Since this blog was begun as a way to share with others how I live richly in retirement on a fixed income, I get piles and piles of comments and private emails with questions on topics ranging from couponing, to getting deals, to affording X on a fixed income in retirement. That's really not a shock I suppose, considering my blog origin and my personal history.
What's more surprising (at least to me) is that I get just as many public and private questions on the subject of living alone and widowhood. Again, maybe not as obvious as the financial topics, but fairly understandable. When it comes to the social and perhaps emotional aspects of living along, the vast majority of questions have to do with how to meet others to do things with. That's certainly important, and I write about my own experiences with this one pretty regularly.
That said, my experience tells me that the most important thing to learn about living alone (especially for those us of who became single later in life) is to learn to enjoy ourselves, by ourselves, and to learn to enjoy doing things alone on occasion.
For almost every Thursday since last September, I have been preparing a meal at our church. On Thursday nights we have a church service, then a meal and then a program. The program is as varied as topics on sustainability or Muslims in America or the arts as spiritual practice (in Lent we have done free writing, made two sided masks, written poetry, done "free" dancing and discussed music). Some folks come for all three (church, food and program), and many come for any one or two they choose. Truth be told, I do not cook every week, but I still set up and take down, buy the food and drinks and everything else. I tend to alternate something like last night's Stouffers chicken enchiladas (with salad and dessert), with last week's homemade ham and cheese sliders on Hawaiian rolls. I am reimbursed so this is labor, not a financial contribution.
I'm getting ready to travel and have finished with this responsibility until I start again in the fall. Last night, after my last "cook" for a while, I got a lovely thank you card. Said card also included a gift card for $100 to one of my favorite yarn shops. I had absolutely no idea!! None!!
Now, when it comes to financial types, I am the gal who will not go into debt but will spend money if it is there (my husband was the same money type). I want all my bills taken out electronically and I want my savings done through 401K or some other mechanism so that I know I can spend what I have "in hand". All of which is to say, I fully intended to get that yarn. Today. Without question. It was time for a field trip-in this case a field trip alone. Some shopping? Maybe some lunch? Just me and my gift card (s)? You bet!!
I am someone who loves to yak and who loves to do things with others. My knitting and crafting groups regularly have field trip and outings that include shopping and museums and lunch and more every few weeks and I enjoy those times. Socialization is surely an important part of my life.
But I also enjoy my own company. I don't have to converse with others, I can sit and read at lunch and I can enjoy my surroundings-and my own thoughts (which are at their most creative when I am alone). My little trip this Friday included a drive to the "good" yarn store. I spent unlimited time looking at yarn without worrying about holding anyone up while I compared three or four shades of "neutral". I chatted with a couple of women who were sitting and knitting near the front door-they wanted to know what I was making and I showed them the photo below. After spending an unlimited amount of time shopping, I explored the neighborhood which included the ice cream boutique next door as well as the gourmet bakery. Since it's in the mid seventies today, I walked and wandered at will, not worrying about how much time I spent looking in a window. Rather than eating at said eateries, I settles for Applebees, since I had an earned gift card for that.
From my correspondence, I sense that eating alone is one of those issues that makes people shake their head and go running from the room. I'm never sure if this is because of embarrassment, comfort level or any of a dozen other issues. If that describes you, whether you are single, married or something in between, I encourage you go go and eat and drink-alone. Leave your partner at home. Take the dog if you must. Heck, go to Starbucks if that works better. Get coffee.........but don't wander off with the cup, or open your laptop in work mode. Sit inside or on the patio. Respond or nod to folks who nod or say something as they walk by. Enjoy the moment. And get rid of the embarrassment or "pity" factor. Realize that if someone IS looking at you as you walk by, they are probably more interested in what you are reading, your dog, or what you are dining on than why exactly you're alone.
|A not great picture from the cover of my new pattern. I 've chosen the darker gray and the neutral, still thinking on the middle stripe, am I!|
|An admittedly dark picture of my choices. Yes folks this is in fact $72.00 worth of yarn after taxes. Note that bright skein on the side. I'm me, I always have to add some bright.|
I usually take my kindle with me on outings, but that doesn't mean I read all the time when eating out. I am a people watcher at heart, and when possible ask to be seated by a window or on the patio so I can see what's going on nearby. I also enjoy the action of eating, even if it's only their homemade broccoli cheese soup with half of a mandarin salad and a frosted Easter cookie. If I read my book while dining, it's because I have interest in the book, not because I want to "look like I'm not really alone". I AM alone. I embrace it.
Today's field trip adventure was not nearly as long as it could have been. Mainly because after lunch I wanted to get home and play with my yarn and needles! Friday is my outing day. Sometimes I'm alone (movies and the Silver Diner, visiting a museum, going for a drive) and sometimes I am with friends. Both work, both are full and fun experiences and both enrich me.
|Still needs work and has a cople mistakes but it will be much bigger, so time to knit on the table for this one.|
Oh, and since Easter is on it's way, it was time to move the spring stuff out...slowly but surely. Every year my decorating for holidays lessens a tiny bit. This Easter, I'm settling for quilts, a couple Easter baskets, my Easter fairy garden and some hand decorated eggs and knick nacks. Welcome Spring!