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.

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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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Joy among singles? Author surprised

Sadness

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Here’s a good one. A man who started out writing a book about how sad it was to find old people living alone who died in heat waves, found something else during his research. He found instead, in much greater proportion than sadness, joyful independence and happy social lives among people of all ages who live alone.

Of course that doesn’t shock members of SWWAN—after all, that’s what we are all about! But it will cause raised eyebrows among some people who read this review, and may bring up a certain acrimony among others. Check out the remark from one of the commenters about how Sweden “may have the highest rate of people living alone but it’s also got the highest suicide rate.” And then another commenter who snappily corrects her with more accurate references.

I agree with how right he is that the rise of women’s ability to support themselves and the incredible freedom and connectivity they now have as a result of access to the Internet have been huge factors in this phenomenon.He also notes that having greater numbers of singles in cities has a powerful revitalizing effect on the cities themselves—as single people tend to go out more and to enjoy cultural and other amenities in significantly greater numbers than marrieds do.

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Image by Erik van Ravenstein via Flickr

I love having my own apartment. Love having a single friend on the same block. Love my privacy. Love my computer and the Internet. Love my single life. Here’s to the day all of society catches up to the reality.

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Survivor stories – Red Cross helps disaster areas and single individuals

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Image by pennstatelive via Flickr

Most of us know the Red Cross does good things. But few of us have a good idea of just how this organization really helps people. Since this year for Single Working Women’s Week we are doing a benefit fundraiser for the Red Cross, it seems like a good idea to share a couple of stories about the good they do–both in times of natural disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis and in the lives of individuals like you and me. Here’s a recap of a story about a Hurricane Katrina survivor who eventually moved to Chicago:

Taneshia Dunn was working at a hotel in New Orleans in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina started pounding towards the Gulf. Having survived Hurricane Ivan a year earlier, she and her fiancé William decided to wait and see.

On the Saturday before the storm hit, they went to Wal-mart. The lines to get gasoline trailed down the block. It was miserably hot, and Taneshia’s car didn’t have air conditioning. She was still skeptical about taking a long trip for nothing. All night, she and William watched the news. At one point, she heard a stern warning from the city’s mayor that changed her mind. At 4 a.m. on Sunday, they packed up a few bags and headed to Houston. It took them more than 8 hours to make the 4-hour trip.

Taneshia and William spent the first month after the hurricane living with family in the countryside. They had no power for that entire time, so they grilled their meals in the yard and relied on generators. When the city of New Orleans reopened, Taneshia went home to see what she could salvage. Almost everything in her house was destroyed. Her neighbor had stated behind and taken photos during the storm. “The whole street looked like a lake,” Taneshia said.

They headed to Baton Rouge and found a motel with an open room. “I remember thinking, ‘We’re here, now how are we going to eat?’” Before she could worry for very long, the American Red Cross arrived at the motel offering warm meals, cold water and snacks. “They came by every day, three times a day,” Taneshia said. “It made me think, ‘Wow, this Red Cross is really something special.”

Months later when she relocated to Chicago—her first time living anywhere but Louisiana—she took a position at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and still works there today. “After an experience like Katrina, your outlook on everything changes,” Taneshia said. “It taught me to appreciate things on a whole new level.” Working at the Red Cross has also helped Taneshia heal. “I made a vow that when I got back on my feet, I wanted to give back,” Taneshia said. “Now I get to be part of the organization I care so much about.” Read the full blog post.

To learn more about preparing for disasters, visit www.chicagoredcross.org/ready.

And then there’s a story of how the work of the Red Cross saved the life of a healthy woman out for a jog. Training police and others in first aid/CPR training is another way ARC helps—even when the disaster that strikes is a personal one.

Lisa Karder Perez was taking a brief jog in her neat Cleveland suburban neighborhood one afternoon. Lisa remembers saying hello to a neighbor, then nothing. She’d lost consciousness, and it turned out to be a sudden cardiac arrest. A neighbor Robert Glorioso was driving by as he took his son home from school when the nine-year-old Virgil saw a woman lying by the roadside.

Being a caring neighbor and a brave man, Robert stopped beside the woman and, on checking, found he couldn’t hear her breathing and could hardly feel her pulse.

Robert knew he couldn’t waste time, so he called 911. Knowing that every second counted, he “began to administer rescue breaths and CPR compressions to the stricken woman.”

When a nearby police office arrived, he immediately unpacked an AED from his car and applied the electrical shock to Lisa’s heart—and gradually her pulse grew stronger.

Within minutes, a Medevac helicopter airlifted Lisa to a nearby Cleveland medical center. Lisa is now fully recovered—and very grateful to the two men. The American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties honored both men at a Real Heroes Breakfast.

CPR training

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“I never thought this could happen to me. But I was lucky,” confides Lisa. “People who knew what to do were only seconds away. I’m here today because they took action and got involved. Others aren’t so fortunate. I’m involved with the Red Cross not only to encourage everyone to get CPR and basic first aid training, but also because cardiac arrest or a heart attack can happen to anybody – the last person you saw, sat next to or hugged could be that person. You don’t have to be an expert in CPR/AED to save someone’s life, but to do something gives the person a chance to survive. Together, we can turn heartbreak to hope.”  Read the whole story.

If you live in the Chicago area, we hope you’ll join us on Thursday, August 4, for the fun party/benefit Karat Cake 5-5-5. Every piece of cake you guy donates to the cause and wins you a wonderful prize – details here. All proceeds go to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. If you can’t join us, you can still purchase raffle tickets to benefit the cause—and maybe win one of our really cool prizes. Or you can just give—click to Donate Only.

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Living alone means…

Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist

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Was searching for the source of a quote about how sharing with someone doubles our joys and halves our sorrows (there are so many different sources mentioned that I can’t determine where it actually originated) when I came across this one:

“Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a very old human need.” – Margaret Mead

Reminds me of a wonderful reflection on living alone that appeared in this blog a few years ago. And my comment on it: “As author Alice Walker so aptly puts it, when you have a live-in, that’s at least one side of you that’s covered. When you live alone, you’re vulnerable on all sides.”

So let’s see. What does she mean when she says “sides,” and which one is supposed to be uncovered when you live alone?

Financial is one side. Though it may also be true for a single partner in a percentage of married or cohabiting couples, we singles mostly bear the full costs of everything we do and are solely responsible for maintaining our home, clothes, etc. We don’t generally have people  volunteering to throw in a percentage of their salary to help.

Social. We may, and if we’re lucky, do have enough pals or friends we can go places and do things with. To have company out in the world is usually a blessing; to have company at home can be a mixed blessing when you’re not in the mood! But in any case it can take extra courage to pursue life’s little adventures when you have to do it alone.

Physical. When you live with someone, you have another person to share a hug with when you need one. In romantic relationships you’ve got regular opportunities for sex. Singles must work to find hugs among friends or relatives, and/or we can get and give physical affection with a pet.

What else? Spirituality is something we all choose and experience alone.

Emotionally could be where she’s suggesting the “uncovered” side occurs when you live alone. You may have one or more close friends you can turn to for support, but you always have to find them first. They’re not there to see and hear your pain when you get the devastating phone call about a lost job or the death of a close friend. They’re not wondering where you are when you’re late, and they’re not there to be glad when you get home (another thing pets can help with!).

Do you feel vulnerable on all sides? If you believe that life is a series of lessons, then it’s easy to see that living alone can be the larger context for the kinds of lessons you never have to face when you always live with someone. Just as living with someone gives you lessons you can’t get any other way.

There are joys and freedoms to being coupled just as there are unique joys and freedoms to being single. When the day comes that society values both equally, there will be no need for organizations like SWWAN.

Cropped screenshot of Rosalind Russell from th...

Image via Wikipedia

Ever notice how the most interesting and exciting stories (in books and movies) usually involve an independent woman, generally unmarried? think about it–even in the day of Rosalind Russell. Read my review of her movie, Sister Kenney.

[Many thanks to Wendy and Rosemary for helping me sort through the issues for this post. And check out their website: www.mysinglespace.org]

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Single women at Christmas

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Here's to hearing angels on high all year long

Single women have pretty much the same array of choices for spending Christmas day as non-singles. Some will spend it with family, some with friends, some alone (e.g., the non-single woman who is estranged or separated from her mate—or wishes she was). Some will get Chinese food and see a movie, some will rest and read, some will clean or perform other chores.  Some will volunteer at soup kitchens. Some will exercise their creativity—cook, write, paint, play music.

Some, like me, will hang out with their grandchildren and see Christmas again through the eyes of the child. Some of us have spent hours planning, shopping, and wrapping. Some have foregone this practice and decided just to share themselves in some way.

Some of us, like me, who are moving, may be practicing the art of letting go—there’s a joy in releasing stuff to do good elsewhere in the universe. I’m pleased that I can give some of my treasured things to my family members this year. This Christmas I decided to do a little of each: “shopping” from my own possessions, wrapping, and writing about my move within Chicago.

Whatever you’re doing this year, try spending a few minutes every hour just stopping and feeling your feelings. Regard them with respect and tenderness. Send love and appreciation to yourself for all that you do, for all that you share with others, and for all you contribute to the world around you. And while you’re doing that, be sure to express your love to people and send appreciation out to all those who touch your  life.

Merry, merry Christmas to all the wonderful single women in the world. Extra good wishes to all the single mothers who work so hard to make Christmas special for their kids.

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SAVE THE DATE! 2009 SWWAN Women's Empowerment Conference

We are so excited! Been planning for months already the celebration for Single Working Women’s Week this year. (Read about our first celebration here.)

We have an astounding lineup of talent doing presentations for our first annual 2009 SWWAN Women’s Empowerment Conference. Please save some time to attend one or more of the sessions–you will be enlightened, informed and inspired at each one of these mini-workshops. The schedule includes 2 sessions each day (3 pm and 7 pm CT) on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the week of August 2-8.

Check out the announcement of the 2009 SWWAN Women’s Empowerment Conference.

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Single Working Women's Week is on NOW!

SWWANs Stephanie and Melissa talk about how much fun it is to have a holiday just for single women.

Stop by and take our survey–get a free gift. We’re introducing our vendor network for SWWANs to get discounts and special services.

We’re in Chicago this holiday week. Radiance Fine Jewelry is one of our original vendors–25 percent off fine jewelry repair for all SWWANs.

more tomorrow!

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Early morning thoughts

It’s just after 5 am. Ever have one of those nights when sleep was just refusing to cooperate? Couldn’t get there…couldn’t stay there…had to give up after waking at 4:15 and just lying there for an hour.

Much to think about for sure. Exciting new ventures for SWWAN in the making. Several big developments on the personal side. And sleep is such an elusive gift anyway. Look at how little sleep many new mothers–especially single moms– have to survive on, sometimes for years. And the ability to sleep soundly often seems to deteriorate with aging–some older folks say they rarely sleep 8 hours and seem to wake often.

So heaven knows we humans can do it. But a lot of us need to develop tricks for dealing with nighttime wakefulness–and the racing thoughts that often come with it. One friend gets up and reads a not-too-intense novel til she falls asleep again. That works pretty well sometimes. If it’s after 4:30 and I’m not too physically exhausted, I usually just get up and get a head start on my work day. When you’re self-employed or otherwise deeply invested in your work, that doesn’t feel too bad.

What do you do when you can’t sleep? Does it happen often? Please share!

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Do you feel like communicating with other single working women?

I didn’t mean to drive anyone nuts with those couple of posts from when I was at the media-connections conference. What I was doing was practicing using Jott (god, I love that new program–here’s my earlier post on Jott) to add posts, and using Blogger to send a photo with a post.

Anyway, if you got annoyed, sorry about that. Hope you’ll ignore it and come back to see what else is going on.

By the way, we have established a couple of different ways to connect — LinkedIn for SWWAN, yahoo groups for SWWAN/singleworkingwomen. Do you guys have a preference on how to connect with each other? I’m assuming you would like to communicate with other members, yet? Please email us to let us know your thoughts.

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