The Power of Music

“I get knocked down, but I get up again, cause you’re never going to keep me down!” – Tubthumping by Chumbawamba

Do you need a great cheer leader right about now to pick up the old spirits? Go listen to this song….NOW! This is one of my personal favorites, the album TubThumper by Chumbawamba. I first heard about this album via our old friend Tarryne who told Mike about it ages ago. Then he played it for me when we first met, and it soon became one our favorite rebellion records. I find it perfect for the Baby Boomer generation. Of course it came out in the USA in 1997.

Chumbawamba was a British rock band that formed in 1982 and ended in 2012. The band constantly shifted in musical style, drawing on genres such as punk rock, pop, and folk. They even shift musical style in the middle of songs, but their lyrics are the BEST! Very catchy to me.

Words like these from the song Amnesia:

Do you suffer from long-term memory loss? I don’t remember…

See what I mean? I can relate! And the words in the song “One by One” seem especially appropriate to what we are facing today:

If any ask us why we died, tell them that our leaders lied. Sold us out down the riverside. Whose side are you on?

Did I mention this album is about revolution? Even more appropriate in these times when we witness supreme idiocy at the top, tell me, who do these lyrics make you think of?

Believe every half-whispered half-remembered lie, where truth is a luxury they can’t afford to buy. Scapegoat. Looking for a Scapegoat.

There’s always someone else for you to blame…

Reminds me of my ex, and especially Donny dumb dumb, you know who I mean!

The Process of Personal Change: What We Can Learn From Fear and Uncertainty

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepak Chopra

These are certainly trying times for most of us. Many have never faced such strong feelings of fear and uncertainty before. I believe the point though is not to run away and hide your head in easy distractions, but stop and spend some time seeing what you might learn from your fears at this moment in time. Perhaps you have been considering some major life changes up until this point. This is the crisis that might help you decide that this is time to move forward with those changes.

Is this a CRISIS or OPPORTUNITY?

The fact is, most of us will not begin to change anything until we become uncomfortable enough to admit defeat. Most of us need to be absolutely convinced that the “plan” we’ve had for life up until now is simply not working. The way this usually comes about is through a crisis that demands our complete attention. Divorce, serious illness, the death of a loved one, and long-term unemployment seem to be the most common events that lead to the end of our naïve belief that we have control over everything that happens in our lives. These unforeseen and often unforeseeable occurrences can inform us in no uncertain terms that changes in our plan are now in order.

We may first try to defend against the onset of pain and confusion by denying or ignoring this sudden lack of certainty or security in our lives. We may seek to escape into any number of easy distractions, as we defend against our need to feel more secure.

Eventually we may discover that, even though it seems completely counter-intuitive at this tough spot, accepting and embracing the chaos and uncertainty we feel surrounded by is our first, best step towards peace. Stop, sit down and be quiet for a while. Begin to feel the enormity of this crisis of fear and uncertainty. But this may also be one of your most important opportunities to trust in the power of your own psyche to survive and thrive in the future.

Know that this is the beginning of your own personal rite of passage into full adulthood. This is the natural, normal stage of human development studied by psychologists since Carl Jung, when he experienced it himself. Recognize that you are not the first to feel chaos and uncertainty in your middle years. You are in a well-documented transition period of personal change, growth, and human evolution. And the best way to move through this life stage smoothly is to embrace the new information and knowledge you will be given.

By allowing this in, you have the ability to access the unique instruction this moment has for you. Instead of attempting to run from it, embrace the uncertainty.

Begin to believe this moment is giving you access to your own unique brand of power, one you may have never known or acknowledged before. Begin to see that you alone know, somewhere inside, what needs to happen next.

Spend the time necessary to listen to the small, still voice within, the one you may have been ignoring for decades. Recognize this voice—perhaps for the first time—as your inner guide, brimming with accumulated information and wisdom. This source knows where you need to go next. It will instruct you in how you must change, grow, and evolve into your best self in this moment. The sooner you begin to believe in its power and trust this valuable inner resource, the sooner you will follow its instructions and find more structure, certainty, and peace in your life.

This is a short excerpt from my book: Find Your Reason To Be Here: The Search For Meaning in Midlife. Please contact me if you would like to purchase your own copy: MidlifeCrisisQueen@Gmail.com

E-book and some paperback versions are available through Amazon

How solitude can be a gift!

In these trying times, it is possible to begin to perceive so much extra time alone as a gift, like when I lost my job back in 2004. That is when I started writing my book Midlife Magic: Becoming the Person YOU are Inside!

Here is a brief chapter from that book entitled simply “Solitude”

“And you, when will you begin that
long journey into yourself?” — Rumi

Loneliness scares most of us quite a bit; in fact, it may be our greatest fear. But I believe there’s a lot of power in knowing that you can live alone successfully.

Living alone for a few years, especially during or after a major life transition, allows us the time to process change. We finally have some time to breathe and search within for what’s missing or what definitely needs to change. As luck would have it, midlife often offers this time to rest up from relating to others constantly. Divorce, a loved one’s death, unemployment, an empty nest, or some combination of these common midlife circumstances can offer a natural breather to sit back and take a hard look at ourselves and where we are.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been constantly distracted by the needs of others. As natural caretakers, we just can’t stop tending to the needs of those around us, even when we aren’t being asked for help. That is why it’s so important now to find a way to spend some time completely alone.

Your tendency may be to immediately find new distractions, new people to care for. Fight that impulse. After a lifetime of chaos and caring for others constantly, this is a very important time for you to be alone, as scary as it may feel at times. How else will you have the time and fortitude to face yourself squarely and ask some tough questions about your previous choices and your future?

Introspection demands solitude and time. This may be why many of us never truly get to know ourselves until midlife, if ever. It takes a lifetime to know ourselves well. The only way to your true self is through contemplation. No shortcuts are available on this one. You may find that a good therapist is a great guide at this time, but the heavy lifting must be done by you. This is the beginning of self-responsibility. Up to now, life has just happened, and in the chaos of it all you’ve done the best you could. Now, if you choose, you can take full responsibility for your life, for your own process, for all future choices, and for your own solitude.

Why is solitude so important? We cannot learn and grow without personally processing what we alone have experienced within the context of our own lives. No one else understands our own internal experiences of loss and alienation quite like we do, and no one else processes these experiences into wisdom like we can.

Without personal processing at a deep level, we will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. We all go through periods of crisis—major changes, intense difficulties—as we age. It’s best if we can intersperse these episodes with periods of solitude and deep learning, to integrate and consolidate what we have experienced in preparation for a new learning cycle.

If we learn with each cycle, we become wiser and more able to cope with the next difficulty. If we never stop and spend time alone to integrate lessons learned, we cannot accumulate wisdom or the ability to live a more comfortable life with more supple and adaptive coping skills.

Please contact me at MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com to purchase copies of any of my books.

E-book and some paperback versions are available through Amazon

COVID-19: How in the hell did this happen?

First my Dad dies, then I get a horrible case of hives, and now this! What the hell? I am reminded of Monty Python’s:

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

A friend of mine had just moved her Mom to independent living in a nursing home in Fort Collins when this hit. Now she isn’t allowed to visit her! Thank goodness my Dad died before we would have been in the same boat…

The only thing good about all this for us is that we truly do now live in the middle of nowhere. Still no virus in our county, probably because we hardly ever see our neighbors. I didn’t know it, but we have been self-quarantining for years!

One local friend stopped allowing others into his home. You have to speak to him through his front glass door now! But on a trip to Safeway last Saturday I found everyone more friendly and helpful than ever. Of course the lines were longer than I’ve ever seen here, but I got a kick out of the pure kindness of strangers in Walsenburg. Now all the tiny restaurants are closed here and a few will certainly go out of business.

What a cutie!

So what do you do when there’s nowhere to go? We’ll do what we always do, hang out and hope for the best. Mike likes to watch the blow by blow on the news. I find it just makes me itch! I’m only watching shows that help me escape like “Too Cute!”

Relax. We will all get through this and freaking out will not help a bit.

A Celebration of 65!

Somehow, I never saw myself looking forward to turning 65, but I feel great about it. I am now happier with my life than I’ve ever been. I find aging liberating! One important lesson I have learned through my past 64 years, is how great challenges can lead to great awakenings.

My first major lesson in this was when my life fell apart around age 49. A few years after my divorce I lost my job, which then led to to the end of my 25-year career as an academic librarian. Depression and devastation soon followed. Then I got creative and started my own version of a dating service as a distraction from my sadness. That turned out to be lots of fun and then, through those efforts, I met my new husband Mike.

Having time to think, seek career counseling, and experiment opened my mind up to everything new I had ignored up until then, like the career I had always desired. I became a writer, with books and a killer blog called “Midlife Crisis Queen!”

Five years after that Mike’s job got sent to China, so what did we do? We sold our beautiful home in the Fort Collins suburbs and moved down south to rural Colorado to build a passive solar home with a killer view!

Even in the past few years I have worked hard to change a few difficult bad diagnoses into a total appreciation of health. Yes, I struggle to breathe at times, but I’m still here enjoying our new home with its fantastic sunrises and sunsets everyday.

This week my father died. My Dad, Dr. Jack L. Carter, led a truly amazing and powerful life. He believed fiercely in SCIENCE and came to be known as a proselytizer for scientific and rational thought. He taught biology and botany classes at Colorado College for decades, wrote BSCS high school biology textbooks, and then started writing his own books like “Trees and Shrubs of Colorado.” Yes, his death is very sad for my family and others who knew him, but it helps me to appreciate my own life even more.

Daily I appreciate the fact that I have lived long enough to see how life works. Yes, life includes periods of great pain and suffering. That’s the challenge that makes the successes even more joyful!

That’s what makes me want to go on…

Life lessons in compassion

My sister and her husband John have been providing my parents with the BEST of care since they helped them move up to Denver a few years ago. My sister knows her stuff when it comes to medical care of the elderly. She is a nationally known leader in the field!

But we received a unique and surprising lesson in compassion from my brother John this week. As we gathered around my Dad to help him transition from this life to who knows what is next, I felt honored to observe my brother show his soft and gentle side, rubbing my Dad’s useless legs while quietly thanking him for all that he has done for all of us. My Dad is pretty confused and, of course uncertain how to respond to this stage of his life. I watched my brother soothe him and make it all easier for him.

John and Dad at his 90th birthday party, January 2019

The person who comes to understand his parents, can forgive the world. 

This brought up for me, the lessons we all may learn about compassion on deeper and deeper levels as we age. The ironies aren’t lost on me. I was raised in a fairly competitive and critical family. We knew we could always do better and never stopped striving for excellence. Unfortunately this way of seeing life includes quite a bit of comparison between ourselves and others. It also includes the belief that love and compassion must be earned. Therefore, my Dad could not fully comprehend all the human compassion he received when he first was moved to a nursing home. He kept saying,

“These people don’t even know me and yet they are so good and kind to me!”

In my thirties I started learning more about compassion from a wonderful therapist I saw for four or five years. Her beliefs included a hint of Buddhist and Asian influence. Then I received an education in transpersonal counseling psychology at the Naropa Institute in Boulder in the 1990s. All of this training taught me that compassion definitely starts at home. Self-compassion and personal generosity is your shortest path to being able to offer love and compassion to others.

The Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin, and her orchids

I still struggle with comparing myself to others. I have to tell myself over and over again that we are all on schedule on our spiritual journey. We are all gloriously different in our paths. I have also had to learn to practice more generosity with my love, compliments and support, switching away from the shortage mentality I was raised with.

Now I find, we are all enough & we are all walking each other home...

Postscript: My Dad passed away peacefully the afternoon of March 10th. I saw him in our marvelous sunset last night, and hope to always see him there...

Why it’s so much easier to be happy when we’re older

“I’ve experienced many terrible things in my life, a few of which actually happened.” – Mark Twain

Being retired allows so much more time to think. Lately I’ve been watching an old HBO series about people in their 20s and 30s, which serves to remind me how complex relationships used to seem, and how easily happy I am now. It sometimes seems all we hear about are the disadvantages of being older. What about the supreme advantages? What feels good about finally being an elder? Here’s a list of a few of the good things for me:

  1. I’m finally finished “doing” all the things I felt I had to do to be happy, like degrees, jobs and finding healthy relationships.
  2. I have greatly narrowed down who I want to spend my time with.
  3. I’ve stopped my irritating habit of over analyzing every little thing that happens or happened in my past. Analysis paralysis is a thing of the past!
  4. Put most simply: I’m older and smarter! Is that wisdom?

When I think about my life now words like relaxed and yes, mellow come to mind. Sometimes I fall back into my bad habit of what I call “worry shopping”, but then I respond to myself with: “WHO CARES?” Life will continue to be exactly the way it is and I will somehow be OK with that. I find this so liberating and freeing. I find it easier to focus on the good in the world and with some new-found mind discipline, I now generally choose my own thoughts.

I learned years ago: Don’t believe everything you think!

Our minds are such amazing tools for good or evil. As a young person in my 20s I was far too self-centered, oversensitive, over analytical, and completely self-conscious. So glad to be far past all of that! Yes, I am still thoughtful and caring, but I now fully accept all that I do not control, especially when it comes to other people and their opinions of me. I know myself better than anyone else and I feel good about that.

These days, this phrase best describes my feelings about my interactions with others:

You cannot control how other people receive your energy. Anything you do or say gets filtered through the lens of whatever they are going through at the moment, which is NOT ABOUT YOU.