Finding Solitude During the Holidays

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It occurred to me as I sat quietly sipping my cappuccino that lately I have been plugging a considerable amount of activities into my smart phone calendar. Today I took a closer look at the events over the next eight weeks and sighed. A little voice down deep warned me I would soon be bordering on over commitment. Thankful for that inner wisdom I decided to be more mindful regarding my schedule.

As we move into a celebratory season filled with friends, fun and a host of parties and get-togethers, it is easy to obliterate the white space from our calendars. Although the warmth and comfort of gathering together in thankfulness and love is what makes this the best time of the year, we pay a price when removing our much needed solitude.

Holiday Plate

Meaningful alone time is required to balance the hectic pace of our lives which increases during the holidays. According to psychologist, Ester Buchholz, “Being alone gives us the power to regulate and adjust our lives. It can teach us fortitude and the ability to satisfy our own needs.”

During my teens and early twenties I constantly craved being with friends and family, always active, always on the run to the next activity. I clearly recall one day being hungry and without a lunch date, which meant eating alone. I found going into a restaurant on my own both an enlightening and scary experience.  Looking back I realized it was really one of my growth moments because I discovered being alone was not lonely, it was necessary. Psychologists tout that time spent alone signals emotional maturity, so I had finally arrived. I discovered Henry David Thoreau was right when he said: “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

Being in your own company provides the power of perspective. It enables you to analyze your priorities, your future goals and where you’re going in life.

enlightenment, silhouette of woman practicing yoga on the beach

But let me be clear, solitude does not mean sitting at your laptop alone interacting on Facebook or browsing on your smart phone. To embrace solitude, you must be alone with only your thoughts to guide you. Unplug from the world and just be. If you’ve forgotten how to enjoy being on your own, just observe a child alone at play. Children are totally content to take pleasure in a world they create. They delight in their own company.

So this season, do justice to your schedule. Limit the number of gatherings you attend.

Plates and Candles

Gracefully excuse yourself by acknowledging the generosity of an invitation but follow up by saying you are sorry you cannot be present as you have something else planned during that time. It is not untrue. You do have another pressing engagement, a quiet slot on your calendar. Enjoy the alone time and use it to be thankful for your many blessings.

Getting Over Regrets

Time to move on

Ever suffered one of those bleak, black Mondays? I did recently. Despite my best laid plans, I made a poor decision. It was late Tuesday afternoon when I realized I’d spent the entire morning in worry and regret over the previous day’s happenings.  Immediately I began to talk myself out of this negative reverie. Not only was I practicing poor time management, this ruminating was accomplishing nothing. I needed to stop wasting my time on yesterday.

Regret is a part of life. We don’t get it right every time and consequently end up regretting our decisions, actions and often our words. Hours spent lamenting cannot change the past.

Closeup on hands of stressed young housewife

Life is not a dress rehearsal. It offers no do-over’s. Our only choice is to dispense with the “should haves” and move on.

By the next morning as the desert sun waved it’s powerful rays over the earth, I signaled good-bye to any remaining remorse lingering deep in the corners of my mind.

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor.

Using a trusted process to banish my woes, I transitioned into getting on with the day in a positive mode.

How did I banish my disappointment? By employing a simple two-step process.

  1. Analyze what went wrong. If you dig deep enough you can probably come up with multiple reasons. In my case, attempting to make a quick decision, meant omitting some necessary research. I called myself out for moving too fast and then vowed to slow down. Reminded of the old Yiddish proverb: “Measure 10 times and cut once,” I decided to write it out and post it on my vision board. If I was going to learn from this, I needed to keep it in front of me.
  2. Next, I forgave myself. Sure, it took some self talk. I faced disappointment before and know what it feels like. I also know from experience, by mustering up some fortitude, I can push through it. Assuring myself the error wasn’t fatal enabled me to move on and refocus my energy on accomplishing an item on my to-do list.

Sunny at work 1

Getting a job done is uplifting and serves to recharge your confidence level.

The next time you stumble and fall, use the situation to rebuild. Take the time to thoroughly uncover where you went off course. Then forgive yourself and move on.

One last thought…Kelly Clarkson sings about it: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” So suck it up and walk a little taller.

Cease Thinking: If Only

Motivational quote on rustic background HAVE BIG DREAMS

I have a friend I call “If Only Eloise.” Of course, her real name isn’t Eloise, and to be honest with you she is not exactly a friend. My last conversation with Eloise consisted of a litany of laments. It went like this, “If only I had completed my master’s degree, if only I stayed with my second husband, if only…well, you get the picture. Not only is “If Only Eloise” focused on the past, she seems never to conjure up a positive memory.

As I listened to Eloise drone on, I visualized smashing a rear-view mirror into a zillion little pieces, sweeping it up into a container and burying it deep in the earth. Obviously her self-imposed stress was having an unpleasant effect on me.

sad girl with a sad smile drawn on paper

I wanted to reach out and shake this woman who was intent on wasting precious time by ruminating over the past.  When she paused to breathe, I tried a little tough love technique of mine and then suggested she start living in the present.

Sometimes we all fall into an unhealthy “if only” pattern. Meditating on your failures not only adds to your stress level, it drains you of energy and diminishes your self esteem. If you find yourself agonizing over the past, I have some suggestions. First, what could you do to remedy the situation?

Do you owe someone an apology? If so, graciously and sincerely ask for forgiveness. If that ship has sailed and you have no recourse, begin by forgiving yourself.

Next, absorb the lesson learned. We all make mistakes; however, the real danger is, making the same mistake twice. So, take a step back, analyze what you could have done differently, vow to never repeat that action and move on. In the process, cut yourself some slack, treat yourself kindly and hold yourself in love.

Banish any nasty negative voices in your head

crazy monster

by turning your thoughts to positive endeavors. Make an inventory of your strong points. If you must revisit the past, focus on your wins.

When you feel anxiety regarding past mistakes creep in and spill into the moment, stop and center yourself by taking several slow deep breaths. Pull air deep into your diaphragm. Use this breathing technique to slow down your thoughts and rid your mind of negative intrusions.

Lastly, throw away your rear view mirror. Unless it is attached to your vehicle, it is not a useful tool, only a distraction.  Got the picture? Now proceed to dream big, live well and make the most of each moment.