HOW TO FIND LOVE – Part one
By Barbara Lewis
(Click for: How to find love – Part two. )
Many people over the years have asked me about the romantic side of my life.
They seemed to need reassurance that finding a mate later in life was truly possible.
Some women (and men) who have spoken to me about the subject of “romance” did not know where they should begin (at age 50, 60 or even 70 years of age) to find a new life partner.
“What did YOU do?” they would ask.
Even today, I had a very similar conversation with a 60-year-old friend who finally cried out in frustration, “Barbara, I really want a close partner in my life again! But where do I start?”
I was fortunate to find a wonderful new mate several years ago. (I was 55 at the time.) And friends and colleagues who know that I have a blog that deals in part with romance, and that I sing a lot about love and romance, seem to feel, and rightly so, that I would be willing to talk about it.
So I decided today that since Valentine’s Day is soon upon us, I will write about my experience of finding a new mate. And perhaps some of those who read my blog will gain some insight (and maybe even a little courage) from reading it. If you do find this account supportive or helpful, please let me know. You can send me a message here.
How To Find Love – Part One
I lost my husband of 30 years (Nicholas), to a massive heart attack 8 years ago.
We were lucky. We had had a great marriage. We told one another daily how much we cared – and why we cared for one another. We had no children. Nick was a writer and print & television journalist. I am a singer and vocal coach. We loved each other truly & deeply for those 30 years.
When he was asked one day what he believed made for a successful marriage, Nick’s answer was: “The happiness of your mate must be as important as your own happiness… If both of you feel that way, then both partners are well cared for.”
I was very fortunate to have him in my life for so many years. But I thought we would be together “forever.” So his sudden death from a massive heart attack in 2004 (when he was 58) was a shock. Where did all that spirit and life energy, go?
For days after his death, I wandered around our lonely apartment at night calling out, “Where are you? Where are you?” I would stand and listen for a sound or a sign – my ears prickling with hope. Then, sensing no change in the air, I’d start pacing again. I could not believe that he was really gone.
When the doctor who saw him shortly after his heart attack told me that he was not going to live, I said to him, “No way! This man will not be killed by a mere heart attack.”
He died 2 weeks later.
When I finally accepted that Nick was dead, I told close friends that I would not have another man in my life. My life would involve my work, my friends and my family, and that would be enough for me.
And it was. For four years.
The powerful thing about having experienced a good marriage is that you come to understand the potential richness of a long-standing close relationship. There can be something deeply satisfying, even magical… and humbling about getting to know another person intimately over several decades.
The first 4 years after Nick’s death were a time of healing for me. But one day I realized that I was no longer just missing him personally – but I was yearning, more generally for those precious feelings of closeness; coming home to someone who is eager to hear about your day; talking about your partner’s dreams and aspirations; finding ways to help those dreams come true. (Even later in life, we can still dream big dreams!)
I also missed the physical side of a happy relationship; touching, kissing, hugging, and good, passionate sex.
Gradually, I prepared myself for the possibility of finding a new mate. I took off my wedding ring and wore it around my neck on a gold chain for several months. Then I decided to take a road trip to re-visit some of the places where Nick and I had lived and loved. I said a profound goodbye to him during that trip. Shortly after returning, I removed the chain and ring and affirmed to myself: “Ok, I am open to finding a new beau.”
I have written this bit of history in some detail so that you will understand the spirit in which I came to my search for a new life mate. My marriage had been happy. So it was not a leap of faith to open myself to the possibility of finding another “love-of-my-life.”
It would take the length of a book to give you the details about my search. Instead, here I will offer you a shorter version of the process, including some hard facts,
(ie: exactly what I did), and a few of my insights. Part one continues below…. (Part Two is about Online Dating – the ups and downs and dangers.)
How To Find Love (At least, this is how I did it.)
• After doing the work (in music) that paid my bills, I made finding a mate my top priority. It was very time consuming, but for the most part, it was a lot of fun.
Attitude – I knew that if I did not find someone with whom to share my life, that I would still be ok. I did not feel that having a man in my life was necessary for me to have a good, happy or successful life. I like very much a quote from Byron Katie (a very unique therapist) – “You want to find the love of your life? Look in the mirror.”
I believe that that attitude allowed me to relax in my search. I did not feel desperate or needy. Most of the time, I felt like I was on a fantastic journey. Truly! Even the disappointments were not too difficult to absorb.
For example: One guy, whom I had been dating pretty intensely for several months, dumped me at a restaurant, just after we ordered a big meal. Then he wanted me to stay and finish eating it with him! (“Let’s not waste this great food!”)
I suspect that when you lose someone who has been very close to you – it puts other difficulties into a new perspective. I had been through hell with Nick’s death. So being dumped over tandoori chicken was not so bad. I cried a bit at home and then got back on the horse. (No, I did not stay to eat.)
I hoped to discover a wonderful person with whom I could live my life. And I decided that the path to that discovery was also going to be compelling and full of richness. I wanted to really live the journey. And not allow myself to suffer too much while doing it.
Gratitude – Every morning, as I put my feet onto the floor, I gave thanks for the coming day. As I walked into the kitchen and breathed in the morning air, I would say out loud, “Thank you!”
Sometimes, I did not feel very much like saying it. My days of work could be long and tiring. But I tried to follow that ritual each morning. Somehow, I felt it was important to be deeply grateful for what I already was and for what I already had – even as I was asking that someone new come into my life.
I took up dancing – (salsa, bachata, merengue) – at first to improve my ability to move on stage as an actor/singer. But later, it became a way to meet a lot of different men.
And it worked!
I was fortunate to have a friend who was about my age who also hoped to meet someone. So we went out to these dances as a team. The dancing aspect of it was pretty tough. Neither of us was very good at first. And some of the more accomplished male dancers were hard to please on the dance floor. (My friend and I had to support one another through some very tearful self-esteem issues.) Especially when one or the other of us found ourselves holding up the wall for most of the dances. Wall-flowers at 55!
But we were out there talking, laughing and meeting different kinds of people. It was good practice for two women who had been out of the dating world for many years.
SUGGESTION! If you are at all drawn to it, I recommend dancing to both men and women. Take some lessons. Learn the moves. Aside from meeting lots of people, you also become more graceful, rhythmic and musical. And you gradually lose weight. So you look better and feel better!
In addition to all these benefits, the act of dancing is so much fun (and engaging) that you forget your troubles while you are doing it and just move. It’s a very groovy way to step out into the world! (About the benefits of dancing to lift your mood!)
Meditation On “Seeing”
I felt that one of my biggest challenges was staying open enough to be able to SEE him, when someone “appropriate” came into my life. I had been doing my own form of meditation for several years. But now, I meditated on two specific things:
- Openness to seeing who was in front of me:
I did not want to describe the “perfect” person to myself and start looking for him.
I could miss someone wonderful by being too limited in my vision. So I meditated on staying open and “wise.”
- Meditation on becoming a better version of myself.
By the way, for me, meditation means (for about 20 minutes):
– getting into a quiet, comfortable place, closing my eyes,
– concentrating on breathing until my mind calms down
– and then making a statement to myself. For instance, I would say to myself:
“I want to begin seeing the world and my potential mate – from a deeper place.”
– And then… staying as mentally quiet as possible, in order to listen.
Of course, I could write much more about this aspect of my journey,
but these are the bare essentials of the process that I feel helped me in many ways.
Singles Who Schmooze Together…
In Montreal (as in many cities) there are numerous organized groups that meet up for various activities. I was on two mailing lists that went out to several hundred people in each group. I went to a few of these events: A dance party at a pub; a BBQ in the summer etc.
I met some very nice people. But mostly these events taught me how to talk with strangers who were looking for a mate. For me, that took some learning. In conversations, there was often an undercurrent of – “Is s/he a candidate for me?”
I found it a bit nerve wracking. A bit like being an aging model on a runway. But over time, I calmed down and just spoke with people normally – without too much inner judgment. I found that many of the men (and women) at these events were truly interesting and fun.
Some told me that they had been going to events for a one or two years. They may have dated a bit, but it didn’t work out. And they were back to the singles events again. Others seemed to be there just for the company, or for the pleasure of the “hunt.”
All in all, I enjoyed the process. I went out with one lovely man, (not the one who dumped me over dinner) – but it didn’t work out for me. He was too serious too soon.
Dancing, singles parties, meditation – and then…
Having all these various outlets for my search was very helpful. I built a web of activity and momentum. The pleasure of doing these things hummed inside me. I felt engaged with life in a new way. That engagement kept me open and growing and “young.”
But finally, it was with Online Dating (E-Harmony) that I finally found “my guy.” I will tell you all about that experience in Part Two of this story.
How To Find Love – Part Two (Online Dating)
FREE MUSIC CLIP OF THE GLORIOUS LOVE SONG: “YOU TAKE MY BREATH AWAY” – Sound clip
Barbara will soon release this song on her upcoming CD, Passionate Heart.
See the entire video here – You Take My Breath Away – Video.
Back from How To Find Love to Romantic Words And Actions To Keep Your Love GLowing!