I'm off to a late start today. I skipped the gym and snuggled in bed with my man who came home late last night after a four-day business trip. I even watched my favorite Grammy performances all over again this morning. The Grammys are MY Super Bowl, and honestly, if it weren't for the music, I don't know where I'd be. Call it cheesy, but whenever times have ever been rough, it has been my music that has saved me.
But back to being alone. I wrote a Facebook post yesterday that seemed to resonate. Many of you related. It wasn't meant to show off, it was meant to inspire you to revel in your aloneness sometimes. It went as such:
"Let me set the scene: My kids slept out at the grandparents'. My husband has been away on business since Thursday, and is coming back today -- I attended an engagement party alone last night on our behalf for a close family friend. And I opened my eyes, alone, in my own bed, at 9:11 this morning. It's been 10 years since I slept in until 9 a.m. I'm now having coffee quietly alone in my own bed. And I'm thinking: some peace and quiet every now and then is really not a bad thing. ;)"
Being alone. How comfortable are you at being alone? When was the last time you went to see a movie alone? When was the last time you went to a cafe, brought a book or magazine, bought a tea or coffee, and sat outside under the umbrella and read quietly? When was the last time you brought your gorgeous self over to a bistro for lunch, treated yourself to a glass of wine, and ate a delicious meal, alone?
Being alone is something I really want you to think about today. Truly being alone. Comfortable in your own skin. No distractions. No cell phones. No husbands. No kids. No girlfriends. Just you.
I recently watched Eat Pray Love again on the dish. And funnily enough, when I read the book years ago, I found myself bored to tears throughout most of it. But something in the movie completely moved me. I loved it. Something resonated so deep down inside that I cried on and off for two straight hours.
Besides watching the beautiful scenery of Italy (for Eat), India (for Pray) and Bali (for Love), it was Julia Roberts who brought Elizabeth Gilbert the author, so much to life. And while I couldn't identify with most parts of her story, parts of it were scarily so very ME.
For those of you that forget the premise, it's about a burned-out successful female writer living in an unhappy, unfulfilled marriage who decides to leave her husband and travel the world alone for a year to find herself, and document her experiences. And while I couldn't identify with living unhappily in a marriage, if I can be honest, which is where I am the most honest, here on my Blog with you, I identified with sometimes wanting to run away and be alone.
The thought of peace and tranquility and clearing your mind from the daily grind. From homework, from work, from chatter and noise. To clear your head from routines and ruts, from schedules and carpools, from events and obligations. To just up and leave, and let the world be your oyster. To meet up with other bright and dynamic women strangers and sit and chat for hours and learn about other cultures. To not have to answer to anyone, nor be accountable for a period of time felt so free, and I escaped in that feeling for two hours.
Now, I am an only child, so being alone is a very comfortable place for me. It's when I do most of my thinking, growing and learning. It's not to depress you or sound dark, but I am truly my most comfortable alone. This is not to say my most cherished moments are not being with my adoring husband and wonderful children and incredible family. My happiest thoughts are of us laughing, hanging out, playing and being a family.
They are my life, my reason for getting up in the morning. But I also love to be alone. Those of you who live in Montreal can often spot me anywhere ALONE. I shop alone. I often eat alone. I can peruse through a library or bookstore for two hours alone. I like to take my own car everywhere I go. I like to be able to slide out the back door if something bores me. I like moving at my own pace... which on some days is snail-pace, and on other days, is a catch-me-if-you-can pace. I guess you could say I'm a loner, despite being a very talkative, outgoing and loud person. And despite having many wonderful girlfriends.
But I know from experience that being alone can be wonderful. And I don't mean being a divorced, single woman alone. I mean being alone as a married woman or in a committed relationship. I mean taking moments, your own moments, to re-discover yourself. Does that make sense to you?
I mean getting comfortable with yourself without distraction. Closing your eyes and listening to your Ipod. Reading without any distraction. Heading downtown shopping without needing the approval of anyone to tell you if something looks good or not, if you look too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall. I can tell you from experience, every successful decision I have ever made, has come to me while being alone.
And I think we often underestimate our own capabilities. Whenever I have been on the fence in my life, I have been the one to uncover the answers. Not my husband, not my parents, not my friends. So what does all this mean for you? It means that there is only one person in this world who has all the answers to your questions. That person is YOU. And you will discover those answers to your questions if you learn to be alone and spend the time.
Watch this. Don't laugh. It can seem weird or funny. But watch it 'till the end. I'm sure if you allow it to, something will click inside and you'll understand why being alone is imperative to your happiness.
I'd like to challenge you to something today, HuffPost readers. As I give my coaching clients homework, I would like to give YOU homework for this week. I'd like you to pencil one hour alone with yourself between now and Sunday. No cell phones, no friends, no distractions. Do whatever it is you like to do.
Take a walk in the park, go to the bookstore with a coffee, lay on your bed and listen to soft music. Whatever. One hour to FULLY clear your head. Try it out, and let me know how it goes. I hope you come to make some big life decisions, on your own, and figure out how you will get off the fence and thrive in your life.
I'm not saying not to bounce your ideas off of the people you love, but really, all the answers lie within you. So get comfortable getting to really know yourself. I encourage you to reach out to me either in the comments section below or via email and let me know how you made out.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you ever spend time alone? Are you COMFORTABLE being alone?
Until next time,
Clearing out distractions and allowing time for reflective thought is a great way to tap into your creativity. <a href="http://zenhabits.net/creative-habit/">Being alone with your thoughts</a> is oftentimes a prerequisite for the kind of outside-the-box that's necessary for artistic expression.
Although loneliness can be a contributing cause of depression, <a href="http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1131927?uid=3739936&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101521304683">studies have found </a>that time spent in solitude can actually ward off depression in adolescents. A 1997 study found that although teens didn't describe solitude as a positive experience, many reported increased feelings of well-being afterwards.
When you're away from people, technology, work and the myriad distractions of everyday life, you can finally take time to breathe and just be. Use your alone time as a chance to clear out your cluttered mind and just get back in touch with yourself.
It's tough to stop and take stock when you're constantly on the go and spending time with friends, family or classmates. Taking a little "me" time gives you an opportunity to get away from distractions for long enough to reflect on your relationships and the course of your life so that you can determine what changes, if any, you may want to make.
Once you become more comfortable with the idea of being alone, doing activities like shopping, seeing a movie, or hiking by yourself can actually be enjoyable. You can do whatever<em> you </em>want without having to adhere to anyone's preferences, schedule or expectations. You might discover that spending at least one afternoon or evening per week on your own doing something you love can be totally relaxing and liberating.
Learning to enjoy the time you spend alone can help you to build a better relationship with yourself. Voluntary solitude is a great way to get back in touch with your feelings and remember all the things that make you awesome. If you want to feel more confident and self-sufficient, first tackle your fear of being alone.
Time spent in solitary reflection has been linked to <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201201/6-reasons-you-should-spend-more-time-alone">improved concentration</a>, as well as higher levels of academic performance. In their book "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," authors and sociology professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa <a href="http://www.bucknell.edu/x67495.xml">find that students who study alone</a> are more apt to succeed and retain knowledge than those who study in groups.
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