Thursday, December 25, 2014

A 2014 year-end message for singles

On Life and Love After 60 Newsletter

By Thomas P. Blake     December 25, 2014

A 2014 Year-end Message for Singles

It’s hard to believe that we’ve reached the final column of 2014. The December holidays are behind us. For many singles, those holidays were a mixed bag of emotions. Sure, many got to spend Christmas or Chanukah with their families and relatives and that is a treasure. But there can be an emptiness that goes along without having a gift under the tree from or for a lover.

Not to mention that singles are often reminded this time of year by well-meaning friends and family that they don’t have a mate. They hear comments like, “What a shame that you don’t have someone to share the holidays with,” or, “You should work a little harder to meet someone.” Most singles just finesse those comments outwardly, but inside, the comments can grind at them.

So, I never write a joyous Christmas week column because my primary focus is on singles age 50+, and I don’t want to make them feel worse than they already do. Yes, married people tell me they read the column as well, and I appreciate that, but my main concern is the singles.

The December holidays magnify emotions. Some people decide to get divorced or to break up during this time. It’s probably because they want to start the New Year off heading in a new and different direction. But when that happens, it can be a real downer for both sides of a busted relationship.

I speak from experience. On Christmas Eve, 1993, my wife of six years cleaned out the house and moved out of my life. No notice, just, “See ya later Thomas.” I was pretty shocked, unprepared, and angry. Christmas wasn’t very merry that year.

But out of the ashes, with the New Year, came opportunity. A better life. And it opened the door for me to meet Greta, with whom I’ve been blessed to spend 16 years. That event also launched my writing career, although when it happened, I wasn’t a writer.

However, six months later, my first newspaper column was published, titled “Home Alone with Only Dogs for Company.” Since then, I’ve written more than 3,000 columns on Finding Love After 50, published four books, and appeared on the Today Show and Good Morning America. These things would have never happened had my ex not left.

Today, it’s time to focus on the New Year and the hope it brings to all of us—single and married.

One silly thing that encourages me every year is knowing that after December 21, the days start getting longer. Even when something can get me down, I just think that every day ahead for the next six months will bring more light and less darkness.

I was stand-up-paddle-boarding in Dana Point Harbor Tuesday with my friend of 25+ years, John Hawkins, and he surprised me by asking, “What is your New Year’s resolution?”

It caught me off guard, I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms. It’s not as if I don’t have plans for 2015. I do and I sure as heck have thought about them and worked on them. But I didn’t have an answer in clear, concise terms, or, as Mark Victor Hansen, the co-founder of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and empire, called it, an elevator speech.

What Mark meant was, you see someone in an elevator and you’ve got 30 seconds to pitch them concisely on something that you want them to know about—a book, movie script, life insurance policy, used car—whatever you are selling—doesn’t matter.

I did not have my elevator speech prepared; I rather mumbled my response to John that my main goals for 2015 include retirement from my deli, travel with Greta, and writing more newsletters and newspaper columns and maybe publish a book or two. That wasn’t a 30-second elevator speech; it took about two minutes to say that.

My message this New Year for older singles is to remind yourself that adversity and loneliness can lead to opportunity, hope and a new direction in life that can be rewarding and exciting. But, it’s up to each person to look for that opportunity, seize it, and move forward with a new bounce in his or her step. Everybody has a talent, all they have to do is find it, and nurture it, and it will grow.

I often think during this time of year of what a woman reader told me long ago: “I’ve been married and unhappy and single and unhappy. And single and unhappy is better--because I am free to make changes to my life today, tomorrow or next week, without having to go through the divorce process or getting permission from anyone other than myself.”

Besides, being single at 50, 60, 70, or 80 isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s pretty darned good. A large number of our Champs choose to be single and love the lives they are living.

So rejoice in your singleness this New Year, because a new and exciting life awaits you. Seize the opportunity.

And if the “retirement from my deli news” piqued your interest, you will hear a lot more in the January, 2015, newsletters.

Happy New Year. Raise a toast to all of your fellow Champs, which I will also do. You are all so special to me. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

On Life and Love After 60

Love - The Rob Lytle Story

On Life and Love After 60 is the title of this newsletter. Most of the time, we focus on finding love after 50. But today's column focuses on a different kind of love--not the romantic kind--but the love of family and friends that is especially important during the December holidays.

To set the stage, I need to go back to December, 1976. I was the Director of Marketing for Victoria Station, a prime rib and boxcar restaurant chain based in San Francisco, with restaurants located across the USA and Canada.

One of my marketing responsibilities was to co-ordinate a football award that Victoria Station presented to the most outstanding college football player each year. Admittedly, the award started in 1971 as sort of a spoof on the prestigious Heisman Trophy. The company had its reasons for doing so, but that is for another day.

Four years earlier, in 1972, a young man from Fremont, Ohio, Rob Lytle, was one of the most highly sought after high school football players in the country. My alma mater, the University of Michigan, was fortunate to have him choose to attend Michigan.

In 1976, when Rob Lytle was a senior at Michigan, he was the all-time leading rusher in Michigan football history. He was a consensus All American. And I, being a loyal Wolverine fan, insisted we give the award to Rob. On a snowy day in December, 1976, in Southfield, Michigan, at our Victoria Station there, one of our three company founders, Bob Freeman, and I presented the award to Rob with Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler and other dignitaries present.

Rob was drafted by the Denver Broncos and played for them for six years.

Rob and I became friends. When the Broncos played the Oakland Raiders at Oakland, I would often take him to dinner the night before the game at one of our two Oakland restaurants. Usually, he would bring 3-4 teammates along with him. Rob was one of the nicest, most thoughtful, funny young men I had ever met in my life. And yet, he was a bulldog on the playing field. Billy Dufek, a college teammate of Rob's, said he was the toughest football player he ever knew.

As a NFL running back, Rob had several concussions and multiple injuries and surgeries.

After Rob's retirement from football, I would speak to him on the phone on occasion at his home in Fremont, Ohio, where he grew up. He was always humble, although I could tell he missed playing football.

I was shocked and saddened when Rob had a heart attack at age 56 on November 20, 2010, and passed away. I found out about his passing in an article in Sports Illustrated.

This summer, I received an email from Rob's son Kelly. He was writing a book about his relationship with his dad and wanted permission to use a photo of his dad and mom that I had used in "Prime Rib and Boxcars. Whatever Happened to Victoria Station," a memoir I wrote about Victoria Station. Kelly and I started to correspond.

Kelly sent me an advance copy of the book. I was very moved that a son who was very busy with raising a family, and working, would set aside the time to accomplish such a feat. Kelly hints quite strongly that the concussions that Rob got from playing football, and the surgeries resulting from the injuries, and the pain killers,had much to do with Rob's early passing.

He writes, "I have no medical degrees, but I have to imagine that a reliance on Vicodin, Lorcet, and Oxycodone contributed to Dad's premature death."

The book is personal and heart wrenching. I could hardly finish it the first time because I saw a different side of a man I knew who had a coy smile and subtle sense of humor and a love for people. I had no idea of the agony that Rob Lytle suffered playing football on the national stage.

In the book, there is a chapter titled "Love," where Kelly describes the different kinds of love he experienced with his family. His personal descriptions of "Love is" could apply to any of us who have suffered the loss of a loved parent, child, sibling, dear friend--anybody really. This sentence touched me, "Love is a husband and wife washing dishes, their hands reaching for dirty plates together in the same bubbly sink, after another family party on Christmas Eve."

My message this Christmas: Love those who are special to you; we never know what or when something will happen to them, or to us for that matter. I love you all. Thanks for being in my life.

Rob's book, "To Dad From Kelly," is available on, at Barnes and Noble, in paperback or electronic book form, or contact Kelly directly at  for a personal, autographed copy. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio.

                                     Kelly Lytle website

                               To Dad From Kelly
                                   Book by Kelly Lytle

Be safe. Have a nice holiday. See you next week. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Love is possible at 75

On Life and Love after 60 newsletter

by Thomas P. Blake  December 12, 2014

Finding love at 75 is possible

Singles ages 50 to 80 often say to me, "I'm too old to meet somebody." I don't like hearing those words because one is never too old as we hear about today.

This newsletter reaches Champs throughout the USA, Canada, and in many foreign countries. And from their emails, we are able to share stories of hope for singles of all ages wherever they live.

Zoe, Glastonbury, England, who hiked across Spain this year as you may recall, emailed: "The actress Dame Judi Dench turned 80 on December 9. When Michael Williams, her beloved husband of 30 years, died in 2001, it never occurred to her to think of another man in her life. 

"But fate, in the guise of a few red squirrels, changed that. A neighbor, David Mills, has established the British Wildlife Center. He invited Dame Judi to the opening of a new accommodation for his red squirrels. Their relationship started from there. She was 76 and he was 68.

"They are seen everywhere together but both lead busy lives and live in their separate homes. We aren't all Judi Dench, of course, but she met the right man by doing just what you, Tom, always recommend to older singles--moving outside the comfort zone, doing something new. I doubt that Dame Judi had opening a home for red squirrels on her agenda as a stage set for romance."

Another Champ, Carm, 75, a Jackson, Michigan, high school classmate of mine, spends six months each year living in Barra, Mexico, about four hours south of Puerto Vallarta. A year ago, a relationship he was involved in for several years ended.

Carmelo emailed, "I have a new (and last) girlfriend here in Barra. She's recently widowed but we've known each other for seven years. She has lived here for 14 years. She's originally from England but moved to Canada in her early 30s and has been in Mexico for 18 years. A year older than me and so fine. She has a house to sell, then we're off to Italy for a month. When we return, we'll be searching for a new town in Mexico in which to live, likely Oaxaca. I am very happy."

A third Champ, a widower, age 75, who did not want to be identified, described how he recently found love. He is into sketching and painting and attended an artist nature boot camp this fall. He met a widow his age there who enjoys similar outdoor artistic activities.

"We found, as two active, upbeat persons, that we had many common interests and views which lead to a strong attraction. We accept each other as we find each other now, not comparing our current relationship to what we had with our spouses."

And while they live 300 miles apart in different states, they are together most of the time by visiting each other's homes. He feels he has found the love of his life and says she feels the same way.

             Be active and pursue the interests you enjoy

 Is 75 too old to find love? No, as the three couples described here today discovered. When people get out of the house and pursue outside interests, they dramatically improve their chances of finding romance. 
And as the singing group Pablo Cruise sang in the 1970s, "Love will find a way."   

Pablo Cruise  Love Will Find A Way  Live
Pablo Cruise Love Will Find A Way Live

Friday, December 5, 2014

Comparing an ex to someone new

On Love and Life After 60

By Thomas P. Blake     December 5, 2014

Singles’ dilemma: Comparing an ex love to someone new

We all know that dating and meeting someone compatible is difficult for singles at age 50. But by the time singles reach 70, the challenge is even greater. Compounding the problem can be when singles inadvertently compare the people they meet to their ex-spouse or ex-significant other.

Such is the case for Gale, mid-70s. She emailed, “I’m hoping someone out there can help me with this: I’ve been a widow since 2008 and was married to Ian, an incredible man. In fact, you included the story of our relationship in your book, How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 (

“When Ian and I met on the Internet, we lived in different states. We even shared the same November 20 birthday. We eventually lived together for two years before marrying in 2004 on Valentine’s Day. He died four and a half years later.

“The problem is I can’t stop comparing what I had with Ian to the men I meet and date. I don’t know how to get over this. I realize there will never be another Ian, but can’t seem to get past the comparisons, and of course, no one can compare with what I had because of this. I’d welcome suggestions.”

I’m not sure I can give Gale a good answer. Perhaps readers who have gone through a similar situation will shed light on what Gale has described. It reminds me of the words from Paul Simon’s song, Graceland:

“Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you’re blown apart.”

My guess is that Gale will never stop comparing the men she meets to her deceased husband. Although he’s been gone for six years, her love for him was greater than anything she will ever feel for another man. But, maybe she can have a nice companionship with a man who only wants companionship as well. Perhaps the new man would feel the same way about a love that he has also lost.

If Gale meets a man she enjoys spending time with, her feelings about her ex should be revealed early in the relationship. Honesty is needed here, but without turning the new man off. If a new man has to be top dog of any of the loves Gale has had in her life, the relationship won’t work.

Perhaps meeting a widower who has been through a similar situation would be a good direction for her to go. They might both understand each other and accept how each other feels.

I’m sure Gale realizes that she will never stop comparing the men she meets to her ex. But if she can just sort of tuck her feelings away into a closet in her heart, then she might find a form of happiness to help her appreciate a new man.

She also has to be aware that meeting someone who fits her criteria will not be easy. The ratio of single women to single men is at least four-to-one at age 70. And, she has to realize there is a possibility that she could suffer another loss if a new man she cares about passes away before she passes.

Gale has been a Champ for years. Knowing her, I am confident that she knows what to avoid when meeting a new man. I only mention the point below for the sake of others who are saddled with the same comparison issue: When meeting a new potential mate, singles should not go on, and on, and on, about an ex, either by complimenting them or criticizing them. It’s ok to mention an ex, of course, but referring to him or to her too much could chase a new acquaintance away.

Gale’s dilemma will strike a chord with many older singles that have lost the love of their lives and who automatically compare them to the new people they meet. Gale would appreciate hearing the experiences of others who feel the same as she feels.