a  struggle to let them take him for a night or a weekend. After all, they were crazy! They wanted to take my oldest to Kiddyland when he was barely two. My second was taken when he was not even a year old. They made me crazy!  They wanted my kids all the time — every chance they could. They took them to ranches and the restaurants that did stir fry on a table in front of them, and to Disneyworld and fishing up North. They stayed up late, played games and dug in the garden with their hands and taught them to play pinochle when they both were nine.  Who does that?

I am embarrassed now to admit I took offense at their unbridled desire to spoil my two kids. I was jealous of grandparents and aunties who had more free time and free money than I did. My grandparents died when I was young, so I had no idea what the grandparent “thing” was all about. My husband was very close with his grandparents, and reassured me that my kids would always be my kids.

Now I find myself repeating the actions, emotions, and enthusiasm of my in-laws. My grandson is three years old, and I find myself tripping over my feet to be with him. We learned to splash in puddles, fight with swords, and flip all the light switches in the house. I give him sips of the dreaded “Coca Cola”, slip him M&Ms, and dance in the rain whenever the opportunity shows itself. I want to buy him a whole wardrobe, take him to the zoo, and let him climb all over my dogs. And Disneyworld? If my kids take him they better book a room for granny too!

Being a grandparent is like getting a second lease on life. It is the ultimate in anarchy and love. Our grandkids are our doorway to finding our inner child. We do and say things that we can’t always do and say in the outside world. We keep their secrets, boost their fragile egos, and share tales of faeries, hunting, and family histories.  We show them the magic in the world without having to explain the physics of such.

There is a place for both parents and grandparents in this world. More people should open their arms and embrace both for the future children of the world. What harm is there in spoiling future generations? Our added attention won’t help them find a job or cure their diseases. But perhaps our crazy affection will encourage them to show affection towards others. Maybe our taking them to the park will encourage them to make time for their own kids. Maybe our blind devotion will give them strength to believe in the goodness of others in the world.

It’s a wonderful world we live in. Grandparents – step off the path. Keep it legal, keep it moral, but have fun. Take your grand kids to the movies or to an outdoor concert. Stay up late, dance to rock and roll in the living room, and look for elves in the woods. Teach them how to fish or sing songs Your grandkids will love you for it. And, if you’re lucky enough, they’ll never forget you for it.

I can’t say the same for your kids, though…

Mirror Mirror On the Wall

mirrorThe Goddess needs a Makeover.

Not the blog — the blogger.

Six-0 has really taken a toll on this body. Not that I was knockin’ them dead at five-9…or five-8…or five-7…you get my drift. I’d like to blame my meds, but I think that’s only an inkling of the reason. I suppose I’m not moving around enough, drinking too many glasses of wine, enjoying spaghetti waaaay too much (I had to stop making my own sauce so frequently…I eat it all), too many of my daughter-in-law’s deserts (she is so awesome at those things!), and not enough fruit and fiber.

I need a new photo of myself for a book/magazine that I will be writing a column for (only twice a year, but it’s a great publication: Crone: Women Coming of Age http://cronemagazine.com/). So I need some updatin’. I have a couple of older pics, but upon reflection, they are about 5-7 years ago, and they’re not quite me NOW.  Honest in age, and all.

I’ve asked family to take pictures of me. Ick. I am not photogenic in the least. I’m a lot of fun and magical and goddessy and deep, but I am not photogenic. Recently I discovered “selfies”. (Actually, I never knew what selfies were until someone on FB posted a pic on what cats would look like if they took selfies). So I tried that. Here’s one of me looking off to the side. Here’s one with a smile that looks like I’ve got cramps. This one looks like I’ve got sunburn — or hives.

What is this intense focus on how I look?

I mean, I’ve never been one for the mirror. One of those childhood hangups, I would guess. I must have looked fairly okay all these years, though, for I’ve had a husband for over 32 years that still chases me around. Or rather we ache and pain around. But that’s fodder for another story.

I could go to one of those glamour photo places. They could soft focus me and clean up my Polish complexion and maybe even slenderize my neck. Maybe they could give me a new hairstyle while they’re at it. And either take the shadows out of my glasses or get rid of the puff bags under my eyes.

Maybe I could have my pic taken from far away. But that’s not quite a mug shot, is it.  Maybe I could be peeking through some ferns, or be looking down and reading a book. Or typing on my laptop. But that angle would just enhance my neck rings.

Or maybe I can just get over it. This is not the Miss America Pageant here. This is a publication about the great things getting older offers. Experience, love, insight. Those I definitely have. Then there are the natural rewards.  A mature palate. Check. Old enough to afford Hacker-Pschorr German beer. Check. Old enough to walk/exercise at my own pace. Check. So what does it matter that my aura is a little rounder?

I really can’t lament what I never really had. Just gotta get it overwith. There are more important things in life than looking a little toasty in a selfie.

So…what do you think?

me2

Trippin’ Right Along

2013-08-16 21.17.40
Gaelic Storm, Milwaukee Irishfest

One of the keys to surviving middle age is to balance your complaining with your freedom. People like to read about your older “boomer” adventures, but few have time to listen to a thousand words of whine. As a friend once said, things of a personal nature have a short shelf life, because people quickly confuse your madness with theirs.

I had a great time this past weekend. Went to the zoo with family, went to Irishfest Friday evening, then back to Irishfest all of Saturday with family and friends. The music lightened my soul, and walking and eating and talking with friends and family strengthened my heart.

That’s what people want to hear.

They don’t want to hear about my aching legs and feet, or my Alzheimer’s moment of leaving a tube of ointment in the bathroom stall, or the five dollars I lost by stashing it in a place that jiggles too much. No one wants to know that I took a tumble trying to step over a chain that was a wee bit too high for my short legs, or that the cause of my headaches was more likely from dehydration than stress.

People love to read that I took my grand-baby playing in the Irishfest park and that we walked to the lake and watched the boats and threw rocks in the water. They don’t want to read about the almost-twisted ankle I got because I climbed on rocks I had no business climbing on.

I wonder if I was this muddled 30 years ago? If I was as prone to forgetting and stumbling? Back then I’d get drunk and others thought it was funny and entertaining. If I’d do that now people would think it embarrassing and senile.  I’m sure I dripped food on my chest from the time I was 16; now, if I do it at 60, it looks like I’m feeble. I never was a jogger or a marathon runner, but having to stop and sit now and then makes me look like I’ve lost my get-up-and-go. Did I ever really have it, though? And did it ever matter?

Ah, but I don’t let that fear stop me from living. Neither should you. Once you get passed your bruised ego look at all the good things that come from it. I listened to music I loved; I played with my grand-baby and almost-grand-baby; I got a nice sun tan; I leaned to drink more water, I sang my favorite songs with the band; and walked so much my legs are ready to walk with the girls at break again.

I also learned that nothing is safe when hidden in places that jiggle alot.

Hot Hands and Cold Feet

Hot Flashes and Cold FeetThe combination of hot flashes and cold feet is something most women will deal with in their lifetime.  A parody of opposites, it is nonetheless almost a given for any woman going through pre-, mid- and post-menopause. I never thought I would be the one to throw covers to the wind and beg for a soft breeze to cross my heated body in the middle of winter.  I never thought that tales of hot flashes would relate to me. I was always the one who sat curled in the corner of the sofa under a pile of blankets.  The one who wore granny gowns to bed every night.  And now my husband sleeps under three blankets and a comforter while I’m in a summer nightie with the windows wide open.

I have never been the most energetic of beings. Exercise programs consisted mostly of walking to the mailbox and back, or, on occasion, up and down the stairs to either bathrooms or bedrooms.  But I have managed to keep in decent shape through the years.  My mental state has always been fairly stable, too — no nervous breakdowns, no paranoia.  My kids have turned out fairly normal, my dogs are well behaved (except when they get into the garbage), and my sex life was at least existent.

But now I cry at baby formula commercials and feel terrible when I see a flower crushed on a city sidewalk. I want the windows open all four seasons, and I’ve started cutting romantic love songs out of my musical play list.  I guess that means I’m standing on the fence of menopause. No – let’s tell the truth. I’m waist deep in it. I’ve heard horror stories about women going through “the change”.  They metamorphosed into ogres, witches and over-the-top “B” words.  They never liked anything; they were crabby, vile creatures that turned the world upside down with their declining supply of estrogen. Is that  going to me??

I’ve talked to many a woman who danced through this time of their lives, and I am happy to say there were few — if any — evil transformations of the sort. But that didn’t ease my anxiety much. I get hot flashes first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Suddenly I can’t wear my wedding ring because my hands are swollen and anything without an elastic waist is too tight. I can’t fall asleep at night, and when I do, it never lasts for more than an hour or two at a time.  Spicy food has become inedible and certain rock and roll jams are intolerable.  Could this be the same woman that blew out the speakers with Free Bird?

I am bummed that this phenomenon has hit me full force.  I cannot wear any of my heavy-duty sweaters or eat spicy foods.  My back aches and my hair feels like a cheap wig from Woolworths.  I alternate between dry skin and oily pores. Headaches are a dime a dozen, only one of many body parts that ache and moan and whine away the hours. Is this the payback for a healthy libido?  Is this what I get for surviving my youth?

Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy being a girl.  I love playing dress up and going shopping and watching old black and white movies.  I love to bake pineapple upside down cake and getting a manicure and painting the bathroom pink.  But I don’t know how much longer I can sleep on top of the covers or drive with the windows open in December.  I don’t know how much longer I can deal with anxiety attacks over the dishes in the sink or cry over dog food commercials or go without listening to It’s a Wonderful World by the Great Louie.  My emotions are dancing on pins and needles, as well as my food cravings. (What do you want for dinner?  Chinese — no, hot dogs — no, oatmeal  — no, bananas!)

I never thought I’d be such a mess.  And I never thought I would look forward to being on the other side of the virgin/mother/crone fence.  While I admit I am not taking this aging thing gracefully, it will be a welcome day when my rings fit again and I can wear hoodies without fear of passing out from overheating.   While I enjoy the idealistic renditions of middle age, I find it hard to reconnoiter them with reality.  Since I cannot take a break or vacation every time my biological clock skips a beat, I will have to be content with sitting in front of a fan and keeping a stash of fudge in the back of the frig.  This, too, shall pass, as the scholars say.

I just hope it doesn’t take too long.  I really miss my hoodies ― and I’m running out of fudge.

Me and Motley Ain’t Old

tThere has been a lot of angst going around the blog world lately. Problems, thoughts, ponderings.  It seems to be hitting the 50+ group, although I’ve read quite a few -50 uncertainties as well.  It is like we all are jugging the self-esteem balls, and we keep dropping one or two on our foot. The foot doesn’t break, but it sure as hell hurts.

I myself was going to write a blog about feeling like I’ve really aged in the past year. You know those movie stars and rock stars that come out of mothballs for one reason or another, and you find yourself saying, “Man, have they aged!”  You know — the ones you loved in your teens or 20’s or 30’s.  You cut them no slack for having lived — whether it be through raising a family or doing drugs or surviving tragedies. You want to see them fresh and perky and full of energy. Not wrinkled or bloated. For that reminds us of … us.

I find that at 60 I’m caught between making excuses and living them. The wrinkles and extra pounds and the inability to fall asleep at night and achy legs and feet are from meds, stress, drinking caffeine, sitting at a desk all day, walking the dog, and a hundred other things.  It can’t be that I’m getting old. I mean, Keith Richards looks old. Chevy Chase looks old. Surely ~I~ can’t be looking old like that.

Can I?

This goes beyond our sound reasoning, beyond the I-loved-raising-my-family and the I’ve-been-through-a-lot-of-stuff stuff. It’s the accumulation of all those years of self criticism and/or questionable choices that’s winds up as lines on our faces and girth around our middles. It’s all those rock-and-roll concerts, college parties, and lonely nights.  It’s the sleepless nights staying up with children, hard physical jobs, and watching all those soccer games in the rain.  All these things play with our skin, our circulatory system, our psyche. A day at a time, a week at a time. Until one day you wake up and you say, “Damn!” We eat right, we exercise when we can, and worship in our own way. We are kind to animals and love our kids and take up a cause like walking for cancer or volunteer at the library and do breathing exercises to relax. And still the legs ache at night, the circles under our eyes remain, and our hair still turns gray.

The good thing is that we can always steer ourselves in a positive direction. We can become pro-active, getting active in projects and people that keep us too busy to be counting years. We can try and make a difference in the world, or at least in someone’s life. And we DO that.

But still, there are tinges of regret in the eyes of the woman who looks back at me in the mirror. To be honest, there will always be a tiny flicker of sadness that I will never be as beautiful as Angelina or as smart as Einstein or as creative as Giada.  And now and then there will be a faint whisper of shoulda, coulda, woulda. Looking backwards is a natural action; regret (in some form) a natural reaction. I don’t like the idea that the road is longer behind me than in front of me. Nor do I care for the fact that there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

But then I turn on the stereo or put my ear buds in and listen to my IPod, and my youth comes rushing back to me. And I realize it’s never been gone. And will never leave me.

Come on — I know you’ve got it in you. Put on your favorite music — country song, disco song, hairband song. Turn it on and TURN IT UP. You’ll see you’re not an age — you’re a legend.

When we started this band

All we needed, needed was a laugh

Years gone by

I’d say we kicked some ass

When I’m enraged

Or hittin’ the stage

Adrenalin rushing

Through my veins

And I’d say

We’re still kickin’ ass

Kick Start my Heart, Motley Crue

Grrrrr Woof!! I’m Baaaaaacckkkkk!!!!

big-nose-dogChange is a wonderful thing. You and your friends and the lady down the block and the crazy driver behind you are ever evolving…even if the moron behind you is up your bumper and the lady down the block recycles dog hair for her art projects. It’s just one of those “getting older” things. And whether you are concerned about turning 30 or turning 60, the shadows of change forever dog your steps.

I had taken a “hiatus”, if you will, from blogging. Too many other things to do; too many blogs to read, too many 7:30 to 4:00 work days ,too much housecleaning, too many buzzy bee activities to be involved in anything personal. Reading? I tried Fifty Shades of Grey, but I lost interest in about Shade Six. TV shows? I am still trying to catch up with the finale of House. Dealing with employment issues, dog and cat issues, hot flash issues, all took a bit of zip out life of my daily 24 hours in the past months.

But I really missed blogging. And I figured – if I’m going to angst about getting older, why not get back in the get in the groove and angst with others my age? With others of any age? I found that teeth gnashing and deep, dramatic, sad sighs about getting “older” were not limited to my own private sphere. One girl at work was struck with the painful reality that she was now 40, and even my 30-year-old son is having flashbacks to carefree days in high school. Life is rushing by for a family member that just turned 70, and I can barely think about my own turning 60.

No one is immune to the effects of aging. Whether it’s crows feet (I’ve seen some in women as young as 35), the groaning ache of getting up out of a chair, indigestion from something as simple as mushrooms, or hitting the mute button on the TV because the noise has finally become too hard on your ears, age creeps up on us whether we want it or not. Our ability to handle the madness of middle age becomes just another brick in the preverbal wall, if you get my drift. So why not handle it together?

Come back and play with me ‘n the Goddess!! Let’s celebrate with the Goddess the fact that we are at least coherent enough to feel the aches and heartburn and dizzying pace of the world around us.Whether you’re in your 20s or in your 60s, tell me your funny “getting old’ stories, your “senior” moments, your attempts to regain your rock-and-roll youth. You’ll find your concerns aren’t nearly as bad as you thought…that getting older (and, if we’re lucky,  wiser) isn’t half bad when you see that everyone else around you is getting older too.

As one famous terminator once said, “I’m baaaaaackkk!”

What Is True Success?

So many things make us happy; so many things make us sad. So many times we wished we  had turned left instead of right; so many times we are soooo glad we did turn right instead of left. Sometimes I get really sad that I’m soon going to turn 60 — where has my life gone? Other times I look back and am sorry my mother never made 54. I’m sad that I had breast cancer; other times I’m so glad they found it when they did.

Life is packed with highs and lows, yellow and blacks, snow and scorching heat. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about. For us, for our grandparents, for George Washington and Kublai Khan and St. Joseph. I’m sure they all had a hundred things they wanted to do at one time, too.  Just like us. We all want to be appreciated for what we’ve done. What we’ve become. We all would like to think that our time here on Earth has been for the Greater Good.

This is not a confessional blog; this isn’t a tell-all or a bad news bomb.  I’m sitting on my sofa this cold Sunday afternoon, looking at the bare treetops in my front yard. Of course, you know me — I’m also watching football, eating lunch, doing laundry, getting ready to write some in  my latest novel, wondering what I’m gonna wear to work tomorrow. I’m also thinking about the fun I had with my grandbaby this weekend, thinking of taking some drugs for my achy legs, and feeling guilty I haven’t played fetchie with my dog today.

That’s really what this blog is about. Sometimes I feel I should be pushing this blog harder, trying to share the Word with more readers. Other times I think I’ve run this horse to the finish line, and should start a new creative venture.  Yet more often I think  I’ve let my writing simmer on the back burner for so long it’s started to dry up and stick to the pan.

How do you know if you’ve succeeded at what you tried to do? What is the measure of success? Big paychecks often are an indicator;  good health, always. Waking up every morning is a success all on its own. Family? Kids? Making the perfect apple pie? All of the above are successes if never done it before. Success has always been measured from the heart first, from the masses second. And often it takes on a meaning more cosmic than one thinks. I think I make the best spaghetti sauce this side of the Mississippi. If you don’t agree, does that mean it’s not good? Of course not. All it means is that I can eat it all myself.

Writing is the same thing for me. What is being a successful writer? Have I ever been published? A short  story here or there in the past 10 years. Have I won awards for my creativity? No. Have I ever I gotten a call or email from a publisher? No. Do I think I’m a successful writer? Yes. Definitely.  I’ve had people say positive things about my stories; I’ve brought smiles and tears to readers.  I’ve written 4 novels, 1 novella, 32 short stories, 42 poems, 84 blogs, and 3 novels in-progress. I think that’s being successful. Why? Because Ive continued to do what I love, no matter what the  result. I’ve had fun making friends, creating worlds, and trying things that make me uncomfortable. I encouraged people to believe in themselves, given life to middle-age heroines, and never killed off  the main character.

There are still so many paths to follow, worlds to explore. And that’s only after I play with my grandbaby, fetch my dogs, pet my cats, cuddle my husband, go to work 40 hours a week, clean my house, grocery shop, get together with family and/or friends, and dozens of other responsibilities. Life has only so many hours, and I’m still struggling on squeezing a few more out of every week.

So what this all boils down to is that I’ve driven the Humoring the Goddess train long enough. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to believe in yourself, have fun with your life, and laugh as much as you can. There are so many things you can’t change, so why not toss your hands up and laugh and move on? You’ll know the things you CAN change..that little voice in your heart/head/soul is always there to remind you. Your job is to listen.

I have enjoyed entertaining you all these years more than you know. I have learned so much from you. I might try another blog, or finish one of my novels, or sit and spew poetry until I feel nauseated. I’m sure I’ll be back and visit sometime. If I start something new I’ll post it. I will look foward to hearing from you and YOUR projects. You will always find me at my email world…  humoring_the_goddess@yahoo.com.

There is always a path ahead of you. Always. It’s up to you which one you take, or how often you turn left or right. In the end, none of that matters — the only thing that matters is that you keep walking.

Keep Humoring the Goddess…and Loving your Life…

Claudia Anderson

Grow Up!

Most of the time children are great. Us “adults” try to raise them to be respectful, smart, and somewhat worldly. We teach them limits both to protect them and to give them a target to aim for as they go through life. Along with all the love they can handle, we do our best to bring them up as loving, tolerant human beings.

 Tolerant, you reiterate?

 Yes – tolerant. Not just patience and composure about the world around them, but for US. For when their parents become grandparents. For it is amazing how many rules and limits go right out of our heads when it comes to our grandkids.

 I can remember when my kids (now 28 and 22) were little. Grandma and Grandpa (and even Auntie Sandy) were relentless in their quest to “take the kids off our hands for a while.” The first time around I was hesitant to let my precious boy go – after all, wasn’t I the one who was the center of his world? By the time the second one came around I was more of the “Hey…want the kids?” sort of mom.

 I always thought my in-laws out of control. They took my kids to Kiddyland (starting at 1-1/2), bought them TVs for their room (waited until they were two), and fought to take them everywhere.  Grandpa taught my kids how to fish at two and how to play pinochle at 8. They spent the hours throwing “trickster” into the fan (their nickname for my youngest, although the trickster in question was a sock monkey).  They stayed up too late and were always off on an adventure somewhere. I swore that when I was a grandmother that I would act more civilized.

 Ha.

 My only grandson has two sets of grandparents ready, willing and able to take him places and teach him things. Not just your normal things like their numbers or their colors; we are ready to show him what “real” life is all about. I taught him to splash in puddles and take a finger of frosting and draw a line down someone’s cheek. Grandpa has already taken him fishing and we are set to do an Irish Jig at IrishFest this weekend. We throw stones in water and run around in the rain and eat drippy, sticky things.

What happens to us when we get a second chance to be a kid?  We are automatically careful not to injure anyone: watching for traffic as we cross the street or not eating plastic or not jumping out of windows are as automatic to us as itching a mosquito bite.  But what’s wrong with taking off our shoes and walking through the grass or a mud puddle? What’s wrong with playing catch with the dog with an apple or letting popsicles drool down our chin? 

I have noticed that there is a kid inside every one of us wanting to escape. Renaissance faires are prime examples of this. They bring out the strangest costumes, not because the people have a “thing” for Henry the VII gear, but because they get a chance to dress up. I’ve seen pirates, belly dancers, vampires, minstrels, space men – you name it – walking the aisles of turkey legs and amulets. Why do you think they do it? Because it’s FUN. It’s nonsense. It’s the one time they can do something out-of-the-box and get away with it.

 Same is true with grandparents. I insisted my kids get to bed at a normal time or ate regular dinner food or stayed out of the rain and snow.  Now I can’t wait to make a snowman with my two-year-old GBaby. I can’t wait to look for bugs (ohhh ick) so that he can look at them under a magnifier. I can’t wait to stay up till midnight watching stupid corny movies and have an ice cream sundae for breakfast. 

 Vitamins and the alphabet and school and keeping clean is their parents’ job. I’ve paid my dues. My tactics, my tolerance, allowed my kids to grow up happy, healthy, and a lot of fun to be with. They roll their eyes as we poke our fingers into the newly-frosted cake; they shake their heads when I let him pull everything out of my purse and drop it on the floor. They dutifully don’t allow him to drink soda, but don’t make a deal out of it if grandma sneaks him a sip or two.

 There is nothing better than acting young. It’s too bad a lot of us have to have a grandbaby (or three) to have an excuse to let loose. And it’s too bad we don’t see that there’s nothing wrong with acting like a kid now and then.  Perhaps the world would be a happier, more content place if more adults dug holes in the sand and buried a stone or rolled down a grass hill or put our toes in the cold lake water.

 And you don’t have to necessarily be a grandparent – how about being an “Auntie Sandy”? Or a crazy, fun “Uncle Bill”?  Anyone can jump into the foray. Paint your and your granddaughter’s/niece’s  toenails blue or yellow. Buy matching hats and go out for tea (thank you Jane!). You and the little guy play in the worm bucket. Both of you butter your toast with a spoon. Go for a walk through the woods (or a park) and look for fairies or gnomes.

 What would it hurt? Your grandkids will see a side of you that other’s often hide.  They will see that you are human — that you are alive and fun to be with.

 Now, if you all will excuse me, I have green foil shamrocks to sugar glue onto our cheeks before we go dance the jig at IrishFest.

Anniversary

Marriage: (1) the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife. That’s from the Oxford Dictionary.  The Cambridge Dictionary says almost the same thing: a legally accepted relationship between a woman and a man in which they live as husband and wife, or the official ceremony which results in this. Okay. I get this.  Regardless of the (2)’s and (3)’s after the (1), marriage is just about the same in all dictionaries, all books, a universal given that enables a couple to stick like glue to each other until death (or other circumstances) do they part. 

As most of you know, there are many a road bump that presents themselves between the innocence of “I Do” and “I Did.”  Some my friends never made it past bump one or bump fifteen.  Some have slid over the bumps like snowboards over the mounds. Marriage means different things to different people. We all make the same mistakes: it’s just that some of us marry them, others of us merely date them.

I am just coming down from another one of our famous family parties ― this one a barbeque celebrating 30 years of wedded bliss between my husband and myself. Actually we celebrated this momentous occasion last January, but hey ― who wants to barbeque hot dogs and brats in two feet of snow?  Now that the beer has been drunk and snacks devoured and brats scarfed, I sit in my living room the next day, and it hits me. Thirty years. When I got married Ronald Reagan was president, Sharkey’s Machine was #1 in the box office, and John Belushi died of an overdose. The prince of England that recently got married (William) had just been born, and gas was 91 cents a gallon.  I could go on and on about the changes in the world, the economy, and the scientific community in the last 30 years, but the point of all this purging of dates and ages and discoveries has nothing to do with the evolution of the world. It has to do with the evolution of me.  It’s more a story about putting up with the same human being longer than it takes to get to Jupiter and back.

So many things have happened in these thirty years. Just stop for a moment and try and remember what you were doing your-age-minus-thirty years ago. I can barely remember what I did last week, yet those days of living in apartments and going on field trips and school plays are as fresh as a month ago. Yet in all those years I managed to produce two great kids (who have produced one great grandbaby), beat cancer, say final goodbyes to parents and in-laws, survive a multitude of jobs and houses and financial states, and still say “I Love You” to the man lying beside me at night. Is that a blessing or just luck?

As I get older I realize it all bubbles up from the same pot. Life and Luck and Love all start with the same letter as Loss and Limits and Lousy.  I used to believe the world was a wonderful grey alphabet of choices that existed just for my perusal.  Now I know that, in the long run, choices are forever either one way or the other. There is no “kinda” yes or “maybe” no. You either do or do not. You either are in love or you’re not. You either have chemistry or you do not. Waiting around for emotions and magic to “grow” doesn’t happen. You either want to rip each other’s clothes off or you are turned off by the thought. You either want to cuddle or you do not. You either are willing to drop your expectations of “perfection” or you will search until you find it.

I’m sure I have not been the prize of the century for my married half. Hubby is a logical, practical, bullet-pointed hunter who works with the world just as it is. I am a dreamy, ditzy, pretzel logic kinda girl who mingles astronomy with astrology and astral travels when convenient. I am over-emotional, over-reactive, and too introspective for my own good, and keep an eye open for dragons as well as airplanes in the sky. But there must be enough here for him to want to stick around all these years.  We have come toe-to-toe with financial disaster, taken giant leaps of faith, and guided family members through the hardest days of their lives. We have also stood side by side at soccer games, baseball games, graduations, funerals, weddings, DUI’s and masters degrees. We have built decks and fixed cars by ourselves, travelled to Disney World and Las Vegas, and gone camping and skiing with all sorts of families. We have been dreamers, financial analysts, psychologists and best friends. We have been parents, children, babies and spoiled brats. We have been blossoming flowers and nasty weeds. We have said “yes” more than we have said “no,” and still do a great hippy hippy shake to “Kickstart My Heart.”

These thirty years have been the best years of my life. They’ve actually been the only years of my life.  No road is smooth, and every one we wander down is full of turns and choices. That’s what life’s all about anyway, isn’t it? In the end, your choice doesn’t matter. Just what you do with it. And I’ve been lucky enough to have made this one with my best friend.

Happy anniversary, you old dog.

Looking for the ~Pay Off~

              Sometimes I wonder where I am going with the new “freedom” in my life.  My children are finally on their own, leaving my husband and I to play together and apart, depending upon our moods and which hunting season it is.  I am pulling away from the necessity of being a “perfect” employee and actually entertain dreams of traveling through Ireland or England or at least the Smithsonian. Even though our bills are out of this rarified atmosphere, I still manage to believe that by watching TV in the dark and not turning on the air until it’s 90, I will be able to squeeze enough blood out of the turnip and put it in my savings account for a rainy day.

            I realize that the peak that I stand upon is a precarious one indeed.  Any gust of wind, any fluctuation in temperature, might turn the entire direction of my future upside down, reassuring me of a world of mountainous debt, not to mention being the oldest catalog coordinator in history.  How do those of us caught between Woodstock and Country Thunder survive?  How do we find our way through the maze of downsizing, upgrading and specialization that seems to run rampant through our lives?

            The reality of the “haves” and “have not’s” are no more marked than when I drive through downtown Chicago on my way to football games.  Living in the quiet countryside of rural Wisconsin, it’s easy to forget that there’s a dynamic, yet alternate, reality that is shared by thousands of people making millions of dollars a year or more.  Surrounded by corn and soybean farmers, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole other species that thrive in high rise condos facing the lake and drive Porches and BMWs and take a jet to work each day.  When I drive through the thriving metropolis of the nation’s second largest city, I can’t help but notice the plethora of new structures reaching toward the heavens.  If there is a recession, the area surrounding Soldier’s Field hasn’t felt it yet.  Nor have most prime property locations in any large city.  What do these people do for a living?  What do they do in their nine-to-five lives that enable them to buy designer clothes and eat at Alinea (the most expensive restaurant in Chicago) once a month?  What could they possibly do in eight hours that I can’t do?

            All right all right. First off, they are a lot smarter than the average Joe-lene…or Joe, if you prefer. Private tutors, Ivy League schools, 4.99 GPAs — who knows what extra genes float around in their DNA. Outside their intelligent, futuristic mindset, their choices were different than mine. Their callings more focused. Precise. Obsessive. Sometimes money breeds money; other times poverty does. Hence the buildup of Metropolis. But sometimes I fear this gap between “them” and “me” will burst the few bubbles I have left floating around in my head.  After all, isn’t the preverbal rainbow just around the corner?  Isn’t that pot of gold just waiting for me to discover it? I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in one of those condos on the 56th floor of a building that faced blue water 24/7?

            I want to find a purpose in all my crummy luck. I’d like to think that there will be money left in social security for me and my friends. That I will be able to afford healthcare when I’m 75.  That there will BE healthcare when I’m 75. Economics has never been one of my strengths; I have never been able to understand the Dow Jones or the trading of futures and options on exchanges. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to change my stance in life.  I want my “golden years” to have more of a twinkle of gold than the smudge of soot.  I know that the choices I made in life were the right ones for me. I know that making a little less money through the years is nothing compared to the love and devotion I get from my children and husband and our two stupid dogs.

            But there are times I wonder if I could have tweaked the decisions I made.  That I could have, should have, stayed in the same job a little longer, spent a little less on groceries, or my last trip to Las Vegas.I don’t really regret the money that has drifted through my hands through the years. I’m not sorry having popped for the Renaissance Faire or paid for gasoline that was spent on driving to and from soccer games.

          What I do wonder is how all of this baggage will affect my newfound “freedom” as a woman of the millennium.  How buying clothes for my son from American Eagle balances the wardrobe of a woman going through her mid-life crisis — again.  How I can wear the same plaid booties I saw some young, fresh college thing wearing and not look stupid?

            I naively am waiting for the big pay off.  The jackpot. The book sale that will propel me into the world of Rowling and King.  The winning lottery ticket that will pay off my debt and leave me a little extra for that trip to Ireland.  Until then, though, I will keep working and paying my bills.  After all, my kid reminds me that it will be he who chooses my nursing home.

            I’d better behave.

Even Plato Rock and Rolls

Plato once said, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and gaiety to life and everything.”  Indeed. Those you who have found nirvana (no, not the band) through music, no matter what genre, will get the gist of the following story.

I consider myself an adult. Somewhere between 40 and 80, mother of two, full-time employee, loving wife, devoted mother, and average housekeeper. Mature enough to deal with menopause, bounced checks, bosses, brother-in-laws, burned food on the grill and late night (no night) kids. Yet now and then this immaturity creeps up on me.

 ‘Cuz I’m as free as a bird, now — and this bird you cannot chain —

Is there ever a ceiling to age? Is there ever an end to being young? Is there ever a reason to give up the magic of who we were — and who we still are?

If I stay here with you, now — things just couldn’t be the same — ‘Cuz I’m as free as a bird now — how bout you? — and this bird you’ll never chain —

It started one Saturday evening. The college kid was out for the night, the married son busy with his lovely wife and lovely baby, the house was fairly clean, the garbage taken out. Thunderstorms started to move in, threatening my evening of television. A movie, then. After ten minutes I was bored and antsy. Something was brewing. I just knew it.

“Let’s listen to some music,” I said to my husband, my foot bouncing with nervous energy.

“Like what?” he asked, picking up on the electricity in the tone of my voice.

“Well…how about a little Lynyrd Skynyrd?”

For those of you living on another planet, Lynyrd Skynyrd was a great country-rock band from the 70’s. So I innocently picked a song. Sweet Home Alabama. Suddenly all madness broke loose. My husband and I became…possessed. That’s the only way I can describe it. Sweet Home Alabama lead to the famous Free Bird.

Won’t you fly … freeeee bird…           

We cranked up the stereo.

dede WA WA wonnca wonnca … WA WA wonnca wonnca …WA WA wonnca wonnca … wonnca wonnca … wonnca wonnca ….

Suddenly there were no middle-aged people lying around watching TV — there was only this young guy with long, full, bushy hair and a wild-looking woman with dark curls and big glasses dancing around the room, playing an air guitar or, worse yet, an air keyboard.

Daaaa du da-du-dada, Daaaa du da-du-dada, Daaaa du da-du-dada, Daaaa du da-du-dada …

We cranked it up, our eyes closed until the end of the song. Before we knew it, listening to music became a contest. Taking Care of Business. Flirtin’ With Disaster. Whole Lotta Rosie. Dancing in front of the speakers, shaking our booties in over-sized t-shirts and shorts. My husband ran to get the next song. Dream On. A slow song. I grabbed him and we slow danced in the middle of the living room floor. Slow with a rocky beat. Soon enough the song was over. Enough mellowness.  I put on Walk this Way, and we sashayed across the floor, strutting like young dudes and dudettes. Another rock song followed, then another. My turn! I laughed and ran and picked out Fool for the City. My husband followed with Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting. Oh oh oh! My turn! Oh no! The song I wanted was not on that CD! Drats! I ran around, picking another rocking tune. The speakers were so loud they made the amplifier shut down. We had to shut it off and turn it on again. Couldn’t miss any of this song!

My husband put on a slow, country-rockish tune. Highway Song. I pulled him to the middle of the living room floor and we started to slow dance again. Suddenly the song picked up tempo, another moment lost in a guitar riff. We danced faster, laughing, hugging, trying to keep up with the increased tempo.

The phone rang — our oldest. Great. Hi, howya doing…how’s grandbaby..oh? …yeah…yeah…gotta go…see ya tomorrow… and we ran back to the stereo. We needed more rock and roll! We moved forward in the time warp we had created. A bit of heavy metal, Metallica, vibrated the plant atop the speaker. By the second song my head was beginning to throb. Perhaps we moved too far forward. We found another beboppy tune, Kryptonite

If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman …

The two of us, married over 30 years, sat on the sofa, bellowing out the lyrics of this song as if we were both on stage. The dogs came out to see what the loud voices were all about, then, deciding we were harmless, went back downstairs.

As our energy slowly ebbed, our choices changed. The ache in his elbow returned, my sinus headache from the rain outside demanded aspirin. We pulled out a few more mellow oldies, letting the clock tick away both forwards and backwards.

Our hearts are in the music; our lives entwined with hair bands and bald bands and country rock bands and everything in-between. We have grown up on music, have cherished it like an old friend and have never let it stray far from our world. Music has set us on fire and soothed our souls. It has brought back memories, tears and laughter; it has set the stage, not only for what has been, but for what will be.

Bob Seeger ended our time traveling for the evening. Turn the Page.

Here I go … on the road again … Here I am … turn the page….

My husband pulled me up for one last slow dance. We were 20 again, 20 going on 40 going on 60 going on 20. There is no such thing as age, only a state of mind. We “turn the page” in our lives every night we go to sleep, every morning we wake. We hummed the last few stanzas of the song, knowing our own pages were turning way too fast. I told myself I would make the most of every moment, every song, every slow dance. Every wa wa wonnca wonnca. I would turn up the volume of my life and dance with the gifts I have been given. One day my kids will understand — one day when their own pages start to turn.

Until then, it is our stereo … our rock and roll … and my turn….

 

 

 

 

Finding the Divine Feminine

As I sit and flip through my latest stack of chick magazines, I find myself wandering through the world of today’s woman and the concept of “divine feminine”.  I wonder what that means — not only the “divine” part, but the feminine as well.  I can see the divine in books and magazines, but where do I fit in?   Where does the world of flowing gossamer and satin and lace meet spandex and terrycloth?

            One of my favorite magazines caters to the “over 40” generation of women who want to believe they are still a viable, strong contribution to society.  I can identify with that feeling.  I want to believe I’ve not outlived my usefulness now that my children are out of college and beyond, that the job market is more considerate of middle-aged women — that there is more to life than a nine-to-five job and frozen pizzas for dinner.  There are many women tripping over the big 4-0 mark and the even higher 5-0 mark, trying to make a difference in the world.  I read about glamorous movie stars, corporate women, restaurant owners, writers, doctors, and others doing things they only once dreamed of.  Antiquing through Europe, opening their own restaurant or bakery, rehabbing rundown parts of cities — all of them doing things that are somehow bigger than life.  Closing the magazine, I wonder — where do I fit into all of this?  Where does my revolution, my evolution, fit in?

             In this age of airbrushed images and designer wardrobes, I often wonder where a Renaissance woman such as me belongs.  Where are the articles that coddle mid-life, mid-waisted women?    Where are the look-good, feel-good articles that cater to billing clerks or waitresses or shipping and receiving workers? Where are the dress-ups and weekend activities that address basketball and football moms and women who take kindergarteners on field trips and others who milk cows every day?  Is it possible to be feminine and divine in a world without dress sizes?  Is it possible to wear sweatshirts and uniforms and still sparkle in the divine feminine? 

            Sometimes it seems that the more liberated I feel, the more confused I become.  In some ways that’s good, for it helps strengthen the connections between the synapses in my brain.  Eternal confusion is eternal fodder for mental longevity.  I love being female. I love the world offered to our species alone.  Femininity comes from within; it is a state of being that comes from our very souls, our very thoughts.  It is a pride in our sex, in our ability to feel and react in our enhanced sort of way.

            But what about the next step?  What is “divine feminine”?  How are we supposed to find the “divine” in our green computer screens or packing boxes on an assembly line?  Is it possible to be divine and feminine and not be on the pages of the latest trendy magazine?  To find valued even if we are not on the board of directors of some giant corporation or running a four star restaurant? 

            Inspiration comes in many forms, but it begins with a wisp of an idea, a flutter of a heartbeat that beats to a slightly different rhythm.  There is a seasoning that comes with the over-40 crowd, the wonderful reaping of the harvest that has been fertilized and nurtured and growing inside of us for the last 30 to 40 years.  It is fueled by heartbreak and ecstasy, by hard work and curiosity.  Divine is not dictated by the color of your skin or how big your paycheck is.  Divine feminine is also enhanced by menopause:  pre-, actual, and post-.  There is something to be said about the shuffling of hormones as they start to decrease in a woman’s body.  So many physical and mental changes trickle through our being, some real, some imagined, that we can’t help but redefine our feminism.  We applaud the fact that we can no longer get pregnant, but mourn the fact that we can’t get pregnant.  Our emotions run the gamut from high and energetic to scraping along the bottom.  We have best friends, we have no friends.  We love being alone, we fear being alone.  Is this what the divine feminine is all about?

            It is this and so much more.  It is the beauty of being female, the freedom of experiencing our emotions up close and personal like no man could (sorry guys…but take it into consideration with your own divine feminine female).   It’s the adventure of finding the self, the creativity that lies just below the surface, playing with the child who’s always been there.  We cry, we laugh; we take estrogen if we need it and vitamins even if we don’t.  We wear the jewelry our mother’s used to wear or make our own. We become mentors and advisers just because we’re here, and we walk in marathons instead of run.  We realize that a job is merely a means to an end, an end that is just a beginning. 

            The divine feminine is who we’ve always been.  She is a goddess, she is a nymph.  She is a crabby middle-aged woman and a playful school girl.   She loves men and is tired of men.  She sparkles in gym shoes and brightly patterned shirts and well-worn flannels.  It doesn’t matter what she loves, as long as she loves.  As long as she feels feminine — as long as she embraces what she is.

            And the “divine” part?  Used as an adjective, divine means “of such surpassing excellence as to suggest divine (god/goddess/God) inspiration.”  Combined with the powerful feminine (a gender that refers chiefly, but not exclusively, to females or to objects classified as female), that makes for one kickin’, sparklin’, inspirational being, doesn’t it?

            If that’s what it’s all about, count me in.

©2012 Claudia Anderson

Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are…

I am lost. Utterly, depressingly, spastically lost. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. I find myself retracing my steps, my thoughts, my habits over the past 3-4 days. And yet I am helplessly clueless. I can’t blog, I can’t enter contests — I feel like I’m constantly grasping at the great void.

I’ve lost my flash disk.

Now, for the population in general, that’s not a traumatic thing. After all, unless there’s porn or the secret to immortality on the disk (which there isn’t), everything that’s on it is someplace else as well. Say, on my laptop. Or backed up on my portable hard drive. No problemo. But of course, you already know it goes deeper than that. 

Practically everything that’s on my computer is on my flash disk: short stories, resumes, novels, photography, research. I suppose you could pick it up and learn all about me from the nonsense I save. And it’s not so much I’m concerned that someone will read my “inner thoughts” and “financial fiascos.”  It’s kinda like going for my yearly girly check up — seen one, seem them all. At this point in my life, nothing to get embarassed about. Yes, there are private things saved in files such as “girly things” and “Art’s House.” But nothing that would wind up on Entertainment Tonight.

No, the bigger, cosmic ramification from this game of hide-and-seek is that I’ve MISPLACED MY FLASH DRIVE.  That I didn’t put it BACK IN MY PURSE where it always goes. That I got distracted — again — ran off and climbed the Eiffel Tower or went running with the bulls in Spain and forgot to PUT IT AWAY.  That I’m senile, forgetful, and just this side of dementia.  I have retraced all steps that I can remember; dug around and into the sofa, my purse, my carry bag, my pockets, three tables, two dressers, the dog toy box, and even the dreaded junk drawer.  I’ve dug around in my drawers at work and under the seats of my two beater cars. And it’s not there. Nowhere. Nada.

How could I be so careless with something so important?  That means I can’t download something on the run…I can’t type a ditty at lunch time and bring it home to work on in the evening. I can’t bring great pictures to work to use as screen savers, and can’t find the family recipes my daughter-in-law’s dad let me download from his computer. I can’t stop at the library and do a little research, nor can I share some of my great music with my pals at work.  I can’t do any of the creative airy fairy things I’m used to doing because I’ve MISPLACED MY FLASH DRIVE.

What does that say about my state of mind? Am I in such a hurry to get to tomorrow that I forget to enjoy today? What’s next? Leaving for work late, forgetting to turn off the stove that made my grilled cheese breakfast sandwich? Filling a grocery cart full of groceries, just to get to the checkout and realize I’ve left my checkbook on the kitchen table? Going to the dentist’s office when really I’ve got an appointment at the eye doctor?  I feel like the girl who cried wolf.  Not me, I boast. I’ll never lose my flash disk. It’s always in one of two or three places. Tops. I’m always telling my husband, “Stop treating me like a kid! Quit ragging me!”  And yet here I am, ragging myself. Another notch in the “dummy” belt. Another slip on the ice.

All this berating just for a little thing that probably ended up as a cat toy somewhere, lying with saintly patience for me to stumble across it. It has unfinished stories waiting, summer pictures to be used as computer wallpaper, and recipes waiting to be cooked. It’s waving to me, it’s little lanyard quivering in devoted anticipation, knowing that sooner or later I will stumble upon it, and rejoice that the cosmos has once again stepped in to help. Perhaps then I will realize that it truly is the journey that has been what it’s all about, not the final destination.

Until then, if any of you have a little winjy you can send my way to help me find my little flash disk, I’d appreciate it. In return I’ll send you the great Artichoke Dip recipe that I know is filed away on it…

The Sashaying Mink

            I was sitting around the other day, talking with friends about fashion, and somehow it came up that I had two of my mother’s mink stoles in my front closet.  They are at least 50 years old, and although she passed them on to me, I’ve never had the nerve to wear them. After all, no one wears stoles anymore.  And, besides, I didn’t think it would look right to wear the things grocery shopping or bowling.  We all had a good chuckle, then one friend asked what I was waiting for.  How old would I have to be to not care what other’s thought of my wardrobe?

            I have spent the last ten years of my life trying to accept who I am, and being happy with said acceptance.  I have always been too critical of the way I look, and I’m finally at the point where I don’t cringe when I look in the mirror.  Why I wasted so much of my youth thinking I was going to blossom into a sparkling rose or a diamond beauty I don’t know.  I have learned that people love me for me. They accept me with my Rembrandt physique, unicorn obsession, and all.

            But back to the mink stole.  My friend got me thinking. I am finally feeling good about myself, who I am, and where I’m going. I will never be a runway model or Nobel Peace Prize winner, but who cares? I’m a lot more fun to be around. I don’t make a daily drama over which sweater to wear with what skirt, or how long my hems should be.  I’ve waited all my life to have a sassy, witty side, and I’m finally having fun letting these sides out of the box. I’ve changed my eating habits, my clothes, the books I read and the glasses I wear.  Why can’t I keep pushing the envelope and wear my mother’s prize possessions?

            I might not go to places where mink stoles are the height of fashion, but I do get together with friends and family who love me and enjoy having a good time with me.  We play games, we gossip, we laugh.  We support each other through surgery and unemployment and cancer and the passing on of loved ones.  We talk about each other’s health, libedo and career, so why wouldn’t they support me if I wrapped a gorgeous mink around my shoulders?  It would open up space to share stories about our mothers and grandmothers, about the way they dressed or the great meals they cooked.  We could talk about their lives, whether they went to school or worked on the farm.  We could share the heartache of losing our mothers at a young age or watching them wither away from Alzheimer’s or how we still enjoy being with her. We could share how much we missed our moms and grandmothers, or how glad we are that they are finally out of our lives.

            We are all rich in history.  Everyone you meet has a past, perhaps even a past life.  We spend so much time hiding behind facades that are acceptable to the population at large, and rarely take time to be just who we are.  Now and then it is prudent to keep your idiosyncrasies to yourself…after all, it wouldn’t do to dress like a Renaissance Faire wench at work or bring a laptop to the movie theater.  No one wants to hear you sing Bon Jovi in the bathroom, nor are they interested in your bedtime rituals.  But what about the classical music geek who is dying to get out from under the cloud of secrecy?  What about the fact that you love tinkering with cars or that you look for the hidden meaning in Woody Allen movies? What about your collection of angels that can fill a small room or the songs you’ve written that you plunk out on a guitar?     

            Why are you hiding who you are?

            If you are afraid of others making fun of you, get over it.  People have made fun of us from the day we were born and will make fun of us long after we’re gone.  There will always be some goofy looking baby or toothy grade schooler or chubby high schooler that will forever look back at you in the mirror. You will always be who you’ve always been.  So why not have some fun with it?

            There is a game night coming up next month at one of our friend’s houses.  I think I will wrap one of the mink stoles around me and sashay into the world of daycare workers and college students and tool and die makers. I will bring the memories of my mother Rose along with me, inspired by the fur around my shoulders, and she’ll be right there, having fun with us, too.

            I think I’ll bring along the other one just in case someone else wants to sashay, too.

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese

Do you believe that children and their parents speak two different languages?  Do you ever try and communicate with someone who hasn’t a clue as to what you are saying?

The teen years are stressful for those going through them. Puberty comes crashing in any time between the ages of 12 and 16, estrogen and testosterone fighting for space inside a body that is growing in too many directions at one time.  But hey. What about the ones on the other side of those swings? Those who pay for hot lunches and gym shoes and nail polish?  Not only do we have to put up with I-pods and cell phones, but we have to learn to speak a whole new language in order to be understood.  It is as if we have stepped over the threshold of reality into an entirely new universe.

 Life seemed so much simpler when our kids were toddlers. The years between two and, say, five, are probably the most rewarding for all forms of parental figures.  We can do no wrong; our children hang on our every word.  They fear and revere us. They bounce around from moment to moment wanting only to please those in charge.  Pick up your toys?  Of course! Eat your spaghetti?  Of course!  Clean your room?  Of course! We speak, they listen, and things are ideal.

Then comes those “cute” years, say, six through nine.  Everything they do and say is cute, especially when they pout and say “no” with wide-eyed enthusiasm.  Pick up your toys?  No! I wanna play with ‘em a little longer.  Eat your spaghetti?  No! I want pizza instead.  Clean your room?  No!  I gotta have twenty dolls in the corner!  They are starting to catch on to the power of being an individual.  They still brush their teeth and do their homework and go to bed pretty much on time, but they learn to manipulate the world by talking or playing or whining, probably all three.

By the time middle school comes around, there is a slight Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-ish personality starting to surface. Football games and study nights with friends start to take on a bit more significance as our middle schoolers begin to feel the strength of their own convictions.  Pick up your toys?  Oh please, I don’t play with ‘toys’ anymore.  Eat your spaghetti.  Red sauce? I’d rather have cheese.  Clean your room.  Oh mommy dear and/daddy dear — it is clean!  A little clip in their voice should be the giveaway that they are catching on to you.

Just when you think you have settled the beast that rustles inside your child, their high school days hit you right between the eyes. Music becomes some thundering beat with  alking rather than singing; wearing jeans that cut low enough to show off underwear or vertical fissures becomes the fashion statement of the day. Homework becomes an enigma.  School semesters are identified by fall, winter and spring sports, and words like Paris and Pink suddenly take on a whole new meaning.

You wake up one morning sprouting antennae from your head. Your voice becomes a booming echo down an empty tunnel or a high-pitched squeak riding the airwaves.  Suddenly you speak a foreign language: ρτε τα παιχνίδια σας  (pick up your toys in Greek);  съешьте ваше спагеттио (eat your spaghetti in Russian), and 投入您的衣裳去, (Chinese for clean your room). Their eyes become glazed and their expression reminds you of eating a lemon.  One day you are a friendly, loving parent, the next moment you are Godzilla’s cousin.  You don’t know what you are talking about ― your ideas or so old-fashioned they will be amazed if you make it to 50.

How did this happen?  How did we fall off of our pedestal?  One moment our child is reaching up to be held, the next moment they cringe if you hug them in public.  Is this the reward for all of our hard work?  All our love?

Well, trust me.  This too will pass.  As your children approach their twenties, they are amazed at how smart you’ve suddenly become.  Your old-fashioned ideas transform into newly discovered truths of their generation.  The older they get, the more human you become.  Your antennae suddenly don’t seem so out-of-place; as a matter of fact, they kinda look cute on your old frame.  You find a common ground through life and all its ups and downs, and they finally understand what you’ve been saying all these years.  Words and ideas flow once again, and your pedestal gets packed away somewhere deep in their heart, only to be pulled out when you are not looking.

Either that — or you have finally learned to speak Chinese.

Sprinkles

          The past few weeks have been the bottom of the roller coaster ride for me. After a bit of a medical drama, I am well, back into whatever groove middle aged women get into, trying to build my energy back up to see what trouble I can get into. How much trouble can a goddess like me get into? We won’t go into past details, but there have been times in the past that I have stepped over that preverbal line, most times with no consequences, other times being dutifully chastised and set back upon the straight and narrow.

            The funny thing about my misadventures is that, in the eyes of the world (especially to those under 40), the things that I’ve gotten in trouble for are powdered sugar compared to what others have done. I have never hung with the “wild” crowd, never gotten arrested, reprimanded by principals, or been asked to leave.  I’ve led a pretty vanilla life and stayed fairly happy and clean cut. I try not to compare my life, my ups and downs, with others. For, as you know, you will always be overblessed in one way and underblessed in another.  My dirty laundry is someone else’s humorous fluff.

            Going in and out of the hospital changes your perspective on a lot of things. Suddenly losing those last few pounds doesn’t seem so important. Or finally losing weight to get healthy rises to the top of your list. Your family becomes a priority, along with your health, your pets, and your pastimes. You sit and wonder why you’ve wasted so much time setting unrealistic goals and then were so hard on yourself when you didn’t achieve them. Your desires and your timelines seemed to have gotten crisscrossed, a Celtic design that has no beginning or no end. You will do A as soon as you accomplish B. You will buy outfit C as soon as you lose D pounds. You’ll go visit someone as soon as you (fill in the blank).

            I know you’ve heard this story a thousand times a thousand different ways. Don’t wait until trauma and tragedy arrive at your doorstep before you learn to live your life.  Well, what do you do if that dynamic duo arrives at your door and you’ve already been living your life? Are you supposed to go further off the deep end? Are you supposed to  throw away the restraints of society and be a wild and free sprite?

            I was lucky, not only to have a good prognosis, but to have wild and fun things to come back to. Our Polish Sausage Making Party has been going on for 14 years, an annual madhouse that seems to be growing every year. I had a laptop, waiting for me to create another fantasy, another out-of-the-box story. I have kids to bug and a grandson to spoil and friends to compare drinking stories with.  I have a room full of second-hand books waiting to be read, sweaters that need sparkles sewn on them, and sushi that  needs to be shared with girlfriends.

            I decided long ago that I was tired of being on the outside looking in. I was tired of being vanilla in a rainbow world. I’ve always respected my bosses and the law, always been polite (sometimes to the point of nausea), and given money to charity or to my kids (sometimes the same thing). But I also found out that if you want something in  your life, you need to be the one to go for it. You can’t wait for those things to come to you. That goes for friends, restaurant reservations, and health issues. Sometimes “going for it” makes you a little more aggressive than you usually are. Succeeding at “going for it” makes you feel stronger and smarter.  It makes you raise your own bar a notch or two higher. And you have yourself to thank for it.

            Going through a health predicament only reinforced the importance of finding out who I am and what I want in life. That what I wanted in my life is nothing more or less than anyone else wants. I just make sure I made lemonade every time I can. I make a point of getting together with friends often, and family birthdays become family reunions a  dozen times a year. I don’t want life to pass me by and at the end be filled with thoughts of why I didn’t do this or that.

            You are never going to be rich enough, thin enough, smart enough, for A to really ever meet B. So take the victories you make along the way and celebrate them. Don’t spend days and months and years waiting for the “payoff.”  The payoff is here and now. If you pass up picnics on the beach with the family because you want to lose weight first, you’ve done nothing but miss a great picnic. If you wait until your kids are in college to go away for the weekend you’ll never get away, for most of the time they come back to haunt you. Turning down an invitation to walk through a festival with family members because you need to clean your house does nothing but toss another fun time into the twilight zone.

            There is always room in your life for adventure. To cross some lines. To speak up. To stand up.  There’s always time for you to change your direction, your health, your dreams.  To be proactive. Not inactive. If the jester hat fits you, wear it! If bling is your thing, bling!  Always wanted to try and cook Thai? Go for it ― even if you’re the only  one who will eat it. Don’t wait for someone else to initiate a pizza night or drinks after work ― call, plan, and do it. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to “take their turn.”

            This is the only turn you’re going to get. Don’t let anyone else take your turn for you. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla, but just think of how much better it is with hocolate syrup and whipped cream.  

            And me?  I think I’ll try rainbow sherbet with multi-colored sprinkles. Can’t get enough of that color thing…

Dancing in a Too-Tight Tutu

I was sitting around the other day with my gal friends, sharing tales about the weekend. We all seemed to have gone through the same delightful experience, albeit in different ways. We all were relaxed, having a good time, and probably drank a little too much, for we all said, “I’m too old for this.”  One sat with friends and sipped with friends all day, one went to an outdoor concert, and I party hopped.  I’m sure the situations were on the same astral plane as many others “my age.”  Time flows, excitement and comfort wraps around us, the atmosphere make us feel good, and before you know it we are waking up the next morning with a headache, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

This psychic phenomenon is not limited to girls sharing drinking stories. This magical phrase echoes around us all the time.  My husband and I spent one glorious day working outside. The air was cool, the dogs well-behaved, and we planted flowers in pots and mowed the lawn and fixed broken things and worked in the yard a little. Maybe more than just a little, for the next morning we both woke up, joints stiff, hands scratched, and twinges in the small of our back, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

Just think of how many times you have said this. In fun and in fear.  A mother with a house full of 10-year-old girls staying overnight, giggling and talking till wee hours of the morning; college kids downstairs, friends over, drinking beer and playing cards, getting louder and rowdier with each hand; babysitting more than one of anything younger than five. You’re trying to be nice. You’re trying to be patient. But hours into the melee you think, “I’m too old for this.”

As I always like to point out, age is in your point of view.  When the ladies shared their drinking stories, I wanted to stand and cheer.  There were late 30s mingling with mid 40s mingling with late 50s. One has a 10-year-old, one has two in high school, I have one in college and one married.  Yet all three of us unconsciously slipped back into our early 20s, losing track of time and responsibilities and all the trimmings that go with it, at least for an hour or two. Were we trying to recapture our youth? Were we silly old goats   trying to dance the dance of the sprite in a tutu that was too tight? Or were we just human beings who never forgot how to have fun?

By now we all know that life is what you make of it. Jobs and kids and finances and health problems plague us all. Some can pick up and make a clean slate of everything; others have to muddle through the chaos and hope they squeeze out the other side sane. So when they say laughter is the best medicine, it really is. Sharing stories, playing games, dancing and prancing and acting silly all are ways to exorcise the demons we create for ourselves. I’m too fat. I’m too dumb. I’m tired of my job. I’m tired of my mother. I’m tired of being a mother. All tinny squeaks in our ear that cause us to over-analyze, over-react, and over emote. All of which get us nowhere in the end.

So what’s wrong with not acting our age? What is our age, anyway? If judged by our bodies, it might be ancient. If judged by our responsibilities it might be grown up. If judged by our dreams, it might be juvenile. Somehow there has to be a way to unite all sides of ourselves into one happy camper. So why not let go of those inhibitions once in a while? Why not drop the fear of embarrassing yourself (or others) and laugh with others? It’s not like you haven’t been embarrassed before, or never will be again. But you would be amazed the different feeling you get when you are a part of the joke, not a victim of it.

The great thing about taking chances like these, and saying “I’m too old for this” is that you find you are really not too old for anything. Alright – maybe bungee jumping or running in a marathon when you’re not a runner are contenders for never again. But even those occurrences show that you were not too old to at least try them.  The obvious choices are usually general ones: take a class about something you always wanted to know about; start walking around the block at night so you can walk in the annual Relay for Life; buy yourself a journal (or a laptop) and start recording those thoughts you thought you’d never get out of your system. Volunteer at a shelter or sanctuary and make friends with the animals.

Not up to all that work? How about wearing a color you’ve never worn before? Are you a meat and potatoes kinda dresser? Add a piece of bling to your wardrobe. Take a chance on bringing extra attention to yourself. You will be amazed at how many people notice ― and how many like the “new you.” Go to a concert and sing the lyrics at the top of your lungs. Dance like a crazy person in front of the speakers to your favorite music.

Oh sure, you say. You go dance in front of the speakers…you wear the bling. You wear the tutu that’s too tight.  I hate to admit it, but I already do. And I can’t tell you how scary and liberating it is.  And, even if I pull a muscle dancing the “hoochi coo”, it’s a great feeling to know that no one will ever forget the sight of me “hoochi cooing” in a too-tight tutu.

Especially with a glass of wine in my hand.

©2012 Claudia Anderson

Reincarnation as a Walmart Greeter

            Most of us run blindly through life, taking kids to football games or buying groceries or celebrating birthdays or oohing and ahhing about flower beds and great lasagna dinners, never stopping to think that one day all this wonderful madness will end.  There are those who believe in the ever after: angels and Elysian Fields and all the chocolate you can eat.  Others believe in reincarnation: behaving yourself in this life is a sure bet you won’t come back as a newt or a grasshopper in the next.  Some believe you never wake  up; others believe eternity is one big, made-for-TV movie. But what happens if you don’t want to think about the afterlife, period?  What happens if all you want to do is get  lost in Star War movies or the Food Network or dreams of vacationing in the Bahamas?  Does avoidance equal ignorance?

            I sometimes wonder if humans were meant to dwell on the afterlife as much as we do.  After all, whatever is going to happen is going to happen.  When all is said and done, if we are all going have a glorious resurrection, why should we worry about it?  If we believe our destiny is to reappear on another planet in another galaxy, why sweat the small stuff? 

            None of us like to think about death.  Most of us unconsciously think we will live to be 90 or better.  We pop a few vitamins or walk around the block or stop smoking and think we have it made.  And, for the most part, we do.  We look around us, feel terrible about those our age who have passed on to greener pastures, and hope we can stay out of
those same pastures a bit longer. Yet there is always that heebie geebie feeling we get from that foul reaper that makes us feel we should do a bit more to insure a place in the afterlife.  Whether its prayer, abstinence, volunteering or tithing, we always make an effort to hedge our bets, putting an extra chip on the gambling table just in case.  We give a little extra to the United Way or volunteer to work the concession stand at the high school football game, even if our kid doesn’t play football.  We help old women cross the street, and try not to get uppity if someone offers to help us cross the street.

            How does that lessen our apprehension of our final moment?  How does contributing to the bake sale or adopting a pet from the shelter make us breathe easy about our last moments on Earth?  The older I get, the more I realize that all the anxiety, all the trauma I go through worrying about what happens at that final moment doesn’t mean a thing except heartburn.  One of the prices we pay for being born into this world is having to leave it at the end.  I’m not sure there is some cosmic string that is destined to be cut at some particular moment; I do believe that the joy we find in this life, and possibly the next, is based on the pleasure we give and receive from others.

            Whether you read the Bible or Harry Potter, you cannot escape the fact that good deeds do not go unheeded.  That even if there is no cosmic God or Goddess who pats you on the head for being a good person, you are rewarded anyway.  There is something  about doing something nice for others — and for yourself — that brings its own brand of satisfaction.  Putting a plus in the “good” column just plain feels good.  Accepting that we don’t always get accolades for our diligence is a learned experience; I find myself still waiting for acknowledgement that I saved the life of a cat who was beaten by an irrational neighbor 20 years ago or that I was the DD more times than I can count. I know
my heart always feel better when I label myself “nice” instead of “mean.”  I feel good when I put a smile on another’s face; I feel bad when I make someone cry.

            Whether or not those points add up to admission through the pearly gates I don’t know.  I myself don’t have a clue whether I will meet my mother and father on the other ide, or if I will be reincarnated into a wealthy family (something I would thoroughly enjoy).  What I do know is that it makes me feel good to do good in this world.  I have no control of what happens when I close my eyes for the last time — no one does.  All I can hope for is that my good behavior and loving heart will have counted for  omething.  That loving my kids over and above normalcy and giving my dogs extra bonies push me up a notch on the ladder of happily-ever-after.

            It will be my luck that the day I decide to visit Scotland, the Loch Ness Monster will instantly devour me in one gulp, and all this angst will be for nothing.  My fear is that my repayment for being such a jolly good soul is that I come back to this world as a Welcome Wagon Lady or a greeter at Walmart.  Which, on second thought, isn’t such a bad idea.  After all, that’s what I want to do when I retire in this life.

            Although I know I have to fight my husband for the job.