Sunday, July 17, 2016

Overcoming adversity with opportunity

On Life and Love after 50 Newsletter - July 15, 2016
Tom P Blake
When I write a newsletter, I never know what reactions might come from Champs, the name I have given to my subscribers. Will the message strike a chord with some? Might others think it’s a yawner? Take last week’s column, for example. The topic was my 23 years of writing about dating and relationships for people 50+, but there was a life lesson running through the article.

Toward the end of the column I wrote, “The most valuable lesson I’ve learned: opportunity often arises from adversity and it’s up to us as individuals to recognize the opportunity and make the best of it, although we may not see or understand it until months or years later.”

And that paragraph hit home for lots of people.  Many of our Champs have suffered through adversity and some are in the midst of it currently. Here are the comments from four women Champs:

One woman, age 67, wrote, “I’m about to go through adversity, and wonder if opportunity will find me. I am running out of my invested money, IRA, and sale of my house, and will be broke by the end of October. I don’t qualify for Social Security because I was a stay-at-home wife and only earned 32 credits in my working years. You need 40…I’ve had a hip replacement and every joint is loaded with arthritis, especially my feet and now my knees, so I can’t work. My relatives refuse to help me...”

Note from Tom: I wish stay-at-home moms and non-working younger women could read the above paragraph. Yes, I understand how important it is to raise the kids properly. But, these women in their younger years need to be thinking of what is going to happen to them financially in the future, especially if they end up being on their own someday. Reaching the Social Security eligibility status is very, very important. They need to work and build the credits so they will have that financial assistance when they get older. This woman is in a difficult position. Will an opportunity come along for her? Somehow, she's got to find a way to make it work.

Kathy from Kingman (Arizona) wrote, “I started reading your newsletters when I was single and although I married 1.5 years ago, I still enjoy them. I was married for 20 years, divorced for four years, and after trying online dating, and a few dates on my own, and reading all the goings-on of your Champs, I remarried my ex. There is something to be said about knowing what you are getting into.”

Note from Tom: When I asked Kathy why she and her ex remarried, she explained they had both gone through big-time adversity—serious health issues—and decided to seize an opportunity to overcome their adversities. The opportunity was remarriage. We may feature her story in a future newsletter because it is fascinating and inspiring.

Another woman, 75, didn’t get into what her issues are, whether adversity is the topic, but she wants to discuss it. She wrote, “I am interested in counseling by email and would like more information about doing that.” I suggested she send an email and based on that, I would quote a fee and tell her if I felt I could help her.

She wrote, “I do not have the email ready describing my situation. I will write an email in a succinct, yet understandable way.”  I told her that by being succinct, it will help her to focus on her issues.

Karen, San Clemente, Ca., said, “Adversity? I got it. Sometimes I think I’m way over-qualified (in the adversity department).”  When her husband got cancer at age 39, they tackled it together. She added, “He lost the career, so we swapped roles and I became the bread winner. Forget about feminism and the women’s movement; it was time for me to change gears and pay some bills. Then, at age 56, I was widowed.”

That, of course, was enough adversity for any person in a lifetime. Then, last summer, her oldest son died of cancer at age 37. When she read last week’s newsletter, she emailed, “‘Opportunity can grow out of adversity.’ You’ve made me think…Maybe I should write. Not only for myself, but for others.

“Opportunity? I believe I have the passion and ability to write. I was sitting in sunlight when I started this message. Now, I’m in the dark.  I could use some advice, Tom. Have you ever thought about mentoring someone on writing?”

Note from Tom: We corresponded back and forth. I strongly recommend she write about how she overcame adversity the first time, and how she is seeing the opportunity through writing to overcome her second adversity. She’s a pretty remarkable woman and I told her I’d be honored to mentor her in her writing opportunity. Writing is what helped me overcome adversity; perhaps it will help her.

One thing about overcoming adversity with opportunity needs to be restated. It may be months or years before the opportunity becomes apparent. A person won’t see it or understand it while he or she is in the midst of experiencing adversity, that person will be too occupied with trying to heal and getting his or her life on track. It's nice to look back one day and say, what happened to me back then was difficult, but in the long run, I made it out in great shape. 

San Juan Capistrano Dispatch Article on Karen

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