My brain is the key that sets me free.
~ Harry Houdini
Two of those planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon, leading to a partial collapse in its western side. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was targeted at Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers.
In total, almost 3,000 people died in the attacks, including the 227 civilians and 19 hijackers aboard the four planes. We also lost 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers, the deadliest incident for their fields in the history of the United States. Some managed to call home and tell their loved ones they loved them one last time. Some despaired and jumped; others never knew what hit them. We will never know what they thought, how they felt. That is a world sacred to those who have gone before us.
We will always ask, “Where were you when you heard?” Our hearts will always hurt when we watch the Towers crumble. And we will always be ashamed of those who called themselves human beings and did such a thing.
We also will never find the words to thank those who put their lives on the line to save what they could. We will always be amazed that Mother Nature reclaimed her wounded ground in Pennsylvania so peacefully, and that her human counterparts did the same with the Pentagon and Ground Zero.
I will never forget. And as long as I have a blog, I will never let you forget, either.
statistics from Wikipedia
You wake up. It’s a beautiful morning. You take a shower, brush your teeth. You grab a granola bar and out you go. Busy day today. Making plans for the weekend, for the future. You never suspect that within a few hours you will be a part of the largest tragedy in U.S. history.
We will never forget you.
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… firstname.lastname@example.org.
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…
A while back I wrote a story about two of my favorite movies: Chocolat and Under the Tuscan Sun. https://humoringthegoddess.com/2011/04/28/chocolat-under-the-tuscan-sun/. It was an irreverent observation of the main characters (thin, lovely 30ish beauties) and their ability to start new lives in quaint surroundings filled with friendly neighbors, gorgeous scenery, and hunky men. There was drama, of course; some sort of “obstacle” the main character had to overcome. But it was artistically woven into the background, and it left me with a positive attitude about life after 30.
I just finished watching Tuscan again, and I find a little uneasiness creeping into my positive attitude. While I know that movies and fiction books and television are all pretend, I wonder why so many of us are drawn to such escapism. I mean, flying spaceships through outer space or sitting at the other end of the table from Henry the Eighth are out-and-out fantasies, not available in this (or any) lifetime. But modern-day escapism is a lot easier to imagine.
It’s not that I want to leave what I have behind (although the thought of never having to change the kitty litter again does sound enticing); it’s more the attitude of pretend that seems to strengthen me. I spend most of my waking hours trying to deal with life. Some of my friends are planning early retirement, others planning to have kids, some trying to get out of bad jobs, and still others taking second jobs to make ends meet. I have lost parents and friends to the Reaper, and sat besides others who have cheated him one more time. I can see how the world is unfair, unyielding, and unacceptable. So I can see how a happily-ever-after movie ending rates right up there with dark chocolate and the 1812 Overture.
But after watching my favorite movies for the umpteenth time, I see my creativity being put to the test. I don’t confuse fake gazebos that overlook vineyards with the pot of geraniums on my back porch; I don’t think making homemade chocolate would be any more rewarding than making homemade spaghetti sauce. I know I will never look like Diane Lane or Juliette Binoche — too many babies and too many cookies and too much menopause has taken care of that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t follow my own Yellow Brick Road now and then.
Moviemakers are dream makers in the ultimate sense. Not only do they manipulate scenery into idyllic settings and everyday conversation into romantic poetry, but take us just where we think we want to go. As the observer, we never see the cameramen, construction workers, caterers, painters and all the other thousands of people who make our trip to la la land possible. We never see the accounts payable clerk at her desk, the plumber fixing the waterfall, the cleaning service scrubbing the toilets or the mountain of programming needed to make a glass of champagne bubble someone’s name.
And we don’t want to see it. We don’t want to see the mess the cleaning crew has after a day’s shooting; we don’t want to be reminded of the endless peanut butter sandwiches the street sweepers and lighting technicians had to eat just to stay on the production company’s payroll. Why? We don’t want to see the behind-the-scenes efforts because they remind us so much of our own daily life. If we were to watch the women wash the floors of the Italian bungalow, we would be reminded that our own kitchen floor needs scrubbing. If we were to watch the crews paint the set to look like old world France it only reminds us that our house could use a fresh coat of paint. If we were to know that all the food on the banquet table were fake except for what the actors were eating, it would bring home the fact that some of the food we bring home from the grocery store tastes pretty fake, too.
Is that all bad? Not really. As we get older we find that reality distorts a lot of things. The length of the rope seems to be longer behind us than in front of us. We know that today could be our last chance to drink a glass of wine or hug our kids or listen to Louie sing What A Wonderful World. If we keep on track and bring light into our lives, we can make the length of the rope in front of us infinite. And how do we do that? We make our own version of pretend.
As I said before, a pot full of geraniums can be just as rewarding as the French countryside, be it in a different form. A piece of Hershey’s chocolate sitting on a fancy plate from Good Will can be just as alluring as an exclusive delicacy served in a five star restaurant in Italy. Toga parties can mimic ancient Rome (or Animal House), and calling the gang over for game night can rival any three-dimensional chess game Spock and Kirk could play. We just have to understand that reality is all in one’s point of view.
I am learning not to take the movies seriously. Not that I ever did, but there were times I was genuinely tempted to build a greenhouse like the one in Practical Magic or rent an atmospheric cottage in rural Scotland to write my breakout novel like Demi Moore in Half Light. The point is, don’t let pretend pass you by. Just know it for what it is, respect its limitations, and let it fly in and around and through your life.
Besides — if a librarian can travel to Egypt and discover mummies and telephone repairmen can have close encounters of the third kind, there’s no telling where a wife/mother/grandmother can go.
Want to come along?
I started this blog with the intent of mingling magic with middle age, something that I am quite familiar with. I truly believe there is a galaxy of potential floating just in front of us. A galaxy that is real, a galaxy that can be tapped into with nothing more than desire. Our learning curve never ends. We are always stumbling and tripping forward, hopefully laughing along the way. It just stinks when the lessons hit a little too close to home.
I have never been one to bring attention to myself. Writing was one way of projecting my personality into another dimension that couldn’t always be directly linked back to me. When I write I can be a cat, a faerie, a crushed car or a cutting-edge housefrau. For all intent and purposes, it’s my words that matter. No one knows my personal side; no one knows about my struggles, my personal demons. And so it should be. But when a cosmic demon descends, it hits a raw nerve that makes me want to reach out just a little. Cancer is one of those demons.
I hate the word “cancer.” I hate the stigma that attaches itself to one of the most prevalent diseases in history. I don’t want to be a symbol as a “survivor” ― I don’t want to talk about it at all. But I feel it is my duty to at least acknowledge what many of us are experiencing ― or might experience in the future. And while I believe in the magic of the future, I also acknowledge the drama of today. Of the struggles we go through to move through the grey into the white. Cancer is one of those greys.
I’m not comfortable talking about myself. I don’t like sharing the ups and downs of personal insecurities. After all, everyone has their own demons to fight every day. My problems add nothing new to the landscape of personalities that read this blog. There are many, many writers who talk about their struggles in cinematic detail. That is their brilliance, their therapy. I leave those depths to other writers who share their experiences more eloquently and emotionally than I ever could. I am more of a background girl. I would rather people like me for who I am ― for my sense of humor, my compassion, my naivety or my off-the-wall nonsense. I don’t want to be remembered for my battle with a disease that strikes one out of every eight women. I don’t want to dwell on the ups and downs of malfunctioning cells that multiply into something that eventually overwhelms their host and leaves them barren and one step closer to the fertile fields of Never-Never Land.
I decided to attack this topic only once. We all fight battles ― some more serious than the one I was surprised with. Life is full of ups and downs, ecstasy and tragedy. We cannot stop the march of time, the march into the future of which we are not a part. What we can do is to live each moment as our own. We can make a difference with each other, with our family and with our place in the world. We all cannot be Einsteins; we cannot be Mother Teresa or Kim Kardashian. But we can be good people. Honest people. We can share our knowledge with those who are willing to learn. We can tell stories, share laughs and the ups and downs of the lives we’ve led. We can mentor children, or let someone mentor us.
What is life really about, anyway? We all have a future that is shrouded in misty black and blue clouds. No one knows what lies around the corner. The strength of middle age ― really, of all ages ― is to let life run its course. We deal with what we can, change what we can. We are strong, we are beautiful, no matter what fate has in mind for us. It is what we pass along to future generations that make us who we are today. Few of us will be as monumental as Madam Curie or Martin Luther King Jr. Most of us will forever be merely Sue or Claudia or Nancy or Rose.
The funny, great thing, though, is little does the world know the power of these “merely’s.” They forged a future that seeded itself inside of us, growing and glowing and transcending generation after generation. The names of those who have been and who will be can be stronger and more inspirational than names of heroes who have nothing to do with who we are today.
Don’t let little words like “cancer” or “bankruptcy” or “unemployment” stop you from growing into the flower that eventually turns into an eternal garden. We all have so much to offer, no matter what our setback. You are more powerful than you ever imagined. Don’t let go of your dream. And don’t be afraid to share your dream, your essence, with others. After all, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas started with a dream as well.
Look where it got them.
Oh ― and just for the record ― don’t be a dip. Get a mammogram.