Four years ago, on June 17th, Mike and I sold our nice home in suburbia and left behind everything familiar to us. After living up in the Fort Collins area for the past few decades, this move felt like a gigantic leap of faith.
Here’s a photo of our past home in south Fort Collins. In the past four years it has increased in value more than $100,000! Wow, the prices of homes up in metroland are growing by leaps and bounds!
After over a year of emotional and financial struggle, we triumphed over a million difficult challenges to create this passive solar home west of Walsenburg Colorado. We have been quite happy living here for the past few years. Retirement agrees with us, and especially in such a quiet, natural part of the West. BTW, passive solar works great down here!
Most of my worries about moving here never came to pass, and other completely unexpected problems replaced those. The biggest challenges for me have been health-related. My body made a quick decision to start falling apart soon after age 60, creating new opportunities for compassion towards others who suffer. And the truth is, I have met so many here who have been forced to retire early because of health concerns and disabilities.
Huerfano, meaning orphan, is a poor, rural county down near the New Mexico border, with a total population of around 6,500 and an average age of 54 years. With few good jobs and an abundance of natural beauty, the Huerfano attracts those with less money and more appreciation of rugged country and rural life. We live on three acres in the Pinon-Juniper ecosystem right around 7,000 feet elevation.
Judging by the rapid increase in traffic in Walsenburg, the many homes sold here in the past few years, and how crazy Highway 160 has become in the summer, it looks like this area has been “discovered” by those living up north in metroland.
We have found this area to be slow and quiet, especially in the winter, and windy as hell. If you hate the wind, don’t move here! The slow country ways are what now attract me. I can go into La Veta and always see people I know. I like that.
One lesson we can all learn by travelling to other countries is that Americans are awfully busy. I have lived in southeast Asia, China, France and Italy, and can find no other group of people who feel the need to be constantly busy. My favorite country was Italy.They seem to have such a generous sense of time compared to us, and an ability to enjoy the process of living without guilt over stopping to enjoy each moment.
How did we ever get so busy and guilty about simply relaxing?
I really don’t know how we got so driven as a culture, but I do have a few tips on how to give yourself a break from all of that internalized pressure: Take days off from your ‘normal’ life where you can truly do whatever YOU want to do. No rules. No guilt. Be lazy. Watch trashy TV. Eat mac and cheese. No food shaming either. Try really hard not to judge yourself or others for just a few hours. Celebrate having the time to just be yourself!
Let your mind wonder on a regular basis. Free thought is where all creativity comes from. How could your life be better? Free your mind to consider ALL of your options. What barriers would you need to bridge in your own mind to have a much better life?
What rules do you need to get rid of right now?
For some reason, aging can be quite the catalyst in freeing your mind. Being perfectly clear on the fact that your years are numbered can clear your head! What do you want to do before you die? Stop all the daily busyness long enough to do those things now!
Stepping out of the busyness, stopping our endless pursuit of getting somewhere else, is perhaps the most beautiful offering we can make to our spirit. — TARA BRACH
After only a couple days of company out here in the middle of nowhere, I realized once again exactly what an introvert I am. I can easily become intolerant with ‘company’ because I’m just too easily distracted by other peoples’ energy.
This definition of introvert works perfect for me:
I am fundamentally too sensitive to have most people around me for any length of time. After only a few hours I feel exhausted and angry. I hate feeling so at the mercy of the needs and emotions of others. I need to isolate to finally give myself the love and attention I need. When forced into situations with lots of people around I eventually explode! I have a great fear of being stuck with others whom I really don’t want to be around, so I have finally learned to do this:
“I’m very picky whom I give my energy to. I prefer to reserve my time, intensity and spirit exclusively for those who reflect sincerity.” ~ Dau Voire
And yes, I search relentlessly for those who are sincere and authentic. I find most do not value putting time and energy into becoming their authentic self. That is one of my most essential goals.
One of the first topics Mike and I agreed on when we met, was that we had both been identified as “too intense” throughout our lives. That must be society’s way of saying strange. I would define that trait as highly sensitive to everything around us, especially other people. Mike and I notice everything around us and thankfully at about the same rate of speed. We test this out sometimes and find we are often on the same wave length, thinking the same thing at the same time. This must be why we can enjoy being around each other, while most people drive us nuts after only a couple of hours.
We know to give each other lots of space.
“Introverts are word economists in a society suffering from verbal diarrhea.” ~ Michaela Chung
I feared before I met Mike that I was destined to live alone forever with just my dogs, because most people drive me nuts fairly quickly. But I am here to reassure those of you who are highly sensitive and quite picky about partners, there are others out there! Don’t give up the search…
“I want to be alone… with someone else who wants to be alone.” – Dimitri Zaik
“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” – Stephen Hawking
“We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
Can we change, and if so, how? We can only change with renewed self-awareness, honest self-love, determination, positive support from others, the addition of a few new skill sets, and with a willingness to go inside of ourselves to harvest the wisdom we have accumulated over a lifetime. All of this takes courage.
Determination and courage come from the absolute certainty that the way we have been living so far has not worked. When you reach that desperate moment when you know your rational mind no longer has all of the answers you seek, it is time to surrender. Admitting surrender is difficult. This admission is equivalent to acknowledging that you have failed in your efforts so far. Pure stubbornness and denial of your feelings and needs have not given you the life you had hoped for, or the answers you seek.
You would be crazy to continue on this path: Time for a new leap of faith…
Now what? Depending solely on rational thought has not worked. It is now time to welcome in the wisdom of the universe and those others who wish to help. It is now time to begin to access the wisdom of your own intuition, every little whisper emanating from your unconscious, your dreams or wherever they come from. These are the voices that will guide you back to where you so want to go.
Intuition is tricky. It is a way of knowing, yet it is often unclear how we know it. Some seem to have greater natural access to their intuition, but we all can develop the necessary skills to access this invaluable inner guidance. Extrasensory perception, clairvoyance, and telepathy are all different types of intuitive access to your right brain hemisphere, the part that specializes in intuitive, holistic pattern perceptions. Most of us have been raised to strongly value messages from our rational, linear left brain. It is now time to listen to the other side of the story and find some brain balance.
Why bother? Because by combining the power of your own intuition with your intellect, you will begin to see different patterns and recognize new possibilities, opening up your mind to many new choices that were not available to you before. As Frances E. Vaughan, a psychologist who specializes in integrating psychology and spiritual growth states in her book Awakening Intuition:
“Awakening intuition enables one to see the choices available and is thus a liberating experience…At any given moment one is conscious of only a small portion of what one knows. Intuition allows one to draw on that vast storehouse of unconscious knowledge that includes not only everything that one has experienced or learned, either consciously or subliminally, but also the infinite reservoir of the collective and universal unconscious…”
Do you believe it is possible to expand your consciousness to include your intuitive side? Do you believe you could benefit from an expansion of your level of self-awareness? If you do not believe this, than it probably isn’t possible. Don’t lie to yourself about what you believe. If you simply feel perplexed or confused, acknowledge that is where you are at right now. Welcome in all of your disillusioned parts to participate in this experiment in accessing the rest of your brain, the part that hasn’t been available to help for all of these years.
Quiet the mind of its perpetual chatter. Relax so you may learn how to listen to what you already know inside. You may need to take some time alone to access these new caring voices. They are hard to hear if the rest of your life is in chaos. Trust in your inner wisdom to show you what steps you need to take to open previously closed doors and learn why you are not open to love now.
Intuition is an essential tool to guide you towards a healthier sense of yourself and what you need to do next to attract what you want into your life.
This week I borrowed a unique documentary from my local library, Walk With Me, a contemplative journey which follows the steps of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, with rare insights into life within a monastic community. So begins Max Pugh and Marc J. Francis’ fascinating exploration of what it means to devote one’s life to mindfulness.
“With unprecedented access to the famous secluded monastery of Plum Village in the South West of France, Walk With Me captures the daily routine and rituals of monks and nuns on a quest to develop a deep sense of presence. It is an insightful rumination on the pursuit of happiness, living in the present and our attachment to material things – a welcome remedy to the stresses of city life and a world in turmoil.” — Laure Bonville
What I found most fascinating about this immersion into monastic life is how similar it can be to life outside of cities, where life is luxuriously slow and overflowing with simple joys. The theme is crystal clear:
Be here now. There is no past, there is no future, just this moment…
One of the ways this short film has changed my life is in my desire to be more contemplative in each moment. For example when I first wake up I now love to look out at the birds outside my door. I find them to be the perfect topic for my first meditation of the day.
Wild animals do not sit around thinking about their past or imagining their future, because if they focused much on that they would not survive for long. We were also once totally focused on the present moment. We had to be. But now we have the luxury of too much time, so we think about way too much stuff!
Luckily the mind can be trained over and over again. Today we can decide to stop all the concern and worry about everything else in the world, and focus on this moment before us, the only one we truly have.
“There is a fire inside. Sit down beside it. Watch the flames, the ancient, flickering dance of yourself.” — John MacEnulty
Here’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!
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)