Three Years Later in Rural Colorado…

IMGP5991

Today we celebrate three years of living in this magnificent part of Colorado. Granted, this was not all a pleasant experience. In fact the first year and a half, from the time we decided to leave suburbia in Fort Collins until our home was completed here, were grueling. Some synonyms for grueling that describe my experience best: backbreaking, challenging, demanding, formidable, and sometimes hellacious. Building in rural areas is not for the meek, and building in mid-winter has its own challenges, but we lived through it and now we are happy as clams!

(Exactly how happy are clams anyway?)

IMGP6134

We moved here for a number of reasons. To live close to nature, to try passive solar living, to build the kind of home we chose to live in for the rest of our lives, and to find a far more peaceful, healthy and less expensive lifestyle than cities can offer us. We received so much more!

IMGP6180

The greatest gift for me is a sense of freedom and natural silence that I have never come close to in my previous life. I now live in the present, choosing each hour how I want to spend my day. I awaken to the birds singing with the sun pouring in, and go out to work in my fledgling garden of mostly native plants, most of which will be sunflowers blooming very soon!

IMGP6073

Then, if I feel like visiting friends, I drive into La Veta on county roads with wildflowers popping up everywhere. Yes, the dining choices are slim here, just one of the “conveniences” you have to give up to live in the country. Luckily I’m a great cook and prefer to eat at home most of the time.

The hardest part for me was taking the original risk. Letting go of our nice home in suburbia was not easy, especially after seeing the one hundred year old miner’s house we would have to move into in Walsenburg for over a year.

decking Comanche home with mountains in backgroun

Then there were the challenges of working with the local contractors and our builder here. Just getting them to come to work was often the biggest challenge! Here’s where we were one year into the build. But somehow it all came together and everything works today, so we have no complaints.

IMGP6121

I know we will face many more difficulties and much stormy weather up here, but at least we finally know where home is. For now, this is certainly where we belong…

Laura and Rasta on insulation 2014 (2)Would you like to read the whole story of how we ended up here enjoying country living? Check it out: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado.

Purpose is highly overrated

I was raised by a father who was full of purpose. Let’s face it, most previous generations thought the only reason they were here was to find their special purpose (Thanks Steve Martin in The Jerk!) I also used to think that meaning and purpose were important to find. But today, not so much.

got purposeDo you realize how many memes you can find if you search under “purpose” and then “images”?  There are thousands! But one that particularly struck me was:be here now purpose

 

Needless to say, retirement can bring up all sorts of questions about previous and present purpose. In the past my purpose was apparently to go to work and do my job. Regardless of how I felt about it, going to work did give me something to do with myself. I felt useful most of the time.

With retirement I have so much more time to think about purpose, and I have come to the conclusion that most of what we do everyday has little meaning unless it makes us feel good about ourselves.

passion and purposeNow I choose to error on the side of passion over purpose. I know for certain that nothing I will do today will change the world. Few will miss me when I’m gone, so why not choose a few pastimes that provide pure joy for me right now and indulge?

 

IMGP6036

My favorite at present is playing in my small and windy garden…We should have hundreds of native sunflowers blooming soon! We got 4 inches of rain this May!

Springtime Gardening near the Sangre de Cristos

IMGP6033

The West Peak is stunning in its new coat of snow!

Is there anything more wonderful than spring? Not for me! Especially this year when I finally have the ground prepared for my new wildflower garden! I’ve been in spring bliss in the past few weeks as I gather my precious new plants to decorate our Buddha garden. I enjoy Huerfano Nursery in Walsenburg and…

new plants at perennial favorites Rye

I finally went to experience Perennial Favorites near Rye, Colorado. That place is simply heaven to me, just as wonderful as I hoped it would be! My botany friend Jan says these feelings are in my genetics, with a famous botanist for a father I can’t help myself!

IMGP6036Here’s my small plot to plant and the lovely planting box Mike built for me this spring. I’m trying to grow a few native plants from seeds, plus I have purchased quite a few starters. The deer and rabbits are a concern, so I tried to choose ones they don’t like as much, lavender, penstemons, Blue Mist Spirea. As I took my walks around La Veta last summer, I noticed which plants were surviving the many deer prowling the streets there.

hikespeak.com

I also took a few cuttings from a local cholla cactus. Love their magenta blossoms in JULY! It will be a few years before it blooms, but that’s what gardening is all about, tending and caring for your plants as they grow.

NM LocustAlso, I have a request for any locals reading this: Does anyone have seeds for the New Mexican Locust trees we see everywhere past La Veta on the road to Cuchara? I want to try growing them in our area! Thanks!  -LLC

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…

IMGP5991

                        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)

                        

COPD in Women

“When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”  — American Lung Association

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling anyone who would listen, that I have a hard time breathing, especially when my annual bout with bronchitis arrived. Most ignored me or looked like they wished I would shut up, so I did. I decided they probably knew better than me. Then last fall a doctor gave me a reality check. After a night-long breathing test and a pulmonary function test, she told me I have COPD with a possibility of worse. X-rays and cat scans followed.

All I know is I have a terrible time breathing here at 7,000 feet. I guess I had to move here to know for sure…

Mount Yale

Mount Yale, Central Colorado

Do you have any idea how demoralizing this is? To be told at age 61 that your ability to breath is not good, and will never get better. I’ve always done whatever I wanted to, but that is over. I’ve climbed fourteeners! It wasn’t ever easy, but I’ve done it!

So today I went to the American Lung Association page and found: “Taking Her Breath Away: The Rise of COPD in Women”  Here’s a few fun facts about COPD:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that slowly robs its sufferers of the ability to draw life-sustaining breath. It is the third leading cause of death in the United States, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer, and is not decreasing nearly as quickly as the other two

Did you know that more than 7 million women in the U.S. live with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema? Millions more have the disease, but are undiagnosed, possibly because female COPD patients are commonly misdiagnosed with asthma.

In fact, the number of deaths among women from COPD has increased four-fold over the past three decades, and since 2000 more American women than men have died of the disease. Additionally, research shows women diagnosed with COPD experience higher rates of anxiety, depression and report lower quality of life.

The greatest difficulty for me, besides accepting this miserable diagnosis, is how discouraging exercising is. If walking around town is challenging, what then?

My favorite part of the above-mentioned document about COPD, is the last paragraph where the Lung Association encourages people like me “to speak out about the toll COPD is taking in [our] lives…learn more about how it affects us; advocate for our own best care, and become a voice for other women with COPD in my community.”

The American Lung Association’s 2017 “State of the Air” report finds that 4 in 10 Americans live in counties with unhealthful levels of air pollution, putting them at risk for premature death and other serious health effects like lung cancer, asthma attacks cardiovascular damage and developmental and reproductive harm.”

The Supreme Freedom of Retirement

Retirement hasn’t been at all like I pictured it. In fact, I never even pictured it until I met Mike thirteen years ago. The fact is, I couldn’t afford it back then, instead I was quite busy looking for a new job at age 49.

midlife-crisis-queen-original-header

At that time, good fortune visited me big time! I decided I needed to change careers, and Mike decided he wanted to support me in this new endeavor. Thus emerged my “Midlife Crisis Queen” blog (now defunct) and my three books about the challenges and rewards of changing everything in midlife.

Then Mike and I moved to rural Colorado in 2014, which required some major mental adjustments (at least for me) and we worked full-time to produce a passive solar home in a little over one year. It was only after that major life achievement that we began to officially “retire.”

retirement living for yourself

Now, a couple years later, I recently realized that retirement may be my first chance to observe my true nature. For the first time in my life nobody is telling me what to do, no parents, no boss, no need to be nice to make money, no need to prove myself to anyone. Basically no pressure and very little stress of any kind.

For the first time I get to decide how much self-discipline I want to have. At first we both had very little. We were both so exhausted from over a year of home building. Mike and I both felt numb. We loved to sit and look at our view and just feel glad to be alive.

IMGP5939

The meaning of life is having a spectacular view…

But after a while, you begin to wonder who you are beyond all the rules and self-discipline that has filled your life up until now. Do you like who you really are? Do you enjoy hanging out with yourself and your significant other?

How will you fill your life now? These are the kinds of questions that keep some from ever retiring. They may be afraid of what they might become with no rules or structure. I enjoy this phase of life so much more than I ever imagined! I love the lack of rules or structure to my days.

Mike at home

I don’t need very much to give my life meaning, because my meaning is in the enjoyment of each day.

I appreciate the fact that I have a better life than just about anyone else on planet earth right now, and I’m going to enjoy the hell out of that until I draw my last breathe…

forget the past and failures

I’m a newcomer 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 if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

 

Romantic Expectations & Reality

So I’m watching some show on HGTV, and the woman who’s looking for a new home says, “I’m looking for a home that feels magical when you walk in!” From this brief comment I launch into my own version of a song from this 1965 Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella television special.                       Sure, you remember it, don’t you? With Leslie Ann Warren?

I LOVED THIS SHOW AT AGE TEN! I memorized the songs.

Cinderella 1965“Magical, mystical, miracle, can it be, is it true? Things are incredibly lyrical, is it me? No it’s you. I do hear a waltz. I see you and I hear a waltz. It’s what I’ve been waiting for all my life, to hear a waltz.”

What a lovely thought, and how unrealistic can you get? I know Rodgers and Hammerstein were probably just trying to think of words that went together well, but instead they helped to create the most unrealistic expectations in a generation of young girls!

Mr. Right frig magnet

Besides the story, which promotes the idea of waiting for a prince to rescue you from your grim surroundings, the words of the songs, which have stayed in my mind for over 50 years now (!) suggest we will most certainly “hear a waltz” when Mr. Right arrives in our lives. And they say we don’t have brainwashing in the USA… No, we have commercialism instead! Just as powerful and encouraged by our culture.

To be fair, by the time I was more interested in looking for a partner, around 1975, this song by Jefferson Starship was popular, and it also promised miracles. 

Mike and Rasta in kayak 3No, I’m not saying that falling in love isn’t magical, I’m just saying the first time I met my “prince” in 2005, I didn’t hear a waltz OR believe in miracles. I had finally gotten past all of that garbage at age 49. I was now ready to meet a real person who had the self-awareness and emotional capability to love and give to others in their life. As it turned out, nothing about his outward appearance or natural talents were what I expected. No, I had no expectations of falling in love with a motorcycle man who knew how to fix things. But I went with my gut and inner wisdom. Good thinking Laura!

Mike on old tree up at build site 2014

Now that we live almost off the grid in rural southern Colorado, I have so many more reasons to appreciate his abilities to wire up the generator when the power goes off for days at a time. No magical, mystical miracles. I don’t remember hearing a waltz when he appeared, but I knew instinctively that he would help me make it through the rest of my life, with love and affection every single day!