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)

 

Great Quotes From James Baldwin

If you’re like me, perhaps you read books by James Baldwin in college. Do you remember “Go Tell It On The Mountain” or “Nobody Knows My Name”? My Dad challenged me the other day by reading me a quote from him:

James Baldwin“It is nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.”                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                    James was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic who lived from 1924 to 1987. His essays explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America.

When I went in search of other information on James Baldwin, I found some wonderful quotes that spoke to me, some especially under our present circumstances in the USA today. Here’s a sampling:

Books Jame Baldwin

This is exactly why I wrote books about midlife confusion, and finding LOVE again!

Love by James Baldwin

Powerful and absolutely true if you want one other human being to truly know you!

 

creativity and James Baldwin

Precisely why I write!

ignorance and power James Baldwin

This of course reminds me of you know who, our present Liar-in-Chief…

And finally, for those who still feel “America, Love it or Leave it!”:

love America James Baldwin

Arrival: The pros and cons of seeing your future

One consequence of moving to a rural part of Colorado is the delays in seeing the latest movies. This has been a bit difficult for me, because I am a great fan of cinema! I admit my favorite aspect of going out to see a movie is to lose my present self in someone else’s life. I love the “fly on the wall” aspect of experiencing someone else’s reality, but in this case I felt like the canary in the cage. Funny, with my lifelong breathing difficulties, I have often compared myself to the canary in the mine in the numerous polluted situations I have found myself in.

amy-adams-in-arrivalLong story short, we finally had a chance to see Arrival last night, a quite cerebral approach to alien invasion. Number one I LOVED that the scientist, the linguist with all the answers, was played by a woman, and specifically by Amy Adams. I think it’s about time women played the smartest person in the room, and I’m also happy Ms. Adams finally got a demanding and serious role to play.

One of the points of this film seemed to be the greatly undervalued communication tool of emotions. By having a wise woman play the great communicator, I felt that intuitive wisdom as well as intellectual power were brought to center stage. This is a position I have fought for since way back when I hoped to become a college professor in the 1970s. I found universities so limiting in terms of valuing the whole person or professor. This is one of the primary reasons I gave up on that goal.

But the real point of this film is the simple question:

purple-rainbows

If you could see your future, with all of its phenomenal beauty and raw tragedy, would you still choose it?

This question brings up all sorts of interesting life contradictions. If I had seen my future in the past and tried to change one part, would the other parts have stayed the same? In fact, as I age I see almost every aspect of my life in terms of contradictions. If I choose this, what happens to that?

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Choosing to leave behind the lifestyle I had lived for most of my life a few years ago, was a very difficult decision for me. When you choose something life changing you are almost always crossing a bridge you cannot go back across. This filled me with anxiety. But the true contradiction is that you can never know what will come of this difficult choice, unless you choose something different and then see how it goes.

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 in the foothills:                                    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)

Boomer Blogs: The Modern Version of a Friendly Fireside Chat

blog-pictureAfter contemplating this topic for a few weeks, I concluded that blogs, at least boomer blogs, have nothing to do with vanity. I see them now as a modern campfire where we gather together to share our own views on our present place in life.

We come here to share our life stories and what we are learning as we age. Here we bring like-minded folks together to validate each others’ experience of life itself, regardless of where we live or who shares our life with us.

Today I would like to share with you a few great ideas from my blogging friends on self soothing!

peony-prettyLet’s start out with a couple suggestions from writer Carol Cassara. Carol thinks flowers are a wonderful way to settle your soul. One of her favorites is peonies. Feasting your eyes on these beautiful peonies brings her peace.  But if flowers aren’t your thing, how about some cloud meditations? When something upsets you and your mind begins to spin out of control, why not try clouds!

A new expression I have learned from my blogging buddies is la pura vida. So what is that anyway? According to “Best Costa Rican Tours”, pura vida (pronounced POO-rah VEE-dah) and meaning “Pure Life” in English, actually means: no matter what your current circumstances, life for someone else is far less fortunate. So consider that perhaps your situation isn’t all that bad. No matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together and life is short. This way of seeing your life seems particularly appropriate to us Americans, who complain constantly while living lives most would define as living like kings and queens!

peaceful-waterfallsThis past week Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting took a vacation to Costa Rica. There she experienced la pura vida first hand as the calm lifestyle of Costa Rican natives, and loved it! No constant political stress, no cellphone ringing, touring at a leisurely pace, and no meetings or other commitments. She knows this feeling will not last, but while it does it provides one with some much needed nourishment to body and soul. Read about her slow-style adventure in Pursuing La Pura Vida in the Place of Turtles.

Another way to lower overall stress is communicating well with others. On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer specialist, writes this week about how being assertive can help you be happier. Learning how to positively tell people what you’re thinking and what you need improves communications, including when you have a consumer complaint.

Shoot, it seems like everyone is on vacation but me! In his constant search for the perfect retirement place, Tom Sightings is snowbirding in Charleston, SC, for the month of February. In City by the Bay Tom takes us on a tour of historical Fort Sumter, as well as some of the charms of modern-day Charleston.

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Since I’ve been far too ill in the past couple months to go on vacation, and our new solar home in southern Colorado still feels like a luxury vacation home to me, I decided to share with you a few activities that soothe my sometimes troubled mind, and help me stay in the present. Enjoy your life! None of us get out of this alive…

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter and let me know if you would like to add your boomer blog to this carnival!