by Mary Ann Cooper for GRAND Magazine

You might feel as if you don\’t know where to start looking-if you\’re a single grand-to find someone to share all that life has to offer you in these wonderful years of exploration and new adventures. You\’ve done the bar scene and been “hooked up” by friends, but isn\’t there a better way? Yes, in fact, there are 10 different ways to meet the new special person in your life.

1. Bury your nose in a book. Your friends probably told you that you\’d never meet anyone by being a bookworm. “Put down those books and go out and have some fun,” they\’d say. Well, that was before there were mega bookstores with comfy chairs and couches and coffee bars. Bookstores promote social interaction. On any given afternoon or evening, dress up a bit and head for the book stacks. Hang out in a section that carries books that interest you. If you are into skiing, park yourself in that section. If you can\’t get enough murder mysteries or biographies, go there. And guess what? People who share your interests will gravitate there as well. Even more casual are the magazine racks. This compact space is neatly divided into everything from parenting to home improvement to entertainment publications. It\’s an easy transition from book or magazine racks to sharing a latte at the in-store coffee bar.

2. Stage right. There are numerous community theater groups around the country crying out for volunteers to help put on productions. As anyone will tell you who has worked in community theater, the group becomes like a family: sometimes bickering and sometimes loving. But what they will also tell you is that a bond develops between members that can last a lifetime. These groups welcome with open arms people who are willing to help build sets, make costumes and sell tickets. And here is a tip for grandparents: You can help out at your local children\’s theater as well. You\’re sure to meet other grandparents like yourself who love to be around kids.

3. Hit the high seas. Cruise companies have discovered that boomers are a great untapped market for them. The latest marketing strategy features commercials of boomer-age couples enjoying shipboard activities and sightseeing at the ship\’s ports of call. The wonderful thing about looking for that special someone on a cruise is that you are away from the stresses and demands of life and can concentrate on just having fun. People are more open to meeting others and exploring new relationships when they don\’t have the weight of the world on their shoulders.

4. Get on the bus. Yes, a bus trip. Start with a short jaunt, a day trip to somewhere that ends with a happy hour and dinner. Even if you board the bus knowing no one, by the end of the day you can make a bunch of new friends, and you won\’t have any trouble making small talk over dinner as you recap the day\’s activities. Very often, bus trips are organized by a group that gets together frequently for such ventures. If you play your cards right, you\’ll be part of the group next time around instead of being the outsider.

5. Sing, sing, sing. Before you dismiss this suggestion with “Not me; I couldn\’t carry a tune in a bucket!” try it. Church choirs are not designed to give concerts in Carnegie Hall. It\’s a group get-together where the better voices carry the rest of the crowd. There\’s almost no one who can\’t fit into a choir. All it takes is patience, confidence and a willingness to learn. And the person you might meet at a choir rehearsal will share your religious conviction, a great plus for any relationship.

6. Get physical. It\’s easy to say “Join a gym,” but have you seen who walks around in a gym?: young, well-toned women and men who look like this is the last place they belong. Instead, try joining a co-ed bowling league. Don\’t fret about your average. Leagues are designed so that your team\’s standing and success are based on improved averages, not just final scores. You may just join the team with a pitiful average and end up the season with the trophy for most improved bowler and lead your team to victory. The nice thing about bowling is that there is plenty of time between frames for conversation, and the snack bar provides a casual place to have coffee after the game if you meet someone you like.

7. Go back to school. You don\’t have to be in pursuit of a degree. You can take extension courses at your local college or high school in subjects that interest you, and perhaps you\’ll meet someone you might want to get to know better. Imagine trying your hand at gourmet cooking: the perfect excuse to invite someone in class over for a home-cooked meal. There are also theater appreciation courses, which include trips to live local theater-the perfect opportunity to “couple up” for a date-type evening.

8. Get political. As we approach 2008, the stage is set for a raucous political campaign. As the saying goes, never discuss politics or religion in polite company; but the reality is that many relationships are rooted in deeply held common political beliefs. If you are passionate about politics, you may not be able to put those convictions aside when considering a new relationship. So take the bull by the horns and confront it. Volunteer for the local chapter of the party or cause that is near and dear to your heart, and look for someone who shares your passion. It could be the start of a beautiful relationship.

9. Go clubbing. That doesn\’t mean to go barhopping. The clubbing referred to here is special-interest clubs. Check out the local section of your newspaper. You\’ll find club meetings for everything from bird-watching to scuba diving to movie watching. Find a friend to go with you to the meetings. It\’s always more awkward to walk into a new situation without a friend to lean on; but if you have to fly solo, just take a deep breath and do it. Remember, choose an activity you love and you\’ll be among friends.

10. Go surfing. There has been so much written and said about the perils of on-line chatting that it\’s easy to overlook the wonderful opportunities in cyberspace to connect with people all over the world. There are chat rooms and message boards for people of every conceivable interest: from opera to classic cars. And if you can\’t find a group, start your own. Google, AOL and Yahoo offer ways to set up your own on-line community, as do a host of other on-line services. Just use some common sense. Don\’t give out personal information when chatting with someone you\’ve never met, and be aware that in chat rooms everyone can see what you\’re saying.

If there is a common theme in these 10 suggestions, it\’s to think outside the box. Staying at home and sticking to your routine won\’t open you up to meeting new people and experiencing new things. The first step is the toughest, but after that you\’ll be surprised how easy it gets.

Christine Crosby, a grandmother and great-grandmother, has been a successful entrepreneur, book and magazine publisher, and child/family advocate for 30 years. At 61, she is the perfect example of why the traditional grandparent images no longer apply. A dynamic, blond, high-energy entrepreneur, Christine is a passionate and articulate advocate for children who has worked for more than 20 years to strengthen families and protect abused kids, first as a book publisher and later as the founder and publisher of a chain of family magazines. Her own grandchildren and great-grandchild were the inspiration for GRAND Magazine, an unprecedented resource for today's grandparents.