Friday, October 16, 2015

Why I keep writing this newsletter

On Life and Love after 50 newsletter
By Tom P. Blake   October 16, 2015

Writing newspaper columns for 23 years and this newsletter for 15+ years has rewarded me with friendships and benefits I could  not visualize when I wrote my first article. The most recent example is the Facebook page.

We started the Finding Love After 50 Facebook page about four months ago at the request of a few Champs who wanted to be able to exchange photos and messages with each other. I thought maybe 100 or so would sign up. For me, two surprises came from starting the page.

First surprise: Approximately 445 people are currently on the page, a far cry from the anticipated 100. Most are newsletter Champs; some came from friend referrals and others found their way to us from the outside world. I see fresh, new names appearing each day as well.

Some bad apples have slipped through our FB security controls but you Champs are diligent and have helped by letting me know when someone is suspicious. For example, Jackie Laird, Linda Traylor, Joanne Popp, Janice Bowlin, Gail Metter Swain, Carolyn Cornelius, Zelda Quinn and Rosemarie Friese Kerr patrol our FB site like the California Highway Patrol polices the freeways, helping to keep us safe.

The second surprise has come from discovering the high quality of our newsletter Champs and Facebook members. If one scans the posts on the FB page, there are great topics being talked about by intelligent and experienced people. There is a wealth of information on the page coming from people all over the country, and from some foreign countries as well.

And new discussion threads are started by the FB members when they feel the need, without prompting by me, which I think is terrific.

For example, I love the subject that Gina Woodruff, Long Beach, California, has been sharing with us, about learning to venture out and travel on her own. This is a 50-year-old single woman making these trips. This takes “gumption” as FB member Sandra Lee so succinctly put it. And I think a lot of us are learning from Gina’s posts. Below are some snippets that Gina has written:

A dating story: This past week I was in New York for an event for just three days and I had a date on my last day. I met a guy on Weds. night at Starbucks…” And then Gina described the date.
She also wrote: “I love train rides! I visited Boston and took the 4-hour journey by train to NY then from NY to Philadelphia. It was lovely!

On another post, Gina said, “This past week, my second trip was to Vancouver, Canada. This was my first visit to Canada. I stayed at a hotel on Davie St. with an abundance of quaint restaurants, shops, coffee houses and bakeries. It was a beautiful walk to a park and ocean/harbor…” She went on to describe her Vancouver visit.

Gina also said, “…I am finding that great ways to practice initiating conversations with people are in taxis, elevators, subways, airports and coffee houses. I used to think it was hard meeting new people.

“What I have discovered is I was reading people all wrong. I would see someone and assume they were unfriendly and didn't want to be bothered. On my plane ride over the guy next to me in the middle seat…I am discovering that there are people everywhere...I just needed to look up and say something!”

Gina’s venturing out solo into the world reminds me of the wonderful story that Zoe, our Champ from England, shared with us last year when she walked the Camino de Santiago trail from France across Spain to the city of Santiago de Compostela--on her own with a pack on her back.
Gina added, “I believe the universe is showing me signs that I am getting closer to a relationship. Not him (a guy she had met) but someone.” And she said in a FB post to Christine Baumgartner, “I now believe that there is no shortage of good men.”

And speaking of Christine Baumgartner, we are blessed to have her as a newsletter Champ and a member of our Facebook group. She has years of relationship counseling and experience. She uses that experience to make very informed and astute observations that can be helpful to others. She also is a widow and knows how difficult that can be. She has talked openly and personally about losing her husband on the FB page as well.

On the touchy subject of sex (the subject one male Champ accused me of tiptoeing around), Christine said, “The first step is to figure out if you even want to have sex with him (usually a man won't take you out if he doesn't want to eventually have sex with you) so it's up to you to decide. What I've found is as you start to get to know each other better and you feel open to being more physical with him you can then start talking about what each of you want and like in a physical relationship…”

 Heck, you have to pay for that kind of advice if you go to see a therapist and here Christine is dispensing it from the goodness of her heart on our FB page.

By the way, I personally know Gina, Christine and Gail Metter Swain and they are three of the finest women you’ll ever meet. I have high respect for them and admire their tenacity.

And then we have great men contributing to the FB page: Gordon Grimm, John Johnson, Joel Blackwell, Art Schmall, Terry Johnson and Neils Andrews—just to name a few (I apologize if I left anybody out). These men are sharing their male points-of-view, which are hard to come by these days. Older guys are usually too reticent to speak up.

My point in all of this is to illustrate the wealth of information and people on our pages sharing stories and experiences from which we all can learn. It’s not the biggest group in the world but for the quality of individuals we can’t be beat. There are stories of hope, inspiration, frustration and loneliness.

Oh yes, we will have the occasional turkey chimes in and make some silly accusation or frustration about somebody else on the site, but we are all only human and sometimes say things we haven’t thought through. Let’s just keep that petty stuff to a minimum. Do not let someone’s negative attitude or comments drag you down. Kill ‘em with kindness as they say.

When you step back and think about belonging to this elite group, to which all of you Champs are a part, we are blessed. Where else can you find a group of friends, ages 50-90+, from such a diversity of locations and walks of life, who share such a common bond while aging together?

I am proud to be your conduit of information. And that is why I keep writing the newsletter.

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