Now that’s what we’re talkin’ about…

Living alone means you get to decide how to spend your time

Being a blogger on several subjects, I get hundreds of emails in my inbox everyday – most unsolicited information about interesting products, books, restaurants, wines, travel ideas and so on. Necessarily, this results sometimes in my having to ignore the subscriptions I’ve actually signed up for. No time to read philosophical stuff when you’re having to beat back the tide. But one headline today caught my single-working-woman eye.

“Seven 7 reasons why people who like to be alone have stronger personalities” on Ideapod is brief and pithy. A quick read made me think that not all seven points are universally valid. For example, if you’re a single woman or mother, are you smarter than someone in a relationship? That’s simply not a logical conclusion and certainly not a given, as this article suggests. But living alone or as a single mom – as in any case when everything depends on you – definitely encourages quick and creative thinking.

It may well be that you’re more independent – but isn’t that kind of circular? Living alone is automatically more independent, right? Think how much work it would take to be DEpendent while living alone! Cripes. You’d be exhausted just trying to find enough people to “help” with everything.

Anyway, it’s always fun to think about the positives of being a single working woman, mother or not. Some of the points in this article are questionable, but like everything we have to handle in this overwhelming electronic age, just take what fits and leave the rest.

And here’s an earlier meditation on what “Living alone means…

Today’s thank you – for our beautiful summer

P.S. Wrote this last year and forgot to publish. Since we had mostly a beautiful summer this year, too. herewith my thank you for lovely weather.

View of Lincoln Park’s Nature Path from Brauer Cafe

Lying in bed this morning, I randomly thought about how many lovely days we’ve had this summer in Chicago. Far more often than usual we’ve had days with relatively low humidity, sunshine and gentle breezes. Compared with our usual several-week-runs of 90+ temps, and/or rain and clouds, and/or gale-force winds, this has been a joyfully easy summer. I can’t believe the number of times I’ve pushed out from between the handicap-switch-operated front doors of my apartment building and found myself smiling as I hit the sidewalk towards, on the one hand, to the west, the grocery store of the UPS pickup point, or on the other hand, to the east, the bus stop north to the gym or the hairdresser, or south to Lincoln Park and locations downtown. The beautiful weather is such a gift.

I am, at best, only a fair-weather fan of the outdoors, especially in the summer. My philosophy is always that it’s easy to put on more clothes and scarves and muffs and socks when it’s cold. But when it’s hot, there’s only so much you can take off. And walking around with a sheen of sweat all over my body – unless I’m dancing up a storm in my aerobics class or having sex (ah, memories!) – is one of the worst feelings, ever. Having to live with your hair sticking to your neck and your shirt sticking to your back is a fate I would wish on no one. My heart really goes out to the hard-working guys and gals in the construction crews that toil away in hard hats amid the choking dust and almost-unbearable noise, doing their jobs no matter how high the humidity or how searing the sun. Thank you to all the strong and dedicated men and women in every profession who labor outside under all conditions.

Rooftop at the WIT Hotel

I’m grateful to the many restaurants and bars in Chicago that operate umbrella-ed patios and decks and rooftop bars so that we denizens of the city can soak up the outdoors on demand. Is there anything to beat sipping the cold drink in your hand while enjoying a view of this great city? Even if it’s just folks on the sidewalk moving down the street, there’s something special about watching the world go by as you eat and drink outside, more or less sheltered from the flow.

Cheers to more of this beautiful summer. Hope yours is a happy one this year.

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England ahead on female pay equality

It’s already the law in England that equal work must receive equal pay, regardless of who is doing the work, according to an item from Ms. Magazine’s Summer 2018 issue. Now, it says, British law has just declared that large companies there (250+ employees) “must publish on their websites and submit to the government a reporting of the average salaries and bonuses of the women and men employed by them, revealing any gender pay disparities.”

Map of states that have/have not ratified (Used with permission of the Alice Paul Institute, www.equalrightsamendment.org)

Wow. That’s a good start to puttin’ your money where your mouth is. At least for giant corporations. Since the U.S. hasn’t even been able to pass the Equal Rights Amendment – though happily the State of Illinois did ratify it this past May – it seems unlikely we’ll see anything like that here anytime soon.

But Britain is a powerful ally, and it’s great they are acting as a good role model. Now if we could get them to mandate that kind of transparency regarding, first, pay gaps by race, and then pay gaps by single vs. married, we could really start getting somewhere!

Happy Single Working Women’s Week and Day coming up July 29 through August 4, 2018!

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Happy Single Working Women’s Week 2018!

Here we are again. Ready to celebrate another Single Working Women’s Week.** Do you feel like we’ve made any progress towards liberating ourselves to celebrate the challenges and joys of being a single woman in today’s world?

Sometimes doesn’t feel much like it, right?

Just saw a tweet from @SinglePhobia passing on the frustration of seeing no one on the @MorningJoe television show even try to stand up to a conservative author whose new book claims “feminism has failed us.”

I’d say feminism has made some significant changes. Certainly we’ve made great strides in the workplace in terms of career opportunities – with miles yet to go over terrain that can still feel particularly grueling. See research by Psychology Today’s Single Living editor.

The first time I watched an episode of Mad Men, the television series about the advertising business in the 60s, I almost got sick. Simply couldn’t watch it because I’d lived through that time, and the men’s snide, condescending attitudes brought back miserable memories.

Recently, after hearing over and over again how many awards the show had won, I decided to control my revulsion and see if I could figure out what was so good about it. Suffice it to say, the acting was pretty darn good, but the plot line – which too frequently involves the tall and handsome, privileged-but-somehow-vulnerable male star sleeping with practically every female who comes into his field of vision – wore thin after a few seasons.

The net effect of watching was to remind me just how subjugated women tended to be back then. The most amazing character in the series was the single woman who rose from copywriter to creative team coordinator by standing up for herself – a courageous move that in the real world would have been just as likely to get her fired. She also completely hid the pregnancy brought on when she fell for one of the ad execs saying he couldn’t stop thinking about her – and let him impregnate her on the couch in his office. Once he dumped her because she was too uppity about being promoted, she never let him know about the pregnancy. Just wore disguising outfits and put up with the snide comments about her getting fat – and then gave the child up for adoption, probably because pregnancy termination was illegal back then.

Read the Huffington Post article about feminism that started the Tweet storm. And you may want to know I finally saw the last few episodes of Mad Men and found them surprisingly satisfying.

Happy Single Working Women’s Week**!

 

**Single Working Women’s Week in 2018 goes from July 29 to August 4. And of course Single Working Women’s Day is Saturday, August 4 every year. As seen in Chase’s Calendar of Events 2018.

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Cirque du Soleil’s art is magic

LUZIA Cirque du Soleil

My many-years-single-working-woman daughter treated us once again – a little late but in honor of Single Working Women’s Week – to a performance of the Cirque du Soleil at United Center in Chicago. Well, in the parking lot of the United Center, because the show requires such specialized equipment and rigging – due to the many extraordinarily imaginative features it includes – that they can’t set it up inside the building. They have to bring their own tents and equipment.

Imagine: a wall of water, falling from 60 feet above and not splashing the audience at all because of the carefully designed landing space on the elevated platform stage. Imagine safety railings that flip out from the edge of the circular stage so that no audience members are in danger of being struck by the wildly swinging platforms from which acrobats fly into the air and land across the stage with an ease that belies the disciplined agility of their efforts.

The physiques of the acrobats are inspiring. The women, scultped to perfection by their rigorous training and diligent practice. The men, muscular beyond any ordinary body – the contortionist so flexible it’s creepy, the strong man so intensely muscled that he can hold himself up by two ropes with both arms extended straight out. Unbelievable.

The clown is nothing like the old-fashioned image of a painted nose and big shoes doing stupid things. This clown is a central figure in the adventure of the story of LUZIA, this year’s 2017 Cirque du Soleil show. His antics are amusing and intelligent.

The sight that most awed me was the bigger-than-life-sized horse “puppet” made of pierced-metal, sculpted into real-horse parts with joints that were fully articulated – providing the priceless beauty of motion that only the body of a horse displays. The horse was operated by three dressed-in-black people inside the animal. Remarkably, their visible presence did not deter us from fully enjoying the animal in action. So lifelike. So beautiful. And the mane, flowing in the breeze. I’d love to meet the team that made this creature.

Anyway, the costumes, the lighting, the staging, the characters and the story in this show are well worth the money they charge for tickets. If you’re never seen a Cirque du Soleil performance – this is our second, and we are in love with the thing – save up if you have to. It’s a show you will remember for a long time – great place to go with a single friend to celebrate Single Working Women’s Day or Week. Or any time. The show is touring around the globe.

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Affordable digs for working women in Mumbai

Let’s get into the modern times – 50+% of women are single today

Good idea. Let’s see this spread to other countries.

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Reflections on single retirement and meeting friends

Flowers for your single friends – or you!

It’s coming up again: Single Working Women’s Day (August 4) and Single Working Women’s Week (7/30 – 8/5/17). It’s the time of year when we get to buy flowers or gifts or do little favors for the single women we know and appreciate – including ourselves, of course. Thank you to Working Woman Report and to TimeandDate.com for talking up the holiday recently.

Is singleness different when you’re retired? If you’re retired and live alone, whether you’re widowed, divorced or never married, you face unique challenges, yes. But for many of us, being able to choose our activities and allocate our time just as we like can make up for a lot of inconveniences.

Say, for example, you decide to spend an entire day reading – or two days or whatever your heart desires. You don’t have to make excuses or apologies to anyone about it.  What’s it worth to you not to have to worry about offending someone by passing gas or burping? To eat when you feel like it and eat whatever you want without having to explain yourself? To experiment with super-healthy recipes that no one else has any interest in? (If that idea clicks for you, check out this cookbook, Sneaky Blends, that shows you how to up the nutrition in lots of different recipes.)

The most important thing is having at least a couple of sympatico friends who like to go out and do things together once in a while. We humans are social animals, and a workplace always provided an automatic social setting. When we’re retired, we don’t have that setting, but we also don’t lose the wish to socialize. Even for those of us who are semi-loners, occasional companionship colors the world a little brighter. Having someone with whom you can share what your day was like can soothe the spirit.

In some cities, like Cleveland, Ohio, for example, many natives grow up with a ready-made social set – people who went to grade school and high school together tend to stick together throughout their lives. Although I lived there more than 30 years, only one native/local woman ever made even a small attempt to be friends, and she admitted I was the only “outsider” she’d ever socialized with. The rest of the folks I met and/or hung out with were all transplants like myself. Here’s an interesting chat forum on the subject of the “them” vs. “us” mentality in many cities and towns.

How do we meet new friends when we’re getting up there? Well, there’s always Meetup.com. In Chicago and in many cities across the country there’s a “school” for people over 55 called Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. This is a peer-led organization that gets lots of retired (and semi-retired or still working) people – most are 70-ish – coming together in study groups to tackle subjects of mutual interest. The one in downtown Chicago – and in Evanston, too – is housed on Northwestern University’s campus, so there’s not a ton of diversity among the members, but it’s still possible to meet people with the potential to become friends or at least going-out buds.

So consider treating your single women friends somehow during Single Working Women’s Week. It’s a great time to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a single working – or retired – woman.

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Weighing the balance – busyness vs. reflection

Great place to sit and read in Chicago – Brauer Cafe in Lincoln Park

This is a little rant about growing older.

You retire. You’re okay as far as money goes – between Social Security and whatever savings or retirement plans you have. Now you face the big challenge – how to allocate your most precious possession: your time. As a single person – whether divorced, always single or widowed – you have sole control of that treasured resource.

Did you ever wish you could just sit and read for hours every day? All my life that was a frequent dream of mine. Did you imagine how great it would be to stop having to earn a living? I’m guessing most of us did at some point…even those who loved their careers surely got tired at times. Did you dream of traveling? If you did and you’ve got the money, this must be heaven for you.

But reading all the time – much as I love doing it – sometimes feels like an escape. From what, though? Working on my cookbook/memoir, for one thing. Seems every time I turn my mind to it, determined to get moving forward, I run smack into another obstacle. The most recent was the Adobe software program I bought specifically to help me sort through the hundreds of photos I need to go through to choose the right ones for the book.

One day, finally, I went to open the program and got – “Please provide us with a serial number and blah, blah, blah.” Of course, it’s been a couple of months since I bought the thing and I have no idea where the serial number is or how to go about doing blah, blah, blah. So then I put on the calendar, “phone Adobe support for help” and have to keep moving it and moving it because other things come up that take priority. So, once again, no progress.

Reading fun mysteries and crime novels certainly occupies the mind. And I feel virtuous that often I stand on the matt in front of the kitchen counter and work towards my “250 steps every hour” goal while I read. So, really, I’m not wasting the time. Ever try that – 250 steps every hour? Seems like you can never focus on anything long enough because you have to keep getting up.

But I remember often saying to my former husband – who seemed never, even for one minute, to stop reading: books, magazines, newspapers, legal journals, instruction manuals for cameras and other electronic gadgets, and ad infinitum – “When do you have time to process all the stuff you read?” But oh, well, we never know how another person’s mind works.

How do you allocate your time? Got guilt about reading or doing other “just entertainment” activities? Wonder if by the time you get in your 70s, you just realize it’s almost all over and who’s going to care what you do anyway? Maybe the trick is to just trust and respect your own feelings. That’s what counts. Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, follow your heart.

 

 

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Journaling your thanks

Grateful for gorgeous sunrises (capture by OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA)

Supposed to write this morning in my journal about things I’m grateful for (started this post a year ago!). Got that idea after reading that in a big study of nuns conducted somewhere some years ago, researchers instructed the nuns to write in journals everyday. Then they followed the nuns for several years to record the state of their health during all that time. Turned out, as I recall, the nuns who thought, and therefore wrote, a lot about being grateful had significantly better overall health than those who thought and wrote neutrally or negatively.

So then later I read The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Greater Creativity, in which author Julia Cameron insists that if you want to nourish your creative self, you must write every day at least three handwritten pages in your journal. So there I had my formula: write every day for 3 pages and make a lot of it about my gratitude for the good in my life.

And what about today’s kids who are not being taught cursive handwriting? Handwriting triggers entirely different brain areas than keyboarding and printing.

I keep a journal, some months on, some years off. Would like to say I was religious about this self-imposed obligation, but the fact is, life interferes at times and sometimes I’m just not in the mood. But when I do, it really makes a difference in how I feel. Centering. Calming.

That’s what I need. Going in for never-been-done-before surgery on my neck next week. Calm. Centered. Keeping it together.

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Book review: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

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.

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