I’m beginning to dread a lot about Christmas…

halloweenHere we are, barely past Halloween, and here comes an onslaught of  “holiday” commercials! Yippee! Yes, they can be subtle at first, but they are there. Look closely. They creep on to our TV screens like ghosts and goblins sent to disturb our mellow post-Halloween days. Panic sets in.

It must be my age. Each year I face the “holidays” with increasing dismay instead of the previous joy. The “holidays” make me tense and uncomfortable. Instead of childhood visions of sugar plums from my ancient past, I now feel dread, pure and simple.

The advertising is ugly. It does me in… Is it the good old American hard-sell or the nauseatingly sweet, happy families advertising anything you need RIGHT NOW? We all know this is pure fiction!

Christmas dreadWhy do the Hallmark ads bring a wee tear to our eye? Because we know they aren’t real. They try to capture a life we wish we had instead of the one we live now. And don’t get me started with those male fantasy commercials, where he buys her that one special piece of jewelry so she’ll fall into his arms for a night of amazing sex, suggesting not too subtly she’s nice for a price.

I admit, when Mike and I first met, we had a lot of fun going out to buy our first tree together. We were so happy to have someone to share ANY holiday with. But now it all feels so crass to me. The “holidays” have turned into a gigantic embarrassment. This tradition has soured.

I swear if Jesus came back and saw what’s being done in his name, he would slit his wrists. It has really turned UGLY. Pushy people fighting over parking places at the mall, really? 

We decided to opt out years ago. Enough is enough!

Postscript: I first published this piece in 2009. It has only gotten worse since then!

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The psychology of illness

Since before my counseling internship at a hospital back in the early 1990s, I have been fascinated with how we feel about ourselves when we become very ill. How do we explain illness to ourselves?

The traditional American view was everywhere when I sat with patients back then. Elderly patients always said something like, “What did I do to deserve this?” Christian guilt and shame runs rampant in environments like these:

“I must have done something wrong or I wouldn’t feel so bad.”

c. difficile bacteriaIt seems we always search for some plausible explanation even though we know we all have to die of something, sometime. I have had a number of health challenges in the past year, many more than my previous 60+ years on this planet, and they are all permanent disabilities, not temporary setbacks. Lately I have acquired a serious bacterial infection that does not normally occur in healthy adults, so of course my mind turns to the “why” questions again.

How did I get this? Why now?

I suppose we think this way because we feel certain that there must be some justice in all of this. That is our problem, trying to find meaning in a world that is certain to kill all of us eventually is an absurdity. If that bacteria doesn’t get you, something else will. But it seems so human to rage against this mentality.

This is what interests me about illness and the ways we humans think about it.

Psychoactive Chemicals and YOU

psychoactive brainI, like probably millions of others all over this globe, have an interest in psychoactive chemicals. What can they do to and for us? For humans, examples of psychoactive chemicals include caffeine, alcohol, cocaine, LSD, and cannabis. Can certain of these compounds benefit us, leading to higher levels of consciousness? Can they open our minds to new and different kinds of creativity, or simply make our lives more pleasurable? I was surprised to find new information on this topic on the National Geographic Wild channel yesterday.

The “Happy Hour” episode of the show “World’s Wierdest” explores how psychoactive chemicals have affected animal behavior throughout evolution, sometimes assisting them in being more effective hunters. One fascinating research project looked at how spiders weave very different types of webs on different compounds, for example cocaine versus THC. They also look at primitive tribes who have used these substances in their rituals for centuries.

Here’s a brief summary of this episode:

“Nat Geo WILD explores nature as it gets rolling drunk and spaces out, and delves into the importance, or lack thereof, of intoxication in the animal kingdom. Meet monkeys that binge drink and throw frat parties, elephants that go on drunken rampages through villages and lemurs that get high off millipedes. And when a jaguar’s hunting skills may have been enhanced by chewing on psychedelics, scientists question whether or not there are evolutionary benefits to psychoactive compounds.” 

psychotherapyAnother piece of human behavior I find fascinating is why some of us are open to learning more on this topic, even experimenting with a few new substances, while others fear even the smallest alteration to their present state of mind.  Could it be that old fear of “losing your mind” on some level, or going some place you’ve never been before? My favorite joke on this topic: unemployment is much more of a gateway drug to serious drug use than marijuana, but LOVE is the best drug of all! Trust me, I know.

Best Boomer Bloggers: Fall 2017 Edition

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Wow, autumn really crept up on me this year! One day it was summer and then boom, it was fall, and most of the beautiful leaves were almost gone! I’m not sure how that happened. It must be that whole time flies as we get older thing. Is everybody ready for winter, because it is just around the corner. We already had our first hard frost a couple weeks ago here at 7,000 feet in Colorado, and Oktoberfest is long over. It must be time for me to host another edition of the Best of Boomer Blogs!

First I would like to welcome a new member to our group. Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski. Rebecca sees herself as “a purveyor of all things fun and a die-hard foodie. I love to travel and write from anywhere on the planet I happen to land, even if it’s my own backyard in Los Angeles. One of my favorite areas of the world to travel are the historic cities and countrysides of Europe.” For her first presentation here, from her blog BabyBoomster.com she says:

Taking care of our vision over 50 is particularly important even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts. There are hidden diseases that are age-related that can easily be prevented. I include products and services to keep your eyes healthy and bright.

Next up, Meryl is worried that she might be impacting Broadway. I’ll let her explain: A minor problem Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting faced this past week, made her think there might be something wrong with her. Could she have bad karma? She’s not sure what that is, but she might have it. Read about her dilemma in Bad Karma?

Dont respond tonegative people.

Carol Cassara, over at Heart Mind Soul, noticed a different kind of stress this week: Sometimes social media can create more stress than we might have ever imagined. Part of that stress is our tendency to want to respond to every comment, every post that rings our chimes. Carol Cassara has a great suggestion for making life more peaceful.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about the importance of getting your medications checked each year. Although Oct. 21, was “Check Your Meds’ Day,” it’s important to take all of your medications – including prescription and over-the-counter medication, plus vitamins and other dietary supplements – to a pharmacist or physician for a “brown-bag” review. That allows them to check for potential harmful drug interactions and possibly eliminate unnecessary drugs.

keep calm and enjoy retirementFellow blogger Tom Sightings says, sometimes retirement doesn’t play out exactly the way we envisioned when we were younger. Retirement is a destination, but it is also a journey, and with any journey it makes sense to stop and review where we’ve been and where we’re going. So check out Tom’s 5 Questions to Ask Yourself After You Retire.  Go see if you’re on track to realize your own retirement dreams.

Now for a word from our sponsor:

I have been struggling lately with various expected and unexpected problems. As it turns out, even when you are happily retired, the problems just keep coming!

amazing sunrise on Comanche Drive

Luckily the beautiful sunrises and sunsets keep coming too…

 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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The past two weeks have been filled with disappointment, anger and misery for me. First I learned that the main distributor of my books is ripping me off, then I learned how desperate our president is to remove our access to affordable health care, and then I got really sick. It seems “the system” can get you wherever you are, and my bad times seem to always come in threes.

I’ve written enough about the Amazon situation, and my printer informs me that it “appears to be under investigation by Amazon.” Please just work through me to purchase my books and leave them out of the equation!

medical factOn the access to affordable health care front, I need to say that Obama’s plan has been lifesaving for us. Since neither one of us is fit for employment, and we aren’t yet 65, we have found a plan in the past few years that at least tries to keep our premiums at a reasonable rate. We are limping along until age 65. Now we have to wonder why our government is acting so hateful towards a couple of elder Americans who have worked hard all our lives, and just need a little bit of help to make it into Medicare. Mike’s problems are most certainly related to his nine years in the Navy, but (of course) the Navy kept no records of his exposure to a number of toxic chemicals and radiation. No records equals no VA assistance. It’s a long story. You don’t want to hear it…

c. difficile bacteriaMe, I just struggle to breathe (COPD), plus a number of brain injuries. Then last week I caught a really NASTY bug. I knew within days that this wasn’t just your standard food poisoning. It felt much more virulent and toxic. Come to find out it was C Diff. Stay away from this one, although you really can’t because it’s everywhere! This disease has pretty much controlled my life for the past 12 days. I guess my immune system isn’t as strong as it used to be.

 The Hero Sam ElliottIsn’t it strange but interesting how severe illness can make you think? For some reason lying in bed feeling crappy makes me think a lot about my life. Then I watched a fascinating movie on this topic. “The Hero” is the thinking person’s film about facing your own death. Sam Elliott plays a 70+ actor who receives a terminal diagnosis. The entire film is about how he deals with it. I love Sam Elliott and his willingness to tackle tough topics in a realistic way! One critic called this film “cinematic zen.” I agree.

None of us get out of this alive! I have decided to get comfortable with that fact sooner rather than later.

Making new friends by writing books

One year ago I struggled with the decision to publish my fourth book. The upfront costs to me include new book formatting fees (at least $100), new book fees and proof costs through Ingram’s Lightning Source ($105) for POD “print-on-demand”, plus the cost of ordering copies at a reduced price to sell locally ($100+). I hesitated with this decision because I had no certainty of big sales, considering the small market I might have for a local personal memoir.

writing penI started writing and publishing books back in 2008. This has been a generally positive experience for me, but things have certainly changed recently. The full extent of these changes was revealed to me in this past month by one of my new readers. She was excited about purchasing my book, because she had just bought a home near here. She contacted me through e-mail and reported back to me what she had paid for a “NEW” copy of my book on Amazon. She even shared her invoice with me. From this I could easily see that the book she had purchased was not POD and not new, meaning that neither my printer or I would be reimbursed for this purchase.

Click here to find out Amazon’s new and evil ways to rip off authors.

thank youBut amazingly enough, there has been a silver lining for me in all of these disturbing discoveries. I have started building some great relationships with my readers! I have discovered that they are truly on my side against the big, bad book industry. That reader who shared her invoice with me, returned her book this week and ordered a “fair trade” copy directly from me. I am slowly convincing other readers to buy only from me, instead of buying “fake new” or used copies where the author receives nothing from the sale. 

If nothing else, this movement has renewed my faith in the generosity and thoughtfulness of my readers. They seem to enjoy having a personal relationship with me as a fellow human being, instead of the harsh, impersonal experience of ordering a book from a multinational corporation. And, BTW, I have made back my investment in my new memoir, but only by working directly with my readers. 

I started sharing my e-mail address online over a year ago, because I love hearing from readers or potential readers. I’ve also learned how much fun it is to work directly with you! Contrary to what you might think, I love to hear from you! Ask me about my books and how I ended up crowning myself the “Midlife Crisis Queen.” Learn from the mistakes I made when I lost my job at age 49. See why I developed such a strong interest in midlife psychology. Tell me what you are trying to learn in your own life, and I will tell you if I can help.

Reading and books are always about relationships and I love building new ones!

E-mail: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

Amazon says: Save money, don’t pay authors!

writing and moneyWell, it finally happened, or at least I first heard about it this week. I learned from one of my new readers that she bought a “NEW” copy of my book through Amazon. My books are print-on-demand (POD), so I waited to see a sale on my Lightning Source sales page. Guess what? No book was printed and they showed no sale…ever!

It’s official. Amazon is now selling new copies of my books without paying me a dime! I don’t know how or how long this has been going on. The only reason I heard about it this time is that I knew the buyer, and she sent me a copy of the Amazon invoice. They sold my book for under $7 without charging for postage. Yes, books can be very cheap when they stop paying authors altogether.

The way this system is supposed to work is that Amazon sends a request to my printer (Lightning Source) to print a copy and they send it to Amazon. I am the only one who is supposed to be able to buy new copies from the printer at a discounted rate, to sale direct to local customers. Apparently Amazon has found a way around that system now.

You would think a book company would not want to screw over their own authors. WRONG!

Amazon will screw over anyone for their own profits.

If you don’t believe me, how about the New York Times! (I no longer send out free books for review, because I was being ripped off by those too!)

I am so disillusioned with the book industry at this point!

Please don’t buy my books through Amazon. E-mail me directly: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com