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 email 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 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 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 that 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. 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.