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)

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!

In Praise of Natural Sounds and Night Skies

“The joy of listening to the quiet symphony of nature and the wonderment of seeing the Milky Way stretching overhead are unique experiences that can still be found in many of our national parks.”   — Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, NPS

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I was so pleased to discover this week that our National Park Service maintains a Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. These are a few of the joys I have discovered and begun to fully appreciate only by moving away from cities. By living rural I can finally hear the great animal orchestra composed by nature, and look up to find some of the last remaining harbors of natural darkness in our country.

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Now that I know, I wish to preserve and provide opportunities for everyone to experience this critical resource.

To learn more, go view this CBS video: Recording the Sounds of Nature’s Quietest Places

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.”

The Supreme Freedom of Retirement

Retirement hasn’t been at all like I pictured it. In fact, I never even pictured it until I met Mike thirteen years ago. The fact is, I couldn’t afford it back then, instead I was quite busy looking for a new job at age 49.

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At that time, good fortune visited me big time! I decided I needed to change careers, and Mike decided he wanted to support me in this new endeavor. Thus emerged my “Midlife Crisis Queen” blog (now defunct) and my three books about the challenges and rewards of changing everything in midlife.

Then Mike and I moved to rural Colorado in 2014, which required some major mental adjustments (at least for me) and we worked full-time to produce a passive solar home in a little over one year. It was only after that major life achievement that we began to officially “retire.”

retirement living for yourself

Now, a couple years later, I recently realized that retirement may be my first chance to observe my true nature. For the first time in my life nobody is telling me what to do, no parents, no boss, no need to be nice to make money, no need to prove myself to anyone. Basically no pressure and very little stress of any kind.

For the first time I get to decide how much self-discipline I want to have. At first we both had very little. We were both so exhausted from over a year of home building. Mike and I both felt numb. We loved to sit and look at our view and just feel glad to be alive.

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The meaning of life is having a spectacular view…

But after a while, you begin to wonder who you are beyond all the rules and self-discipline that has filled your life up until now. Do you like who you really are? Do you enjoy hanging out with yourself and your significant other?

How will you fill your life now? These are the kinds of questions that keep some from ever retiring. They may be afraid of what they might become with no rules or structure. I enjoy this phase of life so much more than I ever imagined! I love the lack of rules or structure to my days.

Mike at home

I don’t need very much to give my life meaning, because my meaning is in the enjoyment of each day.

I appreciate the fact that I have a better life than just about anyone else on planet earth right now, and I’m going to enjoy the hell out of that until I draw my last breathe…

forget the past and failures

I’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado. After two years I compiled a short diary of our ups and downs as we moved 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)