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!

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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!

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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

The Lives of Frontier Women (and me)

I’ve been thinking about a number of things lately. Confrontations with your own mortality can do that to a person. Questions arise like how proud am I of myself and my life thus far, regardless of what anyone else thinks? Yes, I know, I can be a bit cerebral at times.

Then I heard a truly thought-provoking quote that made me laugh out loud the other night. The story was about how so many Americans came out to the western frontier in the late 1800s either because they were “trying to lose themselves,” as in avoiding Civil War conscription, “or to find themselves.” This cracked me up! It hit the nail on the head in terms of why I moved out of the city and chose to retire in rural southern Colorado.

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I should probably preface this with my eternal fascination with frontier life. For as far back as I can remember I played “pioneer woman” on the playgrounds of my elementary schools in Kansas. I loved watching TV shows like Rawhide, and any movie about frontier life. I grew up on the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and when I got older I loved reading the journals of women who came out west in covered wagons.

When I started my writing career, I published a few magazine articles about how many came out West simply to escape tuberculosis in the cities back East. Most don’t know that TB was the leading cause of death in the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before penicillin was discovered in the late 1920s. Many came in hopes of a change in fortunes too, like discovering silver or gold and getting rich quick.

I realized just this morning I came to rural Colorado to both lose my old Self or identity, and find out all the other people I might be. I know now how influenced we are by others as children and young adults. It’s almost impossible not to be. But the re-birth which often happens later in life is the shedding of old personas, the letting go of all those voices inside that want to tell you who you really are.

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I’m the youngest one here!

This is the process of getting back to that vulnerable child you were when you were young and impressionable. It feels sometimes like getting back to your original soul and appreciating it for the first time, a spiritual downsizing from the burdens of our past…

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What a glorious discovery this can be!

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

Are blogs a new form of vanity press?

What a resounding response to my last question about who reads your blog, and all agreed too!

Come to find out I am not alone in observing that my pre-blog friends and family don’t read my blog posts much, but others whom I’m not even familiar with, find it interesting. Even people in over 75 other countries come here, I assume to check out rural living in the USA.

I suppose most people see blogs as a new kind of vanity press. I can see their point. Who cares about me and my life? But there are also over 18,000 visitors who have made over 40,000 views here. Who are they?

I’m sure some are simply nosy about the lives of others. Some may hope to someday move to a rural area and build a solar home. I’d sure LOVE to hear from any of you!

memoir-of-retirement-2016-largeThe reason I started this blog three years ago, and the reason I put together my new book was to document our experience in leaving suburbia for a quieter, more economical, rural experience in sunny southern Colorado. I have always had very good reasons for writing my books. Of course I also just enjoy writing. I find it helps me with my recent brain injury.

 

My thought process and intent:

We are doing something very different for us. After living in or near cities all of our lives, we are going rural. I wonder if others are thinking about doing something similar? Perhaps they might enjoy reading about one couples’ authentic experience. Perhaps they would like to know more about designing a home around passive solar heating. Maybe they would like to know how well passive solar heating can work. Reading about the experience of another might encourage others or convince them not to take such risks so late in life. Either way they could benefit from our experience.

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We are so glad we took on all the risk and uncertainty, however if you asked me three years ago I might not have agreed. But now I can highly recommend leaving city life behind for the quiet, wildlife watching and pure beauty of living close to nature.

If you never take a risk, you will never know for certain how well it can work out! That’s our best lesson from our own retirement experience…

P.S. For whatever reasons you find to come here and read, THANKS!

To purchase your own signed copies of any of my books, or if you have other questions, please e-mail me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com.

Please follow me on Twitter too!

Now for a discussion of mortality…

When you suddenly stare the possibility of cancer squarely in the face, it changes you. No big surprise, everybody dies, but it may be you this time.

Everything looks different. Those commercials for losing weight or cures for what seem like silly, non-threatening illnesses are just plain ridiculous. The worries of just about anybody else in the world seem so trivial. The subjects others write about seem trite and silly.

I pride myself in being realistic about my own death. I know none of us get out of this alive, and I have tried to get more comfortable with that fact. But when it becomes more real. When you look down at your body and seriously think about from dust to dust. When you stare over the abyss of nothingness, that’s enough to make just about anyone uncomfortable.

“What things would I give away? Would I want an obituary in the newspaper? How would my husband and dog handle it? (I’m pretty sure my cat would barely notice…) Should I tell friends and family now or wait? Who should I tell? People from my past? Who even cares?

Yes, I have had a couple close calls with death in my 61 years, but at the time I was either unconscious (bike accident, traumatic brain injury) or had absolutely no control over the situation (plane malfunction). In the plane over Tokyo Bay, my life did flash before me, but I was only 20. I didn’t have a lot to flash. I remember looking around myself and thinking, “Gee, I’m going to die with all these people I don’t even know.”

In the week or so after my cat scan and before I heard my lung nodules are not too scary, my life also flashed before me, but in slow motion. My conclusion is that I have led a difficult life, partially because of the choices I have made. I chose not to marry and have kids. I’ve spent most of my life on my own terms. It took a midlife crisis (at 49) for me to decide to try something different, trusting others.

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All of the best experiences in my life have flown from that change, marriage to a loyal, loving partner, more security than I’ve ever known, a great puppy and a new rural lifestyle in an amazing solar home. I want more of these experiences before I die..

My hat is off to all cancer survivors more so than ever before. To my Mom and Jan and all of you who have stared a bad diagnosis, surgery, and death in the face and survived the trauma of it all. This is something you never forget. This is life.

Life in the Colorado outback…

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As the sun rises each day over the Spanish Peaks…

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the birds gather out on our feeder to have a quick bird seed meal…

imgp5741and a drink, if the water isn’t frozen.

Did you ever notice?

“The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” – W.B. YEATS

 

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“There’s something beautiful about quiet and peace. There’s something beautiful about not trying to do anything, but simply, in some way, your heart joining the whole world. There’s a time in life when we should be running around doing things. We should go out dancing; there’s a time in life for that. There’s a time in life for building something up in this world, a family, an institution, a business, a creative life; there’s a time for that.

There’s also a time for becoming quiet, a time for slow conversations with people that we love, and a time for reflecting on all the things that we’ve seen in many years of living. When the time for those things comes, it’s beautiful. It’s not a terrible thing, it’s sweet. There’s also a time for letting go of our life, not “Damn, somebody’s snatching this away from me,” but “Yes, it’s beautiful to exhale after you inhale.” At the right time, when the chest is full, breathe out and let go.”     – Norman Fischer, “Suffering Opens the Real Path”

Falling In Love at 49

To celebrate the 12th anniversary of the day Mike and I met, I decided to run this wildly popular post from my now defuncted “Midlife Crisis Queen” blog.               This is one of the first posts I wrote after starting my first blog in 2007:

“Love is lovelier, the second time around.  Just as wonderful, with both feet on the ground…”    — Sammy Cahn

And so it is. Falling in love later can be quite the challenge, but when it does happen, it feels just like a miracle! To me it felt like winning the lottery, and in a way it was! When I think back to all the reasons why Mike and I should not have met, it boggles my mind that we did. Although we only lived ten miles apart, without the Internet we most certainly wouldn’t have met.

Our backgrounds were very different, and we shared no social networks. I was also getting plenty gun shy from meeting new men online. The men kept vaporizing after our first date! Yes, I was beginning to feel mighty hopeless.

Then there was the fact that we didn’t really match up on paper. I came from a background with an emphasis on academics, and Mike went to the Navy instead of college. His specialty is mechanics and electronics, mine is counseling, research and writing. but what we had in common turned out to be much more important!

Mike and I immediately found a cameraderie of spirit which I have never found in another human being. We both realized later that we had been seeking to connect with others in this way for most of our lives, but had somehow missed until the day we met.

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From the very beginning our souls spoke to each other in a unique and unusual way, a spontaneous familiarity, a synchronicity of body, mind and heart. And even more amazing, we both realized and appreciated that fact immediately. No backing away from it, no denying it. We both decided to trust our inner wisdom and simply go with it.

We spoke for ten hours on our first date, and took a short trip together less than two weeks after we met, which all reminds me of that great line at the end of one of my favorite romantic comedies:

“When you finally meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible!” – ‘When Harry Met Sally.’

We both had been through so much, and so we recognized immediately when something unique and wonderful fell into our laps. I also learned about a key component of compatibility that I had never thought about before. Besides the usual requirements, the deal breakers, etc., I learned how important it is that your partner process information at the same rate. Mike and I think at the same rate, and often come to the same conclusions simultaneously. This is quite a gift in a long term relationship!

My own theory of love and attraction came through loud and clear when I first met Mike, that is you get what you are in love. As much as you have worked on developing into your best self, that is the kind of person you will attract to yourself.

So keep working on self-love and self-respect, feel daily gratitude for the life you now have, and read good blogs and books like my own:  How to believe in love again.  Never give up on love if that’s what you want!

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My favorite poet Marge Piercy said it best:

“Love is plunging into darkness toward a place that may exist.”

Air Pollution, Dementia and City Life

brain-cogsMore than 50 million people around the world live with dementia, but the causes of this disease that robs us of our memories and brain power, are not well understood. We received some bad news on this topic this week. As many as 11% of dementia cases in people living within 50 meters of a major road could be caused by pollution and/or traffic noise, a new study suggests. The researchers, who followed nearly 2 million people in Canada over eleven years, say air pollution or noisy traffic could be contributing to the brain’s decline.

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This study, published in the Lancet, followed nearly two million people in the Canadian province of Ontario, between 2001 and 2012. There were 243,611 cases of dementia diagnosed during that time, but the risk was greatest in those living closest to major roads.

Compared with those living more than 300 meters away from a major road, the risk was 7% higher within 50 meters, 4% higher between 50-100 meters and 2% higher for those within 200 meters. Researchers adjusted their data to account for other risk factors like poverty, obesity, education levels and smoking so these are unlikely to explain the link.

Pollution particles ‘get into brain’

Dr Hong Chen, from Public Health Ontario, one of the report authors, said:

“Increasing population growth and urbanization have placed many people close to heavy traffic, and with widespread exposure to traffic and growing rates of dementia, even a modest effect from near-road exposure could pose a large public health burden…More research to understand this link is needed, particularly into the effects of different aspects of traffic, such as air pollutants and noise.” 

Add to this the fact that dementia is quickly becoming the leading cause of death, and it becomes harder to deny that living in polluted cities is killing us.

Many studies have focused on the impact of dirty air on the lungs and heart. In early 2016 the World Health Organisation warned that air pollution was leading to as many as three million premature deaths every year. Now, tiny particles of pollution have been discovered inside samples of brain tissue, providing the first evidence that minute particles of what is called magnetite from air pollution, find their way into our brains.

My initial response to this new research is dah! When I first heard about my own serious case of COPD last month, I said to the doctor, “Yes, I’ve had bronchitis in some of the most interesting places.” (Bangkok, Taipei, China, Venice…)

Asia is particularly dirty and I have spent far too much time living there. And Europe isn’t much better, but realistically, most of us breathe polluted air all of the time and somehow believe it isn’t affecting our health. Surprise! It all catches up with you sooner or later.

For decades I have had a personal appreciation of the American Lung Association’s tag line:   “When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters…”