The Direction of Choice

There was a time
The universe expanded before me
Choice was a luxury
Youth my companion
Direction meaningless
Lost in the sparkle of the stars

Lately the vastness of that universe
Has shrunk before my eyes
The galaxies of choice
Have turned to
Cold hollow moons
Planets of necessity

Funny how small
My world has become
The luxury of time
Exists on fewer and fewer
Planes of existence
In this world and the next

The choices are not the same
As in the days of
Gauzed-wrapped visions
Candy-sweet dreams
Jobs and friends and goals
Now have razor edges

Options have narrowed
Doors once open
Now request verification
Of paths followed
And stars wished upon
In duplicate form

I can no longer shuffle the cards of
Destiny and Delusion
The games have been chosen
Hands have been dealt
Bets are hedged
The world is keeping score

I must play the hand dealt
Watch the glow of dawn
Twist into curls of dusk
Time no longer my friend
Its shadow the scent of musk
Choice is mine no more

My vision has become blurred
Memories have faded
My heart has been broken
By limitations of my body
And the changing of the guard
As they march into the fog

I never forget my heart
The journey that brought me here
I love and I cherish
I live and I learn
But cannot go back
To the land of never was

Even though hope fades
In the emptiness of dawn
And space of my soul
Reality bounds from the sky
Our star’s blinding glare
Reminding me of the truth

All I need to do is breathe
The universe, the stars
Will point the way
And the world of choice
Will open its doors
Once again.

                   Claudia Anderson, 2013

You’re Never Too Old (or Out of Shape) To Start

thI don’t know if it was climbing the cliffs at Devil’s Lake or swimming laps at the local pool or wild sex on the beach, but I’ve been knocked out the last few days with one granddaddy of a pain across the small of my back that’s gone from explosive shots  to a single shooting pain up one gluteus maximus.

Actually, it wasn’t mountain climbing or Olympic swimming or wild anything. I don’t really know how I threw my back out of wack. But now that I’m older, it takes longer to get it back into shape.

And that scares me.

It scares me because it shows that I’ve got less and less time to make my body right. That at any time a bad back can turn into sciatica or spinal compression fractures or ankylosing spondylitis.

I know that there are people who live with pain all their lives. I suppose most of what I’ve lived with I’ve lived with. You know? But when you introduce something new into your spectrum of experience it opens the door to more possibilities. Possibilities of more pain, uncomfortableness, sleeplessness, and more.

Back to the back pain.

This is a real eye-opener for me. I know my front carries extra baggage that pulls on my back, and I’m starting to take care of that. I’m starting to walk more, but I say that every year, and peter our about a month in. I am at the age where anything can and will happen if I don’t start paying attention to what I eat and drink and how I move.

And that’s the fact, Jack.

I know I can’t turn back the hands of time, but I can certainly strengthen the hands I have. It’s never too late to start stretching more, walking more, slowing down more. Maybe that’s an old-lady thing, but it’s a smart thing, too. It’s one thing to fight cancer. Been there, done that. But it’s another to let your body fall down the weakness well and not do a thing to pull yourself back up.

Like some kind of commercial, I am here to tell you to PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY. No matter what age. It’s so easy for a rash to turn into psoriasis, a scar into an infection, a limp into arthritis. It may be that one will turn into the other anyway, but it’s much smarter to take care of these things up front. Stretch before you pull a muscle. Clean before it gets infected. Eat healthy instead of fatty.

I have always been one to put off taking care of myself last. Kids, husband, my cat — everyone but me. Now that I’m older I’m starting to feel the effects of everyone else first. And it’s time to pay attention to the only one who is going to be with me through the very end.

The good thing is that getting in shape now will enable me to climb those cliffs or swim those laps or…

Well, you know all the things you can do when you’re not achin’ and painin’….

Why Can’t We Slow Down?

tumblr_ln6ma5pk1i1qkmpj8o1_500Do you ever have times/days/weeks where you are fumbling so out of control you finally have to stand still and say STOP?

I don’t know if it’s a symptom of (self-prescribed) A.D.D., but I constantly find myself in swirling situations where I’m turning and falling and rushing and not finishing.

And I can’t take it.

The other day I dropped something. I bent to pick it up and hit my head against the table leg. Then I stood up and dropped it again. In turning to reach it I swiped all the paperwork off the table and into a raining mess. The raining mess knocked over the stemmed wine glass with a trace of milk still left, breaking the glass and spilling milk all over.

I had to stand still, close my eyes, and count to 10.

Then the reprimand begins.

Who drinks milk out of wine glasses anyway? Why didn’t I just do the dishes and wash the glass when I was finished? Why are all those papers on the table anyway? Why aren’t you paying attention?

One time I was running a little late for work; stepped out of the car in the parking lot and slipped on a slice of ice right next to my door. Those bruises have finally faded.

Why didn’t you leave for work earlier? Didn’t you see that patch of ice when you pulled in the parking space? Don’t you watch where you put your feet when you get out of the car?

It’s like I’m moving through time and space too fast. Keeping up at work and keeping up at home is a non-stop travelogue for me. I find myself forcing myself to slow down. If I don’t, I get bruises from car doors, misplace my glasses and/or keys, lose earrings and other items of jewels — all kinds of stupid things.

Where am I going in such a hurry? What ever happened to stopping to smell the roses? Watch a sunset? Watch fireflies? I know I have to slow down. To think before I do. I’m not as flexible as i was 20 years ago. And I’ll wind up in the hospital if I’m not careful.

It’s just that with (self-prescribed) A.D.D. I feel at times I can’t sit still for 5 minutes. I’m either itching or swinging my leg or flipping through TV channels or snacking. I’m always afraid I’ll be left behind if I don’t get it all done. That I’ll be standing at the end of the driveway waving goodbye to everyone else because I couldn’t get ready on time.

This is especially true because I’m older. Every forgotten thing is Alzheimer’s; every hesitation is senility. Every broken glass is old age; every pain is cancer.

Although I do believe you can’t do everything, be everything to everybody and still keep your sanity, my unconscious mind is trying to prove different. It thinks that if I keep going at 150 mph, I can outrun the grim reaper.

Maybe it’s time for a speeding ticket or two.

 

When I’m 64

th-1I wonder if your working world can make a 90 degree turn when you’re 64?

I have been a working girl all my life. I didn’t go to college, so I had to learn as I went. Back in the late ’70s an executive secretary was a lot different than they are in ’16s. I mean — my first computer was a Wang! Anyone ever heard of that line?

I was one of those executive secretaries in a PR department, and one day my boss asked if I wanted to write press releases. It was for a trade group for savings and loans. A world I never understood. Above my head. Out of my comfort zone. So I had to pass.

Other jobs were in similar fields: public relations or advertising or running my own business. The latter one I had the most success with, as it was designing my own brochures and portfolios and advertising for my B&B. But it was limited. Once described, the description didn’t change.

My current employment journey began as an expediter, then an almost-proofreader that became a coordinator instead, then a slide on over to the Web side, then more data entry. It was an arduous journey, one fraught with monsters and stalkers. But I survived, and the Internet in general and the World Wide Web in particular started growing around me.

Then something strange happened.

I took over the writing of the company blog. I was in a position to throw some words into the space where no one looked. It was not immediately noticed except by a few. Time turned over again and again. Old wood was removed and fresh growing branches took their place. The window into the 21st century was finally thrown wide open and the fresh air was intoxicating.

And the blog was noticed.

Moreover, my writing was noticed.

Here I am, 64 years old, fulfilling my writing fantasies with my personal blog, creating new worlds with my art blog, and editing my novels that should have been submitted to a publisher years ago. Suddenly, 3-4 years away from retirement (technically speaking), I am offered again a job that I was born to do. This time for a company I understand. Whose vision I understand. Whose style and management and philosophy matches the way I write. It’s not writing manifests or research papers or company reports. It’s Facebook posts. It’s subject lines. It’s abbreviated e-mail copy.

But it’s writing.

So after all these years of trying and turning and giving up and starting something new, I have come full circle. Full circle one circle further than I was a few circles ago.

I am proof that windows do open and careers find their way around boulders and down hills and back up again. It’s probably not the career you dreamed of in your ’20s or ’30s. I mean, I imagine a lot of us are nowhere close to where we thought we’d be at this point of our career. Most of us are happy just to have a job.

But it is a job. And close is better than not-at-all.

So when they say don’t quit your day job, don’t. Put up with it, change it if you can, deal with it if you must. If you need to change your job, change your job. But never give up on your own creativity. Find a way to work it into your daily life. During your day job if you can, in your personal job — i.e., life — if you can’t.

You’re never too old to be an optimist…

 

 

Old Age = Fine Wine = Pfffffttt!!

This beginning-of-the-week blog is mainly for those of us getting up in years. Not really UP there yet, but holding onto those clock hands, trying to slow down the pace to the future. OUR future.

I have been having a few “feeble” moments lately, and, frankly, my dear, I do give a damn. I don’t like it. I catch myself groaning and moaning and rolling my eyes whenever something needs a little extra effort. Now, I know I’m not in my 20s…or 30s…my energy level has changed through the years. But I catch glimpses of this little old granny, bent over, shuffling, mumbling, into the future. And I can’t go there. Not for 20 years at least.

How do you train yourself to pick up the pace, so to speak? I don’t mean jogging around the block or acing a calculus test. I mean — how do you find your bearings, your confidence, when you’re short and round?

I have seen many women who have aged gracefully. Hair, eyes, shape, all have held up pretty well through the years. I have never been one for beautiful anything, but I have managed to stay married for 35 years, so I must be doing something right. But it’s those same connections that seem to pat me on the head now and then and say “Don’t worry. We’ll slow down/simplify/avoid confusion for you.” Which does nothing but piss me off.

I understand that if I were physically encumbered, others would (hopefully) want to simplify my world. I may hold a grudge against everyone healthier than me, but I would understand. If you can’t do it you can’t do it.

But at this moment I CAN.

Maybe my knees creak and I get weird pains in my shoulder and forget to turn the lights off when I leave or can’t hear someone because they’re mumbling, but I’m not on my way to the glue factory. I am still a viable part of my community, my family. I hold a fairly decent job, I am a writer, a blogger, and artist. I can keep up with the best of them when it comes to grand kids, dogs, friends, and grammar. I’m not ready to take the back seat to the future.

I think the older you get, the harder it is to garner respect. We are older and wiser, yes, but we are also the “older” generation. We don’t always have the keen insight and quick reflexes of the younger generation, hence encouraging condescending nods and smiles from the quicker-picker-upper crowd.

Is this an age thing? A woman thing? Or not a thing at all? Do you second guess your abilities? Your alertness? Your ability to reason or figure things out? Have you given up on your looks? Your style? Your ability to swing?

I always thought those concerns would be less and less as I got older. Seems like the old insecurities never go away. They just change color and hue.

The point of life is to not give in, not give up. To live your life with a bit of caution and a little grace and a lot of humor. It took 40-50 years for this hair to thin, for this writing career to take off — and I’m not done yet.

I’m aging like fine wine.

Putting On My Big Girl Pants

db6600a576463299e6df8b2d18f0a78fFirst off, a dreamy thank you for hanging with me during October and visiting the land of dreams and nightmares. My dreams thank you for checking in on them.

But now it’s November and although it’s 63 degrees in Wisconsin, nature is warning us that the kick-back-lazy-summery-buttery days are just about at their end. Thunder and lightning streak the skies this morning — much like the beginning of my first novel.

I am one of those complainers I can’t tolerate. I want to be a published author, but I have 3 novels sitting in my computer gathering dust because 1) I don’t know what genre they really are; 2) are they really any good; 3) there are a zillion published and self-published books out there, what’s one more on time travel/murder/fear of being caught/romance or maybe-romance book?

I don’t feel like I’m a procrastinator — it’s more like I don’t do the things I really need to do to get my work out there. Which, in reality, is a form of procrastination. Plus my confidence has been hiding under a rock somewhere lately. I mean, I have written two  novels in one series, another in a different series, and am in the middle of a follow up for THAT book, so you can’t say I’m not doing the work. Of course, that work has been over 10 years in the making, so that probably says something, too.

What about publicity? What about asking for advice from someone who is trying to get published too? Or who is already published? Why do I hesitate to ask for help? Am I afraid they will say no? And so what?

No doubt that as I get older the window of opportunity closes quicker. I can’t keep up with a full-time job and write too. At least that’s how I feel at the moment.  Which is not true, either. I know there are those of you who have done just that. Juggle family and kids and illnesses and setbacks and divorce and moving and still knock out great poetry and books. They — you — do not let your surroundings become your crutches.

When you are a ditz (I say that lovingly), it’s hard to stay focused all the time. I try. Its not the big responsibilities that throw me off balance — it’s the time inbetween. It’s the time between visiting the kids and driving home or vacuuming all the dog/cat hair so that I can sit down and write that I fall between the cracks. It’s the daydreaming while I’m driving that could one day cause me an accident. Its the noticing I need to sew a button on a shirt for tomorrow that readjusts my free time. The coming up with a plot twist at 1 a.m. when I have to get up at 6 that leaves me drained and sleepy all day and night.

It’s not always that dramatic, of course. It’s the moving from point A to point B in a hurry that causes black and blue marks, or hitting the wrong button and wiping out a whole chapter that sets my psyche afire. I misplace my phone all the time and put things in a safe place only to forget where that safe place is. Even when I have the time to sit and write or research, I find disorganization everywhere. I find myself organizing images or sorting written files or deleting a hundred pointless emails and before I know it two hours have gone by and I’m too tired to write.

It’s about time to put on my big girl pants and hit my secondary world with dogged determination. Make a list with a hundred bullet points if that’s what it takes, and do one organizational thing before one creative thing. That’s how I will move forward. And no one will notice the unicorn slippers that I wear when I put those pants on.

If only I can find that other slipper…

Reflections on the Beach

SandPail_2Perspective. It’s what makes all the difference in life, doesn’t it?

Looking up through the trees at the sky looks different than looking across the trees at the sky. Glasses half empty or half full. All that falderal.

Like life at the beach.

This afternoon I was sitting at a picnic table at a small beach at a small lake in a small town. I’d finished my part of the water ballet, letting my grandson and his grandpa finish the ballet water-splash style.

The world went on as it always has…it’s just that this time I was sitting on the other side of the table. Watching the world as an observer instead of a participant.

It’s pretty busy for a small beach. Little kids manage to hit the excited scream level a lot of the time – whether it was laughing, fighting with siblings, or crying. I wonder if the sound bounces off the water a lot harder these days.

Women chat while their kids jump off the pier. Cathy was still going out with the louse from the next town, Handy’s had the best fish fry this side of the Mississippi. Jim was always working overtime and spending his spare hours at the golf course, and Neighbor Grocery’s produce had gone down in quality the last few years. I myself have always loved the ebb and flow of people talking when they don’t think others are listening. Voices always float through the air, bits and pieces getting caught in the sack chair or wrapped around the picnic bench so that all you catch is a sentence’s jagged inference. Maybe the louse from the next town is a dentist, maybe he’s a mechanic. All that could be grasped was the audacity of the woman sharing her thoughts.

Love games still abound at the beach, too. The cute little high schooler, long legs, short shorts, long dark hair wrapping around her shoulders; and the tall, lanky guy, not really a jock but not bad looking. She sways back and forth, hands behind her back, playing the coy card. He leans forward, saying something a little risque, and they both laugh, she turning slightly away. He threatens to throw her in the water; she squeals “no no!” in her loveliest girly voice. He grabs her towel (or hat or sunscreen), hides it behind his back, and she giggles, trying to get it back from him.

A lovely Lolita-ish girl walks down the pier, her tanned body barely covered by her flowered bikini. A young thing, maybe late high school, maybe a tad older, walking down to the end of the pier, blonde hair blazing in the sun, where she stops, and I imagine, sighs dramatically. There’s no sunset to dream upon yet; no cat calls from the audience, no college scholarship with her name on it. But there’s something sexy and dramatic about the sad, curvy side of youth.

Kids are always kids. One skinny 5-year-old desperately tries to gain the attention of two older 8-year-old girls, his arms flaying in the air, his swim goggles making him look like Rocky the Flying Squirrel. My insecurities make me uncomfortable. He doesn’t feel anything of the kind. He drifts off to look for fish in the shallow water, the girls never knowing he was there.

Three boys, all but four years old, compete with each other as Superman jumping off the deck into the shallow water. Bigger boys come by and laugh, some jump in and splash the little ones aside, making waves, being even cooler than the little kids. The little kids are too young to care; the middle schoolers get an ego boost by bullying those half their age.

It’s a cornucopia at this little beach on this little lake in this little town. I fancy nothing has changed in all the years moms have been bringing their kids to swim and high schoolers have come to make out and flirt and make plans for Saturday night. Not even me.

I still think of the time I never spent at the beach, never flirting with the kinda cute guy on the pier, never  dreaming dreams only cute girls can dream.