“Woman Walks Ahead” A Film Worth Seeing

Based on true events, this 2018 film astounded me with a story I had never heard before. WOMAN WALKS AHEAD is the story of Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain), a New York artist in the 1880s, who traveled alone out to North Dakota with the purpose of painting an authentic portrait of Chief Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes).

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When she arrives at Standing Rock, she is confronted with open hostility from the US Army. They have stationed troops around the Lakota reservation to undermine Native American claims to their own land. This film is mainly about the close relationship that develops between Catherine and Sitting Bull, but their lives are both threatened by US government forces, in a lead up to the massacre of many Lakota members at Wounded Knee.

In reality, this woman’s name was Caroline Weldon, a name she gave herself after a few scandalous affairs in her past. She was born in Switzerland and came to the US in 1852. After divorce she became active in the summer of 1889 and traveled to Dakota Territory to fulfill her dream of living among the Sioux. She joined NIDA, the National Indian Defense Association, embarking on a quest to aid the Sioux in their struggle to fight the US government’s attempt to expropriate vast portions of the Great Sioux Reservation for the purpose of opening it up for white settlement,  with the intent of rendering the creation of the two new states of North and South Dakota. She befriended Sitting Bull, leader of the traditionalist faction among the Sioux, acting as his secretary, interpreter and advocate.

Sitting_Bull_by_Caroline_Weldon_oil_on_canvas_1890I found this film to be beautifully and sensitively made, well-written with lines from Catherine like her need to fight “a battle of insignificance” as a woman in 1880s America. She did finally create four portraits of Sitting Bull. Two are known to have survived. One is now held by the North Dakota Historical Society in Bismarck, ND and the other at the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock, AR. I enjoyed a few lines from Sitting Bull like when he said, “To place and hold in your heart this moment.” and as he referred to death as “to cross over into the spirit world…”

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A Photo Life Review: Adventures with Laura!

Dad Laura Diane and John small January 1961

Dad and the kids.  The junior world explorer is in red, 1961

Recently I have been on a protracted trip down memory lane. Last night I started looking at all of my photo books, that’s six thick albums! I’m slowly working up to possibly reading my many volumes of journals back to age 14.

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Near the Bridge on the River Kwai, northern Thailand 1973

As I viewed many old photos, one thing struck me. I seem to have forgotten exactly how adventurous my life has been. From 18 on I traveled the world. I started out in Mexico, Bangkok and northern Thailand, then spent months in Taiwan and Hong Kong, traveled up through Malaysia from Singapore, and right before we moved here, the Andes and Cuenca in Ecuador.

Cuenca washing clothes in the Rio Tomba

Yes! Women still wash clothes in the Tomebamba River in Cuenca Ecuador!

Wuzhou

Once, before China was officially open to American tourism, I took a trip up the Pearl River in southern China on what I called “the People’s Ferry.” We arrived in Wuzhou, what appeared to be a town made of mud, and much to our surprise there were PRC government officials there to escort us onto a bus to Guilin, but not before the citizens of Wuhan surrounded us to point and exclaim, “What is that? A foreign ghost!” They had never seen a European or American before.

caribbean blueI visited the Caribbean a number of times, and did a couple island-hopping sails with my first husband, a windsurf instructor and sailboat captain from USVI St. John…

Canyonlands

Locally I started out at Colorado College on a backpacking trip to Canyonlands my freshman year. Half of us got lost and I did flyovers with the rangers until my friends were found. Unfortunately the rangers mixed up our names and called my parents saying I was lost, a fact NOT appreciated by my parents. I then spent years exploring Colorado and Utah. So many hikes, backpacking, ski and river trips.

My first professional library job was in Salt Lake City. Luckily I found the BEST group of friends there, including Roy Webb, who took us on a number of fantastic week-long river trips on the Dolores, the Green, the Colorado, Desolation Canyon, etc. He has been a famous river runner for decades now, and the author of many books about river history.

My first husband pretty much insisted that we go hiking, skiing or backpacking most weekends. Those trips included a number of trips to southern Utah like one memorable backpacking trip down into Escalante Canyon to enjoy “some of the most outstanding hiking opportunities to be found on earth.”

sking

I climbed a few fourteeners in my time, and skied from I-70 up to Shrine Pass (11,089 feet) and then into the tiny town of Minturn twice. I never forgot the glisten of fresh snow on that eleven mile trek.

Mtns and wildflowers

So many great memories, so many wild times…

Now I see how fortunate I was to tackle these physical challenges while I could still breathe well above 7,000 feet. I’ve had bronchitis regularly for decades and in some of the most exotic places! With a recent diagnosis of COPD, alas those days are gone. So happy I spent my youth exploring the world near and far when I could handle long flights, driving long distances and the general risk and chaos of getting off the beaten path.

Mike at home

Now I find myself  in this lovely “soft place to fall” with Mike and Rasta, where I can appreciate how profoundly fortunate I am to have done most of what I wanted to do for most of my life, and I even enjoyed most of it!

Sand Dunes Hot Springs in Southern Colorado!

When you live in Colorado in winter you need to know that there is somewhere to go to experience a tropical environment just an hour or two away. We go over La Veta Pass to the Sand Dunes Hot Springs for the day. And, BTW, if you’re making the trip anyway, check out Lu’s Main Street Cafe in tiny Blanca, Colorado! Wonderful breakfast menu, best breakfast burrito ever, and amazing, spicy green chili!

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This photo was taken a few years ago, the tropical plants are gigantic now!

The hot springs is only 45 minutes further down the road and so worth the drive! Some new friends turned us on to this place on Valentine’s Day 2016. Such a fun adventure in mid-winter!

Mike at Sand Dunes Pool December 2018

As you can see, the tropical plants have really taken over in the past few years!

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They have a regular-sized swimming pool outside, but we always pay a little extra to go into the adults-only “Greenhouse” with the “Steel Box Bar. This natural hot springs fits the bill when winter’s got you down. With tropical plants everywhere and featuring 3 small soaking tubs with varying temperatures, a 10 foot by 75 foot zero entry pool complete with water fountain feature, a 10 person sauna, gardens, numerous deck and patio spaces, and an onsite libation stop. You can relax for hours as the old, fun Boomer songs fill the air.

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They also have a few interesting features like a plant stand made out of an old piece of driftwood. How cool is that?  Check it out sometime…so worth the drive!

Christmas brings back so many memories!

Bright Sahara Christmas Tree 2018

As I decorated our fresh-cut tree this week, my decorations brought back so many memories of Christmases past. My mind became my own time machine focused on all the places I’ve lived with various friends and lovers, in good circumstances and bad, with new loves and in mid-divorce, with valued pets, in health and despair, in the U.S., in Bangkok and Hong Kong, with family and without.

This left me wondering:

How have I made it through my life at all?

The only answer I could come up with was: “One day at a time.” We don’t always choose everything that happens to us. We must simply decide to make it through or give up. Yes, there were times I wanted to give up. There have certainly been times when it all felt so unfair. I have tried to be a good person and treat others well, but sometimes they don’t reciprocate. Sometimes they respond in some very crazy and unpredictable ways. All we can do is move on and hope for a better future.

One thing is for sure. It was my lucky day when I met Mike. Whenever the world makes me feel disillusioned and I’m not sure I want to go on, Mike comes through with flying colors, to comfort me, to love me, and to make it all worth while again.

To use Dr. Phil’s words, Mike has always been “my soft place to fall.”

snowy Winter Solstice

I hope you can find the same this winter solstice…

A Genuine Colorado Country Christmas

First I saw the funniest FB announcement yesterday! On our community bulletin board it said:

“Has anybody lost this chicken?” with a picture and everything.

You’ve just got to love living rural. And the chicken did find his way home too!

fresh Christmas tree 2018

Then we went out to cut our own tree! Pretty nice huh?

Bright Sahara Christmas Tree 2018

We decorated last night…

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…and this morning we had a new coat of six inches of snow!

It feels just like Christmas!

We have fallen in love with living in tune with the sun and seasons, waking up each day amazed to find ourselves in such a beautiful, quiet, natural place…

memoir of retirement 2016

Are you ready to follow your dreams? Here’s how we found ours!

Please feel free to contact me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com to order any of my books as Christmas gifts for family & friends who are struggling with midlife mayhem!

& Please follow us on TWITTER!

Cranberry Nut Bread

Now for something completely different…

I have always enjoyed fixing meals. What’s new is my love of baking. I find that I can change old recipes into semi-healthy alternatives so I can enjoy them instead of store-bought varieties whose main ingredient is almost always sugar.

I’ve been making this recipe since 1976, when I got it from a boyfriend’s Mom. She said I might want to learn how to make it for him. Him I got rid of decades ago, but his Mom’s recipe lives on!

Cranberry Nut Bread

Cranberry Nut Bread from Kent’s Mom

2 cups white flour & 2 cups whole wheat flour

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup sugar OR 4 packets of stevia plus 1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups cranberries OR use one whole bag

1/2 cup chopped nuts

2 eggs beaten well

1 and 1/2 cups orange juice

5 Tbsp. melted butter

Sift all dry ingredients together. Add cranberries and nuts. Mix well. Add eggs and OJ mixture and mix until all ingredients are moist. Bake in 2 greased loaf pans at 350 degrees for one hour. Check with toothpick after 55 minutes.

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