It feels like I have done NOTHING in the last two weeks but run, run, run. I am exhausted and a bit grumpy. I have found that a certain amount of solitude is necessary for writing, and I have not had a great deal of it recently. Therefore, no new posts and no progress on the book. (To be fair, I am at a slight impasse with the book. I wrote myself into a corner and haven't figured out how to get out yet.) I love my family and have great affection for my circle of close friends, but I am finding myself in need of a break, not just during sleeping times.
I think this is the situation with most people really. We fill our time with work and try to slip in the appropriate amount of play. And when you have a family, sometimes they have legitimate claims on your free time that require you to be at certain activities not of your choosing. Just the way it is. The trap most of us fall into is not recognizing that we need time alone, and that time is just as important as the time spent working, with family and friends, and in general socialization.
I don't want to sound sexist when I say that this is a particular problem for women. It's just that being a woman myself, I am more familiar with the issues that women face. I talk to my girlfriends, and I am sure they would agree with me. (Especially Nicole. Girl, this one's for you.) We tend to be the nurturers in relationships and most of us fall readily into the wife and mother role and put of children and husbands needs above our own. This is a double-edged sword. It is good that we embrace the roles that we have chosen. We SHOULD nurture our children with love and dedication. We should support our husband and meet their needs as they meet ours as well. But we also need to give great importance to regular time alone. Time to be quiet and think. Time spent away from other people. It refreshes our soul.
Now, my husband might point out that I spent two hours at the salon this week getting beautified. That does not count. Activities like salon visits, trips to the store, and driving around running errands do not count as times of solitude because during those times, there are other people around, and your mind is preoccupied with the tasks at hand. True solitude is being completely alone, or in an environment where talking is frowned upon, like a library or prayer room. Or a coffee house or bookstore with your iPod on. (That trick works wonders to keep people from approaching you!) You can add an activity like reading or listening to music, but only if you prefer. My friend Marsha likes to write during her times of solitude. I sometimes read, sometimes write, and music is always involved. These are things that nourish us and help us process through. My friend Dana likes to have music on and sing and dance. (Something she insists to me is better done with no one around.)
My point probably could have been made 4 paragraphs ago if I wasn't so tired. I need to schedule regular times of solitude. It must be of the same importance as work, my husband, and my kids. Because solitude keeps me grounded, sane and happy. And when I am grounded, sane, and happy, so is my family. And my work gets done quicker and with a more cheerful attitude. My friends get to enjoy a girl who cracks jokes and sees the humor in ever situation, not the grumpy gus I have been today. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Nicole, Marsha and Dana would agree that this is a necessity in their lives too. I feel confident in saying that most women would agree. I think some men I know might say "Yeah, I need that too."
So your challenge for this week is to find some time of solitude and refresh your soul. If anyone disagrees with you, send them my way. This is an argument I know I can win!