Do It Today!

Working till noon today, then off we go to the North woods with the grand kids for a couple of days. Grandpa already has plans for the four of us to camp out in the living room and  play games and eat popcorn and watch dumb movies and stay up past 10:00 pm and sleep on whatever couch we find. There is fishing to do, grilled cheese to make, take the dog fetching in the lake — a full schedule before the parents get there.

It’s great life… One that is moving way too fast for me. I’m trying to take life one day at a time, But as you get older, one day feels like 12 hours, Not 24.

I try not to let that part get to me. But it always does.

I day dream a lot of things when I get away from my responsibilities. My day writing job has not turned out like I thought, some family and friends around me are not doing well, and I feel like it’s only a matter of time before a shoe drops on my head.

I have great plans for once I retire which is only a 112 days away. But you know Sagittarians…  we plan big and carry out average and end up small.

I still have the dream of Paris or Ireland. But that dreams on hold until I get this writing thing together. And as I work on starting a proof reading/editor business, my grand kids are starting soccer. One is 4, the other is 9, so that works out to 2 games every Saturday.

These games bring me back to when my own kids played soccer. Was it really so long ago? 10-15 years ago I sat on the sidelines watching the loves of my life run up-and-down the field. No matter what the weather, we were there. There was really no time to write back  then. Life was too busy being a mom.

But I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

Now their kids are starting out running across those same fields and no matter what the weather, there I am, sitting on the sideline, watching the loves of my life run up-and-down the field.

There’s not much time for writing these days either.

So what you must do — what we all must do — is take each day as it comes. Period. Plan if you can, laugh if you can’t.

For everything you do can bring you joy.

Get out of your mindset that it has to be this or that that makes your full heart beat. Do what you need to do, find time to do what you love to do, and hope that everything eventually comes out stuck together in one big happy giant ball.

I probably won’t see you till Sunday night in the gallery. But do me a favor.

Do something fun this weekend. Do something magical this weekend. Just reach out and grab that magic that’s right in front of you and make it yours.

Always drive home down A, B, C, D? Try driving home A, B, K, R, D. Take a view of your world you don’t often see. Always look at that same tree driving somewhere? Stop for a minute an take its picture. Write about it. Paint it. Pretend there’s a swing on it. Connect with it. Always eyeball that ice cream stand in the next town? Stop there! Get some ice cream! Big deal!

Do it alone, do it with someone. Put your face in the sunlight or the wind or the rain and just be there. Let go of self repercussions and self hated or frustrations and just go wherever the moment takes you. Forget about housework, looking for a new job, loosing those extra pounds.

Just take the moment and see what you see.

I know I’m going to.

Pillow fight in the living room!

Happy Saturday!

It is a beautiful Saturday afternoon outside. I have done half of my chores, and am thinking about the rest of them as I pop into Word Press.

A mistake?

Depends on what I pop in here for.

I’m sure it’s the same with you. You work a full time job, either outside of the house or in. Or full time school. Or full time mother. Dog sitter. Whatever. You do what you have to do to buy groceries, maybe a bottle of wine now and then. Society dictates you not only sparkle at your job, but that your house is immaculate and your clothes tailored, children behaved, and your books read.

Good thing you and I aren’t following the dictates of society. You and I live by the fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants rules.

Finish the big things, like switching the laundry or turning off the stove. Oh…and make sure you have clean plates for dinner and vacuum the cat hair up at least once a week.

But who wants to do that on a beautiful Saturday afternoon?  My interest wanes in anything physical (except if I’m running around with grandkids) long about mid day.

Except for writing.

Funny how we find excuses for everything we don’t like,  but offer no explanation for those we enjoy?

Ack — with a wave of the hand it will be tomorrow. All your chores will be waiting for you — they won’t have gone anywhere.

But think of how great it would be to finish that painting? That poem? That crocheted sweater? Or, in my case, that novel?

I  love when I read that someone has learned something, discovered something. Finished something. They sound so alive! So sparkling!  So awake!

Here’s to you. And all you do. Have fun!

 

Feeling Better = Writing Nonsense

Now that the pain in my back is almost gone, my mind is free to wander — and that’s always a scary thing.  Here are some cosmic thoughts (past and present) to get you going this fine Tuesday evening —

  •  If you ever get stuck in a time warp and wind up in another time, you can always become a bard. Think of all the lyrics to rock and roll songs you know!
  • If time travel is impossible, why do I hear myself saying things I said ten years ago?
  • Coca-cola is green without coloring. Ewww.
  • They say it’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. Does that mean if I tried to read the dictionary backwards while sitting in a bathtub and singing God Bless America and I didn’t want to stop until I was done singing and the house caught on fire because my cat knocked over the candle I had burning in the other room and I had to stop reading the dictionary, was it better never to have tried that stunt in the first place?
  • If infinity is infinite, and we can see no end to it, how do we know it’s even there?
  • Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.
  •  It is a fact that the closer you get to the speed of light, the more time slows down. So isn’t a moot point to drive faster, when you actually arrive at your destination later?
  • Why does everyone on TV eat Chinese food out of the carry out container with chopsticks? I have yet to see one actor eat Chinese on a plate with a fork! I mean…come on…
  • The theory of relativity suggests that before the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago, space and time did not exist and matter was packed together in a tiny ball. Okaay…how tiny is tiny? As if it matters…
  • You spend your entire life living and eating and dancing in three dimensions. But according to superstring theory, there are at least ten dimensions in the universe (M-theory actually suggests that there are 11 dimensions to spacetime; bosonic string theories suggest 26 dimensions). Try walking and talking in that! (fyi the article is amazing..you have to check it out..10 Dimensions)
  • Most of us are a walking storeroom of facts — we’ve just lost the key to the storeroom door.

Have a great rest of your week!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

thIn going through my PPL (Past Post Library), I noticed I’ve never once written on Valentine’s Day about Valentine’s Day.

Why do you think that is?

I do have a husband that I’ve Valentined in my heart for over 35 years. I have two great sons that also deserve my Valentine, along with a sweet daughter-in-law, her great parents, two sets of great best friends, and my two Valentine grandkids.

But somewhere along the line I never connected my love for them with Valentine’s Day.

I know it’s a holiday created by Hallmark, another way to cash in on human emotions. Nothing wrong with that. Candy, flowers, heart-shaped cakes, all fall into the going-the-extra-mile for your sweetie. There are online articles about 10 Valentine’s Day Flowers and their Meanings, Celebrating Valentine’s Day with a Box of Chocolates, and other romantic inklings to set the mood.

The love of my life has never really given me anything for Valentine’s Day. And that’s been over 35 years. Am I insulted? No, not really. I knew 35+ years ago that he was not the roses and chocolates type. And that was alright. It still is. For most of my life there was so much more we could have done with the $50 he would spend on flowers or wine. My Valentine’s Day gift would be an extra pizza in the grocery cart or rent a movie from Redbox.

Times have changed. We are in a better financial place than we were 10, 20, even 30 years ago. Our Valentine’s Day money went to taking my grandson to see the Lego Batman Movie. That was fun — that was love.

Yet…

Three girls at work today had flowers delivered to them. Does that bother me?

Well, a little.

I could say that my hubby shows his love for me in other ways…

…he gives me money to go out and buy my own flowers.

I guess that’s Valentine’s enough for me.

Hellloooo….Cosmos Calling

briliantThe Cosmos is always calling — are you listening?

I tend to block incoming calls, leaving a message that I’ll get back shortly.  And, of course, when I call back, it’s too late. The message has disappeared. Moved On. Taken a Hike. Good Bye.

So today is a good day to start remembering and rewriting some of the messages my old friend Cosmos has been sending.

  •  When the Muse is there She’s there. When she’s not she’s not. Quit trying to make wine out of hot dogs. You can’t force the words, the strokes, the stitches. Leave the door wide open but take your trek elsewhere for a while. As long as it’s creative, even if it’s mindless, it encourages Her return.
  • If it doesn’t have anything to do with your realm, keep your mouth shut. Your conservative or over-the-top opinions won’t change the state of politics or sports or Hollywood. Misery loves company and yakkers need an audience. Don’t be the bigmouth or the enabler.
  • DO stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Abuse is rampant. Child, animal, elder — A bully is always a bully. Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. If you notice something, and don’t want to confront the culprit, report it. Tell someone. Be their strength.
  • There is no such thing as a leisurely dinner outside. Especially this time of year. Quit trying to sell us wine and laughter and best friends sitting at a big table surrounded by land and woods. It doesn’t work that way. Just ask the mosquitoes and flies. Or the chiggers that chew your ankles.
  • Wine, chocolate, and whipped cream are the answers to all of life’s problems.
  • Organization is the name of the game. Most of us are O-Negative, but with an infusion of creativity, energy, and optimism, even the smallest o can grow to be a fairly decent sized O. Just put away what you take out, close what you open, measure before you cut, and find yourself a Muse or Spirit Guide to give you a pinch in the keester now and then.
  • Taco Cat spelled backwards is Taco Cat.
  • Universal Truth #6327: Everything makes sense to someone (see Cosmic).
  • The Cosmos is full of random moves disguised as calculated theories. So it is with winning. A few odds: winning the Powerball, 1 in 292,201,338; dying from an asteroid strike, 1 in 74,817,414; attacked by a shark, 1 in 3,748,006; becoming a movie star: 1 in 1,505,000; getting struck by lightning: 1 in 1,107,143; being killed by a vending machine, 1 in 112,000,000; being killed by a coconut, 1 in 270,000,000. Since the odds never make sense, odds are that you might as well give up the odds and go with a sure thing. Like I before E. Except after C. Oh, and there’s an A in there too…
  • Don’t be fooled by the “peaceful life” in the country. It can be just as loud as the city. Birds are worse than car horns.

The Cosmos gave me a bunch of messages this past weekend, and this time I was listening. Friendship is forever, there are stories around every corner, if you connect your soul with the soul of the universe, anything can happen. Then I gave the o’l Cos some advice I’ve learned along the way.

  • Love. There’s 1,000s of chances to find it. Life. There’s only one chance to live it.
  • Creativity is a way of life.
  • Jon Snow is not dead.

Naked and Afraid and Nutty Oh My!

thI’m sitting this evening, watching this wonderfully entertaining — and wonderfully stupid — show that puts together one naked male and one naked female and dumps them into some exotic jungle and says see ya in 21 days.

There are plenty of reality shows on the telly to entertain the simplest mind. I suppose this is what American TV has come down to these days. But back to this reality show. There is always a ton of ego involved in this survival.

There’s also a lot of bone-headed ideas.

Some of the couples start off on the right foot together, and others don’t like each other from the get go. Being stuck with another naked person for three weeks can test anyone’s patience. She may be a tattooed beauty, he may be a muscled god, but when it comes down to it, their pre-conceived notions of each other never really disappear. They merely…adapt.

She wants to be an individual, he wants to be the alpha. He’s usually aggressive in one way or another, she gets pissed of and keeps to herself. She wants to catch crab, he wants to eat the dangerous sea snake. She wants to fix the shelter so it doesn’t leak, he wants to cut down trees in the hope there’s coconuts with milk in them. They go in with no food, (what? I thought there were McDonalds everywhere!) no fire, no weapons, and have to fend for themselves.  They eat termites and crabs and snakes and put up with storms, flooding, insects, sunburn, infection, diarrhea, alligators, sweat, dehydration, starvation, thorns, all kinds of things. They are tapping out after Day 5, Day 11, crying, praying, crabbing, mumbling, overwhelmed by the sheer primativeness of it all.

And I wonder — why?

I know there is a whole psyche nation that has to prove to themselves that they have “what it takes.” Whether its climbing Mt. Everest or kayaking down the Amazon or entering a triathlon, there is some height we all want to reach. Some person we want to become. Some goal want to achieve. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But I watch these two people knocking around, tired of everything the other person says or does, starving, sweating, swearing, doing their best to survive 21 days without killing each other.

Is this proving your worth?

I suppose I am on the wrong side of town to really appreciate the sacrifices people make to prove something to themselves. I have never been overly ambitious, overly demanding, overly aggressive. I have also always been overly honest. I know what I can do and what I can’t. What I can do if I’d just work harder, what I’ll never be able to do.

I suppose that also means I’ll never know the complete satisfaction of overcoming incredible odds to do something few others have. And I don’t mean overcoming cancer or things like that. I mean going, doing something exciting and different and life-changing. Part of me feels bad about that, because, like all human beings, I want to be special. I want to be remembered. I want to be unique.

Somehow I just don’t think eating termites is the way to do it.

My Obligatory Kids and Kittens Blog

They say posts with kids and kittens get the most responses.

That’s because it’s easier to smile at laugh and kids and kittens when you’re not directly responsible for them.

I adore my grandkids. What grandparent doesn’t feel the same towards theirs? Yet mine exhaust me to the point of see-ya-later-maybe-much-later. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be, yet it does create a guilt trip in this bubble mind of mine.

I have been blessed in ways others have not. My GKs have always lived within an hour’s drive. I still talk to my son (although I sometimes think he think’s I AM the bubble head queen), and I love my daughter-in-law. It’s a win/win thing.

Yet when I get the kids overnight it’s like I’ve never moved or babysat in my life.

One is almost 6, and wants to run around outside, which is the best thing in the world for him. But he wants to cut vegetables, saw wood, drive the tractor, dig with the shovel — things way above his talent (and height). My husband encourages Mr. Little Farmer (it’s not a farm but we all call it that)  in other directions (often with adult supervision), yet lets him sit on his lap in the tractor driver’s seat and drive down our long country driveway.

Yikes.

The baby, 8 months old, can’t tell me if he prefers cereal or puffs or spaghetti or a bottle. So I give them all to him between his crawling adventures. He’s no longer in the “hold me on your lap” phase — he’s more into the “put me on the floor!” state of demand. Off he goes, crawling over the dog, the cat, picking up weird things that hide under the chairs…crabbing one minute, laughing the next.

Somehow I don’t remember my kids being this pumped up.

Of course, that was 30 years ago. I was 30 years younger. (Ack!! Don’t say that!) My view of the world and my place in it, was much different. Back then I thought I could make a difference. That I could have it all — great job, great kids, a house out of Architectural Digest — all the things that motivate young people to work hard and study hard.

Now, at the age of 60+, I’m in the job I’m going to be in for the long run, and Wall Street it isn’t. Nor is my house the ones dreams are made of. Nor is my beat up 2005 Sable or 2004 KIA van. I have succeeded with the great kid part, but I am still learning to let them live their own lives, too.

My energy level has wandered away down some long forgotten path, too. I’m working on finding that path again — I figured if I want to live long enough to see my GKs get married, I’d better start walking those paths again soon.

Babysitting the kids fits that bill of exercise, too. Not wanting to look like the old, falling apart granny, I do my best to climb the hills, dig the holes, and ride the bikes. That, too, I believe, keeps the Reaper away.

But dang, kids — my pace and yours is not nor ever will be the same.

Maybe that’s a good thing — after all, if I had all that energy, what would be left for my own kids have to do?

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…

 

 

Give Me a Purple Streak

I knew when I saw this commercial there would be a blog connected to it.k8lu

It was a Walgreen’s commercial.  I think it was for inexpensive prescriptions for Medicare patients or something. There were two old broads, laughing, picking up meds, who were going to their (I assume) high school reunion.

Wake Up Vibe #1: Their reunion was for the year 1966. That is only 4 years before mine.

Wake Up Vibe #2: They had big purple streaks in their snow white hair.

Wake Up Vibe #3: I liked the hair.

Let’s face it. I am not one of those old women with white hair and creaky bones who are the face of Baby Boomers.  I am an old woman with red hair and creaky bones who is the face of Baby Boomers. I hate hate HATE the idea of getting older. Period. I am not greeting old age with open arms; I am not going into that dark night quietly. I am the young creature who dances to Motley Crue and follows fashion and dreams of a career where I can be myself and who is never going to move on.

I am also the old creature who moves my body to Motley Crue and makes up fashion and finds time to dabble in a career where I can be myself and is moving on as slow as possible.

Why does this glimpse on TV rattle my chakras?

Maybe it’s because the comely Boomers are still a size 6. I haven’t been a size 6 since 6th grade.  Maybe it’s because the two women together have this invisible, indivisible, bond that probably has lasted since 1st grade. My bestie moved half way across the U.S. six months ago and there’s no one to pal around to the pharmacy with.

I think the biggest rattle is because the women pass off graduating in 1966 just like they passed off going to Applebees for lunch last week. Like it was nothing.

There is no way in hell I graduated from high school 50 years ago.

Do you know the changes that can take place in 50 years?

We had typewriters with correcting tape, microfiche films, princess phones, computers the size of a room, and no seatbelts. We launched Star Trek, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Brezchnev, Johnson, and DeGaulle.

I don’t want this to turn into a walk down memory lane — what we had v.s. what we have now. The point is much simpler than that.

There is no way I graduated from high school 46 years ago. I’m still acting like a teenager NOW, despite grandkids, mortgages, jobs, bankruptcy, and cancer. I still love the Beatles and the Monkees and have a fond recollection of 8-tracks.

Today’s 20-40ish crowd is no different than when I was 20-40-ish. I was too busy changing jobs and raising kids and finding a second job to worry about purple hair streaks. But now I’m starting think — if not now, when?

Young readers, do you waste time thinking about getting older? About what used to be? Do you have the “good ‘ol days”?  I’d love to hear your stories. That way I won’t get so worked up over a silly TV commercial.

After all, who knows what will happen at YOUR 50th high school reunion…in 2056….

A Man-Type Blog

th (1)You would think that with the amount of writing I’ve been doing the second half of my life, my family – i.e., my mate/husband/soulie – would get excited when I write something new. I mean, I write all kinds of things: mysteries, comedies, poetry, blogs, biographies, novels – let’s just say most everything except dissertations and financial reports. But noooo…whenever I talk about my latest gig, my soulie smiles and nods and looks at me like a deer in the headlights. Like he’s already changed the channel. Not in a mean way – more in an “I know you so nothing you write surprises me” way. So for all those (mostly) men out there that don’t quite get it, here is a manly blog any man can understand.

Saturday Night Cattle Fever

The weather cracked with electricity outside. Thunder rumbled and echoed like a 9-pin no-tap game. The Super Hero hadn’t seen a storm tumble in like that since the white walkers arrived on Game of Thrones. And he didn’t like it.

The Super Hero adjusted his mask and cape. He needed to gather his herd of USDA Prime steers and head back to the corral before the rain came. His partner, the back-up quarterback, nodded to the Hero. No mindless, idle chatter needed. “Home,” was all he said, his Pall Mall filtered extra-light dangling from his lips.

The heat rolling in before the storm was unbearable. Our Hero hadn’t felt this hot since Anna Nichole Smith’s spread in 1992. But that was nothing to the hockey freeze that might follow if didn’t get his Grade A’s to shelter. Keeping his Eye of the Tiger on the approaching weather melee, the Super Hero shouted, “Omaha! Omaha! Set! Hut!” and the cattle drive began.

Onward the cattle plodded, their steps falling in line like the Michigan State University Trojan Marching Band. The wind picked up, the sky darkened. All the Super Hero could think about was pizza and beer and darts. If he could only get back to his Man Cave.

Would his cattle make it? Would he make it?

The back-up quarter back threw his GPS in a spiral pass to the Super Hero, who caught it with one hand. Hero nodded. No need to ask for directions here, mister. He’d find his own way. Thoughts of dinner crossed the Hero’s mind as he barely missed a turkey with a 10” beard. Fortunately, the Tom was faster, and the Hero’s permit wasn’t until Fall.

The Super Hero and his cattle finally reached the hill’s summit, the wind howling and the trees dancing. But this was no time for a parking lot party. Not with the storm beer barreling in on polka wheels. He could clearly see his 6 bedroom, 3 bath, bi-level ranch with wrap around cedar deck, hot tub, 30 x 30 pole barn, and exposed lower level complete with built-in bar, 55” flat screen, and leather-cushioned pool table waiting for him.

The prime cuts seemed to know they were home, too, as they poured through the stainless steel gates over to the Scott’s fertilized grass fields. The rain exploded above their heads, soaking both the Hero and his back-up, bringing nourishment to the countryside and fresh water to the hydroponics in the greenhouse beyond.

The Super Hero parked his orange SRT Viper GTS into the furthest stall of his four-car climate-controlled garage, and closed the door behind him. He took his Tony Lama’s off at the back door, did the Discount Double Check to find his keys, hung them on the  on the John Deere key rack, and entered his Home Sweet Home.

The cattle had been saved. Life was good.

And so would be the Rib Eye Angus with drawn garlic butter and the Blue Moon with the slice of orange. The only thing better would be a baseball double-headed on TV tonight, and a shot of bourbon. Both could be arranged.

 

P.S. He didn’t get it.

8 (more) Granny Rules

CAM00835 (2)I want to start this off by saying how lucky — and I mean lucky — I am to have my oldest son, his pregnant wife, and my 4-year-old grandbaby living with us for a few months. I will never have this opportunity again, so I don’t want to blow it.

Having said that, I have found that when family stays with you (even if it’s for a week or two), the rules as a Granny change. I find I’m not as freebird-ish as I want to be. I have learned that, much to MY chagrin, you have to be respectful of the parents’ wishes, thoughts, and actions.

So for you other present or future grannies and grandpas, here are some rules you should think about.

1.  Bed Time is Bed Time.

Oh, you may be able to squeeze an extra hour out on the weekends, but during the week, there is no watching TV in bed with Granny while eating an ice cream bar or jumping on the bed with the dogs. They need to calm down before sleep time. (So do you!)

2. Bed Time Snacks Are Different.

No more chips and soda before bed; no more cheese sticks and slices of salami, no more Hi-C or Hawaiian Punch cocktails. Pull that apple out from the back of the frig shelf, or pour a bowl of cereal. Act responsible. (Leave the ice cream bars for before YOU go to bed..)

3.  Ask your Mom/Dad

My grandson used to come over and get just about anything he wanted any time he wanted. Now that he’s under closer supervision, I can’t sneak him string cheese or pretzels and peanut butter  instead of dinner. I find myself saying, “Ask your Mother.” I feel like I’m shirking my Granny duties, but it’s better if the stomach aches come from them, not me.

4.  Kids and Pets

I tend to yell at my 3 stupid dogs a lot. I now have to clean up my language and not sound like a truck driver every time the dog pees or poops inside or wraps the leash around my ankle. My grandbaby adds to the furor by picking up my cats around the neck and parading around with them. When the cats have finally had enough, he takes it personally and starts to antagonize them. My language AND my reprimands are a little stronger now days. Not the Granny Way.

5.  Play Age-Approriate Games

Teaching a grandbaby how to use an axe to cut the string on firewood or mowing the lawn with a riding tractor (although grandpa rode on the tractor too) is not what a mother wants to hear. I am always honest with her — much to HER chagrin. While riding down the little hill on a Big Wheels looks as scary as a runaway train, a vigilant grandparent will be there every step of the way. Trust me — past times like coloring and playing with cars don’t hold a candle to a big squirt gun fight.

6.  Give your kids and grandkids space.

It’s fairly easy to trip over each other in one household. Fortunately my husband is gone in the evening and I’m gone during the day, so our 25 minutes of shared daylight doesn’t get in anyone’s way. But once grandpa is gone and I’m home alone with everybody, I tend to start feeling like a sticky note. I believe that evening times are Dad and Mom times, with a little Granny sprinkled in now and then for color. I usually wind up going into my room and writing/watch TV/fold laundry anyway, giving them plenty of time to cuddle as a threesome and talk about me if they want.

7.  No Hands.

And who better to teach a 4-year-old no hands on the roller coaster? Momma and I get sick just looking at them; then there’s Grandpa. And Dad. But Grandpa is the Instigator who looks fear in the eye and laughs at it. (He has a great laugh). If trying something off-center, try and pull one of the parents into it. It’s easier in the long run.

8.  Be honest.

Grannies are always honest…it just doesn’t always seem like it. Most times we are relegated to seeing our grandkids every other weekend, or, sadly, every month or every year. We have to make the most of our time together; after all, we don’t want our grandkids to forget about us once we’re gone. That’s why I tell my grandbaby (and my kids, but to a lesser degree), how much I love them, how much I miss them when they’re gone, how much I can’t wait to see them the next time. We plan things that might not come to fruition, but it’s the fun and love in planning that makes the difference.  I wear my love on my sleeve. And don’t regret the shredded mess at all.

 

We’re going to have another addition to our family in a few months. I have found as a mother myself that it’s easier to let go (to grandparents) by the time the second one comes along. Parents realize that their parents aren’t one step from the looney bin, they’re not Charles Manson followers, and the craziness that occurs is more in the mind than in reality.

Soon we will have TWO kids to spoil. My kids won’t be living with us by then.

Momma — watch out. Granny’s coming —

 

Inedible Edibles

dog-cookingThis evening my bff and I were having quite a time lamenting/marveling/pondering our lack of drive and motivation during these sub-zero temperatures. Not only am I guilty of non-motivation, non-creativity, and non-energy, but I alternate between sweating and freezing, all within minutes of each other.  Eventually our lamenting/marveling/pondering conversation meandered towards cooking, scattered schedules, and trying to scale down from cooking for 20 (so to speak) to cooking for two. Or one. Or 2-1/2, depending on who visits. And we decided what we needed was to go to cooking school. Not to Le Cordon Bleu or the Culinary Institute of America – what we needed was something a little down-homey. A little more working-woman-centric.

What we need is a Culinary School of Leftovers.

We both agreed it would be great to take a course or two on what to do with those wilty veggies that somehow get pushed to the side of the veggie drawer. Or the leftover meatballs that have already seen Swedish and Italian and aren’t in the mood for sub sandwiches. With the right training, I’m sure we could find uses for overripe tomatoes, brown avocados, and cold fried chicken.

I come from a family of cooking big. Although there were only four of us, I often pictured my boys as underfed. What I lacked in culinary expertise I made up for in quantity. Pots of stew and spaghetti sauce filled the stove, table, and freezer. I didn’t have the where-for-all to use saffron or arugula,  but carrots and potatoes and pork chops – oh my!

Now that my kids have moved out, it’s only hubby and me. He works the night shift, I slave away during the day. So without teenagers to wolf down meatloaf and steak and stir fry, I find my meals lack any real creativity. Never mind the fact that hubby and I only have about a half hour to share gourmet delights between shifts; never mind that between domestic chores and full-time jobs there is little or no time to whip up soufflés and pot-de-feus.

I own plenty of cookbooks – any food dilemma you can think of, I’m prepared for. Crockpot cooking. Meals-on-a-budget. Italian cooking. Chinese cooking.  What the cookbooks lack, though, is the human element. The voice that needles you and makes you feel bad every time you leave leftovers in the frig for over a week. Just because you made Chinese for 10 and 9 people didn’t show up doesn’t mean you should push the container back behind the juice and forget about it for a few weeks.

What my friend and I need is a cooking school that will fit into our budget, time frame, and leftover habits. Wilted celery? No problem! Cheese with blue spots on the edge? Don’t worry about it! The right Leftover Cooking School would not only teach us to cook for two (again), but would specialize in the following subjects:

  1. Impulse buying. Why I don’t need to buy baby corns and an eggplant and a head of lettuce and six ears of corn and a head of cabbage and portabella mushrooms and leeks all in one week.
  2. Portion control. A plateful of spaghetti and Italian Sausage doesn’t mean a platter-sized plate.
  3. Freezing leftovers. How making a stockpot of soup can be turned into six different meals instead of one meal and five science experiments.
  4. That there is life for ground chuck beyond meatballs and sloppy joes.

Just think! I could take courses in “10 Uses for Leftover Tuna Casserole,” “Jelly’s Not Just for Peanut Butter Anymore,” or “Spices Beyond Garlic Powder.”  I could find new uses for the half-bottles of ranch dressing, capers, and horseradish that hang out in my refrigerator door.  I could learn how to throw leftover parties, combining the delights of fried rice, polish sausage and sauerkraut, and expired refrigerator biscuits into something revolutionary and nourishing!

I must admit, the thought of a Culinary School of Leftovers is something worth pondering. With the number of Tupperware containers taking up space in my refrigerator, there would be endless possibilities for lectures and discussions.

And not all in the realm of edible.

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.

A Rose by Any Other Name…Could be Rosetta, Roze, Roase…

name-tag-11I’ve always had a “thing” about the name Claudia. It was rare and, when I was growing up, a tad odd. Seeing that the most popular names the year I was born were Linda, Patricia, Mary, and Deborah, it took a while to feel comfortable with an unusual, yet pretty, name.

The other day I was importing thousands of names into an e-mail data base, and  couldn’t help but notice the variety of names that are popular these days. There is a much wider rainbow of names that paint the sky than ever before. Yet in this realm of creative namesakes, I often find myself more than just gender challenged. I find I am way out of my league in name recognition and pronunciation.

I took an informal/unprofessional/spur-of-the-moment survey of data that crossed my desk. The lists came from people interested in the following subjects: Arts & Crafts, Science, Farm & Ranch, and Early Learning. Out of approximately 16,000 names, here is what I found:

The most popular over-all name (i.e., most frequent), was John, followed by Mary, Michael, David, and Jennifer.

The most popular Arts & Craft name was Susan, followed by Mary then Jennifer; the most popular name in Science was Mary, followed by John then Jennifer. Farm interest was strongest by those named John, followed by David (not Dave) and Michael (not Mike); and those interested in teaching younger students topped off the name chart with Amy, followed by Mary then Jessica. Other top 10 names included Nancy, Andrew, Brian, James, Barbara, and Jeff. Simple, easy-to-remember names.

There were normal amounts of Barbara, Rachel, Matthew, Kevin, Vicki, William, Gail, Carol, Tara, Paul, Leslie, and Sharon. There were lots of Lindas and Julies in Science, lots of Charles and Bens in Farm, lots of Nancys in Arts & Crafts, and lots of Lauras in Early Learning.

But I found a bunch of other fun stuff, too. (here comes the disclaimer bubble..I like ALL these names…that’s why they’re here).

I came across a lot of names that I consider “cute”: Gipsy, Deva, Roark, Stormy, Faughn, Sunny, Dash, Harmony, Mystica, Vanilla, Autumn, and Misty.

Then there are the “unique” names: Aletheia, Barbarita, Charlesetta, Anjanette, Candelaria, Dainko, Jasbeth, Merywynn, Vetrice, Tenancia, Descea, Elicinia, Dazanne, Torianne, Brack, Mireya, Lorendana, Nanise, Narshara, Garnetta, and Bernel.

Then there were the names that are sure to be misspelled: Khara, Alizabeth, Jacqui, Steav, Kasi, Kristopher, Rebekah, Tracee, Raechel, Symantha, Jackelyn, Rhoni, Tobye, Wendee, and Niqui.

I don’t know about you, but there’s no doubt I’d flunk the name game these days. I have a hard time figuring out if it’s male or female, and I’d hate to get yelled at for misspelling someone’s name. The most popular male names for the year I was born were James, Robert, and John. It was hard enough remembering if it was James or Jim or Jimmy, or Robert, Rob, Bob or Bobby. Maybe Deborah dropped an “h” now and then, and I was shocked when in 8th grade my best friend Linda changed her name to Lynda. I couldn’t do that with Claudia — unless it was Claude, Claudette, or Claudine. Ick to all.

Tell me about the unique names you’ve come across in your life.  The beauty of the written word is that new words can be created out of old ones. And, anyway, it’s what’s inside that counts.

And, just as a reference, the most popular names for girls a hundred years ago were Mary, Helen, Dorothy, Margaret, and Ruth. Popular men’s names included John, William, James, Robert, Joseph, and George. To be fair, there  also was Edna, Ethel, Ralph, Gladys, and Mildred.

So revel in the uniqueness of your name. If your name can’t be unique, make YOURSELF unique.  And be glad you weren’t named after a piece of furniture or a digestive part.

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

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst

Now that the last of Indian Summer has made its way to the teepee, I find myself losing energy and creativity. Maybe it’s the lull between seasons, between holidays. I haven’t even thought about Christmas, even though its a mere 40 days away; I have to get ready to deal with the big 6-0 and the desire to throw my own party (I don’t trust the rest of my family); and work is pure madness.  (Black Friday has never seen the likes of my desk…)

Some of you have been with me from the very beginning — I love ya’all for it.  For those newcomers who are too busy to rummage through my past ditties, I’m pulling one out of the preverbal hat.  It kind of reflects my mindset these days.
THE IMPORTANCE of UNICORNS and BRATWURST

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

We start out the week with the most noble of intentions.  Perhaps we have a satisfying experience meditating or going to church Sunday morning, or sleep in a couple of extra hours.  Maybe our football team finally won a game.  Nonetheless, our day is delightful, and we end the night feeling satisfied.  All is right with the world, with our dreams and our desires. 

This is the power of the unicorn.  It is the magical sensation that connects earth and sky, dreams and reality, kids and parents.  In this hazy-yet-authentic state, the world is a soft, mystical place, offering rewards and blessings at every turn.  Our children clean their room without being asked; the washing machine doesn’t screech when spinning; even the movie we choose to watch had one of those feel-good endings.  In the unicorn state the world holds unlimited possibilities. You could actually lose those ten pounds or finally clean off your desk, or even finally start reading that novel you bought five months ago.  You are still based in reality, but the remnant good feelings are enough to move you towards the light and find satisfaction in the simplest things.

Monday comes along, a tough day for many.  A majority of us will drudge our way to work, blinking at the shortness of the weekend, and find our nine-to-five groove again.  Tuesday seems to be a lot harder than Monday.  Our failure to go to bed early over the weekend now is catching up with us, along with laundry that has mysteriously piled up and the bills we swear we mailed yesterday.  Our favorite TV show is coming on too late for us to watch with any coherency, and the last tape we saved to record said-TV-show was used to record a football game that everyone knows we lost.

Wednesday is hump day and we wonder just who is doing the humping.  Our resolve not to eat ten chocolate chip cookies in a row is weakening; our commitment to walk a mile or two after work is being thwarted by thunderstorms or ice storms or plagues of locusts.  We can never get our hair to do what our hairdresser did; our plans to cook Coq a Vin has gone by the wayside, seeing as the chicken is still frozen and we don’t have any red wine in the house to cook with anyway.

Thursday creeps into our lives with a thread of hesitancy.  After all, school has scheduled your son’s basketball game at the same time as your daughter’s piano recital, both of which are at the same time as your bowling league, which is at the same time your other favorite TV show is on, which you would have recorded had the football game not taken up the whole tape.

By Friday your resolutions are out the window along with that novel you can’t choke down anymore, and your thoughts try to center, not on what has been, but what will be.  The weekend is coming; that means a thousand activities shoved into a mere 48 hours.  It means going to visit your mom on the way to dropping off your kid at the mall, fighting the Saturday morning free-sample crowds at the grocery store, and coming home to an overanxious dog who just dumped the garbage all over the kitchen floor.  It is hoping the video store still has a copy of that brand new movie that everyone is talking about but you, and trying to decide whether to cook a gourmet meal or just throw sausages on the grill.

This is the bratwurst part, the raw-meat-of-reality part. Bratwurst is a wonderful German sausage, filled with flavor and spices and grilled to perfection.  How metaphoric that little pocket of meat and fat is!  It is the answer to all the cosmic questions in life! It fulfills the need for sustenance (it is a food group), it nurtures your creative side (sauerkraut?  Mustard?  Hot or German?)  It is available in abundance (you can buy them in three pound boxes), and it affords you the freedom of choice  (10 minutes on the grill; burble them in beer and onions for 15 and grill for five; slice them up and fry with potatoes for 20).

How clear it all becomes!  This little sausage is the answer to all metaphysical speculation, the answer to who we are and why we are on this planet.  It is tasty and filling, satisfying those inner child needs and outer kid bravados.  It ties the madness of the week up into a link that goes down easy and can be burped out in a satisfying form later through the night.  It is the spice of life.

I never thought of unicorns and bratwursts as the symbols for Life; I always thought that symbol was that little stick person with the big egg head.  Now that I have been enlightened, I can see that symbol does look like someone celebrating the bratwurst of life, arms out, joyous and all encompassing.

And the unicorn part?

 I’m not quite sure, but I will ask the one standing behind me after I find out if he wants sauerkraut on his bratwurst.

Movie, Movie, Who’s Got The Movie?

I wrote a blog not too long ago called Hannibal Lechter vs. Harry Potter  https://humoringthegoddess.com/2011/07/27/harry-potter-vs-hannibal-lecter/ .  In that ditty I had just finished watching Hannabal’s first movie, and wondered if I was a reflection of that movie. Having decided that I am everyone and everything I see and do, I took the cosmic message and moved on.

Well, there I was, alone for the weekend, hubby gone up north, no one here but  me and the girls (2 dogs and one cat) and the boy (TomCat), and, left to my own whim, in charge of not only the TV but the movies.  And I am sorry to say I found myself falling into the same familiar grooves. I did watch a brand new movie sent to me in the mail…Wrath of the Titans…which said something about my taste to begin with. But I found myself falling into the same familiar pattern of watching movies I’ve seen ten times before.  Does that mean I’m more predictable than I ever imagined?

In my Lechter vs. Potter rant, I found myself defending polarity ― or bipolarity, if you wish. I found myself saying:

 But back to the crazy movie. In watching this psychological mess, I oft-handedly wondered if this kind of movie reflected my inner self. I have many friends who talk about the movies they watch:  middle-aged love comedies; retro pot-smoking, chick-banging absurdities; historical pieces.  Some are huge fans of horror; others cannot live without  lots of sex and drama. Do these favorites define who they are? Do these choices influence our cosmic journey?

 I was content thinking that we are not our movies. We are not our job, we are not our clothes or our car or our choice of beverage. But the older I get, the more I see that we are all of the above ― and more. On the positive side, I believe it’s good for us to go outside our comfort zone now and then. Finding a new job, trying tofu burgers, watching a documentary on polar bears or the creepy world of Hoarders, all are experiences that may or may not add to the wonderful sparkling jewel we call ME.

Yet, when I find some real free time, all by myself, my energy level not high enough to write a sonnet or a novel, I find myself searching the cabinet for movies that will make me feel good. And, most times, there are the “eternal” movies. You know ― the ones you can watch over and over again and over again. Mind you, not all movies fall into this “special” category. There are many, many movies I’ve seen once, and once is more than enough. There are some that I enjoy if I come across them on TV or if I walk into someone’s house and they’re watching them, but wouldn’t go the extra mile to bother with after that.

Then there are the die hards that I always, always enjoy. For me, Avatar, The Rock, The Mummy, Con Air, and Closer reruns, all can entertain me almost any time. (It used to be tearjerkers, but menapause has turned me into a crybaby.) I sometimes wonder if that means something. For my fun stuff is not my son’s fun stuff. Or my husband’s fun stuff. Or my friends at work’s fun stuff. And I’m sure my stuff is not my kid’s stuff. At least some of my stuff.

On further reflection, I think age, social circles, emotional states and personal history all fine-tune us in one direction or another. There are no “right” or “wrong” movies ― what makes one person feel wonderful makes another sick to their stomach. What is righteous to one is sacrilegious to another.  I suppose that is why humanity is such a varied, colorful tapestry. And I do love tapestries.

Are there movies that you return to time and time again? Do you think they reflect a deeper part of you?  Or are they just oddities in the rainbow of life?  Actually, this isn’t a cosmic question.  Just think about the movies you love to watch time and time again, and let them be a wonderful reflection of your heart and personality. 

And, hey — don’t worry if you love the Freddie Kruger or Saw genre — there’s a place in this world for you, too.

Just don’t move next door to me…

Is That Religion With A Capital “R”?

On your tippy toes, my friends…On your tippy toes…

 Not too long ago I wrote an article about religion, the evolution of belief systems, their differences, originations and separations.  I wanted it to be witty and irreverent, but in the end it merely sounded preachy.  It wasn’t meant to be sermon-y, but by the time I was done what little humor there was shriveled up into something that looked like ginger root.  Why do you think that was?

 I was trying to write a story about one of the two taboos in conversation and correspondence:  Politics and Religion.  Two innocent words that can set buildings on fire, melt the polar ice caps and render intelligent species impotent.  I don’t pay a lot of attention to the innuendoes and intricacies of politicians and their worlds; I listen to the basics and ignore the rest (especially TV commercials), doing my best to understand all sides of the proverbial coin.

 Religion, on the other hand, hits a nerve deeper than indigestion in most people.  Many find it hard to be light about spiritual possibility or probability, as its premise strikes everyone at their core.  Normal human beings can sit down next to each other at a banquet or movie or conference and have a great time talking, noshing, telling secrets and planning futures without ever raising an eyebrow.  But drop a stray word or two into the mix — church, witch, baptist, muslim — and suddenly the hairs that sit atop those same eyebrows are standing straight up.  Why is that?

 There is something very volatile about religion, especially one starting with a capital “R”.  Most people seem to be able to toss off the lowercase word in with the lightest of air.  We say things like “it’s a religious thing” or “he’s got religion” and no one seems to think differently.  But let someone say “My Religion is Lutheran” or “the Religion of Mother Nature” and suddenly we are getting too personal.  If one worships in a temple and another a cathedral, are they any different than one who worships in a mosque?  Or one that celebrates under the full moon?

 When we put that capital into our vocabulary we are suddenly touching that nerve that pulsates deep within each one of us.  The nerve that is attached to ego: to who we are, what we can be, what we will be when it’s all over.  We need to believe our suffering means something in the long run, and that by seeking penitence we can clear up past mistakes and open the way forward to happily-ever-after.  When someone messes with our path to happily-ever-after, they slow us down.  How dare they get in the way of our forward movement? Since ego needs to be right, those who do not believe as we do are obviously “wrong.”  And we are uncomfortable with wrong.

 Religion and worship has its place in the scheme of things. There are many reasons why we need something outside of ourselves to inspire us, to coach us, and to forgive us, especially when we find it hard to forgive ourselves.  But if you stop and think of all the hearts that have been broken, all the lives that have been destroyed because of the same message being skewered from religion to religion, you begin to stop capitalizing the word.  You start to realize that as long as one’s god or goddess, one’s savior or one’s reincarnation keeps harmony and peace and honesty and love in the world, what does it matter what he or she is called?  What difference does it make whom you pray to?

 The twisty thing is that, to many people, the who does matter.  The afore-mentioned nerve flares up with such intensity that you can often see steam radiating from their head.  Their bodies subtly tremble, their smiles get hard and thin, their eyes widen and their pupils dilate.  If you are brave enough to discuss and debate the differences between spiritual preferences, you are often taken to heights and depths never dreamed by mortal man.  It is this way or that way because it has always been this way or that way.  Religion takes no one off the hook, assuring all that theirs is the true path to salvation.

 You know what I have realized through the ups and downs of spirituality?  That everyone is headed in the same direction.  If one’s skin was peeled off and replaced by a clear plastic replica, all of our hearts would look the same.  They would all beat in the same rhythm; they would all bleed and break and rejoice the same way.  One’s salvation would look the same as the other.  It wouldn’t matter if one believed in heaven or reincarnation or astral travelling to another a planet that had nothing but flowers and puppy dogs forever. For under the skin, under the indoctrinations that we all have gone through, we all want to believe in something.  Something greater, cleaner, calmer, than anything we can find in this world.  Religion gives the weak strength, the angry peace.  It is a venting post for everything that is wrong with this world, and a cauldron for all that is right.

 So I think the solution lies somewhere between lowercase “r” and uppercase “R”.  A safe middle ground that encompasses both sides of the great cosmic, spiritual divide.  Something with a bit of flair; an “R” yet not an “R”. Maybe a curli-q R. Maybe we should kick off one leg and…that makes it a…P….

Oh, good grief — that just leads to that other taboo…oohhh…my tippy toes hurt….

Don’t Worry About It!

          th_Cheshire_Cat_KHREC  They say routines get easier as you get older. That’s why adults have an easier time dealing with telephone solicitors, making grocery lists, and analyzing football games.  Why is it, then, that getting ready for work in the morning is often more confusing than a “Where’s Waldo?” puzzle?

            Let’s take this morning, for example. Woke up more than an hour before I needed to leave for work. Now, mind you, I have no children to get ready for school, my animals were already fed, and I didn’t have to dig through the basket for clean underwear.  I took a quick shower, made my lunch, grabbed a banana, and ran out the door.  I didn’t do the makeup thing or the curl-my-hair thing. And I still was almost late. Checking out my main campground (where I work), others looked so smooth and…mmm…together.  The guys were groomed, the gals were fresh.  Few (if any) look as frazzled and windblown as me.

            Time Management, you say.  I swear I am proactive.  It’s just that my time is lost somewhere in Einstein’s Relativity Time Dilation Theory. This morning I managed to slice, salt and paper towel eggplant for dinner; throw an excess of grapefruits in a bag for company distribution; and even took time to select jewelry to match my top. But somehow I still managed to look like a bag lady schlepping bundles in the back door of work.

            Get Up Earlier, you say.  I don’t know about most of you, but 5:20 a.m. is already pushing the sanity button.  Seeing as I woke up at 4 a.m. anyway (when various cats and dogs chose to share my side of the bed), you’d think I’d have the stamina to get up and get going.  Right. My husband showers, shaves, dresses, feeds the dogs and cats and fish, makes himself a breakfast sandwich, lets the dogs out again, brushes his teeth, checks the weather, and leaves for work all in 35 minutes.  What’s up with that?

            Be More Organized, you say. Pick out your clothes the night before. Make your lunch the night before. Take a shorter shower so you don’t have to put your makeup on in the warehouse bathroom. Color-coordinate your jewelry (gold together, silver together, rhinestones together) so the choices are quicker. Now you’re getting to the edge of implausible. How would I know what I’d be hungry for at 12:30 p.m. the next day? What if the shirt I wanted to wear suddenly sported a ketchup stain? What jewelry would go with that?

            Enlist Help, you say. That he-man who flies through his (or her) morning chores can pick up a few more tasks along the way, too. Knowing my tendency to move slow (so I don’t forget anything), I should have him double check the stove and curling iron before he leaves to make sure they’re turned off, have him make me a sandwich while he make himself one, and since he’s  superman and out to his car long before I take my vitamins, maybe I’ll have him start my car as well. That way I don’t have to drive the first couple of miles peering through a strip one scraper width wide.

            Accept It, you say.  The more you fight your routine, the more messed up things get.  What is the purpose of a routine if you don’t stick to it? Realize that you do stick to it ― you just interpret the parameters of these things your own way. So you don’t always remember to bring the bills to drop in the mailbox. So you don’t remember to pack bottled water or the book you read until one in the morning.  So what?  Has anyone ever mentioned your non-ironed shirt or your pants that occasionally ride up your calf because of static?  Not really. Accept that, even though the field has been filled with obstacles, you have managed to stay within the safety of the goal posts.

            Look ― the things your friends worry about have nothing to do with what you brought for lunch or if your hair was cut too short.  Friends are more worried about what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling. How your family is doing. What you’re doing Saturday night. If you’re feeling okay and if they can do anything to help you feel better. Those who judge you by your rigid adhesion to schedules don’t understand who you really are. So they don’t matter. Respect the rules, abide by the ones that can get you in trouble, and strive to keep the rest.

            Don’t Worry About It, you say.  Now, that’s about the most sensible advice you’ve given me today.

 

The Muse Goes Camping

Last weekend I tried to escape by myself to get a couple of days worth of ME into the cosmos, doing nothing but writing, sleeping, and downing an occasional bottle of Reisling.  Alas, my grandbaby (who is two) and my daughter-in-law wanted to get away too. So how can you say no to that?

This weekend I am going camping with extended family (which includes the aforementioned daughter-in-law and GB) — three days of isolation up in Door County somewhere. Since there were plenty of extended family members to entertain said GB (and knowing my daughter-in-law could use a break), I thought I’d outline a sequel to the novel I finished a while ago. Now I find out there is no electricity. Hmmm. No electricity = no computer.

So I have to put my creative muse to the side — AGAIN.  Here I am in my blogs, encouraging everyone to get in touch with their muse and get into whatever creative endeavor sings to them, yet I find myself putting my creativity to the side in order to have more exposure to something else I love more.

Now there is love, and there is love. When you love your kids, you love them all 150%, no matter if they have green hair or ACT scores along side of Einstein.  We love our dogs, our cats, and occasionally the rest of our family. We love music, movie stars, and chocolate, although those loves are tinted by the recipient’s inability to directly respond back to us. But what happens when you find an activity, an expression of your true self, that you really enjoy doing. but you don’t have time enough to prove that love?

I hate always being an armchair lover. I would “love” to go to Ireland or Italy,  I’d “love” to learn how to cook a souffle, I’d “love” to ride a scooter to and from work, or Ride the Wild Surf at Ventura Beach.  But the odds of any of those “loves” are as good as getting struck by lightning (which is at least better than winning the lottery).  So I learn to channel my out-of-the-box loves into forms that I can handle in small bunches.  Classical music (Schumann, Mozart), rock and roll (Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd), television (Closer and House reruns), taken in small batches, often scratch the itch from the creative mosquito. Something is better than nothing, they say. And it’s true.

Better to get one bite of rich, dark chocolate, than never know what it tastes like at all.  Better to get one quilt patch done rather than still be waiting to buy the material. We don’t have to be a quantity-driven society; in most situations quality is just as important (if not more so). So I can’t spend a week or two with aforementioned GB — ten minutes of him laughing and saying “gamma” fills me during my lonely times. Walking around a city block isn’t the same escape as walking through the woods, but grass is grass and air is air, and just being out in Mother Nature does wonders for your psyche. You all have little experiences you wish you could turn into bigger ones…just jump on the little ones and forget about the bigger ones. You’ll be surprised how much satisfaction you get from them, too.

Don’t let your inability to have it “your way” stop you from getting it any way you can. Just when your schedule can’t get any more screwed up, a patch of blue opens before you, allowing you a chance to connect with your creativity.  Don’t be afraid to work around it, with it. Let the tease remind you of why you love your hobby in the first place. You’ll eventually find time. They also say wherever there’s a will there’s a way. That’s true, too.

So now when I go camping this weekend I’ll be prepared. Guess I’ll have to create the old fashioned way —  with a pen and a spiral notebook and a flashlight.

I just have to be careful not to get the grand baby’s smores on my  paper.

Reminding Myself to be Feminine

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

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

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

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

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

But does all this female awareness make one feminine?

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

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

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

Now if I could just work on those feet….

                       

 

Any Extra Time, Dali?


Okay. Here is one for you to think about and answer. I’ve been running helter-skelter around Wisconsin and Illinois lately: work, birthday parties, funerals, kid’s house, grocery store. I constantly daydream about having a couple of hours TO MYSELF.

So here is your scenario. You have two hours free any time during the day. My pretends fairs better, say, after work. Yours can be whenever. Loved ones: gone. House: clean. No soccer games, hospital visits, or fests to get in your way. 

How would you spend those two hours?

Finding the Divine Feminine

As I sit and flip through my latest stack of chick magazines, I find myself wandering through the world of today’s woman and the concept of “divine feminine”.  I wonder what that means — not only the “divine” part, but the feminine as well.  I can see the divine in books and magazines, but where do I fit in?   Where does the world of flowing gossamer and satin and lace meet spandex and terrycloth?

            One of my favorite magazines caters to the “over 40” generation of women who want to believe they are still a viable, strong contribution to society.  I can identify with that feeling.  I want to believe I’ve not outlived my usefulness now that my children are out of college and beyond, that the job market is more considerate of middle-aged women — that there is more to life than a nine-to-five job and frozen pizzas for dinner.  There are many women tripping over the big 4-0 mark and the even higher 5-0 mark, trying to make a difference in the world.  I read about glamorous movie stars, corporate women, restaurant owners, writers, doctors, and others doing things they only once dreamed of.  Antiquing through Europe, opening their own restaurant or bakery, rehabbing rundown parts of cities — all of them doing things that are somehow bigger than life.  Closing the magazine, I wonder — where do I fit into all of this?  Where does my revolution, my evolution, fit in?

             In this age of airbrushed images and designer wardrobes, I often wonder where a Renaissance woman such as me belongs.  Where are the articles that coddle mid-life, mid-waisted women?    Where are the look-good, feel-good articles that cater to billing clerks or waitresses or shipping and receiving workers? Where are the dress-ups and weekend activities that address basketball and football moms and women who take kindergarteners on field trips and others who milk cows every day?  Is it possible to be feminine and divine in a world without dress sizes?  Is it possible to wear sweatshirts and uniforms and still sparkle in the divine feminine? 

            Sometimes it seems that the more liberated I feel, the more confused I become.  In some ways that’s good, for it helps strengthen the connections between the synapses in my brain.  Eternal confusion is eternal fodder for mental longevity.  I love being female. I love the world offered to our species alone.  Femininity comes from within; it is a state of being that comes from our very souls, our very thoughts.  It is a pride in our sex, in our ability to feel and react in our enhanced sort of way.

            But what about the next step?  What is “divine feminine”?  How are we supposed to find the “divine” in our green computer screens or packing boxes on an assembly line?  Is it possible to be divine and feminine and not be on the pages of the latest trendy magazine?  To find valued even if we are not on the board of directors of some giant corporation or running a four star restaurant? 

            Inspiration comes in many forms, but it begins with a wisp of an idea, a flutter of a heartbeat that beats to a slightly different rhythm.  There is a seasoning that comes with the over-40 crowd, the wonderful reaping of the harvest that has been fertilized and nurtured and growing inside of us for the last 30 to 40 years.  It is fueled by heartbreak and ecstasy, by hard work and curiosity.  Divine is not dictated by the color of your skin or how big your paycheck is.  Divine feminine is also enhanced by menopause:  pre-, actual, and post-.  There is something to be said about the shuffling of hormones as they start to decrease in a woman’s body.  So many physical and mental changes trickle through our being, some real, some imagined, that we can’t help but redefine our feminism.  We applaud the fact that we can no longer get pregnant, but mourn the fact that we can’t get pregnant.  Our emotions run the gamut from high and energetic to scraping along the bottom.  We have best friends, we have no friends.  We love being alone, we fear being alone.  Is this what the divine feminine is all about?

            It is this and so much more.  It is the beauty of being female, the freedom of experiencing our emotions up close and personal like no man could (sorry guys…but take it into consideration with your own divine feminine female).   It’s the adventure of finding the self, the creativity that lies just below the surface, playing with the child who’s always been there.  We cry, we laugh; we take estrogen if we need it and vitamins even if we don’t.  We wear the jewelry our mother’s used to wear or make our own. We become mentors and advisers just because we’re here, and we walk in marathons instead of run.  We realize that a job is merely a means to an end, an end that is just a beginning. 

            The divine feminine is who we’ve always been.  She is a goddess, she is a nymph.  She is a crabby middle-aged woman and a playful school girl.   She loves men and is tired of men.  She sparkles in gym shoes and brightly patterned shirts and well-worn flannels.  It doesn’t matter what she loves, as long as she loves.  As long as she feels feminine — as long as she embraces what she is.

            And the “divine” part?  Used as an adjective, divine means “of such surpassing excellence as to suggest divine (god/goddess/God) inspiration.”  Combined with the powerful feminine (a gender that refers chiefly, but not exclusively, to females or to objects classified as female), that makes for one kickin’, sparklin’, inspirational being, doesn’t it?

            If that’s what it’s all about, count me in.

©2012 Claudia Anderson

Sharpening the Tool

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

This morning was a fine example of the three strikes towards the dull tool rule. This morning (really last night), I failed to barricade our kitchen, and our very naughty lab got in and scattered what she couldn’t eat down the hallway. I erased the new grocery list on the marker board, thinking it was last week’s, and left paperwork that was supposed to be turned in today on the kitchen table. I’m not stupid – it’s just that I don’t pay attention the way I should. 

How many times have things happened around you that only later you find important? Except for local jaunts, I get lost driving without written directions, even though I’ve been to these places dozens of times. I am terrible at relaying verbal messages from doctors, bankers and insurance agents, and although many things make sense to me, I have a hard time explaining them to others. Like I have crossed wires in my head. 

Is this the same woman who was commended for the creative language in her novels? The same who proofreads and enters information into a computer every day?  What happens to our ability to pay attention? Do we all become a little A-D-D as we get older? Is it just a case of not paying attention? Or something more sinister? 

I am not talking about dementia here; this is not one of those not-enough-blood-to-the-brain things. There are many people from their 20’s through their 80’s who bounce from cloud to cloud, half connected to the responsibilities of this world, half to another. Some are considered geniuses, others rebels. Some are trendsetters, others ne’re-do-wells. I’m sure at least one of them comes to your mind even now. But that doesn’t mean they are slower or duller than others. Everybody forgets things ― everybody does things now and then in a skewered way. The important thing to do in times like these is to learn from your idiosyncrasies. If you can’t change them, join them! 

Start with slowing down. “I don’t go fast!” you reiterate. Perhaps not. But in some circles even full speed ahead isn’t fast enough. We see others around us moving faster, driving faster, coming to conclusions faster, and that makes us feel inferior. Our brain tells us we are not, yet try telling that to our ego. We are so busy trying to keep one step ahead of the game, thinking about the next play, the next set of consequences, that we fail to finish the game we are currently playing. When I take the grocery list with me and not the checkbook, it doesn’t mean I’m stupid. It just means I didn’t take time to complete the circle, i.e., grocery list = buying groceries = no cash on hand = pay with a check.

I think it’s the simple things that trip us up the most. I don’t do well remembering driving directions because, I admit, I don’t focus on taking this road to that highway to that street. As a passenger, I’m too busy chatting or looking out the windows at the cows and the clouds or reading a book or talking to my car mates. This highway and that street aren’t important to me at that moment. That doesn’t mean they are not important at all ― just not at that particular moment of remembering. 

Same thing with worrying if I turned off the curling iron or picked up the stack of bills on the table to drop in the mailbox. Both situations are important; it’s just that I’m more worried about punching in on time than casing the table one more time or dipping one more time into the bathroom. I can handle the main control for the TV/DVD player/satellite box, but if someone comes along and changes things in order to play a video game, I’m done for the night. 

So when I say I/we need to slow down, all I mean is that we need to pay attention to each task as we perform it. There is nothing wrong with being interested or excited about our next move, but sometimes we need to exaggerate our involvement in the current one. To assure I complete each circle, I do things like talk out loud to myself (stove is OFF. Curling iron is BACK UNDER THE SINK).  I know it sounds ridiculous (the dogs think I’m talking to them), but I would feel a lot more ridiculous should my house catch on fire. 

 We are all given one deck of cards to play with, and it’s how we play with the cards we’re dealt that matters. I exceed in places where others fall short. It’s all a balancing act. It is in your life, too. So don’t let it be a big deal. Make your list, sing as you recite your steps, and stay on course. After all, the most important thing in life is continually sharpening that tool. 

You’ll never know when you’ll need it to dig yourself out of a hole.

 

Astral Traveling on a Budget

There are so many things that fill our lives — work, family, laundry — that it’s hard to find time to do the thing that we are born to do: Astral Travel.  Now, you may snicker — astral traveling? You say it sounds a bit too airy fairy for you. Way out in left field and all. Well, believe me, you do this all the time.

You finish your to-do list for the day and finally sit down for five minutes to relax. You put a bit of music on in the background, or, on the contrary, turn off every electrical device in sight, and take advantage of your few minutes of peace and solitude. You sit on the sofa, close your eyes, and where do you go? You may think you are working out the number of people to invite to your birthday party or what to make for dinner, but what you are really doing is heading for that sphere of energy known as the ethereal. It’s that place full of light and insubstantiality; that place at the edge of heaven, at the edge of another dimension. You are standing at the gateway that opens to other worlds, other times, and other possibilities. Oh sure, every day annoyances come into your head like popcorn, but if you just follows your own rhythmic breathing, you will find yourself leaving office politics behind and wandering through the hallways of the fourth or fifth dimension. Pretty cool, eh?

Astral traveling, astral projection, is a meditative state of being; the suspension of time and space, getting lost in the Zone somewhere between Timothy Leary and Captain Kirk. It’s taking the zigzaggy path through the woods, finally coming across the trail that leads to “what if?” Traveling with your mind takes you back to a time when there were no restrictions on your imagination. It taps into your adult innocence in surprisingly wonderful ways. I mean, where else could you and Johnny Depp share espresso in a small café in Italy and talk about Renaissance art? Where else could you deliver that awe-inspiring speech that brings the audience to its feet? Where else could find out what really went on behind the closed palace doors of Henry the Eighth?

Many a truth floats between the zones of reality when you let your mind roam, especially if you can turn those five minutes into fifteen or twenty. We figure out ways to cope with loss and disappointment. We strengthen our weaknesses and sort out our emotions. We relate to characters in the books we’ve read, people we’ve met, places we have been. Or want to go. There are no computers in the astral world. There are no ringing phones, no screaming kids or dirty dishes. The longer one meditates, the further one drifts away from the nonsense of the day to our own crystal innocence.

And your heart really is innocent. You may think it is jaded, crushed, bruised or frozen closed. But the human heart is continually growing, adapting, learning, and feeling. When you “astral travel” you wander over to the other side of growing, adapting, learning and feeling. Back to the time when you believed in the good of your fellow man, to the time when you saw dragons in the clouds and faeries dancing at the edge of the woods at sunset.  Back to a time when words like adultery and cholesterol and obsessive/compulsive disorder sounded more like Japanese than English.

Alas, it’s hard to ride the astral train for any long stretch of time, One is not meant to stay in nirvana forever. The secrets of the prophets, the shamans, and the elves will often have to wait for another day. Sooner or later you will glide back to your body, back to earth, back to the way things were before you took that left turn at Jupiter.

Who cares if the astral trip was real or not? What matters is that you are never quite the same person as the one who closed their eyes fifteen minutes earlier. No one will know — or care — if you heard the cries of those waiting to be executed in the Tower of London or the whispers of aliens in some distant galaxy or if you remember swinging on the swing set when you were little. It doesn’t matter what you find in the depths of your mind. What really matters is that you keep that mind open.

You will not change the world on this journey: you won’t put a stop to war or abuse or neglect. You can’t pay your bills on the astral track, nor will you be able to stop tornadoes or make lima beans taste good . But you will find that your thoughts are clearer, your eyes can see further, and your breathing is more regulated. You’ll find that quiet spot in your soul where the spirit and the beyond are one. Your step becomes a little lighter, and your endurance lasts a little longer. You may be skeptical — but just give it a chance. Five minutes at a time. Surely you have a spare five minutes somewhere. Or, as they say, baby, make the time!

The great thing about astral traveling is that you can return to this energy plane any time you want. All you need is you. You, a little time, a little fresh air, and a little imagination. Astral traveling doesn’t cost you a thing. You don’t have to pay anyone for the information; it doesn’t turn your hair blue or change the love you have for others.  All you have done is found a different way to play. And people don’t stop playing just because they are middle-aged, you know.

And, in the end, who cares what others think? After all — Johnny Depp is still sitting at that table in Italy waiting for you. Or rather, me.

Ciao, baby…

See What You Have Missed!

I know the winter dulldrums are upon us, yet spring is flirting from across the banquet hall filled with diners. We can’t quite see her yet, but I noticed one extra sparkle on the horizon, so she’s on her way.  Before the mad rush of her annual appearance scatters us to the four winds as we open windows, walk a little more, spring clean, play fetch with our dogs, and get more serious about our eating habits, I thought I’d bring a few of my ditties to the forefront (in case you need to apply one to your upcoming Spring Pledge):

To Dream or Not to Dream: That is the Question — Turn your restlessness into meaningful nonsense. Just don’t take yourself too literally

Reincarnation as a Walmart Greeter — Good deeds don’t go unrewarded, no matter where you end up in the end

Dancing in a Too Tight Tutu — You are never too old for anything. What are you waiting for?

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese — The learning/language gap between generations

On Base of Bony Orbit —  This one is an important read, especially if you’re going to a party where words impress

Merlot at the Lake House — Are we what we watch?

Viva Las Vegas! — A wonderful place to get lost in

Nothing to Write About: My Life is a Bore — How “unboring” we really are

The Hand of Guilt — Stop carrying that monkey on your shoulder

The Sashaying Mink — Closet adventurists

Sex — What is it and Where Did it Go? — the joys of middle age prancing

Time to Remodel — let the Picasso in YOU come out

Please take a few minutes to see where we’ve been. Let me know if you have any favorites, any ideas.  And hold on, for the future is full of promise — and blogs!

New and Improved!

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

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

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

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

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

Benvenuto Cambiamento!!

Sex — What Is It and Where Did It Go?

14 Sex What Is It and Where Did It Go 2This is going to be a ditty about that “S” word — you know — the one between “salamander” and “stupid”. The word your parents never talked about.  Back in the days when names and animals were simply names and animals and not slang for body parts, sex was something separate from us.  Oh sure, everybody thought about it; some even did something about it. But there were many that merely dreamt about it. 

A lot of us were naïve back then. Some on purpose (I don’t want to know), some because of our friends (they don’t know either), and others because we were warned we would be sent to the convent if we explored that world before we were 21. Love was simple, clean and innocent.  I mean, the Beatles never fooled around!  How could they?  They were as pure as the driven snow!

Alas, it didn’t take long for most of us to catch on to the reality of the world of boy-meets-girl.  Somewhere within our blossoming we found we really enjoyed checking out that “S” word, and made it part of our daily activities.  We dreamt we were the ones fooling around with the Beatles.

Everyone’s idea of procreation is based on how they were raised, who they hung out with, and how much of the world they explored.  As women got older, we talked a little more openly about affairs and romances, leaving the stigma of virginity behind along with wedding night memories.  As we became fruitful and multiplied, we began to appreciate the difference between the sexes and how to use our own to get what we wanted.  

Back in the 80s, every woman wanted to be super woman.  We wanted to have wonderful, loving children, an immaculate house, a career in a field we enjoyed, a great body, and a highly electric sex life.  We wanted to be room moms and company executives and whip up elegant dinners for two or twenty.  I suppose there are many women who, even today, want to be all that — and more.  But the majority of us realized long ago that super woman was an illusion, and the first chip to fall from that illusion was sex.

If we thought our antics were restricted when our kids were toddlers, that was nothing to the puritans we became when our own kids came into sexual maturity.  Toddlers didn’t care about their parents having sex because they didn’t have a clue what sex was.  But believe me, teenagers did, and the thought of two adults that didn’t look like models or rock stars wrapping themselves naked around each other was enough to send shivers through the whole house.  So mom and dad had to wait until the kids were at choir practice or football practice or at grandma’s for the day to do their “S” thing. 

Of course, funneling hot, passionate love into a schedule that also included scrubbing the kitchen floor and changing the spark plugs in the car was a juggling act all in itself.  As much as the two lovers wanted to bathe in the light of ecstasy, there were always the second thoughts of what else they could be doing with that half hour all to themselves.  And besides, the possibility that their teen could walk in to this debacle at any time tended to deflate most sex drives before they could even take off.

Well, you know where this is going.  Kids grow up, responsibilities change, and being spontaneous isn’t what it used to be.  Those same said kids go off to college or get married and you think, “Whoa boy, now we’ve got the house to ourselves!”  Now you can finally walk around naked in your house or try out new pieces of furniture and nobody will watch you but the dogs. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

This is about the time that that ol’ clock starts winding down, and before you know it the stranger our mothers referred to as “change of life” comes dancing down your driveway.  Pre-, post- and actual starts to mess you up in ways you never imagined.  Your bones creaking from under use, and slowly but surely you are filling out, drying up, and burning up every time you turn around.  You start to have hot, free range passion, then realize the hot was not so much from the sex as it was from the flashes.  You wait for those exciting tingles and twitches and all you feel is the throbbing of your toes or the itch of your dry skin.  What once was an overactive libido is now a freight train carrying a heavy load of steel.

What happened to the sexy sprite that waited so long for liberation?  What happened to the romantic interludes and wild nights freedom promised?  I’m not saying that sex isn’t richer and fuller than it ever has been.  Hopefully the paranoia a houseful of people can bring has disappeared.  There are more open rooms, more chances to start and stop and say and be whatever you want to be.

But there is something to be said about the depletion of estrogen as women get older and the way it affects our reaction to the “S” word.  We don’t want to be that naked sprite quite as often; we’d rather put our jammies on and settle down with a good book or movie.  We’d rather spend money on a support bra rather than some skimpy lingerie thing that barely covers our hips.  We still love and adore, but sometimes find it more rewarding to sit and cuddle rather than wrestle with an out-of-shape body.

I am hoping that once men get their fill of their “V” pill, scientists put their minds to creating one for us girls. 

Let’s just hope that there’s plenty of room on the living room floor.            

Viva Las Vegas!

If you ever want to go to a place that is a cornucopia of faces, bodies and energies, there is no more an entertaining place to lose your money or your mind than Las Vegas.  Forget this Mecca’s main thrust — gambling — and slip around the edge to the weirdness that permeates the city that never sleeps.  It’s magical in its own sparkling way — gambling and lights and music and shows and people.  Lots and lots of people. It’s a place where cosmic energy mingles with electric billboards, turning normal, well-meaning visitors into Dr. Jekyll /Mr. Hyde parodies. 

 The first time I went to Las Vegas I was very family-conscious.  My husband and I took his parents and our two kids to the land of decadence and sunshine.  One child was 12, the other seven.  This was the time of the “family friendly” Vegas — acrobats flying across the ceilings at Circus Circus, knights jousting at Excalibur.  Besides stopping now and then to throw a quarter or two into a slot machine, we also rented a van and toured Hoover Dam and Death Valley.  I left the world of lights with a blue glass from Excalibur and most of my gambling money in tact.

A few years later and my husband and I got the urge to go again, this time leaving the kids with the afore-mentioned grandparents. I went out and bought some sexy dresses and a couple of those individual liquor bottles to mix with my soda on the plane.  We caught a topless show and dared to walk the length of the strip drinking strawberry margaritas right in the open.  The lights and nights were magical.  I stayed up a little later and got up a little earlier. I left the world of lights with a winning jackpot and a gold glass from the Hilton.

 The third time it was my 25th wedding anniversary, and what better place to renew our vows than in the land of drive-thru churches?   We almost said “I Do” in front of Elvis, but decided we’d rather buy Elvis dice instead.  I wanted to stay up late, sleep late, lie around at the pool, win money, and get kitschy with Liberace and his museum. But my best laid plans sooner or later became parodies of themselves.  My biological clock just didn’t want to kick into glitter time.  We burped up dollar hot dogs and cheap beer. I got sunburn at the pool, put too much wasabi on my sushi, and developed a painful blister on my foot.  We drank strawberry margaritas for breakfast and milk for lunch and Pepto Bismol for dinner.   I went to bed a little earlier, slept a little later, and didn’t go through as many quarters as the last time.  I wasn’t interested in the shows, and the restaurants were less designer chef names and more all-you-can-eat buffets.  I moved a little slower and sat down a little more frequently.

What happened to the magic?  Where was the glow of the child, the carefree gambler, the woman who wanted to rub elbows with Wayne Newton and Celine Dion?  Did I finally outgrow my need to be sparkled and jingled to death? This time the glitter felt  different.  The energy that permeated the casinos and lounges had turned around on itself, slowly becoming more a part of me than something outside of me.  Maybe it was because I stopped judging everyone else’s clothes and size and gambling habits and let myself flow down the river rather than speedboat up the opposite way.  Once I let Vegas be Vegas, I was able to experience the myriad of energy levels that constantly billowed around me. And I realized I didn’t have to buzz through that world 24/7, seeing all, doing all. I just let the world of sparkle sparkle.

Once I got away from the mad desire to throw one more quarter into the slot machine, I found Vegas a world filled with all sorts of faces and personalities, all ages, all races. In this world, people felt free to be who they were, or, more often, who they dreamed they were.  In this world of make believe, all dreamers were equal.  Farmers, secretaries, and corporate presidents shared fantasies of castles and pyramids, Italian palaces and French towers.  Both babes and grandparents got a glimpse of life in the fast lane. Grannies sparkled as much as show girls, and cowboy boots walked right next to tennies. Winners and losers were all the same here: both sides of the fence existed at the same time. Einstein’s theory of relativity threads through it all, rewarding some, cheating others, and sadly, caring not what you leave behind.

People were always laughing, whether at themselves, the crowd, or each other. There was a constant flow of bodies moving between casinos, a maze of colors, heights and textures.  I didn’t know if they were rich or poor, sick or lonely; if they had won a million dollars or if they just spent their children’s college fund.  Nor did it matter. We were all merely specks of glitter in the galaxy of life, sharing a moment or two with others in a reality not our own. We shared a nod, a raised glass, a glimpse of understanding. We became part of the throbbing heartbeat of a city that swallowed us all, spitting us out when it came time to go home.   When the vacation was over, I left the city as I found it.  I left the sparkles, the glitter, and the dreams of fortune and glory to those who would follow. I had all the glory I needed back in my little town in Wisconsin.  What I did bring back, though, was a glimpse of my other side ― the kooky one who peeks out now and then, daring me to follow. That side assured me I would be back.

I forgot to get my glass.

Merlot at the Lake House

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

 It’s Saturday night: the boys are sleeping, the dogs have had their bonies, and I have settled down with a glass of merlot. Been a long day, a long week. Having just come off of my father-in-law’s passing and pressure-filled days at work, I find my emotional state still dancing on stalagmites. So I pull out a movie ― one I haven’t allowed myself to watch in some time. The Lake House.  Why is that?

There is nothing wrong with movies and books that reflect our inner selves. We are, of course, a reflection of many things around us — movies, books, the weather, the heart.  We develop our creativity based on what we’ve learned and what we’ve experienced. That is why self-help and raw human confession books are so popular. We are a world lost in the chaos of ego, everyone needing to be heard, no matter what the cost.

But back to movies and books. Both are tools of escapism; both reflect a little bit of what fascinates us deep inside. Not that we would live that life ― just that that life seems to resonate a bit with something Freud or Nietzsche would have had a field day with. Some connections are obvious; others are as nebulous as the morning fog.  My husband is nut when it comes to John Wayne ― any form, any era. Is he a big, larger-than-life hero type? Maybe not, but I can see flashes of the Duke in the way he struts sometimes.  Another good friend of mine loves books by Stephen King; I don’t think she is off on some modern-day blood and gore pilgrimage, but I can see her fascination ― the impossible becoming possible.

So what about The Lake House? Does this genre define who I am?  Am I lost in the fantasy of two time periods communicating through a mailbox? I am a preacher that we are  all multi-faceted diamonds in the rough. That we are so much more than the whole of our parts. And we are. But there are still signs in the universe (and in the media) that are plainly obvious.  Some resonate louder than others. Let’s ramble off a few of my favorite movies: The Lake House, Passion of Mind, Practical Magic, Chocolat. I’m sure that says a whole lot about my inner and outer spirit. That I am an escapist, a romantic, a time traveler. Funny that I also write about time travel, modern day women thrust into arenas not of their choosing:  alien worlds. Does my writing parallel my movie and book preferences? Does yours? Not just your writing, but your artwork; the books you read, the homemade cards you design, the jewelry you make, the dishes you cook when you are free to be yourself.

Sometimes we fall prey to pressure from the outside to be or think or watch what everyone else is being and thinking and watching.  As we get older, we fear we will be made fun of if we do not get the meaning of Barton Fink or Super Bad, or we don’t get rap or MTV, or we don’t laugh at movies filled with stoned characters or girls with their breasts hanging down to Brazil and back. I myself tremble at the thought of telling others I enjoy listening to Glen Miller and Frank Sinatra as much as Gaelic Storm or Steely Dan or Metallica. How can I be spread so thin over the planet? How can music and movies and books reflect who I am, who I’d love to be, when I’m in a hundred places at one time?

 As we get older our needs change. What thrilled us at 20 bores us at 50. Not that our youth is invalidated; on the contrary. We have evolved, just like everyone else. The things we thought risqué at 25 make us smile knowingly at 40. I suppose that’s because the world ever evolves, ever moves forward. And even though we move forward as well, we have the ability to focus on whatever era we wish. I have a friend who loves science fiction; the science part, the infinity part. This person works with computers, a field infinite and definitely scientific. Is sci-fi merely an extension of their reality? What about another friend who is very logical during the day yet hooked into murder mysteries all other times? Is her enjoyment of figuring out “who did it?” a reflection of working things out in her life?

 I suppose the point of this story is to encourage you to follow whatever direction your spirit guide sends you. When I was younger I questioned everything. “Does this mean something?” “If I turn right and go through the woods, instead of left and down to the field, does it mean something?” Now I know that every decision is just that. A choice. Turn left, turn right. It doesn’t matter. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s just a choice. Both turns take you back to who you are. Just like whatever movies you watch, whatever books you read. Enjoy adventure, enjoy historical sagas. Enjoy accounting manuals. It doesn’t matter.

 Having found that contentment regarding my decisions, I wonder what it means that my other favorite movies include Boondocks Saints and Con Air.

 Put… the bunny…back in the box…

On Base of Bony Orbit

When not being busy as a Goddess Gypsy Irish/Polish Writing Queen (I’m not really sure what that is…), I also spend 40 hours a week working on catalogs. I enter data, order images and copy, and proofread everything from the original description to the final glossy prepress page. One of my catalogs is dedicated to health care. Besides pages being filled with replicas of every body part (inside or outside) you can imagine, I also come across some extraordinary vocabulary.

This catalog is not one of those over-the-top linguistic nightmares, but a publication that is sophisticated enough to be grammatically specific and accurate when needed. At first the vernacular was a tsunami blowing around me. A lot of the images made me blush (scarlet, no less), and the descriptions were mostly gibble to me.  But now that I’m a seasoned veteran (sort of), I look at the catalog with a skewered sense of humor. Take the title of this blog, for instance. On Base of Bony Orbit is a description of an eye model; an orbit is the cavity in the skull that contains the eye; the eye socket. So, pulling myself away from the labrynth of product numbers, misspelled words and overlapping graphics, here are a few chuckles and chasms I found along the way.

Romantic Pairings (don’t these sound like lovey-dovey couples from the past?)

                         Cephalic and Basilic                         Systolic and Diostolic

                        Lavage and Gavage                           Bradycardia and Tachycardia

                        Larynx and Pharnyx                         Holodiastolic and Holosystolic

                       Maximus and Medius                       Tibula and Fibula

Linguistics

Another alien world in this catalog is the world of words. Oh sure, dictionaries and technical manuals are full of words only Einstein can decipher.  But, hey! I am merely an enlightened female on the road to who-knows-where! And these words are in my catalog:

                    Sphygomanometer                        Periocardiocentesus

                    Hepatobilliary                                Cricothyrotomy

                    Pneumothorax                               Sternocledidomastoid

                   Bulbospongiosus                            Intraosseous

                   Illococcygenus                                Supraspinatus

                  Meniscofemoral                              Oropharyngeal

Who Else is Here?

Did you know that there are a lot of people hanging around inside of you, too? Is there no such thing as total privacy?

             Ludwig’s Plate

            Loops of Heale

            Adam’s Apple

            Henle’s Loop

            Papillary Duct of Bellini

            Bowman’s Capsule

            Angle of Louis

 Junkyard

There seems to be a lot of junk and space inside of you, too. Just take a look at what’s really inside of you:

             caverns                               stems                        radicals                tubes   

             arches                                 trees                         hammers              valves         

             anvils                                 roofs                         cords                      roots

            discs                                    nails                         vaults                     canals 

           branches                            cavities                     bulbs                      plates   

           pyramids

Stumble Through Ancient Rome

 The body is filled with Latin terminology.  Sometimes I feel I should say, “ciao, baby!” Thank you Italy…

             Vastus lateralis                                Palmaris ulnaris

            Flexor carpi radialis                        Levator anguli oris

            Palmar aponeurosis                        Prominentia larngea

            Lateral decubitus                            Scala tympani

            Orbicularis acculi                           Peroneus brevis

            Patent ductus arteriosus 

 What is That?

             Shorter words that still make no sense to me:

            caecum                       pylorus                concha                       ischium

            vomer                        obdurator             pons                            taenia

            otic                              choroid                bolus                          calyces

            necrotic                      maxilla                occiput                       ulnar

 I’m sure there are plenty of other additions I (or you, for a matter of fact),  could add to these lists. But this one has already given me a headache. But all in all, you’d have to say I have quite an interesting proofreading life.

I hope I opened your eyes to the reality of your body.  You know – the ones on bony orbits. They say your body is a temple, but I think it’s nothing more than an over-articulate, voyeuristic catch basin.

Now – didn’t you find that humerus?        

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese

Do you believe that children and their parents speak two different languages?  Do you ever try and communicate with someone who hasn’t a clue as to what you are saying?

The teen years are stressful for those going through them. Puberty comes crashing in any time between the ages of 12 and 16, estrogen and testosterone fighting for space inside a body that is growing in too many directions at one time.  But hey. What about the ones on the other side of those swings? Those who pay for hot lunches and gym shoes and nail polish?  Not only do we have to put up with I-pods and cell phones, but we have to learn to speak a whole new language in order to be understood.  It is as if we have stepped over the threshold of reality into an entirely new universe.

 Life seemed so much simpler when our kids were toddlers. The years between two and, say, five, are probably the most rewarding for all forms of parental figures.  We can do no wrong; our children hang on our every word.  They fear and revere us. They bounce around from moment to moment wanting only to please those in charge.  Pick up your toys?  Of course! Eat your spaghetti?  Of course!  Clean your room?  Of course! We speak, they listen, and things are ideal.

Then comes those “cute” years, say, six through nine.  Everything they do and say is cute, especially when they pout and say “no” with wide-eyed enthusiasm.  Pick up your toys?  No! I wanna play with ‘em a little longer.  Eat your spaghetti?  No! I want pizza instead.  Clean your room?  No!  I gotta have twenty dolls in the corner!  They are starting to catch on to the power of being an individual.  They still brush their teeth and do their homework and go to bed pretty much on time, but they learn to manipulate the world by talking or playing or whining, probably all three.

By the time middle school comes around, there is a slight Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-ish personality starting to surface. Football games and study nights with friends start to take on a bit more significance as our middle schoolers begin to feel the strength of their own convictions.  Pick up your toys?  Oh please, I don’t play with ‘toys’ anymore.  Eat your spaghetti.  Red sauce? I’d rather have cheese.  Clean your room.  Oh mommy dear and/daddy dear — it is clean!  A little clip in their voice should be the giveaway that they are catching on to you.

Just when you think you have settled the beast that rustles inside your child, their high school days hit you right between the eyes. Music becomes some thundering beat with  alking rather than singing; wearing jeans that cut low enough to show off underwear or vertical fissures becomes the fashion statement of the day. Homework becomes an enigma.  School semesters are identified by fall, winter and spring sports, and words like Paris and Pink suddenly take on a whole new meaning.

You wake up one morning sprouting antennae from your head. Your voice becomes a booming echo down an empty tunnel or a high-pitched squeak riding the airwaves.  Suddenly you speak a foreign language: ρτε τα παιχνίδια σας  (pick up your toys in Greek);  съешьте ваше спагеттио (eat your spaghetti in Russian), and 投入您的衣裳去, (Chinese for clean your room). Their eyes become glazed and their expression reminds you of eating a lemon.  One day you are a friendly, loving parent, the next moment you are Godzilla’s cousin.  You don’t know what you are talking about ― your ideas or so old-fashioned they will be amazed if you make it to 50.

How did this happen?  How did we fall off of our pedestal?  One moment our child is reaching up to be held, the next moment they cringe if you hug them in public.  Is this the reward for all of our hard work?  All our love?

Well, trust me.  This too will pass.  As your children approach their twenties, they are amazed at how smart you’ve suddenly become.  Your old-fashioned ideas transform into newly discovered truths of their generation.  The older they get, the more human you become.  Your antennae suddenly don’t seem so out-of-place; as a matter of fact, they kinda look cute on your old frame.  You find a common ground through life and all its ups and downs, and they finally understand what you’ve been saying all these years.  Words and ideas flow once again, and your pedestal gets packed away somewhere deep in their heart, only to be pulled out when you are not looking.

Either that — or you have finally learned to speak Chinese.

Sprinkles

          The past few weeks have been the bottom of the roller coaster ride for me. After a bit of a medical drama, I am well, back into whatever groove middle aged women get into, trying to build my energy back up to see what trouble I can get into. How much trouble can a goddess like me get into? We won’t go into past details, but there have been times in the past that I have stepped over that preverbal line, most times with no consequences, other times being dutifully chastised and set back upon the straight and narrow.

            The funny thing about my misadventures is that, in the eyes of the world (especially to those under 40), the things that I’ve gotten in trouble for are powdered sugar compared to what others have done. I have never hung with the “wild” crowd, never gotten arrested, reprimanded by principals, or been asked to leave.  I’ve led a pretty vanilla life and stayed fairly happy and clean cut. I try not to compare my life, my ups and downs, with others. For, as you know, you will always be overblessed in one way and underblessed in another.  My dirty laundry is someone else’s humorous fluff.

            Going in and out of the hospital changes your perspective on a lot of things. Suddenly losing those last few pounds doesn’t seem so important. Or finally losing weight to get healthy rises to the top of your list. Your family becomes a priority, along with your health, your pets, and your pastimes. You sit and wonder why you’ve wasted so much time setting unrealistic goals and then were so hard on yourself when you didn’t achieve them. Your desires and your timelines seemed to have gotten crisscrossed, a Celtic design that has no beginning or no end. You will do A as soon as you accomplish B. You will buy outfit C as soon as you lose D pounds. You’ll go visit someone as soon as you (fill in the blank).

            I know you’ve heard this story a thousand times a thousand different ways. Don’t wait until trauma and tragedy arrive at your doorstep before you learn to live your life.  Well, what do you do if that dynamic duo arrives at your door and you’ve already been living your life? Are you supposed to go further off the deep end? Are you supposed to  throw away the restraints of society and be a wild and free sprite?

            I was lucky, not only to have a good prognosis, but to have wild and fun things to come back to. Our Polish Sausage Making Party has been going on for 14 years, an annual madhouse that seems to be growing every year. I had a laptop, waiting for me to create another fantasy, another out-of-the-box story. I have kids to bug and a grandson to spoil and friends to compare drinking stories with.  I have a room full of second-hand books waiting to be read, sweaters that need sparkles sewn on them, and sushi that  needs to be shared with girlfriends.

            I decided long ago that I was tired of being on the outside looking in. I was tired of being vanilla in a rainbow world. I’ve always respected my bosses and the law, always been polite (sometimes to the point of nausea), and given money to charity or to my kids (sometimes the same thing). But I also found out that if you want something in  your life, you need to be the one to go for it. You can’t wait for those things to come to you. That goes for friends, restaurant reservations, and health issues. Sometimes “going for it” makes you a little more aggressive than you usually are. Succeeding at “going for it” makes you feel stronger and smarter.  It makes you raise your own bar a notch or two higher. And you have yourself to thank for it.

            Going through a health predicament only reinforced the importance of finding out who I am and what I want in life. That what I wanted in my life is nothing more or less than anyone else wants. I just make sure I made lemonade every time I can. I make a point of getting together with friends often, and family birthdays become family reunions a  dozen times a year. I don’t want life to pass me by and at the end be filled with thoughts of why I didn’t do this or that.

            You are never going to be rich enough, thin enough, smart enough, for A to really ever meet B. So take the victories you make along the way and celebrate them. Don’t spend days and months and years waiting for the “payoff.”  The payoff is here and now. If you pass up picnics on the beach with the family because you want to lose weight first, you’ve done nothing but miss a great picnic. If you wait until your kids are in college to go away for the weekend you’ll never get away, for most of the time they come back to haunt you. Turning down an invitation to walk through a festival with family members because you need to clean your house does nothing but toss another fun time into the twilight zone.

            There is always room in your life for adventure. To cross some lines. To speak up. To stand up.  There’s always time for you to change your direction, your health, your dreams.  To be proactive. Not inactive. If the jester hat fits you, wear it! If bling is your thing, bling!  Always wanted to try and cook Thai? Go for it ― even if you’re the only  one who will eat it. Don’t wait for someone else to initiate a pizza night or drinks after work ― call, plan, and do it. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to “take their turn.”

            This is the only turn you’re going to get. Don’t let anyone else take your turn for you. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla, but just think of how much better it is with hocolate syrup and whipped cream.  

            And me?  I think I’ll try rainbow sherbet with multi-colored sprinkles. Can’t get enough of that color thing…

Dancing in a Too-Tight Tutu

I was sitting around the other day with my gal friends, sharing tales about the weekend. We all seemed to have gone through the same delightful experience, albeit in different ways. We all were relaxed, having a good time, and probably drank a little too much, for we all said, “I’m too old for this.”  One sat with friends and sipped with friends all day, one went to an outdoor concert, and I party hopped.  I’m sure the situations were on the same astral plane as many others “my age.”  Time flows, excitement and comfort wraps around us, the atmosphere make us feel good, and before you know it we are waking up the next morning with a headache, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

This psychic phenomenon is not limited to girls sharing drinking stories. This magical phrase echoes around us all the time.  My husband and I spent one glorious day working outside. The air was cool, the dogs well-behaved, and we planted flowers in pots and mowed the lawn and fixed broken things and worked in the yard a little. Maybe more than just a little, for the next morning we both woke up, joints stiff, hands scratched, and twinges in the small of our back, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

Just think of how many times you have said this. In fun and in fear.  A mother with a house full of 10-year-old girls staying overnight, giggling and talking till wee hours of the morning; college kids downstairs, friends over, drinking beer and playing cards, getting louder and rowdier with each hand; babysitting more than one of anything younger than five. You’re trying to be nice. You’re trying to be patient. But hours into the melee you think, “I’m too old for this.”

As I always like to point out, age is in your point of view.  When the ladies shared their drinking stories, I wanted to stand and cheer.  There were late 30s mingling with mid 40s mingling with late 50s. One has a 10-year-old, one has two in high school, I have one in college and one married.  Yet all three of us unconsciously slipped back into our early 20s, losing track of time and responsibilities and all the trimmings that go with it, at least for an hour or two. Were we trying to recapture our youth? Were we silly old goats   trying to dance the dance of the sprite in a tutu that was too tight? Or were we just human beings who never forgot how to have fun?

By now we all know that life is what you make of it. Jobs and kids and finances and health problems plague us all. Some can pick up and make a clean slate of everything; others have to muddle through the chaos and hope they squeeze out the other side sane. So when they say laughter is the best medicine, it really is. Sharing stories, playing games, dancing and prancing and acting silly all are ways to exorcise the demons we create for ourselves. I’m too fat. I’m too dumb. I’m tired of my job. I’m tired of my mother. I’m tired of being a mother. All tinny squeaks in our ear that cause us to over-analyze, over-react, and over emote. All of which get us nowhere in the end.

So what’s wrong with not acting our age? What is our age, anyway? If judged by our bodies, it might be ancient. If judged by our responsibilities it might be grown up. If judged by our dreams, it might be juvenile. Somehow there has to be a way to unite all sides of ourselves into one happy camper. So why not let go of those inhibitions once in a while? Why not drop the fear of embarrassing yourself (or others) and laugh with others? It’s not like you haven’t been embarrassed before, or never will be again. But you would be amazed the different feeling you get when you are a part of the joke, not a victim of it.

The great thing about taking chances like these, and saying “I’m too old for this” is that you find you are really not too old for anything. Alright – maybe bungee jumping or running in a marathon when you’re not a runner are contenders for never again. But even those occurrences show that you were not too old to at least try them.  The obvious choices are usually general ones: take a class about something you always wanted to know about; start walking around the block at night so you can walk in the annual Relay for Life; buy yourself a journal (or a laptop) and start recording those thoughts you thought you’d never get out of your system. Volunteer at a shelter or sanctuary and make friends with the animals.

Not up to all that work? How about wearing a color you’ve never worn before? Are you a meat and potatoes kinda dresser? Add a piece of bling to your wardrobe. Take a chance on bringing extra attention to yourself. You will be amazed at how many people notice ― and how many like the “new you.” Go to a concert and sing the lyrics at the top of your lungs. Dance like a crazy person in front of the speakers to your favorite music.

Oh sure, you say. You go dance in front of the speakers…you wear the bling. You wear the tutu that’s too tight.  I hate to admit it, but I already do. And I can’t tell you how scary and liberating it is.  And, even if I pull a muscle dancing the “hoochi coo”, it’s a great feeling to know that no one will ever forget the sight of me “hoochi cooing” in a too-tight tutu.

Especially with a glass of wine in my hand.

©2012 Claudia Anderson

Reincarnation as a Walmart Greeter

            Most of us run blindly through life, taking kids to football games or buying groceries or celebrating birthdays or oohing and ahhing about flower beds and great lasagna dinners, never stopping to think that one day all this wonderful madness will end.  There are those who believe in the ever after: angels and Elysian Fields and all the chocolate you can eat.  Others believe in reincarnation: behaving yourself in this life is a sure bet you won’t come back as a newt or a grasshopper in the next.  Some believe you never wake  up; others believe eternity is one big, made-for-TV movie. But what happens if you don’t want to think about the afterlife, period?  What happens if all you want to do is get  lost in Star War movies or the Food Network or dreams of vacationing in the Bahamas?  Does avoidance equal ignorance?

            I sometimes wonder if humans were meant to dwell on the afterlife as much as we do.  After all, whatever is going to happen is going to happen.  When all is said and done, if we are all going have a glorious resurrection, why should we worry about it?  If we believe our destiny is to reappear on another planet in another galaxy, why sweat the small stuff? 

            None of us like to think about death.  Most of us unconsciously think we will live to be 90 or better.  We pop a few vitamins or walk around the block or stop smoking and think we have it made.  And, for the most part, we do.  We look around us, feel terrible about those our age who have passed on to greener pastures, and hope we can stay out of
those same pastures a bit longer. Yet there is always that heebie geebie feeling we get from that foul reaper that makes us feel we should do a bit more to insure a place in the afterlife.  Whether its prayer, abstinence, volunteering or tithing, we always make an effort to hedge our bets, putting an extra chip on the gambling table just in case.  We give a little extra to the United Way or volunteer to work the concession stand at the high school football game, even if our kid doesn’t play football.  We help old women cross the street, and try not to get uppity if someone offers to help us cross the street.

            How does that lessen our apprehension of our final moment?  How does contributing to the bake sale or adopting a pet from the shelter make us breathe easy about our last moments on Earth?  The older I get, the more I realize that all the anxiety, all the trauma I go through worrying about what happens at that final moment doesn’t mean a thing except heartburn.  One of the prices we pay for being born into this world is having to leave it at the end.  I’m not sure there is some cosmic string that is destined to be cut at some particular moment; I do believe that the joy we find in this life, and possibly the next, is based on the pleasure we give and receive from others.

            Whether you read the Bible or Harry Potter, you cannot escape the fact that good deeds do not go unheeded.  That even if there is no cosmic God or Goddess who pats you on the head for being a good person, you are rewarded anyway.  There is something  about doing something nice for others — and for yourself — that brings its own brand of satisfaction.  Putting a plus in the “good” column just plain feels good.  Accepting that we don’t always get accolades for our diligence is a learned experience; I find myself still waiting for acknowledgement that I saved the life of a cat who was beaten by an irrational neighbor 20 years ago or that I was the DD more times than I can count. I know
my heart always feel better when I label myself “nice” instead of “mean.”  I feel good when I put a smile on another’s face; I feel bad when I make someone cry.

            Whether or not those points add up to admission through the pearly gates I don’t know.  I myself don’t have a clue whether I will meet my mother and father on the other ide, or if I will be reincarnated into a wealthy family (something I would thoroughly enjoy).  What I do know is that it makes me feel good to do good in this world.  I have no control of what happens when I close my eyes for the last time — no one does.  All I can hope for is that my good behavior and loving heart will have counted for  omething.  That loving my kids over and above normalcy and giving my dogs extra bonies push me up a notch on the ladder of happily-ever-after.

            It will be my luck that the day I decide to visit Scotland, the Loch Ness Monster will instantly devour me in one gulp, and all this angst will be for nothing.  My fear is that my repayment for being such a jolly good soul is that I come back to this world as a Welcome Wagon Lady or a greeter at Walmart.  Which, on second thought, isn’t such a bad idea.  After all, that’s what I want to do when I retire in this life.

            Although I know I have to fight my husband for the job.

To Dream or Not to Dream…That Is the Question

       33 To Dream or Not to Dream     One of the yin-yangs of hormone fluctuation is sleep, or lack of it.  Between hot flashes and finding a comfortable position, my REM’s make rare visits,  leaving my consciousness floating in the bubbles of semi-sleep through the world of dreams.  Now, many people say they don’t dream; others leave a notepad on their nightstand so they can record the ching chang jumble that comes out in the middle of the night.  I believe we all dream, but length, depth and retaining capacity is what makes everyone’s claim different.

         Scientists and talk show hosts tell us our lives are influenced by anything and everything, and our dreams are one way of dealing with all of it. Dreams, and  their alter ego, nightmares, can result from everything from eating pizza before bed to an argument earlier in the day. Dreams can be triggered by stress, anticipation, having too much time on your hands or, more likely, not enough.  Scary movies, sappy movies, long distance phone calls — everything can leave a chip in your mind that can explode into a myriad of dreamy scenarios.

            The great thing about this flight through those shadowed clouds, though, is the variety of experiences it presents.  I doubt my conscious mind could make up half the things my subconscious does. And if it could, would it be as fun?  In my dreams I interact with bosses from 20 years ago and talk to family members who are no longer with me.  I wander the halls of my grade school, look out on Lake Michigan from a high-rise balcony, and walk through castles of long ago.  I have driven off cliffs and been chased by  unseen dragony/monster things. I have stood in a shadowy alley talking to Edward Norton and had coffee with Kiefer Sutherland.  I have run from building to building to building, either looking for something or trying to get somewhere, and have jumped and bounced and flown my way across the landscape.

            Where in Jove’s name do we get these ideas from? 

           Being a writer, I often bring some of the unearthliness of my subconscious and put it into forms that entertain me and others. Without analyzing every laugh and tear, I try to bring these esoteric beings into my writing. The more nonsensical, the better. Other people transform their dreams into paintings, gardens, photography, and card making. 

            Of course, the down side of dreams is that they don’t always give you a direct answer to your cosmic questions.  It is fairly obvious that when I dream of my son as a toddler rather than a college kid, I am searching for the olden days connection we had when I was omnipotent and he was subservient.  When I am wandering through corridors and cross loading docks and down long hallways filled with shops and warehouses and theaters I am lost in more ways than I care to admit. But instead of interpreting these dreams as portents of bad things to come, I would rather see them as insights to the possibilities that lie ahead. We have the ability to choose which meanings we take to heart and which  we toss out.  We can choose to see rain in the clouds or we can just see clouds.  We can choose to see dragons shapes or bouncy cotton balls in those clouds or we can just see clouds. 

            The best course is always to take a little of both. Don’t ignore the clouds that are really thunderheads, and don’t get the idea of stepping out of a plane to bounce on their springy tops.  But also let those clouds be dragons or snakes or baby diapers. Nod at the thread of reality that runs through the middle, then make what you will of the rest.   Don’t worry what others think your dreams mean, or if you can’t remember their endings.  The old adage that it’s the journey that counts, not the destination, is just as true in your onscious state of mind as in your conscious one.  Don’t read more into your dreams than what is there.  And create whatever you want from them.

            As for me, I’m looking forward to tonight.  I told Kiefer I’d meet him at the coffee shop sometime around eleven.  Maybe I’ll even ride my dragon there.

Frivolous Facts and Faldaral Part II

In Star Wars, The Millennium Falcon was originally modeled after a hamburger with an olive next to it. Because the name of the ship had not been finalized at this time, storyboards refer to as the pirate ship. Some boards indicate for the first version of the pirate ship (which became the Blockade Runner) to be changed into the ‘Hamburger Boogie’ version.  Hans Solo rides off into the galaxy sunset aboard the quarter pounder.

In the movie Carrie, the slow motion scene at the end of the movie was filmed in reverse to simulate ghostlike movement effects. If watched vigilantly, cars can be seen driving backwards in the upper left hand corner of the screen. When I was younger, playing “Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles backwards revealed Paul was dead, too. Alas, I could never get the turntable to turn backwards fast enough to prove anything.

For the movie the Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland was paid $35 a week while Toto received $125 a week. That renubds me of one of my earlier blogs, Diamonds Are A Dog’s Best Friend.

To achieve the sound of thousands of snakes slithering in the movie Indiana Jones and the Raider’s Ark, sound designer Ben Burtt stuck his fingers into a cheese casserole. This was augmented by applying wet sponges to the rubber on a skateboard. Eww. Clever — but eww.

Basil (the herb) was once believed to have the power to breed scorpions. According to one recipe, “three crushed leaves are put under a clay pot. After a few days a tiny scorpion will be born”.  With the help of basil one could also summon scorpions. Pliny, a Roman writer, claimed that a handful of basil pounded with 10 sea crabs would do the trick. What the real connection between basil and scorpions was we will never know. Nor do we want to.

Average number of eggs laid by the female American Oysterer year: 500 million. Usually only one oyster out of the bunch reaches maturity. Those numbers make me itch.

Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour – about 1.5 pounds a year. By 70 years of age, an average person will have lost 105 pounds of skin. I wonder why that never equates as pounds lost on a diet.

Chocolate syrup was used for blood in the famous 45 second shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, Psycho, which actually took 7 days to shoot. The article never said how much chocolate syrup was used. A lot of sundaes went topless that week.

 Jethro Tull is not the name of the rock singer responsible for such songs as “Aqualung” and “Thick as a Brick.” Jethro Tull is the name of the band. The singer is Ian Anderson. The original Jethro Tull was an English horticulturalist who invented the seed drill. Reminds me of the movie Armageddon. Oscar: I tell you one thing that really drives me nuts, is people who think that Jethro Tull is just a person in a band. Psychologist: Who is Jethro Tull?

 During World War II, bakers in the United States were ordered to stop selling sliced bread for the duration of the war on January 18, 1943. Only whole loaves were made available to the public. It was never explained how this action helped the war effort.

 The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. It was the fashion in Renaissance Florence to shave them off. I wonder if they wore underwear that peeked out of their pants, too. No one would ever know.

When the Mother Ship passes over Devil’s Tower near the end of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, R2-D2 can be seen hanging from the bottom of the ship.

The carpet designs seen in Sid’s hallway in Toy Story are the same carpet designs seen in The Shining. That’s the creepy side of recycling.

Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with. Yum. Or is is it Yuk?

The strawberry flavor in your ice cream contains 50 different chemicals. Nature cannot be imitated, and this is the best example. Just to recreate the flavor of “strawberry”, some fast food companies add 50 different chemicals including benzyl isobutyrate, phenythyl alcohol, amyl acetate, mint and cognac. So, the next time you consume strawberry flavored ice creams, milkshakes or desserts, do remember the recipe. Now that’s not Yum OR Yuk. That’s Ick. Vanilla, please.

A quarter of raw potato placed in each shoe at night will keep the leather soft and the shoes smelling fresh and clean. They forgot to add that if you don’t take the potato out it turns into potato toe jam.
In 1939, the Hollywood Production Code dictated what could and could not be shown or said on screen, and Rhett Butler’s memorable last line in the famous Gone With the Wind, presented a serious problem. A few of the suggested alternatives were “Frankly my dear… I just don’t care,” “… it makes my gorge rise,” “… my indifference is boundless,”  “… I don’t give a hoot,” and “… nothing could interest me less.” Although legend persists that the Hays Office fined Selznick $5,000 for using the word “damn”, in fact the Motion Picture Association board passed an amendment to the Production Code on November 1, 1939, to insure that Selznick would be in compliance with the code. Henceforth, the words “hell” and “damn” would be banned except when their use “shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore … or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste.” With that
amendment, the Production Code Administration had no further objection to Rhett’s closing line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  Which is a damn good thing.

And, finally…..for those of you with time on your hands….

 If you counted 24 hours a day, it would take 31,688 years to reach one trillion!

The Emperor’s Clothes — the Naked Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Can’t Believe I Believed That

Urban legends are as old as Medusa turning those who look at her to stone — old as dirt.  The more society has matured, the easier it is to decipher falsehoods from the truthhoods. Or is it? Here’s a list of ditties I found on my wanderings while doing research for my Great American Novel #3 (let’s hear it for the Internet and a few spare hours!)

Lizzie  Borden took an Axe…

Unfortunately this myth rears its ugly head quite often, and often no amount of effort is sufficient to disprove it to the true believers. First off, Lizzie – she is famous through the children’s poem:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
And when she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

In fact, her father was axed 11 times and her step-mother 18 or 19 but that is not the real myth – the real myth is the belief that Lizzie Borden committed the crime at all. After a mere one hour of jury deliberation, Lizzie was found innocent of the crime. To give further weight to her innocence, shortly before her trial a second axe murder happened in the area. Additionally, Lizzie was found with no blood on her minutes after the crime took place, and no murder weapon was ever found.

It’s safe to eat dropped food as long as you pick it up within 5 seconds.

The 5-second rule is one of the biggest food myths around. The reality is that food picks up bacteria from the second it hits another surface. One study at Clemson University found that food acquired 1800 bacteria after just 5 seconds.

Can drinking coffee help a person sober up?

When you see a movie scene showing a drunk guy trying to sober up in a hurry, odds are he’ll be chugging a cup of stout black coffee to help speed up the process.  But can a person who is drunk function better — and possibly pass as sober — after downing a cup or two? The answer: A resounding “no.”

Coffee does not help you get sober. If you’re plastered, you’re going to have to wait several hours for the alcohol to leave your system on its own. Drinking coffee won’t make your body metabolize alcohol faster. However, coffee can affect your drunken state by tricking your mind into thinking you’re close to sobriety. It turns out the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, which can make you feel like you’re ready to handle certain potentially dangerous activities — like driving.  If you’re drunk, coffee can’t actually prepare you to do anything important and/or responsible. It’ll only make it harder to realize you’re sloshed.

Captain Kirk Never Said  “Beam me up Scotty”

When mentioning the series Star Trek people are very likely to say the famous phrase “Beam me up Scotty,” even if they have no clue who Scotty is or what it’s referring to. This is presumably the phrase captain Kirk uses at the end of a show, when Mr. Scott teleports him back to the ship. However, the phrase is never really uttered on the show or in any of the movies. The closest version of the quote can be heard in the Star Trek IV movie when Captain Kirk says “Beam me up, Mr. Scott.” The difference is very small, merely a more formal usage of Scott versus Scotty, but fans of the show have argued for years that Captain Kirk would never use the diminutive Scotty instead of his formal rank, especially in front of the crew.

Eli Wallach Never Said: “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

In its original form in director John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), it was actually, “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

Mama Cass died when she choked on the sandwich she was eating.

There may have been a partially eaten sandwich somewhere in the vicinity, but she died of heart failure brought on by the effects of obesity and crash dieting. The coroner found no evidence of anything, ham sandwich or otherwise, blocking her windpipe.

Ozzy Osbourne routinely bit the heads off of live bats as part of his outrageous live performance antics.

Given his trailblazing efforts in achieving a high shock value with his live concert shenanigans, this myth isn’t too hard to swallow. The fact is, Oz did bite a live bat onstage – once, and by accident. He thought it was a prop made of rubber. The fact that the bat bit back, requiring Osbourne to undergo rabies treatments, kept him from ever attempting it on purpose.

Mr. Rogers was a Navy Seal

Fred Rogers and his classic children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood were legendary in the TV world, so it was only a matter of time before a few scandalous rumors started floating around about him. Probably the most popular and downright ridiculous was the legend that claimed Rogers was a Navy Seal during the Vietnam War, and that he had numerous confirmed kills as a sniper. This same rumor often asserted that the only reason Rogers wore sweaters was to cover up all the tattoos he had gotten during his time in the service. Both tales are completely untrue, but this is one urban legend that refuses to die.

AND FINALLY…

If you cross your eyes on purpose, they can get stuck there.

There is no way that you can make your eyes cross permanently. If you cross your eyes, you will tire your muscles out, but you won’t do any permanent harm.

So  quit looking at me that way.

Diamonds Are a Pet’s Best Friend

Come on, admit it ― we all wish now and then we lived in the “lap of luxury.” Of course, we are perfectly happy in our little house/apartment, spending time  with with family/kids/friends, and splurging on a Dove Bar now and then.  But now and then don’t you think about noshing on that Dove Bar on a Paris street corner or on a deserted beach in Riviera Maya?

Alas, this little dittie is not about our lap of luxury ― it’s the lap of those who hold precious dogs and cats (and other furry little creatures) that I begin to wonder about. I have three ½ dogs ― two are mine, one inherited from grandpa, and one who spends more time here  than at my son’s. I also have 2 cats adopted from Touched by a Paw. All great companions, hunters, and cuddlers.  We cringe when we have to take them to the vet each year, spend money on their pills, food, chewies, cookies, ropes, grooming, treats, nail clippers, and all  other  paraphernalia, money  that well could have taken us to Vegas. But we grin and bear it, for we love our animals and want the best for them.

Aha!  Want the best for them. That is the key today. What exactly is the “best”?

Nearly $32 billion was spent last year in the pet industry. That includes vets, food, shelters, boarding, etc.  That’s a lot for Bowser and Fifi. But it’s not nearly what could be spent should you do a little investigating. If I may: Here are a few of the wonderful little somethings we  could also spend on our pets (and please do not move the decimals):

Mexican Hacienda Dog House: $30,000

Hello Kitty Crest Dog House: $31,660

Louis XV Pet Pavilion:   $23,900

Cat Cabin:  $1,398

22-K Gold-Threaded Pet Mattress:  $3,000

Versace Barocca Pet Bowl:  $724

Mink fur coat:  $725

Pearl and Diamond Handled Pet Brush:  $400

And then, for the pet who has everything (and for those of you who have a few extra dollars to spend), we have:

52-carat Diamond Dog Collar:  $1.8 million

Dog tiara:  $4.2 million

Now, we all know that these are purposely created as token items. No one in their right mind would walk Bowser in a diamond-studded collar or brush Fifi with a pearl-and-diamond handled brush. But just stop and think ― someone had to come up with this idea; someone had to sit in their little lab and say, “Geez, I wonder what the world will think if I design a mink coat for pets?”

Besides being a topic for morality discussions all night long, I bring this to your attention to point out the lengths we go to pamper those who walk on four legs and lick their you-know-what all the time.  Besides the obvious negative auras radiating around these creations (feed the poor, donate to charities, pay off second mortgages), the thought of  my dogs slobbering out of a Versace dog dish or sleeping in a Mexican Hacienda that costs as much as a car gives me the shivers.  Why do humans go to these lengths to take care of those lower on the food chain?

Perhaps part of it is the feeling of “innocence” a cat or dog emotes. Those big eyes, that  follow-you-around-because-you-are-my-hero antics stir many a heartstring. They are loyal, obedient, and clean (look how often they clean themselves??) They don’t trash their bedroom, drink the last soda, or spend all night on the Internet. They sleep most of the day, eat your leftovers and protect your abode from evil predators like mice and squirrels. Why don’t they deserve a generous portion of your income?

And what of those who fork out those prices to show off the love-of-their-life? For many I imagine the pet is the love of their life. Dogs and cats probably know more celebrity secrets than any group of therapists around. Who else would let you carry them around in designer purses? Who else would look so good next to your Calvin Klein jeans and Gucci bag?  Who else would portray a sidekick (or main star, for that matter) in a movie and let you computerize their mouth to reflect human speech?

I suppose you could say those who dish out for the dish (oh so funny), are compensating for something. Their need to be noticed extends to their immediate family, which,   for some, is only their pets. Husbands and wives come and go, kids leave home, and career opportunities  appear only when you have just had a baby or have just earned three weeks of paid vacation. My mother (and others) always said where there’s a will there’s a way, and W.C. Fields said there’s a sucker born every minute. All of this may be true. It’s  up to us and our common sense to find a happy middle ground, both for us and our pets.

I often think the world is upside down.  But then again, maybe that’s why I’m not living in the lap of luxury.  Perhaps I’d better go out on the deck and teach my dog to move her lips like a human. After all, I wouldn’t mind eating out of that Versace bowl, either…

See What You Have Missed??

While everyone is enjoying this holiday weekend, merely peeking in at their various inboxes, I thought I’d share the fun and enlightening titles you may have missed in this irreverent blog:

My Muse is an Irish WenchWhat to do when creativity dances on your shoulder ― and on your head

Chocolat and the Tuscan SunOpening up an oatmeal cookie boutique in Europe

Feng Shui in the Cubicle — Trying to find harmony and flow in the office cubicle

Paint Who’s Wagon?Defining the generations by the songs we sing

Real Lists vs. Fantasy ListsWhy making “to-do” lists is a matter of one’s point of view.

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst — How our weekly lives run from the optimistic, ethereal beginning of the unicorn, through the dumps of life, back up to the raw, spicy optimism of sausage.

Moonrise at SunsetEven the Moon can fool you.

Dinner With the QueenHow far does your unpredictable meter go?

Middle MagicHalf empty or half full? In reality we just need a bigger cup.

AND YET TO COME

What Is Role Playing and Can I Do It By Myself?Inspirational messages from dwarves and gods.

Cosmic ChatterConnecting to the cosmos through life’s everyday static

Paranoia Writings ― Beware of what you write when you’re pumped up.

Hot Flashes and Cold FeetWhat did I ever do to my hormones to have them treat me this way?

Sex ― What Is It and Where Did It Go?By the time the floor is free the well is dry.

Everyone’s Life is a Best SellerSurely you have an oddity or two hanging from your friends & family tree

Come! Join the Party!

Middle Magic

Surfing the television the other night, I came across a quite entertaining program — one of those behind-the-scenes pieces on the making of a current hit movie. I snuggled in my oversized chair and listened as cast and crew glowed about the setting, the camaraderie, and the overwhelming feeling of family that pervaded the movie set for those two years. Envy tinted with wanderlust began to fill my mind. After it was over, I found myself thinking, “Wouldn’t that be great? Escape the drudgery of my everyday, boring  office job and go off with wildly artistic people to exotic locations and be a part of something big and exciting and creative — like making a movie.” Flashes of famous people danced in my head: cast parties, flights to locations I’ve never seen, working in thunderstorms and desert heat side by side with fellow creative spirits…

I was eventually knocked back into reality through a number of obnoxious commercials, and came to the realization that my exotic movie set was right there before me. Middle Magic. Middle Age.

Middle Age. A word that is still hard to identify with. A word that gives most of us the willies. What does it mean?  It used to mean one’s half-life — half way between the cradle and the grave. Near the turn of the century middle age was 30; decades earlier it was as young as 20. My parents’ generation viewed middle age somewhere in their 40s; my own personal interpretation pushes it to at least somewhere in the mid-60s. But magic? At this point in my life, how could my life cycle resonate with the energy of  Merlin or Dumbledore?

As I dreamt about life as an actress or a jet-setting hotel heiress, it became obvious to me that we are all a result of our choices. I could have chosen a different path. If I had truly wanted to be a part of the acting community I could have gone the way of high school plays, summer theater, or politics. But my choices took me along a different path: family, children, a place to call home. I came to understand that we all hear the call of destiny, but it’s up to us what we do with that calling. Middle Magic goes beyond those initial choices. This sort of magic is a whirlwind of the past and the present, the switching of life’s gears, so to speak. It is a tugging of our soul, asking to finally be set free to wander and explore the world in its own way. You know ― living the “stepping out of the box” cliché way of life. This sort of magic is an empowerment that breaks us from the monotony of routine and propels us into the world of extraordinary. Middle Magic is experience tinted with awe, reality mingled with fantasy. It is part who knows, part who cares. After all, isn’t that what we’ve spent all this time wanting?

Middle age is merely a threshold ― let’s not be afraid to cross it. We’ve got nothing to lose except our inhibitions.  Who needs those, anyway?  The wonderful thing is that we have this power in every thought we have, every moment we live. It starts with an acknowledgement of where we are, and opens doors to a future we only now can  reach.  It is through this energy that we finally connect with our self. Only at this point do the gates of the palace open before us.

Perhaps Middle Magic is nothing more than coming to grips with our own mortality. The Reaper has no discretion with its scythe; it strikes down the young and old, dashing dreams and breaking hearts without discretion. But it is precisely because of the Reaper’s indiscretion that we understand how important it is to live life to its fullest day to day. How important it is to open doors to new worlds, encouraging others to do so as well.  To continue to learn, to continue to share what we’ve learned, to know that our ability to learn is as vast as the stars above.

As I turned off the television, there was still a part of me that wished I had been a part of making that movie: the friendship, the excitement, the stress and the secrets. But I realized I have all the above with me every day — friendship, stress, and secrets   With a flick of the pen I can live in 1880 or 2050, on a space station near Jupiter or in an apartment in Manhattan. Pick up a book and I can walk with hobbits or Sioux Indians or Japanese Shoguns. I have music and movies and my own imagination to take me wherever I want to go. And when I run low on imagination, I have my friends’ imaginations to fuel me.

True magic is the magic of the moment; the feeling that you are making a difference, a riff, in the routine of reality. Magic is realizing that you can be a creator and a dreamer along with doing dishes or being a catalog coordinator or taking care of kids or grandkids. Everywhere there is a story to be told, and every story has a bit of a smile in it. All you have to do is stop and share it. That is what Middle Magic is about. Chuckling at the absurdity of the world around us, taking what we have learned through the years with a grain of salt and a cup of schmaltz and sharing it with everyone.

We can only go one way on this road of life; we should make a point to share a smile or two or a thousand with as many souls as we can. Don’t you know? We are all magicians. We are all whimsical, swirling motes of dust in the sunshine of life. Powerful, crazy, magical motes.

Gandalf would be proud.

 

Moonrise At Sunset

The crispness of the evening crackled around me as I sat on the rustic bench at the edge of the harvested cornfield.  I was on a mission; I was determined to watch the moon rise over the horizon. I had toddled down the path through the woods behind my house, laptop in hand, hoodie tied tight around my head.  There was rustling about — shuffling and shifting somewhere in the distance as creatures large and small began to find shelter for the night.  I sat quietly, laptop on my legs, waiting for the crest of the moon’s edge to peek over the farthest boundary line of earth.

There was more shuffling through the skeletal bushes as the shadows grew around me.  I pushed away flashes of monsters and rabid raccoons and embraced the thought of it being a bird or squirrel.  Little, gentle things. My query was soon answered in the form of a large black bird that appeared on the branch of the tree in front of me.  Her beady eyes blinked at me, her head tilted slightly. “What in the world are you doing here so late?  Go home! It will be a cold one tonight!” she scolded. I agreed with the bird, watching her shimmy and shake before disappearing into the woods.  She was no fool; it was indeed getting chilly.

My fingertips began to numb as my eyes kept watch through the barbed wire fence, across the harvested cornfield, past the ridge of trees and farms to the horizon in the distance. As the evening sky turned from lavender ribbons to purple shadows, thoughts of previous generations ran through me. Who knows what our ancestors thought when they looked up at the night time sky? I knew that the Andromeda Galaxy glowed in one of the legs of the W of Cassiopeia, and the right side of the cup of the Little Dipper pointed upwards to the North Star.  But the locals had taken their own spin on astronomy, leaving me wondering about my long-held beliefs.  Does Apollo ride his steeds through the Wisconsin sky just as he did in Greece?  Is the constellation Orion actually the outline of a football player getting ready to throw a pass?  Does the pointer star really always point towards a tavern?

The crow returned, landing very near on the post beside me.  She wondered what I was still doing there.  I was an alien here.  That, and I probably smelled like garlic from my spaghetti dinner.  I tried sitting very still, but the bird had never seen a wild woman hanging around on this bench at this hour, and squawked that fact to anyone who would listen.  Finally, after making her point, she took off in a huff. Point taken.  Yet this stranger in a hoodie still hung around. Sunset gave way to darkness, moonrise only minutes away. Anticipation grew inside of me.

Where was the full round beauty that taunted mere mortals with her presence?  Where was the crest of her silver hair above the horizon?   She was the goddess of the night, the seductress in the midnight blue wrap.  Her dark cape sparkled with distant flecks of existence; yet in her full glory there was no star that could match her brilliance. How silent these woods had suddenly become.  I sat in vigilant dedication, my shivering the only noticeable movement.   I could not see my fingers, my letters, my writing.  A subtle numbness started to creep down from the tips of my gloves, yet still I waited.  Darkness had covered the wilderness, forcing me to pay closer attention to everything around me.

Suddenly, a loud crash and shuffling came from my left.  Bigfoot!  Hodag!  Tyrannosaurus Rex!  But, no! Too light-footed!  It had to be a deer crashing through the bramble.  The hoofed steps stopped on the path, listening.  All was silent. We both held our breaths, she in the woods, I on the bench.  My heart exploded, leaving me wanting to turn around just for a peek. Turn! Just turn! But I couldn’t. Wouldn’t. What a dip! The moment stretched into an eternity, until finally the doe walked the other way, crunching the leaves in her wake.  She must have been making her way to the cornfield, circling away from the soft glow of the computer screen and the odd scent of garlic. I can’t say that I blamed her.

Finally the moment had come.  The first pinpoint of light in the distance — She appeared!  But gasp upon gasps!  What was this?  Her crown was not the color of ghosts or spider webs — the Lady’s mane was red!  My Goddess of the Night was a crimson-haired tart!   Full and round, she rose majestically through the black distance, the world stopping for a moment to honor her presence.  Her red mane radiated over the valley and poured across the landscape, Her round orb was breathtaking! Sassy!  The Moon Goddess watched over that magical night with the grace of a queen with her crown of rubies.  She was beautiful in her new outfit — proof that women could change their appearance whenever they wished.  They could be feminine and pure and complex and naughty with merely a change of color — or thought.  It was the delight of being female, the magic of the power within.

Eventually I closed my laptop, extinguishing the last remains of my human presence.  Her aura slowly turned back to haunting white, glowing enough to light my path back home. I promised to come visit again, not only when she was at her fullest, but also when she was merely a slice rising in the distant dark sky,

And in return, I heard her say that she’d come to my house for garlic spaghetti any time.