Why write?

Today I celebrate reaching over 50,000 views on this blog, with over 24,000 visitors!

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This is my second major blog. My first, Midlife Crisis Queen, racked up hundreds of thousands of loyal followers from all over the world in its eight years of existence. However, I did not stay in crisis for long after I learned how to take control of my own destiny. My books are a summary of how I changed everything, soon after I discovered it was up to me to wield my own power in transforming myself and my life. I quickly moved from chaos and crisis to an amazing array of new opportunities, once I understood the purpose and power of midlife.

Along the way, I started a few smaller blogs, all of which are now deceased, except my “How To Believe in Yourself as a Writer” blog. I like to think that the byline from that blog explains everything:

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.

writing penSo why do I still make this daily effort to reach others with my writing? My best answer at this point is, I can’t help myself. I love words and composition, I believe this practice helps me to recover from a traumatic brain injury back in 2008, and I love making new friends through my writing. Perhaps now writing is my own version of an addiction.

But, as most of my sister writers know, it isn’t easy to believe in yourself and your craft, when we so rarely hear back from our readers. Blogging and book selling has become so impersonal these days. The evil empire, Amazon, basically owns our business. We often sell books and never know what our readers think of them. I have found that to be so frustrating through the years!

Most do not relate to the experience of writing first blog posts and then books for over ten years, and so rarely hearing anything back. Yes, I love what I do and I would do it no matter what, but the occasional “your book changed my life!” soothes my soul.

Find Your Reason Cover smallThat is why I cried when I received the most fantastic fan letter this week. He started out by ordering my new memoir, and loved it so much, he then ordered my other books. My 2011 book: Find Your Reason to Be Here: The Search for Meaning in Midlife inspired him to write me a long letter about how that book changed his life. Here’s an excerpt:  “For the first time in literally decades, I finally found an author who really “speaks” to the core of who I am as a person; who I not only identify with, but who I strongly identify with. Beginning with your need to flee Fort Collins’ frantic “retirement haven” pace to your craving for silence…YES! Me too! Before I even finished “From Suburbia…”, I was online ordering your other 3 books. “Find Your Reason To Be Here” was a HUGE wake up call to me. I’ve found it to be far, far more helpful and truthful than ANY of the other books I’ve read that purport to help one find one’s purpose in life. Thank you!”

This man has read most contemporary titles on midlife and finding your life’s purpose, and he found my book to be more useful than those by Marianne Williamson and other famous writers.

He now likes to hand my books out to friends and family who are suffering from midlife angst, which brings me to the true reason for his letter. He wanted to order more copies directly from me. This is how I prefer to sell books now, to people I might be able to build relationships with, instead of impersonal internet sales. I think it is good for readers to know that there is a genuine human being behind every line in my blog posts or books, one who would love to know if their writing is impacting your life.

So the next time you read something that moves you, why not send the author a note letting them know that their efforts are making a real difference in the world?

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Any interest in learning more about midlife change, or purchasing my books? I’d love to hear from you! Please drop me a line at:  MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

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Papa, Hemingway in Cuba — A Review

papa Hemingway in CubaIf you are a writer, do not miss the new film “Papa – Hemingway in Cuba.” This is the true story of how writer Denne Petitclerc spent time with Hemingway near the end of his life. The story begins in the late 1950s, when Petitclerc, a young Miami Globe journalist, writes Hemingway a fan letter, assuming nothing will come of it. Instead, the legend invites him to go fishing, has him over for drinks, and then says, “We’ll be your family, kid.”

In the midst of the Cuban Revolution, Hemingway advises our young reporter on his writing, while Petitclerc continues to report back to his paper on the revolution itself. I did not know until after viewing this film twice, that Petitclerc wrote the screenplay for it. He had begun work on film production at the time of his death in 2006. This is the first major movie to be filmed in Cuba since the 1959 revolution.

As Petitclerc slowly enters into Hemingway’s turbulent personal life, he finds a world of anger and anguish. At that point in his life, Hemingway’s disappointments with writer’s block, impotence and the demons that haunted him from his past, lead to explosive alcoholic tirades, including continual suicide threats. Petitclerc soon sees how ‘Papa’ and Mary have a love/hate relationship, often putting him in the middle. He observes all this, and yet he enjoys building relationships with them, especially Mary, coming to appreciate the challenges she faces daily for being close with a legendary figure.

mary hemThe greatest surprise for me, after enjoying the depth and excellence of this film, were the many negative reviews. I assume many viewers hated to see their favorite writer reduced to a common, raging alcoholic. But from all reports, that is exactly how he spent the last years of  his life. He killed himself 18 months after this film ended at age 61. There is so much here for a writer to enjoy! If you listen carefully, you will be rewarded with many great lines of dialogue. For example: Two men talking about marriage at a bar at the beginning of this film: “The things we put up with for that micro-second of ecstasy.”      I could also relate to the young writer’s plight, his desire to become a “real” writer, like when he announces to Hemingway and his friends that he finally sold his first story. I remember that feeling so well, back in 2006. It somehow seemed incredible to get paid just for my creativity in words.

This film is so well-written, well-paced and intellectually challenging. It successfully chronicles the highs and lows of a young writer’s impressions, while hanging with Ernest Hemingway near the end of his life. Fascinating!

Please note: Any films I see are available through the La Veta Public Library!

I disagree with every review I have read. See this film, you will not be disappointed.

Boomers discuss the power of NOW!

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One of the things I love about bringing together current posts from a few popular boomer blogs, is their occasional synchronicity of thought. From the apparently mundane, to the future of our world, we are certainly still giving lots of thought to the circumstances we find ourselves in in our 60s.

purple nerves in brain COOLOne challenge we face is keeping our brains working well, at least most of the time! We have known for years that games can help to keep our brain active. Now Carol Cassara directs us towards online games and these games aren’t just for the young. Many Boomers enjoy them, but who knew online games have brain benefits?

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GROWING PLANTS INSIDE AND OUT GIVES MY LIFE MEANING!

We had two posts this week about one of my favorite pastimes, gardening. What could be more positive and gratifying than helping plants grow inside and out? Unfortunately Meryl Baer can’t seem to make this happen. She says: Folks have many talents and skills, some the luck of our DNA and others cultivated and nurtured over the years. Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting does not consider gardening one of her many skills. She tries and sometimes succeeds, but this year proved disappointing, as she points out in Gardening Guru I Am Not.

eggplant on the vineOn the other hand, over at the Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about how much she loves her garden. See Robison’s articles on how to make tomato sauce, her garden in full production, eggplant goodness, and tips for cooking collards. Rita encourages everyone to plant a garden to enjoy organic vegetables. They’re good for your health, and gardening gets you off the computer and into the yard exercising.

Tom Sightings has been focusing on the BIG PICTURE lately, always a dangerous pastime. He has taken several road trips, spending a lot of time behind the wheel of his car, giving him time to think. This week he focuses on What’s Important, two important issues, plus a postscript that might just save your life. HINT: I don’t know what I would do without my shower grab bar!

dike running up to snowy West Peak

DIKE & WEST PEAK A FEW MILES SOUTH OF LA VETA COLORADO

My week was spent dealing with a couple health issues (like continuing to breathe!) and wondering why this post about life in a very small town went viral by my standards. Are we all so anxious to believe that life can be slow, caring, and friendly again? Judging by the number of boomers moving here, YES! We almost never have a hurricane, but the wind can be incredible here!

Life in a very small town: La Veta Colorado

View of La Veta valley from highway

Entering La Veta Valley, September 30, 2014

I loved yesterday! It started out like so many of my great days… badly! Mike has been very ill so we had to cancel our anniversary trip. I was disappointed and a bit grumpy, but I had promised to go into La Veta to meet a new friend who only comes through occasionally, so I drove into town. We met at Mountain Head Pizza. There I had some tasty pizza, along with a great time talking and laughing about “family problems” with my friend. It turns out my new friend has a wry sense of humor and, guess what? Everybody has family problems… who knew? On the way out the door I ran into another new friend.

Then we took a walk around tiny town for a few errands.

La Veta Public Library

La Veta has the best public library! If they don’t have a movie, they get it for you from their extensive network of other small public libraries. That’s how I keep current on my movies. It’s free and I get to watch them in the comfort of my own home.

memoir of retirement 2016Speaking of libraries, I met my new friend when I was at a Christmas festival in La Veta last December, selling my new book. She came up and we started talking and before I knew it she bought a copy. Now whenever she comes down here, she looks me up. I love the person-to-person contact that comes from selling my books one-on-one to new friends, instead of through the “evil empire” Amazon. For one thing, it is so much more friendly and personal. And another, Amazon doesn’t take half of my profit! We have even had these new friends up to our solar home to show off our incredible views. I guess I’m trying to get them to think about moving here….

My new friend and her husband enjoyed my new memoir so much, they wanted to buy my other books, so we walked over to my car to get them. As luck would have it, there were two ladies sitting on a bench near us when I opened up the back of my Forester. They giggled and looked at us, so I said, “No, I’m not dealing drugs out of my car. It’s even better! I’m selling my ‘feel good’ books!” We got to talking to them about books, love and dating (because of my love book), and life in La Veta. They said it’s tough meeting good men here. The good ones are married. One older gentleman walked by, overheard us, and I think he was about to join in to disagree! They asked me to bring more of my books into town. They wanted to buy a few.

Octoberfest in La Veta and West Peak

I said goodbye to my new friend until she comes down here again, maybe for Octoberfest. That’s when they close down Main Street and everybody parties together. This will be our fifth one!

Next I went to see another friend I met through my exercise class. Such good people in La Veta, and it’s amazing how quickly you can recognize so many on Main Street. Sometimes you may be talking about someone and they will walk right by!

So glad I chose this quiet, slow and friendly lifestyle for my forever home & retirement.

To learn more about how we ended up here, living in a solar home in the Colorado outback, check out: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado…  

Also, please follow me on Twitter!

Find Your Own Personal Freedom

I can hear you now. In response to my last post about freeing your mind, some of you are saying, “But I can’t afford that kind of freedom! How might it affect my relationships with my family and friends if I become completely me?” Yep, there’s the rub…

First of all, most of us haven’t a clue who we really are by the time we’re forty. We have made so many compromises to conform to society, family, and every other person around us for decades. We all know the rules. They are ingrained in our soul at this point. The Buddhist call this “armoring”: the persona we put on each morning in order to interact peacefully with those around us. This is how we keep our Self in check.

Have you ever sat and thought about who you might be without all your own rules of behavior? What time would you get up? Who would you spend your time with? What might you do each day with no rules at all? As we age we come to know, it’s now or never…

Gloria Steinem on the truthI started my own leap-of-faith back when I was living single. I had lost my job and I was living on severance, so there were only a few parameters controlling my days, my mind or my energy. Besides looking for a job and worrying about money, I spent my time reading a number of liberated thinkers like Gloria Steinem: “Revolution From Within: A Book of Self-Esteem,” I also began experimenting with the idea of personal freedom. The largest stumbling block for me was my family. Getting past so many rules in my head was daunting. I knew I had to find the courage within to go against most of the rules I was raised with and create my own solutions this time. As you might guess, my parents and siblings aren’t always pleased with the “new and improved me.”

Eventually, I did change my way of thinking enough to attract a partner who also believed in following dreams and personal freedom. It really helps if you can share your life with a partner whose vision is solid and whose goals are similar to yours.

Can that much freedom be bad for a person?

That is such a personal question. Ask yourself: Who would I be without my job and all the rules I now live by? The rules are there for a reason, to make us feel more comfortable with the freedoms we have given up to be in society. Freedom is not a common commodity in this world, even here in the USA.

The Money Trap:

money on the brainMost of us are permanently distracted with fears about running out of money, but could it be worse to run out of time? Time for what? Time to live our lives the way we choose. Time to wake up each day free of all those rules about what we ‘should’ do today, and not just those annoying “shoulds,” but the even more insidious, unconscious “have-tos.” Start monitoring your thoughts today and see how automatic most of them are!

price and life ThoreauI was required to write one full-length “term paper” in high school. I chose to study the world of Henry David Thoreau and his life. This was a mind expanding experience for a woman in her teens. I absorbed his wisdom, but I didn’t have the courage to follow his lead until decades later. By age 49 I found that I had followed all the rules and lost my job and career anyway. I married according to the rules and found myself more miserable than I had ever been. I knew I needed a new way of seeing and being in the world, or I would end up as miserable as most do.

leap_of_faithSo I gathered all my collective wisdom and courage together and took what felt like a gigantic leap of faith; faith in my own ability to live a life better than my upbringing could offer me, faith in my own inner wisdom, intelligence and skill set accumulated over decades, faith that I could do much better than the mediocre existence I had experienced up until then. Since those difficult, challenging days of solitude and constant questioning, my life has been transformed. I no longer fall back on the old rules in my head, I seek out more innovative and creative solutions to my day-to-day problems. I also find fewer problems, since I stopped living on brain autopilot. Sometimes I think my brain injury in 2008 shook me up enough to begin to see everything differently… but in a good way!

the highest art Thoreau

This is what worked for me. This is what a personal revolution looks and feels like, from the inside. How you spend your time is worth more than money!

Caution: Once you begin this process, it may snowball into your best life ever!

Back to reality, strange as it is…

everyone seems normal until youThis is your brain on drugs, prescription drugs… After a few days of very strange brain sensations and a few wild hallucinations (both visual and auditory!), I’m finally starting to feel ‘normal.’ I’ve been struggling with the extreme brain craziness of withdrawal from Paxil, which I really cannot recommend to anyone!

Interesting how doctors don’t tell you about this ahead of time. I couldn’t have imaged anything like this from simply stopping a pill…Post Script: 30 days later feeling much better, but I had to fire my doctor over this one.

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Then yesterday I went out into my garden and found the stupid deer or rabbits had chomped off two of the plants I’ve been carefully nurturing all summer. GRRRR… but my garden has mostly just been taken over by SUNFLOWERS EVERYWHERE! Funny how the deer don’t like them…

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We are experiencing the total invasion of three foot sunflowers everywhere here at the Navajo Ranch in southern Colorado!

Poppy field in Oz

Sometimes it feels just like that scene from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ where they find themselves surrounded by poppies!

I had so much FUN meeting a few new women at a friend’s party yesterday. Most of them live in La Veta, so I got an earful of stories and anecdotes about living there. I love La Veta, and I’m so glad it is nearby, but I have never wished that I live there.

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I figure if we came this far to get away from the noise, traffic, pollution, and problems of other people, why move in right next to them?