Aloneness versus Loneliness

Aloneness. It is vastly different from loneliness, but to understand that concept, one must experience both. The idea for this blog post occurred to me this morning after reading a beautifully expressed rendering from a dear friend on Facebook. She wrote her feelings for the world to see. She has experienced loneliness to the depths only she can know. I know this woman and respect her as a dear friend who embraces life and loves with her whole heart. She lost her husband many years ago but feels lonely often. I am pleased to see her expressing her pain and learning to not only cope but thrive in the wake of loss. I wish this for anyone who has lost a loved one and is trying to move on and find a way to live and not merely exist.

Loneliness is an emotion and a very real pain that sometimes lasts a lifetime. I lost my wife over four years ago and still experience the depths and pain of loneliness, but not constantly nor consistently. The bouts of loneliness appear when triggered by a memory, a song, a photo, a holiday, or any number of cognitive references to our time together. That is why I know the difference between loneliness and aloneness.

My life now welcomes aloneness. It actually staves off some of the painful bouts of loneliness because I have found purpose and joy, and I am comfortable with myself. Aloneness is a state of being, and it is up to me to glean all the meaning and goodness out of my aloneness that is possible. Aloneness does not mean that I do not want to be around people. When I feel that I need social interaction, I seek it out and thoroughly enjoy the experience. I can find happiness during a simple trip running errands.

Different members of my family have expressed concern about me being alone so much, and that is because they love me. It is difficult to convey to them that I am happy. Oh, I would rather live out west, and I would like more money to spend. That said, I live well and have my own little apartment in which I can create, learn, relax, and renew. That says a lot, wouldn’t you agree? I lost my father a few months ago, and his amazing wife is going through the grief stages at this point. It is important that she maneuvers her path in her time, not ours. We must be her shoulder while also giving her the room to rediscover herself and make decisions about life going forward. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met, and I am excited to see what her future encompasses.

There are no shortcuts to experiencing loss, grief, and healing. There are, however, people who want to help. If you have lost a loved one, it is your journey now, and you decide your path. Take your time, reflect on your amazing life, and answers will come. You are the boss of your future. Just knowing that you have time to experience life will eventually motivate your efforts to move forward and find your joy. You may indeed be alone, but aloneness brings great discoveries, finding purpose, and joy. Don’t forget the joy!

Calling All Young Whippersnappers

As a society, we make fun of people and situations to

  • Make ourselves feel better
  • Release anxiety
  • Curb Depression
  • Explain our delicate sensibilities/sensitivity/sexual frustrations. Pick one.
  • Pair with our favorite stimulant. My personal favorite. I get high on Peppermint Patties.
  • Show you are jealous that older people coined the phrase, “Get off my lawn!”

Young people (for me, anyone under 60) are taking said making fun to a whole other level. I turn on the TV or go on social media and cannot avoid the insults thrown at us old geezers. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Do you kiss your grandma with that mouth? Is your grandma single? Asking for a friend…

Friends, I enjoy a little fun and teasing as much as you do, but I do have something to say, and hopefully you will read on.

Let’s try to be kind and more empathetic, shall we? You don’t know what that old couple is going through. He might be fighting cancer, and she has aches and pains, but she takes care of his every need. And still, they smile and do for others. They don’t sit and feel sorry for themselves like so many people who have so much more do. They are stronger than anyone knows or will ever know.

And then there is the woman who figured out she had a brain, but later in life, and now studies hard every day to make up for that time and hopefully get her Doctorate to leave a legacy to her kids and grandkids. A legacy that says Mom finally did it; she lived her life’s dream. Many of us are late bloomers and don’t realize our worth or our real dreams until our golden years. Some of us realize it but don’t take steps to bring it to fruition. Some of us do. It is an individual decision, not one our relatives or friends should make.

We are the only ones who can live our life dream. If you know a senior striving to live their dream, encourage them. If you cannot encourage them because you don’t believe in their actions, do not insult them or tell them they are incapable. Just leave them to their dreams. You are not their higher power. They love you, and they have proven it for a lifetime. Love them back. Don’t criticize their every move. I have often seen and heard this happening to others, making me cry. I am very fortunate to have encouragement and love from my family, even though we are far apart. I feel the love, and it fuels my fire.

And for the love of your higher power, please stop complaining about benefits seniors receive. You also have yet to learn why they have the benefits or what they went through to get them. You will be there someday. Godspeed, you will know then if you don’t try to understand now. Educate yourself. It’s as simple as typing Google. If you don’t have time to find out the “why, “ you lack the knowledge or foundation from which you speak. So shut up about it. Please.

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my blog. Lately I have been reflective and introspective and a little grumpy, admittedly. Writing my feelings is part of my self-care, and your stopping by motivates me and makes my heart happy. Have a blessed day and be well. Much love…

Sometimes a Girl just has to Blog

Hi everyone! I am alive and well in the great state of lunacy. How are you all doing? I really have no complaints, but you know I will concoct a few for your reading pleasure. It is my favorite time of the year, and my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is upon us. Where did the time go? Oh right, it resides somewhere on my desk crowded with a laptop, printer, 20 or so pens (5 that still have ink), four unread peer-reviewed articles (stained with coffee), three dirty coffee mugs, two pairs of readers, and a partridge in a pear tree.

In this time of giving thanks, I am eternally grateful for my family, my friends and loved ones, and my life. Although my family is divided on their beliefs and politics, and my friends and loved ones are all over the world and not here, my life has morphed into one of enlightenment, empathy, insight, and peace. One of my most beloved professors recently called my journey “transformative” and she was spot on. Because of the decision I made one year ago this month to work toward my doctorate, my sense of purpose is ever present in my daily existence. And for that, I remain grateful and dedicated to my propitious quest.

This time last year I did not even have a home. My dear sister let me stay with her for a couple months while I was waiting on my apartment to come available. My sister had a tiny two-bedroom apartment but made me feel welcome and loved. She even converted her small dining room into a makeshift office for me to study. I am so grateful for her big heart and compassion. She does not have a lot of worldly possessions, but she is wealthy in charity and wise from her life experiences.

This Thanksgiving, I will be having my pumpkin pie, accompanied by my favorite, a Baileys and Coffee, and toasting my good fortune. I don’t have a lot of time to blog because I have so much writing to do, but I will drop in and “pen” my hellos when I can. I hope you will continue to visit, and please check out the rest of my blog, and feel free to leave a message if you are so inclined.

Peace, love, and joy to all.

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So, Here is my Why

Several of my friends and a couple of my relatives have asked me why I have decided to pursue a Doctor of Education Degree, which is quite an undertaking and will require three or four years of my time. Below is a personal, somewhat lengthy, and at times, confusing explanation as to my “Why.” I hope it clears some things up and gives a bit of insight into the enigma that is me.

The last fourteen months have been a wild ride for me. And by “wild” I mean akin to one of a giant rollercoaster. As you may or may not know, my life-partner of 21 years passed away in 2019, and the following year (October 2020, 14 months ago) I had to move from the condo I had been renting from my son because they wanted to sell it. I have always been on my own, never dependent on anyone else. When I was married or with a partner, we cohabitated, but I very well could have handled things on my own if needed. However, there were no available apartments in Boise at that time, so I agreed to move in with my son temporarily.

I was not happy about it, as I knew from listening to others and being observant, that families moving extra family into their homes could cause a multitude of annoyances and issues. Turned out, I was correct with my assumptions. Without going into private details, things were not working out. I am independent and I’m not accustomed to being under anyone’s thumb. I need to govern my own life and do so under my own roof. After nine months, it was a mutual agreement that I would move on.

But where was I to go?

In previous weeks before leaving Boise, I had been watching YouTube videos about nomads, and people living in their vans and RVs on purpose. Nomads are a whole sub-culture in and of themselves, and, quite frankly, the lifestyle appealed to the romanticist and dreamer in me. I thought it would be the perfect solution. I could travel like a snowbird, south in winter and north in summer. I could write to my heart’s content and visit places still on my bucket list.

I made lists of everything I would need by watching the videos, and began my search for a late model used van. The idea morphed into a dream that further fueled my vision of being on my own without a care in the world.

Two obstacles stood in my way:

  1. I have a disability in that I cannot walk very fast due to a spinal injury. I currently use a cane, but was using a walker for a long time. That did not deter me, as I’d heard that a lot of disabled people live as nomads.
  2. I was completely unprepared. I had saved money, but used it to buy the van outright so I wouldn’t owe anything on it. That left me with very little expendable cash. The list of items I would need and the alterations I would need for my van in order to make it livable for me, especially with my mobility issues, were expensive. However, that did not stop me from leaving Boise on July 2nd, headed for points east, specifically Yellowstone National Park. I was excited…

Although my excursion through Yellowstone was breathtaking, my new life soon brought me to my knees. My first night upon exiting Yellowstone was spent in a KOA Campground, one that was over-crowded and definitely not as advertised. I tried to climb in the back of my van when it was time to sleep, but I was so exhausted, I could not climb in. Due to my spinal injury, I was also unable to climb from the driver’s seat to the back of the van. As a result, I spent the entire night sitting up in the driver’s seat of the van. It was cold and I was pretty miserable, to put it mildly. Two more nights went by during my travels, and although I was able to climb in the back and get in my bed, everything else I did became increasingly difficult.

I was quickly becoming disheartened about my choice to live in a van. I called my stepmom in Georgia, who I was supposed to be visiting the next month, and asked if I could come early, and she said of course. On the way to Georgia, I contracted a fungus on my feet (no idea why or how) and also became depressed and lethargic. By the time I arrived, I was getting sick. I ended up a few days later in the ER, had a toenail removed, and antibiotics for an infection. I was sick for awhile. I threw up a lot, and even wondered if I had COVID, even though I had been vaccinated.

I did improve, however, and spent three months with my Dad (who is suffering from dementia) and his wife Donna. They were wonderful to me, and it was three of the most peaceful months of my life. Spending that quality time with my Dad was priceless, and I will always hold those moments in my heart. But, it was again time to move on. I had been trying to procure an apartment in the area, having given up on my nomad dreams. I was unsuccessful in finding anything.

In the middle of September, my sister in northwest Georgia invited me to come and look at apartments in her town. I was excited to think I might finally have a place to call home again. I went to see her and we went to several places and collected applications. That week, I put in a very involved application for an apartment in her town, but the apartments were based on income, and the waiting list was long.

During the wait, I have been staying at my sister’s apartment. She gave up her bedroom for me, and she has been staying in the guest bedroom. Due to my spinal injury, I would not have been able to get up from the low bed in the guest bedroom, so she selflessly gave up her comfort for me. I moved in with her in October, and she has been absolutely lovely and welcoming, and made me feel like I’m not alone in this world, and there are people out there who really want me around. My Dad and Donna treated me the same way. Yes, I want to live on my own, but knowing these people love me for who I am has meant the world to me. They do not judge me. They do not decide how I should live my life. They just love me and have helped me out of a tremendously difficult situation. I am a very prideful individual, and I am humbled in their presence. My apartment will be available around Christmas, and I have put my deposit down and now busily trying to collect furnishings and dishes, etc., to make it my own. Again excited!!!

So, back to the reason for this post. Why have I committed to an arduous (my son described it with this word, and he was correct!) journey of working toward my Doctorate?

  1. I earned my Master’s Degree nine years ago, and have since felt the desire to continue the journey, culminating in my completing something I never could have dreamed of when I was younger. At 68, I finally know myself, and I know my worth. I am intelligent, brave, a bit too bold at times, and ever curious about this wonderful thing called life.
  2. I am doing this to show myself that I can, not to show anyone else. I do brag a lot, but quite frankly, I have a lot for which to brag!
  3. Bottom line. My “Why” is purely Because I can.

I sincerely hope you will wish me well in my endeavors, and maybe take away something from my sharing this long explanation with you. Everyone has their dreams, and none are more or less significant than any others. I’m so happy to wake up each day and have the blessed opportunity to follow my dreams…