Accepting Who You See in the Mirror

Revised and Updated

“Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again.”― Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor seemed to have it together. My goal is to think the way Eleanor thought. Well, we know that’s not happening. I took these selfies recently and let me tell you, I’m not a selfie taker (I read that all selfie takers say that). I’m not sure why I took them or where I took them, but they do pretty much sum up how I feel about getting older.

Getting older is not for the faint of heart (was it Betty Davis who said this?). Sometimes I look in the mirror and I think:  it’s not fair that my father was handsome his entire life or see that wattle under your chin? — you deserve it for teasing mom about her’s. I want to love every line on my face and embrace my sagging eyelids and I want to believe that there is a reason there is more hair in my ears than on the top of my head; although I might have to let that one go.

I was coerced and cajoled into going to a Carnival party last night. You know the feeling:  I’m too old, I’ll be invisible. I don’t want to dance, the food will suck, and so on. I pushed myself so that I could prove to myself and my new Portuguese friends, that I could party with the best of them. I decided to wear whiteout make-up in hopes that it would cover my lines, I sported a new t-shirt, newly refurbished black boots and some borrowed red lipstick. I made an effort and it worked. I had a great time and although I wished the party had started a bit earlier, I stuck it out for a few hours and I went to sleep smiling; facial lines intact.

I know all of this is normal growing older stuff and I know that at some point I will probably embrace it, but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying to be better at it now. In the meantime, I need to continue to push myself outside of my comfort zone.

Some Things One Can Do to Embrace the Aging Process:

  1. Take care of your skin — Twenty years ago, I paid quite a lot of money for a facial in New York City just to learn how to take better care of my skin. The biggest lesson I learned was about toner. It’s really important to close your pores after you’ve washed your face or shaved. If you do not close your pores or use toner to close your pores, anything you put on your skin will go right into your pores and clog them up. That’s when you end up with blackheads and pimples; yes I still get pimples — moisturizer is also important for preventing wrinkles; dry skin is more likely to wrinkle. Some men are way too macho to care about this stuff, but for those who do, it is possible to have good skin your entire life.
  2. Take care of your body — We all know that unless you eat right and exercise, your body will give you all sorts of problems. Thirty minutes of exercise a few days a week will go a long way for good health. Eating fresh food and taking vitamin supplements are also essential. I do it all in moderation (or I won’t do it). Genetics plays into aging; however, how well you take care of your body, is a huge factor in how well you age.
  3. Stay sharp — Mind, body and spirit are usually the three aspects of your life that experts point to when discussing good health. Keeping your mind sharp means that you have to exercise your brain. Sitting in front of your television can be relaxing and benefit your mental wellbeing, but doing things that stimulate your mind are key to staying mentally sharp. Reading, puzzles, attending lectures, and participating in stimulating conversation, are examples of things you can do to stay sharp. Don’t let your brain atrophy.
  4. Dress Up — This is a difficult one for me. Give me a nice cotton t-shirt and some soft cotton sweatpants and I’m good to go. That’s okay for grocery shopping or taking a brisk walk, but when you’re going out for dinner or to a concert, make the extra effort and dress up a bit. People around you will show you how much they appreciate the effort. When we get lazy and let ourselves go, it affects the way we feel about ourselves and has a negative impact on the way we interact with others. It can be so subtle we don’t see it, but trust me, it’s there. Experiment with this and wear a sports jacket and tie to dinner; you’ll see a big difference in the way people treat you — you too ladies (without the tie though).
  5. Pamper yourself — vacation, massage, long walk on the beach and so many other things you can do to say “I love you” to yourself.
  6. Be graceful and gracious — Always put your best self forward. Good manners and a positive attitude go a long way in navigating the world around you. We all need one another at one point or another. Show the people around you that you appreciate them; when you need something, people will remember how you treated them or whether or not you thanked them. We all need to be appreciated. I have had to remind several people in my life that I should not and will not be taken for granted. It’s all part of being a good friend or family member — we can all learn from one another. People always say that the world was once a kinder, gentler place. It’s difficult to know how true that statement is; however, it doesn’t hurt to strive to improve; we all benefit from a kinder world.
  7. Volunteer — An opportunity to give back, do something fulfilling and meet new people.
  8. Remember the alternative is not-so-good

There was a time I would look at someone with obvious plastic surgery and get all judgy about it. I’ve evolved and no longer care. Do whatever you want to do to yourself if it will help you feel better.

What to Say to People When They Ask You How Old You Are

  • I used to add ten years onto my age to see what kind of reaction I’d get. One time I did that and the person said, “That’s what I would have guessed.”  Needless to say, I stopped doing that.
  • You can stand tall and proudly declare your exact age.
  • You can lie if it makes you feel better.
  • You can say, “I’m in my 50s but I feel like I’m 30. Don’t I look 30 (update)?” And then laugh at yourself; always laugh at yourself.
  • You can tell people what was happening in the world when you were born. There was a major solar eclipse on the day I was born. I like sharing that for some reason. I believe the strength of the sun on the day I was born had a lot to do with my birth. You don’t have to agree with me, that’s okay.
  • I wouldn’t say, “How old do you think I am?” unless you are prepared for their answer.
  • You can say, “Old enough.”
  • You can say, “I have a few years on you or I think you may be older than me (be prepared to die (update).
  • Fill in the blank __________________________.

How Others Age

Try not to compare yourself to others. Like I said earlier, genetics plays a major role in aging. Some people seem to have better skin. Some people have arthritis and some don’t. Some people can build muscle more easily. You get my point; be easier on yourself.

One of the things I love about growing older is that you seem to care less about what others think — it’s freeing, to say the least. I’m looking forward to caring even a little less. I’m talking about the divisive stuff, not the loving and caring stuff.

A couple of good articles:

Aging in Beauty

Learning to Love Growing Old

Coping with Aging

Future Travel

I am happy to say that I am home in Portugal until July 4 when I will leave for Scotland. We have beautiful weather here in June and the tourists will not arrive in huge numbers for a few weeks (at least not in Faro). So coming up I have Scotland, Asia for three weeks and then South Africa in 2024. That is pretty much it; I hope to keep it this way for awhile. Traveling by air has become exhausting and anxiety producing. I can handle only so much of that insanity.

My Current State of Mind

I am happy to be home with Paco and sleeping in my own bed. I have no regrets about getting caught-up in the French air traffic control strike or my 24 hour flight delay, and I missed Portugal. The ol’ allergies are not as bad either.

Please do me a great favor: if I ever offend you, hurt you, annoy you, etc. find a kind way to tell me. I honestly want to be a better human and you can help.

Pain Management of the Arthritis Variety

You too? I’m finding arthritis to be very common among my peers.

Where I’m headed

My father was middle aged when I was born and old when I was in my 20s and 30s. He suffered from very painful arthritis in several parts of his body. I remember thinking, I’m going to take care of myself and that won’t be me. Wrong. . . that is me.

I started running when I was 17 years old, having been told it was a great way to lose baby fat; I had a lot of baby fat. One of my two female roommates struggled with her weight as well and so, we ran together. A combination of running and eating better helped me become a trimmer, happier young man. Running became an addiction. In truth, I ran to survive. Running was one of the only activities that would calm my brain. It provided results and allowed me to eat pretty much anything I loved. I ran almost everyday for thirty years. I ran marathons. I ran when I traveled. A few years ago I had so much pain from inflammation, I had to stop running.

Being a large man, 6 ft., 200 lbs., didn’t pair well with running. That’s a whole lot of weight hitting that hard New York City pavement. Running eventually led to inflammation of my joints, which eventually led to chronic arthritis.

I recall doing laps in my Brooklyn pool (my building had an indoor pool) and feeling cramping in feet, thinking what the heck is this? It was the early stages of arthritis; more than likely from running. That cramping and discomfort has never gone away and now, I live with it in my feet, knees, lower back, shoulders, and just recently my hands. It’s chronic and annoying as hell. I am a fairly physical person; always on the move, always challenging my physical limitations. It’s getting harder and harder to keep that up.

Five Remedies

A few of these remedies are healthier than others. I will list them in order of what I believe to be the healthiest to the potentially dangerous:

  1. Stretching — I’m not sure if stretching actually helps arthritis, but I do know it feels good. Inflammation can make you stiff and stiffness is uncomfortable and painful. Loosening up your joints can give you sweet relief. I stretch at the gym for about 10 minutes before I workout in the morning. I know that I should probably spend more time on my back and legs, but I’m always anxious to start my workout and get it over with.
  2. Devil’s Claw — Native to southern Africa, devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) gets its name from the tiny hooks that cover its fruit. Historically, devil’s claw has been used to treat pain, liver and kidney problems, fever, and malaria. It has also been used in ointments to heal sores, boils, and other skin problems (Mt. Sinai). I’ve been taking Devil’s Claw in pill form for three months. It took four-to-six weeks to feel the effects. I’m not 100% sold on Devil’s Claw; however, I did notice that when I went from 500 to 1500 mg. three times a day, it did make a difference. You never really know if it’s the placebo effect or it’s truly working. I’m going to keep taking it; it’s inexpensive, has no side effects, and it is recommended by medical doctors throughout Europe.
  3. Cayenne — Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, and it often causes redness, swelling, pain, or heat. Cayenne pepper and other hot spices are widely considered powerful anti-inflammatory spices that can help reduce chronic inflammation and pain (HealthifyMe). I take a 1/4 teaspoon in warm water every morning. It’s not easy to swallow, but it’s another thing I believe can only help. And . . . it’s really cheap.
  4. CBDResearch suggests that CBD can ease inflammation, among other potential benefits. Research suggests that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis, as it affects certain cell viability. It may also have a synergetic effect on rheumatoid arthritis medication (Google). I don’t know enough about CBD to tout its benefits. I use it as a topical remedy in cream form. I purchased CBD oil (without THC) and put a few drops in body cream. I rub it into my shoulders and back and hope for the best. I wish I could tell you it works; I’m not sure.
  5. Ibuprofen — a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat mild to moderate pain, and helps to relieve symptoms of arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or juvenile arthritis), such as inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain (Mayo Clinic). The current recommendations for ibuprofen are to limit daily use to no more than 30 days. Dosing can range from 400 mg to 800 mg up to 4 times a day, with a daily maximum of 3200 mg per day. Above this limit, the negative effects of COX inhibition begin to outweigh the desired benefits of decreased discomfort and pain ( This last bit is what concerns me. I dated a medical doctor for several years. He repeatedly warned me about the long term side-effects of ibuprofen. I only take ibuprofen if my pain or discomfort is intolerable; not very often.

I’m not going to lie, I fear that the inflammation in my joints willworsen over time. The only hope is there has been tremendous relief in my right knee pain. I suffered with intense discomfort for several years and when I moved to Portugal this pain went away. I’m not sure if less humidity contributed to its disappearance or if no longer running helped it go away; perhaps it’s a combination of the two. Whatever it is, I am grateful. It gives me hope that I might find relief in other parts of my body.

Arthritis in my hands is a big concern. It seems to be isolated to the joints between my thumb and the pointing finger. Stretching and rubbing the area does help.

I hope my own experience and research has been helpful for some of you who suffer as I do. Helping ourselves through life’s challenges, empowers us to work through any obstacle to our happiness and well-being. I’m challenging myself to stay positive.

“It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all.”

— Anonymous

Upcoming Travel

Provence (south of France) today. I’ll be visiting several wineries and returning to points-of-interest; it’s been awhile since I visited Provence. I will be seeing friends and eating well. My Airbnb has an amazing view of Marseille; a city I’ve never visited. I think this trip will do me a world of good.

Current State-of-Mind

I had a day this week that blew me away and I hope it happens again soon. I woke up on Monday morning feeling like Superman. I knew that I could and would accomplish anything and I did. I ran through my To Do list in record time and I did a lot that wasn’t on my list. My energy level was at an all-time high; I took full advantage of it and reaped the rewards.

I’ve done some redecorating in my apartment and I’m very pleased with the results. My nest has always been important to me, as I get older even more so. Minimal, colorful, and comfortable — that’s what I like. More and more, I trust my instincts and embrace the results.

“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” —John C. Maxwell

As always please forgive grammatical and/or typographical errors. Especially this time as I am writing on my tablet.

Maximizing Quality Sleep

Being Realistic At the Same Time

Caution: Do not read this blog if TMI is a problem for you. I apologize that the subject matter is sort of bland this week. This is what happens when things are moving along swimmingly well.

This is based on a lifetime of experience and many sleepless nights.

The Perfect Night’s Sleep

I am going to begin by describing what I believe to be the perfect night’s sleep. Later I will go into individual needs, what works versus what doesn’t, why sleep matters, and what to do if you did/do not achieve your sleep goals.

When I wake-up naturally after 7 1/2 to 8 Hours sleep feeling rested, fresh, and with clarity (fond memories of my last dream), I can accomplish just about anything. The difference is a good day versus a challenging day. I have not used an alarm clock since I was a university student. No matter what time I go to bed, my body wakes up at about 4:30 a.m. It used to be just after 5:00 a.m., however, lately I have been dozing off by 8:30 p.m. I know that may seem early for some, but this is the time my body shuts down. If and when I listen to my body, I get a good night’s sleep. I have a few friends who think I’m missing out on fun nighttime activities, to them I say, you’re missing out on the splendor of the early morning.

My Needs In Order to Achieve a Good Night’s Sleep

It is important for me to be thoughtful about my sleep patterns. I have a very common problem for older men where an enlarged prostate wakes you up in the middle of the night so that you can urinate prior to returning to sleep (hopefully). Without medication, I was waking up three or more times each night and experiencing difficulty urinating. With medication I can sleep longer and urinate more easily and less frequently. This means I have to remember to take the medication when it is meant to be taken. I’ve been on Redict for about a year; thankfully, it is the only medication I take. My urologist would like to avoid surgery and I am 100% on board with that.

What Works Versus What Does Not Work (be prepared for more information than you need)

  • A dark room is essential
  • Minimal outside noise (my bedroom is at the back of my apartment mainly because the city picks up the trash anytime between 2:00 and 5:00 a.m. in my section of Faro — it’s crazy loud. I used to hear dogs barking in the middle of the night, but fortunately that has either stopped or I no longer hear it.
  • My sheets must be a soft cotton and washed once-a-week; if I’m even a day late I can tell the difference.
  • I have purchased over fifty pillows over the last forty years, attempting to find the right one. I still do not feel as if I have it right. I currently sleep on one medium density goose down pillow. I have had neck surgery due to multiple issues; therefore, without proper neck support, I wake up with a stiff neck.
  • My bedroom needs to be free of odors. I recently tried a new fabric softener and I had to wash my sheets the next day.
  • The temperature of my bedroom needs to be somewhere between 60 and 65 F.
  • My blanket must be light year round. Down is ideal in winter and cotton in summer. The in-between months are challenging, but at this point I know to keep a variety of covers nearby in case I need to make a change.
  • I cannot drink more than one cocktail or two glasses of wine within two hours of going to bed. If I exceed this amount, I wake in a pool of sweat.
  • Wherever I am sleeping, a toilet has to be close by. I recently stayed in an Airbnb where the listing stated there was a bathroom in the sleeping loft; indeed there was a bathroom, except that it didn’t have a toilet. I had to go up and down a narrow flight of stairs — needless to say, little to no sleep.
  • My space has to be super clean.

Perhaps now you will better understand why I live alone. The Princess and the Pea children’s book is relatable.

Why It Matters

There are two reasons it matters a great deal: first, without the proper amount of sleep I do not function well. I do not think straight, I make mistakes, I can be short with people, I don’t enjoy food as much — you get the picture. Second, I know that I am much healthier when I sleep well.

Dreaming is an important part of my sleeping pattern. When I have a deeper sleep, I dream all night and wake-up feeling so much better.

An afternoon nap usually helps when I’m sluggish. Even if I do get a full eight hours, an afternoon nap can be quite delicious.

“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”

— E. Joseph Cossman

Random Ideas for A Good Night's Sleep
  • Manifest your goal by imagining it
  • Treat yourself to a fabulous hotel room
  • Keep lavender near your bed
  • Do not eat right before you go to bed
  • Keep your television out of the bedroom
  • Instead of drinking water in the middle of the night, I gargle with it and spit it out — for obvious reasons.
  • Do not paint your bedroom with loud colors; neutral, soothing colors work better
  • Think pleasant thoughts. If you journal, put it down on paper and get it out of your head.
  • Attempt to resolve conflicts before you go to bed.
  • Don’t watch the news before bed
  • Reading a good novel is the best sleep aid
  • Do not spend time on electronic devices right before turning out the light
  • If you can, have a pleasant conversation with someone you care about before you go to sleep
  • The better your day, the better your night
  • If thoughts are looping through your brain, get out of bed and walk around a bit to break the pattern or read for a bit.

Write me if there is something that you do that really works.

When I was living in New York City, there was a period of time when many people were getting bed bugs. It was a nightmare which was expensive and caused a great deal of anxiety. Throughout this period, I imagined that I had bed bugs too many times. I’d wake up in the middle of the night scratching and using a flashlight to check for bugs. Thankfully, I never had them, but the fear was almost as awful as an actual occurrence.


Future Travel

Provence next week and then I’m going to enjoy the Algarve until early July, when I will be in Scotland for a couple of weeks of cooler northern Europe weather. Fall: Asia, land & sea, and then South Africa in winter. This is all of have planned and I’m going to keep it this way for awhile.

Current State-of-Mind

I’ve added this permanent section to my blog to demonstrate one important fact of life:

Your state-of-mind may not be linked to anything in particular. It took me a very long time to learn that no matter what I do to feel good, there are days or times in my life when I am either uneasy, unhappy, or unhinged. Managing these emotions is a lifelong task. I’m doing this one day at a time with gratitude and good intentions.


Writing this blog has been helpful on many levels. Any feedback on topics or content is appreciated.

“Life is like the ocean. It dips and dives. You can have a general course of navigation but you can't stop the tide from where it takes you.”
― Isabella Poretsis

As always please forgive any grammatical or typing errors. Oh yes, also forgive my crass and awkward sense-of-humor. And remember, we are all just a little crazy; some are batshit crazy.

Measuring Success

Using Your Own Yardstick

A few profile factors to keep in mind when reading this bloggers point of view: white older male, raised in New York City, working class parents, divorced parents (several times), one of many children (11 in all, two mothers, and two fathers and a step-brother from a step-father not included in the count), and a work in progress until there is no more work to be done; in other words until the end.

Asking the Question: Am I Successful?

As an American, I was raised in a money equals success culture. Living abroad and travel has taught me that money and material things are not necessarily the only way to measure success.

American Variables Pointing to Success:

  • Where you live
  • Your pedigree
  • Whether or not you are well educated. Private versus public, ivy versus non-ivy, prestigious or run of the mill
  • What your parents do or did for a living
  • Your career(s)
  • Size of owned home. Ownership is not always a factor
  • Number of homes, second home, location(s)
  • Money in the bank, savings, investments
  • Where you vacation
  • Whom you associate with
  • The quality and cost of your “things”
  • How you dress
  • Which parties and events you are invited to
  • Which country clubs you belong to
  • The car you drive

I’m sure I’ve something out.

No Judgment

I want to start by making it clear that if any of the aforementioned matters to you, it is unfair to judge you. We cannot be blamed for the culture and/or societal norms we are often pressured into embracing. In addition, one should be free to choose if what one is choosing is legal and not harming another.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit to showing off some measure of success. There was a time when I would drop hints about a country house or where I received my Ph.D. Notice how I found a way to work that in. In retrospect, none of it matters anymore. All I want is to be healthy, feel safe, eat well, spend time with friends and family, enjoy Paco for as long as the universe allows, and see as much of the world as I’m permitted to see. I was born naked and pure and I will die stripped of the material world’s adornments. Whatever anyone else thinks about my success or lack of success is inconsequential. Now all I have to do is believe it.

Upcoming Travel

Marseilles in two weeks to see more of Provence and spend time with friends. These particular friends read where I was traveling, reached out and coincidentally will be in Provence at the same time. I love serendipity. Scotland in July. More future travel in my next blog.

Current State of Mind

I know I’m not alone in saying this; however, it is my story. I’ve come to a place where I feel that in order to keep things interesting, I will soon need to shake things up a bit. I cannot allow life to become mundane. Fortunately, unlike other times when I felt this way, I am not considering a big move. Having just spruced up my home, I’m planning on a hobby which allows me to spend more time enjoying it.

I am fully aware of the advantages of good health and leisure time; neither should be taken for granted or wasted on frivolity.

Writing on a tablet is challenging, therefore, please forgive all errors.

Talking to Myself

Do I Hear My Own Words?

What Talking to Myself Looks Like

Before I go into the theme of my blog, I wanted to report that I was part way through this draft when I looked back to see if I had written about this topic in the past. What I discovered was interesting. In the past I have written about voices in my head I had referred to as “my demons,” this blog about the positive side of voices in your head or what talking to yourself (out loud) might resemble. What this tells me, is that I have moved past viewing these voices negatively and instead, see them as a positive influence.

I’ll be packing for a trip and I might say, don’t forget your bathing suit. I’m not sure why, but it works. I seem to remember better when I put the thought out there in the ether.

I also talk to myself (sometimes out loud) when I feel as if I need affirmation. For example, I might say, you were right to upgrade your cabin for the cruise. I don’t necessarily require an answer; one of the many benefits of talking to yourself.

I haven’t seen a therapist for a number of years, instead I am using other ways to cope; this is one of the ways. I’ll admit that there have been times when I’d catch myself saying something out loud and then responding, that’s ridiculous! At least it’s me saying it and not someone else.

Some of the Things I’ve been Known to Say Out Loud When Talking to Myself

  • Good morning America — when I see someone who takes my breath away
  • You don’t know shit — when I’m pretty sure I’m clueless
  • Take it easy
  • Keep your mouth shut Chris — hardly ever works
  • Fear will kill you
  • He or she is not worth your time or energy
  • If you walk away from this purchase, will you regret it later
  • Don’t eat it if you’re not hungry
  • Just worry about yourself
  • You must have done something good
  • Don’t mistake opinion for intelligence
  • Do what you want to do without announcing it to everyone around you
  • Stop gawking
  • You’re the luckiest man in the world
  • Leave it alone, it has nothing to do with you
  • Why in the hell did you just do that?
  • My back really hurts, but I’m alive
  • I wonder what would happen if I spoke to him right now . . . well that wasn’t so bad.
  • Stop caring about what he or she thinks, it doesn’t matter

Come to think of it, I say things to myself out loud more often than I thought. Seems to be a good deal of monitoring and keeping myself in check — whatever works.

What People Might Think

Sometimes when we think we are doing something privately, we discover that we in fact are being seen (or heard) by others. The positive thing about earbuds and other devices is that people all around us these days appear to be having conversations with themselves; therefore, you’ll fit right in. The bottom line is, who cares what people think.

Upcoming Travel

Belgium (mostly Brussels) on Wednesday; on to Marseilles in June, then Oban, Scotland in July, and finally starting in October, a long awaited trip to Dubai and Asia. South Africa for the first time in late January 2024.

I checked the weather for Brussels and the prediction is rain for a couple of the four days I will be there. Funny, but I get so much sunshine here in the Algarve, I welcome rain when I travel, the opposite of the way things were when I lived in New York and Maine. It’s interesting to note these changes in one’s life.

I’m torn about a day trip to Luxembourg because it’s three hours in a bus each way. If you’ve been and you have an opinion, please share it. The photos of Luxembourg on line are amazing.

Looking Back

I rarely do this, but I booked a moderately expensive upscale hotel in Pornic (my last trip). I originally had a beautiful Airbnb on a canal, however, the owner cancelled six weeks prior — one of the risks of booking an Airbnb. I booked this particular hotel because I had a drink at the bar last year and I liked what saw. It had a hammam, a really nice gym, and rooms with balconies looking out over the canal and Pornic. I’m going to say it was about $75 per night than I usually spend. I slept really well between the quiet, the excellent pillows, the luxury cotton sheets and the knowledge that I had blown my budget on a fancy hotel — I just had to get my monies worth. Just gotta say, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

As always, please forgive grammatical and typing errors, proofreading is tedious.

Call Me on My Shit

Tell Me When I’m Wrong

I’m using a photo of a child with angel wings because I cannot think of another example of complete innocence save for a child who has yet to master the art of cognitive reasoning. Anything this child does or might do in the immediate future is okay; he, she, they, cannot be blamed for anything based on the knowledge between right and wrong.

I, on the other hand, am not innocent. I clearly know the difference between right and wrong; however, being human means making mistakes — sometimes after well thought out decisions and sometimes just silly mistakes based on no premise whatsoever.

My point is this, if I cannot objectively know or recognize that I made a mistake, I want YOU to point it out to me. Ah, but here’s the rub: I want you to do it with kindness and thoughtfulness . . . when possible.

An Example For Those Who Do Not Get My Meaning

I’m sitting at a table having a delightful lunch with eight people and the dreaded Trump criminal charges come up. Without thinking, I assume everyone at the table shares my views and I am boldly vocal. It doesn’t take long to offend a forever Trumper at the table. Instead of having a private word with me the Trumper blocks me on all social media and snubs me at future social gatherings. Without letting me know that I offended said Trumper, how am I to apologize and alter my behavior?

Unfortunate Reactions (I’ll make this more general. My personal reactions are all over the place).

You should know that depending on the circumstances, the acceptance of your feedback may not be as smooth and easy as you might like. Having someone point something out you may not have been aware of, is not as palpable as one might like. So much of it depends on variables that might not have anything to do with the message. For example, four very difficult things happened that day and the weather sucks and you feel sick and your rent’s overdue . . . you get the drift. Someone you love and admire walks up to you and says, “There is something I need to share with you.” At that moment, when you are most vulnerable, you’re not thinking about how you might react to what is being shared, you’re thinking, “Oh shit, here it comes, this is all I need today.” That doesn’t make you a bad person, we’re only human. Remember that when you approach someone for a “conversation.”

This is where the kindness and thoughtfulness request comes to play. Consider the state of mind of the receiver. Is now the best time? When is the best time?

The other reaction might be complete denial: “I said that?, I did that?, I didn’t say that,” or all of the above. If you as the deliverer of the message, if you are certain of what occurred and you care about the receiver, don’t back down, remain resolute. Often, it’s just a matter of time and consideration before most sane individuals realize how wrong they were.

Upcoming Travel

Currently, a return Nantes and Pornic, France, then Belgium after a week at home; on to Marseilles in June, then Oban, Scotland in July, and finally starting in October, a long awaited trip to Dubai and Asia. South Africa for the first time in late January 2024.

Candor: I have recently had some difficult conversations with good friends I care a great deal about. There were moments and things said I wish I could retract. There were occurrences I wish I could erase, but the reality is that I cannot change what has been said or done. What I can do is prove that I am worthy of trust and that takes time and effort. Growth and contrition are never bad things.

Writing on a tablet is difficult. Please forgive all errors.

The Upside of Being Single

To be clear, none of these dudes are my exes; nor do I personally know any of them. They are merely alone in the photograph, so I used these stock pics here. I also think they are all quite handsome.

“Just because I’m single, It doesn’t mean I’m alone. I have food and internet.”

— anonymous

I would add books and a pet.

I’m not intentionally trying to seem smug and superior about my single status. There is a stigma attached to being single and I’m merely attempting to show it can be a desirable choice.

Why This Topic

There is a lot to be said for being in a loving relationship. For the purpose of this blog, I will not be stating the many known positives. Instead, I will focus on the positives of the single life. Why go there you ask? The answer is simple: I need for all of my partnered friends and family members to know why I have chosen to be single and further, why I want them to leave me be — I’m being nice.

Always the question, “Why aren’t you with anyone?”

A Bit of History

I was born single. I stayed that way for years. I was introduced to a beautiful woman who was pure and good and I loved her. We married and divorced. Divorced because I finally admitted to myself and others that I was gay. I was gay and broken and my relationships with men went sideways at every turn.

After years of trying to make it work with men, it dawned on me that I had to fix what was broken. That is where I am today. I am working on loving the one person who will be with me until I die; me myself and I. It’s not a sad story. In fact, it is a happy story, because some never figure out that there is a path to figuring it out. Some suffer in silence until they suffer no more . . . until they cease to exist.

“I don’t like to be labeled as lonely just because I am alone.” – Delta Burke

Never Lonely

I travel alone, eat alone, go to the movies and theater alone, walk alone, play games alone, but I am never lonely. In order to be lonely, you’d have to either dislike yourself or not have enough interests — neither applies to me.

I can amuse myself with so many different things, if anything, I wish I had more alone time.

The Best Part of Single Life

I finally get to do a list — lists make me happy.

  • Freedom
  • My own big bed (I can sleep in the middle)
  • No arguments with angry partners
  • No second guessing whether there is love, or if the love is real, or if the love will last
  • I can have a second piece of cake without being chided for it
  • Lots of quiet time
  • An introvert (me) gets to be an introvert
  • You get to be selfish without the guilt
  • Spontaneous decisions
  • More time for me, me, me
  • I never have to sit in the middle seat on an airplane to please my partner
  • People invite you for dinner at their home more often, because feeding one is easier than feeding two. Mere speculation.
  • More closet space
  • I always get to pick where I travel and when I travel

If you have a life partner, disregard the aforementioned.

The Art of Living Life Without Expectations

The absence of expectations would be a false narrative; there will always be expectations. In this case the expectations are of me and from me, not from another. Yes, others have expectations of me, but in this case I am referring to expectations related to the making or spending of money, achievements, how I spend time, when I wake up in the morning and when I go to bed.

“I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.” – Robin Williams

A Quick Story

My mother could not stand to be alone. She ended one relationship and started another on the very same day. Seeing herself objectively was not possible and highly improbable. She met a man (not my father), who, like her, could not be alone. They lived in misery tethered to one another for over forty years. The two died only months apart. They might well have loved one another, but it was not a healthy, happy love, theirs was a desperate, codependent love. I learned a great deal bearing witness to their lives; I learned that being alone could be joyous and joyful and that I never wanted to be tethered to anyone. This doesn’t mean I’m ruling out a life partnership.

Upcoming Travel

Next week, a return Nantes and Pornic, France, then Belgium a few weeks later; on to Marseilles in June, then Oban, Scotland in July, and finally starting in October, a long awaited trip to Dubai and Asia. South Africa for the first time in late January 2024.

Being single allows me to plan and execute without having to check with anyone save my dog sitter.


Sometimes I purposefully choose to revisit a topic without looking at what I’ve written in the past. Circumstances change, I change, the world changes.

Check this out:

If you live in or plan to visit the Algarve:

Flying Solo Meet Up (Click for link)

Please excuse any and all spelling and grammatical errors.

Five Years In

My Politically Motivated Move to Portugal

Views from my terrace or spots not far from home

I have no doubt some of the other immigrants in my circle of friends and acquaintances, will read this blog and disagree with some of my thoughts and observations. Please keep in mind that this is my experience, not yours.

The Best of Relocation

The weather — I could not have asked for better weather than what I have experienced in the Algarve. We have four seasons, but they are mild compared to what I experienced in the States. Fall is cool, with some (not a lot) of rain and a bit of humidity; winter is a bit colder, however, never below 45◦ (F) after sunset and often above 60 degrees during the day — some rain, but never enough for me; spring is glorious, with an abundance of sunshine, a cool breeze and great sleeping weather; and lastly, summer is dry and hot, with temperatures often above 90◦. I don’t like July and early August; extreme temperatures make me uncomfortable. I also miss thunderstorms, we have very few of those here.

The Southern Portugal way of life — there are certain things that Europeans do that make a lot of sense. The pace of living is slower and less motivated by packing as much into a 24 hour period as possible. Life is more leisurely and less stressful. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and more time is spent eating it. The abundance of sunshine sends people outdoors. The Portuguese are pleasant, but private. Children are free to play in yards and parks; their laughter fills the air (I live a block away from a large nursery school).

Food — the freshness of most foods is one of the first things about Portugal I noticed and embraced. Portuguese people practiced the “buy local” concept long before it became trendy in the States. The seafood is amazing, and although there is some farm raised fish, most of it is done in natural waters and well regulated for sustainability.

Healthcare — Aging is not pretty, therefore, I’ve needed several specialists over the last five years. I have not been disappointed. My visa comes with a private healthcare mandate and I happily comply. I’m paying 1400 euros a year — a co-pay of 35 euros for a visit to a specialist, whom I can usually see anywhere from the same day to two weeks. I’m impressed that surgery has not been the go-to answer to any issue. If I did end up needing surgery, the out-of-pocket expense would be reasonable. Actually, I did need some skin cancer surgery which cost me 80 euros. Medicines are inexpensive and most are over-the-counter. The only pill I currently have to take is a prostate pill and it’s over-the-counter for 4 euros and change a month.

Dental care is also excellent. I needed an implant a couple of years ago; all-in 1100 euros. I had an implant done in the U.S. for $4,000.

Open Space — Simply put, most of southern Portugal is spread out and well planned. There is a bit of traffic during the summer months, but it is light in comparison with most of the U.S.

English Speakers — Although I am struggling to learn Portuguese (it gets better everyday), I am grateful that so many people here speak English. I was at an auto body shop on Thursday and I typed my question into Google translator, showed it to the receptionist who then replied, “Would you like to speak in English?” We both laughed.

I love my gym and for 250 euros a year I can visit the gym up to six days a week from 6:30 a.m. to whenever they close — I have no idea when they close because I always go early.

The Challenges

Smoking and Men’s Cologne — These two things make me crazy. There are way too many smokers here, often making outdoor dining unpleasant. Young men bathed in cheap cologne is a sad realty I will never understand. I want to yell and scream, but I learned that my opinion is not the popular opinion and so I suffer in silence. My friends who spoke would never light-up during a meal.

The Roundabouts — I have two minds about roundabouts. I know that they make driving easier; however, many people have no idea how to drive in them, making them dangerous and scary. I have some thoughts on who the worst drivers are in Portugal, but I’m going to keep this bit to myself.

Taxes — I received a take break for my first ten years in Portugal; an incentive by the Portuguese government for relocation. This being a social democracy with a very different tax structure, I do not know what my tax liability will be after 10 years. I know that I will not be taxed on the taxes I have already paid; however, some taxes are higher and I will be taxed on income the U.S. will not tax me on. I guess I’ll have to wait and see. To be honest, I’m happy to contribute to a system that takes care of its own citizens. I do not see people living on the streets in Faro and there are very few beggars.

Little Humidity Most of the Year — I’ve been forcing myself to drink water my entire life. Summers here are hot and dry and unfortunately, I have allowed myself to become dehydrated several times. This will become more dangerous as I get older. I’m going to have to start setting a calendar reminder in order to hydrate. I’d rather be where humidity is low.

What I Might Have Done Differently

Rent first — I love my apartment, but only after a bit of anxiety and trial by fire. It would have been smarter for me to rent for a year and view many different properties. I recommend that you review your buildings financials prior to purchasing.

Language — I started a Portuguese language course as soon as I knew that I was moving overseas, but I knew very little Portuguese when I moved here. Take a language course just as soon as you know you are moving to a non-English speaking country. Memrise is inexpensive and easy to follow.

Transportation — I went without a car for five years in order to do my part in saving the planet. After experiencing numerous train strikes and unreliable bus schedules, I purchased a car. Life is easier with a car, even when you live in the center of a city. Travel outside of your city requires you to have a vehicle.

Dollars to euros — if you don’t mind checking the value of the dollar frequently, there are times you can get a decent exchange rate. I haven’t been very good at making transfers when the dollar was stronger than it is right now (it’s still better than when I purchased my condo six years ago). Last year there were a couple of days when the dollar was actually stronger than the euro.

What’s Next

  • I will continue to travel for as long as I can. Travel has been one of the best things about retirement. I am much closer to many of my favorite places and there are several competing budget airlines that help make it affordable.
  • I am struggling not to overplan and to allow life to be more organic. An almost impossible goal for me.
  • Trying not to pay too much attention to U.S. news. I’m finding the media’s portrayal of life in the States to be difficult to take in at times. I think I might have a healthier state of mind if I detach a bit more.
  • I am developing a “go with how you feel, when you feel it” attitude. If I’m itching for some travel, I book a trip. I believe that if I’m suddenly motivated to move to another country, I will just do it. Once you’ve done it successfully, you know in your heart that you can do it again.
  • Spending more time at home with Paco has been my best plan of action over the past few years. There is a 10 acre park across the street from my apartment that was just recently beautifully renovated. I’m enjoying spending time there with Paco and I know he’s enjoying it as well.
  • The friends I have made here make living in Portugal one of the greatest experiences of my life.

This overview is not all inclusive. There are the feelings of others to be saved, challenges I have not met, and issues that are more my problem than anyone else’s.

Future Travel

I’m spending a few days in Ayamonte, Spain this week. It’s only an hour from Faro by car and has a lot to offer. After that a return Nantes and Pornic, France, then Belgium; on to Marseilles, then Oban, Scotland, and finally a 2023 long awaited trip to Dubai and Asia.

Will I stay put in Faro or will I relocate once again?

I AM NOT GOING ANYWHERE . . . for now.

Here I am celebrating my birthday in Liverpool last week. This is a Swedish drag queen who was on season one of RuPaul’s Swedish Drag Race. I’d share her name if I knew it. I could go to a drag show in Liverpool at 2:00 p.m.; if I wanted to go to a drag show in Faro, I’d have to be awake at 1:00 a.m. and that’s not happening.

Once again, please forgive spelling and grammatical errors.

Wondrous Women

A Gay Man’s Thoughts

"A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform." -- anonymous

Forgive me as I make some assumptions. Everything I profess to know about women, I learned from either observing them or experiencing them. A mother, five sisters, aunts, female cousins, female teachers, female friends, a wife, and many female interactions.

I love women. I love women so much, I married one. Women have always been my closest friends, my confidants, my greatest cheerleaders. I need and admire women. But I am happy to be a gay man and here’s one of the reasons why:

It’s difficult for straight men to be friends with straight women for obvious reasons (see articles below). Don’t make me say it because I’ll get arguments from way too many people . . . of both sexes. If I don’t say it, I can deny it. I can be close friends with straight women and lesbian women. Many barriers to intimacy do not exist in our relationships. For this I am grateful. In many ways, I feel as if I get the best of everything as a gay man. Not my only perk by the way.

Female Strength

They say that women can handle a great deal more physical pain than men and I believe it. As I examine the women in my life, I notice a fearlessness as they move about. There are times it seems as if women can do anything, be it of the physical or mental nature. Of course there are exceptions, there are always exceptions.

The other strength I am referring to is emotional strength; the ability to deal with a multitude of emotions simultaneously — you know, the weight of the world sort of thing. Women often have so many obligations, they cannot just walk away from a crisis or a problem.

Female Tenderness

When a woman touches you to help you feel better about something, their concern for you translates from the heart to the hands. There fingers have a soft touch that almost transmits something medicinal and healing. That’s why if I’m in hospital, I want a female nurse.

Then there is the voice. A woman’s voice when soft, is soothing and reassuring. It must have something to do with millenniums of mothering. There is a reason we call her “Mother Nature.”

The Scent of A Woman

I think it might have been a film title, but I like it, so I’m using it. When women smell good, it can be intoxicating. I’m talking about a subtle, delicate floral scent. When done well, it almost seems as if the scent is following them around; almost worshiping the woman and wanting to surround her. I love men, but this is something a man, gay or straight, cannot pull off.


I was recently looking away from friends at a festival. Someone at the table called my name, but I was distracted. One of my friends said, “He must see a hot guy.” The truth is, it was a beautiful woman who had captured my gaze. When a woman has it right: the hair, the clothes, the walk, the look; she will stop traffic — men don’t stop traffic. Beauty is feminine and to be admired.

Sondheim’s (a gay composer) Pretty Women lyrics (partial):

‘Tis your delight sir catching fire
From one man to the next!

‘Tis true sir love can still inspire
The blood to pound the heartly pyre!
What more?

What more?

Can man require

Than love sir!

More than love sir!

What sir?


Ah yes women . . .

Pretty women . . .


I’ve been loved by women all of my life and I’m certain that the love I have been lucky enough to have received, accounts for much of my happiness. I’m not speaking of the love that takes place between the sheets, although I have experienced that love as well. I speak of deep, empathetic, compassionate, sweet and tender love, that engulfs you and makes you feel as if you are the only creature that matters. This love is glorious. This love is intimate. I understand why so many of us desire this kind of love and spend a lifetime seeking it.

“Knowing how to touch her without touching her, really touches her.” — anonymous

All of you!

In Conclusion

I couldn’t cover all of my thoughts and feelings about women in one blog. There have been five women who have made a significant impact on my life: two were teachers during my impressionable years, one was a friend who has burned one too many bridges (yes women can destroy relationships too), one is still a friend and continues to teach and inspire me, and lastly Ruth Gruber, whom I knew when I lived in New York City. Ruth helped Holocaust survivors leave Italy. She left an impression on me that will last a lifetime. Most of the women who have had an impact on my life will remain nameless for fear of leaving anyone out.

I’ve heard puzzled and sadly confused straight men say this about gay men, “Women are so incredibly sexy and beautiful, why would you ever choose to be with a man?” What these men do not understand, is that it isn’t a choice.

A gay friend said to me a number of years ago: “You know what your problem is Chris, you spend too much time with lesbians.” What the fuck? Don’t listen to nonsense and be yourself.

I love women, gay, straight, or otherwise and fortunately for me, they love me too.

Some Resources I Found Post Writing (Click on Title for article)

Why Do Gay Men and Straight Women Make Such Great Friends

Women Warm Up Faster to Gay Men Than Straight Guys

Women’s trust in gay men: An experimental study

Typos and grammatical errors will occur now and then; my proofreader is gone forever (ha). Please let me know if you see anything obvious.

What If?

What if we could truly believe in ourselves?

Spring Equals Renewal and Change

Our mind is a glorious thing; tricky, complicated, and untapped. We are born thinking that everything and anything is possible, but as we grow older, the world and people around us teach us to limit our hopes and dreams to the just barely attainable. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to one another? Why do parents tell their children that their dreams are unrealistic and/or silly? Is it jealousy? Resentment? If I can’t have it you can’t have it? Can we who are highly motivated overcome it?

Human beings are extremely complex creatures, making answering these questions near impossible. However, that’s not a bad thing; mystery, questioning, wondering — it’s all good. And the short answer to the last question, is a resounding yes.

The desires for oneself that I’m talking about here can be dreams, but they might also be what you are expecting to accomplish in your life; normal everyday expectations or big longterm plans.

To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave dare not go, to right the unrightable wrong, to love pure and chaste from afar, to try when your arms are too weary, to reach the unreachable star. This is my quest, to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far. To fight for the right, without question or pause, to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause. And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest that my heart will be peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest.
Joe Darion

Stretching Your Imagination

I’ve been working on this for a long time. I don’t have all the answers, but I thought it might be helpful to share some of the tools from my toolbox with you; oversimplified psychobabble, but an effective metaphor.

  • Write down what you hope to accomplish. When you put it on paper, you’re one step closer to reality.
  • Picture what you hope for in your mind. Repeat, rinse, repeat.
  • Tell people about your wishes. Be careful not to be pretentious or lofty.
  • Be inspired by what others have to say about goals and objectives.
  • Set goals and objections with no limitations. Add specific details for “how” and “when” later.
  • If you are a parent, tell your children that they can achieve anything they work hard to achieve.
  • Climb to the highest peak you can find (be alone or with someone who won’t mind your behavior). When you’ve reached the top scream what you want out loud several times. Listen to your own words and follow your heart.
  • Ignore the noise all around you — the “I wouldn’t do that if I were you nonsense.”
  • Staying power is everything, don’t let go no matter the obstacles.
  • Celebrate every hurdle.
  • Success in achieving your goals is a healthy elixir. Let it become a welcome habit.

I refuse to use the word manifest. We sometimes latch onto a word or phrase and allow it to become cliché.

I am aware that nothing that I share is new or something you haven’t heard before; however, I am also aware that a reminder is never a bad thing. Also, sometimes the same thing said differently, sticks.

Upcoming Travel

I will be returning to Manchester & Liverpool, England April 5. Following that, a brief return to Nantes and Pornic, France. Then Marseilles in June, and Glasgow/Oban, Scotland in July. Dubai and four countries in Asia this October/November. Land and sea tour of South Africa, February 2024.

People sometimes ask me why I visit the places I travel to:

  1. I have never been and have always wanted to go.
  2. I have been and I enjoyed it so much I want to return. It’s usually the food that draws me in.
  3. I am visiting a friend or family member(s).

I Had a Dream Last Night

Last night I had a dream that Paco (my pooch) and I went on vacation. The place we visited was dog friendly and they were in every household; most ran loose in the streets. There were many dogs who looked just like Paco. Briefly after arriving wherever it was that I was visiting, Paco somehow got loose and wandered off. Another dog that looked like Paco ended up at my door. I was extremely upset, but people kept telling me that I shouldn’t be upset because I had a small blond dog and that’s all that mattered. I wouldn’t and couldn’t let it go. I walked the streets shouting his name (Ruffino in my dream). I spotted a large pack of dogs running in another direction; Paco’s red harness stood out. I called out: “Ruffino come to daddy (I think his name was Ruffino because I’d been longing for good pizza all week).” He stopped and looked at me and then kept going. I managed to nab him. It was a bittersweet ending, I’m afraid. I woke up feeling that I was keeping Paco locked up in our home, when what he really wants is to be free with other dogs. That guilt only lasted a few minutes. Oh how the mind works.

Thank you for reading my ramblings.

Let’s Get Started!

I took this photo on a hike in Colorado recently. There were too many people around for me to scream out my hopes and dreams for the future; I did the next best thing, I screamed it in my head and you know what, it worked just as well. Limitations are made-up roadblocks we tear down or ignore.

Post Publishing:

A wise friend wrote to me about fear after I published my blog yesterday. Fear is probably the number one reason that people abandon their goals/dreams. I write about fear in an earlier blog. I also omitted money as a consideration. I’ve had some time to think about both of these obstacles and I like where I have rested on this. Anyone who knows me can tell you that fear is not usually a concern for me. Right or wrong, I often charge into situations without much consideration for whether or not I will fail or be hurt in the process of pursuit. As for the other, I was born in poverty. My family didn’t have much money and we didn’t talk about money as an obstacle to fulfilling life goals. I guess in retrospect that is a testament to both my parents. They instilled the, “If you want it, you should go for it attitude.” I still feel that way. Why not try and see what happens.

Positive intentions and thoughts equals positive outcomes; yes please.