Cut Those Calorie Blues

klice_fresh-alfalfa-sprouts-in-a-white-plate-3Monday I had my (hopefully) once-every-10-years-colonoscopy.

I will spare you the agony and colorful descriptions of the pre- and post-inspection. I’m more concerned about the best after-effect. Weight loss.

And the struggle to keep it lost.

Like many who take this journey through their inner galaxy, you lose a lot of matter. And water. And when you are happily empty of all hauntings, you are about 5-8 pounds lighter.

Here’s me…no food for 30 hours. Not in the mood to think about food. Then everything is done. Finito. What is my first thought for dinner? Macaroni and Cheese.

I tell myself I can keep on this fasting/low cal way of living. After all, gotta keep that colon clean. Jello, bouillon, keep it light. Okay, add some toast and it’s okay if you add some protein. Water. Drink lots of water. Liquids. Okay…Coke is a liquid, right? So on and on we go. And I can see my dream of losing another 15 pounds the pre-colonoscopy way is fading with every whiff of bacon, chocolate, or onion rings.

Colonoscopies are a valuable diagnostic tool. Since I had a breast lumpectomy 5 years ago, (and there is no history of breast cancer in my family that I know of), anything that can happen CAN happen. So better to be pro-active.

I know my dining habits have been slack lately. I am full of “who cares?” and “I’m old so it doesn’t matter” and other reasons to eat anything and everything. But there comes a time when sloppy is no way to live your life. I’ve been a veggie fan for quite a long time, and I’m not a big meat eater. As I’ve gotten older a number of things upset my stomach, including, sadly, alcohol. So I have been forced to eat healthier.

But I have to admit. Losing that much weight so quickly was a boost to the ego. Amazing what 5 pounds can do to a person. But reality isn’t made of chicken bouillon and grape jello. When you put in a full day of work (whether it’s kids, office, farming, or what have you), a cup of tea and a handful of wholewheat crackers isn’t gonna get you up in the morning.

So I have made a deal with myself. A compromise. I truly don’t need the extra bag of cookies from the snack bar or the pasta or the extra slices of raisin bread after I have breakfast. I’m going to eat, but I’m going to eat smart. Not lazy. I’m going to make a menu board and plan my meals a week ahead of time (my daughter-in-law had done it for years and it’s worked wonders for her). I’m not going to boredom-snack, or TV snack, unless it’s healthy.

I’m no angel…I know I can’t say no to mini cream puffs or an occasional donut if someone brings them to work for birthday goodies. But I CAN control portions and choices and pig out on something that won’t add chunk to my already chunky physique.

After all. I want to dance at my grandson’s wedding. And since he’s only 6 and his mom won’t even THINK of letting him get married until he’s done with college, that’s reason enough to become a reasonable-calorie gourmet.

I just wonder how this change of heart will effect my Christmas cookie-making goals?

Listen to your Body

GIF By George RedhawkDoes your reality often get in the way of your creativity?

I am certain every creative sprite wishes they had more time. More time to write, to pick out beads, to carve, to crochet. To practice the piano or the guitar. And perhaps that desire to “have more time” is what keeps the creative juices flowing.

But what if reality gets in the way?

Not being able to create on a regular basis can cause more physical problems than you already have. Anxiety, depression, frustration, all can lead to higher blood pressure and a host of other maladies. Having a creative outlet is like poking a hole in a blister: it vents the pressure and allows the healing to begin. Or continue.

There are a number of circumstances in my life at the moment (none of them bad), that are preventing me from getting to the writing/editing/publication of various projects.

And I’m not okay with that.

Yet I have to be okay with that. Because if I don’t take care of the body, the mind will be the next to go.

I truly believe that creativity is useless if the vehicle you’re using to express it is working under par. That you need to take care of yourself before you take care of your sculpture. Otherwise, you’ve only given a part of your essence to your project. Not all of it.

Working full time, my only “free” time is evenings and weekends. Add cleaning, cooking, shopping for necessities, paying bills, and paying attention to family and friends, and the wind of creativity shrinks to half.

And half of not much is not much.

One of the problems I’m dealing with is insomnia. It might be because of age, medication, schedules, one or all of the above. Nonetheless, while that initially sounds like an opening for “more” time, it really is a stab in the cortial and subcortial network (Research  Uncovers How and Where Imagination Occurs in the Brain, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/imagination-brain_n_3922136.html). The less sleep you get, the more tired you become. The more tired you become, the slower the synapses connect. And, of course, the less synapses connecting, the duller your creativity.

While I’m finally off to the doctor to work on this, I realize that, for now, If I want to sleep longer I have to get to bed earlier. Which means less stimulation before bed. Which means…you get my drift.

The point of this blog is to encourage you to listen to your body. Really listen. Take care of what ails you now. Being burned out, over-stressed, lethargic, hyper-active — or worse yet, in the hospital — does little good for anyone.

Especially for your Muse.

Deny if you will, but we all have a muse, a spirit guide, an angel, who opens our hearts and heads and minds and helps us tap into that never-ending waterfall of creativity. Once you accept that, you have to learn to take care of that muse. Which, in the long run, is taking care of yourself.

Your craft can wait. Not stop — wait. Instead of planning it by big steps, plan it by baby steps. A little today, a little tomorrow. Along with dealing with insomnia, heartburn, diverticulitis. Deal with your body so you have room — and time — to deal with your Muse. And your creativity. Never give up your dreams — just adjust them to fit your schedule.

Once you achieve balance, you can hit the easel/notebook/kiln once again, pulling your hair out, biting your nails, wondering if you’re ever going to create anything worthwhile.

But that’s an over-reaction of a different color.

Life is But a Memory

flowerMost times I try and keep the flow of this blog upbeat — there are so many positive things in this world, I just can’t sit idly by and let them pass me without dipping my toe in their pools.  But, as many of you know, there are a lot of sad things out there, too. Some things we can change, others we can only deal with.

A good friend at work was telling me her story about her grandmother who was slipping into full-fledged dementia. K said she could see it coming for over two years, but many in the family did not (or chose not to see). Dementia comes in many ways; it slips in uninvited and refuses to leave. How and when it affects their chosen hosts is more up to Fate than choice.

Our conversation was more from her grandmother’s point of view — did she recognize her children? Did she know her grandaughter? Moreover, was she upset that she “should” know these people but just…didn’t?

Seeing a loved one go through irreversible illness is heartbreaking. Young people with inoperable cancer, friends lost in senseless car accidents, all are part of our lives that we truly have no control over. Every one of those experiences change people’s lives forever. Those who survive hurt the most, and have the hardest time accepting and moving on. But we do. We have to.  But Dementia is a gradual experience. You are alive and thinking and reasoning one minute and you are forgetting things the next until one day you don’t remember what you’re supposed to remember.

Back to Grandma.  K told me this was her first experience with anyone she knew slipping into the grey of tomorrow, and wasn’t sure how to handle it. I, in my naive way, told her that as long as her grandmother was “happy” with her every day life, as long as she was relatively healthy and alert, that was the best you could ask for. The hurt, the pain and confusion usually come from our inability to accept the fact that we’re not a part of their memory any more.

Which leads me to today’s thoughts. I wonder what the world seems like from inside a dementia patient’s head. I have heard they see and talk to people long dead, or remember 50 years ago as if it were yesterday. Does that frighten them? Does it matter to them? Often patients don’t remember their kids, their grandkids. Do they feel guilty about that? Are they sad about that? Or does it not matter in their emotional scheme of things?

I find it fascinating that, at least at the beginning, K’s grandma talks normally about day-to-day things: who she talked to (even if they are no longer on this Earth), what she did this morning. She mixes up nurses and nieces, but still processes information the same way.  It’s as if her reality is real, yet different. To her, her brother dead 15 years really sat next to her bed and talked about little things. What’s the big deal about that?

I don’t know if that’s good or not. Or whether the word “good” is even appropriate here.

People with wild imaginations also talk to people who don’t exist. Even as a writer, I find myself wandering off on a mental tangent through my character’s mind, the end having nothing to do with her/his life — or mine. I suppose the difference is that I can come back to today and know I went on a mental adventure. Dementia patients do not.

I did not wander through the Internet, looking for symptoms or shared experiences. I didn’t want the distractions to change my feeling quite yet. I have these fears and thoughts because I sometimes wonder if that’s my fate down the line. I adore my kids, my grandson, my husband and friends. The thought of having all this love inside of me fade away because I don’t remember them hurts more than I can say.

This blog has been brewing for a few days, and I wanted to hear your take on these things. Have you gone through this sort of separation? Do you know of blogs or websites that share these kinds of experiences without becoming a panic attack?  If you do, please share. If not, don’t worry. I’m sure you have experiences of other depths that you might share one day.

And no matter what, experience and explore and remember as many new things as you can while you can. For I can’t believe it doesn’t matter in the memory of your soul.

Which is all that matters in the end.

 

A Little More Sprinkles

buddiesI am getting ready for a Celebration of Life this Friday for my younger brother whom I lost to the “big C” recently. The Grim Reaper has always been around us — me — it just seems the older I get the closer his scythe is getting to me. To have a younger brother cut down quickly by something no one knew he had is just one more wake-up call. Not that I’m not awake — I have treaded on thin ice a couple of times the last few years, and I realize that if I don’t pay more attention (well, even if I do), that that scythe can sneak up on me, too.

I wrote this blog a couple of years ago after the “Big C”. I think it’s an appropriate thing to repost this week. Pay attention, my friends. To your body, your mind, and your soul.

A Little More 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 chocolate 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…

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

Goddess Beauty Tips for Women and Men!

Mirror Mirror on the Wall……Who’s the Wackiest Chick of All?

Looking for a homemade remedy or a magic potion?  Here are a few fun ditties I found bouncing atop the Yellow Brick Cloud Tops. Believe what you will. My personal advice ― don’t give up your doctor…

 Curing a Cough

 To cure a cough: take a hair from the coughing person’s head, put it between two slices of buttered bread, feed it to a dog, and say, “Eat well you hound, may you be sick and I be sound.” Have you ever heard a dog hacking?  I’d rather have the cough…

Curing a Sty

To cure a sty, stand at a crossroads and recite: “Sty, sty, leave my eye, Take the next one coming by.” Beware of those winking at you…

Fevered Onions

An onion cut in half and placed under the bed of a sick person will draw off fever and poisons. I suppose if nothing else your bedroom will smell like a hamburger joint…

And You Thought Wine Was Just For Drinking

 We all know that red wine is good for our health, but I hear it’s fab for your skin, too! The antioxidants and polyphenols found in wine are good for softening skin, and they’re easily absorbed through through it as well. Similar to a milk bath, fill your whole tub if you’re feeling dried out. Just don’t be tempted to drink your bathwater…

Curly-Haired Boxers

Curly-haired ladies should borrow a pair of their man’s boxers to dry their locks, since a towel’s fibers can actually increase frizziness. Simple cotton is far less agitating. Just don’t raid the dirty laundry hamper…

Olive Oil Baby

 A quick and easy tip to make your body feel like silk? Olive oil. After a shower while your skin’s still damp, apply olive oil all over your body and pat dry with a damp towel. It’s moisturizing and dead sexy. Or so they say. It makes me think of a fine vinaigrette…

Avacado Anyone?

 This guac-like concoction works wonders on your hair, too. The recipe calls for mashing up one to two avocados (depending on how much hair you’ve got), working through your hair, and letting sit for 10 minutes before rinsing.  Add a bit of cilantro and lime, and…mmmm…

Trick or Treat…Smell my Feet

Beat stinky feet by soaking tootsies in a black tea bath. They say the tea’s tannins are good at neutralizing odor.  Or just take a shower…

Shoe Etiquette

Do not place shoes upon a table, for this will bring bad luck for the day, cause trouble with your mate and you might even lose your job as a result. Besides that you have no idea where those shoes have been…

And Men…Don’t Feel Left Out

Beard stuff

Do you shave three times a day in hopes of growing an Abe Lincoln?  Genetics and hormones are the major determinants of an individual’s beard development, not frequent shaving.  Cutting or shaving the hair does not make it darker or coarser. However, a hair shaft is darker and coarser at the root than at the tip, hence cutting it near the root makes the hair appear darker and coarser.  A forever five o’clock shadow, then…

Knuckle Down

The cracking sound that you hear (mostly from men’s hands) is usually just the release of gas bubbles or the ligaments or tendons moving over the bones. No evidence has been found which suggests that the habit of cracking your knuckles will cause arthritis later in life. However, it probably will annoy other people, so stop doing it anyway.

And, finally…

Men with Big Feet also have Big…

It is true that the development of male broomsticks and toes (as well as women’s splash guards and fingers) are influenced by the same gene. But the length of one does not predict the length of the other. Numerous studies found that there was no correlation between the self-reported size of feet and that of the crown jewels. We’ve always told you…it’s the size of the heart that matters anyway…

One Time Only!

This is the only time that I’m going to spend quality blog time babbling about a personal roadblock.

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.

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…