Have you ever experienced an internal crossroads, feeling compelled to make a move but have no idea which direction to go – north, south, east or west? If you’ve approached life with deep passion, purpose, and conviction you most likely have, and you know that existing at an internal intersection stuck in emotional quicksand is excruciating, and tortures the mind. The only way to get to this juncture is if you’ve pushed yourself to live outside of your comfort zone.
I’ve proudly lived uncomfortably many times throughout my life. The most recent was my leap to create a business enterprise that for nearly two years of hammering, pavement-pounding exertion to pull all the pieces together, crushed the company I spent 13 years devotedly building.
With a reluctant, but necessary snap of my fingers, I went from a CEO to a housewife. I felt like I was in the land of OZ and Dorothy’s house torpedoed down on me, but instead of being pulverized by it, I was running it! A change in rank and routine of this magnitude comes with a flurry of unknowns, and one searing truth; I’d been stripped of everything I identified with.
It’s been five months since all was lost, and I’ve endured the full spectrum of emotions, more than once. The internal crossroads is new and hit me square in the heart a few weeks ago. I recognize that I got there from the pressure I’d imposed on myself to regain financial stability and by being witness to the stark reality that I’m no longer part of a professional network that I once led for so many years. If my company were still operating, I would be in the trenches of bridal show season – producing fashion shows and events – and prepping for the start of the busiest months of the year. Instead, this year, I’m on the outside looking in, but my body and mind naturally want to be busy; to be working. I had this nagging sensation to make a move; to do SOMETHING!
When I finally realized I didn’t know what that something was supposed to be and couldn’t figure out what direction to move, I decided to do absolutely nothing but sit with myself and embrace the nothingness. If I didn’t know what to do, I wasn’t going to do anything at all, except release myself from the internal struggle consuming me.
Being still is something I’ve had to train myself to do. I’m a natural “mover and shaker” and have spent my entire career advancing at lightning speed, engaging with people – leading, managing and developing, and serving them. I’m a people person, and I draw comfort, inspiration, and energy from being in the presence of others. Stillness doesn’t come naturally to me.
But, as I was reluctantly wading in my stillness, I was struck with a lofty “AHA” moment. I was thrust into this realm not by choice, but by circumstance. And, while I didn’t invite it at the time, I can remember countless instances throughout my career, especially the last few years, when all I wanted was to be still, to drowned out the noise and the chaos and hear myself to gain a measure of clarity. I thirsted for solitude, but was too wired and entrenched in crisis to live in it.
I’ve now welcomed this alone-time, and recognize it as a gift from the universe and from God. Solitude is a luxury in this plugged-in, fast-paced, rat race of a society we live in today. I have an opportunity to create pure peace and to connect with my soul, myself, and at the same time continue to uncover new paths to discover, and to deepen my faith and love for my family and close friends.
Like purpose, choice, and mindfulness, I’ve found solitude to be empowering. It’s also a practice. If you can get to the point where you become your best companion you can tap into what being alive authentically feels like. I’ve been practicing yoga for many years, and recently began practicing meditation. I train at home, when my family is away, under dim light, soft musical vibrations, and the tranquil silence of my house. When I’m done, I feel the most human, most bonded with myself and the earth, I’ve ever been. I savor the solitude and melt into the quiet.
You may believe that by staying busy and piling things on yourself to do or acquire you’re producing and achieving at your highest level. That doing all this is fulfillment at its finest. As someone who has now lived on both sides of the coin, I can tell you-you’re wrong. There is a real beauty and divine fulfillment in solitude. I believe the greatest achievement in life is the ability to stand alone with unconditional self-love, and contentment with one’s self. This is what I’m opening myself up to seize and hold onto. Even if it’s just a few precious minutes a day, I encourage you to allow yourself to do the same and be in solitude. Savor it.
20th-century novelist and story writer Franz Kafka once said, “Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” I couldn’t agree more.
My favorite perspective on solitude comes from Eve Ensler, writer of the Vagina Monologues. She said, “Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you’ve never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. Believe in kissing.”
With all the love in my heart! XOXO