Happy Thursday – from Straight Up You

Posted today by a great coach I know on http://www.straightupyou.com/1/post/2013/02/happy-thursday.html

“Happy Thursday

Welp, it’s Valentines’ Day. If you’re single, you may be thinking:

F*&k this stupid holiday
Did I turn off the coffee pot?
It’s Singles Awareness Day. I’m gonna be really aware I’m single.
I’d like to be taken out for a nice piece of fish.
I wish people in relationships were banned from the Internet today.
It’s Thursday, right?

If it’s barely registering for you, great! You’ve managed to escape the media blitz. There are all kind of articles giving the uncoupled suggestions on how to deal with the holiday as a party of one. Things like: Take a bath! Get a massage! Cook dinner for a friend! Send yourself flowers! Have an anti-valentine’s day party!

Nothing wrong with these. But, they kind of all presume single people need help to get through the day. Like it’s a depressing landmark birthday ending in -0.

Here’s an alternative: Treat this like a Thursday. Any. Regular. Thursday. Your life hasn’t dramatically changed overnight. You’re no more single today than you were yesterday. Why spend any time feeling like you “should” be doing something to commemorate (or snub) this Hallmark holiday?

Listen, I’m all for love. And celebrating it. But if Feb 14th’s got your knickers in a twist, give yourself permission to not feel bad, or cynical and therefore not need to DO anything about it. If you’re like me and go to be early, it’ll be over in less than 12 hours!

Don’t make today mean anything about you. Live your life. Go to the gym. Or not. Get the panini you always get. Or not. Have a beer with friends after work. Or not! Head home and unplug your TV and computer and just read. Or watch a movie. Hit the hay and wake up thinking, “Ahhh, it’s Friday!”

You’re fabulous. You’re alive. Spring is just around the corner. And tomorrow is the weekend. YAY. :-)”

 

 

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VACATION

There is a common characteristic in the Single Woman demographic – we like to play hero.  We work hard, we play hard, we short ourselves of sleep, we have a hard time telling the boss “No I’m not able to work this fifth consecutive weekend SIR” and many of us get to December only to realize that ooops, we forgot to take our vacation.

In the twisted corporate culture fuelled by billable hours and mercenary competitiveness, this form of self-harm has been turned into a virtue.

Ladies.  It is not.  Take your vacation.

VACATION:

1: a respite or a time of respite from something : intermission
2a: a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended b: a period of exemption from work granted to an employee
3: a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation <had a restful vacation at the beach>
4: an act or an instance of vacating
 Merriam Webster Dictionary (online)
A friend of mine is an accountant who works some twelve hours a day on a normal week day with frequent appearances at the office on weekends.  At the same time as studying for a professional qualification.  A brilliant woman, she never failed an exam in her life until the plate just got too full.  And it dawned on her – “Bushy, if I were to die tomorrow I would not have lived, I would have only worked!”
We shouldn’t be living to work!  Work should be a tool we use to live well.  The vacation is the reward, that moment of living well when we can simply enjoy the fruit of our labour.  It is a time of being supported by labour laws and contracts.  Guilt has no place in here.
Mind you, the vacation is not only a break from work.  There are other things we need vacation from – a vacation from studies, a vacation from relationships, a vacation from church (Yes.  I said it.), a vacation from clubs, a vacation from obligations.  And then, every once in a while, we need a vacation from our ENTIRE LIFE.
This happens to me at least once a year.  I need out of my house, away from my dogs, far from my friends, apart from my family.  I need to eat things I’ve never eaten, meet people I’ve never seen before, immerse myself in an environment totally foreign to me.  A vacation from my life.
Usually by the end of such a radical departure from my reality I am happy to return to it, refreshed and rejuvenated.  On vacations from my life I have learned some of the most profound truths about myself and stumbled upon the most life-changing ideas and discoveries.  From such life vacations I return to my world, my routine and my loved ones with something new to give, someone better to be.
To my Lady, do not neglect your self.  Bosses will come and bosses will go but She is the only thing you are guaranteed to have every day of your life for the rest of your life.  Your wellbeing depends on your provision for her, your attention to her, and your giving her the rest she needs.
TAKE. YOUR. VACATION.

A Job She Loves

This applies not only to Every Single Woman but perhaps to every single woman out there.  You have one life to live and the contribution you make to the world around you will influence heavily how you feel about yourself nearer to the end of your life.

On average, a Single Woman will work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 5 days a week from the age of 19 to 65.  If she goes to college and starts later around 24 she works long hours to catch up with this stat anyway and so we’ll work with that.  So call it 7 1/2 hours a day, five days a week for fifty weeks for the year taking into account an average of 2 weeks vacation. For  47 years.  That amounts to 88,125 hours in a lifetime spent on the job, not including overtime.

Shouldn’t those hours count?  And I don’t mean to someone else – shouldn’t they have meaning for you?

Our lives are our own.  Our employers buy some of our time for the furtherance of their businesses.  But at the end of the day they are still our hours in the one life that we have to live.

The Job You Love will have all or a good number of the following elements that when you are added into the mix, magic is made.

  1. Meaning.  It should involve work close to your heart and something that means something to you as a person.  If you prefer to work with people, you are far less likely to find meaning in a city accounting firm with a calculator and a spreadsheet all day.  If you hate conflict you are unlikely to find that meaning as a barrister or courtroom attorney.
  2. Enjoyment.  We can find meaning without enjoyment but they are closely related.  We can also find enjoyment without meaning.  But one of the two must be present.  If you have never looked forward to waking up in the morning and going to work, you probably don’t enjoy your job.
  3. Space to grow.  This is important to some and less important to others but I find that without it there is very little meaning or enjoyment in the job for me.  Usually a person doesn’t fall into a job at 19 and find the same joy in the same job at 30.  But if you do, good for you!  You have found your calling.
  4. A great boss.  Most people who have had more than one job have left their previous engagements, not because of the job but because of their boss.  The integrity at the top filters down and flows like a fountain.  So does the rot.  In an interview feel out your prospective boss – you are interviewing them as well as them interviewing you.
  5. A valued contribution.  If you are a part of a team and you don’t feel your own worth to that team it can be a joy killer.  From the cleaner to the CEO, each job is a valuable contribution to the working of the whole and nothing would run smoothly without it.  You need to not only know that but feel that.  With the value that you place on your job you will be able to muster up the pride that you should take in a job well done.

We women have traditionally looked at jobs differently than men do.  They were there to pay the bills and fund your life, the personal life in which you find your meaning.  It is said that men define themselves by their jobs, women define themselves by their homes.

But this is all changing.  The value that we bring to the workforce is now seen for the irreplaceable gold that it is and there is magic for the Single Woman waiting for her in the job that she loves.

Happy Monday!

To Know Why She Is Here

The answer isn’t found within anyone else.  You haven’t found yourself in singleness because the last one cheated or because you haven’t met the next one.  What is your reason really?

But before you ask yourself the question, why is it important to know the answer?

Every moment in your life has a purpose.  You have arrived at the destination of Today haven taken the train of Yesterday and now have to make the decision as to which train you will take into Tomorrow.  This decision is a crucial one, one that should not be taken lightly.  The wrong train will take you into danger and harm.  The not-so-wrong-but-not-really-right train will take you into uncertainty, doubt and boredom.  The right train will take you into confidence and success.  You want to have a good idea of what train you are on before you board it, don’t you?

This is why it is important to know where you are departing from.  Get to know your present, your Today, because in your Today are the clues as to what train you should take into Tomorrow.

So let’s talk about today.  Today you are a Single Woman.  Why is that?  If you struggle for an answer, try this exercise.  What is good about being a Single Woman?  Write a list.  What is bad about it?  Write another list.  Be very honest with yourself.  Don’t make any judgements, just let it flow.  Be open and clear and authentic in the creation of both these lists.  No one has to see this but you.  When you are done put the two lists together and you will have a rounded view of where you are on your emotional map.  This is where you are.  In finding where you are you should be able to see the Why of it – the purpose for being here.

This morning I, Bushlings, am a Single Woman.  The good things I have found about being single are…

  1. I get to sleep without anyone else’s snores, don’t have to share the bathroom or any of my space.  My space is my own.
  2. My money is also my own.  I don’t have to consider anyone else in making my financial goals or decisions.
  3. I have the time to do the things I have always wanted to do.  Like maintain a blog, sing in a band, travel when I feel like it, go dancing when the mood hits me.
  4. In singleness I am not vulnerable to being deeply hurt by a partner.  This is perhaps the greatest of my good things about being single.  If I am single no man can cheat on me.  If I am single I cannot be taken for granted by a man.  If I am single I will not be hurt by a man’s inattention.
  5. There is so much space for growth I can focus much more clearly on the things about me that I would like to fix without having to spend time navigating around another’s flaws.

The bad things I have found about being single are…

  1. There are times of loneliness when I could use a cuddle and there isn’t anyone there to be that person that I cuddle with.
  2. Fear of a future alone is something that pops up occasionally.  Growing old alone is not an attractive option.
  3. Maybe one day I will want children.  Perhaps if I am single too long I might eliminate that possibility.

…I can’t really think of any more.  But I suppose those three are big enough.

From this I have learned that my reason for being single is that I want to heal and grow.  I don’t wish for it to last forever but there are great benefits to this time that I am here to receive.  Knowing this about my Today will inform my decisions.  What train should I take into Tomorrow?  Perhaps I should go back to school or maybe exploring new hobbies is enough for my growth.  Learning about how to  heal my wounds and giving time for my anger at the wound-makers of my past to ebb away should probably be the focus of my reading and my explorations.  As I heal and grow I see more clearly the purpose of my singleness – Why continue to battle when I am wounded?

As you do your list you may discover that you want your Tomorrow to look like your Today – perhaps you want to be single forever?  Perhaps you are over your wounds and unwilling to go back into battle at all?  Perhaps you are considering a relationship and determine it to be the best way into your tomorrow?  What do your lists look like?  What is the purpose of your Today?

Accountability

You are a smart Single Woman.  You know who you are, your likes, your dislikes, your dreams and your fears.  You know your boundaries, your expectations, what you accept and do not accept from others and from yourself.

But you will still lie to yourself.

Don’t shake your head.  That’s you doing it RIGHT NOW.

Enter accountability.  The person that tells you when you’re talking rubbish.  The hand that points out that you need to let go.  The loving friend in your life smart enough to recognize when you aren’t being the best you and brave enough to face you and tell you.  The voice that calls you out on your bull.  They are all holding you accountable.

I am blessed with friends like that.  They pull my leash when my self-discipline needs a kick-start, or, more commonly, when my temper flares.  Family members and friends with powerful personalities to match my own nuclear capabilities.  People as smart as or smarter than me and brave enough to face me down on my own weaknesses.  Who love me enough to want me to be well and strong.

In recent weeks I had an exercise in accountability.  I suffered a deep hurt inflicted by a false friend.  It rocked my world and brought out an animal that I had believed to be euthanized by my self-discipline years ago.  The H-bomb blew and blood (figuratively speaking) was let.  Then came accountability.  A friend who called me out on it.  Sent me to my corner to figure out my part in this and to work through the process of letting go.  She said things that were hard to hear in the face of my righteous indignation.  But she brought me back to being with a jump-start and reeled me into focus again.

Accountability is often feared.  Avoided.  Resented.  But without it we hide our flaws and sacrifice our authenticity.  Our essence is overshadowed by our efforts to fake success or indifference.

I encourage all Single Women to seek accountability.  It will make the world of a difference in the way you move through life.

But it doesn’t just happen.  Accountability must be created, invited and accepted.  Follow these four steps and you will find yourself being held accountable in no time.

  1. Designate your trusted person by whom you will be held accountable.  Choose this person wisely, particularly with the more private and intimate goals you hope to achieve or hurdles you hope to cross.  The person must be someone whose loyalty is not questioned and whose love is unconditional.  You may designate a different trusted person for each type of goal.  For instance, an accountant friend can hold you to account with your financial goals, your psycho gym-crazy buddy can hold you accountable for your physical goals, and your best friend since the sandbox can hold you accountable for your relational goals.
  2. Share your goal with your friend.  Share with them your desire to be held accountable by them.  Invite them to share their opinion on your goal and discuss whether they would participate in your accountability.  Talk openly about what being held accountable looks like to you.
  3. Trust their love for you to guide them and for them to be on your side.  If you have chosen the right person for the job you should not have to feel defensive when they do call you on what you have asked them to call you on.
  4. Listen to what they have to say.  When the time comes and you have slipped, accept their reprimand.  When you have met your goal, enjoy their praise.

Remember too that not only will you need to be held accountable, your friends may need you to fulfill that role for them as well.  Be to them the friend that you would want them to be to you.  Some rules are always golden.

Start today to invite accountability into your life.

For the Single Woman that has difficulty with #1, perhaps it is time to consider engaging a Life Coach.  This person will work with you through your goals, cheer you on when you succeed in reaching them, and remind you of your own desires when you start to lose focus.  If Life Coaching would interest you, click on the Ford Coaching on the right of your screen to learn more about what coaching is, what it can do for you.  From that site you can also ask Kristen Ford any questions you have about Life Coaching and she may be able to help you find a Life Coach near you.

To Serve

Just because she hasn’t given up her freedom doesn’t mean she isn’t a giver.  In fact this time of singleness is the place from which the Single Woman can do the most amazing things!  Her energy, her time, her decisions, her space and her thoughts are all her own – she is a powerhouse in pink-bottom pumps.

Every human being has a purpose.  The Single Woman is no different.  She has a purpose and the advantage of not needing to conform her own to the purpose of another or be distracted from her own purpose to provide for the needs of a partner.

Single Women often find great joy in service.  Princess Diana moved land mines from mountains and changed lives when she got rid of the unfaithful frog she kissed at the altar.  Mother Theresa was married to God (now you can’t beat HIM as a Platonic Husband!  Or Security System for that matter!).  She changed the way the world treated its sick and dying.  Oprah crashed through glass ceiling after glass ceiling until there was no modern woman on earth that had not been reached by her wisdom and inspired by her example.

Single Woman, what is Your purpose? How can YOU serve?

We are a diverse demographic.  Single Women are nurses, biker chicks, students, lawyers, maids, police officers, secretaries, accountants, actresses, stewardesses, bank tellers, construction workers, fire fighters, doctors, and judges.  There are few social circles in which we do not move.  If we were to focus on meeting the needs of the world from right where we are right now, this rock would spin smoother, fewer people would suffer, and we would be the most powerful movement on earth.

Let’s take an example.  The Single Woman manager of a health insurance company.  On Wednesdays she spends her lunch hour talking to students at the local high school about their futures and the possibilities open to them in the world of business.  On Thursdays she attends the Rotary Club, on Fridays she takes lunch to an elderly lady, on Saturdays she babysits for a single mother, on Sundays she serves in her local church.  And that is her spare time.  Every day of the week she is serving her clients.  When they become patients in a foreign country she is their coordinator and advisor.  When they run out of money on their benefits plan she becomes their negotiator and solution-finder.  When they are struck by a catastrophe at 2 in the morning she is up on the phone arranging their emergency care or their safe evacuation.  She is serving.  Every day.  In her work and in her play.

Another example.  The Single Woman who is a nanny in the home of a wealthy family.  She works seven days a week and lives in the spare room of her employer’s house.  She doesn’t have free time.  Yet she can serve.  The children in her care are bathed three times a day and fed healthy meals.  She teaches them lessons in life like how to wash the dishes, how to share with each other, how to respect themselves.  She reads bedtime stories to them.  She tucks them in at night.  She turns on the night light.  They wake to her smile and the smell of breakfast.  She is serving.  Every day.

How the Single Woman can serve from right where she is…

  • Live to serve – Every thing a Single Woman does is an act of service.  If she begins to examine her actions with a view to focusing them on service she will be able to make a major difference in her own life and in the life of others.  For example, the Single Woman is a receptionist.  She answers the phone.  If she channels every action into an act of service she will know that when the phone rings the beneficiary of her service is the caller.  She will put a smile on her face that makes its way into her voice and be as helpful as she possibly can to assist the caller with obtaining what he is calling for.  Every action is an act of service.  And every act of service has a beneficiary.
  • Smile – In living to serve, a Single Woman will learn that the easiest and most inexpensive form of service is her smile.  It is an act of service.  There is always a beneficiary.  A team leader that smiles when speaking to the members of his team will encourage that team to perform.  A customer service agent smiling to a complaining customer can turn that complaint around.  There is money to be made in the business of smiles.  But, more importantly, there is also much joy to be had.  A smile is a priceless act of service.
  • Spend time serving with others – Join a church, join an organization, meet like-minded people also focused on service, serve with them to better your world.  Pick a charity, a cause, a doctrine that you believe in and commit to it.  Pick a service club.  Or pick a group of people in need you would like to reach.  When people band together they are better able to change the world.  Even in service there is power in numbers.

Testimony of a Rotaracter:

“I joined Rotaract as an excited idealistic young Single Woman.  I had just moved back home from University abroad and didn’t know many people.  But I wanted to give back to my community and got past my shyness enough to accept the invite to a Rotaract meeting.  At my first Rotaract meeting I was greeted with humour and smiles.  The discussion was lively, non-political, and geared towards what we, as young people, can do to benefit our world.  In my time with the Rotaract club I have been exposed to the greater world of service – the Rotary Family has been instrumental in erradicating polio worldwide.  We have been first responders to major disasters in Haiti, India, New Orleans and Japan.  We have been carers for our own communities feeding the elderly, throwing Christmas parties for the poor, cleaning up littered beaches, sponsoring youth programs and teaching adults who have never learned how to read.  I am a part of a large family that serves the world as well as each other. 

May Rotary friends and Rotary ways help us to serve thee all our days” .

Single Women, let us be the movement we were meant to be.  Starting with a smile.  Today.

Do you have a service story to share?  Leave your stories in the Singlestream by commenting below…

Meat Market

Single Men of a Certain Age

Good girls know they will not find the man of their dreams in a club.  And so they bring home their nightmares.  No matter what their mama teaches them or their daddy warns them away from on pain of death, at some point in their single-and-seeking days they find themselves under the flashing lights dancing dirty on the drink splattered floor of the Meat Market.

This girl was no exception.  There were nights I came home flush faced and seventeen with echoes of shouted sweet nothings replaying in my head.  And then there was the night I met, after several years, the love of my highschool life and brought him home a few days later to meet my mom.  He was beautiful and troubled and I was determined to save his life.  A year later we were tired and bruised and parted with sweet sorrow over differences we both wished we could overcome.  Differences we wished we had been able to communicate over the noise of the club.  And that was one of the happy endings.

There are girls in my generation who went home pregnant on one of those nights.  Others still went home black-eyed and battered.  But every single one of us came home on at least one night with a broken heart.

Last night we revisited some of the local meat markets.  They all looked the same as I window shopped with no intention of buying.  Two friends of mine turned 30 and because of this the crowd was more mature than usual – none of us are frequent visitors anymore.  Looking out from the safety of their company I struggled with a mix of sadness, relief and the memory of my young bashful self.  As it has been for years, the place is filled wall to wall with beautiful bodies just bursting out of their teens and single men of a certain age who no one in their generation have deemed fit to take home and domesticate.  The two levels rock with insecurity and awkwardness not yet rubbed off the newly minted adulthood and predatory lust lurking behind still, practiced eyes.  In market terms, there is the healthy red gleam of fresh clean cuts intermingled with the greying edges of reeking old meat gone bad.

It made me glad to get old!  To no longer be unwitting prey.  To be over the battle of accepting who I am.  Yes, I am in a battle with a body that needs to fit into a Trinidad Carnival costume by next February, but I have won the war with loving myself.

I came away excited to be off the market – top shelf and not for sale.  My night is not defined by a gaze held across a pulsing room.  The life I lead does not follow the path of the frustrated from date to date seeking personal purpose in a meaningful relationship.

Another thing I came upon was a strong desire to quit drinking.  Why numb senses that are designed to enjoy music and disciplined enough to avoid harmful encounters?  I am so much fun and so very brave without it!  My budget would look great and so would my body.  I am going to work on that… perhaps a new resolution.  After the wedding party tonight.  Another trip to window shop in the Meat Market.