What Is True Success?

So many things make us happy; so many things make us sad. So many times we wished we  had turned left instead of right; so many times we are soooo glad we did turn right instead of left. Sometimes I get really sad that I’m soon going to turn 60 — where has my life gone? Other times I look back and am sorry my mother never made 54. I’m sad that I had breast cancer; other times I’m so glad they found it when they did.

Life is packed with highs and lows, yellow and blacks, snow and scorching heat. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about. For us, for our grandparents, for George Washington and Kublai Khan and St. Joseph. I’m sure they all had a hundred things they wanted to do at one time, too.  Just like us. We all want to be appreciated for what we’ve done. What we’ve become. We all would like to think that our time here on Earth has been for the Greater Good.

This is not a confessional blog; this isn’t a tell-all or a bad news bomb.  I’m sitting on my sofa this cold Sunday afternoon, looking at the bare treetops in my front yard. Of course, you know me — I’m also watching football, eating lunch, doing laundry, getting ready to write some in  my latest novel, wondering what I’m gonna wear to work tomorrow. I’m also thinking about the fun I had with my grandbaby this weekend, thinking of taking some drugs for my achy legs, and feeling guilty I haven’t played fetchie with my dog today.

That’s really what this blog is about. Sometimes I feel I should be pushing this blog harder, trying to share the Word with more readers. Other times I think I’ve run this horse to the finish line, and should start a new creative venture.  Yet more often I think  I’ve let my writing simmer on the back burner for so long it’s started to dry up and stick to the pan.

How do you know if you’ve succeeded at what you tried to do? What is the measure of success? Big paychecks often are an indicator;  good health, always. Waking up every morning is a success all on its own. Family? Kids? Making the perfect apple pie? All of the above are successes if never done it before. Success has always been measured from the heart first, from the masses second. And often it takes on a meaning more cosmic than one thinks. I think I make the best spaghetti sauce this side of the Mississippi. If you don’t agree, does that mean it’s not good? Of course not. All it means is that I can eat it all myself.

Writing is the same thing for me. What is being a successful writer? Have I ever been published? A short  story here or there in the past 10 years. Have I won awards for my creativity? No. Have I ever I gotten a call or email from a publisher? No. Do I think I’m a successful writer? Yes. Definitely.  I’ve had people say positive things about my stories; I’ve brought smiles and tears to readers.  I’ve written 4 novels, 1 novella, 32 short stories, 42 poems, 84 blogs, and 3 novels in-progress. I think that’s being successful. Why? Because Ive continued to do what I love, no matter what the  result. I’ve had fun making friends, creating worlds, and trying things that make me uncomfortable. I encouraged people to believe in themselves, given life to middle-age heroines, and never killed off  the main character.

There are still so many paths to follow, worlds to explore. And that’s only after I play with my grandbaby, fetch my dogs, pet my cats, cuddle my husband, go to work 40 hours a week, clean my house, grocery shop, get together with family and/or friends, and dozens of other responsibilities. Life has only so many hours, and I’m still struggling on squeezing a few more out of every week.

So what this all boils down to is that I’ve driven the Humoring the Goddess train long enough. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to believe in yourself, have fun with your life, and laugh as much as you can. There are so many things you can’t change, so why not toss your hands up and laugh and move on? You’ll know the things you CAN change..that little voice in your heart/head/soul is always there to remind you. Your job is to listen.

I have enjoyed entertaining you all these years more than you know. I have learned so much from you. I might try another blog, or finish one of my novels, or sit and spew poetry until I feel nauseated. I’m sure I’ll be back and visit sometime. If I start something new I’ll post it. I will look foward to hearing from you and YOUR projects. You will always find me at my email world…  humoring_the_goddess@yahoo.com.

There is always a path ahead of you. Always. It’s up to you which one you take, or how often you turn left or right. In the end, none of that matters — the only thing that matters is that you keep walking.

Keep Humoring the Goddess…and Loving your Life…

Claudia Anderson

The Winner!

The following is a blog from the winner of my first contest for Humoring the Goddess. Although she prefers to stay anonymous, her words ring true in minds and hearts everywhere. It takes a lot to put your words and thoughts out there for even one person to read. I encourage you all to follow her lead.  Enjoy!! And please share your thoughts. The universe has no limits.

A story in the Jain culture (Jainism is a religion in India) tells the tale of an elephant and six blind men. None of the men knew what an elephant was so they went to the village to feel and touch the elephant. The first man touched the leg and decided an elephant was like a pillar. The second man touched the tail and decided an elephant was like a rope. The third man touched the trunk and decided an elephant was like a branch. The fourth man touched the ear and decided an elephant was like a hand fan. The fifth man touched the belly and decided an elephant was like a wall. The sixth man touched the tusk and decided an elephant was like a pipe. They all believed that they were right. They argued. The ever-present wise man that always seems to be walking by at the most convenient moment explained to the men that they were all right.

The story is about perspective. By definition (mathematics and graphics aside), perspective means “the facts known to one.” The Jain religion teaches that the truth can be stated in seven different ways. It teaches tolerance toward other people’s viewpoints. And why would anyone not want to try to be tolerant?

Just because you don’t agree with someone, doesn’t make either of you right or wrong. You’re just different. That can be hard for some people, including me. I get frustrated when people don’t see things the way I do. It’s not the fact that they disagree with me that gets me upset, it’s the fact that they will not even consider my point of view. I’m not trying to change their minds; I just want them to take a look at things from a different perspective. I think it’s important to view different perspectives because it may explain why people act the way they do. In general, I do not think people intentionally say or do things that they believe are wrong. I would like to believe that people aren’t bad or mean or evil. Maybe that creep that cut you off in traffic was having a bad day. Haven’t you ever accidentally cut someone off in traffic?

Everyone thinks they are right, according to the information that they have. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, and keep trying, to step outside of our minds and look at things from another point of view. Other people could be “right” too! Don’t disregard what others have to say. Not only will it help you in your interactions with other people, it will also help you deal with you. Sometimes it is helpful to look at your own life from a different point of view than what you are used to. “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” (Albert Einstein)

But of course, this is all just my perspective.

I Get On My Nerves

52-I Get On My NervesAs I flirt with middle age and all the delights it brings, I also fear I am becoming a parody of myself…I am becoming the kind of person that drives me crazy.

 Let’s take the heat/cold thing, for instance. Because of the Big “C” meds and the Big “M” change-of-hormonal/body-life thing, I get hot flashes that would make Jumping Jack Flash jealous. I can’t tell from one minute to the next if I’m hot or cold. On sweater. Off sweater. On sweater. Off sweater. Sleeveless t-shirt. Shorts. Long Johns. I can’t decide if I need a fan or a blanket.  I might as well stockpile both, seeing my needs change on an hourly basis. All I know is that if I sat next to me at work or on the sofa I would make me nuts.  I am becoming the fidgety fussbudget no one wants to be around. It might not be as irritating as the person who chews their nails or spits tobacco, but it comes close. 

 Or how about this cold thing I’m fighting? Sneezing, hacking, clearing my throat of unwanted phlegm (don’t you just love that word?) all day long gets on my nerves – and I’m the one doing it! It makes me want to stand up and scream, “I can’t stand you anymore! Go Home Already!”  But being one of those long suffering, dedicated employees/spouses/parents, I know the world cannot go on without me, so I do the best I can to hide the irritating evidence.  I hold my sneezes silently inside (providing for that occasional bug-eyed look), blow my nose slowly (and hopefully discretely), and suppress my cough with water and sugar-free Werner’s.

 Is my patience level decreasing as my age increases? Am I becoming one of those sniveling, snorting, mumbling “old people” my mother warned me about?  My tolerance level seems to be upside down these days. I don’t mind my grandbaby’s whining/screaming/eh-eh-eh-ing all the time, long after my daughter-in-law has thrown in the towel.  Cereal thrown all over the floor, stones shoveled in the driveway, chewing the leg off the $10 Darcy Donkey I bought him at the last Gaelic Storm concert – so what? I credit it to him being a brilliant, inquisitive, experimental child.  Yet listing to the blood curdling screams of an overtired, over stimulated child in the store makes my dander flake.

 Have I always been this way? I’d like to think not. But it seems the older I get the more exaggerated any and all symptoms and reactions become. I find I have no tolerance for slow poke drivers, cell phone chatting drivers, and hot-shot, hot-rod drivers. I get bent out of shape when the cart in front of me at the checkout line has 30 items instead of 20 when I only have 10. People talking with their mouths full or slurping their soda or cracking their gum make me want to pop them in the chops.  I can’t stand commercials on television or radio, so half the time I sit in complete silence to read or write or drive.

Why am I so irritable? Is it just my time of life? Or is it that the world around me has become a lot more obnoxious in the past 10 years? 

I try and be Christian, I try and be Mother Teresa. After all, the hacker with the cough may have bronchitis. The screaming, tantrum baby may have intestinal pains. The cell phone yakker who isn’t paying attention to the road may be consoling a distraught friend or relative. The person who pulls out the bottom towel from the stack, leaving the remainder to topple worse than the Tower of Pisa, might have some sort of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and the thought of an untouched towel soothes their nerves.  Everyone has reasons for what they do, for the way they behave.  We are not all privy to their secrets nor their weaknesses.  The Goddess encourages us to be easy going on those around us. For others it’s the Sufi Way. And I want to give the world the benefit of the doubt.

 On the other hand, the yakker on the cell phone is going to drive into someone or something one of these days; the 30 at the 20 checkout fellow is an in-charge, defiant, control freak; the sneezer without a Kleenex will undoubtedly one day spread the plague; and the towel puller is just a slob who doesn’t clean up after themselves. In a world where we are doing our best to teach our children manners and to respect each other, the role models driving and working and shopping around us often leave much to be desired.  I’m always saying I’m old school, but I would never talk to my elders (or anyone else, for that matter), the way some do. I would never leave a mess in a store for someone else to clean up (oh..that’s their job), cough in someone’s face, or bully someone.

 I’m not saying I don’t talk on the cell phone while driving, or take more than 20 to the 20 check out. I do go to work when I’d be better off at home under the covers, and often talk before I think, making more work for myself than need be. But I am sorry for my misdemeanors; I do say thank you and please all the time. I hold doors open for those behind me and stop my car in the middle of parking lots to let people walk by. I try and say something nice to everyone I chat with, and bring extra food to parties even when I don’t have to.

 I just don’t want to make myself (or others) put up with the mumbly, jumbly world of On Sweater, Off Sweater, Cough Cough Cough. That would be enough to make everyone scoot their chairs a little further away.

 Unless I make it into a dance move…