5 Lessons Learned From My 3-Year-Old Self

Just yesterday,it seems, I was three, toddling around my grandparents’ property in Idaho; following my grandfather everywhere and chasing the neighbors chickens from across the road. These were happy, carefree days. I was surrounded by people I loved, in a location I loved, doing the things I loved, whatever that is at three, and nothing in my world was amiss. I looked forward to each moment. In fact, I was too busy enjoying each moment I had no concern for the next. My old mind now recalls those happy times as the endless days of summer. There were no rainy days both literally and figuratively.

Fast forward 50 years and the landscape dramatically shifts. I’m no longer three, no longer quite so carefree. My free-spirited happy-go-lucky three-year-old self morphed into a middle-aged woman with worries. There are wonderful summer days aplenty in my 50-year-old life. There are also many, many overcast and rainy days too.

When did I grow up? When did I take on the responsibilities and cares that fill my days? How and when did I lose that sense of existing only for the moment without worrying about or anticipating the next? Continue reading

Anniversaries, Birthdays & Other Musings of A Convalescent

An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow.

~Author Unknown

I’ve recently been thinking about birthdays, anniversaries and other events that commemorate the existence or longevity of relationships, lives, and important activities. This year, as with every year, is filled with several such markers which will recognize the presence of something or someone my life. I will celebrate the birthdays of my children; once again taking time to reflect on how quickly the time has passed since they each decided to depart my womb and enter the world as individuals in their own right. I will celebrate the birthdays of other loved ones as I give thanks for their existence.

In some cases, these anniversaries recognize the time since something ended instead of marking a beginning. This year marks the eleventh year since my first marriage ended and the fifth year since the end of my second one. It will be two years since I gave up dating. I’ll also celebrate one year in my new home, which is also one year since I decided to give up the battle I was fighting trying to keep up an old ranch-style home that I could not maintain nor adequately afford. Continue reading

Facebook, High School Reunions, Birthdays and Aging

Note or disclaimer or preface or something:  I wrote this article, several months ago, long before the class reunion occurred.  I was going to post it, in advance of the reunion, but I hesitated, intending to go back and edit and re-work it. Call me chicken. Now that I’ve actually attended my class reunion, reacquainted myself with people I’d lost contact with, and heard some of their feelings about our 30-year reunion, I’m posting this, even though it is after the fact.  I looked forward to this reunion with hopeful anticipation, but also with a great deal of dread and anxiety.  I now know I wasn’t entirely alone in that experience.

I do know this for certain, after having attended the reunion:  We are no longer in high school anymore.  I also know my classmates and I have grown and matured into respectful, decent, thoughtful people.  Because of that, I know that my thoughts here will be treated respectfully and sensitively.  It is in celebration of all our successes over the last 30 years that I offer this series of posts as a humble treatise of gratitude for the part each of you have played in making me the person I am today.  Thank you.

malheur_butte My 30-year-high school reunion takes place this summer in a small dusty town in eastern Oregon.  Though there is likely more pavement there now than when I packed my bags and hustled out of there without looking back, the place is still rather small and somewhat dusty in comparison to the lush green venues of Western Oregon and other areas in the Pacific Northwest.  This is not to criticize the place where I spent most of my childhood.  The high desert definitely has a solitary rugged beauty all its own. It is just that I am a mountains, rivers, oceans and trees kind of girl.  I’ll take forest over sagebrush, and beaches over buttes, any day of the week.  Though, admittedly, wild antelope effortlessly bounding across the Oregon outback is certainly a breathtaking sight.  Even so, unable to fully appreciate it at the time that I lived there, I did make haste to get out of that part of Oregon as soon as I could do so and, as I mentioned before, I never looked back.  I subsequently lost all contact with friends and classmates from my high school years. Continue reading

Soap Operas, Harlequin Romances, and Heavy Drugs

daysofliveslogo There are some things that have never been a draw for me.  Soap operas, Harlequin romance novels and heavy drugs (or even really mild ones, for that matter) have never posed any particular temptation for me.  Even so, I remember the words from one of the soaps my mother, or maybe it was the babysitter, used to watch: “As sands through the hour glass, so are the Days of Our Lives”. 

Sand, hours, days, lives, soaps, romances and heavy drugs.  It’s an impressive lineup don’t you think? 

Heavy Drugs

Most of my childhood occurred during the seventies when there was a real emphasis on educating children about the dangers of drug use.  Fat lot of good that did any of us!  Sadly, all that well intentioned tax money was wasted on me.  I had, after all, the very best, real life, hands on drug awareness experience a child could have.  I had someone in my own home overdose, get hauled out on a stretcher (yes, picture three wide-eyed children under the age of eight, two bewildered and alarmed parents, large medical emergency vehicles with lights flashing, watching the live-in babysitter get hauled off on a stretcher).  Take one wild guess which of those three children was tasked with trying to awaken the body that had already slipped into a drug induced coma.  That’d be me. 

j0308903 No. Drugs, even in an effort to satiate my deep seated need to be accepted, approved of, and mostly to belong, never ever posed even the slightest temptation to me. 

Soap Operas

This is easy.  Force something on a child all the years they are growing up and, well, chances are they will either acquiesce and adopt the thing or they will rebel.  I had soap operas and TV and noise going on all throughout my childhood. I think this had something to do with having an aging father and two other siblings and living in a home where conversation and opinions and even dissension were not only tolerated, but welcomed.  I rebelled against the TV and noise but retained a love for all things passionate and articulate especially if they tend toward the nonconformist.  After leaving home, I never watched an episode of any of the daytime or nighttime soaps, I loathe TV except for the express and planned purpose of vegging out because I am so overwhelmed and just need to turn my mind off. If given the choice to stay in and watch a movie or something on television, I will opt to read a book, do something in the yard, surf the net, the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-by-stieg-larssontake my dog for a walk, invent cryptic status updates to annoy all my friends on Facebook (who haven’t yet hidden me) with, or write.  But, lately, I don’t have time for even that. Lies!  I’ll always make time for the status update messages, because, well, now I has iPhone!

Harlequin Romances?

This is a bit more convoluted because I love romance.  I love the idea of it.  I love the feel of it.  I love the hope and passion it can inspire.  But really?  If you’ve read one Harlequin romance novel, you’ve read them all.  Give me something along the lines of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, or Dumas’ The Man in the Iron Mask, or even the much more recent and sadly deceased, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy and I’m all in, but a Harlequin romance.  Ugh.  Yawn.  Not a draw for me. 

A Rehabilitated Internet Dating Junkie

In posts past, I’ve alluded to the fact, correction, I point blank declared, that I was an internet dating junkie.  I was.  I admit it.  I was successful with it too, if you consider being able to get dates with attractive, intelligent, employed men by merely posting a profile successful.  If the truth be told, I am still meeting and getting to know people that I “met” and began corresponding with online, over two  years ago.  My social calendar is exceptionally full these days and I haven’t had an online profile anywhere for months.  Okay, I lied, I tried out OKCupid.com and Zoosk on Facebook because I have several friends on Facebook that are dating coaches and, well, curiosity killed the cat. They suggested, I bit.  I’m over it now.  I was on each of those for two weeks, met one person in person who is fabulously interesting, but I could quickly ascertain that I neither have the interest or desire or energy to get back into the online dating thing.  Screening profiles, deleting winks, and wading through thousands of misspelled, poorly punctuated and horribly written profiles is, well, a lot like reading a Harlequin romance.  When you’ve read one…

Temptations and Time~Living Life in Face to Face World

ar120347955688524 The days of our lives can slip away from us like sand pouring through the narrowest portion of the hourglass.  The sand at the top appears untouched, but the sand at the bottom is fighting desperately to comply with gravity’s demands. Eventually, the entire lot of it cascades into the bottom portion of the hourglass.  This seems an appropriate analogy for much of life. 

For me, spending time in fantasy land like soap opera world, internet dating, drug use or reading Harlequin’s is just not something I want to do.  The false and superficial have never attracted me.  Give me an authentic disagreement (done respectfully, I hope) over a false veneer of cheery friendship any day.  When it comes to internet anything, it is so easy to hide, to disguise, to pretend, to escape.  This,  I’m learning, is a temptation that can be very deceptive.  After all the internet comfortably keeps people at a distance.  You can connect, without really ever having to connect.  Don’t want to talk to someone, just show up in stealth mode or “unfriend” them.  It’s the convenience of digital relationship.  Besides, who wouldn’t love to recreate themselves (if even for a few minutes) into something that only mildly portends a resemblance to the reality, or disappear into a relationship that holds the promise of the upside (fun, flirty, romantic and non-invasive) of relationship without any of the downside (how the heck are we going to decide which side of the bed you’ll be sleeping on? And why do I have to make room in my closet for you?). 

I’m also learning that this kind of relating, while useful for providing some entertainment value and escapist fun, does not really work for me.  I’m not twenty something anymore.  A few years back, I had to renew my driver’s license.  My picture, is awful, as most of them are.  Mine was especially bad, because as I was going through the renewal process I was crying.  I was aging, caught in a nightmare at that time I felt I could not escape and I truly thought my life was over.  My outlook is so different today. 

I’m still aging.  I can’t do much about that.  I ended the nightmare the best way I could, but I ended it.  The fallout from that has not been easy but life is good.  I’m meeting many fabulous new people through the adventures I’m having with the friends I already know in my face-to-face world.  Some of the digital relationships have bridged the gap from being merely digital to actually tangible, and, while romance isn’t running rampant in my life like weedy vines overtaking my garden, some very valuable and wonderful friendships have developed.  I’m busier than ever with work opportunities in an area where people are struggling to hold onto their homes after losing their jobs.  I’m meeting people in my community that I enjoy spending time with and who, while very different from me, are a source of friendship and camaraderie.  I’m healthier than I was at the start of the year, in every sense of that word, and I like it.  I’m busier than I’ve ever been and yet, less stressed and more content.  I find all of this slightly ironic, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth by over-analyzing it.  

j0179131I’m simply going to ride this horse where ever it will take me.

After all, life is short.  Far too short and far too valuable to allow it to disappear into the meaningless, the shallow, the pain-dulling fantasy escapes that come in so many forms whether, digitally digested, inhaled, injected or imbibed.

Making It Through In Spite of the Flu

Just a short note tonight.  I’m tired.  It’s been a long day.  I have another fairly long day tomorrow and I was sick this weekend.  Flat out, on my back, slept for nearly 24 hours straight except to get up and get drinks of water and go to the bathroom.  Yeah, that kind of sick.  The kind of sick that you hope will pass quickly because to have so many things you need to be doing.  The kind of sick that you worry might never pass because, really?, the common cold does not feel this bad.  Or does it?

After Booty Texter dismissed me in his frustration at my being unwilling to lower my standards and subject myself to his selfish motivations, I went to bed (Friday night) .  For all intents and purposes, I did not awaken and like it, until sometime Sunday morning in the wee hours of the morning.  Oh, I awoke, but only to go to the bathroom and get a drink.  Over 24 hours sick.  Yeah.

I’m grateful that I was well enough to work a 13 hour day today and not keel over. 

I’m grateful that I’m now home and people decades younger than me who didn’t spend the whole weekend flat on their back sick as a dog, and who have fewer children to go home and deal with than I are just as tired as I am if not more so.  This means nothing other than I’m feeling better, my health is certainly not horrible and I am so very glad for that.  One’s health is so important.  In fact, in my list of things I’m grateful for my health tops the list. 

How would you finish this statement?

“If it weren’t for my health I’d _____________________________________________.”

or how about this statement…

“Because of my health I _____________________________________________”.

As for me, it is great to be making it through.  The knowledge that people many years younger than I are experiencing the same, if not more, fatigue is encouraging to me.  Not that I wish them ill, I don’t.  It just means this contraption I call a body isn’t doing so badly after all, and, to me, that is enough to be grateful for.

Questions?

Why is it that some people can so easily find “a relationship” and for others it is the ultimately elusive thing?

Why is it that stupid women can find handsome intelligent men but beautiful intelligent women have a far more difficult time getting past the first date?

Why do mature adult people (supposedly given their chronological age) run off to Vegas to get married after only knowing someone for about six weeks? 

I have a friend who is young, gorgeous, together and intelligent and single.  WTF is up with that? She should not even be single for two seconds.  What is wrong with male America these days?

Why is it that some people make it last the first go round and others of us can’t help but screw it up from the get go?

Why is it that the ones that make it last aren’t even all that put together either…I mean…what?

Why is it that the good looking guys are stupid…mostly… and the ones who are good looking with a brain are married to stupid women…I mean, really, they are married to posts most of the time. 

At what point do you just throw in the towel on love and figure you’re just too old for that shit?

At what point do you just throw in the towel on ever  achieving your dreams because a.) you have too many kids to deal with for too much longer, b.) achieving your dreams would require the energy, optimism and fearlessness of a 20-year-old and you’re simply not 20 any more and have so many obligations to so many…I mean really…at what point does chasing that youthful dream become like the woman in her 50’s who tries to dress like she’s in high school.  Hmmmm….

I have more questions, but if you can answer these  then you’ll be doing well.

Bonus Question:  Why can’t I meet someone and run off to Vegas and get married after knowing them for six weeks and actually have the damn thing work out?  (I already know the answer to this one and, yes, it has something to do with birth order and, well, I’ll just leave it at that!)

Take your pot shots…go ahead!  I dare ya! 

Oh, and don’t give me all this positive attitude crap. If you’ve been single, divorced or any of that for any length of time the inconsistencies and seeming inequities of life have crossed your mind in question form as well.  And the biggest question and the most unanswerable one is “Why?”

Positive is great and I’m all for it.  I’m a recovering “glass half empty” kinda girl.  I want the glass totally freakin’ full so whether it is half empty or half fricken full doesn’t matter….it isn’t where I want it to be and that is just sometimes not good enough.  Playing little mental games doesn’t really convince me that things are better…or worse…than they are.  They simply, currently are not what I want them to be…YET.

Big word, that word, “yet”. 

Bigger question:  When to let go of the “yet” and figure it ain’t ever gonna happen.  I really need to hear from someone in their 80’s or 90’s on this one because seriously, at 40-something, sometimes I’m so deep in the quagmire I can’t even see the map!  And in 40+ world the scales seems weighted to my disadvantage as a female.  Maybe, it’s my own myopic vision that is creating distortion.  What I do know is this:  as you age, especially if you are female, people stop looking at you.  They not only stop admiring you physically, they stop seeing you completely.  This is the demise of the elderly in our country.  They become disrespected, invisibile liabilities.  I’m not there yet.  Just today I had a perfectly red blooded male friend tell me that my jeans totally worked for me and this is a person who would have no problem letting me know he thought I looked like shit, so it was a valid compliment.  But that time of being invisible and unseen is not far away for me and it is certain for us all. I just am not sure I want to be one of those banging my head against an impossible wall if the liklihood and realities of love and dreams are long past.  Maybe at that point, it is time to shift focus and create new, different dreams.  I don’t know. 

Ahhhh!  Life!  Ain’t it great?  It’s the only test you can’t study for and you get only one shot at it.  Sometimes to be honest, I feel like I’m blowing my shot at it. 

Just sayin’.

The What If Game

My life these days is incredibly drama free and peaceful.  Well, for the most part it is.  There’s the occasional tense moment that occurs when living with other people in an arrangement designated by most as family, but compared to the past two decades, my life is exceptionally drama free.  In fact, compared to most people, my life is exceptionally drama free. 

This doesn’t mean my life is boring.  Nor is it lackluster. 

Life with me is always very animated, that’s for sure. 

Life with me has a certain bit of comedy and theatrics to it, I’ll warrant, but drama?  Hmmm, not so much. 

 Here’s a typical day in my life these days:

After awakening and the deplorable hour of 9:00 a.m., I head back into the house after picking up the morning paper from the walk and turning on the sprinkler. I flop down on my large overstuffed and very comfy couch to browse through the meaningless empty print that constitutes the local paper. Later, I will spend an hour playing around on Facebook, looking up old tunes and listening to them on Youtube and doing whatever it is I want or nothing at all. It is an amazingly charmed life I live these days. On these days in particular, the ones where the kids are all gone at the other parents’ home and I have no deadlines or obligations except to take care of just me, it is not unlike being retired.  I do what I want when I want.  After running around crazy all school year long and being at the beck and call of four children with active academic and social lives and none of them driving, it is nice to just be able to do nothing at all. It is a luxury most single mothers don’t get.  I am very aware of this and incredibly grateful.  While most single parents (except for the exceptionally wealthy ones) have to get up every day, even during the summer, and rush off to a job only to come home and do the second shift then later fall exhausted into bed only to start the entire exercise wheel process over again, I do not have to do this for nearly 3 months of every year. It’s true I pay for it during the school year when I have no life, but it is worth it because on days like today, life is anything but pressured, harried, exhausting or stressed. 

 Of course, I could and have been caught up in that desire for the crazy lifestyle that rewards one with a penthouse view and status and money in the bank.  I was there many years ago, working in the San Francisco Bay area and commuting into my entry level management position with lots of promotional potential and making big money to cover the relatively low overhead I had at the time. Had I continued down that track, I am certain I would be enjoying a very different life than I am now.  I’d be living in a very different setting, doing very different things with very different people.  Part of me, at times wonders, how might my life have been different?

 Do you ever do this? Wondering how your life might be different if…if?  I call it “The What If Game”.  I suspect everyone spends time on this game show at one time or another. 

If I’d kept that job in the Bay Area instead of staying married and returning to Oregon.

 If I’d gone into journalism instead of teaching. 

 If I’d studied law instead of going to work.

 If I’d stayed single longer.

 If I’d married that boy instead of breaking it off.

If I’d…if I’d…if I’d….

The choice made, a job offer accepted or refused, an apartment rented instead of a home purchased, a family delayed or started unexpectedly or not at all, a relationship passed on, another fully explored and furthered. A vice casually stumbled upon which grips you insidiously till you realize one day it has you beyond your control.  A thought, a glance, a brief and casual encounter….the cumulative effect of the smallest insignificant encounters, like grains of sand on the beach, become strong enough and monumental enough to create a lifetime.  One little tweak in the design and the picture can be drastically altered.

 Choices.  Decisions.  Cause and effect.  Outcomes.  Paths not taken or taken that we can never retrace in order to change directions.  Nope.  Unlike getting lost on a road and simply turning the car around and going back in the direction from whence we came, life doesn’t allow u-turns.  Even if it did, the passage of time, our own maturing and that of others, the births and deaths of those we love, all these events change the path and the scenery along the way.

This is as it should be.  Even if it is not as it should be it is how it is.

When I go down the mental “I wonder” path, I never do this with regret.  I can’t regret.  I’ve learned too much and grown too much down the road I did travel to worry about it. I do it with curious interest and speculation. Yes, my life, had I made different choices at each juncture, would be very, very different.  But would it be better?  Worse?  Who knows?  I don’t care.  What I find important at this point is that I take less and less for granted these days. I’m glad for the paths I’ve traveled, the lessons I’ve learned, the ones I’m trying to master even now and the person I’ve become as the result.  I am so very content in many ways.

While I don’t sit around and dwell over the consequences of every little action, decision or behavior, I do enjoy contemplating the idea that you never know what path you might be heading down next.  Even when you think you know the path, even when you think you are choosing a particular direction to head, what the journey looks like and where you end up can be very, very different than you imagined.  It’s fun to just enjoy the journey rather than stressing out about when, where and how I’m going to get to the blasted destination. Of course, I don’t always feel this peaceful and un-rushed about it all. There are deadlines that loom and more tasks to accomplish than time to accomplish them most of the time, of course.  I know this.  

On summer days like these, though, it just really easy to appreciate the fact that life really is a series of journeys instead of a destination you head for.  With the stress of the daily routine temporarily at bay, it is fun to sit back and speculate about the road behind, the current road and the path(s) ahead.  I do this with just a mild amount of interest and anticipation.  It will be fun to look back a year from now and see how different things look from how they currently appear. 

 Until then, The What If Game holds no interest to me, because I’m too busy playing The What Next Game.  Where are you today?  Are you playing the What If Game and wishing you’d made different choices or are you grateful for the journey you’ve been on and are you looking forward to what’s around the corner?

Summer Preparations–Lessons Learned

filter9The Wild Mind has been busy the last four days working on getting ready for summer.  This readiness involves dealing with the contraption you see here.  No, it is not the latest model sex toy (wait, maybe it could be with just a little improvisation).This is a pool filter.  It connects to the pool by various hoses similar to the one you see in the picture.  There is a hose for outgoing water and a hose that takes in water from the pool to be filtered.  My contraption is old.  The hoses have not been replaced since I purchased the thing.  The contraption and it’s hoses get a great deal of use too, so it is critical that everything is in proper working order.  This morning (at times I can be a morning person) when I hooked up the contraption to the pool the hose that connects the skimmer to the pool kept breaking off.  In fact, it broke off so many times that by the time I actually started the pump up, it burst again, dousing me.  It was now too short to do it’s job properly.  There is also another hose on this contraption (wouldn’t you like to have two hoses for just such an emergency?). This second hose connects the pool to the filter (that big bulbous part of the contraption) .  This hose was far longer and more flexible than the hose that was splitting and breaking off.  I switched the hoses, the pump works beautifully, however that old hose is still an old hose and will within a very short time begin cracking and breaking off from the pool again.  This old hose segment needs to be replaced soon.

Six lessons learned for The Wild Mind: (no, I did not say “Sex Lessons Learned by The Wild Mind! Sheesh!)

1.  Old hoses will eventually need to be replaced when they are unable to perform the task they were designed for.

2.  Old hoses that remain long and flexible are far more useful for a far longer period of time.

3.  Old hoses that break off and become too short are worthless.

4. Hoses that spray stuff everywhere except the appropriate destination are annoying!

5.  Maybe there are times when having a spare hose around is a good thing?

6.  The Wild Mind really, seriously needs a new hose!  (Wait, I think anyone who’s been reading this blog for any length of time has already figured that out!)

Now where to find a decent, lengthy, flexible hose that will go the distance even after a tremendous amount of use?  Hmmmm.

Brave New Post Marriage Dating World

I have several friends lately who are just newly divorced and starting to think about dating again.  After many years in a marriage, no matter how bad it was, one can really miss the companionship of another adult.  And, yes, one misses the sex too.  Although, in some cases, the sex might have been nonexistent long before the marriage ended or it might have the reason the marriage ended. 

Whatever the situation, many of my now single friends are trying to negotiate this new world that I refer to as “Post 40 World” (even though some of us are not really post-40, all of us feel like it) where we are now single, in our 40’s, not ever wanting to be here at this stage of our lives and with a boatload of responsibilities (aka, baggage).  We try to date, and if our personal worlds don’t bring us near any prospective individuals that we can even consider talking with over coffee, we turn to the online arena.

Online dating has advantages and disadvantages.  It’s been said that in 2006, 1 in 8 married couples met online.  I can only imagine the number has swelled in the last few years. As one who recieved her graduate degree online, and feels fairly comfortable with the way the digital world can expand our ability to connect with those from places we might otherwise only read about in books, online dating doesn’t scare me.  However, I say that, knowing full well, I’ve been very, very fortunate so far.  Those I’ve met have been decent people.  Only one in probably a hundred or so folks have lied about their age and that’s pretty good.  No one, so far, has stalked me, though there have been several that I wished would have.  

Today I received an email from a friend who is just recently and hesitantly venturing out into the world of online dating.  He’s a card carrying member of “Post 40 World”.  Married his true love and when he did so he did it for life but she didn’t have the same agenda.  She’s moved on and now he’s here in “Post 40 World” wondering how to navigate the terrain.  Well, like I’m the world’s greatest expert in this.  Anyone who reads my blogs can tell I struggle with trying to figure out how to do the dating thing when things are so very different than they were when you were in college and had your whole life (and your best body) going for you.  So, I gave my friend some pointers.  Here’s what I said.  Look the advice over and see what you would add:

1. Create an alias and don’t reveal your true identity until after you have met the person in the flesh.  Okay, you can give out your first name, but much other than that, just don’t!  Remember, if they have even your last name they can find out exactly where you live.

2.  Don’t believe the pictures. I’ve been burned and had many friends who’ve been burned by the fake picture. It’s disappionting and a huge waste of emotional time and energy when it happens. Hold everything at arm’s distance until you meet. 

2a.  Be very cautious of someone who doesn’t post any pictures and isn’t willing to send you any.  Be equally cautious of the person who posts a picture that looks airbrushed or like it is of a magazine model.  (It just might be.)

3. Don’t spend a lot of time chatting online.  Exchange a few emails, get to know enough to determine if you would like to meet or not, then meet.  You can create this big fantasy online and then when you meet be completely disappointed and heartbroken.  I’m not sure why this happens, but it does.

4.  Be cautious of the person who after a few tries still finds excuses not to meet or talk on the phone.  I personally hate to talk on the phone, but will do it.  I’d rather just meet. If the person is unwilling to do either, suspect that a.) they are not really interested in a relationship like you are or b.) they are not really female. 

5. Be very suspicious of those who cannot communicate reasonably well in writing.

6. Never entertain further communication from those who ask you for money…it is probably a scam from someone outside the country.

7. Trust your gut (you already know this, I know).  If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

8.  Don’t make a dinner date your first meeting. Something light and casual like coffee or a walk is great.  It can be shortened or lengthened as you feel and you don’t have to endure a long night with a lot of expense if the interest factor just isn’t there.  

9.  Obviously, don’t tell anyone where you live until you’ve checked them out and know they are who they say they are. 

These items are the most salient points I could think of on the fly.  I realize I am pretty inexperienced in this realm, after all, I’ve only been dating for about a year and a half. I’m still evolving in my view of what it is all about. I feel I’ve had a good experiences overall with online dating, but I’ve also been very foolish and very lucky because worse things didn’t happen than did (in other words, it could have been so much worse and you could have read about me in the papers…I’ve really been that fortunate).  I also live in a much smaller area and not a big metro urban area…so, maybe the risks are fewer?  Not sure about that one, but it sounded good.

What else can everyone add to help those out who are trying to find their way in this Brave New Post Marriage Dating World?