lonely or beautifully alone…

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Last night when I went to bed, the crickets and cicadas sang so loudly, and the heat at eleven o’clock felt so intense that I thought summer would never leave. But today’s rain with temps that are thirty degrees cooler and tonight’s much quieter chorus of insects, has me believing autumn officially arrived. I feel a bit lonely at the thought. Do you? So many of us embrace sweater weather, with football games, ¬†pumpkin spice everything, flannel sheets, cozy blankets, woodsmoke curling out the chimney and chili with cornbread suppers that we’re utterly happy.

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It usually takes me a week to wrap my head around autumn. To me, it means more time alone since my husband hunts. But over time, I’ve learned how to be by myself and am happily alone. Most of the days. I wonder what people did before phones, radios, t.v.’s, and cars? Can you imagine the days of being alone on a farm or in the country? Even cities can be unfriendly. Were people more content back then?

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Do you find contentment in being alone? And what do we do with those days and nights and weeks where we feel lonely? Posting on Facebook, saying, “I’m lonely, will you please be my actual friend and do something with me?” comes across as too needy. Though I wish we could be that plain some days. I think that’s why we have to cultivate different friendships at the same time, depending upon how many friends we can seriously handle at once. Acquaintances are great, too, because we can meet them for a pumpkin spice latte and that’s enough. On some days.

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I admire the people who dine alone and don’t bring a book along for company. How do we get to the point where we are comfortable being with us? Alone? Just you and your thoughts. No phone, no social media and no Netflix. I think music is allowed in the happily-alone universe.

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I know someone who sits by a fire pit in his backyard on autumn nights by himself. And he’s happy. My dad can walk into a bar alone and either talk to a stranger or remain quiet and he’s happy. I have a friend who goes to a new movie every Friday night, with popcorn and a box of candy as her only companions and she’s happy. So what’s the secret? Not being afraid of being alone, I think. Being content with you and your thoughts. Confidence helps.

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This season, why don’t we try doing something by ourselves? Get to know you and like that person. Walk, pedal or drive alone down back roads and think. Try sticking your toe into the pool of introvertedness. Yes, I just made that word up. I believe most of us would feel happier in any season when we embrace us. Like yourself. My husband says that he made friends easily when he was going through times in his life where he felt confident and happy being alone, spending hours engrossed in drawing. When he felt desperately alone, it seemed as though friends were few and far between. The difference? Him. How he felt about himself. Be alone and soon people might join you.

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When we learn who we are, our gifts and talents, and are content with our direction in life, even though it might not be easy, we become beautifully alone. We can contribute to this world. Hey, there’s seven billion people outside our door. That’s a lot of distraction, if we let it happen. So don’t. I’m saying we need to be alone somedays. Learn lonely and you’ll have a new skill. Sure, you can do ten things before tomorrow night, but if you spend some time journaling or something with just you, then you are more… Beautiful. Appealing. Wonderful. This autumn make dates with you.

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By the way, how do you like my first hints of autumn decor in my Ohio home? Tomorrow, I’m going full-on-crazy autumn home with orange, crimson, bits of yellow and browns. I have to go now…my sweet iced tea is turning to just tea. Enjoy your pumpkin spice! Until next time…

deanna

Turning in the wind…

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Writing is a lonely business and I never was an introvert. Having lupus has made me one, but you can see I managed to host a dinner last weekend. I didn’t feel lonely all this week, remembering the deep conversations around candlelight, flowers and food, while I had the windows open and we listened to the rain fall. Cozy, right? But I’ve had my share of loneliness. You? I think it might be a common thread among more of us than we think.

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Social media has a way of making me feel lonely. How? Well, I don’t like playing the game of “look at the wonderful things I’m doing…I’m busy, important and having a ton of fun”. I feel like my life isn’t as wonderful. I compare. I have FOMO. Hey, if you’re having a ton of fun, enjoy it live. Let me explain. Once this dinner began with guests arriving, I no longer thought about taking pictures. I was in the moment. And I’ve always preferred experiencing the actual moment rather than taking a picture of that moment. If you don’t post every experience you’re having, I’m sure you’re fine posting a great moment in your life. Just not the perpetual posters. On Insta, Snap, FB…

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Social media is something I did initially with enthusiasm, until I saw the kids on the side, not picked. Not playing. Not at the “neighborhood” party. Not at the card game all their friends were at. Not chosen. Not included. Not.

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It’s like playing dodgeball in gym and getting picked last. Not fun. And if you think I’m trying to stay off social media for that reason, you’re right. Because on my sick days, I will always cheer for the new babies, engagements and birthdays, but I choose not to see two things. The perennial whiners. And the constant posers, enjoying life at every turn. Because I don’t buy it. Nothing is that fabulous. Life has its ups and downs. But I’m not here to just talk social media (except the more you engage with it, the lonelier you feel…truth…studies have attested to it).

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I’m here to address a lonely world. We live in it. Do I know lonely? Try being bullied in fifth and sixth grade so badly that I switched schools in October of seventh grade. Loved the new school. New kid? Who cared! I was happy with the bigger school and made friends who didn’t mock me. Lonely? Moving before sophomore year and not having anyone to each lunch with, so I played piano in an empty practice room. Because no one wanted to eat with the new girl. Lonely? My kid sat and watched all her friends eat pizza brought in by one parent, only to be told by her “friend” group that she wasn’t included in the birthday pizza party, and it wasn’t a question of money. Not this school.

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And while I show you the pics of this week that made my heart sing… back to loneliness. I can’t address bullies this time. But they are out there. If you are one, stop it. Just stop. If you’re being bullied, stay OFF social media. And find new friends. Or play piano until you do find the real cool people. Because your people, the ones who are like you, who get your humor, who’ve got your back, are cool.

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There are so many ways around loneliness. Why do you think I go to Starbucks? I want to go to a place where I can have a quick but meaningful encounter with another human, and get my drink. And Starbucks is closest, and now I know people at Starbucks all over this city, because of promotions and moves etc. Before lupus, pilates class was my meaningful encounter. It can be an hour of pain or five minutes of bliss, pick your moment. You? Join a book club. Bike group. Take a class. If you work, that might be about all you want to do, except the world doesn’t get the honor of knowing you the way they could…if you went into a coffee place with a smile. Or even the grocery store.

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(Doesn’t match, I know, but I did ivory chair thing and they wound up not so ivory.) Back to letting the world see you and love you. If you bring something positive to the table almost every time you go somewhere, you will have a very lovely life. I told you I go through the stores with a slight smile on my face (I might look like a lunatic, but at least I’m happy, people might say), and people smile at me! Lots of people! Young ladies, go meet the man of your dreams in the frozen food aisle, because they’re there. And if you smile, they will see you! Back to belonging…to being in this life.

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Show up to life and smile at it. I have been in such pain from the age of nineteen, that I can have a migraine and not bat an eyelash. Have one right now. Can’t wait to go read Harry Potter again. Try not to whine. Try to be a happy person. It is a choice. Yes! This week I went in to my Starbucks and smiled as I approached one of “my people” there and she was shaking like a leaf and said, “Thank God, it’s you.” She quivered. A customer had tore into the store, yelling (the oldest person working was like 21), because someone in the drive-through had paid for his order. He demanded they throw away his first order and he would pay for his own (put in lots of swear words at a scream and you have the idea). This girl, paid very little, bore the brunt of someone’s very misplaced anger, because someone did him a kindness. Can you imagine being upset at someone being nice to you?

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Be kind. And if someone is kind to you, accept it…graciously. Be kind, good, gentle, and graceful. Go find people. It’s what I did in 10th grade after too many piano sessions alone. Host dinner at your house. You want to know how I made friends here in Cincinnati? I hosted a coffee for my neighbors. Yup. Had them over and made all sorts of great friends. And in Waukesha (try saying it!) when I moved there as an adult? I saw two ladies walking by with their kids and I tore out of my house, six months pregnant, just breathlessly yelling at them to come on over. One of them is my best friend to this day.

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Go out there and make the world a better place. One person at a time. This world needs you. You can carry your loneliness, but drop it at the door and run after someone…wait, no, I wouldn’t do that. Could get you into trouble. Start small. Join a group of people, doing something. Or just smile, while you walk through that grocery store. Have a very smiley week…

Until next time…

 

Long roads with wonderful views…

 

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While sorting through the pictures to choose the ones I want to place here on this page, that take you through my day, I pass through photos going back more than five years. And in those pictures of specifically my family, I see an array of emotions. Sure, happiness on a birthday where we all deliberately sing terribly out of tune (and one daughter insists on regaling us with The Star Spangled Banner at the same time) is evident. That’s fun. Special and happy. We’re all laughing and grinning!

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And I see the vacations. Happy times, right? Except I see the depths of depression welling up into one daughter’s eyes. She cannot hide what lies beneath. She tried to take her life. Deep stuff here, I know. But I see it every time I come here to write to you about happiness. Be happy wherever you are, except. Except, there are simply times where we cannot feel it. So what do you do? I chose to ride it out. It hurt. I hurt, and others around me were affected, which didn’t make me feel any better.

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But I made it out. I’m happy to be here doing this thing called life.

In those particular vacation pictures of me and my always smiling daughter, I see her smile never reaches her eyes. And I remember her long road to happiness. That was so very worth it. She left the kind of life that brought her down and climbed out of the darkness and now lives a life full of laughter, with much kindness and concern for others. Because she knows what it feels like when we just can’t cross the bridge to happiness. But she and I know it’s a climb worth making.

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So what can we do if we’re not at happy? When it’s nowhere in sight? Talk to somebody. Reach out. Counselors can be good, but sometimes it’s a kind friend. Find the merciful, kind people in life and keep them. They are worth so much more than a roomful of raucous laughter. My daughter just happened to call a college friend to say good-bye. A forever goodbye. Outside my house, while I slept.

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That far-off friend called the police, not knowing quite where she lived, and that saved her life. I had no idea how sad my laughing, uber friendly, voted funniest of her class, daughter was. But I found out.

She lived. Thank God, she is alive. And if you are at that point of thinking nobody cares and that you’re worthless. Stop. You are worth more than jewels. Just being alive matters. Not how much money you make. Not the clothes you wear. You. Are here. For a reason. You might not know that reason yet, but hang on. Because the day is coming when you will find out why. Why you went through pain. The suffering. The loneliness. Worthlessness. And you know what?

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Don’t buy into it. Don’t listen to the negative voices in your head, or the people around you that bring you down. Because you are worth so much. You matter. You’re smart enough, good enough and nothing you have ever done takes that away. Hold your head up. Look for the beauty. If you can’t see the beauty looking back at you when you look in the mirror, that’s okay for now. But please, take my word for it, you are beautiful, wonderful and amazing. And someday, after you survive this time, you will look back and see why. Why it happened. That dark and lonely road you travelled had a purpose.

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See those stairs? I pass them on my favorite walk, and it means I’m almost finished walking or running. Our life is a bunch of stairs we get to climb to go somewhere pretty amazing. We can stop here and there to catch our breath and admire the view higher up. That’s life as you age. Trust me. And then you start up the stairs again. I’m here to tell you the view gets better the higher we climb, so do not give up. Talk to someone who is caring and kind, if you feel alone. I have been there. Alone. Sad. No one understanding why I couldn’t pull myself together. But…I let time, medicine (we might need that at times), counseling, and kind friends help me. You can do this. You’re not alone.

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Happiness can be found along the way. In so many places. For me, it’s beautiful flowers, bought on the cheap. Iced tea in the afternoon. Pasta for dinner! A good book and my kind of music. Candles. My cozy spots in this house, where I retreat to when I feel like I need that. Find yours.

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I love long walks. Alone. It gives me time to untangle problems and I dream up my best writing ideas for that book. You? You might prefer matcha or an espresso in the early afternoon. Maybe a jazzercise class? Hey, my 77 year old dad goes to jazzercise three times a week. I love that about him! Go daddy! Find your thing. And stop to enjoy the view along this trip called life. We only get one shot at this. Let’s make it a happy one. Here’s to you and how amazingly beautiful and wonderful you are…

 

Until next time…