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— Life —

Photograph ©Brenda Coffee, 2019
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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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