Single Lady Sings the Holiday Blues

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The blues ain’t nothin’ but a pain in your heart

When you get a bad start, you and your man have to part

I ain’t gonna just sit around and cry

                      Lady Sings the Blues, Billie Holiday

It’s Labor Day on Monday – not a religious or sentimental holiday – and yet, I’m wondering if I’ll have the holiday blues. What single person doesn’t know about this affliction?

Since my separation and divorce, I’ve lived through 32 major holidays — Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah, New Year’s Eve/Day and Valentine’s Day. This will be the 33rd.

And that’s the key, isn’t it? I lived through them.

Some may argue that Valentine’s Day isn’t a major holiday but when you’re separated, divorced, or frustrated by the single dating life, a lack of a Valentine honey can be depressing.

And Labor Day always seems to remind me of intact family and relationship celebrations.

But I’m not going to wallow here. I’m going to tell you about some good post separation/divorce holidays I HAVE had and give you an action plan to prevent or at least help you cope with the blues. While we discuss this plan, let’s have some of Tori Avey’s Black-eyed pea burgers.

Last Valentine’s Day was the first one since my divorce in which I had a date. It was a good thing since I had recently endured a breakup with Mr. L, a man I had been seeing.

I wasn’t head over heels in love with my Valentine’s date and we only went out once after that but on February 14 we were both in the mood for a romantic celebration. We went to dinner and a play. He brought me chocolates and wore a dapper suit. I wore a red dress. Despite the freezing cold and snow, we had a good time.

The Valentine’s date was preceded by Hanukah and New Year’s Eve celebrations with family and Mr. L (even though we were too new for a “family meet.”) So I got a taste of the type of celebration I had been craving – a mix of family and a romantic interest. And that was a good feeling – even if I couldn’t duplicate it on every holiday. It provided hope and a sense that there was a “turnaround” in the way life events could play out for me as a single woman.

So what can one do to prevent or lessen the holiday blues? It’s not DNA sequencing science and hopefully you will get some new ideas or start thinking of your own tactics. (Side note: Since Labor Day is the day after tomorrow, some of these tips will be more useful to you for future holidays.)

12 Tips to Prevent the Holiday Blues:

  1. Make plans. In advance. At least a week before the holiday, reach out to friends or any family living locally to see if they can get together for an evening out, unless you are planning to entertain. See Tip #2.
  2. Host a gathering – whether dinner or a game night (on TV or a board game). Make sure to invite your single friends who may also suffer from the holiday blues.
  3. If you’re feeling brave, plan to get out of town on a solo travel adventure. Check out these resources for ideas and possible companions:

Wandermates

Solos Vacations

Brown Girls Fly

Meet Plan Go

Wanderful

Girls that Travel

Journey Woman

Girl about the Globe

Only Pack What You Can Carry

  1. Sign up for a Meetup event.  The closer it gets to a holiday, the more Meetup activities are scheduled. You’re not the only one at risk of the holiday blues.
  2. Commit to an engrossing project:
  • Organize your music downloads
  • Create a new music mix file for the gym
  • Purge and clean out your closet and pack up stuff to give away or sell
  • Organize photos into albums
  • If weather allows, plant or weed a garden
  1. If you enjoy arts and/or crafts, commit to a one or two-day project. Plan in advance and get any needed materials. Listen to music, have a glass of wine, and create!
  2. Plan a reading or TV series marathon. Make sure it’s a book or show that will transport you. Periodic escapism is healthy.
  3. If stores are open, shop. Retail therapy in moderation and within budget is therapeutic. You will be where people are even if you don’t know them and that might make you feel better.
  4. Work on improving or refreshing your dating profile. Join a new dating site or rejoin a site you cancelled because no one was on it. New guys are always joining. And holiday weekends are active times for online daters, perhaps because everyone has a touch of holiday blues.  Consider joining a crazy niche dating site you haven’t tried such as Bristlr.
  5. Stay up late and watch old romantic movies.  Throw caution to the wind and rent a pay per view film.
  6. Schedule a massage the day before a holiday (unless you can get one ON the holiday). A good massage = lovely.
  7. Go to the gym and exercise like crazy. You won’t be the only one there. Make those endorphins work overtime.

Whatever you do, don’t pay bills, organize old family photos (that include ones with your –ex), or do anything that is not fun and uplifting.

Let me know if you ever get the holiday blues and share ways you cope.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating,

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

The Broken Ties That Bind

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“It’s so funny,” my daughter says when she tells me she is baking her father a vanilla cake for his birthday.

“What?” I ask. I’m driving home from a nice evening at Bohemian Caverns, an iconic DC jazz club I had managed to miss in all of my years in Washington.

Thanks to a jazz and blues Meetup group, I finally experienced the truly cavern-like atmosphere of the dark, mood-lit club. It’s so dark you could indeed surreptitiously stroke a lover’s leg, a fantasy suggested by a first date crush I encountered awhile back.

But I digress – a couple of times. We might as well break for a lunch of Add a Pinch’s baked mahi mahi. Now back to the story.

“What’s funny?” I repeat on speakerphone.

“You and Dad say the same things a lot of the time,” my daughter says.

“Oh, you mean because I wanted a vanilla cake for my birthday too?” I ask.

“Yes. And a lot of things are the same,” she says.

“What do you mean?” I’m starting to get curious.

“Like when I look in his frig, he has a lot of the same foods.”

“Really? That’s surprising since he doesn’t cook,” I assert.

I remember her telling me how he didn’t have much food in his refrigerator when he first moved out of our marital home to what was apparently a small, depressing apartment. Just desserts I had always thought — though, inexplicably, I felt sorry for him too.

“Oh, he cooks,” she says. “It’s more that he has some of the same stuff. You know – lots of vegetables.”

“Well,” I say, not feeling as sensitive as I normally would given my nice evening, “we did live together for a long time.”

I thought about our respective states for a moment. “And we seem to have some of the same medical issues,” I offered. “Like our bad knees.”

“What else?” I ask. I’m getting really curious now. I hadn’t thought of how we grew together and became more similar in quite some time.

“I can’t think of anything else,” she says, “but it happens a lot. And it makes me smile.”

And then I remember how, like many long-time couples, we grew more similar in dozens of little — and some big — ways from liking the same foods to seeking a similar lifestyle in retirement.

And, like many long-married couples (today would have been our 40th wedding anniversary), we also grew apart in big ways.

I am reminded once again of the oddities of life and how love is forever until it’s not.

I’m not the same person he came to not love. I’m stronger, better, more confident and centered, full of creativity, and much less vanilla.

And so we can’t really be the same in any of the big ways any more – even if we both still like vanilla cake.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Bittersweet: Revisiting a Place from your Marital History

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Bittersweet – a good term to describe not only excellent chocolate but also some of the experiences one has after divorce. Case in point: revisiting a place (city, point of interest, etc.) you frequented with your ex- or your ex- and your kids.

When I revisit a place I love, my goal is to create new memories so that I can return with fewer pangs of loss (less bitter, more sweet). Brief pause while I close my eyes and swoon to One Republic’s Burning Bridges accompanied by romantic fantasizing. And let’s take another brief pause to eat some Thai style grain salad with crunchy seeds.

Back to the case in point: the first time I revisited a key place from my marital vacation history was a few years ago when I took my daughter to Italy. Although we road-tripped across the North (a new place for me), we also visited Venice. Standing on a small bridge near Piazza San Marco, the same bridge I had stood on while Mr. Ex took a photo of me, was truly bittersweet. But then I swallowed and went off to explore the rest of the city and a new gelato place. So, yes, it was painful to see couples enjoying this romantic city but how could I never return to this place of dreams? That would give too much power to the loss. Better to overlay those memories with new ones.

Seeking out new parts of Venice, or any new aspect of a place you are returning to, can help add to the sweetness of the experience.

There have been smaller, local experience revisits as well. By now I have accumulated quite a list of bittersweet revisits – from formerly frequented restaurants and music venues to far flung vacation places.

What I can’t do yet: go by the house we lived in for over 25 years. So I avoid that neighborhood and even the neighbors. There’s no upside in this case – no new sweetness to gather.

I write this sitting on a beautiful beach, part of a southern barrier island – a place we vacationed in often as a young family. This time, with my siblings, I look past the past to the present moment of sun, clear water, and soft wind. Healing.

I wonder about the many other young families on the beach. Will they remain intact well into the future? If not, they are still creating memories. And they’ll always have the ability to revisit the memories – to experience the bittersweet and transform it into something new.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating,

XXXOOO

Nadia