By Gwenn Voelckers
In William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” a soothsayer warns Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March.” That immortal phrase portends gloom and doom. It has also given the month of March, a rather wearisome month to begin with, a bad rap.
Will this cold, rainy weather ever end? Will tender tree buds ever appear? Will we ever grill out again?
If March is stretching out in front of you as a big, dreary void to fill, you are not alone. For many, a prolonged winter wonderland is not so wonderful when cabin fever sets in.
Anxiety and restlessness can make unwelcome visits. You might feel yourself spiraling down, questioning the past and second-guessing your future dreams. And that’s when you could be tempted to grab for the TV remote, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and head for the couch — or worse — for bed.
I can remember many nights after my divorce, coming home after work to an empty apartment with hours on my hands and a heavy heart. The prospect of a long, lonely evening or weekend ahead was almost unbearable.
After far too many nights on the couch, way too much TV, I had finally had enough. Both wanting and needing to make better use of my “me time,” I made some intentional changes to reduce my stress and restore my energy.
Today, I am thoroughly comfortable spending time by myself and have come to enjoy my own company. In fact, it’s not unusual for me to pass on an invitation to go out in favor of spending a nice quiet evening at home — relaxing or fully engaged in something I love to do.
If you are challenged by time alone this time of year, consider getting back to basics this March by following the “Three Rs” below: Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmatic.
When is the last time you read a good book?
In our busy lives and with so many electronic options vying for our attention, reading can fall by the wayside. It’s such a shame. Reading for enjoyment and enlightenment can turn a lonely evening into a lovely evening for those who live alone.
While I’m reluctant to credit the pandemic with anything positive, I did discover a silver lining: Sheltering in place kick-started a reading binge for me that has yet to subside.
Reading “by ear” has become my preferred medium. I listen to audiobooks in my car, on my walks, while exercising, and when doing mundane tasks. Folding laundry comes to mind.
Beyond the convenience of audiobooks, a good narrator can bring the text to life. When I listen to my books, I experience a more intimate and emotional connection to the characters and a deeper understanding of the story. Audiobooks have reinvigorated my love for reading.
Whether you enjoy reading a book in your hands, on your laptop, or through your earbuds, I’m confident you will feel less alone.
Don’t know where to start? Ask a friend for a book suggestion or make a selection from The New York Time’s best-seller list. My most recent favorite is “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig.
Snuggle up in a comfy, well-lit place and let a good book introduce you to new people, new places, and new ideas as we transition from winter to spring.
I have found that putting pen to paper often lends clarity to the issues I face as a single woman. When I put things down in words, I can better organize my thoughts and embrace life’s challenges with less apprehension and more objectivity.
While I don’t keep a diary or journal, I am a tried-and-true list maker. Almost nothing gives me more satisfaction than checking things off my list — from paying bills to practicing meditation to returning emails.
I’m also a believer in capturing on paper the pros and cons of bigger life decisions, such as ending a long-term relationship, moving across the country to be closer to loved ones or to buying a new versus a used car.
These bigger, more profound decisions often trigger emotions and fears that can intrude on clear thinking. One helpful resource I have discovered is the “3-minute Positivity Journal” by bestselling author Kristen Butler. In her book, Kristen maintains that a daily habit of physically writing out our thoughts, feelings, intentions, reflections, goals and wins can change your life.
Excepted from the book jacket: “Each entry is quick, yet powerful — only three minutes in the morning and three minutes in the evening — to keep you on track with your mindset, health and goals.”
I encourage you to check it out. March won’t be so bad after all!
Yes, arithmetic. Math is all about patterns and relationships. And relationships are key to our happiness as we get older. But don’t take my word for it.
In the Harvard “Study of Adult Development,” one of the world’s longest studies of adult life and health, researchers uncovered a surprising finding: That our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships have a powerful influence on our health. This is according to Robert Waldinger, director of the study and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
The study revealed that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.
My readers have heard me say this many times: Mastering the art of living alone is not about mastering the art of isolation. It is about mastering the art of engagement and connection with yourself and with others.
Our journey to contentment is one we make with companions.
Relationships are what bring purpose and meaning to our lives.
So, hug those dear to you and embrace the month of March — doldrums, slush, Ides and all!