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!

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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!

Who voted for Donald Trump? A Cohort Study

After our 2016 election, I became determined to understand why Americans found a billionaire, real estate mogul, reality show candidate so attractive as our next president. This did not compute for me. What about this 70-year-old, obviously sexist and racist candidate spoke to so many Americans? In the midst of listening to the popular music of the 1960s this week I finally got it. This music reminded me of what was happening in our country in the mid- to late 1960s, something I hadn’t thought about in years.

First of all, let me explain what a cohort study is. Wikipedia defines it as:

“A cohort study is a particular form of longitudinal study that samples a cohort (a group of people who share a defining characteristic, typically those who experienced a common event in a selected period)…”

My best example is a study I learned about when I was pursuing a Master’s degree in history. It theorized and then proved that many of the children from Germany in WWI lost their fathers and consequently found themselves seeking a strong, authoritarian father figure as they grew up. This they found in Adolf Hitler. They found meaning and purpose in the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party.

Back to the Trump cohort. I began to think about the recent history of our country, and the revolution we experienced in the 60s, a real revolt against the Vietnam War, racist and sexist attitudes, and powerful men who thought they could tell us what to do without our permission. Note the impeachment of Richard Nixon who resigned in 1974.

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“Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War began with demonstrations in 1964 against the escalating role of the U.S. military in the Vietnam War and grew into a broad social movement over the ensuing several years. This movement informed and helped shape the vigorous and polarizing debate, primarily in the United States, during the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s on how to end the war. By 1967, according to Gallup Polls, an increasing majority of Americans considered U.S. military involvement in Vietnam to be a mistake.”

I began to see how the 1960s peace movement tended to include educated college students and their elders: “Opposition grew with participation by the African-American civil rights, women’s liberation, and Chicano movements, and sectors of organized labor. Additional involvement came from many other groups, including educators, clergy, academics, journalists, lawyers, physicians, and war veterans.”  Source: Wikipedia

This revolution left out most poor and uneducated Americans who didn’t go to college or revolt. The men were sent to Vietnam. Trump was also apparently left out. He attended the New York Military Academy and the Wharton School during the Vietnam War protests.

“After graduating from college in the spring of 1968, Trump was eligible to be drafted and sent to Vietnam. Instead he received a diagnosis that would change his path: bone spurs in his heels. This diagnosis resulted in a coveted 1-Y medical deferment that fall, exempting him from military service as the United States was undertaking huge troop deployments to Southeast Asia, inducting about 300,000 men into the military that year. The deferment was one of five Mr. Trump received during Vietnam. The others were for education.” The New York Times

In 1968 Trump began his career working for his father in real estate, blissfully unaware of a war half a world away that killed over 58,000 Americans and caused permanent physical and mental disabilities in thousands more.

Vietnam vets account for at least one quarter of homeless Americans today.

My theory, and I find statistics do back this up, is that those who went to Vietnam or went straight into jobs in trades like coal mining and factory jobs, felt left out and let down by an ever expanding economy and higher education rates. They may have felt like losers for not getting better careers, because of their lack of education and connections. Statistics show how financial insecurity played a role in attracting Trump voters, but education levels mattered more than income levels. 

“I love the poorly educated,” Trump famously said after winning the Nevada Caucuses in February, 2016. Apparently, for many of those voters, Trump offered them a chance to not feel like a loser for the first time in a long time.

He relates to those who missed out on the 60s revolution and higher education, training that teaches us to respect scientific data when it warns us of warming oceans and catastrophic hurricanes.

“Clinton gained over 8 percentage points on Obama’s 2012 performance in the 50 best educated counties, but lost over 11 points in the 50 least educated counties.” Seven Surprising Graphics About Trump Voters

I find this cohort explanation satisfactory to explain that both the older, wealthy Americans who fear losing their wealth, and the uneducated who have felt like losers in this ever-expanding global economy, not to mention the purely fascist, racist segment, elected this president.

Midlife: Begin To Trust Your Crazy Ideas and Then Expand Your Comfort Zone!

Now for something completely different!

Lately I have been observing how generational our belief systems can be. For example, as a middle boomer, born in 1955, most of my life I have taken a narrow view of what a good work ethic looks like. Most of us were raised to believe that being busy each day and having something to show for your efforts, especially MONEY, is a job well-done.

writing and moneyThat is exactly how I approached my new writing career back in 2005, when I began freelancing. How much I made each year was my measure of success, and I fought very hard to make some bucks. But in the long run, this way of thinking wore me out. As I learned more about the history and importance of this marvelous time called “midlife,” I wanted to teach others how life changing it can be. What I was learning was more important than money, it was life saving for some who struggle with self-respect and self-doubt as they age.

This is what I learned from changing my perspective on the ways we choose to spend our time as we age:

Midlife and especially retirement is your time to learn something just because you have always wanted to. It’s time to follow your fantasies and dreams for once in your life, while releasing expectations and, of course, guilt.

Be grateful each day that you now have the time and money to do something completely different! How many individuals in the history of mankind have had this privilege? Very few. Most previous generations didn’t live past 60!

After taking my writer fantasy for a spin for ten years, we decided it was time for my husband Mike to experiment with one of his childhood fantasies. He had always wanted to construct a passive solar home positioned just right for fantastic views of the mountains. In the process of planning this new adventure, I found a great cartoon in New Yorker Magazine that shows a man visiting a guru at the top of the Himalayas.

IMGP7536The guru’s punch line? “The meaning of life is having a  spectacular view.” 

After we created our new passive solar home, I was then able to construct another lifetime fantasy of mine, a foothills garden full of xeric plants that love this high, dry landscape as much as we do. As I wrote this, we got our first snow fall! Yippee!

Because of what I have learned about midlife and the amazing experiences we have had in the past 15 years, I can highly recommend that you ask yourself today:

What perhaps irresponsible, but joyful dream or activity have you been fantasizing about forever? Time’s a wasting! Do it TODAY!

Life is too short to wait!

What does following what may seem to some like one crazy dream feel like?

I share all of that in my latest book: A Memoir of Retirement!

Louis L’Amour and Golden Aspen, Autumn in Southern Colorado!

I’ve been enjoying a Louis L’Amour novel this fall, while also indulging myself in some amazing quaking aspens.

aspen 2018 near Blanca Peak

Up above Cuchara near Cordova Pass…

back of Blanca Peak with golden aspen 2018

and up by Blanca Peak! Now is the BEST TIME to see these beauties!

Have you ever read the novel Conagher? A friend bought me a copy and said I had to read it, so I did. She said it reminded her of her dilemma since she moved here a few years ago. She loves the silence and isolation of her new life in the mountains, but sometimes craves companionship with someone special.

Conagher book

I thought Mr. L’Amour only wrote about the men of the West, but this novel is about a lonely female settler in rural New Mexico in the late 1800s who finds an ingenious way to connect with lonely cowboys. She even finally finds love way out in the middle of nowhere and just by chance. I love Mr. L’Amour’s descriptions of the beautiful but lonely West. Here’s a few lines from the main character Evie:

“She never tired of the morning and evenings here, the soft lights, the changing colors of sunlight and cloud upon the hills, the stirring of wind in the grass. Out here there was no escaping the sky or the plains, and Evie knew that until she came west she had never really known distance.”

I find it interesting how this character somehow captures my own feelings after just a year or so of living here, giving a marvelous explanation of how one adjusts to the silence and beauty of this powerful and yet desolate landscape:

Sunrise through snowy trees January 2018

“Evie Teale suddenly became aware of something else. For the first time she was at peace here, really at peace. She had believed the land was her enemy, and she had struggled against it, but you could not make war against a land any more than you could against the sea. One had to learn to live with it, to belong to it, to fit into its seasons and its ways…”

A Healthy Approach to Cannabis & THC

My introduction to marijuana was not early, and my experiences kept changing throughout my life. My first time was unfortunately at the top of a steep rock climb. I was probably around 18 years old. I enjoyed the relaxed feeling and the camaraderie it seemed to create in the group, but looking down from that height was not reassuring! I survived and in the process realized that the effects from THC can be subtle and friendly.

deaths from alcohol vs marijuana

I’ve never really liked the effects of alcohol at all. Nope, I’m not looking to a depressant to cheer me up, plus it mostly just made me feel stupid and then very sleepy. Then there’s always the fact that alcohol can cause cancer.  I know! Why is a substance that is highly addictive, definitely causes cancer and kills thousands on the roads every year considered legal and OK in this country, while various forms of THC are considered so bad for you? THC has a number of proven medical uses, not true for alcohol. Alcohol is just very addictive and a liver killer.

In my experience, I rarely smoked marijuana in my adult life, only when someone around me had some. I never bought it because I didn’t know where one got it and I wasn’t all that crazy about it. I generally got a small high from smoking and I coughed too much.

I have NEVER gotten high in public places or while driving.

Then in 2000 Colorado started allowing the legal sale of marijuana for medical purposes. I’ll never forget the first time I walked into a marijuana dispensary in Fort Collins. I said, “Now I’ve seen EVERYTHING!” I started smoking a bit more after that, but still wasn’t convinced that it was a good thing for me. I hate smoking anything!

Koala Bars new Shum-Met Bars 2018

It was only recently, with my introduction to the highest quality of chocolate bars with THC, that I understood what all the excitement was about. Now I can eat the smallest piece of excellent chocolate and about an hour later feel WONDERFUL, in a very positive and thoughtful way. This high makes me happy, and my thought process goes wild with ideas I could have never thought of while normal. I have to write down these ideas to remember them for later. I have always believed that drugs accentuate your present state of mind. This one helps me see how happy I truly am, and how much I love my life. Lucky me!

I did have one BAD experience with lower quality edibles a few years ago, and that is why I caution everyone to start out with miniscule amounts at first. Too much can make you feel terrible and it goes on for hours! With high quality chocolate it takes about one hour to feel it, I feel great for a few hours and then I feel sleepy. This works better than any other drug I have ever tried.