Writing Skills: Short and to the Point!

writing-penHere’s a new take on developing your writing skills. I LOVE the way Kim Tackett decided to write 35 word (very) short stories. Go check out a few and then try writing one for your brain challenge of the day! I tried to do this yesterday and found it quite revealing!

Since I was ill for over a month, I spent some time thinking about why I feel guilty so much of the time. Even when I’m ill with bronchitis, I feel like a lazy bum laying around. I guess I got some SERIOUS brain washing growing up, about being “productive” everyday!

So I wrote:

How does guilt live so long?

From my baby days, and yet still alive and well today, surprising me — stealing my freedom and joy.

Away with all guilt. I’ll go far beyond your influence now!

Oh, if only my 34 words could make it so…

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home in the foothills:                                         A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee   (email me:  MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

 

The Challenge of Being Fully Present in Your Life

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”  – Deepak Chopra

A few years ago I presented a talk to a group of unemployed Americans in their middle years. When I was finished, the first person to raise her hand asked me,

“Do you believe we have to hit bottom in our lives before we truly begin to change?” My answer at the time was, “I did.”

The fact is that most of us will not change until we become uncomfortable enough to admit defeat. Most need to be absolutely convinced that the “plan” they had for their life is simply not working. The way this usually comes about is through a major crisis which demands our complete attention. Divorce, serious illness, the death of a loved one, or long-term unemployment, especially when these occur in our middle years, seem to be the most common stimulants leading to the end of our naïve notion that we somehow can control everything that happens to us. These events become ever more common as we age. These unforeseen and often unforeseeable occurrences tend to inform us in no uncertain terms that changes in our life plan are now in order.

We may first try to defend against the onset of pain and confusion by denying or ignoring this sudden lack of certainty or security in our lives. Most seek to escape into bad relationships, drug addiction, religious faith or even artificially extreme feelings of independence, as they defend against their need to depend on others in their lives.

Even though it may seem completely counter-intuitive at this tough spot, you may discover that accepting and embracing the chaos and uncertainty you feel surrounded by is your first best step towards peace. Stop, sit down quietly, and begin to feel the enormity of this apparent crisis, realizing that this may be one of the most important opportunities of your adult life.

Can you trust in the power of your own psyche to survive this crisis, and in that way heal yourself?

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“Have a sense of gratitude to everything, even difficult emotions, because of their potential to wake you up.  – Pema 

Know that this is the beginning of your own personal rite of passage into full adulthood. This is a natural, normal stage of human development studied by psychologists like Carl Jung, when he experienced it himself.

Recognize that you are not the first to feel chaos and uncertainty in your middle years. This is a well-documented transition of personal change, growth and human evolution. And the best way to move through this life stage smoothly is to embrace the new information and knowledge you will be given now.

By allowing this in, you have the ability to access the unique instruction this moment has for you. Instead of attempting to run from it, embrace the uncertainty. Begin to believe this moment is giving you access to your own unique brand of power, one you may have never known or acknowledged before. Begin to see that you alone know somewhere inside what needs to happen next. Spend the time necessary to listen to the small, still voice within, the one you may have been ignoring for decades. Recognize this voice perhaps for the first time as your inner guide, brimming with accumulated information and wisdom.

This source knows where you need to go next. It will instruct you in how you must change, grow and evolve into your best self in this moment. The sooner you begin to believe in its power and trust this valuable inner resource, the sooner you will follow its instructions, and find more structure, certainty and peace in your life.

This is a brief excerpt from my book, Find Your Reason To Be Here: The Search For Meaning in Midlife.  Please contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  

Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

Do you have an introvert room?

Introversion is a personality trait characterized by a focus on internal feelings rather than on external sources of stimulation. While introverts and extroverts are often viewed in terms of two extreme opposites, the truth is that most people lie somewhere in the middle of the extroversion-introversion continuum.

introvertsI’ve always seen myself as borderline between introvert and extrovert. I need to spend quite a bit of time alone, but too much can be, well, too much.         I’m also painfully aware when I’ve spent too much time with others, feelings of anxiety and discomfort overwhelm me, and if left unattended, become unbearable.

The biggest bonus to me with retirement is that I can finally CHOOSE how much time I want to spend alone or with others, and also who I wish to spend that time with. Quality becomes paramount. Unfortunately, the people I would most like to spend time with are back in Fort Collins working. So, after moving to a new part of Colorado recently, I  have been studying the process of retirement and making new friends after age sixty.

Mike and I are the absolute best of friends, but I know how important it is not to depend too much on your significant other to meet all of your friendship needs. That can be a relationship killer in the long run. Besides, I really am a fairly gregarious person sometimes. I enjoy going into La Veta and hanging out with the women who run The Silk Road. They are so warm and welcoming to a newcomer like me. The women at the new realty in town are also nice, and I have found a few friendly people up in the foothills where we live.

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Then I go home and enjoy my introvert room, the room where I write each morning. I have filled this small room with pictures, sayings and mementos from sixty years of living. I love sitting here looking around the room reminiscing, and feeling safe in my introverted cocoon. No one can touch me here, and I am free to let my imagination run wild, a bit like Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own.”

Here in my safe place I like to challenge myself with questions like, “What do you want to happen today?” “Who would be fun to hang out with?” “What kind of interactions nurture my soul?” “Who do I know who makes me laugh a great big belly laugh?”

There I can find so much contentment! It sometimes seems I was custom made for retirement, because I don’t need or want much from the outside world. I don’t need much ego-building admiration, just the occasional friendly encouragement.

office-politics-knifeI’ve noticed that some claim not to have enough money to retire, when in fact their real problem is that they can’t imagine not being around people all day. I never liked most of what happened among my fellow workers. My experience was that of envy, back-biting and office politics, which got me in the end, because I wouldn’t play their kiss-ass games.       You have to earn my respect, it cannot be bought.

Being a careful observer of human behavior, and aware of ulterior motives definitely has its drawbacks. Retirement and being a writer suits my character so much better. So glad I finally found my place in the world…

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How did I end up here, feeling so fortunate?

It’s a long story, one I can now share with you!

Midlife: Finding the courage to release what is familiar and seemingly secure…

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”   – Alan Cohen

This quote perfectly describes my life experience since my own midlife crisis at age 49, just like this great song, “Taking the Long Way!

When I lost my marriage, my job and my career, I finally confronted exactly how miserable I was with my life so far.         I knew I needed to release my familiar and embrace the new, but did I have that much courage?  Could I change in that many ways? It always helps when you feel like you have completely run out of options!

how-to-believe-in-love-again-between-tiny-and-blog-sizeFirst I started a small, local dating service, because I didn’t trust online dating. That eventually led to meeting my new husband Mike, online of course. He has been such an important factor in encouraging me to become fully me for the first time in my life. And I just realized yesterday exactly how free I feel living here in the middle of nowhere, depending on the sun for most of our heat, and Mike and our pets for love and support.

tell negative committee to shut upI never feel judged, and rarely even angry in my new life. I live my life as I like, and find my greatest critic comes from within. But I have gotten much better at telling it to “shut up!” It takes time, peace, and support to let go of the voices in your mind, and then move on to being present for the moment before you, the only one you have.

I am slowly relaxing into each moment as it arrives. What a wonderful way to live. I only wish I would have figured this one out sooner!

How did this happen? How did I end up here, feeling so fortunate?

It’s a long story, one I can now share with you!

Acceptance release everything to be what it already is…