Meet My Amazing Mom!

Mom in 1985On the occasion of my Mom’s 83rd birthday, I would like to introduce you to my mother. Born around Kansas City after her mother had had trouble conceiving, my Mom ended up being the eldest of four children. She had her rebellious moments in high school and then met my Dad on a blind date in 1950. He was soon sent to Virginia by the army, but they corresponded for a short period and then they married in 1951. She was only 19 when she got on a train to join him.

She lived in a time when being your husband’s best help mate was what women did. She had kids while also helping her husband advance his career. It was such a struggle in their early lives together. Mom worked to support the family, and had three kids by 1955, while my father finished his PhD in botany at University of Iowa.

College teachers didn’t make much money back then, and they had to move every few years if they weren’t on tenure-track, so we moved around a lot in my early years, but my Mom always kept it together, even when my Dad decided he wanted to go to India for a summer when we kids were quite small. She was supportive of Dad no matter what! That is how she saw herself.

Eventually Mom started taking college classes and received a B.A. from Colorado College the year my eldest sister graduated from high school. Then she started teaching elementary school for the next 20 years. So many of her students remember her as a caring, encouraging teacher.

In the early 1990s my parents ‘retired’ to southern New Mexico, but they kept working hard to produce botany books all the same. My Mom got really good at Photoshop and photography to provide great photos for my Dad’s books. Has anybody heard of Trees and Shrubs of Colorado or Common Southwestern Native Plants? Those are a few of the books my parents produced together after ‘retirement.’

Now their lives have settled down quite a bit, but Mom still worries about all of us and our families. She has done a bang up job of helping others her whole life.

Mom:   You are my HERO!

Boomers and Their Busy Boomer Lives!

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When I woke up this morning it was chilly and rainy outside. Then I looked out east and boom! what an amazing sunrise!

But even the nicest places on earth can be ruined if you aren’t getting along with your significant other. That’s why it’s so important to manage your ‘closeness’ so you can both be happy in retirement! 

Writer Meryl Baer says, there are all sorts of reasons people love the place they live. She enjoys her current hometown because of the ease of walking and cycling around town. In this week’s post, she lists the Ten reasons I love my walkable community. 

pink love sunsetWriter Carol Cassara says, many boomers who are otherwise living fulfilled lives, face problems with waning libidos. She explains over at Heart-Mind-Soul, there’s no need to deny ourselves the pleasure of a vibrant sex life, not when there’s a new book by boomer and midlife sex expert Walker Thornton that offers practical advice to anyone who would like to invite desire back into their life. Carol reviews Ms. Thornton’s book here.  And to give love equal time, she offers her simple secret to love

DMVAccording to Tom Sightings, in Beaten by the Bureaucracy, sometimes it’s hard to appreciate what the government does for us, even if you’re a liberal. He tells the story of changing his driver’s license and car registration after he moved to a new state. What’s the solution? “Don’t move to a new state!”

Rita's gardenOver at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, a consumer journalist, gives us a report on her bountiful garden. Robison, who went on vacation for a week, found that special something that gardeners dread finding when they return: “Surprises From My Garden.” 

Just published my memoir of moving to this beautiful rural place in southern Colorado to get a ways off the grid and finally truly enjoy life!  Please take a look!

 

How Living Close To Nature Can Change You

NICE view of sunflowers in garden and Spanish Peaks summer 2017

In 2014 we moved from Fort Collins, with the 6th largest county population in Colorado (333,577), to the least populated, Huerfano at about 6,500 souls. Huerfano county is the home of the Spanish Peaks, seen above…

The Huerfano means orphan in Spanish, and so many of us here are orphans, because we are elders. We lived in the town of Walsenburg (pop. 3,000) for our first year here, while building a custom passive solar home to the west. As we complete our first full year of living in the foothills, close to nature, I find those who live in cities to be busy, always busy. What is that doing to their soul?

I feel I have learned so much on this topic by living close to nature for the past year. Getting far from any city has been a reawakening for me, and living here permanently is a wonder. I love to experience those unique emotional experiences which defy our habitual way of thinking. Living here has been all about defying my previous limited state of mind. I called myself “metrofied” before I moved here, but I had no idea how horribly stuck I was in “city mind.”

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It is so soothing to observe how cities change us, and then leave, transitioning to a slower, calmer way of being. In my first year here I became aware of the constant anxiety level I maintained by living in cities. Then I slowly let it go. When I feel anxious now, I quickly see there is truly no reason for this feeling. Now, only when I get impatient or angry do I realize that I used to feel that way so much of the time back in Fort Collins, where the traffic was horrendous, and everyone was some form of tense.

The true change for me is the awareness that I can now live in the present. I have been seeking this experience for most of my life. Instead of worrying about the past or demanding more in my future, I can just be here now, loving my life. The down side to this new way of being? Great difficulties going back into cities! I don’t want to waste one more moment of my limited lifespan sitting in traffic and breathing city air.

I am filled with gratitude that I can now live in nature forever…

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”  —   Henry David Thoreau

Laura and rasta close up

Want to learn more about moving from a good-sized city to the outback? Then check out my book: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado 

Share this information with your friends, and please feel free to contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

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My Brother John is a blessing!

IMGP5231We had a very welcome visitor this July. My brother John came up from Sedona Arizona to visit for three weeks. Why was he so welcome? Well, besides the fact that I hadn’t spent any time with him in years, he spent most of his time here working around our property in the hot summer sun.

See, John has been a  “dirt guy”  his whole life. He understands how to prepare ground in a very level way so that concrete can be laid and drain effectively. There is so much more to know than I ever imagined about preparing soil properly so your home doesn’t wash away!

patio before concrete Comanche drive

We were in need of a lot of dirt work to prepare for a new concrete patio on the south side of our home. John did all of that work by hand, and then proceeded to fix our driveway, so it drained properly and nobody was tempted to run over the drains and ruin them. He also shared lots of good information about weather patterns, clouds, etc.

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We kept telling him to relax more, but he said this was nothing compared to the work he is used to down in Arizona. And as an added bonus he played beautiful acoustic guitar outside my window each night as I was going to sleep.

Now that’s one great brother…

It was so fun hanging out with him. Who else remembers all the crazy things we used to say and do as kids? Who else can still sing along with Frank Zappa’s Mother-mania album, the one our Mom really hated?

So wonderful to spend time with my big brother again!

High in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains: Foothills versus Mountain Living in Southern Colorado

Yesterday was so interesting! We visited some new friends who have lived up above 8,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains west of here for the past few years. Loved hearing their stories about living up high.

I know many have romantic visions of life up in those beautiful mountains, but remember this too:

Manuel's snow tractor

The approach to their house is a windy, dirt road off of a major highway, a road they and their few neighbors must maintain, unlike the county road we live off of, 15 miles west of Walsenburg. Once they came home a few years ago and there was 6 feet of snow on this road. They couldn’t go home!

We heard stories about when the deep snows come, and the big state highway snowplows plow their road closed! That’s why they need to maintain snow-moving equipment themselves….imagine that!

snow over the windows

I asked them how deep the snow gets up there, and they decided one picture was worth a thousand words!

WOW! We have had a few snows of a foot or so, but nothing like this! They told us stories of  a few snowstorms where they shoveled for eight hours straight. If they didn’t have heavy equipment they wouldn’t be able to get out for weeks!

Their property includes an old straw-bale cabin on a mine site plus 100 acres. Their water comes from a spring nearby, and what delicious water it is! They heat with a large wood stove, which requires a great amount of log splitting to prepare for the winter cold. They have electric service, mainly because the costs of returning renewal energy back to the grid here requires outrageous fees and insurance requirements, and going off grid presents other problems with reliability and initial  installation costs. We are stuck here until better energy storage solutions are developed worldwide.

The natural beauty of their landscape is beyond words and, did I mention, they have no water or heating bills… They maintain a number of wildlife cameras and see so many different animals around their home. Bears are so commonplace that they have named a few of them! It’s a wonderful place that requires a lot of work to maintain.

Postscript: This home was lost in the Spring Creek Fire , July 2019.

We recently built a passive solar home right at 7,000 feet and are told by our new friends that we are really saving a lot of money in the winter by absorbing the sun’s heat directly into our insulated slab, which helps to hold the daily sun’s heat within our home overnight.

solar water tubesWe hope to add a few of these solar thermal water tubes to our home soon to increase our thermal mass and help to moderate temperature swings both in the winter and summer. Beyond solar, we depend on Cadet forced-air electric wall heaters on thermostats for all of our winter heating needs. They usual turn themselves on during the night and turn off soon after the sun comes up most days. In the summer, the positioning and excellent insulation in our new home keeps us cooler than most without the need for air conditioning. We have ceiling fans in every room.

We have rarely been “snowed in” this past winter, but we did purchase a Subaru and love how well it works on steep snowy roads. Overall, we’re glad we chose a lower elevation, especially since our home survived the Spring Creek Fire in 2018!

memoir of retirement 2016We are newcomers to rural Colorado, so after two years I compiled a book about the total experience of moving here to build passive solar  in the foothills:  A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado Please feel free to contact me directly for copies of any of my books! MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

A Few Lifestyle Differences Between City and Rural Folks in Colorado

After 60 years of living in cities, I moved to rural Colorado 2 years ago. Here are some of the differences I have observed between those who choose to live in or near cities, and those who seek out the rural areas of our country.

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The most obvious difference is a love of silence and nature. We had my brother John here for the past few weeks and he spent almost all of his waking hours sitting outside observing the birds, the plants, the bugs, the clouds and the weather. I told you before that I call him “Mother Nature’s Son” and for good reason. Rural America is only for those who greatly prefer a natural setting to high stress, traffic, noise, hustle and bustle and an incredible array of shopping options.

Our sense of time and relaxation is different here. Sure there are lots of hard-working people in the outback, but time takes on a different meaning here. The only people here who are in a great hurry are the outsiders, the locals live on a more relaxed schedule. No hurry to get on to the next task, take your time and do it right. As I mentioned previously when I wrote about the only time we went back to Fort Collins in our two years here:

“I saw people everywhere waiting for something, a place to park, a place to sit in a restaurant, a chance to go through the next stop light, an opportunity to pay for their purchase.” 

Sunflowers on a county road

My commute to La Veta….

Even today, I still find myself sometimes getting anxious when I’m preparing to go somewhere in town. Will it be crowded? Will I be able to get in? And then I arrive and there is hardly anybody there. It takes time to adjust to little traffic and no big rush.

One wonderful, interesting result of no longer sitting in traffic with my foot on the brake constantly, no more right knee pain! I injured that knee in a ski accident in high school, and was planning on treating the long-term pain with surgery before I moved here. Now, my knee is fine.

One discovery for me has been how important religion is out here in the country. I have found one of the great delineators between people is what church you attend, or if you are even religious. In discussions with new people, church almost always comes up. My religion is nature and the earth is my church. Some here can understand that perspective and many cannot. They would prefer that I come to their church.

The other important issue locally seems to be whether you smoke marijuana or not. In some cases I have begun friendships only to find them backing away when the subject of marijuana comes up.

As far as new friendships go, I would say rural people are more hesitant to welcome newcomers into their life. I have heard that they like to wait a few years to see if you will be sticking around before actually becoming friends. And then there are those who came here for the purpose of being alone permanently.

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Overall I am surprised at how different rural living can be. It has certainly changed me in so many good ways. I have so much less anxiety and stress, that I almost cannot tolerate how bad I feel when I go to even small cities. I feel my anxiety level rising immediately…

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I now fully embrace my love of silence and nature, so I will continue my quest for like-minded souls in this area.

 

Laura and Rasta on insulation 2014 (2)I’m new to southern Colorado. After two years I decided to compile a book about the ups and downs of moving from Fort Collins Colorado to west of Walsenburg to build a passive solar retirement home:  A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Please contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!   Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

Oh, the lives that could have been…

Isn’t it fun to fantasize about the other lives you might have had if your mind had been more open, and you had known yourself better in your 20’s, when you chose your first career?

Flower Arrangement

I love working with living things and color!

Rooting and transplanting different kinds of plants and succulents is one of my favorite pastimes now, and I love growing all sorts of plants!

I see only now how much more fun I would have had if I had found some kind of work in some artistic field like floral design or gardening. I feel I could have expressed my full being through a job like that.

It seems to me now, that I was so pre-programmed to work in universities. I do completely enjoy reading, thinking and the freedom of my own intellect. I love intellectual exchanges with others. But I also love the beauty and freedom of light and color.

 harpPerhaps I could have been a painter in another life or a musician. I have fantasies of playing the harp lately.                 No, not something practical like the guitar, the harp!               What does that mean? Perhaps I’m headed for heaven? Or is hell looking for a harpist.

marijuana leafOf course, there’s still time. It seems like everyone presently moving to this rural Colorado county wants to become a ‘grower.’ Perhaps I can still run a greenhouse eventually, and put my green thumb to good use. At least I can plan how glorious my new gardens will be here, after we get our patio done!

It’s never too late to find out who you might have been!

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!

The Best of Boomer Blogs, #456

Welcome to the longest-running Boomer Blog Carnival online, started sometime back in the early 2000s! This is our version of a clickable magazine of recent posts by long-term, reputable boomer bloggers.

Relax, ENJOY and click away!

abiquiu NMSummer is all about relaxation, and for some that means vacation. Veteran traveler Carol Cassara over at Heart-Mind-Soul today offers us 5 ways to have a relaxing vacation and also a list of must-packs that will come in handy on any vacation.

Tom Sightings in Volunteering an Opinion reflects on the benefits of volunteering in retirement Here he offers a few facts and figures as well as some perspective from his own experience.

Kinky BootsMeryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting says: There is nothing like a day in the city to energize mind and body. She enjoyed a day in the Big Apple recently with friends, eating and theater-going: Showtime in the Big Apple.  However, she also reminds us there is no place like your chosen home.

purple cancer cellOn The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about the first inventory of the accumulation of cancer-causing chemicals in the human body. Up to 420 chemicals known or likely to cause cancer have been detected in blood, urine, hair, and other human samples, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization, found when it reviewed more than 1,000 biomonitoring studies and other research by government agencies and scientists in the United States and around the world. Biomonitoring studies measure the burden of chemicals present in the human body.

You are enoughI say whether you chose to go on vacation or stay home this summer, take a mind vacation everyday. Tell that busy, demanding part of your brain to shut up and take time to RELAX. De-stress and embrace the ‘F’ word, FUN, one of our greatest and undervalued pleasures in life.

 

Free Your Mind… It’s OK to Relax!

Purple buddhaOne of the BEST lessons I have learned from my husband Mike is how to truly relax. I have a natural guilt around sitting around spacing out. If you are anything like me, you will first need to be convinced that it’s OK to relax.

Consider the long and arduous history of mankind on this earth. Yes, they had to keep busy looking for food and protecting themselves from anything that wanted to eat them, but I feel certain they also knew how to relax. I just can’t see a caveman or woman being all stressed out over their to-do list. Primitive tribes today still know how to spend hours doing nothing.

Tension and relaxationIt’s healthy to relax, stare off into space, and enjoy this present moment. In fact, it can even be ‘productive’ in its own way. Did you know some of our most creative ideas came from spacing out? Ask Newton. That’s how he first noticed gravity.

You are enoughSo the next time you are feeling pressured to get too many things done, remember relaxation can be very good for you. De-stress and embrace the ‘F’ word, FUN!    You do enough. You are enough. You have enough

 

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’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:           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)

 

Journey Back to Self, Finding Home…

richard gereI saw a great profile of one of my favorite human beings last Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning. Richard Gere has been a bit of a guru for me ever since he found me at exactly the right moment, in the midst of a tremendously depressing afternoon in the summer of 2004. From the television, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hang on, it all changes.” That was enough for me, and he was so right!

Richard now works as an advocate for the disadvantaged of the world. He recently played a homeless man in his film “Time out of Mind”, twelve years in the making. He also works to bring attention to the terrible plight of immigrants worldwide: People without a country.

I find Richard has a knack for asking the important questions, questions like, “Where am I safe in this world?” and “How did I end up here?” And then he said, “We’re all about our stories…”

fe truth I have been focused on lately is how so many of us seem to find a way to return to our original or true self through the chaos that midlife can be. For example, the constant questioning of how I ended up so unhappy with my life at age 49, led me to rediscover who I am, and what I needed to accomplish before I died.

I see now I was in search of a new sense of home and comfort within myself. I was looking for my place in this world.

What did I love and want more of in my life? What parts of my life did I need to jettison RIGHT NOW? What voices in my head were leading me to unhappiness, and which ones were wise and compassionate?

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Finding the right voices to listen to has led me to this place in rural Colorado, where the birds sing me awake each morning, and…

“the sun pours in like butterscotch and sticks to all my senses.” Thank you Joni!

How did this happen? 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!