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Photograph ©Brenda Coffee, 2019

I was thinking about the 1975 song by Eric Carmen, “All By Myself,” where the refrain (over and over and over) is “Don’t want to be… all by myself,” and I thought about how comfortable I’ve always been alone. How are you with being alone?

I’ve always been an extrovert, a people-person. In my career as a hairstylist I was constantly and happily surrounded by people, chatter and music. After work I was off to Nia classes most nights. More people, chatter and music. My exception was Friday night, because Saturdays are a really busy day in salons.

Oh, how I savored my Friday nights: a book, a glass of wine and popcorn for dinner… in the bathtub!

I’d been an active, working, single-mother for 20 years; then my son moved out on his own.  At 40, I got to live alone for the first time. Twenty years with my parents, 20 years with my son. I lived all by myself, quite contentedly, for the next 13 years before meeting my significant other.

I struggled for a minute before adjusting to living together: having someone there every night had both its pluses and minuses. Not having everything my way did too. And I missed my Friday night popcorn dinners in the tub. But with respect for each other’s freedom and alone time, 16 years have flown by!

It wasn’t until this year… no longer working, not traveling in our motor-home, being in recovery-mode, and living 40 miles from my familiar stomping grounds, that I have experienced feeling alone.

At first it was comfortable. I felt like I was playing hooky, getting away with something. Then I grew bored with my solitude, but didn’t feel compelled to do anything about it other than an occasional phone conversation with a friend or a sister. With social media I could keep up with friends, and it felt (almost) like being there.

Seven months later I found myself frustrated by retirement, loneliness, my illness and by the idea that I wasn’t accomplishing anything. I’d been watching too much TV, wasn’t working on my new book, and I’ve only blogged infrequently here, and on my own blog,

I finally took my judgements about “not doing enough,” to my therapist who wisely gave me something to do: Make Everything Count.

Do you, like me, only acknowledge the Big Stuff you do, and discount all of the rest? She reminded me that getting out of bed counts. Taking a shower and getting dressed counts. Preparing some food, making a trip to the pharmacy, reading a book, watching a movie… all counts.

By being present in each moment, and making them count, I find myself breaking out of my cocoon, making plans and socializing, moving forward with my writing. I’m no longer feeling all by myself… and I think that is quite an accomplishment!

XO Donna

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Donna O’Klock spent 35 years in the beauty business, talking, teaching, and learning. These days, she’d “rather write than talk. It’s better that way because I can edit.” She writes two blogs, and, and is the author of  Sick and Tired & Sexy: Living Beautifully with Chronic Illness.

Austin, Texas, has been her home since 1978, but she and her fiancé have downsized and are traveling the country in their RV.

12 thoughts on “EVERYTHING COUNTS”

  1. The words of your therapist resonate with me, Donna. As you know, the tagline I chose for 1010ParkPlace is “Make Life Count,” so it’s good to know your therapist thinks getting dressed and going to the pharmacy, all those little things, still count. It’s important for us to reach out in as many ways as we can so we’re not stuck in a rut and become susceptible to depression. Thanks for this post! Love, Brenda

  2. You’re very welcome, Brenda! You’re right, it is so important to reach out, but sometimes the burden can feel too complicated to share with friends. I believe that when the going gets tough, go to the pros!
    XO Donna

  3. It does all count. Widowed for a year I was ok being alone. Now together with another widow 18 mo and engaged (, it’s ok that he works part of the week out of the area and we have two homes. Don’t have another choice, but many friends think it’s the best of both worlds. Not sure, but grateful for what I’ve got. Happy for your reflection too.

    • Carol – it’s a wise woman who accepts things as they are, and is grateful for all of it. Thank you for the reminder!

    • I’m sorry that my first reply will seem like a negative one, but Carol, the statement that you don’t have another choice….this alarms me, and I am surprised that Donna did not pick this up and respond to this part of your remark. You do not sound happy about this new relationship and commitment. You ALWAYS have a choice! Take your time…don’t rush into anything before you are ready. You say you have a house? If I were lonely in that house and setting, I would sell it, and buy a condo or rent in a new situation until I knew what I truly wanted. I would live in a busier, livelier place (city?) and get involved in all sorts of new stuff before I would settle for less…or give up and resign myself to a life of “no choice”. Please think about it.

      • Gloria – you are right, I believe that we always have a choice, some people just don’t know it yet. I did pick-up on Carol’s comment, but chose to focus on her gratitude. It’s true that it takes a village! I’m glad that you shared your insight and offered viable solutions. Thank you!

  4. This is a tough time of year for some of us in the northern half of the country. The days are short and now we have a cold snap. It’s great to be reminded that everything counts. Sometimes getting moving takes a lot of energy, and I will remind myself of this daily, so thanks for this. I’m reading and getting together with friends, as well as volunteering and planning meals that I hope will fight off the winter lbs. But some days, like you, I feel like I should be DOING more. I think it’s all those years of conditioning, of course, and I’m getting better at just BEING every year I’m retired.

    • I think the struggle for me, maybe for most of us, is learning to discern whether the feeling that we should be doing more is factual (eg.- we need to move more, make some changes, socialize more) or just our “rat race” societal conditioning.
      I am glad to hear that becoming a human “being” gets easier with practice. Thank you.

  5. A dear friend I met at a group founded by Lois, shared her despondency with her sponsor.

    The response was quick, “Get up, be glad of the smallest things, even your lipstick.”

    With that tiny spark, my friend returned to a full thriving life, starting with the appreciation of her lipstick.

    Life passes, events dealt with, Providence returns with more events, that lipstick must be remembered again.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

    • I apologize for not seeing your lovely comment sooner! Isn’t it amazing how the tiniest thing, a perfectly timed comment, can ignite a spark in someone?
      I have great respect for the power of lipstick… I think applying it sends a signal to our brain that we are ready! Up for a challenge! And I haven’t been wearing any except when I must….
      Thank you for this, Tara. I will apply my lipstick more consciously and gratefully now.
      XO Donna

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