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Cap’n Joe’s #FUN Interview with #Radio Show Host the voluptuous Camille Sanzone:

Cap’n Joe’s #FUN Interview with #Radio Show Host the voluptuous Camille Sanzone:.

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An Open Letter to God

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Dear Mother-Father God,

All righty, Almighty, let’s get to it.

I acknowledge that You are the Creator of all things, and I am grateful for the life You have infused in me, and for the opportunity to express as Camille, or, perhaps, more accurately put, for the opportunity to experience You as Camille. I affirm, too, that in between lives or incarnations, I co-created the life I would step into while in human form. Together with You, my spirit guides and guardian angels, after reviewing and spiritually stewing about what I accomplished and failed to accomplish in my previous life and  or lives, I chose the major framework for who I would be and do in my upcoming life, that is to say, this life, the very one I am living now.

Wow! What a deal we make when we choose to don this human disguise and endure this life school over and over again. I have asked myself from time to time why I agreed to, let alone helped choreograph, such an intricate dance, especially when, while in the midst of learning ever new steps, I trip over my own feet time again. Yet when the smoke clears from all the spiritual tap dancing, and one more crisis has passed, if not been miraculously resolved, I am amazed at how it served me, and, indeed, marvel at the serendipitous events which lead to its auspicious conclusion.

Of course, I seldom see the gift in the problems with which I am confronted, and or have created, until well after, and sometimes never at all. That, in and of itself, is a major and fascinating concept.  Does life happen to us or do we pull it all to us?  Do we, in fact, have free will only in terms of how we respond to things that randomly happen to us? Are we victims of a fickle fate, or are we truly creating everything that happens to us by what we most consistently think, say and do?  That is a notion to which I generally subscribe. However, it seems to me that such a notion at the same time enslaves and liberates us, for it makes us supremely responsible, yet utterly powerful. Of course, that is the piece of the puzzle I tend to lose sight of when trying to make sense of what often appears a constant and unfair barrage of troubles. I can’t imagine I actually had anything to do with setting up or manifesting anything which smacks of struggle or suffering.

I hate to tell You this, God, but I occasionally question the whole cosmic, universal, God thing. I get angry, too, convinced that I have been a good person, done the spiritual work, followed the rules, and done the scientific prayer, the meditations and the visualizations. I have read the books, had the philosophical discussions, pondered and prayed, and so, when things continue to go wrong, the question Why? becomes a constant refrain. Why is this happening to me? Why aren’t I manifesting my good? Why do I continue to struggle? Why must I suffer so? Why can’t things be easier to understand?

Why, indeed, would a compassionate God create a world with so many hidden agendas and picayune rules of spiritual conduct, and then slap us, when we’re already down, with another obstacle just because we don’t do things exactly right according to Universal Law? We cry out to You, Mother-Father God. You know what is in our hearts and souls, why not reward us with the good things we want without our having to endure so much heartache?

In my heart of hearts I know the sad and sobering truth, for I am a spiritual being having a human existence and the wisdom lies within me if I will only listen.  We may think we have done the work, but, if we do listen and very closely, that still small voice inside us tells us that when we pray not believing in the outcome, when we visualize with a hidden seed of doubt, when we question in anger, we push away our good.  Until we truly let go and let God, um…let You have the reins, we will continue to struggle.  It is in the very act of surrendering that we gain true control.  How can I go fear forward and expect good results?  I must go forward in faith. And so, even as I go ’round and ’round seeking answers to my heart’s questions, my Soul sits in the middle and knows, to paraphrase poet Robert Frost.

Dear God, thank You for the opportunity to love others, and to be loved, and to help heal and comfort others. Continue to guide my words and give me the wisdom to say what others need to hear, but seldom want to hear, and the compassion to express it in a way that does no further harm to already weeping souls. It is so much easier to see clearly when others make errors through wrong thinking than when I blithely do it myself.

Dear God, I accept that I have pulled into my life those who would best serve my soul’s growth in learning, understanding or completing certain events or life situations, no matter how painful or complex. Not that all my divinely human encounters have been painful and complex, but those that were, taught me important things. You, dear Mother-Father God, and my spirit guides, no doubt, tried to persuade me not to take on so much in this one incarnation, but I, characteristically, said “No! I can handle it. I want to go through the struggle, I want to feel the pain, know the suffering that will help me gain the wisdom I seek and so cherish.”  Yet, just between You and me, God, I sometimes tire of the struggle and long to choose anew, for I know that the power to choose again is in every moment.

So, here’s the deal, God: I, hereby, choose to learn through wisdom, rather than pain, and may that wisdom erase most of the bad or difficult karma my past actions put into motion! I choose the accelerated path and I ask You, Mother-Father God, for your guidance, blessings and intervention to give me the strength, the courage, the wisdom and the perseverance to follow my bliss.

As the Grand Producer, your presence is always with me, and although I feel You in every breath I take, and with every beat of my heart, I know, too, that I have to ask for your help through prayer, knowing that as I ask, believing I shall receive, I shall receive. I must also remember to invite the intervention of your powerful angels and my spirit guides, for as I wrote in my poem, “A Conversation with Some Angels,” they are empowered to inspire, but not to interfere uninvited. I understand, too, that while here on earth, essentially, I alone am the director; I am also the scriptwriter, the choreographer and the dancer. I write the score, both music and lyrics; I create the arrangements and I conduct the orchestra. In fact, I am all the instruments and the very music itself. I am the singer of my every song. I set the stage and I arrange the props. I am the lead actor, and I cast all the supporting roles. In fact, it just may be that I am all the actors, for we are all one and we are each in other’s created world.

Of course, when I look back at some of the scenes of “My Life as Camille so far….,” on the surface it seems almost impossible to imagine that I actually chose particular experiences and certain people to play particular parts. After further scrutiny, however, the reason usually becomes clear. Still, for all the wisdom I have garnered from the painful episodes of this lifetime up to this moment in time, I am calling a halt to the production as it’s been running, and immediately replacing it with a major rewrite. To start off, since I am the choreographer of this dance I’m doing, I am opting to create a new dance, with new and daring steps. I am choosing to change the rhythm and pick up the pace. And I am writing a new score and calling it “Good Things Are Happening!” All I have to do to renew my energy when I feel myself faltering is to swirl around to that tune or imagine myself doing it.

And so, dear Mother-Father God, I, once again, invite You into my life. I ask You to actively participate, to intervene, to bless me and protect me in all my ways.  I ask this knowing that You will surround me with your guardian angels and my spirit guides as I walk this path, and remembering more and more each day who I really am and that I chose and continue to choose to be here. I am the musician and the instrument, I am the singer, my words are my song, I am the choreographer and my life is my very own picture show and dance. May it ever be the Abundance!  Shall we…dance? 

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Dropping the Wait…

As I write this, I must confess that I am over my ideal weight.  I suppose I could take Garfield’s stance on the subject and say I am not overweight, just undertall.

The notion is not an entirely new one for me, that of one’s weight being somehow linked to waiting, but something hit me with some weight some months back.

I was coming clean with myself. You see, along with an abundance of good humor, joy,  charm, (and modesty), I have, nonetheless, also been afraid, sad or angry at times in my life, and have, therefore, spent too much of my life waiting.  Waiting to begin something, waiting to complete something, waiting for the right person to love and love me, waiting for something to go wrong, for that which I fear to come upon me, for my own good to appear, for someone to ride in on a valiant white steed and rescue me and love me unconditionally, waiting for someone to recognize my talent and guide me toward success as a best-selling author. Been there, done that?  I suppose we all play a waiting game to some extent in some area of our lives.

All I know is all that waiting weighed me down. The literal weight didn’t come upon me until I was thirty-five years old. It was, I suppose, a self-fulfilling prophecy, based on my dear late mother’s Sicilian curse. (Said only slightly tongue-in-cheek.) Even as a young girl, I had a good appetite, and my mother would caution me, “You know, Camille, you won’t always be able to eat like that. One day you’ll start gaining weight, and it’s a shame because you have such a pretty face.” (Don’t you hate it when people say that?)

I find it fascinating that the words weight and wait are linked. Perhaps for some people it doesn’t express in literal poundage, but we all get weighed down in some way when we wait. And I’m not talking here about having healthy patience and resolve. I’m talking about what happens to our soul when we wait to follow our bliss, to go after the promotion, to take the risk, to do whatever it is in our heart to do. We’re masters at coming up with excuses. We tell ourselves we’re waiting until we are better prepared, or the time is right, we find a loving relationship, make the proper connection, have lost weight, have more money. Sometimes we wait with anticipation, (which is often fear disguised as hope), sometimes with conscious dread (which is bald-faced FEAR or False Evidence Appearing Real).  No matter the reason, the waiting conspires to erect roadblocks to our good, add pounds to our form, and create the illusion that we are irreparably stuck.

All that w a i t i n g….postponing, procrastinating, pleading, praying, pondering, posing, parlaying….paralyzes us.

 I know it has kept me in bondage, zapped my energy, and created excuses for my inertia. I grew fat on second helpings of if-onlys, chocolate-covered I can’ts, fried I should’ve dones, sugar-coated could’ve dones, and watered-down would’ve dones. Oh, I suppose nibbling from that bag of Poor Me Potato Chips didn’t help any either.

And while diets of all kinds surround us and confound us — Low fat – high carb; high fat – low carb; high protein – low fat, low carb, none of that matters nearly as much as how we nourish our souls by the choices we make every day in all areas of our lives. Every step we take, every choice we make, puts us either one step forward, one step back, or keeps us in place; and to quote Will Rogers, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Spiritually, I know I’m always on the right path, with a detour taken here and there, usually through the land of self-doubt.  For so long the time would come when no matter how much good I was doing, I would give in to the fear and allow myself to feel unworthy again. Then I read what Marianne Williamson said about lacking the courage of our own greatness, and it rang a bell. She said that most of us are not afraid we are not good enough, we are afraid of our own greatness. I love that!

So, I’m going to step into my gifts, and, perhaps, while I drop the WAIT, I’ll also continue to drop WEIGHT.  I have already let go of almost twenty pounds.  In any event, I vow to let go of the fear and embrace my GREATNESS, even the “greatness” of my waist line for the time being, because in order to conquer it, I must love myself through it.

Here’s to dropping the WAIT…and the weight!

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Acting as if…without feeling like a fraud.

I suppose we have  all come upon the not-so-new age theory of acting as if a thing is true in order to attract it. I have given seminars on the subject;  one was called quite simply and to the point:  Create Your Own Reality.

No, it was not a support group for psychotics.  I read once, somewhere, that a neurotic is someone who builds castles in the air,  and a psychotic is someone who lives in them.  Creating our own reality,  however, in this sense, is altogether different.

Nonetheless, this acting as if  stuff can ring hollow for a lot of us, at least some of the time, and when that happens, our resolve weakens and we continue to push away our good.  I have  had participants in my workshops come up to me afterward,  inquiring about this acting as if,  claiming that they feel dishonest saying positive affirmations in current time because it is simply not the truth of their experience.   In other words,  I,  and others who encourage affirmations,  suggest you not say I am going to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise, but, instead,  say I am happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.   My workshop attendees wanted to know how they could possibly say that when they were feeling anything but those things.  My suggestion was and is that if what you are affirming is what you truly desire to be your life experience, you must commit to saying it, believing it, and thinking of it as saying the truth in advance.

My father died at home under Hospice care in 1995.  Even with the morphine drops under his tongue, he was in pain, yet he lingered.  He just wouldn’t let go.  I thought, perhaps, he was hanging on because, even though the three of us, (my brother, sister and I), were grown, he felt he had not done right by us because he was not leaving us any money. He was always talking about that, how he was going to hit it big and leave us all enough money so we would never have to worry about money again.  He had played the lottery for years,  sometimes, we later learned,  spending as much as $50 a week.

So, I suggested to my mother that she tell him we had won the Florida lottery. At first she objected, saying she didn’t feel comfortable telling him such a lie, but I told her it was not a lie, that we could possibly win one day, so she was just telling him the truth in advance.  My father was pretty much out of it by then.  He wasn’t speaking, and only responded with grunts to certain questions.  My mother finally relented and as she leaned over the hospital bed, with a smile in her voice, she said, “Hon, we won the lottery.”  Then, with a little more verve to her voice, she said, “The big one! Seventeen million dollars!”  I laughed to myself, thinking she didn’t want to lie to him, but once she got into the spirit of the thing,  she obviously figured she might as well think BIG.  Way to go, Mom!

When my mother repeated to my father what she had said, the rest of us in the room corroborated it by high-fiving each other, and making all kinds of happy sounds.  Suddenly and very obviously, his face  softened, and the tightness in his expression evaporated.   A small smile even appeared on his lips.  He passed peacefully that evening.

My mother passed in 1998.  OK, Mom, so we have never  won the lottery.   At least, NOT YET.

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A Work in Progress…or just a piece of work?

Sometimes I feel I’m not where I thought I’d be at this stage in my life, yet my inner child wisdom tells me that progress is relative, for movement, even lots of it, if it is frenetic and harried, and in no particular direction, is little better than inertia. Movement in the right direction, however, even one baby step at a time…movement in the direction of your dreams? Ah! That’s progress!

That’s what I believe to be true in my heart of hearts, when I listen to the song of my soul. Of course, my ego sometimes plays me a different tune. My ego says, “Come on girl, you’re 66 already!” My soul says, “You’re only 66, Girlfriend, give yourself a break!”

I do know what I want to do with my life and have made several attempts over the years in that direction only to sabotage myself in one way or another, surrendering to the old tapes in my head from false beliefs I’ve acummulated over the years, some of which came from my misguided, albeit well-meaning, parents, both now gone. (It was a shock to discover that even after 50 you can feel like an orphan!)

My father, God love his soul, was a good man who worked too hard, played too little, was bitter and disappointed most of his life, harboring resentments, unwilling to forgive others for real and imagined slights. Even when I explained that forgiveness was more for his soul’s peace than for anyone else’s, he said, “I can’t let ’em off the hook.” He never got it that it was he who was on that hook.

The message I got from him, among others, and this was, perhaps, the most poignant: “What do you mean you want to do something you love and enjoy for a living? You’re supposed to WORK for a living. That’s why they call it WORK!”

My mother, God love her soul, was a good woman who had such a capacity for joy, but it was buried inside her. She loved music, had a beautiful voice, and was most alive when she was singing, yet she didn’t allow herself to know or experience much joy outside of the music. She lived her life with just a little piece of sky peeking through the window to her heart. She was sad and disappointed much of the time, complaining about, rather than claiming, her life.

From my mother I heard this resounding message: “You can’t expect to be happy in life. Nobody is really happy. If you expect to be happy, it will only bring you heartache and disappointment.”

Realizing that those tapes were playing in my head much of the time, however subliminally, took a bunch of years, and not a little therapy; yet even with that knowledge, it has not been a simple process to turn the volume down.

Every time I took that proverbial emptied-handed leap of faith into the void to start my own seminar business, I wound up running out of money, energy and or faith and went back to working 9 to 5 for someone else. That’s not to say I didn’t do meaningful work in the traditional arena, for I did, but that longing to do something more has always bitten at the heels of my soul.

I don’t want to recite the litany of my life here, but do want to make the point that even when we don’t think we’re making any progress, as long as we continue moving in the right direction, progress is being made. I have sometimes been without an income, but I have never been unemployed. I do things which bring me and others joy, and I know that is no small thing. And I’m always thinking. My mother used to say, “Camille, you think too much!” She even thought I read too much, so when she saw me reading something that wasn’t a school assignment, she would say, “If you have time to read, you have time to help me clean!” It didn’t take me long to become a closet reader. OK. OK. I was a bathroom reader (which sounds like bottom feeder) neither of which are too exotic. Truth is, I spent so much time on the toilet reading, I had a perpetual ring around my arse.

And now, if you’re in the mood….read on. I’ve inserted a half dozen or so of my shorter poems for you. I’d love to know what you think of them. I’m hoping to include them in a book with some of my shorter essays and quotes. The tentative title is THE WISDOM OF CAMILLE’S INNER CHILD.

All rules defied…a stranger lied.

Ethics bowed and left the stage.

In the end, my friend,

deceived, yet relieved,

honor regained, we will laugh…

knowing we have all been both idiot and sage.

1/3/04

I take God where others cannot;

it is a knowing I almost forgot.

I was reminded the other day

when I saw a child at play,

acting like a little piece of God.

2/4/04

Roadblocks to our happiness?

Those cursed how’s, closed doors,

dashed hopes, and broken promises!

Perhaps. Or are they simply hurdles

we need only climb over or walk around?

2/5/04

My turn!

As children, unabashedly at play,

we incessantly called out, “My turn! My turn!”

…sometimes even when it wasn’t.

Interesting, as adults we wonder when it will be…

when, in truth, though some may disagree…

it is always our turn.

We have but to take it.

2/6/04

Persistence…

Persistence, unlike patience,

is not in waiting, waiting, waiting;

it’s in doing, doing, doing.

Ah, how I love words.

2/7/04

I wonder if God’s face scrunches up

when in prayer we humbly ask “Can I….?” or

we plead, head bowed in shame, “Please….May I….?”

instead of knowing it is ours already

and simply saying, “Thank you”  in advance.

2/8/04

All the things I fear….

the monster “what ifs” that I dread…

are but villains of my own design,

like boogie men under my bed.

2/9/04

Self-deception is misinterpretation

of the truth we were meant to live.

Self deprivation is soul annihilation…

and they will evaporate… Poof!

…as soon as we forgive.

2/10/04

A Success Haiku

Success, late is fine!

You will not find me asleep.

Don’t knock. Just come in!

2/11/04

Wings Haiku

I can bear the pain

when I remember it’s just

my wings coming in.

2/12/04

Out of sight…out of mind.

Out of body…so sublime.

Or so I pondered. And then oh what wonder!

An Angel tugged at my ear and whispered,

“You signed up to be in the Body Sacred.

Take a deep breath of life, Child.

You’ll be back home soon enough.”

2/13/04

Thanks for listening.

 

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Living on the Verge

Do you remember when, at the start of the school year, your new teacher would ask you to write an essay on what you did during your summer vacation?  Well, that’s not what I’m writing about today, for Living on the Verge is hardly a vacation on the Riviera, but the phrase caught my eye recently and I wanted to explore exactly what being on the verge means to me. Although I confess I’ve been there a few times, “on the verge,” that is, it’s one of those places you’re not sure you’ve been until you’re on your way back home from it. It is neither a nice place to visit nor to live. Too much tension — living on the verge — good and bad.

We’ve all heard someone say, “I’m on the verge of something great happening…I can just feel it!” By contrast, we’ve likely also heard someone say, “I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown.” In the first statement, being on the verge appears to be a positive place to be, full of excitement and anticipation, albeit usually far off.  In the second statement, being on the verge seems a bit precarious, and frighteningly imminent.

I went to the New World Dictionary of the American Language for a definition. In part, this is what I found:

Verge: the edge, brink, a bend, twist, margin (as the verge of the forest), an enclosing line or border, a boundary of something more or less circular.

When we’re always on the verge, we never arrive; we feel like an almost ran, a has-been who never was. It’s going through life with a thousand things on your mind, and none of them coming to fruition. It’s that right answer, the eloquent phrase that lingers on the tip of your tongue, then dissolves like a bitter pill, absorbed into your system, unuttered and irretrievable.

Being on the verge, being on the edge, on the brink, on the boundary of something more or less circular…all of it makes us dizzy as ’round and ’round we go. Being on the verge is dwelling in possibilities. Possibilities can be wonderful, and being on the verge of something can be exhilarating, but only if we finally shift into the next gear and go from being on the verge of greatness and dwelling in the land of possibilities to the place where our mojo is working. That is, of course, unless the verge we’re on is the one leading to a nervous breakdown.  And even then, if we listen to the sage advice of playwright Jane Wagner’s bag lady, as portrayed by Lily Tomlin in the play “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe,” a nervous breakdown, if viewed from the proper angle, can be a breakthrough.

So, how do we get beyond the verge, go around the bend, unwind the twist, go outside the margin, cross that border, and obliterate that boundary? Are we required to take that empty-handed but full-hearted leap of faith into the void? Perhaps, sometimes.  But just maybe the answer lies in simply changing our perspective. Changing the way we think about time, for instance, can make all the difference.

Are we hypercritical about how we use our time? As I wrote on my FaceBook wall the other day, Time is what passes and marches on; it’s what we spend, waste, kill, mark, lose track of, complain there is not enough of, and yet is on our side. But does everything we do have to be relegated to a timeline…to be task oriented? If we spend time doing something creative, something not on our perfunctory to do list, do we feel we wasted, rather than spent that time? Do we live our lives doing only those things that spell obligation or fall under the umbrella of  have to  and wind up feeling like we’re doing time, a veritable prisoner in a cage of our own making?

Do we teeter on the edge of time, living on the verge, nervously, anxiously waiting for that right moment to happen, the one that transforms our lives for the better forever? I suspect more of us live our lives that way rather than having the peace of mind of knowing that we are doing the best we can with our own level of knowledge, understanding and awareness, and that as long as we are on the earth plane, we are works in progress.   Sometimes I feel like a work in progress – others I just feel like a bonafied, certified, and, possibly, certifiable piece of work.

I suspect it has a lot to do with learning to enjoy the present moment, without regrets about past experience or worries about what might yet go wrong. Maybe it’s as simple as “Surrendering the How,” as I suggested in my poem of that title, and trusting that all unfolds as it should.

In the mean time, (Curious, time often seems mean when we’re waiting….), along with all the other things we do with our days, we can choose to bring into our world more activities that we enjoy, more of what we love to do. Then we will be spiritual millionaires of time, for each moment will be precious, and we will not tremble so on the verge.

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Growing older Versus Growing Old

I read a short story half my lifetime ago, when I was in my thirties. It was written from the perspective of an old woman who spoke eloquently about the young woman she used to be being, trapped inside the old woman’s body she now possessed. It was fascinating. I’ve thought of that story from time to time over the years, but have never been able to remember the title or recall the author’s name.

We are all getting older with every passing day. I’m not overly conscious about growing older because age has never really bothered me, and it’s not as if I woke up one morning and looked in the mirror to find an old woman looking back at me. It has happened gradually. In my head I feel about twenty-five. Of course, my body has betrayed me just a little! No, that’s not true. The truth of the matter is that if there has been a betrayal, it is I who have betrayed my body. I don’t drink or smoke, but since thirty-five I’ve been eating for two. I think they call that hysterical pregnancy.

I remember seeing my first white hair. I had just stepped out of the shower, was drying myself off when I noticed in my nether region, (my “pubic area” to those less squeamish), what I thought was a white thread from the luxurious white, fluffy towel I was using.  I reached to pluck it, and recoiled when I realized it was a white hair, very much attached to me!  Oddly enough, I still don’t have many white or gray hairs on my head though, even at sixty-six. I don’t have any major wrinkles either, just tiny ones at the corners of my eyes when I smile, which I tend to do a lot. Perhaps it’s all the olive oil we Italians use in cooking. Of course, also due to that cooking, my waistline has become the equator that separates my sphere of a body. When I wasn’t looking, a second chin started to grow, and I also have a few rebel eyebrow hairs that strayed to several conspicuous places under my chin line; now I have to tweeze my face along with my eyebrows. Not nice, Mother Nature!

Seven or eight years ago I reunited with a friend I hadn’t seen in about thirty years. We hadn’t even seen pictures of each other in all that time. We arranged to meet for lunch and wondered if we would recognize each other. We did, of course. I arrived first and saw her come into the restaurant.   I knew in an instant it was she, but she had aged a great deal.   Her hair was almost all white.  Her face was full, and once full lips had somehow become thin.  I stood and waved her over, but couldn’t help thinking what a fantastic job some Hollywood makeup artist had done to hide the girl she once was. It was the oddest sensation.  As she got closer, I could see the further ravages of the years, as armies of tiny soldier crevices marched across her face.  I told her I recognized her immediately.  I did not say she looked the same, for she, clearly, did not.  She, of course, lied and said I looked the same.  I know that’s supposed to be a compliment, but think about it. I hope I didn’t look like this at twenty-seven!  

My concern has never been with age itself, but with having the grace to grow older with some style. As long as we’re alive, growing older is not a choice, but growing old is. By my estimation, I am not old. Oh, I may get achy at times, but I don’t have the monthly cramps I endured from the age of ten to fifty four.  I am still comfortable in my skin even though there is considerably more of it spanning my globe.  That tiny yellow rose I had tattooed on my left breast has become a long-stemmed one. Kidding! I have no tattoos –at least not yet!   If I were to get one, it would say I AM NOT AGING, I AM FERMENTING.

The important this is that as I age, I grow more comfortable with who I am. I still want to look good, but I’ve lost the vanity of having to be fully made up whenever I leave the house. I’m more interested in connecting with other people than connecting the dots that create my made-up face. And, please may I never become that old woman who puts more rouge on than Emmett Kelly, the clown!

Growing older is nothing we can study for, yet growing older gracefully may be a test, or, perhaps, just a testament to the way we’ve lived our lives in general. I don’t think we really change much in personality as we grow older. We may be less able to do certain things, but I think we become more of whatever we were, or are, because we worry less about what people think.

I suppose, for some, old age brings up thoughts of mortality, and it is often the appropriate period in life to reminisce, to tell one’s life story. I have always felt that every person’s life is worth at least one novel, and that there should be a massive library somewhere containing all those works. Some would be more interesting than others, some would be shorter, some longer, but everyone would have a book on the shelf. Mine might be called I Never Got the Last Shipment of Rope…when I was at the end of mine!

Perhaps you’ve heard this story: A man was being chased by a tiger to the edge of a mountain. His choice was to jump off the mountain or be eaten by the tiger. He chose to jump. As he fell, he grabbed onto a branch of a tree protruding from a crevice in the side of the mountain. He knew he could not hold on for long but he did not want to die in fear. He suddenly noticed wild strawberries growing on the branch from which he was hanging, and decided to pick and eat one. As he put the strawberry in his mouth and declared it the sweetest strawberry he had ever tasted, he lost his grip on the branch, and fell to his death, but he did so smiling and happy to have had his last experience of life be so delicious.

I think we begin to feel old when we lament about the things we can no longer do as well as we used to, or that we can no longer do at all, or about the things we never did. Instead, we might focus on being grateful for those things we have in our lives, those things we can still do, and concentrate on enjoying them. We can always choose to reach for the strawberry.

There’s an old Norse tale the punch line of which is that if you tell a joke when you arrive near death, it shows Death that you are not afraid. I like that idea, and I love strawberries, so I’m asking my loved ones to have strawberries and a microphone handy when my time comes. Then I can do my last standup (or lay down) comedy routine, have a strawberry or two and leave everybody laughing. Then I’ll be able to die laughing too.

Ain’t life a hoot?

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