Welcoming Spring to the Colorado Foothills

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Spring can be subtle here at 7,000 feet, especially when we have had so much heat and so little moisture this past winter. Talk about mild, we have had only two decent snowstorms since October and very little measurable precipitation. But there are some much welcomed changes to observe.

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First of all the type of birds appearing at our bird feeders are changing. Not that I’m able to identify many, but I do know when a new one flies up.

Rocky Mtn. BluebirdAnd we see the Rocky Mountain Bluebird coming by more and more. Such a beauty! Mike built a bird house for these. Sure hope they make use of their new accommodations! And there are a few other newcomers to our feeders. So nice to see…

 

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In spite of the very dry conditions, I am beginning to see little patches of green along the county roads and subtle suggestions of future wildflowers.  These lands are used to drought. Mike recently carved an abstract piece of art out of the base of a Pinon tree that we had to cut down to create our new home. The base is only a little over five inches wide and yet Mike was able to count 196 rings! This short tree was almost 200 years old, but most of the rings were impossible to see without extreme magnification.

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Oh, and here’s a photo of his new piece. He calls it Rabbit-Hawk… 

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

Hard-won Insights Into Cancer

As a woman who was raised with an enormous fear of breast cancer, after my Mom experienced a radical mastectomy in her thirties, I had a lot to learn when I was diagnosed with COPD recently, and then discovered that I might have lung cancer. I noticed that the excellent program “Beyond Cancer” in CBS Sunday Morning todayfocused mostly on childhood and breast cancer, most women’s greatest fears. I would like to raise awareness that lung cancer is far more common.

lung cancer purpleLung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, with 1.8 million new cases diagnosed yearly. In the United States, lung cancer is the most fatal cancer in women, surpassing breast cancer in 1987 as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It is also the most fatal cancer in men, killing more men than prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and colon cancer combined. Lung cancer in never-smokers is the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Overall, 27 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S. are due to lung cancer

I know what you’re thinking now: Yes but lung cancer only happens in smokers.

The average age for lung cancer is 70, and 80 percent of people who develop lung cancer have smoked at some time, but lung cancer occurs in women and lung cancer occurs in non-smokers. While lung cancer in men who have smoked is decreasing, lung cancer in non-smokers is increasing.

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It’s estimated that 20 percent of women who develop lung cancer in the U.S. have never smoked, and that number increases to 50 percent worldwide. Lung cancer also occurs in young adults – It’s estimated that 13.4 percent of lung cancers occur in adults under the age of 40. While this number may seem small, when compared to the incidence of lung cancer overall, it is not. It is estimated that if everyone past age 55 underwent regular screening, the mortality rate from lung cancer could be decreased by as much as 20 percent.

In summary, if you haven’t had a lung x-ray in years, get one now. The nodules in my lungs are small. I did not know that there is a very specific protocol depending on that size and number. In my case we will wait three months and then do another cat scan to see if they are growing.

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Now I live in a rural Colorado county with nice clean air, but all those years of living in cities must be catching up with me… How about you? What’s happening in your lungs right now? It may be a good time to take a look!

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)

 

When did I lose contact with my culture?

Granted, I have had an unusual transition from my working life as an academic librarian for 25 years, to a new career as a writer at age fifty. At that time I began pitching stories to magazines and sold quite a few. I still felt connected with the world around me, and wrote about it constantly as the “Midlife Crisis Queen.”

Find Your Reason Cover smallMy focus then was on the experience of “midlife” broadly defined as that time between age 40 and 60, when we awaken into a whole new world of possibilities, a new and improved realization of do-overs before its all over. Midlife became an exciting new rite of passage for me, available for the first time in human history to boomers, and those who follow after us.                                                                                                                                                       Numerous women writers I know and respect have written about becoming invisible in our culture as we age. In my experience, this transition has been so slow and subtle that I have not noticed it as the years go by. But I am here to say that I now feel, at age 62, in many respects I can no longer see myself at all in our present culture.

Especially on television I see a culture that does not include me. The contradictions just keep coming, and sometimes I want to deny that this is my culture, especially when I watch the news. The definitions of words I thought I knew keep changing.

For example, in a recent interview with Kellyanne Conway, she complained about everyone judging her by the clothes she wore instead of her words. Hello Kellyanne, that is a battle women have been fighting forever. In fact, that is one the main reasons women became feminists! Did you miss that blast from the past?

I suppose most of these misunderstandings do come from the younger folks having no sense of history, or just a very jaded understanding of where ideas like feminism came from. How many Americans know that women didn’t get to vote in national elections until the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920? Sometimes I wish we could give all of our elected officials a test to see how much they actually do know about our history.

Here’s another example: I would love to hear President Trump’s definition of “McCarthyism.” Would it include “the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper evidence?” McCarthyism is the practice of making unfair allegations especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism. This sounds a bit like Trump’s allegations that progressive protesters are getting paid to protest. Where is his proof? What has happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Mostly I am shocked and ashamed at how quickly we have gone from a nation of facts to a nation of “alternative facts.” And I fear most of our population does not know the difference. I am afraid David Brooks hit the nail on the head when he observed recently that President Trump continues to “take a page from the Fascist Handbook.”

‘Those who do not know their history, are condemned to repeat it.’

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a personal journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement homes:  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)

Writing Skills: Short and to the Point!

writing-penHere’s a new take on developing your writing skills. I LOVE the way Kim Tackett decided to write 35 word (very) short stories. Go check out a few and then try writing one for your brain challenge of the day! I tried to do this yesterday and found it quite revealing!

Since I was ill for over a month, I spent some time thinking about why I feel guilty so much of the time. Even when I’m ill with bronchitis, I feel like a lazy bum laying around. I guess I got some SERIOUS brain washing growing up, about being “productive” everyday!

So I wrote:

How does guilt live so long?

From my baby days, and yet still alive and well today, surprising me — stealing my freedom and joy.

Away with all guilt. I’ll go far beyond your influence now!

Oh, if only my 34 words could make it so…

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)

 

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:

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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)