Married or single: Do you still believe in love?

Did you know there are 128 million single adults in the USA today? That’s roughly one half of all American adults! As a psychologist, this topic has always fascinated me. Why do we choose to remain single or get married at any age? One thing is certain. The factors surrounding that choice have changed dramatically in the past 70 years in this country.

My parent’s wedding photo from 1951 in Kansas

I’m fairly certain my mother felt she had no real choice when she married my father at age 19 in 1951. Nothing in her world encouraged her to consider college or a career. Every woman she saw around her was married or getting married at a very early age, and safe effective birth control was not available. Single career women were quite rare.

Oh how things have changed! When the man I loved asked me to marry him at age 22 I said no. I said if I was to marry anyone it would be him, but I was far to young to even consider it. In fact I did not marry for the first time until I was 39, and even then for the wrong reasons.

Yesterday I sat down and counted up exactly how many years of my life I have spent single and married. Guess what? It was exactly 24 years of each, and Mike was the same! I enjoyed being single most of my early years, and my marriage at age 39 was no wedded bliss. In fact it was very hard on both of us, and ended seven years later in divorce.

I also resented the negative press single people got in this country back then. In fact I wrote an essay about that years later. It was in my first book. It was called, “I said I’m divorced, not contagious.” Historically, divorce was not something that was done in my family. My brother and I were the first to do it, so in my first book I thanked my parents for giving me a solid sense of independence and self-esteem so I could leave my mistakes behind and move on with my life as a stronger, more resilient single person.

After the divorce, at age 49, I spent a few years considering my options. Did I want to remain single forever? I studied the situation in depth and decided one of my fondest dreams in life was to believe in love just once and have it be a good thing. In fact, after I lost my job/career in 2004 I started my own dating service which I named “Intriguing Possibilities” an offline way to meet local older singles. In a rather convoluted way, that is how I met Mike, the love of my life and my present husband. We’ve been together for 17 years now and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I felt so good about it I wrote the book “How to Believe in Love Again” tracing my own process through numerous heartbreaks to genuine love trust and loyalty.

My point is simple. You choose and then stick to it, or change your mind later when you finally meet the best person for you to spend your life with. And you will know when it is right, especially if you are older and wiser. You will know who to trust no matter how many times you’ve chosen Mr. Wrong.

In an interesting coincidence, right before I met Mike I won this frig magnet in a white elephant exchange:

I rest my case!

What’s blooming mid-July in our Foothills Garden?

The answer to that question is just about everything I’ve ever planted! Loving the ubiquitous lavenders, yellow and pink yarrow, catmint, and volunteer sunflowers! We just deadheaded the catmint and Jupiter’s Beard this week, and had over two inches of rain so far this July on our ridge overlooking the Sangres de Cristo Range! Let’s hear it for the monsoons!

My Blue-Mist Spirea bushes on the right and left foreground are acting a little bit shy with just a few flowers so far, but all five should be full out in a week or so!

And this Magenta yarrow is in its first year, so its taking its sweet time to bloom. A couple plants got damaged by that late May snowstorm we had. The Russian Sage and Showy Four-O’Clocks are very late in blooming.

But overall, I’m quite happy with our results this summer!

My experiences with aging, disability and my own mental health

I’ve been thinking a lot about aging and mental health lately, so I looked up the topic. According to an article from our National Institutes of Health:

“The most common mental disorders in older people include depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Mental disorders are associated with increased healthcare costs, mortality and suicide, along with interference with daily living, and a reduction in quality of life.”

From my own experiences, this makes perfect sense. As our health declines, so does our ability to feel good about our lives, and then there are those predictable thoughts about how we’ve lived our lives and what it must feel like to die. One thing I experience is the daily differences in how I feel about my life, but I’m not certain how much of that is caused by my head injuries. Some days I feel almost like I used to, happy and ready to get out and try new things. Other times I can barely get out of bed and face the day. The problem is I cannot predict what will happen each day, so it’s difficult to plan ahead.

Mike has observed this unpredictability and also wondered what causes it. Now I believe part of it is a natural response to losses later in life. Some days I see little future for myself and so I feel depressed. I do not want to drag him down, because there is no need for both of us to suffer. Other days I feel that old optimism and then I can’t believe I was so low yesterday.

What could be more natural than our ability to confront our own aging and disabilities better on some days than others? Also it takes time to adjust to such major changes in health and abilities…

Realistically my ability to travel very far or go anywhere I want to is limited. But also my desire to travel has become less with age and with so many fantastic travel videos to be enjoyed on Youtube. The place Mike and I most want to visit now is Patagonia. There’s a very good chance I won’t ever get there, but I love watching travel videos and dreaming… Now that’s something previous generations did not have! We really are very lucky, even in our old age. I appreciate that everyday!

“Even in seemingly dormant times, we are in transition. Losses and gains are in constant play. We are the change-agent, and we are changed. Even without toil, we transform. So, wisdom advises us to open our hearts to transition; to honor fully what is passing, to learn from all that unfolds, and to welcome what arrives at our door each day with courage and curiosity.”

A few native plants in my Colorado foothills garden

My father, Dr. Jack L. Carter, was a well-known botanist and strong advocate of growing native plants in the areas they are native to. We lovingly called him a “native plants nazi” because he was always commenting on how inappropriate certain plants and trees were in our yards and neighborhoods. In his honor I would like to mention a few natives that have either volunteered or been transplanted into my garden up here at 7,000 feet, west of Walsenburg Colorado.

My favorite is the Showy Four O’Clock. This one just happened to be properly placed to come up every year under my Buddha. It starts blooming in the late day in mid-July and continues for quite a while. The only year it did not bloom was in 2018 when we had a wildfire nearby.

A plant I love to see down here is what I know as the Cane Cholla Cactus. They are common along Highway I-25 from just north of Pueblo to the Colorado-New Mexico state border and they are blooming right now. I liked them so much that I started a few of them in my garden four years ago, because I know they take a long time to grow and bloom.

I just cut off the end of one cane and planted it in the ground. This is a plant two years later….

I am so excited to see that one of my four year old plants actually had a bloom this week! I didn’t know how long it took to get these to bloom. Gardeners must be AMAZINGLY PATIENT.

I have also added a nice evening primrose, which has always been one of my favorites, and of course we have much more yucca than we want!

Finally, we have had hundreds of native sunflowers here ever since we moved in. I love them. They remind me of my Kansas upbringing.

It’s lavender time in my foothills garden!

If I had to choose one plant that LOVES it the best up here at 7,000 feet, it would be lavender. Every year my plants get larger and larger and ever more happy and beautiful!

They are just coming out now in all of their glory with my different colored yarrow plants!

And they mix so well with many different types of flowers and plants.

Lavender was one of the first plants I planted, before I even had a garden going south of our home.

This is my first plant in October of 2018. I have found that is smells wonderful and absolutely no critters are anxious to take a bite of it 🙂

This is that plant today!

It seems that there is a new lavender farm in our county called Spanish Peaks Lavender Farm, 10 miles northwest of Walsenburg, off County Road 521. I’ve contacted them for more information about their operation and I’ll get back to you with more if they answer me.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about choosing the right lavender plants for your high country garden, please go here!