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.

It’s not where you start, it’s how you finish…

That is how I like to see my life now. Growing up with a strong German emphasis, I learned to measure myself by my daily productivity. What had I produced today? Being a good girl back then meant never feeling adequate, always trying harder to achieve some illusive sense of “good enough.”

“What’s this? One B along with all of these nice A’s?”

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As strange as it may seem, it was only through a number of difficult crises in my late forties that I found ways to transform myself and my life. Bad marriage, divorce, job and then career loss, you get the picture. I spent some serious time living on severance and unemployment, changing my whole perspective on me. “Good girl” hadn’t worked out. What’s next?

things left unsaidI began a full out rebellion at age 49! I became a writer at age 50, after 25 years of not saying what I needed to and not getting what I wanted as a good girl/ mild-mannered librarian. I stopped saying all the right things while agreeing with everybody. Mostly I stopped apologizing for being me.

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In other words, I started a blog!

I learned to take care of my needs first, with no guilt or shame, and create what I wanted for me. My life has been so much better since I made that decision, and it just keeps getting BETTER!

Today I follow my passions with color, creativity, and nature. We moved to rural Colorado three years ago with no rules about what we have to do today. I live with a man who accepts me exactly the way I am, without conditions, and I find it almost impossible to take crap from just about anybody anymore.

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And people say aging isn’t liberating…

Bicycle injuries rising among older riders

She was just going out for a short bike ride around her neighborhood. It didn’t seem necessary to carry an ID, or even wear a helmet. Ten minutes later she was found lying on the ground unconscious near a bike path. The bystander who found her, called 911 and an ambulance arrived soon afterwards. Then a kind Emergency Medical Technician whisked her off to the emergency room with her mind constantly weaving in and out of consciousness. After numerous X-rays and cat scans she ended up in the neuro unit of the hospital for observation.

This is a true story.  It happened to me back in 2008 in Fort Collins. My own tumble over the handle bars and into a nasty bike accident, led to fractured ribs, an injured wrist and thigh, and a traumatic brain injury.

This is my warning to you who think riding a bike is still as easy as climbing back on again. 

Injuries among older riders have jumped dramatically in recent years. Between 1998 and 2013, bike injuries among all adults over the age of 18 increased 28 percent, while hospital admissions jumped 120 percent. Head traumas went from 10 percent to 16 percent of all injuries in the same period.

Older bicyclists fueled much of that increase in injuries, especially ones that required an emergency room visit. Injuries among those 45+ jumped 81 percent and hospital admissions increased 66 percent, from 39 percent to 65 percent of total injuries. While death rates for cyclists younger than 15 fell by 92 percent between 1975 and 2012, death rates for cyclists between the ages of 35 and 74 showed a large increase, according to CDC data.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bicycle-injuries-rise-especially-for-older-riders/

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SO much FUN when you’re YOUNG!

While I do not want to discourage you from healthy exercise as you age, be careful out there! I feel the effects of my brain injury everyday, especially when I write or speak with others. My memory is definitely not the same and it also completely depends on what area of the brain you injure.  I find I tire quickly in social situations, and the first sign that I am getting overwhelmed is when I cannot think of the proper word for something, a difficult feeling for one who has always been proud of her ability with words.

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On the flip side, my brain injuries (yes I suffered a second concussion after we moved in here!) have taught me to slow down, meditate more, and enjoy each moment as it arrives.

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Besides now living in a quiet and contemplative part of Colorado, I have learned some wonderful relaxation techniques that are quite FUN regardless of your brain injury status.

Take care of that old personal computer up there! You only get one.

Number 500 of the Best of Boomer Blogs!

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Freedom of the press is only available to those who own one, and now, we do!

Ten years ago I decided to become a writer. Fifty seemed like the perfect age to start something brand NEW. Ah, was one 50-year-old ever so naive? At first I found some success as a freelance writer. Then I met a young (compared to me…) blogger who got me excited about the idea of instant self-publishing.

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Since then I have created a number of blogs, but my first was called the “Midlife Crisis Queen.” I put six years of my life into that creative product, then I scrapped it for this one. But the whole time I participated in the “Best of Boomer Blogs.” Why? Because I love interacting with other bloggers, seeing what they are thinking about, and reading their posts.

BBB participants have changed many times throughout this past decade. Today we have some tremendously talented bloggers. Let’s get to it!

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about cell phone etiquette this week. Staying 10 feet away from others when you talk, avoiding use of your cell phone when you’re driving, and putting your phone’s ringer on silent mode in theaters and restaurants are among the recommendations. See Robison’s article, “Please: Use Cell Phone Etiquette,” for more tips on the polite use of cell phones in public.

Problems with a device – specifically a computer and iPad – started Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting thinking about issues those of us of a certain age often encounter when using computers, iPhones and other electronic gadgets. Read all about it in Reflections on Being Electronically Connected, Bewildered and Befuddled.  

Writer Carol Cassara just returned from 16 wonderful days in France, where the culinary delights are many. French food is known for its liberal use of butter, sugar and bread, all forbidden on her present diet. Here’s how she mastered the challenges of superior French cuisine!                                          

In A Weekend to Remember, Tom Sightings reports from Washington, DC. In his post he shares some of the sights, as well as a few things he has realized about politics and our country.

As for me, I am astonished at how much my writing and my life have changed since my simple beginnings as a writer back in 2006. Lesson #1: Write for the love of it.

Here are a couple of my favorite photos from our drive up to Cuchara yesterday…

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 We had the bubbling Cucharas River on one side…

IMGP6159and this view of the West Peak off to our left!

This following your heart stuff really works!

Laura and Rasta on insulation 2014 (2)I’m new to southern Colorado. After two years I decided to compile a book about the ups and downs of moving from Fort Collins, Colorado to just west of Walsenburg to build a passive solar retirement home:      A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Please contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!                                      Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)