The Colorado Spring Fire: Deja Vu

Galena Fire March 2013As the death toll continues to rise in both northern and southern California, I cannot help but remember this past summer, when we were evacuated from our home for the Spring Fire. For one week we watched and waited to see if our area would survive bone dry conditions and high winds. Luckily we received a good rain just in time to quell our fires and save most of the area, except for homes west of here in the mountains. They were burned down before the nation’s firefighters arrived to save this valley and the town of La Veta.

Words cannot describe my anger at our ridiculous president for criticizing anyone whose home is burning down before their eyes. Or worse, who died simply because the fires came through so quickly that there was no way to escape. Who is this IDIOT, criticizing those who risk their lives everyday to save the lives of others?

Those who are suffering now in California will suffer for the rest of their lives from this kind of trauma. It is impossible for those who have not experienced something like this to truly understand the feeling of loss and hopelessness when everything you know goes up in smoke before your eyes.

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My Salute to Local Entrepreneurs!

NICE view of sunflowers in garden and Spanish Peaks summer 2017

The Spanish Peaks of Southern Colorado

I had the very good fortune yesterday to attend a WONDERFUL lunch and learn presentation by the Spanish Peaks Business Alliance. What an enthusiastic and friendly group! To put this into context for those of you who live in large metropolitan areas, we live in a 1,600 square mile rural southern Colorado with only 6,700 souls total in the whole county. Consequently, starting and keeping businesses going here can be no small feat.

The first person I met was Michelle Tschetter of Zoomadesign.com, a passionate, professional young woman who “enjoys creating branding and websites for her clients with no sales pressure and unnecessary add-ons.” She’s very new to town and comes from Loveland, the last city I lived in before moving here. Loved connecting with someone from my previous town and talking about developing a broader social media presence for my writing and books.

Michelle then introduced me to Sarah Jardis, who helped put together yesterday’s great event. She has been here only about two years, but couldn’t keep from signing up for a number of volunteer positions here. She’s already a member of the Spanish Peaks Tourism Board, attending numerous business conferences all over our state to learn more about putting this gorgeous area on the Colorado map.  I love her energy and intelligence when it comes to improving life for all of us down here!

One of the first presenters was Carlton Croft, an account executive with KSPK Radio, our own local station. I hadn’t ever considered local radio advertising for my tiny business until I had a short talk with Carlton at the end of the meeting. He’s another new transplant to this area. We had a good talk about the culture shock one can experience when moving here from the big cities up north.

I must also mention the excellent lunch provided by the Ryus Avenue Bakery. Their pizza is whole wheat and fantastic, as well as their soups and cookies!

I left this meeting all fired up about working cooperatively with most of the business people I met. Just what I was looking for down here!

A Wonderful Week for American Women!

us flagOur population is more than 50% women, and yet only 20% of our Congress is made up of female members. After Tuesday’s elections, a record number of women will serve in Congress come January 2019.                            UPDATE: With votes still trickling in, 99 women have been elected to the U.S. House, 12 women to the U.S. Senate and 9 women will serve as governor. The number of women in power has grown steadily, but this year’s election, with more than 270 women running for Congress and governor, shattered records. Source: 11/6/18 LA Times

A little history on this topic from my old Midlife Crisis Queen blog:

Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity”

votes for womenThis is the story of our Grandmothers, and Great-grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote…Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women didn’t vote this year because why? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO’s new movie ‘Iron Jawed Angels.’ It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that we could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have our say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women’s history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was–with herself.

‘One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,’ she said. ‘What would those women think of the way I use–or don’t use–my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.’ The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her ‘all over again.’

HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn’t our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn’t make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: ‘Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.’

How Personal Crisis Can Help Us Focus On Our Purpose Going Forward

JackieSpeierI just heard Jackie Speier, a Congresswoman from California, talk about surviving the horror of the Jonestown fact finding mission in November 1978, and how that formative moment changed her. She was an attorney on the staff of Congressman Leo Ryan at that time, investigating human rights abuses by Jim Jones, the leader of the Peoples Temple cult in Guyana, when she was shot five times by Jones’ followers. While she survived, over 900 members of the cult did not, victims of a mass murder-suicide. This caused me to explore further how my own crisis, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in May of 2008, helped me to crystallize what I needed to do with my own life going forward.

The first few months after my TBI I could barely think or write anything. Important connections had been broken in my brain. Only time would help repair them. I also had a severe rib injury which made it impossible for me to drive for months. Without any doubt this was a life-changing experience for me.

Midlife Magic coverIn 2006 I began a new career as a freelance writer, but my heart wasn’t in it. After my TBI I wrote up a story for the Seal Press, about my recent divorce, for their upcoming book: Ask Me About My Divorce. They said they would pay me for the piece, but it struck me for the first time, that all I really have are my own stories. Why sell them to someone else? I turned that story into a book full of humorous essays called: Midlife Magic: Becoming The Person You Are Inside! published in late 2008. Then I began doing some serious research into midlife change and the psychological history of this concept. I found that intensive research and writing helped to heal my brain.

Find Your Reason Cover smallThat first book was the beginning of ten years of research to fully understand the importance of seizing onto midlife as a unique opportunity to catch up to who you are now. The result of this research was my 2011 book: Find Your Reason To Be Here: The Search for Meaning in Midlife (2011). One interesting and unexpected outcome of my brain injury was that as my brain healed, it created a new decisiveness within me. I no longer doubted my strong feelings about what I believed in and who I would spend time with in my future. One result was the erasing of my ex-husband from my life. Ever since our divorce in 2001, I had allowed my ex-husband to continue to put me down verbally, because we shared custody of our dogs. In August of 2008 I told him to go away, permanently. I would take no more abuse from him ever again.

I also decided that I really wanted a new puppy to share my life with and got one for Christmas that year. All of these decisions came from a place of knowing that I would not be here forever, so I had better take matters into my own hands and get what I want NOW!

NICE view of sunflowers in garden and Spanish Peaks summer 2017

And then there is our most recent dramatic decision to change lifestyles by moving to a rural part of Colorado. This one really did throw me for a loop in every way possible. I had NO certainty at the beginning of this move in 2014, and it was an all-in decision, since we could not afford to run back to the suburbs if things didn’t work out. Luckily, after our passive solar home was finished in 2015, we loved it. Who knew I was such a nature lover? Who knew living in nature would change me so much?

My books 2018

Now the only thing I feel strongly about as far as my writings go, is that all might benefit from what I have learned about the midlife change process. I would say to my older friends, please share with your children the wisdom I have gathered by suffering through so much midlife discovery and change. We don’t all need to re-invent the wheel over and over again. The wisdom is there. Why not read about it first, and then find your own wisdom within that process?

I would be happy to offer any of my books for $10 plus postage through Paypal, to you or to give as a gift to your midlife children.

To purchase copies please e-mail me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

E-book and some paperback versions are available through Amazon

Shock & Awe: a thought-provoking film about why we went to war with Iraq in 2003

As we await the next election, wondering how much to believe about everything our president says, not to mention the “evil media,” please consider watching an excellent portrayal of what actually happened in our country and our government after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Shock and awe movie

“Shock and Awe” (2017) is the true story of how two Knight-Ridder journalists and their editor, were the only ones who got the story correct leading up to Bush’s war with Iraq beginning in March of 2003. These journalists, Jonathan Landay, played by Woody Harrelson, and Warren Strobel, played by James Marsden, dared to question Bush and Cheney’s lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They set forth to sift through the chaos and official lies to uncover the truth, when no one else would listen.

As we all know now, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, but the government got their war anyway. Thousands of American soldiers were wounded and killed in this campaign based on government lies.

I find this film particularly relevant in today’s world of lies, half-truths and simple stupidity from so many in government. The truth matters. Someone please explain this to our president in a way even he can understand!

I’m beginning to dread a lot about Christmas…

Just saw my first Christmas ad last night. It must be time for my annual tongue-in-cheek Christmas piece, first published in 2009…

halloweenHere we are enjoying Halloween, and along comes the first of a future onslaught of  “holiday” commercials! Yippee! Yes, they can be subtle at first, but they are there. Look closely. They creep on to our TV screens like ghosts and goblins sent to disturb our mellow post-Halloween days. Panic sets in.

It must be my age. Each year I face the “holidays” with increasing dismay instead of the previous joy. The “holidays” make me tense and uncomfortable. Instead of childhood visions of sugar plums from my ancient past, I now feel dread, pure and simple.

The advertising is ugly. It does me in… Is it the good old American hard-sell or the nauseatingly sweet, happy families advertising anything you need RIGHT NOW? We all know this is pure fiction!

Christmas dreadWhy do the Hallmark ads bring a wee tear to our eye? Because we know they aren’t real. They try to capture a life we wish we had instead of the one we live now. And don’t get me started with those male fantasy commercials, where he buys her that one special piece of jewelry so she’ll fall into his arms for a night of amazing sex, suggesting not too subtly she’s nice for a price.

I admit, when Mike and I first met, we had a lot of fun going out to buy our first tree together. We were so happy to have someone to share ANY holiday with. But now it all feels so crass to me. The “holidays” have turned into a gigantic embarrassment. This tradition has soured.

I swear if Jesus came back and saw what’s being done in his name, he would slit his wrists. It has really turned UGLY. Pushy people fighting over parking places at the mall, really?

We decided to opt out years ago. Enough is enough!

Fight Hate with Love

Have you ever considered the power of hate versus the power of love? Which do you believe to be stronger? In a nation where it is not so unusual for parishioners to be shot down in their own church or synagogue because of their beliefs, this can become a serious dilemma. How many Jews have died for their beliefs in the history of mankind?

If I were the president today, I would recommend a day of reflection for our country, a day to reflect on how hate and violence have become far too common. We might also reflect on who we are as a people and who we aspire to be as a nation.

Hatefulness is not the way to greatness, for a person or a nation.

In this season of nastiness and negativity, better known as election time, stop and notice who the haters are. Who has the most nasty and negative ads to represent the way they see their opponent and their world? Stop and think about how this reflects on their character. We already have a nasty, negative president who apparently enjoys disparaging more than half of us for not supporting his policies or his way of running our country. Do you want others to join him in embarrassing us around the world?

peace symbol

Let us instead meditate on love and peace around the world. Peace for the families who have lost so much in this most recent act of hatred and violence. Peace to those who know not what they have done…