I Don’t Like That I Don’t Get It

I had an odd reaction to a movie I watched the other night, and I’m not sure I want to talk about it. Yet it affected me in ways that I don’t like, because it makes me reflect on parts of me that I don’t like.

I watched one of those Barbershop movies. I don’t know if those comedy/dramas that happen in the ‘hood interest you, but I enjoy the hip language and colorful culture that’s portrayed.  The first two movies were more about the barbershop starting or moving, and the interactions between those who decided to stay and make the shop their own. The third one was more about the same barbershop owner trying to keep his kid out of gangs, along with the effects gangs were having on the ‘hood. This installment was darker, edgier, the gangs scarier, and the vocabulary a lot more raunchy.

I enjoyed the darkness — I didn’t get what all the T&A had to do with it.

The first thing that comes to mind when I don’t like something is that I’m turning into an old fogie. While there’s no doubt that’s true, I like to think that I keep up with the younger generations fairly well. I know it’s more than bro and bae, and I try and keep and open mind. After all, my parents rolled their eyes at me, and their parents at them. And I’m not aghast at swearing or sexual innuendos or basic raw sex.  Been there, done that, too. I can cleavage with the best of them. But there was something about the sexual volleys between the sexes that seemed so raw and offensive, I wondered what the point was.

Look. I know I’m whitebread. I’ve never denied that. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to understand. I don’t want to walk through the world with blinders on. I know with every new generation the boundaries are looser and farther away, society is wilder and more demanding, and the chances of success fewer and fewer.

But this…

This is why I didn’t want to talk about it. My prudish self is coming out. But I couldn’t help but react to the big, tightly-wrapped booties sticking out and shaking and cleavage falling out to one’s belly button and sizes of anatomy parts. What are they saying? What image of life are they trying to portray?

Just like I can’t wrap my head around today’s politics, I also can’t wrap my head around the plight of inner city situations. I am removed, so there is no way I could understand. And because I can’t understand I have no idea what they’re all going through.

And something tells me I should.

Everyone’s life is different. From Africa to the south side of Chicago, from Buckingham Palace to small town Hebron, everyone’s story starts where they are born and ends where they die. And every single thing that blows by affects our lives whether we want them too or not.

I’d like to think that there is still such a thing as self respect. That being sassy, being cool, being a smart ass is a show of confidence. That talking trash about body parts and sexual positions are signs that the we’re not afraid to bring these taboos into the light.

But sometimes I wonder. Is it them — or me?

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.

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

Reminding Myself to be Feminine

It had been a long day — a long couple of days. The dishwasher leaked all over the floor, the dog got into the garbage and threw all the non-edible parts down the hallway, we ran out of shampoo and liquid dish soap at the same time, I was late for work, I did three loads of laundry each of the last two nights, I had broken my favorite glass — yes, a long couple of days. Finally I found time to crash on the sofa and “relax”. I kicked the cat off the pillow, turned on the TV, and, pulling my socks off, observed feet and toenails that looked like they’d been run over by a steel wool pad. It seemed I have to remind myself to be feminine — again.

 You say – wait! You are female! Feminine comes from the word female! Why do you need to remind yourself of what you are?

Well, my friend, ask any woman — sometimes the difference between female and feminine is as far apart as fudge and lemons. Feminine is the girly, sparkly part of womanhood. It’s the stuff that Victorian novels are famous for. It is the pseudo-world of high fashion and graceful movements; it’s swishing one’s hips when walking and never raising your voice and being perfectly groomed at all times and wearing satin and lace on a daily basis. It is being gentle and wise, flushing at the first off-color remark, and waiting for men to do everything from open doors to help you into the car/carriage.

 A female, on the other hand, is an animal that produces gametes (ova), which can be fertilized by male gametes (spermatozoa). It is the reproductive machine of the planet. Being female is also being a cook, floor scrubber, maid, chauffer, dog feeder and babysitter. It is using the washroom with the longest line, buying jeans that fit in the waist but never in the leg, and being left to do the dishes while everyone else retires to the living room.

As the world around us changes, so does our perception of what feminine and female really mean.  No longer content to be docile, frail creatures, women boldly take over responsibilities that were once in the domain of the opposite sex. Driving a forklift, shoveling snow, fixing a leaky pipe — these were things that used to wait until those stronger and more masculine got around to doing them. But somewhere along the line women got tired of waiting and decided to take on the world themselves. After all, waiting for a man to put together a water fountain or carry some boxes upstairs can age you faster than time travel. In the whirlwind of single motherhood and two working parents and family obligations and school activities and domestic responsibilities, the role of the female has taken a new moniker.  Women are able to do things we never thought possible.  We are stockbrokers, accountants, doctors and lawyers; positions that were reserved exclusively for the male genre a hundred years ago. We have started companies, run for political office, and enlisted in the military. We have done things our grandmothers would shiver to think about. We are proud of the strides we have made and the balances we have found.

But does all this female awareness make one feminine?

The definition of feminine has also undergone its own metamorphosis. The very thought of fainting at the sight of blood or blushing at an off-color word is as alien to us as chopsticks. One cannot swoon when their child has stepped on a nail or their friend has passed out from heat exhaustion. Femininity is not defined by the size of your clothes or the money you make. It is a richer, more complex brew than days of old. Being feminine is finding the core that makes us unique and exploring it, pulling out the parts that make us feel good and keeping them in front of us. It is a more expansive way of thinking: being tough without being rough, creative without being flighty, curvy without being lumpy.

Femininity is a state of mind, a state of soul. To want to be feminine is to want to be softer, smarter, more understanding than the rough and tough ways of men folk. And in order to find that feminine state of mind, we have to take care of the package we are stuck with. You don’t need to be built like a model or have a soft, southern drawl in order to be feminine. You don’t have to sway your hips or be a gourmet cook to bring out the lady in you. It is what you do with what you have that separates you from the world of ova. Being feminine is taking care of yourself so that you are strong enough, wise enough, and mellow enough to handle all facets of the female persona. Being intelligent is feminine; so is being scattered. Being innocent is feminine; so is being experienced. You can be feminine at 15 or 50. After all, that adage that age is nothing more than a three-letter word is just as true today as it was years ago. It’s just now we can shout it from the treetops instead of whispering it behind closed doors.

I feel good about feeling girly. I feel good that I cry at the end of movies and at dog food commercials. I still like to play with jewelry and take bubble baths and collect stuffed animals, even if I insist that I’m not a collector. I also like to mow the lawn and shovel snow, and don’t mind trying my hand at fixing things either. Being feminine is the cream atop the already warm, rich coffee of being female.

Now if I could just work on those feet….

                       

 

You Didn’t Read Which One??

With the Madness of Summer burning the bottoms of our feet, there is not often much time to do any deep reading. A news headline here, a gossip column there, is about all one can squeeze in between State Fairs and Renaissance Faires and Italian Fairs.  So I thought I’d make it short and sweet this time around…come along and check out some of my oldies-but-goodies and see for yourself how fun managing the madness and magic and middle age can be!

Sharpening the Tool  — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/sharpening-the-tool/

I hate it when people say that many middle-aged people “aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.” It’s condescending, insulting, naive and just plain wrong. What I hate even more, though, is being one of those dull tools. Alas, there are times when I feel I’m struggling to stay in the shed, period.

Dancing in a Too Tight Tutu — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/522/

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.

Dinner With the Queen https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/dinner-with-the-queen/

In the mundane throng of your very predictable life, don’t you now and then want to just break out of the box and do something different? Now that you have the experience of all those years behind you, don’t you want to make that experience mean something? Don’t you ever want to be bigger than life? Just for a day?

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwursthttps://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/the-importance-of-unicorns-and-bratwurst/

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst. This is one of those ethereal, out-of-body titles that try to connect the cosmic to the ordinary, the magical to the mundane.  I was hit by this title some time ago, not having a clue as to what it meant or what I would eventually write about.  Even now, as my fingers hit the keys, I have no idea where this storyline is going.  But isn’t that so much like our everyday lives?

Merlot at the Lake House — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/merlot-at-the-lake-house/

Quick.  Name a handful of your favorite movies. Not the “great” ones that are in your library ― the ones that define you. The ones you don’t admit entertain you time and time gain.  Are you what you watch? Are you big enough to admit that you are what you watch?

The Writer in You

I hope your minds are trying to take a break from your madness — at least long enough to enter my contest.  In case you need a refresher moment:

The contest is simple: write me a blog. You know me, you know my style. Life is wonderful, scary, crazy, monotonous and a hundred other verbs. But there is something to be learned from everything we do. Share one of your magical moments of madness.  Keep the entry around  900-1,000 words (I figure readers don’t have all day to read my ramblings).

The prize:  First place will be publishing your blog on my blog. I may not have a million readers, but the half-million that peruse these halls (ha!) will be able to taste a little of your desert as well.  And wouldn’t it be great to see your name in print? Then you can call your grandma and your brother-in-law and tell them you-are-published! The winner will also receive a brand-new, never-been-opened, cookbook from the Southern Gateways Bed and Breakfast Association called “Beyond Breakfast” (from the days when I was a bed and breakfast owner. That’s a blog or two all of its own…) It may be from 1998, but hey — you can never have enough cook books!

Second prize will be a trio of beautiful note cards.  Writing is a lost art – these will enable you to send someone a note the OLD FASHIONED WAY.

Send your entries to:   humoring_the_goddess@yahoo.com 

Entry deadline is April 16th

It would delight me to no end if you’d give it a whirl!  Come On!  Yooouuuu  Can Dooooo Eeeet!

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