The Boomer View – Choices Made, Opportunities Missed

Spending time with my older brother over the holidays was, as usual, revealing. One day we began discussing the ways we may have wasted time in our early years, time which we could have been better spent training for more appropriate vocations. I have often thought about a number of vocations I might have enjoyed more than my decades as a librarian years.

Thailand 1973, so much potential!

Now, with so many different television stations, I see how the shows I watch reflect the careers that could have been for me. First of all, my favorite sport to watch will always be ice skating. I see it as the perfect mix of dance and athletics. I LOVED skating in my teens years at the Colorado College ice rink in Colorado Springs! My favorite compliment came back then when a young girl skated up and asked me if I was ever in the Ice Capades. I still fantasize about being the best in the world in skating. What an accomplishment that would be. I enjoy ice dancing the most!

When it comes to alternative professions I am split between CSI, garden designer, journalist, nature photographer, and animal behaviorist. Strange combination huh… See why it was so hard to choose? I idealized Jan Goodall in my teens. Even went to meet her in San Francisco once. Journalism seemed natural because so many said I was a good writer and I have always been drawn to investigative efforts. It was only later that I learned about CSI work and garden design as occupations.

The meaning of life is having a SPECTACULAR view!

Mostly when I look back over my long life I appreciate all the great opportunities presented to me. The chance to live in Bangkok after high school opened up the world for me. Free tuition in college meant I could shop around to find the best programs for my interests like Chinese history and learning Chinese. I chose librarianship as a career because I always loved being in libraries and researching just about any topic. I chose International Librarianship because I believed in international cooperation. I got my Masters in Counseling Psychology because why people do what they do has always fascinated me.When the opportunity presented itself in 2005, I became a writer because I felt like that was my true calling, especially writing about psychology and midlife issues.

I feel I have done quite a lot with what I was given. Now I feel comfortable sitting back and enjoying my fantasies about all the occupations that might have been.

Do you think you missed out on any careers you might have loved?

Boomer Blogs: The Modern Version of a Friendly Fireside Chat

blog-pictureAfter contemplating this topic for a few weeks, I concluded that blogs, at least boomer blogs, have nothing to do with vanity. I see them now as a modern campfire where we gather together to share our own views on our present place in life.

We come here to share our life stories and what we are learning as we age. Here we bring like-minded folks together to validate each others’ experience of life itself, regardless of where we live or who shares our life with us.

Today I would like to share with you a few great ideas from my blogging friends on self soothing!

peony-prettyLet’s start out with a couple suggestions from writer Carol Cassara. Carol thinks flowers are a wonderful way to settle your soul. One of her favorites is peonies. Feasting your eyes on these beautiful peonies brings her peace.  But if flowers aren’t your thing, how about some cloud meditations? When something upsets you and your mind begins to spin out of control, why not try clouds!

A new expression I have learned from my blogging buddies is la pura vida. So what is that anyway? According to “Best Costa Rican Tours”, pura vida (pronounced POO-rah VEE-dah) and meaning “Pure Life” in English, actually means: no matter what your current circumstances, life for someone else is far less fortunate. So consider that perhaps your situation isn’t all that bad. No matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together and life is short. This way of seeing your life seems particularly appropriate to us Americans, who complain constantly while living lives most would define as living like kings and queens!

peaceful-waterfallsThis past week Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting took a vacation to Costa Rica. There she experienced la pura vida first hand as the calm lifestyle of Costa Rican natives, and loved it! No constant political stress, no cellphone ringing, touring at a leisurely pace, and no meetings or other commitments. She knows this feeling will not last, but while it does it provides one with some much needed nourishment to body and soul. Read about her slow-style adventure in Pursuing La Pura Vida in the Place of Turtles.

Another way to lower overall stress is communicating well with others. On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer specialist, writes this week about how being assertive can help you be happier. Learning how to positively tell people what you’re thinking and what you need improves communications, including when you have a consumer complaint.

Shoot, it seems like everyone is on vacation but me! In his constant search for the perfect retirement place, Tom Sightings is snowbirding in Charleston, SC, for the month of February. In City by the Bay Tom takes us on a tour of historical Fort Sumter, as well as some of the charms of modern-day Charleston.

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Since I’ve been far too ill in the past couple months to go on vacation, and our new solar home in southern Colorado still feels like a luxury vacation home to me, I decided to share with you a few activities that soothe my sometimes troubled mind, and help me stay in the present. Enjoy your life! None of us get out of this alive…

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter and let me know if you would like to add your boomer blog to this carnival!

 

Moving and finding good services

I feel like I have moved a million times in my life. One of the most memorable was in junior high. I got so stressed out on my first day of school I actually started crying in gym class. The stress was just too much when I couldn’t find my next classroom, and everyone else seemed to know exactly where they were going.

That’s one of the reasons why I am so glad my final move is finally behind me. How do I know? Because after two years here, I have finally found someone who can cut my hair properly.

Yes, one of the toughest parts of moving is lining up all the service people you will need in your new area to make you feel comfortable doing things like buying the foods you love, grooming your dog, getting a great massage, and loving your new haircut.

In a combination of two tiny towns with a total of less than 4,000 people, good services can be hard to find. That was one of my original reasons for trying to make friends here, for good referrals! Since we only have two grocery stores and one dog groomer in the entire county, that search was easy. But I had to try three different hair stylists to find one I really like.

Medical services have been much more complicated. One of the reasons we thought this area was a good choice was because there is an emergency room, a small hospital and a nursing home nearby. Come to find out the service is very good at these places, but the financial end of things is completely screwed up, to the point where many will not go there simply because they mess up the billing so badly.

If you receive a bill ever, it is usually far more than six months later, so you can’t even remember what you went to the doctor for, and they always mess up the insurance payments. We’ve started driving 40 minutes to Colorado City or even as far as Pueblo for medical care, mainly because things are too messed up here! Alas, the many things you don’t find out until after you move somewhere new.

shoulder-massageI still haven’t found a good massage therapist around here, and I really need one! I had the most incredible one up in Loveland. She was such a good friend and master masseuse. No one else can even come close!

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!

A Great Day in Spanish Peaks Country!

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This morning I woke up too early, but since I was already up I went outside to take a few sunrise shots. Then we started getting ready to drive up to “Uptop” to enjoy the 2016 Welcome Gathering for the Spanish Peaks Celtic International Music Festival.

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Uptop is up at the top of Old La Veta Pass. It’s a bit of a ghost town now, but still fun to visit, especially on a glorious fall day like today!

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This is where the train used to come through over a century ago.

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It has an cool old chapel and an old tavern where the Celtic musicians set up to play and guide the courageous ones through some Irish dances.

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And since I LOVE anything Celtic it was GRAND!

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I loved the harp the best. I seem to be developing a love affair with all kinds of harps.

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On the way home we stopped a few times to try and capture the amazing fall colors up there. Here’s Mike looking back towards the Spanish Peaks.

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It’s days like these that make me so happy that we decided to move down here.

 On the way home we got in our FIRST traffic jam ever on Highway 160. Still don’t know what happened there… So we took the county road home and got in the middle of a cattle jam instead! So much more enjoyable than a car traffic jam. It was fun watching the cowboys herding the stray cattle across the road.

Want to learn more about our recent move from busy, noisy Fort Collins to  this place of silence and lovely nature watching?  Go here!

Do we want to grow or not?

After living here in rural southern Colorado for the past few years, I am often struck by my ambivalence towards attracting more people to this area. One thing is for sure, they are coming!

Each summer I see more people coming here to vacation and look for land or homes. The general trend is lots of Texans seeking a cooler place to summer, but I am now seeing more cars and RVs from other states, even as far away as New York.

And who can blame them? With sunrises like these, and towering peaks just a few miles off of Interstate 25, with rolling hills full of wildflowers, and cute little towns like La Veta, this place is some kind of paradise for nature lovers.

It’s not just me either. I checked with a local realtor this morning. She said the past few years have been “fabulous.” Our local water district reports that after  five years with almost no requests for new water taps or hookups, they have received twelve requests in the past two months.

The 2008 recession hit this area very hard. Huerfano County still has one of the highest unemployment rates in our state, so it’s good to see things picking up and new businesses opening in Walsenburg and La Veta. My only fear is that too many people will move here and ruin our rural, relaxed atmosphere. Our saving grace seems to be how many choose to go elsewhere for winter.

I met a very interesting woman here a few months ago. She has lived in Aspen for the past forty years, and she cautioned us about telling too many people about this place. She hates to see what happened to Aspen, with a median home price of $1.5 million. I understand that kind of caution, because I first moved to Boulder in 1966. I saw so much change there over the decades, and most of it not good.

I cannot see Walsenburg turning into Aspen any time soon, but I would hate to lose the natural beauty and quiet that makes this such a great place to call home.

Did you ever wonder what it feels like to move to a very culturally different place to live a more natural way of life?

Here’s what that feels like….

Outdoor or Indoor Kitty?

To give you some idea of the questions that we wonder about living here, away from all cities or even towns, recently we were discussing whether our cat should be let out to roam a bit, or is it too dangerous with the wild animals around here?

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Charley the cat has been an indoor kitty since we got him last August. He was just a kitten then and had no idea where he was. Since then he has grown bored with our great indoors. He wants out!

Friends around here have both encouraged and warned us about letting animals out to roam. Especially dogs seem to disappear if you don’t keep close track of them.

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Rasta never goes out without us close by. He was raised a city dog, and has no idea that other animals might come by to eat him. Einstein is his middle name, LOL!

But Charley is a whole different animal. He’s young and strong and a natural hunter. He loves exploring the sunflower groves outside our home, and he’s a great mouser. He needs to go out, it seems.

So this morning we let him out for a while. He loved it! I guess we’ll keep a close eye on him, and let him out a bit in the morning when most animals aren’t prowling for a meal. We’d hate to lose him.

Who do YOU think you are?

One thing I have learned from having more time to think and consider, is a far deeper awareness of my own levels of self-love and confidence.

happy sadThe other day I was saying to Mike how surprised I am to find how mercurial my self-confidence can be. One moment I may feel so sure that I am on the right path, certain that I have everything working as I wish it to, and the next I fear I have become too arrogant and self-absorbed.

moodsGoing back and forth is exhausting. Feeling good about myself and my accomplishments is a healthy way to feel… I think. It certainly beats the way I used to feel, doubting almost everything about my Self and my life.

So why can’t I settle on that good feeling and accept it? Because of my fears of appearing arrogant, like I have all the answers. I don’t have “all the answers,” only the ones I need to have a great life for now.

brain puzzleI know everyone has challenging times, when the answers are not clear at all. I was in the midst of one such time two years ago when we first moved here. I wasn’t sure at all we had made the right decision. I did my best to accept our new place and believe in our future, but it wasn’t easy. I’m so glad I did.

Mike at home

It all turned out GREAT!

Sometimes I think we keep busy partially because we don’t want to have too much time to consider how we feel about ourselves, our place in the world, or even the state of the world itself.

One thing is for sure. Unless I take the time to accept my life and feel good about myself, I will have nothing to give to others. None of us were sent here to save the world, but we can do what we can to make it a better place for everyone we meet.

Working to feel good about myself is my first step towards making those around me feel good about themselves.

Allowing your mind to lie fallow…

fallow ground near mtnsFallow: —adj, 1. (of land) left unseeded after being plowed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop.       2. (of an idea, state of mind, etc) undeveloped or inactive, but potentially useful.

I got excited yesterday when I heard Meg Ryan, Meg Ryanin her excellent interview on CBS Sunday Morning, mention the usefulness of doing nothing and allowing your mind to lie fallow for periods of time, with the purpose of generating more energy and fertility in your thought process.

I love this idea, and yet I find it to be an idea without strong acceptance in our hard-driving, demanding culture.

Because of my unfortunate recent experiences with TBI and concussion, I have had no choice but to take time to relax my brain so it can heal. But there is always a part of me who feels lazy and unproductive at these times.

spring Buddha in backyard“Spacing out” is the best way I can think of to describe those times when my mind is simply exhausted and cannot focus on anything more. The good news?  Meditation comes so easily to me now. It’s like my mind naturally relaxes and can think of nothing for a while. And even better, some of my best ideas later come from these times of allowing my mind to lie fallow, much like some who say that humanities best ideas have emerged from periods of relaxed thought.

When we daydream, we free our thinking of logical limits to allow knowledge, experiences, and ideas to essentially float freely in our mind and mingle with each other in a way that our logical mind cannot handle.  Sometimes this undisciplined mingling creates that flash, that ‘aha’ moment.  Aristotle had his eureka moment in a bathtub and Newton had his in an apple orchard.  Where are yours?

Some call this mindfulness, others think we are really sleeping while awake. Either way, I have no choice at this point and I love the overall effects!

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 Sleep is the BEST meditation.  – Dalai Lama

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!

Getting used to something so right…

I was singing along with that old Paul Simon song, “Can’t get used to something so right…” this morning, and realized sometimes I have that problem myself.

After over two years in the brand new world (for me) of rural southern Colorado, I would say I’m just beginning to settle in.

This adventure started back in mid-June of 2014, and I can assure you I wasn’t sure at all about this place. It all seemed so backward, slow and poor to me after living in Loveland and Fort Collins for years. People kept asking me why we moved here, and I wasn’t so sure myself. Luckily my husband is an “eyes-on-the prize” kind of man. He knew exactly why he was here!

My first year here was not good. Between feeling like a fish out of water myself, and the extremely challenging feat of building a custom solar home out in the foothills, my best description is STRESS CITY!

But once we moved out of Walsenburg and settled into our new home, life improved dramatically. After so much stress and our second move in a year, we spent weeks doing very little but enjoying our marvelous new environment…

AMAZING sunrise over the Spanish Peaks January 2018

OK, we spent most of our first winter here doing that!

One thing you need to know about this part of the country, things really do slow down here in the winter. I can remember days last winter when I went into La Veta, and it looked like a deserted ghost town.

In the spring things liven up quite a bit. The tourists start coming down here and clogging up Main Street in Walsenburg. This past spring I started taking a yoga class and walking around La Veta in the mornings. I also started making a few friends and feeling more like I belong here.

Laura standing at build site before slab 2014

Just yesterday I realized how right this place feels to me now. I love living in the country, I have a wonderful husband and home, I have new friends who care, and I rarely have to deal with all the things I hated in the city.

Life is good and getting better. Mission accomplished!

Want to learn more about the experience of moving from the city to the country to live a quiet, relaxed life? Check it out here!

To self-publish or accept a publisher’s help?

I admit it, I am in a complete quandary this morning. I received what looks like a great offer from an international publisher yesterday. They would like to take over the publication of my new memoir of retirement. After a bit of research I can see both the advantages and disadvantages of going with this company.

Mike at home

I would LOVE to hand my manuscript over to someone else at this point. I admit it, I have been putting off self-publishing again. There are so many details I would have to re-learn to go through that process. Especially since my last concussion, my editing skills aren’t what they used to be, and I haven’t self-published in a few years so I would have to review all the procedures to do anything.

On the other hand, I might make more money if I did it myself, however I’m not even certain of that. This publisher offers quite a few nice “deliverables” in the areas of marketing and distribution.

Do you see my quandary now?

Do any of you have some good advice for me? I’d love to hear it!

Postscript: Thank you all for your great advice! I’m self-publishing again!