Forging a New Life on Your Own
By Gwenn Voelckers
For some women, living alone in mid-to-later life is a welcome change, especially if they have chosen to step away from an unhappy marriage. But for others, the change is often sudden and not welcome.
The prospect of living alone can appear on the horizon as a daunting challenge.
The ending of my own marriage years ago fell into the latter category; it was not a welcome change. But it was a change nonetheless and I chose to accept it and ultimately to embrace what would become a defining chapter in my life.
It took some time and some hard-knock lessons, but I eventually discovered a resourcefulness within myself that enabled me to forge a joyful and meaningful life on my own. It is that same resourcefulness that gave me the confidence to offer support to other women in similar circumstances.
“Alone & Content: Forging a New Life on Your Own” is a one-day boot camp I developed to help women discover the know how to create a more satisfying and enriching life on their own terms and timetable.
I’ve been leading the workshop for over 14 years now, and often get questions from In Good Health readers about what the boot camp covers and how it is organized:
Q. What is the purpose of the boot camp and what do you cover?
A. Because I’ve walked in a similar pair of shoes, I can empathize with the challenges you may be facing. And I can support your efforts and desire to feel more content on your own.
In many cases, it starts with a change in attitude and perspective. At the end of our day together, it’s my hope you will feel a few steps closer to finding your way forward, whether it be to get unstuck, to cope better or to thrive.
We’ll talk about how to overcome loneliness and other emotional pitfalls, rediscover your true self, socialize in a couples’ world, and let go of self-limiting beliefs or obstacles that get in the way of personal growth.
The goal is to embrace what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get to know yourself all over again and to create a rewarding life on your own, whether it be for a year or two or for the rest of your life.
Feeling comfortable with your independence will improve your chances of finding happiness, and it will improve your chances of finding a new healthy relationship, if that’s what you desire.
When you feel better about yourself — more self-assured and resourceful — life on your own or with a special someone can be richer and more satisfying.
Q. Who attends the boot camp?
A. Most of the women who attend the workshop are in mid-to later life, around my age. I am 64 years young.
Almost all have come out of a long marriage or relationship, and some are on their own for the first time in their lives. While their circumstances may differ, they share one thing in common: They want to get a better handle on living alone and to feel more content with themselves and their independence.
Many see this workshop as an extension of the support they are receiving from friends, family, a therapist, and/or their congregation.
Q. I’m still grieving the loss of my marriage/spouse. Is this boot camp right for me?
A. Good question. The Alone & Content boot camp is a “nuts and bolts” practical workshop to help women feel more whole and complete on their own. It is not a grief or mental health support group. If you are still in the grieving process and seek support, I recommend attending a grief support group (check out Lifetime Care) or the help of a professional counselor.
Q. What are your credentials?
A. I am not a licensed professional. My expertise is born out of real-life experience. I’ve been there. I emerged from my divorce feeling very deflated and very alone, faced with both the practical and emotional challenges of living alone. After some hits and misses, I found my way and now thoroughly enjoy the freedom, independence and peace that come with living alone.
My time-tested experience, resources, tips and techniques have inspired and helped many participants. My boot camp has been the jump-start they needed to rewrite this chapter in their lives.
Q. How large is the boot camp?
A. Ideally, I like to have eight women in each boot camp, although, on occasion, I have led the workshop with a few more and a few less. A group of about eight gives everyone a chance to actively participate and benefit from the experience. The sharing quickly evolves into a comfortable camaraderie and it’s not uncommon for warm friendships to develop among participants that carry on long after the boot camp has ended.
Q. Where is the Alone & Content boot camp held?
A. The boot camp takes place at House Content Bed & Breakfast in Mendon, a few minutes south of Rochester. House Content is a little historic gem, situated on a picturesque six-acre site, surrounded by horse farms and parkland. Reminiscent of a quaint English cottage, this setting serves as a peaceful and inspirational setting for the workshops.
Q. I’d like to sign up for the boot camp. What’s my next step?
A. Let’s talk by phone as a next step. That way, I can your answer your questions and you’ll know better whether this boot camp is right for you. Just call me at 585-624-7887 or email me at email@example.com, and we’ll schedule a time to chat. You’ll also find information about my upcoming boot camp in the Calendar of Health Events included in this issue.
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of “Alone & Content” empowerment boot camps for women held throughout the year in Mendon, New York. She is the author of “Alone and Content: Inspiring, empowering essays to help divorced and widowed women feel whole and complete on their own.” For information about her boot camp, to purchase her book, or invite her to speak call 585-624-7887, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.aloneandcontent.com