April 4, 2012

Blogging and Friendship: An Unexpected Bonus

One of the unexpected benefits of blogging is making new friends. Anyone who has been at this for awhile has some folks who are regular commenters: those who show support and interest by leaving thoughts and questions after a post. They are essential. Without some feeling that what you are writing about has an audience it is more difficult to remain motivated. Satisfying Retirement is quite lucky in this regard. There are a lots people who I know will leave comments at least once or twice a week.

But, what is happening as I approach my second anniversary of blogging is the development of something a bit deeper: friendships. These are folks who I begin to know on a more personal level. We communicate by e-mail or even telephone in addition to blog comments. We ask for personal favors. We know enough about each other to actually talk about trying to find an opportunity to meet in person. That happened for Betty and me this past weekend.

Bill & Wendy Birnbaum & Their RV
 Bill Birnbaum and his wife, Wendy, were passing through Phoenix as part of a two month coast to coast trip in their RV. After a few calls we set up a breakfast together so we could meet each other in person. What a wonderful time. It was so nice to share stories and learn more about each other. Bill writes a blog that has been on my favorites list since the very beginning: Adventure Retirement.

He and Wendy have had what I (and Sonia Marsh) would call a gutsy retirement. After retiring from their careers in southern California, they sold their home, put their belongings in storage, and bought one way tickets to Peru. For most of the next two years they volunteered their time teaching and helping those in need in that South American country. Upon returning to the states Bill and Wendy decided to live in the small central Oregon town of Sisters.

They have taken a seven month long driving trip around the country. They hike and camp in the beautiful areas near their home. Bill volunteers to teach English to some of the Hispanic folks who live and work in the area. They are gracious, friendly, and easy to talk with. In short, Bill and Wendy were a pleasure to meet. Before we parted, they gave us a tour of their RV that will be their home for the next few months. Then, they invited us to visit them at their home in Oregon this summer.

Just a few days before that two blogging friends also extended an invitation to come to the Portland area this summer. They offered to give Betty and me personalized tours of all the best spots in this beautiful city. Suddenly, Oregon appears to be one of our vacation destination spots this year. Then, Tamara left a note on another post that reminded me we have blogging friends in Southern California that would like to meet us if we vacation there as planned.

There is something about the intimacy of writing about one's life and problems that allows a connection to be opened between people. If nurtured,  over time there is the opportunity to establish meaningful friendships with people from all over the place.

Since most of those who have reached out are women, it is good Betty is a trusting soul. When I told her Barbara and Galen were interested in showing us around Portland she didn't blink. When I mention people like Sydney, a few other Barbaras, Sharon, Grace, Sandra, Tamara, Joan, and Sonia she is fine. Of course, there are a few guys, like Dave, RJ, Ralph, and  Bill. But, blogging about the non-financial side of retirement does tend to attract more females than males. I have a very understanding wife.

I knew blogging would allow me to develop my writing skills and learn about something new. I figured it would be fun and keep me engaged. What I didn't count on was forming friendships that can expand beyond the Internet.

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  1. And then there is always Kansas....

    1. I have a brother who lives in the Kansas City area, so that makes sense, too!

  2. Hi, Bob... Thanks so much for the kind words and the fun photo of Wendy and me. Much appreciated. Since having breakfast with Betty and you last Sunday, we spent three fun days in and around Tucson. This morning (Wednesday), we drove to El Paso where we're spending the night. On to adventuring in Big Bend National Park tomorrow. See you in Oregon, Bill

    1. Hey, Bill,

      Yes, it was great to spend time together with you and Wendy. Have a safe trip and we'll look forward to getting together this summer.

    2. Oh man! I was in Scottsdale on Sunday--I would have loved to meet you both! I was this close to emailing Bob while I was there. That would have been so neat to meet all of you! Well, Bill, it'll have to be in Sisters if I ever get up there to see my cousin Pam.

    3. Oh Syd, that would have been a load of fun. Next time be sure to call or e-mail. Betty and I are likely going to Oregon in late July or early August. We will be in the Portland area, in Sisters, and along the coast.

  3. I so agree with you Bob. Who knew blogging would bring so many new friends into our lives? I can't wait to visit my friends in London and Northern Italy! This is truly an adventure.

  4. Your words on this blog are part of my every morning experience. It is nice to be able to "chat" on a regular basis. Yeah blogging is fun and the relationships developed are certainly a serendipity result. Bill is on my daily read list also. Someday I may get far enough southwest to come knocking on your door.

    We are currently in Omaha on our April vacation. Seeing some great things already. I didn't realize the amount of sculptures around the city. It will be fun to explore them. That is after I have my shower and coffee.

  5. I'll echo what everyone else is saying, Bill. Blogging and other forms of communicating like FB are excellent ways of meeting new people. I have people who I know quite a bit about (their families, illnesses, likes and dislikes) and feel very familiar with, but have never met, in some cases after 5-10 years. Deb and I will need to change that when I retire. And you and Betty still have an open invite if you visit TN someday.

    1. We have good friends in Chattanooga and love the mountains and small towns in the Smoky Mountains. Betty grew up in West Virginia and I lived there for a time, too. So, a trip to see you, Chuck, is certainly on our radar.

    2. Sorry about the "Bill" in my post, Bob. I was on the phone and had two systems up and running concurrently. Too much input. My bad.

    3. I knew who you meant, Chuck.

  6. Had a meet-up in Southern Calif. while I was there in Feb. It was both interesting and enriching to put a face on a blog, talk about some of the philosophy and the practicalities of blogging -- and I got a few writing tips as well. So good for you and ... keep on truckin'!

    1. Too bad we couldn't connect while you were in Arizona! I wish there were a blogging group in the Phoenix area that met on a regular basis to share stories and ideas. Maybe I'll work on that.

  7. Not only are many of your commenters women, but apparently several of us will be fighting over you this summer--every man's dream! Oh dear, I hope we are good enough blog friends to joke like that! What I'm sure Betty understands is that we are just as eager to meet her! We all know from your writing that you are one lucky guy. Unless someone comes cruising through Portland before you, you and Betty will be my first blog friends to meet in person. I'm really looking forward to it.

    1. We are good enough friends. Check your calendar and tell me if early or late July will work for you. Bill and Wendy have a grandchild coming sometime in August so we'll avoid that conflict.

      This will be fun.

  8. How wonderful that you could meet Bill and Wendy in person! I feel like I've gotten to know you, Bill and other "blogging buddies" very well over the past couple of years and it would be fun to meet some of you in person.

    I hadn't expected this aspect of blogging either, which is to build personal relationships with readers and other bloggers. It's been one of the best parts of my blog.

    1. The friendship aspect adds a whole new dimension to the process, doesn't it. Maintaining and developing new realtionships in retirement is one of the keys to happiness.

  9. I so love the "feel" of this blog.People share ideas, life experiences and just roll out the welcome mat so to speak!I laughed out loud(at work tsk tsk)to the "good enough friends" comments OH MY there are benefits to having a few years under our belts.As to the mostly women readers well I just shared the blog site with my husband and neighbors.We women can let guys know about great sites.

    1. Your sharing...and participating is very much appreciated!

  10. Bob,

    Yes, you're right, Bill and Wendy are the kind of "Gutsy" people I'd love to meet and talk to. It's wonderful that you have made such friendships and I have to say I'm meeting "Muriel Demarcus" from FrenchYummyMummy in London this May, and Stephanie Dagg from BloginFrance, another Brit who lives in southern France wants to meet me in Paris.

    1. I'm going to Oregon and you are going to London and Paris! We are all becoming a bit more gutsy. Betty and I also have plans to come to the San Diego area in September to check out our ability to live in an RV. Maybe you and hubby can meet up with us at some halfway point. We hope to meet with Early Retiree Tamara, too.

  11. Just discovered your blog and have enjoyed reading your thoughts. I started a retirement blog in November to chronicle our adventures, share our interests and show off our state. Never thought it would be so rewarding. I'm having a ball peeking into the lives of people who are on a similar journey. Feel free to visit and comment.

    1. Glad you found me. I will certainly take a look at yours. A quick glance shows me two happy people in Florida....sounds like a satisfying retirement to me.

  12. Your new friendships and willingness to explore and broaden your comfort zone is really paying off! Good for you!

    I'm from Portland, and I can tell you, it IS a fantastic place to visit. So much to do and see, amazing natural beauty all within a 90 minute drive. Some of the most delicious food imaginable, a strong art & music scene, vibrant and gorgeous downtown, lots of local vineyards for wine tastings, and some of the most beautiful public coastline in the entire country. You'll need to stay for at least a week - and don't come before July or after October as it does get cloudy & rainy. But when it's nice out, there is no place more beautiful in the US than Oregon!

    Awesome, I am excited for you!

    1. We are planning on being in Oregon for the first 12 days of July. Actually with all the sunshine and clear skies in Phoenix, we look forward to some clouds and even some rain. Of course, meeting some of my new blogging buddies will make the trip extra special.

      I have been to Portland, Medford, Eugene, and Bend on business but we've never explored the area around Portland as tourists. We love the coast and are looking forward to revisiting the Newport area, too. It should be a great time.

  13. Love Newport, great coastal town! I think their best beach is on the south side of their jetty, but it's all good there. The acquarium there is top notch (the jellyfish tank is like therapy to me - I could zen out for hours just watching the big pink jellyfish rise and sink like a lava lamp blob), and the Rogue Ale brewery is a great time as well.

    If you can, hit the Japanese garden, it is world class, as is the Rose Garden at Washington Park, which has beautiful views of the city.

    Good for you - I hope you even get a few clouds and a bit of rain! I'll be thinking of you, and of course will look forward to news of your trip when you return. Cool!

    1. The Oregon Aquarium in Newport is a really world class facility..worth several hours to see fully.

      We will certainly put the Japanese Garden and Rose Garden on our list to places to see. Bill and Wendy Birnbaum will be showing us all the joys of central Oregon as well.

  14. By Charles Barrett
    The frequent question asked by friends of expats, expats and visitors to Cuenca, “Is it safe?” The word “Safe” is a relative word, depending on what part of the world in which you live! So those of us who live in Cuenca feel “safe” but we have also learned to exercise good common sense and caution.

    There is crime in Cuenca (as you will find in certain areas of most large cities)! Those of us living here have all heard of or even experienced petty crimes, the taking of money, jewelry, purses, or other personal property. There isn’t a person living here who doesn’t think about those things when out and about the city. In addition to being “vigilant” in observing those things around you, here are some additional “Dos and Don’ts”:

    1. Don’t wear flashy jewelry or even fake jewelry that looks expensive - it makes you a target.
    2. Don’t carry your back pack on your back. Carry it in the front and lock it.
    3. Don’t store any valuables in over head bins on buses.
    4. Don’t put your bill folds in your back pockets.
    5. Don’t carry all your identification, credit cards and money in your bill fold. If you have to carry these things, try to use different pockets to lessen your loss if your pocket gets picked.
    6. Don’t carry your passport around with you – leave in a secure locked up place in your hotel or apartment.
    7. Don’t openly talk on the cell phone or text in public or at least not on the street.
    8. Don’t lay your bags or purse down and then step out of the taxi to pay. Hold the items or pay before you exit.
    9. Don’t walk down dark, seemingly deserted streets.
    10. Don’t trust common locks on hotel doors.
    11. Don’t hang your camera, purse, computer or back pack on your chair in a public place. If you place it underfoot, put your foot through the strap.
    12. Don’t pay the first price quoted you.

    1. Do carry you computer and purse in front of you with strap over your head.
    2. Do carry color copies of your passport for identification purposes. (You may need notarized copies for certain visa requirements.)
    3. If you feel you are being followed or stalked, step into the nearest store or building.
    4. Do check your Taxi for Government Identification and numbers and working door handles before getting in.
    5. Do ask the price of a taxi before getting in – most rides around town should cost you $1.50 to $2.00.
    6. Do plan where you going and follow your plan.
    7. Do be careful of “cheap” hotels - a cheap hotel may not be cheap in the long run.
    8. Do make copies of all credit and ATM cards in case you need to call the companies.
    9. Do have the contact info for the nearest US Consulate in Ecuador in case you have problems

    A friend recently had a worker steal his wife wedding ring while putting up new curtains in their apartment. They did not have proof of purchase so they could not file a police report.
    When shipping or bring your personal valuables to Ecuador;
    1. Take pictures of them.
    2. If possible bring original invoice
    3. Put you passport number on them
    4. Have them appraised if you don’t have a bill of sale

    “No place scores a perfect 100,” stresses Sheridan. “Even Ecuador, our number one retirement destination, earns a score of only 79. The best, but not perfect. If you’re trying to pick a place to retire, keep that in mind. There will be good points and bad, no matter where you go. Realizing that ahead of time will help eliminate disappointments later.”
    The Top Ten Best Places to Retire (and total points out of a possible 100):
    Ecuador 79
    Mexico 78
    Panama 77
    Uruguay 75
    Italy 73
    Brazil 71
    Argentina 71
    Costa Rica 70
    Malta 70
    Australia 70
    Free 14 page Moving and Living in Ecuador Report president@relicationservicesofecuador.com

    1. I'm sure Linda, AKA "The Bag Lady in Waiting" would find this quite interesting, esp. after just spending a few weeks in Ecuador. Thanks, Charles for the detailed overview of traveling and staying safe in Ecuador.