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.

When Breath Becomes Air

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“No philosopher can explain the sublime better than this, standing between day and night.”                    (pg. 34 of When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi)

I just finished reading this fine book, the last written words of a top neurosurgeon who died in his mid-thirties of lung cancer in March of 2015. With a recent scary cat scan of my own lungs in January, you may wonder why I chose to read this book now. I wasn’t sure myself until I read it.

First of all, Kalanithi is obviously a deep thinker, always searching for the meaning in life. In fact as I read I realized he had the opposite reaction than most of us when confronted with such a daunting diagnosis. Most become more emotional, he seemed to become more analytical. This was not my response to my own recent confrontation with death. My response was along the lines of: “Am I proud of my life?”

One aspect of Kalnithi’s story rang very true to me, the way my perception of time has changed so much since we left the city behind with all its traffic and deadlines.

“Everyone succumbs to finitude…Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.” (pg. 198)

We are never so wise as when we live in the moment.

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I am boundlessly grateful to finally understand the pleasure of living in the present.

April Arrives: Welcome to Spring, Boomers!

We had our own private April Fools Joke yesterday morning around here, no power again for 13 hours! Absolutely not funny, but at least we know the drill now…

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We also woke up to half a foot of snow…again! Oh well, all’s well that ends well!

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We have some beautiful snow-capped peaks to look at this morning with a high of around 55 degrees! This is the view from our front door today…

But enough about us, this is the day I share with you some wonderful Boomer blogs written by my virtual friends everywhere!

First off we have Meryl of Six Decades and Counting. Though not a fashion maven who normally ignores fashion fads, this week two news articles caught her attention and triggered some fashion deliberations. Here she ruminates on the topics of jeans and leggings, and the dilemma of whether or not people of a certain age should ever wear this attire. Go read her comments on Fashion Sense and Nonsense: Leggings and Jeans.  

sleep more forget about nonsenseHer final words at left, express her feelings perfectly, from one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Franz Kafka. This is also a perfect expression of my general feelings about our present century and watching the news! LOL!

Writer Carol Cassara discusses a different topic this week: Can you really sit back and manifest your heart’s desires? Over at Heart Mind Soul, wise woman Carol gives us some useful instruction in what else is necessary to make dreams come true?

March is Taste Washington Wine Month. To celebrate, Rita R. Robison, blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, decided to go to Taste Washington, a huge gala in Seattle with 235 wineries pouring wines and 65 restaurants offering food this year, the 20th Anniversary of the event.

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Robison decided to taste wines from the wineries that she’s personally visited. Among her favorite wineries whose wines she tasted at the event are Airfield Estates, Woodinville; Silver Lake Winery, Zillah; and Tsillan Cellars, Chelan.

And finally, Tom asks: Did you play an April Fool’s prank on someone this past weekend, or have one pulled on you? In Are You Ready? Tom Sightings admits to a good one he fell for a few years ago. But then, you too might have gotten a little nervous in his situation.

EASTER-EGGS1Wishing you the best of Aprils! I know I am going to enjoy it because my birthday is always right around Easter, and I have every intention of celebrating surviving the worst winter of my entire life health-wise!

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As another Christmas comes and goes…

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Rasta, the MOST attractive being at our family Christmas!

Why oh why does Christmas go from exciting and FUN as a child, to challenging? Probably  because I’m not as good at being around “family” as I used to be. But seriously, after spending almost no time together in the past 50 years, why should we get along well? I don’t know about you (obviously) but this holiday celebration completely wore me out.

The only truly notable adventure we had was driving south on I-25 yesterday evening south of Pueblo. The wind was blowing pretty crazy off the Rockies to the west. We both saw the wires on the power poles blowing sideways. At that point I said, I wonder if those poles ever break in half.

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In only a few more miles we were stopped by an accident ahead for a few minutes. As we came up to the accident we saw one semi truck lying on its side beside the highway. It turned out that a pick-up towing an old RV had blown over onto the highway.

broken-power-poleAs we approached that accident, we saw old wooden power poles on our right, broken off halfway and blowing in the wind. It was AMAZINGLY windy! A bunch of cars ahead of us got off at the Walsenburg exit after seeing that!

We were just so pleased to get home in time to watch the Broncos lose, and celebrate the passing of another family “holiday”in our own way, with champagne of course.

City life, rural life, stress & heart health

I find the gradual transition I have been through in the past two and a half years, from city life, to small town and rural life, fascinating. I did not know until I researched it, that the entire world is moving from rural to urban quickly.

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According to a 2011 report from LSE Cities and the Deutsche Bank called Urban Stress and Mental Health:

“Urban living is on the rise whereas rural living is becoming the exception – in all parts of the world and at an ever-increasing rate. The rapid pace of urbanization is an important marker of the societal transition at large that has occurred over the past 30 years. Our world is shifting towards an urban, small-family or single household, and at the same time, an aging society. In the next 30 years we will be faced with the growing challenges specific to our cities’ aged single urban populations. 

However, urban living is not only about getting older, it is also about being in a constant state of stress. Stress is the unspecific physiological and psychological reaction to perceived threats to our physical, psychological or social integrity. Urban living can be threatening if you haven’t enough space of your own, if you experience insufficient security or live under unstable economic conditions. Stress increases with the anticipation of adverse situations and the fear of not having the adequate resources to respond to them. From an evolutionary point of view, stress is the mechanism that prepares us for any ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction, and also causes us to evolve in order to better adapt to our environment. Although not harmful per se, stress may jeopardize our health when stress exposure is chronic or when complete recovery is not possible.”

In our first year of living in a very small town, my stress level fell precipitously. It felt amazing at times. With almost no traffic and a much slower lifestyle, I found nobody in Walsenburg to be in a rush, unless they were tourists. There were never parking problems or lines anywhere, but since my natural stress level was geared to noise, traffic, aggressive behavior and threats from strangers everywhere, it took me a while to adjust. I had to tell myself to mellow out constantly.

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In our second year here we moved out to the country on a few acres and began living in a quiet, clean, peaceful, naturally beautiful setting, but my body was still geared to a higher level of alertness and anxiety than my surroundings warranted. I needed to make time to practice meditation, yoga, relaxation and calming exercises.

I needed to learn again that my emotions were tied to my heart. When my world felt like a threatening place, even unconsciously, I was daily putting my heart at risk. Health practitioners worldwide now see stress as a major risk to cardiovascular health. Cortisol and epinephrine are two hormones that, along with others, raise blood pressure and blood sugars in the body, threatening the heart. Another reason stressed-out people are vulnerable to heart disease is that they rarely eat well, sleep well, and exercise.

In short, I cannot believe how much my life has changed since leaving city life behind. I did not know the level of stress I was living with everyday until it was gone. And even then it took me quite a while to truly relax and enjoy the lack of stress in my life.

Learn more about this major transition

 

Boomers Keep On Blogging…

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 The view from my bedroom door this morning….

indian-rug-redTime for a post-Thanksgiving collection of cool posts from my blogging boomer friends. Carol starts us off with some southwestern tidbits. According to Carol, the coyote is an important figure in Native American lore and he has a message for us. In Taos, Carol ran across a beautiful letter a dying woman wrote to her son, a letter than provided inspiration and comfort.

Tom Sightings went to visit family for Thanksgiving. On the way home he stopped off at a place that time forgot. See where that is at What Did You Do Over Thanksgiving? 

Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting was on the road again this week, visiting family, enjoying a sumptuous family feast, and spending time with her granddaughters. Read about some of her activities in Spending Time With the Future Part 2.  After her return home, from a week on the road, Baer mulled over recent life events leading to family conflict, and how her family’s feelings and reactions are similar to the nation’s recent turmoil. Here she reflections on how Family Mirrors the Nation

From the The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist asks: Not a Black Friday fan? Thinking about online shopping for Cyber Monday? If so, Rita offers you tips to help you save money and protect your personal information.

And all of you boomers or millennials out there shopping for the perfect gift, please consider my new memoir for those thinking about retirement alternatives. We did something completely different and we’re so glad we did!