Perfectly Alone

coffee-750990_1280I am sitting in a coffee shop in a town far away from home, enjoying the rare quiet, reflecting on just how unusual this is.

I had just walked out of my hotel and into the hot windy weather. For a moment I closed my eyes to relish the feel of heat and wind on my face. It had been a rough couple of days and I was feeling none too positive. Somehow, the wind cleansed away the creeping dark mood I’d been carrying. A feeling of peace came over me.

As I now sit and write with soft music playing and the barista the only other person in the building, I remember what I all too often forget:

I need time alone.

Time where I am actually without another person anywhere near me. I don’t mean just being in one room of my house while everyone else is in a different room. I actually need the house to myself. I need to be able to walk outside and just breath in the air. I need that freedom to just sit and do nothing for a bit without someone speaking to me or asking anything of me. Even if they present and are quiet, it’s not the same thing.

I forget that this alone time is necessary. I forget until that moment when that creeping angst crawls into my heart and spreads throughout my body. By that time I am frustrated with everyone and everything. It is not pretty. This is when I don’t like myself very much.

We learn so much about ourselves by being alone and that can be scary. It takes courage to face and accept yourself.

As a writer, I prefer to write alone in the quiet. It is in these moments where I can put honest, even ugly, words down. I know that at some point they will turn into a thing of beauty but in that moment, I am content. I am in the moment.

Being alone can take on many forms. Getting outside and taking a walk is healthy. Sitting in a quiet coffee shop people watching or simply reading the paper is enough. Sometimes just a few moments are all you need.

Our souls crave this quiet, especially in the midst of a busy life. balance-110850_1280

So, the challenge is to find time to be alone, whether it’s for 5 minutes or 5 hours or anywhere in between.

I dare you to stop in that park you pass on your way home and just listen to the wind in the trees.

Or pop into that bookstore you’ve been dying to visit but never found the time to just browse. You don’t have to buy, it’s okay to just look.

Or while you are waiting for your kid to get done with practice. Spend some time away from the field. It doesn’t take long. Just a few minutes to remember who you are and to be in the moment.

Challenge – Find some time to be alone this week and let go, if only a few minutes, of the rest of your responsibilities. You’ll be glad you did.

Young Only at Heart

I didn’t get a blog post out this morning.

Normally I write my posts the night before and schedule them. If I am really on the ball, it may be a day or two sooner. I haven’t figured out the trick to writing a ton of posts, scheduling them and then going about my life. I wonder if that day will come.

My only excuse for not getting a post out when I normally do is because I am not as young as I used to be.

Let me explain.

When I look in the mirror I don’t see the graceful aging that is happening. I am going to call it graceful because its me and I can. I don’t look my age because am lucky that I have some quality genes that disguise my true age. It makes me forget how old I am sometimes.

Except for weekends like I’ve just had.

It was a good weekend spent with friends, celebrating. A friend is getting married soon and, much to our surprise, another just became engaged the night before. We had a lot to celebrate. I also realized I’d never been to a bachelorette party.

IMG_0011

It was tame as those types of parties go. The bride requested no cakes in the shape of body parts nor tiaras or sashes. Just friends, music and general good times.

I believe the weekend lived up to this request. We went to a small metropolitan area in up north. We sampled restaurants, wine and hard cider, which was a first for me. There are several breweries in the area and we found one with music and darts. The beer wasn’t bad either. I don’t play darts, either with or without alcohol. Not sure why. IMG_0015

The evening ended relatively early, especially for a bachelorette party. That is when the realization that I am not as young as I used to be began to dawn on me.

This same metropolitan area is a major tourist hotspot in our state. This particular weekend they were also hosting a soccer tournament and hotels were problematic for a small party who only intended on one evening in this fair city. We solved these woes by pitching a tent in the state campground near the bay.

This isn’t really a problem. I like to camp and I like to camp in tents. I have my own kit consisting of sleeping pad, bag and pillow along with other paraphernalia . I’ve done this before and have enjoyed it.

This night however, was at the end of a celebration, the type of which I don’t normally do.

As morning dawned and my hip hit the hard dirt beneath my tent, I understood clearly that I am not as young as I used to be. I woke up cold and sore and generally grumpy though the coffee we had shortly cured that.

In hindsight, I failed to air my sleeping pad up enough so I felt the hard ground quite a lot. Since I knew I would get cold, I layered my clothing to help with that. Except that I forgot that since I am not as young as I once was, I also have temperature fluctuations in the night (i.e. hot flashes). By morning, I was cold due to the moisture both from me and the condensation from the other bodies in the tent. Not a good combination.

We woke up to a beautiful, warm morning. Found a place for a fabulous breakfast and everyone headed home. On the drive I wondered what I’d been thinking.

I needed a day to recover. Consequently, I did little for the rest of the day including not writing this post nor anything else.

So now I am back to a semi-normal routine. Working but as I write this I am at a training and “camping” in a nice hotel, still trying to recover from my weekend.IMG_0020 IMG_0021

The question for any choice is would you do it again, given all that you learned in the process.

Unequivocally, yes. I would do it all over again.

Would you?

Small Moments

blackboard-620314_1280This week Chuck Wendig wrote a piece and posted it on his blog, Terribleminds.com, called “Dear Writers: None of us Know What the Fuck We’re Doing.” If you can get past the language (and it’s not horrible) this is a fascinating piece. You can find the entire thing here.

As I’ve put together my blog I’ve struggled with how to create, build and market myself. I’ve taken classes and read endlessly, I’ve even bought a book about blogging for writers. I’ve wondered about the “right” way to do this. I’ve wondered that about a lot of things. This blog post spoke to me like none other. I could see things clearly.

There is a plethora of information about how to write, blog and generally anything you would ever want to do online. People who have knowledge want to share that knowledge. People who need to know, go to google. It’s a win-win situation.

I’ve long suspected that every road to success in any area is varied and individual. Writing is no different. It is thought that there are some relatively specific rules for writing, though when you truly look at them, there are writers who have achieved success by breaking them, even in spite of the rules. The question is how do you know. Which rules do you follow and which do you ignore. This is the struggle.

Chuck has a bit of advice that I would like to share with you. These are what he calls the Five Constants for writing:

1. Write a lot (and to completion)
2. Read a lot (and read critically when you do)
3. Think about writing and storytelling
4. Talk to writers
5. Go live a life

I think I am going to print these constants out and put them on my bulletin board for whenever I need a reminder. Especially the last one. I forget that one sometimes.

I will continue to go to classes because I enjoy interacting with others and learning new things. As a general rule I learn something from each and every one.

I will also continue to read other writers and their blogs. I believe we can always learn something from others. Whether we attempt their same path or one close, encouraging and upholding each other is the best thing we can do.

And we can live our lives. This is the one that I will be thinking about this week. When I am focused on writing everyday, keeping things going, struggling with my daily job I forget to just live.

We are meant to be and not just do. I forget this with all of my to-do lists. The tasks will always be there, this moment won’t. It’s this moment in which we live. This moment and none other is where we find our joy.

allens-hummingbird-339126_1280The challenge this week is to find joy in the moments.

I want a life well lived, not well intended.

It is in the small moments like seeing the first hummingbird at my new feeder today. I look forward to an entire summer of watching them as stand at my kitchen sink. Hopefully they will get used to me and won’t fly away any time I move.

It’s the small moments that I want to remember.

What are the small moments you want to remember?