Sunday, May 23, 2021


"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."
This feminist slogan has often been attributed to Gloria Steinem but was in fact coined by Irina Dunn in 1970.

by Gary Sta

Never has this iconic statement been more true than in a woman's - or a man's - senior years.

Earlier this month I wrote a blog called "Grow Even When You Lose: The Value of relationships That Don't Pan Out" -- you can read that here -- that forced me to look deeper within, to know myself a little better, and to understand more about what I want - and don't want - in a relationship.

I continue even into today, letting that blog simmer in me and thought I might like a feminine perspective on my thoughts around the difficulties of the desire to step into a relationship in my advancing (there... I said it) years and what has clearly emerged as my elderhood relationship status: That of a single senior citizen, a difficult place at best with my Shamanic Astrological Chart pointing strongly at relationship and community as my purposes, neither of which I find myself in today.

In that respect, this time of being alone during the pandemic has had a positive side for me: It has allowed me time to really work on my relationship with me.

Still, my friend Google led me to a blog called Boomer Blix and a remarkable blog post titled "A Nurse or A Purse: Why Boomer Women Stay Single…Or Should Really, Really Think About It," by a woman named Suzanne Ball.  

It's largely about the feminine perspective of growing older without a partner (a man, in her case, but certainly not the only option in a world of growing gender fluidity). I'd love to talk with her.

Her blog appears to be inactive since her last post there was in in mid-2016. On it were some links to her FB page, and others, and they all seemed to be inactive as well. I thought about searching for her some more, but the word "stalker" came to mind and I stepped back from that, not wanting to be that guy.

Anway, she'd written some very good blogs about being an "aging" woman, including the one I linked above about 
Why Boomer Women Stay Single. In that blog she points out that
"Women--who also like companionship and its fringe benefits--are faced with a tough decision. Having taken care of children, husbands, parents, pets, and plants for several decades, they find themselves kind of enjoying the freedom of singlehood. Popcorn for dinner, any movie or play, and no one snoring next to them. Hairy legs. Freedom to fart." 
She then goes on to point out, "Hence the dilemma. Sacrifice hard-fought independence for a measure of security? Should you enter a relationship, knowing you have a good shot at becoming the caretaker? Or the banker? Just so you can take advantage of  the "double occupancy" price? And someone to have morning coffee with?" 

Some facts to consider:
  • Boomers are expected to live longer than any previous generation...but in poorer health. Blame it on the introduction of processed and fast foods in our youth.

  • The average 50 year-old man takes four prescription drugs a day. It increases after that.

  • Boomer men have a higher death rate for all ten top causes of death: Heart disease, cancer, injuries, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, pneumonia/flu, HIV-related, suicide and homicide.

  • Boomer males who are recently divorced likely conceded half their assets in the process; they know they have little time to recoup the loss. They need a second income, pronto.
You get the picture. she goes on to say. "I'm not trying to discourage Boomer romance. In fact, I still have hopes for myself, although it seems I will have to be quite discerning."

Here are some reasons Boomer women are choosing to decline marriage:
  • They have a strong social network, with friends who are fun and supportive. 
  • They like the idea of dating or having a relationship without the burden of having to always compromise...or pick up after someone else. 
  • Their families are the priority, and they enjoy being with their adult children and grandchildren. 
  • They are better at managing their finances, partly because they have generally earned less than their male counterparts. They know how to make ends meet.
  • And...only 33% of men want to date someone their own age. Once men divorce, they think younger women will find them (and their medical history) too hot to pass up. Same old, same old.

I suspect that the two women I refered to in my previous blog were wrestling with the same experiences and just had not fully come to terms with them... maybe. 

At 76 years old next week, I'm certainly no stranger to this subject. Even my sister, also named Suzanne (Sooz, as I affectionately call her), has a placard in her home in Napa that reads:

"A woman who is looking for a
husband has never been married."

She LOVES living alone.

I get it. I've been married twice and it would be easy to say "well, you weren't very good at relationship," and I'd say that was probably true in my first, but in my second marriage, we know we came together to complete parts of us that were damaged, and when we managed to heal the damaged parts, we had completed our Sacred Purpose as a couple. I happily acknowlege that our time together was a time of enormous growth for me, and for that I will be eternally grateful to her. 
We also realized that we were just better at being friends and parted as amazingly supportive friends and remain so still. 

Just like many women my age, I'm a man who also cherishes my alone time, to be able to do what I like to do when I want to do it. I don't want to move in with anyone, nor do I want someone to move in with me. I don't need their money and hopefully it will be a good while before I need a nurse. So far so good.

I'm also grateful that I am remarkably healthy for my age. The average man is on four prescription drugs by age 50? I'm 76 and not on a single prescription drug, something my doctors seem blown away by, and I'm always thrilled to hear, "you're how old?"

What I'm not looking for is a purse , a nurse, or worse... but a sweet and intelligent companion who has done her own inner work and isn't afraid to talk about what's on her mind without being triggered at every turn, and yet, understanding growth comes as a result of conflict (hopefully minor conflict), (along with some fringe benefits) sounds pretty good. 

You know... someone like me!

I envy couples who have mananged to stay together throughout the years, able to bear the inevitable storms of relationship. 

Sometimes wish I could have been in one of those relationships, understanding that they, too, surely experienced their own storms and turmoils of their relationship, but everyone has their own path to walk. Each of my previous relationships, especially over the last two decades, short or long, good or bad, has had a tremendous effect on the person I am today, in and out of relationship -- and I am immensely grateful to them all. 

Also of interest:
Is the single life a symptom of social fragmentation or individual narcissism? Don't you believe it

Sunday, May 09, 2021

GROW EVEN WHEN YOU LOSE: The Value of Relationships That Don't Pan Out

by Gary Stamper, CPC, MSIP, DSPS

According to my Shamanic Astrology chart, I have the Libra Job in service to Capricorn Rising, which means, instead of the lone wolf warrior of my lineage, I am here---one of my purposes---to be in a non-hierarchical equal life partnership. 

The challenging part of this is that for thousands of years, the Capricorn Mystery school has been usurped by the extremely strange aberration known as hierarchical patriarchy and monotheistic religion which resulted in that pathology instead of the sacred evolution of the masculine. 

But the essence of Capricorn is similar to the Native American view of making no decision without considering seven generations to follow. It is the proper custodianship of resources that serve the planet and its people. It is the wise elder working with the circle of grandmothers. 

My Mars (the masculine) in Aries (the warrior) and my Capricorn Rising is a combination of the new evolving masculine, noble images of responsibility, and my chart says I can't do it alone. Conscious equal partnership is essential. 

My Venus archetype (the feminine, also in Aries), is the Warrior Amazon. The leading edge of the Aries archetype in the feminine is actually the very same quality that is generally projected on 80% of the yang masculine: the capacity to have this noble cause and purpose. Because of this Warrior Amazon within, it is also what I tend to project upon my partner.

It is this conscious collaboration in relationship that allows me to learn more about myself. It is this combination of conscious partnership and being able to demonstrate the capacity to embody the new masculine and the willingness to take on the responsibilities that enable me to become a teacher/elder.

In other words, being in a relationship is important to me because that's where the majority of my growth happens.

Since my divorce a few years ago, I met two women - not at the same time, thankfully - that I was interested in pursuing the possibility of a deeper relationship. Here's where I switch to telling this account as if I were talking to one person, which is what I was doing at the time. 

When I knew enough about her to know that I was looking at her as a potential partner, and feeling what I thought was her apparent growing reciprocation, I told her how I was feeling, and would she be interested in joining me on that adventure of discovery, with a caveat that she didn't have to answer at that moment but could think about it.

I never got an answer from either of them. In both instances, they began to slowly pull away and I could feel it. After a bit of time, I broached the subject again, and I could feel the depressing weight of the conversation we couldn't seem to have.

"She's just not into you." Yes, that's definitely possible, but mature people need to be to say that... and hear it.

In the case of one, I remember watching her as she struggled, dropping her eyes, looking down, not saying a word... and after an uncomfortable silence, I broke it by saying, "you don't have to say anything," trying to ease her discomfort, and I continued, saying, "I'm going to go now, and if you want to talk, call me."

... and I left.

That was the last time I saw her and driving home, I realized that she had meant more to me than I had known. I also realized that I meant less to her than I hoped I did and that she was simply unable to tell me what was wrong or communicate with me about her feelings, a quality that would - and did - doom a potential relationship even if it were not already doomed, and I couldn't blame her because I didn't know what she had experienced that had left her closed-off and unable to respond.

Both of these relationships, short as they were, forced me to look deeper within, to know myself a little better, and to understand more about what I want -and don't want - in a relationship. 

I'm extremely grateful to both of these awesome women for their contributions to my growth and awareness, even though my relationship with each was brief.

Meanwhile, I'm in Panama and I don't speak Spanish yet, and there's no organized Ex-Pat group here save for strays at the bars and, frankly, bars aren't really my thing after spending almost 10 years singing in bars, clubs, Vegas lounges, and concert halls with my bands.

I may meet someone someday, but right now, I'm fine alone. I want to find love, but I’m no longer actively looking for it.

I’m single AF, but it doesn’t actually bother me. I’ve got a full and happy life, multiple work outlets that give my life meaning, wonderful friends all over the world, family, and I’m truly comfortable with myself. I’m not against meeting a great woman, and I wouldn't walk away if love stepped up and slapped me in the face, but it’s just not a priority at this time. 

I'm busy creating my own life in a Caribbean "paradise," and, after that, who knows?

Just keep on growing...

Saturday, May 01, 2021

6 MONTHS IN PANAMA: Would I do it again?

 by Gary Stamper CPC, MSIP, DSPS

Today is May 3rd, 2021, and it's been exactly 6  months ago today that I arrived in Panama City on November 3rd, 2020. Who would have thought the next 6 months would fly by so quickly?  I suppose it's a combination of my advancing (thank God) age and the challenge and newness of everything in a foreign country in which I am about to become an official permanent resident.

The main reason I chose Panama, and particularly Bocas Del Toro, is that it's a "laid-back Caribbean beach town with a Jamaican vibe." The second is that I can live here quite comfortably on about a third of what it costs to live in the U.S.

The kicker for me was what has been hailed as "the word's best retirement plan," the Pensionado Visa.

Panama is a small country that prides itself on taking care of its seniors, citizens, and permanent residents alike. If you use the U.S. dollar, you’ll be happy to learn that the USD is pegged to the Panamanian currency, so Panama is like a US dollarized economy.

If you have a retirement program that pays you at least $1,000 a month (U.S. Social Security applies), you can qualify for a 
Pensionado Visa. Yes, you'll have to go through some red tape, and please don't try it without a local attorney. I had a great one that I will happily share should you be interested.

While the cost of general expenses, like rent, utilities, groceries, entertainment, cell phone service, etc., is definitely lower than what you’re used to, you’ll find great comfort knowing that you can actually receive special discounts for being a pensionado (a woman over 57 years old or a man over 62). You can also get by here fairly easily without a car, but you'll probably want a bicycle at the very least.

Did someone say discounts?

Special discounts. You’ll experience savings in many different ways in Panama, with it’s Pensionado Discounts, but some common ways to receive discounts include:

Discounts on the usage of public transportation and airlines that fly in and out of Panama. You’ll receive a discount when it comes time to eat at your favorite restaurant (and the cuisine in Panama is great and already affordable). Utilities tend to cost much less, especially with an additional 20% discount, and most forms of entertainment are discounted also. There are many more discounts available, see the full list below.

  • One time Duty tax exemption for household goods up to a total of $10,000
  • Duty exemption for importing a new car.
  • 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, concerts, sports)
  • 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
  • 25% off airline tickets
  • 50% off hotel stays from Monday through Thursday
  • 30% off hotel stays from Friday through Sunday
  • 25% off at restaurants
  • 15% off at fast-food restaurants
  • 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)10% off prescription medicines
  • 20% off medical consultations
  • 15% off dental and eye exams
  • 20% off professional and technical services
  • 50% reduction in closing costs for home loans
  • 25% discounts on utility bills
  • 15% off loans made in your name
  • 1% less on home mortgages for homes used for personal residence

These discounts are for any citizen or permanent resident of Panama. If you retired early and are younger than the ages above, and you move here with the Pensionado Visa, you will receive these discounts right away.

What about healthcare?

Panama actually offers more affordable healthcare than most other nations. The cost of health insurance is lower in general and tends to cost around $200 per month for a private plan covering someone at the age of 60, in the private hospital system. That's less than what I was paying for Medicare parts A & B, and including the advantage program I was carrying in the U.S. that paid for my hip and knee replacements.

For most people from the U.S., that number is a fraction of the health insurance you are paying now. And it's 100% coverage with as little as $1000 annual deductible.

Also dental and eye care is a fraction of that in North America.

If these benefits are not enough, there are definitely more. Some other medical benefits of retiring in Panama are as follows:

You can obtain many medications without prescriptions. If you become a permanent resident of Panama, you’ll be able to get additional discounts on medications, healthcare, and other medical needs, once you have your Pensionado Visa or reach the ages talked about above. The care provided is actually comparable to that of North America.

Not in Bocas, however... Our "hospital" is actually more like a U.S. Urgent Care Center and the nearest "real" hospital is on the mainland, about an hour away by ferry and car.

So why Panama?

If you’re someone who is concerned about the cost of retirement, Panama is definitely an excellent option for you. The cost of living tends to be much lower, and you can live rather good for about $1,500 per month for a single, and $2,200 a month for a couple. Sounds pretty enticing right? If money is your concern, Panama definitely has you covered!

Panama is an excellent place to retire, and you’ll find that the lifestyle will keep you feeling younger. From a beachfront lifestyle to the mountain life, Panama has everything you need to retire the way you want. Plus, if you’re looking at the best bang for your buck without having to go to Asia, you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere that comes close to Panama.

Bocas Del Toro may not be your cup of tea, but it's working really well for me. Are there shortcomings? Of course. No place is perfect

But next time you’re thinking about taking a retirement tour, make sure that Panama makes your list of places to visit. There's so much here!