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.
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.
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…
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!
Please feel free to contact me directly for your own signed copy: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com
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!
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
As the sun rises each day over the Spanish Peaks…
the birds gather out on our feeder to have a quick bird seed meal…
and 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