The Art of Being Alone

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On July 10th two of my Littles flew to Italy and on July 20th my eldest Little flew with her Pathfinder Unit to British Columbia for SOAR, a worldwide Girl Guide camp. It has been just me and William (my dog) for the past week.

When people learn that I am an empty nester albeit temporarily, most encourage me to enjoy my freedom and inquire, as if desperately trying to live vicariously through me, whatever will I do with all my “free time”?

Great question!

TheArtofBeingAlone

I asked myself – when was the last time I was truly alone without any responsibilities, without dance classes or activities to cart the Girls to; without meal plans to prep; without a pile of laundry a mile high to wash and fold? The honest truth – 20 years ago when I took off to the Middle East with only my rucksack on my back. That time was THE most transformative time in my life. Sure, I was scared but I would not be the person I am today had I not taken a giant leap out of my comfort zone and challenged myself.

After giving it some thought I came to the conclusion, I am going to date myself. What better way to reconnect with my inner child and master the art of being alone? This gave me the perfect opportunity to check in and rediscover Lindsey.

Here’s what I have learned so far:

Trust your intuition and listen to your feelings. There is pressure all around us to conform to the latest rules. Don’t cry. Be strong. Sometimes they just are not a good fit for us. It might be the butterflies in your stomach or the voice in your head but something just doesn’t feel right. This is where a pause can be extremely useful. It allows us the moment, even if just a fraction, to listen to what those butterflies or the little voice is saying. These things are happening for a reason. Don’t ignore them. Show compassion for what you are feeling. Honour. Validate. Cry if need be. Yell. Dance in your underwear with your dog in the privacy of your own home. Walk down the street with the silliest grin on your face just because the sun is shining. Trust.

Create sacred time. One of the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People is waking up early. This presents the ideal opportunity to carve out time for you – just you. Not making lists or thinking about what to make for dinner. Sacred time only for you and the parts of you that need attention. This may include a couple of sun-salutations or simply sitting with a cup of tea/coffee mindfully connecting your mind and body with breathe. What are you craving? During this sacred time you might set an intention or affirmation. “I embrace the beginnings that are flowing to me.” Connect with yourself – all parts of you in your sacred time. Let yourself know that you love and appreciate your life and you are available to listen.
Try something scary or different. I am certainly not suggesting sky diving or swimming with great white sharks. Perhaps a movie on your own or how about dinner? Simply requesting a “table for one” can be hugely liberating. And believe it or not, our performance actually spikes when we do something outside of our norm. This act is vital to success and our overall well-being.
Create a “LOVE JOURNAL”. This is completely different from a daily gratitude journal which is great but not for this exercise. Creating a Love Journal turns the attention to self and loving your self whole heartedly and authentically. There are so many websites to get inspiration from. You can Pintrest until the cows come home. I found Mary’s prompts to be very inspirational. My favourite (because it is the most challenging for me) – write a love letter to your least favourite part of self or body part.
Learn to be an observer. Maybe while sitting at your “table for one”, drink in hand, you can put on your observer hat. Watching people truly takes effort. You have already done the hard part of putting yourself out there either sitting at the table or park bench (this time – your coffee in hand). Once you have found your groove, you will be amazed at how much you learn about people and how they operate when they think no one is watching.
Be creative or pursue a project. Think of the wildest thing you have ever wanted to do. (Insert sky diving or flying a plane, etc, etc here) then take one small step towards realizing it. That might look like a simple google search or a phone call. If you lean toward the creative, a pottery class or a visit to your favourite museum. It will belong to you completely. Enjoy the freedom to explore, create and express yourself in any way that makes you feel connected to that part of self that you might have set aside in your effort (amazing effort I will add) to care for others.

There is so much intimacy to explore. Intimacy with self builds a solid foundation on which all else rests. We all learned in Grade 3 science that a stable, solid base is the key to a successful structure. A solid foundation allows us to feel safe, warm supported, encouraged and guided. This in turn strengthens our ability to connect with those around us.

Make space for Self. The Universe will fill it.

With gratitude,
Lindsey

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© 2014 Odessa Gill

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