Category Archives: Relationships

Returning to dating in your later years

Looking for love in your later years isn’t a rare thing at all, in fact there are a lot of mature singles out there who just want to find someone they can spend their time with for friendship or even love. Technologies like the internet can actually help with that, as we can now find a lot of dating websites which are reserved to people age 50+. The question is, are those dating sites safe and do they even work? Let’s find out. Continue reading

No Fear Retirement

Although I believe that we are all still Too Young to Retire® I also know that there are many fears about the transitions from full time careers into new and uncertain phases of our lives. One of our 2Young2Retire® certified facilitators, Pamela Houghton, has published a new book, No Fear Retirement, written for anyone who is thinking about, or has already embarked upon, retirement.

No Fear Retirement addresses ten of the most common concerns of those who are thinking about retirement. Whether your fears are around finances, your relationships, where you will live, your identity, or something else, this book is a valuable resource. Taking time to reflect on the Pause for Thought questions along the twelve phases of retirement or associated with the ten most common fears, will make this read well worthwhile and may help you enjoy a more fun-filled and fulfilling life if or when you retire. For more information visit Pamela Houghton’s website: http://www.retirementsunlimited.co.uk/

Paul G. Ward
President

Online Dating For The Over 60’s

If you are 60 or over, then stepping back into the dating world can be quite overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you meet people? Well, you might just be surprised at how easy it is to find your perfect match, because today we have the internet.

Don’t worry if you have no idea about computers, because there are usually ample free courses at your local college. So if you are of a mind, you can easily pick up the right computer skills and check out online dating.

The joys of online dating

Ten or twenty years ago, online dating didn’t have a very good name, but today just about everyone who is single has an online dating profile. Online dating is nothing to be afraid of, so long as you are sensible and take precautions. As a mature and single individual, it goes without saying that you understand the importance of not giving out your personal details to someone that you haven’t met in person. So just be sensible and you will be amazed at how quickly you can meet lots of like-minded people online.

Online dating for the over 60’s is popular because there are so many mature and single people like yourself, who already have a great life, but are missing that one special person with whom they can share their lives.

It is as if online dating was invented for the older and more mature singles, because it really opens up your world and your dating opportunities. You might be quite surprised at how quickly you meet so many compatible people who also want a loving relationship and are waiting to meet someone exactly like you.

So if you are not ready to hang your hat up just yet and you know that you have lots of love left to give to the right person, it is certainly worth your while checking out a dating site for over 60’s singles. Your perfect match is waiting for you online, you just have to let them know you are available!

(Sponsored Post)

Reflections on a Sobering Day

We are visiting family in another part of the country and having a lively conversation about David Eagleman, the neuroscientist, and how a childhood accident left him with an insatiable curiosity about Time.  Eagleman had fallen off a roof and survived, sans most of the cartilege in his nose, but having experienced during the fall a slowing down of time that would shape who he was and would become.  Many accident victims report something similar, and the suggestion is that time is perhaps far more malleable than we suppose, or perhaps it is just our perception of time that is squishy, or possible there is no difference between time itself and how we perceive it.

Before long, the older people around our brunch table were inevitably drawn to memories of 9/11, the day we Americans got a horrific reminder we were not invulnerable from the violence that many other people around the world live with on a daily basis.   This conversation seemed oddly related to the previous one in my mind, because it has become almost cliche to note that time also stood still for many of us on that September morning.  We remember with astounding clarity where we were when we first learned of the attack.  Some were watching their favorite morning talk shows, others were at work, others were away from home (like us) on vacation.  We remember who we were with, who notified us, and when we got the news, exactly the moment we became fused into one nation, watching the horror unfold — like exceptionally well-done special effects, noted someone — then repeated and repeated throughout the morning in what has since become a media tic.

What I recalled of that time, with something of a sinking feeling, was how quickly the event itself — once we became exhausted by those awful first images — got lost in translation as we attempted to got understand how this could possibly have happened to us.   Why do They hate us?  we wanted to know.  Who could have foreseen the macabre celebrity many indulged in, claiming a relation or friend or friend of a friend among those who perished.  Six degrees of separation bringing us all together first in a sense of national unity rarely seen since, then swiftly dissipating into something less admirable.

I wonder how many of the families of 9/11 really want this annual reliving of their terrible losses, culminating in this anniversary?  Are they eager to revisit the moment when, like for victims of an accident, time literally stood still.  And after which, they would feel themselves permanently changed.  There are a few among the families of those who died willing to say they are exhausted by the annual rituals of mourning.  How courageous they are to declare what many of us are thinking: Enough.

There were children at our table today, listening quietly.  After awhile, a 13 year old echoed this:  Wasn’t it time to move on, he asked us, his elders.  If we keep on reliving this every year, the terrorists will have won.  Something to ponder on this sobering anniversary.

Yo, Elder Bloggers! Here Comes Blogstream

If you haven’t already discovered it, check out Dr. Bill Thomas’s new idea: http://changingaging.org/ A way to get your blog out to the public as part of a ‘blogstream,’  and improve the chance of going viral with a post or idea that you feel strongly about.  That’s the only reason you would blog anyway.  Most of us, Pioneer Woman — Martha Stewart on the range — notwithstanding, don’t make a living from a blog.  Even if you’re passionate about your subject, getting started as a blogger is the easy part.  Sustaining the effort at the same high caliber may not be.  Even Seth Godin who sends stuff out every day, isn’t brilliant 100 per cent of the time (but 95 per cent ain’t bad).

If you have an idea for blogging to the mature age group, I encourage you to sign up for the Changing Aging blogstream and see what other savvy older adults have to say about a wide range of subjects.  And just for good measure, here are a few of my favorite blogs in no particular order.  Why they make the cut will be self-evident: idiosyncratic (good) and with content is both informative and fun to read (even better).  Most posts are short, or if not, at least the germ of the piece is in the lead, so you know right away if it’s your cup of chai.  Enough said:

  • SquawFox Frugal fun from a young, savvy Canadian
  • Green Skeptic My friend, Scott Edward Anderson’s enlightening (pun intended) blog
  • Zen Habits Beautiful design and thoughtful prose on slowing down.
  • Six Word Memoirs Not strictly speaking a blog, but inspiring the way a blog can be.  Try writing your own Six Word biography.
  • Slow Food USA How to slow down and savor the flavor.
  • Poetry Blogs A doorway to all things poetry

Re-Housing Our(elder)selves

About 15 years ago, we went in search of a new home, and a new type of home.  Somehow the concept of  co-housing had floated into our head space. We were attracted to the idea of  ‘building a better society, one neighborhood at a time,’ to quote the current official cohousing slogan.  This was pre-grandchildren and the appeal of sharing a planned community with people of all ages, including small children, seemed vastly more appealing than the 55+ adult gated communities then being marketed.  So we signed up for a co-housing conference in Maryland where a new community was forming, and the following year we toured four communities, Cantine’s Island, in Saugerties, NY, award-winning  Windsong in Langley, BC, Quayside Village in North Vancouver, and Trillium Hollow in Portland, OR (a city where some of our family already lived).  Of these, only Windsong was completed and occupied at the time.  We attended open houses at all of these, and spent a night at Windsong.  We even joined two of them at the minimal membership level. People were friendly and welcoming, some were close to messianic about their chosen form of living.  Forming a co-housing community is a long and challenging process and a few ‘burning souls’ are essential to sustain the effort.

We supported the living lightly on the planet philosophy of co-housing communities of which EcoVillage in Ithaca, NY, is perhaps the best known example.  We liked the self-governance ideals, the espousal of diversity.  We were attracted to the idea of a neighborhood planned to maximize contact among the residents, a kind of  y’all come, potluck ethos very different from most suburbs, including where we live now in South Florida.

The closest we’ve come to that kind of community sensibility was our eight years in Hoboken, NJ, where everything one needed was within walking distance.   If street life didn’t bring you into contact with a neighbor or two and the possibility of a social event, stoop life — hanging out on a balmy evening on your own front steps — certainly did.  It was a small town in every sense of the word, with Manhattan right across the Hudson River.

For us, the downside of co-housing was governance by consensus.  At one of the just-forming communities we toured, I sat next to one of the members in a meeting.  An open house usually includes a pot luck and an invitation to whatever is happening so visitors can get a sense of community process.  This meeting was about landscaping and it went on and on and on, and finally broke up with no decision.  The woman looked at me very kindly and said, “If you’re serious, get used to it.”  I gather that some communities have modified this form of governance.

Today, as co-housing has evolved and grown (there are communities in 37 states and several Canadian provinces), there is more variation in community aspirations including the introduction of the concept of co-housing for elders (a word I prefer) developed by architect and co-housing in America champion, Chuck Durrett.  I’ve heard Chuck speak at an American Society on Aging session and his arguments (read here) for elders living in a community are starting to make a lot of sense to me…again.  I guess you could say it’s deja vu all over again, but with a sense of urgency that I could not have experienced in a pre-grandchilden, pre-Inconvenient Truth, Union of Concerned Scientists report world.

More reading:

Senior Cohousing: A Community Approach to Independent Living, Charles Durrett

See also: Dr. Bill Thomas’s The Greenhouse Project

Reading Jabberwocky to the Blind

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”  The Dalai Lama.

What I’ve been wanting lately is to teach more yoga classes.   For a variety of reasons, this isn’t happening, but having some extra time on my hands has given me the space to think about other passions, e.g. the reading of poetry out loud.  I have been reading poems at the conclusion of my classes since I began teaching yoga in 1998, and I know some of the poems I’ve chosen, e.g. Mary Oliver’s The Journey, resonate with students so much, I get requests for copies.  I write poetry, too, almost as much today as I did when I took Larry Raab’s poetry workshop at the Breadloaf School of English in Vermont.   Writing poetry is a private affair.  Reading poetry — mine or others — out loud is an act of communion.

Last week, a new door opened and I walked through it with no idea where it may lead.   A friend and fellow yogi who teaches a pro bono class to blind students was casting around for something new to offer them.  I found myself agreeing to read poetry to them the following week on a see-how-it-goes basis.

The class ranges in age from mid-twenties to 60-something, two men, five women.  Two are suffering from macular degeneration and are partially sighted.  All of them seemed eager to experience something and someone new.   After the introductions — I walked around where they were seated and clasped their hands as we exchanged names — I asked them about first poems.  The older among them all recalled having to memorize and recite in class.  They thought it made children dread poetry.  The younger immediately spoke about having Dr. Seuss read to them as children.  A happier memory.

They were eager for me to begin reading so I started off with some light verse from Dr. Seuss:  Do you like green eggs and ham?  I started.  I do not like them, Sam-I-am,  they chorused back.  Wow!  Next, Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussy Cat, followed by Jabberwocky (smiles).  Some e e cummings, Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken (a sigh or two).  Billy Collins’ Dharma — ‘Oh, yes!’  ‘My dog is named that.’  We talked a little about how poems make us feel. ‘Funny inside.’  ‘Emotional.’  ‘Light.’  Next, Walt Whitman’s I Hear America Singing, then A Pot of Red Lentils by Peter Pereira (Please read that again! )  Â Finally, Pablo Neruda’s Ode to My Socks.  ‘Mmm-hmm!’  Applause.

Our class was almost over.  I asked: How would you like to write a poem next time?   (Next time?)  Richard already writes poetry, a woman sitting next to him said.  A brief pause, for Richard to collect himself.  Then, he launched into a recitation of two originals, topped with a third, composed in the moment.   Not just good.  ‘Twas brillig.

The Poetry Foundation

The Writers Almanac Comes to your inbox daily.  Garrison Keillor’s reading of the featured poem is a great way to start the day.

The Poem Hunter

Busier Than Ever

What is it about modern life that makes us take such pride in being busy?  The question occurred to me recently when I had a brief encounter on the street with a former colleague who told me she had been busier than ever since we parted company about a year ago.   I politely listened to her catalog of comings and goings, but I could not bring myself to get into the game of dueling packed schedules.  In fact, I didn’t get a chance and that’s just as well because a. it’s not a game worth winning, and b. what I do in any given day isn’t necessarily the most important thing to me.

On many days, I cannot give an accounting of where the time went, nor do I wish to.  This may seem an odd admission for a longtime journal keeper, but a good day for me is when I have paused to appreciate some aspect of my life, or noticed or learned something new, however minuscule.  (For example, I just a second ago realized that I have been misspelling the word ‘minuscule’ forever, and that I am so not alone in this that one online dictionary gives ‘miniscule’ as a ‘variant.’  Nice of them. )  At the end of my day, I feel I’ve lived it well if I exercised a skill or talent; connected with another human being in a meaningful way; laughed; moved my body; performed some small act that may possibly improve the world.  I live in the “smile at the neighbor even when you don’t want to” and  “pick up litter when you see it” scale of  things.  Minuscule, but meaningful…at least, to me.

I suppose it is no surprise that a workaholic culture would make a virtue of busyness.  But, we might well ask, as Thoreau did:  “It is not enough to be busy.  The question is: What are we busy about?”  In truth there is a dark, addictive side to busyness,  according to Sally Kempton, a teacher of meditation and yogic philosophy.   Click here for some ideas on the subject and antidotes worth trying.

I say, if you find yourself obsessed with schedules and constantly crunched for time, don’t compound the problem by bragging about it.  Try something radical: sit down and catch your breath, pick up a musical instrument or a sketchpad,  open a book, call a friend you have been meaning to talk to.  And if you are lucky enough to connect on that first try, let them know you have all the time in the world to talk.  It will be a gift to you both.

Check out:

The Slow Movement

Zen Habits

Grandparents and the Generativity Revolution

As an involved grandparent blessed with good health,  I’m frequently asked to provide childcare.  Beside the fact that I love being with my grandchildren, this allows me to see the daily lives of young families up close.  And what I observe gives me cause for concern.  Children seem to have far more on their plates today than they did a generation ago.  They bring home much more homework and projects.  There are music lessons, competitive sports, dance classes, scouting, church activities.  All good.  Just not all the time.  When they are home, children need to ‘chill’ with video or computer games, or to watch TV.   Clearly, so much time spent interacting with electronic devices means less time for human relationships.  And they are deteriorating.  What you notice in many children in a ‘good’ neighborhood, e.g. the increase of verbal bullying and physical aggression, is a microcosm of what is happening in society.

Of course, children are just mimicking the ‘wired’ adults in their own family.  Mom and Dad are ultra-busy, too, heads constantly bent to the screens of iPhones or Blackberries for work updates or their own extracurricular activities.  I know from my own experience that checking email constantly is an easy habit to get into and hard to break.  In a world of 24/7 communication, we might miss something!  My question is: what could be more important than what and who is right here, under their noses.

I’ve been wondering lately whether we grandparents are not enabling this kind of packed, too-many-balls-in-the-air lifestyle by being so available.   I’m not suggesting we cut back on helping our children and theirs, but perhaps we might insert a quid pro quo into the deal.  Let’s not be afraid of ‘interfering’ and express our values.  When we are the available grownup in the home, let’s take opportunity to teach our young how to not only play well with others, but how to really see them, respect them, and communicate well with them.   We can draw children into old-fashioned games like battleships or checkers or Scrabble; we can teach skills like cooking and baking; we can encourage the making of art or get them outdoors for a hike or sport.  We teach, and by our students we may be taught.

We grandparents who are engaged with our young can and must raise the bar on respectful relationships and civility in our society.  And that, like so many things, begins in the home.  So if you are providing childcare, show respect, but speak your truth.  Take part in what New York Times columnist, David Brooks calls a “generativity revolution.”  If we don’t, who will?

Oh, I’m Just a Volunteer …

Every time I hear someone say “I’m just a volunteer,” I feel like pulling that person aside for a pep talk.  Like ‘just a housewife’ which once kept women in their so-called place, this phrase speaks of self-sacrifice and low status.  It has no place in the reality of what community service is and could become in the 21st century.  One fact: U.S. Government data for 2008 show that 61.8 million Americans or 26.4 percent of the adult population contributed 8 billion hours of volunteer service worth $162 billion*.  Much harder to calculate is the impact of community service on civic life, except when one tries to imagine what life would be like without the hundreds of nonprofit organizations, foundations, faith-based charities, service clubs, and the PTA.

Possibly someone who calls herself  just a volunteer hasn’t found a fit between her skills and an organization that knows how to put them to good use.  Sure, we all gladly stuff envelopes, work the phones and canvass during a campaign, but if you regularly donate your time, you need — perhaps even more than people on the payroll – a clear sense of mission and how your efforts are helping accomplish it.  Research shows that the real challenge is retaining volunteers, one-third of whom quit after the first year.  If you are one of these folks, think again.  Whatever you have to bring to the table, there is the right match for you, and a world that badly needs your time and care.

There is much evidence that suggests we are hardwired for altruism.  Good Samaritans of all ages, shapes and sizes turn up all the time.  People risk their own lives to save someone else’s.  Why?  Because, as people committed to community service soon discover, it feels good to give.  Brian Mullaney, co-founder of Smile Train, puts it this way: “The most selfish thing you can do is to help other people.”  Children do it.  Busy people do it.  Even those of modest means and education do it.

I think of the story our UU minister told last Sunday.  On the way home from a wedding ceremony in rural New Jersey, her car broke down.  It was getting dark as she got out, dressed in high heels and long minister’s robe.  She stood by the highway, trying to flag down some help.  Many cars passed without slowing down.  Finally, an old van packed with a family of migrant workers stopped.  They made room for her and drove her to the nearest gas station and phone, then waited until they knew help was on its way.  “They were tired and probably hungry,” she said, “but they waited.”

I think of our eight year old granddaughter who raised $100 all by herself for the children of Haiti.  And the Cub Scout troupe our grandsons belong to, that does regular beach cleanup.  And I think of the Purpose Prize community, “individuals over age 60 who are defying societal expectations by channeling their creativity and talent to address critical social problems at the local, regional, or national level” at a time when many of their peers consider their work and their best years behind them.

Community service is contagious when we take pride in what we do.  And we should, no matter how lowly the task may seem.  Serving helps you connect with other people; it encourages you to learn things you didn’t know, even about your own capacities; you feel a part of something bigger; you feel needed, depended upon, valuable. Sometimes it opens doors to a new career, friends, a mate.  So doing the right thing by others is ‘selfish’ because, as all the wisdom traditions teach, we are one.  The people who really need a pep talk – or something stronger – are the ones who saw a woman stuck beside her car on a highway, and just kept right on driving.

More resources:

AARP Create the Good

Idealist

The Purpose Prize

Volunteering in America

Volunteer Match

*Using Independent Sector’s 2008 estimate of the dollar value of a volunteer hour ($20.25).