What I Learned from Being Alone

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It is no mystery that I spent the last year of my life in pursuit of happiness.  It was a choice I made in a rather difficult time of my life, rather than falling off of the deep end.  I can’t thank God enough for his guiding hand throughout the last year of my life.  It is through prayer, lots of tears, and an immense amount of hope that I am sitting here typing to you today.  I believe there is a plan for each and every one of us and when you hear God calling you to action, you can’t rest.  I didn’t.  And these next ten tidbits of information I believe everyone should apply to their own life and pursuit of happiness.

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Top Ten Most Important Concepts I Learned from Being Alone:

1.  If you want to do something- go do it.  Far too often did I find myself sacrificing tasks that would ultimately make me happy for other people.  I would find myself upset that I didn’t go out for that run or mad because I didn’t get to go to the store like I had my heart set on all week.  Being alone allows you the freedom to do what you want, when you want it.  Looking back on all those times I didn’t do something because the people around me wouldn’t join me was foolish.  If I want to do something bad enough, I can do it alone.  Don’t get me wrong.  Having someone along for the ride is fun, too.  But if my ultimate happiness is measured by whether or not I do the said thing I want to do, then I can do it alone if need be.

2.  Never forget to be grateful for what you have.  I made a vow to myself around New Year’s of 2014 to always lay my head down on my pillow and name at least one thing that I was grateful for in that day.  You won’t believe how this transformed my thinking.  I began to not only wait until the moon came up to appreciate what I had, but I would find myself thanking God after a run for my legs, my heart, and my health.  I would sit at meals with friends and family and have to stop and just “BE” because the moment was so awesome.  Being grateful caused me to be aware of my life and all of the beauty within it.

3.  It is possible to cook amazing meals for one.  As someone who loves cooking, I think this was the most painful part about being alone.  Before I was alone, I would often host parties with lots of friends attending and I always had another person to cook for and take care of at the end of the day.  I love taking care of people in the form of a good meal and for months I didn’t cook because it would make me angry and sad inside.  I hated my kitchen.  But, slowly I worked my way back in there.  Chopping vegetables.  Sipping a crisp glass of white wine with some music on in the background.  The aroma of the house.  It was therapy.  Sometimes in this healing process, I wouldn’t even eat the meal because of how lonely I felt.  Slowly but surely, though, I got my joy back for cooking.  I plan out meals for myself for the week and challenge myself to try new recipes frequently.  And if you like leftovers like me, you’ll enjoy your creation the following day at work!  Extra bonus…it is much cheaper to plan a grocery list when cooking and eating for one!

4.  Wine is essential.  I’ve always loved wine.  But I’ll never forget last fall when I planned a bucket list trip to wine country to run a half marathon.  I can still remember the way the cool, fall, northern California air hit my nose when I walked off my tiny jet plane in Sonoma County.  The smell of those vineyards is unlike anything else in the world.  Wine country taught me that I’m stronger than I give myself credit for sometimes.  I’m bold.  I’m courageous.  I’m independent.  And I’m allowed to stop every now and again and just sit in stillness with a good glass of wine.

5.  Nobody cares about your problems.  This one was the most difficult for me to accept.  What do you mean nobody cares?!?!  There has to be someone out there?  Well, aside from my mom and dad, I’m pretty sure nobody cares.  Most of the people we tell our problems to want to hear about our problems because it makes them feel better about their lives.  It sounds harsh, but it’s true.  It is so much more pleasing to be around people who talk about solutions and resolutions than their issues.

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“Keep your face towards the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.” -Walt Whitman

6.  It’s okay to know exactly what you want.  Don’t be afraid to put your foot down and make demands.  It is incredibly powerful when a person knows exactly what they want.  Knowing what you are worth, where you are going, and what you need to get there puts you in a position of power.  You get to steer the wheel.  You’re in the driver’s seat.

7.  It’s okay to have no clue what you want.  On the flip side, it is okay to realize that this game of life we play in daily isn’t set in stone.  We don’t have all of the answers and THAT IS OKAY!  🙂  This one I continue to work on daily.

8.  You are the only one who can take care of you.  At the end of the day, you were graced with the one life and one body that you call yours.  Nobody can take that from you.  But, you also have to know how to take care of yourself and be ready to help yourself when no one else will.  There will come a day when you are left feeling alone in a time you could use a hand.  That’s part of life.  Embrace how strong you are and take those difficult moments one step at a time.

9.  Loving yourself is sexy…and so is forgiveness.  How many times are you told that you are beautiful and you shrug it off?  How many times a day do you cut yourself down when you look in a mirror?  STOP!  Find ways to love yourself.  It will change how people see you- I swear!!!  Opposite to love, though, we have feelings of hate.  These feelings of anger can eat us alive if we let them.  I know it isn’t easy to forgive people.  I continue to work on forgiveness daily.  So I’m right there with you.  But, I also know that being alone gives you a lot of time to reflect on people and experiences.  Find ways to let go and let things be.  Hate is heavy.  Free yourself of that excess weight.

10.  Never let a day slip out of your fingertips.  Don’t waste a second of your life.  It was brought to my attention in the finest of forms last fall when I lost a dear friend on a random September night.  His last post on Facebook was about his favorite team (The Knights) while watching the Saturday game.  My last interaction with him was in the football stands at a high school football game while we waited for half time.  I can still hear him laughing from that night.  48 hours later, though, he was gone.  Life took him.  This hit me ridiculously hard.  Why him?  Why not me?  What am I here for?  I can’t answer those questions.  Nobody can.  But what I can do is live everyday like it is a gift that has been given to me.  If I’ve learned anything about my year alone, it is this-  You have one beautiful, ugly, happy, sad, loving, hateful, successful, failing life that you have to live.  The only way have beauty, happiness, love, and success in your life is to inevitably deal with ugliness, sorrow, hate, and failure.  Life swings like a pendulum and we have to have one to feel the other.

I hope this message rings loudly for some.  I’m certainly not done learning and growing, but I needed to release this message to those in need.  Life is precious and beautiful.  Enjoy the gift you’ve been given and never forget to run to your happy place anytime life seems to get too hard.  I promise you’ll never run there alone. 1029

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