By Gwenn Voelckers
“My life was no barrel of monkeys after my divorce. In fact, having fun was a low priority on my to-do list. I was busy trying to put my life back together as a single woman. Finding entertainment wasn’t among my goals.”
When was the last time you laughed until your side hurt? Acted silly? Or felt like a kid again?
If you are like me, it’s been a long time. Too long! The pandemic knocked the funny out of my funny bone.
But happily, things are changing for the better. Life is opening up and there is plenty of fun to be had for everyone, including those who live alone.
Sure, living solo can be serious business, what with all the chores and responsibilities that rest solely on our shoulders, but let’s not forget to laugh a little and enjoy ourselves along the way.
“Why focus on fun?” you might ask. Because having fun, letting your hair down, and relaxing means letting go of your problems and worries for awhile. When that happens, you have time to “breathe” emotionally.
When you are not occupied with troubling thoughts, your mind is free to wander, which can make room for new insights, understanding, and creativity. You may see things in a different light. And what might seem insurmountable at the moment (a Saturday night alone) can become more manageable.
My life was no barrel of monkeys after my divorce. In fact, having fun was a low priority on my to-do list. I was busy trying to put my life back together as a single woman. Finding entertainment wasn’t among my goals.
But then I took a trip that changed everything.
A couple of friends, determined to rescue me from my somber existence, coaxed me to join them on a road trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Warning everyone that I would be no fun to be with, I reluctantly squeezed into the backseat of the Volvo.
We poked around the island for a few days and then found our way to one of its most charming harbor towns, Oak Bluffs. It’s a magical little place that is home to colorful, whimsical cottages.
Oak Bluffs is also home to the Flying Horses Carousel, the oldest platform carousel in America.
I stood there admiring it, commenting on the warm patina of its bobbing horses and remarking on how much fun the kids were having. That’s when my friends elbowed me and said, “Oh, come on, let’s take a ride.” After complaining that I was just too old for that sort of thing, they ignored my protests and literally lifted me onto a bright yellow horse.
It was so much fun! I loved it! I even grabbed for the brass ring, in hopes of winning a second free ride, but a fresh-faced 11-year-old beat me to it. His joy brought a smile to my heart.
Riding that carousel made me giggle and laugh and feel like myself again. It felt foreign and unfamiliar. But more than that, it felt fabulous!
I was reminded of how much better my life could be if I just got back on that horse and made having fun more of a priority.
Back home, I started weaving fun and entertainment into my life. And I encourage you to do the same. Below are a few tips to help you tickle what may be a dormant funny bone:
• Hang out with fun (and funny!) people. My sister Anne is the funniest person I know. Opportunities to be with her trump almost everything else on my calendar. We laugh, poke fun at each other, and otherwise just enjoy being together.
When I’m with Anne, my cares drift away and life is good. So, take a look at the people you hang out with. While we all need supportive friends with whom we can sort through life’s difficulties, we also need some fun-loving souls. Be sure to connect with them on a regular basis.
• Diversify your entertainment. While I love classical music performances and can’t resist a good documentary, those activities don’t invigorate my inner child nor make me chuckle. No, to have fun, I need to dance as if no one’s watching, enjoy a two-scoop ice cream cone, or watch – for the umpteenth time – the 1980 comedy “Airplane!” with Leslie Nielsen.
When’s the last time you went bowling, rode a tandem bike, played board games with friends, blew bubbles, or went to a comedy club? There’s no time like the present!
• See the humor around you. I’ve also discovered that we don’t have to manufacture our own amusement. It’s there for the taking, if we just look around.
Yesterday, I saw something funny happening right in front of my eyes. A dog was pacing back and forth in the back seat of the car ahead of me, sticking its head out the windows on each pass. It looked ridiculous!
I could have observed this scene with indifference, but I decided to enjoy the moment and embrace its inherent humor. Do the same. Pause and enjoy the absurdity that surrounds us.
• And finally, be silly and don’t take yourself too seriously. Oh, come on, you can do it! Let go, let loose. If this year has taught us anything, it has taught us that life is short, time is precious. Join your kids or grandkids on the playground and feel the wind on your face while you pump a swing higher and higher.
There’s nothing like a little fun and a good laugh to brighten your day and lift your spirits, whether you live alone or not. So go for it. Grab for that brass ring. And enjoy the ride!
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Alone and Content, empowerment workshops for women and author of “Alone and Content,” a collection of inspiring essays for those who live alone. For information about her workshops, to purchase her book, or invite Voelckers to speak, visit www.aloneandcontent.com