Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cool Mini-Flashes

While most of my Hot Flashbacks and Cool Insights take at least a chapter to build up a string of experiences to synthesis, here are some nuggets I call mini-flashes, single insights or moments of aha gleaned from the longer Hot Flashbacks tales with their chapter names noted. Enjoy!

"Once a Catholic, always a Catholic,” the nuns used to singsong. I
always thought this litany was pure religious propaganda. Except it turns
out to be true. I don’t even bother to say ex-Catholic anymore. Doesn’t
matter if you don’t practice it. It’s still your orientation, like
sexuality—something you can’t help. A friend recently said, “It’s in
your genes.” I believe Catholicism runs that deep. Someday, I fully
expect someone will discover a DNA marker for it.

--Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary

When we were barely teenagers, my first boyfriend Tommy Shire and I used to meet while I walked our boxer dogs, Duchess and Lady, in the weedy vacant lot next to our suburban Chicago townhouse. We’d steal kisses between dog droppings. Little did I know at the tender age of twelve how much that scene symbolized life.

– That Doggone Hit Parade

The first time I heard the odd expression “golden handcuffs,” I could not get over how well it described my career in government. I had not considered seriously; I had been abducted by benefits and was being held hostage by my own need for comfort and security. What’s worse for my colleagues and me and anyone seduced by these goodies, whatever their job: We all suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, falling in love with our captors—ourselves and our own bullshit.

--Golden Handcuffs

The Twenty-Third Psalm has always been one of my favorite prayers, even though it’s mostly said at funerals. I used to consider this morbid till I got old enough to realize how fragile we are as humans--how much we live at death’s door at all times. That’s why I love that prayer, especially the line: Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.

As you get older, the Shadow gets thicker. It goes from partly cloudy to seriously overcast, the closer you inch to the unknown finish line of life. There are only two ways you can deal with this fact. You can be bummed out or you can do what you did when you were a kid—get your thrills off living on the edge.

--Valley Girl

I am convinced that even the horniest people on earth cannot spend more than five to ten percent of their relationship in bed over the long haul. We have to make a living, raise children, pursue our interests. Since the vast majority of a relationship happens outside the bedroom, how can we expect to form a sound one when it starts there …and we never really want to get out of bed?

--Where Are My Keys? I Need a Sex Drive!

That boom in our name: It can do more than blast through the old way of aging that gives up and gives out. It can be the blast of reality, a fiery sword of truth that mediates between these conservative (‘50s) and rebellious decades of our youth (‘60s/’70s) and these extremes within ourselves. What makes us so special is our wiring to be weavers of wholeness within—and within today’s world.

--Sixties Reprised

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy Autumn Equinox!

While I may not practice astrology professionally anymore, I have integrated many aspects of it into my life for good. One of them is celebrating the change of seasons at the solstices and equinoxes. It was easy for me to appreciate those turning points: I was born on the cusp of autumn. Bet you can’t guess my favorite season.

You don’t have to be into astrology to know that the quarterly shifts in weather are a crossroads and sacred time. Many people don’t realize how much the earth religions have influenced other religions—the ones that revere nature and just such changes--including Christianity. There are many parallels between them, including the recognition that outer changes mirror inner growth. Most of us know the Bible quote popularized in the early ‘60s song by Pete Seeger, Turn, Turn, Turn:

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens. "

--Ecclesiastes 3:1

I have always been a seeker, and I have enjoyed a rich spiritual life since Day One, thanks to my family and my own Virgo tendencies toward perfection—my desire to live life to the best and fullest. Combine that with a lot of planets in Libra, the sign that craves balance and harmony, and it’s not surprising that my spirituality has been eclectic. It’s easy for me to see the best of many different traditions. After all, I want to find what we can agree on and appreciate about each other’s perspectives.

Now you have the context for how I started a group of women in the late ‘80s that celebrates the change of seasons. Many of us attended an annual candlelighting service at our local Unity Church. We loved it but wanted more. We were still in the afterglow of the
Harmonic Convergence, that August 1987 event where people went to various sacred sites on Earth to pray for peace and harmony. It was a time of ecumenical spirituality and oneness, and celebration of the Winter Solstice seemed the most all-inclusive to us; so, that’s where we started.

Soon, our circles once a year just weren’t enough, and we expanded them to the other quarterly solstices and equinoxes. As often as possible, we celebrate at the river, the outdoor cathedral of God/Goddess/All That Is. Our members have varied beliefs with a shared faith in open-mindedness. We borrow from every tradition you can think of—Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, pagan. Our rituals are nothing if they are not creative, and various women take turns putting them together. Even though it’s a circle of women, we owe our nickname, the Solsisters, to a man. (Thanks, Evan!) He was the boyfriend of my close friend and my primary partner in creating these events out of ordinary time. I don’t know if he feels it, but I think Evan gets a blessing every time we say the word.

Over the years, a backbone of liturgy has been borne out of our group efforts. Each celebration has the same basic sections, but the content is completely original. As originator and long-time leader, my Catholic roots could not help but shine through, especially in calling the sharing section communion. There is nothing like checking in on each other’s lives quarterly and watching how we grow.

As individuals and in community, those check-ins are so vital to seeing our own milestones as works in progress. We laugh, we cry, we go to dinner together afterwards (another communion) … but the most important thing is that we have created a support system, a community of spirited women who care about each other on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. You can have one, too! Just find a few kindred spirits to get the ball rolling. The Internet is oozing with ideas for rituals and celebrations. The Internet is our most important, silent Solsister.

I wanted to share this history early on, because the Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights phenomenon is more than a series of books and blog posts to me. It is an extension of what I started with the Solsisters, which would be nothing if it weren’t for the others who joined the party.

We have the power to create partnerships, circles, and to celebrate life however we want. We have tools literally at our fingertips.

My vision is to create a planetary shift where we join intentions to change outcomes, just like the original concept of the Harmonic Convergence. All the Earth is sacred. It doesn’t matter where you live. Start where you are.

The tarot deck I used to read from, the
Motherpeace, has a card that reflects my vision called The World. It shows lots of people dancing around a Pied Piper-like Earth Mom. Another image I love and recently purchased is from Shiloh Sophia McCloud, called Dancing Our Prayers. Let’s do the prayer dance of peace around the world!

Women are wired for peace as the birthers, nurturers, and ultimately, crones or wise women. Sally Field said it at the Emmys recently, whether or not she was bleeped for cursing the war.

Men, too, have these qualities—some more on the surface, some more deeply hidden. As they age, that side of men often emerges. This is true for women and qualities we regard as “masculine.” As we round out as human beings, we express the best of both complementary energies. That’s why boomers can do so much good. We have arrived at a time when our inner opposites are more in balance. We have made peace within ourselves. Now we can take on the world.

Let’s put peace on the wire, the Internet, and send it around the globe to create a circle of love, friendship, and practical problem solving.

Have a gorgeous autumn! It is, after all, the season of harvest and fulfillment. I hope you share my dream.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Boomer's Hot Flashbacks Contain Instructions for a Cool Rest of Her Life

Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights is the title of my upcoming memoir. This blog offers regular posts that are preview hot flashbacks—and cool insights, too! I want to find and warm up my audience before I bring on this book, the first in a trio of memoirs. I hope they will keep you laughing and learning for years to come.

Hot Flashbacks—the book and the blog--has a message for boomers and younger “kids:” You don’t have to wait till you “go to the light” to let your life flash in front of you. As much inspiration as slices of my unusual life, Hot Flashbacks shows how to reinvent aging so it works for the only generation with “baby” in its name. If you learn to play the symbols hidden in plain sight –now—you can make the rest of your days on Earth the richest in your personal history. My formula?

Hot Flashbacks + Cool Insights = Seasoned Sizzle!

To wrap up the preview, Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights has three distinct parts:

Part 1, Hormonic Convergence: I tell how I discovered passion as the theme of my life during my first hot flashes following an emergency hysterectomy.

Part 2, Hot Flashbacks: Passion is more than sex, which I explore plenty in my flashbacks. I relive figurative passions, too—who and what I care about most, especially what I can’t die without doing.

Part 3, Sexugenaria: After reliving all those earlier episodes of my life—this time with their meaning clear—I see a lesson plan for living a cool rest of my life—and facing head-on my AARP card, hearing loss, and the other nuts and bolts of aging.

Entertaining, deep, and often hilarious, Hot Flashbacks is as much inspiration as memoir. It recounts a life so full of meaningful coincidence; it could only be a divine comedy. It doubles as a handbook for keeping the flames of passion fanned all the way to the finish line.

Visit my blog often for slices of writing that are similar to my book and a few flash forward excerpts. I’ll keep you posted on progress in the publishing process.