Maya Angelou & Her Powerful Words

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“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.

The Lives of Frontier Women (and me)

I’ve been thinking about a number of things lately. Confrontations with your own mortality can do that to a person. Questions arise like how proud am I of myself and my life thus far, regardless of what anyone else thinks? Yes, I know, I can be a bit cerebral at times.

Then I heard a truly thought-provoking quote that made me laugh out loud the other night. The story was about how so many Americans came out to the western frontier in the late 1800s either because they were “trying to lose themselves,” as in avoiding Civil War conscription, “or to find themselves.” This cracked me up! It hit the nail on the head in terms of why I moved out of the city and chose to retire in rural southern Colorado.

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I should probably preface this with my eternal fascination with frontier life. For as far back as I can remember I played “pioneer woman” on the playgrounds of my elementary schools in Kansas. I loved watching TV shows like Rawhide, and any movie about frontier life. I grew up on the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and when I got older I loved reading the journals of women who came out west in covered wagons.

When I started my writing career, I published a few magazine articles about how many came out West simply to escape tuberculosis in the cities back East. Most don’t know that TB was the leading cause of death in the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before penicillin was discovered in the late 1920s. Many came in hopes of a change in fortunes too, like discovering silver or gold and getting rich quick.

I realized just this morning I came to rural Colorado to both lose my old Self or identity, and find out all the other people I might be. I know now how influenced we are by others as children and young adults. It’s almost impossible not to be. But the re-birth which often happens later in life is the shedding of old personas, the letting go of all those voices inside that want to tell you who you really are.

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I’m the youngest one here!

This is the process of getting back to that vulnerable child you were when you were young and impressionable. It feels sometimes like getting back to your original soul and appreciating it for the first time, a spiritual downsizing from the burdens of our past…

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What a glorious discovery this can be!

I’m a newcomer to this part of Colorado, so after two years I wrote a book about the ups and downs of moving here to build a passive solar home in the foothills. Please share this info. with your friends if they are considering similar challenges! 

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

Please feel free to contact me directly for your own signed copy: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

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!

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 Ups and Downs of Being a Writer

I saw some interesting commentary on whether maintaining a blog is “real writing” over at Kathryn Mayer’s Writing Out Loud blog this week. This topic certainly got me going! No maintaining a blog isn’t just writing, it’s learning a certain software, editing, proofing reading, organizing the appearance of your article on the page and, in my case, providing professional-grade photographs. Then if you decide to write a book and self-publish, you need to acquire so many more new skills, and pay others for their skills.

writing-penI’ve been writing professionally since 2006. I started out as a freelance writer with a number of stories published in national magazines, but I did not like how the editors decided everything. Specifically I could find no editors willing to cover my favorite topic: midlife psychology.

Sometimes the editors were simply wrong, sometimes their English was terrible, sometimes they stole my ideas, and sometimes they cut my piece at the last minute, paying me nothing for a few weeks of work. (Thanks American History Magazine!) That’s when I started blogging. I for one am so glad to have the freedom to write everyday if I like, and reach those who want to hear what I have to say.

Freedom of the press is only available to those who own one. And now, I do!

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The downside to all of this is the unreliable pay for those of us who write because we love it. Through the years I have made money on sponsored posts, but most by selling my books. 

For those of you who read this blog regularly, thank you! I’m happy that you come here and follow our life beyond the big city, but remember, my only real income is from book sales. Please consider purchasing one or two today. It makes my day!

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/midlifequeen

Boomers’ Views on Election Scams, Medicare Scams and Letting It All Go

super-moon-may-2012Our Boomer Bloggers are feeling frisky this week!       Must be the full moon or perhaps the goblins of Halloween are already emerging early just for us…                                Tom starts us off.

In his post The 0.3 Solution Tom Sightings brings us the latest news from Social Security, and also relates his latest encounter with Medicare. Instead of raising the premiums, is Medicare stealthily cutting services?

As the finale of the never-ending election season draws near, Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting is thinking about life post-election. Not her life – hers will not change – but post-election life for the candidate not moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She has some ideas for one candidate in Ten Post-Election Pursuits for Donald Trump.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about new election scams and a drop in IRS scam reports since a huge raid in India.

On the other hand, if you are perhaps looking for an escape from corruption and scams, go try these links:

Too little kindness floating around, so that’s what Carol Cassara is bringing forward at Heart-Soul-Mind. Kindness. Let’s spread it, she suggests, and has two posts with practical ideas for doing just that. Kill the world with kindness, and an inexpensive way to brighten another’s day.

We all get caught up in busy days and a hectic life style, even in retirement. Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting took a couple of days off and decided to, if not exactly smell the roses, listen to the sound of the sea, smell the salt water, and enjoy unseasonably warm, beautiful weather. Read about her mini-staycation in An Autumn Respite.

memoir-of-retirement-2016-largeAnd, to add a little bit of icing on the cake, don’t miss my new post: The Challenge of Being Fully Present in Your Life. This has nothing to do with the world outside your own mind and heart!  In case you’re new here, I just same out with a new memoir. Please go check it out!

 

The Challenge of Being Fully Present in Your Life


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“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 last book, Find Your Reason To Be Here: The Search For Meaning in Midlife.