“You are your ancestor’s wildest dreams!”

I have always loved history and also found most of us have little real sense of it. And without that strong sense of history, how can we appreciate our family’s or our nation’s progress? One of my graduate degrees is in history, where I learned a deeper appreciation of the simple quote attributed to writer and philosopher George Santayana,

Of course, knowing our history is no guarantee we will learn from it, or change because of it. If we take a hard look at our history with slavery, racism, women’s liberation or gun violence in America, we see some change but certainly nowhere near enough. But with no willingness to even look back and acknowledge what we were like in the past, no progress can be made.

I also enjoy learning about my own family history, which is made so much easier because my mother spent a few years researching both sides of my family back to Germany, Ireland and Scotland. My family history reflects so much progress from our humble immigration to America, to Kansas farmers, business owners, politicians and educators. My grandfather on my Mom’s side, a skilled technician, went door-to-door trying to find any kind of work to support his family during the Great Depression. He ended up owning a major business and took out patents on his many inventions. My grandfather on my father’s side had no time to complete high school, because he needed to go to work to support his family, but Grandpa Carter taught his sons to go to college and even graduate school! And yes, everyone in my parents’ generation became educated, productive citizens.

That is why, when I heard our Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations say this week to a class of college graduates: “You are your ancestor’s wildest dreams!” I felt so proud of my ancestors and myself!

We need to appreciate our progress as much as our shortcomings and knowing our history is the only way to do just that.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

My Mom is now 88 and still energetic and thriving! Perhaps some of you read this post from five years ago. If not, let’s celebrate our Moms together this weekend!

Mom with my niece Justine. She has always loved kids! She taught elementary school for years.

Meet My Amazing Mom!

On the occasion of my Mom’s 83rd birthday, I would like to introduce you to my mother. Born around Kansas City after her mother had had trouble conceiving, my Mom ended up being the eldest of four children. She had her rebellious moments in high school and then met my Dad on a blind date in 1950. He was soon sent to Virginia by the army, but they corresponded for a short period and then they married in 1951. She was only 19 when she got on a train to join him.

She lived in a time when being your husband’s best help mate was what women did. She had kids while also helping her husband advance his career. It was such a struggle in their early lives together. Mom worked to support the family, and had three kids by 1955, while my father finished his PhD in botany at University of Iowa.

College teachers didn’t make much money back then, and they had to move every few years if they weren’t on tenure-track, so we moved around a lot in my early years, but my Mom always kept it together, even when my Dad decided he wanted to go to India for a summer when we kids were quite small. She was supportive of Dad no matter what! That is how she saw herself.

Eventually Mom started taking college classes and received a B.A. from Colorado College the year my eldest sister graduated from high school. Then she started teaching elementary school for the next 20 years. So many of her students remember her as a caring, encouraging teacher.

In the early 1990s my parents ‘retired’ to southern New Mexico, but they kept working hard to produce botany books all the same. My Mom got really good at Photoshop and photography to provide great photos for my Dad’s books. Has anybody heard of Trees and Shrubs of Colorado or Common Southwestern Native Plants? Those are a few of the books my parents produced together after ‘retirement.’

Now their lives have settled down quite a bit (my Dad died in 2020), but Mom still worries about all of us and our families. She has done a bang up job of helping others her whole life.

Mom:   You are my HERO!

Don’t miss the film “Land” by Robin Wright

“Hang on. It all changes…” – Richard Gere, words that reached me at just the right time in midlife…

I want to make sure the rest of you have heard about this not-well-publicized 2021 feature film. It was the directorial debut of actress Robin Wright (from House of Cards), who also stars in it with my new favorite actor, Demian Bichir (as Miguel).

“Land” tells the story of a midlife woman named Edee who experiences the worst most of us can imagine, and loses her way entirely. The one thing she knows for certain is that she does not want to be around others now. She resolves to live in solitude while she attempts to find a reason to go on. She takes off for an abandoned cabin in the Wyoming wilderness completely off-the-grid without a car, running water, heat or electricity. With no survival or outdoor skills, Edee nearly dies from exposure, before a hunter (Miguel) and a traveling nurse happen by at the last minute to save her life.

The best part of the film is the relationship that develops ever so carefully and slowly between Edee and Miguel. Neither one trusts others, but they also have learned the need to trust to survive. I love the dialogue between them. It is so simple, honest and authentic. Edee learns the necessary skills to maintain her lifestyle in the wild and stays there until the surprising ending. I will not spoil it for you.

As many of you may know, I am a trained psychotherapist who has researched and written extensively on the topics of love, trust, midlife redemption and rebirth. I also spent a year in solitude after I lost my marriage, my job and career at age 49. At that time I saw no reason to go on. Today I feel badly that too many of us may end our lives in midlife, because we cannot find a reason to go on. This film does not oversimplify the process of crisis, grief, and rebirth, but it can convince us that we may transition from a full breakdown to breakthroughs into new ways of experiencing ourselves and our lives.

If we give ourselves the time to heal, forgive our past and move on, new desires and parts of ourselves can be discovered & enjoyed!

My book: How to Believe In Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust and Your Own Inner Wisdom explains how I turned love around for myself, and finally got what I wanted most in life. Finding unconditional love and compassion in this world saved my life. Learn how to save yours now by forgiving past mistakes and gaining new self-respect. Then go out and find a new kind of love! Feel free to e-mail me with your questions: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

E-books are available through Amazon

Happy Valentine’s Day – Believe in LOVE again!

At 49, divorced and miserable, I discovered exactly how tough it can be to believe in love again. But after decades of struggle, I was determined this time. I started my own dating service, met lots of midlife daters and learned from them new ways to change my heart, my mind and my feelings towards love. Guess what happened next?

I finally found the love of my life!  We were both 50, but felt just like a couple of kids!

The break up of any major relationship is the perfect time to process how you are relating with others. The last time I launched myself into such deep analysis was when I got divorced and then lost my job/career in 2001. I knew this was a great time to readjust my life priorities. I decided I didn’t much care about anything but love, because if I didn’t ever find one more beautiful love relationship, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to live that much longer. I knew that if I improved my relationship with myself, I would be so much easier for others to enjoy.

How to Believe in Love Again!How to Believe In Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust and Your Own Inner Wisdom is how I turned love around for myself, and finally got what I wanted this time. Finding unconditional love and compassion in this world saved my life. Learn how to save yourself now by forgiving past mistakes and gaining new self-respect. Then go out and find a new kind of love this time! Please feel free to e-mail me with your questions: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

E-books are available through Amazon

This is how democracies die

When I watch the news and other reports on the crazy rhetoric and violence going on in our country today, I see far too many who have lost all perspective on what is happening here. For a better idea of what I am talking about, view this recent PBS Frontline where the reporter interviews many members of anti-democratic and fascist militia members and how they see “the revolution” that needs to happen, according to them. For your information, fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultra-nationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and the economy that rose to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.

When I listened to these interviewers with members of the various militia groups, I found their perception of our life today to be completely out of touch with anything I have experienced in my 66+ years of living in the USA. Are they living in a different world than me? Obviously. But what has happened to them to convince them that we are now in need of authoritarianism and dictatorial power instead of democracy? Is being encouraged to wear a mask or get a vaccine anti-democratic? It is to this group. How can they find the inhumanity of the most outrageously evil chapter in modern world history (Nazism) appealing? How is that possible? What is it about their life that makes them worship such an evil malignant narcissist as Trump and hate our democracy?

Their answer, which was repeated over and over again in their interviews, is that they were raised to love guns and to be anti-government. They were so pleased when President Trump agreed with their plan to reduce the USA to an authoritarian state, not that most of them even know what that word means. They said over and over again, “Hey, if our President agrees, we must be right!” Trump has weaponized the lunatic fringe.

“How the Boogaloo Bois went from meme to movement” Slate.com August 19th 2020

I take all of this information in and find it frightfully possible that January 6th was this groups’ version of the Nazi Kristallnacht. Yes, if you research further into Trump’s family history, you will find a powerful foundation of German elitism and authoritarianism. Perhaps our Oath keepers and Boogaloo Bois will be seen in history as Trump’s “brown shirts” or Sturmabteilung. These young Nazi ‘stormtroopers’ “provided protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties…” (Wikipedia)

When I add in the fact that there are an estimated 630,000 fully automatic weapons (ATF estimate from 2017) and Trump’s father died of Alzheimer’s disease, I cannot help but wonder if these very young extremists might lead us into “revolution” and chaos under the leadership of a mentally unstable leader. I mean, how stable was Hitler? And yet millions of Germans followed him until he finally shot himself and left a totally obliterated Germany .

I know. Most of us don’t want to think about this or watch things like Frontline to try and understand what’s going on, but this is not a good time to blow off thinking about our future as a democratic nation. Do you love democracy? Then vote while it may still count. Many, if not most Republicans no longer believe in voting rights or fair elections.

Why am I here now? Family History!

Somehow, all of the happenings in my family right now are stirring up many questions for me about my family background. The death of my father in 2020, the dementia of my Mom now and the birth of the first member of the next generation of our family has me wondering how all of this came about.

Why am I here? What and who participated in the creation of our family and why?

Top: Photo of my parents’ wedding in 1951 in Kansas City, Kansas

Luckily, my Mom spent a few years searching for the answers to these exact questions back in the early 2000s and produced a detailed family history called: Generations: Our Grandmothers for all of us to learn from. So this week I decided to sit down and read it cover to cover. It also included many family photos I had never seen before. What a gold mine of genetics and social history from a family whose roots go back to farming in eastern Kansas in the 1800s and railroad development in the Kansas City Kansas area.

Top: Great-Grandma McGrew on her wedding day in 1907

What struck me first was how large families were back then, and how “romances” developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the case of all of my great grandparents, they met because so many lived in boarding houses where family members mixed. In the case of my Great-Grandma McGrew, she was sent to live with a different farm family to help out, because her own family had too many mouths to feed. She ended up marrying the only son in her adopted family. The McGrews greatly valued education, so even though the closest high school was ten miles away, they made certain that their only daughter, my grandmother, finished high school. She taught elementary school for two years and then ventured out to the big city to expand her horizons in business school. She then secured a job as a secretary in Kansas City where she soon met my grandfather.

My Mom describes our Carter background this way: “If there is a unifying “track” to the story of the Carter family, it would be the Santa Fe Railroad and its development over time as the history of railroads was unfolding in the West.” My Grandpa Carter, his father, and most of his brothers worked on the railroad their whole life, but Grandpa was determined that his two sons would not. He also believed strongly in education as the primary path to a better life, and my Dad and uncle’s lives certainly proved that point. My dad and Uncle Bob were the first Carters to not only finish high school, but also finish college and graduate school. My dad swore by the advantages of a good education and it worked out great for him and his kids.

Developing your mind and allowing it to go wherever it wishes, opens up so many doors and windows on life! It also allows for so much freedom in determining where we go next. I cannot even imagine how different I would have been without my love of learning…