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Dating over 50 after heartbreak: can we still surrender to a starry sky?

I find myself single once more after a 2-year rollercoaster; wounds healing, lessons learned [hopefully], correct path rediscovered. Did you know midlife or ‘grey’ divorce has doubled since 1990? I follow a number of blogs of women in my age bracket (45-60), and at least half of them are single and dating. Of course, several are still in delightfully content long term relationships or marriages, and kudos to them.

That has never been my story. Nor my goal.

Still, once again, I clawed my way out of a tear-filled, anxiety-riddled, confused and lonely pit of mourning, like a determined yet unlucky mole.

And then began sprucing up my online dating profile, adding current photos, and perusing my options…

*sigh

Some familiar faces are still there. And now mine too, returning to the fray.

I sat on my blue couch facing the forest, flipping past desperate hopeful offer after offer, and noticed I felt numb.

Too soon? Four months single; feel ready for something though. Too easy? Been online since 2010, so yes, very accustomed to this hunting. Too callous? Yes again: the instant discard because of ugly sunglasses, an orange shirt, or the ubiquitous drink in hand is harsh, and I can be ruthless, I admit- you learn to be in online dating.

I closed the lid to my laptop. There must be another way… how did we used to do it? But more importantly, was I really ready?

When I was 10, I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to do/be when I grew up- it was probably a school exercise. Writer, actress, journalist… I’ve kind of ticked the boxes haven’t I?

I also wrote a list of the ways I didn’t want to be, and from memory, the top point was ‘cynical’. I was a dreamy, romantic child, and my favourite moments now are still those times before jumping out of the bed in the morning, when I can let my sleepy soft mind drift through imagined or remembered scenarios and experiences.

After this latest worst break-up ever [complete dysfunctional disrespect by the other party of my clearly-expressed needs for safety and boundaries], it would be easy for me to sit in cynicism, or worse still, swear off entanglement forever.

But as my dear friend A says:

‘G, I’ve never seen you deeply committed to misery.’

And he’s right. The curious, playful, and ultimately brave part of me wants to venture back out into the light, to see if I can find love again…

My question is: can I surrender to it if I find it?

Remember when you were young, say 23, and met someone you liked? Back then, the world was your oyster. I fell in love with a kitchen-hand with dark cats eyes in tropical North Queensland, and before I even thought about it too much, we backpacked off to England and Canada, then ended up in a caravan at his parents’ farm in Coffs Harbour a couple of years later. We then agreed to break up in the check-out queue of the local supermarket, on my birthday, as you do.

So be it.

Another romance saw me move across Australia, study to become a Pilates instructor, then spend years commuting back and forth to see my son.

Even old readers of this blog will recall my delightful Melbourne love connection, with monthly trips to a rural idyll far from my beloved beach, exploring a profound creative relationship with ‘H’, who I treasure still to this day.

*sighs

Can I do it again? With a mortgage and part time jobs to juggle, plus darling son ’20Now’? At what point do we give up believing in romance? Is it really just a social construct to sell Hallmark cards and promote the religious agenda of the nuclear family?

*sighs again

I still want to look at someone and feel butterflies. I still want to hold hands while gazing at the stars, aware that we are infinitesimal, yet so important to each other in each breath, each unfolding moment.

I do have faith in my emotional resilience, for that’s what it will take. And I back myself up with discipline and commitment: I go to therapy; I read and reflect; I write in my journal; I talk with and listen to my wise friends.

I feel supported, and therefore brave.

So my answer is YES. Yes, I hope I can still surrender to love, if it comes along.

How about you? Of course this damn pandemic makes everything tricky, and we need to stay safe as a priority, but how are you feeling about your search for love, whether single or partnered?

In gratitude for online conversations and the magic of starlight, G xO

“Courage is Fear that’s said its prayers”

Hi Everyone out there :~)

I was randomly wondering if you have a tattoo, and what’s its story? I have two: one on my right foot from 1997, and one on my left arm when I turned 40 in France in 2006.

I had a vision or daydream about the foot image; went by myself into the scary tattoo shop in broad daylight, and bravely asked the huge bearded guy behind the counter if he would ink me.

“No tatts below wrist or ankle, it’s the law. Go away and work out where else you want it, then come back.”

I cycled home, disappointed and thoughtful. Spent the weekend trying to imagine where else I wanted it… but could only come up with my right foot.

So Monday afternoon, I walked back in.

“It has to be on my foot, there’s nowhere else.”

“Fine then, take a seat, let’s do it.”

Test passed. And the image was to remind me to walk without fear– or rather, to take steps even if I felt fearful. Getting it done KILLED ME, as the needle plunged in and out over my sensitive bones. Didn’t wear shoes for a month while it healed, and slowly got used to my new visual footfall.

It’s old now, with blurred edges and faded colours- a bit like me. In fact, the green ink came out almost straight away as a big scab, rejected by my body. Sometimes I think about getting it covered over (a cute Mini Cooper with wings, or a dark horse perhaps), but then I feel nostalgic for all the epic journeys we’ve taken together, my tattoo and I, so I leave it be.

I do like being reminded to ‘walk without fear’ too. Life is too short and too precious to stagnate for long.

Glasses, books and meditating are good for me now that I'm over 50
Always trying to learn and improve my wellbeing

So I’ve walked myself into Al-Anon meetings lately, for a number of reasons. As this pandemic locks so many people inside, causing mental health to plummet, I’m super grateful that I’m resilient, and have an awesome veggie garden.

I also don’t drink or take drugs.

But lots of people do, some less successfully than others. I come from a long line of drinkers, on all sides of the family, with the melancholy Welsh streak perhaps playing its part?

I’ve never really drunk myself; I don’t abstain deliberately like an alcoholic in recovery must (hand me a glass of Moet or Veuve for a special occasion yes), but I have no need for a nightly glass of wine, or ‘Dutch courage’ to get me on the dance floor. I’ve watched loved ones (both familial and romantic) struggle with the ‘demon drink’, and I’ve lost relatives to its poisonous ways.

In Al-Anon, sitting as a silent witness to heartbreaking stories of long struggles both upsets yet calms me. I feel grateful that we are all there together; that we support each other; that there is safety in numbers and understanding. No one gives advice or tips. We just listen, reflect, and learn. Last week, someone offered the title of this post:

“Courage is Fear that’s said its prayers.”

I thought immediately of my little foot tattoo all those years ago. It took courage for me to hold to my vision of where I wanted it; to sit through the pain of the process; to try over and over to then ‘walk without fear’ as I’d vowed.

I say my prayers now when I meditate, or thrash on the dance floor. I say them when I write affirmations in my journal, or sometimes under my breath when I’m walking. Each repetition grounds me, like a footfall onto earth.

Here I am. Here I step. Here I bring my fear, my grief, my shame.

And here I walk: feeling the fear but doing it anyway.

May we all find the courage of saying a prayer for our fears, to help heal ourselves and each other.

In gratitude for the powers of transformation and support, GxO

The magic of mushrooms (but not magic ones please)

Hello everyone- how’s your pandemic going? (Never thought I’d start a post like that). I am one of the luckiest people I know: 2 weeks before our first Australian lockdown began, I moved house, up into the rainforest. I was blessed with an already-established veggie garden, and now I’ve improved it further.

I’m also expanding: moving into specifically-chosen, dappled sunlight zones, under trees, where I can grow mushrooms.

Not just any old mushrooms mind- and certainly not the ones which spring up round here after rain, gathered with glee by young folk who want to have a psychedelic experience… been there, done that, it was fun, no more thanks.

I’m talking seriously edible treats, commonly known as Wine Cap mushrooms, or King Stropharia– ideal for the home garden.

But first, the preparation. Mushrooms like to grow in the damp & dark; most of us who’ve survived share houses with cellars in our youth know this already.

I was advised by an expert: a layer of cardboard, then woodchips; another layer of cardboard, and another layer of woodchips. Dampen it all down, let it settle for a week, then insert the magical mycelium.

Onto it. (Let’s face it: not much else to do).

Once the bed was prepared (note artistic curve rather than straight line- again, not much else to do), I was given the treasured mycelium (which looked like mouldy old damp egg cartons, and that’s in fact exactly what they were).

But you see that white stuff? That’s the magic which is going to spread through my bed, talk to my trees, rejuvenate the soil, and gift me with a non–stop crop of mushrooms in about 3 months!

I just have to insert it, and wait. Water once a week if necessary. Add a thick layer of dark rich compost once the mycelium has spread its whiteness everywhere like snow, and watch the burgundy-topped mushrooms sprout up.

It feels a bit like Christmas anticipation, but not for mass consumption, over-spending, and overeating.

I’m excited.

I’ve checked them once a week already: there is a little spreading to be recorded. Then my expert friend suggested I also use some mycelium-covered grain spores, so I’ve added them too (it was like feeding grain to the chickens but without chickens).

The weather has been perfect lately, with sunny days and cool nights, plus scatterings of showers, so I’m looking forward to lifting a corner of the woodchip in a couple of weeks, and seeing what’s going on in there.

Nothing like a new hobby to help pass a pandemic. And also the messiest break up I’ve ever been involved in, but I’m not going to mention any more about it [What part of “Three months no contact please” is hard to understand?]

*sighs and rolls her eyes.

Despite the global disasters, Melbourne’s new strictest lockdown policy ever, and concerns for friends and family interstate or overseas, I’m feeling calm, quiet, focussed and playful.

Now bring on the magic of my mushrooms!

In gratitude for the ongoing abundance of Nature, despite humans, G xO

From the madness of 1000-strong bush parties, to the miracle of broccoli

Hello everyone, from here in Australia, where we apparently just had the largest social gathering in the world since the pandemic began.

30 minutes from my house.

I know people who went. Hell, the guy who put it on is a friend of dear friends… it’s a small town.

So last weekend, while most of us were still at home binge-watching old series they missed the first time around (hello ‘True Blood’), approx 500-1000 mainly young people arrived on a private property in the rainforest to party. They parked their cars along both sides of a narrow, dark, muddy lane, and danced gloriously till 2.30am. Please click the link above or this same one for the ABC news version of the event, including footage from Instagram.

I was shocked to say the least. Disappointed. Scared. Angry at both the organisers and the attendees, many of whom were backpackers and travellers, not locals.

And more than a little jealous, to be honest.

I used to love ‘bush doofs’ as we call them here. Dancing for hours in the forest, under the full moon, getting lost in the music and each moment, over and over.

A gate to keep out critters

Those were the days.

But now there’s a pandemic- unless you believe there isn’t. And yes, some of those people dancing last weekend think this whole COVID thing is a hoax designed to take our rights away, that no one is really dying, and that the normal flu is worse.

I live in a region with a history of social disobedience and activism; hippies fled here in the early 70s, and influenced a whole town of ‘counter-culture’ called Nimbin, which calls itself the alternative lifestyle capital of Australia.

So as you can imagine, there is some resistance to the lockdown.

Me? I’m happy to surrender. As I wrote last time, I’m super blessed. I moved to my new home 2 weeks before the restrictions kicked in, and my veg garden was one of the reasons I bought in here.

Netting to keep out birds and bats

So while the world is going crazy, in terrible, stupid, cruel, and unlucky ways, I am planting seedlings, and watching them grow.

All praise the miracle of broccoli!

Yes, I miss dancing with my friends, and letting off steam. But I can still do my dance practice in the lounge room. And yes, I miss the thrill of going out, not really knowing how the night will unfold, and what adventures may call…

But for now, I am SO HAPPY to watch florets of broccolis appear, each one perfect in its geometry, promising the taste of feasts to come.

From looking out to the hillside of a thousand people dancing (which normally I would relish), to the simplicity of holding the universe within my hand.

What about you? What’s a small thing you’ve noticed and appreciated in these virus times?

In gratitude for simplicity, and the colour green, G xO

So grateful to be locking down here in the rainforest for COVID-19

Blogging is hard when I’m such a privileged white woman

Still can't believe this is my sunset view over 50 in my tree change

Hi everyone, I’m sorry I’ve been absent. I’m struggling so much with the terrible, ongoing events in America, both your virus toll, and racism uprising.

Every time I see the mounting infections tally, I feel sick. And every time I hear of another cop-related murder, or see footage of cruel arrests and police brutality, I cry.

WTF? How are you coping over there? How is life going on as ‘normal’? How exhausted are you, from being on alert, from dealing with your president, from facing your past?

I can’t imagine.

Yet here I sit, safe and sound. Look at my daily view. Look at my cosy home & fire.

I can’t imagine the stress of not feeling safe, ever.

So I’m finding it hard to write about my bushwalk with my visiting cousin, or my attempt at a spoon carving workshop, or even Part Two of my Buddhist breakup survival post, because it all seems so damn SUPERFICIAL, and incredibly spoilt.

Have you seen the TikTok privilege test? One minute of heart-wrenching reality check.

Last week I was reduced to deep sobbing tears on the couch, reading about the murder of Elijah McClain, a gentle, violin-playing introvert, killed by police for wearing a mask…

So yes, I’m still here, reading blog posts, news articles, and trying to educate myself, but finding it hard to just write ‘as normal’. I also decided it was best to create space for all the other blogs and articles written by people of colour which are waaaaaaaaay more important than my over-50’s privilege problems.

How are you coping?

In sadness, G xO

Bustin’ through a break-up with some badass Buddhism, Part One

boneAndsilver_frog1Three weeks in, and how am I going you wonder? I’m doing OK actually. Definitely avoiding going out, and ringing old friends for long chats and debriefs, trying not to say the same things over and over.

I’ve had two therapy sessions, done a bunch of journalling, and surprised myself two weekends ago by ‘getting onto the cushion’ at my monthly meditation day.

“The cushion”, G? What do you mean?

Well, once a month (via Zoom at the moment), a group of 25-35 women go spend some time with Yoda Carol Perry, listening to her teachings on the Buddhist Dharma, and meditating several times during the day.

It’s literally the highlight of my month; I’ve written about it before HERE.

boneAndsilver_frog2

Even via Zoom- and sitting in my car last time because I had no wifi reception at home- the collective meditation experience is so much stronger than my solo sits.

The structure online is 3 hours shorter, and we miss our gloriously chatty shared gourmet lunch, but in essence it’s the same: Welcome circle/check in, meditate, teachings, meditate, Enquiry, meditate, closing/check out.

What is Enquiry? 3 or 4 women each spend 10 minutes sitting on a cushion facing Yoda Carol, delving more deeply into an issue in a 1: 1 format. But witnessed by the whole group, who try to practice ‘attentive listening’.

It generally involves relationship troubles, and tears.

So yes, I was ‘normal’ that day.

boneAndsilver_frog3

I certainly didn’t plan to speak; in fact, even though I’m officially ‘a performer’, I generally keep a low profile in groups, and prefer not to be in the spotlight…

But during the long pause between one woman leaving the cushion, and Yoda Carol extending the invitation for another to arrive, I found myself squirming and sweating, wondering if I should unmute my microphone…

Someone else chimed up though, so I relaxed back into my seat, relieved at my luck.

Until the next invite, and the next pause, which went on FOREVER.

On and on. While my silly brain span around about what to say, or what to reveal, madly planning how to do the Enquiry without REALLY doing the Enquiry.

boneAndsilver_frog4

Then almost before I knew it, I’d clicked on the microphone symbol, and said Hi.

*Gulp

I quickly told the story, waving my hands around for emphasis, scuttling over the painful bits, dying to get to the end. Or dying to get to some point where Carol would soothe me.

She waited till I stopped blabbing, then just told me to breathe. And breathe again. Then find the source of tension in my body, and move into the edges of it.

What did I find?

Part Two to follow…

In gratitude for anticipation & frogs (symbol of transformation),  G xO

 

“Can we hold a funeral for this love?”

Break ups over 50 are hard work

Finding comfort in the ordinariness of home

Break ups suck, we all agree.Whether mutual or one party initiating; whether a shocking surprise or long slow death; whether relief or torture, short or long-term, the loss of a loving connection tears at the heart.

We know this. We’ve all felt it. I’m nearly 54, and can’t believe I’m still working my way through this sad swamp, grabbing at the tree roots of friends to pull me out.

Black sticky smelly mud weighs down my shoes, bedraggles my hair. Yes, I’m alive- I’m safe from the virus, the pantry is full, and I’m typing this in front of the fire while the rain drums overhead.

I’m safe.

But my soft bleeding heart is simply bleeding. She patches herself up for a few hours; strikes a bold pose to a couple of upbeat songs, then wilts as the day moves on. Until bedtime, when all the lonely ghosts inside drift up, casting around for comfort and to be held.

To be soothed, and lullabied. To be warmed, and heard.

To be safe.

‘There’s nothing to be done G. You’re alone, and all you’ve ever truly had is You.’

This I do know. As I said in my last post, I know I’ll survive. But the illusion of deep connection and comfort was compelling, so I danced right on in there, eyes shining and heart open.

*sighs

The extrication has been difficult, and a month long so far. I’m tired, overwrought, and wounded. Then today I found this song, articulating feelings I hadn’t even got to yet.

Thanks Universe, for helping me out.

At a time when so much is going drastically wrong on a global scale for so many, I also don’t have to deny my pain, or minimise ways of coping with it. I never was one to drink whiskey and drown sorrows, but this young Scottish singer clearly shares my mood:

Finn Anderson – Funeral (acoustic feat. Nic Gareiss)

Where would we be in these trying quarantine times without music & dance? Whoever would have thought a shoe shuffle could be so melancholy?

In gratitude for the gifts of love and Art, G xO

 

Racked with sobs at 5.30am: break ups suck

Frogs in Australia can help with break ups over 50

As tiny as my fingernail, sitting on a massive pumpkin in my veggie garden

Yes, these virus times are horrifying, terrible, weird.

Yes, these virus times are weird, transformative, full of potential for change.

Yes, these virus times illuminate privilege, selfishness, and inequality on a global scale we can truly see.

And these times also suck for a break-up.

But after two years (minus the upcoming fortnight), my ‘Comet’ love just imploded.

Exploded actually.

Which finds me sobbing at 5.30am, having been awake since 3, thrashing over recent emails in my mind, composing a wide variety of healthy destructive neutral  unnecessary replies.

I’m 53, nearly 54: I’ve done a shit ton of break ups. I know about all the stages, in no particular order- the denial, relief, shock, sadness, rebound fuck, period of isolation, anger, care, ‘let’s be friends’, reunions, accusations, apologies, gratitude etc etc.

Some break ups evolve to friendship, and some certainly don’t.

But this fresh period right now, this stomach-churning, grief-stricken, anxiety-ridden, anger-fuelled maelstrom is exhausting.

One good thing though: the gag order about romance blogging has been blown up. I can write whatever the hell I want again.

Which of course I won’t do, because I’m 53, nearly 54, and I’ve done a shit ton of break ups.

However, I’m dancing every day, sometimes multiple times, to this song. Join me if it makes you tap your toes:

I know you may feel concerned about me. Trust that I am well-supported by dearest friends, have an excellent counsellor I can check in with, am well-resourced with YouTube philosophy clips on the poor choices we make because of our faulty attachment systems, and am being cuddled by my superb son ‘Nearly20.’

I will be OK. I know this.

But right now, I am going to channel my energy into creativity, so come along for the ride if you’ve missed me.

In gratitude for the release of writing & dance, G xO

 

It’s official: I’ve made the Tree Change… and wow, just in time!

Moving from my empty nest is a big challenge

Making the tree change #Australia #bigtruck

Yes, it’s happened and I’m excited, as well as still a bit anxious of course. Moving house is never an easy task, and creating a whole new sense of ‘home’ does push my insecurity buttons.

But honestly, it feels like it’s been as easy as possible.

In fact, I must admit it seems as though the Universe has almost fallen over itself to make this flow beautifully.

My one last major concern was what to do with my current home, as I couldn’t afford to sell it quite yet. Who to rent it to? Could I handle really ‘letting go’ of a home base my boy and I had had since 2005?

And then my gorgeous, cheeky, smart-as-a-whip son ‘19.5’ rested his arm around my shoulders and said:

‘I’ve been waiting years for you to move out Mum: let me move back in and rent it from you.’

P E R F E C T

Like, so totally PERFECT I couldn’t stop grinning. But I had to be cool.

‘Sweetie, that’s a lovely offer, but I have a massive mortgage to pay now, so I can’t give you a very cheap rent; you’ll have to get a flatmate. And quite frankly, two nineteen-year old young men are probably NOT my ideal tenants. Can you find a female friend, or someone who’s super clean/tidy?’

He scrolled immediately through all the contacts on his phone… till his face lit up.

Still can't believe this is my sunset view over 50 in my tree change

What a sunset view #Australia #rainforest #gratitude #wellbeing

Which is how I’ve ended up living in Paradise up in the rainforest, while my son and his good friend K help pay my mortgage, while looking after my beloved old cat, who can’t come with me because my new home is a wildlife sanctuary.

AND JUST IN TIME!!! Because now we are all in COVID-19 crisis! I’ve lost all my festival performing jobs and Pilates classes, and the World has sent us to our rooms.

I cannot imagine the stresses of being locked down in a tin hut in India, or a tower block in Hong Kong; a stone hut in Nepal with no hot running water, or a refugee detention camp.

I feel sick to my stomach at my fortuitous timing and privilege.

So grateful to be locking down here in the rainforest for COVID-19

Soft dawn light over the forest #Australia #grateful #dawn #home

Yet here I am. 

With gratitude for universal timing, packing tape, and pure luck, G xO

 

I’m crap at transitions, & ’empty nest’ is a big one (Part Two)

Over 50 and empty nesting has advantages

A stairway to heaven? #Australia #garden #path

So as you saw in Part One, I have a new dream of moving onto a community in the rainforest, 20 minutes from my current cute Australian town.

But I was struggling with anxiety.

‘What’s underneath it all?’ the therapist asked me. ‘You sound informed, supported, capable, ready- what’s going on? What are you scared of?’

I sat, twisting the sodden tissue, cursing my sensitive stomach while I dug down through the layers…

And came face to face with a desperate fear of failure.

It just seemed too good to be true, and I couldn’t accept it.

I couldn’t believe that after a year of fruitless searching for a rural property, & listening to my growing yearning for a tree change + a sense of community, it had actually fallen into my lap via word of mouth, perfect timing, and feasible financial gymnastics.

Empty nesting over 50 has advantages

Another stairway to heaven? #Australia #garden #path

I couldn’t delight in it.

I had to worry about the details, and foresee as many problems as possible. It almost felt like my duty to do so, even though it didn’t make sense here and now.

And there I found my clue: it was an old habit. An ancient one perhaps, not even mine?

I remembered how many times we’d moved as children, every 6 months sometimes, depending on the tourist season and how easily Mum could find an affordable rental.

She never owned her own home when I lived with her.

I had no positive model inside me for being a brave empty nester, taking on the next chapter of my life with confidence and courage.

To be honest, I can’t even remember what Mum did after I left home at 19- as I said, I just fled to Australia and got on with a whole new way of being…

Empty nest over 50 is good for your wellbeing

A verandah with a view #Australia #tropical #green

But I remain bad at ‘transitions’. I’ve travelled a lot, for work and pleasure, and still get quite nervous en route to airport or train. I feel a sigh of relief as soon as I settle into even the dingiest of motel rooms or Airbnbs; I just like to know I have my ‘home’, however temporary.

As my lovely readers have already pointed out, a massive upheaval like moving house is guaranteed to bring a large amount of anxiety and stress. I’m no exception of course.

Still, I was adding to my discomfort by fretting about whether I deserved such an amazing opportunity, despite clear, factual evidence to the contrary.

I was sabotaging myself: worrying that I couldn’t cope with the change of lifestyle, such as the lush tropical garden or the distance from town, or feeling isolated from friends (who are always just a phone call or blog post away). That I didn’t deserve a successful new chapter focussed just on ME, after 20 years of parenting ’19’. That I was too old/inexperienced/lazy to deal with life in the forest.

Yes, I sank the arrows in deep.

But after I stopped crying, and being a bit pathetic to be honest, in light of my privilege, I understood that I’m in a new place, like standing on a bridge between the known and the unknown, and it will work best if I’m kind to myself, and have a little faith.

So that’s what I’m currently trying to do.

Any other tips? 

In gratitude for support during transitions, G xO