Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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The past two weeks have been filled with disappointment, anger and misery for me. First I learned that the main distributor of my books is ripping me off, then I learned how desperate our president is to remove our access to affordable health care, and then I got really sick. It seems “the system” can get you wherever you are, and my bad times seem to always come in threes.

I’ve written enough about the Amazon situation, and my printer informs me that it “appears to be under investigation by Amazon.” Please just work through me to purchase my books and leave them out of the equation!

medical factOn the access to affordable health care front, I need to say that Obama’s plan has been lifesaving for us. Since neither one of us is fit for employment, and we aren’t yet 65, we have found a plan in the past few years that at least tries to keep our premiums at a reasonable rate. We are limping along until age 65. Now we have to wonder why our government is acting so hateful towards a couple of elder Americans who have worked hard all our lives, and just need a little bit of help to make it into Medicare. Mike’s problems are most certainly related to his nine years in the Navy, but (of course) the Navy kept no records of his exposure to a number of toxic chemicals and radiation. No records equals no VA assistance. It’s a long story. You don’t want to hear it…

c. difficile bacteriaMe, I just struggle to breathe (COPD). Then last week I caught a really NASTY bug. I knew within days that this wasn’t just your standard food poisoning. It felt much more virulent and toxic. Come to find out it was C Diff. Stay away from this one, although you really can’t because it’s everywhere! This disease has pretty much controlled my life for the past 12 days. I guess my immune system isn’t as strong as it used to be.

 The Hero Sam ElliottIsn’t it strange but interesting how severe illness can make you think? For some reason lying in bed feeling crappy makes me think a lot about my life. Then I watched a fascinating movie on this topic. “The Hero” is the thinking person’s film about facing your own death. Sam Elliott plays a 70+ actor who receives a terminal diagnosis. The entire film is about how he deals with it. I love Sam Elliott and his willingness to tackle tough topics in a realistic way! One critic called this film “cinematic zen.” I agree.

None of us get out of this alive! I have decided to get comfortable with that fact sooner rather than later.

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Why write?

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

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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. Soon after I realized it was up to me to wield my own power in transforming myself and my life, I quickly moved from chaos and crisis, discovering an amazing array of new opportunities, not previously identified.    My books are a summary of how I changed everything in my world.

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.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.

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!”

“We read to know we are not alone.”  —  C. S. Lewis

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 have made a real difference in your world?

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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

Teach kids how to connect with Mother Earth!

“A garden symbolizes what a faith community is, connections, caring for the planet and caring for life in urban areas where people don’t have the opportunity to grow food or be in nature.”      — Claire Baglien

The Benefits of Starting a School Garden Program 

By Abby Quillen

“A garden is a grand teacher,” horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll wrote. School administrators obviously agree because the nation is in the midst of a school gardening boom. The number of school gardens nearly doubled between 2013 and 2015. More than 7,000 American schools now have a garden.

Most teachers start a school garden program in elementary schools, and grow flowers or veggies. Some include unique features, such as chickens, orchards, and aquaponics systems (where students raise fish and use the fishes’ waste to feed plants). Teachers use gardening activities to teach nearly every discipline, including health, nutrition, science, math, environmental studies, language arts, art, and social studies. Students in one California school sow native plants to learn what the state looked like prior to European settlement. In other schools, kids test soil composition, learn about food chains and ecosystems, measure plants as they grow, calculate the perimeter and area of garden beds, and keep gardening journals.

Researchers examining how gardening impacts students have found that school gardens–sometimes called “living classrooms”–cultivate more than just plants. Students who participate in school gardens are on average more engaged in what they’re learning, boast higher science test scores, and eat more fruits and vegetables than their non-gardening peers.

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Cultivating Young Minds

Teachers who integrate gardening into lessons say it is a powerful, hands-on learning tool that engages kids better than typical classroom instruction. Quantitative data supports these observations. Middle schoolers who took part in the Edible Schoolyard Project at a large urban California school improved both their overall GPAs and their math and science grades.

In a review of 12 studies, students who gardened performed better on standardized science tests than their non-gardening peers in all 12 studies. Fifth-grade gardeners in one study scored nearly 15 percent higher on the standardized science test than a control group. REAL School Gardens, an organization that builds gardens for low-income schools, says students at their partner schools improve 12 to 15 percent on standardized tests after gardening is integrated into school curricula.

Fertilizing Social and Emotional Development

Caring for plants together and waiting for them to grow also teaches kids about cooperation, responsibility, patience, and delayed gratification. In a study of a year-long garden program for third, fourth, and fifth graders, students improved teamwork skills and markers of self-understanding, a term used to describe a person’s ability to comprehend his or her own actions. Nature-based activities, including gardening, also help kids relieve stress, improve attention spans, and ease symptoms of ADHD.

Most kids love learning in the garden. In an evaluation of seven qualitative school garden studies, the majority of kids in every study said they enjoyed gardening at school. Elementary–aged students in one survey reported feeling “happy, relaxed, calm, and safe” while working in their school garden. And it’s not just students who benefit emotionally and socially from school gardens; teachers who are trained to do garden activities with their students report higher morale and job satisfaction.

Planting Healthy Lifestyles and Environmental Consciousness

Learning to garden as a kid can shape life-long habits. School gardens can improve children’s eating habits, at least in the short term. In an analysis of studies on the subject, researchers concluded “gardening increased vegetable consumption in children, whereas the impacts of nutrition education programs were marginal or nonsignificant.” Advocates hope the healthier food preferences inspired by school gardens will last into adulthood and help curb the current obesity trends. In the past three decades, childhood obesity has more than doubled, and 42 percent of Americans are expected to be obese by 2030.

Gardening may also inspire an increasingly urban population–81.5 percent of American kids live in urban areas–to take care of the environment. Many kids put their hands in dirt and relate with the natural world for the first time in school gardens. A number of studies show kids who participate in nature-based activities in elementary school are more likely to have an affinity for nature as adults.

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught.”  — Baba Dioum 

Conclusion

Not all school gardens flourish. They require time, support, and hard work. And they have the most impact when teachers are extensively trained in gardening curricula. That said, research suggests the effort is worthwhile. When school gardens thrive, they have the potential to nourish academic learning, social skills, healthy lifestyles, and environmental consciousness.

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BEAUTY is the GARDEN where HOPE GROWS!

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.

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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…

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

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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.

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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

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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…”

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

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!

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

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Suddenly there are millions of sunflowers everywhere!

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Yesterday, when the sun came up,

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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.

So many sources of STRESS, and our responses

charlottesville-riot August 12 2017Everyone who hasn’t felt any stress this past week, please raise your hand. To avoid stress you would first have to totally avoid all news sources. We have had a virtual smorgasbord of hate and violence both nationally and internationally this week. Take your pick.

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For some this can lead to difficulties sleeping, like Carol Cassara. She says, Can’t sleep? Don’t want to pop a pill? This super easy remedy works every time for Carol Cassara over at Heart Mind Soul.

wake me in 2020For others, like Meryl Baer, it can lead to thoughts about our next election: Politics and the Presidency is everywhere these days. Speculation has already begun about who the 2020 candidates might be. Will the current President be the standard bearer? If not, who will be the Republican nominee? What about the Democrats? Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting throws in her two cents on the topic in Countdown to the 2020 Presidential election.

Boomer Blogger Tom Sightings has been plenty busy lately, what with moving into a new home in a new state. He has found his new friends to be curious — and a little puzzled — about his blogging efforts. So in an effort to explain the compulsion to send out random thoughts into the Internet, he offers the Top 10 reasons for blogging in his article  Why Do We Blog?  Read on for a few more reasons offered by readers in the comment section of the post.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, is helping people reduce stress by offering back-to-school shopping tips. See Robison’s suggestions on what not to buy early and what shoppers need to know about outlet malls.

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As you must all know by now, my solution is avoidance, partially because of a few difficult health issues. I’m not particularly proud of my attempts at escapism, but I think I earned some time off. I spend my time enjoying photography, reading, movie watching, gardening, yoga, visits to town for fun festivals, friends coming by to visit, and that funny skunk weed, recently made legal here.

My goal? To continue to find new ways to enjoy the beauty and majestic splendor of life. To assist me in this effort, Mike bought me the ultimate nature-watching gift this week…

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One picture is worth a thousand words, right Rasta?