Arrival: The pros and cons of seeing your future

One consequence of moving to a rural part of Colorado is the delays in seeing the latest movies. This has been a bit difficult for me, because I am a great fan of cinema! I admit my favorite aspect of going out to see a movie is to lose my present self in someone else’s life. I love the “fly on the wall” aspect of experiencing someone else’s reality, but in this case I felt like the canary in the cage. Funny, with my lifelong breathing difficulties, I have often compared myself to the canary in the mine in the numerous polluted situations I have found myself in.

Amy Adams in ArrivalLong story short, we finally had a chance to see Arrival last night, a quite cerebral approach to alien invasion. Number one I LOVED that the scientist, the linguist with all the answers, was played by a woman, and specifically by Amy Adams. I think it’s about time women played the smartest person in the room, and I’m also happy Ms. Adams finally got a demanding and serious role to play.

One of the points of this film seemed to be the greatly undervalued communication tool of emotions. By having a wise woman play the great communicator, I felt that intuitive wisdom as well as intellectual power were brought to center stage. This is a position I have fought for since way back when I hoped to become a college professor in the 1970s. I found universities so limiting in terms of valuing the whole person or professor. This is one of the primary reasons I gave up on that goal.

But the real point of this film is the simple question:

If you could see your future, with all of its phenomenal beauty and raw tragedy, would you still choose it?

This question brings up all sorts of interesting life contradictions. If I had seen my future in the past and tried to change one part, would the other parts have stayed the same? In fact, as I age I see almost every aspect of my life in terms of contradictions. If I choose this, what happens to that?

Choosing to leave behind the lifestyle I had lived for most of my life a few years ago, was a very difficult decision for me. When you choose something life changing you are almost always crossing a bridge you cannot go back across. This filled me with anxiety. But the true contradiction is that you can never know what will come of this difficult choice, unless you choose something different and then see how it goes.

Laura and rasta close upI’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)

Maya Angelou & Her Powerful Words

maya-angelou-and-still-i-rise-pbs

“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. That in fact it may be necessary to encounter defeat, so we can know who the hell we are. What can we overcome? What makes us stumble and fall, and somehow miraculously rise and go on?”

I hope many of you were able to enjoy the PBS Special: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise this week. If not, go enjoy it now.

I loved every minute of it as a historian, a writer and an American. I learned so much about black history, struggling writers, and our own history as a horribly racist country. I had heard much of her poetry from her later years, but did not know her life’s story as a dancer, singer, civil rights leader, etc. I also had no idea she was six foot tall! I believe I first heard about her through watching Oprah. Talk about an intelligent woman with an AMAZING way with words! She truly understood the POWER OF WORDS.

how-important-you-areThe small piece I would like to focus on here was from an experience Ms. Angelou had with a few young men who were speaking threateningly to her once in her life. She turned to them and said: “When was the last time someone told you how important you are?” These words stopped the youngsters in their tracks, and made me sit up straight and ask myself the same question.

Ms. Angelou’s point was to educate these kids to their own family history. She said something like, “Do you ever think about what your ancestors had to go through to bring you to this place and time? How are you honoring their struggles?”

How rare is it that we honor our ancestors’ struggles? How often do we tell those who make our lives worthwhile exactly how important they are? The world is full of people who need to feel appreciated, and yes even important.

Tell them now.

Are blogs a new form of vanity press?

What a resounding response to my last question about who reads your blog, and all agreed too!

Come to find out I am not alone in observing that my pre-blog friends and family don’t read my blog posts much, but others whom I’m not even familiar with, find it interesting. Even people in over 75 other countries come here, I assume to check out rural living in the USA.

I suppose most people see blogs as a new kind of vanity press. I can see their point. Who cares about me and my life? But there are also over 18,000 visitors who have made over 40,000 views here. Who are they?

I’m sure some are simply nosy about the lives of others. Some may hope to someday move to a rural area and build a solar home. I’d sure LOVE to hear from any of you!

memoir-of-retirement-2016-largeThe reason I started this blog three years ago, and the reason I put together my new book was to document our experience in leaving suburbia for a quieter, more economical, rural experience in sunny southern Colorado. I have always had very good reasons for writing my books. Of course I also just enjoy writing. I find it helps me with my recent brain injury.

 

My thought process and intent:

We are doing something very different for us. After living in or near cities all of our lives, we are going rural. I wonder if others are thinking about doing something similar? Perhaps they might enjoy reading about one couples’ authentic experience. Perhaps they would like to know more about designing a home around passive solar heating. Maybe they would like to know how well passive solar heating can work. Reading about the experience of another might encourage others or convince them not to take such risks so late in life. Either way they could benefit from our experience.

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We are so glad we took on all the risk and uncertainty, however if you asked me three years ago I might not have agreed. But now I can highly recommend leaving city life behind for the quiet, wildlife watching and pure beauty of living close to nature.

If you never take a risk, you will never know for certain how well it can work out! That’s our best lesson from our own retirement experience…

P.S. For whatever reasons you find to come here and read, THANKS!

To purchase your own signed copies of any of my books, or if you have other questions, please e-mail me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com.

Please follow me on Twitter too!

Air Pollution, Dementia and City Life

brain-cogsMore than 50 million people around the world live with dementia, but the causes of this disease that robs us of our memories and brain power, are not well understood. We received some bad news on this topic this week. As many as 11% of dementia cases in people living within 50 meters of a major road could be caused by pollution and/or traffic noise, a new study suggests. The researchers, who followed nearly 2 million people in Canada over eleven years, say air pollution or noisy traffic could be contributing to the brain’s decline.

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This study, published in the Lancet, followed nearly two million people in the Canadian province of Ontario, between 2001 and 2012. There were 243,611 cases of dementia diagnosed during that time, but the risk was greatest in those living closest to major roads.

Compared with those living more than 300 meters away from a major road, the risk was 7% higher within 50 meters, 4% higher between 50-100 meters and 2% higher for those within 200 meters. Researchers adjusted their data to account for other risk factors like poverty, obesity, education levels and smoking so these are unlikely to explain the link.

Pollution particles ‘get into brain’

Dr Hong Chen, from Public Health Ontario, one of the report authors, said:

“Increasing population growth and urbanization have placed many people close to heavy traffic, and with widespread exposure to traffic and growing rates of dementia, even a modest effect from near-road exposure could pose a large public health burden…More research to understand this link is needed, particularly into the effects of different aspects of traffic, such as air pollutants and noise.” 

Add to this the fact that dementia is quickly becoming the leading cause of death, and it becomes harder to deny that living in polluted cities is killing us.

Many studies have focused on the impact of dirty air on the lungs and heart. In early 2016 the World Health Organisation warned that air pollution was leading to as many as three million premature deaths every year. Now, tiny particles of pollution have been discovered inside samples of brain tissue, providing the first evidence that minute particles of what is called magnetite from air pollution, find their way into our brains.

My initial response to this new research is dah! When I first heard about my own serious case of COPD last month, I said to the doctor, “Yes, I’ve had bronchitis in some of the most interesting places.” (Bangkok, Taipei, China, Venice…)

Asia is particularly dirty and I have spent far too much time living there. And Europe isn’t much better, but realistically, most of us breathe polluted air all of the time and somehow believe it isn’t affecting our health. Surprise! It all catches up with you sooner or later.

For decades I have had a personal appreciation of the American Lung Association’s tag line:   “When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters…”

You cannot control how others receive your energy

Perhaps I will always remember this holiday as the one where I finally accepted the truth about other peoples’ reaction to me. Ah, if I could have totally accepted this truth decades ago, my life would have been so much easier:

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You cannot control how other people receive your energy. Anything you do or say gets filtered through the lens of whatever they are going through at that moment, which is NOT ABOUT YOU.  

Just keep doing your thing with as much integrity and love as possible.

This includes everything I write about here and in my books. Just because I have chosen to learn enough to understand the psychology of midlife transition or passive solar technology, and appreciate the freedom this knowledge has given to me, does not mean anyone else has a clue what I’m talking about.

Even my parents, who taught me much of what I learned as a child, the ones I thought knew EVERYTHING when I was young, have no idea where I’m coming from with most of my ideas and thoughts today. They are living in their own reality and often do not appreciate mine, but that is not about me.

earthOn some level I’m ashamed that it has taken me this long on this beautiful blue planet to appreciate this truth. But on the other hand, it is so freeing to let each of us be where we are right now.

We continue to search for whatever makes our lives feel better.

The Simple Things That Bring Joy!

If you had asked me a few years ago how excited I’d be about putting in a new patio, I would have probably answered, “Not much.” But after the mammoth job of “manifesting” our custom passive solar home here in rural southern Colorado, and starting in May to find someone local to put in a simple concrete patio…

imgp5454…this is a thing of beauty to me!

I started out in May calling five contractors. Nobody responded. I called them again and most said they lost my phone number. We finally chose one in mid-July and he came over to look at the job. He gave us an estimate and then never called us back.

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In the end I had to find a guy in our neighborhood to work with my brother John on the project. The bad news? It took five months to complete. The good news? The cost was about half of the previous estimate.

memoir-of-retirement-2016This morning, when I went out to check it all out, I found what looks like a bobcat paw print in the fresh concrete. How cool is that?   Whoops! That’s the contractors fingerprints in it!           In case you’re new here, I just came out with a memoir of the extreme ups and downs of moving to the Colorado outback to build…  Please go check it out!

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)

Saying goodbye to the Midlife Crisis Queen

It seems a few major changes are all coming together for me right now.

memoir of retirement 2016My new book about our move from Fort Collins to here is out!  Please considering buying it. It’s a FUN read! Then write a review on Amazon to share your opinion with others. What I do here is for me, but also to inform others of the challenges and rewards of changing lifestyles in retirement. And while you’re changing, passive solar is a great way to reduce your heating bills!

 

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My other major change is the demise of my original blog: Midlife Crisis Queen. To explain what it feels like to remove eight years worth of my writing from the Internet is difficult. Here’s something I wrote back in March of 2015 when I officially switched over to this new blog:

“After over eight years of maintaining this blog, not to mention a number of others, I am tired. In those eight years I have also produced a number of books and e-books to help others survive and thrive through what can be some tough middle years.”

When I started out as a writer I was full of ideas and zeal for so many different projects. It was like I was finally set free to express myself on a larger stage, and express myself I have. I am proud of my many accomplishments. I am also tired.

I have done what I can to encourage those who struggle with midlife change, those who wish to transform their lives into exactly what they have been dreaming of for decades. In that process I have also transformed my own life into exactly what I wanted back in 2004.

Soon I will be 60, living a new dream in our lovely mountain home. I am clearly in midlife no more, and I can feel a change coming over me. I no longer have the energy nor desire to try and save the world. I have lost interest in that pursuit. I can feel a future of quiet meditation and contemplation coming over me

Changing the way we see midlife was obviously a ridiculous goal to begin with, but you have to understand, I am an Aries, and that means stubborn!

I know I have reached hundreds of thousands of you with my blog posts, and thousands with my books. Some have shared with me the value of my efforts.

Thank you for letting me know I have made some difference in your life. It has been my pleasure.  Please keep reading my books, following our adventures and, most importantly, keep making your own dreams come true!

 

Hallelujah! My new book is finally out!

A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado!

The creation of this volume was no small accomplishment. First we packed up our entire life, moved to a small town in southern Colorado, built a brand new custom solar home in the country, moved twice in one year, and then finally felt sure we were in love with this new beautiful, silent place.

memoir of retirement 2016

The person who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person doing it.

I’m the first to be AMAZED that this all happened, and to me. So many weeks and months of exhaustion and worry. So many tough discussions with people who didn’t want it to happen.

 And then, after my second serious head injury last September, I got myself together enough to actually produce this memoir. I am certain this would have never happened without the encouragement, support, and assistance of Mike and my friend Ann Harbour up in Fort Collins. She created all of my amazing covers out of thin air. Three cheers for Ann!

Here’s a link to it on Amazon!

Please write a review. I’d love to hear what you think!

Turn This Resolution into a Revelation!

decking Comanche home with mountains in backgrounLast year at this time, we were just beginning to see an actual home emerge from our slab, which took us five months to produce! This brings us to my new year’s revelation.

Why not start out 2016 on a note of gratitude? We really do have so much to be thankful for!

Why not let go of the old gripes and channel gratitude for a change? Need a little help? Go here and spend five minutes absolutely FOCUSED on this video. If you absorb this video every day, it WILL change your life.

I just saw the new Star Wars movie yesterday. My favorite line?

“When searching for a sense of belonging, seek not in what is behind you, seek in what is ahead.”  

IMGP2959It’s a whole new year! What’s in it for you?

champagne_toast small blogIn addition, I just received this marvelous revelation from my niece’s FB page: Drinking champagne helps you fight off Alzheimer’s! Champagne became my favorite drink during construction, and so lets raise our glasses:

Here’s to those who wish us well, all the rest can go to hell!

I am filled with gratitude that I can now live like this forever.  Please go learn more about our move from Fort Collins to here in my new memoir and follow us on TWITTER!