A Later Life Valentine

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February 12  |  finding a relationshp, finding love, Love & Relationships, Mature dating, Self-Help, self-reinvention, self-transformation, Women and love  |   Cynthia


Here’s a Valentine’s blog, written by Tricia Cusden, founder of Look Fabulous Forever cosmetics for mature women, to which I contributed advice:

It’s that time of year again when the shops are full to the brim with red or pink hearts, dark carmine coloured roses, champagne and chocolates. All the symbols that we use to signify deep and lasting love given and (hopefully) received from our significant other. But not for me! Because it’s a very long time since I had anything resembling a ‘significant other’.

I have been divorced since I was 42 years old, so that’s very nearly 30 years of (theoretically anyway) being open to the possibility of another relationship. I did have a couple of longer term liaisons up to the age of around 50, but neither of these became everlasting. However I was busy, happy and my life was interesting and satisfying on so many levels that I honestly didn’t mind being on my own. In very many ways I preferred it, but I was always open to the possibility of finding love again. That was until, at the age of 57, I met someone I will call Harry.

I met Harry through a friend. She knew him in a business context and suggested that she set us up on a sort of blind date. First impressions were ok, if not amazing, and we spent a pleasant evening having an early supper and then going on to the theatre. I can’t remember the second date but I began to think that a relationship might be possible. Harry proved to be an interesting and agreeable companion and was what I can only describe as ‘urbane.’ He’d lived in London all his life and knew it in a way that I didn’t. So we started to enjoy going to some really fascinating places, small and amazing restaurants and to exhibitions, plays and other gigs that expanded my horizons. He was amusing, good company and was always immaculately dressed. After a few short months we started talking about moving in to live together. Then I went to Cape Town for a two week holiday with my daughter and half way through my break, the texts we had been exchanging several times a day suddenly stopped. I tried calling him but he was evasive and I got a horrible feeling that he was lying to me.

To cut a long and painful story short, when I returned to the UK our relationship quickly unravelled. I discovered that I had been dealing with a Walter Mitty character, a recovering alcoholic who had spun me a whole load of truths, half truths and very many untruths. In short, I felt conned. He was not the person I thought he was, and all the time he had been two-timing me with (what he had claimed) was an ex-partner.

I was devastated and very angry with myself for being so trusting, gullible and blind. I immediately extricated myself from the relationship and despite several attempts on his part, I refused to see him again. Since this bruising episode which really knocked my confidence, I have closed myself off from the possibility of finding a man.

However I am fascinated to watch friends who have been able to find delightful, genuine and trustworthy men who have brought joy and companionship into their (later) lives. So this week I thought it might be interesting to explore successful ways to find love in later life with Cynthia Spillman who runs the International Dating Academy which she calls a ‘one-stop dating shop’ for people who wish to improve their dating skills. Cynthia has published a book called ‘From Dinner Date to Soulmate – A Guide to Mature Dating‘, targeted at women who have been single for years, or who are divorcees or widows.

Here are Cynthia’s Top Tips For Finding Your Valentine:

  1. It’s never too late to find love. It’s disheartening when you suffer from a bad experience like Tricia’s. There are many variants of the con man out there and it’s difficult not to become “relationship-jaded” and decide that it’s safer to remain on your own. Emotional distress can be accentuated at this time of year. Finding love has no sell-by date – even if you’ve been out of the dating “jungle” for a long time. I’ve witnessed countless family, friends and date coaching clients, find joy in later life. I married my third husband Peter when I was 48 and, 11 years later, we’re still in love. My mother-in-law remarried at 81. It’s possible – but you have to approach your mature love search with wisdom and tenacity. Do make sure that you’re in the right place in your life to find love – but also remember that finding love has no sell-by date on it.
  2. First love yourself. You have to learn to love yourself before you can love another. Self-care doesn’t equate to selfishness. When you feel truly good about yourself, you’re far likelier to attract the right person. Remember the oxygen mask principle on a plane – you’re advised to put on your mask first, before helping others.
  3. Be proactive. Proactive doesn’t mean desperate! It involves embracing all methods of meeting a potential partner. I advise my clients that finding love is a numbers’ game and that online dating is like eating your vegetables – nobody wants to do it, but it’s good for you. Yes – it can be irritating, but if you view it as a tool in a larger bag of re-emerging dating skills, it does truly have advantages. You can keep your dates short and sweet – which is a good starting point from which to reignite your dating mojo. You must always follow strict safety rules and if you smell a dating rat – get out immediately. You must also embrace every opportunity to meet somebody new. This means using your networks in a sensible way, telling friends you’re on the lookout for a great man and join man-friendly organisations. I used to own ‘Dinner Dates’ – we ran multiple events on a weekly basis, which afforded our clients the opportunity to meet in a safe environment, at hosted events. Mature dating needn’t be doom and gloom. You have so much more to offer a partner in terms of richness of life experience.
  4. Expand on The Sisterhood. Seek out women who raise your spirits, and never dump your close girlfriends when you’ve found a partner. In this circle, include some ladies who have what you’d like – a fulfilling relationship. You can learn from them and their example will propel you on when, inevitably, you get knocks along the way on your mature dating journey. Hanging out with the girls will also enable you to not to feel overwhelmed.
  5. Bury your baggage before entering a committed relationship.Don’t drag all your relationship yesterdays into today. Many women blow their chances during embryonic dating, by suffering from emotional and verbal incontinence and telling all to their date, way too soon. This gives totally the wrong impression about you, may scare the pants off your date and is also an indication that you probably aren’t yet ready for a new relationship. No man wants to hear how hideous your ex was – at least not in the early stages! Inevitably, we all drag our relationship “previous” into our next relationship, but too much too soon can spell sabotage. In my book, I suggest various methods for dealing with troublesome emotional baggage.
  6. Good communication is crucial. Practising mindful communication is the life blood of your relationship. Mindful dating and communication open up a whole new world of relating to others and yourself. They also enable you to manage your expectations of yourself and of your potential partner, so that you don’t end up reeling from disappointment. You learn to “mind the gap”, take it one step at a time, and not buy into either catastrophizing or reading too much into your relationship situation, way too soon. Your love life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Seize your courage – and go for it!


How to shovel yourself out of the shit!

August 16  |  Adversity, Mindfulness, motivation, overcoming adversity, Self-Help, self-reinvention, self-transformation, single women  |   Cynthia









We all feel down in the mouth at times. It’s part of being human. However, we needn’t stay there for long. Here are some simple tips to help dig yourself out of the vortex.

Prioritise your physical well-being

Practise physical self-love – stop punishing your body – treat yourself to nourishing and healthy foods. A car won’t run properly and reach its destination without the right fuel. Cut down on booze and pills. Pamper yourself. Don’t get into the debating society on this. You deserve it. Find a form of manageable and above all enjoyable exercise in which you can indulge regularly.

Take charge of your emotional state

Claim courage and take responsibility. Accept that we’re not responsible for the tragedies which happen to us but we are responsible for how we react to them and the messes we make of our lives. Identify which areas you play the victim in. Break these areas into bite-size chunks which you can then tackle. Pump yourself right out of that victim mentality. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Care enough about yourself to learn to lighten up. Look for the humorous side in your situation – it really is there, even if you have to emotionally contort yourself to find it. Do so because it’ll be worth it and be measured by the enormous sense of relief you’ll feel.
Stop the name and blame game – take responsibility where you need to and discard the rest. These habits completely destroy your inner power, because they prove that you’re still expecting solutions and changes from others. You’ve no power over anyone else but yourself.

When you’re wallowing in an orgy of self-pity, stop enjoying it. Force yourself out of that tangled up, childish, emotional nappy. What do nappies contain? So why stay there drowning in it? Take positive daily action to help yourself, no matter how seemingly insignificant or minute. This can be as simple as calling an encouraging friend, when all you want to do is sit and stare into space. Small actions like this will propel you out of the navel-gazing, analysis/paralysis syndrome and you’ll soon begin to feel immeasurably better.
Don’t indulge in negative talk. What you focus on expands and what doesn’t get taught, gets caught. Don’t touch it with a bargepole. Read inspiring literature. Keep a gratitude list, not a hit list. Write down five things every night which you’re grateful for, then review your list in the morning. The blessings are always there, even in the worst situation.

Take responsibility for your feelings and reactions.

You’re in charge of your life – no one else. Don’t be immobilised by or afraid of failure. Most seemingly successful people have made it after disastrous failures. Simply pick yourself up, dust yourself down and move on with belief and determination.
Don’t be a victim to others’ expectations. Be yourself at all times. Stop being a people-pleaser and a chameleon. There’s never any need to seek anyone else’s approval but your own and in this area practice does make perfect. Keep your own counsel and have the courage of your own convictions. If you have erred, don’t beat yourself up. Use that energy to forgive yourself.

Stick with the winners and not the whiners

Stick with the winners. Stay resolutely away from people with victim mentalities. Find someone you trust to help you to make a realistic appraisal of your situation. Treat yourself to a mental clear out. Find a support network with positive peer role models. There are thousands of resources out there for every area and every stage of our lives. When you’ve found your role model, be brave enough to ask for help and copy what they do as best you can. What’s the downside?

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It’s never too late to boogie!

May 15  |  Dreams coming true, Self-Help, self-reinvention, self-transformation  |   Cynthia

Once upon a time you had dreams. Then the Big Bad Wolf, called LIFE, came along, grabbed you by the throat and shook these the hell out of you.

So – then you told yourself that it was “too late”, or that you’re “too old”, or “too busy”, or that “there’s no point” – and other such tripe. Or – even worse – you allowed somebody in authority, such as a parent, teacher or partner, to piss on your campfire and extinguish what you know your inner wisdom was begging you to do.

The bottom line is – it’s NEVER too late to embrace a dream, no matter how old you, or it, might be. Where’s it written that you can’t? You only can’t if you think you can’t! It’s possible to rewrite your life script at any time. Why do you think that you don’t deserve the good stuff, like other people? While there’s life there’s hope. Time will pass anyway, so why not make the most of the time you have left? We all know people who’ve checked out of life way too early. The saddest words in the English language have got to be, “too late”, and “if only”.

Now – today – is the time to unblock your creativity, whatever the latter means to you. You don’t need anybody’s permission. You can choose to live your life in black and white – OR – in glorious technicolour. The choice and the power to do so is yours.

Once upon a time, when I was 14, I was told by an occupational psychologist, that I wasn’t academic. My father colluded with her, and between them they stitched me up big time, telling me that I’d just get married anyway, so I might as well do a secretarial course. Given that it took me until I was 52, to grow the balls to stand up to my authoritarian parents, I found myself hurtling along that traditional path, and into my first unhappy marriage, aged 18.

It took the catastrophic death of my son in the car I was driving, in 1987, and my daughter’s severe injuries, to eject me from the quagmire of despair, propelling me into taking 2 A levels part-time, the year after Anthony died. Less than two years later, I was admitted to Cambridge University, to read law. Aged 30, with a major tragedy to contend with. boy, did I prove those academic naysayers wrong!

I’ve gone onto pass many exams since then and, last week, I was offered a place to do a Master’s degree in Mindfulness. So much for not being academic! And it was the same with all of my relationships and my two doomed marriages, before I found happiness with my third husband, Peter, in 2002. Never settle for less than you’re capable of in any arena of life. Find inspirational role models, read uplifting books, listen to rousing music. Whatever you do, never, ever give up your biggest asset – yourself!

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Be the boss of your own life!

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May 1  |  motivation, Self-Help, self-transformation  |   Cynthia

boss lady


Last week, I was able to tick off another big dream from an ever growing list, of dreams come true.  On 24 April, I signed a contract with my publisher, for my self-help book, “From Dinner Date to Soulmate – Cynthia Spillman’s Guide to Mature Dating.”

From Dinner Date to Soulmate – Cynthia Spillman’s Guide to Mature Dating

Good things seem to be happening to me in round numbers. I went to Cambridge University when I was 30, this year I’ll be 20 years off the booze, In July, it’s my 10th wedding anniversary. It took me 20 years to find the right publisher for this book. Even my car registration is A20 CYS!  And on a much more sober note, these wonderful things, go some way to eradicating the memories of the bad things that happened in my life – my son died on 20 November, and this year it’ll be 30 years since his death.

Now, I neither know, nor particularly care, what a numerologist would make of all the above.  However, what I’m certain of, is that you make your luck happen. Lady Luck doesn’t just pitch up, knock at your door and give you the key to success and happiness.

Making your dreams come true involves a four-letter word – WORK.  For some of us, it may take years to override our faulty inner tapes. We may have to get professional help to greatly modify, if not totally eradicate the self-harming, damaging story we feed ourselves about our perceived limitations. As one who has done an enormous amount of work on myself these 30 years, in order to not only survive, but ultimately to be happy and contented – I don’t believe that you can ever fully scrub those tapes. They’ve been there way too long and are almost a part of your DNA. BUT – you CAN choose to rewrite your script.

Taking my book as a personal example. I adored my late father, but I joke that he’d have preferred me to say that I wanted to be a hooker when I grew up, rather than a writer, because at least with the former I’d have made a living.  Creativity was deemed to be another four-letter word – SHIT!  Actually, I’ve only just recently realised at 58, how creative I am.  And that it’s perfectly acceptable to be that and it’s not a mortal sin!  My dad has been dead for 5 years now and, despite, the above, I like to believe he’d have been incredibly proud of my literary achievements.

It’s absolutely never too late to achieve your dreams!  Yes – change is excruciatingly uncomfortable, but the pain of actually putting in the effort – rather than just thinking about it and sitting on the self-pity pot – ultimately brings you untold inner riches.

So get off your BUTTS (buts) today, and start to make it happen – one tiny step at a time!

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The road to hell is paved with good intentions – and New Year’s resolutions!

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January 26  |  motivation, New Years Resolutions, Self-Help, self-transformation  |   Cynthia



We’re now almost at the end of January –  which I and many find to be a cruel, cold month, in more ways than one. The silly season is over, you’ve invariably eaten too much, spent excessively and have had to endure the company of people you’d rather not see for another 50 years – never mind going through the whole obligatory repeat pantomime, again in 11 months!

Which leads me to our New Year’s resolutions – those odious decisions we usually make under our own self-imposed pressure,  during the Christmas excess – only for them to evaporate into the ether by the end of January. It’s as if we kid ourselves that if we make these then, we’re somehow atoning for “crimes” about to be committed.

So – how are you doing with yours?  Mine are twofold. Finish the first draft of my book, before our next trip to Nice on 22 March. The second – to lose the blubb which has been dragging me down in body, spirit and soul, for 15 years. The last time I saw my toes, was in the spring of 2002, after I met Peter.  Go figure – if you’ll pardon an awful pun.

Needless to say, given that it took me 15 years to accrue the flab, I’m certainly not going to shift it overnight – much as I’d like to wake up one morning and find my former sylph-like persona grinning self-satisfiedly back at me in the bedroom floor length mirror.  Despair not. One day at a time, I still remain committed to developing a healthy lifestyle. I’ve gone back to yoga and am swimming regularly. My injured dog Lola’s poorly leg is now very much on the mend, so more walkies are in order.  And to the delight of my longsuffering husband – I’m about to dust the cobwebs off the very expensive bike he bought me God-knows how many years ago – and which is sitting in still virginal condition, in the front garden.

For me – I’ve had a light bulb moment of late, and have realised that frustrated creativity leads to a very unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle – one in which I’ll crave sugar and carbs until the cows come home – and will bien sur act on that craving in a self-destructive way.

As for finishing my book by 22 March – actually I think this is really going to happen!  My literary agent is working like a demon and putting it out there to publishers.  I’m feeling super motivated and more convinced than ever that this is gonna rock!

Despondency beware!  Here are my tips for not busting your own, precious New Year’s resolutions:

  • Set realistic goals – if you don’t, you’ll give up the ghost and feel even worse than if you’d not resolved to change aspects of your life this year.
  • Enlist the support of others.  Make yourself accountable – but don’t be harsh on yourself. Remember – you’re human!
  • Put self-care at the top of the New Year’s list – remember you’re worth it!
  • Write down a maximum of 3 resolutions and review them regularly, with an open mind – but don’t use this as a cop out.
  • Chart your previous successes in your journal. These will inspire you to keep going when you feel like quitting.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – comparisons are odious!

Remember – there’s no such thing as failure – just different ways of looking at things.  There’s always another opportunity to try again. Progress – not perfection – is the watch word here.

Happy New Year!


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