65 Is Not Just A Number

It’s Monday evening;  it is quiet around the house, which is good, seeing as I threw my own birthday party Saturday.

I have a hard time saying I’m 65…there are so many memories strung out behind me, three-quarters worth I can’t remember. I am in the second half of my  life, making memories  every day, forgetting memories every day.

You can say 65 is just a number, but so is 21. 49. 1,204. In theory, that is correct. But that’s over 520 million breaths. 65 birthday parties. Over 268,000 hugs. 500,000 bites of chocolate. Its that and so much more.

I threw myself a party because I wanted to…dare I say I was afraid that no one would remember this momentous occasion? That my day of turning old enough to retire would be brushed over like an ant on the table?

It’s hard to admit your own insecurities…especially when they sound stupid in your ears.

I wanted to celebrate making 65 years of life. Good and bad. Up and Down. Two kids, 2-1/2 grandkids. Friends. Traveling. Camping. Working. So much has been packed into these 65 years — how I wish I could remember them all. My kids as babies. My kids as teens. My mindset at 30. 40. 50. Different from where I am today, no doubt different from where I’m going.

I’ve outlived my mother by 11 years, and am aiming at my father’s ripe old age of 86, and adding 10 to that. I don’t want the memories to end. The friendships to end. The dreams to end. I’ve got so much to do that there’s no time to feel bad about what has been.

So throw your own party. Celebrate your life. Every day of it.  Don’t wait for someone to come along and validate all the years you’ve given to mother earth. Do it yourself.

Even if you can’t remember half of it.

Wearing Purple

I feel like I was shopping drunk yesterday evening. Of course, I did go out to dinner first, but I don’t believe either the walleye or the potato pancake contained any alcohol. Nor the McDonald’s ice cream cone.

But I digress.

In a couple of weeks I’m going to meet my bestie in Ashville, North Carolina, and hit the Art Scene like a internet data conversion analyst specialist online art director writer.  I was in need of a few new artsy outfits to fit in with my fellow abstractionists and surrealists, so I made a pit stop at the most fashionable store around — Walmart.

Now, I’m sure you have seen those pictures on the Internet of Walmart “shoppers”…the images that show off the uniqueness of the characters and their wardrobes. Well, walking out of of the store a half hour later, I am afraid I will be added to their hidden camera library.

First off, I bought a pair of capris. No problem. Except they’re purple. Which is to match the purple and teal print open style Kimono shawl. Which matches the teal peasant top.

What was I thinking?

Every early winter I write a blog about what women over 50 shouldn’t wear. Fuzzy purple leggings always leads the list. Now I’m afraid purple capris will be second. I am running parallel with all the advice I so willingly gave about dressing your age.

Now, the fuzzy purple leggings I’ve been exposed to and write about are a long way from the royal purple cotton capris that are peeking out of my Walmart bag. The fuzzy leggings are usually wrapped around legs that are too big to wear something that tight, and don’t have the advantage of a long tunic to hide additional large body parts. The purple cotton mid-calf pants hang loosely on my chicken legs, and the teal peasant blouse with the same undercurrent of blues will hang down far enough to semi-cover my estomac and derrière. (Sounds less offensive when spoken in French, no?) Then comes the flowery sheer scarf that set this whole wardrobe malfunction into motion. It’s really a pretty shawl thing…it’s sheer and light and one of those patterned things that chubby women shouldn’t wear.

Since I am in this wardrobe for the long hall, I don’t see myself as a chubby old lady in purple capris, but rather a tall, willowy creative artist with a thing for fashion. Since I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror too often, I can picture myself however I wish. When the breeze blows the kimono scarf around my body I can turn into the sultry maiden looking across the moors for her lost lover, or the skeleton thin strutter down the fashion runway. I can be the trendsetting Zelda Fitzgerald or the fashion pioneer Elsa Schiaparelli.

I can also be the poster woman for weird, over-colored, middle aged+ women. Pathetic, insecure, never quite fitting in, never really confident, drawing too much attention to herself wearing bright prints and too-bold colors.

But not today. Or tomorrow.

I’ll let you know how the outfit turns out in the light of day. After a good night’s sleep. And a shower. And some body spray. And a touch of makeup.

Oh my goodness — I just thought — is this totally unexpected phase reflective of the first few lines of Jenny Joseph’s poem….?

 

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!

 

 

 

 

What Should I Wear?

1First I wrote about it — Fashion Faux Pas (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-1kO) for those over 50. I was generous with age.  This includes velvety purple leggings, pigtails, and chugga boots with short skirts.

Then someone else (obviously not far from 30) wrote 24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30  (http://www.rantchic.com/2014/10/24/20-things-women-should-stop-wearing-after-age-30/).  This one was a little hard on us middle-aged fashion statements. While I agreed with a few (sparkly pants, short dresses, booty shorts), I took offense at a few others (hoop earrings, cheap bras, old sneakers, scrungies), as that is still part of my wardrobe.

Then my great friend Jilly posted the latest take on middle-age dressing on Facebook: 24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear   https://warningcurvesahead.com/2016/06/04/24-things-women-over-30-should-wear/#comment-2898) and boy, does the blogger have it right. The pics say it all (along with a feisty refrain). Women of all ages should be able to wear whatever the $#&+ they want.

My wondering is — do you really wear what you want?

I enjoy fashion. I also like comfort. I figure somewhere there is a meeting of the two. Runway model I’m not. Curvy middle-aged babe — closer.  But really I’m more like a pudgy granny with a love for bling. My heart says long skirts, wraps, hats, lots of bracelets…and my wardrobe says prints, black and navy pants, and plain shoes. I honestly think I’m afraid of being laughed at if I came to work with some of the outfits I deem cool. That at this point in my life everyone will think I’m one foot into dementia should I step out of dull.

Why do we let others dictate our sense of fashion? Our sense of art?

Some of my friends have been fashion freebirds forever. They wear whatever and look good in whatever. They have that fashion sense I seem to lack. You can dress up and dress wild and dress classy all at one time. Not me. It was only a few years ago I got that the navy in my shirt didn’t have to exactly match the navy in my pants.

I don’t think free flow fashion means letting go and looking like a clown. I know people who wear too-short tops with too-tight pants and their body is too-endowed to get away with either. But I’m not talking about bad choices. I’m talking about good choices that aren’t always in-the-box choices. Which, listening to myself, is probably true for most of us in most situations.

Peer pressure is hell. I would guess that a lot of my readers were made fun of some time in their life…from  snickers to cooties, it hits us all. It is within these over-blown memories of days past that our sense of self arises. And often times who we want to be is never who we become.

I think it’s not so much dressing/being conservative vs. liberal. I think it’s more a reflection of how you feel about yourself deep down inside.  If you’ve ever liked that person that hides in the closet. If you’ve ever given that person a chance.

I encourage all of you to take a peek at afore-mentioned 24 blog. Look into the eyes of the women who are dressed just how they want to be dressed. Ladies of all sizes. In all sorts of fashions. Feeling, being, who they are.  Then find a way to be your own self. They are not, nor ever will be, you.  Don’t let other people tell you what to wear and how to live.

Except for velvety purple leggings. Please — don’t wear velvety purple leggings.

 

I’m….Too Sexy for My (too small) Shirt….

1950vogueLiberation!

At least that’s what my mind calls it. I’ve been going through my closet and getting rid of ANYTHING that doesn’t fit/has a stain/looks frumpy.

You do that all the time, don’t you? Or don’t you?

I am the first to admit that sometimes it’s hard to donate that great-looking, swingy dress that looks smashing with those gold sandals. How many parties and barbeques did we attend together?  What doesn’t compute is that it’s not as flowy as it was 15 years ago.

15 Years?? What kind of fashion maven am I?

Fashion for women is a very touchy thing. I still have my mother’s mink stoles in the front closet that she wore 50 years ago. I can’t think of a party or dinner that they would fit in, though. I still am a fan of shoulder pads in women’s sweaters, but the look I get when I wear any that are left in my closet is worth ripping them out. I am not a fashion dinosaur — I’m more like a make-the-most-of-your-bad-purchase kinda gal. Some things I thought would look great once I got them home looked just as “iffy” as they did the day I plunked them off the shelf. But I stubbornly hang it in my closet hoping they will look better. They never do.

Now, men — in an odd, pretzel-logic sort of way, this goes for you, too. I mean, how many wrenches does one man need? How many fishing lures?  Bottle openers?

And clothes? Shoes? Bling? I am all for the odd piece, the one-in-a-million outfit. I am for keeping shoes that are comfortable and jewelry that is inherited. But between those two places is a bizillion pieces of collectables that would be better off being collected elsewhere. Think of all the little kids who would LOVE to start their fishing tackle box with one of the eight identical lures you are holding onto. The unemployed woman who would look smashing in the shirt and pants that haven’t fit you since 2001.  And what granny wouldn’t give her eye teeth (if she still had them) for a pair of comfy slippers that someone gave you years ago and you’ve never worn because they’re too big?

Perhaps there is a deeper psychological issue here, one that my little fried brain can’t digest right at the moment. I believe we are always “spring cleaning.” Our collections define us, mold us. If we don’t get out from under our old trappings we can never evolve…never follow our beautiful, wandering, growing nature. There is so much out there for us to experience. So why not? Keep a bit of the old, opt out for the new. If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it. If you haven’t fished with it in a year, stash it. Quit cluttering up your todays with yesterdays. It’s a fact of life. You can only use one wrench at a time. Having six of the same size doesn’t increase your chances of fixing whatever it is you are fixing.

Once you thin out your earthly possessions, you will be amazed at how the clutter in your head thins out, too. You wear what you really enjoy wearing — what really looks good. You catch  fish with the reliable lures your daddy gave you…you don’t need to keep the “maybe” ones that have cluttered up your tackle box for so long.

There is a double meaning somewhere in here as well. But I’ve no time to think about it. I see those dreadful, adorable sandals that pinch my feet sticking out from beneath the bed.

I’m sure there’s a bitchy boss out there who would love to wear them.

 

Swirling Out

esher_loxodromeIIThis is going to be one of those depressing little ditties older people write when it looks like there is not much sunshine on the horizon. Oh, there is sunshine and flowers and soft breezes, to be sure, but I just don’t see them quite as brightly as before.

This is not an insurmountable-odds sort of thing; not a terminal disease or death of a loved one or a catastrophe of nature. This is a melancholy of a different kind. It’s the kind of thoughts you have when you have fewer years in front of you than behind, and realize that your contributions to society have been minimum (to say the least).

Not that I wanted to be a Congresswoman or a Rock Star. I’m happy with my choices in life. But it often seems that the choices I’ve made in my pretzel-logic sort-of-way have not always been the smartest ones. As much as I’ve always enjoyed my job, I’ve always been a little A.D.D., causing me to get an extra lecture or two along the way. Taking medication for the downs of my life have added more complications, as now I’m sleepy during the day, another lecture or three. I’m working on that, but, as usual, it’s after the damage has been done.

More to the point is what I’m finding as I get older. People’s attitudes, people’s opinions, are slowly becoming…mmm…a little more condescending. Tolerant. Indulging. As if I’m slipping slowly into dementia. Which, as far as I can tell, I’m not.

It starts slowly. Almost imperceptibly. People start questioning you. Telling you what to do. Turning you in the direction they think you are supposed to go. Telling you how you should respond. These people mean no harm — they are truly trying to be helpful.  I don’t think they even realize they are “telling” me more and more what to do. As you get older, you have a tendency to do both…tell people what to do and be told what to do.

I am beginning to realize why older people get grumpy and depressed and frustrated. Every time someone tells you what to do, what not to do, and it’s not what you want to do, you have to make a choice. Either don’t do it and get static, or do it and give up a little piece of yourself. Not hunks and chunks — just chinks. Fighting about who’s right isn’t always the answer. As through my whole life, I’ve had to pick my battles. Sometimes it seems that I could make a battle out of everything. And that’s not the way I want to live my life.

I am not always right.  Far from it. I’ve always been a little left of center, causing trouble where trouble shouldn’t be,  giving up when my career choices soured. I’ve never been Einstein, but I’ve never been a moron, either. Sometimes it takes me a while to “get it.” And I know as I get older, I frustrate those younger, as I don’t make decisions as quickly as I used to. I react with my emotions instead of my brain.

But that doesn’t mean my decisions are wrong.

I’m finding that these days my energy wanes, my writing suffers, and my dreams are popping like bubbles. Again, I’m working on all of that, but lately I’ve wondered if all of it’s worth the effort. For now I have my health, my family, and charm. Shouldn’t that be enough?

When you’re older, there’s not much room to turn around. You have to hold onto your job, your health, as long as you can. So it’s better not to make waves. Better to give in and do what you need to do to move on. I’m not saying everyone over 40 or 50 or 60 needs to roll over. There are many  sharp, successful working people that still have a chance to make a difference. They have dreams, they have potential. They are mentors and creators and holders of the future. They’re not flaky, left-of-center pretzel logic people like me. And I’m not sure I have what it takes to change at this point of the game.

I have to learn to let go.  To not challenge, not cause trouble. What is that saying —

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

As long as God doesn’t pat me on the head I’ll be fine.

Look Through Any Window

CAM00209I keep saying over and over again that I’m not getting older, that technology isn’t getting the best of me. After all, I do work in an office; I do code copy for the Web; I do work with spreadsheets and word documents, and do design a website here and there. So it’s not like I’m a rookie here.

But I recently bought a new laptop with Windows 8, and I can’t tell you how lost I am.

There are boxes on the startup screen that mean nothing to me. Boxes I want nothing to do with. Yet it is nearly impossible to figure out how to get rid of them. I’ve been looking for how to open the DVD drive (besides pushing the button on the side), or how to put an icon on the desktop. Every corner is a link to another universe. Is this supposed to be the new wave of enlightenment? The “world” at my “fingertips”?

I am beginning to understand why my father wanted to cocoon himself in his apartment in his later years. I can see why seasoned veterans would rather make phone calls with a flip phone or turn on the telly and have only 5 stations to choose from. Every time I turn around I have to learn something “new” which, to most of us, means “complicated.”

I am all for growing and learning something new. Or reinforcing what we already know. You’re never too young or too old to develop or refine your skills. I know a lady who is learning to speak a new language, a girlfriend who is going to cooking school, and a couple of guys who are building a car practically from scratch. What’s not to learn? So it takes some of us a little longer to put piece 1a3 into 2f6; sooner or later we figure it out, and are (hopefully) wiser for the fact.

But back to Windows 8. Who really needs all this stuff? Who needs three different browsers and two photo saving programs and clouds and Skypes and skies and a dozen game icons? I know – they all have their special place in others’  lives. My girlfriend used Skype to talk to her husband who was in Thailand, and many people would never know what their nieces or nephews or their kid’s friends’ kids look like if it weren’t for downloading their photos into one of the galleries. Listening to your own music from your laptop is really nice, too.

But what I don’t need is to click on four different corners to change screens, or a plethora of icons that will take me weeks to figure out. Am I just lazy? I don’t like that word. Stupefied? No…not that word either. Mystified? Well, I do like that word, but I hate to use it on such a three-dimensional object as a laptop. Maybe it’s more like being … distracted. I am such a sensitive, awakened, seasoned, middle-aged persona (like you) that I don’t have time to waste learning things that aren’t important to me (kinda like the subjects in college).

I already have a hard enough time coordinating jewelry and outfits. Or keeping my laptop files in some semblance of order. I’m not up for figuring out squares and corners. I just want simple word documents and chat boxes and an easy way to get to WordPress. For me and my limited play time, all I really need is a laptop with a smooth keyboard, a bit of Photoshop to play with images, and, okay, I-Tunes. And that mahjong game. And the link to Yahoo TV.  And, okay. The link to my horoscope. You get my drift.

My head’s already in the clouds enough the way it is. I’m not sure I need my laptop there, too….

Home on the Farm

034I have always enjoyed the feel of this blog…I try to make it light, witty, and, if I’m lucky, life-affirming. This is one side of me. Like all of you, there are many facets to my diamond. I read a very warm, articulate piece by my fellow blogger ittymac (http://ittymac.wordpress.com/) which made me think about all my other writing facets.

I’m going out on a limb this evening and posting one of my favorite stories. It’s about 1,036 words long, so it shouldn’t take you too long to read it. It is a tribute (in a way) to my father. I hope it touches you like it touched me.

Home on the Farm

He woke up before the crowing of the rooster, something he hadn’t done in a long time.  There was only one rooster left now, a strutting white leghorn with tan wings and black spots on his chest.  The old man stretched carefully,  surprised to find the shooting pains in his legs gone.  Remarkable. Last night the pain had been so bad he had to double his medication just to make it to his bed.  Now — now his legs felt sturdy and strong.

Sitting up in bed, his watery eyes looked out the window towards the coming sunrise.  The light sparkled like a million crystal chips shimmering at the edge of his vision, stretching the morning clouds into ribbons of pink and gold.  Someone once told him that the sunrises were brighter these days because of all the pollution in the air, but he didn’t agree.  John had witnessed many a sunrise on his farm, many a sunrise and sunset since his father plowed the land when he was a boy.  Maybe they all didn’t sparkle like this one, but they were all unique, all beautiful.

Climbing out of bed and into the bathroom, John savored  the fact that his bodily functions were once again running smoothly.  What an enjoyable respite from the dribbling and splashing he had been going through lately!  Looking into the mirror, his large blue eyes were the clearest he had seen them in a while, the age splotches on his face nearly non-existent.  His hands didn’t tremble as he shaved, nor did he need his glasses to comb his hair. It was about time.

Donning his flannel and overalls, John called his hound to come join him on a morning walk.  The 84-year-old had not wandered through his farmland in ages, and his legs felt so great, so strong, he couldn’t resist the urge to revisit fields that had seen better days.  Bouncer didn’t come running, though, but merely slept in the puddle of sunlight that fell in front of the living room sofa.  Fine, John thought.  Sleep the morning away.

Opening the back door, the chill of the morning air danced around him, invigorating his senses.  The scent of hay and grass filled his nostrils, along with the earthy sweat of horses and cows.  John looked down at his legs and for a moment worried they wouldn’t carry him across the porch and down the stairs to the old barn.  He hadn’t been able to make that trek in quite some time, his body having grown more useless as the years passed.  But this morning — this morning was different.  There wasn’t a cloud hanging over his thoughts anymore.  No depression, no drugs to slow him down. He could do it.

He cautiously moved down the stairs and followed the dirt path that led to the empty red barn. Vivid memories of his father and mother and brothers bombarded him as he neared the dilapidated structure. His parents had moved to Wisconsin from Poland, hoping to find freedom and a new life in the rural countryside that looked so much like their native land. His father tended 25 cows in his day; John almost 40 during his middle years. Adding chickens and a couple of bulls to the mix, he made a decent living, enough to support a wife and three children in the heyday of the 50’s.

But the kids grew up and moved to the big city, and his wife took on a bout of cancer about ten years back and never recovered, leaving the farm and livestock to run wild with abandonment.  John finally allowed the neighbor to plant corn in his empty fields, providing a small but decent return that, combined with his small pension, afforded him a comfortable retirement.

The past was the past, and now all John could visualize was the barn full of cows and the chickens raising a ruckus in their pen somewhere behind the milk cans and the  ’52 Ford pickup that was down a quart of oil.  His footsteps were lighter than air, quick and sure, walking the path they had carved into the earth for the past 80 years. He saw horses in the pasture and hay bales stacked up in the loft and barrels full of cracked corn.

It was incredible how good it felt to be alive, to feel the earth and the farm under his feet, the sunshine on his weathered face, to hear his children laugh and scream and chase the dogs around the front yard.  John fleetingly wondered about his newfound energy, the firmness of his limbs, the accuracy of his eyesight. There were no hints of arthritis or pneumonia; there were no more regrets about the past or thoughts of suicide. It was as if he had always been this way.

Past the farm equipment, through the barn and out the double doors on the other side, John spotted his wife sitting on the picnic table under the huge oak tree at the bottom of the hill, laughing and talking to his mother and father. Margaret took on a subtle glow as she beckoned him to join her under the overgrown tree.  His father sat in the wooden chair that used to sit by the fireplace, and his mother stretched out on a blanket at the base of the tree.  The kids squealed in the background, the dogs barked and the crows threatened from their perches atop the trees.

The sun crested above the distant pines and the rooster crowed, cracking the morning with its triumphant sound.  At that moment John heard a jumbling of sounds:  a phone ringing, a dog howling, voices and noises and the shattering of glass.  But it must have been the wind playing tricks, carrying nonsense through the open fields from the farms down the way.  He hesitated as a thought, a rationalization, tried to take form in his mind.  But it was gone as quickly as it appeared. The world was full of enchanting sounds and scents, and it all belonged to him.  He turned, and smiling, went into the arms of his beautiful wife.

The reunion had begun.   John was home. Home on the farm.

 

Trippin’ Right Along

2013-08-16 21.17.40
Gaelic Storm, Milwaukee Irishfest

One of the keys to surviving middle age is to balance your complaining with your freedom. People like to read about your older “boomer” adventures, but few have time to listen to a thousand words of whine. As a friend once said, things of a personal nature have a short shelf life, because people quickly confuse your madness with theirs.

I had a great time this past weekend. Went to the zoo with family, went to Irishfest Friday evening, then back to Irishfest all of Saturday with family and friends. The music lightened my soul, and walking and eating and talking with friends and family strengthened my heart.

That’s what people want to hear.

They don’t want to hear about my aching legs and feet, or my Alzheimer’s moment of leaving a tube of ointment in the bathroom stall, or the five dollars I lost by stashing it in a place that jiggles too much. No one wants to know that I took a tumble trying to step over a chain that was a wee bit too high for my short legs, or that the cause of my headaches was more likely from dehydration than stress.

People love to read that I took my grand-baby playing in the Irishfest park and that we walked to the lake and watched the boats and threw rocks in the water. They don’t want to read about the almost-twisted ankle I got because I climbed on rocks I had no business climbing on.

I wonder if I was this muddled 30 years ago? If I was as prone to forgetting and stumbling? Back then I’d get drunk and others thought it was funny and entertaining. If I’d do that now people would think it embarrassing and senile.  I’m sure I dripped food on my chest from the time I was 16; now, if I do it at 60, it looks like I’m feeble. I never was a jogger or a marathon runner, but having to stop and sit now and then makes me look like I’ve lost my get-up-and-go. Did I ever really have it, though? And did it ever matter?

Ah, but I don’t let that fear stop me from living. Neither should you. Once you get passed your bruised ego look at all the good things that come from it. I listened to music I loved; I played with my grand-baby and almost-grand-baby; I got a nice sun tan; I leaned to drink more water, I sang my favorite songs with the band; and walked so much my legs are ready to walk with the girls at break again.

I also learned that nothing is safe when hidden in places that jiggle alot.

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

Do You Do That Beauty Do?

wThis blog is mainly for my GFs, my BFFs, my Peeps, and my YTBM (yet-to-be-met) gal pals. Yes, it’s another “list” for us women who haven’t enough sense to come out of the preverbal beauty rain. It’s a list to remind us girls over 40 not to look like 80 – unless we are 80 – and then we just don’t need to look our age.

So from Yahoo to you, here are six beauty mistakes that make us look like an antique lamp:

Dark lipstick Deep shades make any surface look smaller, and that includes lips. I wonder if I should wear a dark shade all over my body, then…

Too-sleek hairstyle  – This can make your face look drawn and emphasize every pore, wrinkle, and imperfection. Also, keep in mind that helmet-headed updos can be disastrously aging. Stay away from too-voluminous bouffants. Seems the flat head is dead. Too bad no one seemed to tell my thinning hair that. And voluminous bouffants —  I thought the boof was the dead head of the 50’s…

Over-concealing dark circles We want to hide those bags and under eye circles, and sometimes we get carried away.  What happens if I’m one BIG bag – not only under the eyes but on the other 99% of my body? Can I over-conceal THAT?

Cakey foundation – Heavy foundation sticks to and emphasizes wrinkles. Oh, come on now – who would want cakey without ice creamy? That sticks to EVERYTHING…

Lower lash mascara This packs a double aging  whammy by bringing attention to crows feet and making eyes appear smaller and more tired .I have lower lashes??!!

Short necklaces – Chokers are a bad move as they bring attention to your neck – an area that begins to show aging early on.  Ever notice that actresses of a certain age end up wearing scarves and choker necklaces and turtlenecks? Choking is bad for you in general. Leave my neck alone.

Now, just to show you that I am all about beauty, I made up my own six beauty mistakes – and the remedies for them.

Red eye – Cameras are notorious for  bringing this malady into the forefront. Ideas to reduce this bloodshot look include eyedrops, sunglasses, getting to bed before 1 a.m., and enlarging the type on your computer.

Upper lip hair – Some of us can’t help we inherited Uncle Stan’s mustache genes. Besides plucking and depilatoring, you can be super chic and drink a lot of milk. After all, look what a milk mustache did for Trisha Yearwood.

Thin lips – Except for Botox, the easiest thing you can do to enlarge your lips is to either suck on a straw all day, or  walk around and pooch them as if you are in deep thought. You won’t look strange, because everyone knows the older you get the harder it is to think.

Mummy skin elbows – Dry, crinkly skin making you want to hide your elbows? No need to wear long sleeves to the beach. Rub a little RumChada or Malibu Coconut Rum on the rough parts – you’ll smell great and everyone will know what you are drinking.

Flat hair – Flat hair makes you look shorter (I should know). To get that “tall girl” look at any age, turn your head upside down. Hang whatever hair you have towards the floor, and spray with hairspray. Without touching a brush or comb, go drive around for about 20 minutes with the car windows open (preferably down a highway or freeway). You won’t believe the height that results! Width too!

Dry, winkly skin – Even the best moisturizers can’t keep our skin as smooth as a baby’s. So besides slopping on the goo, you can dip yourself in chocolate (and become a Raisinet), or soak in the pool, hot tub, lake, or bathtub, and plump up like a grape. Better yet, forget the soak – drink the grape. Trust me, you won’t notice one more wrinkle.

To conclude this beauty lesson, never forget: those who refer to our well-worn and well-loved bodies as snake skin, pigeon toes, crow’s feet, cat claws, chicken neck, raccoon eyes, and spider veins, know diddle about animals OR women. Rejoice in the fact that you are here today, proudly representing the animal kingdom in its bare naked finery. Your wrinkles, your skin, are just that – yours. 

Wear your jungle with pride.

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.

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

Grow Up!

Most of the time children are great. Us “adults” try to raise them to be respectful, smart, and somewhat worldly. We teach them limits both to protect them and to give them a target to aim for as they go through life. Along with all the love they can handle, we do our best to bring them up as loving, tolerant human beings.

 Tolerant, you reiterate?

 Yes – tolerant. Not just patience and composure about the world around them, but for US. For when their parents become grandparents. For it is amazing how many rules and limits go right out of our heads when it comes to our grandkids.

 I can remember when my kids (now 28 and 22) were little. Grandma and Grandpa (and even Auntie Sandy) were relentless in their quest to “take the kids off our hands for a while.” The first time around I was hesitant to let my precious boy go – after all, wasn’t I the one who was the center of his world? By the time the second one came around I was more of the “Hey…want the kids?” sort of mom.

 I always thought my in-laws out of control. They took my kids to Kiddyland (starting at 1-1/2), bought them TVs for their room (waited until they were two), and fought to take them everywhere.  Grandpa taught my kids how to fish at two and how to play pinochle at 8. They spent the hours throwing “trickster” into the fan (their nickname for my youngest, although the trickster in question was a sock monkey).  They stayed up too late and were always off on an adventure somewhere. I swore that when I was a grandmother that I would act more civilized.

 Ha.

 My only grandson has two sets of grandparents ready, willing and able to take him places and teach him things. Not just your normal things like their numbers or their colors; we are ready to show him what “real” life is all about. I taught him to splash in puddles and take a finger of frosting and draw a line down someone’s cheek. Grandpa has already taken him fishing and we are set to do an Irish Jig at IrishFest this weekend. We throw stones in water and run around in the rain and eat drippy, sticky things.

What happens to us when we get a second chance to be a kid?  We are automatically careful not to injure anyone: watching for traffic as we cross the street or not eating plastic or not jumping out of windows are as automatic to us as itching a mosquito bite.  But what’s wrong with taking off our shoes and walking through the grass or a mud puddle? What’s wrong with playing catch with the dog with an apple or letting popsicles drool down our chin? 

I have noticed that there is a kid inside every one of us wanting to escape. Renaissance faires are prime examples of this. They bring out the strangest costumes, not because the people have a “thing” for Henry the VII gear, but because they get a chance to dress up. I’ve seen pirates, belly dancers, vampires, minstrels, space men – you name it – walking the aisles of turkey legs and amulets. Why do you think they do it? Because it’s FUN. It’s nonsense. It’s the one time they can do something out-of-the-box and get away with it.

 Same is true with grandparents. I insisted my kids get to bed at a normal time or ate regular dinner food or stayed out of the rain and snow.  Now I can’t wait to make a snowman with my two-year-old GBaby. I can’t wait to look for bugs (ohhh ick) so that he can look at them under a magnifier. I can’t wait to stay up till midnight watching stupid corny movies and have an ice cream sundae for breakfast. 

 Vitamins and the alphabet and school and keeping clean is their parents’ job. I’ve paid my dues. My tactics, my tolerance, allowed my kids to grow up happy, healthy, and a lot of fun to be with. They roll their eyes as we poke our fingers into the newly-frosted cake; they shake their heads when I let him pull everything out of my purse and drop it on the floor. They dutifully don’t allow him to drink soda, but don’t make a deal out of it if grandma sneaks him a sip or two.

 There is nothing better than acting young. It’s too bad a lot of us have to have a grandbaby (or three) to have an excuse to let loose. And it’s too bad we don’t see that there’s nothing wrong with acting like a kid now and then.  Perhaps the world would be a happier, more content place if more adults dug holes in the sand and buried a stone or rolled down a grass hill or put our toes in the cold lake water.

 And you don’t have to necessarily be a grandparent – how about being an “Auntie Sandy”? Or a crazy, fun “Uncle Bill”?  Anyone can jump into the foray. Paint your and your granddaughter’s/niece’s  toenails blue or yellow. Buy matching hats and go out for tea (thank you Jane!). You and the little guy play in the worm bucket. Both of you butter your toast with a spoon. Go for a walk through the woods (or a park) and look for fairies or gnomes.

 What would it hurt? Your grandkids will see a side of you that other’s often hide.  They will see that you are human — that you are alive and fun to be with.

 Now, if you all will excuse me, I have green foil shamrocks to sugar glue onto our cheeks before we go dance the jig at IrishFest.

Looking for the ~Pay Off~

              Sometimes I wonder where I am going with the new “freedom” in my life.  My children are finally on their own, leaving my husband and I to play together and apart, depending upon our moods and which hunting season it is.  I am pulling away from the necessity of being a “perfect” employee and actually entertain dreams of traveling through Ireland or England or at least the Smithsonian. Even though our bills are out of this rarified atmosphere, I still manage to believe that by watching TV in the dark and not turning on the air until it’s 90, I will be able to squeeze enough blood out of the turnip and put it in my savings account for a rainy day.

            I realize that the peak that I stand upon is a precarious one indeed.  Any gust of wind, any fluctuation in temperature, might turn the entire direction of my future upside down, reassuring me of a world of mountainous debt, not to mention being the oldest catalog coordinator in history.  How do those of us caught between Woodstock and Country Thunder survive?  How do we find our way through the maze of downsizing, upgrading and specialization that seems to run rampant through our lives?

            The reality of the “haves” and “have not’s” are no more marked than when I drive through downtown Chicago on my way to football games.  Living in the quiet countryside of rural Wisconsin, it’s easy to forget that there’s a dynamic, yet alternate, reality that is shared by thousands of people making millions of dollars a year or more.  Surrounded by corn and soybean farmers, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole other species that thrive in high rise condos facing the lake and drive Porches and BMWs and take a jet to work each day.  When I drive through the thriving metropolis of the nation’s second largest city, I can’t help but notice the plethora of new structures reaching toward the heavens.  If there is a recession, the area surrounding Soldier’s Field hasn’t felt it yet.  Nor have most prime property locations in any large city.  What do these people do for a living?  What do they do in their nine-to-five lives that enable them to buy designer clothes and eat at Alinea (the most expensive restaurant in Chicago) once a month?  What could they possibly do in eight hours that I can’t do?

            All right all right. First off, they are a lot smarter than the average Joe-lene…or Joe, if you prefer. Private tutors, Ivy League schools, 4.99 GPAs — who knows what extra genes float around in their DNA. Outside their intelligent, futuristic mindset, their choices were different than mine. Their callings more focused. Precise. Obsessive. Sometimes money breeds money; other times poverty does. Hence the buildup of Metropolis. But sometimes I fear this gap between “them” and “me” will burst the few bubbles I have left floating around in my head.  After all, isn’t the preverbal rainbow just around the corner?  Isn’t that pot of gold just waiting for me to discover it? I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in one of those condos on the 56th floor of a building that faced blue water 24/7?

            I want to find a purpose in all my crummy luck. I’d like to think that there will be money left in social security for me and my friends. That I will be able to afford healthcare when I’m 75.  That there will BE healthcare when I’m 75. Economics has never been one of my strengths; I have never been able to understand the Dow Jones or the trading of futures and options on exchanges. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to change my stance in life.  I want my “golden years” to have more of a twinkle of gold than the smudge of soot.  I know that the choices I made in life were the right ones for me. I know that making a little less money through the years is nothing compared to the love and devotion I get from my children and husband and our two stupid dogs.

            But there are times I wonder if I could have tweaked the decisions I made.  That I could have, should have, stayed in the same job a little longer, spent a little less on groceries, or my last trip to Las Vegas.I don’t really regret the money that has drifted through my hands through the years. I’m not sorry having popped for the Renaissance Faire or paid for gasoline that was spent on driving to and from soccer games.

          What I do wonder is how all of this baggage will affect my newfound “freedom” as a woman of the millennium.  How buying clothes for my son from American Eagle balances the wardrobe of a woman going through her mid-life crisis — again.  How I can wear the same plaid booties I saw some young, fresh college thing wearing and not look stupid?

            I naively am waiting for the big pay off.  The jackpot. The book sale that will propel me into the world of Rowling and King.  The winning lottery ticket that will pay off my debt and leave me a little extra for that trip to Ireland.  Until then, though, I will keep working and paying my bills.  After all, my kid reminds me that it will be he who chooses my nursing home.

            I’d better behave.

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.