3 secrets to living alone in a pandemic

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Tumult and trauma around the world these days with COVID-19 raging. For many single women and men who don’t have to be out there in frontline jobs (thank you, folks who are), we’re talking alone at home for what we thought would be weeks and now turns out will be months on end. Thank heaven for our technology-assisted telephone and virtual electronic socializing.

How are you coping? Here are a few of my secrets for living alone successfully in a pandemic:

1. Worried about weight gain? Try eating regular doses of bread and pasta. What? Yes, you could’ve knocked me over with a box of spaghetti when I noticed the scale inching down despite not being able to hit the gym. Never expected that.

Normally I try hard not to eat processed carbs, and yet now, doing so seems like an answer to a prayer. Just as I was writing this I relished an afternoon snack of a little chunk of crispy 9-grain garlic bread with creamy melted extra sharp cheddar and some grape tomatoes. Tonight I’m having a big bowl of cavatappi (curly, ridged macaroni-shaped pasta – frankly, I like long noodles better) with jarred marinara sauce (Rao’s works well), speckled with spicy Italian sausage bits, caramelized onions and peppers, and sauteed mushrooms. and frosted with a heap of finely grated imported Parmiggiano-Reggiano. It’s all about balancing your calories and macros (carbs, protein, fat) and tracking your exercise.

2. Position your phone/tablet/laptop or whatever up high enough (a shelf in an open kitchen cabinet works) that you can read free ebooks (Bookbub.com) without bending your neck while you step or march to rockin’ tunes on Pandora. Painless and free way to get your steps in.

3. Play online games with your friends/family. Love that games bring people together without the need to discuss, dissect, dissent, diss or otherwise discombobulate relationships in these fractured times. A friend of mine plays almost every day of the week with her singing group pals multiple rounds of Trivial Pursuit – a game that shows just how pathetically unobservant I am. But a few of us in my family play skribbl.io together each week. One person starts the game, then makes a group call to the rest of us. That’s so we can hear each other laugh at our wonderful drawings and give each other hints (even though that’s not officially allowed). We don’t care about the score. It’s all about laughing and enjoying seeing how others think. Here’s a link to 10 other free online games to consider.

Hope you’re working with a few favorite strategies of your own.

Single Working Women’s Week

If you’re a single working woman, get ready to celebrate your holiday this Sunday August 2 to Saturday, August 8. And there’s also Single Working Women’s Day on August 4. Last year the author of an article talking about this holiday wondered why such a random date for it. I’ll tell you why. The date is the birth date of a particularly vibrant, successful and kind single woman/mother who’s an important part of my life – my younger daughter. Happy upcoming birthday, Perri, and happy Single Working Women’s Day to all you courageous, creative and passionate single women around the world.<

Register to vote. Sign up to vote by mail. And VOTE 2020!!!!

The times they are a-changin’

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Nothing is or will be the same.

Anybody ever read Lord of the Flies? In my innocence, as a young woman struggling to attend college (I made it through one semester in 1965 and then ran out of savings and had to return to the secretarial job I had left out of boredom – a whole ‘nother story)… In my innocence, then, I could not believe the horrors that came out in the story about the groups of – I think they were all one sex – boys who were marooned on a desert island. They became savages, trapping and killing each other with abandon.

Scarce resources can easily make enemies of almost anyone. We human beings – and single women can lead the way here – are in a position to call upon the greatest good in us during this Coronavirus threat.

Bertrand Russell once wrote, “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”He also wrote, “Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”

Exercise caution and make responsible choices, but don’t let fear into your life. Keep centered in your heart.

Why Single Working Women’s Week is tied to August 4

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Well, ladies and gentlemen. it’s that time of year again. Single Working Women the world over, hurrah! According to Chase’s Calendar of Events, an entire week is officially dedicated to celebrating the courage and creativity of single working women everywhere. “Single Working Women’s Week” takes place this year between August 4 and August 11 (and every year during the week surrounding August 4).

A few media outlets have asked the question: Why is this holiday connected to August 4? That date, August 4, was designated Single Working Women’s Day because it’s the birthday of the woman who inspired this movement, Perrine Knight – a talented, young woman who bravely faces the challenges of single womanhood – and the even-bigger ones of single motherhood – and who was also the woman to notice that although there are holidays for relationships of all sorts – mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, lovers, bachelor/bachelorettes, brides, grooms, weddings, and wedding anniversaries – nowhere in that long list is anything to celebrate what it takes to live, work and sustain mind, body and heart through life as a woman on one’s own in our society. And that seems an especially egregious omission given the realities of doing so on the generally 1/4 to 1/2 less money many females are paid for their labors.

The unique challenges of single life for a woman tend to be even larger in the realm of human interactions. The glass ceiling in business is still a grim reality, despite some improvement in middle management levels. And despite anti-discrimination laws, which tend to be sidestepped by disguising prejudice as something else, single women are often singled out for less desirable assignments and to endure other subtle forms of injustice. Read specifics on how these types of prejudices manifest themselves in single women’s lives at Psychology Today’s column Living Single by Bella DePaulo, PhD.

Socially, single women tend to be bypassed when coupled colleagues, friends and family get together. Single men usually continue to be invited – friends even work actively to “fix them up” – but single women are often excluded. So the happy single woman finds ways to connect with other single women to enjoy life. Though, of course, she often finds herself in a restaurant being offered the dining table by the kitchen door, or told she must pay 25% to 50% more for the privilege of being a single passenger on, say, a cruise, etc.

So if you have a single working woman friend, consider this holiday your opportunity to appreciate her for all she does. Take her out for a drink and compliment her on her resourcefulness and her guts. Tell her how much you admire her courage. Even better, do a task or an errand for her – although be sure to ask how first, as single working women tend to be fiercely independent and, like many women of all stations, often have very specific ways they want things done!

God willing an’ the creek don’t rise, life is getting a little better for single women. All we can do is keep up the good fight. Time will tell if we’ll be able to make enough more progress to matter for single women, people of color, LGBQT people, and so on before the looming disastrous consequences of global warming make all our questions and struggles around fairness and equality simply moot.

Celebrating women’s work

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I love waking up in the dark of early morning. Used to do it every day of my life when I worked, until the last decade or so after I moved to Chicago and couldn’t find any aerobic/step classes I liked at 6 am. Gradually began sleeping later, until now I consider myself a serious ‘bones because I sleep until 7, 7:30. I miss being out and about in the dark. Feels special to be up ahead of most of the city…

Woke up early this morning. Lying abed ruminating from 4:53 (according to my Fitbit sleep tracker function). Finally decided to get up at 6-ish (didn’t check the tracker or ask Alexa for the exact time). Lit my candles and settled in with my journal and my mini-flashlight. Not sure what journaling actually does for me/anyone. Sometimes it just feels like a boring recitation of what’s going on – the mundane stuff of life. But that’s part of what made the diary of Samel Pepys so compelling – his extraordinary attention to the little details. Anyway, it just feels good sometimes.

Discovered a program last night on PBS called Makers: Women Who Make America. All about women’s work in various fields. One episode covered women in comedy. Excellent! Didn’t realize that so many groundbreakers were in comedy: Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, Roseanne Barr, Sarah Silverman, and so on. Another was on film/TV. The interview with Jane Fonda was powerful. How she grew in professional stature and in her ability to be in charge of her own content. To make movies about topics she truly cared about.

But my favorite part of that one was the interview with Marlo Thomas about the ending of her series, That Girl. She explained that all the (male) studio executives wanted her to end the series with a wedding to her long-time boyfriend on the show. She balked. They argued. She finally told them, look, ending this with a wedding sends the wrong message to all the young women/girls out there watching who are becoming convinced of the joy of being an independent woman. No, she said. There will be no wedding. In her final episode, That Girl took her boyfriend to a women’s liberation meeting.

Thanks, Marlo. And all you wonderful women who care enough to keep opening doors for all of us.

Happy Galentine’s Day!

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Yes, you read that right: Galentine’s Day. Finally, a mere 15 or so years after Psychology Today started its Living Single blog and SWWAN came into being, society is accepting an alternative name for one of the most manufactured holidays of all time – another one of the many bows to romance/coupledom.

Society is at last beginning in a small way to integrate the power and realities of single life into the social structure. Perhaps now the previously unchallenged penalties for singles woven into that structure will begin to unravel. The price penalties for solo travelers, the subpar seating/service for solo diners, the insurance penalties for singles, the tax penalties for single filers, and so on.

Next step. Let’s stop pretending it’s an aberration to grow up with a single mom. According to the 2017 Census Bureau, 80% of the 12 million single-parent families in the U.S. were headed by single moms. Time to get real on the benefits and policies in our workplaces – ‘cuz these moms are raising the next generation of employees for your companies.

Happy Galentine’s Day, everyone!

Now that’s what we’re talkin’ about…

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Living alone means you get to decide how to spend your time

Being a blogger on several subjects, I get hundreds of emails in my inbox everyday – most unsolicited information about interesting products, books, restaurants, wines, travel ideas and so on. Necessarily, this results sometimes in my having to ignore the subscriptions I’ve actually signed up for. No time to read philosophical stuff when you’re having to beat back the tide. But one headline today caught my single-working-woman eye.

“Seven 7 reasons why people who like to be alone have stronger personalities” on Ideapod is brief and pithy. A quick read made me think that not all seven points are universally valid. For example, if you’re a single woman or mother, are you smarter than someone in a relationship? That’s simply not a logical conclusion and certainly not a given, as this article suggests. But living alone or as a single mom – as in any case when everything depends on you – definitely encourages quick and creative thinking.

It may well be that you’re more independent – but isn’t that kind of circular? Living alone is automatically more independent, right? Think how much work it would take to be DEpendent while living alone! Cripes. You’d be exhausted just trying to find enough people to “help” with everything.

Anyway, it’s always fun to think about the positives of being a single working woman, mother or not. Some of the points in this article are questionable, but like everything we have to handle in this overwhelming electronic age, just take what fits and leave the rest.

And here’s an earlier meditation on what “Living alone means…

Today’s thank you – for our beautiful summer

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P.S. Wrote this last year and forgot to publish. Since we had mostly a beautiful summer this year, too. herewith my thank you for lovely weather.

View of Lincoln Park’s Nature Path from Brauer Cafe

Lying in bed this morning, I randomly thought about how many lovely days we’ve had this summer in Chicago. Far more often than usual we’ve had days with relatively low humidity, sunshine and gentle breezes. Compared with our usual several-week-runs of 90+ temps, and/or rain and clouds, and/or gale-force winds, this has been a joyfully easy summer. I can’t believe the number of times I’ve pushed out from between the handicap-switch-operated front doors of my apartment building and found myself smiling as I hit the sidewalk towards, on the one hand, to the west, the grocery store of the UPS pickup point, or on the other hand, to the east, the bus stop north to the gym or the hairdresser, or south to Lincoln Park and locations downtown. The beautiful weather is such a gift.

I am, at best, only a fair-weather fan of the outdoors, especially in the summer. My philosophy is always that it’s easy to put on more clothes and scarves and muffs and socks when it’s cold. But when it’s hot, there’s only so much you can take off. And walking around with a sheen of sweat all over my body – unless I’m dancing up a storm in my aerobics class or having sex (ah, memories!) – is one of the worst feelings, ever. Having to live with your hair sticking to your neck and your shirt sticking to your back is a fate I would wish on no one. My heart really goes out to the hard-working guys and gals in the construction crews that toil away in hard hats amid the choking dust and almost-unbearable noise, doing their jobs no matter how high the humidity or how searing the sun. Thank you to all the strong and dedicated men and women in every profession who labor outside under all conditions.

Rooftop at the WIT Hotel

I’m grateful to the many restaurants and bars in Chicago that operate umbrella-ed patios and decks and rooftop bars so that we denizens of the city can soak up the outdoors on demand. Is there anything to beat sipping the cold drink in your hand while enjoying a view of this great city? Even if it’s just folks on the sidewalk moving down the street, there’s something special about watching the world go by as you eat and drink outside, more or less sheltered from the flow.

Cheers to more of this beautiful summer. Hope yours is a happy one this year.

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England ahead on female pay equality

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It’s already the law in England that equal work must receive equal pay, regardless of who is doing the work, according to an item from Ms. Magazine’s Summer 2018 issue. Now, it says, British law has just declared that large companies there (250+ employees) “must publish on their websites and submit to the government a reporting of the average salaries and bonuses of the women and men employed by them, revealing any gender pay disparities.”

Map of states that have/have not ratified (Used with permission of the Alice Paul Institute, www.equalrightsamendment.org)

Wow. That’s a good start to puttin’ your money where your mouth is. At least for giant corporations. Since the U.S. hasn’t even been able to pass the Equal Rights Amendment – though happily the State of Illinois did ratify it this past May – it seems unlikely we’ll see anything like that here anytime soon.

But Britain is a powerful ally, and it’s great they are acting as a good role model. Now if we could get them to mandate that kind of transparency regarding, first, pay gaps by race, and then pay gaps by single vs. married, we could really start getting somewhere!

Happy Single Working Women’s Week and Day coming up July 29 through August 4, 2018!

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Happy Single Working Women’s Week 2018!

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Here we are again. Ready to celebrate another Single Working Women’s Week.** Do you feel like we’ve made any progress towards liberating ourselves to celebrate the challenges and joys of being a single woman in today’s world?

Sometimes doesn’t feel much like it, right?

Just saw a tweet from @SinglePhobia passing on the frustration of seeing no one on the @MorningJoe television show even try to stand up to a conservative author whose new book claims “feminism has failed us.”

I’d say feminism has made some significant changes. Certainly we’ve made great strides in the workplace in terms of career opportunities – with miles yet to go over terrain that can still feel particularly grueling. See research by Psychology Today’s Single Living editor.

The first time I watched an episode of Mad Men, the television series about the advertising business in the 60s, I almost got sick. Simply couldn’t watch it because I’d lived through that time, and the men’s snide, condescending attitudes brought back miserable memories.

Recently, after hearing over and over again how many awards the show had won, I decided to control my revulsion and see if I could figure out what was so good about it. Suffice it to say, the acting was pretty darn good, but the plot line – which too frequently involves the tall and handsome, privileged-but-somehow-vulnerable male star sleeping with practically every female who comes into his field of vision – wore thin after a few seasons.

The net effect of watching was to remind me just how subjugated women tended to be back then. The most amazing character in the series was the single woman who rose from copywriter to creative team coordinator by standing up for herself – a courageous move that in the real world would have been just as likely to get her fired. She also completely hid the pregnancy brought on when she fell for one of the ad execs saying he couldn’t stop thinking about her – and let him impregnate her on the couch in his office. Once he dumped her because she was too uppity about being promoted, she never let him know about the pregnancy. Just wore disguising outfits and put up with the snide comments about her getting fat – and then gave the child up for adoption, probably because pregnancy termination was illegal back then.

Read the Huffington Post article about feminism that started the Tweet storm. And you may want to know I finally saw the last few episodes of Mad Men and found them surprisingly satisfying.

Happy Single Working Women’s Week**!

 

**Single Working Women’s Week in 2018 goes from July 29 to August 4. And of course Single Working Women’s Day is Saturday, August 4 every year. As seen in Chase’s Calendar of Events 2018.

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Cirque du Soleil’s art is magic

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LUZIA Cirque du Soleil

My many-years-single-working-woman daughter treated us once again – a little late but in honor of Single Working Women’s Week – to a performance of the Cirque du Soleil at United Center in Chicago. Well, in the parking lot of the United Center, because the show requires such specialized equipment and rigging – due to the many extraordinarily imaginative features it includes – that they can’t set it up inside the building. They have to bring their own tents and equipment.

Imagine: a wall of water, falling from 60 feet above and not splashing the audience at all because of the carefully designed landing space on the elevated platform stage. Imagine safety railings that flip out from the edge of the circular stage so that no audience members are in danger of being struck by the wildly swinging platforms from which acrobats fly into the air and land across the stage with an ease that belies the disciplined agility of their efforts.

The physiques of the acrobats are inspiring. The women, scultped to perfection by their rigorous training and diligent practice. The men, muscular beyond any ordinary body – the contortionist so flexible it’s creepy, the strong man so intensely muscled that he can hold himself up by two ropes with both arms extended straight out. Unbelievable.

The clown is nothing like the old-fashioned image of a painted nose and big shoes doing stupid things. This clown is a central figure in the adventure of the story of LUZIA, this year’s 2017 Cirque du Soleil show. His antics are amusing and intelligent.

The sight that most awed me was the bigger-than-life-sized horse “puppet” made of pierced-metal, sculpted into real-horse parts with joints that were fully articulated – providing the priceless beauty of motion that only the body of a horse displays. The horse was operated by three dressed-in-black people inside the animal. Remarkably, their visible presence did not deter us from fully enjoying the animal in action. So lifelike. So beautiful. And the mane, flowing in the breeze. I’d love to meet the team that made this creature.

Anyway, the costumes, the lighting, the staging, the characters and the story in this show are well worth the money they charge for tickets. If you’re never seen a Cirque du Soleil performance – this is our second, and we are in love with the thing – save up if you have to. It’s a show you will remember for a long time – great place to go with a single friend to celebrate Single Working Women’s Day or Week. Or any time. The show is touring around the globe.

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