Sweet Solitude

I can be alone without being lonely.
In fact, those times of solitude are necessary respite for a beleaguered soul,
set upon by the pressures of life.
I need to take whatever moments I can to just be still.

– Steve Goodier

Once a year I like to go away by myself. The extroverts are already confused 🙂 The introverts were on board as soon as they saw ‘by myself’.

When I do personality tests, I often come out as exactly in the middle of extroverted and introverted. I would say that the more kids I have had, the more introverted I have become. Apparently, they take a lot of my energy… who knew kids could do that? 😉

For me, a moment of quiet solitude is rare and precious. Add in a ‘giving profession’ and I find myself constantly looking after or considering others; always giving out. To ensure I don’t burn out, sometimes I have to stop and take a night or two away by myself. For me. it’s like a blissful turbo-charged refresh.

Wandering west in the wild
I pack my bags and my notebook
Heading out on my own
Write some words I can take home

To be able to pack my bags and my notebook…

It is usually what I request for my birthday; a night away. Time away. There are three things that I try to do with the moments by myself and I thought I’d share them with you.

Reflect

Lamentations 2:19a (NIV)
Arise, cry out in the night,
as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the Lord.

The full context of this verse is so powerful (check it out sometime), but what has always captivated me since age 13 is the imagery of water and communing with God; letting Him see our transparent hearts. I love the idea that it should be poured all, all of it, clear and exposed. I have always approached my relationship to God like that. There is nothing I don’t open up to Him and when I go away by myself, I am clearly not really alone as I pour about my thoughts, emotions, fears and hopes.

I do this by journalling, sifting through my thoughts and my heart; asking questions about things I have done and seen while listening for growth areas.

Realign

This one is similar to reflection, but it’s more about positioning myself for what’s to come.

Unlike my stunning sister-in-law, I am not the type of person who writes five-year plans, or even five-weeks plans. However, I still look to the future to ensure that my life’s trajectory continues to aligning with my personal values. Sometimes I will uncover dreams and desires when I take time to do this, but more often than not I am looking at core values that I want to live my life by (regardless of where I am or what I’m doing).

To those who have/love/embrace long-term plans, I take my hat off to you and cheer you on.

Refresh

Slow mornings are my favourite, because when you have small kids there is no such thing. At. All. In fact, there are rarely slow moments in the day. They do happen, but they are not always consistent (you take them when you can). So when I’m by myself I do the things I truly love whenever I want. It is a sweet, sweet luxury.

I sit by the water and write. I eat good healthy food and drink quality coffee. I listen to music, colour-in, enjoy sunshine and salty sea air. I watch the sky change, watch a beloved movie, enjoy deep sleep, maybe a massage if funds allow. It is Bliss. I leave behind the daily routine and enjoy quiet and freedom to do whatever I want.

Even setting aside Australia’s COVID shut-down, I will acknowledge that it’s been some time since I’ve been away by myself. For my family, it takes planning and budgeting, but I will prioritise this as something I want to do this year.

I wonder what you do to help you reflect, realign and refresh? Do you make deliberate plans or do you rely more on chance for it to happen? A psychologist once told me:

it’s not always what we start doing
that negatively impacts our mental health,
it can also be the things we stop doing.

If we stop doing the positive things we enjoy, that can have just as much impact on our health.

Dear reader, your ‘ultimate self-care’ might not be going away by yourself, but I’m sure there is something you have in mind. I would encourage you (and me) to not forget about it. Make some plans if you can or at least add a reminder in your diary to look into it later. In a year that has been full of global fear and turmoil, remember to look after yourself deliberately, purposefully and regularly.

Love Jess xxoo

PS – I want to acknowledge that there are millions of people in the world for whom a holiday is unreachable. For this reason, I call it a luxury. However I live in Australia, in this crazy country and in my privileged socio-economic class. I live my life in the context of my culture and the pressures that it brings… but I don’t take it for granted or forget those who are less fortunate than me. 🙂

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