Great Quotes From James Baldwin

If you’re like me, perhaps you read books by James Baldwin in college. Do you remember “Go Tell It On The Mountain” or “Nobody Knows My Name”? My Dad challenged me the other day by reading me a quote from him:

James Baldwin“It is nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.”                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                    James was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic who lived from 1924 to 1987. His essays explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America.

When I went in search of other information on James Baldwin, I found some wonderful quotes that spoke to me, some especially under our present circumstances in the USA today. Here’s a sampling:

Books Jame Baldwin

This is exactly why I wrote books about midlife confusion, and finding LOVE again!

Love by James Baldwin

Powerful and absolutely true if you want one other human being to truly know you!

 

creativity and James Baldwin

Precisely why I write!

ignorance and power James Baldwin

This of course reminds me of you know who, our present Liar-in-Chief…

And finally, for those who still feel “America, Love it or Leave it!”:

love America James Baldwin

When did I lose contact with my 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)

Writing Skills: Short and to the Point!

writing-penHere’s a new take on developing your writing skills. I LOVE the way Kim Tackett decided to write 35 word (very) short stories. Go check out a few and then try writing one for your brain challenge of the day! I tried to do this yesterday and found it quite revealing!

Since I was ill for over a month, I spent some time thinking about why I feel guilty so much of the time. Even when I’m ill with bronchitis, I feel like a lazy bum laying around. I guess I got some SERIOUS brain washing growing up, about being “productive” everyday!

So I wrote:

How does guilt live so long?

From my baby days, and yet still alive and well today, surprising me — stealing my freedom and joy.

Away with all guilt. I’ll go far beyond your influence now!

Oh, if only my 34 words could make it so…

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’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)

 

Arrival: The pros and cons of seeing your future

One consequence of moving to a rural part of Colorado is the delays in seeing the latest movies. This has been a bit difficult for me, because I am a great fan of cinema! I admit my favorite aspect of going out to see a movie is to lose my present self in someone else’s life. I love the “fly on the wall” aspect of experiencing someone else’s reality, but in this case I felt like the canary in the cage. Funny, with my lifelong breathing difficulties, I have often compared myself to the canary in the mine in the numerous polluted situations I have found myself in.

amy-adams-in-arrivalLong story short, we finally had a chance to see Arrival last night, a quite cerebral approach to alien invasion. Number one I LOVED that the scientist, the linguist with all the answers, was played by a woman, and specifically by Amy Adams. I think it’s about time women played the smartest person in the room, and I’m also happy Ms. Adams finally got a demanding and serious role to play.

One of the points of this film seemed to be the greatly undervalued communication tool of emotions. By having a wise woman play the great communicator, I felt that intuitive wisdom as well as intellectual power were brought to center stage. This is a position I have fought for since way back when I hoped to become a college professor in the 1970s. I found universities so limiting in terms of valuing the whole person or professor. This is one of the primary reasons I gave up on that goal.

But the real point of this film is the simple question:

purple-rainbows

If you could see your future, with all of its phenomenal beauty and raw tragedy, would you still choose it?

This question brings up all sorts of interesting life contradictions. If I had seen my future in the past and tried to change one part, would the other parts have stayed the same? In fact, as I age I see almost every aspect of my life in terms of contradictions. If I choose this, what happens to that?

wooden-bridge-small

Choosing to leave behind the lifestyle I had lived for most of my life a few years ago, was a very difficult decision for me. When you choose something life changing you are almost always crossing a bridge you cannot go back across. This filled me with anxiety. But the true contradiction is that you can never know what will come of this difficult choice, unless you choose something different and then see how it goes.

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’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)

Maya Angelou & Her Powerful Words

maya-angelou-and-still-i-rise-pbs

“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. That in fact it may be necessary to encounter defeat, so we can know who the hell we are. What can we overcome? What makes us stumble and fall, and somehow miraculously rise and go on?”

I hope many of you were able to enjoy the PBS Special: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise this week. If not, go enjoy it now.

I loved every minute of it as a historian, a writer and an American. I learned so much about black history, struggling writers, and our own history as a horribly racist country. I had heard much of her poetry from her later years, but did not know her life’s story as a dancer, singer, civil rights leader, etc. I also had no idea she was six foot tall! I believe I first heard about her through watching Oprah. Talk about an intelligent woman with an AMAZING way with words! She truly understood the POWER OF WORDS.

how-important-you-areThe small piece I would like to focus on here was from an experience Ms. Angelou had with a few young men who were speaking threateningly to her once in her life. She turned to them and said: “When was the last time someone told you how important you are?” These words stopped the youngsters in their tracks, and made me sit up straight and ask myself the same question.

Ms. Angelou’s point was to educate these kids to their own family history. She said something like, “Do you ever think about what your ancestors had to go through to bring you to this place and time? How are you honoring their struggles?”

How rare is it that we honor our ancestors’ struggles? How often do we tell those who make our lives worthwhile exactly how important they are? The world is full of people who need to feel appreciated, and yes even important.

Tell them now.

Boomer Blogs: The Modern Version of a Friendly Fireside Chat

blog-pictureAfter contemplating this topic for a few weeks, I concluded that blogs, at least boomer blogs, have nothing to do with vanity. I see them now as a modern campfire where we gather together to share our own views on our present place in life.

We come here to share our life stories and what we are learning as we age. Here we bring like-minded folks together to validate each others’ experience of life itself, regardless of where we live or who shares our life with us.

Today I would like to share with you a few great ideas from my blogging friends on self soothing!

peony-prettyLet’s start out with a couple suggestions from writer Carol Cassara. Carol thinks flowers are a wonderful way to settle your soul. One of her favorites is peonies. Feasting your eyes on these beautiful peonies brings her peace.  But if flowers aren’t your thing, how about some cloud meditations? When something upsets you and your mind begins to spin out of control, why not try clouds!

A new expression I have learned from my blogging buddies is la pura vida. So what is that anyway? According to “Best Costa Rican Tours”, pura vida (pronounced POO-rah VEE-dah) and meaning “Pure Life” in English, actually means: no matter what your current circumstances, life for someone else is far less fortunate. So consider that perhaps your situation isn’t all that bad. No matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together and life is short. This way of seeing your life seems particularly appropriate to us Americans, who complain constantly while living lives most would define as living like kings and queens!

peaceful-waterfallsThis past week Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting took a vacation to Costa Rica. There she experienced la pura vida first hand as the calm lifestyle of Costa Rican natives, and loved it! No constant political stress, no cellphone ringing, touring at a leisurely pace, and no meetings or other commitments. She knows this feeling will not last, but while it does it provides one with some much needed nourishment to body and soul. Read about her slow-style adventure in Pursuing La Pura Vida in the Place of Turtles.

Another way to lower overall stress is communicating well with others. On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer specialist, writes this week about how being assertive can help you be happier. Learning how to positively tell people what you’re thinking and what you need improves communications, including when you have a consumer complaint.

Shoot, it seems like everyone is on vacation but me! In his constant search for the perfect retirement place, Tom Sightings is snowbirding in Charleston, SC, for the month of February. In City by the Bay Tom takes us on a tour of historical Fort Sumter, as well as some of the charms of modern-day Charleston.

mandala-head-chakra-photo

Since I’ve been far too ill in the past couple months to go on vacation, and our new solar home in southern Colorado still feels like a luxury vacation home to me, I decided to share with you a few activities that soothe my sometimes troubled mind, and help me stay in the present. Enjoy your life! None of us get out of this alive…

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter and let me know if you would like to add your boomer blog to this carnival!

 

Ways to soothe your busy mind

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My winter worldview!

When I look out over this crazy world, something I try not to do very often anymore… I see a world full of “busy sickness.” Yes, I understand, the world is full of problems (Perhaps the understatement of the year!) It can be extremely demanding. That’s why it is even more important that you find ways to soothe your mind and soul as often as possible. I have taken it upon myself to find ways to soothe my mind for a number of reasons.

cool-brain-photoI had one of the busiest minds until a couple brain injuries helped to slow me down. Not to be recommended, but they definitely make you relax because you have to. My injuries also made me crave new ways to soothe my brain.

After our solar home was finally finished in 2015, I found more time to experiment with brain soothing methods. Finding the right music is the BEST! Staring out at the mountains while listening to soothing tunes is a great escape from too much busy mind. Try VeniceClassicRadio.eu sometime for hours of great classical music with Italiano mixed in occasionally!

purple-and-yellow-mandala

Another great pastime is coloring. I got lost in coloring my first winter here. It almost became obsessive before I injured my right arm, so I had to cut way back. And what did I color? Mandalas of course!

mandala-head-chakra-photo

Recently Mike showed me a new way to enjoy the wonder of mandalas. Did you know that they represent the universe in the Hindu and Buddhist worldview? How cool is that? In psychoanalysis they have become a symbol of the universal search for completeness and self-unity. Such amazing meditation focal points!

I love watching this video when I first wake up, and wonder if it wouldn’t be the perfect solution to our busy minds as we age. I can see it being quite popular in hospitals and nursing homes!

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