Finding home…

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Northern Thailand around age 19

When the full moon woke me up in the middle of the night this past weekend, I started thinking about all of the places I have lived and visited. Actually it all began with trying to remember exactly which years I lived in Colorado Springs. This may seem strange, but when I started writing down all the places I have lived or stayed at least a week or two, it added up to six U.S. states and ten plus foreign countries. I lived in four different towns before first grade. No wonder at the ripe old age of 60 I was ready to settle down and stay somewhere for a while.

Dad Laura Diane and John small January 1961My Dad was a college professor and back in the 1950s that meant moving somewhere new every few years. I guess that got in my blood, because I never stopped throughout adulthood. My Mom used to complain that she had erased my address so many times the paper was wearing thin. She knew even back then to write my address in pencil. I have lived in eight different places in Colorado alone, and moved numerous times within each of these towns and cities.

This didn’t start out as a life plan for me. Things just worked out this way. Wherever I went I would stay a couple of years and slowly the urge would arise to move on. I remember when I got my first professional librarian position at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, the director ask me not to stay forever in my first job. He needn’t have worried. I was out of there in exactly three years.

I used to kid with myself about “Moving on to greater failures…” Of course it helped that I didn’t marry until much later, and never had kids. I simply had no interest in all that. I wanted to see the world, exploring both the world outside my door, and the more interesting one inside my own mind.

Laura and the dogs 1997

Sitting with Mica & Calla in 1996

I also picked up a few college and graduate degrees along the way. For quite a while I wanted to teach Chinese history at the college level. Then, after learning Chinese and getting an M.A. in Chinese history, I decided I was sick of China and university teaching was too limiting in its depth and scope. Since Naropa University was located right down the hill from University of Colorado in Boulder, I walked down there to find a whole new perspective on life and psychology, transpersonal psychology. This was my spiritual home, and I have been pursuing it ever since. This is something you can study anywhere and everywhere. Human and animal behavior is my thing…

Laura standing at build site before slab 2014

Creating a passive solar home from scratch!

But still in all of that moving from here to there, I never found a place I could truly call home. What does that mean? To me it means a place where you will die knowing that you truly belong. That place where you can see your ashes blowing in the wind, and know you are finally home.

I didn’t know how I would find that place or if it would find me, but it did. At first I did not recognize this Pinon-Juniper woodland looking up at the Sangre de Cristo mountains as my place. I only knew I was home after we built solar here and then got comfortable for a few years.

cloudy Spanish Peaks with snow and garden

The view from our front door

I know every morning when I go outside and marvel one more time at the perfect silence of the sunrises and sunsets here. I know when I work in my native plants garden, collecting interesting plants from around the region. I know when new birds stop by to feed and drink or when a stray Road Runner peeks in my window.

amazing sunrise on Comanche Drive

I know because every time I return home I think,  Wow! Do I really live here?

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The psychology of illness

Since before my counseling internship at a hospital back in the early 1990s, I have been fascinated with how we feel about ourselves when we become very ill. How do we explain illness to ourselves?

The traditional American view was everywhere when I sat with patients back then. Elderly patients always said something like, “What did I do to deserve this?” Christian guilt and shame runs rampant in environments like these:

“I must have done something wrong or I wouldn’t feel so bad.”

c. difficile bacteriaIt seems we always search for some plausible explanation even though we know we all have to die of something, sometime. I have had a number of health challenges in the past year, many more than my previous 60+ years on this planet, and they are all permanent disabilities, not temporary setbacks. Lately I have acquired a serious bacterial infection that does not normally occur in healthy adults, so of course my mind turns to the “why” questions again.

How did I get this? Why now?

I suppose we think this way because we feel certain that there must be some justice in all of this. That is our problem, trying to find meaning in a world that is certain to kill all of us eventually is an absurdity. If that bacteria doesn’t get you, something else will. But it seems so human to rage against this mentality.

This is what interests me about illness and the ways we humans think about it.

Best Boomer Bloggers: Fall 2017 Edition

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Wow, autumn really crept up on me this year! One day it was summer and then boom, it was fall, and most of the beautiful leaves were almost gone! I’m not sure how that happened. It must be that whole time flies as we get older thing. Is everybody ready for winter, because it is just around the corner. We already had our first hard frost a couple weeks ago here at 7,000 feet in Colorado, and Oktoberfest is long over. It must be time for me to host another edition of the Best of Boomer Blogs!

First I would like to welcome a new member to our group. Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski. Rebecca sees herself as “a purveyor of all things fun and a die-hard foodie. I love to travel and write from anywhere on the planet I happen to land, even if it’s my own backyard in Los Angeles. One of my favorite areas of the world to travel are the historic cities and countrysides of Europe.” For her first presentation here, from her blog BabyBoomster.com she says:

Taking care of our vision over 50 is particularly important even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts. There are hidden diseases that are age-related that can easily be prevented. I include products and services to keep your eyes healthy and bright.

Next up, Meryl is worried that she might be impacting Broadway. I’ll let her explain: A minor problem Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting faced this past week, made her think there might be something wrong with her. Could she have bad karma? She’s not sure what that is, but she might have it. Read about her dilemma in Bad Karma?

Dont respond tonegative people.

Carol Cassara, over at Heart Mind Soul, noticed a different kind of stress this week: Sometimes social media can create more stress than we might have ever imagined. Part of that stress is our tendency to want to respond to every comment, every post that rings our chimes. Carol Cassara has a great suggestion for making life more peaceful.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about the importance of getting your medications checked each year. Although Oct. 21, was “Check Your Meds’ Day,” it’s important to take all of your medications – including prescription and over-the-counter medication, plus vitamins and other dietary supplements – to a pharmacist or physician for a “brown-bag” review. That allows them to check for potential harmful drug interactions and possibly eliminate unnecessary drugs.

keep calm and enjoy retirementFellow blogger Tom Sightings says, sometimes retirement doesn’t play out exactly the way we envisioned when we were younger. Retirement is a destination, but it is also a journey, and with any journey it makes sense to stop and review where we’ve been and where we’re going. So check out Tom’s 5 Questions to Ask Yourself After You Retire.  Go see if you’re on track to realize your own retirement dreams.

Now for a word from our sponsor:

I have been struggling lately with various expected and unexpected problems. As it turns out, even when you are happily retired, the problems just keep coming!

amazing sunrise on Comanche Drive

Luckily the beautiful sunrises and sunsets keep coming too…

 

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.

Boomer World: And the Beat Goes on…

I must say, when I started this little website two and a half years ago, to share the slow progress on our passive solar home here in southern Colorado, I never expected for it to grow to 23,000 visitors with over 50,000 views. And I most definitely didn’t expect to see readers from over 80 countries of the world! Hallelujah!

blog pictureSomething else I never expected is that I would still be participating in the same Boomer Blog Carnival that I began in 2008! OK, so the members have changed constantly. I’ve even changed blogs since then. But come rain or shine, we are still bringing together some great blog posts for you to peruse each week!

Speaking of which, today over at Heart Mind Soul, Carol Cassara shares how her husband managed a painful surgical recovery without pain meds. And in another great post she tackles a tough question for most of us: Why is it so hard for us to ask for what we need?

Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting says: For so many of us computers are an integral part of our life nowadays. When the device runs smoothly we have a window on the world, using it for work as well as for all kinds of recreational pursuits. But when problems occur, those of us who are “non-nerds” become frustrated. That is what happened to Meryl this week. Her long-time computer companion had issues. Here she recounts her experiences in My Technologically Down Day and Hacked! 

According to Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, Saturday was National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. If you weren’t able to return your unused or expired drugs, check in your community to see if it has a permanent location. It’s important because medications in the home are a leading cause of accidental poisoning. In addition, if you leave unused prescription drugs in your bathroom cabinet, teens or others may steal them and become addicted to prescription drugs. It happened in Robison’s family; it can happen in yours.

Of course many retirees like to travel. And Tom Sightings says, if you do, more power to you. He admires your sense of adventure. But as for the rest of us, he argues in If You’re Retired Do You Have to Travel? we shouldn’t feel that we’re missing out on something by staying closer to home. Travel is one thing to do in retirement; but it’s not the only thing, and it’s not something we should feel required to “check off” in order to fulfill our retirement dreams.

You tell ’em Tom! Our retirement dream was to move to such a natural, peaceful place that we wouldn’t feel the need to leave much, and I believe we succeeded…

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                        This is our view this morning from our solar perch with the sun pouring in!

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI created a journal version of all we went through to end up in our toasty warm solar home in southern Colorado:   A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado    Let’s work around Amazon (the evil empire!) Contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!    Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

                        

The Edge of Seventeen: A Great Teen Film!

“Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering, and its all over much too soon.” – Woody Allen

the Edge of SEventeenIt is a mystery to me why I so enjoy a good movie about the teenage years, but I do. And I haven’t enjoyed anything like The Edge of Seventeen (2016) since Juno back in 2007.  I happened to pick it up at the La Veta Public Library and was so glad I did. Talk about a great story and amazing writing, not to mention some great acting in the mix! No wonder it was chosen as one of the ten best movies of 2016 by Vanity Fair! If you enjoy a film that takes you into the life of a very smart but confused teenager with a wry sense of humor, you’ll like this. Every scene drew me further into Nadine’s world of boundless insecurity and self-consciousness. The acting between Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson (her favorite teacher) was spot on, and the cinematography also captured those moments of complete disillusionment so a part of being young and inexperienced in the insanity of life.

Hailee Steinfeld in the edge of seventeen

For example, I related to Nadine’s frustration with her boomer Mom (Kyra Sedgwick) whose husband recently died. She captured the messed up, self-absorbed parent role perfectly, but in a funny way! I had to write down her advice to Nadine who is constantly depressed. Mom said: “When I feel down. I get really quiet and still inside. And then I say to myself:  ‘Everybody in the world is as miserable and empty as I am, they’re just better at pretending.’

Luckily, Nadine had a great teacher to go talk to about all of this. Talk about comic timing with her teacher played by Woody Harrelson. I loved him in this!

Thailand_1973 Photo for blogOn a personal level I so related to Nadine’s teenage angst. Nothing made sense to me at 17. I felt so ugly and awkward all the time. I hated the caste system at my high school in Colorado Springs. I hated how my supposed friends vaporized when they got a boyfriend. I hated how the popular kids could take advantage of the rest of us. The entire scene turned me off, and I knew I just had to survive this insanity and make it to college to finally try and find a better life.  As it turned out the kids at college were just as messed up, if not more, and the self-consciousness and insecurity just kept coming for years after that. I will never forget asking a friend’s Mom when I was 24:

“When will life begin to make sense?”

She thought for a moment and then turned to me and said,

“It will take quite a while, but it will get better.”

And you know what? She was so right!

I only wish I had had a great film like this to watch when I was a teen. It would have made me feel much less alone. This film was so good, it makes me want to write a screen play!

We’re newcomers to rural southern Colorado. After two years I compiled a short diary of our ups and downs as we moved from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home in the foothills:   A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Please share this information with your friends and feel free to contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)