By Gwenn Voelckers
“Build thy home in thy heart and be forever sheltered.” – Anonymous
I love this saying. It captures so beautifully what I practice every day and what I preach in my Live Alone and Thrive workshops — that the relationship with ourselves is the most enduring of all and that it is worth nurturing.
Most of the women and men whom have made peace with living alone are busy leading interesting lives and making it their own.
They have challenged, as have I, the age-old and deeply held belief that marriage, as it has been traditionally defined, is the only state in which we can be happy, fulfilled, secure and successful. We have come to consider our time alone as a gift, not a burden.
Whether divorced or widowed, we are not spending this precious time bemoaning our fate. We have overcome adversity and we are the stronger for it. We have taken our lives into our own hands and have embraced the choices and possibilities that living alone has to offer.
This is what we know . . .
1. Living alone doesn’t mean being alone. All you need to do is pick up the phone, text a friend or email a colleague.
2.Accepting party invitations is worth doing, even if it’s a party with mostly couples. Keep in mind that guests often separate into groups of women and men, so singles blend right in.
3. Traveling solo is an adventure in self-discovery. Whether it’s Paris or Peoria, striking out on your own will expand your horizons and build self-confidence.
4. Figuring out how to replace the flapper valve in your toilet — all by yourself — can be very rewarding!
5. The stereotyped images of single women and men as desperate and miserable are exaggerated and just plain untrue. Recent studies on the subject bear this out.
6. Rediscovering your “true self” and identifying those things that bring meaning and joy into your life can turn living alone into an adventure of the spirit.
7. Pursuing a new career or college degree in midlife can be liberating and fun.
8. Doing a “random act of kindness” is a great antidote when you’re feeling lonely and sorry for yourself.
9. Friends matter. Reach out. Nurture your friendships. Honor your commitments.
10. Accepting a dinner invitation does not obligate you to anything.
11. Paying your own fair share on a date can feel good and empowering.
12. Loneliness is not a “state of being” reserved for single people. Were you ever lonely in your marriage?
13. Letting go of the idea that you need to be married to have any chance of being happy and fulfilled is essential. This idea will only keep you mired in self-pity.
14. Treating yourself well builds esteem. Prepare and enjoy decent meals at home. Get enough sleep. Exercise. You’re worth it. Tell yourself so by taking good care of yourself.
15. Your children are your first priorities, even in the face of an enticing romance.
16. Getting out of your comfort zone is worth the discomfort. Try something new — dancing, a book club, golf lessons…whatever. It’s a great way to have fun and meet people.
17. Isolating on holidays, birthdays, Sundays, etc. is no good. Solitary confinement is punishment for criminals, not single people. Make plans.
18. Comb your hair. Lose the sweat pants. Put a smile on your face. It’s important to create your own positive feedback. Looking good tells people you value yourself. It will draw people (and compliments) to you. Who doesn’t need and want that?
19. There’s no shame in asking for help. It’s not a sign of weakness. On the contrary.
20. Self-confidence and humor are powerful aphrodisiacs; neediness and desperation are not.
21. Doing anything alone means you enjoy life and your own company; it does not mean you are a loser.
22. Expanding your definition of love beyond “romantic love” will stand you in good stead. Embrace “passionate friendships” — those relationships in which you can be yourself and feel completely comfortable.
23. Hanging out with negative people is a real downer. Put yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself and about life.
24. Living alone takes practice. Know that there is always someone you can call or something you can do to improve your situation.
So there you have it, two dozen tips for building thy home in thy heart. I’ll end as I started, with another quote I love. This one is by Gilda Radner:
“Whether you’re married or not, whether you have a boyfriend or not, there is no real security except for whatever you build inside yourself.”
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of “Live Alone and Thrive,” empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon. For information or to contact Voelckers, call 585-624-7887 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.