We love to highlight our writers at Single Matters because they not only contribute content for you but they’ve also written books we think you should read. We had a chat with our regular contributor Gail Showalter about her new book for single parents: Living, Learning, Loving: Lessons of Insight and Encouragement on the path of Motherhood
Gail Showalter is a heartwarming, moving, and genuine speaker and storyteller. Her passion is to encourage hurting women, particularly single moms, to discover and develop their abilities and inner strengths. Gail inspires audiences to cultivate and grow spiritually with her artfully told personal stories.
Gail was a single mother of three for 16 years before she married Sam in 1996. She knows the struggles, the heartaches, and the day-to-day difficulties of being single and head of a household. During her years as a single mom she learned to depend on the Lord for guidance. Though she is happily remarried, her heart’s desire is to offer seeds of guidance to single moms.
Single Matters: You call yourself the “Tough Old Bird with a Soft Spot for Single Moms.” Why is that?
Gail: I’m a mature/older woman who was a single mom of three children for 16 years. I’ve never forgotten those years, and today single mothers are my heroes. The difficulties of parenting alone are enormous. The day-in, day-out responsibilities all fall on your shoulders. I recall the nights with a sick child, having to leave work to take care of a situation at home, being responsible for household repairs, and just having no other adult to manage it all. Not to mention the loneliness of being single in a double bed. My goal is to encourage single mothers as a Certified Professional Coach. I also am able to acquire a grant, in some cases, for single moms who want to complete a college degree, something that can make a real difference in their lives.
Single Matters: As someone who raised her children as a single parent, what are some nuggets of truth you’d like to share with other single parents? What are the things you wish someone had told you?
Gail: When I was divorced, I was attending a church that was loving and compassionate. Later my children attended a church youth group with a highly qualified youth minister. I urge single mothers to attend a church that is inclusive and has a strong program for their children.
I wish people had acknowledged how difficult it was and had given me a hug once in a while. I remember all these years later the few times a married person said something kind to me. I think most people are compassionate but do not know what to say or do.
Single Matters: Your book is titled Living, Learning, Loving. Is there a particular reason?
Gail: The topics are divided under these three headings, “Living,” “Learning” and “Loving.” Some of my experience with life include:
- Living with Solitude, Living with Boundaries, Living with Grief and Living with Courage.
Others deal directly with lessons learned:
- Learning to be Self-Aware, Learning to Prioritize, Learning to Wait and Learning to Value Morality.
The last chapters are upbeat ways to love life:
- Loving the Fun, Loving the Growth, Loving the Power of Prayer and Loving with Wisdom Gathered from Others.
Single Matters: Living, Learning, Loving includes numerous topics and lessons you learned. Do all of these apply to just single mothers? In what ways can all people find encouragement within its pages?
Gail: They apply to single moms as well as others. I’ve written with transparency about my own life experiences and about lessons I’ve learned. I’ve been told the book is being used to teach parolees, and that an attorney has even used it in a court case. One of the most surprising comments about the book came from a man — not a father — who especially liked the chapter on self-awareness. I’d like to think that readers who are looking for guidance will find something of value in the book.
Life is a journey. As I share mine, I hope others with see how Divine guidance is always a part of the path.
Single Matters: Life lessons are common to us all. Can you give us examples from your book of lessons you learned that might apply to others?
Gail: I begin the book with the universal topic of being alone. So many people, single or not, fear or avoid being alone. I share what I learned about the value of solitude and how being alone can be a precious opportunity. I cannot stress enough that there is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. Solitude provides an opportunity for personal spiritual growth.
Another lesson I learned was that maturity comes when we are truly self-aware, not the same as self-conscious. It is the beginning of self-discipline and a really important part of spiritual growth. I became a personality trainer years ago.
I believe understanding our own personalities as well as the personalities of our family members, co-workers and friends is extremely valuable to a life of harmony. I also think that being genuinely self-aware is essential to becoming a mature Christian. It is just part of taking the plank out of our own eye, as stated in Matthew 7:3 NIV.
Single Matters: How will singles specifically be encouraged by reading your book?
Gail: Most of us go through life experiencing challenges and disappointments. I openly share my personal challenges of returning to college with three young children, keeping faith when a child was extremely ill, and facing a judge in a dispute with my then husband. I endured disappointments in my attempts to have an amicable relationship with my children’s father. By telling what I learned, I hope to offer guidance for younger travelers on their life journey.
Single Matters: You have had a broad and productive career, including teaching Braille. The last chapter, “Loving with Wisdom Gathered from Others,” tells what you learned from teaching children who were blind. Most people will not have that experience, so how would you relate this chapter to them?
Gail: I would say that when we are open, receptive and pay attention, we can learn a great deal from those around us. They may be co-workers, family, or even ex-spouses. We are called to learn from others. My focus in life is on learning from my personal life experiences and encouraging others to do the same.