It’s Okay to Be All by Myself

Image: Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Miramax.com

My August 2017 Resolution Stats

(See my original resolutionsJanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMay, June, and July stats here)

  • Averaged 210+ minutes of exercise per week (v. good, above goal)
  • 2 recipes tried this month (v. good, at goal)
  • 8,000+ written words for the month (v. good, all writing projects combined but into my top secret writing project.)

No Shame in Being All By Myself

There is no shame in spending the night alone. Just ask Bridget who opens up Bridget Jones’s Diary to the tune of Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself”. She smokes a cigarette (something I would never do), drinks a glass of wine (something I occasionally do), watches some old school TV shows (something I do sometimes), reads a big book (something I do often), catches up with her messages (something I always do), and lip syncs like a diva (don’t act like you don’t do it too!).

Bridget does Bridget.

Okay, okay, maybe Bridget is not exactly in the best mindset during these opening credits. Maybe she is feeling a bit down on herself that no one has messaged her and that she has no plans on a Saturday night. Maybe she is lonely. Maybe she is disappointed, but really, it is okay.

Why? Because Bridget does not sit and wallow. She uses a night of alone time to get that disillusionment out of her system, and then she dives in to make changes over the next 1 hour and 37 minutes (*wink*) that will keep her from feeling like that ever again. In essence, it was an overdue night of self-care.

Taking Self-Care to the City

For me, a mom in her early forties working three part-time jobs, a night alone sounds divine. A night I would not have to not break up the bickering of my loving but feisty grade school children or face down a stack of plates crusted with macaroni and cheese. A night to rest, to breathe, and to simply be.

No surprise, I took Bridget’s lead, but instead of one night, I gave myself three glorious days in the big city. New York City, to be exact.

I planned my trip around the Writers Digest Conference, specifically a pre-conference called “The Emotional Craft of Fiction”. Literary agent and author Donald Maass guided the 8-hour course in what would be one of the most inspirational motivators I would have in years. There are simply not enough thank you’s I could give for what this man has unleashed in me, i.e. expect a book real soon.

This trip did more than yank me out of a profound writer’s block. It brought me to life. By allowing me to step outside of my usual responsibilities, even for 72 hours, I felt more myself than I had in a very long time. The city allowed me to dream, to imagine, to hope, to live.

Walking through the grand halls of the New York Public Library, I marveled at the architecture and the symbolism of the historic place. Like the lions that guarded the entry, I felt emboldened by the written word inside, knowing my own words would one day grace those lofty shelves. A few steps beyond lay Bryant Park, a place I can only describe as humanity in motion. Here, people from all walks of life come together in the spirit of unity, colors bleed into one, burkas mix with yamakas, languages flow into one universal conversation. The spirit of the place is breath-taking. It is comforting to know there are places in this world that thrive outside of all the hate.

There are the little things too. I ate from a food truck. I enjoyed soft serve ice cream. I got carded for a glass of wine (for anyone middle-aged, you know this is a biggie!). I ordered room service. I walked miles through the city streets. I spent my nights in a bath robe writing stories to my heart’s content.

Next time I won’t wait so long to treat myself to some self-care, but Bridget, did this trip pay off!

What Is Self-Care All About Anyway?

Self-care is a buzz word for our times, but unlike “authenticity” or “influencer”, this buzz word actually means something. Come to think of it, it could be better defined as an adult time out! There is a natural tendency, for some of us (ME, ME, ME!), to push busy lives on ourselves. Self-care allows us to stop that busy, at least for a moment, and to take the time to refuel. Otherwise, all that busy-ness empties our tanks, and let’s face it, you can only run on empty for so long.

No one wants to burn out.

What lifts me up may not do the same for you. That said, you may want to consider what kind of self-care it is that you need. Think about it. What is missing in your day to day? What would make you smile? What would add comfort? Peace? Joy? Do what feels best.

  • Emotional self-care: Acknowledging your feelings can help you cope with challenges and develop healthy relationships. Consider connecting with a friend, seeing a therapist, or writing in a journal.
  • Intellectual self-care: Stimulating the mind can open you up to creativity and innovation. Consider learning a new language, listening to music, or reading a book.
  • Physical self-care: Taking care of your body can increase your energy and boost self-esteem. Consider taking a nap, soaking in a bubble bath, or trying a new work out.
  • Social self-care: Social connection creates a sense of belonging and acceptance. Consider joining a book club, organizing a family dinner, or planning a night out with friends.
  • Spiritual self-care: Living according to your ideals and virtues brings meaning to your life. Consider attending a religious service, going on a nature walk, or practicing yoga.

We busy bees need to stop and smell the roses. Better yet, we need to savor the sweet honey in our lives. See, Bridget? There’s nothing wrong with staying in for the night.

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