The Lives of Frontier Women (and me)

I’ve been thinking about a number of things lately. Confrontations with your own mortality can do that to a person. Questions arise like how proud am I of myself and my life thus far, regardless of what anyone else thinks? Yes, I know, I can be a bit cerebral at times.

Then I heard a truly thought-provoking quote that made me laugh out loud the other night. The story was about how so many Americans came out to the western frontier in the late 1800s either because they were “trying to lose themselves,” as in avoiding Civil War conscription, “or to find themselves.” This cracked me up! It hit the nail on the head in terms of why I moved out of the city and chose to retire in rural southern Colorado.

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I should probably preface this with my eternal fascination with frontier life. For as far back as I can remember I played “pioneer woman” on the playgrounds of my elementary schools in Kansas. I loved watching TV shows like Rawhide, and any movie about frontier life. I grew up on the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and when I got older I loved reading the journals of women who came out west in covered wagons.

When I started my writing career, I published a few magazine articles about how many came out West simply to escape tuberculosis in the cities back East. Most don’t know that TB was the leading cause of death in the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before penicillin was discovered in the late 1920s. Many came in hopes of a change in fortunes too, like discovering silver or gold and getting rich quick.

I realized just this morning I came to rural Colorado to both lose my old Self or identity, and find out all the other people I might be. I know now how influenced we are by others as children and young adults. It’s almost impossible not to be. But the re-birth which often happens later in life is the shedding of old personas, the letting go of all those voices inside that want to tell you who you really are.

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I’m the youngest one here!

This is the process of getting back to that vulnerable child you were when you were young and impressionable. It feels sometimes like getting back to your original soul and appreciating it for the first time, a spiritual downsizing from the burdens of our past…

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What a glorious discovery this can be!

I’m a newcomer to this part of Colorado, so after two years I wrote a book about the ups and downs of moving here to build a passive solar home in the foothills. Please share this info. with your friends if they are considering similar challenges! 

A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Please feel free to contact me directly for your own signed copy: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

Are blogs a new form of vanity press?

What a resounding response to my last question about who reads your blog, and all agreed too!

Come to find out I am not alone in observing that my pre-blog friends and family don’t read my blog posts much, but others whom I’m not even familiar with, find it interesting. Even people in over 75 other countries come here, I assume to check out rural living in the USA.

I suppose most people see blogs as a new kind of vanity press. I can see their point. Who cares about me and my life? But there are also over 18,000 visitors who have made over 40,000 views here. Who are they?

I’m sure some are simply nosy about the lives of others. Some may hope to someday move to a rural area and build a solar home. I’d sure LOVE to hear from any of you!

memoir-of-retirement-2016-largeThe reason I started this blog three years ago, and the reason I put together my new book was to document our experience in leaving suburbia for a quieter, more economical, rural experience in sunny southern Colorado. I have always had very good reasons for writing my books. Of course I also just enjoy writing. I find it helps me with my recent brain injury.

 

My thought process and intent:

We are doing something very different for us. After living in or near cities all of our lives, we are going rural. I wonder if others are thinking about doing something similar? Perhaps they might enjoy reading about one couples’ authentic experience. Perhaps they would like to know more about designing a home around passive solar heating. Maybe they would like to know how well passive solar heating can work. Reading about the experience of another might encourage others or convince them not to take such risks so late in life. Either way they could benefit from our experience.

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We are so glad we took on all the risk and uncertainty, however if you asked me three years ago I might not have agreed. But now I can highly recommend leaving city life behind for the quiet, wildlife watching and pure beauty of living close to nature.

If you never take a risk, you will never know for certain how well it can work out! That’s our best lesson from our own retirement experience…

P.S. For whatever reasons you find to come here and read, THANKS!

To purchase your own signed copies of any of my books, or if you have other questions, please e-mail me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com.

Please follow me on Twitter too!

Boomers, Mortality & Lung Cancer

OK, for all of you young oldsters out there who have decided you will be living forever, this is fair warning.

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I was recently diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), probably the result of living in dirty city air too many years, and having what seemed like constant bronchitis since age 25. I also just moved to a home at 7,000 feet elevation. All of these factors caused shortness of breath and a request for a chest x-ray. Possible lung nodules were found leading to a cat scan this past Monday. As a non-smoking 61 year-old, I did not expect any problem. Instead my cat scan found a number of “nodules” in my lungs.

Overall, the likelihood that a lung nodule is cancer is 40 percent, but the risk of a lung nodule being cancerous varies considerably depending on several things like the size of them, whether you smoke, your occupation, shape of nodules and their rate of growth.

Think it can’t happen to you? 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, with 1.8 million new cases diagnosed yearly. In the United States, lung cancer is the most fatal cancer in women, surpassing breast cancer in 1987 as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It is also the most fatal cancer in men, killing more men than prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and colon cancer combined. Lung cancer in never-smokers is the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Overall, 27 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S. are due to lung cancer.

Who Gets Lung Cancer?

lung-cancerThe average age for lung cancer is 70, and 80 percent of people who develop lung cancer have smoked, but lung cancer occurs in women and lung cancer occurs in non-smokers. While lung cancer in men who have smoked is decreasing, lung cancer in non-smokers is increasing.

It’s estimated that 20 percent of women who develop lung cancer in the U.S. have never smoked, and that number increases to 50 percent worldwide. Lung cancer also occurs in young adults – It’s estimated that 13.4 percent of lung cancers occur in adults under the age of 40. While this number may seem small, when compared to the incidence of lung cancer overall, it is not.

In summary, if you haven’t had a lung x-ray in years, get one. My nodules are small and so we have decided to go with a wait and see plan, with cat scans every few months. It’s only a problem if they start to grow.

Now I live in a rural Colorado county with nice clean air, but all those years of living in cities must be catching up with me… How about you?

Life in the Colorado outback…

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As the sun rises each day over the Spanish Peaks…

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the birds gather out on our feeder to have a quick bird seed meal…

imgp5741and a drink, if the water isn’t frozen.

Did you ever notice?

“The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” – W.B. YEATS

 

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“There’s something beautiful about quiet and peace. There’s something beautiful about not trying to do anything, but simply, in some way, your heart joining the whole world. There’s a time in life when we should be running around doing things. We should go out dancing; there’s a time in life for that. There’s a time in life for building something up in this world, a family, an institution, a business, a creative life; there’s a time for that.

There’s also a time for becoming quiet, a time for slow conversations with people that we love, and a time for reflecting on all the things that we’ve seen in many years of living. When the time for those things comes, it’s beautiful. It’s not a terrible thing, it’s sweet. There’s also a time for letting go of our life, not “Damn, somebody’s snatching this away from me,” but “Yes, it’s beautiful to exhale after you inhale.” At the right time, when the chest is full, breathe out and let go.”     – Norman Fischer, “Suffering Opens the Real Path”

Falling In Love at 49

To celebrate the 12th anniversary of the day Mike and I met, I decided to run this wildly popular post from my now defuncted “Midlife Crisis Queen” blog.               This is one of the first posts I wrote after starting my first blog in 2007:

“Love is lovelier, the second time around.  Just as wonderful, with both feet on the ground…”    — Sammy Cahn

And so it is. Falling in love later can be quite the challenge, but when it does happen, it feels just like a miracle! To me it felt like winning the lottery, and in a way it was! When I think back to all the reasons why Mike and I should not have met, it boggles my mind that we did. Although we only lived ten miles apart, without the Internet we most certainly wouldn’t have met.

Our backgrounds were very different, and we shared no social networks. I was also getting plenty gun shy from meeting new men online. The men kept vaporizing after our first date! Yes, I was beginning to feel mighty hopeless.

Then there was the fact that we didn’t really match up on paper. I came from a background with an emphasis on academics, and Mike went to the Navy instead of college. His specialty is mechanics and electronics, mine is counseling, research and writing. but what we had in common turned out to be much more important!

Mike and I immediately found a cameraderie of spirit which I have never found in another human being. We both realized later that we had been seeking to connect with others in this way for most of our lives, but had somehow missed until the day we met.

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From the very beginning our souls spoke to each other in a unique and unusual way, a spontaneous familiarity, a synchronicity of body, mind and heart. And even more amazing, we both realized and appreciated that fact immediately. No backing away from it, no denying it. We both decided to trust our inner wisdom and simply go with it.

We spoke for ten hours on our first date, and took a short trip together less than two weeks after we met, which all reminds me of that great line at the end of one of my favorite romantic comedies:

“When you finally meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible!” – ‘When Harry Met Sally.’

We both had been through so much, and so we recognized immediately when something unique and wonderful fell into our laps. I also learned about a key component of compatibility that I had never thought about before. Besides the usual requirements, the deal breakers, etc., I learned how important it is that your partner process information at the same rate. Mike and I think at the same rate, and often come to the same conclusions simultaneously. This is quite a gift in a long term relationship!

My own theory of love and attraction came through loud and clear when I first met Mike, that is you get what you are in love. As much as you have worked on developing into your best self, that is the kind of person you will attract to yourself.

So keep working on self-love and self-respect, feel daily gratitude for the life you now have, and read good blogs and books like my own:  How to believe in love again.  Never give up on love if that’s what you want!

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My favorite poet Marge Piercy said it best:

“Love is plunging into darkness toward a place that may exist.”

A New Years Idea for Change: Change the way you see, judge and treat yourself!

This was my ONLY New Year’s Resolution from 2015, and I do believe I have made a bit of progress on this one! Such marvelous writing!

“I resolve to accept the idea that I need not change anything about myself this year (or maybe ever) except the way in which I judge myself. I need not change anything about myself except the harsh criticisms I chronically unleash upon myself. I need not change anything except the warped lens through which I watch my every move. I need not change anything except the fun house mirror which I carry with me everywhere and whose distorted reflections I believe are real.

I resolve to accept the idea that my main problem is not my face, body or résumé but my frame of mind. Granted, that’s a pretty big problem, as this frame of mind affects every aspect of my life and might be making me too depressed right now to even realize that I’m depressed, much less able to imagine changing. Anything. Ever. At all.

live-and-learn-2But this is the great thing about holidays: They’re temporal gateways, urging us collectively to enact virtual rituals. Today is not just any random day. It’s a shift, proclaimed around the world. And into that gaping chasm between old year and new, that crevasse over which we now walk a short bright temporary bridge, we can hurl those warped lenses and fun house mirrors, all of us. Down that gap we can yell our last harsh words about ourselves, and hear their echoes dissolve into gibberish then ebb into that vast, inviting silence as we hasten, set free, to that smiling, untried other side.”

HAPPY NEW YEAR & GOOD LUCK!

An excerpt from: http://spiritualityhealth.com/blog/anneli-rufus/whats-one-and-only-new-years-resolution-people-low#sthash.UKyIsWIo.dpuf  by Anneli Rufus

You cannot control how others receive your energy

Perhaps I will always remember this holiday as the one where I finally accepted the truth about other peoples’ reaction to me. Ah, if I could have totally accepted this truth decades ago, my life would have been so much easier:

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You cannot control how other people receive your energy. Anything you do or say gets filtered through the lens of whatever they are going through at that moment, which is NOT ABOUT YOU.  

Just keep doing your thing with as much integrity and love as possible.

This includes everything I write about here and in my books. Just because I have chosen to learn enough to understand the psychology of midlife transition or passive solar technology, and appreciate the freedom this knowledge has given to me, does not mean anyone else has a clue what I’m talking about.

Even my parents, who taught me much of what I learned as a child, the ones I thought knew EVERYTHING when I was young, have no idea where I’m coming from with most of my ideas and thoughts today. They are living in their own reality and often do not appreciate mine, but that is not about me.

earthOn some level I’m ashamed that it has taken me this long on this beautiful blue planet to appreciate this truth. But on the other hand, it is so freeing to let each of us be where we are right now.

We continue to search for whatever makes our lives feel better.