The Dating Game – Revisited (a true story)

Dating image While there may be plenty of fish in the sea, the rules of engagement have changed. What would the 1950’s advisor Miss Manners say about today’s sexual etiquette, a sleep-over buddy, sex with your ex and sexting? An important Internet survey reported that 52% of those who tried online dating had a positive experience. Patti was determined she would be one of them.

Patti’s Story:  Patti (59) had not gone online before but prodded by friends she took the plunge. After all, she thought it beats trying to meet guys at bars and saves time because there are plenty of men looking for a match too. Patti believed the time was right because she was feeling good about herself: she had joined the YMCA, recently lost ten pounds and the drama of her divorce was well behind her.  To be on the safe side, she set up a new email address that didn’t include her full name.

Ready, Set, Go Fish:   Patti chose a popular site that required a nominal monthly fee, then invited her friend over and with the help of a bottle of wine they created her profile. The site prompted Patti to answer two questions” What is important to you? My 2 awesome children, my wonderfully, big supportive family, my close circle of friends and can’t forget my red wine! What are you looking for? A special man, who is passionate about life, wants to take a risk and is ready for a committed relationship—one of trust, friendship, respect, and eventually love. Patti reported her geographic area and selected the age-range of men between 55 and 65.

The One That Almost Got Away      As soon as Patti posted her profile, she received numerous emails and started communicating with three men—Doug, Luke and Darryl. By the 4th week, Patti had exchanged cell phone numbers and was ready to meet all three gentlemen.                                                                                                                          Darryl (64) was first up and although a meeting was scheduled he became ill and had to cancel. She was SO disappointed because she felt a strong connection with him. This happened a second time and she thought for sure he was seeing someone else or was married. Meanwhile Patti met Luke at a music festival and Doug at a coffee shop and both meetings were less than satisfactory. Although Darryl continued to text her, she remained quiet as she was still suspicious. Patti remembered Darryl’s sense of humour and cute texts that warmed her heart, So although hesitant, she agreed to another meeting.

Thirteen months later Patti and Darryl are still going strong. They’ve agreed to take the relationship slow, providing each other time to deliberately build their bond of trust and respect. Time will tell what the future holds for them but they have had a positive experience and feel enriched for knowing the other.

While on line dating may have not met with the social mores of Miss Manners’ time, it is now the new way of fishing…. Don’t be afraid to put your line in the water.

As published in the CARP Connector, Chapter 58, Edition #2. 2016

Three Faces of Widowhood – Part ll: Working Through

eye of grief

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss Psychiatrist identified in 1969, the five stages of Loss and Grief (similar to the 5 stages of dying): denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It describes the emotional stages that survivors experience after the death of a loved one (or the loss of a pet, friend, limb, breast etc.) Grief does not have a schedule—there are no deadlines for the resolution of grief. Of course these stages can occur in any order and can be re-visited over time as one moves to peaceful acceptance.

Another way of looking at the grieving process is through three broad and overlapping phases:

  1. Retreating – the experience of disbelief, shock, confusion and disorientation
  2. Working Through – the experience of feeling the full impact of the death – the expression of feelings and responses
  3. Resolving – the integration of the loss into one’s life

Jayne, Sandi and Monica are transitioning through their wall of grief and are now in the Working Through phase. It is a deeply personal and singular journey; therefore the following experiences do not necessarily describe any one person, but is the collective culmination of courage, choices and clarity on their journeys of recovery.

The first year is tough as they re-live the ABCD’s of the post-death period—anniversary, birthday, Christmas and death. Sandi is almost through her first year after the death of Trent. She describes the task of transitioning to a single person as lonely: from we to me, from ours to mine, and from us to my—the aloneness enveloped her in a state of acute vulnerability that was hard to shake. But through the process of re-discovering herself she realized that she liked being a couple and set about to explore online dating. Actually her daughter set her profile up and Sandi has now been on a few dates. She had to learn to trust again and not look at relationships through rose-coloured glasses – instead she looks at life with eyes wide open.

Jayne’s journey through the thicket of grief required her to sort through her shards of emotional shrapnel—she was always the one to resolve problems, keep peace in the family, and go the extra mile to meet work obligations. She said ‘yes’ to everyone but herself. She has learned to be kind to herself and not be afraid of the boogie man—she has stopped the tape running incessantly in her head, about all the ‘what-ifs’ that might be just around the corner. Instead she enjoys just watching the flames of a fire or going for long walks to distract her from the intensity of life. Jayne is starting to get comfortable in her own skin.

Monica has discovered that by focusing on her own health and well-being, she can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Grief shakes one’s foundations and one of the pillars is self-esteem. Being in a new city was like double jeopardy but she joined a yoga group, met new people, attended a learn-to-knit class and found satisfaction in creating wooly gifts for her grandchildren and friends.

Mourning time is really convalescent time for the body, mind and spirit. My three widowed friends are slowly regaining their equilibrium as they look inward to relax their bodies, re-focus attention on themselves and inspire their spirits to a new transformation.

Three Faces of Widowhood

     the-grieving-process-can-lead-to-personal-growth

This past year, three dear friends became members of the secret order of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood called WIDOWHOOD.  They didn’t take a blood oath or swear undying loyalty—their husbands died prematurely and left them to pick up the pieces.

None of us know when the Grim Reaper will select our lottery ticket. For Jayne (63) and Bob (59) it occurred after a 13 year battle with a rare form of cancer, in a palliative care bed in St. Albert, Saskatchewan. Jayne tenderly performed his final bed bath and savored each stroke as she lotioned his body for the last time. In the end Jayne made the final call to ‘pull the plug.’ If you knew all the facts, that decision was easier than the discordant disruption of life she was living now.

Sandi (64) and Trent (64) had just pulled into the parking lot of Starbucks in Calgary, Alberta. Sandi could smell the strong aroma of the heady coffee, as Trent’s head suddenly took a dive into the steering wheel. Sandi thinks that he succumbed to the perfect storm of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight and worry—as he supported Sandi through her colon cancer treatments. Sandi didn’t get to say good-bye and it continues to trouble her as she journeys on the road to recovery.

Having just moved from Waterloo, Ontario to Moncton, New Brunswick to be closer to their grandchildren, Monica (66) and Don (69) spent their first night in their new townhome. Suddenly at 2:00 A.M Don shot up in bed with excruciating chest pain. Four hours later in an unknown hospital, in an unknown city Monica was quietly told that Don had surrendered to the cardiac assault. Monica could not accept that she would never hold Don again and tentatively went to his bedside, asked that all tubes be removed and slipped under the covers to hold him, smell him and touch him one last time. Three hours later she reluctantly agreed to let him be.

It has now been between 6 and 11 months since Jayne, Sandi and Monica were anointed with their new status as widows. Grief invaded their worlds and left them feeling numb, fearful, helpless and hopeless. Through the process of grieving, they now feel less like road kill and more like being on a road trip, with no destination in sight. Tune in next week to glimpse into their unique and singular journeys of loss, recovery and re-birth.

Are you a member of this esteemed society of sisters?

Intimacy and Family Caregiving

banana to head      boomer-woman-thinking-with-pen-598-x-298[1]

I had a great time as the guest of Doctor Gordon Atherley, on Voice America (internet radio show) – Family Caregiver’s Unite!

For the full radio show plug this address into your browser: http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/79749/intimacy-and-family-caregivers

It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re a family caregiver. There’s so much to do and so little time to do it. That’s why it’s important to take care of yourself—when one’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met, you will be able to better care for a loved one.

What is intimacy?   Generally intimacy is a close, affectionate and emotional connection. It can refer to sexual intimacy as part of a personal relationship with a spouse or partner; it can also be the loving heartfelt caring of a loved one; and it can also mean the unflinchingly honest look at oneself.

Intimacy is a very personal subject and intimacy means different things to different people. Everyone is somewhere on the continuum of sexual health, love and intimacy. There is no right or wrong place to be:  to some couples it is anything from holding hands, cuddling on the couch or reading in bed together; for other couples it’s going on a date night or planning future trips together; and to others it is enjoying sexual intercourse or other sexual activities that fulfills your sense of desire and satisfaction. I’ve also found that honest communication plays a huge role in maintaining intimacy and often fosters an even deeper level of love and appreciation.

When you’re a family caregiver it’s normal that exhaustion, lack of sleep and multi-tasking takes a toll on a relationship – sometimes just trying to get enough sleep is the most important priority. We can usually cope with a change in our routines for short periods of time but when these responsibilities become a burden and there is no hope in sight that it can cause immense stress in a relationship.

To stay strong and healthy think about what I call the 3 R’S of Caregiving – respect, realistic expectations and respite.

RESPECT– is closely linked to admiration, esteem and reverence – these are words used to describe YOU. You deserve to be held in high opinion of yourself. When you respect yourself, you ensure that your body, mind and spirit remain whole so that you can carry on the tasks of being a family caregiver.

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS – this is a tough one – and when one is new to caregiving you often try to do it all – and ignore your own personal needs. Sometimes you just need to say NO when expectations are unrealistic. Don’t forget to accept offers of help – it can really help with time management and planning ahead.

RESPITE – means taking a break or finding a breathing space on a regular basis. Sometimes it is silence – how often do we have the luxury of being alone and embracing the silence – time to reflect on you, time to make sense of it all or consider your spirituality. It means rest – easing your mind, body, spirit and finding peace within.

Cheers to Sixty-Four Years!

Sue at 5 years old

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right!  With the New Year comes the opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to set (and re-set) priorities. And as an Aquarian, my birthday adds another occasion to set new goals.  Although birthdays can be bittersweet, I stay positive and savor the sweetness of celebrating my day.  It’s such a boost to my ego when family and wonderful friends make me feel special. Everyone deserves to be pampered on their BD.

Nina, a dear friend, emailed me a verse from the Beatles song – “When I’m Sixty-Four” – my feet start tapping as the melody rings in my brain. OMG – I’m HERE!

When I get older losing my hair

Many years from now

Will you still be sending me a Valentine?

Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

If I’d been out till quarter to three

Would you lock the door?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me

When I’m sixty-four?

Ya know … it’s not so bad. The 60s are the new 40s—and our generation has a history of not accepting mediocrity—we go for the gusto! We bring wisdom, talent, energy and perspective to society and continue to make a difference. So how are you feeling on the metre stick of life?  Have you found your sweet spot?  Did your mojo get up and go or is there still some twinkle in your wrinkle?  It’s never too late to take a risk and fulfill a life-long dream.

At 64 I’m not counting wrinkles, I’m counting all my blessings—but I know that in a second, my life can take a free fall and change forever, leaving me with regrets and who knows what else?  So now is the time to find the bliss and re-energize my being.  As you may know already, I’m writing a book, and I love every minute of the process!  Please stay tuned for my weekly quips and quills as I venture on this journey that is “Still Sexy at 60+”.   As always, I invite you to share your thoughts and questions, and if you have any hot topics that you want to discuss, shout them out!