Letting Go

Some sad reflections today.

My dog of 13 years passed away yesterday.

Now I’m not telling you this to wring out sympathy or other reactions. The reason I share this with you is that whenever someone or some thing close to you is taken away, there is a little piece of you that leaves with them.

Worse than that for me, though, is that sudden, albeit unwanted, connection with my own mortality.

I know a dog is only an animal. They don’t think and reason like we do (although sometimes I beg to differ). But Dickens’ passing makes me think of those I have loved who have passed before, and those who will pass in the future.

And my own passing.

I have to admit something. Many people find solace in religion. That there is an afterlife, a heaven, a chance to be reunited with loved ones. They believe this fully and adamantly.

I’m not one of those people.

I look for signs of those I love who are in the afterlife, but I always come up empty. In my heart I feel my mother or father or brother with me, but common sense says it’s nothing more than an emotional overload. Wanting is getting. I hope to be proved wrong in the end…that the guardian of the afterlife will chuckle and say “I told you so.”

Dickens had 13 great years. She fetched, she went swimming in the lake, she went on walks with me.We buried her in our field (I live on a hill surrounded by wild fields) with her mom, her bfdf Rennie, and my cat. In my selfish dreams I see all of them running around through the fields, sleeping, eating, climbing and swimming together.

I see her with all the dogs and cats I have lost during my lifetime. How are they all together, when they didn’t even know each other in this life?

My love, my spirit, connects them all.

I believe the same is true for human beings. Our love, our spirit, is what connects us. Whether on this side of the cosmic divide or the other. Whether we live in Australia or California or Midwest Wisconsin. Sometimes that string that connects us is pulled, and we all feel unified, if only for a moment.

Keep that string connected, my friends. It doesn’t matter what’s on the other side — that will be decided for all of us in due time. It’s what we share today and tomorrow and every day we are able to see the sunrise that counts.

Have fun, Dickens. See ya ‘all when the time comes.

 

 

On My Way I Found the Holocaust

red_and_black_rose_by_tianajade-d2zwb9s1On my way to researching something else…

Doesn’t it always happen this way? Earlier today I was searching for events that took place on September 8 for a blog I was writing for work, and I came across this:

1941        Sep 8, The entire Jewish community of Meretsch, Lithuania, was exterminated.

An entire community.

My curiosity took me through pages and pages of Holocaust history. Here is some of what I found: (It’s kinda long..)

1941        Jun 22, Second world war began in Lithuania. Lithuania rebelled against Russian occupation.
1941        Jun 24, Entire Jewish male population of Gorzhdy, Lithuania, was exterminated.
1941        Jun 26, Lithuanian fascists massacred 2,300 Jews in Kovno.
1941        Jul 7, Nazis executed 5,000 Jews in Kovno, Lithuania.
1941        Jul 14, 6,000 Lithuanian Jews were exterminated at Viszalsyan Camp.
1941        Jul 24, Nazis massacred the entire Jewish population of Grodz, Lithuania.
1941        Jul 29, All the Jews at Linkuva were killed.
1941        July, In northwestern Lithuania 9,000 Jews were killed by Lithuanian police. 
1941        Sep 8, The entire Jewish community of Meretsch, Lithuania was exterminated.
1941        Sep 15, Nazis killed 800 Jewish women at Shkudvil, Lithuania.

1941        Oct 28, In Kaunas (Kovno), about 70 miles from Vilna 9,000 Jews were murdered.  900 French Jews died there on 18 May 1944.

1941       Dec 25, In northwestern Lithuania 400 young Jewish women were killed by Lithuanian police. 

1941        At the Rainis Forest in the Telsiai region 74 Lithuanians were killed by Soviet NKVD and KGB troops.
1941        In Lithuania German forces slaughtered some 12,000 Jews in Stoklishki (Alytus).

1941-1944   40,000 Jews are slaughtered in Vilnius, Lithuania.  Almost 55,000 Jews were executed at Paneriai, outside of Vilnius.
1942        May 7, A Nazi decree ordered all Jewish pregnant women of Kovno Ghetto executed.
1944        Mar 27, Some 2,000 Jews were murdered in Kaunas, Lithuania.
1945        Jan 30, Nazi SS guards shot down an estimated 4,000 Jewish prisoners on the Baltic coast at Palmnicken, Kaliningrad

And that is only in Lithuania.

July – August 1941: Dozens thousands of Russian Jews are murdered by the Einzatzgruppen (extermination squads) in the occupied territories. Here are some examples:

    • 5,200 Jews murdered in Byalistok
    • 2,000 Jews murdered in Minsk
    • 5,000 Jews murdered in Vilna
    • 5,000 Jews murdered in Brest-Litovsk
    • 5,000 Jews murdered in Tarnopol
    • 3,500 Jews murdered in Zloczow
    • 11,000 Jews murdered in Pinsk
    • 14,000 Jews murdered in Kamenets Podolsk
    • 12,287 Jews murdered in Kishinev

148,000 Jews are murdered in Bessarabia between July and October 1941.

December 8: Chelmno (Kulmhof) extermination camp begins operations: 340,000 Jews, 20,000 Poles and Czechs murdered by April 1943.

March 17: Extermination begins in Belzec; by end of 1942 600,000 Jews murdered.

May: Extermination by gas begins in Sobibor killing center; by October 1943, 250,000 Jews murdered.

Country              Estimated Murdered

Austria                               50,000

Belgium                             25,000

Bohemia/Moravia           78,000

Denmark                           60

Estonia                              2,000

Finland                              7

France                               77,000

Germany                           142,000

Greece                               65,000

Hungary                           550,000

Italy                                   7,500

Latvia                                70,000

Lithuania                         140,000

Luxembourg                   1,000

Netherlands                    100,000

Norway                            762

Poland                            3,000,000

Romania                        270,000

Slovakia                         71,000

Soviet Union                 1,000,000

Yugoslavia                     60,000

It is estimated that the SS and police deported at least 1.3 million people to the Auschwitz complex between 1940 and 1945. Of these, the camp authorities murdered approximately 1.1 million.

 

My mind cannot begin to wrap around those numbers. Some are as large as a town.  A high school. A football game. One million people is more than the city of San Francisco.

When we say “We Will Never Forget” when 9/11 comes along, let’s not forget the horror that came before.  And let’s vow never to let it happen again. th6

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…

 

 

I Love Being Proved Wrong

cam01949-e1461204089526I love being proved wrong. Especially when I’m negatory on the subject.

Being in my early 60s, I like to think of myself as still perky, fun, wild, and all the positive adjectives that people who love life possess. I also like to come home from a busy crazy day and be a vegetable. I figure I’ve work enough years that I deserve to veg if I so choose.

Yesterday eve the boys all packed up their he-man duds and took off to turkey hunt for 4 days. Before Jr. left for turkeyland he mentioned that oh, since he wouldn’t be there to coach soccer practice on Wednesday, would his wife and mom mind taking his place?

I looked at him like, WHA?? Me and a dozen little 4 and 5 year olds? Kicking around a soccer ball?

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced little kids and soccer. Think of 12 fireworks going off in 12 different directions, some colored, some those loud bangers, some duds, some a fireworks-in-a-fireworks. Kids that age run around in knots, some wander off to go to the bathroom or chase their ball or talk to their mom or look at the birds flying by. Concentration is definitely not their middle name.

But it was my grandson’s team. And I’m Granny. And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to help him learn about the world. But coaching 12 of him — boys and girls? I didn’t think I could handle the chaos. I looked to the sky — a chance of rain. Great. I checked the forecast every hour, hoping that the rain forecast for tonight made an early appearance. Guilt followed my every weather check, but I just really didn’t want to do this.

The rain never came. So my  daughter-in-law pappoosed her 7 month old onto her front, and she, my grandbaby, and I made our way out onto the soccer field.

And I had a ball.

I squealed and laughed and encouraged each and every one of those little dickens as they kicked their soccer ball all over the place. I experienced 12 different personalities, 12 different attitudes, and 12 different laughs. A couple other moms helped us, and we all found a way to have fun and teach soccer at the same time.

Why am I such a meathead? Why do I always judge what sort of time I’m going to have before I even get there? I seem to prejudge a lot of things these days. Movies, restaurants, people. I imagine the worst instead of at least mediocre.

I’m not saying that I shouldn’t follow my instinct. My intuition. Some people I just don’t like from the very moment I meet them. Some TV shows stink from the get-go. Second chances aren’t needed on a lot of things. But other things often prove to be 100% different than what I imagined. It’s that kind of pre-judging that makes me a meathead.

I am so much better in my expectations and anticipations than I used to be. I do have a Que Sera, Sera sort of attitude on most things. I strive to grow, to understand, yet know that some things I can never, or will never, change.

But I also know that there’s so much more left in this world to explore, and that I should just get off my dukkas and try them more often. Yes, this fiasco at the soccer park could have been a downer. It could have bugged me and irritated me and left me grumpier than Monday mornings.

But it didn’t.

I had a great time from the minute I walked from the car and onto the field. The kids laughed and asked me to watch as they ran around with the soccer cones on their heads. Their innocence was infectious. They were pure and raw and developing attitudes of their own.

And I almost missed it.

Don’t listen to those lazy buggars in your head. Go and do something new any chance you get. If it doesn’t work out, so be it.

If it does — it just might turn you into a soccer coach.

It Ain’t Me, Babe

Fotolia_17392440_Subscription_Monthly_XXLStrange thoughts have been passing through this middle-age mind lately.

My household is back to “normal” (whatever that is)…I have the evenings and my house back to myself; I am back into writing, walking in the early evening (well…just tonight…but hey…it’s a start); and am letting the sparkles tickle my toes now and then.

But beneath that, deep in the shadows of my heart and psyche, lurks the fiend known as mortality.

When I heard that Patty Duke died today, it stuck yet another eety beety needle into my heart. She was 69 — just 69. She was a part of my childhood. Patty and Cathy, England and America. Dumb, obvious, silly…that is the state of most people’s childhood.

But I can’t help but notice that that icky word is creeping closer and closer to me. And I don’t like it.

The Reaper is starting to pick off my generation. My music idols, my television idols, my friend idols. And they all are not much older than I am. Just in the last few months:

Gary Shandling 66

Patty Duke – 69

Vanity – 57

Glen Frey – 67

Davis Bowie – 69

Alan Rickman – 69

Natalie Cole – 65

Keith Emerson – 71

People that shaped my youth. My music. People whose styles and ideas I didn’t care for, along with styles and ideas I loved. People who were larger than life. People who were my age.

I know the routine — death comes for us all, it’s how you live your life, what you leave behind that counts, blah blah blah. I’m not making fun of it — on the contrary, I’m breathing it every morning, noon, and night.

And all of that positive thinking isn’t doing one thing to stop my train of thought.

I look at those who have gone before. I tell myself maybe it was due to their taking a lot of drugs in their youth or they were alcoholics or they laid in the sun one too many years. Of course, I know that’s making excuses for reality.

And I’m okay with that.

I believe that as long as your deep psyche knows the truth, whatever blabber you tell yourself is okay. It’s like looking for ghosts or unicorns. You can believe in them with gusto, but the little voice in your psyche says only when you see them in 3D will they really be real.

Maybe that’s a lesson for all of us. Make up stories so that you can cope with whatever is going on with you, but always hold onto the truth. For the truth never changes. It’s like I’ve always said. We are all intuitive. We all can sense the future, the path, what’s right and wrong. It’s the mind chatter and self abuse we do to ourselves that makes us lose the thread of truth and make up all kinds of excuses and stories for our mistakes and bad behavior.

Somehow in all of this I find myself making up reasons for people’s deaths so that I don’t have to look at my own eventual demise. People die every day. People of all ages, races, and gender cross that rainbow bridge. The reasons are more chatter. It doesn’t matter. They have gone and we can’t bring them back.

So the next best thing we can do is honor their memory. Talk about them. Tell stories that involve them. Make it as if they were just over in the next town. Love carries farther than any celestial glider.

Back to the Baby Boomer celebrities.

The number of those passing through the golden gates will continue to increase as our generation ages. There was a reason we were called the Boomers — we boomed in abundance into this world. So it’s kinda a fact that we will cease and desist in the same booming manner.

Maybe I should not worry so much about my own demise and start doing something to build my own legacy. Something that will be my truth.

Maybe I’ll start a singing career….

Ahhmmm…too sexy for my shirt…too sexy for my shirt …..

Me and Motley REALLY Ain’t Old!

I was flipping through old posts today and came across this oldie but goodie from a couple of years ago. Just think — I’m two years older than when I wrote this. And I think I need this more than ever. Happy Thursday!

Motley Crue Then

Motley and Me Ain’t Old

There has been a lot of angst going around the blog world lately. Problems, thoughts, ponderings.  It seems to be hitting the 50+ group, although I’ve read quite a few -50 uncertainties as well.  It is like we all are jugging the self-esteem balls, and we keep dropping one or two on our foot. The foot doesn’t break, but it sure as hell hurts.

Motley Crue Now

I myself was going to write a blog about feeling like I’ve really aged in the past year. You know those movie stars and rock stars that come out of mothballs for one reason or another, and you find yourself saying, “Man, have they aged!”  You know — the ones you loved in your teens or 20’s or 30’s.  You cut them no slack for having lived — whether it be through raising a family or doing drugs or surviving tragedies. You want to see them fresh and perky and full of energy. Not wrinkled or bloated. For that reminds us of … us.

I find that at 60 I’m caught between making excuses and living them. The wrinkles and extra pounds and the inability to fall asleep at night and achy legs and feet are from meds, stress, drinking caffeine, sitting at a desk all day, walking the dog, and a hundred other things.  It can’t be that I’m getting old. I mean, Keith Richards looks old. Chevy Chase looks old. Surely ~I~ can’t be looking old like that.

Can I?

This goes beyond our sound reasoning, beyond the I-loved-raising-my-family and the I’ve-been-through-a-lot-of-stuff stuff. It’s the accumulation of all those years of self criticism and/or questionable choices that’s winds up as lines on our faces and girth around our middles. It’s all those rock-and-roll concerts, college parties, and lonely nights.  It’s the sleepless nights staying up with children, hard physical jobs, and watching all those soccer games in the rain.  All these things play with our skin, our circulatory system, our psyche. We do all kinds of good things for ourselves and others. Still the legs ache at night, the circles under our eyes remain, and our hair still turns gray.

The good news is that we can always steer ourselves in a positive direction. We can become pro-active, getting involved in projects and people that keep us too busy to be counting years. We can — and do — make a difference in the world, in other people’s lives.

But still, there are tinges of regret in the eyes of the woman who looks back at me in the mirror. To be honest, there will always be a tiny flicker of sadness that I will never be as beautiful as Angelina or as smart as Einstein or as successful as Steve Jobs.  Now and then there will be a faint whisper of shoulda, coulda, woulda. Looking backwards is a natural action; regret (in some form) a natural reaction. I don’t like the idea that the road is longer behind me than in front of me. Nor do I care for the fact that there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

But then I turn on the stereo or put my ear buds in and listen to my IPod, and my youth comes rushing back to me. And I realize it’s never been gone. And will never leave me.

Come on — I know you’ve got it in you. Put on your favorite music — country song, disco song, hairband song. Turn it on and TURN IT UP. You’ll see you’re not an age — you’re a legend.

When we started this band

All we needed, needed was a laugh

Years gone by

I’d say we kicked some ass

When I’m enraged

Or hittin’ the stage

Adrenalin rushing

Through my veins

And I’d say

We’re still kickin’ ass

Kick Start my Heart, Motley Crue

Ahhhhhhhhh….

baby-flash-games9How quickly we forget — how quickly we remember.

I live in a small town in Wisconsin; a town filled with college students, farmers, business people, teachers — and kids.

Lots of kids.

Last night was a fund raiser at Culvers (Yeah Culvers!) for one of the grade schools. So like a good granny, I trudged along with my kids and grandkids to have a Butter Burger and some cheese curds. Oh — and some overly-sweet custard. As you can imagine, the place was packed with kids. Lots and lots of giggly, loud-talking, visiting-friends-at-other-tables kids. Pity the older couples who picked last night to eat out.

Years ago I would have been quite taken with all the rumpus. BG (before grandkids), the world was quiet. Quiet job. Quiet house. Quiet hobbies. But then life reanimated itself in guise of a grandkid. And it hasn’t been the same since.

Waiting for our food to be delivered by one of several guest gradeschool servers, I just sat and watched the dynamics around me. Mothers in ponytails and sweatshirts, dads in ball caps. Kids sharing food, laughing, talking to siblings and friends at other tables, junior servers walking around and around looking for number 50 or 37, some with trays bigger than they were. I was “introduced” to Hayden (who didn’t have a clue what to say…even to my grandson), and other kids who told me their life story of the day.

Some college kids took the corner table; they were as polite to the little servers as they took their cold burgers and chicken strips. Moms toddled behind those too small to serve alone; we all laughed and smiled and helped out when we could.

It was loud and chaotic and it didn’t bother me a bit.  I realized I’d rather be a part of the madness than stand outside looking in at it. That the point of life is to get involved in circles bigger than my own now and then. And not to care. To go with the flow.

As we get older we tend to spend too much time by ourselves. Now, sometimes that’s good. An evening, a weekend alone, brings peace and quiet and does wonders for the psyche. But isolation as a substitute for personal time, even with a full time job, is dangerous. The more time you spend alone, the more time you want to be alone. The more segregated you get. From society, from friends, from family. You have no one to bounce ideas of off, to complain to, to dream with. No one else to complain to.

And pretty soon you are left with only your own thoughts, your own opinions, which slowly whither into shadows, as you care less and less about what’s going on around you.

Going out to the madness of Culvers wasn’t necessary what my psyche needed after a long, tiring day at work. But going out to eat, watching families do family things and couples do couple things lightened up my spirit. The madness didn’t bother me because I didn’t have to take it home with me. Like a voyeur, I could participate for a little bit, then leave the kindergartners and their siblings behind.

I’m not encouraging you to spend hours in the middle of a group of kids or shoppers or football fans. Find a way to weasel your way into the party, get your chaos fix, then move on. Maybe it’s shopping the day after Thanksgiving. A live concert. A high school or college football game. Even a bowling tournament. Watch the people. Laugh at the people. Be one with the people. Just enough to get your adrenaline going and your reactions moving. Then go home to your quiet abode and feel good about being a part of something bigger than you.

Life is too short not to take part in the madness. For that too shall pass, along with the chance of getting one more song in, one more school play, one more tailgate party.

And nothing is better after spending a few hours with children than going home, sitting in your favorite comfy chair, taking your shoes off, and going, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Silence.”

Another Chance

Hot Flashes and Cold FeetAs I’m always saying, the clock ticks eternally forward. While we all notice the seconds, no one feels it as much as one who has already spent a good deal of their life counting.

I’m not going to lie. I want to live forever. I don’t have a strong, religious faith in place, so I have no idea what’s in store once I close my eyes for good. I haven’t left a whole lot behind for posterity, except maybe a refinanced mortgage and a unicorn collection. I’ve made a few people smile with my writing through the years, but standing on the beach or walking through the woods or watching a funny TV show leaves a smile on their lips, too.

And sooner or later my name will blow away in the dust of time, as billions have before me. But I will have had an accomplishment that will keep its mark in me through the Great Barrier and beyond.

I’m a grandmother for the second time.

This time my grandbaby’s entrance was a little shaky. It’s amazing how something that seems so simple on the outside can be so complicated inside. Life is a miracle. There is no doubt. How we get from a spermy and eggy into a president or opera singer I will leave to the biology majors. But so many things can go wrong on the familiar path we all walk that you have to stop and think — and thank — something, someone, else for getting all parties through.

Second grandbaby is a boy, and he and mom are doing just fine now. It brought back memories of one of my past pregnancies — one where the outcome wasn’t so positive. But that was 35 years ago, and this is now, and fate has smiled on our family and friends and brought another soccer player into the family. His older sibling is starting kindergarten tomorrow, so what a better off-to-school treat than a baby brother.

How appropriate his arrival came after my last post about Getting On Track. About sometimes feeling like a loser because I go up to the cabin to write but I often do anything BUT write.  Half way through my retreat the Goddess and Buddha and whomever else had other plans for my idle time. And it wasn’t writing. Nor was it windchimes in the breeze or naps in the afternoon.

It was welcoming another being into the world.

It was being there for mom and dad and CJ and Papa and Nana and Great Grandpa Lyle and Great Grandma Katie as the new baby came wrinkled and breathless into this world.

It was preparing the world for a new chance to get it right. It was dreams of baseball and homework and trick-or-treating with yet another child of the world. Another chance to get it right. To make the world right.

You can’t ask for a better chance for an afterlife than that.

Growing Corn

“Granny…one day this corn will be bigger than me.”
“Yes, Bay Bay…one day it will be bigger than you. Bigger than your dad. Bigger than Grandpa.”
“Then what, Granny?”
“We cut it down, feed people and cows and deer and start all over again.”
“Oh. That’s okay. We can come back here again.”

Yes, my little man, we can do this again.

CAM01635

 

8 Reasons to Dissect Your Birthday

 

glassDo not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

~~Dylan Thomas

 

Yesterday was a day just like any other day. Work, a quickie visit with my husband before he went to work on the second shift, a little dishes, a little TV, then bed.

It also was my birthday.

Not a big deal these days…especially when the digits have long risen above 30. Or 40.

Yet it was such a big deal that I didn’t want to talk much about it. It was a slightly traumatic view of life both before and behind me. I fluctuated between being happy with a good life to panicking that I may not wake up tomorrow morning. Roller-coaster nonsense, to be sure.

But through these emotional states, a stronger, calmer, younger goddess has emerged. And this is what I’ve decided.

  1. I’m not going softly into any dark or light night. By the time I get to be 90 science will have developed an immortality pill that extends one’s life for at least 50 more years. Until then I’m going to kick ass and put myself out there.
  2. I am going to stop thinking of my day of birth as the day John Lennon died. There is some sort of macabre connection between one’s celebration of life and another’s death. It’s just plain creepy. I’d rather think of it as National Brownie Day or Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day. Which it was.
  3. Presents are overrated. Sure, it’s nice if you wake up your birthday morning and there’s a pair of diamond earrings waiting for you at the breakfast table. But just as likely is a hurricane blowing out of the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River, crossing the state of Illinois and hopping to Lake Michigan, having landfall in Milwaukee.
  4. On the same subject, presents come in many ways. The problem is we don’t always see a present as a present. We see it as a symbol. E = mc2  is a symbol too. So are the Golden Arches. And the middle finger. We all know what those symbols mean. I’m not the real thing, but I represent a real thing. A substitute. The real thing couldn’t be here so I’m the stand-in. Looking at it from out here, it’s really pretty hollow.
  5. Face it. No one at my age likes their job. I just turned….(drum roll…heavy breathing…dramatic rolling of eyes…) 62. Too late to start a new job, too old to just quit. Too tired to argue, too slow to be a super star. I have so much on my personal plate that I don’t have time to reinvent myself. I never thought I’d ever want to see retirement through my front window, but it’s a hell of a lot more exciting than looking out the back window, spending 30 more years doing what I’m doing.
  6. Everyone loves birthday cake. I myself enjoy birthday lasagna, birthday cheesecake, and birthday Moscato. I can’t really digest two of those three. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to eat my favorite foods and drink milk out of my favorite wine glass. Don’t let your food limitations limit your fun. Celebrate your birthday every day.
  7. People always tell me age is just a number. Society has limited itself by drawing the line of existence at 60 or 70 or 100. It’s hard to get over a life’s worth of judgment. But it can be done. We have to remember that age – numbers – are limited only by this planet, this galaxy, this reality. So why waste time counting? With all the alternate reality, alternate universe and alternate lives theories floating around out there, I’m sure there’s one where my cosmic clock is really ticking backwards. And I can live with that.
  8. And lastly, the biggest thing I learned is that a day is just a day. Birthday, Christmas, Valentines Day, are all arbitrary darts on the dartboard. You don’t need presents and ceremonies to make your day special. If it’s too cold to celebrate your day of birth in December, celebrate it in June! Christmas in July! What does it matter? Don’t make the “day” more important than any other day you live and breathe and laugh.

I hate getting older. That’s a fact. But until that immortality pill gets invented, I don’t have much of a choice. So instead of letting my hate rule me I’m gonna fight the world with love.

All you need is love. Which reminds me of John Lennon. Who will forever be associated with my birthday.

Here we go again….

Did you Mammo?

1-purple-flower-bloomingThis is not my usual blog — well, it IS about being middle aged, and it IS about the madness we encounter, and it IS about the magic that saves us — I guess this is just a quickie blog.

But an important blog.

I had a mammogram three years ago September. They found two cancer nodules. I had a lumpectomy three years ago October. I followed that fun with radiation and hormone therapy.

I had my annual mammogram Friday. Went to the doctor today.

And I am CANCER FREE.

The point of this little ditty is Get Your Mammogram. Get one friend/family member to get their mammogram.  Stop being hung up about having your boobies smushed, someone touching and mushing same said boobies, or the fear of what you may find. The smushing lasts only 30 seconds, the results a lifetime.

Grow up. Get a mammogram. Your life will be better for it. And so will the lives of your friends and families.

And just think — you’ll be around 20 years from now — still reading my blog. How much fun is that??

Symphony for a Friend

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

Flirtin’ With Disaster

star_trek59Hubba Hubba! I’m in the mood for flirting!

Now, before you get your panties in a pretzel twist, it’s not a real flirt. That I still do with my husband. But I’m talking about the 4th or 5th dimensional me. The young, hot girl I never was. The one who was so confident from the get-go that I could have anyone I wanted. Anyone. I have no idea who I would have picked years ago if I were she, but now and then I wonder who I would pick if then was now. Which personas from the movies would I scoop up and flirt with in this day and drive?

When I was young there was no one more charming than Paul McCartney. A little older, Davy Jones. Those floppy mops, those sweet smiles…I would have hit on them in a second and made them mine.  I don’t remember what sort of maleness made me a mad hatter in my 20s or 30s…I was pretty busy changing diapers or running to soccer games back then.

But now — now that I’m sassy sixty, I seem to be attracted to icons that were nothing like my clean-cut boyish dreams of yesteryear. But who is appealing? I just watched “Thor, The Dark World” for the second time, and I clearly am more attracted to the suave, sexy, slightly naughty Loki than his caveman brother Thor. Yeah, Thor’s got muscles and that boyish roguishness, but Loki has a quick wit and great smile. I think Henry Cavall in “Superman” is dashingly good looking, but he doesn’t look like he’d be much fun at bowling or a Superbowl party.

Other studlies that I should have a thing for — but don’t — Bradley Cooper. Leonardo DiCaprio. Brad Pitt.  All woofies, but at this age I’m think I’m more for the off-center boys-to-men. You know — the kinda bad boys. Robert Downey Jr. Russell Crowe. Kiefer Sutherland. Even sweet-southern-talking Walter Goggin (Boyd Crowder to Justified fans) seems to hold my interest a lot more these days than smoothies trying to be naughty. I mean, Tom Cruise never came across as a bad boy, no matter how many roles he attempted.

Maybe it’s a bit of voyeurism in this old soul. I never hung around with the bad boys. I was too insecure to even look at them. But that’s just fine — I grew up and married the fun boy that always danced at the edge of naughty.

But sometimes when I watch a movie I don’t always want to see the sweet boy win. Let the naughty-but-nice guy win once in a while. How bout you? Different flirts at different ages? Or do the same heart throbs from your youth throb your heart now? I’d love to hear your flirts —

And this includes you, boys —

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.

And A Good Time Was Had By All

107-A Good Time Was Had By AllThis past Saturday was our “End of the Summer” Barbeque and Madness Day. This year we scheduled it on the last day of Summer, although with the clouds overhead and crispy wind from the west it was closer to a Chill Fest. It’s a great time, as cousins, brothers, kids, kid’s friends, neighbors, parents of kid’s friends, and others gather for an afternoon of too much food, too much beer, and too many rides on the go-cart.

My family and friends have a thing about getting together. We have Polish sausage making parties, birthday parties, game nights, pool parties, camping weekends, and all other sorts of “occasions” that bring us together.  Sometimes we have real reasons to get together; the kids birthdays, Thanksgiving dinner, weddings. Other times it’s important occasions like “we’re opening the pool” party or “we’re canning pickles” party. Sometimes we dress up (Halloween); other times we puff out in ski jackets and ski boots. One group of us try to have “Adults Only” dinners where no kids are invited so that we can talk about them, sex, and the good-old-days. Other times it’s a double-generation free-for-all as adults and their grown kids and their kids kids get together to play games and feast on potluck goodies.  Sometimes we go camping with our kid’s spouses parents (in-laws-once-removed?), and sometimes we have a “build a deck” party or “pour a new patio” party. Work and play and food and drink seem to swirl into a waterfall of laughs, tears, and sweat.

Throughout the years I have come to embrace getting together with those we love. Most times it doesn’t cost a dime (except for gas money), and the commradere is a reward that cannot be found on Facebook. We celebrated my father-in-law’s passing with the same people who pile into the Polish Sausage Making Party, and those who bring homemade salsa to barbeques are the same ones who were there for me after my cancer surgery.  We reach out to others, and they return in kind tenfold.

I’ve always loved my friends and family, but as I get older I not only love them, but cherish them as well. Perhaps that’s because I know the road in front of me is shorter than the one behind me. Maybe its because I realize that what you get out of life is equal to what you put into it. I don’t wait for others to invite me, call me, text me. I invite, I encourage others to invite. I expand our circle all the time, and find others are doing the same. What’s a couple of more people sitting around the fire? What’s one more person grinding pork or skiing down the slopes?

But maybe it’s because I know that life is too short to waste time on people who don’t really care — about others, about themselves. The world is full of mean people, selfish people. There are people around you that put you down, judge you for your size or marital status, people who have no patience for anyone but themselves.  Perhaps they have life-issues; perhaps they have self-issues. But they are part of the human race too, and no man is an island. We all have our problems. We all deal with death and diabetes and unemployment. That is no reason to be mean to everyone else.

My family and friends come from all walks of life. Some of us live three hours from each other. Some of us work two jobs or have a job and go to school. Some deal with arthritis, failing kidneys, and bankrupcy. Some lost a parent when they were young; some have children from previous relationships. But when we get together none of that matters. We share stories, compare aches and pains, reminisce about those who have gone before us, those who are yet to come, and talk about kids and dogs and recipes.

Don’t let life pass you by without sharing it with those who matter. Have a game night. A barbeque. A potluck. Invite friends over to watch a football game. Have birthday parties with no presents. Make an effort to get up and get out. Memories don’t cost a thing. Neither does true friendship.

On the other hand, the price you pay for being alone is more than anyone can afford.

Me and Motley Ain’t Old

tThere has been a lot of angst going around the blog world lately. Problems, thoughts, ponderings.  It seems to be hitting the 50+ group, although I’ve read quite a few -50 uncertainties as well.  It is like we all are jugging the self-esteem balls, and we keep dropping one or two on our foot. The foot doesn’t break, but it sure as hell hurts.

I myself was going to write a blog about feeling like I’ve really aged in the past year. You know those movie stars and rock stars that come out of mothballs for one reason or another, and you find yourself saying, “Man, have they aged!”  You know — the ones you loved in your teens or 20’s or 30’s.  You cut them no slack for having lived — whether it be through raising a family or doing drugs or surviving tragedies. You want to see them fresh and perky and full of energy. Not wrinkled or bloated. For that reminds us of … us.

I find that at 60 I’m caught between making excuses and living them. The wrinkles and extra pounds and the inability to fall asleep at night and achy legs and feet are from meds, stress, drinking caffeine, sitting at a desk all day, walking the dog, and a hundred other things.  It can’t be that I’m getting old. I mean, Keith Richards looks old. Chevy Chase looks old. Surely ~I~ can’t be looking old like that.

Can I?

This goes beyond our sound reasoning, beyond the I-loved-raising-my-family and the I’ve-been-through-a-lot-of-stuff stuff. It’s the accumulation of all those years of self criticism and/or questionable choices that’s winds up as lines on our faces and girth around our middles. It’s all those rock-and-roll concerts, college parties, and lonely nights.  It’s the sleepless nights staying up with children, hard physical jobs, and watching all those soccer games in the rain.  All these things play with our skin, our circulatory system, our psyche. A day at a time, a week at a time. Until one day you wake up and you say, “Damn!” We eat right, we exercise when we can, and worship in our own way. We are kind to animals and love our kids and take up a cause like walking for cancer or volunteer at the library and do breathing exercises to relax. And still the legs ache at night, the circles under our eyes remain, and our hair still turns gray.

The good thing is that we can always steer ourselves in a positive direction. We can become pro-active, getting active in projects and people that keep us too busy to be counting years. We can try and make a difference in the world, or at least in someone’s life. And we DO that.

But still, there are tinges of regret in the eyes of the woman who looks back at me in the mirror. To be honest, there will always be a tiny flicker of sadness that I will never be as beautiful as Angelina or as smart as Einstein or as creative as Giada.  And now and then there will be a faint whisper of shoulda, coulda, woulda. Looking backwards is a natural action; regret (in some form) a natural reaction. I don’t like the idea that the road is longer behind me than in front of me. Nor do I care for the fact that there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

But then I turn on the stereo or put my ear buds in and listen to my IPod, and my youth comes rushing back to me. And I realize it’s never been gone. And will never leave me.

Come on — I know you’ve got it in you. Put on your favorite music — country song, disco song, hairband song. Turn it on and TURN IT UP. You’ll see you’re not an age — you’re a legend.

When we started this band

All we needed, needed was a laugh

Years gone by

I’d say we kicked some ass

When I’m enraged

Or hittin’ the stage

Adrenalin rushing

Through my veins

And I’d say

We’re still kickin’ ass

Kick Start my Heart, Motley Crue

Madness Feedback Time

thCACKVOVZI really love my Goddess followers.  I may not have readers that rack up into the hundreds or thousands, but those of you who take time to read these middle age ditties (or tell someone else about them) really help keep the magic alive.  Some of you I know personally; others I have the pleasure of reading your blogs. Some of you merely peek in now and then. I hope all of you “get” something from these posts and use them to make your own magic.

I don’t know if it’s the “getting older” thing, or the “being in a hurry” thing, but lately I feel the stress of not having enough time to do what I want. Oh, you say, join the crowd! The whole world is like that! And it’s so true. But there is something lurking deep in the deep recesses of my subconcious cerebral cortex telling me I’m running out of time. Not in the most direct sense, mind you — I plan on being around another 30 years. But that’s not the same as being around another 40 years. Or 50 years.

I try not to live by the “If I only knew then what I knew now” motto, for, obviously, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been there.  It just seems that my NOW is a lot more crowded than it used to be. During the birthing babies stage, my life was split between work and children. Outdoor activities? Soccer or baseball games. Moving up the corporate ladder? More like moving up the playground ladder.  Dinner parties? Hot dogs on the run. I didn’t know what I was “missing” because there was no time to “miss” anything. Back then I really wanted a career. I did spend a number of years working in downtown Chicago, but to me it was more of a job than a career. (Like there is a difference).

Now that I’m suffering from middle age madness, I feel a second wind coming. But that’s just it…it’s somewhere around the corner, behind the neighbor’s barn, stuck in the bushes with empty frito bags and dried fall leaves. I keep thinking that as soon as I catch up with the dishes or mowing the lawn or organize my dresser drawers or reading my favorite blogs that my time, my body, and my life will be “organized” enough to be expanded.  

But it’s just not happening.

So I’m looking to my Goddess followers to give me a few tips. I’m serious. In a funny way, of course. How do you choose? 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. is taken by the Big Boss. But what next? How do I find time to sit down and write (my favorite past time) and cook great meals (I love to cook) and clean up from said great meal and vacuum every other day (with dogs and cats it should be three times a day) and spend time with my family and wash and put away laundry and mow the lawn and catch my favorite TV show and take the dog for a walk and clean out the basement and write a blog and do research on the Internet and….

Okay. You get it. Do I let housework slide to do the things that I love (and who knows..maybe make me money in the future)? Do I get on the hygene horse and get super organized in my house so that everything is always done (so we don’t have to call the health department)? Do I record all my favorite television shows and leave them for  one snowy day when I’m 88 years old?

Give me your thoughts. Help me not feel guilty about being Superwoman. Give me an idea on how to get that second wind blowing straight into my living room window. I promise not to stand there naked to catch the breeze.

No one should have to go through something like that.

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.

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.

Everyone’s Life is a Best Seller

Did you ever think your personal life had enough twists and turns to put Scarlet and Rhett to shame? Did you ever think that your cousin Teddy or your Great Aunt Miriam would be fodder for a story that would be passed down generation to generation? What about that celery-and-water trick your dog does? Or the straws-in-the-nose trick performed by your own kid?

 Everyone’s life is a best seller. If only we could get our story into print, onto the big screen, everyone would see how unique our out-of-whack our family and friends really are. The funny thing is,  if you take a look around you, you’ll see your story is not so very different from the person next to you.

 Take the world of the working stiff. Ninety nine percent of the people you talk to have someone they work with that drives them crazy. There’s always a co-worker who talks with gum or food in their mouth, has a vocabulary made up of five or six words, or leaves a trail of potato chip crumbs from their desk to the bathroom, or squeaks their chair back and forth and back and forth back and forth.  There’s someone who knows someone who knows someone who can get you a great deal, is sick twice as often and you or whose symptoms are enough to scare the hair off a rabbit,  or are the first to complain that they are overworked, underpaid, and misunderstood. (Wait! That’s me!) There’s a dozen stories right there.

 Then there is the world of family. A labyrinth of people, traditions and bloodlines that, for better or worse, are with us all of our lives. We have kids that cross the line between naughty and nasty, mothers who are martyrs, fathers who are dictators, spouses who are inconsiderate. I imagine we all have a brother-in-law or sister-in-law who is linked to the planet Mars. We have the sister that collects bobble heads, and the uncle who makes his own vodka from potatoes in his garden. We have cousins who like to ski in their underwear and others who pull out calculators for the tip on a three-dollar sandwich.

 There is always fodder for stories in everyday gossip. This one is cheating on that one, this one did this at work and that one had the nerve to do that after the party Saturday night. All the whining, cajoling, and caterwauling we do to ourselves and others is enough to make a bartender quit serving alcohol. I’m fat. I’m stupid. My brother-in-law is fat and stupid. I should have said grilled, not fried. I could have been prom queen. I should have been prom queen. My husband’s friend from bowling is the prom queen. We have enough dirt on ourselves that we could give Jackie Collins a run for her money.

 I listen to myself enough to know that one of me is enough in this world. I enjoy laughing at my own jokes, getting my own innuendos, but I think a book full of me would be too much for even patient readers. That is why everyone should show off everyone around us who march to the beat of a different drummer. There’s Grandpa with his howling hound dog Bubba, and your best friend who can quote all of the dialogue from Spaceballs. We all know someone who is on their third spouse or their fourth child; we have girlfriends with childbirth stories that make us shiver and in-laws with enough fishing stories to fill a library. I have an irritable acquaintance? You have five irritable acquaintances. You have a cat that sings? I have a chicken that sings.

 The world is not as big as you think. We all have people in our lives that we adore, all have people we could do without. The loves in our lives may be special and personal, but the irritations we experience are universal. Perhaps that is what connects us all. Our idiosyncrasies are their idiosyncrasies. My pain is your pain.

We all walk through life on thin ice, isolated, thankful for the little things. So to counter our fear of isolation, we fill our history book with memories of amusing personalities and odd family members whose unique experiences bring us larger-than-life characters. How else could you explain the uncle that wears boat shoes to a wedding? How do explain a child who wears the same pair of underwear for soccer games every week for four months? What can you say about one who has a room full of unicorns or a garden full of gnomes?

 Sometimes there are no scientific explanations for the phenomenon of friends and family. Write about them. Talk about them. People are strange. Be proud of those who color your life.  It is the spirally, pretzelly people in the world that make it interesting. Just know that your strange is no stranger than my strange.   We’re just all different cracks in the same wall of life.

 It’s just that some cracks are wider than others.