Have A Mishmash In Your Head?

A mishmash of thoughts this Monday evening….

It has been five days since I made the vow to dump sensationalized social media. I am happy to report that I haven’t a clue as to what Trump is tweeting nor what Kim Kardashian is saying about her mother/sister/husband. It is refreshing.

I am watching the movie Gladiator. It is an epic production, but all the killing makes me sad. Oh, it’s only a movie, but it’s based on a truth. How many people have died in one war or another? And I’m not just talking about the United States. The Mongol Conquests took 34,641,016+; Spanish Conquest of the Aztec World, 24,300,000+, and back home, World War II, 36,696,798+. (statistics from Wikipedia.) There is no glory in war. When will the world learn this?

I have lost the buzz to write. Is it the weather? Is it that I’m tired when I get home from work? Have I given up? I would say this happens to everyone now and then, but at this moment, I don’t care. And that’s what’s not good. I’ve left my heroine on a parallel planet pregnant with the king’s child, not married, someone trying to kill her, and the edge of the world is crumbling. Why can’t I get going on this? 

I love my cats and like my dog, but I have been a crazy person lately babysitting my brother-in-law’s yappy dog. And over the weekend my son’s dog, too. I am feeling so anti-pet lately…is that because I’m getting old? Tired of dogs and cats sleeping on my bed so I can’t turn over? Tired of their meowing because they’re hungry or bored? I do admit my patience is thinning the older I get. Just trying to keep my cool. .

Do you go through grandparent withdrawal? Do you pace the floor and count the days until you can next get together? My heart hurts for those of you who live far from your grandbabies. Even if they’re in high school or college, they’re still your grandbabes. What wonderful, naughty, childish things you do when you are together! Sit on the floor (and can’t get up), ride a bike (better get a helmet and shin guards), play baseball (can’t catch but, oh well..), eat ice cream cones (one scoop or two?) I’m rested and ready.

Do you like the winter? The gentle sparkle of falling flakes, the laughter of children playing in the snow, fireplaces and hot chocolate, snuggles and cuddles and crisp cold air that brings a hard blush to your face?

I don’t either. Come on Spring!

 

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Why Can’t We Slow Down?

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

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

And I can’t take it.

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

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

Then the reprimand begins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst

7-the-importance-of-unicorns-and-bratwurstOld one are good ones…they make me smile..

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 story line is going.  But isn’t that so much like our everyday lives?

We start out the week with the most noble of intentions.  Perhaps we have a satisfying experience meditating Sunday morning, or are able to sleep in a couple of extra hours.  Maybe our football team finally won a game.  Nonetheless, our day is delightful, and we end the night feeling satisfied.  All is right with the world, with our 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.  You could actually lose those ten pounds or finally clean off your desk, or 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.

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 favorite TV show is on, which you would have recorded had the your DVR not been full.

By Friday your resolutions are out the window along with that novel you can’t choke down anymore.  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  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 5; 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 significance of the unicorn part?

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

It’s Time to Stop Fighting

heartThis post is being written with a lot of trepidation.

I am not a hellion, nor am I a pansy. My age has nothing to  with the depth of my feelings or the dedication of my causes. I am no better nor no worse than any of my peers. I have had ups and downs and rewards and punishments just like everyone else.

I suppose this confession is to reassure you — or most likely myself — that I’m not over-  or under-reacting.

Just last week I started my post by saying It is as if I am handling a puffer fish or prickly bush with my bare hands. For the world of politics is indeed prickly. But this week prickly has turned vile. It is no longer screaming at the TV or sharing a sentence or two on Facebook.

In only a couple of weeks I have watched this political nonsense start to tear families apart.

Sounds so over the top, doesn’t it?

But in the past few weeks I have heard several first hand reports of one family member tearing at and apart another family member because of their political preferences. Yes, the problem between family members probably existed way before the change of the Guard. But this cavern between political preferences has opened wounds that finally were starting to heal. Or at least left alone.

People are just getting nasty.

Kids are ripping on their parents. Adults are blowing up on their kids. Generations are berating each other because of their political preferences. Then one thing leads to another, and things are said that cannot be taken back. And what started as two people disagreeing turns into people digging into the very foundation of what makes us human.

This isn’t right.

With all the anger and hatred and mistrust shuffling between people, it’s hard to see the good in each other. Parents who have given up everything so their kids could have a better life now are nothing but stiff, selfish old people. Younger kids with a chance to make things better are nothing more but self-centered spoiled brats.

Yet these are our children. These are our parents. These are our aunts and uncles and best friends’ kids. These are the people who we depend on for love or friendship or just a smile.

We have to stop ripping each other apart.

We can be involved, we can be passionate. We can march and we can protest. But we can’t change what is at this moment. This administration, the past administration, are a specimens of their own. None have made their way up from poverty, adversity, or war. They have never worked as a waitress or a sales clerk or a garbage collector. They don’t care about “us.” They don’t know us, they don’t see us, they don’t hear us.

And that point of fact is why we should never turn against our family. Not for this.

Not for them.

 

Be Nice

1035x1035-20140310-elton-x1800-1394485893I was going to write a blog today about the election.

Nah.

I was going to write a blog about violence on TV these days.

Nah.

Then I thought about talking about writing. My writing, your writing.

Triple Nah.

Then I thought…what’s left?

In this crazy world, the flux bends reality until none of us recognize what is right in front of us. I try and put my finger on the pulse of the world, and most times all that happens is that I prick my finger. The media has turned and twisted every day conversations into fodder not even fit for cattle.

Why do we do it? Why do insecurities make crazies out of the simplest people?

We all are motivated between fear and confidence, between being someone and being no one. We are taught to listen and obey. Too extreme. Now it’s attack or be attacked. We are judged by what we wear and how we speak and what we know or don’t know.

It’s a mean world out there.

I’m not saying previous generations were any better. But they did not have social media at their disposal as a tool to bully and lie and pontificate. Generations age, and as they do, tend to give up the fight sooner.

I’m not giving up — every day I meet good people. Honest people. People who love and are afraid and have hope. These good people are overshadowed by the runaway media that is intent on pounding us into the ground until we resemble oatmeal.

I’m not saying we don’t need media: we wouldn’t have such strong child rights and animal rights and the ability to track down serial killers and molesters and everything dark with the world without it. But we don’t need social media trolling or bullying in the name of getting more “likes”.

Me — I’m going back to ground roots philosophy. Write a book, write a blog. Donate to a charity of my choice. Teach my grand kids to live and love and to be nice to each other. Give someone a ride. Pick up and put back things that have fallen off the shelf. Read. Give positive feedback to blogs, stories, and tweets.  Bake cookies. Play fetch with my dogs. Play fetch with YOUR dogs. Take a picture.

I’m going to tell everyone to Chill Out and Be Fucking Nice To Each Other and Move On.

My friend Elton said it best:

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road        ~Elton John, 1973

Fuzz Brain

thDo you ever have days where you feel…fuzzy?

Not cuddle fuzzy, not peach navel fuzzy, but cotton-candy-in-the-head fuzzy.

I suppose it’s best to count out major contributors, or at least fit them into the symphony’s score. Medication. check. A little, not much. Sleep. A little, not much. Stress. Much, not a little. Sugar. Cut way back. Alcohol. None. Smoking. Never. Other recreants. Not for 40 years. Blood Pressure. Surprisingly normal. Blood Sugar. Low as well. Cholesterol. Working on it.

So all second tier maladies accounted for. First tier…cancer, leukemia, dementia. All being watched.

So why the fuzzies?

I used to think that when I couldn’t quite focus it was because messages and stories were coming through from astral places. Not like direct alien vibrations, but, you know — inspiration from beyond. No matter what your belief system, there’s always someone from the beyond sending you positive vibes –Grandma, Jesus, Shakespeare. You can’t rationalize it — it just is.

So when the fuzzies used to come I had a hard time focusing on anything constructive. Like work. Or responsibilities. It’s like the fuzzies opened a hole to another dimension. One where logic is more like paper chains hung in the trees…pretty, but not practical.

It’s hard to think when your mind is full of cotton candy. You look one direction…it’s niiice. You turn around…it’s niiice. You look up in the sky, it’s…well, you get it. It’s like being high without drugs, religion, or the Patronus Charm.

During these  lost and found fuzzies inspiration is there for the taking. If you have the energy to take it. What I mean by that is that there are no rules in the fuzzies. Every design, every plot, every daydream has merit. Fireflies become faeries. High school teachers become drug dealers. The rosey pink of sunset becomes the daytime sky of an alien world.

I’ m not saying you can create the next Rembrandt masterpiece or write the Great American Novel while fuzzy. But when inspiration eludes you, there can be redemption in the clouds.

For example.

Tonight I was in the funky fuzzies. Spent 2 hours going through the same 6 folders looking for a piece of paper I knew I’d seen in one of them earlier this evening. I mean this is a big duh. How can you not find what you just saw? Fuzzies. After hours of curling one piece of paper after the other, I finally found what I was looking for in the folder with the receipts jammed into it.

So crabby as well as fuzzy, I posted such on Facebook. As I perused the mental states of all my friends, I came across a post about gorgeous blingy gladiator up-the-calf sparkle shoes. And I thought…Sunday Evening Art Blog! How cosmic was that?

Of course, cosmic can always be equated with chance, luck, calculation, physics, or a dozen other flow charts. The point is that even when you are wandering through the Cotton Candy Fuzzies you can get input for your creativity. Just pay attention. Know inspiration can drop in at any time and be ready to take note. Write it down, bookmark it, write it on your arm in eye liner. Just keep the message and come back when the fog has lifted.

The test, of course, is not to bring the Fuzzies into work tomorrow. If I’m not careful my whimsical nothingness will get lost in the stacks of data I’ve yet to enter.

Talk about the bottomless well…

 

Moments of Reflection

heart-flower03There’s a lot going on these days…a lot of bad things, sad things. So many of my fellow bloggers have covered this topic much better than I could. I am sad, because as of late I’ve seen the American flag flown at half mast more than at full. What does this say about the state of the country? Of the neighborhood?

I’d like to share two different blogs sharing the same world. Two different styles, one same idea.

If you get a chance follow the links and take a look at the world in two different ways. After all…it’s all the same in the end.

First is by my friend David Kanigan.

 

………My Goal: Exceed the 5.38 mile distance in March or run to the Sunrise, whichever comes first.

It’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to run. Right. A nerve in the upper left shoulder blade pinches. And this slides down to the lower right back achieving beautiful pain symmetry. Sedentary Suit on the move.  Jesus.

Both groins groan. The pads of the feet cry No! with each footfall. I’m breathing heavy, and this is downhill 0.2 miles in. Jesus Saves.

Running in twilight. Red shoes. Red shorts. Red Shirt. Blood Man. Heart over-pumping, lungs heaving but at least I’m lookin’ fine.

1 mile mark.

Cemetery.

Then, Darien City Police Station.

Baton Rouge. I’m on my back. The bone of his knee is crushing my rib cage.  His pistol is in my face. I need air.  I can’t breathe…

1.5 mile mark.

Church.

Charleston. My eyes pan across the wafer thin page of the Bible – I’m lip synching the reading of the prayer. I hear gunfire. In a split second, the full weight of the explosion lands, shrapnel shreds my chest. Astonished, I fall forward in the pew looking up at Jesus on the cross……

 

And then another from my friend Austin Hodgens.

 

Peace and Love, My Fellow Earthlings

My Fellow Earthlings,

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the state of our planet, and remind you of one simple thing…

No matter where you’re from, the color of your skin, your religious beliefs, your sexual orientation, your political affiliation, or your financial situation, you will always be an Earthling.

I’ve never understood why we don’t think of ourselves as such.  After all, calling this planet home is the one thing that unites us.

My name is Austin, and I’m an Earthling.

Try it.  Listen to how it rolls off your tongue……

 

 

heart-flower03

Last Cave on the Left

20160628_184654Now that the kids and grandkids have moved out and into their own beautiful house, the hubby and I have decided it’s time to remodel/redecorate. Two different words, two different meanings, two different opinions.

We now have two empty bedrooms upstairs where my boys used to live. Actually one lived upstairs, one downstairs. But I drift. I turned the second upstairs bedroom into a library. It was sweet. Large window that looked out over the yard and towards the woods, oak shelves, books galore, art, kids artwork, pictures in antique frames. Stenciling on the upper wall, closet doors removed and closet tured into a computer nook.

It was awesome.

The library was turned into my grandkids’ room while they lived here. Now the room is available again. Yet hubby says this time, no library. The rooms are going to become bedrooms for our wonderful, energetic, perfect grandkids when they come to visit.  I can still have a library, but it will be downstairs in the far corner bedroom.

I might as well be arranging my library in Siberia.

I took a picture this evening of my messed up downstairs, which is in the process of being rearranged, decluttered, and we-don’t-know-yet. And way in the corner is the library-to-be. The window is actually a window well, the fuse box is behind the closet door, we don’t have a real ceiling (although I’ve been promised that I will get one), and it’s the farthest point in the house from the bathroom. Ever see Last House on the Left?

I suppose in some ways it’s an ideal writing arena. Far away from confusion and noise, a haven for privacy, an off-the-way place to get absorbed in my books and writing. I can fill the room with my shelves, books, art, kids art, a writing table and/or comfy sofa and/or oversized chair, some great indirect lighting, and maybe a faux bearskin rug on the floor.

The problem is that I’m an unconventional writer. Predictable, but unconventional.

Most time I’m sitting on my sofa with my laptop, looking out the window, listening to music, sometimes a boring movie in the background, often in silence, the frig, bathroom, and food pantry within a few steps. From this vantage point I can keep an eye on the dogs (one who dives into the cat food dish for a quick snack, the other who knows how to twirl the corner kitchen cabinet and eat the bread), change the laundry, water the plants, make chocolate milk, and stack my research books on the other end of the sofa along with my phone, TV flipper, and two cats.

You might think that sounds like I’m not a serious writer.

Au contraire.

No one loves writing more than me. No one wants to touch the minds and souls and funny bone of others more than me. And no one wants to succeed more than me.

I think it’s just that my adult-onset A.D.D. doesn’t allow for sitting still for too long a period of time. My job during the day is hard enough, because I work on a computer all day. So at night, multi-tasking is the only way I get anything done.

The truth of the matter is I didn’t use the fancy schmancy library like a library should have been used. Sometimes I’d just go and sit in there, run my fingers along the books, polish the glass and the photos and the little doodads my kids made for me. I’d sit on the floor and go through my high school year books or pictures in albums or coffee table sized books on faeries or dragons. The soft light from the big window turned the room into a slightly peach fuzz, along with my dreams.

But it was never a writer’s room.

I know I will be able to add my magic to the dungeon downstairs — a couple of great lamps, a comfy settee, lots of bookshelves and some new art I’ll have to paint and an old area rug that’s seen better days. I will still sit down there and go through my high school year books and pictures of the B&B I used to own and read the books my kids wrote when they were in 1st grade and the library will come alive again.

But I will still sit on my sofa and do my most favorite thing.

Write.

 

Finding Dorothy’s Shoes

Ruby-slippers-wizard-of-ozI absolutely love when comments on one blog flow into thoughts and inspiration on another. That’s why I love following the writers I do.

In her blog, A Journey Called Life, (https://architar.wordpress.com), my friend Archita wrote a story called “A note from the evening” (https://architar.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/a-note-from-the-evening/). It is a first-person narrative to someone  — a friend, it seems — to that friend’s ego. To that friend’s mind. It has to be to their unconscious mind, for the conscious mind was not listening.

Her short tale explains all the motions and routines the narrator will do for the friend who never stops complaining. For the complaining is nothing new. The friend cannot see past her stubbornness to change her direction in life; the friend who insists the narrator has the banquet and the friend barely the leftovers.

It made me think and then think again. First I wondered if the friend was (figuartively) me…me in other situations. We all have the tendency to whine — life is never the bed of roses we dream of. But I hoped — still hope — that I have found a way out of that tedious state of blaming the world for some of my own bad decisions.

The more I thought, the more I realized that I have friends like that, too. I think we all do. People who just can’t get out of the whirlpool. People who don’t really want to get out of the whirlpool. That it’s easier to complain and point fingers than to do something about the situation.

Many situations are hard. There is no denying this. Life is hard. But life is also good. There is proof of that all around us.

You will continue your story- about children, about how busy you really are, about how you never had any help, about how only death can bring you your peace. Then you will ask me if I watched your favorite show on TV.

I often wonder how people get out of the whirlpools they swim in. It takes determination. It takes work. My dad and father-in-law both gave up smoking after 50 years of two packs a day. That wasn’t a walk through the roses, believe me. My friend is going back to school to get her childhood education degree, and she is in her mid-50s. Another friend has had multiple operations on knees and shoulders and had cancer in his pancreas and still manages to go camping with us a couple times a year.

Who is to decide what is too heavy a burden to bear? Who is to decide what is enough help?

Let me tell you, death looks terrible on poems. Death looks more terrible when it’s just news. Death never gives peace. Life is peace. In living, in grief, in celebrating, in friendships- you find what death lacks- a life.

Archita and I bantered back and forth in the comment section about when it’s time to listen, when it’s time to intervene, when it’s time to walk away.  It’s not easy to know the difference between being a friend, a sounding board, and an enabler. From drinking to being unemployed to being divorced, the path out of the darkness isn’t an easy one to find. But I believe we all have that inner knowledge that lets us know where to draw the line between all of the above.

I suggested she suggest the magic release of Creativity to her friend. I  know so many who have turned to the Arts to save their souls, to release their souls, to find their souls. That’s why I encourage it so much. It doesn’t matter if you crochet or make scrapbooks or write poetry. Your love for artistic freedom makes you better and better. A better artist, a better person, a better friend. Archita found her own soul again through creativity — she only hoped her friend could, too.

But that’s another story.

Do go and read Archita’s blog if you find time. You might find yourself in her shoes. Which, in the end,  just might be Dorothy’s shoes.

Lost in the Matrix

tumblr_mxpq0pMO941sxqh33o1_400Philosophical Tuesday.

Now…bear with me one minute. Quick techy babble coming.

Am watching “The Matrix”, which in itself is a complicated psycho babble movie, full of innuendoes and intentions and thoughts in the 5th dimension. It is one of those times that I don’t mind everything being over my head.

According to The Matrix for Dummies, Neo learns that the matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to make us feel like we are living a normal life, when in fact it is nothing more than an energy factory for AIs.

Us poor humans. We have to be good for something.

In these movies are blue pills and red pills and humans in pods grown in fields and the dude Morpheus whose words and appearances are marked by thunder and often orchestra crescendos.  There are computer aliens and walking, talking computer viruses and a whole lot more going on.

Here’s the psycho babble part. According to Spark  Notes:

Many precedents exist for the idea that the real world is an illusion, and the Matrix trilogy is riddled with specific references to philosophers who have entertained this idea. Although the films are meant to stand on their own and create their own set of philosophical questions, the Wachowskis pay homage to these precedents through….. Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Socrates’ Visit to the Oracle of Delphi, and the work of Descartes. 

Okay. The point of this blog this evening is:  Who are these guys?

Let’s take a mini philo tour. And I do mean mini.

Baudrillard believes that our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that human experience is of a simulation of reality. Plato‘s  major philosophical assumption is that the world revealed by our senses is not the real world but only a poor copy of it, and that the real world can only be apprehended intellectually. The Oracle of Delphi is that Socrates truly was the wisest because all others were under the false impression that they knew more than they actually knew, that true wisdom lies in recognizing one’s own ignorance. And Descartes poses the question of how he can know with certainty that the world he experiences is not an illusion, that since he believes in what he sees and feels while dreaming, he cannot trust his senses to tell him that he is not still dreaming. I think, therefore I am (and all that stuff).

They all sound like Morpheusisms to me. Which bring me to the point of this evening’s blog.

What kind of minds think up these things?

Do people with minds like these eat cheeseburgers and swear when they hit their finger with a hammer and throw up when they get the flu and play cards with kids? I mean — what do brilliant minds do for fun?

These kinds of thoughts exist on a plane somewhere between the clouds and the stars and around the corner from the speed of light. These thoughts are so deep that deep sea oil rigs dance on their heads. I am fascinated by the train of these philosophies, yet I don’t really understand them.  Do these philosophers have a day job like you and me? When they’re not discussing the differences between reality and illusion, do they go to baseball games? Eat pizza with anchovies? Sing in the shower?

I’m  sure they were all fun guys with just weird hobbies. Like us writers and painters and all. And in the end, it doesn’t matter if you understand things like this or not. In worlds like yours and mine, it’s much more fun pretending you know something than wandering around, sad because you just don’t “get it.”

Like those horizontally challenged numbers.

 

The Box

Something different this late Thursday evening. A short story — really a flash fiction piece — I wrote a while ago.  I didn’t realize when I wrote it what it really meant. I think I do now.

 

The Box

“Let me out of this box.”

The voice was a squeal, an octave higher than human ears were used to hearing.  A handful of faces looked down at the rosewood box sitting in the middle of the coffee table.  It was no larger than a man’s fist, really.  Simple. Unadorned.  But those around the table knew better.

“Sorry, dear.  But we are safer with you in the box,” said the ancient woman with the silver chignon.

“Yes,” agreed the ebony-skinned man in a shirt and tie.  “Safer.”

“That’s not true,” the box replied.

A few moments passed, then the voice returned. This time it was musical.  Soft and sing-songy. Like a child’s.

“Let me out!  Let me play! We can do it every day!”

“No,” said the old woman.  “Not today.”

“No,” said the old man.  “Not any day.”

“I’ll die in here,” came the retort.

“You cannot die,” said the young girl in pigtails.  “The others said so.”

“You are one of those eternal things,” said the matron.  “And we cannot have your kind in our world.”

“I am inspiration.”

“You are disappointment.”

“I am tranquility.”

“You are chaos.”

“You are trouble,” said the black man.  “I have seen your kind before.”

The three shook their heads.

“We are sorry.”

A moment or two more of silence.  Did the box actually sigh?

“I am light.”

“You are dark.”

“I am hope.”

“You are despair.”

“I am life.”

“You are death.”

“This argument is going nowhere,” said the black man.

“I can make sure you get going somewhere.”

The box was quiet for a bit.  The gold clasp seemed to glow from the energy within.  The box tried again.

“Since you know all what I am, you don’t need to be afraid.”

“Since we know all what you are, we have a right to be afraid.”

They were at a standstill, then.  A dead end.

At least that is what the trio thought.

After a long silence, the voice in the box echoed through the room, through their heads.

“You cannot keep me in here forever, you know.”

“We know,” the group said in unison.

“And when I am free it will be the beginning, not the end.  You will see.”

“We know,” the group said in unison.

“It all has to start somewhere, you know.”

“We know,” the group said in unison.

“Then let me out of the box, and let creativity begin.”

Saturday Morning Reflections on Creativity

 

15 - 1[3]1112335Lazy Saturday mornings always bring out the philisopher in me. Especially when I listen to Martini Music from the 60s in the background.

Ever take one of those online tests — What is your favorite (fill-in-the-blank)?

Sometimes they’re easy. Favorite Food: Spaghetti. Favorite drink: Milk. (I know..boring…) Other times it’s a little catchy. Favorite Music? Ah…in what category? Favorite Book? Again, I need a genre. Favorite Dessert? Now, you really need to specify…

So it is with picking out an artist’s work for my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog.

Sometimes it’s easy. Judit Czinkné Poór specializes in incredible cookie designs. Craig L. Haupt does whimsical abstract images. Jackson Pollock does…well, does Jackson Pollock things. The biggest problem with these artists are which 6 or 7 (or in the case of the larger Gallery, 12-15) images showcase their artistic range.

I come up with fantastic artists that span several techniques. Selecting which style or gallery to highlight is often an arduous task. Louise Bourgeois not only sculpted giant spiders but was actually best known for her representations of the female form and dreamlike imagery through paintings, prints, and installations. The Universe not only holds the glory of galaxies, but planets, stars, nebulas, gamma ray bursts, and galaxy clusters.  I have had artists that are not only great sculptors but painters and sketchers, too.

How do you decide which side of their diamond to polish?

I have learned that sometimes an artist’s fame is not the same as an artist’s flame. Often what strikes an audience as unique is not necessarily what made them famous. I highlighted Luke Jerram‘s extraordinary microbiology glass works, but if you read his website, he also designed a sculpture based on the Tōhoku Japanese Earthquake and subsequent tsunami of 2011, and solar-powered kinetic chandeliers  that consist of dozens of glass radiometers, which shimmer and flicker as they turn in the sunlight. Who knew?

Artists are such an eclectic lot. Writers, sculptors, painters, graphic designers, all have their favorite form of expression, their main obsession. But I imagine you can be 150% into oil painting and 150% into charcoal sketching and 150% into pen and ink and still find 150% to spend on computer graphics.

It’s all relative.

When I find an artist that I think my followers would enjoy, I research all their work. Often that’s a daunting task, for those who are truly creative, truly gifted, spread out in a hundred different directions at one time. One branch of their creativity is just as amazing as the next.

It’s not much easier when I pick a subject to highlight. In digging around, I often find 35-40 great representations under the headings of things like ice sculptures or paperweights. Each picture is more fascinating than the next. I try to include my favorites and others not in my top 10, just so I can show a fair representation of what the artist/subject is all about.  After all, my favorite color may be blue, but yours may be red. And who am I to confront the difference?

That, to me, is the essence of an art director. Of a museum curator. Exploring the creative mind, the unique palate, and choosing just the right combination of awe and familiarity to showcase. We all do this in our own way — look at the pictures hanging on your walls. The crystal pieces on your mantlepieces. The books on your shelves. The flowers in your garden. The colors you pick for your outfits. The way you arrange your bookshelves.

You have created your own atmosphere with the gifts from the creative world. You are abstract, you are conservative, you are orange-reds and country blue. You are Amish and Renaissance and Science Fiction and Chick Lit. You are poetry in motion, an art critic in your own right.

And that is a beautiful way to spend your life, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Change Our Work Hours

keep-calm-mondayMonday Monday, can’t trust that day,
Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh Monday Monday, how could you leave and not take me.    ~Mamas and Papas

 

Monday’s really aren’t that bad, but somehow our culture has psychologically made it the fall guy for all jobs we hate and bills we have to pay.

So I put it out to you — If mankind — or rather the working world — could work their “8 Hour Day” any 8 hours straight they choose, could Monday (or any other day) be still successful — and less stressful?

I will use myself as a shining example. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself to be a night owl. Or rather my body thinks it’s a night owl. I love the evening, the night — I could stay up until 1-2 a.m., windows open, music, writing, folding laundry, whatever the calling.

I also could sleep in until 8 or 9 a.m. every day after that, too.

So why couldn’t I punch a time clock at 11 am and punch out at  7 pm? Or some mornings punch in at 9 am and get out at 5 pm? Or punch in at 1 p.m. and scoot at 9 pm?

I know — first off you say I should get a second shift job. I don’t think they do my kind of advertising work at night.

I know — you also will say that companies can’t have people coming and going all the time; that their utilities would have to be on 24/7, which would cost more money to them, and less to me. Well, my household utilities are often on 24/7 — or 21/10 anyway, so it’s time for companies to join the millennium.

I want to be able to wake up with the birds when I want or sleep until they’re at their noon siesta. I want to wake up and see it’s raining and turn over and sleep a few more hours. I want the freedom to wake up peppy and prepped or sluggish and sluggy, and have both be an okay start for the day.

I suppose it’s one of those wasted daydreams like what I’d do if I won the lottery or lost 50 pounds. But I live on daydreams. I dance with the Arts, with the Muses, with the Dreamers and the Philosophers. Free thinking is a blessing, a gift, and a burden. Rather to carry that burden than others that exist around me.

But back to the flexible schedule. I suppose the truth is that I’d push the start time further and further back until I was working the night shift. Which is time to go to bed. Guess it is all just a continuous Celtic Knot with me at the center.

I suppose retirement is the only out for me. Or lots of half-days off. Or winning the lottery. My best chance is the last one.

Got a dollar?

 

 

Do You Get It?

Black Circle
Black Circle

One of my favorite bloggers, David, posted a 36-word poem the other day, doing his best to “understand” it. http://davidkanigan.com/2015/08/20/oh-well/. a very lovely, emotional poem. I tried to understand it, too. And while a whiff of sense wafted around my senses, I, too, had a hard time with interpretation.

It made me wonder.

Do people who write and paint and sculpt truly abstract things truly understand their meaning?

And, if so, why are so many of us so duh about it?

Look. I know I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. Sometimes I have to have TV show plots explained to me. Sometimes I don’t get the end of the joke. Abstract, in the purest sense of the word, is, well, abstract to me.

But most times I “get it” after pondering on things for a bit. Eventually the proverbial light bulb goes on and most of what I read/look at/listen to makes sense. (Except rap music). The truly abstract aspect of an artist’s creativity is something totally different for me, though.

An example of this confusing state of mind is Russian artist Kasmir Malevich (1878-1935).  A Polish-Russian painter and art theoretician, he was a pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the avant-garde Suprematism movement (an art movement in Russia that produced abstract works featuring flat geometric forms).

Maybe it’s because I skipped Geometry in high school. Maybe it’s because my teachers taught me to write in full sentences and not in cryptic phrases. But somewhere along the line I never got into simple geometric forms.  At least, not as a form of art.

Malevich explains his aesthetic theory. “Under Suprematism I understand the supremacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.” He viewed the Russian Revolution as having paved the way for a new society in which materialism would eventually lead to spiritual freedom.

I’m afraid I don’t quite get that from the painting above, either.

What is this roadblock I have to understanding the other side of the universe?  I opened my Sunday Evening Art Gallery so that I could share what I considered Unique Art. Different Art. Personal Art. Something created that, even though in one way or another you don’t always “get” it, there is some thread of familiarity that runs between the artwork and the viewer.

I never studied Art theory either, so that might explain some of my unappreciativeness. I can make a connection between my friend Dawn Whitehead‘s sculptures and the world, even though most times I’m grasping at straws. I can figure out haikus and rambling poetry as long as there is an ending that makes sense.

Words thrown together without an immediate connection — that I have a much harder time with.

I am determined to delve a little further into this Suprematism movement, along with poetry that has category names but no sense. I want to be a little part of every art movement around me, even if at times the art doesn’t move me. A child of the world, as they say.

Even if I continue to get D- on my comprehension tests.

 

Welcome to my 5th Dimension

greatestgifeverWell, I think I’m over my vacation. And I’ve gotten the Art Gallery stuff out of my system (at least until Sunday).  I’m following a few blogs that do “Wordless Wednesdays,” and I’m really enjoying their pictures. And I think — maybe I can add that to my blog, too.

In the next second I think — what’s wrong with me? What’s with this “over-achiever” thing I seem to be going through?

It’s worse than puberty. Or maybe just LIKE puberty. When you blossom into a young lady (or young man), your thoughts are obsessed with sex. Wanting it, thinking about it, dreaming about it.  Fifty years later, your obsession turns from what used to be to what can be. (And trust me — it’s not sexually oriented). Lost between a tedious job and dreams of retirement, your psyche reaches out to do MORE. Whatever MORE may be to you.

I suppose that’s where “too much of a good thing” comes from.

Like too much chocolate or too much lasagna (can there really be too much of either?), too much variety in a blog is not only confusing to the reader but to you as well. Most bloggers have a theme, a direction, a reason for sharing their thoughts. And those who identify with those themes/directions/reasons follow and share and (hopefully) get something positive out of it.

But when you go this way one day and that way the next and over there the next, there tends to be a bit of confusion on the direction part. I could have started my Sunday Evening Art Gallery as its own separate blog, but I found that I wanted to share these discoveries with YOU, my friends. Knowing how eccentric a middle-aged woman (say…62-ish) can be, you can maybe connect my looking for older age direction with odd, unique art.

Thin though that line may be, I’ve worked hard to keep it strong. Introducing another dimension to this already multi-dimensional blog might be the bonie that made the doggie fat. Too much of a good thing leads to a predicable end.

Getting fat and lazy. And that’s already a struggle.

So my friends-who-have-wordless-Wednesdays — go for it. I love trying NOT to say anything to your unique pictures. And I love the added dimension it gives your blog.

As for me — I’m already bouncing around in the 5th dimension. And there’s no no place out there for being wordless.

Trial and Error is Better Than a Bottle of Whine

trialI had almost a whole blog finished this evening, one about deer ticks and broken teeth and watching Face Off. But when I reread it, all I saw was creatively written whine.  The beautiful thing about typing on a computer is that with one sweep I can delete it all.

But what about second thoughts? What if I destroy something that one day may be my Pulitzer Prize?

I imagine my friends in other arts have the same dilemma. Graphic art, photography, writing, pottery — there’s always those pieces that you gave your heart and soul to and it still sucks. So you redo it. Rewrite it. Re-form it.

But how many times to you redo it?

I would love to hear from my graphic artist friends or sculptor friends or my scrapbooking friends. How many times to you redo something to get it “perfect”? And if you DO redo it, HOW do you do it?

Writing is simple yet complex. Often my stories, novels, poems, and other ditties start out with notes or research of some kind. Not like the Encyclopedia Britannica, but I try and create an ocean of information so that I can eventually reduce it to a cup full of water. Quite like my research for my Sunday Evening Art Gallery. Writing about Doors? Collect images of 30 different doors so I can choose 8. Writing about Nail Art? Download 20 images so you can share 7. Writing about life in 1880? Better check out things like electricity, transportation, and currency, even if the reference is only a couple of sentences long.

I keep every other version of my creations, cutting here, adding there, rearranging when needed. As the years go by I get rid of the middle versions — I’ve either moved forward and created a masterpiece, or it just hasn’t “done it” for me. I have a computer full of half-formed ideas, research that goes nowhere, poetry that needs real work. I decide what I want to work on, what I still need to research, and what was a great idea at the time but now, no thank you.

How do you deal with developing your craft? Do you network? Do you draw a basic image and then play with that same image until you get what you want? Do you you have pages and pages of canvas that hold various versions of your final masterpiece? Do you have stacks of pottery that look nothing like what you wanted to create?

My notebooks are glimpses of my thoughts through time. I’ve kept some since I started writing in earnest years ago. It’s fun going back and seeing my thought processes through the years. Sometimes I go back and reignite the embers that once burned brightly. Other times I just smile and see why the ideas are still only in a notebook.

I think beginner crafters can learn from our paths of trial and error. The thrill of creating something unique is made from the sweat and love and honesty that comes from somewhere deep inside. Some pick one idea, one idea, and stick with it from beginning to end. Others have trial and error experiences, realizing a particular path was pretty much a dead end from the beginning. So we choose a different path. A different path in the same endless woods.

I feel so much better when I write about the Craft. If I ever unlocked the door to the Hallway of Infinite Doors, I would find worlds that I love almost as well — drawing, stenciling, jewelry making, gardening. I would never have a life because my life would exist in the next dimension — the ethereal one. The Creative Arts one. I only hope you feel that way about your Craft too.

Oh, btw — the tick bite wasn’t infected, my broken tooth gets fixed in the morning, and Face Off is down to its final three.

Life is good.

Good Intentions Still Need a Disclaimer

peace lillyAs I sit and add images to my newly created Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog, my mind wanders back to a non-incident last week.

I know that, for the most part, showcasing others’ artwork is a step through the thornbushes, to be sure. The reward: fields and fields of fragrant, beautiful flowers. The punishment: thorns that can rip and make you bleed. And that, even with the best, most honest intentions, someone, somewhere, might get upset. Such is the chance I’m willing to take.

I placed a disclaimer on this wandering, unusual blog: not much, I imagine, in the scheme of things. But nonetheless, an attempt at honesty.

Here it is for you all as well.

DISCLAIMER

 

There are so many unbelievable, fascinating, beautiful works of Art out in the world. The intention of this blog, Sunday Evening Art Gallery, is to share this beauty with the Internet Public.

These are creations that most of us never come across. I know every time I find something new and unusual I can’t wait to share it with you. I am taken aback by the genius behind the art. And I believe their passion should be discovered and appreciated by everyone.

Whenever possible, I have listed the artist and their website for your further exploration. In other situations, the topic is so diverse that often there is no one source for the images.

At no time is it my intention to steal or claim as my own photography any image I put on Sunday Evening Art Gallery.

I make no money from this world; I claim only the photography that is mine. My intention is to share the websites of these gifted people so you may further enjoy the fruits of their labors.

If at any time you discover I have taken your image and not given you proper credit, please let me know. My e-mail address is humoring_the_goddess@yahoo.com.

I hope my intention of spreading the beauty I come across has lightened your day. There are so many hard-working, creative artists in the world whose creations most of us never see. I hope to make this blog a melting pot of the unusual, the unique, and the awe-inspiring.

I hope you come along for the ride.

 

Share Your Island

x3_palm1 (1)Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.  J. Abdul Kalam

No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.   John Donne

You can make it, but it’s easier if you don’t have to do it alone.    Betty Ford

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.   Helen Keller

 

A lot of us have creative dreams that we dream alone. We dream of being a better painter, ceramics-er, quilter, speaker, writer. But we sit alone, dreaming these pipe dreams, afraid to bring our full potential to the forefront.

Yet when we bring out work outside the silence of our own world, amazing things happen.

Bells ring, adrenalin bubbles, and ideas explode. When we share our oh-so-private dreams with others who also have oh-so-private dreams, we find incentive, hope, and support with another living, breathing, being.

And it’s great.

I know some of the greatest writers seclude themselves, isolate themselves, and write torturous and incredible passages; painters hide in dark rooms and airy studios and create gorgeous imitations of life. But sooner or later these masterpieces need a second opinion. An idea of where to go from here. A conversation of how to get their message out there. Feedback on their thoughts and ideas.

Tonight I had hot chocolate with my bff, an incredibly talented and outgoing muse. We talked about speaking engagements and radio shows and blogs and writing contests and it was exciting. Last week I met with two other wonderfully creative and innovative muses whose creative talents lie in the worlds of animals and graphic arts. Over the weekend, a couple of fantastic scrapbookers. Everyone’s fields are different; everyone is engaged in different parts of their lives. But all of us have the desire to do more, be more, to have fun and discover what’s waiting for us right around the corner.

Some of my best friends are people I met when I was a part of the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. Friends that are writers, poets, screenwriters. I miss the camaraderie conferences brought to my life. The natural support that comes from wanting the same things everyone at the table wants. I miss the support of those who are lost in their innovational sphere like I am.

When I get together with other creative spirits, something magical happens. It’s the opposite of what you first envision. Your thoughts clarify. You are free to boast about your accomplishments without feeling self conscious. You share thoughts on how to get your message across. What works, what doesn’t. What’s reasonable and what’s ridiculous.

Blogs are wonderful tools for communication, too. There are thousands of writers out there — thousands of abstract artists and thousands of jewelry makers and thousands of animal whisperers. Sometimes when you see the sheer numbers of those wanting what you want, it can be overwhelming, making you want to throw in the towel.

Don’t.

The numbers don’t matter. All that matters is that somewhere in the Internet world are others who are going through just what you are going through. You can’t be friends with them all. But you can connect with a talented few who are willing to take you along on their ride, and who want to ride along with you. People who laugh and encourage and feel just like you.

Don’t be afraid to dream and to encourage others to dream too. There is always so much room to grow. And nothing is more fun than growing along with others.

Make room on your island!

 

 

The Weekend Before Christmas

cats christmas

It was the week before Christmas

And all through the house

The kitties were running

In search of their mouse.

They tore through the kitchen

And under the chair

Then disappeared down the hallway

As if never there

The stockings weren’t hung

I’m nobody’s fool

For all that’d be left

Would be shredded in drool

The doggies were eyeballing

The goodies I baked

They had full intention

of sharing my cake

The tree stood by waiting

For garland and lights

The statues and santas

Were stacked way up tight

Christmas cards were patient

For pen and for stamp

My list just kept growing

There under the lamp

I was cooking, I was cleaning

I was staying up late

Worrying about strudel

And empty Christmas plates

The kitties were wrestling

And howling at night

They were drinking milk from glasses

And causing a fright

Then what to my wondering

eyes should appear

But a Food Network magazine

And a bottle of beer

The recipes flowed

Like snow in the hills

With last minute tips

For stove and for grill

On Candy! On Cookies!

On chocolate pecans!

The holiday planning

Had only begun!

Another beer or two

And I was planning gourmet

Pot-au-feu and remoulades

And salmon pate

After the six pack

The tree decorated itself

The dogs baked a meatloaf

With the elf on the shelf

The cats were all dancing

To Jinglebell Rock

The ornaments were hung

On the dining room clock

The beauty of Christmas

Shown brightly that night

My head did a spinneroonie

But that was all right

The turkey and stuffing

Could wait one more day

I took two more aspirins

And called it a day.

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….

Beauty IS Skin Deep — And Don’t You Forget It!

I am a deer hunting widow this weekend, lost between doing nothing and doing six things at a time. Laying in bed, flipping through old blogs (I love those old ones!), I came across this one that made me laugh. So, come have an after-Thanksgiving smile with me, and trip back to June of 2013…..

 

Do You Do That Beauty Do?w

This blog is mainly for my GFs, my BFFs, my Peeps, and my YTBM (yet-to-be-met) gal pals. Yes, it’s another “list” for us women who haven’t enough sense to come out of the proverbial beauty rain. It’s a list to remind us girls over 40 not to look like 80 — unless we are 80 — and then we just don’t need to look our age.

So from Yahoo to you, here are six beauty mistakes that make us look like an antique lamp:

 

Dark Lipstick — Deep shades make any surface look smaller, and that includes lips.    I wonder if I should wear a dark shade all over my body, then …

Too sleek hairstyle — This can make your face look drawn and emphasize every pore, wrinkle, and imperfection. Also, keep in mind that helmet-headed updos can be disasterously aging. Stay away from too-voluminous bouffants.    Seems the flat head is dead. Too bad no one seemed to tell my thinning hair that. And voluminous bouffants — I thought the boof was the dead head of the 50’s ….

Over-concealing dark circles — We want to hide those bags and under eye circles, and sometimes we get carried away. What happens if I’m one BIG bag — not only under the eyes but on the other 99% of my body? Can I over-conceal THAT?

Cakey foundation — Heavy foundation sticks to and emphasizes wrinkles.    Oh, come on now — who would want cakey without ice creamy? That sticks to EVERYTHING ….

Lower lash mascara — This packs a double aging whammy by bringing attention to crows feet and making eyes appear smaller and more tired.    I have lower lashes??!!

Short necklaces — Chokers are a bad move as they bring attention to your neck — an area that begins to show aging early on.    Ever notice that actresses of a certain age end up wearing scarves and choker necklaces and turtlenecks? Choking is bad for you in general. Leave my neck alone. 

Now, just to show you that I am all about beauty, I made up my own six beauty mistakes — and the remedies for them.

Red eye — Cameras are notorious for bringing this malady into the forefront. Ideas to reduce this bloodshot look include eyedrops, sunglasses, getting to bed before 1 a.m., and enlarging the type on your computer.

Upper lip hair — Some of us can’t help we inherited Uncle Stan’s mustache genes. Besides plucking and depilatoring, you can be super chic and drink a lot of milk. After all, look what a milk mustache did for Trisha Yearwood.

Thin lips — Except for Botox, the easiest thing you can do to enlarge your lips to either suck on a straw all day, or walk around and pooch them as if you are in deep thought. You won’t look strange, because everyone knows the older you get the harder it is to think.

Mummy skin elbows — Dry, crinkly skin making you want to hide your elbows? No need to wear long sleeves to the beach. Rub a little RumChada or Malibu Coconut Rum on the rough parts — you’ll smell great and everyone will know what you are drinking.

Flat hair — Flat hair makes you look shorter (I should know). To get that “tall girl” look at any age, turn your head upside down. Hang whatever hair you have towards the floor and spray with hairspray. Without touching a brush or comb, go drive around for about 20 minutes with the car windows open (preferably down a highway or freeway). You won’t believe the height that results! Width too!

Dry, wrinkly skin — Even the best moisturizers can’t keep our skin as smooth as a baby’s. So besides slopping on the goo, you can dip yourself in chocolate (and become a Raisinet), or soak in the pool, hot tub, lake, or bathtub, and plump up like a grape. Better yet, forget the soak — drink the grape. Trust me, you won’t notice one more wrinkle.

To conclude this beauty lesson, never forget: those who refer to our well-worn and well-loved bodies as snake skin, pigeon toes, crow’s feet, cat claws, chicken neck, raccoon eyes, and spider veins, know diddle about animals OR women. Rejoice in the fact that you are here today, proudly representing the animal kingdom in its bare naked finery. Your wrinkles, your skin, are just that – yours.

Wear your jungle with pride.

Unclogging the Soul

handsThe news has been pretty overwhelming for my middle aged mind to wrap around lately. The aftermath in Ferguson doesn’t make sense to me, even if you whole-heartedly have an opinion on the decision. The people whose businesses were set on fire and destroyed or sacked did nothing to the victim; the broken communication between sides has done nothing but destroy lives of innocent people who have worked hard for a living, hard for their money, hard for their very survival.

But I stray, because I don’t want my blogging world to be one of destruction. I want this world to be one of hope. Of laughs and rolling of the eye and a tear now and then because you “get it.”

Yet there are more stories. More horrors. More wtf’s going on in this world. And this is nothing new. I follow a couple of bloggers whose lives have been turned upside down by abusers; mental, physical. Their stories are told their way, in a their blog, in their world. And my heart hurts for them, what they’ve endured. Fortunately, my heart soars for the salvation they’ve found, for the fresh start they have made for themselves.

A handful of my close friends have been through hell and back in their lives. Like one, continuous soap opera, you can’t think it can get any worse, and yet it does.  Yet their love of life, of family and friends, has brought them across the burning coals and onto the soft, cool grass of today. And tomorrow.  Their strength has become my inspiration.

And in my naive, white-bread way, I wonder: How did it ever get that way? How were abusers and mind melters and bullies allowed to run rampant through my friends and bloggers lives and get away with what they did? What ever happened to being a decent human being?

I wonder how we can ever keep our head above all this muck. How we can keep our souls from being tainted by all the madness that permeates the world. After all, one’s goodness can only so far. I can understand, I can empathize, I can share my experience and my support and my strength, even if it’s from an armchair quarterback’s position. But all the positive vibes I can share with those I love doesn’t change the way the world is today. And my inability to do anything to change and/or stop the rampage makes it worse. Being an overworked (and overtired) granny doesn’t give me much time to raise the flag and march. Nor would my competency make me much of a leader. I can honestly understand those who don’t turn the TV on anymore.

But I don’t want to be one of those guys. I don’t want to be ignorant of the pain and confusion and absurdity of what happens in our world every day. I want to be there for my friends and for those I don’t really know. I want to find a way to translate the horrors that go on every day, even though I can’t bear to think about most of them. How do I do that? How can I help and run at the same time?

Maybe the best thing I can do on this day before Thanksgiving Eve is stand by what I believe, and to keep it simple.

Stop being a bully when the world doesn’t go your way. Stop abusing those who don’t see things the way you do. Get over yourself. You’ll never change things by violence. Grow up.  Learn to adapt.  Take your complaints and your problems to those who can do something about it. Not to the innocent guy who just opened a snack shop with the last of his savings.

On the gentler side, take one step at a time. One breath at a time. Every day the sun rises is another chance to change your life. Don’t judge your situation by the way others handle theirs. Listen to your friends, to those you can trust. Change your attitude. Change your routine. Live to make others happy. Listen to others. Offer support, a hand. And don’t be afraid to share your own darkness. There is light in friendship.

It’s so easy to say, so hard to do.

But it can’t be any harder than setting a car on fire and flipping it on its side.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Aquariums

Nothing soothes the savage beast (or is it breast?) than watching fish swim. There is something about their slow, undulating movements that simplifies the most pretzeled logic and unties the tightest knots.

creative-aquariums-25-2

But then again, there are fish in tanks and fish in tanks.

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And as my mind begins to wander, so does my imagination…

geometric

And I begin to wonder — is this still relaxation?

3D-bar-aquarium

Are these fish tanks whims of a creative mind?

Unique-Aquariums-19

Their mind? Or Mine?

staircase

Suddenly, the possibilities are endless. Swimming and relaxing and contemplating all in one place.

creative-aquariums-2

Yet I began to wonder….can you take swimming and relaxing and contemplating…just a little too far?

toliet

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!

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Stilettos

In the beginning of October I wrote a blog called Magic Shoes (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-Dq) about the debacle of buying gym shoes. The pic I found for that article was awesome.

Nike SB Dunk High Heel Shoes 126034

But in searching for the perfect image I came across others that made my eyes (and my feet) pop.

rose-stem-heels-by-mai-lamore

I can’t tell you how many foot-squishing, toe-breaking, gorgeous shoes I came across.

1246187953_Sexy_Stiletto_High_Heel_Party_Shoes__1__212516135312069

I have flat feet, so I have never fantasized about wearing shoes like these. I believe you have to have a certain kind of foot, along with a certain kind of personality, to walk out of the house with creations such as these.

alien-high-heels

If you can get past the outrageousness of the height, you can admire the creativity of the mind behind the shoe.

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So instead of viewing these heels as foot torture to the hundredth degree, I choose to look at them at creative freaks of nature.

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Just make sure if you think of dancing in these shoes,  you have a paid health insurance policy as well.

GIANMARCO-LORENZI-rhinestone-collector-sandal4

Bird Brain…Again?

I was driving to work this morning, and once again I came across a murder of crows — actually, three murders. (Would that be murderers?) And it got me thinking — and remembering — a little post I did back in September of 2014. So, while I ponder the meaning of life and and crows on the asphalt, have a smile with this —

 

 

BIRD BRAINcrow

I was driving to work this morning when I passed a bunch of crows on the side of the road (who ever decided to call a group of crows a ‘murder’ anyway?), doing whatever crows do. A few seconds later there was a single crow on the side of the road, doing the same thing.  Now, being the kind of gal I am, I started to wonder — what was that single crow thinking?

Now, I didn’t necessarily want to become on of those people who anthropomorphize (give human characteristics and emotions) animals. The crow was probably not thinking at all. But let’s let reality fly to the wind and let fantasy take over.  I started thinking of what he/she might be feeling:

(a)  oh…woe is me….no one wants to pick the gravel with me…no one likes me…I’m sooooo aloooonnnneee…

(b)  man,  I am so glad to be away from that group of big mouths. They’re such know-it-alls. I don’t need crows in my life like that…

(c)  won’t you flyyyyyy……freeeee bird…..

(d)  what do you mean there are other crows around here?

When you start to think about things like this it starts to look like a Rorschach Test — everyone sees something different.

Me — I kinda wanted to pick all of the above. A … no…B! Mmm…I’d like it to be C. Or most likely D.  I’m so confused! Just like my life!  When I’m feeling down, I would pick (a), cuz I’m convinced no one likes me; when I’m peeved at the world it’s definitely B; when I’m feeling great there is no other choice but C; but most of my life it’s probably D, cuz I often don’t know what’s going on around me.  It may seem confusing, but it IS fun.

What do YOU think the crow is thinking?

Something Wicked This Way Squats

CAM00855 I love Fall. It’s the time of the month/year that blogs and Facebook and other visual media are filled with golden colors, leaves and woods and pumpkin patches. I love the crispness of the air, the chill of the day, the blankets and the hot chocolate. It’s also the time for my favorite holiday — the little haunting ritual of Trick-or-Treat.

I could share memories of Halloweens past, but I’d rather share a confession.

Now, I am one of those tree-hugging grannies. I move worms from the wet pavement to the grass after rainstorms, talk to bunnies that peek at me from the grass line, and give my pets extra food all the time. I cry at the end of Face Off and Bones, and refuse to listen to sappy music (except for at Christmas time) because of the same cry factor. So, needless to say, I’m a softy.

Flash backwards to last Sunday. Trick-or-treating with my little grandbaby. It was a family affair, everyone out to trick and treat and eat a lot of food afterwards. I pulled out my very cool hooded cape, grabbed a pair of matching gloves, and a mask I got at our annual camping cookoff, and decided to be the candy-giver-outer. (I’m usually the trick-or-treat guardian granny).

Now for my confession. I took a perverse delight in sitting perfectly still, holding the candy bowl, waiting for the treaters to come to the door, moving only when they came up close. I didn’t jump at them; I didn’t spook them. I just turned veerrrryy slowly and let them pick their treat. It was one of those “is it a statue or is it real?” kinda things.

Not a big confession as far as confessions go. But what did surprise me is that there were times that I wanted to scare them. Not a Freddy-Krueger-kind-of-scare…just a little make-their-eyes-bug-out scare. A make-them-jump scare. I chastised myself, wondering if all of my Walking Dead and American Horror stories had  finally came home to roost. If all the bullies that picked on me during my middle school years were hidden behind the Batman and Jake the Pirate costumes. If this was a control thing: dominate the little children, be in charge of the moment, hold the Sword of Damocles above their head. If this was a psychological game that only psychos play. If I could slip in and out of being a psycho without anyone knowing it.

The reality of it was that it was just a creative writing granny, chilled and stiff, waiting for her family to come back from trick-or-treating.

Getting older is a trick. And I am a trip. Is there a treat in there too?

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

 

 

Marriage Lessons…?

Couple Embracing 1As usual, my pre-blog state is one thing, the actual blog another. During break this morning I came across this article in the Huffington Post and just had to read it.

I’m almost sorry I did.

I was born in the early 50’s, so I never really “knew” what their version of marriage should be. Yes, my mom loved my dad. Yes, my dad suffered from PTS from World War II, something men back then didn’t talk about. Yes, my dad occasionally pulled out the Army Belt to make a point to my brothers.  Yes, that wasn’t the right way to do things, but that’s how it was done.

But this article entitled, “Aweful ’50s Marriage Advice Shows What Our Mothers and Grandmothers Were Up Against,” shocked me to my core. With all the news lately about domestic violence, and perpetrators saying that’s how they were raised, gives even more insight into what our mothers and grandmothers really went through.

Taken from the Ladies’ Home Journal’s Can This Marriage Be Saved? column, here are the top lessons back then:

Lesson: A woman’s “personality” is to blame for marital problems. (April 1953)

Solution: Sylvia was advised to “change her personality and deeply rooted attitudes” against her husband, the counselor wrote, because she’d “deeply wounded his masculine pride.” Being too “fast” with boys in her past had left the 31-year-old almost as emotionally immature as a child of four or five … driving her husband out of his home to the corner bar and into the arms of other women.” The counselor found ways to blame Sylvia in every aspect of the couple’s marital woes, from Everett’s drinking to Everett’s probable infidelity, while Everett himself merely “modified” his drinking and philandering.

 

Lesson: The longer you’ve been married, the more you should let domestic violence slide. (April 1954)

Solution: Apparently, Lucy was now chained to her abusive husband because she’d somehow missed her window of escape at the ripe old age of 36. “[Lucy], her child and her elderly aunt were financially dependent… Without Dan, Lucy was marooned” — safety and mental health be damned. Lucy’s husband, a man who didn’t like seeing women in pants, was even excused for considering his son a “rival” because his wife wasn’t paying him enough “badly needed praise, appreciation, admiration [and] love.”

 

Lesson: Wives should be able to read minds (February 1953)

Solution: the counselor chided Alice for her lack of ESP. “In cooking him expensive steaks and smothering him with excessive protestations of love,” it was explained, “she was offering him not the kind of attention he wanted and needed but the kind she wanted herself.” A good wife would have realized she was making nice dinners the family couldn’t quite afford, even though her husband wasn’t using his big boy words to express himself.

 

Lesson: If you don’t give your spouse enough attention, he has a fair excuse to cheat on you (May 1953)

Solution: “Of course, she herself was largely responsible for Joe’s infidelity. She practically drove her husband to find in the company of another woman a little of the praise and credit he was not receiving at home,” the counselor wrote. Amy was advised to “adopt a divergent set of values” because she was “just too busy.” Poor Joe “felt like a nobody who didn’t count” while his wife made sure they had enough income to eat.

 

Lesson: Never try to have it all (October 1955)

Solution: The counselor found Patrice at fault not just because of her career, but “the way she handled her career, her husband [and] her child.” Patrice, the counselor noted, “grew to womanhood hating the unalterable fact that she was doomed to be a female in a man-made world.” Luckily, she got her “true reward” in the end, “when she reduced her career to second place … she became a successful wife and a successful mother.”

You have to read the details behind each lesson. You have to.

Here is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/26/can-this-marriage-be-saved-advice_n_5829870.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

Have fun. And quit squinching up your face every other word…

 

It’s All About Me…Isn’t It??

stressI will probably wait a few days before I publish this blog, because I don’t want to send too many blogs out a week, filling up mailboxes and facebooks with more personal dribble. After all, it’s invading your personal space, and you might not like me for it.

That’s the stress talking.

My husband came home from his 2nd shift job and woke me up at 4 a.m., asking if I was okay. It seems the knob on the stove wasn’t turned off all the way and the house was filled with gas fumes.

This is me talking through the stress.

I always thought the older I got, the less I’d care about things that upset me. That I could truly not give a $hiT about things that plague my every day existence.

That hasn’t happened.

I seem to be taking more and more things personally. I wasn’t near the stove yesterday except to take rice from the pot. I was second in line, delayed by at least 10 minutes because I was on the phone. But I was stressed because I thought I “might” have been the one who didn’t turn the handle all the way vertical. And stress, being what it is, told me that my husband and kids might start thinking I’m getting senile.

I’m training a newbee at work, and I’m upset because I’m training him on something I’ve never quite worked on, and his desktop shortcuts are different from my shortcuts, and my Photoshop froze up mid-demonstration, plus  I’m slow in getting the hang of learning something new. And stress, being what it is, told me that I might lose my job or get reprimanded or not get a raise because of my dilemmas.

We are paying off medical bills as steadily as we can, and have worked with doctors and hospitals and told them we can’t afford “their” payment plan. We send in a goodly chunk of money every month, yet they still like to call and remind me of how much money I owe. And stress, being what it is, told me that I could go to jail or get in trouble for not paying off thousands of dollars of bills right away.

My wonderful daughter-in-law is spending Friday morning at my house, waiting for her husband to get off of work so they can follow us on a weekend escape, and I feel I have to spend 4 hours just cleaning my kitchen so she doesn’t get ptomaine poisoning. And stress, being what it is, tells me that she might not like me anymore if she has to spend four hours in my messy house.

Why am I so screwed up about these things?

I know I should save the stress for big things…Lord we know we all go through them. Jobs, families, and illnesses are all sources of stress. But lately I feel like I’m taking the blame for everything, leading to higher cholesterol, sleepless nights, heartburn, and worse. I’ve been told to let it go — you can only do so much, you can’t change others, do your best. Blah blah. After all, it’s not my fault if a computer program freezes or someone else is late for something I want to go to. Don’t sweat the small stuff, they say. Smell the roses. Get some fresh air and clear your head. Don’t take it so personally.

But I do. All of it.

I’m already taking something to keep the door closed on an all-out anxiety attack. Still I have to stop my mind from wandering and wondering about stupid things that have nothing to do with my reality yet really stress me out, like: what would it be like to be tortured? What would it feel like to be mangled in a car accident? What if I anger somebody and they come back and turn postal on me?

It’s like I have something to do with all the bumbles of the world. Like if only I were smarter or quicker or more graceful I could avoid most of the faux pauxs that happen around me. I don’t move as quickly or as calculatedly as I used to. 61 is not 31. But that doesn’t mean I’m one step away from senility, either. Who is thinking I’m getting senile? No one  but me.

Yet I continue to second guess everything I wear, everything I do. I don’t work efficiently enough, I don’t clean my house well enough, I don’t learn fast enough. I’m not sure what “enough” is, but I’m sure someone somewhere down the line thinks that. I should have enough time to work and fill the dishwasher and visit my grandson and grocery shop. I should be able to remember codes and go to bed on time and cook great meals and go for walks.

But I don’t.

And that stresses me out even more.

I doubt if  I’ll go to jail because I’ve made up my own payment plans, or never have my grandbaby over because I have dust bunnies peeking out from beneath my couch.  I doubt one negative remark will terminate my friendships, or that leaving dirty dishes in the sink will make it into the local newspaper. I will still be the same person I was yesterday, which, in the grand circle of things, isn’t a bad thing.

I’ve got to find a way to not take the world personally. It certainly doesn’t take me personally. I’ve got to find a way to let go of a lifetime of self-doubt and self-judgement.

But now I’m going to stress out about how to do that.

 

Curiouser and Curiouser

writing-a-bookI have been having a Renaissance of sorts lately in my writing world. I’m having a blast with my blog, fine tuning a few older poems and short stories, but most of all, editing my latest novel. I think it will be a blast-off-the-planet sort of book once it’s published, throwing together a little sci-fi, a little romance, a little murder, a little sex — you know — your run-of-the-mill blockbuster.

Of course, I’m only on my first edit.

I wrote the story back in 2010. Unfortunately, a lot of interruptions, distractions, illnesses, and depressions got in the way between then and now. But I always knew I’d come back to it some day, fresh and ready to do business. And boy, does this novel need some business.

I’ve decided to break my full-length dissertation into chapters, using quotations to introduce each chapter. A heady idea, seeing that I need to edit the book at the same time. So the Great Revival of Art and Writing  movement (a.k.a.Renaissance) has started in earnest. And I’m having a great time.

So the question for you is: Do you ever revamp something you’ve created? Keep the basics but rearrange the frills? Did it make it better? Or just mess it up more? It doesn’t have to be writing — it can be designing jewelry or designing a quilt or changing the emphasis in a poem.

Most things I write I keep the same. Maybe a tweak here, a sentence there. I do a lot of clean up — I do have a bad habit of over-using certain words or phrases. But for the most part structure remains structure. So this is a new thing for me.

Let me know if it worked for you.

Ye of Little Faith … or Willpower … May Read

ice creamI am so weak. I am such a loser.

I’ve been sluggish lately; trying to adjust to my husband’s new job schedule (nights), my job schedule (days), cooking and not cooking, sleeping and not sleeping. All those things post-menopausal women go through.

I was going to try and do something about the sluggish thing. Diets aren’t for me. I love the taste of food too much. But common sense told me I can’t live on Fettuccine Alfredo and lasagna the rest of my life…not if I wanted to live to see 70. Or 80. Or, goddess be on my side, 90.

So I was going to go on that low-carb diet. Lots of meat, veggies, and water. I drink a lot of water at work already, so that’s not a problem. I started walking during my morning and afternoon work breaks. I was being a good doobie.

Then stress comes along. Too much salad too many days in a row kept me in the bathroom. Scrambling around in my frig for something that goes with the meat/veggie/water thing that is ready in 15 minutes more than impossible. Husband cooks dinner that I have to clean up. Can’t catch up with my writing or my friends or my sleep. So the crabbies hit me full force. And what do I do?

Meet my bff at McDonalds for an ice cream sundae. Then have a bowl of cereal (carbs!!) before bed.

What ever happened to MAKING A COMMITMENT? What ever happened to WILL POWER? What ever happened to the whipped cream and nuts that are supposed to come atop the sundae?

I admit my weakness will not cause the moon to slip out of orbit or get Gordon Ramsey to stop yelling at his Hell Kitchenites. But it bugs me that I can’t seem to stay true to trying to lose a few pounds. Oh, I know — tomorrow is another day. I didn’t fall off any wagon. I’m still walking and drinking water and eyeballing salads. I KNOW I have to move it or lose it. Cut proportions. There are already a dozen things I can’t eat any more because they mess me up in one way or ten.

But somehow it just seemed right to share my joys and sorrows with my bff over cheap ice cream. She, too, is swimming in her own pool of drama, but somehow we found comfort and support over a chocolate dipped ice cream cone and a hot fudge sundae. Seeking solace and laughs and camaraderie,  I would have willingly followed her to the local Italian restaurant, too.  That’s what friends do.

Tomorrow I will be back on the low-carb road. I chopped up some chicken for my salad and will have a burger for breakfast, along with some grapes and broccoli and whatever else my frig gives up. I will not be weak. I will not give up.

But I will be looking for my next excuse for a plate of Shrimp Scampi. With noodles.

Not Today

computer-freakout-gifI have finally started to settle down from my week in Eagle River, Wisconsin. “Great Times Come With the Territory” is the ER code. I tend to agree. I went up with my grandbaby and daughter-in-law at the beginning of the week, the Men joining us on Friday. Every day I kept saying “I could get used to this.” Sleeping in late, not much cleaning to speak of, morning walks to the lake, boat rides, naps — you get the picture.

I also found myself slowly melting into a pool of pudding. A little less motivation each day. More of an urge to sit on the deck with a drink (mostly non-alcoholic), making small talk, reading Game of Thrones Book I. Catching rays at the beach. No TV, just DVDs and VHS tapes. I had a slow Internet connection, but it was just enough to check e-mails and Facebook.

And I kept on saying, “I could get used to this.”

But I had a job and a house and two cats four hours south of the “Great Times” town that I needed to get back to. So with a sigh of resignation and a bit of Zen I returned to my ‘real’ ity.  Driving down the backroads to my office computer job this morning, I realized that maybe it was a good thing to come back when I did. Escaping for a week, forgetting after a while to check the clock, staying up late, sleeping later, really warped my reality. I found it so easy to forget about world news and office gossip and all the things that bug me. I didn’t have to compete with anyone, compare myself with anyone, nor push myself past the point of no return. I ran around morning through evening with my favorite four-year-old, screwing up my biological clock and my muscles, not caring about either.

I found myself becoming a Duh. I suppose that’s not a bad thing. If sitting and staring off the deck through the seasons became my daily fare, I imagine sooner or later my A.D.D. would kick in and I’d be rabbiting around town in no time. I’m sure I’d get back into the groove and write up a storm and maybe even put enough energy into it to get published. Or start a real live exercise routine like walking to the lake (and further) and back every morning.

Then there’s the winters up there. From November through April it’s snow boots, snow shovels, and snow flakes (both the water and people kind). Unless you are a snowmobile babe (which I definitely am not), the most action you get during the week is running to the grocery store. Writing time — maybe. Sleeping time — definitely. An easy road to Winter Duh.

So I suppose for now it’s better to be tied to a computer entering data eight hours a day, feeling overworked and under-appreciated, never having enough time to do what I need to do, less what I want to do, having problems sleeping and waking up, trying to find a way to work out my day shift with my husband’s night shift.

Better to be a frazzled, burned out Duh than a sleepy, pleasantly lethargic Duh.

At least for now.

 

The Gazing Ball

gazing-globe-12When you look into the gazing ball, what do you see?

Do you make a wish?

Do you see infinity?

Is it a reflection? Or an inflection?

You are never too old to look into the gazing ball.

The reflection is only the beginning.

I feel a new project on the horizon.

A new chance to

Create

Play

Research and

Wander.

What do YOU see when you look into the gazing ball?

 

 

Ohhh Oh…Working for a Living…

workingAh, the proverbial “working world.” It’s so much more than ten letters. It’s heaven, it’s hell. It’s boring, it’s busy. We love it, we hate it. But for better or worse, it’s a means to an end — our end being a place to live, food for our table, and dog cookies for our  pets.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with most of my jobs through the years. I’m sure most of you have, too. Sometimes we make a difference — in our little way we help the company run smoother and more efficiently, and maybe help them make more money. But all that do-goodery often entails endless multi-tasking, long hours, and missed soccer games. Part of the American dream, I suppose. But we persevere and keep on working.

What today’s blog is about is, if you HAD to work and could do anything you’d like, what would you do? I suppose you could go whole hog and say be an astronaut and walk on the moon or swim with the dolphins, but it’s much more fun if you could be a little more — down-to-earth. More like the almost-dreams. The shoulda-turned-right dreams. Not actually regrets — more like — my next-life plans.

Like, for me. I’d love to be a full-time, money-making book writer. At home. With a housekeeper so I wouldn’t have to break my concentration folding laundry. My stories would be spicy, funny, adventurous, with wonderful twists. You’d love them.

Another great job I’ll never have would be a graphic artist, especially for a pop publication or upscale eatery. Great creativity, open minds, exacting details. Creativity out the gazoo.  If I were a graphic artist I’m sure I’d have the finesse to impress.

Of course, my favorite jobs aren’t always practical ones. I’m sure they, too, have down sides. But since I’m pretending, I’m stretching the parameters a little. Isn’t that what pretending’s all about?

So tell me, my friends — what would your ideal job be? If you have it, what is it?

And if it’s a great, fun job, do you need an assistant?

 

Oh Solo Mio

tv_gif4I tell you, middle age keeps getting curiouser and curiouser (as my friend Lewis Carroll says). Just as you think your life is as quiet as the morning breeze, a hurricane bobbles along and wobbles your weeble.

My employment has been one joy ride from beginning to end. Well, it’s not at land’s end yet…anyway, this blog isn’t about that.

My husband has been on the rat’s end of jobs for the past few years, and he’s further away from retirement than me. He’s finally found a great job, and is happily in training for a position which will hopefully carry us into my retirement.  But there is one hangup about this job. Training for the next few weeks is 3 pm till midnight, then he goes full blown second shift, 6 pm through 3 am.

I imagine some of you have worked odd shifts recently, a while ago, or ages ago. My closest brush with nights was working the Boston Store 5 until 10. Now, though, those hours were nothing vs. my hubby’s new worldly hours.

Funny thing is…I think I’m going to like it.

I have known many moms who have taken one road while the dads took the other. Two different shifts — it doesn’t matter who does when. It’s a rough time, but they made up for the madness on weekends and evenings and vacations. Lots of love goes into bringing up children when one’s up is another’s down.  I am fortunate that my” baby” boy is 24 and needs no babysitting. I have three pesty dogs and two mauly cats, so there is no problem with company.

There are downs, of course. Not being able to cuddle with my sweetie at night. Or not being able to ask him a thousand questions while we watch a movie. Or me vacuuming while he fills the dishwasher. Being married as long as we have, we have lots of conversations without either saying a word.

But there are strangely attractive things about holding my own five nights a week. We are still in the “dating” phase of two different job shifts; he comes home at midnight, kind of wakes me up, and I tiptoe around getting ready for work in the morning while the dogs argue about who gets to sleep on his legs.  But the dating phase is soon going to turn into serious marriage times, as he takes off for work not long after I get home and slips back home two hours before I get going. We will exchange love and kisses over a quick dinner every night, which is a positive.  And I may be able to squeeze a snuggle or two before I get up for the morning.

But I see the look in his eye. That look of … apprehension. Concern. He is worried what I will do — or not do — when he’s not around. That makes me laugh. Hardy har har laugh. But not for the reasons you think.

I suppose he thinks I’ll sit around and be a vegetable every night.

He’s not worried I’ll go party or shopping or something a wild 61-year-old might be inclined to do the minute authority is gone. (Are you laughing yet?)  He’s afraid I’ll come home from work and sit on the sofa all night and eat and drink and watch TV.  I think he’s concerned I’ll become even more pretzel as time goes on.  And I ask you — what’s wrong with that??

You see, I have a way of doing things that are not always the way others do things. I get them done…I just spread them out. A bit. Lots of little bits. I know it’s not the “right” way…the “right” way is do a project until it’s d-o-n-e. Why not? Get it out of the way. Finito. Then you are free to dance the night away if you’d like.  My problem is that if I finitoed everything at once the only dancing I’d do is in my dreams.

So I fill the dishwasher, then do whatever. I throw a load of laundry in and do whatever. Then when the dryer beeps I unload it and do something else. Maybe I’ll throw in another load of laundry, maybe I won’t. The thing is, I LIKE being sporadic. I LIKE being impulsive. And I LIKE doing it my way.  Something I couldn’t always do with hubby around doing his linear thing.

I admit that I am trying to schedule one “task” per evening. One working task, one play task. I’ve only tackled two nights so far, but I’ve stayed to task. Last night…sewing. Tonight, my blog.  I want to be able to go to bed at a normal time, to be able to take care of my personal hygiene and wardrobe and psyche. I want to take care of myself so I can take care of the man who has changed work shifts to take care of both of us. Some of our dreams have been run over by a locomotive; others are still out there, waiting for us.

So all I need to do is keep my tasks in check and manageable. No more superwoman. No more overachieving. And when we do meet twice a day, we will be connected in so many more ways.

Like — I will be sure to leave a list of what TV shows I’ve already watched. Favorite TV shows wait for no one — no matter what shift they work.

 

 

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…

Reposting the Guilty One

9 Hand of GuiltLast Friday afternoon I was supposed to go to Chicago to be a part of my good friend’s Soirée … a magical moment where music and art and writing came together in true spirit. That morning the weather scared me off — rain and thunderstorms and ice storms threatened my 2-hour journey. So I didn’t go. And it didn’t rain. Nor thunderstorm. Nor ice storm. And now I feel bad. Maybe it’s a girl thing.

So in honor of miscues and missed moments, I am reposting an oldie but goodie from December of 2011.

The Hand of Guilt

Raise your hand if you carry around a bunch of guilt with you every day. I don’t mean the extreme, over-the-top stuff — I mean a good, healthy fistful of remorse for things you should have or should not have done. Now, keep your hands up if you would like to get rid of that guilt. Keep them up if you have tried to rationalize and theorize why you shouldn’t carry said-guilt around with you everywhere you go. Now, keep your hand raised if you have failed in shaking off the afore-mentioned guilt that’s still perched on your shoulder. Is your arm getting tired yet?

Somewhere in a woman’s ancient psyche development a seed was planted that all females should have responsibilities and goals that prove their worth as human beings. Back in cave dwelling days, I can see the logic of some of that reasoning. If Urg goes out hunting buffalo or mastodon and is gone a month or so, someone has to keep the cave clean and make sure a saber tooth tiger doesn’t grab junior and eat him for breakfast. But responsibilities have evolved since Urg brought home a trophy yak for dinner. Men and women have turned the responsibility umbrella upside down, and responsibility is more a nebulous outline than a fact carved in stone.

 Most would say that guilt is wasteful and stupid. I would raise my hand to that. When chances are such that you could succumb to pneumonia or be involved in a car crash at any time, dirty dishes in the sink should be the least of your problems. Then why do we feel it? Why is it an effort to tune out the self-reprimands that come with things we didn’t do?

I admit that I feel less guilty about things as I get older. Things that upset me in my 20s are nothing like what upsets me in my 50s. I don’t worry about getting married or getting pregnant or what shoes go with what purse. I used to think that that was some accomplishment. But when I came home from work sick the other day and worried about how much housecleaning I could squeeze in between diarrhea and dinner, I realized I hadn’t accomplished much at all.

 I have never really had a day all to myself — for myself — without wiping something, washing something, or fixing something. Even those days when I am home alone, basking in the morning sunshine, reading a great book, listening to enchanting music, there is always something in the back of my mind whispering, “Why not throw a load of laundry in while you sit here? It can be washing itself…and you can keep reading,” or “Why don’t you call and make an appointment for your son’s haircut before you sit down? It will only take a minute…”

 When did vacuumed floors and folded laundry take the place of listening to the wind chimes outside my window? When did eating the last piece of cake become such a terrible thing? This isn’t about men vs. women or kids vs. moms — this is about that snickering devil who tries to measure my self worth by how many soccer games I attend and how many sodas I leave in the frig for others. This is about looking around and seeing the beauty of the world without caring if my toenails need polish or if there’s toothpaste in the bathroom sink.

Yet, however easy it sounds, getting rid of guilt dust bunnies is a full time effort. I don’t want to feel too dismissive; after all, there are health and safety issues in dirty sink water and science experiments in the frig. I don’t want to be too carefree and punch in late or miss my dentist appointment. Time is a constraint no matter where you are and what you are doing. Perhaps that is where the guilt monster hides — inside the clock.

I feel guilty if I sleep the morning away instead of cleaning or going for a walk. I feel guilty if I pet the dog and not the cat. I feel bad if I promise chicken parmesan and produce hotdogs and beans. Why do I sabotage myself? Why do I let my emotions get so sidetracked? I mean, it would be one thing if I shredded the electric bill along with credit card applications. But what I’m really talking about are guilt trips about everyday things that don’t really matter in the long run. As if someone is going to care if I stop at the gas station for cappuccino instead of gas or if I keep an extra dollar from the grocery budget for myself.  

These days I have a little sign that says “slow down” right on my computer stand in front of me at work. Although this typed message was meant more for multitasking on the job, it should be plastered all over my house. I need to slow down and listen to the birds outside of my window. I need to and stop and watch a favorite movie instead of mow the lawn. I need to sing along with my favorite songs at the top of my lungs, and take a nap on the sunny porch when no one’s around, and throw a candy bar in the shopping cart even though I’m trying to lose weight.

Yet in writing this confession, I see there is another sign I should make to remind me that life doesn’t need to be clean and orderly to be enjoyed. I need to remember that long after I am gone there will still be stacks of laundry and empty soda boxes and overgrown gardens in the world to deal with, and all my guilt about not taking care of them meant diddle in the end. I need a sign that lets me know that the cosmos will evolve the way it will: that dogs will always beget puppies, women will always cry at sappy movie endings, and the sun will always rise another day. I need a sign that says:

Lighten Up.

Check Your Stress At The Door

teacherWashing my hands in the company washroom the other day, I was listening to two women talk about the most over-used word/topic I’ve heard lately — stress. They were talking about being “stressed” at their job. Fortunately, they parted on a laugh and a “tomorrow’s another day.”

These days everyone is “stressed.”

It’s your job — you are expected to do everything while someone else does nothing. It’s your kids — once out of sight, you have no idea what trouble they’re getting into. It’s your family — your brother/mother/sister/grandmother is out of control again (probably the me-me-me thing). It’s your health — cholesterol is off the charts, need to lose at least 15 pounds.  It’s your age — I’m too old to do this, I’m not old enough to do that. It’s everything around us. Everything inside of us. It’s as common as salt on French fries.

Were human beings always this messed up?

I admit I am one of the first in line to succumb to this dreaded disease. I’m older, I’m heavier, I’m poorer than I was 20 years ago. I have a hard time sitting still staring at a computer screen all day. I have lost a couple of loved ones recently which broke my heart. I have had other close ones have surgery, lose their jobs, crash their SUV. I get tired of everyone else stirring up hornet’s nests and not doing a thing about it. It’s a mess out there.

How did we get this way?

Life has always been life. Kids have always been a handful, family members too. Jobs have been hard, paychecks small. People we know have been dying since we were little. People have never had enough free time, and appliances and cars have always fallen apart at the same time. But our lives have balanced out, too (at least most of the time). We love our family. We have a job. We can afford cable. We can walk through parks and snowbanks and feel the sun on our face and play in the rain. We have quit smoking or picked up a hobby or made new friends. Yet these positive things still don’t make a dent in our over-reacting to the world.

Were our parents this wound up all the time? Our grandparents?

I am not making light of stress…on the contrary, I’m worried about it. Talking to others, there is not enough time in the day (or night) to do what we need to do. No less what we want to do. Companies are downsizing, so a lot of us are doing the job of two or three people. The cost of gas and food is rising a whole lot faster than our yearly cost-of-living raise (if we get one). The cost of healthcare in one form or another is out of control, as one visit to the doctor’s office can cost us a week’s pay. We are paying for car repairs and mortgages and fixing aging appliances and paying doctor bills all from the same paycheck.

No wonder we are stressed.

I worry about this because, the older I get, the less roses I get to smell. I have at least another 20 years of spoiling my grandbaby and trying to grow a garden and I still want to go to Ireland and Italy. And every ounce of stress — I mean the really mean stress — takes me one step backwards from where I want to go.

We can’t get back yesterday, but we can work on getting to the future.  And to get there we have to get rid of this over-used condition. And the catch is, we can’t get “stressed” about it, either. How do we do such a monumental turnabout? Here are my simple ideas.

* Get a whiff of fresh air every day. No matter if it’s frigid, humid, scorching, or grey as flannel. Get out and inhale, deep and long, every day.

* Talk to someone you love every day. Not just like trains passing in the night — like real people. Ask them how they’re feeling. What made them laugh today. That you’re glad they’re in your life.

*Remember that, for most of us, a job is just a means to an end. Some of us enjoy our jobs, some of us don’t. Some of us will make a career out of our choices, some of will just make it a job. Don’t get involved in scenarios you can’t change. Some things are just above your pay grade. Do you best but don’t bring it home with you. It’s just not worth it.

* There will never be another you. Savor that fact. Learn to hone that self into one that rolls with the punches. You have to. You can’t stop the river flowing, you can’t walk to the moon, etc., etc., etc. Be true to yourself, and flourish within that light.

* Make time for the little things. Watch the sunset, play fetch with your dog. Watch an old movie. Know that the little pleasures are all that matter — that sometimes that’s all you’ll get. And mountains can be made out of those molehills.

We can’t really wash all the stress out of the world. But I truly believe that if we all make an effort we can make it less of a stain and more of a blush. Deal with what you can, let go of the rest.

Your heart, your blood pressure, will thank you.

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…

Comments 101

spam2Good morning fellow bloggers, potential bloggers, friends, and curious ones!

I had a totally different blog in mind, but I feel this topic needs to be readdressed, with tips for those of you who are just starting out.

Everyone who writes a blog does so because they love to write. Some have pictures they want to share. Some share therapy. Some thoughts. Most everyone writes from experience, sharing what they’ve learned with others who want to learn.

Bloggers also enjoy the responses and interactions with those who have read their writing. This is where friends are made, ideas are shared, where we feel good about what we do.

Then there are the spammies.

Spammies usually attack e-mails. But blogs are also open season to those with nothing else to do than create chaos. I addressed this topic a month or two ago, and wound up deciding to moderate all comments before they get published. Things quieted down, and all was well.  But the spammies are back, and I want to share with you what is a real comment for your hard work and what is nonsense.

Here is a real comment from a real follower:

Very nice! I hear you on the “creaks from my joints and the squeals from my muscles.” I definitely want to work on those this year, too. Happy New Year, Claudia! I wish great things for you in 2014! Maddie Cochere breezybooksblog.wordpress.com.

And another:

Some how I missed the yellow brick road last time :-)  I loved your story!  Thank you for repeating… Deb Hathaway debhathaway.com

And even shorties:

Great story!   ittymac  ittymac.wordpress.com

Subscribers and nonsubscribers alike usually refer to something specific in your blog. There are times when you do get “I really like this!” or “Great post!”, but usually those are from followers you already know. (I know I sometimes use less than 5 words).

But a spammie is always from someone you don’t know, usually has no image or legit link, and often talk about things that either have nothing to do with your post or use the generic praise for you to keep doing what you’re doing.  In the last two days I received 20 such “responses.” That doesn’t include the 93 comments in my SPAM folder.

Your writing is certainly extremely persuasive and that is probably the reason why I am making an effort in order to opine. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. Secondly, even though I can easily notice the jumps in reason you make, I am not really sure of extcaly how you seem to unite the ideas which produce the actual final result. For now I will, no doubt subscribe to your position but trust in the foreseeable future you connect your facts better.   Tata

Another:

Thanks for the comment and shanrig this story. Somehow when this stuff is going on, I tend to attribute also and to myself. Like I’m a faulty adult or something. But having done workplace advocacy for a long time and so to I’ve come to realize just how often this nonsense is taking place, not to mention that many people think that simply ignoring a co-worker they don’t like is so acceptable… Roman

Those are just a few. You can see right away they have nothing to do with your post. I’ve seen tons of others where some nebulous person says, “Your blog is very helpful. I am grateful you are writing these things.”  They are generic and aimless. They usually pick older blogs where no one goes anymore. I’ve seen conversations go on between two different people about a totally different subject right in my comment section.

I don’t know how they get in there or what they want in there. I don’t know if they are just messing around or if they’re pulling information from my blog or just trying to get me to respond so they can continue to fool around. I mean, how do I know they’re not using MY past posts to share secret or illegal information? I’m not behind-the-scenes savvy when it comes to Internet privacy — or piracy. But I don’t appreciate invasion of my personal space by people who are playing in my back yard without my knowing what they’re doing (or talking about).

I’m not saying you should moderate all your comments. Strangers stop by all the time and comment and go on their merry way. You don’t have to have a liege of followers who hang onto your every post. But if you keep an eye on how many people comment on your posts (I think everyone does to one degree or another), be aware that not every comment is a true comment about you. Most of these spammies just sit in your e-mail notifications as someone who commented on your writing. They don’t have viruses or attachments, but yet when you click on their name to see who they are, who knows what that does?

I know anyone can type anything anywhere, and anyone can type your email address into anything. My husband was a victim of the recent Target scandal, and all he did was buy a Christmas present. So all this blog is about is keep your eyes open. If it’s too incredible, it’s not. If you’ve received a ton of comments on your blogs and you usually get a half dozen, sniff around. Something’s up.

But don’t worry — Big Granny is here looking out for you — and reading your stuff — so keep on reading and keep on commenting.

Fakey Spammies Always Get What’s Coming To Them….

 

Look Through Any Window

CAM00209I keep saying over and over again that I’m not getting older, that technology isn’t getting the best of me. After all, I do work in an office; I do code copy for the Web; I do work with spreadsheets and word documents, and do design a website here and there. So it’s not like I’m a rookie here.

But I recently bought a new laptop with Windows 8, and I can’t tell you how lost I am.

There are boxes on the startup screen that mean nothing to me. Boxes I want nothing to do with. Yet it is nearly impossible to figure out how to get rid of them. I’ve been looking for how to open the DVD drive (besides pushing the button on the side), or how to put an icon on the desktop. Every corner is a link to another universe. Is this supposed to be the new wave of enlightenment? The “world” at my “fingertips”?

I am beginning to understand why my father wanted to cocoon himself in his apartment in his later years. I can see why seasoned veterans would rather make phone calls with a flip phone or turn on the telly and have only 5 stations to choose from. Every time I turn around I have to learn something “new” which, to most of us, means “complicated.”

I am all for growing and learning something new. Or reinforcing what we already know. You’re never too young or too old to develop or refine your skills. I know a lady who is learning to speak a new language, a girlfriend who is going to cooking school, and a couple of guys who are building a car practically from scratch. What’s not to learn? So it takes some of us a little longer to put piece 1a3 into 2f6; sooner or later we figure it out, and are (hopefully) wiser for the fact.

But back to Windows 8. Who really needs all this stuff? Who needs three different browsers and two photo saving programs and clouds and Skypes and skies and a dozen game icons? I know – they all have their special place in others’  lives. My girlfriend used Skype to talk to her husband who was in Thailand, and many people would never know what their nieces or nephews or their kid’s friends’ kids look like if it weren’t for downloading their photos into one of the galleries. Listening to your own music from your laptop is really nice, too.

But what I don’t need is to click on four different corners to change screens, or a plethora of icons that will take me weeks to figure out. Am I just lazy? I don’t like that word. Stupefied? No…not that word either. Mystified? Well, I do like that word, but I hate to use it on such a three-dimensional object as a laptop. Maybe it’s more like being … distracted. I am such a sensitive, awakened, seasoned, middle-aged persona (like you) that I don’t have time to waste learning things that aren’t important to me (kinda like the subjects in college).

I already have a hard enough time coordinating jewelry and outfits. Or keeping my laptop files in some semblance of order. I’m not up for figuring out squares and corners. I just want simple word documents and chat boxes and an easy way to get to WordPress. For me and my limited play time, all I really need is a laptop with a smooth keyboard, a bit of Photoshop to play with images, and, okay, I-Tunes. And that mahjong game. And the link to Yahoo TV.  And, okay. The link to my horoscope. You get my drift.

My head’s already in the clouds enough the way it is. I’m not sure I need my laptop there, too….

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.

What’s Back There?

book4Greetings! I did a little “rollover” dance with my Explorer the other day. All is well, thank the Goddess, but I thought a little backwards glance into my glorious blog might entertain you while I recuperate a little…

Chocolat and the Sun 

Escapism with a Reality Check.  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-2w

2 Chocolat and the Tuscan Sun1

Life is a kaleidoscope of feelings: it is pain and death, birth and life. Because the cosmic implications of these things are way above my head, I would rather contemplate my own daydreams.

I Can’t Believe I Believed That

Legends are So Much Fun…  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-6g

Dolly-Parton-with-Crossed-Eyes--58695a

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!)

Fashionable Hobos from Hoboville

Dressing comfortable is one thing … dressing like a hobo another … http://wp.me/p1pIBL-67

31 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 Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese

Parents and their kids often speak two different languages. http://wp.me/p1pIBL-8N

chinese_symbol_for_laugh_postcard-p239398313843791555trdg_400

Do you believe that children and their parents speak two different languages?  Do you ever try and communicate with someone who hasn’t a clue as to what you are saying?

You Make Me Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Ever feel like you’re always doing the spin-a-roonie?  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-jt

dizzying

Not so long ago I wrote a blog entitled, “I Make Myself Crazy.” You know ― it’s the on-sweater, off-sweater, hot/cold thing.  http://www.humoringthegoddess.com/2012/04/07/i-get-on-my-nerves/  Nervous ticks aside, I now try to slow down and think before I flutter.

Karma in the Troll Hole

karmaWhat Goes Around Comes Around As you sow so shall you reap. The pleasant aftermaths of Karma. Put goodness out into the universe and it will return to you tenfold. Be a stinkweed and you’ll wind up in the compost heap.

I like those philosophies. But I am also beginning to like ditties like Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold, and I’m Gonna Get You, Sucka.  It’s human nature to want to hurt the other person/parent/group who took advantage of your illness/ineptitude/good nature.  There is perverse pleasure in thinking about making “the other guy” pay for whatever indignities they lumped upon you.

The majority of us never act upon the impulse of revenge.  Except for movies and TV, extreme violence never gets you where you want to go. An easier way of releasing our anger is running ten miles or chopping carrots with a meat cleaver. Because the baddies never really “get it”, their egos will always tell them it’s the “other guy’ who’s wrong. The “other guy” started it. The “other guy” is only getting what they deserve. And if you are that “other guy,” you’re sunk.

I swam through some murky waters this week. Pedestal Poser I am not. I often get myself into “situations” that have only one way out. And that way is not the rose-petal-covered-path way. But sometimes I feel the lesson is more like a class in Nuclear Physics rather than Art 101. That no matter what I do the outcome will always be the same.  Goliath 1, Weird Woman 0.

Now, this might sound like a plea to the audience for sympathy or empathy. Maybe on some super sub level it is, but it is more about moving past the meat cleavers and voodoo dolls and grabbing hold of the things that mean something to you and keeping hold. If you only allow yourself to get past the anger and broken hearts and bruised egos, you will find just as many wonderful things ahead of you as before the bump/crack/ravine in the road appeared.  They’ve always been there. You’ve just let someone else’s failing ego block the way.

It’s not about who is right and who is wrong. In the mind’s eye we are always right. But true class, true enlightenment, allows the other to be right once in a while, too. We don’t have to belittle or browbeat a situation to try and make it right. Sometimes a clear head, a walk through the woods, a funny movie, or a glass of wine with a friend soothes the most raggedy heart.

If you are beating the brow of someone else because they are not doing it “your way,” stop it. The world will never spin the way you want it. So move on. If you are walking the edge of right and wrong, stop it. Pick one side or the other and just get on with it. Your payback will come in a form that reflects the choices you’ve made. If you believe you don’t deserve your fate, stop it. You do. Your future, your fate, has brought you to this moment. Right or wrong, it gives you a chance to make yet another choice.  If you want to deal with more confusion and trouble, fall on the weedy side. If sunshine and vanilla ice cream are more your forte, do what’s right.

Don’t know which way to fly? Find a friend. Blow off steam with someone who is there just for that reason. Hate your boyfriend? Your parents? Your job?  Tell it to someone who accepts you for you. They love you because of your morals, your ideals. Your quirkiness.  And they often know what you need to sweep your sidewalk clean. Their honesty in supporting you comes from the belief that you won’t let them down either. And somewhere in the exchange of thought and feelings and pain, an answer comes.

Back to Karma. I do believe in Karma. I have always been a good person, and I have been rewarded with good people around me all my life. I have survived my ups and downs because I have found it’s much more fun to play in the sunshine than down in the troll hole. For you know what happens to trolls when the sun comes out.

Now THAT would be Karma.

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.

Hot Hands and Cold Feet

Hot Flashes and Cold FeetThe combination of hot flashes and cold feet is something most women will deal with in their lifetime.  A parody of opposites, it is nonetheless almost a given for any woman going through pre-, mid- and post-menopause. I never thought I would be the one to throw covers to the wind and beg for a soft breeze to cross my heated body in the middle of winter.  I never thought that tales of hot flashes would relate to me. I was always the one who sat curled in the corner of the sofa under a pile of blankets.  The one who wore granny gowns to bed every night.  And now my husband sleeps under three blankets and a comforter while I’m in a summer nightie with the windows wide open.

I have never been the most energetic of beings. Exercise programs consisted mostly of walking to the mailbox and back, or, on occasion, up and down the stairs to either bathrooms or bedrooms.  But I have managed to keep in decent shape through the years.  My mental state has always been fairly stable, too — no nervous breakdowns, no paranoia.  My kids have turned out fairly normal, my dogs are well behaved (except when they get into the garbage), and my sex life was at least existent.

But now I cry at baby formula commercials and feel terrible when I see a flower crushed on a city sidewalk. I want the windows open all four seasons, and I’ve started cutting romantic love songs out of my musical play list.  I guess that means I’m standing on the fence of menopause. No – let’s tell the truth. I’m waist deep in it. I’ve heard horror stories about women going through “the change”.  They metamorphosed into ogres, witches and over-the-top “B” words.  They never liked anything; they were crabby, vile creatures that turned the world upside down with their declining supply of estrogen. Is that  going to me??

I’ve talked to many a woman who danced through this time of their lives, and I am happy to say there were few — if any — evil transformations of the sort. But that didn’t ease my anxiety much. I get hot flashes first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Suddenly I can’t wear my wedding ring because my hands are swollen and anything without an elastic waist is too tight. I can’t fall asleep at night, and when I do, it never lasts for more than an hour or two at a time.  Spicy food has become inedible and certain rock and roll jams are intolerable.  Could this be the same woman that blew out the speakers with Free Bird?

I am bummed that this phenomenon has hit me full force.  I cannot wear any of my heavy-duty sweaters or eat spicy foods.  My back aches and my hair feels like a cheap wig from Woolworths.  I alternate between dry skin and oily pores. Headaches are a dime a dozen, only one of many body parts that ache and moan and whine away the hours. Is this the payback for a healthy libido?  Is this what I get for surviving my youth?

Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy being a girl.  I love playing dress up and going shopping and watching old black and white movies.  I love to bake pineapple upside down cake and getting a manicure and painting the bathroom pink.  But I don’t know how much longer I can sleep on top of the covers or drive with the windows open in December.  I don’t know how much longer I can deal with anxiety attacks over the dishes in the sink or cry over dog food commercials or go without listening to It’s a Wonderful World by the Great Louie.  My emotions are dancing on pins and needles, as well as my food cravings. (What do you want for dinner?  Chinese — no, hot dogs — no, oatmeal  — no, bananas!)

I never thought I’d be such a mess.  And I never thought I would look forward to being on the other side of the virgin/mother/crone fence.  While I admit I am not taking this aging thing gracefully, it will be a welcome day when my rings fit again and I can wear hoodies without fear of passing out from overheating.   While I enjoy the idealistic renditions of middle age, I find it hard to reconnoiter them with reality.  Since I cannot take a break or vacation every time my biological clock skips a beat, I will have to be content with sitting in front of a fan and keeping a stash of fudge in the back of the frig.  This, too, shall pass, as the scholars say.

I just hope it doesn’t take too long.  I really miss my hoodies ― and I’m running out of fudge.

Do You Do That Beauty Do?

wThis blog is mainly for my GFs, my BFFs, my Peeps, and my YTBM (yet-to-be-met) gal pals. Yes, it’s another “list” for us women who haven’t enough sense to come out of the preverbal beauty rain. It’s a list to remind us girls over 40 not to look like 80 – unless we are 80 – and then we just don’t need to look our age.

So from Yahoo to you, here are six beauty mistakes that make us look like an antique lamp:

Dark lipstick Deep shades make any surface look smaller, and that includes lips. I wonder if I should wear a dark shade all over my body, then…

Too-sleek hairstyle  – This can make your face look drawn and emphasize every pore, wrinkle, and imperfection. Also, keep in mind that helmet-headed updos can be disastrously aging. Stay away from too-voluminous bouffants. Seems the flat head is dead. Too bad no one seemed to tell my thinning hair that. And voluminous bouffants —  I thought the boof was the dead head of the 50’s…

Over-concealing dark circles We want to hide those bags and under eye circles, and sometimes we get carried away.  What happens if I’m one BIG bag – not only under the eyes but on the other 99% of my body? Can I over-conceal THAT?

Cakey foundation – Heavy foundation sticks to and emphasizes wrinkles. Oh, come on now – who would want cakey without ice creamy? That sticks to EVERYTHING…

Lower lash mascara This packs a double aging  whammy by bringing attention to crows feet and making eyes appear smaller and more tired .I have lower lashes??!!

Short necklaces – Chokers are a bad move as they bring attention to your neck – an area that begins to show aging early on.  Ever notice that actresses of a certain age end up wearing scarves and choker necklaces and turtlenecks? Choking is bad for you in general. Leave my neck alone.

Now, just to show you that I am all about beauty, I made up my own six beauty mistakes – and the remedies for them.

Red eye – Cameras are notorious for  bringing this malady into the forefront. Ideas to reduce this bloodshot look include eyedrops, sunglasses, getting to bed before 1 a.m., and enlarging the type on your computer.

Upper lip hair – Some of us can’t help we inherited Uncle Stan’s mustache genes. Besides plucking and depilatoring, you can be super chic and drink a lot of milk. After all, look what a milk mustache did for Trisha Yearwood.

Thin lips – Except for Botox, the easiest thing you can do to enlarge your lips is to either suck on a straw all day, or  walk around and pooch them as if you are in deep thought. You won’t look strange, because everyone knows the older you get the harder it is to think.

Mummy skin elbows – Dry, crinkly skin making you want to hide your elbows? No need to wear long sleeves to the beach. Rub a little RumChada or Malibu Coconut Rum on the rough parts – you’ll smell great and everyone will know what you are drinking.

Flat hair – Flat hair makes you look shorter (I should know). To get that “tall girl” look at any age, turn your head upside down. Hang whatever hair you have towards the floor, and spray with hairspray. Without touching a brush or comb, go drive around for about 20 minutes with the car windows open (preferably down a highway or freeway). You won’t believe the height that results! Width too!

Dry, winkly skin – Even the best moisturizers can’t keep our skin as smooth as a baby’s. So besides slopping on the goo, you can dip yourself in chocolate (and become a Raisinet), or soak in the pool, hot tub, lake, or bathtub, and plump up like a grape. Better yet, forget the soak – drink the grape. Trust me, you won’t notice one more wrinkle.

To conclude this beauty lesson, never forget: those who refer to our well-worn and well-loved bodies as snake skin, pigeon toes, crow’s feet, cat claws, chicken neck, raccoon eyes, and spider veins, know diddle about animals OR women. Rejoice in the fact that you are here today, proudly representing the animal kingdom in its bare naked finery. Your wrinkles, your skin, are just that – yours. 

Wear your jungle with pride.

Get ‘er Done

thThis is a question everybody can answer. There are no rights or wrongs — just a lot of points-of-view and lots of fun.  Youth vs. Age, married vs. single, male vs. female, 30 vs. 60. And my guess is that the results will be quite telling of what side you are on.

My question is:  If you had a weekend all to yourself, what would you do? I mean no guilt about leaving friends and family behind; no guilt about not fixing the car or doing the dishes or playing fetchie with your dog. Finances are taken care of if need be, but not the focus of the daydream.  How would you like to spend the hours between, say, Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon?

I’ll start.  I’d love to check into a hotel ALL BY MYSELF, with my laptop, 3-ring binder, paper and pens, Ipod, bottle of wine, bubble bath, great snack food, and chocolate truffles. I’d write, organize the files on my computer,  research, download images for my blog, edit the novel in the 3-ring binder, enter writing contests, go back and work on stories I started 6 years ago — along with using their WIFI and watching their movies.

How boring, you say. My husband said the same thing. He thinks I’d do nothing but surf the net for two days. Not So. I have sooo many things I want to do in the writing world that two days would barely be long enough. Just think — no cats climbing over my laptop; no dogs bugging me to play fetch; no Swamp People or Deadliest Catch. No questions of “where’s the ___?” or “Did you do ___?” Just me and Gaia Borealis and Darren McHale and Ginny Huntington and a boatload of other characters just waiting for me to tell their story.

Now.

My husband, bless his pea-pickin’ heart, is one of the most linear, in-the-box thinkers I know. I  asked him the same question the same way.  First he said he’d spend the two days with my grandson. No — no family members. Then he had to think about it. He loves fishing and hunting. What about a fishing trip  somewhere? No — he’s a people person. He loves to do things with other people. Me too — but that’s not a part of the HYPOTHETICAL question. After a few more rounds of “reasoning” I decided he just wasn’t going to play.

I would love to know how YOU would waste two days. And don’t feel you’re slighting your “others” if their name doesn’t show up on your guest list.

If they played this game, your name might not be at the top of their list either…

A Rose by Any Other Name…Could be Rosetta, Roze, Roase…

name-tag-11I’ve always had a “thing” about the name Claudia. It was rare and, when I was growing up, a tad odd. Seeing that the most popular names the year I was born were Linda, Patricia, Mary, and Deborah, it took a while to feel comfortable with an unusual, yet pretty, name.

The other day I was importing thousands of names into an e-mail data base, and  couldn’t help but notice the variety of names that are popular these days. There is a much wider rainbow of names that paint the sky than ever before. Yet in this realm of creative namesakes, I often find myself more than just gender challenged. I find I am way out of my league in name recognition and pronunciation.

I took an informal/unprofessional/spur-of-the-moment survey of data that crossed my desk. The lists came from people interested in the following subjects: Arts & Crafts, Science, Farm & Ranch, and Early Learning. Out of approximately 16,000 names, here is what I found:

The most popular over-all name (i.e., most frequent), was John, followed by Mary, Michael, David, and Jennifer.

The most popular Arts & Craft name was Susan, followed by Mary then Jennifer; the most popular name in Science was Mary, followed by John then Jennifer. Farm interest was strongest by those named John, followed by David (not Dave) and Michael (not Mike); and those interested in teaching younger students topped off the name chart with Amy, followed by Mary then Jessica. Other top 10 names included Nancy, Andrew, Brian, James, Barbara, and Jeff. Simple, easy-to-remember names.

There were normal amounts of Barbara, Rachel, Matthew, Kevin, Vicki, William, Gail, Carol, Tara, Paul, Leslie, and Sharon. There were lots of Lindas and Julies in Science, lots of Charles and Bens in Farm, lots of Nancys in Arts & Crafts, and lots of Lauras in Early Learning.

But I found a bunch of other fun stuff, too. (here comes the disclaimer bubble..I like ALL these names…that’s why they’re here).

I came across a lot of names that I consider “cute”: Gipsy, Deva, Roark, Stormy, Faughn, Sunny, Dash, Harmony, Mystica, Vanilla, Autumn, and Misty.

Then there are the “unique” names: Aletheia, Barbarita, Charlesetta, Anjanette, Candelaria, Dainko, Jasbeth, Merywynn, Vetrice, Tenancia, Descea, Elicinia, Dazanne, Torianne, Brack, Mireya, Lorendana, Nanise, Narshara, Garnetta, and Bernel.

Then there were the names that are sure to be misspelled: Khara, Alizabeth, Jacqui, Steav, Kasi, Kristopher, Rebekah, Tracee, Raechel, Symantha, Jackelyn, Rhoni, Tobye, Wendee, and Niqui.

I don’t know about you, but there’s no doubt I’d flunk the name game these days. I have a hard time figuring out if it’s male or female, and I’d hate to get yelled at for misspelling someone’s name. The most popular male names for the year I was born were James, Robert, and John. It was hard enough remembering if it was James or Jim or Jimmy, or Robert, Rob, Bob or Bobby. Maybe Deborah dropped an “h” now and then, and I was shocked when in 8th grade my best friend Linda changed her name to Lynda. I couldn’t do that with Claudia — unless it was Claude, Claudette, or Claudine. Ick to all.

Tell me about the unique names you’ve come across in your life.  The beauty of the written word is that new words can be created out of old ones. And, anyway, it’s what’s inside that counts.

And, just as a reference, the most popular names for girls a hundred years ago were Mary, Helen, Dorothy, Margaret, and Ruth. Popular men’s names included John, William, James, Robert, Joseph, and George. To be fair, there  also was Edna, Ethel, Ralph, Gladys, and Mildred.

So revel in the uniqueness of your name. If your name can’t be unique, make YOURSELF unique.  And be glad you weren’t named after a piece of furniture or a digestive part.

Madness Feedback Time

thCACKVOVZI really love my Goddess followers.  I may not have readers that rack up into the hundreds or thousands, but those of you who take time to read these middle age ditties (or tell someone else about them) really help keep the magic alive.  Some of you I know personally; others I have the pleasure of reading your blogs. Some of you merely peek in now and then. I hope all of you “get” something from these posts and use them to make your own magic.

I don’t know if it’s the “getting older” thing, or the “being in a hurry” thing, but lately I feel the stress of not having enough time to do what I want. Oh, you say, join the crowd! The whole world is like that! And it’s so true. But there is something lurking deep in the deep recesses of my subconcious cerebral cortex telling me I’m running out of time. Not in the most direct sense, mind you — I plan on being around another 30 years. But that’s not the same as being around another 40 years. Or 50 years.

I try not to live by the “If I only knew then what I knew now” motto, for, obviously, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been there.  It just seems that my NOW is a lot more crowded than it used to be. During the birthing babies stage, my life was split between work and children. Outdoor activities? Soccer or baseball games. Moving up the corporate ladder? More like moving up the playground ladder.  Dinner parties? Hot dogs on the run. I didn’t know what I was “missing” because there was no time to “miss” anything. Back then I really wanted a career. I did spend a number of years working in downtown Chicago, but to me it was more of a job than a career. (Like there is a difference).

Now that I’m suffering from middle age madness, I feel a second wind coming. But that’s just it…it’s somewhere around the corner, behind the neighbor’s barn, stuck in the bushes with empty frito bags and dried fall leaves. I keep thinking that as soon as I catch up with the dishes or mowing the lawn or organize my dresser drawers or reading my favorite blogs that my time, my body, and my life will be “organized” enough to be expanded.  

But it’s just not happening.

So I’m looking to my Goddess followers to give me a few tips. I’m serious. In a funny way, of course. How do you choose? 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. is taken by the Big Boss. But what next? How do I find time to sit down and write (my favorite past time) and cook great meals (I love to cook) and clean up from said great meal and vacuum every other day (with dogs and cats it should be three times a day) and spend time with my family and wash and put away laundry and mow the lawn and catch my favorite TV show and take the dog for a walk and clean out the basement and write a blog and do research on the Internet and….

Okay. You get it. Do I let housework slide to do the things that I love (and who knows..maybe make me money in the future)? Do I get on the hygene horse and get super organized in my house so that everything is always done (so we don’t have to call the health department)? Do I record all my favorite television shows and leave them for  one snowy day when I’m 88 years old?

Give me your thoughts. Help me not feel guilty about being Superwoman. Give me an idea on how to get that second wind blowing straight into my living room window. I promise not to stand there naked to catch the breeze.

No one should have to go through something like that.

Enter Stage Right …The Drama Queen

opera-singer-1Ahhhhh…the life of a Drama Queen. Always in the spotlight. Always one-upping friends and family with tales just this side of Edgar Allan Poe. Their problems, their accomplishments, are always bigger/sadder/more confusing than anything you may have experienced. You’re allergic to cat hair? They’re allergic to cat hair, laundry soap, pollution, and chocolate. You get headaches? They get super-duper three days-in-the-dark whoppers.

I know we all have our physical and mental ups and downs…no race is run without sore feet. It’s just that most times Drama Kings and Queens are more…dramatic…than their counterparts. They always have something wrong with them, whether it be their health, their job, their relationships, or their kids. Every time you turn around — well, you get my point.

Now — what do you do if one day you yourself become the Magi of Drama??

It’s so easy to cross that barrier at times — often you don’t even know you are one. When my friends tell tales about their kids, I always have a story to tell about my kids. You’re going to Las Vegas? I’ve been there three times! You had the flu for three days? I had it for a week! Are these the signs of one-upmanship?  Am I competing or sharing? Encouraging or bragging?

I suppose what it comes down to is how deep the puddle is that you’re/I’m splashing in. I waver between telling friends about serious situations (such as illness or death), and trying to mind my own business. Yet these things boil and bubble inside of me until I find it’s easier to tell the truth than get tangled in the web of lies and half-truths that trinkle out. Before I know it I’ve offered TMI, and think — Drama Queen.

Yet I find there is incredible healing in slipping into the DQ role at times. Like the day I found out I had the big C. My husband and I were shocked enough, and when I went back to work, I immediately told my workmates.  It just kind of bubbled out. I found so much support and tears and understanding that I suddenly was embarassed. Yet relieved. The same was when I had a bit of surgery a few months later. Or my mini bout in the hospital. Not a big deal. Yet it was easier to tell others where I was than pretend I was in Graceland for three days. Same with my dog passing away. As my last blog indicated, A Dog is Just A Dog and a Cat is Just a Cat…Right? was a therapeutical way to deal with a sad situation. Yet as soon as I hit publish, I thought — Drama Queen.

But I also offer sympathy and a lending an ear to others who are in need. I don’t think twice about listening to friends about their saddest moments: their father passing away, their bouts with Crone’s Disease, their inability to find a job. My heart hurts with them, as if it was me going through the ups and downs. Their happiest times, too: a friend at work got a beautiful tattoo; I gushed over it to the point that I want to get one, too. My kids are going away for five days (their first since they were married 7 years ago); I gushed over their adventure to the point that I want to go, too.

So I think — are my friends and family Drama Queens and Kings too?

When you think about it, talking about your ups and downs is very therapeutic. I know at least half of my recoveries have been because of friend and family support. The pressures that build up inside of us are more than we can handle. Even if we are SuperMan/Woman, we all get to that point where, if we don’t let our anxiety out, we turn and twist into something ten times as messed up as before. Sometimes we need an outlet, an ear, of someone who can do nothing about our problems, but still can relate to the feelings. They are our pressure cooker valve, our second glass of wine.

And they are our mirror. Good friends and family don’t let us become Drama Kings and Queens. We get too dramatic, too out of control, they steer us to calmer waters.  Which is what we needed in the first place. The point is, don’t be afraid to share your highs and lows with those around you. Your therapy is their therapy.

And after a hot spell, what’s better than a cool dip? I know lots of people who are cool dips….

Dogs are just Dogs and Cats are just Cats…Right?

rennieAlright. Sad news first. My yellow labrador Renaissance Faire passed away yesterday. She was 11; a great huntress who was sweet and quirky and always knew when it was 7 p.m. and time for her 7 o’clock B(bonie). I was by her side to help her transition to the land of open fields and T-bone steaks; a daunting task, unnerving to say the least. We buried her under a tree next to my favorite cat Jasmine and my father-in-law’s dog Indy.

(Thanks for the good thoughts, btw)

Now the humorous part.

Here I am, 60 years old, walking through tick-infested grass and doggie mines not yet picked up with bare feet to give Rennie her final, eternal 7 o’clock B. Crying, wiping my snotty nose on my shirt, my mind taking over and remembering all slights and hurts real and imaginary, piling them together on top of my loss, fueling the fire that burned out of control. I was whispering baby doggie talk to the grave, babbling nonsense that only a dog would understand.

To the dog.

Not a child, a family member, friend or distant relative. A dog. Dogs and cats are dogs and cats — lower rungs on the food chain that do such innocuous things as lick their butt or eat other animal’s…well…you get my drift.

How many of you have done this?

I’m not sorry for my over reaction — I can stand back and chuckle at myself. For what is life but knowing who we are? Yet I ask…How do dogs and cats become our 1st or 2nd or 3rd child? And where do they get these…personalities?

I know one person whose cat looks at him and poops right in front of him every time he comes home from a long vacation. Another person’s dog won’t go outside to do her duty when the grass is wet. Another person’s cat talks on the phone along with its owner. My own Rennie had the uncanny ability to know when it was 7 pm no matter where we were and what we were doing. Where do they get these quirks? And why is it us that has to do the adjusting?

I know humans tend to anthropomorphize (give animals human traits). We give them personalities and assume they understand what we are saying. Why else would we talk to them so much? Many stand firm on their belief that animals think and feel and react as humans do. And on many levels that is true. I am not here to debate the validity of such things. What I will say, however, is that it is amazing how one little canine or feline can change your life.  They listen without complaining; they don’t hold a grudge when they come to sleep with you at night, and want to be with you all the time. They listen while you go on and on about your crummy day at work or your overbearing mother-in-law or the barking dog down the street.

I’m also not saying that pets are for everyone. Cleaning out kitty litter boxes and scooping up lincoln logs are not for everyone. Often it’s easier to spoil someone else’s dog or cat. Why not? Their love is universal.  Their devotion and energy should say something about how the world should work. They don’t care about the color of your skin or how fat you are or what religion tickles your fancy. Their needs are basic — love, food, and pets.  Something the world should take note of.

The moral of this little ditty is to just love your pets, or your family’s pets, or the pets at the shelter. Treat your fellow humans that way too, and you’ll never be sorry.

Just make sure you always make time for your 7 o’clock B.

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

MAGIC 101

Need to  find a little magic in your everyday life? There’s got to be a way to connect today’s mad, mad world to the airy fairy contentment daydreaming brings. What is “magic” anyway? It’s just a word. A word that describes what can’t always be described.  Kinda like love or intuition or Coan Brothers movies. It’s different for everyone. Here’s a few ways to tap into the mist (or is it the fog) that surrounds the charisma called “magic”:

ETHER.  The concept of the Ether (guess we need to capitalize it) is that magic exists in the natural world like air. Anyone with sufficient understanding can process it into whatever it is he or she is trying to do. It’s also referred to as the fifth element (mool-ti-pass?) along with earth, air, water and fire. Ever catch the scent of pine trees in the air? Burning leaves? Pig farms? All of those stimulate the Ether. All trigger the senses, taking them to another level. Learn to feel hot and cold pockets of air, watch the heat waves rise from the road, or feel the breeze blow your hair around.  A heebie jeebie feeling will run through you, leaving you mystified or merely curious. One hint: don’t search for the Ether while driving, starting a bonfire or any other activity that needs your attention. You just might find yourself breathing more than just Ethered air.

HERBS. Certain herbs are said to have magical properties (no…not the ones you smoke). There are plenty of “healthy” naturalities that can open the stuck door to your magical playground. Sage is commonly used for purification and cleansing (see what it does for stuffing?). Catnip is meant to captivate a lover ― or at least a cat. Cinnamon increases psychic power (no wonder we sense cinnamon toast a mile away!). Basil is for wealth and prosperity (I could use a whole back yard of this).  I added my own herby kind of things to the magical list: chocolate (who isn’t taken in by its charm?), wine (loosens up the tongue to speak to whatever higher power is hanging around), and homemade spaghetti sauce (I swoon to heaven and back when I eat it). Whatever herb makes you smile is the one that’s magical for you. Go for it.

OBJECTS:  Throughout time there have been objects that have been sought for their ability to do things that no human can do on their own. The Philosopher’s Stone (turns base metals into gold), The Holy Grail (drinking from it grants immortality), the Pot of Gold (pretty obvious what it does), and Book of Thoth (a forbidden book that was the key to mastering the secrets of air, sea, earth, and the heavenly bodies), all are legendary objects that have the capability to make humans larger than life. Today’s magical objects are a lot more accessible to us lowly humans. The Internet (instant information), CDs (the gospel of Pink Floyd and Benny Goodman were never so available), telephones (or should I now say cell phones), beer steins (symbols of the fruitfulness of grain), gold coins (back to the source of all evil), and dozens of other things can instantly turn our world from mundane to magical. Also consider flags, beer bottle tops, crystals, rock band T-shirts, root beer floats, chocolate truffles, Christmas ornaments (I have some cool Irish ones), and 4H ribbons, are all magical objects (in their own way)..

CREATURES.  Creatures are not often considered fountains for magical energy. However, some are well known for their connection to the magical world. Unicorns, dragons, faeries, Nessie, Bigfoot, Pan, Puck, angels, brownies (not the edible kind), ghosts, Puff ― all are creatures that will stimulate your imagination and tap into the wonder of it all. What does it matter if they were/are real or not? Are you real? How do we know? In a pinch, puppies, kittens, and babies are suitable substitutes.

PLACES.  Places where magic concentrates have dotted the cosmic landscape for a long time. The Fountain of Youth, Atlantis, Never Never Land, Oz, Heaven, Shangri La, Rivendell, Sha Ka Ree, all are places that sprung from the human mind and exist on some plane of existence somewhere. Magic blows the dirt of these worlds into our own back yards. Utopia may not exist in our sphere of reality, but why can’t it exist elsewhere? Why can’t we tap into these magical places and pick up a few tips? I know I could get into a dishwashingless or rakingtheleavesless society. And heck ― Klingons and Elves don’t hold a candle to the nuts we experience in our everyday world. Even our messy home can be an alien environment at times. What inspiration!

DIVINE MAGIC. At the opposing end of the spectrum from Ether is the idea that magic can only be handed down from some divine or infernal source. Granted through either prayers or rituals, this type of magic requires a force from the outside of the normal/natural world coming to bear on a situation. Gods, goddesses, aliens, demons, magicians, angels, spirit guides, and totems come to mind.  Their intervention comes in handy during football games, pregnancy tests, lottery tickets, cooking competitions, and IRS audits. Although whether they wave their energy over the Packers or the Bears remains to be seen.

Be that as it may, I hope you understand that real divine magic exists within us all. It’s called common sense. It’s called love. Let those two energies guide all you think and do, and magic will be at your fingertips. Trust me on this one. Don’t be afraid to use the “M” word when describing your philosophy of life. It melds well with the “G” word and the “L” word, sprinkling a bit of sweetness on our basic beliefs and desires.

And, after all ― it does kinda tastes like sugar…

Where Do You Want To Go?

I know most of you peek in and out with a whiff of the air; life is busy like that. I am the same way. Too many things I want to do, too little time. The story of all of our lives.

As you know, my passion (outside of my family, grandbaby, cooking and the latest Star Trek movie), is writing, followed by reading. I have been trying to read the Grey thing; I think I’m too old to be impressed by it (although I must say it goes where no one has gone before). Everyone likes to read different things: everyone has their own style, topics, and interests. That’s why reading is ssoooo much fun.  

My bigger obsession, though, is writing. My style is all over the place, but the bulk of it is more on the imaginary side. A favorite theme iof mine is the “middle age woman” traveling through time, in one direction or the other, exploring the new worlds from a middle age woman’s point of view. (Original, eh?)

So……a question for you.

If you were whisked through a “veil” into another world, what would it be like? Know that you would know nothing (or little to nothing) about the time period, or, if it were another planet/world, their society.  What kind of world would you like to explore?

I’ll go first.

My most current novel is about a middle aged, New Age woman who is whisked away to another planet where the inhabitants are a mixture of Ancient Rome and Spaceship City.  She does her best to try and adapt to a society who are based in ancient superstition and futuristic technology, while trying to solve a murder.

Your turn!

The Muse Goes Camping

Last weekend I tried to escape by myself to get a couple of days worth of ME into the cosmos, doing nothing but writing, sleeping, and downing an occasional bottle of Reisling.  Alas, my grandbaby (who is two) and my daughter-in-law wanted to get away too. So how can you say no to that?

This weekend I am going camping with extended family (which includes the aforementioned daughter-in-law and GB) — three days of isolation up in Door County somewhere. Since there were plenty of extended family members to entertain said GB (and knowing my daughter-in-law could use a break), I thought I’d outline a sequel to the novel I finished a while ago. Now I find out there is no electricity. Hmmm. No electricity = no computer.

So I have to put my creative muse to the side — AGAIN.  Here I am in my blogs, encouraging everyone to get in touch with their muse and get into whatever creative endeavor sings to them, yet I find myself putting my creativity to the side in order to have more exposure to something else I love more.

Now there is love, and there is love. When you love your kids, you love them all 150%, no matter if they have green hair or ACT scores along side of Einstein.  We love our dogs, our cats, and occasionally the rest of our family. We love music, movie stars, and chocolate, although those loves are tinted by the recipient’s inability to directly respond back to us. But what happens when you find an activity, an expression of your true self, that you really enjoy doing. but you don’t have time enough to prove that love?

I hate always being an armchair lover. I would “love” to go to Ireland or Italy,  I’d “love” to learn how to cook a souffle, I’d “love” to ride a scooter to and from work, or Ride the Wild Surf at Ventura Beach.  But the odds of any of those “loves” are as good as getting struck by lightning (which is at least better than winning the lottery).  So I learn to channel my out-of-the-box loves into forms that I can handle in small bunches.  Classical music (Schumann, Mozart), rock and roll (Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd), television (Closer and House reruns), taken in small batches, often scratch the itch from the creative mosquito. Something is better than nothing, they say. And it’s true.

Better to get one bite of rich, dark chocolate, than never know what it tastes like at all.  Better to get one quilt patch done rather than still be waiting to buy the material. We don’t have to be a quantity-driven society; in most situations quality is just as important (if not more so). So I can’t spend a week or two with aforementioned GB — ten minutes of him laughing and saying “gamma” fills me during my lonely times. Walking around a city block isn’t the same escape as walking through the woods, but grass is grass and air is air, and just being out in Mother Nature does wonders for your psyche. You all have little experiences you wish you could turn into bigger ones…just jump on the little ones and forget about the bigger ones. You’ll be surprised how much satisfaction you get from them, too.

Don’t let your inability to have it “your way” stop you from getting it any way you can. Just when your schedule can’t get any more screwed up, a patch of blue opens before you, allowing you a chance to connect with your creativity.  Don’t be afraid to work around it, with it. Let the tease remind you of why you love your hobby in the first place. You’ll eventually find time. They also say wherever there’s a will there’s a way. That’s true, too.

So now when I go camping this weekend I’ll be prepared. Guess I’ll have to create the old fashioned way —  with a pen and a spiral notebook and a flashlight.

I just have to be careful not to get the grand baby’s smores on my  paper.

What Is Role-Playing and Can I Do It By Myself?

I am a latent visitor to the world of the Internet, a late bloomer in the cosmos of websites, chat rooms and Amazon dot com.  In a world where five-year-olds surf the Net and download information, I didn’t stumble upon the magic of instant gratification until my mid-40s.  Suddenly I went from frumpy bed and breakfast owner to info surfing mama.  I mean, can you imagine talking in real time to people in Australia or England or Japan?  Can you imagine finding answers to everything you ever wanted to know but had no idea where to look? The Internet became a fountain of information — and a cauldron of trouble.

There were a number of downsides to instant gratification and the collection of useless information on my way to insight and intelligence. I spent too many hours chatting and too little time cleaning rooms and answering phones.  I wasted too many hours surfing medieval and dragon sites and far too little time at Web MD or Dictionary dot com. Eventually all the websites looked the same and all the chat rooms buzzed with the same, repetitive drone.  I had worn out my welcome, or rather the Internet did. But one of the positive things to come from my aimless wanderings was role-playing.

What is role-playing, you may ask?  According to Wikipedia, role players “adopt and act out the role of characters (real or fantasy), or parts, that may have personalities, motivations, and backgrounds different from their own.”  In all reality, that sounded at first like something a lot of us do every day. But back to point: from role-playing came a reigniting of a passion I had long forgotten about — writing.

Not that I didn’t write before, but putting pen to paper was never on my list of top ten things to do on a Saturday afternoon.  I had kept a diary years — and I mean years — ago.  There were a few short stories written in my junior high years (mostly about me and the Beatles), a few high school and college required papers (dare I ever share the story about the alien who landed in the marijuana field?), but nothing more.  With the advent of working in downtown Chicago and getting married and having two kids and a large network of crazy family members, there never seemed to be enough time to write anything but grocery lists or Christmas cards.

Through the initial excitement of wandering through Internet worlds, I stumbled upon chat rooms where people typed to each other as if they were face-to-face.  Interesting.  I didn’t have to fess up that I was a 40-ish year old housewife/innkeeper; I didn’t have to admit I was 20 pounds overweight or that I just finished scrubbing the toilet. All I needed to do was make up a name and race and I belonged.  Can you imagine the doors that opened for a writing goddess like me?  Role-playing was like a video game with instant feedback.   I could write my own dialogue, fight with swordsmen, disappear or have flames shoot from my fingertips, all with a sentence or two.  I could make up galaxies I’d visited or space captains I’d met or dragon lairs I visited and everyone would nod and react in their own character’s way. For someone who was already starting mid-life in a whirling dervish, this was just the outlet I needed.  It was so much fun making up characters and histories and names like Tulip Stormbringer or Lieutenant Ru.

Of course, it wasn’t all creative fun. Story lines didn’t always go where you wanted, people blabbered out-of-character about nonsense, and I spent more time looking for interaction than finding it. Not to mention the fact that you often left your family (and your life) on the back burner. Not smart.

Although that time was brief and scattered, I learned a lot about who I was and who I wanted to be.  The English language called me back home, and my naturally wandering Sagittarius nature encouraged me to step out of the box and write about a myriad of things. In those make-believe worlds I learned that age and sex and size and career didn’t matter. 

Most of us tend to hide behind our preconceived notions of self.  We limit ourselves by our own skewered judgment of what we think the world thinks we should be.  Like any other creative outlet, it was the discovery of a fourth dimension that brought delight and growth to my life.  The first three dimensions, (length, width and height), tumble into parameters conceived by physics and mathematics. What I call the fourth dimension is an enlightened plane of experience.  It can be found in any activity that requires creativity: building, dressmaking, crocheting, reading, or gardening.  The end product is independent of us — it takes on a life of its own as it is being created.

So it was with my flirtation with role-playing. It was no substitute for getting together in person with friends or taking a class or meeting with the local library group. But unlocking those doors brought in a flood of new experiences to both my mind and soul. And I can tell you today that you don’t have to be a role-player to find that power within your very genes.  You can find that personality explosion within yourself.

Don’t be afraid to try something new, or bring your old love out of the dusty past.  Give your passion — and yourself — a chance. You will find that you are not as off-target as you think you are.

Just remember to take your wings off before you get into the car.  They can help you fly, but they can also get hooked on the seatbelt, preventing you from flying to Atlantis and attending Michelangelo’s next art show with Obiwan Kenobi.

Just imagine how sad that would be.

Time Management — or Really the Lack Thereof

Round and Round and Round She Goes…….Where She Stops Nobody Knows……

Does your life often feel like that?? Lately my life has been that! No time to blog, no time to write, barely time to breathe. As I sit here jotting down a few words of wisdom, I am scratching and digging and itching the skin off the top of my feet where chiggers fed a few days ago. What kind of wisdom is that?

I really believe the drought in the Midwest has drained the sanity out of us mere mortals. If I thought I had little patience before, ask me how I feel after camping for two days in 90 degree breezeless weather. (On second thought, don’t ask…) On one hand, chiggered ankles were a small price to pay to be with my grandson for the weekend. But, upon reflection, I could have thought of 50 other places more suitable to both my “temperament” and “temperature.”  We won’t talk about sweating, but with temperatures at 100 one tends to sweat in places you never knew you could sweat in.

The heat also messes with my sense of organization. (Like I had any to begin with…)  I look around the house and see all the things I should do but don’t have time to do because I’m busy doing other things. We all have days of disorganization. But why does it seem lately that I’ve had weeks of it? Maybe I need a little time management or something.  A search in Yahoo brings up time management games, tips, skills, techniques, strategies, software, training, books, articles, and activities. Wow. I am overwhelmed just by so many choices. This is more than just turn right or left; this is riding on the twirliest roller coaster in the land.

Is my madness just a case of time mismanagement? Of poor planning? Or is it that our world has gotten so big, so advanced, so fast, that there are literally millions (as opposed to dozens) of activity melons that are ripe for the picking? Our ancestors didn’t have such a cornucopia of delights to choose from. Extra curricular activities were limited by your pocketbook and your proximity to town.  Reading (how about sinking your teeth into The Scarlet Pimpernel?), walking (didn’t you see Sense and Sensibility?), checkers or chess, or singing around the piano (think Christmas Carol), were the highlights of adult play.  Granddaughter in another state having a birthday? Too bad — too far. Want to go swimming to cool off? Too bad — closest body of water is five hours by mule.  Want to go out for dinner? Too bad. Town is ten miles by mule.

These people didn’t have an unlimited choice of entertainment like we do. Blogging, surfing the Net, playing online or video games, talking on the phone, watching 20 Closer reruns you’d DVR’d, reading Star Magazine, dancing to your IPod — all are activities that would be chinese to them.  I know we don’t do all those things, but admit it — we get pretty darn close. Add going to work,  grocery shopping, driving to birthday parties and soccer games, watering the garden, mowing the lawn, washing clothes, getting a hair cut, going to the dentist or doctor, all contribute to the roller coaster ride we put ourselves on.

Here are a few tips I found on the “Time Management Tips” List:

Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going.  How many three-ringed notebooks do I have to carry around??

Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-do lists get longer and longer to the point where they’re unworkable. See my blog https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/real-lists-vs-fantasy-lists/ to clarify real lists vs. fantasy lists.

Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce our results.  I already spend 110 percent of my time doing this – where did they get 50??

Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you’re doing.  Oh, does that mean I can pull into McDonalds for a hot fudge sundae on my way to the grocery store?

Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.  I do this before I go to sleep and between alarm snoozes in the morning. Plans sound better when you’re half asleep.

Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. When you only get 10 minutes for morning break and you’ve got three phone calls to make, that’s tacking on another 15 minutes to an already squished schedule. Mmmm…

Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done. Yeah, tell that to your dogs and cats and kids…

Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls. About the only free time I have lately is on the toilet — not what I consider a conducive atmosphere for answering emails and phone calls.

Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.  I use these to generate the business of friendship and gossip…whatchu talkin’ about??

Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results. Now that’s the smartest thing I’ve heard all day.

I guess I’ll just have to do what I can when I can. After all, there’s so much more to see, to do, to write.  And I’m sure there will be plenty of time to get organized on the “other” side.

Won’t there?

Any Extra Time, Dali?


Okay. Here is one for you to think about and answer. I’ve been running helter-skelter around Wisconsin and Illinois lately: work, birthday parties, funerals, kid’s house, grocery store. I constantly daydream about having a couple of hours TO MYSELF.

So here is your scenario. You have two hours free any time during the day. My pretends fairs better, say, after work. Yours can be whenever. Loved ones: gone. House: clean. No soccer games, hospital visits, or fests to get in your way. 

How would you spend those two hours?

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.

I don’t remember when I contracted this disease.  It certainly wasn’t in grade school (too ugly), nor high school (too busy trying to get pinned). I worked in downtown Chicago for a PR department, but trust me, it was far from glamorous…or talkative. ( I was rather submissive in those days.) Found love, got married and had babies. I didn’t think of myself as overly verbal back then. But now I wonder — when did I become so…chatty?

Chatty is a relative word. Those of us old enough can remember the “Chatty Cathy” doll.  Pull her string and she’d say a half dozen things. What a novel idea at the time. For those of you a bit younger, this phenomenon was a highlight in Steve Martin’s tirade in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: “It’s like going on a date with a Chatty Cathy doll. I expect you have a little string on your chest, you know, that I pull out and have to snap back. Except I wouldn’t pull it out and snap it back – you would. Gnah..gnah…” Well, I’m beginning to think I’m that doll — and I’m the one pulling the string.

These last few years I think I’ve carried the chatty thing a bit too far. One question and everybody knows what I had for dinner last night, why I think my cousin’s child is out of control, the cramps I had this morning, and how much my dentist charged for root canal. I spill my son’s secrets to his wife, and tell my customers not to buy today for it goes on sale tomorrow. What is wrong with me? Since when have I become this effervescent fount of non-interesting information? I find I want to respond to everything. I have an answer for everything. Whether or not it’s informed. I find I have little patience for opinions other than mine, and need to comment on every and all things that come my way. Fortunately, I keep my mouth shut most of the time, but believe me, sometimes it’s a struggle.

I wonder if it’s that old person syndrome. You know ― the older you get, the less you care about what others think.  That seemed like such a cliché when I was younger. All those old fogies saying what they want to, not caring if they offend this person or that.  Most over 70 were a little crotchety and unreasonable, but hey, maybe they just weren’t thinking straight. Pre-Alzheimer’s and such.

As I got older I started to get where they were coming from. Now that I’m teasing the 60 mark, I’m finding those outspoken 70-year-olds weren’t so far off the mark after all.  Having spent a lifetime trying to get my thoughts and opinions across to others, I can see why caution is thrown to the wind and oldies say just what they think. I’ve been questioned and second-guessed more times than you can count; I’ve been unsure of my choices and bothered by the choices of others. I sometimes wonder if I should have turned right instead of left, if I would have made a difference, if I should have said something back then.

And I have gotten to the point where I’m tired of not being listened to.

I’m not saying that my opinion is any better than anyone else’s. We know the world by what we’ve experienced. I have kept my thoughts and opinions respectful and private. But in suppressing the nonsense that runs constantly through my head, I find myself talking and sharing more than when I was 20. It’s like the filter is broken. And I wonder — is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Through this need to reveal more than the neighborhood stripper, I find myself volunteering information that no one is interested in. Well, maybe they are, but in a superficial sort of way. I think we all do that — we listen to others babble their life stories, their grocery store nightmares, their crazy family history or their list of illnesses. We listen because we really do care. Not that we can do anything about their stories, but because we know that sometimes others just need someone to listen.

Often the babble that comes out of other mouths has nothing to do with what’s really going on inside. Maybe the storyteller suffers from insecurities, or illness, or loneliness. Maybe sharing the story of their kid’s accomplishments is a way to assure them that they did a good job as a mother or father. Maybe all they want is to be noticed. To be cared about. To be liked.

Many things fuel our chatter — or lack of. Where we’ve come from is not nearly as important as where we are headed.  If chit chatting about great recipes or the knucklehead in the cubicle down the hall gives us a little clearer sense of self, I’m all for it. We all need to get the chit out of our heads so we can think clearer and feel stronger. And as long as the chat is not destructive, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of babble at the bubbler.

Alas, sometimes I think my only solution is to wire my jaws shut.

Need a New “C” Word

I bet I caught your attention, talking about the “C” word, didn’t I? There are many words that make me shudder these days, many words that give me the willies, many of which start with a “C”. But today’s word is “crone.”  That word has been abused and twisted so much through the ages that all that comes to mind is a bent-over ancient woman dressed in long, flowing black gear, leaning on her cane, cackling with laughter.

 What is the definition of “crone” anyway?  My handy dandy desktop dictionary defines crone as “an ugly, evil-looking old woman.”  Wonderful.  I find it interesting that the older I get, the more personal this dispute with linguistics gets.   Why do so many of us hesitate to use that word to define who we are? Is this who we are?

 The world has changed so much through the decades.  In the 1800s the word “old” defined those around the age of 40 or 50.  Sixty was ancient, 70 unheard of.  Yet a hundred years later those in their 60s are as vibrant — if not more so — than their 40-year-old counterparts.  What is the inspiration that changes the perimeters of what passes for matron/mother to that of elder/crone?

 I found that once I passed the 40-year-old mark, a whole new world opened up to me.  Memories of when I first got married, of babies and trips to the park and painting Snoopy on my kid’s bedroom wall.  Now the babies are married or in college, my wild dating life circles around a quick bite at China House with my husband of 30 years, and my job has swirled from downtown exclusivity to small town camaraderie.

 Yet so many times I feel that I am that same person — that if only given a chance, I could stay up until dawn, work the PR circuit, jog a couple of miles, keep up with toddlers, dance on tables, and laugh and be crazy as if I were 20.  But then I bend over, my muscles aching, and look at the clock, wondering if 8:30 is too early to go to bed, feeling a whole lot older than the 20-year-old I want to be. Is this what being a crone is all about?

 This constant glancing (or, in some, focusing) on things in the past tends to slow us down in moving forward. I believe all human beings use the past as a means to the future. Obviously time and experience move only one way. Forward.  But does this constant glancing backwards confuse us more than save us?  Do we spend too much time doing the spin-a-roonie that all we get for our efforts is a stiff neck?

 I have too much mind chatter to begin with, and when I dip into situations and experiences long gone I do nothing but mix past judgments with present ones, mistake past insecurities for present ones, and begin to catch faint wisps of where I could have turned left instead of right, paths I could have taken, and friendships I could have saved.

Being a crone does nothing more than extend one’s sight backwards.  In a perfect world we would use this hindsight to blaze our path towards a successful future.  In some cases this is true.  If I hadn’t taken a chance on starting a bed and breakfast in Wisconsin I would have never found my home in the county, my son would never have met his wife, nor would my other son be a star on the high school baseball team.  I would have made different friends and owned different cats.

 But so what?

 We think we would be different “now” if we had made different choices “then.”  And what I am realizing as I float, stumble and stomp into my crone years, I’m no different than I was 20 or 30 years ago. I know that I still have a choice of turning right or left, but now I understand that the choice is not as dramatic as it once was.  I will always be moving forward ― time won’t have it any other way.  And I will still choose the direction that brings me the most pleasure.  It might not always be the wisest choice, the most prudent choice — but it would be the same choice I would have made 20 years ago. 

We all tend to choose a world that best suits our needs, our souls.  We manage to leave the most painful memories behind, covered in that dark grey mist that manages to cover without destroying, and we tend to paint our present and future in the rosy tones that possibility brings.  We use the experiences of our lives to teach ourselves and to teach others. 

 If that is what being a crone is all about, I’ve probably been one longer than I care to admit.  And if the benefit of age is understanding a little more about the universe outside and inside, we will all be lucky to be a crone sometime.  I just wish popular culture would find a different word.  Crone sounds like something creepy and crackly.  I need to do is find a new word for women such as myself — something catchy and vibrant and airy fairy.

 Maybe — maybe the world just got the word mixed up.  It should be Crown — not crone. For that’s what we deserve after having lived this long to talk about it.

Inspirational Mumbo Jumbo

            My muse was at it again.  I was standing in the shower, trying to remember what was still clean that I could wear to work, mentally making a grocery list, and trying to figure out where all the extra guests were going to sleep that weekend, when my spicy Irish muse jumped into my head with a great idea for an essay.  With barely enough time to brush my teeth and curl my hair, I asked her to come back later when I had enough time to devote to listening. Later that same evening she returned, and when I tried to translate her thick Irish brogue, I couldn’t even hear her, as I was thrown off by the barrage of super-loud commercials in the background. Once again I was interrupted by Inspirational Mumbo Jumbo.

            Every day we are bombarded with advertising, advice, inspiration, and warnings.  I myself already have a bit of attention deficit; it’s hard for me to sit still for any length of time and concentrate on more than one thing at a time.  Not to worry, though, for there are plenty of opportunities to be reminded of how bad off we really are. We are overweight, wrinkled, and dull.  Our bodies are toxic and our cholesterol is too high. We don’t have time to cook, exercise, chop vegetables or play with our kids.  But there is a cure for that ― just ask advertisers.

            The other day on the radio I heard that the infomercial business is a 30 billion dollar a year enterprise.  Just think — 30 billion dollars spent a year on ways to clean-up, tighten-up, and detox-up our bodies and our minds.  Not only can we firm our thighs and flabby under arms, but we can look like a movie star when we buy their jewelry or stay at their villas. We can organize our closet, scrub up doggie accidents from the carpet, and slice up vegetables in one swoop.  Men can take pills for non-functioning parts and women for over-functioning ones.

            How did we ever survive this long on our own?  How did our mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers live with wrinkles and dry skin and messy closets?

             Most of us would like to be a little thinner or have beautiful hair or be able to drain spaghetti in the same pot as the drainer. Left to digest this information in solitude, the messages from all these Infomercials play to our insecurities and dissatisfactions. Advertisers zero in on our weaknesses, and do such a good job of pointing out our inadequacies that we buy improvement on the spot without having to think about it or leave the comfort of our sofa. After all, doesn’t everyone wants to taste just a bit of the “happily ever after” cake? After all, for just a few dollars, you can have not only a taste of the cake, but a whole piece.

            I’m not against advertising.  I learn about a lot of new products and ideas and new versions of old versions every time I watch TV or read a magazine or walk through the grocery store. I enjoy shopping, redecorating and cooking.  I get tired of digging through the laundry basket to find underwear, and I keep thinking I’m too old for pimples. But finding a solution to my mini dilemmas should be fueled by my judgment, not advertisers.

             It’s time to realize that we have always had the whole cake.  We just haven’t realized it.  Appreciated it. Tasted it.  We have the capacity for unbounded love, compassion, and understanding.  We have the ability to create our own environments, our own spiritual havens.  From astronomy to astrology, we have the power to discover magic both inside and outside of ourselves. And discovery doesn’t cost a thing.    

           But there is something wrong when people run after quick fixes to fix the holes in their heart. There is something wrong when we are told how messed up we really are and how that can be changed with a quick purchase off the Internet. To believe that the answer for happiness and peace of mind is outside of us is playing into the hands of marketers and profiteers who take our money and our trust and leave no instructions behind ― people who have never met us, never sat at our dinner table, never took the time to find out why our closets are so disorganized in the first place.

            So go out and buy that great pair of jeans or that shampoo for bright, shiny hair or those celebrity-endorsed pots and pans.  But realize that you are just as fantastic in those beat up jeans with the elastic waist, and that your homemade lasagna will taste just as good in your worn out baking pan as it will in the latest non-stick wonder.

            Sparkle is free. The fire inside of you is free. Everything else is just hype. Mumbo Jumbo. The only infomercial that matters is the one that broadcasts in your heart.

            Even if that message has an Irish brogue.

 

See What You Have Missed!

I know the winter dulldrums are upon us, yet spring is flirting from across the banquet hall filled with diners. We can’t quite see her yet, but I noticed one extra sparkle on the horizon, so she’s on her way.  Before the mad rush of her annual appearance scatters us to the four winds as we open windows, walk a little more, spring clean, play fetch with our dogs, and get more serious about our eating habits, I thought I’d bring a few of my ditties to the forefront (in case you need to apply one to your upcoming Spring Pledge):

To Dream or Not to Dream: That is the Question — Turn your restlessness into meaningful nonsense. Just don’t take yourself too literally

Reincarnation as a Walmart Greeter — Good deeds don’t go unrewarded, no matter where you end up in the end

Dancing in a Too Tight Tutu — You are never too old for anything. What are you waiting for?

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese — The learning/language gap between generations

On Base of Bony Orbit —  This one is an important read, especially if you’re going to a party where words impress

Merlot at the Lake House — Are we what we watch?

Viva Las Vegas! — A wonderful place to get lost in

Nothing to Write About: My Life is a Bore — How “unboring” we really are

The Hand of Guilt — Stop carrying that monkey on your shoulder

The Sashaying Mink — Closet adventurists

Sex — What is it and Where Did it Go? — the joys of middle age prancing

Time to Remodel — let the Picasso in YOU come out

Please take a few minutes to see where we’ve been. Let me know if you have any favorites, any ideas.  And hold on, for the future is full of promise — and blogs!

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 hocolate 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…

May the Horse Be With You

          A friend of mine works at a wild animal sanctuary.  The work is hard and dirty, and the pay non-existent, as she is a volunteer.  At first glance you would think she scrapes out stalls and washes animals mostly because she is a Good Samaritan; because she wants to help animals who have seen better days. While this is true, she also works with the animals so she can give them space to share their stories, often sharing ones of her own.

            Nash is one of her favorites. He is a cougar who was used by a gang for protection, much like a guard dog.  Chewie is a camel, donated because he was to be slaughtered and fed to the wild cats as he had severed rear leg tendons.  And RC, her favorite, is a blind horse. RC came from a place that forced her to live in filth, which was the eventual cause of her blindness.  My friend listens to their stories, working with them to bring a bit of peace and comfort to their world.  And she swears when she look into their eyes she can hear them talking back.

            There is no hocus pocus here— there is no run away imagination or desperation for someone to talk to. Sue is a down-to-earth, hard working, funny friend that just happens to listen better than a lot of us.  You hear animals too – you just don’t realize it. How many times has your cat looked up at you and meowed, and, without thinking, you ask, “What do you want?” as if you expected an answer?  How many times have you gauged what your dog wants by the speed of their wagging tail or the perkiness of their ears? How can you figure out the difference between wagging for food and wagging to go outside and wagging for pets?

             Like Pavlov’s Dog (no pun intended), many interactions are learned through repetition, through action and reward. Animals don’t have the capacity to think at the same level as humans; they merely remember what gets them fed or pet and repeat these acts over and over again so that you, in your personification, believe they are thinking and speaking. But regardless of all scientific explanations, there are still plenty who connect with animals on all sorts of levels.  Some are upfront and obnoxious about their rapport; others never admit to conversations with anything lower on the food chain than themselves.  But there is something about the presence of animals, domesticated or not, that touches us in indescribable ways.  The connection is on an energy level that cannot be detected by scientific methods. You have to admit, the moment you look into the eyes of your dog or cat or the lions at the zoo, they look back and you feel something deep and primal.

            Oh, we say we listen — to our friends, our spouses, to our bosses and our kids.  But do we?  How often do we stop and really listen to what they’re saying? How many times does someone start to talk and, before you know it, your mind has slipped forward to what’s for dinner or a song you can’t get out of your head? How many times do we look into each other’s eyes and feel what’s truly there? Experience the unspoken energy?  Not as often as we could; not as often as we should.   We are too busy, too stressed, too tired, to stop the chatter in our head and listen to what’s being said, both verbally and non-verbally, by those around us. We don’t mean to not listen —we do care about others.  We care about how they feel, what they think, what they do.  But we have forgotten how to slow our lives down and listen —to feel the cosmic energy being sent our way.  There is no place we need to be so quickly and desperately that we need to cut off the current between another who is trying to connect.  We don’t have to connect forever — just long enough to make a difference in their lives.

            I’m not saying we should try and communicate with every chicken or cow we see, or every butterfly that passes by.  But who’s to say there’s not a basic need in all life forms be understood? To be accepted?  Even if for a nanosecond? Maybe it’s not a conscious thought; maybe it’s more primal than that. Maybe it’s just instinct. The instinct of comfort, of the instinct of contentment.

          In the long run, it really doesn’t matter if communication with animals is real or not. What matters is we need to think of others besides ourselves. We need to slow down and not over-think and over-analyze everything. In their simplicity, animals remind us of who we once were.  Of where we came from.  We came from a world that was quieter, simpler than the madness we experience these days.  And slowing down, communicating with animals, and each other, is worth the time you take.

           When my friend nuzzles RC, the blind horse, she may not be looking into his eyes, but she is feeling his energy, his story, his gratitude.  He thanks her for taking the time to brush him, feed him, to nuzzle him. She doesn’t care if this exchange can be measured by scientists — all she knows it that she is making the horse feel better, and in the act of listening, feels better herself.

            Not too long ago my cat of 18 years passed away. It was a gradual thing, old age and kidney shutdown all part of the cosmic circle. I spent a lot of time talking to her those last days.  I told her stories about our younger days, reminded her that I was there, and that we’d always share our energies in the form of memories. I don’t know if I made her passing any easier, but in listening to her breathing, I heard her story, I shared her life. 

            My life is better for it.  Yours will be, too.

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.