adventures in dating (or a love like that)

Sufi poet Hafiz

I adore love stories.  Sometimes I’m lucky enough to meet someone who shares their love story with me, like George and Faye.  Sometimes I get to watch a love story in action, no words or explanations needed.

My beautiful friend and yoga guru, Carrie, is braving Stage IV ovarian cancer.  Her path has been littered with obstacles since her diagnosis.  Blood clots.  Unsuccessful chemo treatments.  Bowel blockages.

Overriding everything is the strength and love of her husband, Herman.

Carrie was hospitalized two hours away from home for a month.  Herman was there every day until he had to return to work.  Then he commuted back and forth each day after work.

Their love story has had the same highs and lows that all long-term relationships have.  But where the rubber met the road, there’s Herman, standing tall, a gentle giant.

Now that Carrie’s back home, Herman works full time then performs home inspections in the evening and on weekends.  The full-time job provides health insurance and living money.  The home inspections pay for Carrie’s medication, which are averaging a thousand dollars a month.

Carrie is the original outdoor girl.  She was raised in rural Pennsylvania on 100 acres in the mountains.  She’s more at home in a kayak on the river than in a store.

She sells Arbonne, whose sign of success is a white Mercedes.

Since Carrie’s diagnosis, Herman bought a previously-owned, white Mercedes SUV, lovingly restored it and outfitted it with a rack for Carrie’s kayak and stand-up paddle board.

I’ve talked to Herman a few times.  Asked him how he’s doing. Whether it’s standing outside her hospital room, or meeting at the now-closed yoga studio, or talking on the phone to coordinate visits, the answer never changes.

It doesn’t matter how I am.  Nothing matters but Carrie.

Carrie and Herman having a loving moment in happier times

I want a love like that.  The selfless love of Sufi poet Hafiz’s poetry.  The selfless love I see in Herman when he talks about Carrie.

Sunday was a special day for Carrie.  A day of fasting, prayer, healing thoughts and positive energy.

In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus tells us, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Carrie’s friends each did something Sunday for her healing. Some friends fasted.  Some prayed.  Some sent Reiki.  Others sent positive thoughts of healing – imagining Carrie whole and well, her smile lighting up the room. All sent love.  None more than Herman.

adventures in dating (or one brave heart)

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”

Jim Morrison

I’ve never considered myself to be brave.  But I’ve had an epiphany this week.  I am brave.  Brave enough to risk my heart.  Over and over again.

be brave banner

When I meet someone I feel a connection with, whatever you want to call that connection, I risk my heart.  Willingly.  Gladly.

Sometimes, like with Coach, that connection makes sense.  Coach has a master’s degree.  He’s a nationally known strength and conditioning coach.  Respected by his peers.  He’s smart and educated, an optimistic people-person.  On the surface, he was a perfect match for me.

Sometimes, like with Nature Boy, that connection makes no sense at all.  Educationally and professionally, Nature Boy and I are on completely different levels.  I’m a tried-and-true Type A.  He’s more Type Hawaii.  I plan my life five years in advance.  I’m not even sure he plans his life five hours in advance.  But the connection I felt when I was with him was so strong, I didn’t care about any of those things.

As opposite as they are, the one thing they have in common is the connection I felt when I was with them.

It is easier to go out with people I have no connection to.  You aren’t risking anything when you don’t care.  Your heart is safe when it has no connection to the person you’re seeing.

Maybe because my heart was thoroughly shattered when my marriage collapsed, I can’t imagine any other relationship destroying me.  I faced soul-crushing heartache.  And I came out on the other side.  Stronger and braver than I ever imagined I could be.

I love.  Freely.  Easily.  Without reservation.  That quality attracts people to me.  Children sense the unconditional love that flows through my heart to theirs.  They know I love them just the way they are.

Unfortunately, men sense that same quality and run away.  Nature Boy ran away, rather than acknowledging his feelings for me.  Rather than letting my heart heal his.

I don’t blame him.  He’s been hurt and doesn’t want to be hurt again.  His choice is to play it safe.  Protect his heart.  I might have made that same choice once upon a time, a long time ago.

I can’t play it safe anymore.  I would rather have a few months of something special than years of nothing special.  Even if that means I might get hurt.  Hurt doesn’t last forever.  Beautiful memories do.

swan soul mates

One day, my heart will find my soul mate.  He’ll be brave enough to risk loving me back.  My unconditional love will be met with unconditional love.  We will have a connection that lasts for an eternity.

Until then, I am brave enough to put myself out there, put my heart out there, as many times as it takes to find him.

adventures in dating (or I get by with a little help from my friends)

group of smiling friends


Men are lovely but what every girl really needs is her friends.  Men come and go like the tide.

A tight group of friends will carry you through heartaches and heartbreaks.  They will celebrate with you when things are going well.  They will analyze your love life with you until even you don’t want to talk about it anymore.

This week, I need my friends even more than usual.  Nature Boy and I spent five days together last week.  It was fun and easy.  Being with Nature Boy is always easy.  But he’s as skittish as one of the wild stallions who roam out west.  By Friday, he’d scattered like one of those startled stallions.

Since Coach left, I’ve done a good job of not getting too attached to any given man.  I rotate a few fellas, going out when our schedules collide.  I’m always open to meeting new guys.  But Nature Boy makes me feel things I’ve never felt before.   He makes me want things I haven’t wanted in a long time.  Stillness.  Togetherness.

I’m thankful for my generous friends who laugh with me, storm with me, cry with me.  Whatever I need.  Whenever I need it.

What I need most this week is to stay busy and to forget.  Forget how good it felt being with Nature Boy.

adventures in dating (or a pretty good catch)

Love stories have always been my favorite.  Especially the stories that aren’t stories at all.  It tickles me to listen to other people’s love stories.  It encourages me to know love finds people, whether it’s late in life like my client Meredith who found a beau at 70.    Or whether they found it thirty-three years ago, like Linda and Fernando.

sun setting on the intercoastal waterway

Linda told me about how she and Fernando found each other as we floated on the intercoastal waterway.  The sun was a slowly sinking red ball as she told me about how she met Fernando when her son was ten years old.  She’d been divorced since he was two.  She dated but she didn’t introduce men to her son.  She swore she’d never be married again.

There was something different about Fernando.  They met at a party.  By the time she realized he was a younger man, it was too late.  They were smitten with each other.

Linda had been dating another man for about three years when she met Fernando.  It didn’t take her long to realize Fernando was the one.  She says that other fella told her he’d never been dumped so fast in his life.

Fernando is half Cuban and half Colombian.  Linda is West Virginia country girl.  Fernando is younger and had never been married.  Linda was a divorcee with a child.

His family didn’t want him to marry her because she was a Gringa.  Her family didn’t want her to marry him because he was Latino.

In spite of that, they’ve been married thirty-three years now.  They have two beautiful daughters.  Fernando has been a father to Linda’s son.

Fernando is quiet and exact.  An architect by trade and personality.  Linda is vivacious and outgoing.

They are a testament to the saying that opposites attract.

Linda and Fernando

Linda and Fernando

As the sun set, we looked toward the back of the boat, admiring her handsome man.

He’s a pretty good catch,” she commented.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Question:  Have you found your Fernando yet?  Did he sneak in when you least suspected it?

adventures in dating (or miss independence)

lit sparklers

Three years ago this month I leapt madly toward independence.  It was like jumping out of a tenth floor window of a burning building.  Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if there is something waiting to break your fall.  Where you are is so bad, you have to take that leap of faith.

Asking for a divorce was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.  I tortured myself with self-doubt.  What if I was wrong?  What if he was right, and we were supposed to stay together?  What if the separation destroyed our kids?

What if I went through all the pain of the separation and then ended up with someone else exactly like the one I left?

What if I ended up ALONE?  I couldn’t imagine a fate worse than being alone.

I found a dead Monarch butterfly on my back patio around that time.  I saved it, wrapped in tissue in a Premier Jewelry box.  Whenever I was tempted to call my ex, I’d pull the box out.  I’d remind myself that if I stayed in my marriage, my soul would be as dead as that little butterfly.

Three years later, I look back on the woman I was like she’s a character in a book I read. Her grief is a distant memory, more like something I’ve watched on TV than lived firsthand.

Her anger and bitterness a distasteful chapter in a book I never want to read again.

power to choose

I’m thankful for my beautiful children, who worried about me and took care of me as much as I took care of them.  We grieved together.  For a family lost.  A husband and father absent.  For what could have been.  And never was.

As I write these words, tears pour down my cheeks.  A reminder that maybe the pain isn’t as distant as I thought.

I’m thankful for my friends who remind me of Jeremiah 40:31.  But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 

My friends stood next to me.  They soared with me when I could.  They ran with me when I couldn’t.  They walked with me when that’s all I had left.

A couple of times in the last few months, I’ve thought to myself, I love being single.  Or, I like being single more than I ever liked being married.  It’s taken most of the three years to get to this point.

Being alone doesn’t scare me anymore.  I know there will always be people in my life.  Family to love.  Friends to lean on.  Boys to play with.

It takes time to get to this place.  And it’s a good place.

Maybe it’s because I’m in this place that Nature Boy finally found me.

Nature Boy is my biggest surprise.  He drifts in and out of my life like an unanchored boat.  When he’s around, he brings peace and stillness.  He soothes my soul.  As I soothe his.

Five years before I met him, I pointed out his sailboat to my photographer sister.  She snapped the pic and it’s been hanging in my office ever since.  From my desk, if I look left, there’s a picture of Sweetness.  If I look right, there’s a picture of Nature Boy’s sailboat.

Serendipity?  Fate?  Whatever brought Nature Boy to me now, I’m in a good place to enjoy it.  Enjoy him.

Question:  Have you declared your independence yet?  Or are you happily dependent?

adventures in dating (or it’s never too late to find your soul mate)

cardinals and a blue jay for bird watching

My clients are delightful.  My favorite client this week was Meredith.  She makes seventy look impossibly young.  In the middle of our real estate closing, she told me that after being alone for nineteen years, she’s met someone.

My favorite stories are about how couples find each other.  Meredith lives in Sun City, which is an active living community for people who are over fifty-five.  Widow women run amok in Sun City.  Single men (and their waist lines) barely stand a chance.  It’s really quite cutthroat.  I thought I knew how Meredith’s story would go, but I was wrong.

Meredith divorced nineteen years ago. She has two grown sons.  After her divorce, she became a career woman, an outside sales rep.  Between her career, her art and frugal living, she did just fine.  She did not need a man to take care of her or to support her. 

She was always open to dating.  She picked a church that was known for it’s large singles ministry.  But nobody ever came along who really tickled her fancy.

Last year, she got to the point where she would rather stick a hot poker in her eye than go on another blind date.  She made that point abundantly clear to her friends.

One of Meredith’s friends from church went on a blind date.  Joe seemed very nice, but too old for her.  She told Meredith that the entire date she just kept thinking he’d be perfect for Meredith.

Meredith conceded to trying one more time.  She and Joe went to lunch and he really did seem as nice as Meredith’s friend promised.

Joe’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer when their boys were little.  Because of her illness, he primarily raised the boys.  After her death in 2002, he sold the family home and followed his youngest, single son around the country.  They were companions.  They went to amusement parks and traveled.  Until the son met a woman two years ago and got married.

Meredith and Joe’s second lunch date was the Friday before Valentine’s Day.  Joe showed up with a dozen roses.  Meredith decided she’d found a keeper.

Joe told Meredith he knew she wasn’t the type of woman to call a man.  But if she found something interesting, please call him.  After being married for years to a man who really didn’t want to do much of anything with her, it was a delight to find a man who said he’d do anything except the opera and chamber music.

Soon, Meredith and Joe were scheduled to attend a birding event together.  Joe was on his way out of town, so he asked Meredith to get the tickets.  He’d call when he got back into town.

As time got closer to the event, Meredith hadn’t heard from Joe so she called him.  He assured her they were still on.  She suggested that if he had binoculars and rubber boots, that would be good.  They’d be slogging through the marsh looking for birds.

Joe called the day of the event.  He couldn’t find his binoculars or his rubber boots, so maybe it’d be best if she just went without him.

Meredith took it in stride, found a neighbor to take his place and had a great time.

Within two weeks of their Valentine’s weekend lunch, Joe informed Meredith that he couldn’t see her anymore because he was in a committed relationship with someone else.

Meredith thought that was that, and went back to her previous premise that she was done with blind dates.  She has her artwork, her children and grandchildren, and her friends.  She is frugal with her money and doesn’t need a man to complete her or to take care of her.

Flash forward to December.  Meredith’s phone rang and the caller ID displayed Joe’s  name.

Meredith thought to herself, “That turkey.”

Joe wanted to take Meredith out again.  She rather aloofly let him know she was leaving the next day to spend Christmas with her children in Atlanta.  He said that was fine and asked when would she be back.

He called while she was still on the road heading back from Atlanta.  She had a holiday open house to attend, and because she hates going to those things alone, she invited him to go with her.  Her friends loved him.

They have been inseparable December.  They’ve gone kayaking.  He’s teaching her to golf.  They got their fishing licenses.  Her grandson adores him.  He’s been good to his word about doing anything, as long as it isn’t opera or chamber music.

Joe tells her God brought them together.  Meredith tells him he’s lucky God gives second chances just like she did after he dumped her.  Joe asks her if she’s ever going to stop reminding him about that.  Meredith assures him she probably won’t.

I love their story.  It reminds me it’s never too late to find your soul mate.

Meredith reminds me of myself.   We’ve surrounded ourselves with good friends.  Found activities we love.  Our lives aren’t dependent on finding a man to complete us.

But if the right man shows up, if our soul mate appears on the horizon, we are both ready to welcome him into our lives, our hearts, our homes.

Meredith’s story delights me and gives me hope.

Question:  How long did it take you to find your soul mate?  Or, like me, are you still looking?

adventures in dating (or is it too late yet?)

elderly couple in love

I met the cutest couple recently.  George found Faye in the receiving line at an engagement party.   Faye’s engagement party.

When it was George’s turn to lean in and kiss the prospective bride, he whispered in Faye’s ear, “Is it too late yet?”

As soon as she was done with her duties in the receiving line, Faye pulled her mother into the kitchen.  After discussing how expensive the engagement party was, Faye’s mother encouraged her to wait a little while before breaking up with John.  The fiancé.

Faye waited two weeks before calling George.  First he asked her to dinner that evening.  Then at dinner he asked her to marry him.

That was fifty-eight years ago.  Faye is still as beautiful at eighty as she was at twenty-two.  George is still as tall and handsome at eighty-two.  He still has a hint of the once-dark, curly hair that caught Faye’s eyes.

John, the ex-fiancé, ended up being married five times.  Faye tells me he was too serious.  Not very much fun to be around.

George, on the other hand, has quite the sense of humor.  Every time George made me giggle, Faye leaned over and whispered in my ear, “See why I said yes?”

I agreed with her that he was quite a catch.  There’s something about a man who can still make you giggle like a schoolgirl after fifty-eight years.  Something priceless.

Imagine how nice it must be at eighty to look back on your life and know, without a doubt, that you made the right choice.  You spent your life with your soul mate, who showed up just in the nick of time to rescue you from a lifetime with the wrong man.

I wonder where my George is.  If he’s still looking for me.  Wondering where I’ve gotten off to.

He’ll find me, sooner or later.  When he does, he’ll make me giggle like a schoolgirl.  The way George still makes Faye giggle, all these years later.

When he finds me, I hope I’m as brave as Faye.  I hope I embrace what he offers with open arms and all the optimism in my soul.  I hope.

Question:  Have you met your Faye or George yet?  How did you know?