Easy Rider: The view from 62

I was 14 years old when “Easy Rider” came out. I decided to see it again this week. So glad I did, if only for the music!

EAsy RiderWikipedia describes it as a 1969 American road movie written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. It tells the story of two bikers (played by Fonda and Hopper) who travel through the American Southwest and South after selling a large score of cocaine. The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood era of film making during the early 1970s. The film was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1998, a landmark counterculture film and a “touchstone for a generation.” Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle.

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Although I know this film hasn’t changed in 48 years, watching it showed me how much I have changed, and most of my changes have taken place since moving to rural Colorado. For example, when the riders pick up a hippie on the way to a commune, they eventually ask him where he’s from. His answer is simple and so true: “A city.” When pressed for more he says it doesn’t really matter what city, because cities have the same effect on us as people. I so agree now. And if you don’t, I challenge you to move to the country for a few years. Then we’ll talk.

east rider Jack NicholsonI have also learned a lot about my biases and judgments of people I don’t know. For some reason, moving here has lighten my load of judgments on those who don’t look like me. I know in ‘Easy Rider’ the country people in the south hate hippie-types. There’s a great line in there from George, the local drunk played wonderfully by Jack Nicholson, who tags along with them on their journey to New Orleans. He says many just don’t appreciate the freedom these two bikers represent.

When they see it they want to kill it. Nice foreshadowing.

clearer when in loveMike rode a Gold Wing when I first met him. Before I fell in love with him 12 years ago, I judged those who rode motorcycles, especially if they had a tatoo. So much for that judgment… I have learned quite a bit about how to experience true personal freedom by living with Mike and by moving away from cities.

How do we benefit from judging ourselves and others? We don’t.

Laura 60th birthday partyWant to know more about the changes you may go through by leaving city life behind? After checking out Cuenca Ecuador, we left suburban Fort Collins forever in 2014 to build a passive solar home in rural southern Colorado. Today we enjoy the amazing advantages of solar heating plus a 180 view of the Sangre de Cristo range!

Enjoy my new memoir about this transition from city to country living

Rent-a-Friend, Slow TV & Country Living

What an interesting array of new ideas this past week! From Japan we have “Rent-a Friend” or family member… Apparently some Japanese can be so obsessed with appearances that they actually rent human stand-ins for various get-togethers. But don’t scoff too soon at this idea, because apparently it is also taking off in our own country! Hell, it may be a great idea for those new to foreign countries…like NYC. For the Japanese, who feel uncomfortable borrowing things, rentals seem more honest. They even have substitute therapists, untrained people who will listen to you complain about your life for only $10/hour!

train rideIn contrast, Norway has recently discovered the popularity of slow television, or “slow TV” (Norwegian: Sakte-TV), popularized in the 2000s by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), beginning with the broadcast of a 7-hour train journey in 2009. This live “marathon” television coverage of an ordinary event in its complete length, generally last many hours or even days.

OK now I have a unique and perhaps revolutionary idea. Why don’t you spend the time and energy to make your own hand-picked friend. Imagine how much more satisfying that might be. Or, if you prefer a slower paced life, go find it! Since moving to the country I completely understand the appeal of slow TV, except mine is called ‘slow scenery’ and I stare at it all day long.

IMGP5820From daybreak…

imgp5537to sunset, it changes constantly, and sometimes offers up the most amazing images!

And I have even collected over the decades some of the most perfect music to go along with this tremendous lifestyle. This morning I had to listen to Jesse Colin Young’s song “Ridgetop.” A great description of where we live now. That and “Country Home” work for me!

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’m new here in rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home:  A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Let’s work around Amazon (the evil empire!) and make certain authors get paid for their books!           Please contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

Psychedelics: New Hope in Addiction Treatment?

In honor of May, Mental Health Awareness Month, I would like to turn your attention to some new research on how psychodelic drugs can change certain parts of your brain enough to stop addictive urges. For the whole story please go watch this new episode of ‘Breakthrough’ on the National Geographic Channel.

psilosyben mushroomsAccording to this program, highly regulated experiences with the correct amount of LSD, psilcyben mushrooms, and other psychodelic drugs can alleviate the need for difficult withdrawal from drugs like nicotine and heroin, both of which have been proven to be equally as addictive. Who knew? Now here’s something the government didn’t want you to know! Go watch! It’s amazing. Most have to go to other countries like Mexico to specific clinics to access these treatments.

heroin use increases by groupsIn the highly studied field of addiction and the brain, certain psychedelic drugs have been found to reset the addictive patterns in your brain, assisting the patient in avoiding painful withdrawal altogether, and relieve them of most of their urges to shoot up and smoke ever again. At a time when heroin-related overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 2010 in the U.S. alone, and cigarettes continue to kill millions of Americans, shouldn’t this information be available to those who need it most? The heroin addict in this video had been using for seven years and knew he would not survive much longer without extreme measures, so he decided to travel to Mexico to save his own life.

A large part of this type of research includes the question: Can we truly change as we age? 

how we changeI have learned from the past ten years of my own life that our brains are AMAZING in their abilities to adapt and change! First through a new marriage at age 50, then a serious brain injury at 53, and by moving to a rural area at 60, after decades of city life, I have experienced a complete brain reset. Yes, I did have quite a bit of withdrawal and definitely some discomfort as I went through these changes, but I would say now, change is possible and even highly recommended as we age.

In Praise of Natural Sounds and Night Skies

“The joy of listening to the quiet symphony of nature and the wonderment of seeing the Milky Way stretching overhead are unique experiences that can still be found in many of our national parks.”   — Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, NPS

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I was so pleased to discover this week that our National Park Service maintains a Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. These are a few of the joys I have discovered and begun to fully appreciate only by moving away from cities. By living rural I can finally hear the great animal orchestra composed by nature, and look up to find some of the last remaining harbors of natural darkness in our country.

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Now that I know, I wish to preserve and provide opportunities for everyone to experience this critical resource.

To learn more, go view this CBS video: Recording the Sounds of Nature’s Quietest Places

Nature versus Numbness

Xmas 2010 JackThis past week I spent some time with my father, Jack Carter, a botanist and naturalist. He was a professor of biology at numerous universities and colleges, and is now a professor emeritus at Colorado College. He chose, much like Mike and I, to leave the city behind as he retired, and lived in rural New Mexico until recently.  I feel like my father understands the importance of developing special connections with nature, so I enjoy discussing with him how my own feelings have changed in the past few years just by moving away from the many distractions of city life.

 Crab Apple Tree

I enjoyed my time up north in the city, because spring has already arrived there. Just outside my parents’ door is a marvelous Crab Apple Tree in full bloom. What a beauty! The cities have so many introduced trees and plants that make it more colorful in the spring. I experienced a small amount of spring-envy…

On the other hand, as I walked around the lovely grounds near their home, all I could hear was traffic in the distance. This is a sound I am completely familiar with. Every city I have ever lived in has this distant roar of people in cars going somewhere, or at least trying to, with an occasional siren thrown in.

When I spoke with my Dad about this, he observed that everything in cities is about getting in your car to go somewhere. The distractions are constant and everywhere. They don’t allow us to become fully aware of our surroundings or even the people we meet. I sat outside, listened and understood why I haven’t connected well with nature for most of my life. There was just too much else going on.

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Then I started explaining to my Dad how much I finally appreciate nature. I love the morning silence, something I have heard so rarely in my life. I love the sound of birds as they get louder, welcoming another bountiful spring. I feel so in touch with each new change in the trees, the plants, the birds, and the weather. It is like a new awakening in my own soul.

Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein

My Dad understands these things. These are the reasons he chose to live outside cities until his health required moving closer to his doctors. There is something so reassuring about how the cycle of life and death continues regardless of anything we do to change it. This seems like cause for celebration for me, and I celebrate it every morning as the sun comes up.

Laura 60th birthday partyI’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home:  A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

Romantic Expectations & Reality

So I’m watching some show on HGTV, and the woman who’s looking for a new home says, “I’m looking for a home that feels magical when you walk in!” From this brief comment I launch into my own version of a song from this 1965 Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella television special.                       Sure, you remember it, don’t you? With Leslie Ann Warren?

I LOVED THIS SHOW AT AGE TEN! I memorized the songs.

Cinderella 1965“Magical, mystical, miracle, can it be, is it true? Things are incredibly lyrical, is it me? No it’s you. I do hear a waltz. I see you and I hear a waltz. It’s what I’ve been waiting for all my life, to hear a waltz.”

What a lovely thought, and how unrealistic can you get? I know Rodgers and Hammerstein were probably just trying to think of words that went together well, but instead they helped to create the most unrealistic expectations in a generation of young girls!

Mr. Right frig magnet

Besides the story, which promotes the idea of waiting for a prince to rescue you from your grim surroundings, the words of the songs, which have stayed in my mind for over 50 years now (!) suggest we will most certainly “hear a waltz” when Mr. Right arrives in our lives. And they say we don’t have brainwashing in the USA… No, we have commercialism instead! Just as powerful and encouraged by our culture.

To be fair, by the time I was more interested in looking for a partner, around 1975, this song by Jefferson Starship was popular, and it also promised miracles. 

Mike and Rasta in kayak 3No, I’m not saying that falling in love isn’t magical, I’m just saying the first time I met my “prince” in 2005, I didn’t hear a waltz OR believe in miracles. I had finally gotten past all of that garbage at age 49. I was now ready to meet a real person who had the self-awareness and emotional capability to love and give to others in their life. As it turned out, nothing about his outward appearance or natural talents were what I expected. No, I had no expectations of falling in love with a motorcycle man who knew how to fix things. But I went with my gut and inner wisdom. Good thinking Laura!

Mike on old tree up at build site 2014

Now that we live almost off the grid in rural southern Colorado, I have so many more reasons to appreciate his abilities to wire up the generator when the power goes off for days at a time. No magical, mystical miracles. I don’t remember hearing a waltz when he appeared, but I knew instinctively that he would help me make it through the rest of my life, with love and affection every single day!

Southern Colorado is Closed Today and Tomorrow – Slipping off the Grid!

You would not believe how we spent the past three days…

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We got a BAD lightning and ice storm on Thursday night around midnight. I know because it woke me up. The combination of rain, hail, and then ice took out our electricity since Friday morning at 6AM… 3 days ago! No heat, no cooking, no nothing except Mike did set up a generator to keep the food in the frig cold.

We used our camp stove in the garage to heat a few things and eventually got the TV and coffeemaker working…priorities you know.

All in all this was a thought-provoking experience. We drove into town today at lunch for a hot meal and some heat. Low and behold, the power came back!  Hallelujah!!!

In an interesting twist, the TV stations who say that they cover southern Colorado, never noticed when the thousands of Coloradoans who live in the poorest counties in the state, went without power for days! Money still talks….

Anyway, I did write while we were cut off from power. Here are my impressions from Friday morning, the last time we had power:

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The view out our door on Friday morning…10 inches or so!

Why get up?

Nothing like waking up to a foot of thick, wet, snow and all the power is out. This is the best example I can think of that old ZZ Top song: “Why get up?”

The first thing I want is coffee and maybe a little news, but I cannot make that happen. Furthermore, when I contact our electric company, they tell me every town within 50 miles is without power, so even if I could go somewhere, they wouldn’t be open…

Which brings me to the next line of that before mentioned song:

“This whole world’s gone crazy think I’ve seen enough. Gonna sleep forever, why get up?”   …What better description of the Trump presidency?

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       After the storm… If you want the rainbow you must have the rain!

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home:   Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado   Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books!                         Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)