British stars surprise on Intl Women’s Day

Български: Джуди Денч на церемонията по връчва...

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It’s a strange video. British film star Daniel Craig, better known as the latest James Bond hero, walks solemnly up to the camera while Dame Judi Dench, known as M in those Bond films, describes the ways in which women are not yet remotely “equal.”

Then she asks if you don’t believe it, “What if you were a woman?” and slowly a blonde-bewigged Bond girl walks up to the camera. As Dench continues speaking, the blonde slowly removes the wig and reveals her/himself as Craig in drag. Dramatic way to point out the significance of the 100th annual International Women’s Day.

For those of you too young to remember, I was reminded  of the good-natured 1974 commercial when New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath sported a pair of pantyhose. While it was encouraging women to wear that brand—and Namath was demonstrating his own considerable sense of humor—this celebrity spot certainly wasn’t making any political statements.

Turn up the volume and listen to the Craig-and-Dench reminder that we women still have a long way to go. Good for you, Daniel and Judi. Just like SWWAN, you’re out to raise awareness.

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Singles: Loving life–but paying more!

Robie House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright), ...

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I’m a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright‘s work. He designed some of the world’s most unique architectural designs back in the early 20th century—a time when thinking out of the box was still unusual—and his work has survived the test of time. He lived in Chicago for a while, and there’s an active preservation society here. My sister and I visited his studio out in Oak Park a few weeks ago and enjoyed it immensely.

Today I received the below inviting me to attend a 4-day tour of Wright’s works on the North Shore. And I was sad to see—as Bella DePaulo has often pointed out—that singles pay more for the privilege of participating in this tour. Since the price for the tour is all-inclusive, how would the tour operators make more money from people doubling up in rooms? Is it because the hotel might not have enough rooms if too many demanded single rooms?

In any case, the “single room supplement” (see the last line below) equals an increase of more than 13% in the price. Hmmm. Anyone out there get paid 13% extra for your work because you’re single?

Ultimate Plus℠ Package

Extend the magic of Wright Plus to a unique long-weekend experience, including accommodations. Immerse yourself in six spectacular events in four unforgettable days.

Featuring:

  • Invitation-only Chairman’s Reception in the spectacular lobby of Chicago’s Rookery Building, and Private Tour of the Burnham Library.
  • Private Passage to Wright’s North Shore, a delightful all-day excursion with a tour of privately owned Wright-designed homes located in Chicago’s exclusive North Shore neighborhood. Ultimate Plus Exclusive.
  • The celebrated Wright Plus Housewalk. You will enjoy a Housewalk Fast Pass – allows immediate access to all Housewalk homes. No waiting in lines.
  • A private lunch and lecture exclusively for Ultimate Plus guests on the day of the housewalk.
  • Exclusively Wright Dinners, private dining at an exquisite Wright-designed home.
  • A gourmet breakfast at the hotel and a private tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Frederick C. Robie House.
  • Three nights’ accommodation in a deluxe room (double occupancy) at the historic Carleton of Oak Park, Official Hotel of Wright Plus 2012. Includes welcome basket.
  • Transportation to and from all events as well as a Sunday drop-off at Chicago’s O’Hare airport (directly from Frederick C. Robie House Tour).

Ultimate Plus Weekend Package: Purchase Tickets Now

$2350 FLWPT member; $2600 non-member
Single room supplement: $325

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Singles: loving, fearless and free

Saw a great quote today in my HeartMath daily dose:

“The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be.” ~ Dalai Lama

Gendun Drup, 1st Dalai Lama

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A beautiful thought, indeed. When you listen closely to someone else’s problems, when you respond thoughtfully, when you express understanding without judging or telling them what to do, that’s love at work.

When you respond to a political situation by getting all the facts and looking at both sides before you react, making sure your sources are as unbiased as possible, that’s love at work.

Too many people assume that if a single woman lives alone, she doesn’t love. How wrong that is! There is ample documentation that shows the exact opposite. Singlism expert, Bella DePaulo, says “research shows single people are more connected to friends, siblings, parents, neighbors” than marrieds. Which only makes sense. Human beings are social creatures. When you don’t have just a single person with whom you live and share your life, you’re more likely to reach out to others.

Women in particular tend to create communities of friends, relatives, coworkers, and others to whom they can turn to relax, go adventuring, describe frustrations and joys, discuss ideas and just generally share their lives.

Single men, thanks to powerful strains of homophobia in our society, are a little less likely to develop a strong community of fellow males. But some men have no fear of that kind of judgment and simply go forth, sharing time with male friends, attending men’s groups, and so on.

The point: as love grows, so do our hearts. And as we single women continually reach out with love to others, we also tend to feel more fearless and free—and often look that way to others. I like that idea. ” )

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Help for Chicago singles caring for aging relatives

Nursing Home

Nursing Home (Photo credit: LOLren)

How many single women (or men) are eventually entrusted with caring for aging parents? Nobody’s got hard statistics, but I’ve read of many cases where the single relative is simply expected to do so, since it would be “too much trouble” for the married couple to have that interference in their lives. The single person is assumed to have no life because she or he is not sharing a home with another person.

Well, we all know how untrue that is. See previous post about the joy and activity in most single lives. But anyway, if you are the one who has to look for a long-term care facility for an aging relative, at least in the Chicago area you’ve got a trustworthy way to tell if a facility is high-quality or not. It’s an online service called Gunther’s Grades where you can find reviews of facilities by real people just like you. You can also write your own reviews to help others understand better how their loved one will be treated in a particular place.

Read more about Gunther’s Grades on my Chicago Lady Boomer Examiner column.

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Book review: Singlism – Proof positive it’s rampant

days Elena Kagan since 2010

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Did you know you pay more for most things in our society just because you’re single? Are you aware of the tax disadvantages you live with because you’re single?

Did you realize that single women—even accomplished, high-profile single women like Elena Kagan, the 112th Supreme Court Justice—are often subjected during interviews to intrusive questioning about their dating life and their feelings or intentions about marriage and children, that single men almost never encounter?

And OMG, I am freaking out. I just realized something. As I’m writing this post Zemanta, which is a very cool service that scans the words you’re writing and brings up various “related” images you can use in your blog posts, brought up the picture you see at right of Elena. However, most of the other images it called up are pictures of mental health institutions.

What in the world do Zemanta software writers (probably mainly young men as most software writers are) think a mental health institution has to do with being single?

Bella DePaulo, who writes the Living Single column for Psychology Today, would love it. In the newest book she edited, Singlism, which holds a compendium of posts on singlism from her PT blog, you can enjoy the unshakeable logic, solid research, and pithy comments with which she skewers the many instances she finds of the stereotyping and prejudice singles endure. She also edited the brief contributions from others who write with enlightened voices about singles issues.

DePaulo actually coined the word singlism when she first began to realize the stigmatizing that goes on, and she wrote her first book Singled Out. I like the format of the new book—short items, quick reading, hard-hitting. It’s a good one to keep on hand in case you want a quick reference to keep you fired up.

After all, it took women being fired up for more than hundred years to finally win the vote.

P.S. In one of her posts, DePaulo laments the fact that marriage is the occasion for out-of-control gift buying. Yeah, and anniversaries, too. Not to promote the idea that singles should become avid gift-hoarders, but hey, that’s one of the reasons we created Single Working Women’s Week, and now Single Working Women’s Day (August 4). So mark your calendar for next year and either buy a single friend something you know she’d love, or give her the gift of time and energy—cook her a dinner, take out her garbage, babysit her pet, whatever.  But celebrate!

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The power of forgiving

“When a deep injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive.”

– Alan Paton

Sexually Abused child.

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What a thought.  I love and believe the idea that it is within our power to heal ourselves. But when I think of terrible injuries such as torture, child abuse, sexual abuse, and the double-edged trauma of war—which inflicts not only the receiving of terribly injury but the giving of it—it’s harder to paint with that brush.

Yet what else is there? Many of the greatest minds have said, forgive thine enemies. A pop song puts it this way, Forgive Thine Enemies–But Don’t Forget Their Names. That’s it, I guess. Forgiving does not mean you have to be naive about evil and hatred. It just means you have to stop blaming.

I remember how hard that was for me to do sometimes after my marriage ended during all the times my ex refused to pay child support (and because he was a lawyer he got away with it).

And in contrast, something so small compared to rape or murder can still charge my feelings. I remember how hard it was for me to forgive after an occasion when a nasty, road-raging driver attacked my car with his van after we’d both spent a frustrating 15 minutes on a one-lane road behind an old man who drove consistently under the speed limit.  The van driver raced around me into the right-turn only lane at one light and aimed his vehicle directly at my right front fender. He smashed it into the wheel and tore my bumper off as he slammed to a stop in front of me.  I thought he was going to have a gun in his hand when he got out, slammed his door and came stomping towards my car.

Then, after I’d reported it to the police, and the body repair shop said to me there’s no way this could have happened except someone driving directly into your car, that van driver blithely told his insurance company he hadn’t the vaguest idea how this accident occurred. Tried to tell them maybe I’d been pulling into the right turn lane and ran into him.

I had a hard time even getting on a highway for months after that—the terror that some other maniac might deliberately plow into me. And seriously, it took me almost of year of working at it to truly forgive that injury. I’d have flashbacks. You see how the details are still so vivid in my mind? Just think how it must be for some deep personal violation of your spirit or your body.

I reviewed a book once by a man who’d been held as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp during WWII. It was a horrendous accounting of physical and mental torture that went on day and night for a couple of years. It must have been somewhat cathartic to write about it, but he said all he could hold onto was his story of what he’d been through.

Can we forgive an injury of any magnitude? For anyone who’s suffered torture, there are agencies and organizations that can help. What about your parents? A lot of us could use some balance there. Here’s a

P yin yang

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beautiful idea from a soulful colleague and supporter of SWWAN, Cat Thompson:

Hola amigos!  Can you believe summer has so quickly left the building?  Yet according to the Chinese Five Element calendar, fall is half over this weekend.  Yup, this friday is equinox, that magical time when the planet’s energy shifts direction, and the light and dark are perfectly equal.  It’s a great time to do ceremonies for healing the masculine/feminine.  A great little ceremony I learned from one of my earliest teachers was to balance the Mother/Father within myself.  He said, “it doesn’t matter if your parents are still married, hate each other, love each other, divorced, whatever.  What matters is that you are made up of each of them.  And if they are out of balance, you are out of balance.”  I came home and made a shrine for my inner parents.  Inside a heart shaped box, I put a picture of my parents when they were dating, one of each of them looking across the box at each other.  I added some stones (rose quartz for the heart) and an engagement ring I had sitting around (from a marriage that never manifested!).  I also added some beautiful ribbon and paper to the box.  It sits in my partnership corner of the bagua of my bedroom.  Even if your parents are still happily married, creating a shrine to their love within your own heart will go a long way to balancing the yin and yang of your life.

Cat’s a true teacher. Enjoy her Fall Equinox newsletter.

Even if you’re not ready yet, it can’t hurt to hear what others think about how much forgiving can change your life. Here’s a list of the ten best books on forgiveness. Check them out at your library.

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How to build a friendship

Two friends

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Friends are precious to everyone–men, women, kids. But it seems to me women in particular have a lot to gain from each other’s friendship. And of course single women give and get a tremendous amount of love, companionship, understanding, and sharing with their good friends.

How do you make someone a good friend? Sometimes people click instantaneously. There’s just that magical connection that simply can’t be forced or produced on demand; it’s either there or it’s not.  But there are things you can do to foster a friendship if you feel the raw material is there—you have enough things in common, you share some of the same values, etc.

1. Be patient. Some people want to be best pals right away. Some are much slower to warm up to others. Try just being interested in the other person. Pushing to be friends before the other person is ready is a sure-fire way to sabotage a friendship before it has time to develop.

2. Be kind. Even if you have a great deal in common with someone, they’ll probably have quirks or characteristics you don’t like. First, decide if you can live with these things if you should start spending more time together. Do you go crazy if someone slurps their coffee? If you think you can’t, just let the other person lead the way in connecting by phone and email and in setting times to get together, etc. If you think you can be comfortable enough with the quirks, or you can arrange to avoid them most of the time, think about how you will deal with them when you can’t avoid them.

3. Be creative. Don’t always leave it to the other person to come up with things to do. Figure out things you both like to do, look up places, performances, etc. and suggest times/dates when you could do them together.

4. Be generous. From the beginning and later always be generous with positive feedback for things you appreciate about this person. As you get to know each other better, if you have the money, treat your friend occasionally. A drink, a dinner, a bouquet. If money’s an issue, volunteer to help her with an errand, a chore, a shopping trip, a pet walk, a home-cooked meal, or whatever. Giving and sharing are powerful agents for making people feel close.

TUCSON, AZ - JANUARY 09:  Anna Robinson is ove...

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Be generous with your time and your kind words/praise for your friend, especially when she’s down about something. Help her focus on the positives in her life.

5. Be alert. No matter what stage your friendship is at—from beginning to long-term—pay attention to how the other person is acting and reacting. Sometimes something you’re not aware of will get under a person’s skin. It may or may not be something you’re doing. Or it might be something that’s happening to you that’s causing an emotional reaction in your friend.  Or it might be something that’s going on for her that she doesn’t feel comfortable telling you—or can’t really even articulate to herself.

First, ask if she’s okay. Probe delicately to see if you can get her to say what’s bothering her. If she seems reluctant or closed off, let her know you care and would like to talk when she feels like it. If she denies there’s anything going on but still acts distant, that’s a little tougher. You can try backing off a little. Sometimes a little break can allow a person time to process whatever’s going on for her. Then later she may be able to talk with you about what’s been happening.

6. Be philosophical. If a friend whose company you valued decides to break off the relationship, you have two choices. First, you can be angry and bitter—for sure, it’s a major blow to lose a treasured friendship—and blame the other person. But that takes a lot of energy and keeps negative vibes resonating in your life.

Alternatively, you can try to understand what went wrong. Examine your own conscience for what you could have done differently. If you find something, resolve to work on that in yourself. Then accept that this friendship was a gift for the time and place you shared it. You may be able to continue being friends on some level or not. But know that you can now be open to receiving and building friendship with one or more new people.

This August celebrate Single Working Women’s Week by doing something nice for a single friend—help her with a chore, run an errand for her, walk her dog, make her a meal or whatever. [Comment from fellow-SWWAN Perri: Don’t just barge in and do something for your single friend. “Many SWWANs are juggling so many balls that to have one plucked out of rhythm by a well-intentioned friend can be more disruptive than helpful. ASK before doing! I’m not the only freak out there that wants things just the way I want them.”]

And if you’d like to have more friends, get out to someplace you can meet new people. Don’t worry about being a great conversationalist; just be interested. We never know when the precious gift of friendship is out there waiting for us.

P.S. If you can’t immediately think of places to meet new, hopefully similarly like-minded people, try Meetup.com. There are Meetup groups in all major cities for almost every imaginable interest. You’re bound to find a group that resonates with yours.

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Being sick as a single person

Churning butter

Churning butter. No way. I buy it.

It was several weeks ago that I put the butter in the mixer bowl to “soften.” Honestly, yes, several weeks. And that’s because I kept getting sick and pooping out on planned projects and imagined extra activities.

Hey, I kept it covered with the butter wrapper so it didn’t get dusty. Did you know that butter keeps astoundingly well sitting outside the refrigerator? Probably the salted kind keeps even better than the unsalted, which is what I use.

Anyway, I’ve got this fabulous-smelling quickbread/cake thing in the oven. It’s a recipe that will be appearing—if it’s as good as she says!—in my upcoming cookbook. I haven’t named the book yet; thinking about a couple of different titles but I know I want to get single women in there somehow.

Anyway, I’ve been remiss about the SWWAN blog for a while for the same reason the butter sat out, abandoned. It’s been a bear battling the various mysterious pneumonias and sinus infections and so on that have come to visit me this year. Hardly been well since January, except for a week here and there. And I noticed how fear took over when I was sick for more than a few days. I wondered if this was it—is this the illness that’s going to do me in?  Maybe that fear is more a function of advancing age plus serious heart issues, but being sick sure reminds me how very much my friends and family members mean to me—and how much I, as a single woman, depend on them. Single folks without any family have to depend even more on friends.

I’m feeling better now and I’m delighted to see more new SWWAN members. We do have an exciting event planned for Single Working Women’s Week this year. Once you check it out, if you want to help raise money for the wonderful work of our American Red Cross—and win some cool prizes—you can get your cake piece or raffle tickets here.

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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...

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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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Movie review: Sister Kenney – Could you really not work as a nurse if you were married?

Recovering slowly from a recent nasty bout with pneumonia, I’ve just been treating myself to reading and movies. Surprised to notice what looked like a really good movie on television today called Sister Kenney. I’m thinking, can I be turning on the TV so early in the morning? Yeah, desperate times…

Rosalind Russell stars in this 1946 story of a nurse who intuitively developed a way to treat polio that brought many children back to health–without horrible casts and splints and braces. Fascinating story of how the medical establishment censured her, fought her clinics, and generally made her life miserable for 35 years. But people kept bringing her their kids, so her reputation grew. One doctor friend supported her all the way, and eventually a few orthopedic docs in Minnesota began to listen to her.

Screenshot of Rosalind Russell from the traile...

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Fascinating tidbit. According to the movie, she couldn’t get married, because if she did she would no longer be allowed to practice nursing. I tried looking this up—didn’t know if this was a law or just an accepted convention of society. Apparently a very tiny percentage (like less than 7%) of married women worked before WWII. So it may have been that she was simply expected to stop working if she got married. But anyway she chose her work helping children over marriage to this man who loved her. What I can’t figure out is why he just went away instead of staying to spend their lives together. Probably because back then if you weren’t married you also didn’t get to have sex—unless you were a loose woman.

Great story. Great distillation of the struggles that women have had to go through to achieve their goals/dreams. Though it takes a few liberties with the facts, the movie adheres to the spirit of Sister Kenney’s life.  The star Rosalind Russell actually became friends with the woman herself when her niece was treated with the Kenney treatments. Here’s the actual history.

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