Boom or Bust in the mountains

Being in a new relationship the second time around is so interesting in my 50’s.   I have heard people call their first marriage their “starter marriage”.  By their second marriage they are determined to live the lessons they learned from the first.  To show up differently in their next relationship.

Since moving to the mountain we have bought a crock pot.  We have tried to make lamb stew and beef bourgeois.  I do feel like a new wife who wants her husbands belly to be happy.    I myself like cooking and chopping and drinking and nibbling more than I like eating the end result.  Suffice to say I am an ok cook but not great.

So I decided to go to a local bookstore to get a crock pot cookbook.  I ventured out in Breckenridge and found a great used bookstore run by two young guys.  I asked them about cookbooks, they led me to a back room and pointed to piles of books on the floor.  “These are all our cookbooks”.   I said I was looking for a slow cooker cookbook.   One young guy pulled out the “fix it and forget it” cookbook, I flipped through it.  It was mostly ingredients like velveta and cream of mushroom soup.  I opted for the classic vintage crockpot cookbook titled Mable Hoffman Crockery cookery from 1975, it used whole ingredients.

I went home and cooked beef bourgeois as per her recipe and it turned out great. It seems that at altitude more flour and water is needed. My fiancé seemed super happy and we ate it once with french crusty bread and once with pasta.   I forget that if something is not sealed and in the fridge it goes rock hard within an hour or two.  Welcome to thin dry air in the Colorado mountains.

I think about women who married gold miners here in the 1800’s what kind of life they must have had.  No running water, and a wood stove.  One woman who owns a clothing store told me that her space used to be a bathhouse in the 1860s.  She said that gold miners would come down the mountain and take a bath on one side of the store, and then buy chocolates on the other side of the store for their sweetheart.

We live right in the gold-rush town.  “Downtown” consists of 4,500 permanent residents, with 160,000 tourists that arrive over the winter season to ski. The town  becomes a ghost town on April 23rd when the mountain closes.  Boom or Bust.

Embracing inconvenience as a way to define our uniqueness

“Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place. We are becoming people who care mainly or only about outcomes. We are at risk of making most of our life experiences a series of trolley rides”. Tim Wu

There has been a lot of research about the next generation of “bubble wrapped kids” who have not developed their struggle muscle, and are set up for a host of addictions and mental health issues.  This is because they are not able to tolerate discomfort, failure and frustration over a period of time.

Discovering how we deal with difficulty and frustration builds character,  it pushes us to reach for our own creative solutions, and our own uniqueness.

Such activities strengthen our ability to be uncomfortable and still work for what we value.  There is a joy in doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is the easiest.

Like Amazon’s Jeff Basso says, “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this…..

Dirty courage

Dirty courage is being willing to fall in love again in your 50’s and 60’s when you can never pretend that you are young, fit and free.  You have bags under your eyes, and emotional baggage. You have memories that are treasured, and ones you wish you could forget.

I have so many friends in their 50’s and 60’s who secretly want love but have resigned themselves to living alone.  They are getting by with their job, their kids are growing up, and moving out and they have a stable life.

Love would complicate that.  One of my very good friends has said to me he would not date anyone unless they were 20 min-30 min away from him.  He does not have the time or interest to date someone further away.

What if the love of your life is waiting for you? What if you were destined to meet this person on your next trip to the city, or to a campground or on a hike in the mountains?

Once you narrow your view, then your view is changed.

Your mind only notices what is in its direct view.

Goddess of letting go

Dhumavati is the hindu goddess of letting go.  We are told we can invoke this goddess to help us navigate disappointment, and to discover the freedom in letting go.

Letting go is not something we are taught.  It is a skill we observe in our parents  assuming they are able to let go.

My mother hung onto everything and guarded her belongings.  “Grasping” was a word that comes to mind.

My father was interesting, he was a collector who had 3 of everything just in case.  He grew up in the depression.  He would swing between hording, and letting go of everything.

One day I came home and my mother was furious.  My father had given away the silverware, so we had nothing to eat dinner with.

As a child growing up in the British Air Force, we were forced to let go of the idea of home.  We moved countries every 2 years.  As a kid I intuitively knew not to get too attached to friends, objects, or placse as it would be gone when we moved.

Deep inside me I know I yearned to attach to something.  I had no idea that I could build a “home” inside myself.

Now I find myself in a state of relinquishment, choosing to let go-for love.

How much would you give up for love?

Would you leave your country?

Would you leave your work?

Would you leave your friends?

Would you leave the familiar?

I have a good friend who is now 58, and is seriously seeking love.  His criterion is that a women lives within 30 mintues drive of him.  He is not willing to drive beyond that for love.  Does that not limit his options?  What if his perfect match lived 2 hours away?

How often do we get attached to a fixed outcome, and cling to it.   Then we get angry when something else shows up that does not match our vision.

How do we surrender to the life that is right in front of us?

 

 

swimming upstream

Today we sat by the Breckenridge river, at the french bakery here in town. As the days of september get shorter and cooler brook trout and brown trout attempt to go upstream to spawn.

We sat and watched the brown trout in the stream, as the water rushed downhill.  There were two culverts dumping water into lower lying land.  We watched fish trying to jump up to higher ground, going against the rushing water.  They attempted to leap the 5 ft gap.

Their jumps seemed like futile attempts, but they kept trying. These fish were my teachers today…I asked myself:

How much energy do I put into futile endeavours?

How much energy do I put into swimming upstream?   For example trying to do it my way rather than surrender and trust the universe.

Everything flows downstream….I have been swimming upstream all my life, resisting the flow, resisting life.  Letting my mind and ego run the show until it no longer works.

Now is the time to let go and flow.

Waking up to a new landspace in your life 

Do you ever find you look back and think how did I get here?  I am 53 and just starting to pay attention to my body.  Just starting to honour myself.  Not putting everyone else first, and forgetting about myself.  Including myself on the list of things to care for, rather than leaving myself out.

Yesterday I was on top of a 14,000 ft mountain in Colorado.  I saw these beautiful mountain goats, way up high on the top of a pyramid of rocks looking down at us.    I followed a 10-year-old boy up the rocks, trying to keep up with his nibble hopping from rock to rock.   I asked the 10-year-old boy for his technique for climbing.  He said “hold onto the rocks with your hands, and don’t put much weight on your feet”.  What a difference that made, I climbed nimbly up the mountain and saw this mountain goat family at the top of the world.  Just me and the boy.  Everyone else was on the ground yelling cautions to us to “be safe”, or “watch out for the charging mother  with her babies”.

Later that night before we fell asleep in each others arms, my husband asked me what was the highlight of my day?  I said “being 53 and just starting to feel fit, and strong for the first time in my life”.  I was proud I was able to climb by myself.  I was nervous but I called on my ancestors, who have been climbing mountains for years.   I could almost see my grandfather shaking his fist in the air as if to say “we shall overcome”!

Having been physically ill for 8 years, I am just starting to feel strong and somewhat healthy.  I think this is partly because of a greater compassion for myself, and being more patient with myself, rather than punishing myself to change.   As Dr. Barbara D’Angelis says “loving myself forward instead”.

In spite of my imperfection I am shinning even at this late stage in my life……

It’s not over till it’s over.

The selfie culture

We took a break from the mountains and flew to Kona Hawaii the big island.  We stayed at the Hapuna beach hotel.   The sand and water were so soft, like gorgeous well water. Even the shower and drinking water tasted soft.

As I walked on the beach I noticed that people were posing for themselves.  Practicing smiling, fluffing their hair and adjusting to get the best selfie.

Have we become a culture of self oriented navel gazers.  Clinging to our devices in paradise?  Most people on the beach were staring at their screens rather than the ocean.   In a place that offer sublime beauty and smells have we lost the ability to just be?

If we don’t take a selfie does the moment exist?

As we walked along the beach a woman stands in her dress, her young child building a sandcastle while she primps for her own picture.  What is she missing?  the moment with her child, touching the sand, interacting with the earth, listening to the ocean.

I believe when someone is interacting with a device their others senses are dulled.  We cannot multitask the moment, and be in the moment.

Try having a meaningful conversation with your partner while they are texting.  It does not work, they are not present with either the device or you.  I believe our brain can only process one thing at a time.

“The short answer to whether people can really multitask is no. Multitasking is a myth. The human brain cannot perform two tasks that require high-level brain function at once” thoughtco.com   

So next time when your partner is talking to you and you are texting.  STOP. Listen.

Be present.

Next time you are in paradise, just be.

Pick up a shell,  touch the sand,  let yourself get wet.

Aloha

Healthcare in the US is like a Rodeo

Living in the USA without proper health coverage is an ongoing stress.  I have some travel coverage, but it only covers emergencies.  Recently I was having pain down my right side and feeling nausea and diarrhea after eating.  I also had severe shooting pain and was in bed for 5 days.

I took myself to the herbalist who told me it could be a bile blockage or gallstones. She treated me with anti-inflamatory herbs such as turmeric, black pepper, calunda flowers, milk thistle and cleavers.  I also found a remedy on the internet of Apple cider vinegar and organic apple cider.

Then I took myself to the accupuncturist who treated the gallbladder. I also found a chart of foods to illuminate when you are having a gallbladder attack, so I have eliminated my favourites, coffee, chocolate, beer, all pickled things, beef, bread, mayonnaise, egg yolks.  Whoever invented liquid egg whites in a carton needs to be spanked.  I could hardly eat the fried egg whites, even my two dogs picked at them and left them on the kitchen floor.

After this lifestyle adjustment my symptoms have subsided. My accupuncturist strongly encouraged me to see a doctor and get an ultrasound.  Sounds like solid advice.  The challenge is getting to see a doctor, when you have no health insurance.

My fiance found a doctor who will see me, his office is at the King Soper grocery store?  Ok unusual for me to see a doctor where you pick up your vegetables and meat.  But why not.  They have a variety of prices for the same service.  Ok so I check the box for no insurance, and the cost is $100.  If you do have insurance the cost is $250.  Strange system.

Then I need to find imaging centres.  It was recommended  not to go to the hospital up here in the mountain as everything is triple the cost-geared towards wealthy tourists who are in ski accidents.   I start an internet search for stand alone imaging centres in Denver two hours away, as they are the cheapest. I find a company online called health images, I fill in the online form.  I am told that all the health images centres in and around Denver will contact me within 24 hours with their bid.   Now I feel like I am at an auction, with my body as the item to be bid on.  True enough I get a series of competitive bids, on my phone with a quote on what an ultrasound will cost at their centre.

The Vegas of healthcare; go see the doctor, get a doctor’s order for the ultrasound, drive 2 hours down the mountain, pick the lowest bidder, get the ultrasound, and then hope the doctor two hours away gets the results, Giddyup!

What a crazy ass piecemeal system.  I miss Canada.  You may have to wait to see your doctor, but they will know you personally.   They will send you to an imaging centre in their building, and the results are sent back to your doctor the same day.

No Bidding or auctioning on the service, no driving for 2 hours…..Yes the Canadian system is slow and steady, predictable and reliable.  Good Ole Canada, bring it home!

Let go of the oars *

I saw on a bulletin board the phrase “Let go of the Oars, everything you want is downstream….”

When I was 16 I immigrated to Canada from England.  15 years later I went back to visit England with my new Canadian husband in tow.  I always felt British in my blood, and that England was my home.  When I went back in my 30’s I had changed so much, I no longer fit into the British way of life.  Most Brits thought I was American.  I was shocked, I did not realise how much I had changed until I went back to visit.

I had a similar experience recently when I had a single friend visit me here in the Colorado mountains.  He was interested in the nightlife in the mountains.  I really have not been out in the bars late at night, as my fiance does not drink. I wondered if I was missing out on the live music and the dancing scene by staying home every night.

With my single friend visiting we went out on the town in Breckenridge.  We first went to a bar called Apres where they serve craft beers. It was fun, I had a dark beer from a Fort Collins Brewery.  We met people from Miami who grew up skiing in Breckenridge.  We met lots of young folks from Florida who grew up in the heat, hate the heat, and love the snow and mountains.   Then we went to the Gold Pan Saloon which was loud and we left. We Finally ended up in the back room of another bar called the Motherloade tavern.  We sat and watched attractive 30 somethings hooking up around us.  One couple had just met three days ago, she was from Denver and he was from Miami, they were on their third date and they were very cute. I kept encouraging my friend John to go and talk to women.    He went up to ask a woman to dance and she said no.  I mean really? it’s just a dance.  Everywhere people were doing shots of Fireball whiskey.  The band started at 9pm and people were dancing on the tables, with pint glasses smashing on the floor.  We were standing on the ramp to the back room, and within 15 minutes the place filled up.   We were  pressed up against two other rows of people on the ramp hanging onto our pint glasses.  People were screaming in your ear to talk to you.  One guy beside me got up and sang with the band and did the Rolling Stones song Ssympathy with the Devil.  He rocked the house.

The energy of the place was drunken hook up energy, or as they say here “hitting the mountain”.  I said to my friend John “if I was a cougar I would have easy pickings here” as everyone was in the 20s or 30s and pounding back shot after shot.  I realised that this was no longer a place that I fit in.  I missed my fiancée who was home in bed, and I could not relate to the drunken hookup artists around me.   I just wanted to go home.  I waited  until my friend was ready to go.   I was relieved to be home.  I realised I had emigrated from the country of singleton to the country of relationship, and I was not missing a thing.

*Image credit:  By Motmit – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0