A Genuine Colorado Country Christmas

First I saw the funniest FB announcement yesterday! On our community bulletin board it said:

“Has anybody lost this chicken?” with a picture and everything.

You’ve just got to love living rural. And the chicken did find his way home too!

fresh Christmas tree 2018

Then we went out to cut our own tree! Pretty nice huh?

Bright Sahara Christmas Tree 2018

We decorated last night…

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…and this morning we had a new coat of six inches of snow!

It feels just like Christmas!

We have fallen in love with living in tune with the sun and seasons, waking up each day amazed to find ourselves in such a beautiful, quiet, natural place…

memoir of retirement 2016

Are you ready to follow your dreams? Here’s how we found ours!

Please feel free to contact me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com to order any of my books as Christmas gifts for family & friends who are struggling with midlife mayhem!

& Please follow us on TWITTER!

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Autumn in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

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We are having a warm lovely fall here in southern Colorado! We had our first snow in the Sangre de Cristos south of us a couple weeks ago, and then some weather in the 60s settled in to warm our winter-fearing souls.

The 60s are my favorite temperature, just right for sitting outside and observing the  many birds and quadrupeds that happen by our home. We have seen herds of deer and a couple coyotes walking by recently…

Road Runner

and the Road Runners come right up to our glass doors!

Frosted lavender bloom October 2018

Unfortunately that first hard freeze did a number on my first crop of lavender.

We have had such a strange summer season this year. The winter and spring, which are usually super wet, were quite dry through June, when the Spring Creek Fire hit this area, destroying over 108,000 acres and over 140 homes and other structures.

first view of Spring Fire Wed. towards Mt Mestas on June 27th

This was my first view of the fire as it emerged south of Mount Mestas on June 27th.

Fortunately in July the rains finally came, saving our area from complete devastation, but still for the 2017 – 2018 water year we received less than half of average precipitation.

Laura garden October 2018 before the snow

My brand new foothills garden did not like these ever changing conditions. It died way back in June, but made a phenomenal comeback with the 3.35 inches of rain we received in July! My garden is perpetually a work in progress. We are now waiting to get a bunch of red pavers to place in the lower level around the bird bath.

It gives me great joy to wander around outside and think about how Mike and my brother John worked so hard to help me realize this lifelong dream!

Do beliefs about climate change depend on how old you are, your education level or “groupthink”?

I will never forget a discussion I had over ten years ago with a woman in her eighties at the Senior Center in Fort Collins. She said climate change was bull and I said just wait. Then I realized and said to her, “Of course you’re not as concerned about climate change. You won’t be around to see what happens, but what about your children and grandchildren?” I’m certain that woman is dead now.

UN report on climate change 2018

SOURCES FOR THE NEW UNITED NATION REPORT ON GLOBAL WARMING

UN Climate change report-october 2018-Today I did the research on this topic. Please go check out this survey that describes concerns about climate change in the United States between 2015 and 2018, by age group. During this period, over 51 percent of adults between 18 and 34 years of age agreed that global climate change will pose a serious threat. Of those over 55, less than one third felt climate change was a serious concern in their future.  Now let’s ask the thousands of victims of Hurricane Michael. Why was this the first storm to hit this area in decades and why did it’s intensity increase when it headed out over the land?

Further research suggests:

“Climate change believers are generally younger, more educated, have more money, and are non-white (which means skeptics are generally older, less educated, and white). But all these factors are only weakly associated with climate change beliefs… Instead, political affiliation – Democrat, Independent, or Republican – strongly predicted climate change belief, such that Democrats are more likely to believe in climate change than Republicans…

This might suggest that groupthink, the psychological effect of similar thinking to maintain conformity to a group, guides climate change attitudes, not just ideology alone.” “Understanding Climate Change Skeptics” in Nature Education

Louis L’Amour and Golden Aspen, Autumn in Southern Colorado!

I’ve been enjoying a Louis L’Amour novel this fall, while also indulging myself in some amazing quaking aspens.

aspen 2018 near Blanca Peak

Up above Cuchara near Cordova Pass…

back of Blanca Peak with golden aspen 2018

and up by Blanca Peak! Now is the BEST TIME to see these beauties!

Have you ever read the novel Conagher? A friend bought me a copy and said I had to read it, so I did. She said it reminded her of her dilemma since she moved here a few years ago. She loves the silence and isolation of her new life in the mountains, but sometimes craves companionship with someone special.

Conagher book

I thought Mr. L’Amour only wrote about the men of the West, but this novel is about a lonely female settler in rural New Mexico in the late 1800s who finds an ingenious way to connect with lonely cowboys. She even finally finds love way out in the middle of nowhere and just by chance. I love Mr. L’Amour’s descriptions of the beautiful but lonely West. Here’s a few lines from the main character Evie:

“She never tired of the morning and evenings here, the soft lights, the changing colors of sunlight and cloud upon the hills, the stirring of wind in the grass. Out here there was no escaping the sky or the plains, and Evie knew that until she came west she had never really known distance.”

I find it interesting how this character somehow captures my own feelings after just a year or so of living here, giving a marvelous explanation of how one adjusts to the silence and beauty of this powerful and yet desolate landscape:

Sunrise through snowy trees January 2018

“Evie Teale suddenly became aware of something else. For the first time she was at peace here, really at peace. She had believed the land was her enemy, and she had struggled against it, but you could not make war against a land any more than you could against the sea. One had to learn to live with it, to belong to it, to fit into its seasons and its ways…”

How does change & trauma help us grow?

Less than 2 years ago I wrote this about my own life goals.  Back then, I didn’t mean what needs to happen in the next year or two, but what needs to happen for me to feel satisfied in the long run. I wanted more love, acceptance, appreciation, access to pure silence and to be surrounded with solar warmth,  natural beauty, music, wildflowers, peace, contentment with ever increasing relief from guilt and shame.

So what’s different now? I would say my greatest achievement has been acknowledging how much built-in shame and guilt I have lived with for years, and also how clarity and awareness can help me let that go. I used to think I was probably stuck with this feeling, and unable to free myself from its grip. But with time and introspection (and much encouragement from Mike!) I have found my way out of most of my guilt about just enjoying my life and feeling good. I do whatever I choose everyday now, and that my friend is a gift.

To what do I attribute so many changes in my internal dialogue?

brain puzzleI spent years studying the way our minds work, both through personal counseling and graduate-level training at Naropa University. What a gift to understand so much about the human behavior we are surrounded with everyday. Nothing like a higher level of “people skills” to help you understand the true motivations of yourself and others. I would add that my traumatic brain injury in 2008 has played a role. Shaking up so many brain connections really does change you, and it takes a few years to fully experience and get comfortable with your mind’s new openness.

Sunflowers on a county road

With a major change in lifestyle from city busy to rural quiet, I have changed immeasurably. Now, with the luxury of so much more time to myself in nature and the quiet, I continue to learn more about myself and my apparently endless capacity to learn and grow. Moving out of the city was key to seeing beyond the limitations of urban life. City life can keep you so busy worrying about the next thing, that you don’t have time to be present with anything that’s happening right in front of you. I had to leave the city to learn about living in the present.

first view of Spring Fire Wed. towards Mt Mestas on June 27th

I am still processing the results of our recent trauma here in southern Colorado, when some complete idiot one county west started the Spring Fire, which consumed over 107,000 acres near us. The evacuation was shocking. Talk about a sudden life event that makes you consider all of your past decisions and future plans! The randomness of it all confounds you. Is it really simply weather and wind direction determining whether I have a house still? I found there came a time when I lost all composure. I could no longer pretend this was not happening to me and my home. This experience I did not choose, offered me new opportunities to explore deeper levels of that old “illusion of control” we think we maintain over our life.

NICE view of sunflowers in garden and Spanish Peaks summer 2017

I have been transfixed by a quote from Arthur Rosenfeld recently.

Perhaps you will also find his words insightful:

“…we all know how this ends, so rushing through life is senseless. As our inner life grows ever more luminous, the chatter of the speed-and-greed world slowly fades, leaving us with greater peace, tranquility, quiet and contentment.”  

Life without ready access to the Internet

Spring Fire evacuation June 30th 2018

How long has it been since you didn’t access the Internet everyday? Since we experienced a wildfire in the mountains west of us and were evacuated around the end of June, we have had no access at home. That’s about a month now!

At first, after the fire fear was over, it really bothered me that I couldn’t jump online at any time and check everything. Habits die hard. But now, a month later, I am missing it less and less.

garden scene outside my bedroom door

I have to drive into town to use my friend’s laptop a couple times a week, and the rest of the time I simply forget about it. Yes, it is possible in this day and age to space out the Internet. Instead I focus more on my garden, exercising and on my life in general. It has helped to bring me out of my post-fire slump and return to my daily goals.

So why don’t we have the Internet yet? Because the local company we prefer, lost a key pole up in the mountains west of us, and they can’t even get in there to fix it yet. The area was destroyed by fire, in some cases the soil was even sterilized and the roads impassable. Providers are limited out here and we don’t like our other options, so we’re going without.

It has been an interesting experiment for me and I’m beginning to see the benefits of never having the Net to turn to when bored or uncertain what to do next…

This seems to bring the focus back to me and what I need right now!

Gratitude for everything, wildfires and all!

So of course it had to happen. One of my readers met with me this week and asked me one more time if I am still pleased with our decision to move to a rural part of southern Colorado, one that is prone to wildfire. As strange as it may seem, I am happier than ever to live where I do.

great Mike photo of snow and Spanish Peaks

The winter view of the Spanish Peaks from our solar home

First of all, the recent fire gave us a chance to live in town for a week because we were evacuated from our area between La Veta and Walsenburg. La Veta feels noisy and crowded to me now. My favorite quality of rural life is the absolute silence at night and on a cool clear country morning. Seeing the stars after I turn off the lights at night is also something I have never experienced before.

Returning to our home after evacuation was a marvelous treat, a timely reminder of how lucky we are to be able to live in nature on our own terms with neighbors far enough away to basically ignore them.

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The sunrises are as amazing as ever. What’s not to like about this every morning?