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

Finding the Divine Feminine

As I sit and flip through my latest stack of chick magazines, I find myself wandering through the world of today’s woman and the concept of “divine feminine”.  I wonder what that means — not only the “divine” part, but the feminine as well.  I can see the divine in books and magazines, but where do I fit in?   Where does the world of flowing gossamer and satin and lace meet spandex and terrycloth?

            One of my favorite magazines caters to the “over 40” generation of women who want to believe they are still a viable, strong contribution to society.  I can identify with that feeling.  I want to believe I’ve not outlived my usefulness now that my children are out of college and beyond, that the job market is more considerate of middle-aged women — that there is more to life than a nine-to-five job and frozen pizzas for dinner.  There are many women tripping over the big 4-0 mark and the even higher 5-0 mark, trying to make a difference in the world.  I read about glamorous movie stars, corporate women, restaurant owners, writers, doctors, and others doing things they only once dreamed of.  Antiquing through Europe, opening their own restaurant or bakery, rehabbing rundown parts of cities — all of them doing things that are somehow bigger than life.  Closing the magazine, I wonder — where do I fit into all of this?  Where does my revolution, my evolution, fit in?

             In this age of airbrushed images and designer wardrobes, I often wonder where a Renaissance woman such as me belongs.  Where are the articles that coddle mid-life, mid-waisted women?    Where are the look-good, feel-good articles that cater to billing clerks or waitresses or shipping and receiving workers? Where are the dress-ups and weekend activities that address basketball and football moms and women who take kindergarteners on field trips and others who milk cows every day?  Is it possible to be feminine and divine in a world without dress sizes?  Is it possible to wear sweatshirts and uniforms and still sparkle in the divine feminine? 

            Sometimes it seems that the more liberated I feel, the more confused I become.  In some ways that’s good, for it helps strengthen the connections between the synapses in my brain.  Eternal confusion is eternal fodder for mental longevity.  I love being female. I love the world offered to our species alone.  Femininity comes from within; it is a state of being that comes from our very souls, our very thoughts.  It is a pride in our sex, in our ability to feel and react in our enhanced sort of way.

            But what about the next step?  What is “divine feminine”?  How are we supposed to find the “divine” in our green computer screens or packing boxes on an assembly line?  Is it possible to be divine and feminine and not be on the pages of the latest trendy magazine?  To find valued even if we are not on the board of directors of some giant corporation or running a four star restaurant? 

            Inspiration comes in many forms, but it begins with a wisp of an idea, a flutter of a heartbeat that beats to a slightly different rhythm.  There is a seasoning that comes with the over-40 crowd, the wonderful reaping of the harvest that has been fertilized and nurtured and growing inside of us for the last 30 to 40 years.  It is fueled by heartbreak and ecstasy, by hard work and curiosity.  Divine is not dictated by the color of your skin or how big your paycheck is.  Divine feminine is also enhanced by menopause:  pre-, actual, and post-.  There is something to be said about the shuffling of hormones as they start to decrease in a woman’s body.  So many physical and mental changes trickle through our being, some real, some imagined, that we can’t help but redefine our feminism.  We applaud the fact that we can no longer get pregnant, but mourn the fact that we can’t get pregnant.  Our emotions run the gamut from high and energetic to scraping along the bottom.  We have best friends, we have no friends.  We love being alone, we fear being alone.  Is this what the divine feminine is all about?

            It is this and so much more.  It is the beauty of being female, the freedom of experiencing our emotions up close and personal like no man could (sorry guys…but take it into consideration with your own divine feminine female).   It’s the adventure of finding the self, the creativity that lies just below the surface, playing with the child who’s always been there.  We cry, we laugh; we take estrogen if we need it and vitamins even if we don’t.  We wear the jewelry our mother’s used to wear or make our own. We become mentors and advisers just because we’re here, and we walk in marathons instead of run.  We realize that a job is merely a means to an end, an end that is just a beginning. 

            The divine feminine is who we’ve always been.  She is a goddess, she is a nymph.  She is a crabby middle-aged woman and a playful school girl.   She loves men and is tired of men.  She sparkles in gym shoes and brightly patterned shirts and well-worn flannels.  It doesn’t matter what she loves, as long as she loves.  As long as she feels feminine — as long as she embraces what she is.

            And the “divine” part?  Used as an adjective, divine means “of such surpassing excellence as to suggest divine (god/goddess/God) inspiration.”  Combined with the powerful feminine (a gender that refers chiefly, but not exclusively, to females or to objects classified as female), that makes for one kickin’, sparklin’, inspirational being, doesn’t it?

            If that’s what it’s all about, count me in.

©2012 Claudia Anderson

Harry Potter vs Hannibal Lecter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Satisfied.

Middle Magic

Surfing the television the other night, I came across a quite entertaining program — one of those behind-the-scenes pieces on the making of a current hit movie. I snuggled in my oversized chair and listened as cast and crew glowed about the setting, the camaraderie, and the overwhelming feeling of family that pervaded the movie set for those two years. Envy tinted with wanderlust began to fill my mind. After it was over, I found myself thinking, “Wouldn’t that be great? Escape the drudgery of my everyday, boring  office job and go off with wildly artistic people to exotic locations and be a part of something big and exciting and creative — like making a movie.” Flashes of famous people danced in my head: cast parties, flights to locations I’ve never seen, working in thunderstorms and desert heat side by side with fellow creative spirits…

I was eventually knocked back into reality through a number of obnoxious commercials, and came to the realization that my exotic movie set was right there before me. Middle Magic. Middle Age.

Middle Age. A word that is still hard to identify with. A word that gives most of us the willies. What does it mean?  It used to mean one’s half-life — half way between the cradle and the grave. Near the turn of the century middle age was 30; decades earlier it was as young as 20. My parents’ generation viewed middle age somewhere in their 40s; my own personal interpretation pushes it to at least somewhere in the mid-60s. But magic? At this point in my life, how could my life cycle resonate with the energy of  Merlin or Dumbledore?

As I dreamt about life as an actress or a jet-setting hotel heiress, it became obvious to me that we are all a result of our choices. I could have chosen a different path. If I had truly wanted to be a part of the acting community I could have gone the way of high school plays, summer theater, or politics. But my choices took me along a different path: family, children, a place to call home. I came to understand that we all hear the call of destiny, but it’s up to us what we do with that calling. Middle Magic goes beyond those initial choices. This sort of magic is a whirlwind of the past and the present, the switching of life’s gears, so to speak. It is a tugging of our soul, asking to finally be set free to wander and explore the world in its own way. You know ― living the “stepping out of the box” cliché way of life. This sort of magic is an empowerment that breaks us from the monotony of routine and propels us into the world of extraordinary. Middle Magic is experience tinted with awe, reality mingled with fantasy. It is part who knows, part who cares. After all, isn’t that what we’ve spent all this time wanting?

Middle age is merely a threshold ― let’s not be afraid to cross it. We’ve got nothing to lose except our inhibitions.  Who needs those, anyway?  The wonderful thing is that we have this power in every thought we have, every moment we live. It starts with an acknowledgement of where we are, and opens doors to a future we only now can  reach.  It is through this energy that we finally connect with our self. Only at this point do the gates of the palace open before us.

Perhaps Middle Magic is nothing more than coming to grips with our own mortality. The Reaper has no discretion with its scythe; it strikes down the young and old, dashing dreams and breaking hearts without discretion. But it is precisely because of the Reaper’s indiscretion that we understand how important it is to live life to its fullest day to day. How important it is to open doors to new worlds, encouraging others to do so as well.  To continue to learn, to continue to share what we’ve learned, to know that our ability to learn is as vast as the stars above.

As I turned off the television, there was still a part of me that wished I had been a part of making that movie: the friendship, the excitement, the stress and the secrets. But I realized I have all the above with me every day — friendship, stress, and secrets   With a flick of the pen I can live in 1880 or 2050, on a space station near Jupiter or in an apartment in Manhattan. Pick up a book and I can walk with hobbits or Sioux Indians or Japanese Shoguns. I have music and movies and my own imagination to take me wherever I want to go. And when I run low on imagination, I have my friends’ imaginations to fuel me.

True magic is the magic of the moment; the feeling that you are making a difference, a riff, in the routine of reality. Magic is realizing that you can be a creator and a dreamer along with doing dishes or being a catalog coordinator or taking care of kids or grandkids. Everywhere there is a story to be told, and every story has a bit of a smile in it. All you have to do is stop and share it. That is what Middle Magic is about. Chuckling at the absurdity of the world around us, taking what we have learned through the years with a grain of salt and a cup of schmaltz and sharing it with everyone.

We can only go one way on this road of life; we should make a point to share a smile or two or a thousand with as many souls as we can. Don’t you know? We are all magicians. We are all whimsical, swirling motes of dust in the sunshine of life. Powerful, crazy, magical motes.

Gandalf would be proud.

 

Even the Universe Chuckles

1 Even the Universe Chuckles What exactly is middle age? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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