It always feels good to do good, from homeless to a home in southern Colorado

Around a year ago, my brother-in-law drove down to Sedona Arizona to pick up my brother John. He didn’t drive and he was at the point where he could no longer live in a lean-to near Oak Creek. The weather was too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, and the creek came up so high sometimes that it was too deep to get across for him to get into town. John has a bad case of emphysema and terrible lower back pain. He thought he would move up here to take care of my Mom after my Dad died last year.

A few weeks after moving in with Mom, he realized that that arrangement would not work long-term so he called me in Walsenburg. As luck would have it, a close friend had a house in La Veta that was empty for the winter, so John moved in to caretake. When spring arrived, my friend decided to rent that house out so John had to move, but where? He didn’t want to live with us. We have a thing about “being a burden” in our family, so he found what he thought would be a temporary place in a local motel. Being the perfect renter, the management of the place soon wanted him to act as night manager, but John wasn’t interested in that. He just wanted a small place of his own.

After he moved to Walsenburg we made sure he signed up for affordable housing asap, but were truly surprised when they found him his own apartment this past month. It is clean, quiet and extremely affordable, but had no furniture. Soon after that we ask our friends if they had any extra furniture. In no time John had a recliner, a couch, a nice rug and a bed. John is a humble man who does not expect much from those around him. He just wants a nice place out of the rain and snow to listen to NPR and play his guitar. Now he has that for the first time in years. We couldn’t be happier and we almost got him to smile!

Imagine magically walking into your own future…

Last night I had a strange thought: What if we had been able to magically walk into our present home and living situation without having to create it from scratch? I’m certain now I wouldn’t have believed it, but it would have been so reassuring to see our success! I see now I had far too little faith in my husband’s power to create what we have created here, out of one big dusty lot. Talk about a difference in visualizing and believing in our power to manifest it!

As I meet others who move down here to create new lives for themselves, I am constantly reminded of my own trials and tribulations when we first decided to move here to build our passive solar home over seven years ago.

Our sad little rental in Walsenburg for one year…

When we first moved into a rented dirty, dumpy 100-year-old miner’s home in Walsenburg in 2014, I was simply depressed. All I could think about was:

“How long was this going to take? Would it be as nice as we hoped? Was this a good idea or not?

First we had the slab, which took months to get approved and created properly for passive solar…

I had no idea how much work it is to create a home from scratch, even if you don’t actually build it… A million trips to Pueblo’s Home Depot and Lowe’s, 5 million decisions just about every day for a year or so, not to mention arguments with the builder about so many things, especially when is this house going to be done? I learned that the builders own your home until they leave!

But we kept at it through just about every obstacle imaginable until one day we had this…

When we finally moved in on the 1st of August 2015 we were practically paralyzed with the feat we had just completed! Did that really happen? Is this really where we live now? There were still a million little details to work out, like the smoke detector that went off at 4 in the morning soon after we moved in, but we were home at last!

I couldn’t wait to get started on my new foothills garden, which also took a few years to developJune 2019

  • Want to learn more about this kind of experience? I kept a journal leading up to our move from the suburbs of Fort Collins, to a three acre lot west of Walsenburg Colorado. Our new home is passive solar and this journal covers the full construction process as well as our thoughts after we moved in. My memoir is available on Amazon or just contact me directly if you wish to buy a signed copy from the author herself! — MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

My experience with post-concussion syndrome

In case a few of you are concerned about my condition since my last concussion in April, I was finally able to see a great neurologist this past week in Denver. Why Denver? Because no one down here would even see me! One in Pueblo refused and would not say why, plus they took a month to say so! Health care? What health care?

So five months later a great MD at Blue Sky Neurology in Denver did a thorough assessment of my condition and concluded I was in very good shape considering my history of a serious traumatic brain injury (2008) and a number of concussions since. He said something I already know too well, head injuries often lead to more head injuries, especially if you take into account my difficulties maintaining my oxygen levels.

It’s official. I now have Post-Concussion Syndrome.

Here’s a summary of what that is according to the Mayo Clinic:

Persistent post-concussive symptoms, also called post-concussion syndrome, occurs when concussion symptoms last beyond the expected recovery period after the initial injury. The usual recovery period is weeks to months. These symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, and problems with concentration and memory.

Concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that usually happens after a blow to the head. It can also occur with violent shaking and movement of the head or body. You don’t have to lose consciousness to get a concussion or experience persistent post-concussive symptoms. In fact, the risk of developing persistent post-concussive symptoms doesn’t appear to be associated with the severity of the initial injury.

In most people, symptoms occur within the first seven to 10 days and go away within three months. Sometimes, they can persist for a year or more.

The goal of treatment after concussion is to effectively manage your symptoms.

Persistent post-concussive symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of concentration and memory
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Blurry vision
  • Noise and light sensitivity
  • Rarely, decreases in taste and smell

Luckily I only have about half of these. Mostly it just feels like I’m slightly drunk a lot of the time with occasional falling down-type whirlies. Ironic though, I almost never drank alcohol before this and I never do now. I found it interesting to know that I also have whiplash in my neck from falling down so violently. It seems some physical therapy is in order. Unfortunately, I now find myself unable to keep quiet when I’m angry. No filter here 🙂 so I sometimes must apologize later for losing my temper. I’ve always been a pretty direct and honest person, now that’s a bit out of control… oops!

But I am surviving nicely with no more plans to fall on my head… Hope you are all doing better than me!

Academ-idiots, my term for those who intellectualize everything… I speak from experience here :)

I have wondered forever about what I call academ-idiots and how they survive their obsession with living in their heads. First of all I was raised by one and pretty much followed in his footsteps. To quote my first therapist in my early thirties, “I have never met a woman who intellectualizes everything like you do!” Yep, that was me… It’s hard to fight your upbringing when it’s all you know!

Hell, I didn’t even know I was different back then. I thought everybody read constantly and lived in their heads, filling them up with new ideas, new words and new meanings. As I grew up I found it more and more difficult to make new friends. They needed to be intellectualizers like me. When I started at Colorado College, the place where my Dad worked, I finally felt more at home. My friends were a little bit more intellectual, which came to mean out of touch with “the real world” like me. When I got a scholarship to Cornell University to study Chinese, I found myself in university snob heaven. What a trip! Through the years a few of my teachers told me how out of touch I really was, but in a good way.

Since then I have worked with many intellectuals in university settings and found so many to be academ-idiots. They lived in their minds and their disciplines, but did not know themselves at all. It was only years later that I separated myself from this identification with pure mind. Around age 40 I rejected mind without emotions thinking and decided to study psychology, investing for the first time in non-traditional education. I was still working at CU-Boulder, but running down the hill to study at the Naropa Institute, a Buddhist-based university. Only then did I see exactly how in-my-head I had become. What an inauthentic way of being in the world. In fact, it was a bit of a relief when I lost my last academic job back in 2004.

Goodbye academ-idiots, hello world!

A year later I met Mike, the absolute opposite of an intellectual or academic snob. He knew how everything worked and could not specialize or intellectualize to save his life. He was as well-rounded and authentic as a human being could be. He had tee shirts that said things like “Screw- U.” He balked at those who acted like they knew everything, but could not fix their own car or respect those who didn’t go to college. He got his skills training at his Dad’s garage and in the Navy starting at age 17, and treated everyone initially with respect, compassion, honesty, integrity. I find his finest quality to be his sense of loyalty to those he loves. Mike can sniff out inauthenticity from a mile away… not that we have a lot of intellectuals out here in rural southern Colorado 🙂

My life has been so much better since I gave up intellectualizing. It can be so toxic because it can create false illusions that I somehow control and can manipulate everything and everybody. Nope, that’s not how it works. Take it from someone who has learned in the past few years that she cannot breathe without a machine and her brain is damaged through no fault of her own. I am being forced to relax my mind! What an interesting challenge for someone so focused on mind…

Time and change happens to everybody!

My journey continues… My favorite song lately: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bST9VXknId0

August in my Colorado foothills garden!

Here at 7,000 feet in southern Colorado, we have had an amazingly wet summer! In the past three months we have received over ten inches of rain! Even yesterday I thought we got nothing, and then this morning I went out and found .14 in the rain gauge! Mother Nature is not disappointing this year!

The monsoon is certainly blessing us this year. Here are a few photos to help you appreciate my garden joy!
WOW!!! The volunteer sunflowers are everywhere!
Our view towards Mount Mestas…
and hardly any smoke lately too! It’s cool, clear and moist up here. Even the plants I wondered about have made it!

Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir on PBS

Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.” – Amy Tan

My fellow writers:

I hope none of you missed this incredibly personal and touching “American Experience” on PBS last night entitled, Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir. This piece was so beautifully put together, combining Amy’s own photos from her past, her intimate recollections, with talks she has given about her stormy relationship with her mother. Words fail to describe the gorgeousness and truth to be found in this two hour special.

Her delicate storytelling and truth-telling is at once fierce and so very sensitive to the human condition we all face, especially that of women. I was glued to my seat from the very beginning and could not move. She is my hero! I feel like I now need to go and re-read all of her books and especially her new memoir, “Where the Past Begins” from 2017.

Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir on PBS, premiere May 3rd 2021