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

You Didn’t Read Which One??

With the Madness of Summer burning the bottoms of our feet, there is not often much time to do any deep reading. A news headline here, a gossip column there, is about all one can squeeze in between State Fairs and Renaissance Faires and Italian Fairs.  So I thought I’d make it short and sweet this time around…come along and check out some of my oldies-but-goodies and see for yourself how fun managing the madness and magic and middle age can be!

Sharpening the Tool  — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/sharpening-the-tool/

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

Dancing in a Too Tight Tutu — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/522/

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

Dinner With the Queen https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/dinner-with-the-queen/

In the mundane throng of your very predictable life, don’t you now and then want to just break out of the box and do something different? Now that you have the experience of all those years behind you, don’t you want to make that experience mean something? Don’t you ever want to be bigger than life? Just for a day?

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwursthttps://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/the-importance-of-unicorns-and-bratwurst/

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

Merlot at the Lake House — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/merlot-at-the-lake-house/

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

Astral Traveling on a Budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ciao, baby…

Harry Potter vs Hannibal Lecter

 I just finished watching the movie Silence of the Lambs. This movie is brutal and unnerving and psychological and graphic. It forces the audience to watch in fascination one minute and hide our heads under the blanket the next. It’s kinda like people who slow down to take a peek at an accident on the side of the road ― it’s scary yet fascinating.  Voyeurism at its worst. And it makes me wonder why a simple, hard-working, middle class wife and mother, catalog coordinator, ex-soccer mom and spaghetti queen, watches a movie about someone who kidnaps women and strips them of their skin.

Why do we watch what we do? Why does society make movies like they do?  Movie making, like writing, is a bizarre connection of our deepest fears and highest nspirations.  The thought of such travesties existing outside our sphere of consciousness practically takes our breath away. Yet movie moguls make cinema magic focusing on psychos, mass murders, and psychological monstrosities all the time, and most of us have shared at least a piece of their legends. Writers such as Stephen King and Dean Koonz strip away our walls and prey on our vulnerable humanness. So I have to ask ― do movies and books reflect our true self?

 The human mind is a confusing labyrinth of thoughts, impulses and memories. That’s why it’s so easy to get lost in it. Not only do we want cuddly children and sentimental songs and feel-good endings ― we want to be confronted with things that terrorize us. Things that unconsciously test the possibility of taking us to that last fishing hole in the sky. Because of this always-changing labyrinth, we find ourselves asking eternal question, “What if?”  What if we/you/they had made a different choice? What if the chick that was captured in Silence of the Lambs decided to stop for a beer with her girlfriends and got drunk and wound up in Cleveland instead of helping the dude with his sofa? What if Melanie in Gone with the Wind had not died? If Luke Skywalker had grown up hanging around with his dad?

 When we are young, there are many choices in front of us. Our love life, our jobs, our cars, all are ripe apples to be picked from the abundant tree of life.  Life is nothing  but one big choice. But often the energy and pressures of our existence make our choices come from circumstance and necessity rather than free will. Hence, one of the trials of being human ― the ever eternal million-dollar question.

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

I think I make too much of a simple case of being human. For more years than there are leaves in a tree,  homo sapiens have been pigeon-holed into categories and titles and labels that may or not be true. Not only are we defined by our religion and our politics, but by our style of dress, choice of music, and our diet. Eventually, many of us figure out that labels, like time, mean nothing. They are nothing but illusions created to give us a feeling of being in control. Which is an illusion in itself. We all know there is no such thing as control ― only the temporary organization of chaos.

Are we too old to appreciate the humor of movies that showcase bare breasts, devil lawyers, psychos, marijuana, and farts? On the contrary! One of the challenges of getting older is there are so many new thoughts, impressions, and attitudes in the world that we cannot possibly keep up. The older we get, the more we want to show the world that we can indeed fit in with the aforementioned thoughts, impressions, and attitudes. And you know what? The gift of experience gives us the tools to do so. It may be that our attention span is much narrower, our need to shoot off at some erratic angle not as strong as hen we were 16…but it shows us that the more the world changes around us, the more it stays the same.

You see, the voice of individuality has never really changed. An individual can be Frank Sinatra mixed with Elvis mixed with Metallica mixed with Keith Urban.  Why can’t we like chocolate and vanilla and tooti fruiti too? Why can’t we talk about football and Texas sheet cake and transcendental meditation in the same breath? Why can’t we wear silk one day and denim the next? We should revel is our uniqueness; revel in the fact that we can enjoy all of the above and not compromise who we are.  Peeking at a horror movie doesn’t mean we are going to dismember the neighbor; watching two women run away and drive off the cliff does not mean we will get the same uncontrollable driving  urge.

I am quite satisfied with the landscape of movies and music before me. The only problem is that I keep dreaming of Harry Potter vs. Hannibal Lechter. Both powerful main characters that keep you wanting to know more. Where does this polarity leave me?

            Satisfied.

Cosmic Chatter

              Do you sometimes have a hard time concentrating?  I don’t mean pay-attention-to-your-driving duty or don’t-cut-your-finger-when-chopping-onions duty.  I mean concentrating on spiritual things.  Ethereal things.   The airy-fairy connection between us mere mortals and that famous ‘higher power’.  Do you ever wish that your mind would shut up for five minutes while you try to summon a spirit from the Great Unknown?

            You know how it goes. You clear your schedule, get rid of the kids, feed the dogs, and hide the cell phone in the silverware drawer.  You make an effort to visit your special place, your sacred altar.  This can be your garden, a spot deep in the woods, your kid’s sandbox, or your living room sofa.  You tell yourself that today you are really going to connect with the void and what lies on the other side.  You have read books on angels, faeries, ghosts and extra terrestrials, and figure it’s about time you connected with one. So you get into your sacred mode.  You breathe slow and deep.  You close your eyes, rest your mind, and say a prayer.  The atmosphere is perfect for communicating with whatever is the source of your power.  You feel the tingle of something larger than life not too far away. And suddenly, there it is.  That nagging thought.  That idle chatter.  That empty gossip.  And the more you try to tune it out, the louder it becomes.

            Monks in monasteries found salvation kneeling on stone floors.  Buddhist priests found nirvana contemplating a blade of grass.  Priestesses found the secrets of gods and goddesses tending fires.  So surely you could find what you’re looking for right in your own back yard.  After all, you have a whole ten minutes!  But your mind won’t cease its aimless prattle.  Your thoughts wander from your need to buy a shirt to match your navy pants that are just a bit too tight to the price of gas to trying to remember the name of the movie star that played that crazy professor in the movie you watched last night.  You snap back to the center.

             Block those thoughts!

            You close your eyes, trying to drown out the stray thoughts with the repetition of a prayer or a mantra or the alphabet — anything to bring structure back to your concentration. 

            Wham!  You forgot to mail the check for the phone bill! 

            Stop it! 

            Bang!  Did I unplug the curling iron?

            Pay attention!

            What should I make for dinner?

            SHUT UP!!

            You continue with a dogged perseverance.  You pray harder.  Louder.  You try to summon the angel, the sorcerer, the alien.  This being is a member of your guidance team, a pointer towards self awareness and universal peace.  A very important part. Yet your mind won’t stop trying to chat with you.  You think about your boyfriend, your job. You wonder about what the dog is doing now that you’ve tossed him in the back yard without supervision. You think about things you should have said, things you shouldn’t have said. And you suddenly become conscious of your outer-self nagging your inner-self to be quiet.

            Why can’t your mind just sit still for a while?  What is Archangel Michael going to think if you let everyday distractions get between you and him?  How can you have a direct cosmic connection with Cleopatra when all this blah blah is tainting your aura? You were so serious about this connection when you planned this escape!  You are a good person, a pious person.  You’re the sort of person that stops for squirrels crossing the road and kisses your kids ten times a day (even if they’re 27) and takes only ten items to the ten-items-only checkout aisle.  You are kind to old people.  Or you are an old person who is kind to young people.  So why is it so hard to quiet your mind long enough to connect to the spiritual?

            Maybe it’s because you’re already interacting with the spiritual.  It’s all around you.  Connecting with angels and prophets and faeries and ghosts of the past happens all the time.  We just don’t slow down enough to experience it.  The innocence of children, the memories of parents and grandparents, the words of sacred texts and of simple poetry all connect us with the ethereal.  We just have to learn how to recognize it.  The wild world of faeries can be found in the unbounded energy of a puppy; the music of the angels can be heard in the morning chatter of the birds.  God speaks clearly to us through our own conscience. We just fail to heed the advice we’re given. 

            What has this got to do with all this mindless chatter that drives you crazy?  The thousand thoughts that run through your head are nothing more than your own spirit cleaning house, sifting through all the garbage so that it can get to the heart of the matter.  In the peace and quiet of the sandbox or your front porch you can safely sift through your thoughts and emotions, finding clarity in reasoning and understanding in reflection.  Your mind finally gets tired of rambling and lets the purity of your intentions come through loud and clear.  You figure out where you are going, what you want to say, what you should do.  And that’s what you came there for in the first place, isn’t it?

            So don’t worry the next time you look for a cosmic connection and find static on the line.  It’s just the faerie queen telling you that you left the check for the phone bill on bathroom counter next to the unplugged curling iron.

See What You Have Missed??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moonrise at SunsetEven the Moon can fool you.

Dinner With the QueenHow far does your unpredictable meter go?

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

AND YET TO COME

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

Cosmic ChatterConnecting to the cosmos through life’s everyday static

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

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

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

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

Come! Join the Party!

Moonrise At Sunset

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst

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

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

This is the power of the unicorn.  It is the magical sensation that connects earth and sky, dreams and reality, kids and parents.  In this hazy-yet-authentic state, the world is a soft, mystical place, offering rewards and blessings at every turn.  Our children clean their room without being asked; the washing machine doesn’t screech when spinning; even the movie we choose to watch had one of those feel-good endings.

In the unicorn state the world holds unlimited possibilities. You could actually lose those ten pounds or finally clean off your desk, or even finally start reading that novel you bought five months ago.  You are still based in reality, but the remnant good feelings are enough to move you towards the light and find satisfaction in the simplest things.

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

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

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

By Friday your resolutions are out the window along with that novel you can’t choke down anymore, and your thoughts try to center, not on what has been, but what will be.  The weekend is coming; that means a thousand activities shoved into a mere 48 hours. 

It means going to visit your mom on the way to dropping off your kid at the mall, fighting the Saturday morning free-sample crowds at the grocery store, and coming home to an overanxious dog who just dumped the garbage all over the kitchen floor.  It is hoping the video store still has a copy of that brand new movie that everyone is talking about but you, and trying to decide whether to cook a gourmet meal or just throw sausages on the grill.

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

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

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

 And the unicorn part?

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

My Muse is an Irish Wench

            Everyone has a Muse in their life — a spirit guide, an angel, who nudges them forward; an invisible energy who inspires us to be something more than a slug on the couch watching TV or a potato chip-eating machine.  I have one friend who insists his guardian angel travels with him wherever he goes; I have another who contacts one spirit guide for meditation and a different one for balancing her checkbook.  I know one woman who never leaves home without St. Christopher, and a fellow writer who swears he consults Shakespeare’s ghost every time he gets stuck writing his novel.

            St. Christopher and Shakespeare are fine and dandy, but what do you do if your creative muse is an Irish Wench?  The stories of leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day are bad enough, with their drunken rowdiness and stealing of gold for their pot at the end of the rainbow and all that.  But what if your Muse turned out to be a woman with a heart as green as the Emerald Isle who hangs around with those drunken leprechauns?

            A Muse is supposed to be your inspiration, your guide, through whatever creative endeavor you undertake.  Venus inspired Michelangelo; Cleopatra inspired Marc Anthony, Athena inspired Odysseus. The original Muses were daughters of Zeus, who presided over the arts and sciences. It just so happens that my inspiration is a fiery Irish barmaid who comes complete with cleavage and clover.  She pops up at the most inopportune times, standing and dancing on my shoulder or steering wheel or computer, rattling off in thick Gaelic who knows what, hoping to jumpstart my creativity.  Dressed in her flowing gauze dress with the girdle that pushes up her breasts in the most obnoxious manner, my little sprite demands attention right then and there.  And I’d better stop and acknowledge her, or she will turn everything upside down.

            For instance, one of my favorite short stories popped into my head while I was at work.  The push to get this written came across loud and clear – write me now.  Couldn’t my Muse have at least waited until lunchtime to rattle off her idea?  I tried to stall my creativity until noon, but it only got worse.  I’m sure some of my creative metaphors got mixed up in whatever I was typing.  Or how about the time that one of my book’s most romantic interludes hit me right in the middle of my son’s soccer game? It was pretty hard to make mental notes when I was screaming encouragements to his high school team.   And what about the poem that hit me driving down the highway at 65 miles per hour?  Or the full-blown idea of a murder mystery that hit me while  I was mowing the lawn?

            I am all for inspiration.  Sunsets are wonderful inducements to creative arts, as are walks through the woods or lying on a sunny beach.  Classical music or mellow jazz or even mind-numbing hair band rock can fine-tune one’s creative edge as they sew, paint, crochet or design.  How can you sit still and concentrate when her Celtic jigs blast through every thread of your body, forcing you to bob your head along with the tempo or sing along with the oh-so-familiar lyrics at the top of your lungs?

            Don’t get me wrong – my little wench has brought me much pleasure through the years.  She has encouraged me to write some really intense interactions and deeply emotional poetry. Her Wild Irish Rose attitude inspires me to write out of the box, to reach deep inside for feelings and fears that normally don’t see the light of day, and to let those feelings influence my writing.

            But I have to admit her timing needs a little work.  Driving a car or typing numbers in a computer is not the most opportune time to become inspired.  I can’t be pulling over to the side of the road every other block or flipping the light on in the middle of the night just because she throws an idea towards me that I cannot resist. 

          I do appreciate her help ― I really do.  But I have to teach her to work on her impulsiveness.  There is a time and place for everything ― even inspiration.  Great ideas often have to ferment in one’s psyche before they become full blown masterpieces.  And there’s no doubt that you have your own muse dying to catch your attention.  All you need to do is listen.

            Now, if she could serve me one of those Irish brews as often as she jumped on my bandwagon…on second thought, maybe that’s not such a good idea.  If she served me beer as often as she demands attention, I’d be drunk before I started.

Even the Universe Chuckles

1 Even the Universe Chuckles What exactly is middle age? 

You always hear people talking about their “mid-life crisis”: how one particular panic attack or moment of decision changed the second half of their life.  But what if your perception of reality has become tilted over time?  Would you even notice it?  I know I share the sentiment of many who feel their cosmic clock ticking away, day after day, year after year, without as much as an apology from said clock for moving near the speed of light.  Some of us reached this level of maturity easily; others bumbled and stumbled our way here.  But all of us have filled our hearts and minds with experiences that made the journey worthwhile.

Humoring the Goddess: Managing the Madness Magic of Middle Age mingles a bit of magic with the madness that surrounds us as we ease away from the dreams of our 20’s to the realities of life past 40. Magic, you say? The older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that magic is nothing more than our point of view. Magic touches and guides us from within, a mixture of common sense, experience, and nonsense, taking us from dreams to reality and back again.  And since it doesn’t cost a thing, it can be tapped into over and over again.

Alrighty. We’ve chatted about middle age and magic. What about this blog? What can you expect from this corner of the universe?

Each week, Momentary Musings will bring you stories that twinkle with honesty, irony, and positive energy. There also will be Quimsical Quotations, witty words from some of the most fascinating minds in history; and Frivolous Facts and Falderal, useless bits of entertainment that have nothing to do with the world in general but keep you chuckling with the universe in particular. And believe me.  The universe chuckles.

Sometimes life twists and turns as if we’re traveling down some corkscrew highway.  We think we know where we’ve been, where we’re going.  Suddenly children and elves and family members come along and fracture whatever notions of normalcy we have.  What was simple suddenly becomes complex. We feel slower, chubbier, and denser than we ever have been before.  Other times we fly with the grace of a downhill skier.  We develop insight like Einstein and patience like Gandhi, making the circle of life complete once again.

Let me assure you, you are not alone in your misgivings about middle age, whether you are heading in that direction or already there. There is a thread of truth that rings through all my stories, a thread that connects us all with smiles and tears, sighs and adrenalin rushes. And hopefully you will come to understand that it’s okay to experience them all.

Enjoy your journey through Humoring the Goddess: Managing the Madness Magic of Middle Age.  Before you know it you’ll be humoring the Goddess yourself, no matter what your age.