SingleWorkingWomensWeek – July 31 to August 6, 2016

Yes, it’s that time again. The official holiday week to celebrate the energy and passion and dedication of all single working women. The single working women who earn and bring home the bacon and then cook it, serve it and clean up afterwards. The single working women who come home from work and do all the housework and laundry, care for the pets, and still make time to visit with friends and loved ones.

So this July 31 to August 6, take a single working woman to lunch or dinner. Or take out her garbage. Or run an errand for her. Or ask her just how you can help. She’ll appreciate you thinking of her. Tell her it’s her official week and, if she can manage it, she should take some time off and relax. Everybody else has holidays, right? This week, every year, single women do, too.

Happy Single Working Women’s Week to you and you and you!

Comments Off on SingleWorkingWomensWeek – July 31 to August 6, 2016

Just finished reading My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem at 70-something. A beautiful testament to her life – from her difficult childhood with a loving but somewhat looney, itinerant father and her lost-soul mother, to her many, many years traveling around the world writing for major outlets and organizing people in pursuit of women’s equality and reproductive freedom.

Beautiful stories of people she met, some of whom she developed very close relationships with, from the amazing Native woman who brought self-reliance and independence back to so many Native tribes that had lost their way, to the cab drivers and poor people and famous people and powerful people – including the then-pope – whose lives intersected with hers in some way, she gives the facts and reflects on their meanings in simple, fluid prose.

Another woman who fights for women's equality

Another woman who fights for women’s equality

My favorite parts are the ones where she speaks gently of her longing for a home when she was little and speaks tenderly about so many of the people she’s met and/or worked with. She has a clear eye and an open heart, and her book lets you know her in a way you never could from reading many of the often-harsh news stories about her battle for feminism and her long struggles to help make Ms. Magazine a force for good.

The book is a reflection on how a single courageous soul can create profound change by listening to people.

Comments Off on

Single Working Women’s Day is also National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Just found out. Not only is Single Working Women’s Week going on right now, but Single Working Women’s Day, August 4, is also National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. What a lucky coincidence that a favorite dessert fits right into the holiday week!

For those who love chocolate chip cookies – and/or the raw dough – what a great way to celebrate with your single women friends. Buy or bake and bring some when you go out or stay in to congratulate each other on your many contributions to the world. And kudos to AMNY for celebrating SWWW!

Meanwhile, DoubleTree Hilton Hotel on the Mag Mile has its own iconic chocolate chip cookie recipe and yesterday on August 4 they were handing cookies out with abandon at Union Station in downtown Chicago. Feathery light, break-apart, feels-fiber-rich cookie. I intended to eat a third. I ate the whole thing. Beware: 310 calories per.

Good chance you’ll get some when you stay at the DoubleTree Hilton next time.

DoubleTree Hilton Hotel hands out cookies at Union Station

DoubleTree Hilton Hotel hands out cookies at Union Station

Copy of Doubletree choc chip2

Comments Off on Single Working Women’s Day is also National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Raw power in the wind

Originally written last fall…

Up early this morning. One of the blessings of being single is that you’re able to get up or sleep or not sleep and read whenever you like without bothering someone else.

Read the weather report–gotta know how to dress–and saw winds of 32 to 37 mph. And the prediction for gusts is 50 to 60. Wow. Looked out the window and, sure enough the trees are, as my dad used to say, “blowin’ like a maniac out there.”

Dimly recall a quote about an evil wind… Look it up. It’s from Shakespeare, from Henry IV, in the part where the hero Falstaff inquires: “What wind blew you hither, Pistol?” and Pistol replies, “Not the ill wind which blows no man to good.

So, let’s see. This is not an evil wind. It’s just a damned powerful one. When I go out today, I’ll certainly form a memory or two of things I see–tree branches falling/fallen, coats and hats and scarves frantically grasping human forms, leaves and papers and signs and empty garbage cans whipping about, little kids scudding along sidewalks faster than they can walk–all at the wind’s bidding. Reminds me of a story, an Aesop’s fable, that impressed me mightily when I was a kid.

The story begins with the Sun and the Wind boasting to each other about their power. (Remember it now?)

The Wind boasts that it is more powerful than the Sun. The Sun, says, no, I am the more powerful. So they make a bet. The Wind points to a man walking down the street below wearing a winter coat. They agree their challenge will be to get the coat off the man.

I, says the Wind, will blow it right off of him. And so he puffs himself up in a rage and begins to blow and to howl. His breath sweeps down and around and blusters something fierce against the man, pushing him and practically knocking him down with his power. But the man shakes and shivers and clutches his coat ever closer.

Finally, the Wind tires of blowing so hard and quits. The Sun smiles. “Now, watch me,” she says to her blustery brother.

The Sun begins to smile. Her golden rays descend and shine on the man in the coat. The sidewalk heats up with the intensity of the Sun’s smile. The street and the trees–and the man–grow warmer and warmer. The Sun keeps smiling quietly. Finally, the man stops, slips out of his coat and hangs it neatly over his arm. He looks around, smiles up into the sky, and continues walking.

Gentle strength wins out over harshness, says Aesop. And thank you to our veterans (Veterans Day was yesterday), without whom we might not have the option of using gentle strength.

Don’t let the Wind get you today. Be your own Sun.

Comments Off on Raw power in the wind

Travels through life on foot

Last June my son-in-law moved up to the fancy new iWatch and no longer needed his FitBit fitness tracker. I was thrilled when he handed it down to me and have been wearing it faithfully since then. I love that it tracks my steps, my calories, my expenditure of calories, my sleep habits and efficiency rating, and my steps and activities (like weight training, biking, etc.)

I got an email today saying I’d just been awarded the Serengeti badge. Huh? Yes, they came up with the idea of awarding badges and icons and so on (like every other app and online program these days). The Serengeti badge is “awarded” to those who’ve reached a lifetime tracked goal of 500 miles.

Five hundred miles seems paltry when you consider my advanced age – surely my lifetime would be in the multi-millions by now. But since the fitness band’s only been tracking since June, I guess it’s not too bad as a milestone. And remember, a “step” doesn’t have to be outside on the concrete pavement or sweating in a gym to count. Even just in your own living room, stepping side to side and waving your arms around a little bit, can raise your count.

Is that “cheating”? Who cares? We didn’t make every move forward in our lives by ploughing straight ahead at full speed. Stop/start, think about it/consult others, decide/change your mind, do better for a while/relapse. That’s how life goes for most of us.

So how many miles have you come in your life? How have things been changing as you’ve grown older? This time of the year is the perfect time to ponder where we are, where we’ve been, and where we hope to go.

I wish you satisfaction with your past, gratitude for gifts received, joy in this moment, and happy wonder about what’s to come.

Comments Off on Travels through life on foot

Reflections on the weather

Last night I attended a unique reception on a cool rooftop venue in the trendy West Loop area. I had invited a friend, then another different friend, than another, one after another, but each had some reason she couldn’t make it. But I knew it would be a lovely event, so I went by myself.

The street was dark when I cabbed it over there from my daughter’s home in West Town. Dark and full of silent hulks–warehouse vehicles of all sizes parked this way and that, resting quietly in their places for the night. But up on the rooftop, lights twinkled, creative dishes by chefs from Japonais were served in trendy small-bite sizes, cocktail magic was being spun in every corner of the venue, and the lights of Chicago cheered the sky.

Plus, the weather was perfect. It was sheer pleasure to sip a cocktail, gaze at the lights, and bask in the just cool-enough night air. How often do we get perfect weather in Chicago? And this morning I heard on the radio that this coming week will be the most perfect weather-week of the entire year of 2015. Hmm. Think I’ll have to plan to eat out on a few patios or rooftops this week. Just too good to miss out on.

Thank Heaven for perfect weather. And Chicago. And groovy events. And cocktails. And perfect weather.

Comments Off on Reflections on the weather

Book review – Silent Symphonies

Many women have suffered much because of centuries-old societal brainwashing into a culture of male dominance and female submission. If, like me, you’re an American

Women's empowerment from a multicultural viewpoint

Women’s empowerment from a multicultural viewpoint

baby boomer female, you’ve very likely lived through some of that yourself, even if you didn’t recognize it at the time. Countless books have been written about the topic over the generations—not least of which are the brilliant novels of Jane Austen, who coolly chronicles the controlling rules, crushingly limited expectations and cruel ironies of being female in such a world.

Recently received a review copy of another, though far less nuanced, voice adding to the ongoing exposé. Nigerian-born, UK-based writer Sally Chiwuzie has created a novel in her unique voice that addresses the subjugation and eventual empowerment of a woman who starts in an abusive marriage and ends as a single mother. The subtext is that multicultural couples often face even more of the domestic violence and unrealistic expectations that are present in so many relationships.

Chiwuzie, trained in the law, writes from the heart; though fiction, the story is based on many of her own and her friends’ experiences. The way the characters think and act reveals them as multicultural—they don’t sound or behave quite like Americans or Brits, so if you should pick it up, be prepared for what felt like some surprises in the language and the thought processes. Chiwuzie has also started an online campaign, Together We Are Unshakable,” with the goal of helping women become empowered. Can’t say I found the story overly compelling, but her goal is certainly admirable. Check out the website for your own insights.

Comments Off on Book review – Silent Symphonies

Women-in-history tidbits

From the National Women’s History Museum come these women-in-history tidbits on a little card headed, “Did you know that…”

…in the early 20th century, Madam C.J. Walker became the first American self-made female millionaire after creating a line of hair care products for African American women in her kitchen while trying to make ends meet as a single mother?

…17-year-old Jackie Mitchell, the second woman to play in the major leagues, struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game in 1931, but her contract was voided the next day because the baseball commissioner deemed the sport “too strenuous” for women?

…in 1777 16-year-old Sybil Ludington rode 40 miles on horseback through the night (twice the distance of Paul Revere’s more famous ride) to successfully warn Revolutionary Army troops of an impending British attack?

…Underground Railroad operative Harriet Tubman planned and led a complex and stunningly successful raid on the Confederacy with 300 Union troops in 1863?

Cool stuff. Hopefully we’ve got more women writing history these days and we’ll start to see more credit given to women where it’s due.

 

 

 

Comments Off on Women-in-history tidbits

Book reviews: Good books to celebrate Single Working Women’s Week

Last week was Single Working Women’s Week. In addition to helping out a favorite single mom, this SWWAN was tightly scheduled, what with birthdays and all. Including also reading a new book I agreed to review: Everyday Healing by Janette Hillis-Jaffe. The subtitle is Stand up, Take Charge, and Get Your Health Back…One Day at a Time.

If we substitute “Groove” for “Health,” that sounds like a good prescription for life, too. And one that fits single women to a T. Not everybody has to stand up and take charge quite as vigorously as single women do. But stand up, we do. And take charge, we must. This book chronicles the struggles the author went through to conquer a six-year-long mystery illness that had her severely debilitated and depressed. Despite valiant efforts, doctors weren’t helping her.

Nearly half of Americans struggle with illness—heart disease, diabetes, fibromyalgia, arthritis, cancer and chronic pain, to name a few. One-third of our population is obese. In her book, Hillis-Jaffe provides daily action steps to help eliminate undesirable habits and substitute new paths to health. You get practical tips on a bunch of topics—from how to organize your kitchen to help you cook healthier meals, having tough conversations with an unsupportive friend or lover, to how to fire your doctor—and a plethora of encouraging words on building your confidence that you can recover your health…and your life’s direction if it’s not going where you want it to go.

She recommends doing as much research as you can about your condition, and make it an ongoing project. She talks a lot about getting support from other people—something many of us are not good at. Asking for help is a foreign concept for many single women especially (though most men have a rough time at that, too). She talks about why it’s important and how to do it. And she talks about ways in which these steps have proven their power to change lives. If you’re struggling with an illness or obesity or other persistent health challenge, this book offers food for thought—and ideas for action.

Another book I highly recommend that might well change your life for the better is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. The author is a tidying consultant who has helped hundreds of people transform their homes and offices from places of hidden (or obvious) clutter to peaceful, clutter-free environments that promote calmness and clarity. She says that her clients always succeed in staying clutter-free if they follow her plan. She suggests doing it all in one time period, as short as possible, as the only way to make the new way of living stick. One of her most amazing tips is to store everything vertically—no piles of clothes, papers or stuff allowed anywhere. Even clothes and socks, she says, should be folded and stored standing up. I haven’t yet undertaken her whole program, but I used this simple trick to transform my sock drawer—a drawer that had been driving me crazy for months because it was so packed and I didn’t know what all was in there. Now it’s neatly organized, and I know exactly how many (don’t ask!) pairs of trouser socks and gym socks I actually have.

If you’re someone who buys more of a thing because you don’t really know how many you have, only to find you’ve duplicated your purchase (again), you will be amazed at Kondo’s simple plans. And remember her strong advice: don’t start storing until you’ve gone through every piece in a category and ruthlessly discarded anything that does not spark joy. Read the book. It’s fun and it’s enlightening.

Comments Off on Book reviews: Good books to celebrate Single Working Women’s Week

If you thought your vote didn’t count…

A new source of in-depth data and analysis about unmarried women and what’s known as the “Rising American Electorate” is now available at Voter Participation Data Center. It’s interesting and puzzling to see from the graphic (below) that so many single women did not vote—even ones who were registered—in recent elections. What’s up with that?

 

There are 57 million unmarried women in America today—and by the time the 2016 election rolls around, they’ll be a majority of voting-eligible women. The Voter Participation Data Center aggregates research on the social, economic, and political lives of unmarried women, giving a complete picture of the ways in which they’ll shape our economy and our policies in the decades to come. It’s got demographic and economic profiles of unmarried women and analysis on the recent legal and electoral developments that most affect the lives of unmarried women—including paid sick leave, equal pay, workplace fairness, and the Affordable Care Act.

 

The Voter Participation Data Center puts out all this data in the form of shareable graphics that encapsulate it in a quickly-readable and easily-digestible form, making it easy for you to make your friends, family, and political leaders aware of how important unmarried women are going to be in the coming decades—and how important it’ll be for political leaders to speak to their needs and concerns.

 

Registration and Voting Rates in 2012
Voter Participation Data Center is intended to serve as a one-stop shop for anyone interested in understanding unmarried women—who, along with people of color and millennials, form the Rising American Electorate who may cast a majority of the votes in 2016.

 

Just in time for Single Working Women’s Week this August 2 through 8, 2015.

Comments Off on If you thought your vote didn’t count…