December 31st and January 1 are not so different…just 24 little hours apart…unless you are the kind of person who likes to make new beginnings. I am one of those people. I am 78 and counting. I feel a sense of urgency about my days. I want substance and meaning, purpose and progress in the time I have left.
When I have a clear ending to one period of time and the immediate, clearly defined beginning to another – a clean slate – a white canvas – I see it as a challenge and an opportunity. I feel the need for some creative thinking concerning what will be different and new in the coming year. My desire is that the new time period should improve over the previous one. That should be easy in the year 2021, since 2020 sunk to a deep new low in my own personal experience…and I imagine you might agree. We have nowhere to go but forward and higher in our aspirations.
Now we must rise up, pull ourselves up and out of the doldrums and the muck. We must thrive and prosper.
Thirteenth century poet and spiritual guideRumi says, “But listen to me; for one moment, quit being sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.”
He writes next:
“Last year, I admired wines. I am wandering inside the red world. Last year I gazed at the fire. This year I am a burnt kabob. Thirst drove me down to the water where I drank the moon’s reflection.
It’s the old rule that drunks have to argue and get into fights. The lover is just as bad. He falls into a hole. But down in that hole he finds something shining, worth more than any amount of money or power.
Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street. I took it as a sign to start singing, falling up into the bowl of the sky.“
Hard to believe that an Afghan mystic from the thirteenth century can be so relevant today. I have taken these phrases from the book The Essential Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, and I have left some lines out to give you the abbreviated essence of what he is saying. I urge you to read more. Every subject you might imagine is covered in splendid stories and ancient rhymes.
You do not need a magnificent prayer wheel, such as the one pictured here, to send your hopes and requests out into the universe. Just sit down and meditate. An enormous collective wish from planet earth will reach the right places if we all hope for the same things. I am wishing for a better year with a better chance for peace, for love, for hope and for an end to the suffering of so many people. Expressing our gratitude for the blessings we do have is always a good place to start…
On January 6th, the Day of Epiphany, a particular favorite of mine, we all have a brand new chance to discover, in a brilliant flash of truth, what it is we would like to accomplish in our privileged days remaining. It is a day of manifestation and revelation. It has the potential for opening a door in your mind that will lead you on a journey of new beginnings.
Let us welcome 2021 with a resounding embrace and a promise to do great things. Listen to your heart and go where it takes you.
“Lovers don’t finally meet someone; they are in each other all along. Rumi (1207-1273), 13th century Persian poet, mystic and spiritual teacher.
If you are not yet acquainted with the poetry and wisdom of Rumi, the 12th century poet and mystic, I highly recommend that you read some of his writing because it is still, after all these centuries, relevant to our modern lives. You will be surprised at how lovely and graphic his words can be in a world far different than his own. He will teach you what you thought you already knew.
My two previous blog posts have discussed the fun, the adventure and the pitfalls of online matchmaking websites. For those of you who have dived right into that cold water pool, I imagine by now that you are thoroughly soaked and having some crazy fun or you are shivering and can’t wait to jump out and catch your breath. There is no shame in going dormant for awhile as you regroup and sort things out in your mind. It might not be the right time for you.
In life, and in love, timing is everything. In your soul you are aware of exactly what you are searching for. You were born knowing. That knowing percolates to the surface of your consciousness and unfolds as you travel life’s journeys and become more worldly and wise. You begin to know what you are searching for in a life partner…a lover…a friend… a companion…a confidant.
Do not ever close your mind to the possibility of finding that special person. There is always the dream of finding a soul mate, and you might cross paths with several who seem to fit that criteria in your lifetime. People will appear, all shiny and attractive, seeming to understand you and appreciate you and fulfill your wildest dreams as you make your way around this world. But sometimes those people will disappoint you, having merely disguised themselves as the one. It is your mission to uncover the layers of faux perfection and find the reality of the person. Sometimes you can cut to the core truth of that person in a relatively brief amount of time, sometimes finding the core takes a very long time, especially when it is being purposely hidden. Then, if a person is revealed to you as being the wrong person, you learn to more clearly define your search, you appreciate the lessons you learned and you evolve. Your intuition matures.
In life, you might find the right person at the wrong time, or the wrong person at the right time. Either way, it usually does not work out in the long run. Timing is everything. Finding the right person at the right time is rare and oh so wonderful. I only know a handful, a small handful, of people who have had the good fortune of that golden, incandescent experience. Sometimes if the person is right but the timing is wrong, you can make it work by waiting a bit of time to fall completely into love and begin making long-term plans…delaying gratification…altering your plans to make some time adjustments, and then it works.
But persuading yourself into believing you have found the right one, at just the right time, as you trick your intuition and forge ahead anyway, while gradually discovering that it is a doomed relationship, is a whole other thing. Some people can actually maintain the illusion of near perfection for a very long time, when an event or an argument or a career change will uncover a side of that other person you had never seen before. The wrong person reveals the exact profound extent of the wrongness, leaving nothing to the imagination and no room for excuses. Having learned, you must move on. Faking it into a future with the wrong person will not work.
This is precisely why you must give relationships an extended period of time to unfold and reveal what they are really based upon. An excellent matchmaking site is just the beginning of your research. Hopefully after narrowing down the field of possibilities the two of you will begin to meet in person. Face Time calls and emails and hours spent on the phone will not take you to a place of truly knowing a person. The conversational expressions and humor and long eye-to-eye glances are lost in all of those written and vocal types of communication. You must arrive at a place of comfort by meeting each other in person. See that person in 3D. The length of time it takes for that to be arranged differs greatly, especially now in the time of a pandemic. But it can be arranged in a matter of a couple weeks – just suggest it. Sit outside somewhere, distanced from one another, wear a mask but reveal yourself to each other for a few minutes, then cover back up, order a pizza and settle in for the afternoon. Smile at each other with your eyes. Laugh out loud. Drop all pretense and reveal yourself as the person you authentically are. Ask a lot of questions of each other, and answer them because the reason you are there is to begin…the process…the discovery…of what makes the magic happen. Invite the possibility of romance. Be open to knowing. To adventure. See what happens.
Above photos are from an epic trip to Singapore and Bangkok, Thailand
If you have read Part One of this subject on my previous blog – about online matchmaking – welcome back! If you are interested in this information but have not read that first blog, please go back and read Part One because you need that basic information to make sense of what this second part says.
Tis the season for festive decorating and celebrations! With the pandemic requirements, only narrowly defined small parties are recommended, but in the interim until we can all get vaccinated, there is groundwork that can still be laid. Relationships can be formed and defined and even enjoyed in online dating website socialization. The basics were discussed in Part One of this blog and I hope you all had your curiosity teased into further investigations. The process of getting started is fun and fascinating and yet sometimes rather tricky. With this second blog I will carefully explain the nuances of what to watch out for, certainly not to scare you, but so that you have a head start over the inexperienced first-time user of these online social dating services. In the general dating game, you already have an advantage when you sign up for one of these sites because, by comparison, if you happen to actually meet a random person who looks interesting at a party, or a bar, hiking, or even just walking down the street you know next to nothing about him/her. You are flying so very blind…you have nothing to go on and you must start from scratch, ground zero, in your “getting to know you” routine. It is always better to have a foundation of information with which to start. So we begin someplace between caution and adventure, hoping that we find a comfortable balance for you.
Online information provides you with a wealth of information right off the bat. The applicants’ profiles reveal a great deal of good nitty-gritty stuff and if you are intuitive enough to even read between the lines you are especially fortunate. For instance, chances are you will be able to read Mr/Ms Profile’s education level, religious beliefs, where he/she lives, what he/she does for a living, what he/she’s likes and dislikes are, what his or her ‘s favorite past times, hobbies, musical preferences are , what he/she likes to eat and where, can he/she dance, does he/she travel, does he/she prefer art galleries or football games or both.. and the beat goes on. Additionally it is at least partially written in the Profiler’s own words, and that means that perhaps his/her sense of humor shows through the words. Her/his choice of words might also reveal a tendency to be positive about life or a bit melancholy. On some sites you might have access to that psychological profile test that I mentioned in Part One, which would be fascinating. Wouldn’t it be a good thing to know if he/she is structured and organized rather than unorganized and messy? It would also be great to know if the person you are considering is an extroverted party animal or a more introverted intellectual loner. There is much to be learned from a profile, and of course your own profile must be carefully written as well. Fill it out when you are in a good mood!
As I said before in Part One, the pictures you post as part of your profile page are an extremely important component of assembling the information about yourself. People who do not choose to post a picture are at a very basic disadvantage in the competition for your attention. It reveals that they are not a confident person about their appearance, or they are not technically savvy enough to know how to upload a picture. Everyone is capable of having a flattering picture taken – and people are surprisingly happy to see you in a casual, unplanned photo opportunity like when you are outdoors on a hike or having fun with friends. It is not a great idea to post a picture of yourself with a bunch of friends who most definitely do not want their pictures posted on a well-traveled internet social dating website, because that is an invasion of their privacy. So make your picture a single picture of you – you can crop out all the other people if you know how to do that. Some dating websites allow you to post a gallery of several pictures and that is a fantastic idea. Show your true self! Show everyone that you get around and have an active life. Just be authentic and have fun with it.
I have seen a wide variety of ridiculous attempts at almost, or sort ofposting a picture. A person will wear a big hat and stand in the shade. A person will post a picture of his or her shadow. A person will photograph him/her self from only the neck down, or only from his nose up. Another person who claims to be a senior citizen will post one picture of him/herself from at least 20 years ago. I saw a guy once who posted a picture of the area just below his belt region in a pair of very tight jeans. Come on you guys! Do this picture thing the correct way or not at all and stop wasting space on a match-making site when you are not serious enough to give it a dignified chance. Don’t be a creep, and ladies who turn themselves into pin-up queens in their senior years might not get the responses they are hoping for.
Other characteristics that might be volunteered on a social website profile without the writer consciously realizing what he/she has revealed are sometimes quite obvious to the person reading the profile. A person might inadvertently reveal he/she has been married 5 times…. red flag. A person might actually reveal that he/she lives in another country…red flag. A person might reveal that he/she is actually writing for a friend who just cannot bring him/herself to complete the profile or post a picture or reveal his/her actual authentic name because of shyness…red flag. I ran across a control freak one time who posted no picture and when I requested one he answered me with, “Meet me for a drink and you can take all the damn pictures you want!” Control freaks usually reveal themselves. Another guy, in his profile, stated that he would like to be called on his phone so that he could explain in detail exactly what he expected of a woman in a relationship with him, because he has made a list. Red flag.
One final warning would be to never become involved in any relationship, no matter how wonderful it seems, if money is requested by the other person. You are begging for trouble if that happens. If you ever watch the crime shows on TV such as “48 Hours” I do not have to explain further. Do not ever put yourself in the position of being an obvious, unsuspecting, air- headed fool of a sitting duck. Be cautious and be smart.
The vast majority of people on dating websites are nice folks and sincerely would like to find a compatible partner. Look for someone who lives close, at least within 25 miles of you, (unless you would seriously consider moving) and is reasonably flexible about how it would work if you decide to meet for coffee. I recommend coffee rather than cocktails for that first in-person meeting. Never invite a brand new acquaintance into your home or reveal exactly where you live. Specific info like that is better saved for much later in the relationship. You can split the check or offer to pay it yourself or allow that other person to pay – it is fine to handle it however you would like.
I imagine you might have about a million more questions, not answered here. If a Part Three is warranted, we will talk about all of this and more, again. In the meantime, take heart, a new day is about to dawn and there is a way out of this involuntary imprisonment. It is always better to know a person mentally before you know them physically. It will be a joyful awakening to some day become more 3Dimensional again!
There is so much pertinent subject matter in the category of senior citizenship, and this blog is just getting started, but I would like to begin a discussion today about senior match-making websites. Perhaps you already have an opinion? That’s fine, but lets give this topic another chance. Open your mind a bit! You may decide that investigating some possibilities is the best thing you ever did for yourself.
If you are still “above ground” and have a pulse, plus a little pep in your step and you are single and enjoy a nice life, congratulations to you – you are a survivor. As my sister says, “Old age is a privilege denied to many, so appreciate it.” But maybe something is missing…you might be interested in finding a companion. Seventy-eight is the new sixty-eight, or perhaps even the new fifty-eight, if you want to play that numbers game. We are not our senior parents. We are more healthy, more active and certainly more engaged in life than they were at this point in time. It might be a full-blown romance that you are looking for (lucky you!) or a traveling companion, a hiking friend, a movie friend, a person you can discuss books with, a dance partner or just a platonic buddy, but life is always better with another person to share it with. Romance is romance, no matter the age, and companionship is a wonderful thing. Especially during the isolating circumstances of a pandemic event I believe it is comforting and fun to find other people with whom you can carry on a conversation within the confines of social distancing. After covid is no longer an issue (and we all urgently hope for that) then whatever friendships have been formed online will have a chance to move forward and become more 3Dimentional.
Google lists the TOP 10 senior match-making websites, two of which I have had personal experiences with, off and on, over the span of several years. I have not magically found my prince charming (in this senior age range he would be a king by now) but I have met a narrow selection of fine gentlemen in the dozens and dozens of choices, learned a lot and become more clever and efficient in my ongoing fairy tale search. I do speak from a woman’s viewpoint, but I am capable of giving help to the guys too, because I have learned a lot from the men I met along the way.
Most of these dating websites want you to take a brief, non-threatening personality test after you decide to fork over some money and sign up for a period of time. These tests reveal things like whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, cautious or adventurous, a leader or a follower and so on….whether you are within the norms, in other words.. The tests also screen out, I would like to assume, the sociopaths from the normal. In reality, I have run across the occasional creepy old geezer who, I imagined, might own a white van and go cruising around in his retirement years looking for younger hot chicks. You can usually spot those guys a mile away. On the wide wide scale of personalities, which starts right here on the left side with the creepy category and goes all the way over across your house to the normal-as-apple-pie category to the far right side, there is a lot of territory in between. Listen to your intuition, ask good questions and do not agree to anything weird. More on this later…
Financially speaking, you will find that some dating sites are on the expensive side, some are reasonably priced and some are astonishingly “FREE but not quite” – you find out after you sign up that all kinds of necessary “perks” ( a contradiction in terms) cost extra money. When you make the decision to sign up, be sure you understand whether the fee you see quoted on paper is the monthly fee or the fee for a period of months, like for instance 6 months. Nobody wants to be sucked into paying for a ridiculous extended period of time. Absolutely do not opt for automatic renewal!
The site will request a picture of you, because you can bet that is a very important piece of your particular puzzle. Some sites will enable you to have a gallery, a selection, of photographs. You owe it to yourself to make them flattering, because like it or not, both men and women really do care how you look. Your photo is your “curb appeal”. People do care what you wear, whether you have any hair left (lots of women like baldness and see it as a sign of virility) and whether or not you look physically fit. You can be a little overweight, or not, have goofy looking hair or none at all, seem to be city-slicker stylish or a tree hugger or a rancher or a dude in fancy clothes…whatever. Chances are that someone will find you attractive and want to know you better. Just be authentic. Do not try to be someone you are not. It never works. As the saying goes, “Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.” If you do not know how to take a selfie with your phone and upload it to the internet dating site, find someone who will take some pictures for you and help you do it. Older grandchildren would know how to do this, and they would probably find it interesting that you are trying to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. The photos are necessary for your success in finding a new friend because first impressions are important. It is best to not have other friends or family members in the pictures with you – the internet is never to be 100% trusted, and spreading around the pictures of other people is not OK.
You will be asked to write a brief Bio for your own page on the site – it should reveal who you are and what makes you tic, with information about hobbies, interests, what you do for fun, etc. etc. It might ask what faith you are, and other more personal questions. Be honest, be funny if you want to, be spiritual if that is who you are, be enigmatic and a bit private or boldly frank, but be human. You do not have to answer every question that the form asks of you.
After you have gotten yourself established on the site of your choice, jump right in. No guts no glory.
Pictures of people and their personal info who have been expertly computer-matched to you and your unique personality will begin showing up for your consideration. It will be overwhelming at first. Dozens and dozens of guys or gals will pop up ( yes, sometimes both sexes). You will feel like you have gone to the circus and there is not enough time to see all the acts and the side shows. So many people! Whatever site you have chosen will offer you a way to get the attention of the guys/gals you find interesting. You will be able to send them a wink, or a smile, or a wave or a star – a clue of some kind that will indicate you want to know more about them. Then you are off and running. Some will respond and some won’t, but don’t give up. Maybe someone will not even notice you for a couple weeks, or perhaps he/she is zeroing in on someone else at the moment and does not want any new distractions. Every day new people will show up and you have to be dedicated to checking in frequently on your site or you will definitely miss something good. It is like a huge chess game with lots of moving parts.
Remember that your entire full name will never be seen by anyone else who is represented on the site. You will be given an anonymous email account on the site, so that you can communicate with others, and you can call yourself whatever name or nickname you want, but you never have to reveal anything personal about yourself ( address, private phone number, email etc) unless you decide you want to. If you do decide that you want to give a guy, or a gal your private info, be sure you have vetted that person well, in many email conversations where you ask a lot of questions and your questions are answered. Decide carefully if you are comfortable enough to open the door to your life to that person. Once your private cell number or your email address is out there with him/her you can never get it back and he/she is able to find other info about you based upon that info. Whether you are a male or a female, be cautious, because you could be unpleasantly surprised at any moment with a request for a Face Time call from some person you barely know! Make wise choices and let things develop over a period of time before you get too familiar. It is a process that keeps unfolding but it goes much quicker than sitting around in your kitchen waiting for some terrific person to ring your front doorbell.
In PART TWO of this subject we will discuss the nuances of senior match-making websites and the many circumstances you might encounter. Stay tuned, we are just getting started.
BLOG ART IMAGE – Titled MOON CHILD Original mixed media painting, 9×12″, $75.
The iconic Clock from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris – the Museum was formerly a train station, so clocks are everywhere, and my message for you is time-oriented…
Here I am again, inside the chaotic and dangerous inner sanctum of the pandemic, except I have finished another trip around the sun. I had a birthday, in spite of covid. My heart goes out to all those people whose life journey has ended much too soon. I grieve for you and your families every day. It is like Russian Roulette, this disease. Chances are that you might get it in some random, thoughtless nanosecond when your guard is down. I hope not. Never lose your focus and your awareness of what you are doing, where you are doing it, what your hands are touching and the quality of the air you are breathing. We are all stuck together here in this moment in time, and I care about you.
They say you should write about what you know, and I know all of this. Later birthdays are difficult under even normal circumstances, but when you get up into numbers that are in the clouds birthdays can be stunning and sobering. It seems the older you get the more you think about the past. I try, teeth gritted, not to do that. I make it almost my mantra to live in the now.
The nights are the most daunting. Oh I can fall asleep just fine, but waking up at 3:42 am every morning is predictably infuriating. I know I am not alone.
For weeks, months, even years our “getting older” minds are awakened in the pitch blackness to worry about THINGS. We waste the wee hours on trivial pursuits – what was my dog’s name when I was 6 years old? How come I never liked that one curly-headed kid in my biology class? Isn’t he famous or something now? Why did I have to learn about where babies come from in an idiotic, intellectually insulting book that my mom handed me much too late? But more often the worst case scenarios dominate our thoughts. The hot water heater is on its last legs. It will probably quit when I can least afford to replace it. Probably Christmas Eve. That pain in my leg is probably something really bad. I don’t feel comfortable going to see my doctor during a pandemic. I will just wait it out and worry about it again tomorrow night. Are blue whales really making a comeback?
The things you wake up to worry about are often suddenly replaced, in your waking life, by a different big worry thing, worse than all the other things that you ever anticipated, that surprises the heck out of you. Oh my god I never even thought of that! The entire furnace goes out plus the hot water heater! You find out that pain in your own leg is just unimportant arthritis but someone else you dearly love has a far more dire health issue. How silly of you to have been worried about your mere leg, you say. Those stakes were not high-value worrying at all. Just your leg. What a waste of time.
Once in a while the thing you were so worried about never ever happens and you are shocked by a wonderful something that distracts you completely from worrying and renews your joy and optimism. That can happen. One year my daughter amazed me with the news that I was going to Paris! For my birthday! Well that surprise shot right up past everything on the worry list to top notch #1 most wonderful of things. A whole different list! Both my kids are always telling me I am going to live to be a hundred. (But is that supposed to be a good thing? Do I really want to?) They seem to have gotten a call from somewhere, from someone who knows, because they are so sure. But usually when my birthday comes, every single year, I can’t help but wonder how many of them I have left. My sweet daughter says, enthusiastically, “Mom you are not done yet! You still have things to do! Things to see! Start thinking about what you would like to do on your eightieth!” So I wonder if someday when I am 97 or a hundred, the two of them will quietly slide over to me and tell me, in a kind quiet voice, in my totally deaf ear, “Mom it is time now. Get your stuff together. You are done. “
With this blog post I am beginning a new-ish direction with my blog posts – I realize I will be losing a chunk of younger followers with this move but that is ok. I feel the urgent need to write what I know for sure about being older, starting out now, in the time of “cholera”, and continuing on into any time and place I want to go, for that matter. The experience will be bittersweet. Funny as hell one moment and tragic comedy in the next, but forever real. I hope to touch upon all subjects that we seniors are dealing with. Health, spirituality, love, romance, hobbies, self-worth, travel, inspiration and basic everyday living. I invite you to come along, no matter what your numerical age or your mental age, because I believe you all will find something of relevance here.
I will include an image with each blog, either a photograph from my own travels or a painting of my own creation, (often smaller and more affordable than my usual painting size). Prices will be listed.