Why write?

Today I celebrate reaching over 50,000 views on this blog, with over 24,000 visitors!

midlife crisis queen original header

This is my second major blog. My first, Midlife Crisis Queen, racked up hundreds of thousands of loyal followers from all over the world in its eight years of existence. However, I did not stay in crisis for long after I learned how to take control of my own destiny. My books are a summary of how I changed everything, soon after I discovered it was up to me to wield my own power in transforming myself and my life. I quickly moved from chaos and crisis to an amazing array of new opportunities, once I understood the purpose and power of midlife.

Along the way, I started a few smaller blogs, all of which are now deceased, except my “How To Believe in Yourself as a Writer” blog. I like to think that the byline from that blog explains everything:

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.

writing penSo why do I still make this daily effort to reach others with my writing? My best answer at this point is, I can’t help myself. I love words and composition, I believe this practice helps me to recover from a traumatic brain injury back in 2008, and I love making new friends through my writing. Perhaps now writing is my own version of an addiction.

But, as most of my sister writers know, it isn’t easy to believe in yourself and your craft, when we so rarely hear back from our readers. Blogging and book selling has become so impersonal these days. The evil empire, Amazon, basically owns our business. We often sell books and never know what our readers think of them. I have found that to be so frustrating through the years!

Most do not relate to the experience of writing first blog posts and then books for over ten years, and so rarely hearing anything back. Yes, I love what I do and I would do it no matter what, but the occasional “your book changed my life!” soothes my soul.

Find Your Reason Cover smallThat is why I cried when I received the most fantastic fan letter this week. He started out by ordering my new memoir, and loved it so much, he then ordered my other books. My 2011 book: Find Your Reason to Be Here: The Search for Meaning in Midlife inspired him to write me a long letter about how that book changed his life. Here’s an excerpt:  “For the first time in literally decades, I finally found an author who really “speaks” to the core of who I am as a person; who I not only identify with, but who I strongly identify with. Beginning with your need to flee Fort Collins’ frantic “retirement haven” pace to your craving for silence…YES! Me too! Before I even finished “From Suburbia…”, I was online ordering your other 3 books. “Find Your Reason To Be Here” was a HUGE wake up call to me. I’ve found it to be far, far more helpful and truthful than ANY of the other books I’ve read that purport to help one find one’s purpose in life. Thank you!”

This man has read most contemporary titles on midlife and finding your life’s purpose, and he found my book to be more useful than those by Marianne Williamson and other famous writers.

He now likes to hand my books out to friends and family who are suffering from midlife angst, which brings me to the true reason for his letter. He wanted to order more copies directly from me. This is how I prefer to sell books now, to people I might be able to build relationships with, instead of impersonal internet sales. I think it is good for readers to know that there is a genuine human being behind every line in my blog posts or books, one who would love to know if their writing is impacting your life.

So the next time you read something that moves you, why not send the author a note letting them know that their efforts are making a real difference in the world?

IMGP6667

Any interest in learning more about midlife change, or purchasing my books? I’d love to hear from you! Please drop me a line at:  MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

Advertisements

The Elephant in the Room: The Vietnam War

“Military madness is killing our country, solitary sadness comes over me…”

It seems impossible not to discuss “the war” that helped to shape our lives at this time. The amazing new PBS documentary put together by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick is impacting me now, and the war it represents is still present in the hearts and minds of those of us who experienced it either on TV or directly, in our own lives.

the_vietnam_war_pbs_civilians_after_attack 1965

The curious thing is how we ended up making this war about us, when it was always about the people of a tiny country in southeast Asia.

Last night was about 1965, when we first started sending in troops, not just advisers. I had no idea that the Vietnamese came out to welcome the first American troops to land there. Young Vietnamese girls in white dresses came with welcome signs, food and flowers.

vietnam river scene

One American who was there, noted what a beautiful and ideal country they saw when they landed. I have some idea what he means. I lived in Thailand near the end of the Vietnam War. I agree.

This documentary provides much background information and detail into how this terrible war came about as a result of a century of Western colonialism in southeast Asia. The French dragged us into it, and we stayed. Most Americans don’t know these facts. I studied Asia in college, so I am quite familiar with this history. I loved the part last night about Eric Sevareid’s first honest report back to us through the evening news, documenting what American troops were experiencing daily there. LBJ called the president of CBS the next day and said, “Are you trying to fuck me?”

The dishonesty of our government is appalling even today. Oh sure, let’s send in thousands of young Americans to fight a war over 8,000 miles away, but let’s not tell the American public. Once we became involved in fighting there, the number of dead from each battle included both Vietnamese and American numbers, but we did not care how many Vietnamese had died, only Americans.

I do not blame anyone who chooses not to view this documentary at this time. It brings up overwhelming sadness and many tears for me. I was born in 1955, so “the war” only became a part of my daily awareness when I was ten or so, after the assassination of JFK. In my family, we were required to watch the evening news, and then discuss world affairs at the dinner table every evening.

It was only after the “wise old men” in LBJ’s world decided to start sending thousands of young Americans to a war 8,600 miles away that Vietnam truly entered my consciousness.

Chicago riots 1968

Besides the evening news reports with Walter Cronkite, my most powerful memories are of the Kent State shootings and the Democratic Convention protests in 1968. I remember watching tears roll down my Dad’s face as we watched the protesters get severely beating by Mayor Daley’s thugs. Yes, there was violence on both sides, but the police had all the weapons and they used them too!

The first time I ever protested anything was by wearing a black arm band to a junior high band concert after the Kent State shootings. I felt so conspicuous and yet I’m sure nobody else noticed. Mike was in the Navy at the end of our involvement in Vietnam. He chooses not to watch this special and I respect that. One of his best friends, who he has known for over 30 years now, was a medic in Vietnam. He definitely saw the worst of it. That war ruined the rest of his life in a number of ways, both with a broken back and severe PTSD.

What can we say now about a war most of us did not want, that destroyed the lives of many thousands of Americans, both those who fought and died, and those who loved them? This war challenged deeply my trust in our government, and by watching this timely documentary now, I learned even more about what I didn’t know about the war in Vietnam. This makes me wonder what else I don’t know about what is happening right now in our world.

“War, what a lousy way to settle politics. And the faces of the dead are all the same, just fucking kids!”   — Ernest Hemingway

Life in a very small town: La Veta Colorado

View of La Veta valley from highway

Entering La Veta Valley, September 30, 2014

I loved yesterday! It started out like so many of my great days… badly! Mike has been very ill so we had to cancel our anniversary trip. I was disappointed and a bit grumpy, but I had promised to go into La Veta to meet a new friend who only comes through occasionally, so I drove into town. We met at Mountain Head Pizza. There I had some tasty pizza, along with a great time talking and laughing about “family problems” with my friend. It turns out my new friend has a wry sense of humor and, guess what? Everybody has family problems… who knew? On the way out the door I ran into another new friend.

Then we took a walk around tiny town for a few errands.

La Veta Public Library

La Veta has the best public library! If they don’t have a movie, they get it for you from their extensive network of other small public libraries. That’s how I keep current on my movies. It’s free and I get to watch them in the comfort of my own home.

memoir of retirement 2016Speaking of libraries, I met my new friend when I was at a Christmas festival in La Veta last December, selling my new book. She came up and we started talking and before I knew it she bought a copy. Now whenever she comes down here, she looks me up. I love the person-to-person contact that comes from selling my books one-on-one to new friends, instead of through the “evil empire” Amazon. For one thing, it is so much more friendly and personal. And another, Amazon doesn’t take half of my profit! We have even had these new friends up to our solar home to show off our incredible views. I guess I’m trying to get them to think about moving here….

My new friend and her husband enjoyed my new memoir so much, they wanted to buy my other books, so we walked over to my car to get them. As luck would have it, there were two ladies sitting on a bench near us when I opened up the back of my Forester. They giggled and looked at us, so I said, “No, I’m not dealing drugs out of my car. It’s even better! I’m selling my ‘feel good’ books!” We got to talking to them about books, love and dating (because of my love book), and life in La Veta. They said it’s tough meeting good men here. The good ones are married. One older gentleman walked by, overheard us, and I think he was about to join in to disagree! They asked me to bring more of my books into town. They wanted to buy a few.

Octoberfest in La Veta and West Peak

I said goodbye to my new friend until she comes down here again, maybe for Octoberfest. That’s when they close down Main Street and everybody parties together. This will be our fifth one!

Next I went to see another friend I met through my exercise class. Such good people in La Veta, and it’s amazing how quickly you can recognize so many on Main Street. Sometimes you may be talking about someone and they will walk right by!

So glad I chose this quiet, slow and friendly lifestyle for my forever home & retirement.

To learn more about how we ended up here, living in a solar home in the Colorado outback, check out: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado…  

Also, please follow me on Twitter!

Back to reality, strange as it is…

everyone seems normal until youThis is your brain on drugs, prescription drugs… After a few days of very strange brain sensations and a few wild hallucinations (both visual and auditory!), I’m finally starting to feel ‘normal.’ I’ve been struggling with the extreme brain craziness of withdrawal from Paxil, which I really cannot recommend to anyone!

Interesting how doctors don’t tell you about this ahead of time. I couldn’t have imaged anything like this from simply stopping a pill…Post Script: 30 days later feeling much better, but I had to fire my doctor over this one.

IMGP6501

Then yesterday I went out into my garden and found the stupid deer or rabbits had chomped off two of the plants I’ve been carefully nurturing all summer. GRRRR… but my garden has mostly just been taken over by SUNFLOWERS EVERYWHERE! Funny how the deer don’t like them…

IMGP6505

We are experiencing the total invasion of three foot sunflowers everywhere here at the Navajo Ranch in southern Colorado!

Poppy field in Oz

Sometimes it feels just like that scene from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ where they find themselves surrounded by poppies!

I had so much FUN meeting a few new women at a friend’s party yesterday. Most of them live in La Veta, so I got an earful of stories and anecdotes about living there. I love La Veta, and I’m so glad it is nearby, but I have never wished that I live there.

IMGP6502

I figure if we came this far to get away from the noise, traffic, pollution, and problems of other people, why move in right next to them?

A Network of Grateful Living: Healing for all

IMGP6485

I hope the rest of you are familiar with “A Network for Grateful Living.” I discovered them through their wonderfully healing short video A Good Day, which offered me a whole new perspective on what a good day can be. I started watching this video ten years ago. This video has changed my life.

Here’s a short statement of how they see their present work:

“These are moments that call on us to harness the greatest courage and conviction that our hearts can muster. Holding fast to our connectedness, faith, creativity, values-clarity, and our tenacity to love more deeply than ever – this is the work of our times. 

Our work is to offer a wellspring of nourishment, support, and inspiration for you and this community; that we might collectively move through the moments of our days, and the days of our lives, uplifting and helping to heal ourselves, one another, and the world. Thank you for drinking from this well…”

IMGP6121

I personally cannot summarize my own work any better than that…

The pros and cons of antidepressants

paxil tabsA few months into our move here in 2014, I became very stressed. The uncertainty of this major adventure had overwhelmed me, so I started taking a low dose of Paxil. Surprisingly, my doctor told me nothing about the side effects and long-term problems that might occur. It took a new friend to finally inform me how detrimental that 10 mgs could be to my health. She said it can cause problems with weight gain and decreased libido.

Come to find out, it can do a LOT MORE!

paxil side effectsHere’s a list of possible side effects from Paxil: Weakness, Drowsiness, Dizziness, Nausea, Anxiety or nervousness, Dry mouth, Insomnia, Constipation or diarrhea, Increased sweating, Decreased libido, orgasmic inability or delay, Agitation or irritability, Restlessness, Impulsiveness, tremors, hyperactivity, Memory problems, Allergic reactions, Problems with balance or coordination, Confusion or Hallucinations and Racing or abnormal heart rate.

This did not include additional problems because of my history of brain injury.

Now I’m no idiot. I knew there would be side effects, but gaining back the weight I worked so hard to lose back in 2011, I wasn’t expecting.

I am now in the process of cutting my dose in half. I want out of SSRI dependency. But, of course, this isn’t simple either. It turns out Paxil is one of the most difficult SSRIs to get off of without major problems. Apparently this can effect my brain’s acetylcholine production. I have learned that I need to supplement my levels of choline, lecithin and other B vitamins to lessen the effects of Paxil withdrawal.

Luckily there are dietary changes that help:

“Lecithin and choline can be found in a wide variety of foods, but many of the richest sources are foods also high in cholesterol and fat. Egg yolks are one of the best dietary sources of lecithin/choline. Other excellent sources of dietary choline are beef steak, liver, organ meat, spinach, soybeans, cauliflower, wheat germ, peanuts, and brewer’s yeast.”

I’ll let you know how this process goes for me, but in the meantime, please give some thought to the prescription drugs you are presently taking. Are they helping enough to be worth their side effects? Inform yourself about what other problems they can cause.

Living in sunflower heaven!

Yes, I do see both sides. On the one hand, our country has some very serious problems, the main one being the nut we presently have in charge. But since I can do nothing today to change that, I choose to enjoy my present surroundings every moment of every day. Living here is a lesson in nature’s miracles!

IMGP6483

For example, the amazing look of Navajo Ranch this August!

IMGP6485

Suddenly there are millions of sunflowers everywhere!

IMGP6491

Yesterday, when the sun came up,

IMGP6489

I looked outside and the Spanish Peaks were looking like this!

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 the moment, which is NOT ABOUT YOU.

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