Being Uncoupled is Just as Good as Being Coupled

People come in all stripes and they couple up in a variety of ways. Couples include a variety of twosomes such as; woman and man, woman and woman, man and man, trans and partner, bi and both woman and man. In other words, there are a lot of different kinds of “coupling” going on. Society is learning that sexuality is on a spectrum and it is not binary.

But, what about people who do not couple up? Is there something wrong with them? Are they abnormal?

In the old days, some of these “uncoupled” people lived the only respectable way they could – joining religious safe havens such as monasteries, seminaries, convents and various cults, living their lives apart from the mainstream and devoting their lives to spreading their particular beliefs.

Other than being “uncoupled” for religious reasons, singlehood has never had much status in the world. In fact, it actually has a shame attached to it. Single people are often viewed as being selfish and unable to sustain a partnership due to some personal failure.

I was one of these single people who spent the majority of my life thinking something was wrong with me since I wasn’t part of a couple. I grew up learning that my role was to marry and produce children. I always thought that married family life was what I wanted. But try as I might, coupling was just not in the cards for me.

I remember as a young girl, my mother told me to let the boys win at games if I ever wanted to date. I was told to let the boy/man think he was stronger and smarter. I tried to do this but it just didn’t come naturally. Even though I was decent looking, outgoing and fun, the boys and later the men, just were not attracted to me.

In my thirties, with the biological clock ticking, I asked for help from a friend who was a total “guy magnet”. No matter where she went or what she did, she was always being approached by guys and being asked out. She could be riding the subway; shopping at the farmer’s market; or going to the library – she attracted men like a flower attracts bees.

She took me under her wing and gave me the following advice.

  • Stop walking so fast as it looks like you have business to tend to
  • Slow down, saunter and look approachable, smile and say hello
  • Stop driving your fancy car and wearing your fancy clothes
  • Don’t look so successful, rather, try to look vulnerable
  • Ask for help from men you want to date

Basically, my friend was telling me I had to “dumb it down” to get a man. As contrary as this approach was to my burgeoning feminism, I gave it a try to see what would happen.

I wore a black pencil skirt and a silk blouse open down to the third button. I wore heels (that I could walk in) and unleashed my ponytail to blow in the Chicago breeze. It was a Friday afterwork and I sauntered up Michigan Avenue on my 2 mile walk home. I smiled at others as I walked along. I walked slower and consciously swung my hips a little as I got into the rhythm of this new mode.

It didn’t take long for my prey to come in sight. Soon a good-looking man sidled up beside me saying “what a beautiful day . . . so glad it’s Friday.” I smiled and agreed with him. Next thing I know, we are walking together and exchanging pleasantries. I was inwardly amazed at how simple it was to reel one in. Soon he suggested we stop at a nearby bar to celebrate Friday. I agreed. One drink in and he asked me to come to his nearby apartment and told me his wife was out of town. I gracefully declined, took off my heels; put on my sneakers and walked briskly the rest of the way home . . . alone.

There were other forays into man hunting. In my mid-thirties I dated a man who fathered my child. We married for a short time.

Raising a child mostly on my own kept me busy for a generation. Although I dated over the years, I never met a man I wanted to marry and none of them wanted to marry me.

When my daughter grew up and moved away, I tried man hunting again and had a few short-term relationships, but from my perch, there was always something wrong with the men. Some were dull, some were cheap, some had health issues (including physical intimacy), most drank too much and most weren’t smart enough for me.

Once I retired, I began to study women’s history and social justice issues. Recently I did a deep dive into the history of the patriarchy. Through my research, I learned that the patriarchy is not the “natural way”. Rather, it is a human construct closely aligned with major religions in most cultures.

The patriarchy was designed to keep women in a subordinate role as “helpmate” to their husbands and “domestic caregiver” to their children. I learned that ALL major institutions in our society (including the family) are designed with the idea that men are the leaders and women are the followers and helpers. I learned that the creation story (written by men) of Eve, the temptress, bringing down Adam and all mankind, as well as the commodification of sex, set the stage for women’s second-class status.

Once I began to understand the extent of the patriarchy, I began to understand how the concept of single women just didn’t fit into a culture designed by men to keep women subservient. Single women were threatening to cultural norms because their success proved that they could not only survive but actually thrive without the leadership of men.

It’s taken growing old and years of learning for me to evolve and realize that being single is a conscious choice rather than a default for the undeserving. It took me way too long to understand that being single is not only a legitimate way to live, it may in fact be a preferred way to live for those of us who want to live a life of freedom from subordination and freedom to live life more fully aligned with our deepest sense of self.

Alas, we all need human relationships and connections to thrive. Fortunately, I have a wonderful daughter and close family and good friends. I am free to be generous with my time and resources to help the less fortunate. I am happy and whole. I am neither selfish nor self-centered.

My point is that not all of us need “to couple” to live our best lives. My hope is that as our culture continues to evolve, single people will be respected for who they are rather than maligned or pitied for who they are not. Being single is a choice and it is a legitimate way to live a full life.

By Anne M. Haule

Copyright 2023

Time for Women to Lead – We get Shit Done!

In my 71 years of life experience, I’ve noticed that when women are in charge – shit gets done and it gets done better.

We need only to look at the world’s corona virus response. Germany, New Zealand, and Finland (all led by women) had the best responses with the fewest deaths and illness.

We need only look at those corporations with women on the board and in executive leadership to find that they not only improve the organization’s performance and profitability they typically also improve the firm’s social responsibility.

We need only look at the energy and focus of the Women’s March in 2016 – the largest gathering ever in the country in response to the electoral election steal by the worst bigot and misogynist in office in our history – to know that women can and will come together to remedy wrongs.

We need only look at the indefatigable activism of the suffragists and the second, third and now fourth wave of the women’s movement to secure equality for ALL women notwithstanding incredible hurdles and abuse.

We need only look at the #Me Too and #Time’s up movements to know women have arrived in a new place of strength and solidarity to oppose our objectification.

We need only look to advanced education where women now represent the majority of university and professional students and graduate – such as doctors and lawyers – to see that we are becoming more prepared than ever to take charge.

We need only look to the mothers, many of whom work outside the home, who know how to multitask like no one else  – teaching and disciplining children, managing finances, managing healthcare, managing children’s education, managing food, clothing, family get-togethers, the family’s social calendar, and on top of it all – being the most important inspirational family figure.

We need only look to the way women collaborate rather than compete.

We need only look to the way women empathize and heal rather than tear down.

Men have run things for way too long. They’ve tried to subordinate us in every social structure except for the family unit. Patriarchal society has run its course. That is evident by what men leaders have done to this country.

It’s our turn to run the show. . . time for us to get shit done and get it done better!

How can we white people be “woke” to our privilege?

It starts with realizing everything you have been taught was skewed from the perspective of white males – the educators, the faith leaders, the doctors, the historians and the politicians. Everything I had been taught was controlled by a white patriarchal society.

My journey began a few years ago when I met DeRay McKesson, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement. He explained the concept of white privilege to me. This is the concept that just because my skin is white, life has been immeasurably easier for me than for people of color.

This fluke of nature automatically raised my social status above those born to parents with different skin pigment. It has nothing to do with how hard I may have worked. It has to do with understanding that my accomplishments were easier to achieve because I’m white. On the flip side, my failures were not as significant because as a white person, my safety net was bigger and stronger.

My first reaction to DeRay was defensive. I remember thinking that it’s not my fault that I’m white and he’s black and that I’ve had an easier road to travel – so I asked him what, if anything, I could do as a white person about this skin color injustice. His reply really resonated. He said, “Use your white privilege to disrupt it”.

Meeting with DeRay reminded me of the first time I had a flicker of racial understanding. I was 16 and working at a summer job as a switchboard operator with the telephone company. I had just finished reading “Gone With The Wind” and told my work friends how much I liked it. One of my fellow operators told me she viewed the book differently than I did. I was taken a back that someone wasn’t as excited about the book as I.

When we returned to the switchboard after our break, we happened to sit next to each other. As our arms reached for the cords to answer calls, the contrast in their color was stunning. As I looked at her dark arm next to my light arm, I started to think about how this color difference caused her life to vary from mine. I begin to imagine all the ways her color made her life harder than mine – such as sitting on the back of the bus, standing at the back of the lines, being turned away from restaurants and shops, being ridiculed and scorned in public places by white people. I imagined her life so different from mine even though we lived in the same town – she on one side and I on the other. It was my first flicker of insight into social injustice.

Now I am facing 70 and since retiring a few years ago, I’ve had the time and opportunity to learn new theories of history and society. I’ve been learning history from new perspectives – those of Native Americans, women and people of color. I’m discovering how the history of these disenfranchised groups is much different than I had learned growing up reading textbooks and being taught by teachers parroting the perspective of the white males who wrote the books.

The truth is, US history has been very unjust and violent. The real story is unconscionable greed, inhumanity and empire building by white people from Western Europe. Our country, which is the most powerful nation in the world, achieved its status on the backs of non-white people.

First we killed the native people and banned their culture under the guise of christianity. Then we built our economy on the backs of black people whom we enslaved for hundreds of years. Then we organized society into classes elevating white male landowners and disenfranchising all others.

Slavery didn’t end after the Civil War and it didn’t end after Jim Crow (the racial caste system post reconstruction to the mid 60’s) and it hasn’t ended yet – it’s merely taken on different attributes. Understanding this is necessary to begin one’s “awakening”. I found the documentary, “13th” (about how the 13th amendment may have ended legal slavery but it didn’t end repression), to be very enlightening about life in the US from a black perspective.

Black people have been kept down in many ways including substandard public education, housing, healthcare and an incredibly unfair treatment by the criminal “justice” system.

The US has more people in prison that anywhere else in the world and the percentage of blacks in relationship to the black population is astounding.

Between 1980 and 2015 the number of people incarcerated went from 500,00 to 2.2 million! The US population accounts for 5% of the world’s population but it has 21% of the world’s prison population. In 2015, blacks made up 34% of the prison population but only 14% of the country’s entire population. According to the NAACP Criminal Fact Sheet, if blacks and Latinos were incarcerated at the same rate as whites, the prison population would decline by 40%!

Why do more people of color end up in prison – because police often engage in racial profiling – either intentionally or due to implicit bias. Once a person of color is detained, he/she is more likely than not to be arrested and jailed for what are often minor offenses such as a burned out tail light or exceeding the speed limit. Once stopped, the cops often find a pretext for arrest. Once jailed, the money bond system kicks in.

Large insurance companies (often parading as mom and pop businesses) essentially control the money bond system with powerful lobbyists. This system has devolved into a practice that unfairly discriminates against poor people who can’t come up with the cash to get out of jail. People jailed like this often remain in custody for weeks, months and even years! They lose their jobs, their apartments and at times, even their lives. It begins a devastating downward spiral impacting those jailed, their families, and society as a whole.

The way blacks and other people of color are treated by the criminal “justice” system – be it racial profiling, the money bond system, the “war on drugs”, (meaning the war on the kind of drugs found primarily in poor neighborhoods such as crack and heroin) and the proliferation of for-profit prisons with government contracts that are paid on a per diem basis increasing their profits the more people who are incarcerated, represents the continuation of slavery and Jim Crow in our era.

As part of my awakening, I have learned that different races do not really exist. “Race” is something made up to classify humans by their appearance – known as a social construct. All people, regardless of their color, share 99.9% of the same genes. The differences in appearance known as racial differences are actually evolutionary adaptations. Once we accept this fact, we may begin to see ourselves more closely aligned with those we have heretofore considered biologically different. I learned this at the Race exhibit at San Diego’s Museum of Man and find it to be quite revolutionary in understanding society.

As another part of my awakening, I have learned that the Black Lives Matter movement is a continuation of the civil rights struggle of the 60’s by a new name with new leadership arising out of the death of young black men killed by the police without justification. When people say that ALL lives matter, I have learned to reply that of course all lives matter – but that misses the point. The point can be analogized to a house on fire in a neighborhood – of course all houses in that neighborhood matter but for the people that live there and the firefighters who are called, it is the house on fire that matters. Black lives have been on fire in all aspects of our society – most notably with respect to young black men caught in the crosshairs of police gunfire.

Back to my initial query – can we white people be “woke”? If so, how and why should we? We can probably never know the extent of the injustice experienced by people of color and trying to be “woke” is more of a journey than a destination.

People evolve in different ways. My journey involves reading contemporary books and essays written by black authors and organizations, watching documentaries (such as “13th”) and taking classes and meeting new people outside my regular circle with different experiences and perspectives.

If we ever hope to have a fair and just society in the US, I think it is important for us white people to try to understand what white privilege means and, as DeRay advised, use our white privilege to disrupt it!


Written by Anne M. Haule / Copyright 2018





Musings About the Last Act

Lately, I’ve been thinking about being older, closer to death, and an actor in my “last act” wondering about my legacy.

My nighttime dreams have always been like Fellini films with lots of color, weird people from the distant past mixed with new people in odd places with lots of confusion. Waking from them is often a relief from the chaos.

But now there are new dreams that message my mortality. There is one in particular that really burns. It’s the one where I finally meet a wonderful man and fall in love. I feel warm and glowing. My joy in finding him is boundless. In a state of euphoria, I imagine our future and the baby we will make.

But then I wake up and remember I’m an old woman and there will be no more falling in love and there will be no more babies. It feels like I’ve been sucker punched in the gut. An overwhelming sadness envelops me. I realize most of my life has passed and much that I used to look forward to is no longer possible.

Soon I’ll be 69 – the age my dad died from a heart attack and from heartbreak caused when my mom left him. His died alone and was found a few days later by a neighbor.

My mom lived 86 years. She died the way most would like – without suffering and with her husband (my stepfather) holding her hand. She had just returned home from walking her dog and was winded and felt faint. She was taken to the hospital and told her heart was giving out. She said no to any treatment and died peacefully after saying her goodbyes.

Death occupies my thoughts more than in the past. When I try to imagine it, it’s a large blank. As a non-believer, I think that death is the end except for the memories we provide for a few for a while.

It’s not that I obsess about death, but it pops up in unusual contexts.

For example, the other day I had some new plumbing installed and the plumber proudly informed me that the new pipes should last 20 years. Rather than elation from being spared a repeat expense for 20 long years, I wondered if I’d still be around when these pipes poop out.

There’s an ad on TV that my daughter and I joke about. Its tag line is “A Place for Mom”. It’s about a service that helps adult children find a place to put their elderly mothers. We laugh that she will give them a call when I get so crotchety that I need strangers to care for me.

Sometimes I think about the things I wanted to do but now it’s too late. The idea that certain options are foreclosed makes me sad – even if I never actually would have done them.

Running for political office is probably no longer an option. Even if my age alone was not a factor, my age infused candor probably is. I can’t imagine not answering questions, begging for money and compromising matters that shouldn’t be.

I used to fantasize about sailing around the world. I no longer have the energy. Sailing is a lot of work and I’ve grown accustomed to a good night’s sleep (except for those dreams I told you about) in my comfy bed.

And then there is that novel that never made it into print. After taking a bunch of writing courses and practicing the craft, I’ve learned that short essays are more my forte.

Being a person with a healthy ego, it pains me to accept that I’ll probably never be famous. I used to fantasize about doing something so noteworthy, I’d be a guest on Oprah or The Today Show. Fame, at this stage of my life, is probably not in the cards. As such, the challenge is accepting anonymity.

There’s an old woman who lives in my condo complex who volunteers to take care of the landscaped plants. Every day I see her around inspecting the greenery. She wears no makeup, her hair is short, grey and without style, her jeans, tee shirt and sandals rarely vary. She is deeply engaged with each leaf as she sits or kneels on the stone pathway communing with her friends. I envy her. She is everything I am not. I bet she never wanted to be on The Today Show. She is content.

Sometimes I think about my car and my apartment and whether they will be my last.

My car is a 2010 Prius. I’ve yet to read the handbook and learn all the cool things it can do. But I do know how to drive it, set the GPS and turn on KPBS. It has a little over 63,000 miles. If I average 5-6000 miles per year, it will likely last the rest of my life. I remember my mother’s last car was about 25 years old when she died. She never wanted a new one because she didn’t want to learn all the new electronic gadgets. She liked having an actual key to open the car door. I now understand her wisdom.

Over the past 68 years, I have lived in 18 different homes. We moved 5 times when I was growing up and then I moved 13 times as an adult. It’s weird to think that I’m probably in my last home. When I bought it, I never thought about it being my last, but as it turns out, it just may be. It is a perfect spot. It’s on the first floor, near the elevator, mailbox and trash chute. I can walk to everything I need and it’s on various bus routes. It’s also close to medical facilities and there’s a guest room for a caretaker . . . just in case.

A lot of women my age are occupied with grandchildren. Apparently the experience is quite fulfilling. Many claim they prefer it to motherhood. Being needed for childcare and support provides a compelling reason for being. My guess is it keeps thoughts of mortality at bay.

My daughter is not inclined to reproduce so I’ll probably never be a granny. I’m okay with her decision because I’m proud to call myself a second wave feminist who worked long and hard for women to have reproductive choices. That said, I’m kind of sorry I’ll miss this part of the human experience.

I read something on Facebook that said people do not remember what you say or what you do, but they do remember how you make them feel. My natural optimism likes this idea. It gives me hope.

Even though I’m outspoken and can be a bit judgmental, perhaps my last act can focus more on others than on me. I’m an extrovert and it’s easy for me to engage with people. It’s probably time for me to try to make people feel good just as the plant lady does with her green friends.

My daughter read this essay and thinks it’s depressing. She wants me to get in touch with cerebral and spiritual things that I’ve never had time for. I think this is a good idea. But first, I need to grieve the past.

As my hair fades, my steps slow, and I forget more than I remember, I’m thinking about trying to lose the ego and focus more on others’ feelings. Like most of us, I do want a legacy and hopefully it will include making a few people feel good.





Mad as Hell that I was indoctrinated in school and not educated!!!

I’d like to go on a bit of a rant about how naïve I have been for so long and even though I am an educated person, my education was more akin to indoctrination. Now that I am finally waking up, I wish to share a few examples of what I was taught and what I now believe.

Christopher Columbus – I was taught he was a hero for proving the world was not flat, and discovering and bringing Christianity to the new world. In fact, he was a really a “bad hombre” and he was not the first explorer to reach the Americas – he was preceded by its indigenous people who came from Asia and later, the Vikings. As for the shape of the earth, scholars had known since antiquity that the earth was a sphere. Most shocking to me was learning that he started the transatlantic slave trade; used torture and mutilation; and initiated the genocide of the natives. Time to get rid of Columbus Day for sure!

Manifest Destiny – I was taught that it was the destiny of the ”white man” to spread the word of God to the “savages”. My school books read that European explorers were doing God’s work moving westward across the country but the books ignored the part about how the natives were robbed of their language, culture and heritage and religion was forced down their throats if they wanted to survive. In reality, the Christianity thing was really a ruse for plundering treasure and subjugating humans. Visiting the Herd Museum in Phoenix was a real eye opener for me – especially seeing the exhibits showing how young boys were taken from their homes, had their hair shorn, had their clothes burnt, were forced to wear the clothing of their subjugators and were forbidden from speaking their own language. I’m proud to know the lawyer who successfully argued before the Illinois Supreme court to retire the disrespectful “Chief Illini” mascot of the University of Illinois – time to retire all other such vestiges of overt racism!

Capitalism – I was taught that capitalism was good and it is what differentiates America and makes it great. I was also taught that socialism was bad. The rags to riches story was the concept that anyone could do anything in this great nation so long as “he” just pulled himself up by his bootstraps and worked hard. No one explained that not everyone had boots much less bootstraps! The great industrialists were heralded for their significant achievements such as manufacturing, the railroad, oil, coal and automobiles, which improved life for some and advanced the U.S.’s position in the world order, but other than a cursory mention of the term “robber baron,” there was no focus on working conditions and monopolistic power. The so-called “trickle-down” theory of economics didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. Left unregulated, the rich get richer and the rest of us suffer. Socialism, in my opinion, is good. It means providing a safety net for those without boots and establishes certain basic rights such as clean air and water, education and healthcare. I’m proud to have supported Bernie Sander’s brand of socialism and hopefully it will become more mainstream as our country rebounds from the ravages of Trump.

Religion and the Role of Women – I was taught that I should be feminine, not too smart, allow boys to win, not have sex before marriage, learn to type, sew, cook, clean, and find a husband. Raised Catholic, I was taught to cover my head in church and that using birth control and having an abortion would cause my spirit to go to hell. I was taught that a woman’s role was to be a mother and raise children. Now I realize that religion is really men’s way of keeping women down. Other religions, including Orthodox Judaism and Islam have sects that continue to require women to cover their heads. Other religions, including the Latter Day Saints, ban birth control to expand their ranks and keep women in the role of procreator in chief. Most religions are controlled by men and restrict women from positions of authority. I confess to no longer being a believer but nonetheless I am still appalled at how many women continue to devoutly follow the dictates of their male religious leaders with little or no challenges. The continuous attacks on women’s reproductive freedom, frequently done in the name of religion, in my opinion, are merely a ruse for keeping women from gaining power in society. Now, more than ever, separation of church and state is critical for women to escape this kind of religious persecution.

Modern American Government – I was taught that our democratic form of government represents the people. I was naive enough to believe that this representation meant all people. I now believe that it has been sorely lacking in representing all who have been marginalized – that’s everyone except white males.

I know what it’s like to be discriminated against because I am a woman but I am just beginning to understand how my white skin privileged just about everything I did in life. The Black Lives Matter movement and the “justice” aspects of the environmental and reproductive rights movements have opened my eyes to the extra burdens that have been placed on the lives of those who have not been born white. Our government continues to be controlled by white males. Given the Citizens United case, white male controlled corporations are now also being represented. The only good news since the last election is that people are mobilizing more than ever to fight for a government that represents all the people – including those who have traditionally been marginalized. 

There’s more indoctrination versus education to rant about but I’ll save it for another time. . .


My 10 Core Social/Political Beliefs

The election of Trump has caused me to focus on my core beliefs and work toward advancing them. I recommend this exercise for everyone. It is a useful way to clarify where you stand and to focus your energies.fullsizerender

So, in no particular order and subject to further additions, here they are.

 Reproductive Rights and the Right to Die. 

Nothing could be more fundamental than the notion that the government has no place making healthcare decisions for individuals. As for reproductive rights, these are perhaps the most important rights women have to gain equity in any society. Without the right to decide if and when to have a child, women are relegated to child bearing and will not be able to pursue their own destinies. In addition to reproductive rights, adults of sound mind should also have the right to end their lives if they chose to – particularly if they have lost the health to enjoy.

Income Equity. 

The disparity between the incomes of workers and the financial elite is obscene. All workers should have a living wage so that if they work full time, they can afford housing, food and life’s essentials. The incomes/bonuses for the executives in the financial services industry should be restricted to a reasonable percentage more than their workers. There should be laws with criminal penalties prohibiting executives from resorting to self-interest over common good (as in the recent recession). History has proven that left unregulated, the financial services industry will resort to greed and self-interest. This needs to be stopped. 

Climate Change.

Our climate worldwide is in danger and steps must be taken locally, nationally and globally to curtail climate change. These steps should include penalties for failure to follow strict regulations. The fossil fuel business should be highly regulated and given incentives to change to clean energy.

Freedom of Speech and the Press. 

Public supported news is important to avoid bias. Fact checking has become more important than ever. Media that is opinion rather than merely factual, such as FOX and MSNBC, should be labeled as such. The press should strive to report facts rather than opinions so that their audience can form their own conclusions. All persons should have the right to speak their minds in public forums. Hate speech and violence-inciting speech should be prohibited.

The Role of Government.

Government should provide for an orderly and fair society as well as a safety net for those who are unable to take care of themselves. International peace should be pursued. Sharing our resources with people in need from other countries should be encouraged. Government should  serve as an example to the world with respect to the intrinsic value of following the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We should not pursue regime change in other governments and we should not interfere in other governments except to help prohibit genocide and other serious abuses to people. 

Equal rights for all in all things. 

All people should be treated equally and should have equal access to good education, health care, employment opportunities, housing, family life (marriage, divorce and child rearing), food, clean water and clean air.


Eliminate the Electoral College. Establish term limits for congress. Eliminate corporate and PAC money in elections. Eliminate compensation for office holders after term expiration.


Refugees escaping war and danger from their native countries should be welcomed and helped to establish themselves in this country. Other immigrants should be subject to reasonable vetting and quotas. Dreamers should be granted citizenship. Deportation should be restricted to felons. Amnesty should be allowed to family members of citizens.


All references to “God” should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, governmental events (including swearing in ceremonies) edifices, documents and currency. Non-believers should have the right to be free of religion just as believers should have the right for all religions to be treated equally and none favored by the government.


Women and minorities and others who have been traditionally marginalized should be proportionately represented in all aspects of leadership in society.


Five Reasons Why I Love My Life More Without Alcohol (Even Though I Used to Really Love to Drink!)

My first memory of alcohol was as a little girl tasting my dad’s beer while sitting on his lap on Saturday afternoons after he mowed the lawn. I loved the taste of the “forbidden” golden, sparkly and fizzy-bitter tasting liquid that sometimes made me hiccup.

My next beer memory was at a friend’s house after school in 10th grade. Since no one was home, we downed a couple, I got my first buzz and loved it.

In college my first date was with a senior who took me to a bowling alley where I drank two beers and got the whirlies, which I didn’t love, but with practice, the whirlies went away and I loved the extra fun drinking brought to parties.

Junior year I studied in Rome and learned to drink wine that was available for the equivalent of $1 from the school’s vending machine in the dining room. Didn’t take me long to learn to love both red and white.

As a “working girl” in the 70s, I followed my mother’s advice to drink scotch and avoid the sweet “girly” drinks that caused hangovers. An acquired taste, but a quicker high, I learned to love scotch.

In my late 20s, night law school wouldn’t have been the same without a wine before and a scotch after class four nights a week for four long years. I loved the interludes these drinks provided.

When pregnant, my doctor told me that a little wine now and then was okay, so I reduced my consumption to a couple glasses of wine per week and loved that I could still imbibe, albeit on a much reduced scale.

For the next 18 years, while raising my daughter, I loved the time of night after dinner and homework, when I could relax with a good book and my vino.

At 50, and a partner in a large law firm, nothing was as much fun as gathering after hours in the bar on the first floor frequented by local politicos and power brokers and loving the buzz of intense conversations and grey goose martinis.

At 60 I retired from full time work and spent more time with wine. Over the next few years, my love affair with wine began to wane. What used to make me feel good was now  necessary to not feel bad.

At 67 I quit. It’s been almost a year and here are five reasons (in addition to health, longevity, appearance and money) why I now love my life MORE without alcohol!!!


1) Waking Up Bright Eyed – So this is what it feels like to be a normal person. Clear-headed and bright-eyed, I enjoy a cup of coffee and a light breakfast, check my emails, FB and Instagram, watch TV news, take a walk with my grand dog, or take a swim –  all before really beginning my day’s adventures.

2) Feeling Lighter, Both Inside and Out – So this is what it feels like without a monkey on my back. For years I worried that I might be drinking too much and often stopped but later started up again. It became an obsession. Drinking was on my mind way too much. Now the negativity is gone and my mind is free to think about things that matter and that bring me joy. In addition to my inside, my outside is also lighter having shed the extra pounds and belly fat that came from drinking so many empty calories.

3) Realizing the Sky is the Limit – So this is what an optimist feels like without the chemical depressants found in alcohol raining on her parade. Intellectually I knew that alcohol was a depressive, but I never thought it would really affect me. Guess it’s like that joke about how good it feels when someone stops beating you. My outlook is now happy most of the time, my self-esteem is palpable and I do feel that the “sky is my only limit” in living a full life.

4) Living Rather than Watching Life – So this is what it feels like to be full of life and do the things I always said I wanted to do if I ever had the time (and energy). I’m now writing, volunteering for the causes that evoke my passion, reading non-fiction, studying women’s history, taking other history classes, sailing, traveling, making new friends and am even open to potential romance.

5) Being Free to be Me – So this is what it feels like to be comfortable in your own skin (wrinkly and sun-spotted as it may be). Finally free to be me, I decided to go public in the hope that my story may encourage someone else who may “love” drinking a bit too much to find out how much better life without drinking can be. One of my biggest surprises about life without alcohol is that I’m still fun and you can be too!




My Neck

I love Nora Ephron’s book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck”. I have been feeling bad about my neck since I was about 55. As the years passed, my feelings grew as my weight increased and my necked sagged. All my photos are full face – no side shots allowed.

At 62 I had a consult with a plastic surgeon. When I told him I wanted to lose weight, he told me to wait on the surgery until I reached my weight loss goal – no point in sucking out the fat, cutting the muscles and stretching the skin just to have it sag again on an otherwise svelte neck – assuming I actually lost the weight.

Soon I’ll be 68 and my weight loss goal is almost complete (btw, eliminating alcohol can do that for you). So I decided it was time to head back to the plastic surgeon (who btw, seemed to have gained the weight I lost). I learned that the procedure would cost $8500 and I’d need to spend at least 2 weeks recovering. Incisions would be made to suction out the fat, tighten the muscles and pull back the skin. There would be pain and suffering and I’d have to keep my head bound and elevated even during sleep – assuming I was lucky enough to catch a few winks in such an altered state.

So now that I’m just about ready to go under the knife, something unforeseen happened recently while reading in bed.

As I do most nights, I was lying on my side in bed reading my kindle before going to sleep. Rather than pull my nightgown sleeve down to avoid looking at my arm (the reason I wear long sleeves to bed), for some unknown reason, I pushed it up and began to study this appendage as if it were not actually mine but rather part of a sculpture in a museum.

I noticed that when I lowered the hand, certain veins popped out. I also noticed random wrinkles lining the skin over its knuckles and finger bones. I followed the patterns the brown spots made around the web between the thumb and forefinger and around the wrist. The recently suntanned skin accentuated the changes wrought by time and the little wave-like wrinkles covering the part of my forearm that sagged while held upright.

Looking at the hand reminded me of looking at my mother’s hands years ago. I remember how I liked all her wandering rope-like veins, spots and almost translucent skin. I would tell her how much character her hands conveyed. She’d retrieve her hands and shoo me away with a comment about wishing she could cover them with gloves.

As I studied my hand, I noticed the same crisscrossed vein that my mother had. It was in the same spot on each of our right hands. Why was it that I thought this vein design was beautiful on my mother’s hand but ugly on my own? Why was it that “character” in an FullSizeRenderaging body was a badge of honor for others but shameful for me? Maybe I was looking at my body through the wrong lens. Maybe it was time to change my perspective. Maybe it was time to appreciate rather than criticize.

Contemplating my new insight, I remembered a pencil sketch that I bought many years ago at a roadside stand in Baja. It was a portrait of a wizened old man wearing a sombrero and smoking a cigarette. Deep lines circled his eyes and jutted out from his mouth telling the story of a life lived hard in Mexico’s sunbaked climate. I loved that drawing because in the face, and particularly the eyes, one could imagine the story of how a young boy became an old man – a tale of survival in each crevice on his face.

It occurred to me that no one gets old without his or her body showing wear. Smooth skin, without the marks of living, has no tale to tell. Sun darkened skin with spots, ruts, veins and wrinkles could be considered the map of that person’s life journey.

Having stumbled upon this new truth, I am beginning to learn how to embrace the body that has carried my spirit these past 68 years.

I wish to embrace the legs that helped me explore the world while I walked, biked, skied and danced.

I wish to embrace the hands that clapped, wrote stories, trimmed sails and held other hands.

I wish to embrace the arms that held my baby when she was born and my father when he died.

I wish to embrace the face that has laughed, cried, and witnessed love and loss.

I wish to embrace the body, both naked and clothed, of a 68-year-old woman who is still able to enjoy a full life.

And lastly, as my perspective is changing, I wish to embrace my neck as it holds my head high savoring my last act (and spending that $8500 on new adventures both near and far).


Sunrise . . . Sunset

“Let me help you tighten your helmet. Is the seat okay? Do you know how to shift the gears? Let’s stay on the sidewalk until you get the hang of your new bike. . . . .”

Sound familiar? These could have been my words 25 years ago but they are not my words . . . they are my daughter’s as we get ready to take our first bike ride together on my new bike.

Helmets secured, we take off . . . my daughter in the lead so she can pick a safe route with little traffic. When we start up a hill, she turns around to keep an eye on me. When I topple over, having unsuccessfully tried to turn while going too slowly up the hill, she is right there to help.

As I lie in the street with my bike on top of me (and my ego bruised more than my knees), people seemed to materialize out of nowhere asking if I was okay. My daughter lifted my bike off me and soothingly said, “poor momma, let me help you up.” Had a crowd not gathered, she would likely have offered to kiss my boo-boo.

Dusting off my pants and the crowd, I get back on and ride off behind her to the closest coffee shop outdoor table to chill out with some caffeine and keep an eye on our bikes and my bloody knees.

Waiting outside while she goes in to buy our coffee, our recent role reversal is not lost on me as I ponder the symmetry of life between this mother and daughter.

I first noticed the change when I moved to San Diego 7+ years ago after retiring from my law practice in Chicago. It was a subtle change at first, such as carrying my canvas bags after filling up on groceries at Trader Joe’s.

Then there were the times she’d reach out to take my hand when crossing the street mid-block as we took a short cut to our favorite neighborhood tavern for happy hour.

On airport trips she carried my luggage and did the reminders to put my ticket and id in my pocket and finish my liquids before going through security.

At some point, daily morning texts became a ritual checking on how I slept and my plans for the day. Once she taught me how to Bitmoji, texting became a contest of who could be most outrageous expressing daily moods and thoughts.

Due to her encouragement, I eat my vegetables – I drink lots of water (instead of lots of wine) – I take my vitamins and I floss my teeth!

As I ponder life’s cycles, that song from Fiddler on the Roof begins to play on the soundtrack of my mind.

“Where is the Little Girl I carried . . .Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers, blossoming even as we gaze.”



True “Grit” – Madam C. J. Walker

In today’s jargon, psychologist Angela Duckworth, who studies the trait that leads to high achievement, calls tenacious and dogged perseverance “true grit” after the young girl character in the movie of the same name. This concept of “grit” characterizes the woman who would become known as Madam C. J. Walker.

Imagine a black baby girl born in the Deep South in 1867 . . . her mother dies when she is 5 . . . her father dies when she is 7 . . . orphaned with no formal education, she’s taken in by her sister and brother-in-law to support the family by picking cotton. Imagine further that young girl is abused by her brother-in-law and marrys at 14 to avoid further exploitation. Lastly, imagine this young woman with a baby at 18 and widowed at 20.

The woman we are imagining is Sarah Breedlove a/k/a Madam C.J. Walker – a woman believed to be this country’s first self made woman millionaire. She was an extraordinary entrepreneur having developed a business model that thrives to this day. She was also a civil rights activist and a philanthropist. In her day, what she accomplished had typically only been accomplished by men. Today we would call her a gender non-conformist.

It was just 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Sarah, the 6th child of newly freed slave/then sharecropper parents, was born in a small, run down, rural cabin.

Her life before and after being orphaned was difficult – both emotionally and physically. Her early marriage, which was her escape from abuse, only lasted 6 years. After the death of her husband, 20 year old Sarah and her 2 year old toddler set off for St. Louis to be near her brothers who had established themselves as barbers.

After arriving at her new home and working as a washer woman, Sarah began to lose her hair – not surprising given her challenging living circumstances, high stress level, and the customary use of lye soap for bathing, shampooing and laundering. The combination of losing her hair and exposure to barber brothers caused Sarah to look for and find answers. As with others with “grit”, adversity became a catalyst for success.

She looked for hair loss remedies and experimented with various products. After a short stint selling hair products for another, Sarah decided to develop and sell her own products. During this time she married Charles J. Walker, who worked in advertising and became her business promoter. He suggested she market her products under the name, Madam C.J. Walker.

Once Madam C. J. Walker got started, there was no stopping her. Neither her race nor her gender kept her from realizing her potential. In her own words in July 1912, “I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations . . . I have built my own factory on my own ground.”

Hard work and determination spurred her to create a business model (later replicated by Mary Kay Cosmetics) that provided opportunities for up to 3000 women – opportunities to be commissioned sales agents with access to education and training and the dignity of working for themselves rather than as domestic or farm help – the only other viable work options for black women of the time.

Sarah divorced her husband and moved her business to Indianapolis setting up a factory and a research center while her daughter expanded the enterprise setting up a mail order business to complement the door-to-door sales business. Sarah valued her employees providing prizes for their profitability while also encouraging charitable giving – encouraging them with a favorite phrase – “lifting while we climb”.

Ironically, Indianapolis was also the home to the Ku Klux Klan. This may have contributed to her early civil rights activism supporting the NAACP with its anti-lynching campaign. At the time, lynching of boys and men (and girls and women) was not uncommon. In fact, a black man could be lynched for simply looking at a white woman.

Sarah was ahead of her time in many ways. Her work with hair products led the way for black women to begin to recognize their own racial beauty. In support of this, she used her image on all her products.

Once she became of person of means, she shared her wealth. Her philanthropy included gifts to the YMCA and Tuskegee Institute. When she died, she left the vast majority of her estate and future business profits to charity. When she learned that the black soldiers in WWI did not receive the same level of medical care as the white soldiers, she bought ambulances specifically for the black soldiers.

Later in her life, she bought a mansion in Irvington, New York. This home, which is now a national landmark, was a meeting place for NAACP and other black leaders of the day. Sarah’s daughter, who entertained widely in this home and hosted a cultural salon, was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

Never one to conform to gender stereotypes and expectations, including the fact that the recently invented automobile was considered a man’s machine, Sarah bought three different cars and drove them herself for both transport and entertainment.

She died in her mansion at 51 from kidney failure and other complications of hypertension. She was buried at Woodlawn cemetery in the Bronx. Her legend lives on in her family and in her products which are still being sold!

Unlike the grand white industrialists of the time such as Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller, who were largely motivated by power and greed, Sarah’s traits included honesty, integrity and desire to make the world a better place.  She became a role model for other women to follow.

Today’s psychologists would give Sarah Breedlove a very high score on the “grit” scale. Her life story is one of tenacious and dogged perseverance in the pursuit of a better life for herself, her daughter and her community.

If interested in learning more about Sarah Breedlove, please check out the website, which is hosted by Sarah’s great, great granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles.