Preparing for the winter solstice now, that time of year when the sun graciously agrees to return one more time.
I am filled with wonder that I live in such a splendid natural place, where every sunrise and sunset hold the potential for breath-taking awe. I must constantly remind myself to appreciate this time in my life and stay focused on the present, where all of my loved ones are still here with me.
Yes, there will be losses. We must all sometimes stumble and fall. But we are here together now for one more dance around the sun… and that is enough!
As many of you know, I have been struggling to understand and express here how living close to nature changes you. Since moving into big sky country over four years ago, I have changed tremendously, to the point where living with a brain injury does not effect me half as much. Why is this? Because nature is slow and deliberate. Nature is in no hurry to explain or understand itself. Nature is so not like the predominantly human world.
This week I read an amazing interview with writer Barry Lopez in the December issue of “The Sun.” Here he explains myself to me well. As someone who grew up in small to medium-sized cities, I rarely experienced the wonder or intimacy of living close to nature. I experienced instead the loneliness and lack of opportunities for true intimacy in the human-made world. I did not even appreciate my own need to reconnect with the natural world completely until my husband Mike talked me into moving to a wide-open space in the high desert of southern Colorado.
As soon as we moved here I felt different. I felt myself slowing down and appreciating each moment much more completely. Each astounding new view took my breathe away. Slowly I began naturally letting go of my past and my future, feeling less alone than I ever have. Nature is deliberate and can be trusted unlike most experiences in wholly human culture. The beautiful silence outside my door each morning provided me with authentic contact with the harmony in a world outside of human existence. Living in such beauty awakens a sense of gratitude for all there is to experience in the natural world. There so much here that most will never experience directly.
Barry Lopez believes that if you asked anyone walking down a sidewalk in a city, “What is it that you really want?” Many would say intimacy. But “you can’t gain intimacy without vulnerability, and you can’t have vulnerability without trust.” Barry finds this lack of intimacy and vulnerability in human culture to be manifested by our lack of intimacy with the land itself. Cities create a kind of competition and divisiveness that can not be found outside of them in the natural world.
Sometimes I think about the darkest moments in my past, moments of depression and hopelessness. I now realize that if I had known enough to escape from cities at those times, I would have found the kind of meaning and peace I needed to find new hope for meeting my next future.
But then we are all on schedule to learn what we must to discover our best life. Trust in that!
Yesterday I was struck by exactly how unreasonable love can be. What is this feeling that often goes against all reason and just is?
As far as I’m concerned, the definitions of love are completely inadequate. One definition is: “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Another is “a great interest and pleasure in something.” Or “to feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).” How inadequate is that?
Reasonable is taking into consideration your own interests first, something most of us do unconsciously and continuously. “What in this for me?” I learned early to notice how so many people I met consider what they can get out of a new friendship before they jump into it. These people are very fair weather friends. I tend to avoid them.
I spent my first few years of college at Colorado College, a very expensive private school in Colorado Springs. There I met a number of very wealthy kids who first wanted to know if your family had a condo in Aspen BEFORE they decided to like you. Who knew there were such people in the world?
That’s when I learned to be much more careful in choosing my friends. Then, for young women, there is always the question whether the men liked you for sex and nothing else. Unfortunately that took me quite a while to figure out. Who knew some men are just pigs?
At age 64, I have known so many friendships, and most have not lasted very long. These experiences left me doubtful whether any of these “friends” ever really cared for me at all. In other words, I don’t expect true love and loyalty in this lifetime. I have experienced too many disappointments in this department.
Then yesterday I had a very frank conversation with Mike on this topic. We have been together for almost fifteen years now and still I doubt. We have been through serious, debilitating illness with Mike in our early years, and the same with me recently. I wondered why he would choose to sacrifice to be with me when he could certainly do better at this point in life. His love and loyalty astounded me. Finally I have found a lover and friend who actually loves me…in sickness and in health.
Love and integrity are so hard to find. If you find them in your personal relationships, return them in full force…
This fall I am feeling my losses fully. My recent tumble in my garden surprised and confused me. My balance is so not what it used to be and I must accept this fact gracefully. In fact I am now realizing that I can no longer do more than one thing at once, and that includes breathing! I have always been one to take off in a rush to get things done. This has only gotten worse because I now feel I must do something before I forget what I’m doing! But this simply will not do for me anymore. My damaged brain (one TBI and three concussions) and my inability to breathe deeply now creates a situation where I MUST TAKE THINGS MORE SLOWLY.
I know. I’m not the first person to discover this limitation of injury and aging, but I see now I am taking things too far to my own detriment. I need to move slower and do less even when I’m anxious to do more. I get angry with this situation, but this is my reality now. As always I come back to my own truth:
Acceptance releases everything to be what it already is.
I have always pressured myself partially because I was taught to be more and contribute. I now also see the flaw in that way of thinking. I am merely another human trying to find some truth and meaning in this life of mine. I am not worse or better than the rest, because in the end most of what we do does not matter. That is why I now laugh when I see this:
So I am letting go like so many do as they age, and as strange as it may seem, I sometimes see the benefits of my present circumstances. My head injuries have caused me to slow down, something I needed to do so I can appreciate each moment more. For example, I have loved Stephen Levine’s “Meditation on Letting Go” for decades, ever since I met him back in the 1980s in Boulder. But it is only now that I can fully appreciate its meaning.
So this Thanksgiving I give thanks for the life I have right now and can finally slow down enough to fully appreciate.
If there is one thing we can all depend on at this late stage of life, it’s downsizing. It started rather timidly. The size of ice cream cartons is what I noticed first. How did that 2 quart carton suddenly become 1.75, and now 1.5 quarts for the SAME PRICE? Did you notice that too? They try to pretend you are paying the same price for the same amount, but NO. You are quietly being ripped off.
Now let’s look at cans of vegetables. They used to all be in 15 or 15.5 oz. cans, right? I just bought a can of green beans that happens to be just 14.5 ounces. It’s the Boomer creep again. Let’s see if we can give them less of a product for the same price. What a great idea! Then check out Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies with a mere 10 ounces in their cans!
The other day I saw a new take on this crafty rip-off scheme. I was trying to choose between two different versions of “Family Size Wheat Thins.” I wanted to buy the “reduced calorie” box, but then I looked closer. The regular Wheat Thins has a full pound in the box. Perhaps the “reduced calorie” has less calories because it has less crackers in the box! That’s one way to cut calories…
I’m sure you have all seen lots of examples of these quiet little rip-offs. I see more and more as we age. Perhaps they think they can take advantage of us better as our eyesight fails us. But there is one downsizing scheme that none of us can escape, whether we like it or not. I wonder what the year will be when the last Boomer leaves this earth.
A fun Boomer statistical fact. It must be all that package downsizing:
“In 1900, 75 percent of the people in the United States died before they reached age 65. This has almost reversed in our lifetimes! Today 70 percent of people die after age 65. Since 1900, life expectancy has increased by more than 50 percent, from a little less than fifty years to about seventy-five years.“
How many useful and important healing plants are we missing out on because of our narrow-mindedness? With so much confusion and down right lies and false advertising about the abilities of compounds containing THC or non-THC Hemp and their medicinal qualities, I thought I might add my two cents here. I will receive no compensation for this personal opinion.
I decided to do my own experiment recently with an irritating spot of arthritis on one of my knuckles. First I tried some locally produced arnica salve. I put it on the sore spot and rubbed it in good and then waited 30 minutes. Nothing changed. The joint still hurt just as much.
Then I tried some Hemp-Eaze, “a handcrafted infusion of fine cannabis root, burdock root, comfrey root, hissop leaves, sage, lavender flowers, lobelia…” but no THC. I put that on my still sore finger and waited. No change after over an hour. I know some of these treatments take a few applications, but I wanted to see what they could do with just one.
I have had a bottle of Mary’s Medicinals CBC salve for a year or so, so I tried that next. Mary’s Medicinal CBC Transdermal Compound is described by them as a spot-specific balm formulated to allow for much deeper penetration than traditional cannabis topicals. It features a 100 mg blend of THC, CBD and CBC. This company was recommended to me as a trust-worthy industry leader with high-quality and effective cannibis-derived products.
I rubbed some into my knuckle and presto change-o no more pain immediately! I was surprised! How could something work so quickly?
Then I got interested in this stuff. Over a week ago I did a face plant in my garden onto a brick. Please don’t try this at home! I split my lip badly inside my mouth and my nose, cheek and chin looked terrible. After my scabs healed I put some CBC ointment on the beginning of my scars.
I also tried some on the wrinkles under my eyes. Now be careful with this stuff. It does contain menthol so keep it a ways away from your eyes, but I have found it really helps with the swelling under the eyes!
I’m not much for miracle cures. I am a skeptic at heart, but seeing and feeling is believing for me! Since this does contain THC, you can only purchase this in states that allow the sale of cannabis-derived products.
No, this isn’t about me… A close friend of Mike’s is facing this now in his sixties, and that got me thinking. For many boomers, divorce has not been so uncommon. And now, in our 50s and 60s, it is still quite possible. You are NOT alone!
Among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s, according to a Pew Research Center report. Statistically speaking we’re healthier and probably going to live longer — possibly thirty years longer than our parents or grandparents did. The surge in later-in-life or “gray divorce” is possibly an unintended consequence of how long we are living today.
When I think back to my first marriage, which ended in 2001, it was quite clear to me after seven years that this union had no chance of going the distance. One way I knew was that I could not possibly imagine my husband taking good care of me in sickness and old age. The genuine, abiding love and loyalty just wasn’t there. Yikes! It was time to try one more time to find that kind of enduring love before it was too late.
At that time I enjoyed the phrase: “DIVORCE IS EXPENSIVE, FREEDOM PRICELESS!“
I was 46 then and still feeling vibrant enough to be willing to take on the risks and possible rewards of dating again, but only after a few years of contemplation and mourning. In fact, I started my own local dating service in 2004 and it was LOTS OF FUN! I named it “Intriguing Possibilities!” I figured after losing my last job and a divorce, I needed a job and a date! Long story short, that is how I met Mike, and I’m so glad I did.
What a lucky day that was! We lived only ten miles apart, but would not have met without Match.com. We knew very soon that this was no ordinary love connection, and fifteen years later we never speak of divorce. We know that we’re going out feet first & together! And so I now have a very tough time imagining being single in my sixties, although I do know that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN AT ANY TIME.
But during my own unique version of a midlife crisis in my mid-40s (I lost my husband, my career and almost my home), I found that I had also lost my faith in love, completely! It was time to do some work on myself to change that situation.
I also know now that the older you are when you choose your next partner, the more likely you will be able to choose wisely. Without the distorted lens of sex appeal or surface stuff, finding an appropriate life partner becomes about how much you enjoy spending “quality” time with your new love. My advice: stay picky and hold out for a deep and abiding love this time. They’re still out there!