To the Rennie in All Of Us

medieval_castle_decorationI don’t know if it’s a girl thing or a Sagittarian thing, but I really enjoy reinventing myself. Oh, I am the same ‘ol person inside, but the outside influences change every so often.

For years and years I used to be a Rennie Girl. Anything Renaissance would tickle my fancy to the moon and back. Every year I went to the local Renaissance Faire, bought lamps and cups and jewelry with dragons and unicorns and faeries on them. I adored the music, had fun playing the (conservative) wench, and even decorated my B&B with medieval flair.

After that wore off, I was off to being an (conservative) Irish Wench. I became a Gaelic Storm groupie; I went to Irish Fest every year, bought jewelry with my Irish family crest, wore green and drank beer and cried at the sad Irish songs, missing my red-haired Irish mother even more than I normally do.

I still keep the Rennie and the Irish Wench in my heart, and they are a part of me that will never leave. But I am a Sagittarius, and that means I’m always looking for my next adventure, my next reincarnation.

I really want to be BoHoChic. (say…bo-ho-chick really fast).

Now, I know I’ve talked about this fancy before. In the last six months I’ve really cleaned out my closet, getting rid of clothes that don’t fit or have never looked right or blah blah.  I’ve also pulled out the more “conservative” pieces and donated them to other conservative people. What’s left are skirts and sun dresses and a couple of wild, flowy tops.

I need more flow.

My conservative psyche evil step sisters keep whispering discouraging things in my ear: You’re too fat. You’re too ugly. You’ll embarass yourself. I’ve had these sisters since grade school, and while I’ve tuned them out most times, they do slip in now and then like a needle into silk. Why I listen to them at this age and point in my life I do-not-know.  But I DO know that BoHoChic is a whole life experience. And I want to wander off that way.

There are connections between being a Rennie and being an Irish Wench and a BoHo. It’s that feeling of freedom I’ve always denied myself. I’ve always thought more of what other people thought of my looks and outlook than I did of my own. Bad habits are hard to break. But I’m making the big push to throw those step sisters out the tower window.

And it’s working.

Everyone does their own thing. Some women enjoy the way they are all their life. Some like to kick it up now and then. Some want to kick but lack the boot skills. I think it’s the newfound freedom I’ve found with writing and art that makes me want to freebird like the texts and canvases I’m finding. I’ve always enjoyed reading and watching things that are a little off-center; why can’t my wardrobe — and attitude — be the same?

I am offcenter anyway. It might be a prelude to dementia, but if it’s coming it’s coming. Why not go into the last 30 years of my life flowing and mismatching and blinging? In 30 years no one will care. Least of all me.

So take your whims and dress the part. Be a futuristic clip or a black-and-white Chanel or a designer chick. You don’t have to break your budget: Good Will and local second hand stores always have your designs flowing through. Let your outside match your inner calling.

And don’t be afraid. I’ve wasted 50 years of my life doing that.

And after all, there’s always something else waiting in the shadows. Maybe one day BoHoChic will turn into FuturisticBoHoBling!

 

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

New and Improved!

New and Improved! A favorite sales tactic for everything from spaghetti sauce to carpet cleaners. Heck — even our bodies go through the N&I phase every  now and then.  So why not a blog?

I’ve often told you that Sagittarians love change — we look for excitement and adventure all the time. Most of the time I’m an armchair adventurer (seeing as I’m always broke), so my changes often aren’t as mind blowing as other Sag’s.  I created my blog with lots of curly Q’s and unobtrusive colors. Quite Goddessy, no? Well, my muse and the ants in my pants have told me it’s time for an artistic restyling of my infamous blog.  Not it’s content — it’s fashion style. Humoring the Goddess: Managing the Madness and Magic of Middle Age, is becoming a growing source of inspiration for those in need of throwing those oh-so-blaze middle-age (and pre-middle age) invisibility cloaks and replacing them with technicolor ones. So I figured I needed to get into the “new year” with a palette change. 

I’m also tossing around ideas to expand my blog to include such baubles as “Ask the Goddess,” an irreverent Q&A that tackles your inner/outer goddess moments; and 
“Check this Out!”, suggestions from YOU on blogs and websites that appeal to our wild, quirky and inspired moments.  (These two are still in the planning stage…you see the Sag in the beginning, the turtle after that…)

“How can you improve a goddess?” you ask. I know we think of all holy, airy fairy entities as perfect, but really, think about it. What fun would a goddess have if she always looked beautiful, never had to work out, got along with everybody, and knew the secrets of the universe?  She’d be pretty boring, don’t you think?  We all have room for improvement, for understanding and acceptance.  I like to think the “powers that be”  go through those phases now and then as well.  After all, look at us!  Look at the diversity, the confusion, the unbounded love we create every day. How can they resist being like us?

Don’t be afraid of change. Let me know about yours. Get your own going. Don’t let others tell you who you are or who you’re supposed to be. You have a Muse for that. Listen to him/her.  They won’t steer you wrong: they’re not jealous of your successes, or skewered by your failures. They come from your soul — and nothing’s more pure than that.

Benvenuto Cambiamento!!

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

The Emperor’s Clothes — the Naked Truth

            This is a pump-yourself-up kind of blog.  A universal message.  Just wherever I type writing you substitute your own creative passion.  Okay?

            I had the best time this evening.  Not only did I get to share coffee and gossip and love and energy with my best friend, I learned a lot about my personal creativity outlet, writing.  As much as we say we have a lot to learn about our passions and that we’re open to new ideas and critiques and opinions, we really aren’t.  We hold our best (and
worst) work to our chest, having poured love and angst and laughter and sweat and tears into it, but are hesitant to share all that power with friends and buddies.  So we polish our work, nickel and dime it to death, then enter it in a contest or show. Or worse, do nothing with it. Most of us are afraid to share our artistic baby with anyone else.  What if they don’t like it?  What if I think it’s good but others think it stinks?

             I suffer from the “Emperor’s Clothes” syndrome. You know that fable ― the king was a jerk, so one day his attendants convinced him he was dressed in the most beautiful outfit ever. It was just invisible.  And he was naked. So the dumb king fell for their flattery and wore the “invisible suit” to a court function.  You can imagine the laughter he pulled out from friends and strangers alike.  I think many of us are just like him. We are afraid that even though we think what we’ve written is really good, others will pat our head and smile and say, “Oh, that’s cute/good/nice.”  Then they will go home laughing their buttniks off, thinking, “Oh my gaaawd!”   So why bother offering our creation to the world? 

            One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is to not listen to that stinky piece of cheese demon on my shoulder that keeps filling my head with doubt. Why have I wasted so much time swimming in the pool of insecurity? How narrow-minded I’ve been!   I’ve let my insecurities creep into conversations and query letters.  I’ve been almost toe-kissing in my subservience to potential agents and publishers.  Even though I really am proud of what I’ve written, I’ve been afraid to seem too enthusiastic.  After all, the Emperor’s Clothes…

            Tonight I learned that it’s really okay to toot our own horn.  To be strong and aggressive and outwards about our passion.  That those on the other end of the query letter (or
photo studio or art gallery) would rather take a chance on someone who believes in their work than someone who shies away from it.  

            I suppose that’s why I started this blog. I had a boatload of short stories just yearning for release.  I have folders full of poetry and novels and research and all kinds of things that make me happy. While most of my dabblings were for my own entertainment, there were some I thought worth sharing. Would anyone read my ramblings? Would anyone think they’re as charming as I do? Would my readers run off and tell their friends what garbage they just read?

            I suppose that demon never falls far from my shoulder. From your shoulder. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shove it off the minute it returns. Pull it off, hold it arm’s length in front of you, and tell it you are tired of its ramblings. That you are okay just the way you are, and that your art is always evolving. And flush that cheese down the toilet.

            Don’t be afraid to tout your artwork. Don’t you want to show off the things you’ve worked so hard to create? Your paintings, your jewelry, your garden? What about
that graphic art you’ve been hiding? The cookbook you’ve been putting together? The furniture you refurnish? What are you sitting on that you should be sharing with the world?

             You only get one chance at this life. Why not throw conventionality to the wind and put yourself out there?  Believe in yourself, believe in what you write.  Sell it like
you believe in what you write.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Rejection?  Like it hasn’t happened before.  Like it won’t happen again. People going to laugh at you? Been there, done that. Who cares? Don’t let “thanks but no thanks” stop you from submitting the strongest, most positive masterpiece you can create.

            It’s time for me to change my clothes ― this Emperor’s outfit never really fit right anyway. You see, I’ve got my eye on some saucy little salsa outfit I saw at Good Will…

It’s Not Just About Humoring My Goddess

I know how time consuming it is to follow blogs, twitters, titters, tidbits, and all things electronic that fill your mailbox. The world of the Internet has opened doors we could never have imagined. Suddenly you can read other’s thoughts, rants, secrets, research, links and more with a touch of a button. It is easy to lose your way through this mesmorizing maze of information, spiritualization, and gossip.  I know first hand how easy it is to follow one person’s link, only to follow another and another and another until you find you have spent three hours chasing your tail, searching for one more bit of validation, one more line of information that can make you complete.

While I am thrilled at the thought of your sharing my quirky stories, my astro-astromony goddess sort of philosophy, I want to make a point to encourage you to make your own way through these worlds. There are unlimited versions of reality in this electronic cosmos; unlimited hearts opening, unlimited opinions to choose from. Any thought you want to Google you can. Any ancient philosophy, any current political opinion are available at a touch of a keyboard.

What I want to caution you about, though, is not to fall prey to everyone else’s angsts, discoveries, awakenings, and pain. For after a while, if you are not careful, their experiences will become yours.

What I want to make sure is that you are taking the time to form your own  opinions. I know I’m a writing fanatic; I find that writing brings out all sorts of feelings and thoughts and repressions to the surface, and, somehow, I feel others may benefit from my stumblings. I want to assure you that there are plenty of other ways to grow spiritually as well.  Religion, philosophy, fine arts, reading, working with children or adults or the disabled, all are ways to tap into your inner spirit, your inner muse, to find out what makes you tick. What tickles your fancy. What encourages you to move upward, forward, into the cosmos and beyond.

The road to the next level of cosmic consciousness is right in front of you. Don’t rely on others to show you the way. After all, some roads are pretzelly, others straight and sleek. Some tell you you can’t get there without blood, sweat and tears; others tell you it’s a piece of cake. It is up to you to choose your own road. It could be rocky or asphalt or muddy. It can run uphill, through the woods, through the slums or up mountains. What you need to understand is that the path you follow is your choice. Don’t leave it up to other bloggers, websites, published books, classes, or any other media that portend they know more than you do. Trust me. They don’t. They are voyagers on the sea of life, just like you.

Listen to your heart. If you need to get it out, find an outlet. Write, paint, garden, train for a marathon. Exercise. Babysit. Read. Research. Take notes. Learn a new skill. Make a quilt. Learn to cook. Become a gourmet cook. Stencil. Macrame. Share your skills with others who want to learn.

Don’t be afraid to share your dreams with others. Remember — everyone has dreams. The catch is that most are just afraid to share them.

Let that be their problem. Not yours. Don’t be afraid to follow that little muse that whispers in your ear, dances on your shoulder, or, in my case, bop me in the side of the head at the most inopportune moment.

Visit my blog when you have time. Create your own world when you can’t. And have fun every moment you can.