Thursday, October 4, 2012

Like Selling Belts -- How Eva Made New Friends

Eva Horowitz, sporting one of her belts.

For 37 years, Eva Horowitz was a speech and language pathologist living near Boston. Then she and her husband decided to upend their lives. They packed up and moved.

Their aged parents, their adult son and grandchildren had all landed in Connecticut. Their best friends had relocated near this new family hub. Eva’s school system was offering   “a minor incentive to retire,” and she thought, “‘Hmm, I’m 60; this may just tip the scales.”  Then, the clincher:  “Someone said, ‘We’ll take your house. Just walk out.’”

“It seemed like all the stars were aligned,”  Eva said.  “So we moved.”  Her transition-- a reinventing of herself, from full time work, to what? and from a tight social life, to who will  be my friend? -- was a daunting challenge she knew lay before her.

A stylish,  gregarious woman, Eva decided she would tackle the move in the same way she had tackled her sideline – selling designer belts to boutiques, out of the trunk of her car. 

”I said to myself, no one’s going to ask me to join their lives because I’m the newcomer so I have to put myself out there,” Eva explained.  “One of the things you learn in sales is that you say to people, ‘Just try it on. If you don’t like it, you can just take it off.’ So using that philosophy was how I kind of navigated my way through the new life.”

At a dinner party for 12, where she knew only two people, she announced: “‘I’ve always wanted to start a film group; I’m asking everybody in the room to give me a try. I’ll do all the work. You can meet at my house. If you don’t like it, you never have to do it again,’-- kind of like the belt.”
 The film group is in its second year. 

“Then I wanted to be in a book group and I didn’t know anybody.  So any time I saw anyone from the age of 45 to 70 reading a book, I’d say, ‘What are you reading? Is that for pleasure or part of a book group?’  I started collecting names and a year later I had 10 names and now we have a book group.”
There was more.

“I never had any discretionary time in my life, I’d always worked. I felt like I was in a candy shop. What will I do next? So I signed up for all kinds of courses,” she explained. “My philosophy was I was going to try everything and if I didn’t like it, I could discard it. I learned to play bridge and when I played with someone I liked, I said, ‘You know, I feel this connection with you. Can I have your email?’ I would follow up and now I have new friends who play bridge.. So that’s been my philosophy going forward.”
To Eva’s surprise, she found that “people our age are open and excited about new events, new people. I wouldn’t have believed that for a minute. I’d thought they were all hooked into their old life.”
Her energy has created a new social network for herself and to some extent for her husband.

“That was my job… to build a life. And I think I’m doing a good job.”

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