Thoughts on solitude

Thursday, April 4, 2013







it's still spring break. 
my husband is still gone.
my kids are still here.
i haven't been alone in fourteen days*

for many people, so many mother's I talk to, they are rarely alone. i try to be. i need to be, i always have.

do you know what the number one creativity habit is? 
solitude. 

Reading around online over the last few days, there seems to be discontentment. I guess it's always been there, underneath, but then one person voices it, then another, and it's out there. Maybe it's the astrological time of the year. A friend just sent that to me last night. I've never really been into the astrological world, but hey, I'm all for letting go, clearing out, and starting new. But truthfully, I think discontentment has to do with a lack solitude. 

As I fell asleep last night I was thinking about the fact that when I grew up there was no internet. When I was in college, there were no blogs. In my early twenties, the way I developed my sense of self was through myself. Of course there were my peers, magazines to look at, and friends of friends with dreamy lives, but reality tv had not begun and the at your fingertips, voyeuristic, comparison culture was not yet prevalent. The world is so different. The fact that we don't have to wonder about anything for even one minute, because we can google it, blows my mind. That alone is life altering. 

Solitude is something that doesn't seem to get put high on the to-do list. Not only is it undervalued, I feel like we literally run from it. We fill the space with things, activities, and other people. And you know what that brings, discontentment. 

“One can be instructed in society, one is inspired only in solitude.” Goethe


This quote by Goethe is very close to a personal motto that I try to live by. Look to others for inspiration, but not for comparison. When I keep my gaze focused inward, I am happiest. My drive to create and to live comes from inside, it is not fueled by an exterior force, like trying to keep up with someone, trying to  have a life as seemingly perfect as a picture. Of course there are moments when I get lost. I become outwardly focused and soon after discontentment ensues. I know this process. I saw a quote recently, I hung it up.  

Living well is the best revenge. 

The ultimate in outward focus, right? It is still hanging in my studio. It has been driving me. But I know ultimately, it won't take me far. I am not to the discontented state yet, but I will be. I could stop and refocus inwardly, but truthfully, I am not ready yet. I haven't fully played it out, this envy, irritation, I am holding in my mind. As unenlightened as it may sound, it's my process. And I need and want to go through it. And I will. When I have enough solitude to create from this place, then I'll make one move that will turn everything around. When I inspire myself. When I again become the source of my creating. 


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Solitude is being alone.
Solitude is thinking for yourself.
Solitude is formulating ideas.
Solitude is wondering.
Solitude is space.
Solitude is finding your own voice.
Solitude is the place you return to when you get stirred up, lose your voice, or are feeling bad about yourself.
Solitude is where you find focus.
Solitude is where you process.
Solitude is where you move through the dark.
Solitude is where real creativity lives. 
Solitude is where love comes from. If you're ever frustrated with your kids or spouse, go be alone. When you've taken a step into yourself, you can give again.
Solitude is engagement with yourself.
Solitude is reflection. Reflection on the kind of person you are, the kind of life you want to lead. 
Solitude is not accomplishing. But it is essential in the process of accomplishment. 

My five quick ways I get a solitude fix:
1. Take a walk.
2. Paint.
3. Drive.
4. Lay on my bed and look at the sky.
5. Sit on the porch and listen to music while watching the wind.


* Note. I actually have been alone over spring break. My solitude comes at night when everyone is sleeping. The problem is that I'm up too late and not sleeping. Thus I am pretty out of balance at the moment, and a bit cranky, forgive. 

Can you relate?

10 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness yes! I can relate! Im also a Mother and a painter and it can be such a balancing act between being fully present for my children and filling myself up with what I need( solitude, time for my mind to just drift)-I get this!

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    1. Yes, Sharilyn, you can relate. I need time for my mind to simply drift too. It's when I really let things settle that I get the most inspiration.

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  2. Yes yes yes. I crave solitude and must find time for it. Time to think, to listen to music, to read, to learn, to play, or just to be. I find myself taking extra long showers just to get a few extra minutes of me-time.

    I have also noticed the discontent in the blogosphere lately. It is typical for me this time of year. Anxious for warmer weather, perhaps dealing with sickness (as I am this week), and other transitions. The long home stretch of the school year for the kids.

    Our spring break is the week after next. I think I need to find a way to schedule some time for me. Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. Mary, I think you're right. It is partially the time of the year. What's strange is it took me so long to get the year moving and now already, were drifting into summer. When does productive content come? Hope you get some fun time with the kids and time for yourself in the week ahead. xx

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  3. I can totally relate, and I agree that there's something in the air right now. Transition, I guess. Hope you're well and finding balance. I'm looking for my own. Take care.

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    1. I hope you find it too, thanks Nadya. :)

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  4. Love this. Solitude is so important, and I don't carve out enough of it for myself. I can relate to the feeling of being discontent....how to be happy with the way it just is. I hope you can get a little alone time soon....perhaps after you are back in SD and the girls are in school. I am looking forward to school starting again next week myself. xo

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    1. I think you are right Jora, how to be happy with what is. I am really good at it for awhile and then it falls apart. I think when our schedule is in balance, meaning time apart :) it is easier to stay present and in the moment and happy with whatever chaos is happening. Looks like your vacation was lovely and full, so you too enjoy a great week ahead. xx

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  5. the collective discontentment... the yearning. the need/desire for change. the PROCESS (the thoughts, the observations, the inspiration, the comparisons, the moods, the togetherness, the solitude...) one must go through to get there. to me, it signifies the end of winter, and the beginning of spring. the longing for summer. it could be a long, spread-out process- or many small daily/weekly processes. but i've come to need and accept it- the good & the bad.

    (loved your post :).)

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    1. Thanks Torrie. It's good to be in a place where you don't run from the bad. I have always like discontent and gloominess. I find things shift when I sit in that space. And inspiration sometimes lives there too. I think you're right about the seasonal shifts being involved too, even though our seasons out here are subtle :)

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