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Introducing Solo: The Single Person’s Guide To A Remarkable Life

SOLO 1 | Living A Solo Life

 

Welcome to the first episode of Solo where host Peter McGraw speak to two friends — Julie Nirvelli and Kym Terribile – who are both enjoying the solo life. In this episode, they discuss Peter’s proposed themes for the project, how the podcast is pro-single but not anti-marriage, how future episodes will address more than dating and sex, why the ideal solo listener is seeking to live on their edge, and how Peter will be building a solo community. Julie and Kym ask him some challenging questions about his life. We address the need for self-care and living we intention, and we discuss how single people should be building a team. The bonus material at the end of the episode looks at the good, bad, and ugly labels that the world uses to describe single men and women. Hope you enjoy it!

Listen to Episode #1 here:

Introducing Solo: The Single Person’s Guide To A Remarkable Life

Welcome to the first episode of Solo where I speak to two friends, Julie Nirvelli and Kym Terribile, both enjoying the solo life. We discussed my proposed themes for the project, including how the show is pro-single but not anti-marriage. How future episodes will address more than sex and dating. Why the ideal solo audience is anyone seeking to live on their edge and how I will be building a solo community. Julie and Kym asked me some challenging questions about my life and intentions for the project. We addressed the need for self-care and the importance of living with intention and we begin to address how single people should be building a team. I typically give some bonus material for people who sign up for the Solo community. For the time being, I’ll be adding this bonus material to the end of the episodes, so stick around as Julie, Kym and I talk about the good, bad, and ugly labels that the world gives to single men and women. I hope you enjoy the episode. Let’s get started.

Welcome to the first episode of Solo, the single person’s guide to a remarkable life. My guests are an old friend and a new friend, Julie Nirvelli and Kym Terribile. Julie was born and raised in San Jose, California and earned her college degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She’s lived in Colorado for sixteen years. I’ve known her for fifteen of those years. As a two-time business owner and single mom, Julie embraces her solo life. Kym is a writer, a Reiki practitioner and a certified yoga teacher. She’s a graduate of the University of Hawaii with a degree in English literature. She is 36 or she likes to say 30 sexy, single and lives in Boulder, Colorado with her two dogs. Welcome, Julie. Welcome, Kym.

It’s the first episode of Solo, no pressure. I’ve told Kym and Julie that people often start in the first episode so it’s this critical episode. I think that piece of information is going to backfire on me. This is going to be slightly different than a typical episode, at least, as I anticipated. A typical episode we’ll have some illustrious or nefarious unmarried person, someone of notoriety, not that you two aren’t special. Where we talk about their solo life and it’s meant to be a conversation about the benefits and the opportunities that come from that. A little bit of inspiration as well as perhaps some discussion of the potential pitfalls and challenges of that. Another style of the episode that I want to do is bring in experts. The people who can help unmarried people live a remarkable life. That can run the range of health, fitness, business, money, travel, fashion, art, literature, relationships, dating and the S‑word, that’s sex. If you didn’t know what the S‑word was, maybe this is not the right show for you.

What I’d like to do a little bit as we start is I want to read some of the early copy that I wrote for this. Some version of this copy would be on iTunes and my website and some of it is to be in the intro to this, but it may change. I want to get your reactions to this. Kym is a serious writer, hardcore serious writer. She’s a novelist. If you want to critique my wordsmithing, feel free. In general, I’m looking for an idea. In a world where most people get married, where do you turn for advice if you don’t want to settle down for now or forever? Solo is the single person’s guide to a remarkable life. Welcome to the show that explores how being single affords you the opportunity to be adventurous, make art, start a business, travel the world, get in shape or simply sleep-in when you want to. I’m Dr. Peter McGraw, a bachelor behavioral scientist and humor researcher who interviews married men and women living remarkable lives and assembles advice from leading experts. What do you think? Are we onto something here? What’s missing? What should I add?

We’re definitely onto something. It’s an interesting topic and not one that I’ve seen people talking about where the feel I get for this is it’s living a more intentional life as a solo person. Thinking about decisions you make, actions you put into place and things like that in your life to have a more robust life as a solo person.

I don’t think there’s a lot out there for bachelors or single people that spans beyond dating and relationships and sex. To have something where it talks about travel and finances and how to spend your free time creating a life that’s going to be textured and rich for yourself is something that there’s not a lot of resources for.

In many ways, that’s my goal for this show, is that if you think about it in a world where most people get married at some point and where the world assumes you’re going to get married at some point, that’s a major goal. Where you look, everything is gently or not gently pushing you towards that place. A lot of the advice and a lot of the resources out there, the undercurrent is that’s the goal or that’s where you are. When you remove that, temporarily or permanently, more then it opens up possibilities and I believe it requires a different way of thinking. That’s not to say that everything that we talk about is going to only be helpful to single people. The goal is living a remarkable life and doing these things whether you’re married or not do it. The idea is that an unmarried life provides an opportunity. Time, energy, perhaps money, space and resources that can be dedicated to this. A little bit of a nudge to get people to think like, “What could I be doing differently when I look around at my friends, I look at my parents and they’re not thinking like that because we’re walking a more traditional path?”

They are not just floating through life as waiting and hoping and not taking charge or taking action. Going back again to that intentional piece of being intentional about what you’re trying to accomplish.

I’ve jotted down some ideas and themes for the project and I want to get your reactions to them.

I think we have some questions.

Let me talk about these themes and please weigh-in and give me feedback and so on. One thing is that I want this to be a positive view, a positive project that is to celebrate unmarried life, but because it’s meant to be unapologetically positive like, “I am done apologizing for not wanting to get married.” I have stopped that long. I no longer enter a conversation making excuses. I’m happy to highlight the reasons why it’s good for me. That said, I also don’t want this project to be anti-marriage. I don’t think that those are mutually exclusive. I like to say this in the same way that some people like Italian food and some people like Indian food, just because you like one doesn’t mean the other one’s bad. You would never convince someone who likes Indian food that they should like Italian food. Almost everything in life is like that. Some people like art and some people like numbers. You’re not going to get far trying to convince the other that they’re wrong about it. What I want to highlight is that marriage is a great path for many people. I think it’s a little overprescribed, but it’s like, “Let’s give people an alternative and let them choose what’s best for them instead of marriage as the default.”

Anything you’re going to talk about for the most part on here is going to be something of value to both ends.

With the divorce rate of 40%, even those married people might find themselves solo at some point. This is lifestyle-based when you’re talking about health and fitness. The other one is I want this to be inspirational. I want people to get ideas that they wouldn’t normally get. Even this idea that life is not happening to me, I’m happening to life, which is your intentional idea. I want to suggest opportunities. I want people to think about that. Another theme is this notion of stretching oneself. I like to say that anything worth doing is going to be difficult. If it was easy, everybody would do it and then thus, it wouldn’t be worth doing. To try to live on your edge where if you’re away from your edge too much, you’re bored. If you’re over your edge, you’re stressed and you’re living right on your edge and you’re stretching yourself.

That’s something you do on a daily basis.

Why do you say that?

You’re constantly working on a new project or you have stacks of books on your coffee table that the library is missing like a whole shelf, lots of travel.

I’ll give an example of stretching myself that I was talking about lately. For my first book, one of our chapters, we go to Palestine, we go to the West Bank. My co-author and I, to look at humor where you least expect it. What we don’t say in the book is that I was in Israel and I went there on my own to check it out. That was an experience that was challenging. To cross over a 50-foot concrete wall, turnstiles, people with guns. You know the imagery as an American of what that place in the world is like. I’m glad I did it. It’s one of the most fascinating experiences I had. I met wonderful people. I had a completely different view of the Middle East as a result of it. We had this fantastic chat is one of our best chapters in the book. There’s a little bit of danger, but most of it was overcoming the psychological concerns about it.

Do you feel though you’ve lived on your edge long enough now where you have to keep expanding your edge to get that discomfort?

Yes, I think so. That’s a good problem to have. I don’t want to jump out of a plane. I went paragliding. That was on my edge. At some point, I might end up jumping out of a plane. I felt like that’s an artificial edge to be honest. To me, a lot of this idea is not even about being in places anymore, but it’s being at the forefront of changing the way I think about things, which is much more about changing my mind through trying to think differently. That can be hard, but you can live on your edge without ever leaving your house.

If you don’t want to get married, own it and always be forthcoming about that. Click To Tweet

I was going to say it’s more cerebral than going to a location or doing an activity.

You are working through the emotions of making a difficult choice and doing something that you could choose the easy path or you choose a harder path. Sometimes, choosing the harder path for the growth that might come. I want to as a theme is that I want this to be broad. I recognize that that’s a risk. You create a broad show and now what you risk is that the person who likes topic X is now bored because you’re talking about topic Y and vice versa. I don’t want this to be a show about relationships. Most shows about being single are shows about how can you not be single anymore. They’re relationship-focused. It’s impossible to avoid relationships that would be foolish. I want it to be broader than that.

You’re trying to serve people who have no intention of getting married. People who might get married and people who have been.

The idea that single people date or they may not date or they may want to date but are having trouble. In that way, you want to support that. I want to bring people on, I want to talk about travel, I want to talk about art, I want to talk about business. The other thing is that I want this to be valuable to men and women. I should give some background about that because the origin story of this project excluded women. It was going to be for men, it’s going to be for single men, bachelors. I decided against that idea. Speaking of stretching oneself, this is completely different than anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve stayed in a certain lane and I’m off-road with this project. My first inclination is, “Do men need help?” I felt like I was a good person to help because I’ve lived the bachelor life and not to be immodest, but I’m living it well. I’ve done a lot of hard work though to make sure that I live it well. I enjoy seeing this up-close for the last several years. Whether it’d be doing therapy, whether it be taking care of my home, my body, my health and so on.

Owning that you don’t want to get married. You are always forthcoming about that.

He’s forthcoming. I have a story I could share about that. For those of you joining us, I met Peter, we were out on a date. I like to say it’s our second date. He says it’s our first date because the first date was a meeting. I made it to the first date through the first round.

Why don’t you tell them what you wore to the meeting?

That was a Saturday morning at 9:00 AM. I got up, I hadn’t washed my hair in three days. I put some dry shampoo in, threw on a sweatshirt that said, “Good vibes.” I wore a pair of jeans, a ponytail and lumberjack boots and showed up at a coffee shop and Peter wasn’t there. You had left and then come back or something. I couldn’t find you when I got there. I wore that because I don’t care. It turns out he’s this wonderful, great man and we had a great conversation. He’s always dressed nicely like his lounge clothes are my formal wear. That was our first meeting. We went on an official date. We went to Bar Taco in Boulder. We were sitting there and talking about someone you knew who was getting a divorce or something and he turns to me and we had been talking for fifteen minutes. He’s like, “Just so you know, I’m never getting married.” I was like, “Okay.”

I don’t know if it came out like that but it felt like that.

That’s what it felt like. It was somewhere in that phrasing. I was taken back because I was like, “I’m not here to marry you but you were clear.” You’re like, “I’m not having kids. I’m not getting married.” I’m like, “Thanks for sharing.” You’re like, “Women your age, they want to know.” I was 35 at that time.

I feel I’m a little on the defensive but only because I’ve had this conversation a number of times and I try not to make it about as in your face.

It wasn’t, I’m being a little dramatic but he was very forthcoming with the information.

I’ve learned that’s for the best. Some people are like, “Check please.” Some people are like, “No problem.” Some people are like, “That’s a little presumptuous.”

I was a little taken back by it.

For the record, Kym and I are friends but not because of that and not because of the way you dress.

Not all of us have a stylist.

Long story short, it started off as a project and it was a little bit of an in-your-face project. The original idea was to call it Stag: A Bachelor’s Guide to a Remarkable Life. What was interesting was as I was sharing the project idea with people, I had a number of women. It was only women who suggested this who said, “All the stuff you’re talking about, 90% of it is also relevant to single women. Why not be more inclusive?” After a lot of tossing and turning and thinking about that, I agreed. I thought it would be a little bit less in-your-face, but it would also be a lot more positive and it would be more useful. You doubled the number of people that we can help. This is designed for men and women. I have plans to have a urologist come to talk about vasectomies. That’s going to be a little bit more boy-focused as you might imagine. If you do it well, the topics are going to be interesting. What was interesting was when I showed the original bachelor idea to women, many of them were like, “I want to read this.” This can be more unisex even when if we’re talking to a gynecologist or urologist or whatever.

SOLO 1 | Living A Solo Life
Live a remarkable Solo life, like Julie (left) and Kym (right)

 

It’s informative.

That’s the plan. I am going to have guest hosts. The idea is to have multiple perspectives. It’s not me as the male host. That’s one way to try to balance it. I’m not exactly sure how this is going to happen, but it would be nice to try to build a community around this idea. We were hanging out before and you two had never met each other. You have a lot of overlapping interests given your choices in life. The idea can be that, can I find a way to bring a community of people together? I don’t know if that’s going to be a message board. I don’t know exactly how that’s going to play out, but I do like that idea of community focus. Because especially if you are solo, friends become even more important. Why not walk the talk?

I see a party in your future.

That’s a fun idea. Reactions to that before I turn this over to question time?

I like the idea of having some communal support system because so much of who we’re around, family members get married, friends get married. At my age, I don’t have a lot of single friends left. I don’t feel like I have the support that I’m looking for to be like, “You can be single and still enjoy your life and still have this valuable, rich life.” It would be amazing to have some community.

It would be nice, people are looking for this. Reddit is filled with subreddits that are people leaning on other folks to have questions answered. For as much of a cesspool is parts of Reddit can be, it can be a wonderful supportive place. I don’t know where that’ll be but this idea of message boards, it seems so ‘90s but it’s still valuable to people.

If you wait a few years, your married friends will be single.

That’s what’s happening now. I’m like, “I went to your wedding.”

I’m not being cynical. I’m statistically speaking, there are these cycles.

I say this with a little bit of apprehension, but I did give you some homework to prepare some questions from me. I’m usually the one doing the questioning. Remember, this is supposed to be good for the audiences.

I want to talk about when was it that you realize that the bachelor’s life was for you?

I’d say there were two times in my life that I seriously thought I was going to get married. I’ve had a number of longer-term relationships that were healthy and fulfilling. There were two times where I thought I am going to marry this woman. I’m sure I said that. I certainly thought it to myself and in both cases, it did not work out. I’ll be honest in heartbreaking fashion. What was interesting though was in the ensuing years after the second one. I had this realization, which was I like my life. I didn’t even regret that it didn’t work out. I don’t know about the first one, but in the second one, we’re both better off having not married to each other. We’re still friends and we have that code of counterfactual world. She went on and married and had kids. I have this thing which was like, “If this doesn’t happen for me, that’s not bad.” I have a career that I love. I have friends that I adore. I have adventures and excitement. I’m not lonely person. I’m a naturally lonely person. I’ve had some loneliness issues when I was in college. I have a good dating and sex life. It has ups and downs and all that stuff. I didn’t feel that wanting in the sense that I need something to fix my problems because my problems at that time had nothing to do with my singleness.

This was the late 30s, early 40s. My problems were I had some career issues at that time that I needed to get sorted. I had a bad back then I needed to get sorted. I had a difficult relationship with my mom and I was her primary caregiver from 1,500 miles away. Adding a wife to the mix doesn’t solve any of those problems. I got to work on those issues rather than the normal like let’s find a lifetime partner. Once you start going, “My single life is pretty damn good,” then it’s not something you have to do. It would be something that you might want to do. It slowly evolved which was into this idea that I have nothing against a long-term partnership. I wouldn’t turn that away. It became I don’t want to get married. I don’t want to stand in a church or a courthouse and sign the certificate and do this thing. Especially because I’ve decided I don’t want to have kids. Now, I feel like I don’t even want kids. It wouldn’t even be a good decision in terms of how old I am. I don’t want to be 70 with a kid in college. That’s when it happened and how it happened. Some people get badly hurt that then they can’t even open themselves up to that. That is honestly not the case. I like women. I love women. I like relationships. It was like, “I don’t think this solves my particular set of problems.”

As you were talking about, it’s what people do. You naturally question norms and things and behaviors. Your background is, why do people behave this way? Why do people make those choices?

The unstated assumptions that are in the world.

Consciously thinking, “Does this makes sense for everyone?” That’s what society says we do, but why? Am I right? Having known you, we haven’t talked about that issue specifically, but it seems like you would have questioned that.

Why do you do this? I met this woman. I was attracted to her. At some point, we were talking on the phone and she said, “I’d like to talk to you about why you don’t want to get married.” I brought it up. It wasn’t even on a first date. I said, “I’d be happy to talk about that.” We met at one point and she says, “Why don’t you want to get married?” I said, “I want to point something out. I’m going to answer the question, but I want to point something out. Do you think it would be peculiar if I asked you? I want you to tell me why you want to get married.” To her credit, she goes, “I see.” It’s funny. No one ever asked that question.

You can be single and still have this valuable rich life and enjoy it. Click To Tweet

Because it’s understood. You want to get married because you want companionship or you want a family or you want to blend your life with someone else’s.

You don’t want to die alone, although one person always dies alone as an aside mathematically. You have a 50% chance that you die alone.

Not if you’re a woman.

It’s like you ladies have an 80% chance that you’ll die alone.

I’m wondering in terms of relationships. Do you feel like you’re still looking for the same qualities and connection in a relationship as someone who is looking to get married?

No. The term in attitude research is latitude of acceptance. I’m able to enjoy the company of people even if in a hypothetical world when I would want to get married, I would never marry and I can enjoy their company because that’s not the goal. Mostly, all I need to do is enjoy my conversation with you. I find that I have a much richer array of interesting experiences as a result of not wanting to get married.

I can relate to that too because I’ve been on dates before where if someone makes some comment where I would think, “If I was looking for a relationship that would be a deal-breaker. I’m looking to meet interesting people and have interesting experiences and conversations.” Latitude of acceptance is wider and that completely makes sense. What could happen as a side effect of that is where you might eliminate somebody early on for a few comments they’ve made.

As a young man, I had this checklist of the woman I thought would be a great partner. Stupidly, it was me for the vagina. It’s like, “She’s sporty, she’s outgoing, she’s this, she’s that.” With time, I didn’t date women who are like me. I dated women who were complimentary, but they tend to be more introverted. They were more artistic. I know this is not going to be all about relationships, but it is useful to know the origin story of your host. Am I attracted to the person? Is the conversation interesting? That includes a lot of people, but it also excludes most people. It’s because someone’s attractive doesn’t mean I want to spend time with them. I should say this, “I’m attracted to them.” Now you date people in that standard traditional view of beauty and then it doesn’t matter how attracted or attractive they are, if the conversation is not good. Let’s not bother with this.

An additional date becomes less about, “Do I think this person is a good match?” and more about, “Did I enjoy that? Do I want to do it one more time?”

Does meeting number one becomes date number one?

It takes the pressure off and it becomes a simple question of did I enjoy that experience? Would I like to have another experience with that person? It’s simple.

As someone who has trouble being present-focused, it’s something I do well. I tend to be future-focused. I’m a good planner, I’m vigilant and it’s one area of my life that I don’t get ahead of myself. 

You mentioned that you went to counseling. Tell us more about it.

I got exposed to counseling early as a kid because my mom would drag us to counselors like family therapy to have these counselors fix us. The counselor was sitting there going, “Lady, the kids are fine.” I got exposed to that and it took a little the stigma off of that because I found those people to be quite kind and helpful and genuine and supportive. My dad died when he was 54 and I was 27. I was going into a PhD program. I knew enough to know this PhD program was going to be difficult. Here I am struggling with the fact that the idea that my life might be half over. My dad, when he was 27 wasn’t thinking my life might be half over. I saw a counselor and she was quite good. When I got to Colorado and I was an assistant professor and having some struggles, I got hooked up to another counselor. The first counselor, his nickname was The Jedi. I like to give people nicknames.

He was The Jedi because he looked like a Jedi from Star Wars, even the way he dressed. He moved away or retired or something and he passed me off to a therapist here in town. I call him The Poet. He had a profound effect on my life. I saw him regularly for many years and then he released me, which is an incredible feat as a therapist who gets paid when you see him. We started off like this is when I was trying to fix my relationship with my mom. I see him twice a week, then it became once a week, then it became once every two weeks, then it became once a month. At some point he goes, “Pete, you can keep coming but you’re doing well. If you want, you can come back when you need it.” Every so often if something pop up, I make an appointment. Sometimes I make an appointment when things are good.

I was going to say for the readers, what events happen? If someone’s never considered therapy, you’re saying go when things are good. That’s an interesting idea.

First of all, even when things are good, you’ve got work to do. I’ve had a bigger breakthrough sometimes when things are good because you’re not narrowly-focused. You can talk broadly about it. It’s nice to celebrate with someone who cares about you and is your number one advocate. For me, it’s more special to him because this is a ten-year relationship. He’s seen me at my worst and it’s nice to see me when I’m at my best. I’m going to my general practitioner for a checkup. If I fell and hurt my wrist, I would go to an orthopedist or a physical therapist. If I was having trouble losing weight, I might go see a trainer or nutritionist. When my car stops working, I go to a mechanic. When my boiler breaks, I’d bring in an HVAC person. When I wanted to upgrade my wardrobe, I brought in a stylist.

I know the therapist is part of your team. Who else is an essential member of your professional team?

I like this idea of having a team. The idea of some of us for the show will be the experts that we bring in might be potential team members. My barber.

How often do you get your hair?

I get my hair cut a lot.

You seem like every ten days you have a scheduled appointment.

I go get my hair cut a lot because I have bad hair. My hair is thinned and it’s never been good. Even when I was at my peak virility, I never had good hair. Nobody goes, “That Pete McGraw has good hair.” When you don’t have good hair, you need even more work on it. I also like going to the barber. I like the camaraderie and I like that it’s an unapologetically male space and it’s a little bit of a safe space.

To think of the barber as a team member, not a service provider. You don’t go to the barber to get your haircut. There’s more value for you it sounds like. Don’t pick any barber off the street.

I’m going to have a show about picking a barber. The most important skill that a barber has is they give a good haircut. However, in marketing, we call this an augmented service. The barber I’m going to have on, his name is Anthony Full. That guy has given me profound advice. The advice I’ve gone to other team members for and they couldn’t come up with the answer and he goes, “Here’s what you do.” The man has cut a lot of hair. He’s talked to a lot of men about their problems. He’s a wise man. Unlike a therapist, he can tell you what to do. There is something sometimes being told what you need to do that can cut a lot of time from that process.”

I feel like it’s the same for women. I go to see my hairstylist, I see her twice a year. I tell her everything. It’s like you sit down in the chair and there’s no filter. All the nitty-gritty details, she knows, she hears.

If that person can cut a good head of hair and then also, even if they’re a good listener, that’s valuable. If they can reflect back stuff to you, that’s nice. I consider my friends a team. I worked hard to cultivate relationships with people both close to where I live and far away. I talk on the phone a lot. I have relationships with people I haven’t seen. I see almost rarely, once every few years. We feel close because we talk on the phone, we keep current. I have friends for different things. I call people depending on the problem that I have. When they call me depending on the problem or the story they want to share or whatever it is. I want to be sensitive to the fact that not everybody has resources. I grew up poor and I didn’t make good money and have a handle on true financial freedom until rather lately.

Now that I have it, I feel like I can have a bigger team. I wanted to improve my wardrobe so I hired someone who can. I’m like weird dimensions. Buying stuff off the rack, things look like they swim on me because if I want the sleeve length to work then now it’s billowing under my armpits. I feel better. I’m more confident. Life’s more interesting. Fashion is you’re wearing art and that’s exciting to do. That stretched me too because getting a guy to wear clothes that fit is a surprisingly difficult task because it feels uncomfortable at first. I’m blanking on other potential team members. I have a financial person, her nickname is Money Amy. She will be on the show also. She’s fee-based, I pay her by the hour and she has been with me for several years. As soon as I got here, I sat down with her and we’ve started making plans. I continue to consult with her whenever I have big decisions there. That’s a critical one.

Aside from your essential team members and friends, do you have a lot of groups that you go to?

Not a lot. That’s a nice idea for people to do. I get on Meetup sometimes when I’m in a foreign city. I look for a writing group. The only group that I’m a regular part of now is a bi-weekly writing group here in Boulder on Saturday mornings, which I enjoy that experience. I think things like that are useful. I’m not a big go to a group thing person. I’m in a book club. It’s a two-person book club. It’s the world’s best smallest book club. When you’re in a two-person book club, we have these rich conversations because we come to it super-prepared. We sometimes read two books. She moved away. This book club is defunct. We’ve talked about doing that. We made it an event. We would go to brunch and have a cappuccino and eat a good meal and talk about life. It was a full experience there.

You’ve often talked about what it means that your goal is to live a remarkable life. I was wondering for you what that means.

It’s a real thing. I use it as a joke, which is like the Supreme Court was trying to define pornography and the definition was you know it when you see it. For me, a theme in my life is autonomy. That notion of autonomy and independence is big for me. That shows up, for instance, with regard to financial freedom. A lot of people want to build wealth because they want nice things, because they want to go on fancy vacations. I’ve always wanted to build wealth i.e. create financial freedom because of what it will allow me to do. That is that if I ever wanted to retire from my job because I got sick of it, because if I didn’t want to do something, I could afford to not do it. I could turn down work that I didn’t want to do, that if I found myself in a situation I need to get myself out of, I could afford to do it. I didn’t have to suffer through it in any way. What I realized was this provides me an opportunity not to avoid bad things in life but now I can approach good things in life. I could use this money to fund. For example, my other shoe doesn’t make me any money. It costs me thousands of dollars a year to do that show. I’m happy to pay that money because I have it because I find that to be a fulfilling, rewarding and enjoyable experience. That show feeds lots of other ideas and projects.

You’ve had amazing people on there too.

It’s been great. That show is a nice example of living a remarkable life because it’s fun. I get exposed to ideas that I wouldn’t normally. It’s been hard to change. I’m much better answering your questions than I am leading a show because I’m a talker. As a host, I need to be a listener. It stretches me to do that. I’m a better person as a result of doing that. That’s a remarkable thing to try to do late in life. I take pride in being fit and robust and being able to work long hours when I want to and being able to still run fast when I need to and that I’m not ashamed of how I look in the mirror. I like the exercise. I have a physical therapist who helps me sometimes.

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He’s helped me with some injuries. He’s got me doing handstands. I did my first handstand as a 48-year-old man. He’s got me doing double unders, jump roping. Where you’re doing continuous double spins or whatever on under one jump, which is incredibly difficult to do. He’s got me doing overhead squats. An overhead squat is one of the most difficult barbell exercises you can do. You’re extended fully overhead with your arms, with weights, and you’re squatting down while your hands are above your head. When I first started, I couldn’t even do it with a bar. I had to use a PVC pipe and I had to put it up against a squat rack to do it. Plenty of people can do those things, but it feels pretty remarkable for me to have done this at this stage in my life.

Are there any things in your future you’re looking to achieve? What’s next now that you have all this bachelor free time?

What’s interesting is my goal is to have fewer goals. I’m very much of a goal person. I have a ten-year plan, I have to-do lists and so on. I have a sabbatical coming up so I have this luxury, which is I want to work on the projects that I want to work on. When I’m done at the end of the day, I don’t have to assess how much closer I am to the goal. I’m being much more process-focused and less outcome-focused. I’m working on a new book project. This is a new thing. I want to do creative work that stretches me and that when it gets done, it gets done that I don’t have to be as calendar-oriented as I used to be.

Not being driven, drive, go, produce. It’s more at a leisurely pace when you’re feeling inspired.

I don’t have a schedule, but the idea essentially is that some days are going to be good and some days are going to be not as good. I’m not going to be scorekeeping like, “It wasn’t a good day.” Now I’m behind from this arbitrary goal. I don’t know if I’m going to be doing a lot of that, but it would be a nice test.

From knowing you, you’re a habitual person. There’s a big difference between habit and ritual. Habit is something you do and ritual is something you do with intention. What are those things? What does a typical day look like for you?

There’s a good lesson here. At some point, I’m going to have a friend and colleague who does research on habits because habits or rituals are the secret sources to success. I have beats in my day. Some of them are fixed and some of them are floating. Exercise is a floating beat to my day, which is I fit it in at some point ideally right before lunch or right before dinner. I find time to get exercise. I start the day and I’ve had for the last several years with a writing session, typically in a cafe of some sort. From the moment I wake up, I’m trying to get to that cafe as quickly as possible and get in my fanny in the seat to have a cappuccino and have a little breakfast and write academic papers, but increasingly more things for the more popular press and for a broader audience. I’m going on sabbatical and I’ve decided that I’m going to break that ritual. I’m going to change that. I stole this from this book, The 5 AM Club but it’s going to be 20 minutes of movement, 20 minutes of reflection and 20 minutes of growth. It’s move, reflect, grow. The idea is that I’m not going to move into a seated position right away and I’m going to do whatever feels good.

It’s not my exercise for the day. It’s designed to get the blood going, warm up the joints. Jump roping, yoga, it could be weight stuff, could be calisthenics, whatever my body feels like it needs. I’ll be honest, I’m sore a lot in the morning. I’m a little creaky these days. That’s the nature of years of exercising, getting older. That’s the idea to get a little sweat going, get moving and so on then the reflection will be either meditation or journaling. I used to meditate and I let it lapse and that’s bad. I have started journaling and it’s been good. The growth is either going to be consuming something maybe reading an article that I’ve been meaning to read or making my to-do list for the day or reflecting on reviewing my goals and stuff.

The goal thing won’t be a big one because I’m trying to be more goal-focused. The reason I’m choosing to do that is I’m going off to sabbatical. When you make a change in your life, when you transition into a new state of the world, it naturally disrupts your habits. This would be a hard habit for me to start now because for several years I’ve been focused on the writing. I don’t regret it at all. It’s had a profound effect on my life and positive effect on my life and I enjoy it and I’m compelled to do it. It feels weird when I don’t do it. That was good for me then and that this will be good for me now. At least I’ll know after a few months.

I like that idea. That’s a cool way to start your day. It’s not wake up and I need to start being productive. It’s a different way to enter your day and have different energy going into the day, a different vibration.

It’s recognizing that maybe the most important thing in my life might not be a professional thing. I do like this idea that you do the most important thing first. When you do the most important thing first, you know that the most important thing gets done. Taking care of myself should be the most important thing for the near future.

My first thing is coffee because that is the most important, then it’s meditation, journaling and walking the dogs.

We’re going to have a conversation about the terms that people use to describe single people, male and female single people. Some of those are flattering terms and some of those are pejorative terms because language matters and that’ll be a fun conversation to have. This was a lot of fun, Julie and Kym. Thank you for saying yes to this. I’m sure it was stretching yourself a little bit, but it is truly in the spirit of this.

It was fun. Thanks for having us.

Thank you.

Thank you. Now we’re going to start with what normally would be bonus material for people who have signed up for the community, but I’m adding it here. Get ready for our discussion of the good, bad and ugly labels the world has for single people.

I thought it would be fun to talk about what to call single men and single women. I settled on this term, Solo is the name for the show. I like that idea. I like those two-syllable words. Solo is a positive-sounding term as I may have mentioned in the show when the original idea of doing this for men, the title was Stag. I liked that because the definition of a bachelor is an unmarried man. It’s also a male animal without a mate during breeding time. That’s the idea of stag I thought was a nice image of that. The obvious thing is for an unmarried man to be called a bachelor. Do you know who first used that term? It shows up in The Canterbury Tales. I should double-check that but Geoffrey Chaucer used the term bachelor. It’s like a young knight, so it was a knight’s apprentice thing. I’d say nowadays the term bachelor has mixed connotations, but the original one is generally pretty positive. 

I texted you to find out if there was a name for a bachelor woman, as a female.

That’s something that shows up quickly is that while the terms for men aren’t wholly positive, the terms for women are generally negative. Spinster’s the big one. I have an ex who we had like a long conversation about this notion of a spinster. There’s a book called Spinster that came out later and I would like to get the author on the show. What’s cool about the book is like this show, it’s a largely positive view of women who never got married. It’s a historical account of great spinsters throughout history. They lived remarkable lives. These are women in the ‘20s and the 1800s and so on who were unapologetic about where they were in life. As a result, they did cool things.

I always like that idea. I like the idea of trying to co-opt negative terms. That’s hard to do. You’ve seen this in the African-American community with the N‑word. Using it as a term of affection for friends, using it in music, the idea of you can rob its tenacity in the world. I can’t get anyone behind spinster. I can’t hear any rap songs with spinsters. That’s the obvious one. In my original research, I was looking at men. One of the fascinating things about unmarried men is they’re often referred to in animalistic terms, the notion that they’re animals. The term they’re rogue elephants so it’s a visual term. A rogue elephant is a problem. No one’s ever concerned about a rogue ferret.

One thing is this, on one hand the world needs unmarried married men. They are great for fighting and wars. They’re great pioneers. You put them into dangerous places like settling the Wes, but then once the West was settled, everybody lamented these towns filled with single men. It’s a fascinating thing. In China, single men are referred to as single dogs. Not dogs, single dogs. It’s not that men are dogs, but single men are. I forget where this is. I’m not sure if it was Europe or not, but this idea of unyoked oxen. If you think about it, what do yoked oxen do? You use it to plow a field, to pull a boulder. It’s a useful thing. When an ox is unyoked, it is no longer useful. The term bachelor has mixed. On one hand, there’s the idea that he’s an appealing man. That’s the one side of it. Julie, when I say bachelor, what’s the image that comes to mind, besides me?

The image that comes to mind is someone who’s suave and put together and intentionally a bachelor and honestly maybe a bit of a player. I’m not saying that you are.

The confirmed bachelor was code for a gay man throughout history. The confirmed bachelor was code for homosexual men. At that time, it wasn’t okay to be gay. It wasn’t meant to be a compliment per se.

With the TV shows, The Bachelor, it’s almost like this thing where you’re supposed to throw yourself at it and hope that he picks you. That’s what it is. That’s a psychological thing now that’s going on because I feel a lot of us women want these unattainable men.

I started using the term bachelor. I put it on my Twitter handle. I remember doing it with some trepidation. It’s interesting. People will put wife, husband, father and mother in there. I’m sure those people never have any trepidation about putting that. I was like, “Why not? I’m going to get in your face a little bit with this.” I didn’t lose tons of followers. No one ever wrote me mean emails about like, “How dare you to do this thing?” I like the term bachelor, but I recognize that not everybody does. Let’s be honest, in a world of #MeToo, in a world where male-female dynamics and dating and so on is complicated. Some of those ideas, which once might have been seen as positive in the Hugh Hefner Playboy areas are now seen as negative. I recognize that it’s less than ideal. 

This is from Thesaurus.com when I was googling. Bachelor is an unmarried man or woman and here are some synonyms, celibate.

That has to be from a time when the only way you could have sex was to get married. If you weren’t married then you weren’t having sex by theological conclusion.

The next one is single.

Should I name this show, Celibate?

You’ll get a lot of different audience.

I will get a lot of nineteen-year-old boys.

Stag is one of them. Available, it’s from Thesaurus.com. Someone should check this later and make sure.

I like the term available. 

A single person and unattached.

What’s interesting is I often use the term, when I think about the show, I like the term unmarried. What’s interesting is I like the term unmarried because it sets up this contrast versus single. Single-married, divorced-married. This is a show for unmarried people. You might be divorced, you might be single. I like that unmarried is not on that list.

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You should petition Thesaurus.com.

When the marketing department reaches out to me, I’ll mention it. 

For women, these were some good ones. The bachelor girl was one of them, fuddy-duddy, goodie-goodie, lone woman.

The one that was missing is this idea of a lone wolf.

Wolf is more like a pack animal.

That’s the point. The lone wolf has left the pack.

The next one is prig. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that right and I had to look up the definition of it because I didn’t know what it meant. For those of you out there, Dictionary.com says, “A person who displays demands of others pointlessly, essentially it’s exaggerated propriety, prude.”

Prude, you could combine that with the old maid, prude old maid.

A prude is a non-sexual person.

Yes or I think even more like doesn’t even want to hear about it.

Versus a tease who puts on and I assume tease is not in there.

It’s not on here. A single woman and spinster. Can I say I googled the origin of spinster now or maybe it popped up. It is because a lot of unmarried women, their jobs would be then to spin thread. That’s where spinster comes from supposedly.

I was looking for a fun compliment to stag and I couldn’t find it. A prig is a great one.

A cougar doesn’t quite fit.

I wanted to do vixen but the definition of a vixen is not becoming and it’s sexualized. If I remember correctly, I thought vixen is a saucy woman, but its origins are not positive.

Vixen, a female fox, a spiteful or quarrelsome woman.

I’m going to do is say men and women or males, females. The terms are largely negative. In a world where if you don’t get married, it’s seen as a problem to the government. This is seen as a problem to family values or whatever the particular thing that matters at the time. You’re not going to have some shining wonderful term for being single. We don’t want people to be single. No one is like, “I want to be that.” To me, solo is imperfect but it’s good enough, even the limitations. That was super fun. I’m glad that we did this little extra bit of bonus up. Thank you for your time. This was super fun. I will continue to call you single women and not spinsters, old maids or prigs.

I like bachelor girl.

Thank you, bachelor girls.

Resources mentioned:

About Julie Nirvelli

Julie Nirvelli was born and raised in San Jose, CA and earned her college degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She has lived in Colorado for 16 years. As a two-time business owner and single mom with a robust social and active life, Julie embraces her solo life.

 

 

About Kym Terrible

Kym Terrible is a writer, Reiki practitioner and a certified yoga teacher. She is a graduate of the University of Hawaii, with a degree in English Literature. She is 36 (or as she says thirty sex), single, and lives in Boulder, Colorado with her two dogs.

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