A journey into openness and honesty… Distilling truths about ourselves, others and life from shared experiences… Learning to live consistently with that truth… Becoming free to be who we truly are…

Archive for the ‘New beginnings’ Category

Losing Rosie… 3 years on…

Yesterday was a tough day. For most people it was the AFL Grand Final, but for the family and I Sept 30th is Rosie’s birthday… she would have turned 61 this year.

We lost Rosie to cancer on Oct 29th 2014. Almost 3 years have passed… so much has happened and yet our feelings still run very deep on these days.

They say time heals, and yes, it does to a point. Some aspects of grief will always remain. You never stop loving someone you loved deeply for 35 years… and that’s exactly how it should be.

So what’s it like, 3 years on?

Wrapping up Rosie’s life…

For the last two years Facebook popped up reminders for Rosie’s Birthday. For many this unexpected reminder was confronting and painful. To lessen the sting of friends being caught off guard, last year I put up a post in advance.  All this year I intended to memorialize Rosie’s facebook account before her birthday. (Memorialization means we can still see her timeline, but no longer add posts or comments, and will no longer receive birthday notifications.)

But it’s not easy doing these things… after losing Rosie I’ve had to notify so many organizations… including banks, utilities and an endless number of charity groups Rosie supported at some time. I feel grief every time… not only does it remind me that I’ve lost Rosie… closing each one is bringing to an end yet another part of her life… it almost feels like I’m betraying her… there is a painful finality in doing these things.

Recently while holidaying in WA I remembered I still had not memorialized Rosie’s Facebook account, and now her birthday was rapidly approaching. When I returned home I discovered to my dismay that Facebook can take months to memorialize accounts.

One morning a few days before Rosie’s birthday  I submitted the relevant Facebook form, hoping at best that I might receive a computer-generated request confirmation in a week or so.

That night I received a response from Facebook Support. The message literally sent me into shock… what I received was a personal, compassionate message from Facebook expressing sorrow at my loss and saying Rosie’s account had been memorialized (it had taken less than 12 hours!) While I was deeply grateful Facebook had responded so rapidly and with such compassion, I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly and the pain of having ‘shut down’ a significant aspect of Rosie’s life hit me hard.

Understanding Rosie’s love for me…

Rosie spent the last 9 days of her life at Caritas Christi hospice.

My last two hours with Rosie as she died are among the most profoundly beautiful and painful moments of my life. Caritas Christi has been sacred ground for me ever since. I still return there on key anniversaries to quietly remember and reflect on those final hours.

Rosie loved and deeply impacted the lives of MANY people. Her love did not discriminate… it didn’t matter where people were at in their lives, she loved and accepted them for who there were. People from all walks of life received and deeply valued her love and care. Six hundred people came to her funeral… a profound testament to her huge heart for others!

As I make myself vulnerable in the following paragraphs I ask that you treat what I say with respect.

As with all relationships, despite outward appearances, Rosie’s and my marriage was far from perfect. I am not at all saying we didn’t love one another… we loved each other deeply and were totally committed to our marriage.

Nonetheless both of us suffered deep emotional damage in early childhood. This had serious consequences for our ability to fully connect in our relationship.

For decades Rosie had to suppress severe hurt as a child in order to survive emotionally as an adult. (The childhood events had absolutely nothing to do with her family).

My childhood in turn left me wrestling with deep depression and anxiety for most of our married life. Rosie spent so many hours listening to me pour out my pain but she never gave up on me. However Rosie’s own hurts limited her ability to fully grasp and empathize with my struggles… something I desperately longed for in our relationship.

Being separated from my parents for the first two years of my life left me with a deep fear of rejection. As a result I had great difficulty recognizing and accepting the profound depth of Rosie’s unconditional love for me.

Intellectually I knew Rosie adored me… she never stopped telling me her heart still leaped for joy every time I came home! But I couldn’t grasp or accept this at an emotional level.

Three years after losing her I’m still learning how much she loved me… and it grieves me deeply that I was unable to return the utterly faithful, almost childlike love and acceptance she so freely gave me.

Rosie almost never cried (another outworking of childhood hurts). On rare occasions she shed a tear or two, but in 33 years of marriage she (briefly) cried only once with me.

Many people wanted to see Rosie in the last few days of her life. One of the tough roles I had to play was “gatekeeper”. Family had unrestricted access, but I was able to only allow a few close friends into that space.

One of these friends recently shared something which ‘blew me out of the water’. The conversation went something like this…

Friend:   “Did you know, Ian, that in my final conversation with Rosie, she cried?”

Me (my interest now in overdrive):   “No… tell me more!”

F:   “Rosie said, ‘I don’t want to leave you behind.’ “

Me:   “Wow… that was a real statement of how much she loved you.”

F (looking a bit puzzled):   “Rosie was referring to YOU, not me.”

It sent an arrow straight into my heart… Rosie had cried because she didn’t want to leave ME behind! But Rosie never cried! This was an incredibly deep and precious expression of her love for me.

I so wish I could have grasped the depth of Rosie’s love for me before she died.
I used to feel terribly guilty about this… I’m slowly learning I don’t have to. Rosie and I did the best we could in our relationship. It just grieves me that she was unable to grasp the depths of pain I carried, and I was unable to grasp the depth of her love for me.

What happens to friendships…

I’m aware that some who read the following paragraphs may find them tough, or possibly even feel guilty. This is NOT remotely my intent.

Rosie assured me many times that after she died I would have an endless stream of meal invitations from our many friends. In contrast, others I spoke to said many friends simply disappeared after they lost their partners.

The others were right. To my surprise (and sadness) most people who were friends of both of us just vanished… I had very few visits, phone calls or invitations. If it hadn’t been for my family and the top-quality blokes around me, life could have been very lonely. Thankfully these friends and my family more than adequately filled the gap and I was far from being lonely or unsupported.

Nonetheless, it raised some deep questions. How could this happen? And why did it happen to others as well?

It’s taken 3 years, but I finally understand…

It’s just too painful…

Over the years before Rosie died some of her friends became close friends of mine too, most being women and couples, with Rosie being the primary connection. These ‘secondary’ relationships were no less valuable than my other friendships.

While the primary relationship is in place these relationships have an environment in which to grow. However, when you lose your partner, this environment no longer exists and the relationships can change surprisingly rapidly.

We all shy away from things in life that cause us pain. Deep grief and the need to self-protect from pain cause people to act in ways they never intended. Catching up with me was simply too painful for many people who were very close to Rosie.

Seeing me was a confronting reminder of the one who they were missing deeply. Of the few who visited me at home, simply stepping into our house caused some to dissolve in tears. I had no option but to adjust to being in the house without Rosie… for others my house was a home full of reminders of her, but painfully empty of Rosie herself.

What I expected of these friends was unrealistic and unfair… it took quite a while for me to grasp this.

Some relationships are slowly returning. I will gladly accept those that do, but I will not rush them… grief can last a long time.

And it is okay if others never return. Things change and life moves on for all of us.  I no longer feel hurt, I’m just glad I now understand.

I could add so much more…

So many things have happened since losing Rosie.  Life events large and small, ups and downs, and many new insights. A few of the significant ones…

Losing Rosie, and much that followed, was deeply painful, but I can honestly say my life has never been better than it is today. I know Rosie would be overjoyed to hear this!

The deep depression that I feared for so many years could be back with force after Rosie died shows no signs of returning. Yes, I’ve been through some very difficult patches, but my mental state is better than ever.

I no longer have the endless emotional rollercoaster stress of Rosie’s 16 years with cancer, and thankfully neither does she.

I have much more time and energy to invest in people… especially my children, grandchildren and close friends.

Relationships have become an even more precious part of life… they have been integral to my survival, and allow me to receive and give so much of value.

Being single has huge benefits. For the first time in life I can do what I want when I want (within reason). This season of freedom is an incredibly precious gift.

Yes, I feel a vacuum, but it’s a very healthy one. For the moment I am discovering “the new Ian James” and (mostly) enjoying the adventure.

Looking forward…

Rosie was adamant that I should marry again. I greatly appreciated the freedom she gave me here. In typical Rosie fashion, she even wanted to give me a list of ‘recommended’ women!  I politely but firmly declined her offer… I’ll be making my own choices here!

I expect I’ll partner again, but there’s no hurry.
Part of discovering who I am is discovering what I want both myself and the other person to bring to a marriage.

It’s not simply a matter of finding ‘a woman who can satisfy my needs’.
Genuinely loving your partner means fulfilling their needs as well. And fulfilling one another is just the beginning. Actively facilitating growth in each other is an even better place to be.

A final word…

As profoundly difficult as losing a loved one is, life goes on.

When Rosie woke each morning she was always so excited to have another day. Her motto and legacy was ‘Live well and die well’.

Like Rosie, I want to live this new chapter of my life to the full.
ian-dingo

 

Ian James 1st Oct 2017

© 2017 Ian James, http://www.onlivingauthentically.com

A new light in my life…

A single candle

There is something primal about a candle burning in the dark. The warmth and light provided by fire since the early dawn of mankind is captured in one small flame.

A candle offers security and comfort. Just one flame keeps the darkness at bay, along with all that is hidden by it.

A candle allows us to see. We can safely navigate a path through the dark, avoiding obstacles and holes that would otherwise cause us to stumble and fall.

A candle deepens our connection with others. It reveals only those nearby and focuses our attention on them. Seeing those we love in the soft, gentle light enhances the intimacy we experience together.

A candle touches our spirit with a profound juxtaposition. The tiny flame is so fragile it can be extinguished with a single breath, and yet, if set free, it has the power to become a raging fire. Holding that power captive in a single flame allows us to master one of the most powerful forces on earth. But still it commands our awe and respect… allow it to escape and it will pay us no heed as it sets our world on fire.

Exploring mindfulness

Over recent months I’ve been doing daily mindfulness exercises using a mobile phone app called Headspace.  Fifteen minutes a day has already proved its worth many times over. Becoming aware of my thoughts and feelings moment by moment is enabling me to understand and manage my thinking and decisions in a way I’ve never been able to before.

Instead of automatically reacting to situations, being aware of what I’m thinking and feeling at that time allows me to choose how I respond. Instead of being controlled by negative feelings such as anxiety, frustration, anger and depression, I am better able to acknowledge they are there, accept them, and make life-giving choices in the face of them.

I’m becoming more aware of what is happening in conversations with others… What is the other person really saying? Why are they saying it? How are they feeling? Instead of being absorbed by the impulse to ‘have my say’ and respond with my opinions, experiences and solutions, I can listen more intently and focus on understanding them. It is usually better to say less and listen more, in order to be more empathetic and  contribute more value when I do speak.

The mindfulness app began with a 30 day introductory pack called Foundations. You can then choose from a range of topic specific packs. So far I’ve worked through Anxiety, Acceptance, Sleep packs. Along with the mindfulness exercises each pack provides simple tips and techniques for getting the most out of the topic.

There is much more to mindfulness to than this but let’s get back to the candle…

My bedtime candle

One of the tips suggested in the Sleep pack was to set in place simple habits that tell your brain it’s soon time to sleep. These habits help your body and mind to begin relaxing even before you get into bed.

I now have a bedtime candle…

2017-03-24 Bedtime candle 1

My candle is mounted in a beautiful old brass candle holder… the classic design that allows you to safely carry a lighted candle from room to room. Each night after I’ve cleaned my teeth, taken my tablets and been to the bathroom, I light the candle in the kitchen and carry it to my bedroom, turning off the lights as I go. Placing the candle in front of the mirror on my chest of drawers fills the room with a beautiful, soft light. I change into my pajamas by candlelight, get into bed and blow out the tiny flame as my last act of the day.

It’s such a simple habit, but it is beautiful and profound at the same time. I guess this is how (healthy) rituals develop… simple acts that take on a much deeper meaning beyond the acts themselves. A pre-sleep habit encourages our minds to let go of the busyness of the day, and prepares our bodies to release all the physical tension that builds during the day.

Much more than a candle

One night when I put the candle on the dressing table I was fascinated by the reflections in the mirror and the way the light fell on some special items I keep on my dressing table.

The ‘Willow Tree’ Grandfather and Grandson statuette caught my eye. The soft light and shadows added a new dimension of beauty to an ornament that captures the precious relationship between myself and my 4 year old grandson Flynn.

I then noticed how the candle lit up a collection of three dice I have created over the years out of redgum, softwood and talc stone. Creativity is a gift that I value greatly. To be able to bring ideas to life using my own hands gives me a great deal of fulfilment. My writing and photography are other aspects of this gift. Each time I build, write or capture a ‘Wow!’ image, I feel like I have been given a gift to both enjoy myself and share with others.

My childhood teddy is very dear to me… as a very young boy I loved my teddy very much and cuddled it every night. But even more important is that provides a direct link to my Mum, who died unexpectedly when I was only 8 years old. I remember sitting next to her in the back seat of my Uncle’s car on a long holiday trip. Mum was knitting the jacket my teddy still wears to this day. This jacket captures the fact that my mother, whose severe illness left her unable to care for me for much of my early life, did in fact love me deeply, rather than being a woman who abandoned me during those critical years.

A new light in my life

I find it amazing that a single candle has brought to life so much more than I initially expected or hoped for!  Not only does it help my mind and body settle for sleep at night. It highlights the precious gift of creativity which inspires, fulfils and humbles me. It reinforces the connection I feel with my beautiful grandson. And it allows me to see that the mother who had no control over leaving me at such a young age was not only my mother but my loving Mum.

ian-dingo

Ian James
29/03/2017

The Threshold

A dream, a hope, a belief I hold close…

I’m standing on the threshold of this life, and what comes next,
That liminal space between what was, and what is to come,
The doorway, the veil, the light, or the darkness,
Even a precipice holds no fear.
Just one more step
Shall I fall, or float, or soar?
Or find new unseen ground beneath my feet?
It matters not
Death is no more the end of life than it is the beginning
The end of one tired journey, time to start anew.

And if this belief fails me
For no-one can know for sure
If death is truly The End of this “i am”
I will have lost all, and nothing
As “i am” will not be there to say “i was”, and grieve

But to me this makes no sense
So without shame I hold this hope
The essence of “i am” will continue on

Sunrise will follow sunset
(If indeed there is still a Sun)
A new realm beyond comprehension
That earthly words, and dreams, even imaginings, cannot grasp

What will I perceive in this new paradigm?
And how?
Will I see, hear, touch? Will I think and feel?
Or will my senses and mind be so transformed
That perceiving and being are completely new?

I wonder now how I will wonder then.

And far more crucial than What,
Who will I find?
How will we interact, and connect, and love?
If relationships exist at all.
Perhaps a myriad of “i ams” will be “we are”
Each unique, yet all as one.

But this threshold is a far horizon
Much yet to see, love, be and do
Or maybe not
I may be surprised
And next moment wake somewhere new.

ian-dingo

Ian James
05/03/2017

 

 

 

Breaking free of fear…

Shortchanging ourselves…

How often do we give ourselves second best in life, or choose to not do what we are capable of, because of fear?

A lesson from life…

Earlier this week I literally had one of the best nights of my life because I pushed through that fear, stepped out of my comfort zone, and did what I really wanted to do…

I was late buying tickets to see one of my favourite artists, Passenger (Mike Rosenberg), in concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne. I got a seat in the back row at the extreme edge… the furthest I could be from the stage while being in the seated area.

When the support act finished the security guards motioned for people in the front rows to come forward to the rail in front of the stage. As Passenger started to play others from the audience made their way down as well.

I wanted to go down too but fear glued me to my seat. What was I afraid of? Some childhood fear of “getting in trouble” or being rejected? It was completely irrational and yet I just couldn’t move.

I stayed in my seat for the first two songs, my desire to go join the crowd pitted against this irrational fear. When the third song started I mustered enough courage, stood up, walked down the steps to the front, and found a superb spot just one person back from the rail.

Passenger and the band were only a few metres away, I had a near perfect view of the stage, and also the whole audience behind me when I turned around.

The music was incredibly loud, but not as deafening as I expected. The huge ground-level subwoofer stack was at chest height just on the other side of the rail… I could feel every base note pound through my body.

I had just stepped into an amazing space, physically and emotionally. The fear was gone. I never went back to my seat…

Being entertained by Mike Rosenberg is like having your best friend on stage sharing about his life, his empathy for others, and concerns about where the world is heading, and then translating this into his powerful heart-felt songs.

The concert was an awesome and profound experience. I stood there for the whole evening soaking up the atmosphere, joining in with everyone else clapping, yelling and singing at the top of my voice. I was high on feel-good emotions and having loved myself enough to step our of fear into freedom.

What I could have settled for…

20170125_195853

What I experienced after putting aside my fear…

20170125_220745

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The impact of fear…

Had I stayed in my seat I would have had a great time… but I would have denied myself the best. How often do I do this in other areas of life? How often does fear hold me back from doing what my heart yearns to do, or stop me doing things that I am actually capable of doing?

My early childhood left me scripted with deep fears of rejection and failure. In response I adopted behaviours to minimize the possibility of these things happening.
Fear of failure has trapped me in my comfort zone… stretching or challenging situations are “too dangerous” because I might fail.
I’ve stayed silent so often instead of expressing valuable thoughts and opinions that could have impacted others lives… the fear of possible rejection was too painful.

These fears are irrelevant to my adult life and yet it has taken decades to realize this and start identifying them in action, distorting decisions large and small every day.

Keys to becoming free…

  1. Develop self-awareness of how you make choices. Raise a red flag every time you think “I can’t”. Are you choosing against worthwhile activities because of fear? Is saying you don’t have the ability/time/desire really valid? Or is it just an excuse to give in to your fear?
    For some months now I have been using a Mindfulness app called Headspace… it has helped significantly with being far more aware of my fears and how they impact my decision-making.
  2. Challenge fear-based thinking. Am I limiting myself because of a valid reason or because of fear?
    Sometimes there are good reasons to not do worthwhile activities… none of us have endless time and energy… some things in life (like climbing Mt Everest) really are outside our capabilities.
    However, our fears are often invalid and irrational. They frequently come from long-past experiences that have no relevance to our life today.
  3. You don’t have to suppress your fears but you don’t have to follow them either. Feelings are neither good nor bad… they are simply feelings. Accept that the fear is present and make your choice independently of it. In time the fear will likely dissipate.
  4. Choose what is most life-giving and do it. This is the tough bit… but it is also the doorway to freedom and fulfilment! Overcoming fear takes courage… but the more you choose against irrational fear and experience the good things that flow from it, the more you empower yourself, and the easier it is next time.
    (Yes, sometimes things may not turn out as hoped but instead of allowing “failure” to reinforce your fears, take the opportunity to learn and do things better next time.)

The theory is easy… applying it takes time…

Becoming free of fear is a process. It takes persistence and hard work.

I expect I’ll be working at it for the rest of my life…
… and every new step into freedom will be worth it!

Ian + dingo

Ian James
27/01/2017

P.S.
To experience a video of Passenger’s reflection on world events of 2016, the heartfelt song that followed, and the crowd’s powerful response, check out my facebook post… 

Discovering the new Ian…

A reflection on the last 18 months since losing Rosie… prompted by events of the last 6 weeks…

Preface…

The last 6 weeks have been difficult and challenging.
Losing my step-mum Dot brought its own grief. It also caused the even deeper grief of losing Rosie to resurface, along with the pain of many other life events going right back to my childhood.

However, this time has also given me two profound gifts…

  • The opportunity to face and deal with unresolved issues in my life.
  • Something I have never experienced before… surrounding the grief and turmoil… a deep overriding sense of peace.

Losing Rosie thrust me into an unfamiliar, empty place.
I had no choice but to go there. Much of what defined ‘me’ disappeared.
Alongside grief I was faced with the need to redefine myself and my life.

This recent turmoil has also helped me see how many changes have already occurred. I’m standing on the threshold of a new life and I’m so grateful to be here.

However I dare not take it for granted and so remain vigilant. Life never stops challenging us with tough times and I have no desire to take the ‘downward’ path again. 

My life is changing…

The grief of Rosie’s death is slowly giving way.

An energy I’ve never had before is creeping in.

I’m beginning to discover a new identity;
the freedom to make choices and set a new course.

I’m filtering my beliefs about life and myself…
Keeping the beliefs that are life-giving,
Discarding the beliefs that brought decades of fear and depression,
And giving myself freedom to question them all.

I’m learning what it means to love and accept myself for who I am right now.

I’m forming new relationships and deepening existing ones.

Peace is replacing anxiety,
Insecurity is giving way to quiet confidence.

For the first time ever…

I’m starting to dream of the future,
and wake most mornings with
Hope and Anticipation.

And occasionally,
I experience two strange new feelings…
Excitement and Joy!

 

 Ian JamesIan + dingo
06/07/2016

One big leap for a man… one normal step for mankind…

It’s now 18 months since Rosie passed. Alongside grief it’s been a journey of discovering the new Ian James. A great deal has happened since I last posted on my blog… Rosie’s birthday, the first anniversary of her death and funeral, Merryn and Liam’s wedding in December (a very special day laced with the sadness of Rosie’s absence), a second Christmas without her, then our wedding anniversary. It’s commonly said the ‘firsts’ are the toughest… in my experience some of the ‘seconds’ are harder.

The journey is unique to each person losing a loved one… two steps forward, one or more steps back. No‑one told me I may also feel stuck, not moving forward or back… months of this was the most difficult of all.

Nonetheless, with encouragement and support from my wonderful family, close friends, and a professional counsellor skilled in cutting to the core of key issues, my life has undoubtedly moved forward.

Standing on the threshold…

Of nine cruises to date this is my first without Rosie. Alongside times of sadness, I’m experiencing excitement, and even joy (something new for me!).

I always knew I’d cruise again… somehow it’s part of my healing process and a step in finding out who I am now. Far from being on my own I’m travelling with three people I’m very close to and love spending time with… my daughter Liesel, grandson Flynn and my honorary daughter Alexis.

There’s another reason this cruise is significant… I believe it’s time to initiate a new phase of life. Tonight I’m beginning an exciting and scary adventure… I’m going to ‘dip my toe in the water’ and go to a Singles event!

While much needs to happen before I’ll consider a serious relationship, it’s time to learn afresh what this aspect of life entails. My last ‘date’ was over 35 years ago… no doubt women, the times, and myself have all changed a great deal.

I have no doubt if Rosie’s watching she’ll be cheering me on. She frequently encouraged me to find a new partner after she was gone… in typical fashion she’d have enthusiastically given me her list of ‘suitable candidates’ had I let her! I politely but firmly refused… this part of life is mine alone to figure out!

Landing on the ground…

Fast-forward a few hours…

The Singles event is over (but my heart is still racing)! Thankfully on returning to the cabin I had two very supportive daughters eager for me to ‘spill the beans’…

The venue for the event was a dimly lit bar on the ship. I arrived a little early, ordered a drink and sat on my own in one of four empty chairs around a table. I chose the seat that was under a downlight… no point hiding my presence! I made sure I had a good view of the room… no point being unable to see others!

Shortly the host stood up and introduced the event. He encouraged people to mingle around the room and talk to one another, indicating excitedly that the process might result in one being ‘lucky’.
That was it!! No group activities, no ‘get to know you games’… just take the initiative and go for it!

So I did. Surprisingly I felt no hesitation. I stood up with my ‘security beer’ in hand, walked to a nearby table and introduced myself to the two women there. What ensued was an hour of intense, enthusiastic discussion as the three of us ‘put ourselves out there’.

Marilyn and Ruth (not their real names) were chalk and cheese from one another. Marilyn was somewhat older and her face told the story of a tough life. Ruth was about my age… her face and appearance were pleasant but gave little away.

Marilyn talked a lot and risked dominating the conversation… we heard more about her friends than who she was herself. It was very clear from the outset that there was no chemistry happening here.

Ruth was a counsellor dealing with people in very difficult life circumstances. She loves her work and was clearly a caring, compassionate person. She mentioned she’d been a pastor… interesting. The three of us then covered a range of topics… work, family, a little of the history leading us to the event. I sensed some potential chemistry with Ruth.

At the 40 minute mark Marilyn announced she needed to leave for a few minutes (relief!) and I took the opportunity to pursue Ruth’s pastor role. I soon learned she was a very enthusiastic woman of faith whose current passion is studying all the arguments proving that her beliefs are true; her motivation being to inform “lapsed believers” so they have no option but to believe again.

Having revealed earlier I had intentionally moved away from faith, Ruth’s spoke of me as one of these lapsed believers, unknowingly labeling and judging me in the process. (I find it very sad when people acting out of genuine love and compassion are unable to see how alienating and disrespectful this is to those who don’t share their particular beliefs.)

I told her with integrity that I was well beyond such ‘proofs’ and experienced great freedom as a result, having left behind a faith that had bound, confined and tormented me (my own experience, but not necessarily that of others).

Quite clearly the chemistry developing earlier in the conversation had now vanished.

Marilyn had returned by this point so I warmly thanked them both and said I was taking the opportunity to join another conversation.

Before I could move it was all over. The host stood up, thanked everyone, and announced he will ‘spice it up a little!’ at the next event. Oh wow, I can hardly wait, not! I probably will attend, but not for the reasons he seemed to be implying.

It was a relief to finish. An hour of intense conversation and high adrenaline was exhausting.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely. It was a healthy first step and a valuable learning experience. I had no expectation of an instant connection and felt no disappointment. It was a great confidence boost knowing I had the courage to go and had initiated a conversation without hesitation.

So where to from here?

Thoughtfully and carefully is the way to go…

As I’ve moved forward the benefits of being single have become more apparent. I don’t want to rush into a new lifelong partnership because it’s “the thing to do”. The freedom I now have to invest myself in a wide range of life possibilities is not to be taken lightly.

Balancing this is awareness that developing a number of close (not necessarily romantic) friendships with women (as I currently have with some great blokes) will add a new richness to my life. In time a romantic relationship will likely emerge out of one of these. I think for me a committed, loving partnership is ultimately the best place to be… being on my own long-term is not a wise option. I am inherently relationship orientated and know I have the capacity to give and receive a great deal on many levels.

As a ‘mature man’ in my fifties I’d like to think my maturity will protect me from emotion carrying me away should a woman who ‘presses my buttons’ appear. Life has taught me however that emotions can easily highjack rational thinking in decisions big and small. A steady hand is needed on the steering wheel, especially if strong attraction and passion take hold!

Finally, there’s another trap I want to avoid. Actively seeking a new relationship is not just about me! It’s not all about getting what I want and need. Relationships involve two people. Both need to care for and respect one another as they learn about each other. Committing to become partners, should this be the outcome, needs to be life-giving for both.

My motto from here is…

Be bold, be gentle and caring… and enjoy the fun and richness of life!

Ian + dingo