Friday, March 8, 2013

Navigatng the World of On-Line Dating

                                 TRAVELING THE UNKNOWN  ROAD

As we grow older, it can be a real challenge to meet a potential partner in this fast-paced world.  What sounded good on paper can backfire in person.  One gentleman ten years my senior had the energy to drive his jeep on back roads for days, camping wherever he landed.  This would be torturous for my body, though I do love adventure and being outdoors.  So an actual date allows fine-tuning regarding different expectations!

After two years exploring this world, I am learning it is most helpful if we become clear about our own values, limitations as well as strengths, and priorities. We need to ask ourselves:  Is a friendship critical to me first, or am I ready to leap in where the more cautious would fear to tread?  There are folks who want instant gratification in this game, and others of us have learned honest relationships take time, for trusting one another means making and keeping agreements. This requires patience, good communication skills, and a willingness to check within and say “no, this person makes me uneasy, or “I truly don’t want an e-mail friend who lives beyond where either of us are likely to be able to drive.”  If money is no issue, fine, fly and check one another out.  For many of us, this would bust the budget, so part of being at peace is accepting what is practical, given our finances, age, and health limitations.  What may be realistic to a young, energetic person in her or his twenties is vastly different from someone in her or his sixties who no longer drives at night nor travels lightly.  This form of dating is the modern version of men posting a letter in a newspaper to get a mail-order bride.  Until you actually meet, both parties can present themselves however they choose, and there are no guarantees. We all have baggage from previous relationships, too. This means discretion is in order!

There will be “success testimonials” on many sites.   This is their form of advertising to hook us into thinking this will be easy. Rarely can you actually speak with a live person by phone to express your concerns or frustrations to someone familiar with the system.  Computers often do the matching based on questions you answer regarding factors important to you.  As we grow older, we don’t have the flexibility to move across the country on a gamble that might have seemed exciting a few decades earlier.  One needs decent computer skills to navigate on these sites, and post photos that may attract a potential friend.  In short, there is quite a learning curve to creating peace with a dating process very unlike old times when we met in school or on the job.  On-line dating is a new game, courage and persistence required!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I believe peace is possible.  I believe we need to make peace with our current circumstances, and that can be challenging, but it is part of radical self-acceptance.  We need to have a curious mind that keeps on asking "What can I do to make life within and around me better?"
    We can all smile, slow down, breath deeply, and put our attention on our intention.  We can offer an encouraging word, make healthier choices in our diet and activities, and stop the negative self-talk before it gets out of hand!
   Peace often requires collaboration, deep listening, and a desire to cooperate instead of isolating ourselves by all our judgments and assumptions that may not be true.  It helps to remember our core values may be different from those even of other family members, so a willingness to stay in touch and honor our very real differences is vital to peace as well.  Wonder, beauty, grace, forgiveness, and gratitude are part of this web of life we call living in peace and harmony.  It takes courage to move beyond our own comfort zones, to discern what may be possible, and what might undermine a peaceful process.  It is a challenge to be optimistic and honor our very real limitations, too.  Most folks do want peace on Earth; we can each do our share by cultivating peace in our daily lives, deleting the many negative messages the media feeds us that violence and aggressive behavior is normal.  Peace isn't about ignoring evil and injustice that still cause great suffering.  What we cultivate within our own attitudes and actions has much to do with our own state of peace and equanimity, and it is constantly shifting as we face our fears, our doubts, our own areas of vulnerability.  I choose to align with those who believe we are making progress, and peace is indeed possible.  Our actions make a difference.  May you be at peace with your choices in this new day!

Friday, March 1, 2013


IN OUR TIMES OF TRANSITION, it is often hard to know where we stand, what to choose. Doubts are part of the journey to firmer ground.  Questioning our beliefs is actually very helpful when living with great uncertainty.  I just watched the movie DOUBT, and Meryl Streep plays a cold, rigid, highly disciplined nun who has no room for compassion, deep listening to others, or forgiveness in her structured world.  Kindness is the last thing in her heart, where so much bitterness dwells that she frightens the children and the other nuns as well.   She trusts no one, and has suspicions that undermine all her relationships.
    Annie Dillard in The Writing Life has such a contrasting philosophy.  "Shoot it. play it, lose it all, right away.  Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book.  Give it, give it all, give it now...Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you.  You open your safe and find ashes."  If faith is an ascension, a climb into beliefs that help us trust life and its underlying goodness, then letting go is a  process of descending, dropping our cherished habits, addictions, opinions to be open to the moment, without preconceived ideas how someone or something should be.  This takes courage to be at peace with not knowing, with letting answers unfold in their own timing.  It doesn't mean we don't care, but it means a surrendering to a deeper knowing than what our experience  or our beliefs tell us. 
    The image above for me is inviting, honoring the calm ocean,  the rocky yet lovely shoreline, the feather, a symbol of faith in things unseen as the sun is setting.  Each night is a time to enter the Darkness, to rest, let go, and retreat.  Each morning is a chance to let our lives count again, one more day, one precious day, even if things don't go as we'd hoped or wanted.
   Today I assemble a small gift package for a 97 year old friend who is blind.  It includes a jar of split pea soup mix, a dainty cup and saucer she may enjoy, a brightly colored spring-time placemat, placed in a small lavender gift bag from Goodwill. I called her daughter, and she advised no music, no flowery hairpin, nothing requiring much vision---things I enjoy, but would not be appropriate for Hilda.  To make a good decision involving someone else, we may need to consult someone who knows the person's interests better than we might.  It feels good to give Hilda a gift, not hoarding things she may enjoy, but I don't need now.
    Sometimes we reach out with words, or prayer, a phone call or an email.  And it's fun to send a gift too, especially when her neighbor is in town here, and can deliver it to her door.  Old-fashioned ways of saying "I care, I love you" are still important in our fast-paced world where the elderly who can no longer dial a phone would welcome feeling connected.  When we give from our heart, it feels good for both giver and receiver!