Do It Today!

Working till noon today, then off we go to the North woods with the grand kids for a couple of days. Grandpa already has plans for the four of us to camp out in the living room and  play games and eat popcorn and watch dumb movies and stay up past 10:00 pm and sleep on whatever couch we find. There is fishing to do, grilled cheese to make, take the dog fetching in the lake — a full schedule before the parents get there.

It’s great life… One that is moving way too fast for me. I’m trying to take life one day at a time, But as you get older, one day feels like 12 hours, Not 24.

I try not to let that part get to me. But it always does.

I day dream a lot of things when I get away from my responsibilities. My day writing job has not turned out like I thought, some family and friends around me are not doing well, and I feel like it’s only a matter of time before a shoe drops on my head.

I have great plans for once I retire which is only a 112 days away. But you know Sagittarians…  we plan big and carry out average and end up small.

I still have the dream of Paris or Ireland. But that dreams on hold until I get this writing thing together. And as I work on starting a proof reading/editor business, my grand kids are starting soccer. One is 4, the other is 9, so that works out to 2 games every Saturday.

These games bring me back to when my own kids played soccer. Was it really so long ago? 10-15 years ago I sat on the sidelines watching the loves of my life run up-and-down the field. No matter what the weather, we were there. There was really no time to write back  then. Life was too busy being a mom.

But I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

Now their kids are starting out running across those same fields and no matter what the weather, there I am, sitting on the sideline, watching the loves of my life run up-and-down the field.

There’s not much time for writing these days either.

So what you must do — what we all must do — is take each day as it comes. Period. Plan if you can, laugh if you can’t.

For everything you do can bring you joy.

Get out of your mindset that it has to be this or that that makes your full heart beat. Do what you need to do, find time to do what you love to do, and hope that everything eventually comes out stuck together in one big happy giant ball.

I probably won’t see you till Sunday night in the gallery. But do me a favor.

Do something fun this weekend. Do something magical this weekend. Just reach out and grab that magic that’s right in front of you and make it yours.

Always drive home down A, B, C, D? Try driving home A, B, K, R, D. Take a view of your world you don’t often see. Always look at that same tree driving somewhere? Stop for a minute an take its picture. Write about it. Paint it. Pretend there’s a swing on it. Connect with it. Always eyeball that ice cream stand in the next town? Stop there! Get some ice cream! Big deal!

Do it alone, do it with someone. Put your face in the sunlight or the wind or the rain and just be there. Let go of self repercussions and self hated or frustrations and just go wherever the moment takes you. Forget about housework, looking for a new job, loosing those extra pounds.

Just take the moment and see what you see.

I know I’m going to.

Pillow fight in the living room!

Do You Suffer From Money Envy?

Oh, my friends, I am overwhelmed with feelings of envy.

Let me make this perfectly clear — I am very happy where I am. My husband, my grandkids, my own two kids. I couldn’t ask for more.

Yet here I am, asking for more.

I think I watch too many TV shows where there are actors making $20,000 an episode, the CEO of Ceasar’s Palace and the Vice President of Food and Beverage at Ceasar’s judging Hell’s Kitchen finalists, Gosford Park where the really rich do nothing but eat and languish while the servants have a world of their own, restaurants that serve exquisite meals that make unique appetizers at $30 a hit, people who vacation in Hawaii then the Alps then France and barely feel the breeze on their hair.

I am suffering from rich people envy.

I will never be in that world. Point blank. I will never have the money to stay at an exquisite resort in the Rockies or have a beach front apartment in Honolulu or have a cocktail at the top of the Eifel Tower. And in some realms that is okay.

I have taken the slow road through life. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, I have worked all my life in order to have a comfortable place to call home, send my kids to school, pay for their sports and their pizzas and some of their college. I tried starting my own business, which didn’t take off as I thought it would. So backwards the finances went, until I found a job at a catalog distributor.

I will never be able to take off for the weekend to New York City or dine at Guy Savoy’s in Caesar’s Palace. Most of those things don’t matter to most of us. And it doesn’t matter to me most of the time.

But now and then I feel a bit melancholy that I never became a money maker in life. That I never became a vice president or executive director of anything. I never became a famous author or consultant. I never have been able to live in the top third income bracket.

Yet I am okay where I am today.

Maybe it’s because the road in front of me is shorter than the road behind me, and you can’t change your past. I suppose if I were to do my life again I’d change a little bit here or there, but I would still go bowling with friends where I met my husband and driven my kids to school every day just so I could have a conversation with them.

Would you change any part of your life? Just a smidge?

Do you ever suffer from “money envy”?

Sometimes I’m ashamed that I envy the money life. Why be envious of a life you will never have? Your family never had? Would I trade anything I have today for that golden ring?

I think a lot of this insecurity comes because I’m almost old enough to retire, and my past was never on the money path. It’s easy to look back and think I should have done this or that and it would have made a difference.

But that’s not true.

I may not be an executive of a company, but I’ve worked hard and well in all my jobs, traveled to Cancun and Las Vegas with my husband, I go camping and on ski weekends and I’m blessed to have both of my kids in the same state. I may not vacation in the Bahamas but camping in Sturgeon Bay is just as rewarding.

I think we all suffer from money envy from time to time. It’s what we do with that envy that counts. Acknowledge it, thank it, and get on with your life. You can’t change your choices, so embrace the ones you’ve made.

You’ve made them for a reason.

Positive vs Negative Affirmations

comedyDo you ever get confused with all the positive affirmations floating around the Web?

Life being what it is, do you find it hard to reconcile your own confusing ups and downs with the positive verbiage that  continually pops up on your Facebook and Twitter and in your emails?

Beautiful thoughts build a beautiful soul.

The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.

Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion. 

Trust me. No one enjoys (or needs) positive vibes more than me. I like that when the rain clouds come (and there’s no accompanying thunder to rattle my soul) there are positive vibes out there that let me know that tomorrow’s another day.

But positive affirmations don’t help me feel better at the moment when I make mistakes at work or when I can’t get my hair to look more than a flat bathing cap or when I walk in the door and the dog has shred important paperwork.

It’s those times my mind wanders to those “other” affirmations that are more like the beginning of an anger management class.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

You know nothing, Jon Snow.

Eat my road grit, liver lips.

I mean, come on. Didn’t you secretly enjoy Chevy Chase kicking the crap out of the Santa and reindeer in Christmas Vacation? Didn’t you do a little huzzah when Rhett told Scarlet “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” All the wrongs of the day disappeared with one snarky word or movement.

Sometimes I plain like my negativity. Sometimes I enjoy the fantasy of punching out someone who has crossed the line too many times. Sometimes I love standing in the middle of the room and shouting the “F” word five times. We’re not psycho — we just need an instant relief from the stress of whatever. And that moment of fantasy lets the pressure out of our pressure cooker.

The trick is to let those negative flashes happen,  and then let them dissipate, our angst and frustration dissipating with them.

Like Captain Kirk in the Final Frontier.

Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!

I think that’s what life is all about. We are who we are from the highs and lows we’ve experienced. I do believe we need to take negative situations and get positive results from them. I don’t believe in living in the past, for we can’t change what has happened. But we can change where we go with that experience.

As you get older, your well of experiences goes deeper and deeper. You learn to let go of what you can’t change, and to make the world a better place from what you’ve learned. To protect others. To teach others not to make your mistakes. And, if they have made your mistakes, how to correct them quicker.

Life is one big cliche. And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Affirmations make the truth easier to swallow. Winter will bring snow, the sun will shine, and you will smile again.

It’s the circle of life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle
The circle of life

Oh geez — now I need a shower from that sugar bath —

Unicorns and 2015

Well, here it is, December 29th, 2015. Two more days/evenings until New Years Eve, three more days until we roll on over to a new year.

Soon our favorite bloggers will be writing beautiful prose and poetry about letting go of the old, embracing the new, Father Time, memories, love, sentimentality washing over us until we feel bad about feeling so good about feeling so sentimental.

What I want to do now (seeing as New Year’s Eve I’ll probably be playing Gauntlet (video game) with my kids, I’ll play my Tarot cards now.

Two of Pentacles.  My two grandsons came to live with me/us this Fall, the pentacles of love and childhood. Soon they will be off in their own house, but, I tell you, as much as I adore them, I understand why childbirth and childrearing is left to women under the age of 50.

Queen of Swords. I admit I’ve gotten sucked into Game of Thrones, including the hype and spoilers (after I’ve watched the episode). I raise my sword in salute of poisoning, White Walkers, the God of Many Faces, Sand Snakes, incest, dragons, wights, High Sparrows, and the Wall. A bit of mania wherever you look.

The Hermit. Can’t tell you how many times I just wanted to burrow into my bed and not come out until a week later. I take the role of Drama Queen seriously, you know.

Nine of Wands. This reflects the number of edits on my novel. The wand is the pen/typewriter, and the nine is the number of times I gave up and went to my Art Gallery instead. Next year is the year.

Wheel of Fortune.  Riding the highs and lows of work, I look forward to the days of getting snowed in. Oh darn. Car is stuck in the driveway. Let’s go back inside and write a blog.

Ace of Cups. Got my lack-of-sleep thing under control this year, cut back on some meds, and generally back on the middle-aged road to energy. The Ace of Cups toasts my clean mammogram. Did you get yours??

Two of Dreams. Not a real Tarot card, this card represents the continuation of my two favorite blogs. I love writing, I love unique art, I love magic and I love the shadows between the stars. I love my family, my music, my books, and my followers. And the blogs I follow. And sunrises. And warm summer breezes. And IrishFest in Milwaukee. And cats. and spaghetti. And chocolate.

Wait — that’s more than two dreams.

Hope you are thankful for more than two dreams, too!

 

 

When Is A Holiday Not A Holiday?

grandmaI am beginning to see for myself why older people act and think like they know so much. Why their opinions are so die hard. So know-it-all.

I’m getting to be that way, too.

Sometimes the world seems so stupid. I know that’s a demeaning statement; it’s not fair to the rest of the world who is struggling to make it (just like me). But it’s a blowing-off-steam statement as well. For how many useless things and actions thread through our personal tapestry every day that sidetrack us from getting what we really want?

You know I don’t mean the obvious roadblocks — we all deal with them as they come. I mean the events that can (and should) be avoided that are always haunting us.

Being an “older” sprite, I can see the futility of trying to change a person, of wanting to be a vice president with a high school education, of trying to visit the capitols of Europe on a retiree’s budget. I mean, if you could you would. But some things aren’t meant to be. But instead of accepting what you cannot change (that wonderful adage), people spend hours and days and years trying to do just that.

Maybe it’s just that the older I get, the more roads open up before me. There are lots of roads that are closed, buried in rubble or sunk under the sea. But it’s like the roots of a tree — more sprout out every day. And when I see my friends, my acquaintances, my new found peeps, spending all their tears and energy and lifeforce trying to make it “better”, I get ticked off. For I find beautiful flowers trying to push the boulder out of the way instead of growing around it.

Take Thanksgiving and Christmas, for instance. Big, emotional holidays filled with nostalgia, made-up memories, and TV propaganda. People get so wrapped up in “family” and “being together” for the holidays they lose common sense. Their hearts are broken because A had to work or B got the flu and couldn’t fly in. They dwell in the mist of “this may be XYZ‘s last Thanksgiving with us” or “Why can’t Christmas be like when I was a child?”

Don’t they know that every dinner is Thanksgiving? That every day you open your eyes, take a breath of air, and see the sunshine, is Christmas?

Why do we need a particular day to focus our energy on our friends, our family? A particular day to give gifts, to cook a turkey, or to go to church? A has to work? Get over it! Nurses, waitresses, truck drivers, TONS of people have to work on the days you lay back and sing Christmas carols. B‘s got the flu? Better to stay home and get better than bring the germs cross country to incubate in the stuffing.

The same thing is true about remembering birthdays, anniversaries, and other man-created important dates. Maybe I’m biased about remembering these things because my hubby barely remembers those actual dates.  I don’t get flowers or diamonds or fancy dinners on those exact dates. But I’ve got a hubby that’s stuck around for 33 years, and we squeeze in dinners and buy plants in the spring, and it somehow has always worked out.

I don’t judge my life by the rememberance of wedding anniversaries or Christmas presents. I judge it by the times I’ve been able to say “thanks” over a meal, or by the number of sunrises and sunsets we’ve been able to share. I know I’m too old to start a new 9-5 career, but not too old to develop my writing one. I’m too old to play the “if he/she loved me they would ____”  For if he/she really loved you, they would. Period. It could just be that, for some reason, they cannot. And so it is.

I don’t think I’m a hard realist as much as I am an experienced dreamer. I have had dreams shattered, plans never come to fruition, loves lost. As I look through the tunnel backwards, I see how I could have turned a lot of keys sooner. How I wasted years angsting on things I couldn’t change. Things that didn’t matter.

Perhaps that’s what the older generation sees. They wonder why we worry about getting together on the holidays and worry about getting together tomorrow.

And that makes a whole lot more sense to me.

 

Ahhhhhhhhh….

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

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

Lots of kids.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Chance

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

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

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

I’m a grandmother for the second time.

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

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

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

It was welcoming another being into the world.

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

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

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

Growing Corn

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

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

CAM01635

 

Spring? What is That?

CAM01111 (1)Dare I whisper — Spring is (almost) here in Wisconsin!

With my luck, a snowstorm of epic proportions will fall on me for saying that, but what-the-hey — I think the medicinal qualities of semi-warm air is worth the test of a last, lone snowstorm.

I’ve been reading blogs and Facebook entries saying that Spring has already popped in some Southern venues. I’ve seen pictures of flowers and birds all around the Net. Well, I can tell mine is coming, too, for it’s Mud City outside my front door.

People in Wisconsin don’t have the same kind of Springs that other people have. Oh, we have flowers peeking up through the ground and birds singing their little hearts out…but we also have grills popping with bratwurst and people shopping in their shorts and sweatshirts.

My grandson and I practiced our first “don’t tell mom” episode over the weekend…he was riding his Hot Wheels down the hill/driveway, trying to make a sharp right turn at the bottom. There was only one tip-over in the mudsnow…he was getting the hang of it. Alas, he couldn’t continue down the straight part and turn left and downhill to splash in the huge puddle in the middle of the driveway, for he couldn’t get enough traction to speed through the mud.

That will come next week.

Why do we do such wild things the first day the sun shines and we don’t have to wear gloves? We wear a sweater instead of a coat, seeing as even though it’s 29 degrees in the morning it will be 48 by the time we get out of work. 48 degrees. That’s Popsicle weather for most folks. We drive with our windows down, turning on the heat only out of necessity. We sing Beach Boys and Bon Jovi songs at the top of our lungs, the cool…er, cold… wind barely tossing our hair. (It is fresh air, you see..) The snow isn’t even melted yet and yet we’re planning barbeques, Fests, and trips to the zoo. We are eating more fruit and veggies, hoping to take a pound or two off before we put on that bathing suit, and cleaning and oiling our lawnmowers — just in case.

I’m sure every area has its quirks when it comes to Springtime. Most of us have woken up in the dark and come home from work in the dark for so long that any ray of sunshine is a ray of hope for humanity. So any ritual to bring Gaia to her feet is welcome.

I think part of it is that we are celebrating another year of life. Another year of being alive. Another chance to make it right. When I drive with the windows open and smell Mother Nature’s scent, I thank Her for allowing me one more year of puddles and flowers, of sunsets and crickets, of bonfires and marshmallows.

So the second you sense Spring in the air, GO FOR IT! Walk out on the porch in your underwear or ride your motorcycle or go buy bulbs and seeds or bring out the barbie and cue something juicy. Embrace the change of seasons — and of life. And just say thanks. Again.

After all, you never know if they’ll have grills and brats in heaven…

Have A Holly Jolly Whatever!

charlie fly trapThe Holidays are finally upon us!

I think I will take a cue from some of my fellow bloggers and take some time off. Time for myself, time for my family. I’m more of a guest this Christmas than a Hostess, which is just fine with me. I want a few days to spoil my kids, my grandkid, my family and my friends. And in my generosity I will be spoiling myself.

So one thought, one piece of advice this Holiday Season. Christmas is only another day. A number on the calendar. A bulls-eye on  the dartboard. It is what’s in your heart that makes it special. It is the (arbitrary) birth date of Our Lord. It’s the imagination of Santa Claus. It’s the Elf on the Shelf and Hanukkah.

But it’s just another day. Don’t let the sadness of not being “with” someone or “celebrating” the right way get in the way of living your life. Celebrate Christmas every day. Find the light of God, the Goddess, Buddha, in your heart. Not someplace “out there.” Be thankful every day. Let the magic of the season stick with you long after the tree is down and the garland is packed away.

Your life will be fuller because of it. And we all love to be full, don’t we?

 

8 Reasons to Dissect Your Birthday

 

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

~~Dylan Thomas

 

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

It also was my birthday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here we go again….

TunnelVision

xListening to some mellow middle-of-the-road music yesterday, I began feeling a little melancholy.  A little sad. But not for the reasons you — or I — would first think. A few fellow employees have retired these past few days, and I find that I’m saying goodbye, not to those who are moving into the glorious sunset of the future, but to my own last days before into that same glorious sunset.

The retiring of two more “oldies” was an inevitable step towards the future. The changing of the guard, so to speak. Stepping out the door were two more of the microfiche and typewriter world, making room for the tablet and Bluetooth generation.  And while that is the natural order of things, I found my dreams of being someone, something, more, walking out the door with them. And I didn’t like that feeling.

The working world is built for the fast, the curious, the nimble. It moves too fast for those who grew up on record players and black and white TVs. The harder I try and keep up, the further behind I fall. Which is also the nature of things.  But when I looked at the picture poster boards of those who have left, I saw young workers, bright workers, working and laughing and making the working world a better place. Forty years worth of working and laughing and making the working world a better place. And suddenly those 40 years were gone in a heartbeat; a glance backwards to that ever-growing tunnel of used-to-be.

Through their 40 years I see my own timeline. I see flashes of my kids playing soccer, or sitting on Santa’s lap, or singing in the grade school choir. I see my first job as a linofilm typist and my most exciting job working in downtown Chicago and my failed job as a bed and breakfast owner. And as the retirees walk away from the only life they’ve known for 30 or 40 years, I wonder where my own past 30 or 40 years have gone.

In the melancholy of the last few days of their structured work place, I find a lifetime’s worth of struggle and passion disappearing in a puff of smoke, replaced for a moment by a cake with too-sweet frosting and a card signed by well wishers. How can one’s life achievements be reduced to a single goodbye? To a “thanks for the memories” speech?

I want to stand in the middle of the street and scream, “I am so much more!”

Yet looking backwards it seems I never got a chance to prove it. The fog obscures my vision, 20 or 30 or 40 years looking the same as 2 or 4 or 6 months ago. The mistakes I’ve made, the choices I’ve made, may have brought me to this place, but so would other mistakes, other choices. Life is really a game of craps, throwing the dice a symbol of pretending to have a say in anything. We are our DNA; we are our chemical imbalances and out superstar achievements. So we have to work with what we’ve got.

The tears that stung and blurred my eyes were not so much for the old guard passing as they were for my own life passing. Wondering if all there is to life is 40 years and a super sweet cake. Guess I’ll just have to wait until my own super sweet cake comes along to see how I weather the foggy storm of retirement.

Suddenly the music changed. Kick Start My Heart. I cranked it up.  And all I wanted to do was smush that retirement cake into someone’s face.

Damn, I love being me.

 

 

Crone is So Much More Than a Word

cm07cover1aI just finished tooting my horn about my mammo (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-GG) and here I am, tooting my horn again. Directly, not indirectly. But it’s rare I get to toot about my second love (my first being family)…writing.

I have had the honor of being published in a delightful twice-yearly publication entitled, Crone: Women Coming of Age. It is a wonderful publication that that honors our deep wisdom as eldering women. Hand in hand with Humoring the Goddess, Crone celebrates women as they — we — get older, honing in on our experience, our heart, and our spirit.

The article is called, “We Need a New Name for Crone.”  It’s an upbeat piece about choosing our life’s direction, and the balancing of both the past and the future.

Open to women of all spiritual paths, Crone is a richly-illustrated, advertising-free 128-page magazine published twice yearly in both paper and PDF eZine formats and available by subscription only. It is filled with stories from women of all walks of life, all looking for their own path towards the future.

No one describes its purpose better than Crone itself:

“Our magazine exists to spread the message of Crone: that we need not lose value over time, indeed, that when we assume the mantle of crone, we gain value—both inside ourselves and in the larger world. For when we truly learn from experience, our perspective on life deepens and broadens; and our hearts, having known both suffering and forgiveness open in compassion for all of life.”

If you want to see what the world of life and spirit is like on the other side of 50, you will really enjoy a subscription to Crone.

You can find more information at http://www.bbmedia.com or http://www.cronemagazine.com.

Let’s hear it for getting older!

Did you Mammo?

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

But an important blog.

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

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

And I am CANCER FREE.

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

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

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

Sundy Evening Art Gallery — Trees

The beauty of Fall brings trees into the spotlight. The glory of golds and reds and browns dazzle the eye and the heart. But there are other incredible sights that we call trees.

amazing_tree2

The poet Leonora Speyer says:

The trees are God’s great alphabet:
With them He writes in shining green
Across the world His thoughts serene.

 
amazing_tree11

And so the usual becomes unusual. Or is it the other way around?

most_unusual_trees_38

Never underestimate the beauty of nature. She will fool you every time.  She doesn’t need golds and yellows and reds to be breathtaking.

socotra_dragon_tree

A step back into time, or a step forward — these magnificent entities will be here long after you and I are merely memories.

amazing trees image (4)

 

 

Sunlight, Rain, Shadows. They forever endure.

 

amazing_tree13

 

 

Of course, Joyce Kilmer said it best:

 

amazing_tree6 (1)

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Fireworks

fireworks

 

Of all the things I shall miss

When I close my eyes for the last time

Husband, children, friends

Laughter and tears

Hugs and kisses

The thing I shall miss most

Are fireworks.

 

Sparkling flowers against a midnight hue

Their splendor reminds me of life

A hundred thousand crystals

Shimmering for one brief moment

Blinding the eye, filling the soul

Symmetrical and perfect

Against the dark blue sky

 

Vibrant sensations fill the warm air

Glittering spiders fade slowly

Leaving a faint trail of memory behind

Reminders of thoughts and desires

Once strong and true

Now nothing more than

Whispers of long ago

 

The beauty of life is reflected

In the spectrum of colors

That dance above my head

The reds are love, the greens are breath

The blues and ambers and silvers

Glittering aspects of a life well lived

That slowly melt with time

 

The glory of fireworks

Dissipates as quickly as they explode

Reflections of life on this earth

Symbols of how quickly it begins

How swiftly it ends

A flicker in the night

A moment soon forgotten

 

Of all the things I shall miss

When I close my eyes for the last time

Husband, children, friends

Laughter and tears, hugs and kisses

The thing I shall miss most

Are the fireworks

Of the existence I once knew

 

 

Shall We Dance?

13847189383851383937701220Life has been in transition lately. Good, mediocre, up, down, cloudy, grey, with a hint of sunshine now and then. Spring in Wisconsin. But I have to tell you, I’m so glad I’m here to be good, mediocre, up, down, cloudy, and grey with a hint of sunshine.

For about six months ago I took a tumble unlike anything I have ever experienced. I am here to tell  you that I’m alive and well. As for the story…it was one of those things that could happen to anyone. A slick spot, a little curve, and before you know it you’re tumbling down the embankment on the side of the road. How instantly your life can change…in a flash, in one long, drawn out moment.

There is no doubt a faerie’s touch saved my derriere that morning. Driving one way, sliding, turning around, and double tumbling down the little slope took less than  30 seconds. The memories of that moment in time are fuzzy now…all I remember is thinking, “I’m rolling. Okay. I’m rolling over.” There was no panic; no real fear. I think I was too stupid to realize how dangerous the moment really was. When I stopped rolling, landing on the tires, all I could think  was, “My husband is going to kill me.”

Funny what thoughts come across your mind when you’re probably in shock and don’t know it.

My husband was neither mad nor murderous. It wasn’t until I had the car towed home that I realized what I was had done  was dance with the devil. I literally walked away from disaster. From paralysis and  death and worse. Afterwards people told me stories of some who weren’t so lucky. I don’t know if they meant to make me feel better or not.

Funny what thoughts come across other’s minds when they don’t know what to say.

My life has not drastically changed since that dance, but every morning I say an extra thank you prayer. I call my kids and grandbaby more often. I always say something nice to someone — to their face, not behind their back. I know what’s important in my life. And I strive to be a better person. To my family, to my friends, and especially to myself. I smell the roses and and the green grass and keep an eye on the sunrise and the sunset.

And I take a leap of faith and think that I was saved for a bigger purpose in life. Like keeping us all entertained.

Shall we dance?

 

 

You Bowl Me Over

bowlingLet’s start this out with the truth. I suck at bowling. Let’s finish this up with the truth. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is the crazy fun you can have with people you don’t fully know.

No one can know any one 100%. Fact of life. Who knows what’s in the minds of your significant other, your great kid, your best friend. Heck, you don’t even know YOU as much as you think. Having said that, think about how many “others” you come in contact with every day. If you work outside the house, if you have kids that go to school, you always find someone you can share small talk with. Sometimes the small talk grows into comfortable talk. Sometimes the comfortable talk tumbles into good friend talk.  But no matter where you allow the friendship to go, there is always something good to come from it.

Some people will tell you their life story in 10 minutes. Others will hold secrets as long as you know them. That’s a fact of life, too. As long as you don’t demand more (or less) from these “others” you might find real people that you enjoy being around.

I’ve been blessed in my life with a great husband, great kids, and great friends. It hasn’t always been this way. These days we laugh that wherever there’s an “A” (my last name initial), there is drama. Cancer. Passing On. Water damage from a broken faucet while your house is up for sale. It can be a big thing, it can be a small thing. But it’s always SOMEthing. That’s why you need to find friendship, a good time, whenever you can. A few fun hours can clear your thoughts, move you forward.

Back to sucking at bowling. I went to the company outing Saturday, doing my best to throw a ball down the alley, mostly winding up with gutter balls and single digit pins. To think I met my husband at a bowling alley 35 years ago was a flash down an alley I barely remember (no pun intended).

But what didn’t suck was that I had fun with people that I see in a totally different environment 40 hours a week. A single mother, a married mother of one, and a single would-make-a-great-mother, all made bowling and friendship such an easy thing. During the week we all sit tied to our desks, way over our heads in work, barely sharing tales of what we did yesterday, no less what we did years ago. Yet these are people that I see day in and day out. People who accept me for what they see. People who don’t judge me for past mistakes or slights or wrong turns. There’s no way we could know each other’s upside down lives, yet we are drawn by the common need for friendship and understanding that their “upside down” lives looks hauntingly familiar.

People don’t need to be a full-time member of your personal entourage to be your friend. While you don’t have to share intimate details, you can share the best part of yourself with others who need it. An ear to listen, advice from experience — it doesn’t matter. I learn from those who have walked my path as well as those who are walking across the field somewhere. Laughing over the little things, like bowling, makes the rest of life easier. It won’t cure the disease or a broken heart or unemployment, but it will let you know you’re not alone in the wilderness.

Now…if someone could just teach me how to bowl…

They Are The Same

leafhouseAfter spending a great weekend with women from both sides of the family, I am a firm believer that family can be friends, and friends can be family. After all is said and done, they are the same.

We all have had our share of pain and loss, of growth and stagnation. But we found a bond over a pedicure and lunch that will keep us connected as long as we breathe.

Get to it! Go out and bring your family and friends together.  Just make a date and do it. It doesn’t matter where — bring those hearts and souls together.

Don’t wait. You don’t have as many chances as you think.

A Little More Sprinkles

buddiesI am getting ready for a Celebration of Life this Friday for my younger brother whom I lost to the “big C” recently. The Grim Reaper has always been around us — me — it just seems the older I get the closer his scythe is getting to me. To have a younger brother cut down quickly by something no one knew he had is just one more wake-up call. Not that I’m not awake — I have treaded on thin ice a couple of times the last few years, and I realize that if I don’t pay more attention (well, even if I do), that that scythe can sneak up on me, too.

I wrote this blog a couple of years ago after the “Big C”. I think it’s an appropriate thing to repost this week. Pay attention, my friends. To your body, your mind, and your soul.

A Little More Sprinkles

The past few weeks have been the bottom of the roller coaster ride for me. After a bit of a medical drama, I am well, back into whatever groove middle aged women get into, trying to build my energy back up to see what trouble I can get into. How much trouble can a goddess like me get into? We won’t go into past details, but there have been times in the past that I have stepped over that preverbal line, most times with no consequences, other times being dutifully chastised and set back upon the straight and narrow.

The funny thing about my misadventures is that, in the eyes of the world (especially to those under 40), the things that I’ve gotten in trouble for are powdered sugar compared to what others have done. I have never hung with the “wild” crowd, never gotten arrested, reprimanded by principals, or been asked to leave.  I’ve led a pretty vanilla life and stayed fairly happy and clean cut. I try not to compare my life, my ups and downs, with others. For, as you know, you will always be overblessed in one way and underblessed in another.  My dirty laundry is someone else’s humorous fluff.

Going in and out of the hospital changes your perspective on a lot of things. Suddenly losing those last few pounds doesn’t seem so important. Or finally losing weight to get healthy rises to the top of your list. Your family becomes a priority, along with your health, your pets, and your pastimes. You sit and wonder why you’ve wasted so much time setting unrealistic goals and then were so hard on yourself when you didn’t achieve them. Your desires and your timelines seemed to have gotten crisscrossed, a Celtic design that has no beginning or no end. You will do A as soon as you accomplish B. You will buy outfit C as soon as you lose D pounds. You’ll go visit someone as soon as you (fill in the blank).

I know you’ve heard this story a thousand times a thousand different ways. Don’t wait until trauma and tragedy arrive at your doorstep before you learn to live your life.  Well, what do you do if that dynamic duo arrives at your door and you’ve already been living your life? Are you supposed to go further off the deep end? Are you supposed to  throw away the restraints of society and be a wild and free sprite?

I was lucky, not only to have a good prognosis, but to have wild and fun things to come back to. Our Polish Sausage Making Party has been going on for 14 years, an annual madhouse that seems to be growing every year. I had a laptop, waiting for me to create another fantasy, another out-of-the-box story. I have kids to bug and a grandson to spoil and friends to compare drinking stories with.  I have a room full of second-hand books waiting to be read, sweaters that need sparkles sewn on them, and sushi that  needs to be shared with girlfriends.

I decided long ago that I was tired of being on the outside looking in. I was tired of being vanilla in a rainbow world. I’ve always respected my bosses and the law, always been polite (sometimes to the point of nausea), and given money to charity or to my kids (sometimes the same thing). But I also found out that if you want something in  your life, you need to be the one to go for it. You can’t wait for those things to come to you. That goes for friends, restaurant reservations, and health issues. Sometimes “going for it” makes you a little more aggressive than you usually are. Succeeding at “going for it” makes you feel stronger and smarter.  It makes you raise your own bar a notch or two higher. And you have yourself to thank for it.

Going through a health predicament only reinforced the importance of finding out who I am and what I want in life. That what I wanted in my life is nothing more or less than anyone else wants. I just make sure I made lemonade every time I can. I make a point of getting together with friends often, and family birthdays become family reunions a  dozen times a year. I don’t want life to pass me by and at the end be filled with thoughts of why I didn’t do this or that.

You are never going to be rich enough, thin enough, smart enough, for A to really ever meet B. So take the victories you make along the way and celebrate them. Don’t spend days and months and years waiting for the “payoff.”  The payoff is here and now. If you pass up picnics on the beach with the family because you want to lose weight first, you’ve done nothing but miss a great picnic. If you wait until your kids are in college to go away for the weekend you’ll never get away, for most of the time they come back to haunt you. Turning down an invitation to walk through a festival with family members because you need to clean your house does nothing but toss another fun time into the twilight zone.

There is always room in your life for adventure. To cross some lines. To speak up. To stand up.  There’s always time for you to change your direction, your health, your dreams.  To be proactive. Not inactive. If the jester hat fits you, wear it! If bling is your thing, bling!  Always wanted to try and cook Thai? Go for it ― even if you’re the only  one who will eat it. Don’t wait for someone else to initiate a pizza night or drinks after work ― call, plan, and do it. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to “take their turn.”

This is the only turn you’re going to get. Don’t let anyone else take your turn for you. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla, but just think of how much better it is with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

And me?  I think I’ll try rainbow sherbet with multi-colored sprinkles. Can’t get enough of that color thing…

Between a Rock and a Pretty Place

This has been one of those weeks that I would rather soon forget. I lost a loved family member, anheadd another lost their job. And so life goes twinkling and spinning on. I suppose things like this have always gone on at one time or another in my life; it’s just that it seems so much more common — and real — now that I’m older. As you get older you get less chances to make amends, to find new jobs, to see the world. It’s not that you’ve been bad or good, if you’ve tithed at church or stolen from the Salvation Army bucket. Life is going to tumble on however it will, and you just have to go along for the ride.

I had hoped not to make this blog the recipient of my shadows and blue thoughts. No one can be happy all the time; no one can be sad all the time, either. So to keep my perspective and keep looking towards the horizon, I do what I love. Write. Or, as in this case, share a couple of pictures I’ve kept from my wanderings on the Net. One of my favorite blogs is lead.learn.live.  http://davidkanigan.com/ The reason I smile at this blog is because often he just posts pictures. Pictures that are sweet or sentimental or mystifying or just plain neat. And that is what I need this eve.  So for your pleasure — and mine — have a peek at the unusual.

Love you guys.

water girl

weird cloth

eggs

drops

Take A Picture — It Will Last Longer

cameraI’ve been having a thing for photography lately. I am a writer by heart, but my recently-discovered ADD (my own diagnosis) has opened a number of other doors of possibilities. I had some half-idea of starting a second blog, maybe under my name, maybe not, that would pretzel together faerie hiding places, scenic photography, and sprinkles of poetry, quotations, and philosophy. It’s still a crysalis, waiting to butterfly, but it’s just another road that I want to drive down. Even if it’s a dead end. I don’t have a fancy camera; the camera on my phone is about the best I can do.  I try and capture the magic of the wild, of places where  faeries might hide, and all that.

This photography thing is kinda getting out of hand, though. Last week I did a double-role dance with my SUV (I survived, and am fine). Landed on the tires. My phone, IPod, and various things had flown out the shattered window, leaving me dazed and photoless. Once I came to my wits and found that I was indeed alive, not bleeding, nothing broken or missing, a passerby called 911 and the possey came to the rescue. Someone found my phone and I called hubby who in turn called son, and both personal calvary came to the rescue, along with the county Sheriff and local EMTs. My doors were crushed in, so I had to have one pryed off so I could make a graceful exit to the ambulance.

So what does this have to do with my story? Well, seeing as I was no more off center than usual, as the sheriff and others talked to me, I was handing my phone to my son, saying, “Take pictures! Take pictures!” Of what, praytell? My crooked view of the sky? Of men in yellow jackets? Of a SUV that had seen better days?

The seeds of creativity are planted deep. They sprout helter skelter, like in a wild field. You never know when creativity will rear its sassy head. Sitting in the passenger side, waiting for them to kindly open my crushed-in door, I’m more interested in taking pictures of the moment, than wondering if I’ve got a concussion or a broken leg. I’m surprised I didn’t pull out a spiral notebook from my bag and start writing a poem or something.

I’m sure if I were more seriously injured there would be no room for levity. I’m not making fun of being in an accident; I’m speaking about our survival instinct. When the  immediate danger passes, humans tend to find release in the oddest ways. It must be because we’ve cheated tragedy, and find the closest outlet we can to vent the madness that just passed. Those who have passed the scythe often react in upside down ways. Some take up a dangerous pasttime, some laugh and get dizzy; some swallow the seriousness of it all and become morose and fearful. And the older you get, the more upside your reaction can be.

I don’t think I wanted to take pictures to add to the faerie blog. On the contrary, there was not much to take pictures of — crunched SUV, yellow-jacketed EMTs, worried family members. Maybe it was just that I wanted to remember the moment I cheated death. I mean, no one cheats it in the long run, but I was able to close its door for now. See ya. Don’t want to be ya. Don’t want anything to do with ya.

Adversity rears its ugly head all the time. Cancer, diabetes, estranged children, divorce, all stand at the doorstep, waiting — or more like forcing — their way in. We can vitamin, we can exercise, we can love or hate or not care either way. That doesn’t stop our cars from crashing or our companies downsizing. We can be caught off guard at any time.

So why not let the creative vine wrap around you and become a part of who you are? Don’t ask why a moment calls for a poem or an ink sketch. Don’t worry about the “when” of the muse — just be aware that he/she appears at both opportune and inopportune times.  The close call I had with tomorrowland reminded me just what was important … what was worth living for. Grandchildren. Sunsets. Chilly fall breezes. Birds singing and cats climbing on my lap. Chocolate and sappy movies and rock and roll. Makeup parties and sleepovers and writing contests.

You have your own reasons to fight off that nasty scythe. Fight it off with off with all your might. Fight it with your creativity.

You never know when you’ll be in a photographic moment.

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.

 

And A Good Time Was Had By All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wind of Change

2It starts slow, soft, like a kitten’s breath. In the distance, barely noticeable. Soon it gathers momentum, tumbling over cornfields, ruffling the trees in city parks, bumbling around skyscrapers. You sense it before you feel it. Before you understand it.

The Wind of Change.

You don’t always know where the wind comes from, or, as often, why. Perhaps it’s triggered by a thought, a conversation, a color or a moment. But it’s a familiar sensation, a fresh scent. One you’ve felt before.

And you know this Wind of Change is coming for You.

This is not a foreboding wind; dark things don’t bother to ride the wind.  No…it’s a good sign. An encouraging sign. Maybe it’s whispering that you’re finally pregnant. Or that you’re going to finally lose 10 pounds or 50 pounds. Or that your financial future is about to change. Or that you are about to change.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t darkness trying to stop your growth; most likely you won’t win the lottery tomorrow or make up for years of abuse in a whiff of a moment.

Maybe the soft breeze is your signal to find your dream, to find your purpose in life. To move on. You know — that dream/purpose/growth that’s always with you, afraid to come out and see the light for fear of getting burned.  Perhaps the wind is telling you that things are really all right out here.

The Winds of Change can start small and stay small. Not  every breeze that comes and goes rocks your world. Perhaps the change will be as small as starting to say hi to people you don’t know. Maybe it’s starting to clean the dead debris off your houseplants. Maybe it’s looking into the mirror and once a day say, “You’re okay by me.”

When the wind blows your way, you taste the sweetness of the future, the positive vibrations of change. It’s not meant to be an overhaul…it’s meant to be a tinkle. A tingle. A psychic note that something is coming.

My wind has been tinkling my chimes for about a week now. Maybe it’s the anticipation of cutting and coloring my hair, or getting away for a week to our family cabin. Maybe I’ll get lost in a new story or discover a long forgotten gem.  Whatever it is, I know it’s going to be a welcome change.

Don’t hesitate to blow your own wind of change.

This song seems to haunt my blog today…I hope you like it too….thank the Scorpions…

 

Digging Around

dachshund-digging-5449136_sDigging around for some of my blasts from the past? Dig no more!  Here are a few fun ones you might have missed…

 

 

 

 

doll Chatty Cathy  Chit Chattin’ Chatty Cathy

https://humoringthegoddess.com/012/06/06/chit-chattin-chatty-cathy/

I subscribe to a few blogs where the author has broken out of their silent shell, finally finding a voice that is sparkling and true.  It’s not easy sharing something as personal as one’s self ― especially if that “self” has been suppressed for longer than one can imagine. I appreciate their efforts to finally let the world know who they are.

I, on the other hand, suffer from Italktoomuchitis.

 

pig_toy_pigletBuh Buh  Buh Blues

 https://humoringthegoddess.com/2012/02/15/the-buh-buh-buh-blues/

(Base guitar)

da da da thump…

Don’t wanna write ‘cuz there’s no light…

da a da thump…

Don’t wanna sing or work on my bling…

da a da thump…

Don’t wanna jog in my new tennis shoes…

(Loud and bluesy)

Don’t wanna do nuthin’ cuz I got the blues….

I’ve got the (loud) no-sunshine, no-energy, don’t give a whack ‘bout nuthin’ wintery bluuuueeesss..

.

4 Feng Shui Inside the Cubicle 1  Feng Shui in the Cubicle

https://humoringthegoddess.com/2011/05/04/feng-shui-in-the-cubicle/

One day I was sitting at my desk at work, green computer screen glowing, honky-tonk music spurting out from a speaker not far above my head, trying to concentrate on a long list of numbers that needed to be entered into the computer, glancing at pages waiting to be proofread and images to be downloaded, when a word drifted across my consciousness – Feng Shui.

38 Dinner with the Queen   Dinner With the Queen

https://humoringthegoddess.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?

51 On Base of Bony Orbit  On Base of Bony Orbit

https://humoringthegoddess.com/2011/11/08/on-base-of-bony-orbit/

When not being busy as a Goddess Gypsy Irish/Polish Writing Queen (I’m not really sure what that is…), I also spend 40 hours a week working on catalogs. I enter data, order images and copy, and proofread everything from the original description to the final glossy prepress page. One of my catalogs is dedicated to health care. Besides pages being filled with replicas of every body part (inside or outside) you can imagine, I also come across some extraordinary vocabulary.

 

41 Merlot at the Lake HouseMerlot 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 again. Are you what you watch? Are you big enough to admit that you are what you watch?

`

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

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst

Now that the last of Indian Summer has made its way to the teepee, I find myself losing energy and creativity. Maybe it’s the lull between seasons, between holidays. I haven’t even thought about Christmas, even though its a mere 40 days away; I have to get ready to deal with the big 6-0 and the desire to throw my own party (I don’t trust the rest of my family); and work is pure madness.  (Black Friday has never seen the likes of my desk…)

Some of you have been with me from the very beginning — I love ya’all for it.  For those newcomers who are too busy to rummage through my past ditties, I’m pulling one out of the preverbal hat.  It kind of reflects my mindset these days.
THE IMPORTANCE of UNICORNS and BRATWURST

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

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

This is the power of the unicorn.  It is the magical sensation that connects earth and sky, dreams and reality, kids and parents.  In this hazy-yet-authentic state, the world is a soft, mystical place, offering rewards and blessings at every turn.  Our children clean their room without being asked; the washing machine doesn’t screech when spinning; even the movie we choose to watch had one of those feel-good endings.  In the unicorn state the world holds unlimited possibilities. You could actually lose those ten pounds or finally clean off your desk, or even finally start reading that novel you bought five months ago.  You are still based in reality, but the remnant good feelings are enough to move you towards the light and find satisfaction in the simplest things.

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

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

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

By Friday your resolutions are out the window along with that novel you can’t choke down anymore, and your thoughts try to center, not on what has been, but what will be.  The weekend is coming; that means a thousand activities shoved into a mere 48 hours.  It means going to visit your mom on the way to dropping off your kid at the mall, fighting the Saturday morning free-sample crowds at the grocery store, and coming home to an overanxious dog who just dumped the garbage all over the kitchen floor.  It is hoping the video store still has a copy of that brand new movie that everyone is talking about but you, and trying to decide whether to cook a gourmet meal or just throw sausages on the grill.

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

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

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

And the unicorn part?

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

Dancing in a Too-Tight Tutu

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.”

This psychic phenomenon is not limited to girls sharing drinking stories. This magical phrase echoes around us all the time.  My husband and I spent one glorious day working outside. The air was cool, the dogs well-behaved, and we planted flowers in pots and mowed the lawn and fixed broken things and worked in the yard a little. Maybe more than just a little, for the next morning we both woke up, joints stiff, hands scratched, and twinges in the small of our back, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

Just think of how many times you have said this. In fun and in fear.  A mother with a house full of 10-year-old girls staying overnight, giggling and talking till wee hours of the morning; college kids downstairs, friends over, drinking beer and playing cards, getting louder and rowdier with each hand; babysitting more than one of anything younger than five. You’re trying to be nice. You’re trying to be patient. But hours into the melee you think, “I’m too old for this.”

As I always like to point out, age is in your point of view.  When the ladies shared their drinking stories, I wanted to stand and cheer.  There were late 30s mingling with mid 40s mingling with late 50s. One has a 10-year-old, one has two in high school, I have one in college and one married.  Yet all three of us unconsciously slipped back into our early 20s, losing track of time and responsibilities and all the trimmings that go with it, at least for an hour or two. Were we trying to recapture our youth? Were we silly old goats   trying to dance the dance of the sprite in a tutu that was too tight? Or were we just human beings who never forgot how to have fun?

By now we all know that life is what you make of it. Jobs and kids and finances and health problems plague us all. Some can pick up and make a clean slate of everything; others have to muddle through the chaos and hope they squeeze out the other side sane. So when they say laughter is the best medicine, it really is. Sharing stories, playing games, dancing and prancing and acting silly all are ways to exorcise the demons we create for ourselves. I’m too fat. I’m too dumb. I’m tired of my job. I’m tired of my mother. I’m tired of being a mother. All tinny squeaks in our ear that cause us to over-analyze, over-react, and over emote. All of which get us nowhere in the end.

So what’s wrong with not acting our age? What is our age, anyway? If judged by our bodies, it might be ancient. If judged by our responsibilities it might be grown up. If judged by our dreams, it might be juvenile. Somehow there has to be a way to unite all sides of ourselves into one happy camper. So why not let go of those inhibitions once in a while? Why not drop the fear of embarrassing yourself (or others) and laugh with others? It’s not like you haven’t been embarrassed before, or never will be again. But you would be amazed the different feeling you get when you are a part of the joke, not a victim of it.

The great thing about taking chances like these, and saying “I’m too old for this” is that you find you are really not too old for anything. Alright – maybe bungee jumping or running in a marathon when you’re not a runner are contenders for never again. But even those occurrences show that you were not too old to at least try them.  The obvious choices are usually general ones: take a class about something you always wanted to know about; start walking around the block at night so you can walk in the annual Relay for Life; buy yourself a journal (or a laptop) and start recording those thoughts you thought you’d never get out of your system. Volunteer at a shelter or sanctuary and make friends with the animals.

Not up to all that work? How about wearing a color you’ve never worn before? Are you a meat and potatoes kinda dresser? Add a piece of bling to your wardrobe. Take a chance on bringing extra attention to yourself. You will be amazed at how many people notice ― and how many like the “new you.” Go to a concert and sing the lyrics at the top of your lungs. Dance like a crazy person in front of the speakers to your favorite music.

Oh sure, you say. You go dance in front of the speakers…you wear the bling. You wear the tutu that’s too tight.  I hate to admit it, but I already do. And I can’t tell you how scary and liberating it is.  And, even if I pull a muscle dancing the “hoochi coo”, it’s a great feeling to know that no one will ever forget the sight of me “hoochi cooing” in a too-tight tutu.

Especially with a glass of wine in my hand.

©2012 Claudia Anderson

I Can’t Believe I Believed That

Urban legends are as old as Medusa turning those who look at her to stone — old as dirt.  The more society has matured, the easier it is to decipher falsehoods from the truthhoods. Or is it? Here’s a list of ditties I found on my wanderings while doing research for my Great American Novel #3 (let’s hear it for the Internet and a few spare hours!)

Lizzie  Borden took an Axe…

Unfortunately this myth rears its ugly head quite often, and often no amount of effort is sufficient to disprove it to the true believers. First off, Lizzie – she is famous through the children’s poem:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
And when she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

In fact, her father was axed 11 times and her step-mother 18 or 19 but that is not the real myth – the real myth is the belief that Lizzie Borden committed the crime at all. After a mere one hour of jury deliberation, Lizzie was found innocent of the crime. To give further weight to her innocence, shortly before her trial a second axe murder happened in the area. Additionally, Lizzie was found with no blood on her minutes after the crime took place, and no murder weapon was ever found.

It’s safe to eat dropped food as long as you pick it up within 5 seconds.

The 5-second rule is one of the biggest food myths around. The reality is that food picks up bacteria from the second it hits another surface. One study at Clemson University found that food acquired 1800 bacteria after just 5 seconds.

Can drinking coffee help a person sober up?

When you see a movie scene showing a drunk guy trying to sober up in a hurry, odds are he’ll be chugging a cup of stout black coffee to help speed up the process.  But can a person who is drunk function better — and possibly pass as sober — after downing a cup or two? The answer: A resounding “no.”

Coffee does not help you get sober. If you’re plastered, you’re going to have to wait several hours for the alcohol to leave your system on its own. Drinking coffee won’t make your body metabolize alcohol faster. However, coffee can affect your drunken state by tricking your mind into thinking you’re close to sobriety. It turns out the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, which can make you feel like you’re ready to handle certain potentially dangerous activities — like driving.  If you’re drunk, coffee can’t actually prepare you to do anything important and/or responsible. It’ll only make it harder to realize you’re sloshed.

Captain Kirk Never Said  “Beam me up Scotty”

When mentioning the series Star Trek people are very likely to say the famous phrase “Beam me up Scotty,” even if they have no clue who Scotty is or what it’s referring to. This is presumably the phrase captain Kirk uses at the end of a show, when Mr. Scott teleports him back to the ship. However, the phrase is never really uttered on the show or in any of the movies. The closest version of the quote can be heard in the Star Trek IV movie when Captain Kirk says “Beam me up, Mr. Scott.” The difference is very small, merely a more formal usage of Scott versus Scotty, but fans of the show have argued for years that Captain Kirk would never use the diminutive Scotty instead of his formal rank, especially in front of the crew.

Eli Wallach Never Said: “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

In its original form in director John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), it was actually, “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

Mama Cass died when she choked on the sandwich she was eating.

There may have been a partially eaten sandwich somewhere in the vicinity, but she died of heart failure brought on by the effects of obesity and crash dieting. The coroner found no evidence of anything, ham sandwich or otherwise, blocking her windpipe.

Ozzy Osbourne routinely bit the heads off of live bats as part of his outrageous live performance antics.

Given his trailblazing efforts in achieving a high shock value with his live concert shenanigans, this myth isn’t too hard to swallow. The fact is, Oz did bite a live bat onstage – once, and by accident. He thought it was a prop made of rubber. The fact that the bat bit back, requiring Osbourne to undergo rabies treatments, kept him from ever attempting it on purpose.

Mr. Rogers was a Navy Seal

Fred Rogers and his classic children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood were legendary in the TV world, so it was only a matter of time before a few scandalous rumors started floating around about him. Probably the most popular and downright ridiculous was the legend that claimed Rogers was a Navy Seal during the Vietnam War, and that he had numerous confirmed kills as a sniper. This same rumor often asserted that the only reason Rogers wore sweaters was to cover up all the tattoos he had gotten during his time in the service. Both tales are completely untrue, but this is one urban legend that refuses to die.

AND FINALLY…

If you cross your eyes on purpose, they can get stuck there.

There is no way that you can make your eyes cross permanently. If you cross your eyes, you will tire your muscles out, but you won’t do any permanent harm.

So  quit looking at me that way.

Fashionable Hobos from Hoboville

Are you one who enjoys presenting your best side to the viewing public?  What I mean is, do you spend time fixing your hair, pants, shirt, purse, shoes, the whole bit?  Not that you strive to strut your stuff down the Chanel or Yves St Laurent runways ― it’s just that you want to be presentable. Most women who take care of their heart and/or soul take care of their appearance, too.  What I’d like to know, then, is why is it when we are away from the public eye, we look like hobos from Hoboville?

I have gone full swing with fashion through my life. There was a time that clothing meant something more than tennies with mud and jeans with holes in the knees.  Power suits and tailored dresses (with shoulder pads, of course) were the trademark of the 80’s, especially in downtown Chicago.  Working on Michigan Avenue, there was a plethora of boutiques, department stores, and cutting-edge shops to keep even the weary well-dressed. I might not have kept up with the big-time dressers, but I did my best to look clean, chic, and, well, presentable.

Eventually I left the sparkle of the big city, choosing instead to become a mother and part-time sales clerk, and my wardrobe change again.  An elastic waistline took the place of leather belts, and casual pants and sweaters replaced the soldier-woman look.  Of course, once I became a mother, anything comfortable became the name of the game.  After all, who would want baby spit on a Liz Claiborne blouse?

Now my kids are either in college or married and on their own, and I’m at the point where the words “casual Friday” get me excited.  Back in the office after years of the “momma” mode, I am leaning towards a more crafted, uncrafted look. Flowing, easy going, with a bit of bling. These days women have their own version of dress up,  running the gamut from jeans to capris to dresses. Business suits (do they even exist anymore?) are kept for meeting clients, and people wear sweatshirts and jeans to office Christmas parties.

But here is the crux of my story.  I live in the country, and not long ago was co-owner of one old, crusty, buffy rooster named Rocky.  Left over from my husband’s desire to be a “country farmer”, Rocky was the last of a few generations of hens and roosters.  He had a little coop  all to himself, and, when the evening was pleasant, I would let him out to roam the grass and field around his abode. Well, one evening I went back outside to close his coop door for the night, and when I looked down, took notice of what I was wearing: pink slippers with Christmas socks, a long, flowery nightgown, and a faded purple housecoat. What a fop I had become!

What happened to fashion sense?  Why is it so easy to resort to horror story glamour when no one is looking?  I thought about other rendezvous I’ve had inside my four walls when no one was looking:  stained t-shirts, orange socks and green pants, nightgowns and chuggy boots.  Did I lose all sense and sensibility when no one was round? Most will say that when we are home we are free to be who we are, and if that includes wearing plaid boxer shorts and paisley t-shirts, that’s just fine.  This is true. I don’t mind skipping a shower on Saturday if no one is coming to visit, or wearing yesterday’s St. Patty’s day shirt because it’s got a little beer on it. I like to be comfortable, and I like to be practical.  And, after all, if the shirt is already stained from yesterday’s dinner, why not wear it while you’re making spaghetti sauce tonight?

That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the feminine side of fashion.  I love shoes that fit, earrings that dangle and bracelets that sparkle.  I love a comfortable pair of khakis as much as a flowery summer frock.  I shop at Good Will as often as The Boston Store, and bargain is my middle name.  I wear whatever I want whenever I want.  Having suffered through girdles, garter belts and shoulder pads, I have earned my place on the fashion ladder.  I like to think my fashion sense falls somewhere between fashion runway-itis and poverty chic.  I am not embarrassed by who I am; I revel in the fact that I can go with the flow and feel comfortable in any setting. That is the beauty of being a woman.

But I also admit that I’d be totally embarrassed if anyone outside of my dogs saw me tread out to the chicken coop in unicorn slippers and a ski jacket with a furry hood.
I’ve got to get a little common sense here; I need to find the balance between beautiful and bum.  I can never let anyone see me walk around the house in some of the getups I let myself get away with.

No one should be put through that kind of pain.

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.

Diamonds Are a Pet’s Best Friend

Come on, admit it ― we all wish now and then we lived in the “lap of luxury.” Of course, we are perfectly happy in our little house/apartment, spending time  with with family/kids/friends, and splurging on a Dove Bar now and then.  But now and then don’t you think about noshing on that Dove Bar on a Paris street corner or on a deserted beach in Riviera Maya?

Alas, this little dittie is not about our lap of luxury ― it’s the lap of those who hold precious dogs and cats (and other furry little creatures) that I begin to wonder about. I have three ½ dogs ― two are mine, one inherited from grandpa, and one who spends more time here  than at my son’s. I also have 2 cats adopted from Touched by a Paw. All great companions, hunters, and cuddlers.  We cringe when we have to take them to the vet each year, spend money on their pills, food, chewies, cookies, ropes, grooming, treats, nail clippers, and all  other  paraphernalia, money  that well could have taken us to Vegas. But we grin and bear it, for we love our animals and want the best for them.

Aha!  Want the best for them. That is the key today. What exactly is the “best”?

Nearly $32 billion was spent last year in the pet industry. That includes vets, food, shelters, boarding, etc.  That’s a lot for Bowser and Fifi. But it’s not nearly what could be spent should you do a little investigating. If I may: Here are a few of the wonderful little somethings we  could also spend on our pets (and please do not move the decimals):

Mexican Hacienda Dog House: $30,000

Hello Kitty Crest Dog House: $31,660

Louis XV Pet Pavilion:   $23,900

Cat Cabin:  $1,398

22-K Gold-Threaded Pet Mattress:  $3,000

Versace Barocca Pet Bowl:  $724

Mink fur coat:  $725

Pearl and Diamond Handled Pet Brush:  $400

And then, for the pet who has everything (and for those of you who have a few extra dollars to spend), we have:

52-carat Diamond Dog Collar:  $1.8 million

Dog tiara:  $4.2 million

Now, we all know that these are purposely created as token items. No one in their right mind would walk Bowser in a diamond-studded collar or brush Fifi with a pearl-and-diamond handled brush. But just stop and think ― someone had to come up with this idea; someone had to sit in their little lab and say, “Geez, I wonder what the world will think if I design a mink coat for pets?”

Besides being a topic for morality discussions all night long, I bring this to your attention to point out the lengths we go to pamper those who walk on four legs and lick their you-know-what all the time.  Besides the obvious negative auras radiating around these creations (feed the poor, donate to charities, pay off second mortgages), the thought of  my dogs slobbering out of a Versace dog dish or sleeping in a Mexican Hacienda that costs as much as a car gives me the shivers.  Why do humans go to these lengths to take care of those lower on the food chain?

Perhaps part of it is the feeling of “innocence” a cat or dog emotes. Those big eyes, that  follow-you-around-because-you-are-my-hero antics stir many a heartstring. They are loyal, obedient, and clean (look how often they clean themselves??) They don’t trash their bedroom, drink the last soda, or spend all night on the Internet. They sleep most of the day, eat your leftovers and protect your abode from evil predators like mice and squirrels. Why don’t they deserve a generous portion of your income?

And what of those who fork out those prices to show off the love-of-their-life? For many I imagine the pet is the love of their life. Dogs and cats probably know more celebrity secrets than any group of therapists around. Who else would let you carry them around in designer purses? Who else would look so good next to your Calvin Klein jeans and Gucci bag?  Who else would portray a sidekick (or main star, for that matter) in a movie and let you computerize their mouth to reflect human speech?

I suppose you could say those who dish out for the dish (oh so funny), are compensating for something. Their need to be noticed extends to their immediate family, which,   for some, is only their pets. Husbands and wives come and go, kids leave home, and career opportunities  appear only when you have just had a baby or have just earned three weeks of paid vacation. My mother (and others) always said where there’s a will there’s a way, and W.C. Fields said there’s a sucker born every minute. All of this may be true. It’s  up to us and our common sense to find a happy middle ground, both for us and our pets.

I often think the world is upside down.  But then again, maybe that’s why I’m not living in the lap of luxury.  Perhaps I’d better go out on the deck and teach my dog to move her lips like a human. After all, I wouldn’t mind eating out of that Versace bowl, either…

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!