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Me, divorce, kids, relationship, separation, being single!

Last year I wrote a blog about my journey to where I am today. I didn't write it because I felt like it, but because many of you on my network kept asking me and I felt it only fair to divulge details of where I am, how I got here, and why I do what I do. For those of you who may have still been part of a couple at that time or were not ready to move forward for various reasons, I've taken a moment to revisit and update my journey. This reflection aims to offer insight into the motivations behind my choices and the passion that drives me to do what I do. Whether you're currently navigating the complexities of a relationship or are not yet in a space to embrace change, I hope this glimpse into my experiences provides clarity on the purpose and commitment that underlie my endeavours. Life presents us with all sorts of dilemmas, and most are unforeseen, but 31 years ago when I walked down the aisle in my chilly and echoey old chapel located at the foot of the Sperrin Mountains (Northern Ireland) I saw my whole life ahead of me, and it was a 'happy ever after'. Fifteen years later, I became single at 42, I confronted various challenges, including financial adjustments, shared custody responsibilities for three children, and relocation. However, I embraced this transformative period, discovering newfound independence and evolving into a more mature version of myself. Stepping away from the traditional roles of mother and wife, I pursued additional qualifications and embarked on a journey of self-discovery. At the age of 44, I entered into a decade-long relationship, choosing not to remarry (this was not important to me anymore). In January 2018, I opted for a 'happily single' status, motivated by a desire to break free from perceived constraints and regain control over my life. Despite initial apprehensions about living alone in my 50s and concerns about meeting new people, I eventually realised the importance of prioritising my own happiness over remaining in an unfulfilling relationship. Transitioning into a single life in my early 50s was a different experience, shaped by the lessons of the past decade. Autonomy took on a new and delightful meaning, and my outlook on dating transformed from traditional in my teens and 20s to embracing online avenues in my 40s, now frustrated by the disconnect between digital self-promotion and authentic personalities, I eventually decided to forego online dating altogether. Feeling somewhat isolated in a new area, I founded Select Events, creating a social haven for singles over 50 without the pressure of conventional dating. The success of this endeavour led me to set up Select Connections, a bespoke introductions agency catering to individuals in their 50s, 60s, and 70s seeking companionship (in whatever form that will be). Since then, my commitment to the venture has left me little room for a full-time relationship. While content with my current status, I acknowledge the need to reassess this aspect of my life before reaching the age of 65 (I am 59). Engaging with individuals experiencing single life later in their 50s, 60s, and 70s reaffirms the notion that each stage of this journey is unique. As I reflect on the twists and turns of my journey through single life over 50, I am filled with gratitude for the lessons learned, the growth experienced, and the connections forged. Each chapter, from embracing independence to founding Select Events and Select Connections, has been a stepping stone leading me to a place of fulfilment. To my fellow singles navigating this unique path, I want to impart a message of hope and possibility. Our journeys may be diverse, but they are bound by the strength and resilience that define us. Embrace the uniqueness of your story, celebrate the joy in every moment, and remember that life, in all its facets, is a journey worth savouring. As you stand at the crossroads of your own narrative, know that there is power in embracing change and finding authentic connections. Whether you are seeking companionship or relishing the freedom of singlehood, the journey is yours to shape. May the upcoming weeks be filled with warmth, joy, and the promise of new beginnings. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead, and may the up-and-coming Christmas season bring you moments of happiness and connection. Warm regards, Jacqui Baker 07368912304

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