Best of the Boomer Blogs Rides Again!

IMGP4184I am always thrilled with synchronicity in my life. So when our brand new blog carnival member Linda Myers, presented me with a post about her writing group focused on the phrase: “What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I had to go back and see what I said eleven years ago.

That phrase was presented to me in mid-midlife crisis in 2004. Here is what I answered: Become my best self, discover, honor and contribute my best skills, find more fun and meaning, while also finding right livelihood. I am so happy to say the results have been marvelous.

Remember: What you focus on grows!

Vashon IslandHere’s what Linda shares with us today on her “Thoughts of a Bag Lady in Waiting” blog: Six bloggers, me included, have been gathering for a few days in October at Lavender Hill Farm, on Vashon Island, near Seattle. This year we had a writing workshop which turned out to be more powerful than we had anticipated. Our final ten-minute write was based on the final line of a Mary Oliver Poem, “The Summer Day”: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?   At the end of the post there are links to the writing of the other bloggers.

Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting is on the road again, this week visiting family in Vermont. The route of choice is the New York Thruway, a road taken since she was a little girl. Read about her reminiscences and current trip: On the road again: The New York Thruway… 

Tom autumn trees pictureIt seems we are all waxing philosophical this time of year…Tom Sightings takes a Walk in October to see the sights, and recalls an old poem about how “The golden rod is yellow, the corn is turning brown, the trees in apple orchards with fruit are bending down.” Follow him to the end for a nice, tasty surprise! Nice sentiments Tom.

As an older adult, do you watch your salt intake? This week Rita R. Robison, On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, writes about a salt shakerconsumer group taking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to court over the agency’s failure to regulate and reduce the excess salt in our food supply. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says the FDA’s failure to reduce the sodium in packaged and other foods is contributing to tens of thousands of premature deaths annually due to stroke, heart disease, and other health problems.

IMGP4276I’ve been focused on the pure beauty of southern Colorado in the fall. Such lovely sunrises and sunsets. Life is good in retirement land….

A Good Morning in Retirement

Honestly, I cannot believe what a shutter-bug I have become since moving away from the city!

IMGP4276First thing I noticed this morning, as soon as I woke up, was the beautiful sunrise to the east of our home. We can thank the fires out west for the brilliant red hue, but this truly is a beauty!

IMGP4279Then I took a walk down below our home through a Pinyon-Juniper forest. Below is a large horse ranch. Those horses have no idea how good they have it! Or maybe they do….

IMGP4278Looking back up the hill I got a great view of our new home. Did you notice the wires running above the roof? That’s our new lightning protection system. Can’t be too careful up here!

IMGP4266Did you notice the snow up on the West Spanish Peak? Yesterday we had our first good snow storm up on the Sangre de Cristos…

IMGP4272And when the clouds cleared, we saw this!

How did I end up here, feeling so fortunate?

It’s a long story, one I can now share with you in my new memoir!

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Sub-contractors we can recommend south of Pueblo, Colorado

IMGP3203Now that our home is finished, I thought I might share the names of the best companies we have worked with down here.

IMGP3099My first caution is to not just go with the companies the local builders use in Huerfano county. We had to remove contracting responsibilities from our builder eventually, when it became clear that he had absolutely no incentive to save us money. He just went with the good old boys down here to line his and their pockets, since he got 15% on top of the subs he brought in to do the dirt work, etc.

It seems they like to convince you that the companies in Pueblo won’t come down here to work. We have found this to be absolutely false. In fact the best companies we worked with were located in Pueblo. Companies like Pueblo Electrics, who did all of our wiring, Prutch’s Garage Door and J & J Stucco. These companies worked with us for a reasonable price on a much more professional level than the locals who don’t necessarily want to work.

We cannot recommend Cornerstone Roofing, who put on our steel roof. Parts of it blew off a year later and they would NOT even come out and take a look at it! Don’t believe their “integrity” crap!

One local man we did enjoy working with is Ron Pino, for his excellent drywall work.

IMGP3061As expensive and inconvenient as it was for us to move here before starting construction, we highly recommend it while having your home constructed. If we had not been here checking in each and every day, our builder would have made a few MAJOR mistakes in our passive solar construction project.

IMGP3968We weren’t able to find a satisfactory contractor/builder in Huerfano county, and in the end were disappointed with ours.  GOOD LUCK!

City living and what it can do to our hearts and minds…

I never gave it much thought until I moved to a very small town last summer, but I am now beginning to witness how rural living affects my own mental health.  I have joked around here about escaping ‘metrofication’ but, as it turns out, this is no joke!

The research on this topic is stunning:  Did you know schizophrenia is already one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, and its prevalence is increasing?

In 2010, the proportion of the world’s population living in cities passed into the majority. BY 2050, according to UN projections, this will exceed two-thirds.

Urbanization is a worldwide phenomenon:

In 2010, a group of Dutch researchers led by Dr Jaap Peen found that living in a city roughly doubles your risk of schizophrenia.  The larger the city you were raised in, the higher your risk of developing schizophrenia later in life.  At the same time urban living also raises your risk of developing anxiety disorders and mood disorders like depression, which is 40% more common in those raised in cities.

Interestingly, risk of substance abuse remains the same whether you live in cities or rural areas.

Exposure to nature and mental health:

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Researchers in the US and elsewhere have found that exposure to nature seems to offer a variety of beneficial effects to city dwellers, from improving mood and memory, to alleviating ADHD in children.

Much of this research considers the question of “cognitive load”, the wearying of a person’s brain by too much stimulation, which is thought to weaken some functions such as self-control, and perhaps even contribute to higher rates of violence.

A German researcher, Dr Mazda Adli, studies the urban mixture of increased social density and social isolation, he calls this “social stress,” something we might call loneliness in a crowd.  Social stress leads to irritability, mental disorders and higher rates of mortality in many species including human beings.

Social isolation correlates with mortality more strongly than smoking, obesity or alcohol abuse.

“Obviously our brains are not perfectly shaped for living in urban environments,” Adli says. “In my view, if social density and social isolation come at the same time, than city-stress related mental illness can be the consequence.”

The World Health Organization has identified stress as one of  the major health challenges of the 21st century, and our brains are not well designed for living in a densely populated and over-crowded metropolis.

City living is correlated with increased stress exposure, and this has varying impacts on our health and well-being, depending on our upbringing and genetics.  There is no denying that stress has an enormous impact on our physical and mental health.

From my perspective this is all too true. Since escaping the city over a year ago, I have noticed a major decrease in my own social stress, leading to better eating habits, sleeping habits and a general sense of well-being I did not experience in Fort Collins, CO, a small city.

IMGP3968And now that we live out in the country, I feel like I am finally starting to relax like I never have before! That ever present low-level stress felt in all cities is simply gone.

I Still Can’t Believe I Live Here….

Walsenburg city limits signThe culture-shock continues at this end. I remember daily my surprise when we first moved here from busy, expensive Fort Collins last summer. Walsenburg is very small, quiet and poor. Back then, every time I went out to my car to go somewhere I would think, “Where the hell am I?” Ours was a move from one of the richest cities in Colorado to the absolute poorest. Yes, this was a challenge to the way I saw myself.

About once a month we would go eat breakfast at the local greasy spoon, that cafe that has been on Main Street for a hundred years. Phyllis, the owner, cook, and waitress would always ask, “Where are you from?” We would always answer, “Here.” It took her a few months to accept the fact that we would be coming back monthly.

Last time I was there, I asked her to sit down for a minute and tell me about Walsenburg. She said it used to be a nice little town, back when there were still some good jobs left. She said downtown was buzzing back then, but since the mid-1980s it’s been going downhill. Now some believe the influx of people and dollars for cultivating marijuana will save the town. She’s not so sure, but hopes for the best.

Now, after one of the most stressful years of my life because of the major challenges of moving into a very old house in a sad little town, and then completing a home in the foothills west of here, I again feel culture shock.

After a lifetime of living mostly single, extensive world travel, constant change, and relentless uncertainty, I live now in an amazingly peaceful place with my loving husband and great puppy. Sometimes this feels like a dream. I’m staying at a quiet, beautiful mountain resort, and I begin to wonder when the management is going to kick me out!

How did this happen? How did I end up in the amazing place, feeling so happy and lucky? It’s a long story, one I would love to share with you!

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Enjoying a lazy day after our second move in a year!

IMGP3962We finally have a day when we feel we can relax a bit, after moving in here last Wednesday. We are beat, and that includes Rasta on Mike’s lap!

IMGP3965There is still stuff stacked everywhere, but we are making progress, and also discovering some cool stuff we haven’t seen in over a year!

IMGP3968We are finding it strange that we have hundreds of sunflowers growing right around our new home, while they are not nearly as common in this area. IMGP3975We’ve decided to take it as a sign of favor from the great spirit… why not?

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