Day Ten A collage of my United States of America
Day Four THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII
Senior Online Match-Making Guide, Part One
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.
JO ANN BROWN-SCOTT
ART WEBSITES – www.artistjoannbrown-scott.com
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For weeks since returning from our trip to Cuba I have been agonizing over how to do justice to the Ernest Hemingway experience. This cold Sunday morning as I mindlessly began to paint an abstract composition while listening to the music of the Buena Vista Social Club, one art began to feed the other. I begin to write about Hemingway in my mind as I painted. Ten minutes in I drop the brush and move to my computer, where the calling was loudest.
I had been stuck, because I knew that there was no way I could ever do justice to the man. I like to think of myself as a (somewhat puny) writer, having published three books of my humble thoughts. I know something of the torturous endeavor of letting the words bleed out in a steady stream all the while wondering if anyone on earth will care. Hemingway is one of my idols; he was the master of the short, declarative sentence and the raw brutality of the honest word. He was the “no frills” genius. For that reason and many others his words have remained relevant; his prominence has not faded, his presence in Cuba is still palpable. You hear his name everywhere.
Oddly enough, the following quote from John Donne which provided the title for Hemingway’s war novel For Whom The Bell Tolls is eerily relevant in today’s volatile political climate. Hemingway decided to include it on the page that precedes Chapter One of that war novel.
“No man is an Island, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thin owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
John Donne 1572-1631 English poet and cleric of the Church of England.
Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1899. While volunteering in the infantry during WWI he was wounded and sent home. By 1921 he was living in Paris and became one of the expat community of writers there, including Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others who would become prominent writers of that time and all time. In the 1930’s Hemingway settled in Cuba and the mutual love affair with that island nation began, but he still traveled extensively to Spain, Italy and Africa. His reports on the Spanish Civil War led to his highly acclaimed war novel For Whom The Bell Tolls (1939). His novel The Old Man And The Sea, probably his most popular work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, and in 1954 Hemingway won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his powerful mastery of the art of narration.
He wrote seven books while living in Cuba including The Old Man And The Sea, A Moveable Feast and Islands In The Stream. He was the only American with permission to conduct patrols off the coast of Cuba, hunting German submarines in his fishing boat with a machine gun and hand grenades. Hemingway met Fidel Castro at his own fishing tournament ( The Ernest Hemingway International Billfishing Tournament which is still ongoing, in its 65th year) and there are photographs everywhere in Cuba of Castro and Hemingway at that event. One of Hemingway’s favorite “watering holes”, La Floridita, is still a wild and crazy, thriving bar and restaurant which I heartily recommend that you visit in Havana when you go to Cuba – and you must go to Cuba. There is a life-sized bronze bust of Hemingway there, planted forever in his favorite spot in the corner of the bar so he can watch who comes through the door, and you can have your picture taken with him. Sort of. Next best thing. Yes I did.
His tropical home in Cuba, the Finca Vigia, (Lookout Farm) is a magical place with lush grounds and far vistas – he was often photographed there with prominent friends and film stars partying down the path at the pool, and his boat “Pilar” is there also. The rooms are fascinating, frozen in time; we were only permitted to look through the windows to his interior world. It is now a national treasure, which we visited and where my photographs were taken. In his bathroom, on the wall next to the toilet and the scales, are periodic scribblings made by Hemingway, recording his weight over a long time. All of his personal belongings and collections including one of his many typewriters are there. His main typewriter is located in an adjacent white stucco “writing” tower which his wife had constructed for him but which he really did not like to use for writing. From the looks of it, he spent more time using the gigantic telescope there. All of his honored belongings are still exactly where he left them; never knowing that his hasty departure was going to be permanent. Because as much as the Cuban people loved and admired Ernest Hemingway and claimed him as one of their own, during the 1959 Revolution in Cuba Hemingway was forced by the powers that be (Castro) to leave the country. This exit, this deportation, was a source of profound sadness for him, and shortly after he returned to his home in Idaho (1960) he took his own life.
There is also a modest room that he called his own in Hotel Ambos Mundos in Havana where he stayed while in the city, complete with his own desk and another typewriter, with nice views of the water and the old castle fortress from the balcony. It is certainly worthy of your time if you cannot make it to his country home. It is open most days – the door will be locked, but be sure to knock – someone is always inside watching over things.
There might be more about Ernest Hemingway – one little blog is hardly going to do it.
Jo Ann Brown-Scott, author and artist
FACEBOOK under the name jo ann rossiter brown-scott
The line at the post office today, Saturday morning, was moderate – only about 15 people when I got there, at 9 am when it opened, but rapidly growing out the door as we stood waiting for our turns.
Among the various people in line was a woman on oxygen, a pleasant looking elderly gentleman in front of me with rosy cheeks and white hair (who actually looked a lot like Santa Claus), several women carrying lots of boxes to send, a huge tall man carrying one tiny little package and a lady who was already talking to anyone who would respond to her, making remarks about her career in the Marine core which was followed by an account of her many years working for the United States Post Office and then a current third career as a substitute teacher for kindergartners. She had to tell everyone about the kindergartners now days; how precocious they are and how advanced in their knowledge of the world they are. How cute, but how rambunctious and challenging they are.
The elderly gentleman in front of me chimed in and said that her job at the post office must have been quite difficult at Christmas time, and so then she told a few funny stories from back in the day when everything was simpler and easier during the holidays. She went on to say that now everything is computerized, but somehow things are more complicated than ever and they still get screwed up.
“I remember Lindberg’s flight,” the gentleman said, sort of placing his age on the timeline of life.
“Well he was a Nazi, you know,” she said.
The gentleman ignored that remark and said, “And I don’t even own a computer. I refuse. I do not want to learn about computers.”
“Well some day soon a computer will be installed in every home and it will be automatic that you have a computer and that you must learn to use one,” the lady ex-Marine/kindergarten teacher said to him….smiling.
“Oh I doubt very much that I will live that long,” the elderly gentleman answered.
Another person from behind us in the line chimed in, “Oh yes you will! You are lookin” pretty fit!”
That got a faint smile out of the gentleman.
Soon the entire line was in a group conversation; everyone contributing, laughing and talking to each other. It was a lovely thing to be a part of.
When the elderly gentleman got up to the counter for his turn, he put down in front of the postal clerk an assortment of mailed items – mailed by him – that had all been returned back to him by the USPS for some unknown reason. The postal clerk was aghast! How could that happen? He said that everything was in order on the computer, all addresses correct, all postage charges exactly as they should be so the problem was not postage due, and he could not understand why everything had been returned! The elderly gentleman said he was quite concerned because one of the packages was going to his daughter and it was very important – it contained his Will. How could he be sure it would get there the second time?
The clerk re-stamped everything, re-mailed it all again, assured the gentleman that all was perfectly correct, and as the elderly gentleman left everyone in line shook his hand and wished him a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and MANY MORE.
Yeah yeah yeah – the Year Long Canvas is still sitting there staring at me. I am stalled out with her. I am becalmed like a sailboat at sea, but enjoying where I am. I am living in the NOW.
I am currently painting other stuff that allows me to arrive at completion, because I am a task driven person and I like a feeling of accomplishment. I have not abandoned the YLC Project, but I seem to be on summer vaca from her. I’m spending time with people I enjoy, painting just for the fun of it, tending to my sunburn, going to concerts and hiking in the woods, in the rain, wearing my sparkling tiara that I was urged to make mine at a mountain garage sale on Sunday. Of course that’s silly. Would you deny me the pleasure of being silly? You better not….because I am hangin’ exclusively with people who make me happy these days – the ones who contribute positive vibes to my life – the ones who prop me up and make me laugh and leave me with a warm glow. You all know who you are.
The Year Long Canvas needs my attention, I guess, but she is a great looking painting just the way she is. I don’t have it in me right now to alter her. I am SURE I have learned whatever lessons she was supposed to teach me already….pretty sure.
So if you are one of the ones who keeps ragging on me about making some more changes to her, just for the sake of change, you need a really strong argument to convince me that I need to do something. Especially now. Maybe later in the summer when my back is against the wall and I know I am going to have to come up with some answers to questions from my esteemed instructor Homare Ikeda – maybe then I will panic and make some kind of change to her. But right now I am following the advice of that same esteemed instructor who commanded all of us students to HAVE FUN and ENJOY THE SUMMER and PLAY!. That’s what I want to do – that’s what I’m talkin’ about. I am going to do THAT.
Jo Ann Brown-Scott – to see additional art, visit the links below:
mixed media painting by Jo Ann Brown-Scott copyright 2013
Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force. He who knows this is ready to become something higher and stronger than a bundle of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations. He who does this has become the conscious and intelligent wielder of his mental powers. (James Allen)
Many articles are written about creativity. It seems rather a newish thing, that after centuries of witnessing its manifestations but not bothering to stop and figure out what the internal dynamics of it are, we now seem to have the time to pick it apart and examine it more closely. Everybody wonders how it happens – what facilitates it, who gets it, how do we nurture it, does it peak and then decline with age, how it can be enhanced and how to increase its potential.
First of all, everybody gets their fair share because it awarded free at birth – absolutely no one is born without it. The degree to which it shows up depends upon which gene tendencies you begin to massage – because certain aspects of creativity can lay dormant if not discovered, acknowledged, encouraged, stroked and cared for. When I taught mixed media painting to adults, people came to my class who had been CEO’s of corporations, high earners and achievers, outstanding in their fields which of course requires enormous vision and creatiity. But they had waited until their retirement years to tentatively tap the latent but strong desire they had kept hidden to someday learn to paint. They had been extremely creative in other areas of their lives to the point where no one had a single clue they secretly wanted to paint. The desire had been put on the shelf or choked out entirely for years, so that ambition of a different caliber could take the lead at the exclusion of all else.
The creativity was bound to come out sooner or later…or was it? We hear all the time about people who discover they can sing, dance, write, paint and numerous other creative activities well into their adult lives, and I say what a shame that they waited so long. I wish more people would live the wondrous, colorful world of creativity all along the journey and not confine it to the last couple chapters of the book of life. Think of it! Life is all about the journey…living in Technicolor is of great importance.
We must not be too ambitious. We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint box. And, for this, Audacity is the only ticket. (Winston Churchill)
There is no secret formula for being highly creative. The habits of the most gifted creative people vary enormously – they are observed and envied, scrutinized and examined by people who want more of what they see. The trick to being creative and using the potential that is already there inside you is to dig deep and know yourself. Define what you desire, ask yourself if it is true and appropriate to who you authentically are (because not every one of us has exactly what it takes to be a Steven Spielberg) and what you are unconsciously drawn to, and give it some oxygen. Bring it out to the light of day. It does not have to crowd out everything else, to the extent that you drop whatever else you were doing and give it your complete 100% ALL (although that has worked for many people) but it does mean that you must give it a fighting chance to be heard, seen and nurtured. You have to be willing to bring it out of hiding and show it to the world, unapologetically, unselfconsciously, and even proudly, as you sharpen your skills and learn. You cannot be timid – you must be strong – gutsy – not easily discouraged – able to listen to criticism – and you must have confidence and trust yourself even on the days when you are less convinced that what you are offering to the world is worthy of attention. Creative people make mistakes, get embarrassed, sometimes make fools of themselves all the damn time – even the best of them. But they keep going. They have tenacity. They are resilient.
But you knew all that, right?
A heartfelt sense of aspiring cuts through negativity about yourself; it cuts through the heavy trips you lay on yourself. (Pema Chodron)
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE USA!
Photo courtesy of santabanta.com
Here we are – the year had to end somewhere and today is the day. Are you ready for a NEW ONE? Up to the challenges ahead of us?
We will all be in it together, cringing at the ridiculous, saddened by the tragic, laughing at the humor of life, being disgusted by the actions of some, proud of others, and taking in the joy when something actually goes right. Those of us who are champions of humanitarianism and innocent with eternal optimism want to end world hunger, save the whales, cure cancer, clean up the planet, end terrorism once and for all, bring about peace, educate all children, and care for the homeless and those who are suffering as we love one another. That is a tall order, but we continue to do whatever we can. And that is driven by eternal HOPE.
I have no resolutions for the NEW YEAR other than to continue what I have been doing – laugh more, be grateful for every day, practice random acts of kindness, tell the people that you love how you feel about them and if there is any good that can be done, then by all means do it.
My thanks go out to all of you for caring enough to follow this humble blog, allowing me to spout off about whatever spontaneous observations cross my mind. What an honor and a privilege that is. I am fortunate to live in a country where speaking out is encouraged – and I wish the same for you. I know who you are – those of you who do not enjoy that same freedom of speech. I agonize for your loss of freedom. I wish for you a better condition.
The best to all of you! Let’s hope the New Year brings about positive change for all.
mixed media painting by Jo Ann Brown-Scott copyright 2013