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When is the Last Time You Went to a Drive-In Movie?

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon 

Been awhile, huh? I refuse to even do the math on how many years it's been for me. But I just got an email that said "a group of us are going to a drive-in movie since it's been years since any of us have been to one". That would be a group of lesbians getting together to head out for a drive-in movie. How cool is that?!?!

Last week we talked about how important climate and weather are to our location decision. But as much as that affects our daily lives, there is something even more important --- connections. Personal connections --- our support system.

I remember spending several months in Florida many years ago. Almost all of the people living in this particular area were seniors who had relocated from somewhere else. That used to be everyone's dream. Work hard and save enough to retire in Florida. I talked to a lot of unhappy people while I was there. They missed their families and their friends. They missed the grocery stores they'd shopped in for thirty years and the familiarity of the streets and parks they knew so well. They were living in what they thought would be paradise but all they really wanted was home.

Now, I'm not saying that the best course is to just stay where you are because it's familiar. But I do believe that it may be too late to do a major relocation after you reach a certain age. What age? Not a clue. It would be different for everyone. I just think you need time in your new location to make it "home".

Meeting like-minded people and connecting with the GLBT community gets a little harder as we get older. At least, it seems that way for me. In the old days, everyone ended up in the bars and sooner or later you met whoever it was you needed to meet. Times have changed and gay folk, especially the over-fifty crowd, are finding new ways to connect. And this is a good change. Just makes it a little trickier when you're new in town.

Enter the Charleston Social Club!

Being able to connect with the gay community was high on my list as I weighed the pros and cons of various locations around the country. And then I happened upon the Charleston Social Club.

"Gatherings of extraordinary women".....

Founded in 2003 by Lynn Dugan, a transplant from New York City, the Charleston Social Club provides a means for lesbians to connect and get together for all sorts of activities. According to the website:

"The Charleston Social Club, located in Charleston, SC, USA, is a non-profit organization for lesbians and all women who are accepting of lesbians. We welcome women of all races, ages, ethnic heritage, religious and spiritual beliefs, and physical abilities."

Through her newsletter, Lynn reaches over 500 women in the Charleston area and allows them to plan events and schedule get-togethers. I think this is simply brilliant --- and such a service to the community!

I've no doubt that it's a lot of work but I strongly believe every community should have something like this. We'll be talking more and more about the need for there to be a way for our seniors to stay a part of the community. A service like this one, besides being a means to connect socially, can become a lifeline as gay baby boomers age.

If I end up relocating to Charleston, the Charleston Social Club will be what made the final decision for me. Check it out at http://www.charlestonsocialclub.com/ .

The End.

Right? This is where this piece should end. Everything useful has been said. But......

This is such an issue for me that I have a bit more to say. Fair warning --- the rest is personal and if you'd rather just stop here, no hard feelings.

As most of you know, my partner died a little over two years ago (actually 822 days...).  If there is ever a time when you need a good support system around you, right after that kind of loss is it. I know that because I didn't have one.

We moved to Houston because her parents were having significant health problems. Almost immediately, that consumed all of our time and energy.  What was intended to be a stay of maybe two years turned into ten, and we never found the time to reach out and develop friends in the community. I paid a huge price for that when all of a sudden my partner was gone.  Please don't misunderstand, I have wonderful people in my life and they did so much for me, but most of them live somewhere else.  And, since then, I have made some great friends here, but not that many. I've needed most of my energy for survival, so I haven't had much to give.

My point --- yes, I do have one --- is that there is nothing more important that having a good support system. Its not something that you should ever take for granted or put off developing. You can't wait until you move to Santa Fe (that's where we were headed) or your job takes less time or you retire or.....any of it. If you are fortunate enough to live somewhere that has something like the Charleston Social Club, get involved. Or join a GLBT volunteer organization or political action group. Or start something --- contact Lynn and pester her for details on how she got started. (Sorry, Lynn --- probably should have asked you about that!)

The older we get, the more important this becomes. Our needs increase and our resources often dwindle. Life has a way of not always working out as we expect. We had it all planned. I knew exactly how it was going to be as we aged. I could see us arguing about who was going to push who. We were really looking forward to growing old together. But, that's not going to happen.

I've had to force myself to get out of bed most of those 822 days but it is starting to get a little easier. I'm beginning to actually get excited about exploring a new place, meeting new people and becoming part of a community.

Maybe it will be Charleston.

Who knows, perhaps they'll even do another drive-in movie outing someday.....

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Community Update 

Speaking of community.....

Bonnie McGowan, founder of Birds of a Feather, one of the communities featured in our special report The Top Gay Retirement (or not) Communities, has recently had her "EcoNest" featured in Natural Home magazine. This is not roughing it in the woods --- take a look! Bonnie's EcoNest

There are now seven occupied homes in the community --- three "casitas", two "econests" and two traditional single family homes. An additional single family home is under construction and should be completed sometime this spring.  Recently, it was announced that they have started the approval process for Phase II and hope to have more lots available by the end of the year.

Birds of a Feather is located in the beautifulSangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. Right now, due to the downturn in the economy, a few of the original lots in Phase I have just become available for purchase. If this is something you might be interested in, write to at Bonnie at bonnie@birdsofafeather.com or call (505) 757-2901.

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Small Changes

Fit in a Year - Week 6

By: Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

This week we're thinking about small changes to our diets.

Diet = the food you eat. 

Has anyone taken soft drinks out of their diets yet?  How about just removing one or two that you currently drink during the day and replacing with water?  If possible, use your own, refillable container.  If you really get serious about losing the soft drinks and switch entirely to water, without changing anything else in your life, you'll lose about 10 or 15 pounds over a year's time, not to mention the piles of additives.

Remember that your body is very, very smart.  When it doesn't get enough water every day, it will start holding onto it. 

It's like using a deprivation diet.  When you're only eating 1200 cal/day, your body switches into starvation mode and your metabolism actually slows down!  That's definitely the way to burn calories. 

The other small change you can make is to switch from white potatoes to sweet potatoes and yams.  Not every time you reach for a potato.  Just start with once a week. 

My favorite way to eat them is, of course, roasted. Just pop them into the oven with whatever else you're roasting, skin and all. Easy. For a treat, slice them into quarters--or thinner if you need to cook them quickly--spread a cookie sheet with olive oil, get some oil on the sweet potatoes, sprinkle them with sea salt and cinnamon, and roast at 350 or 375, depending on your oven, until they are to your liking. Probably 20-30 minutes. 


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