Back to reality, strange as it is…

everyone seems normal until youThis is your brain on drugs, prescription drugs… After a few days of very strange brain sensations and a few wild hallucinations (both visual and auditory!), I’m finally starting to feel ‘normal.’ I’ve been struggling with the extreme brain craziness of withdrawal from Paxil, which I really cannot recommend to anyone!

Interesting how doctors don’t tell you about this ahead of time. I couldn’t have imaged anything like this from simply stopping a pill…Post Script: 30 days later feeling much better, but I had to fire my doctor over this one.

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Then yesterday I went out into my garden and found the stupid deer or rabbits had chomped off two of the plants I’ve been carefully nurturing all summer. GRRRR… but my garden has mostly just been taken over by SUNFLOWERS EVERYWHERE! Funny how the deer don’t like them…

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We are experiencing the total invasion of three foot sunflowers everywhere here at the Navajo Ranch in southern Colorado!

Poppy field in Oz

Sometimes it feels just like that scene from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ where they find themselves surrounded by poppies!

I had so much FUN meeting a few new women at a friend’s party yesterday. Most of them live in La Veta, so I got an earful of stories and anecdotes about living there. I love La Veta, and I’m so glad it is nearby, but I have never wished that I live there.

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I figure if we came this far to get away from the noise, traffic, pollution, and problems of other people, why move in right next to them?

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Fog lifting off the Spanish Peaks this morning

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This morning I woke up to a dense fog surrounding our home, so rare around here! We received almost half an inch of rain last night.

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Only minutes later, the sun worked its way through the clouds, and the Spanish Peaks began to emerge…

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Looking west, Mount Mestas suddenly appeared with a big fat gollop of clouds on top.

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LOVE the cloud and sun show in this part of the country!

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Home Sweet Home

 

A mid-summer trip to Pueblo

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My favorite time here in the southern Colorado foothills is the morning. I wake up to such a marvelous array of natural sounds. I love to hear the birds greeting the new day.

IMGP6401Then I go out to my garden and appreciate it all!

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Yesterday we took a trip up to Pueblo to visit a farm east of there to buy fresh produce. I love buying  directly from the farmers and the prices are quite good!

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Then we drove into Pueblo to visit Yang’s Gifts in the Pueblo Mall. Why? Because I won a FREE gift from there! What fun going through the store choosing something just for me and for free! I love this store, but then I have always appreciated jewelry, fans, and beautiful clothes from Asia.

One thing Mike and I now disagree on. I enjoy occasionally driving into Pueblo or Trinidad to shop. He gets quiet in the city and his joy level visibly increases when we leave town.

cropped-sangre-de-cristos-in-spring1.jpgHe gets happier and happier as we get closer to home.

How to NOT get “Lost in America”

Lost in America the movie 1985

I just read a new review of the Criterion re-release of the 1985 Albert Brooks film “Lost in America” in The Atlantic.  This film is a satire about two upper-middle-class Californians who decide to quit their great corporate jobs, and go “find themselves” by traveling our country in a Winnebago.

I couldn’t help thinking, as I read this review, how pessimistic their viewpoint is. Perhaps these Californians failed at their goal simply because they didn’t have a good plan from the beginning. It’s one thing to quit your “boring, predictable existence earning a solid wage” with no real plan at all. It can be an entirely different experience to spend the time to find out where you most want to live ahead of time, and then create a sustainable lifestyle in that place.

Like so many of us from the Boomer generation, the main characters in “Lost in America” achieved financial success and yet could derive no pleasure from that success. What I have learned from decades of living is that financial success provides no pleasure, unless it also provides personal freedom.

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Our greatest success in choosing this new, rural lifestyle has been the freedom we now enjoy. Many would find our lifestyle boring. If you have no interest in weather, wildlife, sunrises, and an ever increasing appreciation of the natural world, you would probably run back to the city after only a few weeks, if not days.

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The silence here can be deafening, unless this is the kind of silence you’ve been seeking your entire life.

How do you work with fear?

“I’ve experienced many terrible things in my life, a few of which actually happened.” – Mark Twain

make the world with our thoughts BuddhaI have only recently challenged myself to choose my worries and thoughts, instead of letting my mind choose them. If I find myself focusing on thoughts I don’t enjoy or choose, I change my mind. I turn to more compassionate and positive thoughts. I was never taught that this is possible, but it is.

Golden Kingdom film BurmaI just saw a new film: “Golden Kingdom” by Brian Perkins. This is the first feature film made in Myanmar since its recent opening to the outside world. Here we are offered a simple, quiet film about four young, orphan monks living in a Buddhist monastery in a remote part of Northeast Burma. The head monk departs on a long journey from which he may never return, leaving the boys alone in the middle of the a forest filled with unknown dangers.

Once the boys are on their own, strange, magical occurrences begin to occur. Orphan Witazara, the eldest, realizes he needs to protect the three younger boys throughout a series of bizarre events, all of which threaten to unravel the fabric of the young monks’ reality.

More specifically, this is a study of traditional Buddhist practice. Blending documentary-style observation with some embellished storytelling, this picturesque portrait of four child monks, forced to fend for themselves in the absence of their mentor, adds a bracing spiritual dimension to an otherwise universal boys-to-men arc.

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In one of the most powerful scenes for me, Orphan Witazara confronts an unseen evil in the woods. His response is to repeat over and over again one of his primary teachings:

If I look at what frightens me, it will go away.

When I thought about that teaching for a while, I found it to be much like something I have learned in my exploration of counseling psychology. When we try to ignore our fears, they can become larger and more scary in our minds. But if we have the courage to confront what we fear and gain awareness of where that fear may come from, if we free ourselves to explore where that fear comes from inside of us, it may gradually lose its power over us.

Awareness is the first step towards freedom from fear.

death and taxes signBegin with the awareness that we alone can free ourselves of our own fears. So many worries can be solved with a new attitude of “Who cares?” Even working with what most of us fear most, death, is workable. If we confront the reality that every single person you have ever known and will ever meet, must die, somehow makes death more approachable. We’re all in this together as living human beings, leading to gratitude for each new day.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear…

Three Years Later in Rural Colorado…

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Today we celebrate three years of living in this magnificent part of Colorado. Granted, this was not all a pleasant experience. In fact the first year and a half, from the time we decided to leave suburbia in Fort Collins until our home was completed here, were grueling. Some synonyms for grueling that describe my experience best: backbreaking, challenging, demanding, formidable, and sometimes hellacious. Building in rural areas is not for the meek, and building in mid-winter has its own challenges, but we lived through it and now we are happy as clams!

(Exactly how happy are clams anyway?)

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We moved here for a number of reasons. To live close to nature, to try passive solar living, to build the kind of home we chose to live in for the rest of our lives, and to find a far more peaceful, healthy and less expensive lifestyle than cities can offer us. We received so much more!

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The greatest gift for me is a sense of freedom and natural silence that I have never come close to in my previous life. I now live in the present, choosing each hour how I want to spend my day. I awaken to the birds singing with the sun pouring in, and go out to work in my fledgling garden of mostly native plants, most of which will be sunflowers blooming very soon!

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Then, if I feel like visiting friends, I drive into La Veta on county roads with wildflowers popping up everywhere. Yes, the dining choices are slim here, just one of the “conveniences” you have to give up to live in the country. Luckily I’m a great cook and prefer to eat at home most of the time.

The hardest part for me was taking the original risk. Letting go of our nice home in suburbia was not easy, especially after seeing the one hundred year old miner’s house we would have to move into in Walsenburg for over a year.

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Then there were the challenges of working with the local contractors and our builder here. Just getting them to come to work was often the biggest challenge! Here’s where we were one year into the build. But somehow it all came together and everything works today, so we have no complaints.

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I know we will face many more difficulties and much stormy weather up here, but at least we finally know where home is. For now, this is certainly where we belong…

Laura and Rasta on insulation 2014 (2)Would you like to read the whole story of how we ended up here enjoying country living? Check it out: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado.