Trapped In An Elevator

Some women will do anything to find some alone time.

It’s not that we want to go to extremes, but sometimes our day-to-day rational planning and decision-making isn’t getting us what we need deep in our souls. That’s when divine intervention steps in.

This happened to my friend Dana who, like many of you, tends to overdeliver, whether it is at work, at home, in her volunteer work or with friends. Last Thursday, she was tired and wished she could have a little more time to herself.

She was leaving her office to go to a meeting when she got trapped in an elevator. Her first thought was, “Why me? Is this a punishment?” But since she is naturally wise, she started challenging herself by wondering whether being caught in the elevator was perhaps a gift – the gift she had been seeking, some alone time, just not in the form she was expecting!

We all know it’s difficult to make the time to take care of ourselves. For most women that means eating right, exercising, connecting with girlfriends once in a while, and when possible getting enough sleep.

But—what about making time for the deepest kind of self-nurturing, that which happens when we have true solitude, the kind that restores us, allows us to remember what brings us joy, and to reconnect with our authentic selves.

Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away. Barbara de Angelis

There’s a stigma to solitude, and a general cultural aversion to being introspective, that leaves us wondering – when we feel the desire to be alone, even for a short while, is it wrong? might I be hurting someone’s feelings if I turn down an invitation to go out to dinner or a movie?

No wonder we question ourselves when we need alone time: the most common synonyms for solitude are disheartening: separate, isolated, alone, lonely, anti-social.

The Gifts of Solitude

There is no doubt in my mind however that the benefits of solitude outweigh the costs:

  • You get to unwind – you’re not “on” for anyone else’s benefit or approval
  • You reconnect with what’s important to you
  • You get away from the to-do list, which creates mental clutter, and you can look more deeply into the choices you make
  • You give yourself the space for creative and crazy out of the box ideas to blossom
  • You leave behind the everyday stress and allow your body to fully relax

If solitude, that important alone time every woman needs, is not currently part of your life, here are some fun and easy ways to start getting more comfortable with spending time with yourself:

  1. Go out to dinner by yourself and just eat food you really like, in any combination and in any order.
  2. Go on a road trip and only listen to music you love.
  3. Take yourself to the beach; pack a lunch so you can sit for as long as you like.
  4. Go on a date with yourself – love the movies? Don’t wait. Just grab your car keys or your bicycle and go.
  5. Write a poem.
  6. Start a blog.
  7. Listen to music as long as you like and as loud as you like.
  8. Sing.
  9. Dance.
  10. Pick up a new instrument (I started with the ukulele about a year ago) and learn to play it.
  11. Make a list of things you haven’t done before (yoga? fencing? gardening? photography?). Pick one and do it.
  12. Get a journal and write every in it every day.
  13. Take a walk in the park, along the river, or along a nature trail.
  14. Go to a bookstore, plop down in a chair and read for a few hours.
  15. Cook yourself a wonderful meal.
  16. What do you never have time for? Do it!
  17. Play – get our your crayons and color; go to the beach and build sand castles; find a playground and swing!
  18. Do nothing: just sit quietly and notice the experience.
  19. Visit a museum.
  20. Get up early, before anyone else, and use that time for anything that brings you joy – write, meditate, read…
  21. Go on a silent retreat – either at your local Buddhist center or make your home a place of silence for an entire weekend.

These practices will help you be your own best friend.



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