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.

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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.

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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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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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Not your same old New Year’s resolution

太极拳
Image via Wikipedia

Do you ever allow yourself to step back from your life for a little while? I mean really step back. I recall having been on a few retreats in my life—the memories of which are still vivid. But it’s been a very long time. When I heard that friend Leah had been creating her own retreat—without going anywhere—I was intrigued.

I asked her if there were any insights or observations she’d like to share with SWWAN readers about her 3-day hiatus from all electronics and outside communications. Gulp, I started getting a little freaked just thinking about not being able to pick up the phone. Anyway, here’s what Leah Young reports out from her experience:

My 2011 Reboot…
For more than a few years now I have wanted to spend the time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in reflection, on retreat.  Up until this year, that yearning had gone unfulfilled, often overtaken with glittery but forced holiday festivities.

This time I decided to seize the opportunity for solitude.
“RETREAT IN SESSION 12/29-1/1.  NO ENTRY.”  The sign I created declared this truth to all who darkened my doorstep during my three day hiatus time.  A few close friends and family had been forewarned that I would not be available.

This was my “me” time, well me and my little four-legged companion that is.  His Royal Highness Prince Jazz never left my side for long.  I successfully managed to maintain my meditations amidst his trying to engage me in some serious play.  He survived my Chakra Toning with several curious glances and failed attempts to get me to cease disturbing his rest with my, uh, noise.

I allowed myself to flow through the time, journaling periodically and taking consistent breaks to move my body to the rhythmic sounds of Mediterranean & Flamenco influenced music.  I accompanied the movement (my iteration of uninhibited dance) with tapping and Tai Chi routines that I’ve learned from my teacher this past year.

No cell phones, landlines, Internet, or texting for 20-22 hours a day.  I did check in with my mother who is travelling and called a friend on her birthday.  No Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Overall, it was bliss.  I slowed the axis of my world long enough to become clear about my intentions for this newly dawning year and my continued journey of transformation.  No empty resolutions, just clear intention.

  1. I am allowing myself to co-create my life more mindfully.  I will use my words and actions to support my desired end results.  I will waste no time, energy or focus on that which I do not wish to experience.
  2. I forgive myself for all my transgressions & I forgive all others theirs against me.  I move forward open wide to love, joy and peace.
  3. I surrender the how and focus instead on gratitude for all that is mine now.
  4. I will continue to challenge myself to step into and embody the unique gifts divinely bestowed upon me.

In other words, I intend to move forward embracing life with zeal and vigor.  Three short days away from the hustle & bustle allowed me to recharge and reboot.  If you haven’t taken some quiet time for yourself, I encourage you to do so now.  Whether it is an hour, a day, a week or more, YOU are worth every minute.  Happy New Year!

Think about it. What would you do with even one day free of outside “stuff”? Here’s a little retreat checklist from A Woman’s Field Guide on how to craft your  own retreat. Is it harder for a single woman to do this than for a woman in a relationship with a kid or two? What about for single moms? Who knows. There are obstacles for all of us in taking personal time out; it’s a challenge to get past them, perhaps especially the interior, mental barriers we often erect.

I’m scared, but I’m moving this idea up to number one on my to-do list. Thanks, Leah. Happy new year to all.

Leah Young, a relationship expert with more than 20 years experience is the Confidante™ at callaconfidante.com, founder of ClubC4 a community for singles, relationship examiner for the Las Vegas Examiner online and publisher of the LightVision™ Post.  Contact Leah at confidante@callaconfidante.com

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Single moms and their kids battle recession

Mother holds Child
Image via Wikipedia

I was somewhat surprised to read in a Legal Momentum e-newsletter that single mothers have traditionally always had a higher unemployment rate than the general population. Now they say the recession’s having an even greater negative impact. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) say the unemployment rate for single mothers was 13.6% in 2009 compared to 9.3% for the population as a whole.

I know how hard-hit so many two-parent families have been by this recession—several in my family had to have the stay-at-home mom go out and get a job. And having been a single mom myself who fought like hell to pay the bills and find a new job after losing  my employment in two earlier recessions, I find it painful to think about the struggles of the single mother in today’s brutal economy. First, they are women, which means they are already more likely to be paid less than men for similar work—in every type of job, from WalMart greeter to corporate executive. Second, unlike two-parent families there’s no second person to bring in backup income. Third, since a single mom already has an important second job—raising her kids—it may literally not be possible to take on a third job or find money to pay for child care even if she could.

Whether you make $20,000 a year or $100,000, whether you’re a working married mom or a single mom, as a parent your goal is to give your child the best possible life. When I read about how families are supported in other countries such as the private/public partnership to provide child care for all kids in Finland, it makes me sad that we don’t feel more of an obligation to help all of our country’s children receive the care they deserve while their moms work or look for work.

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Listen to some truths about being single!

Fisher 500 AM/FM hi-fi receiver from 1959. Cou...
Image via Wikipedia

The hottest stations these days don’t broadcast from radios.

Had a great time being interviewed on a wonderful Internet radio series last Thursday. I also invited one of SWWAN’s favorite champions to join me, Dr. Karen Gail Lewis. We had a fantastic discussion with Leah (host and mastermind behind Women Living on the Verge of Evolution) about being single—what sucks, what’s great, what can we do to help each other.

Dr. Karen Gail suggested we establish small groups of women who can and will talk honestly with each other about the challenges and the joys and rewards of living as single women, supporting each other to express all our feelings—and as we do so, come up with ideas for improving the language our society uses about being single.

SWWAN is the perfect focal point for setting these groups up. We already have a couple of online community setups that we haven’t done much with. If anyone is interested in helping give form to the small consciousness-raising groups she suggested, email me and let’s toss some ideas around. Great way to meet other single working women!

Here’s the link to listen to the show: “Being Single: A prolonged state of waiting—or an empowered life choice?”  It’s fun! And we even had a single guy (my brother) call in to say he wishes single men could do more of what we single women are doing. Hurray! Consciousness-raising all around…

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Tonight! Living single: A prolonged state of waiting–or an empowered life choice?

I’m excited. Tune in tonight and hear Leah Young of WLoVE (Women Living on the Verge of Evolution) interview me and Dr. Karen Gail Lewis–the wonderful clinical expert who specializes in helping single women feel empowered–and encouraging single women who already feel that way!

We’ll be talking about the realities and the myths surrounding the lives of single women in today’s society. Dr. Lewis has some great ideas on the 6 or 7 absolutely essential things to make sure your life is as full of love and intimacy as any human being could want–and not one of them is about waiting for something outside yourself to happen!04 x10K_ IMG_7975
Creative Commons License photo credit: egor.gribanov
Creative Commons License photo credit: egor.gribanov
Creative Commons License photo credit: gcoldironjr2003

Register here for the call-in information: http://www.1automationwiz.com/app/?af=1197554 It’s a phone/web simulcast at 8 pm CT/9ET.

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WLoVE is solace and inspiration for every woman

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”- Plato
I noticed this quote in my email one morning, not only because it’s a very wise insight into human behavior, but also because it was written long before the politically correct era of non-sexist language. That is, only adult men are mentioned, and while Plato may have meant both sexes, many of us have grown used to being surprised when women are conspicuously left out.
Now Plato’s a guy for whom I have the highest regard, for I understand he is supposed to have said way back in 370-something BC, “If woman should ever become man’s equal, she will quickly become his superior.”  Quite an observer from more than 2000 years ago.
Afraid of the light. Perhaps he was referring to the fact that we human beings tend to be afraid of success, afraid of our own capabilities…or perhaps he meant we are afraid of learning too much and having to change our comfortable beliefs. Maybe all of the above.
With all the books and videos and so on out today about getting in touch with our inner strength, about finding our direct connection to God (the Higher Power, the Greater Good) within, it’s not surprising that we might be afraid of the  light. Be afraid that those who talk about making the connection know some secret that we’ll never be privy to. That we aren’t that “special” to be able to feel that connection.
Well, here’s a chance to hear much more about your personal specialness. It's all about unfolding as you are.SWWAN is participating in a wonderful conference this year called Women Living on the Verge of Evolution. You can attend a weekly 60 to 90-minute telephone session and hear about the personal journeys and the amazing discoveries being made by some talented but very human women. These women are doctors, lawyers, marketing professionals, coaches, yoga experts and more. Some started out in one career and completely changed over after a life-defining realization.
In any case, they each have words of encouragement and inspiration for anyone who comes to listen. It’s a little like I always think about going to church–letting myself be called to my higher self for a while, pulling away from the daily grind, the constant tasks and duties of my single working woman’s life. It’s good for the soul. Balm to the spirit. Food for the hungry heart.
Listen to last night’s interchange with Dr. Barbara Trautlein on the topic of Women’s Power at Work. And mark your calendar for the next few Thursdays. In fact, I’ll be speaking next Thursday at 8 pm CT. The subject is: “Being Single: A prolonged state of waiting–or an empowered life choice?”
And to wind up the series, there’s an international convocation in Las Vegas coming up. Check out the special deals on registration and hotel prices: 21-day special of $210 for 1 attendee and $397 for 2 to attend the 3-day Convocation here in Las Vegas.  The hotel is $59 per night and the rooms are 1-bedroom suites newly renovated in a non-gaming hotel.

How do you define courage?

Being a single working woman takes courage–in our society or anywhere. Being a single working mom takes even more courage. Just saw a movie on Netflix instant view about a single working mom in 1960s-70s Poland who quietly spearheaded a movement that turned into a massive triumph for labor rights. After numerous struggles–she didn’t even know how to read or write and had to learn that in order to get a job running a crane that would allow her to work somewhat fewer hours each week than her former welding position–and including watching overworked fellow workers die in fires related to crappy work conditions, she suffered jail, beatings, firing, and more. Her championing the cause of fairness to workers eventually led to an industry-wide strike that at last crippled the Polish “party” politicians who’d taken over the oppression of the workers after Hitler was kicked out.

The bonus is that embedded in the film is a beautiful, though brief, love story.

Most of us aren’t firebrand activists and never will be. But God bless the people who are willing to sacrifice so much to fight for justice. Check it out on Netflix–it’s called simply Strike. You won’t find it on Amazon.

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