Cyber Pen Pals

Blogging is a hobby that I fell into a few years ago. It began as a creative way to chronicle our retirement life and showcase my photography. I had no pre-conceived notions about where it might lead or how long it would last. I have a tendency to drift in and out of hobbies, with two years being the max for most new experiences. So, imagine my surprise when I woke up one day and realized I’ve been at this for almost four years!

Why Am I Still Here?

When I think about the reasons why I am still here, there are several, including the fact that I still feel motivated to write about our retirement lifestyle – even during a pandemic. But, mostly it comes down to each one of you – the folks I interact with on a weekly basis.

When I was a teenager, I had a pen pal who lived several hours away in a different part of Florida. Her life was very different to mine, but we still had a lot in common. It was the late sixties and music and boys were our priority. The letters we exchanged were covered with brightly colored peace signs and slogans of the day. I delighted at the sight of one arriving in the mailbox. The stories we shared connected us and made us feel like true friends, even though we never met. That’s what blogging feels like to me.

Modern Day Pen Pals

I like hearing about Judy’s garden in NH and Joe’s cross country RV adventures. Hugh writes great WordPress tutorials, and Teri hosts Sunday Stills. Sue is taking her incredibly fit self on a brave new adventure and Jo is baking bread and releasing her latest book(s); simultaneously. Karen shares the most Pin-worthy, picture-perfect, delicious recipes and Donna takes me on a daily hike around Vancouver Island. Trent shares Weekly Smiles from New England and Natalie, is well, just a constant whirlwind of activity in Toronto. Dan is always building something or sharing ‘crack me up’ one-liners. Kathy has figured out how to Right Size and Laurel is taking some Covid inspired time off from her RV travels! Leanne from Australia has scraped her knees a few times, and passes on hard earned, heart wise advice. Pat and Nancy are snow birds who fly south in the winter and are pretty new to this retirement gig. They are still finding their ahem, wings. KemKem is queen of the expats and hosts an entertaining Podcast from Spain. Laurie ponders life on the run, as she runs, and shares insights on just about anything important. Erica is the big sister everyone wishes they had and always offers an encouraging word. Beth shares her retirement life from coastal Georgia and Janis, from California. You can count on both these gals for a positive post and amazing photos.

This talented cast of characters have become my modern day ‘pen pals’ and metaphorically speaking, I look forward to their brightly decorated envelopes arriving in my mailbox each week. The fact that your letter is meant for hundreds of other readers, does not lessen its value as it often feels personal to me. Posts that resonate, even in a small way, move us closer to understanding each other. Your comments on posts that I share are personal to me and I appreciate the time you take to make them specific and meaningful.

Connections are important, especially now, when our personal interactions are so restricted. So, ‘thank you’ to each of you who offer encouragement, inspiration, humor, beautiful photographs of far-away places, recipes, instruction and tips for making positive lifestyle choices. Keep those cards and letters coming…..I value what you have to say and you make a difference in my life.

To those of you who have drifted away or are taking a break from your regular schedule, I hope you will find your way back soon. Until then, be well and know that I will be here when you return.

Shared

Writing blog posts and reading your posts make me smile each week. If you would like to share a smile, please visit Trent’s World Weekly Smiles. You are sure to come away smiling!

65 Comments on “Cyber Pen Pals

  1. Hi Suzanne – this is exactly why I blog too (and thank you so much for including me in your cyber penpal list!) I’d have given blogging up a long time ago if it wasn’t for the wonderful connections and friendships I’ve made over the years. A lot have come and gone, but there are still a large handful who I “chat” with regularly and who make it all such a blast. I feel like my IRL friendships have dwindled down and it’s hard to meet like minded women in midlife – but this blogging community has introduced me to some fabulous, inspiring women who I’m grateful for every day – and thanks for being one of them xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dawn, I have enjoyed getting to know a little about you through your blog these past few months. Thank you for being a regular visitor to Picture Retirement, and for your always thoughtful comments. I do hope you will check out some of the blogs that are new to you and see what fits your reading pleasure. Take care and thanks for the visit!

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  2. Timely post hitting all the right buttons for me, and thank you for the mention. 🙂 You are so right about our blogging community keeping us positive and connected during this very challenging time. Your pen pal memories made me smile and reminded me of a friend who had to take a class in summer school. She sent me a letter while I was visiting my grandparents, and it was covered in the number 75 which was the number required to pass the course. Back then, it was important to check your mailbox for letters. Today, it is important to check your email for posts. I’m off to check out some of your friends so thanks for the links. Happy Tuesday. 🙂

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    • Judy, I actually get excited about checking my email while I have my morning coffee. Sure enough, there is always a new post from someone or a comment for my blog. And, without fail, it is always positive and uplifting. Even when we complain we receive reassurance and support from our blogging buddies. I hope you will find a new friend or two in my little circle to add to yours. Thanks for bringing smiles to my inbox! Hope all is well.

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    • Trent, me either. It was a pleasant surprise. I realize that the little bits of ourselves that we share on this forum are just the tip of who we are and what we are about, but it is nice to feel connected to some degree. I enjoy your ‘coffee chats’ and the way you marvel at the little things. Those always bring a smile to my morning. Take care and thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This post reinforces why I still blog. I really enjoy reading posts by my blogging friends and having our conversations in the comments. I was reminded of my pen pal in England as I read about your pen pal. I still have some British magazines about the Beatles she sent me 😊 I also smile as I read my friends posts! Thanks for mentioning my blog.

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  4. Suzanne, It’s my pleasure to be on your list of modern day pen pals and thank you for being one of mine. Your post today brings me joy. I used to have pen pals and some have become my dear friends to this day. I visit them and meet their families several times over the years. I’m loyal to my friends and make efforts to be a good friend so unless they don’t want me in their life, I stay in touch and look forward to sharing our news. I hope we both continue to stay connected. I follow some of the bloggers on your list. I’ll be visiting the ones new to me. One day when we’re able to travel freely again, you know there are direct flights from Florida to Toronto and vice versa 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

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    • Natalie, I think I would enjoy visiting Toronto. You bring out the very best in the city through your posts; from art walks to botanical gardens and everything in between. We do seem to have a few cyber-friends in common as I often see your comments. Hopefully, you will discover some new ‘reads’ from my top 20 list and if that isn’t enough, there are always more on my sidebar to check out. Have a great week.

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  5. I am glad to be one of your pen pals. The connections I’ve made through blogging are a benefit I hadn’t imagined, but they are real and welcome.

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  6. I think you’ve hit on why so many of us continue to blog. It never occurred to me when I first started this journey that I’d meet so many interesting, kind, inspiring, talented people – a few that I’ve had the privilege of meeting IRL (hopefully including you one day). Thank you for including my in your list… and introducing me to several new (to me) bloggers to check out!

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    • Hi Janis, you were one of the first blogs I followed because I enjoyed your laid-back style and I always look forward to what you have to say. I do hope you will check out some of my other PenPals!

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  7. This ought a few little tears to my eyes. This is exactly how I feel and why I blog and why I love reading the bloggers I love to read. I’m glad to be one of your cyber pen pals.

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    • Hi Jo, call me a snoop, but I do love hearing about how people live; what their concerns are, what brings them joy, contentment, and a sense of accomplishment. I like celebrating the good stuff and offering reassurances during not-so-good times. And, I love that those same people respond to my shared thoughts. Thanks for visiting. You are always a joy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m the same – it’s what I love about blogging – and the little insights into lives on the other side of the world are an added bonus…

        Liked by 1 person

  8. The one thing about blogging is the connections you make. I have found some amazing blogging friends over the last 4 years. You have an impressive list that I will need to check out later today…#MLSTL

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    • I do enjoy the connections that a blog makes possible and I would truly miss that daily interaction should it suddenly go away. Thank goodness, that is one thing not touched by a pandemic! Please do check out some of my pen pals, I’m sure you already know a few of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the idea of being a Cyber Pen Pal Suzanne and I agree that blogging is all about connections. I’ve made wonderful friends and have been fortunate to meet them IRL. The hightlight was being able to catch up with Donna when our ship docked at VI. Thanks for the mention and it is lovely that you feel that way about me and so many others. #MLSTL

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    • Thanks Sue, you are a significant part of my weekly ritual and I am continually inspired by you. You certainly have the resolve to overcome obstacles and never take NO for an answer. I have only ever met one blogger friend and we hit it off right away, as I suspected we would. I think that is a tribute to the way we have gotten to ‘know’ each other. This is a unique and satisfying forum in which to explore connections. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week.

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  10. I think your description of us as “Cyber Pen Pals” is accurate and I have loved and appreciated every connection. I agree with all of the things you said, the sense of community has been a blessing to me as I have pushed myself out there, hopefully, somewhat shyly and persistently. Blessings, Michelee

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    • Michele, you have a kind and wise heart and it shows in your writing. The ‘community’ does inspire a certain degree of bravery and even still, I think we have all had that moment of hesitation before pressing the ‘publish’ button on certain posts. But, that’s how we learn and grow and eventually find our people. I’m certainly glad you are a part of my circle of friends and I look forward to getting to know you through your writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Suzanne, I am happy to be counted among them. On a short vacation now but getting ready to write and publish my 50th Beach Girl Post. It is a good milestone, I think. And I think the blogs are a great way to give retirees or people about to retire a picture of the depth and breadth of what life can be.
        Best and blessings, Michele

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  11. Hi, Suzanne – I also had a penpal in the late ’60s. Neon colours and peace symbols also decorated our envelopes — which I couldn’t wait to receive.
    I absolutely loved your version of modern-day penpals. We follow many of the same bloggers. I was honoured to be included on your list! #MLSTL

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    • Donna, I remembering following you because of your positive energy and lifestyle posts. You come across as genuine and likable and someone I would be friends with IRL. We do tend to gravitate to similar types of bloggers which I think reflects who we are. Thanks for dropping by.

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  12. Hi Suzanne, I agree 100% with you about our blogging community being our cyber penpals! I love the connections we make with others. I have a penpal from Japan, we started writing to each other 41 years ago! These days it’s emails, but I remember the absolute joy I used to feel opening the letterbox and finding an exotic envelope from Chika. Thanks for the lovely post, and also for the links to the other blogs, something to keep me busy for a while! 🙂

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    • Hi Cheryl, I am sorry for the late reply. I overlooked your comment. How wonderful to have had a penpal for 41 years. Your lives must be very different, but also similar in ways that have kept you connected for such a long time. I am glad you enjoyed the post and hope you will check out some of my penpals. They are an eclectic bunch and I appreciate each one of them. Thanks for stopping by.

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  13. What a fun read Suzanne. I love most of those bloggers too and you’ve summed them up perfectly. I also agree with your reasons for blogging 🙂 I’ve often said blogging is like having pen friends too. #mlstl

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    • Deb, I’m glad you agree with my descriptions and I know that we do have a lot of cyber friends in common. Leanne and Sue have introduced me to some incredible people through #mlstl and I will truly miss that link up. I was hoping that maybe you might pick up that mantle and carry on. Any interest? Thank you for visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Suzanne. I am interested in helping them out and have offered but in the meantime I’m offering Shout Out Saturday on my blog for bloggers to share posts or links to other bloggers. There are a lot of great midlife bloggers out there and I’m lucky we’ve managed to connect!

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    • Hi Jennifer, we do travel in some of the same circles. I generally see you at #mlstl and will miss that. I will make sure I am subscribed so I won’t miss your posts. Hope all is well for you this summer. It has been a hot one and I have had my fill of heat exhaustion!

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  14. Dear Suzanne, I am deeply touched by your kind words and including me in this list of your blogging friends. I have always considered you a friend of mine from the first words we shared. ❤️ It is interesting how our philosophy and life’s moments, life’s ups and downs enter the homes and hearts of people around our planet.

    I agree with you how blogging is a chance to be creative, share our photos and our stories. This is how we started.

    I also agree with you how we continue because of connections, “…mostly it comes down to each one of you – the folks I interact with on a weekly basis.”

    I am at the 2 year mark this August, 2020. At look at you and other friends in the blogging community as my mentors, my friends. Thank you, Suzanne! I look forward to continue “seeing you” every week! ❤️

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    • Hi Erica, congratulations on the two-year mark. I was told in the beginning that if I made it through 2 years I’d be hooked. That proved to be true in my case and I hope yours, as well. I look forward to all your ‘real-life’ sharing. Most of the time it really does feel like gal pals catching up. Thanks for bringing smiles to my inbox each week. Take care.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. This is so generous-spirited and uplifting…exactly what we all need during these tumultuous times. I started blogging about our full-time RVing adventures almost eight years ago, with the intent of staying in touch with family and friends. Little did I know that blogging would enrich our lives with so many new friends!

    I always enjoy your beautiful photos and your heartfelt writing. I’m glad we’ve ‘met’ through our blogs, and hope someday it will be in person.

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    • Laurel, it is addictive isn’t it? I’m glad to have met you guys as well. I’ll say the same thing to you as I did to Joe and Helen (comment below Easin’ Along) – you guys have a lot in common and should check out each other’s blogs. I can’t resist match-making! Looking forward to the remodel ‘reveal.’

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  16. Suzanne,
    Making your list almost feels like hitting the Lotto. Thanks, I’m honored. I just passed the five-year mark of blogging and had no idea that I would get that far or enjoy it as much as I do. Meeting online friends like you and some of those mentioned above has been an unexpected pleasure as well as a reason to keep at it. Great post! Joe

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    • Thank you Joe, I enjoy the way you and Helen ‘ease’ through retirement, and I am especially enjoying your posts from the road. You guys have not missed a beat. In addition to highlighting my favorite blogs, I was hoping to do a little match-making as well. If you have not read Laurel’s blog (she made the comment above yours), you will want to. She and her husband are on hiatus right now, but they have visited some beautiful places in their RV and I think you guys will have a lot in common. Enjoy your travels!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Suzanne, You hit the nail on the head as to why I continue to blog. Finding the range of like-minded people out there in cyber-space – the cheerleaders, supporters, inspirers… yes, friends… is why I continue to blog (now into my 5th year!). I’m so pleased you consider me one of your cyber-pen-pals!

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  18. Pingback: The Weekly Smile Recap 8/17 – 8/24/2020 | Trent's World (the Blog)

  19. What a lovely post and so very true. Thank you so much for your kind words and including me among a wonderful group of bloggers. I know many of your friends and am looking forward to “meeting” a few of your pen pals that I’ve not met.

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  20. What a great perspective on blogging. I love the way you worked in all your pals’ blogs into the post!
    It also made me long for the ‘good old days’ of blogging that I seem to have lost out on along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Corinne, I still find the process interesting and I learn so much from other bloggers. This was a simple tribute to say ‘thank you’ to some of those engaging folks who are a regular part of my week. Thank you so much for your visit and kind comment.

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  21. In 2017, six months before I retired, I thought about a retirement project that would keep me creatively engaged, and my blog was born. It was an instantaneous intuitive hit that unfolded quickly and naturally. I learned so much and made lots of mistakes. What kept me going was my decision to publish once a month so not to have too much pressure placed on me. Pressure was the last thing I wanted in my retirement! Although I’ve met fellow blogging pen pals along the way and been enriched, I have to be honest: nothing beats in person, heart-to-heart intimate connections and of course, wouldn’t you know it, that is what I crave most these days.

    Having said that, I appreciate your posts, perspective, and beautiful photos, and I love the layout of your blog here. Quite captivating to the eye. I’ve got to get with the program, I suppose, but that’s the last thing I need right now, the pressure of tackling something new. I remember at work when we always had to learn new versions of software; inwardly, I would balk but soon I would adjust.

    Cheers to you,

    Susan Grace

    Like

    • Susan, I completely agree that blogging should be fun. I post on average about twice a month but there is no schedule. Thank you for complimenting my blog layout, photos, and perspective. I try to make it as light and entertaining as possible, while still sharing parts of who I am. It was the potential for creativity that drew me here, but it is definitely the connections I’ve made that make it worth staying a while. Thank you for stopping by and for leaving such an encouraging comment. Change generally happens in two ways; by choice or by force. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it! Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. What a wonderful post! I could relate to everything you said … well except the part about continuing to blog during COVID. For some reason my muse up and left me at the beginning of this pandemic and refuses to come back.

    I love the way you wove your favourite bloggers into your story. I recognized almost every one! I think that’s a tribute to this wonderful community we belong to 💕

    Like

  23. Hi Joanne, I know you will come back when you are ready. I appreciate that you have not completely faded away and are still maintaining a presence through comments. It was nice to see you with Deb and the VI gang. They are all a great bunch of gals and I love their energy. Take care.

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  24. Hi Suzanne! I haven’t been the dedicated blogger that you have by any means….you seem to have gotten around and connected to some wonderful women from all over the world. I mean well….just never manage to get to everyone! But when I do or when they (or you) check in on my blog I always feel happy to hear your thoughts. Plus with me taking the entire month of August off…I’ve really been trying to stay off the computer so I am even more behind in saying hello to those bloggers I believe are my friends. Glad to see you are STILL here after four years and enjoying it. That’s the key isn’t it. Looking forward to where you go the next four. ~Kathy

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  25. I started blogging 3 years ago after I retired for similar reasons. I always enjoyed writing but never had an outlet for it. Out of the blue one day, I just decided to start a blog and fortuitously my computer whiz middle son was home so he could help me. I pictured blogging as a more solitary experience. I never expected the interesting people (like you) I would meet through blogging. You are so right – it is like having modern-day pen pals.

    Like

    • Laurie, you have a nice writing style that I particularly enjoy – a physical story, followed by a message. You are not afraid to be vulnerable and imperfect, which makes you relatable. I always look forward to what you share. Thanks for stopping by and for the nice comment.

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  26. Now that l have both my cataracts taken care of and l can see again, I am trying to catch up with everything reading-related. I am so behind! How lovely to be on your list. I got into blogging to help pass on information that l wish I’d had, but meeting new cyber friends has been so awesome, and l definitely count you in that group, even though we haven’t met face to face … yet :-). Hope all is well with you, and looking forward to keeping up with you.

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  27. Suzanne, I agree, the people I have met through blogging are wonderful. I love “getting to know” someone through their blog and feel truly sad when someone whom I follow disappears from the blogging world. In some cases, blogging friendships become part of one’s IRL friendships. I’ve now had the chance to meet about ten bloggers in person. It’s one interesting example of how one’s online and offline life can become integrated.

    Jude

    Like

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