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.

IMGP7091

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!

Advertisements

COPD – The Silent Epidemic

COPD affects an estimated 30 million Americans, and over half of them have symptoms but do not know it…

So, why am I writing about something so depressing right after Thanksgiving? Because Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) killed over 150,000 Americans last year. It’s the third largest killer in our country after heart disease and cancer. Over 16 million of us have been diagnosed with this irreversible disease with no cure, and another 10-15 million will develop it without knowing it. Early screening can identify COPD before major loss of lung function occurs.

What are the risk factors and common causes of COPD?

Most cases of COPD are caused by inhaling pollutants including smoking (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, etc.), and second-hand smoke. Fumes, chemicals and dust found in many work environments are contributing factors for those who develop COPD.  Genetics can also play a role in the development of COPD—even if you have never smoked or been exposed to strong lung irritants in the workplace. Another major factor is simply the air we breathe.

“It is enough to be grateful for the next breath.” ~ Br. David Steindl-Rast

I learned that I have COPD last winter after noticing how much of a struggle it was to breathe properly at 7,000 feet elevation. I had had no symptoms living at 5,000 feet for decades. I never smoked cigarettes and exercised regularly, but I still had bronchitis many, many times in my life. Cat scans also found nodules in my lungs, which can be a precursor to a lung cancer. The good news? My increased awareness and monitoring of my lung problems.

Go watch this excellent piece that appeared on CBS Sunday Morning this week to learn more about how COPD can be helped in pulmonary rehabilitation centers. Unfortunately, COPD has a big image problem, one that is keeping it from receiving needed government funding for research.

As you might guess, I have learned so much about this common killer, one that will only get more common as air quality declines. The first thing I learned is something that Senior Contributor Ted Koppel’s wife, Grace Anne Dorney Koppel also talks about in the above CBS piece. COPD can be seen as a “it’s your own damn fault” disease.

lung association

So now, when I tell others that I have COPD and they invariably ask me, “Did you smoke?” I respond with, “No, but I did breathe!”

To quote Grace Koppel, “Disease is blame free.”

 

Marijuana as Medicine in Southern Colorado

I have to admire Alexis Bortell, a 12-year-old girl who is spearheading a campaign to legalize medical marijuana across our country. She and her family had no choice but to move from Texas to Colorado to find adequate treatment for her severe epilepsy. Now, her family and a handful of others are suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), demanding “cannabis for the treatment of their illnesses, diseases and medical conditions.” Ever since Alexis began her cannabis treatment, she has been seizure-free for 974 days.

IMGP6902

Living west of Walsenburg Colorado, 50 miles from the New Mexico border for over three years now, I have met a number of parents who have found it necessary to move here just to get adequate treatment for their children. These people had to leave behind good jobs and perhaps even their health insurance to find ways to keep their children alive and healthy.

It has been interesting to observe the combination of citizens here who support the availability of cannabis for medical purposes, versus those whom we now call “CAVES”: “Citizens Against Virtually Everything.”

The most exciting development for Huerfano County, our “orphan” county with around 6,000 souls, has been in the tiny town of La Veta Colorado.  WEED, Inc. announced in July, that it recently acquired Sangre AT, LLC (dba “Sangre AgroTech”), with plans to open a Sangre Bioscience Center, investing over $1,000,000 in Colorado Medicinal Cannabis Industry.

Sangre AgroTech then chose La Veta for their new research facility whose mission is:   “To create a genomics-based Cannabis breeding program that will produce new, genetically-enhanced strains of Cannabis which express the desired plant characteristics for the treatment of disease…”

“At Sangre AgroTech, we are focused on the development and application of cannabis-derived compounds for the treatment of human disease. Targeting cannabis-derived molecules which stimulate the endocannabinoid system, we are developing the required scientifically-valid and evidence-based cannabis strains for the production of disease-specific medicines. Yes, medicines.” 

Picture this. A town of less than a thousand people, nestled right next to the Spanish Peaks of southern Colorado, just attracted millions of dollars worth of research money, and all for the good of mankind. Why? Because the head of this new company, Dr. Patrick E. Williams thought this area is the perfect place to live! He got that right!  We are so excited about this new local development! They plan is hire at least half of their employees locally, keeping jobs down here, which is great, considering our county has the highest unemployment rate in the state.

 

Making new friends by writing books

One year ago I struggled with the decision to publish my fourth book. The upfront costs to me include new book formatting fees (at least $100), new book fees and proof costs through Ingram’s Lightning Source ($105) for POD “print-on-demand”, plus the cost of ordering copies at a reduced price to sell locally ($100+). I hesitated with this decision because I had no certainty of big sales, considering the small market I might have for a local personal memoir.

writing penI started writing and publishing books back in 2008. This has been a generally positive experience for me, but things have certainly changed recently. The full extent of these changes was revealed to me in this past month by one of my new readers. She was excited about purchasing my book, because she had just bought a home near here. She contacted me through e-mail and reported back to me what she had paid for a “NEW” copy of my book on Amazon. She even shared her invoice with me. From this I could easily see that the book she had purchased was not POD and not new, meaning that neither my printer or I would be reimbursed for this purchase.

Click here to find out Amazon’s new and evil ways to rip off authors.

thank youBut amazingly enough, there has been a silver lining for me in all of these disturbing discoveries. I have started building some great relationships with my readers! I have discovered that they are truly on my side against the big, bad book industry. That reader who shared her invoice with me, returned her book this week and ordered a “fair trade” copy directly from me. I am slowly convincing other readers to buy only from me, instead of buying “fake new” or used copies where the author receives nothing from the sale. 

If nothing else, this movement has renewed my faith in the generosity and thoughtfulness of my readers. They seem to enjoy having a personal relationship with me as a fellow human being, instead of the harsh, impersonal experience of ordering a book from a multinational corporation. And, BTW, I have made back my investment in my new memoir, but only by working directly with my readers. 

I started sharing my e-mail address online over a year ago, because I love hearing from readers or potential readers. I’ve also learned how much fun it is to work directly with you! Contrary to what you might think, I love to hear from you! Ask me about my books and how I ended up crowning myself the “Midlife Crisis Queen.” Learn from the mistakes I made when I lost my job at age 49. See why I developed such a strong interest in midlife psychology. Tell me what you are trying to learn in your own life, and I will tell you if I can help.

Reading and books are always about relationships and I love building new ones!

E-mail: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

Amazon says: Save money, don’t pay authors!

writing and moneyWell, it finally happened, or at least I first heard about it this week. I learned from one of my new readers that she bought a “NEW” copy of my book through Amazon. My books are print-on-demand (POD), so I waited to see a sale on my Lightning Source sales page. Guess what? No book was printed and they showed no sale…ever!

It’s official. Amazon is now selling new copies of my books without paying me a dime! I don’t know how or how long this has been going on. The only reason I heard about it this time is that I knew the buyer, and she sent me a copy of the Amazon invoice. They sold my book for under $7 without charging for postage. Yes, books can be very cheap when they stop paying authors altogether.

The way this system is supposed to work is that Amazon sends a request to my printer (Lightning Source) to print a copy and they send it to Amazon. I am the only one who is supposed to be able to buy new copies from the printer at a discounted rate, to sale direct to local customers. Apparently Amazon has found a way around that system now.

You would think a book company would not want to screw over their own authors. WRONG!

Amazon will screw over anyone for their own profits.

If you don’t believe me, how about the New York Times! (I no longer send out free books for review, because I was being ripped off by those too!)

I am so disillusioned with the book industry at this point!

Please don’t buy my books through Amazon. E-mail me directly: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com