Christmas is Coming?

As of this Tuesday night, there are 13 days, 5 hours, 42 minutes until Christmas.

Are you ready for Christmas?  I can say that I am not. It’s not that big a deal for me.

Now before you hold me as a scrooge or anti-sentiment protester, let me explain. Which you knew I would.

I celebrate Christmas every day.

Sounds ludicrous, I suppose, but I really do.

The lights. I love Christmas lights. I have a strand of white under my counter and a strand of blue over my window.  If I had my way I’d have Christmas lights in every room all year around!

The gifts. Heck, I give gifts all year long. I came across a champagne glass with a dolphin stem at Goodwill, and bought it for my bestie, as she loves dolphins. I buy my friends lunch, take my grandkids to the movies, give gifts to family and friends for no reason. I don’t have to have a special day to give gifts from my heart to those I love.

Christmas dinner. I eat like it’s Christmas day every weekend. I share meals with friends, family, and even bring treats to work for all to share. I give to food banks and food drives throughout the year. That’s the spirit year round.

Christmas carols. There’s nothing more beautiful than listening to the choir sing Christmas carols. Their voices are magical, spiritual, a path to the supreme and mystical. And Christmas songs are fun to sing all year long. During the summer my grandson and hubby were singing “Jingle Bells” while I retorted with “Summer Breeze.” We both had our way and it was fun.

Santa Claus.  I sometimes shudder at the thought of a little boy or girl being forced to sit on an old fat man’s lap who has a big bushy beard and hair and a deep voice going “Ho Ho Ho!” I don’t know you! Santa is a jolly ol’ fellow, but he’s not on my top 10 list of year-round celebrations.

The Christmas Tree. I have lots of plants in my house, and lots of trees on my property. I hang windchimes and oversized ornaments on the trees along the trails so I can enjoy them all year around.

The Baby Jesus. This is what Christmas is really all about. A baby who was born poor and died poor, but lived a full life, teaching us the way to live. He talked about friendship, patience, and compassion. Love and understanding. He taught us to love our neighbor, our family, our children. Not to beat them, frighten them, bully them. He showed us how to be a good person.

I try and live that life every day. I don’t need a special day to be nice to someone, to share with someone.

Neither do you.

Christmas is just another day of being alive, another chance to be kind to someone. To listen to someone. To accept someone for who they are, for what they want to be.

Celebrate Christmas today and everyday!

 

Listen to the Moon

I was driving home last night from meeting a friend for dinner and saw the most marvelous orange full moon. It was a redhead in all her glory, slowly rising above the horizon.

My first reaction (after amazement) was a little sadness, for I always want to see the rising moon from the far end of my property. There’s a cornfield on the other side of the back back back gate, which makes the horizon long and flat and dark.

There’s something about a full orange moon that fills me with magic. I become young again. I want to play, I want to do magic, I want to write magic. I want to see faeries in the woods and elves walking along the paths.

My imagination soars when I’m outside with the Lady of the Night.

Yet I missed this one — one I could have easily have watched from the very beginning. But I was out to dinner with a friend.

A friend who has just beaten cancer. Again. She has done chemo and is now going through radiation.

A friend that is full of life, of hope. I love her stories…she has so many of them. After what she’s been through, she is a gift from above. She has children and grandchildren that adore her, a husband that supports her, and everyone she meets becomes a friend of support through this bad time.

Maybe that’s what the moon was telling me last night.

Maybe it glowed with the magic of friendship. Maybe it glowed with pride in my thinking about someone else besides myself. Maybe She knew that if I hadn’t taken my friend to dinner I’d be zoning out on TV or some other wasteful pastime.

What’s the big deal about taking someone out to dinner? An hour and half, twenty-five dollars later. It’s an hour and a half out of your busy, busy, oh-so-important schedule.

Yet it is an hour and a half of strength. Of love. Of friendship.

Two people, both having suffered from the horrid demon C, eating soup and chowing down burgers, laughing about work and boasting about our grandkids and our kids and how lucky we are to be alive. We planned for tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

That’s what you do with friends.

One night go out and gaze upon a full moon. Listen to what it’s saying to you. You will  understand what She is saying. Your soul will be better for it.

I’m Thankful For YOU

I have a story or two to tell you, but it will have to wait until Sunday or Monday. Gotta have turkey with the grandbabies — twice — and  I can’t miss the love.

So for now, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving — give thanks for who you know, how you got where you are, and the lessons you learned along the way. Be thankful that you are able to dream and imagine and create. Give thanks for those who have passed — be thankful that they came into your life and gave you so much of themselves.  Give thanks for sunrises and sunsets and Tchaikovsky and Monet and Harry Potter.

Eat some turkey, have extra gravy (it’s only one day!), and know that I’m thankful for all of you. For your writing, for your art, for your stopping by and saying hi.  Somehow I feel we’re all friends in here.

And that’s something to be thankful for.

Sharing Is The Best Kind of Blogging

Every now and then karma comes back and makes me feel great.

Karma refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect). Sometimes we hope karma comes back and kicks butt to the meanies of the world. Other times we hope that because we’ve been good or loving that we can win the lottery.

Sometimes something I’ve blogged circles around and shines sunshine back in my face. Last December my Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog showcased Collin van der Sluijs , a muralist painter from the Netherlands. A few months later there was a comment from the website Life in Maastricht who asked if they could use info from my blog to showcase Collin, as he was from Maastricht too.  Their  website has been part of the Netherlands social media communities since June 2015, covering news and stories about one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands. Of course I said yes.

They later stated, “…contacted Collin and he’s happy to participate, thank you for your post, otherwise I wouldn’t have found him.”

So imagine. I got to learn about a town named Maastricht in a country half way around the world, and helped their website find and highlight a homeboy. To me, that’s karma.

Check out their great website — https://lifeinmaastricht.com/ — and share the magic!

THAT’s what blogging’s all about.

I’m Listening To What Matters

My blog the other day was about letting go of the cruelty, the madness of the world. To quote myself, I said, “You are all my friends in one way or another. I’m here for you — for your highs and lows and losses and misses. But I have to let go of the rest of the world.”

Day 2 and I’m still dumping the garbage. But I meant what I said when I said I’m here for you. 

I’ve been following the blog Wanton Word Flirt by my now friend Suzanne Wood. I’ve been following her for some time now, but it is only this month that I have found out so much more about her.

Suzanne is dealing with Sjogren’s Syndrome, a long-term auto-immune disease in which the moisture-producing glands of the body are affected. Dry eyes and mouth are only the beginning. Other symptoms include dry skin, a chronic cough, vaginal dryness, numbness in the arms and legs, feeling tired, muscle and joint pains, and thyroid problems.

I never knew much — if anything — about Sjogren’s. I couldn’t even pronounce it. But I really learned reading Suzanne’s blog.

This month is Sjogren’s Syndrome month, and she has shared all her ups and downs with the disease, the doctors, her emotions, and her life.

If you have some spare reading time, I highly encourage you to step over and read Wanton Word Flirt and learn how to help someone in your own world. Just learning about this disease and how it affects people is rewarding in itself.

Sharing knowledge and understanding about someone you know is much more rewarding than tears for someone you don’t.

 

 

Get Together Now!

mihai-criste-tuttart-2Driving up north to our 10th (or so) annual Ski weekend has me thinking about family and friends and how important they are in my life.

Do you do any “annual” things with your family or friends?

You should.

We have our Polish Sausage Making Party every year — those that participate say we’ve been doing it for 15 years. I look back on my life and remember the girl’s shopping weekends we used to take just so we could stay overnight and drink and eat and gossip and not drive. Further back, I remember fishing trips I used to take with my family; sticking bamboo poles in the muddy bank, playing hide and seek in the woods, and whispering about the strange old hobo man that lived in this nasty little shack down the road.

I wish our minds held more memories, don’t you?

I know I went places, did things, with family and friends. I get glimpses camping with my oldest being only 1-year-old, of taking my in-laws to Las Vegas two weeks before my mother-in-law served divorce papers to my father-in-law. I vaguely remember spending a week out in Seattle visiting a girlfriend when I was younger, and another week visiting a friend in Texas.

But that’s all I remember.

I didn’t take many pictures back then. The cameras were clumsy, and who wanted to bring film to be developed all the time?

These days my phone camera is full. There’s not a get together I don’t try and snap, a sunset I don’t capture. And that includes this ski weekend.

As I get older I find I’m forgetting more and more — not so much a dementia thing, but I’ve got 560,640 hours of experiences in my head. A bit much even for a human computer to recall.

That’s why doing things with family and friends is so important. So many of us hide behind the ego’s judgement of “they should call me” or “they didn’t invite me.” So we therefore skip over thinking or calling or doing something with those who really make our life full.

I learned long ago that it doesn’t matter if I’m the one who’s always calling. So what? Some people have quirks in their personality that stand in the way of their desire to do the same. It’s the same with planning things. I’m always “complaining” that I’m so busy all the time, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Being busy means interacting. Growing. Discovering. You can’t do that locked up in your house behind a computer screen.

I encourage those of you who are on the bring of making plans to MAKE THEM. Don’t let whose turn it is spoil the possibility of a wonderful time. And wonderful memories.

One day your memories will begin to fade, and all that will be left is the smile that was created the day it happened. And if you’re lucky, that’s a hell of a lot of smiles to keep you going.

Best Friends

my-friend-tamar20-28344922-795-595Do you have a best friend?

You know — someone who knows all your secrets, keeps all your secrets, and shares all their secrets. Someone who doesn’t care what you look like, how much money you have, or what you snack on before you go to bed. Someone who loves you, funky wardrobe, personal hangups, and all.

I look back on my life, and see a number that fit that description. A neighborhood girlfriend when I was small. A couple of girls in high school. Another who went with me to the dances at the Navy base in my very early 20s. Different jobs, different besties. 3 or 4 when my children were babies; one or two from my various jobs. I have been blessed to have had their friendship. I don’t talk to but a few these days, and even then a year can go by without a face-to-face meeting.

I have been thinking about all of this since my footing in Bestieland right now is not as solid as it used to be. Different callings often mean different directions. And sometimes the parameters of friendship change.

What does “best friend” really mean?

I am inclined to think the terminology and significance of it changes through your life. When I was younger it was important to have a “best” friend. That buddy that was almost attached to you at the hip. What you bought she bought. Where you went she went.

As you get older, your parameters change. You don’t necessarily need to be attached at the hip, but it’s great to have someone to drink wine with or go to hang at the park with you and your kids.

Different jobs through my life have provided different Best Friends. From grade school to high school to my file clerk job in my late teens to downtown Chicago in my late 20s to my besties when my children were babies — all were gifts in my life at a time when I needed them. These people came into my life for a reason. As I did into theirs. And often, when you have learned and grown from having this person in your life, it’s time to move on.

But does someone always have to move on?

I look back to my grade school years. L was my first real best friend — until she wanted to go play with A, who was older. My Great Lakes Navy Base besties married Navy men and shipped off to who-knows-where. C worked downtown with me, but when the company folded, so did we. D and L and J  and I were all besties when we were raising babies. Living near each other they hung together, but because I moved to another state, I didn’t.

Was I better off knowing all of them?

No doubt.

Were they all  my “best” friends?

Definitely.

As I grow older I understand why being best friends is a two-way street. You need to give and take. To support and clarify. To be willing to correct and be corrected. Best friends hold onto each other because their souls feel good together. And you don’t need to be attached at the hip, either. Just knowing the other person is a phone call away makes life a little easier.

My besties are at the same point in life that I am. Women who have learned and felt the things I have. Women who take me just the way I am yet encourage me to be much more. We laugh and cry and jabber together just like my friends and I did 40 years ago.

Einstein’s time line doesn’t exist for those whose hearts have connected. Whether that connection was years ago or yesterday. Let go of the ones who let go of you, and hold onto the ones who stay.

It’s not the space where best friends used to exist that matters, but the space in which they will always exist that makes you whole.

 

Camping 102

smoreI missed our Sunday Evening Art Gallery post yesterday as I was camping for the weekend with my crazy family. We try and rent side-by-side sites, all the better to have the grandkids run helter skelter between grandparent campers. What one grandparent doesn’t have the other does. Riding vehicles, pokey sticks for the fire, dog treats, juice boxes — grandparents are a cornicopia of things to make the world a better place.

There is a payment for those hidden tokens, though. Marshmallows and flower hunting come at a price.

I  haven’t ridden a bicycle in a couple of years. Well, this past weekend changed all that. Bicycle to the bathroom. Bicycle to the beach. Bicycle around the “O”. All with my 6-year-old grandson. First ride in the morning, last ride in the evening. Not to be left behind as a lazy granny, I’m peddling off towards the sunset, blinded by the light, laughing as I’m crying. It wouldn’t be proper to say what part of my body hurts the most, but let’s just say it’s in the middle of the word SassY.

We also play Polish Horseshoes, a game made of string and blocks of wood and dowel rods. I’m sure there’s a professional name and version of this game, but not by us. And the more the participants drink, the harder it is to hit simple blocks of wood. We cook enough food for every meal to feed an army. Sometimes it’s a mishmash of Polish and Mexican and Belgium; other times it’s carefully planned exercises in free-for-all. I suppose that’s to ensure that there’s something on the table everyone likes. And leftovers to make their way to all ends of the state.

That’s why I need more bicycle rides.

Beach time is tella tubby time, but the grandkids don’t notice, so neither do I. It’s a time to build sand castles, endure freezing water temperatures, and wander over to the food stand for an ice cream cone. It doesn’t matter that the ice cream is fattening or the sand is corrosive — all it means is that for a short time GB and I were building castles in the air and drowning the poor sand soldiers made of plopped pillars of sand.

The best times are when family and friends sit around the campfire. Night has descended, the birds and squirrels are asleep, and the park’s raccoon pack hasn’t made it down to our campsite yet. We settle in our chairs, drink our drinks, make sticky, messy, yummy Smores, and talk about our lives. We all become human around the fire — not some speedy office hero, super mom, retired teacher, or trained security guard. We are just family people, sharing family thoughts, dreaming of the best way to retire or clean out our basements or keep in touch with other family members who don’t want to keep in touch. We tell each other what a good job we’ve done as parents and friends and children, how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and how we would fix it if we could. Then we finally make it back home, derierres and leg muscles sore, hearts fixed.

Family Time, Friend Time, is so important to human survival. We don’t have to be best friends with the world to be best friends to one. Find one. Find a dozen. Share yourself. People will accept you, quirks and all.

And who better to share smores with than someone who is as full of sticky sweet sugar as you?

 

Off To See the Wizard (of Biltmore)

6d3fa623e931a5471085ff1a8f7651afSagittarius personality traits

Sagittarius is a fun and exciting sign. The explorer and philosopher of the zodiac, they are typically interested in new experiences, new knowledge and new places.

As it is written, so it shall be.

This weekend I am taking an adventure I’ve not taken before. I am meeting my creative, crazy fun friend in the artsy city of Asheville, North Carolina — home of the Biltmore Estate.

No husband. No kids. No grandkids. No dogs. No cats. Just temporarily, you know.

Already I’m happy.

It has taken me 63 years to be able to go off and take a trip through the creative world with my bestie by my side. I can finally submerge myself in art of all kinds — painting, sculpture, jewelry, textiles. Something my hubby could not (in truthful conscience) enjoy.

It has taken me 63 years to get to this wide-eyed amazement point in my life. 40 years ago I was working downtown Chicago, too busy trying to make my way in the business world. 30 years ago I was busy being a newlywed and first-time mom, losing my downtown job and looking for a part-time one so I could be home with my son. 20 years ago I was busing being a full-time mom, trying to my hand at running a B&B while being a full-time soccer mom and baseball mom.  10 years ago I was busy working full-time again, trying to run from bankruptcy and dealing with one son’s college years and the other son’s high school years.

There wasn’t time for unique art galleries or writing blogs or going to live concerts. Guess I was just busy living.

But now the kids are working and raising their own kids and bankruptcy is nothing more than a bad dream as is the B&B experiment. Now is the time for me to reconnect to who I’ve always been. I’ve always been a painter, a writer, a stenciller. I have always had a love affair with the creative side of the world. From faeries to role-playing, from making my own jewelery to writing poetry. I’ve stuffed it into pockets of time and under the leaves on the wooded paths I’ve walked and in the drawers of dressing tables.

Now it’s my turn to play.

Now I get to discover and explore and dream and live the Bohemian life of an artist with someone who is as Bohemian as I am.

If only for 4 days.

I get to meet all kinds of people, people who heard the calling of the Art Muse and did something about it. I don’t need to live the dream to be a part of it.

If only for 4 days.

Make a point to take a side trip out of your reality too, now and then. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for the heart. It’s good for manifesting your creative future.

And it’s damn good for your friendship, too.

 

 

 

You’re Never Too Old To Get Going

Biltmore-EstateI have finally done it.

Big talker, little dooer, did it!

I booked a flight to North Carolina for the beginning of August to meet my bestest buddy for a girl’s weekend.

I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal to a lot of you. But I’m 63, and it’s the first time I’ve actually disappeared with anyone other than my hubby and family except for an overnighter.

I have friends and family who travel all the time. Some is for business, some to visit family. I myself have travelled through my life too: Disneyworld, Cancun, San Francisco. But it’s always been with someone or a lot of someones. There’s always been a husband or kids or in-laws in tow. Which was/is wonderful and the way to see the world.

But there’s also the dilemma of “me”.

There always have been reasons to stay close to home. Jobs. No jobs. Kids. Illness. Family plans. Friends. Like everyone else, my life has had its share of ups and downs, and not one of the ups included running away except maybe to Kohl’s. Timings change, too — when I have time and/or money, they don’t have time and/or money. I don’t have vacation when they do. And so on.

My best friends have changed through the years, too. I love all the people who have filled my life. Each stage has been a support group for me as we all weathered the same storms. But you move, they move, people change jobs, get new husbands/wives, and the distance creeps in between  you.

One of my best friends just made the big move to the East Coast almost a year ago. We text and talk, but it’s just not the same. So one day she said we should meet half way for the weekend. The stars aligned. And I thought — if not now, when?

So I made the plane reservations last night.

Why is this such a big deal?

Only because it’s the first thing in a long time that I’ve done for me. And only me.

I don’t have to do what everybody else wants. I don’t have to babysit the dogs, sit in a boat all day (and not a pontoon either), eat Chuck e Cheese, ride the rides only the kids want to ride, watch football, or any other thing that others tell me to do. Sometimes my friends and I, my family and I, are like chocolate and onions. Both great, but not on the same plate.

I get to go to North Carolina and do the sort of things my husband rolls his eyes at. I plan on strolling the Art Galleries, hitting up a big art fair, and spending a day touring the Biltmore Estate. I get to drink wine, eat little bits of whatever inspires me, and sleep in a bed that someone else has to make.

Plus I get to do girl stuff. Giggle, cry, plan, lament. I get to play with my future dreams, cry at the ones that never really made it, googaw over my grandkids, talk excitedly about redecorating my house, share secrets from my youth, poopoo my job — along with paint my toenails and go sit in a hot tub somewhere.

These are the things that you can only share with someone who gets you. Husbands do their best, but they just don’t have the girly touch.

You’ll never have enough money, time, or vacation. Big deal. Don’t be on your deathbed, lamenting that you should have gone to the Mall of America with your besties 5 or 10 or 20 years ago.  Take your bff. Your cousin. Your daughter-in-law…just go and do it YOUR way!

Wait till I hit Vegas next year…

 

 

Thanks for the Blogging

Thanks

Thanksgiving.  That time of year when we eat too much, watch too much football, and sleep away the day. It also is the day we give thanks for friends and family and our life, such as it is.

This Thanksgiving I want to put an extra thank-you out there. A thanks to the wonderfully fun, entertaining, and sometimes poignant blogs and bloggers that I follow.

I know there are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there; millions reading, billions thinking about the whole process. Like you, I don’t have a lot of time to read — I, too, have a bizillion other creative paths to walk down. (Think of how tired we all are!)

But I’d like to thank the following bloggers for keeping my dream alive. I know there are some that I have missed, some who have taken a break from blogging, and many that I should be following, but in my heart I love you all.

Check them out, and, if they tickle your fancy, give them a follow!

 

The Return of the Modern PhilosopherVery funny blog about aliens, vampires, gargoyles, and love and life in Maine.    https://moviewriternyu.wordpress.com/

Everyone Has a Story.  Strong stories about divorce, recovery, and discovering life again.  http://everyonehasastory.me/

Maxima.  Love poems that cannot help but stoke the flames in your heart.  https://hillsofherchastity.wordpress.com/

Not Quite Old.  Funny, uplifting blog about finding the balance between growing old gracefully and staying as young as possible.  https://notquiteold.wordpress.com/

Live & Learn.  Uplifting blog dances across all topics, with perfect pictures to match.   http://davidkanigan.com/

Leaf and Twig.  Gorgeous images accompanied with the perfect haiku.       https://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/

Catwoods Porch Party.  Art, cats, nature, animals, weather, and whatever.    catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com

Dawn Whitehand.   A wonderful Australian artist, making unique mixed media sculptures from clay, found objects and textured materials which are based on organic natural forms.   dawnwhitehand.wordpress.com. (She also has a kickin’ blog of poetry and images at apoemandadrawingaday.wordpress.com.)

gwenniesworld.  Marvelous photography with an eye for nature.  gwenniesworld.wordpress.com

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally.  Combines personal memories, physical hardships, and a plethora of images reflecting her everyday life.  annkoplow.wordpress.com

ImaginePublicity.  Motivation and marketing savvy.  imaginepublicity.com

The Beauty Along the Road.  Discovering Beauty in the small details of our lives through scenery photography and heartfelt words. beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com

Glorialana’s Blog.  An uplifting, sensitive blog that also slices gently into your heart and soul. glorialana.com

Breezy Books.  Encouraging advice and personal stories for those who love to write.  breezybooksblog.wordpress.com

Victoria K. Gallagher.  Flash-Fiction with a cup of Re-Ali-Tea, as she so aptly puts it.  victoriakgallagher.wordpress.com

Carol Balawyder.  Writing about justice, mid-life dating, grief, inspiring blogs, and  awesome writing workshops.     carolbalawyder.com

Andra Watkins.  Best selling author and traveler who explores family and life relationships.   andrawatkins.com

The Write Transition.   A medical thriller author, physician, public health advocate, and writer who believes every experience is worthwhile, even if our paths deviate from where we started.   carrierubin.com

Jillian Maas Backman.  Best selling author and motivational speaker, a creative muse who ties intuition to success on all levels.   www.jillianmaasbackman.com

Cats at the BarFunny adventures of a boatload of cats.   catsatthebar.org

Figments of a DuTchess.  Creative thinker and a successful participant in Weekly Photo Challenges.  drieskewrites.wordpress.com

Booksphotographsandartwork’s Blog.  Great eye for photography, with a book review now and then.  booksphotographsandartwork.wordpress.com

gwenniesgarden.  Some of the most unique and gorgeous flowers and garden photography I’ve seen.   gwenniesgarden.wordpress.com

Friendly Fairy Tales.  Fairy tales and poetry celebrating magic and nature for kids of all ages. http://www.friendlyfairytales.com

hugmamma’s MIND, BODY and SOUL.  A mother’s love for her daughter and her life is reflected in her heart-warming tales.  www.hugmamma.com

Please Pass the Recipe.  Original and traditional recipes and the stories that go with them.  www.pleasepasstherecipe.com

A Journey Called Life…  Everything from poetry to fantastic images to stories about life.  www.architar.wordpress.com

The Procrastiwriter.  A motivator (and procrastinator) who shows how to be a successful writer around a full-time life.  www.theprocrastiwriter.com

And last, but not least, Sunday Evening Art Gallery.  An online art gallery featuring unique, fantastic art and artists.  www.sundayeveningartgallery.com

HAPPY TURKEY DAY!

Let’s Go There Together

two-old-ladiesIt is truly the beginning of Summer — 85-90 degrees, thunderstorms out of nowhere, sweaty body parts and streets that wave in the heat (who ever thought?)

Trying to find time to finish my Sunday Evening Art bloggeroonie, along with cleaning, cooking, watering the plants, catch up on Game of Thrones, play fetchie with the dogs, and run around with my grandson. I don’t remember being this busy 30 years ago when my own kids were little. All this running around with lists and markerboards and post-it notes full of things I don’t want to forget make me begin to wonder.

I sometimes wonder if I am at the beginning stages of dementia — I forget names, I forget occasions. I get turned around at the drop of a hankie. I was talking to my bff in the car on the way to the Art Fair Saturday: we were in this big, fun, heavy discussion and I had this great point I wanted to make, and suddenly I drew a great big blank. A white 50 x 50 foot wall couldn’t have been more empty. I KNEW where I was going seconds earlier; it’s just that something (who knows what) distracted me, and before I knew it I was sitting with my mouth open trying to catch flies or something.

The only saving grace was that my friend chuckled, started her own story, and hit that very same 50 x 50 wall. She’s several  years younger than me, and maybe it was contagious, but we got a good laugh out of that one.

How would you know if you were losing your mind?

I laugh at that thought, but it’s just as serious as any other disease or accident that may or may not befall you at any time. When does the joking become real? I mean — when does it get serious?

I am able to do my job fairly proficiently still; I am able to write sentences and make my readers smile and collect unique art and talk on the phone and sketch and stencil and read long, windy books with the best of them. I remember how to get to most places, how to balance a check book, and how to do Excel and Word.

But I also forget names, recipes, and directions. I forget how to reprogram the stupid TV/Dish recorder if I hit the wrong button, and I sometimes stare at the computer screen because I’ve forgotten the next step.

I’m sure it happens to all of us. I only hope that I can make a creative moment out of every mistake that takes me in the wrong direction. I’ve already decided that there is no wrong direction (except walking into traffic). Coordinated outfits and hair styles that last the day are more like a crap game to me. If they work, fine. If not, don’t worry about it.

I often get tired of others telling me what to do, and do make strides to “do it myself.” Which I do. Most of the time. The rest of the time I nod and smile and go into my creative world and do things my way anyway. I go off on writing jaunts and unique art jaunts and kinda don’t care anymore if my family goes with me or not. Heck — I’m even singing “My Way” with Frankie now and then.

I don’t know if that’s the beginning of dementia or Alzheimer’s  — and it really doesn’t matter, does it? if I get there I get there. In the meantime I want to leave my own little legacy behind. Lots of pictures of whatever on my phone. Unicorn collections and fancy, second-hand-store wine glasses. Sappy novels, blogs, short stories, poetry, love notes, unique artwork. And, by golly, forgetful or not, I’m going to have a great time doing it all.

Someday someone will go through my laptop and smile at what was left behind.

(Oh Good Lord — did you see this?!?!)

BFFs

heartYou can teach an old dog new tricks – I’m living proof of that. I can’t tell you how many times this bell has run loudly in my head. And I’d like to think I’m humble enough to admit and learn from each and every experience.

Tonight I learned – re-learned – how important friendship can be.

My friends have always been important to me. That’s why I married my best friend. And my kids are my kids and I love them terribly. But they’re my friends, too. We have a history between us, one that leads to stories and remembrances and reprimands gone crooked.

But there’s something about best friends that aren’t necessarily related to you that can make all the difference in the world between sanity and insanity. Someone you can tell your wickedest deeds and funniest moments to who won’t look at you like you’ve got spinach between your teeth. Best friends listen to your rambling, your dreams, and your fears.

And that’s what I’ve always wanted to be. A friend.

I’m surprised how often we take advantage of our friends. Not in a mean way — more like in a carefree, careless way. How often we don’t call, don’t text, always thinking we’ll get ahold of them tomorrow. We don’t mean to be too busy – half the time I think about my besties but I’m just too tired to do anything about it.

Am I still their friend?

In a perfect world, I am. And in an imperfect world, I am too.

Tonight I proved to myself that I am a good friend. I am a good friend because I care about others – I care about the people who are talking to me. Who are laughing with me. Who are rolling their eyes at me. Over coffee and some overly-priced cupcake I shared my past, my fears, and my excitements, and allowed them to do the same.  Sometimes my bffs confess all – other times they don’t share one little secret.

And that’s what best friends do. Listen, talk, say nothing.

This coming up weekend I’m going to get together with women who were my besties 20 years ago. Girls who were girls when I was a girl. Moms who were moms (or rather new moms) when I was a new mom. I haven’t seen most of them for almost 15 years.

Are we still friends? Are we still besties?

Time doesn’t change our past. The bonds we shared are still there 20 years later. Will we still find each other interesting? Fun? Will we talk till dawn or go to sleep at 10?

In the long run, it doesn’t really matter. Reconnecting to the tree that bore our fruit once upon a time is all that matters. There’s a good feeling in that.

In this world, life is short. My family, my friends, all have lost ones they loved way too soon. I miss my mom, my dad, my brother. My friends miss their dads, their moms, and their brothers.  I don’t want to pass any more time missing people. A once-in-a-while call or a weekly get together — it doesn’t matter how you stay connected. All that matters is that you stay connected.

Give your bestie a call. Text them a “hello” message. Write on their Facebook page or meet them for coffee. You’ll be glad you did.

And so will they.

 

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.”

Ye of Little Faith … or Willpower … May Read

ice creamI am so weak. I am such a loser.

I’ve been sluggish lately; trying to adjust to my husband’s new job schedule (nights), my job schedule (days), cooking and not cooking, sleeping and not sleeping. All those things post-menopausal women go through.

I was going to try and do something about the sluggish thing. Diets aren’t for me. I love the taste of food too much. But common sense told me I can’t live on Fettuccine Alfredo and lasagna the rest of my life…not if I wanted to live to see 70. Or 80. Or, goddess be on my side, 90.

So I was going to go on that low-carb diet. Lots of meat, veggies, and water. I drink a lot of water at work already, so that’s not a problem. I started walking during my morning and afternoon work breaks. I was being a good doobie.

Then stress comes along. Too much salad too many days in a row kept me in the bathroom. Scrambling around in my frig for something that goes with the meat/veggie/water thing that is ready in 15 minutes more than impossible. Husband cooks dinner that I have to clean up. Can’t catch up with my writing or my friends or my sleep. So the crabbies hit me full force. And what do I do?

Meet my bff at McDonalds for an ice cream sundae. Then have a bowl of cereal (carbs!!) before bed.

What ever happened to MAKING A COMMITMENT? What ever happened to WILL POWER? What ever happened to the whipped cream and nuts that are supposed to come atop the sundae?

I admit my weakness will not cause the moon to slip out of orbit or get Gordon Ramsey to stop yelling at his Hell Kitchenites. But it bugs me that I can’t seem to stay true to trying to lose a few pounds. Oh, I know — tomorrow is another day. I didn’t fall off any wagon. I’m still walking and drinking water and eyeballing salads. I KNOW I have to move it or lose it. Cut proportions. There are already a dozen things I can’t eat any more because they mess me up in one way or ten.

But somehow it just seemed right to share my joys and sorrows with my bff over cheap ice cream. She, too, is swimming in her own pool of drama, but somehow we found comfort and support over a chocolate dipped ice cream cone and a hot fudge sundae. Seeking solace and laughs and camaraderie,  I would have willingly followed her to the local Italian restaurant, too.  That’s what friends do.

Tomorrow I will be back on the low-carb road. I chopped up some chicken for my salad and will have a burger for breakfast, along with some grapes and broccoli and whatever else my frig gives up. I will not be weak. I will not give up.

But I will be looking for my next excuse for a plate of Shrimp Scampi. With noodles.

Symphony for a Friend

jillianEvery now and then I like to recommend other blogs, websites, books and music that have touched me in some way. I am not a walking advertisement, for my likes are not always yours. But now and then I enjoy sharing things that have made me smile more than once. My sphere of connections is quite limited, but now and then I luck out and find a friend that is more than that. My friend, Jillian Maas Backman, and I have been buds since our kids were in 1st grade (they are now both 24). She was my first friend when I gave everything up in Illinois and moved to Wisconsin to open a bed a breakfast, by my side when we sold same B&B, listened to my griping about all my jobs since, and fueled my love for Writing and the Arts. She also is an intuitive life facilitator, radio show host, and book author.  What is an intuitive life facilitator, you may ask? In a nutshell, she has the uncanny ability to connect with your heart and soul and see what’s really going on in your life.  I believe we all have that ability, but most of us don’t either see it, feel it, or pay attention to it. Jillian just is one of those people who have “IT.” Now you all know about Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).  Everyone has checked out this site for book suggestions, reviews, and just great chit chat about the world of Books. Jillian’s book, Beyond the Pews: Breaking with Tradition and Letting Go of Religious Breakdown, has been a recommended read for almost three years.  To thank her loyal followers, she is running a contest through Goodreads. It’s simple, straight forward — no strings, no sticky glue. Three lucky readers will win a FREE  signed copy of her book, Beyond the Pews, along with a FREE one-half hour private intuitive consultation.  To be eligible, all you need to do is sign up through the Goodreads GIVEAWAY program! I’ve already read the book (which really made me feel good about myself), and Jill and I are the kind of friends who skip the deeper, cosmic, one-on-one side of things to deal with more mundane things such as kids out of college looking for jobs and retro designer shoes. But I know if I’m ever hung up my “bigger picture” she will always be there for me. Go on and check out Jillian’s website (www.jillianmaasbackman.com), read her book ( http://jillianmaasbackman.com/book), enter the Goodreads contest ( https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/96961-beyond-the-pews-breaking-with-tradition-and-letting-go-of-religious-loc).  The deadline to enter is July 16, 2014. If you can’t get to check any of the above out, it’s okay. Find a best friend, share a glass of wine or orange juice, and love them for who they are. Listen to them, offer words of encourage when appropriate,and nod when words aren’t enough. Here is a bit from one of Jillian’s earlier blogs…once again, she’s on the mark… The phrases “live your life” and “follow your soul” have been blooming around us like a field of clover lately. Everyone has their own idea on how to “move forward”. Everyone has “insight” or “advice” to share with whomever will listen. On one hand that is wonderful. It is the beginning of an enlightened movement that encourages us to entwine our paths with others along the way. Some of us need a little guidance. Some of us need a little company. And truth is the only light we have to follow. But whose light do we follow? Is there a glow that is stronger down one path than the other? One’s word that is more spot-on than others? That is what the journey is all about. Finding your true path, your true direction in life, should not be one that frightens you with eternal darkness on one side and  blinding light on the other. It should be the path that glows with your own footsteps. It’s the path that  twists and turns and goes up the hill and down the crevice and still allows you to see your footsteps ahead of you. That’s why the shadowed feet behind you are nothing more than a means to an end. Where you have been is only a shadowed footstep. Nothing more.

You Bowl Me Over

bowlingLet’s start this out with the truth. I suck at bowling. Let’s finish this up with the truth. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is the crazy fun you can have with people you don’t fully know.

No one can know any one 100%. Fact of life. Who knows what’s in the minds of your significant other, your great kid, your best friend. Heck, you don’t even know YOU as much as you think. Having said that, think about how many “others” you come in contact with every day. If you work outside the house, if you have kids that go to school, you always find someone you can share small talk with. Sometimes the small talk grows into comfortable talk. Sometimes the comfortable talk tumbles into good friend talk.  But no matter where you allow the friendship to go, there is always something good to come from it.

Some people will tell you their life story in 10 minutes. Others will hold secrets as long as you know them. That’s a fact of life, too. As long as you don’t demand more (or less) from these “others” you might find real people that you enjoy being around.

I’ve been blessed in my life with a great husband, great kids, and great friends. It hasn’t always been this way. These days we laugh that wherever there’s an “A” (my last name initial), there is drama. Cancer. Passing On. Water damage from a broken faucet while your house is up for sale. It can be a big thing, it can be a small thing. But it’s always SOMEthing. That’s why you need to find friendship, a good time, whenever you can. A few fun hours can clear your thoughts, move you forward.

Back to sucking at bowling. I went to the company outing Saturday, doing my best to throw a ball down the alley, mostly winding up with gutter balls and single digit pins. To think I met my husband at a bowling alley 35 years ago was a flash down an alley I barely remember (no pun intended).

But what didn’t suck was that I had fun with people that I see in a totally different environment 40 hours a week. A single mother, a married mother of one, and a single would-make-a-great-mother, all made bowling and friendship such an easy thing. During the week we all sit tied to our desks, way over our heads in work, barely sharing tales of what we did yesterday, no less what we did years ago. Yet these are people that I see day in and day out. People who accept me for what they see. People who don’t judge me for past mistakes or slights or wrong turns. There’s no way we could know each other’s upside down lives, yet we are drawn by the common need for friendship and understanding that their “upside down” lives looks hauntingly familiar.

People don’t need to be a full-time member of your personal entourage to be your friend. While you don’t have to share intimate details, you can share the best part of yourself with others who need it. An ear to listen, advice from experience — it doesn’t matter. I learn from those who have walked my path as well as those who are walking across the field somewhere. Laughing over the little things, like bowling, makes the rest of life easier. It won’t cure the disease or a broken heart or unemployment, but it will let you know you’re not alone in the wilderness.

Now…if someone could just teach me how to bowl…

They Are The Same

leafhouseAfter spending a great weekend with women from both sides of the family, I am a firm believer that family can be friends, and friends can be family. After all is said and done, they are the same.

We all have had our share of pain and loss, of growth and stagnation. But we found a bond over a pedicure and lunch that will keep us connected as long as we breathe.

Get to it! Go out and bring your family and friends together.  Just make a date and do it. It doesn’t matter where — bring those hearts and souls together.

Don’t wait. You don’t have as many chances as you think.

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

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…