Mindfulness: Relax and Let Go…

The ABC News just found in a new survey that the thing most would prefer to do on vacation this year is NOTHING. Most would like to disconnect from the world and simply, fully relax. We have become specialists in this, since moving to the country.

Tension and relaxationFor many the greatest challenge is to let go of any thoughts we have of getting things done. I have had extra assistance with this problem as my brain injuries and shortness of breath from COPD often demand that I relax regularly during the day. After we completed our new home and moved in in August of 2015, we found it almost too easy to simply stare at the mountains and be here now. This is the LIFE!

Field of Wild Iris near Stonewall

Living in a quiet, peaceful setting creates new awareness and lowers stress levels tremendously.

But if you should need help in pure relaxation, try this meditation on letting go from Stephen Levine, one of my spiritual teachers since discovering his books in the 80s. Here’s a short excerpt:

Once and for all, completely relinquish control. Let go of fear and doubt. Let each thing float in its own nature.

Dissolve into the vast spaciousness of awareness. No body. No mind. Just thought. Just feelings. Just sensations. Bubbles. Floating in vast space. An instant of thought. Of hearing. Of remembering. Of fearing. Like waves, rising for an instant and dissolving back into the ocean of being. Into the vastness of your true nature.

No one to be. Nothing to do. Let each instant unfold as it will.
No resistance anywhere. Let the wind blow right through you.

No one to be, just this much. This instant is enough.
Nowhere to go, just now. Just here.
Nothing to do, just be.
Holding nowhere, we are everywhere at once.

Stephen, who spent his life working with those full of grief, died last year. A quote from him:

Don't let the world make you hard...“Our ordinary, everyday grief accumulates as a response to the burdens of disappointments and disillusionment, the loss of trust and confidence that follows the increasingly less satisfactory arch of our lives. In order to avoid feeling this grief we armor our hearts, which leads to a gradual deadening of our experience of the world. When a loved one dies, or indeed when our own death approaches, the intensity of the loss often renders our defenses ineffective and we are swept up by a deluge of griefs, both old and new.”                                                                            Stephen’s books are all wonderful. I cried my way through “Healing into Life and Death” many years ago, and recently found his “Unattended Sorrow” quite healing…  His books are all about finding compassion for yourself and your own suffering so you can love the world again.                                                                                                                              Stephen always said “soften the belly.”

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.

Bicycle injuries rising among older riders

She was just going out for a short bike ride around her neighborhood. It didn’t seem necessary to carry an ID, or even wear a helmet. Ten minutes later she was found lying on the ground unconscious near a bike path. The bystander who found her, called 911 and an ambulance arrived soon afterwards. Then a kind Emergency Medical Technician whisked her off to the emergency room with her mind constantly weaving in and out of consciousness. After numerous X-rays and cat scans she ended up in the neuro unit of the hospital for observation.

This is a true story.  It happened to me back in 2008 in Fort Collins. My own tumble over the handle bars and into a nasty bike accident, led to fractured ribs, an injured wrist and thigh, and a traumatic brain injury.

This is my warning to you who think riding a bike is still as easy as climbing back on again. 

Injuries among older riders have jumped dramatically in recent years. Between 1998 and 2013, bike injuries among all adults over the age of 18 increased 28 percent, while hospital admissions jumped 120 percent. Head traumas went from 10 percent to 16 percent of all injuries in the same period.

Older bicyclists fueled much of that increase in injuries, especially ones that required an emergency room visit. Injuries among those 45+ jumped 81 percent and hospital admissions increased 66 percent, from 39 percent to 65 percent of total injuries. While death rates for cyclists younger than 15 fell by 92 percent between 1975 and 2012, death rates for cyclists between the ages of 35 and 74 showed a large increase, according to CDC data.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bicycle-injuries-rise-especially-for-older-riders/

kids on bikes

SO much FUN when you’re YOUNG!

While I do not want to discourage you from healthy exercise as you age, be careful out there! I feel the effects of my brain injury everyday, especially when I write or speak with others. My memory is definitely not the same and it also completely depends on what area of the brain you injure.  I find I tire quickly in social situations, and the first sign that I am getting overwhelmed is when I cannot think of the proper word for something, a difficult feeling for one who has always been proud of her ability with words.

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On the flip side, my brain injuries (yes I suffered a second concussion after we moved in here!) have taught me to slow down, meditate more, and enjoy each moment as it arrives.

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Besides now living in a quiet and contemplative part of Colorado, I have learned some wonderful relaxation techniques that are quite FUN regardless of your brain injury status.

Take care of that old personal computer up there! You only get one.

Lala Land: A Musical Done Right!

I have always loved a good musical. Even as a child I loved waltzing along with Anna in The King and I or singing along with Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown.  Mike is always astounded when I burst into song with all of the right words from so many old musicals. One of our favorite games as kids was to create a talent show in our garage, so I was quite anxious to see Lala Land. I figured I would either love it or hate it. Since we have no access to new films here, I’ve been borrowing all my movies from the La Veta Public Library lately, and they finally got a copy!             Now I’m going to have to buy it…

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I found this lovely film to be a delicious and delightful cinematic tidbit, a triumph of mostly non-verbal communication. As an overly verbal person who can too easily get caught up in analysis paralysis, this film helped me to escape my analytical mind and just experience the music and settings free of reality. That is what a good musical is supposed to do! I loved the way it was mostly based in “reality” but then these two lovers suddenly danced off into the stars…

falling in love rocksLala Land captured better than any film I have ever seen, that magical feeling of falling in love. That joy at knowing, “How did I ever get so lucky? I’m finally at the right place at the right time!” I didn’t want any of it to end. The artistic freedom of the creators of this wonderful escape into lala land was amazing. Only today can we feel so free with creativity! I am so glad this film finally got made!

I also related to the main theme of following your dreams, and especially the fact that they captured the negative as well as pathologically optimistic part of that experience. When Mia’s play flops and she feels completely discouraged, I was reminded of my attempt at having a launch party for my first book. Nobody showed up! I just wanted to quit, but I didn’t.

I even liked the realistic ending to this story. Sad to say, most early love stories don’t turn out well, but that is not to say they are not one of the best experiences of your life. Being young is often depressing and very disappointing, but we all go on. Live and learn.

I used to facetiously call this: Pushing on to greater failures!

LOVE in LaLaLand

I loved the way these two smiled at each other at the end, as if to say, “We turned out OK.” If you can love another person this much and still feel good about it not working out, you’ve got it made!

 

How to Believe in Love Again!If love isn’t working out for you, perhaps you’ve lost all faith in love. I had too at age 49. I knew I wanted to experience true love again, but I didn’t believe in it anymore. So, as a therapist, I found ways to get back to that wonderful feeling of trusting others and self love. Then I met the best partner I would ever know! Why not check out my book: How to Believe in LOVE Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust, and Your Own Inner Wisdom.

Send me an e-mail and I’ll hook you up with any of my books, at a great price!

Email: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com 

Number 500 of the Best of Boomer Blogs!

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Freedom of the press is only available to those who own one, and now, we do!

Ten years ago I decided to become a writer. Fifty seemed like the perfect age to start something brand NEW. Ah, was one 50-year-old ever so naive? At first I found some success as a freelance writer. Then I met a young (compared to me…) blogger who got me excited about the idea of instant self-publishing.

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Since then I have created a number of blogs, but my first was called the “Midlife Crisis Queen.” I put six years of my life into that creative product, then I scrapped it for this one. But the whole time I participated in the “Best of Boomer Blogs.” Why? Because I love interacting with other bloggers, seeing what they are thinking about, and reading their posts.

BBB participants have changed many times throughout this past decade. Today we have some tremendously talented bloggers. Let’s get to it!

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about cell phone etiquette this week. Staying 10 feet away from others when you talk, avoiding use of your cell phone when you’re driving, and putting your phone’s ringer on silent mode in theaters and restaurants are among the recommendations. See Robison’s article, “Please: Use Cell Phone Etiquette,” for more tips on the polite use of cell phones in public.

Problems with a device – specifically a computer and iPad – started Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting thinking about issues those of us of a certain age often encounter when using computers, iPhones and other electronic gadgets. Read all about it in Reflections on Being Electronically Connected, Bewildered and Befuddled.  

Writer Carol Cassara just returned from 16 wonderful days in France, where the culinary delights are many. French food is known for its liberal use of butter, sugar and bread, all forbidden on her present diet. Here’s how she mastered the challenges of superior French cuisine!                                          

In A Weekend to Remember, Tom Sightings reports from Washington, DC. In his post he shares some of the sights, as well as a few things he has realized about politics and our country.

As for me, I am astonished at how much my writing and my life have changed since my simple beginnings as a writer back in 2006. Lesson #1: Write for the love of it.

Here are a couple of my favorite photos from our drive up to Cuchara yesterday…

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 We had the bubbling Cucharas River on one side…

IMGP6159and this view of the West Peak off to our left!

This following your heart stuff really works!

Laura and Rasta on insulation 2014 (2)I’m new to southern Colorado. After two years I decided to compile a book about the ups and downs of moving from Fort Collins, Colorado to just west of Walsenburg to build a passive solar retirement home:      A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Please contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!                                      Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

 

Springtime Gardening near the Sangre de Cristos

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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.

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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

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)