One of the things I do as a life coach and keeper-of-community, is to watch the lay of the land. I observe the needs that are being expressed in our far-flung circle, and I look for the places that could use a little extra soulcare.
As my mentor in graduate school pointed out, I’ve never really been a single woman. Sure, I was single in high school and college but so was every one else.Â We were all in the same boat. There was nothing especially counter-cultural to figure out about beingÂ sans life partner at 21.
It’s different as we get older. Being single has it’s own set of joys and challenges when we are real, live grown ups. Especially around the holidays.
Being that I don’t have much first hand knowledge in this arena, and seeing as I am a firm believer in the giant pool of wisdom, I turned to the soulÂ sisters to find the help we need. When we were crowdsourcing the “what to do if you’re single over the holidays” conundrum in Flock, one of our members Lavet Lorenz, came up with just a stellar list of tips and experiences. She’s kindly offered up that advice to you here today. So without further ado, Lavet, step right up….
Happy Holidays and the Single Gal
with Lavet Lorenz
Holidays were a solo affair for more than a decade of my life. Single and unfettered, I used my pursuits of higher education and nonprofit work to seize opportunities in Lower Michigan, Hawaii, Chicago, and Central New York. All locations far away from where I grew up in the wilds of Michiganâ€™s Upper Peninsula. Given that I didnâ€™t have a great relationship with my family (a gross understatement), I wasnâ€™t motivated to slog on back.
The first couple of years I reckoned that I was keeping busy, so it was no big deal to be alone. However, channel surfing my way through Christmas eve and into Christmas morning with visions of happy families all snug in their beds turned out to be extremely depressing.
There were the occasions when I joined well-meaning friends as a guest at their family’s Christmas festivities. This option proved worse than being alone. Injecting a stranger into what is traditionally the most intimate time of year for a family is a little like taking a shit in the eggnog (jarring for all involved, even for the out of place poop, aka me).
These less than stellar merriments emboldened me to push past my presuppositions of what holidays should be. Â Here are a few simple intentional activities that helped me to eventually create holidays rife with gentle joy and tender significance.
- Volunteering.Â Prior to and during the peak holiday times I ratcheted up my gratitude meter by volunteering. Opportunities are abundant this time of year though many donâ€™t coincide with the 48 hours of the Christmas holiday. Volunteering during the actual holiday held the greatest significance for me. Retirement homes, Iâ€™ve found, are generally open to volunteers during that window.
- Mingle with the Masses. (Conversely titled, â€œDive Head First into the Mobâ€). I loved walking through the mall frenzy, making eye contact and wishing folks a happy holiday (insert your greeting of choice). People are typically harried while engaged in last minute shopping. When I felt extroverted it was an awesome opportunity to garner peace and good cheer simply by opening the door for package-ladened patrons. When I felt introverted, but still drawn to commune with humanity, a late night candlelight service (such as a midnight mass) or quiet group meditation (Buddhist centers or Quaker gatherings) were just the thing.
- Engage with Fellow Singletons. My favorite singletons to start conversations with were elderly people that looked like they were alone too. Some topics nearly anyone is open to discuss: rampant consumerism, what they would like Santa to bring them this year, and ever reliably, â€œthe weatherâ€.
- Elemental Exposure. Doing something physical to take in beauty like a hike or snowshoeing proved cathartic. I wouldnâ€™t, but if you opt for the high adventure of free solo ice climbing, do tell someone where youâ€™ll be so as to avoid James Francoâ€™s fate in 127 Hours. Less athletic, an early morning walk on Christmas Day when everything is so very, very quiet is magical.
- Luxe Xmas. Iâ€™ll fess up to being my own Santa Baby on occasion doing something indulgent for myself that I wouldnâ€™t have done otherwise. A lot of places are open now for holidays especially if they are a part of mall complexes (nail and hair salons, etc.). Yes, Iâ€™ve even ordered a catered feast, spread it out on the coffee table, and had a movie marathon. The leftovers would be perfect enjoyed during a Christmas Day matinee, not that Iâ€™d ever smuggle food into a movie theater (Shh… itâ€™s my modus operandi). Â
- Bubble Wrap. Wrapping my solitude tightly around me like a thick woolen blanket, Iâ€™ve sometimes entered a bubble of uninterrupted creative time. Tools at the ready: fresh art supplies, 24 hours worth of nurturing meals, high-end journal and pen,Â camera to capture ice crystals, and prompts (pictures, readings, etc.). The odd stillness when so many people are off the roads and hidden away in homes can be a doorway into another realm. A place transcended from the seasonal hub-bub, a holy ground of extended contemplation. One year, when I was living in Hawaii, I rented a cottage on the grounds of a convent nestled in a lush valley. The creative bubble I experienced there was nothing short of otherworldly.
Though I now have a husband, daughter, in-laws, and extended family with whom to ring in the cheer, a part of me misses the solitude and poignancy from my singleton holidays. A distinctive fortitude has taken residence in my innermost being from the years I shrugged off societal â€œshouldsâ€ and stepped surefootedly into my own way of cherishing the holidays. I don’t know why pressing in and embracing the melancholy I felt those days had such a sweet, empowering tenderness to it, but it did.
Lavet Lorenz is a life coach and former minister who is passionate about exhorting individuals in transition or pain toward their deepest heart desires. Her credentials include an MA emphasizing Relational Communication from the University of Hawaii, seminary coursework in Transformational Leadership from Bethel University, and nearly ten years experience in spiritual direction and soul care. Check out her new blog www.lavetlorenz.com where she is offering, â€œIrreverent humor, refreshing frankness, and sparkles of light in the darkâ€.