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Happy Birthday to All the Single Ladies

“All the single ladies, now put your hands up.

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh.”  

Beyonce

 

 

All the single ladies woke me up this morning. The tune, not the 30 million American women who are Single on the Sweet Side of 40.

 

My house is too small for that many guests.

 

As far as songs go, though, Queen B’s anthem beats “Happy Birthday.” Unless it’s your birthday.

 

Or your website’s birthday. SingleandtheSweetSideof40.com turns one today.

 

(The crowd goes wild.)

 

“All the Single Ladies” made it easier today, but you and 29,999,999 other ladies gave me a reason to get out of bed every day for the last year. You are on my mind as soon as I wake up (and start worrying).

 

Birthdays are a time for reflection. I tend to use the occasion to highlight my failures and unmet expectations. Other people tally their successes.

 

My definition of unmet expectations includes all life’s surprises, pleasant and not so.

 

My definition of success is survival. You, sweet reader, know what I mean. We all have years when we shake our heads in wonder — wondering how we did it — and nod our heads in agreement — what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

 

Stronger than we ever wanted to be, perhaps. Strong enough to keep going.

 

On this wonderful day, thank you, for making sure SingleandtheSweetSideof40.com didn’t kill me. Thank you for making me stronger. Thank you for surprising me with your loyalty and support.

 

Thank you, Mrs. Carter, for the surprise serenade.

 

Here’s what else surprised me over the last 12 months.

 

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The biggest surprise of all came just yesterday, when I read every post published on SingleandtheSweetSideof40.com since the beginning of time. The first three pieces were up before the official “Blog 1.”

 

Blog 1 was a birth announcement. You can’t bring a baby home to an empty nursery. You decorate and fill it will pretty things and useful stuff. (Blog 1 = useful?)

 

Blog 1 also announced the who, what and why behind the focus of the website. It claimed I would be writing and teaching my cohorts how to have a sweet single life.

 

Surprise! By now, you might have noticed I am not particularly sweet. Smart? Yes. Kind, generous and thoughtful. Loyal. Determined. Neurotic. Funny. And I can turn a phrase.

 

But sweet I am not. Consequently, it might not surprise you to learn, I often consider changing the name of the website. Is it weird to change your baby’s name after her 1st Birthday?

 

Maybe- if it’s too long. The goal is for you to know, upfront, you belong here. Single women on what has been called “the dark side of 40” are invisible in our society. I want you to see yourself here. Ergo, 34 characters of sweetness.

 

What do you think about the name, SingleandtheSweetSideof40.com? Would you change it? Any suggestions?

 

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My coach, Barrie Davenport, and I worked for nine months before SingleandtheSweetSideof40.com was born, to sharpen what I stand for, who I can help and how to create a transition, a path from pain to happy.

 

We agreed relationships— friends, family, neighbors—were in, but dating advice was out.

 

Fabulous was in. “The dark side” was out.

 

Champagne, lingerie and Paris were in. Beating up on un-single people was out.

 

Embracing single life was in. Staying home alone was out.

 

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

 

The blog categories summed up what I believed would be featured– and surprises for everyone.

 

On location: For a year, I thought this category was about how to have a beautiful home. There are 0 posts on my house, for the entire year. It bothers me that I didn’t deliver. What a nice surprise, then, to re-read Blog 1: it described what I wrote about. Not silk sheets.

 

Mates for Life: Mates are playmates, roommates, siblings, friends you haven’t met yet — life sustaining relationships. Friends are better for you than spouses. Surprised? Not I. There’s a ream of research proof. Yes, PROOF.

 

Money, Honey: I did 1 post on money. That was enough. The unsurprising title: “God Grant Me the Chance to Prove Winning the Lottery Won’t Change Me.” Aka, my retirement strategy. Until I learn how to put the gold in golden years, this is post 2: Don’t Wait to Save.

 

Self-Health: Surprisingly, self-help is illegal around here. It implies there’s something wrong with you, and that’s why you’re single. You are perfectly you. Take Care, Love You.

 

Daring Dos: The entire point of SingleandtheSweetSideof40.com. No surprise. Life waits for no man. Embrace adventure, including the adventure of every-day interactions.

 

The follow up sentence to the tagline, “life waits for no man,” changed three times in 52 weeks:

Neither should you. Neither do you. Everybody else is waiting for you.

 

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A huge surprise, a shock to my neurological system really, was the amount of hostility there is toward single people. The stereotypes, the judgments, the assumptions. Fair warning: be careful if you start to pay attention to how we are depicted; your head might explode.

 

~ Recent news coverage of a Florida Marlins fan sitting behind home plate at the Kansas City stadium during the World Series is an insidious example. He is, “a single lawyer from Miami.”

 

Why was his marital status important? If he was married… what? The story becomes about his saintly wife. Instead, it’s creepy. Sure the guy is an attention hog. Most husbands are too.

 

~ Scientific research “proves” marrieds are healthy, wealthy, wise, moral, productive, blah blah blah. You and I are going to become post-mortem pet food for the cats we hoard.

 

Quick. Find someone to take to City Hall, get hitched, and go immediately to divorce court; do not pass go, do not collect $200. You got married, ergo, you are vaccinated against death and disease. Right? Wrong.

 

~Politicians and pundits claim 2012 Census Data shows “an alarming trend: women are choosing to be single.” The Pew Center study and projections upon which they relied say that there are more unmarrieds, not WHY.

 

Did you choose? I didn’t. But the downfall of the country is our fault. Huh?

 

~Television. Shows about woman are about her marital status. If she is single, shes is a cliche: a spinster who drinks too much, or jumps into bed with all the wrong men. She is bitter or desperate or blind. She is not happy.

 

If she is married, she doesn’t have to be happy.

 

After a year of cataloging the sh*t people say and collective assault on our lifestyle, chosen or otherwise, I wish I could say, “Spare yourself. Change the channel. Don’t believe what you read.”

 

I really wish.

 

The only way single and over 40 will ever be sweet is when we belong, just because we exist. Rings and gowns don’t bestow superiority, or inferiority. Notice when someone unconsciously infers they do. Surprise him or her: challenge the common wisdom.

 

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The happiest surprise of all is that Singleandthesweetsideof40.com turned out to be about belonging, not French underwear. Champagne is still in, though it’s usually Prosecco.

 

There was a snarky remark or 10 made about husbands. Fabulous is not in the dictionary.

 

Going out is definitely in, however, PTSH is in as well. Permission. To. Stay. Home. It only took about 10 months to admit and bless it.

 

We don’t embrace anything that causes us to doubt ourselves. By month five, I understood where we all need help—finding a place we feel we belong, or feel we can belong.

 

But it took another three months to develop “Play With Yourself,” and Play Group Coaching, the goal of is to share my “secrets” for connecting with other people. Connecting gives us the sense of belonging. Connecting means we are not isolated.

 

Isolation is lethal. Single is just a demographic.

 

 

The thing is, from my birthday review of the blog, it is clear my unconscious knew better. The early posts tackle shame, confidence and connecting head-on. I never noticed.

 

(Of course, the very very first post was, “What Single Women Over 40 Really Want in Bed.” Sounds a smidge slutty, until you get to Siri and other battery-operated devices. Which I swear is not.)

 

Noticing today was the best birthday present I could get. You connected with the early posts, and guided me toward discovering the gift you are, to me and everyone.

 

By SingleandtheSweetSideof40.com’s 2nd birthday, I want you to notice, whether I am sweet or not, that you are God’s Gift to the World. The world, this site and I would fall apart without you.

 

Blog 1 closed with this, so Blog 1 Year will too:

 

Thank you for stopping by to say happy birthday. Thanks for helping me to be Single and the Sweet Side of 40. I promise to keep doing my best to find sugar in the raw experiences of every day, not just my half-birthday.

 

Life waits for no man. Neither do I.

 

Sweet talk to me! Leave a comment, email or tweet me @beth_odonnell and tell me what makes single life sweet for you.

 

 

Happy Birthday, all you single ladies. Put your hands up and applaud yourselves. I will, every one of the next 365 days.

  • Daira

    Happy Birthday! and a million of thanks, you always put a smile on my face!
    I wish I could record my face as I read your blog to see how many times I nod! There’s so much of myself in your posts!

    Fun fact: a married friend of mine got very excited when she got to travel first class for the first time because her husband’s firm paid for it. In August I got to travel first class simply because the airline was overbooked and they were offering an upgrade to anyone who could change the date. I had no husband or children waiting for me and my priceless freedom (not my loneliness) allowed me to change the date and travel first class. I thought it was very cool, and when I compared the two stories I felt like I won a little, for once! I didn’t need a well paid husband to travel first class.

    daira

    October 29, 2014 at 11:41 pm
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