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Corona Solo

The Online Teacher:

a not so fictional biography of a truly unremarkable individual…

If you look into the archives of human history, you will find that the occupation of “online teacher“ is a relatively new addition to the vernacular. Yet I find myself in that very occupation, in the middle of a pandemic. Talk about alone! Suddenly and unexpectedly I find myself in large stretches of time absolutely alone. It feels like isolation to the space-station level extent. It is a sanity test!

I go grocery shopping. I go to the drug store. I get gas, and sometimes buy Smart-food. Love Smart-food. I go inside gas stations to buy Smart-food, so I guess I would die, even, for Smart-food. But I do not go to the gym, I do not go to the bar, I do not go to the coffee shop, I do not go to the movies, I do not meet other people out for a meal at a restaurant. You know the shtick. We are all living it.

My social life has been reduced to one video visit with my grandson on Saturday mornings, one Face time with my parents on Sundays, and a few skypes and phone calls per week with friends. Yes, phone calls! I prefer it after the week after week spent on screen with students.

Being an “online-teacher” means I am teaching three classes/sessions online through a public school district. 100% online. I am a middle-aged, single woman and and now my whole identity is swirled into an almost 100% online life. The only human beings that I see somedays are on a screen. It is insane but it is true! And I know I am not alone – there must be 100’s of thousands of us stuck inside a virtual work and social life – completely alone.

I get up every morning at 4:30 am – lift my weights – do some planks- and make coffee. Then I sit down with coffee and toast – delicious grain bread and jelly. Yum. Then I scroll through her list-serves . If you have never been on a list serve, man you got to start one. Here’s the description of the one from my area:

I can’t stand the WordPress formatting. I can’t believe I pay for this.

mgauvin

Love the list-serve!!

We all reach out and feel the pulse of the community. More than once I have bought something good and I was glad to have off of the list serve. I don’t know if it is just local to my area – which is pretty rural, but everybody’s got to have them. People argue on the list serve – typically it is polite -of course, but it is totally a place to air differences. I love it. It is probably my number one daily routine.

Being alone is probably not a good thing for me right now. I have some stuff going for me, but I’m going through some challenges too.  I blew out my knee and have spent the last year limping around. I am going to see an orthopedist in a couple of weeks. It isn’t the best time in my life, I’m not gonna lie, but all in all – I’m managing.

I have some good stuff going on – that grandson I mentioned. I’m lucky my parents are alive and healthy. Then I have started playing the ukulele, and have taught myself the C scale. I keep occupied keeping up the maintenance of my home. I do a lot of scraping and painting.

My life has literally been reduced to sleeping and working – and eating too sometimes. I drink a lot of smoothies and eat a lot of kale. Frozen burritos are my main staple, but I also love frozen pizza. American Flatbread tastes of fire and works for me. So it’s kale – smoothies – sardines . pizza and burritos. But mostly I spend my time sleeping. and reading books. I am easily sleeping 8-9 hours a night. On weekends I do yard work. I love to garden.

The good thing I have going for me is that I have basically given up alcohol. It took me till age 57 to do it, but I did it. I feel really confident about it. To the point that I don’t even want it in my apartment. Sure I might drink one or two beers once in a while while when I am with people, but even then I always wake up with such a dry mouth and in such a bad disposition that i just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. I often find myself pouring down the sink, like when someone leaves a six pack at my house.

Believing in multiple reincarnations, it felt like this was one burden I can lay off my shoulders in this lifetime, at least. I hope there will be more positive changes like that in my future too

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Reclaiming Single-Minded

Join a community of single-minded people. It used to be an insult to be called single-minded. If you look at Webster’s Dictionary, to be single-minded typically meant that you were stubborn, prejudiced, or unwilling to contemplate other perspectives. The same phrase can also mean, however, that you are determined, decisive, and purposeful. In that spirit, I cultivate activities that I call “single-minded” activities. I want to rescue the phrase – change what it means to be “single-minded” from negative to a positive. When I say single-minded in this website it means choosing activities that allow me to focus my mind in a creative, productive, and healthy way. 

To be single-minded is to create habits, routines and rhythms that foster healthy living when you live alone. From the moment I get home from work to the moment I leave for work the next day, my time is 100% my own. That’s an awesome gift because I am master of my own time.  It is also an immense personal responsibility. It is easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of the internet without external checks and balances from roommates, partners, children, housemates, and emerge hours later with nothing to show for your time.

So I began to create a list of made a list of 100 single things to do – (link here) healthy things that don’t simply involve trying to cope, but are actually activities that catapult you into new explorations.  Right now for instance, I’m driving in a car and dictating this blog. If there was another person in the car, we’d probably be listening to music and having a conversation. Instead, I am able to be single-minded in a creative way. 

 So welcome to this blog for the “single-minded.” It may be that no one ever reads it, but I do hope one or two of you discovers it, and shares these self-partnering experiences. Give me suggestions or offer to write a post. I don’t want to be your lifemate, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t be part of each other‘s lives. That’s the gift that the internet offers us – let’s take advantage of it.

apotheosis.gam@gmail.com

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What does it mean to be self-partnered?

I first encountered the phrase when Emma Watson used it self-referentially in Vogue Magazine in 2019 link here. I liked the term immediately, since it so accurately represented my developing preferences as a solo person who is not looking for a partner and is happy with my status as single.

This blog is for those who, like me, are embracing the term “self-partnered” and who are enjoying deeply exploring the experiences of their time alone.  If you found your way here, then you must be too.

Self-partnering is the antidote response to the multitude of articles that frequently happen across our reading lists, all focused on the topic of how to cope with being single. The ones that recommend that you delete your ex’s phone numbers; that you burn all his pictures; and that you feel sorry for yourself. These are the articles that usually end by recommending that you indulge yourself by eating sugar or by buying stuff. I grew frustrated with the idea that being single has to be unhealthy, and is always something that a person needs to “cope with.” That is simply not my reality as a happy single person.

There is no question, however, that getting through every single day (pun intended) can be a challenge. Sometimes it is a struggle to dance in this world as a solitary dancer. I started this blog as a bit of a tongue-in-cheek site where I can share my experiences, struggles, stories, advice and humor.  I also created this blog as a community space for those people who are finding themselves as solo, single and self-partnered actors on the world’s stage, who are embracing a “single state of mind,” and who want to share their creative experiences in support of that path.

 Being single doesn’t have to carry a stigma.  It doesn’t have to invoke sympathy. Secret note – self-partnered folks often feel sympathy for the struggles of their partnered friends and frequently give inner thanks that they don’t have to deal with that kind of stuff. This blog supports the idea that it is perfectly legitimate for a person to get out of the dating game altogether.  We are our own partners, damn it! Shut up already and let’s move on!

apotheosis.gam@gmail.com

Self-Partnered and the Cult of the Couple

Webster’s Dictionary link  defines a cult as a large group of people religiously following a charismatic leader or devoted to an idea. I would argue that our society, for too long, has adhered almost religiously to the idea that everybody needs to be in a romantic couple in order to be happy. I counter that idea and would even argue that, more often than not, people are as likely to be unhappy when they are coupled as happy.

Sometimes as self-partnered individuals, it can feel like we are single fish swimming in a sea of couples. Everyone seems to have a wedding ring on. Every song on the radio is a love song. No matter where you go, everybody seems to have another person in tow – like a constant shadow. From personal experience, it can often feel like self-partnered folks are the largest of all the minorities. It doesn’t matter your race or religion, statistics show that you more likely than not to be coupled, (more than 60%, according to CNN report link to article), or hoping to be. Those of us who choose to live alone are definitely in the minority.  Of the 332 million American adults, only 35.4 million (or less than 11 percent of us) consciously choose to live alone, according to the Council on Contemporary Families fact sheet link to article. Those who are making a choice to not be in a couple are under-represented, for sure, and we often feel under-appreciated.

It can often feel like you are a single fish in a sea of couples.

The majority of social events that I get invited to are ones in which the majority of the people attending are there as a couple. They may mingle as solos – but it’s always apparently clear who belongs to whom. I was even asked at one of these events recently who I belonged to. I of course answered, “I belong to myself.“ It felt like such a strange response, that you have to declare your relationship status for others to fully understand how you fit in their social understanding of you. If I have to be the champion of that response, however, and represent the self-partnered minority, then I accept that challenge.

Obviously, there is nothing inherently wrong with being coupled. But just as obviously, there should be nothing wrong with being uncoupled. The only thing, really, that I have against coupling is when one person is unhappy and complaining to their friends about how unhappy they are. When that begins to happen all the time, however, then they have a responsibility to get out and get on with it. It is not fair to themselves or their partner.

I’m declaring myself as self-partnered primarily because I prefer being alone.  There are some great advantages to living completely alone, with nothing but the thoughts of your own head.

It is a great challenge, no denying, and demands that you really come to terms with yourself.  It also has great rewards. You do not have to compromise your choices or constantly be in a practice of negotiating your behavior.  Your time is completely your own. Maybe it’s the ultimate act of selfishness, but often sacrifices have to be made to pull it off. Still, I am here to argue that it is a valid choice to want to simplify living down to the choices of one person – yourself alone. 

Loneliness and Depression

Let’s admit it, depression is the greatest challenge for those who choose to not be in a relationship and who spend a lot of time alone. Depression can be the deepest and darkest place imaginable, and we all go there sometimes. It is like being in a black tunnel with no light at the end, a tunnel that feels like it will never end. You are lost in the dark, swimming in misery. Worries and anxieties overwhelm you. You worry about that friend’s lack of response to your text or email. Are they mad at you? You worry that seemingly disconnected events revolve around you – that people are avoiding you.  All of the things that you have ever done in your past, all the things that you feel bad about, come back to attack you – with claws and teeth in the dark, they blame you and shame you. There seems to be no escape.

For some reason, when you are in that dark tunnel, all you want to do are the things that make it worse. You want to drink or drug yourself to numb the pain and to find some relief. You are afraid to reach out, because you seriously doubt anybody’s affection for you. So you stay home and you isolate yourself more, only to get caught up deeper into the spiral of negative thoughts. It becomes an endless cycle that gets more and more difficult to break free from.

I say to you that to get out of this place, you need to be a fighter. When you are feeling this way, you need to fight like hell to find a way out. You can do it! Even though you don’t have any strength, you need stand (or crawl) forward. The tunnel may be long and dark, but there are secret side passages just up ahead, with little tiny holes in the wall where small rays of light shine in.  Find one, sit in it for a bit, and breath in the light. If that is all you can do today, then consider it a victory – but you need to keep moving, inch by inch, forward – from one small ray of light to the next.

As I dictate this, I’m sitting in my car. I didn’t want to leave the house. I wanted to curl up and give in to the darkness. But I am forcing myself to get out of the house and to go running. I know that running is a life-giving activity for me, a healing activity.  It is my tiny side passage with a small ray of light. At least I hope that’s the case today.

Later-check in. 

 As I was running, a person who I know only remotely drove by and turned. In that turn, he had to wait for me to run across the road in front of him.  His face registered recognition, and he smiled. Holy cow, that smile went straight to my aching heart. It was like electricity. He drove on, and he never knew the effect he had on me, but that one smile made all the difference. 

There is power in human connection that can break us free of the dark tunnel of depression. Getting out among people is super important.  Go to a coffee shop, to a park, to a zoo, to the beach – anywhere there are other people. Make eye contact. Look for others that seem isolated and who need a smile. People heal people.  Become a healer for others and in the process, heal yourself.

I know that it is not simple – but people DO care.

Reach out for their hands, or their smiles, in the darkness.


Single-Mind Fullness

Everybody is self-partnered when they are in the act of meditating – it is a singularly solo act. In that regard, choosing a self-partnered and solo life is like living in an extended meditation. It becomes a life of more intense mindfulness when you spend great amounts of time alone. Life emerges as a slow act in single-mindedness and your time is well-spent with such meditative deliberateness.

While not perfect, I spend A LOT of time experimenting with my own meditation practice. I am constantly tweaking what I do, how I sit, how I focus, what I use for musical or sensory prompts. I especially like to watch where my mind goes. I find that meditation is never a skill that one completely masters. No one, no matter how long they have been meditating, ever has it completely figured out. It is always a burgeoning learning no matter how long you’ve been engaged in it.

I have friends who will meditate for an hour every single day. I admire and aspire to that kind of practice, but I only usually sit for 30 to 40 minutes, three to four days a week.

 I have found that the best time for me to meditate is first thing in the morning, while it is still dark outside, watching the daylight grow around me. I like meditating in the early morning, since it feels like a perfect time to connect with your slow and sleepy inner consciousness. A great time to look within.

The actual mechanics of my personal meditation practice varies widely, between keeping my mind as still and as quiet as possible to the opposite of crafting active and vivid visualizations. Regardless of how I meditate, WHERE I meditate is always in the same location.  I have a little papasan chair that I love very much.  Papasan is a very popular and inexpensive bamboo circular nest of a chair. I have one that I am sitting in right now writing this, and that is also the location where I do most of my meditating. I think it’s important to find a spot that’s comfortable and cozy – whether you’re completely upright or not. It is more about your mind than the posture of your body. Some meditation practitioners advocating very erect posture positions. I am more laid-back in my postures, and instead tend to focus my mind.

Mind as still as possible. I usually just follow my breath. I follow my breath as it moves in and out. I focus on how my body feels and any slight movements. I focus on the sounds coming toward me from around me. I become aware that sound is a wave. I fill myself with light. I imagine myself as a source of light, and I send out love. I bless my family, I bless my friends, and then I wish a multitude of blessings on our singular and diminishing humanity. Such meditations are about turning my inner light in service to the light of the whole.  

I have to believe it does some kind of good.

There are other times that I spend meditating – but it is a more creative practice – a time of imagination.  I call it visualization of what I call the best world in the world. I am Magine (stat.) what I would think of – the best place in the world in vivid pictures, lots of happy folks enjoying the best kinds of things in the world –  smiles, laughter. loving community and coffee and baked goods. My imaginations usually involve communities of like-minded peaceful folks joined together in the common good.  As i said, my perfect world usually takes place at a nice coffee shop, where we’ all are having a great time in a deep and connected community of friendly folks. I sometimes feel like visualizations are as important as other forms of expanded mindfulness – because they give the universe a picture to formulate from.  I find that visualizations are also definitely more fun!

But the ultimate question is, who really knows what it actually means to be mindful? I think it means putting your mind to work in alternative ways, connecting to deeper wavelengths of thinking and living. It definitely means striving in your practice, since one always needs to put in the time for a particularly good meditation practice. You have to do the time, so to speak, with your solo thinking.

This crazy anonymous blog endeavor is the result of visualizing what could be possible when you put the Internet to work as a collectively creative community. What does it look like when we talk to each other in a civil fashion? Are there even avenues for doing that anymore? How can we open up new branching connections with like-minded people?  Can we fashion a place to meet each other respectfully and where solo people can bond as a community of single folks.

The universe needs all of us to tune into it with a slow and patient meditative flow. May we all join our meditations together. 

Peace on your meditations fellow solo traveller!

 Apotheosis.gam

https://self-partnered.blog
Community site below:

https://sites.google.com/view/self-partnered-blog/single-mindfulness

Teddy and the Single Button

Sometimes you need to follow your inspiration, no matter how many years it takes for it to make sense to you.  Inspiration is exactly the story behind Teddy and the “Single” button. 

Teddy was technically not my bear, and his name is technically not originally Teddy – it was Freddy. The story goes like this. I never had an actual teddy bear during my early years, that I remember, anyway.  Freddy belonged to my little brother, eight years younger than me, who named him Freddy because he had another bear already named Teddy.  Freddy was clearly second fiddle for my brother, but he soon became first fiddle for me. When my brother pulled his eyes off, I sewed on two big buttons from an old sweater, and patched up the tear under his left eye where stuffing was falling out.  I grew so fond of him that I stole him when I went to college ten years later, and since then, Teddy has lived on every bureau that I have ever had for over 40 years. Good old steady-Teddy, he is my longest lasting mate!

But that’s not the whole story, because the whole story has to explain the “Single” button. That part of the story happened when Teddy was about 30 years old.  At that point in my life, I found myself single, and, true to my old form, looking immediately for a mate.  Needless to say, I was frustrated that there was no clear way to identify myself as “single” to others, or for them to identify themselves to me.  I hatched a “single”button plan with a dear friend from Raleigh, NC, named Peter Leary.  Pete has now passed away, but he was a REAL character, as anyone who knew him would testify, and any plan with Pete was always a delightful enterprise.

Pete had an infectious laugh and a silly sense of the world. When he wasn’t performing original songs at open mic nights, he also doubled as Santa Claus. His favorite gig, however, was to don the special green suit he had had specially made for himself just to walk with in the Raleigh annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade – delighting the children and adults alike as a large joyful leprechaun.

That’s just one of the reasons I loved Pete. But what Pete did for work, however, is where the buttons come in.  Pete ran his own buisiness creating what he liked to call “political chatchka” – you know, the buttons and posters and bumper stickers necessary to get anyone elected to political office.  What would you do if one of your friends was a button maker?  Just what I did. Together, after complaining about the above problem, Pete and I hatched a plan that he would make me 1000 single buttons.  

At the time I had the buttons made and paid for, I was looking to use them as a quick pathway back into a coupled relationship. That was then, but now I see my single buttons as a small but perfect token of a new identity that I embrace – being self-partnered! I am singing a solo in this world duets. I am happily single.

Now, over 15 years later, I am not sure where those 1000 buttons all went. I hardly ever wore them for their original intended purpose. I vaguely remember handing them out by the fistfulls at bars with friends. I have hardly any left so if you ended up with one, I hope you are wearing it with single pride!

Teddy still sits silently on my bureau, but now he wears a single button to celebrate a new life dedicated to searching for SINGLE PURPOSE!

self-partnered.blog

a site for the solo traveller who is not looking for a romantic partner

Sometimes the center of your world just has to be you!

apotheosis.gam

Emma Watson cannot be the spokesperson for the self-partnered forever.

I mean, look at her!

After many many many years, I realized I hadn’t not been in a romantic relationship since I was 12 years old. I guess it was time to commit to not being in a relationship for a while, and maybe forever. It feels pretty good, is challenging most days, but I fill my days with humor and fill a lot of my time creating this blog and the site.

Buying a URL?

On 12/23/19, I purchased the domain name self-partnered.blog.

My WordPress blog shown here is the URL internet entrypoint.

It is not open for public contribution

Please go to

to https://sites.google.com/view/self-partnered-blog/home

 to join the online community –

the place where the color happens.

The image shown here is my very first google Analytics data report –

even before I registered in their network as a user.

apotheosis.gam
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