Easy Rider: The view from 62

I was 14 years old when “Easy Rider” came out. I decided to see it again this week. So glad I did, if only for the music!

EAsy RiderWikipedia describes it as a 1969 American road movie written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. It tells the story of two bikers (played by Fonda and Hopper) who travel through the American Southwest and South after selling a large score of cocaine. The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood era of film making during the early 1970s. The film was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1998, a landmark counterculture film and a “touchstone for a generation.” Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle.

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Although I know this film hasn’t changed in 48 years, watching it showed me how much I have changed, and most of my changes have taken place since moving to rural Colorado. For example, when the riders pick up a hippie on the way to a commune, they eventually ask him where he’s from. His answer is simple and so true: “A city.” When pressed for more he says it doesn’t really matter what city, because cities have the same effect on us as people. I so agree now. And if you don’t, I challenge you to move to the country for a few years. Then we’ll talk.

east rider Jack NicholsonI have also learned a lot about my biases and judgments of people I don’t know. For some reason, moving here has lighten my load of judgments on those who don’t look like me. I know in ‘Easy Rider’ the country people in the south hate hippie-types. There’s a great line in there from George, the local drunk played wonderfully by Jack Nicholson, who tags along with them on their journey to New Orleans. He says many just don’t appreciate the freedom these two bikers represent.

When they see it they want to kill it. Nice foreshadowing.

clearer when in loveMike rode a Gold Wing when I first met him. Before I fell in love with him 12 years ago, I judged those who rode motorcycles, especially if they had a tatoo. So much for that judgment… I have learned quite a bit about how to experience true personal freedom by living with Mike and by moving away from cities.

How do we benefit from judging ourselves and others? We don’t.

Laura 60th birthday partyWant to know more about the changes you may go through by leaving city life behind? After checking out Cuenca Ecuador, we left suburban Fort Collins forever in 2014 to build a passive solar home in rural southern Colorado. Today we enjoy the amazing advantages of solar heating plus a 180 view of the Sangre de Cristo range!

Enjoy my new memoir about this transition from city to country living

On living life too carefully…

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”  — Anne Lamott

Right Anne, like anybody’s perfect, but oh how I tried for decades. How crazy was I? Straight A’s in school, the best student in the world, pressure, pressure, pressure. Heck, I didn’t become a writer for most of my life because I figured I wasn’t perfect enough yet. Three graduate degrees later I finally, SLOWLY figured out that Anne was right the whole time. Now I am eminently imperfect, and I have so much more fun!

own your own stories Anne LamottAfter we moved here I wondered about how honest I should be about exactly how unfriendly some folks were here. I was actually blown away by how badly some acted, even therapists! I assumed that people are naturally friendly in small towns or out in the country…WRONG!

Lots of folks move here BECAUSE of their anti-social personalities. Duh!

It was only later in life that I realized that I own my own stories, all of them. My most valued possessions are my own stories and how I survived them, every one of them!

Midlife Magic book cover med for blogMy first book was the result of this realization. I had already sold a few of my essays to editors who were putting together anthologies on midlife change back in 2008. I had almost completed the sell of the story of my own divorce, to appear in the Seal Press book: Ask Me About Divorce, when I realized I should be making more money on my own stories! That is how Midlife Magic: Becoming The Person YOU are Inside came about. And I can assure you I made much more on my book than the $100 the Seal Press was offering!

From this and so much other risk-taking behavior, which emerged after I stopped trying to be ‘perfect’,   I learned the joy of being fully me. And come to find out, I enjoyed the real me so much more than that nervous perfectionist!

Laura and Rasta on insulation 2014 (2)

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go…”  -T.S. Eliot

I’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. Enjoy!   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)

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

Invisible Me

Ever since I turned 50, I have read about the idea that as women age they become ever more invisible in our society. I have wondered why I don’t feel this way for years. This week I discovered the reason.

I have always felt invisible. Invisible is normal for me.

I grew up feeling invisible. My parents couldn’t see me. They could barely see themselves. In my house, nobody knew who they were. No one could see beyond their looks and achievement, and no one had anything to give to anybody else. Because my parents grew up not being seen by their parents, they could not see themselves or me.

or ignore meAnd it felt somehow safe to be invisible, especially as I got into junior high and high school. I tried being more visible once in ninth grade. I was actually semi-popular for a while and that didn’t feel good, so I escaped into invisibility again. Because I no longer knew who I was, others couldn’t see me either. Years later I spoke to a few people who went to high school with me. Nobody remembered me at all, even after I showed them a picture.

Was I ever really there?

This is how it works. My parents projected onto me their distorted view of themselves, believing that I was just a smaller version of their own woundedness. They judged me harshly, just like they judged themselves. So confusing. They would tell me I was a certain way when I felt completely different inside. They would tell me I was careless and irresponsible, when I felt overly responsible for everything in the world, especially them.

Now that I’m seen and appreciated fully in my life, I realize how lonely and heartbreaking it was to feel so invisible. To fit in, I adopted the world’s view of me and stopped acknowledging my own essence, my own Self. My own wonderfulness!

When I moved to a much smaller town recently, I found this interesting. I again felt invisible. I recognized immediately those who wish to ignore me. I avoid them, because I know what an amazing, interesting, intelligent person I am.

So much fun to see and know!

Laura and Rasta on insulation 2014 (2)I’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 home.    It’s fine to ignore me, but please don’t ignore my new book!  A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Share this information with your friends, and please feel free to contact me directly to discuss anything or 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.”

A Whole Day Without Rules or Self-Judgment

The world is full of rules… Be the exception!

Laura 60th birthday party

Not so happy on my 60th birthday, because the damn house isn’t finished yet!

I just celebrated my 62nd birthday. The gift I gave myself this year was a whole day without judging myself or my actions. I found this to be so much easier said than done: So many rules, so little time!

tell negative committee to shut upWith every decision I made yesterday, I found someone in my brain there to question it. Should I do this or that? In each case I chose exactly what I wanted and ignored the “shoulds.” In this way I became even more conscious of all the rules in my own head. Wow, who knew what a negative committee I had been dealing with my whole life!

Then last night I started thinking about the many well-meaning (but annoying!) friends (and one ex-husband…) who were constantly offering me advice and instruction in how to live my life better.

DO THEY REALLY THINK I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TOXIC ADVICE FROM THE NEGATIVE COMMITTEE IN MY HEAD YET? SURE, POUR IT ON!

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A number of years ago, I was visiting my parents down in Silver City when I saw this dish at an art gallery. I had to buy it, and then displayed it prominently in my living room. Did it work? No. By age 60 I began marking those friends off my list when they turned out to be duds.

Do you really think I haven’t lost weight because you haven’t arrived yet to share your latest tip on taking more walks or eating less? Gee, it might be my fractured ribs, two head injuries, COPD and other lung problems that are making walking at 7,000 feet a bit more challenging for me…

if-you-obey-all-the-rules-you-miss-all-the-fun Katherine Hepburn

Whatever else I might be, I am super smart when it comes to solving my own problems, and I already have plenty of rules in my head that I’m slowly paring down for reasons mentioned above…

Thanks for trying, but I think I may know myself a tad bit better than you, since I just met you!

following the rules

 

When did I lose contact with my own culture?

Granted, I have had an unusual transition from my working life as an academic librarian for 25 years, to a new career as a writer at age fifty. At that time I began pitching stories to magazines and sold quite a few. I still felt connected with the world around me, and wrote about it constantly as the “Midlife Crisis Queen.”

Find Your Reason Cover smallMy focus then was on the experience of “midlife” broadly defined as that time between age 40 and 60, when we awaken into a whole new world of possibilities, a new and improved realization of do-overs before its all over. Midlife became an exciting new rite of passage for me, available for the first time in human history to boomers, and those who follow after us.                                                                                                                                                       Numerous women writers I know and respect have written about becoming invisible in our culture as we age. In my experience, this transition has been so slow and subtle that I have not noticed it as the years go by. But I am here to say that I now feel, at age 62, in many respects I can no longer see myself at all in our present culture.

Especially on television I see a culture that does not include me. The contradictions just keep coming, and sometimes I want to deny that this is my culture, especially when I watch the news. The definitions of words I thought I knew keep changing.

For example, in a recent interview with Kellyanne Conway, she complained about everyone judging her by the clothes she wore instead of her words. Hello Kellyanne, that is a battle women have been fighting forever. In fact, that is one the main reasons women became feminists! Did you miss that blast from the past?

I suppose most of these misunderstandings do come from the younger folks having no sense of history, or just a very jaded understanding of where ideas like feminism came from. How many Americans know that women didn’t get to vote in national elections until the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920? Sometimes I wish we could give all of our elected officials a test to see how much they actually do know about our history.

Here’s another example: I would love to hear President Trump’s definition of “McCarthyism.” Would it include “the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper evidence?” McCarthyism is the practice of making unfair allegations especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism. This sounds a bit like Trump’s allegations that progressive protesters are getting paid to protest. Where is his proof? What has happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Mostly I am shocked and ashamed at how quickly we have gone from a nation of facts to a nation of “alternative facts.” And I fear most of our population does not know the difference. I am afraid David Brooks hit the nail on the head when he observed recently that President Trump continues to “take a page from the Fascist Handbook.”

‘Those who do not know their history, are condemned to repeat it.’

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a personal journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement homes:  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)

My insights into Cannabinoid (CBD) Oil

cbd-oil-what-is-itCannabinoid (CBD) Oil is new to me. I talked to a few people in the past few months who thought that it helped them immensely with pain from sciatica, sleep issues, etc. It took me a lot of online research and thought to decide to buy some, partially because it is quite expensive and I wondered about issues of purity also.

For those of you new to this product, this oil is made from hemp with no THC in it. It is usually taken by a few drops under your tongue, and has no psychoactive ingredients. That is why it is legal in all states. The FDA has ruled it to be a dietary supplement. I didn’t buy it at a marijuana dispensary, just a natural foods store.

I bought a small bottle of That’s Natural CBD Oil with the ingredients of Hemp Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Peppermint Oil and 250mg Hemp CBD Oil. This stuff is guaranteed not to contain marijuana or to have psychoactive effects.

google-cbdI started out with just a few drops under my tongue once or twice a day. At first the only real effect it had on me was I didn’t wake up as often at night. I took it for a few weeks and then stopped for a few days to see if I felt any different. I was surprised to learn how much those few drops were helping with both my mood and my ability to sleep more deeply. I can’t say it helped at all with my arthritis pain. Still stuck with Aleve there.

But I can recommend that the rest of you check this out. Here’s a few articles I found interesting:

https://healthyhempoil.com/what-is-cbd-in-weed/

http://herb.co/2016/09/18/menopause-symptoms/

Some history:

“Cannabis plants are exceptionally versatile. Both the seeds and cannabis oil were used for food in China as early as 6,000 BCE. Two thousand years later, in 4,000 BCE, there is evidence of textiles made from hemp in both China and Turkestan. The influence of the plant seems to have been global. In 850, the Vikings transported hemp rope and seeds to Iceland, and by the year 900, Arabs were learning techniques for making paper from hemp. By the year 1000 Italians were using ropes made of hemp on their sailing ships.

In contrast to today’s modern restrictions of growing cannabis, England’s King Henry VIII actually fined farmers if they do not raise hemp for industrial use. Less than one hundred years later, settlers in Jamestown, Virginia began growing hemp plants for hemp’s unusually strong fibers. Once the plant demonstrated its usefulness, it became illegal to NOT grow hemp in Virginia.

By 1850, cannabis was added to The U.S.Pharmacopeia, a respected compendium of Medicines and Dietary Supplements. At that time cannabis was used throughout United States as a medicine, easily purchased in pharmacies and general stores. This lasted until about 1915…

(https://discovercbd.com/blogs/cbd-news/88739206-the-history-of-cbd-10-000-years-and-counting)

I’m a newcomer to 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 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)