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.

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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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Buying a Home in Rural Southern Colorado

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I have always found real estate interesting. I suppose it’s a part of my natural nosiness. I like to see how others live and what they choose. Mike knows the construction trade inside and out. That’s why we went with a friend to look at a small property yesterday. She wanted to get our opinion on a darling little ranchette not too far away from us.

This property is relatively new, well-built, nicely detailed inside and landscaped, with great views of Greenhorn Mountain and the distant Sangre de Cristos.

Buying in rural markets is so different than cities. Be sure and check what the property’s access is to water, electricity, phone service, and what kind of heating and septic system it has. This cute little ranch on a few acres has a giant garage and studio space, fully fenced, but it does not have access to water on the property. Most city people can’t even imagine that! Water will have to be trucked in.

Sunflowers on a county road

The good news about properties down here? The cost is about one quarter of what they might cost up north, near any metro area. I can see this property being priced at $500,000 to $600,000 if it was anywhere near the Denver/Boulder metro area. Access to jobs is everything in real estate.

The realtor informed us that sellers here usually have to accept contingencies on sales. Their average time on the market is about one year. We see many come down here, buy a house on impulse, and then need to sell a year or two later. Yes it is amazingly beautiful here in the spring, summer and fall, but the winters are so WINDY and can seem very long with most city distractions (restaurants, shopping, etc.) at least an hour away.

The truth is, most have no idea how or if they will adjust to rural life. My advice? Make sure you like spending a lot of time alone or are on the same page completely with your life partner. You need to get along very well in these circumstances. Make sure you enjoy nature, things like bird watching, plants, hiking, biking and lots of silence. If you have little appreciation for clean air, morning silence, amazing sunrises and sunsets and a pristine natural setting, don’t buy a rural home, especially if you crave any sort of human-based distractions.

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Our house being built in 2014 -2015

memoir of retirement 2016Mike and I left suburbia in 2014, after living in cities for most of our lives.      We wanted to try out solar living with spectacular views of Sangre de Cristo mountains. We moved here to live close to nature, to try out passive solar living, and to build the kind of home we chose to live in for the rest of our lives. We came in search of a far more quiet, peaceful, healthy and inexpensive lifestyle than cities could offer us. We have received so much more…            Would you like to know how we ended up here? The ups and downs of our year-long building process? My fears in our first year here? Why we love it so much now?

Please send me an e-mail to order your own copy — Laura Lee:  MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

Three Years Later in Rural Colorado…

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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?)

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

Rent-a-Friend, Slow TV & Country Living

What an interesting array of new ideas this past week! From Japan we have “Rent-a Friend” or family member… Apparently some Japanese can be so obsessed with appearances that they actually rent human stand-ins for various get-togethers. But don’t scoff too soon at this idea, because apparently it is also taking off in our own country! Hell, it may be a great idea for those new to foreign countries…like NYC. For the Japanese, who feel uncomfortable borrowing things, rentals seem more honest. They even have substitute therapists, untrained people who will listen to you complain about your life for only $10/hour!

train rideIn contrast, Norway has recently discovered the popularity of slow television, or “slow TV” (Norwegian: Sakte-TV), popularized in the 2000s by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), beginning with the broadcast of a 7-hour train journey in 2009. This live “marathon” television coverage of an ordinary event in its complete length, generally last many hours or even days.

OK now I have a unique and perhaps revolutionary idea. Why don’t you spend the time and energy to make your own hand-picked friend. Imagine how much more satisfying that might be. Or, if you prefer a slower paced life, go find it! Since moving to the country I completely understand the appeal of slow TV, except mine is called ‘slow scenery’ and I stare at it all day long.

IMGP5820From daybreak…

imgp5537to sunset, it changes constantly, and sometimes offers up the most amazing images!

And I have even collected over the decades some of the most perfect music to go along with this tremendous lifestyle. This morning I had to listen to Jesse Colin Young’s song “Ridgetop.” A great description of where we live now. That and “Country Home” work for me!

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’m new here in rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home:  A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Let’s work around Amazon (the evil empire!) and make certain authors get paid for their books!           Please contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

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 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 busy looking for a new job…

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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 winning the midlife challenges war by changing everything at age 50.

Recently Mike and I moved to rural Colorado, which required more major mental adjustments (at least for me!) For the first year we worked full-time to produce a passive solar retirement home. It was only after that major 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 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.

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The meaning of life is having a spectacular view…

But after a while we began to wonder who we are beyond all the rules and self-discipline that has filled our lives up until now. Do we like who you are now?

Retirement means: How will you fill your life now?

These are the kinds of questions that keep some from ever retiring, fear that they may disappear with no more job to go to, no rules and little life 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. I change my mind all of the time. One minute I’m taking off for yoga in town, and the next I’m doing it on the floor at home.

Mike at home

I don’t need very much to give my life meaning, because my meaning is in the enjoyment of every moment, every 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

To learn more about how my midlife questioning led to a whole new lifestyle for me in a passive solar home in the Colorado outback, check out: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

 

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!