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. 

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