Christmas past

I write two columns for Examiner.com: Chicago Lady Boomer Examiner and Chicago Restaurant Examiner. They changed their policy recently and decided we writers who keep their website pages full of fascinating, informative, newsy or simply interesting information must not write our material in the first person. In other words, no editorial stuff; write the way salaried reporters write.

I thought, oh, well, they changed their policy, and I started writing that way as much as possible. Today I discovered that not only did they change their policy but they actually went through and un-published posts that retroactively did not comply with the new directive. Wow.

Well, I hate to waste hard work. So I’ll be publishing here and writing in the first person. Hope you’ll find things interesting. Starting with a Christmas reflection I wrote several years ago that I just discovered has been un-published:

Life doesn’t look quite the same at 50 as it is does at 60 or 70. I personally didn’t start thinking differently about past and future until I was into my mid- to later 50s. And there just isn’t a better time to reflect on such things than the end of year. Another year of a down economy. Another year of significant physical challenges–had a hip replaced this year and let me tell you, the recovery is a bear. Another year of working at remaining centered while the media keep continually reporting bad news.

Having watched the endings of two different versions of the Charles Dickens story, Christmas Carol, I’m thinking of Scrooge’s lessons with the spirits of Christmas past, present and future. It’s wonderful how often we can experience the same thing (I also find it so with books and movies) at different times in our lives and get something completely different out of it.

I’m sitting here in my living room on Christmas eve morning with candles burning merrily on the coffee table, jazzy Christmas music flowing through my venerable (had them nearly 40 years), irreplaceable McIntosh stereo speakers, and life feels terribly precious in spite of it all.

To make it an even more poignant time for me, I’m moving in a few weeks. In preparation I’ve been sifting through my accumulated stuff. Interesting what I thought was essential when I downsized to move to my Chicago condo. Now I’m turning my heart and mind to starting a new, modified-minimalist approach to living–i.e., working to let go of so many “things.” Here’s what I wrote about living sparely and yet generously over at my single-woman blog SWWAN. [BP 2015: yes, that’s this blog]

No matter how much I love my “stuff,” there’s a freedom to letting it go out and bless others in the universe. In my current neighborhood, west Logan Square, I don’t even have to drive over to the thrift store. Just carry a box or a bag or a small piece of furniture out to the dumpster and it’s gone in minutes. Sometimes it gets into someone else’s car before you can put it on the ground.

Whatever you do to celebrate this time of year–whether you choose to celebrate with friends or family or you decide to have a peaceful time alone–I wish you the very warmest thoughts. Dismiss any haunting from the past. Refuse to let thoughts of the future ravage your peace today. When it comes down to it, this moment is all we are promised. And it’s all we need.

Have a Merry Christmas full of love–if you have grandkids, hold them as tight as you can for as long as they’ll let you. And may your new year begin well–and remain as prosperous and peaceful as you would ever wish.

Lest you think the battle is over…

Shocking? A 30-year-old Hollywood actress has been trying to rent/buy in New Delhi, India and is being told she can’t – because she’s a single woman. Of course it could also be in this case because she’s white, or because she’s an entertainer. Who knows where all the prejudices lie?

Beliefs from the old days live on. Single women used to be considered somehow dangerous and upsetting to the status quo. Many were made to live in convents to keep them out of the general population. Happily, the growing number of single women all over the world is making it increasingly acceptable for a woman to live single.

Things are changing. Just very slowly in some spots.

Celebrate Single Working Women’s Week and SWW Day August 4, 2014

One of the rare non-Apple laptops seen in an o...

(Photo credit: Ed Yourdon)

Are you single? Do you have single friends? Well, congratulations! You have your very own holiday to celebrate.

Single Working Women’s Week, this year the week of August 3 to 9, 2014, became an international holiday in 2006 when Chase’s Calendar of Events – the official guide to holidays around the world – agreed it was a unique reason to celebrate.

August 4, Single Working Women’s Day, became official just a few years ago And today single women all over the world have their own day to celebrate the courage and creativity it takes to live – and thrive! – in a society still mostly geared for couples.

Even though 51% of women in the U.S. are single – and the proportion continues to grow as the percentage of marriages declines both here and in countries all over the globe – couples generally still get the most benefits: lower taxes, cheaper prices, better seats in restaurants, etc. Though, thank goodness, things have been shifting in the eight years since SWWAN (Single Working Women’s Affiliate Network) was founded.

The online magazine Psychology Today publishes a column called “Living Single” written by professor Bella dePaulo, herself an ever-single woman. She specializes in studying societal trends and conducting research related to the phenomena surrounding the state of being single. Good stuff.

Single Working Women’s Week and Day gives you an official day and week in which to show your single women friends how much you appreciate them. Send a card, give a gift, buy a drink, write a blog post, or do something nice for her. And don’t forget yourself!

Whether you and your single friends are ever-single or divorced, singleton or single mom, be good to yourselves during Single Working Women’s Week. Celebrate all that you do and all that you give to the world, just as you do for others on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day, and so on. You deserve it, too!

Cool – Brazil celebrates Women’s Orgasms during Single Working Women’s Week!

It’s hard to say whether Brazil’s International Women’s Orgasm Day (August 8), which falls right in the middle of Single Working Women’s Week (August 4 – 10 this year) is more about encouraging women to acknowledge and celebrate their sexuality, or more about guys wanting to have an excuse to talk about women’s orgasms.

Ecstasy.

Ecstasy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Either way, it’s funny and nice that it coincides with Single Working Women’s Week. Hope everybody’s having a very gratifying week.

And if that includes having an orgasm, go for it. Women who have orgasms more frequently are said to have happier dispositions, better health, and less pain. Check out these top 10 surprising facts about orgasm at Women’s Day online. 

And don’t forget to do something nice for the single women in your life!

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Happy Single Working Women’s Week – August 4-11 – AND Single Working Women’s Day August 4, 2013

Our special holiday is upon us once again. Single Working Women’s Week is August 4 to 11 this year. And now we have a Single Working Women’s Day on August 4 every year!

We urge everyone everywhere to  honor your single working women friends. Send her a card. Offer to take her garbage out. Or babysit her kid(s). Or cook dinner for her, or surprise her with a meal at her favorite restaurant. Sometimes just even spending a few hours together can feel special – even just going to the store together.

My life as a single semi-retired working woman has been mighty busy these last couple of years. Between health challenges and helping raise my lovely granddaughter (now 6), I haven’t had much time to reflect on living single. But this coming holiday week is a good time to do it. Rosie the Riveter is the image that caught on to represent all the women who went to work while the men fought WWII. Today women are everywhere in the work world. And nearly half of  women in the U.S. today are single (including divorced, widowed and never married).

A real-life

A real-life “Rosie the Riveter” operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, Tennessee, working on an A-31 Vengeance dive bomber. Downsampled from original and sharpened slightly and resaved to increase managability of file. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like many single women today who find the elusive “right” guy simply isn’t coming on the scene, my daughter decided almost seven years ago to have a baby on her own. Her greatest passion in life has always been for children – she even spent her pre-teen and teen years working in a home daycare setting across the street from our house.  She is great with kids. I cheered her choice; I was sure she’d do a wonderful job despite all the challenges I knew she’d face being a single mom.

And she is.

I love being able to watch the future taking shape in the mind of a bright and happy little girl. Whether she ends up finding her soulmate one day and chooses to marry or she chooses the single life, she will never forget the passion, the energy, the devotion and the commitment of her single mom – and her single grandmom!

So here’s to all of us SWWANs: Happy Single Working Women’s Week and Single Working Women’s Day! Kudos to you for the passion and energy and creativity you  put into making your single life a celebration every day.

 

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Tax day is a good day to holler about fairness to singles

Did you file your taxes yet? How much did it hurt? Maybe you don’t even know…

This image depicts the total tax revenue (not ...

This image depicts the total tax revenue (not adjusted for inflation) for the U.S. federal government from 1980 to 2009 compared to the amount of revenue coming from individual income taxes. The data comes from the Office of Management and Budget’s record of the ‘Budget of the US Government FY 2011′, specifically the ‘Historical Tables, Table 2.1.’ The information is also here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Did you know that if you’re single you’re paying significantly more – like 1000 times more – to live than a married person? A recent study took the case of two single women versus two married women and did a deep analysis of the costs of living. They included only the major categories such as health, housing, income taxes and so on.  It’s enlightening – and painful – to read these statistics , but the little tongue-in-cheek asides are entertaining. Check it out.

And while you’re at it, here’s another set of observations about the cost of living single – written to be cute but still painful to read when you realize they’re all true.

Marriage March 2013

Marriage March 2013 (Photo credit: American Life League)

Since nowadays 51% of United States citizens are single, and that trend continues to rise both here and in countries around the world, it’s time the government begins to realize that penalizing people for remaining single is not working as a way to encourage marriage.  They need to start being fair to singles and go back to the drawing board on how to promote getting – and staying – married.

Here’s an idea: a huge billboard and television ad campaign about how fabulous the paybacks are for being a good father and a respectful, caring husband who truly shares the work at home. How loving and even passionate life can get when a woman is consistently treated fairly and appreciatively, on the job and in her home.

A whole new world, folks. Happy tax day.

 

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Valentine’s Day – a reason to celebrate being single

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While tradition honors coupledom on this made-up American holiday, there’s plenty of room to be creative about making it a day to celebrate your singleness.  One simple way is just to smile and ignore the day! Another is to choose a friend or relative or two you really like and send them a Valentine’s wish.

One SWWAN member has another idea. Ever the hopeful romantic, Jacquee Thomas, who writes a delightful website called A Romantic’s Perspective, suggests some neat ideas for throwing a singles-only party. Themes and all that. And here’s her idea of making a singles-only party one big date.

But if you aren’t into pursuing dates or romance or relationships, that’s perfectly okay. You have tons of company. If you know or can find any little kids, buy some of those cute-saying sugary heart candies and give them some with a little card. The kids love it, and they’re not worried about romance at all. And you’ll have fun watching their expressions.

Or if you’re like me, you may stay home, pour yourself a glass of something delicious–champagne, cognac, perhaps a La Pinta Royale cocktail, or whatever makes you feel special—and sit back and enjoy the evening. Listen to music, watch a good movie (do you know how fabulous Netflix instant view is on your computer?), read an engrossing book, or just light a candle and appreciate the night.

Happy Valentine’s day to you all.

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Saudi businesswomen stop fighting the system and create a women-only city

Saudi Arabia is a society totally controlled by males.

Map of the territory and area covered by prese...

Map of the territory and area covered by present-day Saudi Arabia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Many Saudi women wear the burka and, despite their earning 60% of the country’s college degrees, including PhDs, females constitute only 15% of the workforce. They can’t marry, divorce or travel without permission from a man. Segregating the sexes in workplaces is a long-honored tradition in Saudi Arabia, according to an article in Autostraddle.

Now a group of businesswomen have decided to create their own, all-female Saudi city. Hofuf is the first of five planned cities where women will be able to pursue careers, living, working and socializing in a more open environment.

It’s a good article—objectively covers a lot of pros and cons about this revolutionary concept. I have to say that, coming from a family where males were automatically considered superior, my experience attending an all-girls high school was my first opportunity to test my skills and talents without the gender imbalance working against me. I gained a great deal from being able to do that at an important stage of my life.

I can’t imagine living with the restrictions Saudi women are up against. But I also can’t think there’s anything negative about creating their own forum for exercising their brains, skills and talents. As for the faulty idea of separate but equal that didn’t work so well for race, I think it doesn’t apply here. As one commenter said, the only thing these women might have to worry about is backlash from some Saudi men who will be threatened if the women succeed “too well.”

And even though it doesn’t say so, I’m going to bet that a big portion of the energy for this idea and its execution comes from college-degreed single working women—who might have to stand up to only their resistant fathers and brothers rather than to both them and husbands!

Congratulations, ladies. Looking forward to hearing about many good things ahead.

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TV station celebrates Single Working Women’s Week!

Congratulations to Kansas City’s Channel 4 television

English: Picture taken from the Liberty Memori...
English: Picture taken from the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO. High Resolution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

station’s Morning Show for celebrating Single Working Women’s Week. It may be only an article about fashion, but they’ve got the right idea. Fabulous!

And I hope you are finding something nice to do for yourself and your single working women friends this week. We all deserve it and this is our own special holiday!

P.S. This year we have a Single Working Women’s Day – August 4. Yahoo!

 

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Single moms: How to protect your kids’ future

Universal Life Insurance Company

Universal Life Insurance Company (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

If you’re a single mom, whether divorced or never married, you’re likely always thinking about how to ensure the health and welfare of your child(ren) no matter what happens to you. The task of picking someone to become guardian is the first and most daunting one. What if you don’t have a friend or relative who’d want to do it—or who’d have the required patience and energy? Here are 7 big questions you need to consider when it comes to appointing a guardian for your kids.

Then there’s money. If you aren’t around anymore or become disabled and can’t earn an income, who’s going to finance the rearing of your kid(s)? Recent stats put the minimum amount to raise a child at $286,000, according to a CBS report on figures from the Department of Agriculture (huh? the DoA?). And the more money you make, the more you spend on rearing your child(ren) so if you’ve got money, that number could be substantially higher.

The cost of life insurance is not included in that hefty figure. Now I’ve not had any life insurance since the days I was married, so I’m not an expert on this topic. But I do know I wished many times that I could have afforded some. And I know that many sources I’ve checked over the years advised that term life insurance was the best type to invest in. That said, here’s an article that talks about the potential benefits of life insurance, either term or whole life, for single parents. It makes some good points. But consult other resources that aren’t affiliated with the insurance industry before you make a decision.

For myself it was a huge relief when my kids grew up and became independent. My daughters did have to put up with a lot because there was a divorce, but we are lucky. They’re both wonderful adults I’m proud to call my family. Be strong. Be creative. You can do it, single moms!

And don’t forget to congratulate yourself and all your single friends this July 29 through August 4—it’s Single Working Women’s Week again. Celebrate your courage and creativity. It’s a special time to be good to yourself and to all your single women friends.

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