Don’t Sweat the Changes, Dog!

A funny thing happened on the way to writing my third book.

I’ve had book One and Two done for like ever — the first one for 15 years, the second for maybe 8. I’m not published; I’ve sent the ideas out to a few publishers and agents during my years, but I was always busy doing other things like working full time and fooling around with my kids and grandkids.

I would whine (I’m a lovely whiner) that I wasn’t published. I hadn’t even sent it to friends to read. The second book was more my favorite than the first. Wouldn’t touch it for the world.

Then I started book three.

And since book three has taken a life of it’s own, I’m going to have to do some changes to book Two now.

Does your life ever work out like that?

Just when you think you know where you’re going something comes along and changes you all around helter skelter?

Why change it all?

Because you have changed.

Something somehow has changed your direction, your thoughts, your interpretations. And it will bug you till the end of your days if you don’t change the things around you (if you can).

Changing your wardrobe to fit your new attitude. Changing the music you listen to. Your job. Getting rid of toxic friends. Life is always a change.

And you must change along with it.

You can’t hold onto the past just because it’s there. It fits like your grandfather’s coat. Big and bulky and totally out of style. Even if you’re a retro kinda person.

I hate change. I love change. Being creative I love and hate everything. But I am smart enough to go along with it when I can see how it can benefit me.

I went to a concert last night to listen to the High Kings for St. Pattie’s Day. They are an Irish tenor kind of group. They sang all these Irish songs that I love. And somewhere between “Finnigan’s Wake” and “Wild Mountain Thyme” I realized my main character in all my books is Irish, and this third book is about him. Not my heroine’s interpretation of him, not the narrator’s interpretation — it’s about him and his Irish roots. Why he is like he is.

And it makes me want to put a musical experience in the book.

Which would change him and his lady and the reader.

And since it’s based on the same experience from the second book but from his point of view, I will now have to rewrite the second book so they “match”.

They say there is no rest for a writer. I’m sure that’s true of a poet, a painter, or a potter. I think that’s a good thing. I want this story to be the right story. Not my version of the right story. But his.

If you have to change, change. Don’t big deal it. Change that shirt, that purse, the color of your hair. Make your painting pink instead of blue if that’s what the cosmos tells you. Don’t sweat the logical stuff.

It’s all you in the end, anyway…..

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Ice Dreams

6You would think these dark, long months of cold and shadows would encourage those of us who can’t sit still a chance to not sit still for a shorter period of time.

Fat chance.

Being a mover and talker and creator is a lot different in your 60s than in your 30s.

When you’re in your 20s or 30s or 40s, being active is foremost in your plans for success, money, kids, or whatever your life choice is. You have more energy, ideas, and whereforeall to get it done. A higher chance that your peers will listen and understand you, your ideas snowballing to the benefit of both employer and circle of friends.

By the time you’re in your late 50s/early 60s, those body and mind parts that worked so fast start squeaking just a little. The mind slows down just a little. Your coordination teeters just a little. To you, these changes are barely perceptible. So you can’t remember where you left your phone. So you drive past your exit on the highway. So you forget an ingredient in your dinner surprise. These things are no big deal to us, for we are too busy thinking about the next thing and the next thing.

Younger sprites think of the next thing and the next thing, too, but they just do it better. They have a better grasp on things like technology, job security, and time management, and somehow they seem to get everything done in time, in a fairly organized and sensible manner.

Not me.

Since my biological clock turned upside down the past few years, I’ve wanted to stay up longer and sleep in longer. Lately my Muse has been pulling me in a hundred different directions, either ignoring or ignorant that my mind, as creative as it is, doesn’t move as fast as it used to. I need to have a bit of organization in my crookedy life.

Getting the computer out after dinner and doing some “creative” work has become my version of organization. Yet circumstances are such that, for the next few months, I will have company every evening, and the things on the telly or the music in the background won’t be as much my choice as my kids.

I am noticing a slight change in the atmosphere lately, though, especially since they are starting to look for houses. The grandkids are not as dependent on me as they were when they first came to live with us.

Which is how it’s supposed to be.

They are networking as a family more and more now that they see change on the horizon.

Which is like it should be.

You would think there would be a shift in my atmosphere lately, too. But I’m afraid all I’m going to want to be contemplating is how to be a vegetable the evenings my husband is working (which is 5 nights a week).

Oh, I know, everyone says I will have to make myself go out and do something, make myself write and edit and find artists for the Gallery. I will have oh-so-much-more time to clean and putz around the house, reorganize, redecorate, rethink the old habits of Claudia.

And I will.

I just need to tell my body that.

The one good thing about this lackadaisical attitude is that I DO jot down creative ideas when the mood strikes. I have a lot of things on my plate — a lot of “maybes” and “heys!” and “ooohhh…that would be soooo cool!”s on my platter of plenty. And I know that once my housing situation shifts, once the sun lasts longer, so will I. We all will have gained a better understanding of each others lives and hopes and dreams, and encourage each other to get our individual Mojos going again.

Eating and writing and sleeping on the sofa by myself again will be so nice.

 

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

Time to Remodel

Time to remodel.  Those words strike terror in some, delight in others. Probably most of our abodes could use a refresher course in Martha Stewart 101. Shampooing carpets, washing windows, and rearranging the pantry are all fine and dandy, but sooner or later you get to the point where you just can’t stand the grease marks behind the stove or the coffee stains on the rug any longer.

 I was perfectly happy with my little hideaway in the country. I’ve spent many a day playing with kids, petting dogs, cooking for family and friends, and dancing in front of the speakers between these walls. The décor was right for the time: a unicorn plate here, a deer head there. I felt I had the best of both worlds.

 But lately strange apparitions began to appear. A lot more spots had appeared on said wall, and the rugs looked more like a Dalmatian rug.  My kitchen cabinets were stuffed fuller than rummage sale bins, and those birdcages atop the cabinets started to have a fuzzy edge to them.  I can’t see the living room over the counter top because of the three beta bowls, various potteries, an air freshener, and a stack of newspapers that eventually will wind up in the kitty litter box. I couldn’t find anything, I couldn’t reach anything.

 Yes, I needed a change. A shot of the ‘ol adrenalin in our living space. Once I (we) gave the OK, my mind began running like a mad dog after a cheeseburger. Colors, textures, flooring all screamed at me. “Pick me! Pick me!”  Echoing right behind those screams were those of my husband. “Cheap! Cheap!”

 Being a Sagittarius, I embrace change. The bigger up front, the better. Of course, Sagittarians are also notorious for not finishing their projects, but that’s fodder for another story. The roller coaster ride began. How about black and white and wrought iron?  Too gothic.  How about a tropical look – cantaloupe and soft turquoise? No, my mother’s frig was turquoise. Scarred me for life. Boring! Blasé! Old World! I forced myself to center. Slow down.  But so many colors to choose from! Honey! Mint Green! Butterscotch! Red and White! Why didn’t I have a plan before I started?

 My husband maps out the future one bullet point at a time. Why couldn’t I? He had the responsibility of picking out new flooring. No problem. Oak laminate was on sale. It wasn’t that easy for me. I needed to create atmosphere. Ambience. A binding swirl from kitchen to dining room to living room to hallway and back.  Didn’t he see that that wasn’t something to be taken lightly?  My in-laws already did the North Woods look, and I used to have black and white checked in a house we lived in many moons ago. Even though I have a thing for unicorns and faeries, I’m not sure their place is in the kitchen beside polish sausage and sauerkraut.

 I wanted this second go around to be different. This terrified my husband. He has a hard time imagining anything outside four ivory walls and a couple of mounted fish.  He had nervous flashbacks. Like the time I painted the bottom half of a bedroom wall burgundy, or painted a landscape complete with brick walls, urns, and a giant wrought iron gate in my back hallway, or stenciled vines winding from one room to the next. Now that I’m older and less inclined to care about what others think, perhaps he feared the worst. Like I would paint a graveyard scene or an Andy Warhol tribute. Not so. Not so.

Besides ― I didn’t have much money other than for flooring, some paint, and splash tiles. Anything I came up with had to come from the garage sale stack in the mudroom or my local second hand store.  So what do you do when you have champagne taste on a lemonade budget? Why, you do what any creative sprite would do ― you call in another Muse! I was sure Michelangelo or Rembrandt has a few faes they could send my way. After all, inspiration is all around us. In us.  We are not only sales clerks, graphic designers, insurance transcriptionists, or day care workers ― we are musicians, artists, landscapers, psychologists and miracle workers. All I needed to do was open my eyes and look around.

 I didn’t want my rooms to look like Picasso came to visit, or something only Bobby Flay could cook in. I picked out some sand stone-ish tiles and a paint called pearls and lace. That was a start. Suddenly the rooms began to metamorphous.  I didn’t have to walk into the wind chimes on my way out the patio door, or bump my knee on the table jutting out into the living room. Exchanging sheers for the dusty antique lace ones downstairs gave my dining room a much different feel. A few gargoyles atop the cabinets, a few pieces of pottery, and voila! A new me!

All this angst about nothing made me think that it should be just as easy to remodel your inner temple. Clean out the dust bunnies, read a book, go for a walk, play at a new playground. You know who you are ― have some fun with yourself. Drop the drama that dogs your heels every day. Learn to wipe off your inner counters more often, and let the real you shine through.

My mother kept the same drapes and rug and wall colors for 30 years. My mother-in-law too. I never got to ask them if those were really their decorating dreams or someone else’s.  If their inner temple ever slipped out to meet their outer one. If they even knew they had an inner temple.

 I haven’t quite gotten the green light as far as wall decorations and furniture removal, but the highest hurdle has been jumped. I move forward constantly, and respond to my husband’s “Cheap! Cheap!” with my own rebel yell: “Negotiate! Negotiate!”