The Blood of Christ Mountain Range

IMGP7189There is nothing so essential as feeling life slowly drain out of your body…

IMGP7191to remind you what is truly important in this lifetime.

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Happy Gut, Happy Life!

I wish to share something I’ve been learning a lot about lately. I have been experiencing a bad and surprisingly virulent intestinal infection in the past few months. Through this I have learned BIG TIME that nearly everything about our health, for example, how we feel both physically and emotionally, hinges on the state of our microbiome or intestinal organisms. Since I started having intestinal distress, it has become quite clear to me that dysfunction in my gut causes much confusion in my brain.

gut brainMost have no idea that our intestinal organisms, or microbiome, participates in a wide variety of bodily systems, including immunity, detoxification, inflammation, neurotransmitter and vitamin production, nutrient absorption, feelings of hunger or fullness, and how we utilize carbohydrates and fat. All of these processes factor into whether you experience chronic health problems like allergies, asthma, ADHD, cancer, type 2 diabetes, or dementia.

Your microbiome also affects your mood, your libido,  your perceptions of the world and especially your clarity of thought. A dysfunctional microbiome can be at the root of headaches, anxiety, inability to concentrate, and even a negative outlook on life. Neurologists are now finding that no other system in the body is more sensitive to changes in gut bacteria than the central nervous system. The good news? They are now seeing dramatic turnarounds in brain-related conditions with simple dietary modifications or with techniques to reestablish a healthy microbiome.

Scientists are learning that this intimate relationship between the gut and the brain goes both ways, which means that just as your brain can send pain to your gut, your gut can relay its own state of calm or alarm to the brain.

vagus nerveThe vagus nerve, the longest of 12 cranial nerves, is the primary channel between millions of nerve cells in our intestinal nervous system and our central nervous system. The vagus extends from the brain stem to the abdomen, directing many bodily processes that don’t require thought, like heart rate and digestion. Bacteria in your gut directly affect the function of the cells along the vagus nerve, in other words, our gut’s nerve cells and microbes release neurotransmitters that speak to the brain in its own language.

We have so many neurons in our gut that many scientists are now calling this our “second brain.” This brain not only regulates muscle function, immune cells, but also manufactures an estimated 80 to 90 percent of the serotonin, our “feel-good” neurotransmitter. This means your gut’s brain makes more serotonin than the brain in your head.

This is why many neurologists and psychiatrists are now realizing antidepressants can be less effective in treating depression than proper dietary changes.

To this I can only say Live and Learn! It’s funny how we don’t learn about these interesting bodily connections until we notice them in ourselves! Take care of your gut and it will take care of you.

Ask the Expert: Mistakes in Dating after 40

Love imageOn the anniversary of when I first met Mike thirteen years ago, it seems we are celebrating the  “Super Bowl Sunday for Love.” Yes, according to  Match.com, after collecting over 20 years of data, tomorrow will bring a 42 percent increase in new singles to their site, thus maximizing your chances to find love again.

How to Believe in Love Again!I’ll bet you didn’t know that around half of single Americans have an online dating profile up somewhere. But for me, this brings up the biggest mistake most make when it comes to looking for and finding love later in life. If you have not dealt with your baggage from past relationships, if you have simply moved on after past romantic disasters, your luck at love will never change. Yes, you may find another victim to fall in love with. It may even feel wonderful for a year or two, but if deep inside you are filled with shame and doubt about yourself, no one else can decide to fix that but you.

If nothing changes within you from one relationship to another, than the results will be similar… and you know you don’t want that!

And if you are one of the millions who say, “Yeah, but people can’t change,” than I feel sorry for you. Because if you believe that, than it is true. One well-kept secret in our world today is that midlife is the perfect time to change your life. And when I say life, I mean everything about it!

No matter how miserable you may feel about your life up until now, if you are perfectly clear about wanting something completely different and are willing to commit to that goal, your life will change.

And in that process you will find the life you were meant to live, just as I did around age 50. If anyone had said to me, when I was in the worst of midlife slumps back in 2004: “Your life will change and in thirteen years you will be happily married, retired and living in a fantastic solar home in rural southern Colorado!” I probably would have slapped them and said “Get real!”

Believe in love in the sandsBut I have learned how to get past all the exterior nonsense and focus like a laser on what means the most to me in each moment of my life. I saw that I needed to find a way to believe I was worthy of genuine, lifelong love from a wonderful human being, and then I met him. Then I saw that I was worthy of a safe, comfortable, efficient place to live, and Mike and I manifested that dream recently.

My frustration is in how few people believe and achieve their most important life goals because they do not realize this is all within reach. When I discovered how much I could personally change myself and my fate, I wanted to share this knowledge with others, but most ignore me.

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Knowing and speaking our truth is the most powerful tool we all have!

It’s a brand new year and day! These books will help you think about the rest of your life. I would be happy to sell them to you as cheaply as I can, to prepare you for a much better existence. Find the love you have been searching for forever and the life you can love living.

At least get the last few decades of your life right…

 

A New Year, A New Photo Essay

View from our land

Retirement may suggest lifestyle change for some, but how many are willing to take on any real risks at age 60? Enter Mike and I, the quiet revolutionaries. Four years ago this month, we drove down to southern Colorado to purchase a few rural acres of pinon-juniper woodland west of Walsenburg.  Mike’s dream had always been to construct his own passive solar home with amazing mountain views. This was our chance to make that dream come true!

In June 2014 we packed up or got rid of most of our worldly goods, sold our nice  home in suburban Fort Collins, and took off to live in a 100-year-old rental home in Walsenburg, while constructing a new life twenty minutes west of there. Crowning ourselves the “NEW Old Farts,” I began sharing this retirement adventure with the world in October 2014.

Laura and Rasta the view 2014

Although my husband was a true believer from day one, this all felt like a gigantic leap-of-faith for me. With housing prices rising quickly in the metro areas of northern Colorado, I saw little chance of changing our minds later to return to the city if this didn’t work out. So I made myself believe in my relatively new husband’s vision, and you know what? He was right.

Three and a half years later, after too many doubts and incredible challenges to my idea of who I am and where I belong, I am now quite content in our country solar home looking out each morning at the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains. My days are filled with supreme quiet and astounding beauty. I have also found a few good friends, a yoga class I like, and all the books I wish to read and movies I wish to view through the La Veta Public Library.

snowy west peak with comanche home in foreground

The view from our new solar home!

I find my need for distractions has dwindled. No, I do not miss city shopping, traffic, stress, noise or air pollution. In fact going into a city of any size is now the perfect reminder that I made the right choice for me. I have finally learned the power of living in this present moment. With so much more available to me and few distractions, I now have the time, energy, and awareness to fully appreciate the world around me.

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Sunrise that occurred while writing this post…

We moved here for a number of reasons: To live close to nature, to try passive solar living, to build the kind of home we chose to live in for the rest of our lives, and to find a far more peaceful, healthy and less expensive lifestyle than cities could offer us. We have received so much more by choosing to live in this beautiful, quiet place where life is luxuriously slow and overflows with simple pleasures.

Would you like to know more about our adventures? Check out my new memoir!

Winter Solstice in the Colorado Foothills

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On December 21st, the winter solstice arrives, a magical time when the sun begins its gradual journey to return to us the delightful warmth of spring. At once, darkness invites us inward to seek and find sustenance in that eternal, luminous ember at our core, while beckoning us out into the night to enjoy our sparkling stars.

Predating Christianity, we humans have been doing battle with midwinter’s ominous gloom for centuries with solstice rituals of light and fire, celebrating the warmer, brighter days ahead. In Europe the ancient Yule festival survives even today, with the traditional Yule log, believed to frighten away evil spirits.

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What a wonderful time to rejuvenate your spirit by appreciating the miracle of our sun and seasons. Take time to contemplate your life.  Nothing happens without personal transformation. Could this be just the right time for your best self to start to shine through?  Is it time to rediscover the positive, creative being you are inside?  What do you love to do, but have denied yourself for ages?  Is it drawing, playing music, watercolors, writing, hiking, dancing?  Is it painting your surroundings in all your favorite colors?  Start focusing on what is dynamic and creative within. What needs to come out now?

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Start each day by asking yourself: “What do I want to happen today?” But this time ask for EXACTLY what you want!

May you know yourself at home in the whole of your life. May you know the vast and infinitesimal blessings of your life as a gift. And may you know and share yourself as a source of great LOVE.

Colorado Divide: Rural versus Urban

colorado-divide-logo1We had a pleasant visitor today, a reporter from the Denver Post who is putting together their final piece for a series on rural life across our state. Kevin Simpson came down to visit with us about why we came here, and did we find what we were looking for in choosing the La Veta – Walsenburg area for retirement.

Here’s what he came up with. I think he did a great job of LISTENING to those of us who chose to leave city life behind

Colorado Divide: Why some Coloradans are cashing out of the Front Range and seeking their rural happily-ever-after

Laura and Rasta the view 2014

And, of course, that got me thinking along the same lines. The answer for me is a resounding YES! What has surprised me the most is how much my own choices have changed me.

As most of you know, I’m almost certain I would have never had the courage to move to this area on my own. I can now see our move to Walsenburg three and a half years ago was nothing short of traumatic for me. At first it felt like I was getting lots of tough things to adjust to with few upgrades in my lifestyle. In other words, I was very short-sighted. I have always wanted to be a go-with-the-flow type, but I’m not.

leap_of_faith blog sizeIt took me over a year and a brand new solar home to decide that I had made the right choice. Only after moving in and living here for a while did I fully appreciate an amazing new lifestyle for myself. And, there’s the rub. I had to take what felt like a gigantic leap of faith to find out how I would feel after I had lived here for a while. Some said rent for a year or two before committing to a new place, but that would not have worked for us. Decent rentals are extremely hard to find here, and living in your own solar home in the foothills outside of town is certainly not the same experience as living in a 100-year-old miner’s home in Walsenburg.

In this process I learned how much I love living close to nature and in silence. Overall I would say the BEST part of living here for me is the silence and lack of daily stress. My newfound ability to live completely in the moment has been a great and wonderful surprise!  OK, so I am a contemplative person, but as we age these things become so much more important to us.

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“…we all know how this ends, so rushing through life is senseless.  As our inner life grows ever more luminous, the chatter of the speed-and-greed world slowly fades, leaving us with greater peace, tranquility, quiet and contentment.”                                        —  Arthur Rosenfeld