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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Why is it so hot? How to cool yourself down

Heat, smog, sweat

Heat, smog, sweat

How’s the weather by you? We are having record-breaking heat for March in Chicago and over most of the Central and Midwest U.S. When it’s 73 degrees at 9:30 at night, you’re talking the middle of summer. Uh, excuse me, we just celebrated St. Patrick‘s Day.

Something is seriously wrong here.

A few folks have some stats and ideas as to why it’s happening. The American Thinker says high-temperature records are being set all over the country—66 degrees at midnight in International Falls, MN, known as the country’s Icebox. That’s 6 degrees higher than the city’s previous record. Read more about this incredible 2012 winter heat wave.

I live in a wonderful seniors building, but sadly they have an HVAC system that can only be one thing or the other—heat or air conditioning. And a city ordinance says they must provide heat until May 15—no matter how hot it gets. And because of how my apartment is situated, I get zero breeze when the windows are open. So I can tell you it’s stifling in here.

Found a really thorough article on WikiHow that describes a bunch of ideas for how to cool yourself down without air conditioning. I like that a lot of these ideas involve creative uses of tap water.

And here’s another one. If you have a significant other, avoid the body heat and sleep in separate beds. That’s one we singles usually don’t have to worry about!

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Singles: Loving life–but paying more!

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

Image via Wikipedia

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.


  • 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

Image via Wikipedia

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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Joy among singles? Author surprised


Image via Wikipedia

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.


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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Book review: Singlism – Proof positive it’s rampant

days Elena Kagan since 2010

Image via Wikipedia

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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Feed your artist soul: guest post

Pastel landscape painting En plein air
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve written about my attempts to feed my artist’s soul. Just heard from a subscriber about how she feeds hers—she invites others to join her on trips to Europe. Pretty cool.

Nina Weiss has been a professional artist and educator for twenty-five years. In all that time teaching she’s had many single women students at various stages in their lives and careers. She says she noticed that no matter how busy, stressed, and swamped they were, these women seemed compelled to find time somehow to attend an art class or carve out a weekend to attend a workshop.

“The women who attend my workshops come from all walks of life, including lawyers, architects; executives, and homemakers. They realize and honor the knowledge that no matter how fulfilling their jobs may be, they still have urges to dig a little deeper into their creative selves and give those urges an outlet.”

What happens when you honor these urges? Nina says, “Our creative selves are quiet, but they’re very important to our happiness and well-being. Creativity is a process that is not necessarily linked to outcome.” It’s more about the process, she says, and how that process makes us feel. “It can be something just for yourself and not meant to please anyone else…fulfilling and pleasurable regardless of how it turns out. Acknowledging the creative process can lead to a deep contentment that cannot be overestimated!”

Nina teaches classes and workshops throughout the United States. In case you find yourself with the urge, the time and the money, check out Nina’s European Landscape Painting and Drawing Workshop coming up. She’s been doing these workshops for ten years and says they offer a wonderful opportunity to give your creativity “free reign in a comfortable setting of like-minded travelers and artists under the tutelage of a compassionate and experienced teacher.”

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

This year the workshops include a visit to the Cotswolds in England. I’ve been there and can tell you  it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I actually did a watercolor from a photo I did there—and sold that picture right away. You can check out a catalog of Nina’s workshops here and visit her website at www.ninaweiss.com.

“Whatever you do, be sure to go make some art and feed your soul!” says Nina. I second that thought.

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Not your same old New Year’s resolution

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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Burn away the negative

(c) FreeFoto.com

The mystery and wonder of fire. Photo supplied by FreeFoto.com

We forget sometimes the unprecedented miracle that occurred when humankind first discovered fire—and learned how to make it and preserve it. What a long way we’ve come today to nuclear power, wireless connectivity and the extraordinary power of the Internet.

But the magic of fire is as mysterious and moving as ever. Meditators recommend gazing at a candle flame to set your mind free of daily disturbances. Working fireplaces command a premium on the housing market—despite our radiators, forced air and electric heat sources, there’s no denying the warmth and comfort a fireplace can bring. Winter solstice celebrations center on using fire to consume the negative things we want to forget about from our past year; acorns represent the great good in store for the year ahead.

As with the winter solstice, fire is an important part of celebrating the new year in many places. In Scotland, where for ancient religious reasons people were for many decades prohibited from celebrating Christmas, they celebrate Hogmanay with fire on new year’s eve.

I got together with another single working woman friend last night and ate hummus and peppers and drank wine while we talked the evening away. We’d already done the fire ceremony on the solstice but we talked about doing the ritual regularly as a way of reminding ourselves to let go of the unwanted.

So whether you went out and partied last night or stayed home—with or without a friend or a fireplace—think how good it will feel to truly release any negative thoughts and energy from this past year. Write those things down on slips of paper, then light a candle and let the fire burn away those thoughts, habits, memories. If you’re wanting to change a habit, make sure you’ve got a different one to put in its place. We are, after all, creatures of habit and if we drop one, there’ll be a big hole in our routine. So better fill it with something better. Naturally, that’s easier said than done. Here’s a cute post from the PsyBlog on how long it takes to form a habit.

Like, let’s see, I spent nearly 30 years doing aerobics almost every morning of the week. In the last 10 months I’ve gotten out of the habit because the chiropractor asked me to stop (we’ve been working on repairing and rejuvenating my body after hip replacement surgery). Hmmm. I’ve got at least 61 days left to get in the habit of my newly allowed exercises…

Here’s a lighthearted bit to usher in the spirit of 2011. Hope it brings a small smile on this first day of what promises to be a momentous new year for you and for me—and the fifth anniversary of SWWAN!

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Who are you now, and what do you really want?

Mothers love
Image via Wikipedia

We women—single, single-again, married, cohabiting—all face unique situations and circumstances. But the ways in which any one woman suffers or feels confused or worries or wonders “what’s next” are not so different from those of other women.

Got a newsletter today from Dr. Karen Gail Lewis. She’s a warm and kind professional therapist who helps couples and families but also specializes in helping women who are single, single-again, or thinking about becoming single-again, or who’ve done all that society expected and just don’t know what they want now—she calls them “Empty Nexters.”

Dr. Karen has an interesting list of questions in her newsletter. They’re directed at women who are questioning “what’s next” about their own lives. I’m directly quoting it here so you can respond—in your head, on paper, or in your heart—if any of these questions resonates with you.

  • Think back to childhood, young adulthood. What were some of your dreams back then that you lost along the way?
  • Read magazines and even want ads. See what topics catch your interest. Don’t apply for anything; just be open to see what draws you.
  • Silence the inner voice that says, “I couldn’t,” or “I’d love to, but….”
  • Finish this sentence, “I would love to….” Don’t think about it, just write it out and see what words come.
  • Whose voice is inside your head saying, “You can’t!”?
  • What would your husband and children say if you were to say whatever came at the end of that sentence above?
  • What would your mother, father, siblings say if you were to do something entirely new and exciting with your life now?
  • Give yourself space to flush out old tears – for lost lovers, lost opportunities.
  • Attend a weekend retreat, just for women like you, Empty Nexters, figuring out what comes next.

Dr. Karen’s weekend retreats are specifically designed for women. Even if you don’t end up going to a retreat, she’s very generous about sharing her wisdom. You can read her inspiring words by visiting and subscribing to her newsletter at Dr. Karen Gail Lewis’s website.

Oh, and PS. There’s a special deal on pricing for the retreat—good only until September 15, so check it out today.

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