At one point, in my youth, I loved being alone.
I lived in the country in Southwick, MA and I would hike in the woods behind my house. I would pack a snack and a book and roam out in the woods for hours. I had a favorite spot near a seasonal brook and eventually I took leftover building supplies from my dad’s projects and built a little clubhouse in the woods complete with curtains. My parents didn’t worry as long as I was home for dinner and there were no cell phones, so while I was out in the woods I was truly in a state of solitude and I found it so peaceful.
Along the way I got used to a more hectic and frenetic lifestyle filled with classes, work, appointments, friends, boyfriends and eventually children. Every moment was scheduled to the hilt (usually over scheduled) and there wasn’t a moment to myself, much less to hike or read anything that wasn’t work or parenting related. It was a bit crazy, but I am good at rolling with the flow and I adjusted to the chaos and soon enough that level of running around like a madwoman became normal.
I remember the first time I was faced with truly “free time” as a parent. It was after my separation and my then young daughters were off for a night with their father. I was well and truly lost. I had no idea what to do with myself and I felt so forlorn. At that moment solitude was such a lonely word and an even lonelier feeling. The solace and peace that used to come from a quiet moment alone had changed to anxiety and sadness. I had no idea how to be alone with myself.
Time marched on and I got better at the time without my daughters, but I mostly dealt with it in my usual way….over scheduling myself with something or another. I took to booking my “free time” with real estate appointments or dates or visits with friends. I was still running and still not alone.
It wasn’t until this weekend that I realized how marginalized I had made my solitude time. Sure, I get some time in the evenings after I put the girls to bed, but I am usually so spent that I either watch some Netflix or just go to bed early. When I remember to, sometimes I use that time to meditate, which usually leads to sleep.
This Sunday I was home alone with no appointments, no kids and the only plan I had (a contractor to measure my floors for new flooring…separate post to follow) had cancelled on me. With hours of unscheduled time ahead of me I made a choice….I was going to take my book (non work and non parenting related) to the pool and I was going to have some time to myself. I was going to soak up a little sun, paddle around the pool, drink a beverage and RELAX.
I live in a condo in Westfield, MA and it is a community pool on a gorgeous weekend day, so imagine my surprise when I arrived and no one was there. I had the place to myself! As I floated around the pool and looked up at the sun-drenched trees, I was brought back to those early years spent in the Southwick woods. I realized how long it had been since I had just been with myself in total solitude and I decided that it was delicious. It was decadent and special and so rare as a prized jewel and I was going to soak up the solitude and convert it into serenity.
Real estate is hectic (and I am NOT complaining, trust me!) and being a mom to a 10 and 13 year old and a step mom to a high schooler is a crazy schedule, also (not complaining about them either…they are outstanding) so I know I won’t get a lot of that solitude business, BUT I know this….when I get those moments of solitude in the future, it won’t stress me out and I won’t forget to thank the universe and all that runs it for that precious gift.
Thank you universe for the moment to recharge and re-evaluate. I needed that.