Monday, February 24, 2014

Overcoming Adversity: no easy task, but necessary

As a columnist, and a deli owner, I hear about adversity that happens to people ages 50 to 90 nearly everyday. Some of the news is pretty brutal. People lose their spouses and loved ones to divorce and death. People lose their jobs and their homes. People develop health issues. These things are a part of life and growing old. My heart aches for them.

When adversity hits us personally, it can be a huge downer. Almost more than we can stand. But somewhere in the darkness, sooner or later, a flicker of light will appear. And it's up to us to seek that light and gather the strength to go on and not give up hope. Easier said than done, I realize. And it may take a long time to get through the grief before we are able to move forward.

Champ Dee wrote, "Your articles have gotten me through a very difficult time in my life. I left a marriage after 37 years of verbal, emotional and physical abuse. I tried so hard to make it work. Since I left my husband 18 months ago, I have never dated so much in my life. I have met many men, but they were not for me.

"In July, I had a 'coffee date' with someone I met on Zoozk. He is wonderful, fun, and so many other things my husband never was. We laugh and talk for hours and I feel so lucky to be with him. Please tell all the ladies out there not to give up. You never know where life may lead you."

Dee went through 37 years of hell and finally was able to do something about it. Eighteen months later, her life has a whole new sparkle to it.

In another situation, Champ Glen emailed, "I had been in a 23+ year marriage when my ex suddenly decided to file for divorce. Although it came as a huge shock to me and all or our friends, I still held out hope that she might come back.

"I went to counseling and did my best to try and understand what was going on and how I would move forward at age 51. I can't tell you when it happened, but I slowly began to understand that I needed to take charge and make a new life for myself. It took 39 months to complete my divorce, despite the fact that there were no complicated issues.

"During that time period, I met the absolute love of my life. Thanks for putting out a newsletter that helps the majority make sense of the sometimes complicated world of dating after 50."

A third situation. I have known Linda for close to a quarter of a century. Soon after I opened my Dana Point, California, deli, in 1988, Linda and her husband, Joe, would come in for sandwiches. They owned a produce brokerage business with an office just down the street. I recall delivering sandwiches there a few times.

I was impressed with them as a couple: smart, fun, friendly and handsome. Over the years, I lost track of them.

A few weeks ago, I saw Linda at the deli. We had a chance to catch up. She said her life had been a bit difficult recently. I was stunned when she told me Joe had suddenly passed away four years ago at age 63. On top of that, she was raising a granddaughter part of the time, sharing that task with her sister. She had moved to a city a half hour away.

Three years after losing Joe, Linda started to realize that she had to take initiative to change her life. Six months ago, she met Pete, a widower, on and they became a couple. The only catch: Pete lives in Washington state, so getting together is a challenge. She said he was a writer and was researching getting some things published.

She telephoned him that morning and I got a chance to speak a few words to him, sharing some of my publishing experiences and establishing a common bond.

This past Monday, Pete was visiting Linda and they came into the deli for lunch. I asked him what it was about Linda that made him single her out among the many women on He said her profile touched him, that her description revealed an inner beauty that seemed compatible with the inner feelings he possessed. Perhaps both being widowed facilitated the connection.

He travels to California on business often and now has an added reason to come here. Linda has visited him in Washington on many occasions as well.

In March, they are going to Chile together, visiting the Patagonia area in the south of the country and the high desert area in the north, as well as spending some time in Valparaiso and Santiago.

They promised they would share their Chilean experiences with my partner, Greta, and me, over dinner when they return.

On occasion, I've been a little harsh on Internet dating for the after 50 set because of the flakes and scammers that lurke on it. But, it can bring people together who would have never otherwise met.

Whether we use the Internet to help us overcome adversity--or decide on some other action--it's up to us to muster that flicker of hope to find our new direction. Again, easier said than done.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Travel: Woman who does not like to travel wonders if she is strange

A woman asks: Am I strange for not wanting to travel?

Kathy from Kingman emailed, "I don't like to travel, even small day trips. Just about everyone on the dating sites talks about how they love to travel or would love to.

"I have always had problems with travel, car sickness, elevation sickness, I get Vertigo at odd times, so driving alone can be a challenge, I have a few other physical issues and sleeping on a bed that hundreds of others have slept and left all their epithelium and bodily fluids behind I think is degusting.

"Plus I don’t eat out at all, I have a lot of food allergies and most places have no idea what goes into their food mostly if it’s processed. I had a very nice cab-over-camper that helped with that but I just don’t have any urge to go, I can watch it all on TV in a nice climate- controlled home. Plus I work all the time, I did take a day off about three months ago, I have grand kids in Rancho Cucamonga, so I drive four hours out, spend about four hours with them and then drive back.

"One thing I find odd is that I always have to explain myself to others. Because I’m not like the majority (who love to travel or live to travel) I’m treated like some kind of freak… that’s why I’m asking you, with all your readers, am I the only person in the world that does not want to go anywhere?"

My response: The reason so many people like to travel is it broadens their horizons and enriches their lives. Travel is educational and fun. Getting away from the daily routine helps us recharge our batteries. Travel gives us an appreciation for people who live in other cities and foreign countries.

I recall a day trip my life partner Greta and I took out of Sydney, Australia, to the Blue Mountains, where the people on the small tour bus were from six different countries. It seemed by the end of the day we were all pals and it didn't matter where we were from. Here is what I wrote on my website about that day trip:

"Our group of 20 was an eclectic mix of international travelers. Besides the five of us who walked on a rugged hike (two from the USA, two London, one Australia) there were three from Brisbane, Australia, two from Korea, four from Ireland, four from China, and two more from London.

"As we rode back on the bus, Greta and I paused to think how wonderful the world can be when its international inhabitants live in peace. Travel breaks down barriers and creates friendships despite language, religious and political differences."

Greta and I try to travel as much as we can at our age, while we are both healthy enough to do so and while we can afford to do so financially.

Most people on dating sites are looking for someone who wants to travel because traveling is more enjoyable with someone and usually less expensive.

It's cheaper for each individual when two people are splitting the cost of gas, rental cars, hotels and cruise ship staterooms, just to name a few expense items that can be split.

Back to Kathy's question: Is she the only one in the world who doesn't want to go anywhere? Of course not.

I was speaking to a college friend this week who is retired and lives in Bethlehem, Pa. He loves to travel. His wife no longer wants to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. So, last year, he and his son went to Europe together for a couple of weeks.

Some people think foreign travel is too risky. Travel can be dangerous. Look at the security around the Sochi, Russia, Winter Olympics, beginning today. There is great concern that extremists will try to disrupt the games. But life at home can be dangerous as well. Look at what happened at the Boston Marathon last year or the shootings that have rocked our own country recently.

Some people don't travel for health reasons, and others for financial reasons. And others, similar to Kathy, prefer sticking around home.

For Kathy, finding a compatible mate will be difficult, not only because she doesn't want to travel, but because she has other principles by which she lives. She doesn't want to sleep in hotel beds, she doesn't dine out, she has other health issues and she works "all of the time" (one day off in three months). Those idiosyncrasies leave little room for a man.

Should people with interests similar to Kathy be judged as freaks? Heavens no. What she does is her business.

How do you feel about travel?

Check out my blogs on my website. 

More on dating people who love animals

More on dating people who love animals

I have never had a newsletter where more men than women responded until last week's column about dating women who have horses, although, some of the male responses were brief. As often happens with responses, they morph into other issues. Dogs and chemistry got dragged into responses from last week.

I believe that people who love animals generally have big, giving hearts.

Antoinette took issue with Bruce's tight pants remarks and rode him hard: "A comment on the man who dated horsewomen because of their tight pants. If a man wants to ogle over a woman instead of looking at her as a person he would want to get to know, then he can shovel the crap, because he's sending the message that he's crap and he's not looking at her character. 

"It's funny how 'respect' never comes up when people are searching for someone. It's always 'attraction' or chemistry,' and those don't last. It only presents an opening, but doesn't carry a relationship."
And now comments from men:

Curt, "Horses are first, second and third priority with women. A relationship is somewhere down the line."

Joel, "Many women I have met have sublimated their love into a dog or (yuck!) many dogs. The result is they have no room for a man in their head, bed or heart, but they THINK they do, so they move sequentially through temporary relationships.

"Like smokers who can't smell themselves, they are oblivious. They talk to and through their dogs. They sleep with one or more; the dog dominates their schedule and conversation. I get it. Dogs are more loyal than men and easier to deal with. When I see a profile with more than one dog picture, I click next."

Terry, the funny plumber, who rides elephants, not horses, with his Thai wife in Thailand and Burma said, "Your story brings new meaning to the question: "Do you want to horse around?"

Carmen, my buddy from high school, commented: "Dating women who own dogs is a more relevant topic. I've learned my lesson." (That sounds like another potential animal-related topic although he didn't elaborate).

Larry, "I have met two women online who trained horses. We never met because their schedules revolved around the horses. The schedules were typically seven days a week!"

Mark, Palm Springs, "I wish I were Mr. Ed!!!"

Marta and Bernie, married couple from Montreal, said, "This newsletter cracked us up. Bernie's former wife bought two horses without telling him, a $10,000 expenditure, not to mention the $1200 monthly fee for boarding the. She then went bankrupt without telling him, just leaving him legally responsible for the whole mess, paying for one dead horse and the bills for the live one, long after the marriage had ended.

"She cried nonstop for three months when the first horse died, prompting Bernie to say to her, 'You'd like me better if I had four legs."

Helen, Arizona, "Hilarious article re: horses and their women. How about women who love their dogs? I personally couldn't have a guy who didn't love dogs; horses would be a plus. It takes all kinds, eh?"

Suzon (proper spelling) pointed out that it's not just women who are tied up with their horses: "I live in a small rural community. I have a girlfriend who raises horses. After my husband passed away, she insisted I join a dating site. I came across several cowboys that interested me. My girlfriend said, 'Oh no, you don't want a cowboy. They talk more to their horses than the women in their lives.' I dated several, and she was dead on. They had little time for me, but all the time in the world for their horses."

Lisa, "I am a horse owner, and I have to tell you there are all kinds. The woman who was described is a HORSE-SHOW person. They devote most of their time to practicing, and then participating in competitions. Very time-consuming and expensive. If you're with one of these women, I'd compare it to being a golf or sports widow.

"Then there are gals like me: I trail ride. I love getting out into nature with my horse and a friend or two and enjoy the seasons and wild animals that riding in Griffith Park (Los Angeles) has to offer.

"I long to find a man to share this enjoyment with, but in the meantime, I have girlfriends that share my interest.

"If a man is not interested in horses, it's not a problem as long as he understands that I am responsible for my horse's well-being, which includes exercise. Sometimes it's better when two people have different interests because they can each enjoy their own activities and friends, and then they have something to talk about when they get together."

So that's it, Champs, enough horse chatter, it's time to leave the horses in the barn. I love all animals, including horses--they are magnificent animals. And I especially love dogs.

At issue here, however, is when meeting someone you'd like to date or have a relationship with, who is into his or her animals, can that person devote enough time to you and place you high enough on the priority list that you will be happy with the arrangement? 

That's a topic that needs to be discussed between two adults early-on to establish understanding and harmony as they ride off into the sunset. And that's the nuts, bolts, and oats of the story.