Why take major risks in midlife?

Mike at home

Mike woke up one day after we moved in, went straight outside and did this!

I met a nice couple who just moved in below us on Tuesday. They are like us, newlyweds in their 50s or early 60s from the metro area up north. They came by to explore their new neighborhood, although in our case the homes are pretty far apart. I showed them my memoir about the the tough process we went through when we first got here and they bought one.

Then I started reading my memoir again. How time flies! It’s been almost four years now since we plopped ourselves down in Walsenburg, and started building west of town. And yes, an author can actually forget what they wrote a few years ago.

Although certainly imperfect, this book is an honest and funny account of my experiences in a part of our country which at first felt a bit like a foreign land. Building here was fraught with major challenges. In case you don’t know, one definition of fraught is: “causing great anxiety or stress.”

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you now imagine.  – Thoreau

Why did we do it? Here’s a short essay from my book that explains everything:

The American Dream In Progress  –   March 6, 2015

I am surprised how much interest there is in building solar in rural America. My views on this blog have increased dramatically recently, and that includes views from all over the world.

But then I got to thinking, and realized the dream we are presently pursuing is the most fundamental of all. The immigrants who risked everything to come to America did so just to be able to purchase their own land and build a new life here. Having your own piece of land is, in a sense, what this country is all about.

Mike on old tree up at build site 2014

Mike on an ancient cedar before we had to cut it down!

This realization makes me very happy and proud. My husband Mike has held this dream for most of his life. Building a passive solar home has been his primary goal since he was a teenager. Now we almost have our home completed, and in spite of the many unexpected difficulties and inconveniences that have arisen in this process, we will soon be living the life we only dreamt of last year.

Hold on to your dreams! Don’t give up when those dreams require taking risks that scare you. Don’t let others talk you out of your most important goals. You have the needed vision to live your dream.

“The person who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person doing it.” –  Chinese proverb 

Do YOU have what it takes to follow your dreams? Check out my memoir…  and please follow me on Twitter!

Advertisements

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!

Watching the news lately, I can’t help but wonder if anyone truly respects women in this country or in this world. It sometimes seems like a free for all for anyone with money and power to demean and abuse their acquaintances and partners. Even the POTUS does it in well documented ways, and his supporters think that is just fine.

This all brings back memories of a report I clipped from the newspaper back in 1993. It is still on my bulletin board, brown and tattered, about a report from the United Nations which stated back then:

Women to have clout in 1,000 years. And I quote: “It will take nearly 1,000 years for women to gain the same economic and political clout as men if current trends continue…”

After over 60 years of witnessing worldwide demeaning attitudes towards women, I believe they may be right, although I wonder how anything will ever change in this country. Remember the Equal Rights Amendment 35 years ago? Why was that impossible to pass in Congress? What happened to the crusade to enshrine women’s rights in the U.S. Constitution?

love and respectWomen generally raise men, and yet men also tend to be the worst abusers of women. Go figure! Even some women treat themselves with incredible disrespect. I have trouble with the women I see everyday on the news, who find themselves in horrible relationships with abusive and disrespectful men and yet they stay. What is that about?

Yes, I have found myself around completely disrespectful men. I have even stayed in bad relationships for short periods of time, but something inside said “Get the hell out of here!” and I did!

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, helps you grow, or makes you happy!

I do see very small signs of change occasionally. I was shocked last night to see a short segment in the Miss USA pageant devoted to asking the contestants whether they had personal experience with #MeToo. And sure enough, these stunningly beautiful women all spoke up about being treated badly or even abused.

Change is so SLOW! In fact it seems like nothing has changed at all when a known woman abuser can get elected president! It seems only outrageous examples like the POTUS on video stating that he loves to “grab pussy” brings out a strong reaction from those of us who demand the rights of women to be in the world in a respectful and safe way.

I am ashamed of what the present administration represents to the world and sorry we did not leave a better world for girls growing up today.

The Redemptive Power of Love

I woke up this morning just in time to hear the end of the wonderful talk by Reverend Michael Curry at the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan Markle:

“Dr. King was right: ‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world.                                   Love is the only way.’ ”

This has also been my experience with love. When I finally found true love at age 49, I somehow felt redeemed. To redeem means “to make an unpleasant thing or person feel better or more acceptable.”

Laura and Mike Wedding Day 2005

Mike and I on our wedding day. Just like a couple of kids…

I had never felt true love from another my entire life. There had always been reasons why I was not acceptable to those I had loved in my past. That is why it felt so magical to me when Mike embraced all of me as just right! And even now, thirteen years later I still feel loved, appreciated and accepted every day of my life. And to think this all started on a blind date eight months earlier…

Love is an amazing way to change your world. Love like this was the most important piece that was missing from my life, and when I decided that and then began focusing wholeheartedly on that goal, it happened! Like magic we met and knew very quickly that we had met our true match FINALLY!

How to Believe in Love Again! blog sizeA few years later I wrote my book: “How To Believe In Love Again” to help others realize this universal truth through love. It is so easy to get distracted by other goals and not realize that love can complete your life. Especially as we age we know what matters and what does not. Without Mike’s love so many of my other goals would not have come to fruition. Because of his support both emotionally and financially, I had the time, courage and audacity to reach one of my most important dreams. I became a writer and author. Then, with his technical skills and the power of his own dreams, we were able to build a passive solar home looking at the Spanish Peaks.

Yes, love can help you build your dreams and create so many more, and it is also so wonderful to feel that daily support from another human being who stands by you no matter what.

What the heart has once known, it shall never forget…

How do we feel as a nation about our children?

The news lately is not good in terms of America’s children. I just heard this morning that we are at a thirty year low in crude birth rate. Back in 1960 we were around 24 births per thousand. Today it’s around 12. What do these numbers indicate about national attitudes? Last night I heard again how severely depressed the younger generations are, with suicide rates rising.

Share-of-Federal-Budget-Outlays-Spent-on-Children-and-Other-Items-2016

One strong indicator of how we feel about our children is how much we spend to keep them healthy and happy. In that department it seems we are falling far short, spending only around 10% of our total budget on programs for children.

“In 1995, America ranked ahead of nine developed nations in the share of the economy the federal government spends on children. Since 2004, America has ranked third-to-last in spending, with only Mexico and Turkey lagging behind, as other countries have increased their spending on family benefits.” 

Poverty-levels-among-children-have-remained-high

These statistics become even more interesting when we compare them to the 46 percent of the federal budget we spent on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for adults. It appears we have been helping out our elderly at an increasing rate, but ignoring the needs of our young.

Also in the news constantly, our apparent inability to pay teachers a living wage, not to mention daycare workers and others who cater to the needs of our youth. Do these numbers reflect how we really feel about the future citizens of our country?

This has been an issue for us as Americans for decades. Do we care about the children who aren’t ours? I know for certain the present administration does not care. What about the rest of you?

Health consequences I wish I had known about when I was younger…

Dad Laura Diane and John small January 1961

MY DAD WITH US KIDS ON AN OUTING IN IOWA AROUND 1960

Back when I was a kid in the 1950s and 60s, so many well known facts about health consequences were not common knowledge. For example, we didn’t even think about providing sunglasses to children, and I don’t remember ever hearing of anything called sun screen.  We used suntan lotion instead to increase the sun damage! Good thinking, huh? I had a friend in high school who skipped school at the hottest part of the day just to really burn her skin.

Even in my late teens, when I was fortunate enough to spend a few months in southern Thailand, I used no sun screen. Today I have plenty of sun damage on my face, neck and chest to show for my bad judgment back then. And guess what? Sun damage is so obvious and UGLY as you age, not to mention so many wrinkles! I also damaged the retina at the back of one eye by having light colored eyes and not protecting them better. Now I have to wear dark sunglasses or I get headaches.

Another painful consequence for me, one I’m just beginning to realize in the past few years is shoulder, elbow and hand damage from overuse of my right arm. Sure, I know so much computer use in the past forty years hasn’t helped a bit, but I can highly recommend to those younger than me to not over use one side of your body. My left side seems brand new while my right arm, hip and knee complain constantly. Start to raise awareness right now how much you may depend on one side of your body for everything, and switch it up as soon as you can! Don’t wait until it hurts to use your right arm to realize you also have a left arm.

Something many boomers are realizing too late is how important good posture is while sitting and especially driving. Those who drive for a living in various careers can and do get stuck in one position for life. Notice how you sit and move even if it seems unconscious. Start doing stretches every day to combat being stuck in certain postures. Yoga is a great start to maintain spinal and upper body flexibility. Don’t wait. Do it NOW.

We also had no routine screenings for diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer when I was young. My Mom had to find her own breast lump in her thirties and for that reason she is still with us today. Mike’s Mom didn’t know about colon cancer and died at age 53. Do those screenings on a regular basis. They save thousands of lives every year.

I learned a little too late how to protect my brain properly. I realize now I am not alone in the bike accident department, especially past age 50. Balance and head injuries are not the same past age 50. If I had hit concrete instead of dirt headfirst back in 2008, I wouldn’t be here today. As it is, I was unconscious for hours afterward and don’t remember most of it. Today I live with extra brain challenges every single day because of one stupid mistake. Writing is one of the ways I meet these challenges.

mediterranean diet foods

And as crazy as it might seem, something I didn’t know when I was young, food truly is your best medicine. If you start out eating a wide variety of natural foods from birth instead of processed junk, you will thank yourself decades later. It is actually difficult to overeat real foods like eggs, dairy, nuts, lean meat, vegetables and fruit. Learn how to listen to your body and you will be less likely to stress eat instead of eating only when actually hungry.

Learn to love a few different types of exercise and do them for the rest of your life. Walking always makes me feel better mentally and physically. Gardening also keeps me active and happy. Find your favorite activities and keep improving every day of your life.

Mother’s Day 2018: Special thanks to all of the women who have taken care of me my whole life!

In offering gratitude for the gift of our lives, we celebrate Mother’s Day as it honors all forms of caring and nurturing ourselves and others. Mother’s Day reminds us to express our love and thanks to all of the women who have cared for us, our birth or adoptive mother, our grandmother or teacher or therapist or elder friend who helped us grow up. It also serves to remind us that caring for others is a uniquely valuable skill, one which is not particularly honored or valued in our culture.

When we look at those who devote their lives to caring for others, we see a subculture of healthcare workers, daycare workers, teachers and counselors who are not paid well for their services. And no matter how amazing mothers may be, they are not paid anything for raising the future citizens of our country.

Peace is connection to each other

Let us also appreciate that Mother’s Day has its roots in the peace movement.

For more than a century since its inception, Mother’s Day continues to be a day of protest. Historically, women have taken to the streets to call attention to the injustices of war, poverty, inadequate healthcare, child labor, gun violence, and more. These are the fierce, socially engaged underpinnings of Mother’s Day.

So this Mother’s Day, I invite you to honor the mother-figures in your life and also to marvel at the intricate web of caring that holds our world together. Let us honor the work of taking care of each other in recognition of our profound interconnectedness with one another, appreciating and celebrating the deep bonds we all share.

In gratitude for the nurturing and radical power of love, I wish you all a loving and peaceful Mother’s Day.