Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Solitude ~ Monday Musings On Tuesday

Whenever I’m home alone, one of my favorite activities is wrapping an old quilt around me, sinking into the sofa, and embracing the quiet. There is no one needing me. No one to entertain. No deadlines to meet. Just me and my solitude. It is a liberating feeling, and one I cherish.

Say the word “solitude” to some people and they freak out. Every waking moment is spent accompanied by outside stimuli. They fear being lonely.

Being alone in the world can, indeed, make one lonely. We crave relationships, and we all need someone to travel through life with. But solitude is not synonymous with loneliness. Rather, it is being fully with ourselves—a chance to see how we’re doing and where we’re going.

In her classic book, Gift From The Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh describes the many jobs that women perform on a daily basis, likening it to a circus act. “It leads not to unification,” she wrote, “but to fragmentation.”

Her solution? Solitude.

“Every person,” she wrote, “especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day. I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before.”

While finding time alone can seem like an impossible mission, whether you're a stay-at-home mom, or doing the 40-hour-a-week thing, it’s worth pursuing.

T. Byram Karasu, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, believes that a lack of solitude can affect our mood and sleep patterns. In his book, The Art of Serenity, Karasu says that “psychological and physiological distresses” manifest themselves whenever a person is deprived of time alone.

Experiencing solitude requires the cooperation of others, but, ultimately, it will benefit all of those who depend on you for emotional or physical support.



The best retreat would be a few days without obligations or expectations. Such retreats are possible, but they require planning and the help of others. If you can’t pull it off, a few hours alone on a regular basis can do wonders. But what if you can’t pull that off either? Take heart. Here are some small ways to find a bit of solitude:

(Photo by Dayle)

Rise early. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, find a comfortable chair, or slip outside and watch the daybreak. I find it the most peaceful hour of the day.

(Photo by Dayle)

Be the last one in bed. I often find my quiet time late at night. No radios, televisions, telephones, or lawn mowers to disrupt my peace.

(Photo by Gayle @ Solitary Moments.)

Take a long bath. Start by announcing your intention, then close the door, light candles, listen to soft music, and rest your head on a bath pillow. Visualize your worries being washed away.

(Photo source: Julia Williams Interiors)

Create a special place. A corner will do. Bring in a comfortable chair, a lamp, a small table for books and beverages, a scented candle and a light blanket or throw. Instead of working when the children nap, spend time in your special place, praying, meditating, reading, writing, napping—any activity that brings calm.

(Photo by Dayle)

Plan a “daddy’s day out” with the kids. For most working families, this would fall on a weekend. Activities would depend on the kids’ ages and interests, but the possibilities are endless.

(Photo by Gayle @ Solitary Moments)

Discover nature. Find a park or garden not far from home and go there often. Lie on the ground, or sit on a bench and listen for soothing, healing sounds—a gentle wind whispering through leaves, the scampering of a squirrel up the trunk of a tree, the voice of God.

(Photo by Dayle)

Turn off the television, the telephone, the computer, the radio. Discover how the absence of these intrusive devices can make your day more manageable.

Attend religious services each week. Such events have a remarkable way of quieting your spirit.


This post appeared, in part, in The Dallas Morning News. All rights reserved.



  1. Oh do I ever know what you are talking about...When all 4 of my kids were at home I LIVED for the moment I had some time to myself. LIVED FOR IT, hahaha....I can remember when the boys were really little (babies really) waiting in the driveway for my hubby to get home so that it was a quick pass off and I would sometimes only scurry to my room and SHUT the door. A long soak in the tub, a book and my bed, whatever I chose for at least a couple of hours. Sometimes of course I'd head out for a drive or a walk of the mall ~ just anything for a little while. I don't think I ever accomplished a full couple of days when they all were at home anyway, but I ALWAYS stole some time each week. Now that they are all gone you'd think I'd not look for that time when my hubby is gone and no one is over etc., but I find I STILL love that time to myself. Now don't get me wrong, I love time when I have someone here to chat and talk and just "be" with, but there is nothing in my book like "alone" time, haha...Have a wonderful day.

  2. Dayle,
    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! I'm curious as to how you found me! :)

    Wanted to come and see your blog and I'm so glad I did. I NEED some solitary moments very badly right now. Just have not figured out how I'm going to make it work. But your suggestions for "mini" moments have given me some ideas.

    I'll be back to visit again when I have more time. Have pears waiting to be peeled and made into quarts of pear halves to be canned for later. There are FIVE gallons waiting on me in the kitchen so I'd better get busy.

    So nice to "meet" you!

    God bless!

    Marilyn...in Mississippi (from the blog Walking In Truth)

  3. While reading your post today, I tried to think of way I enjoy solitude. sometime it comes during my morning breakfast... a bible and bowl of cereal, sometimes it comes in a walk with my husband and pups, sometimes it comes with a good book overlooking the ocean( on vacation) or backyard. God is so good to grant us this time!
    Dee dee

  4. After my GBS trauma I couldn't do lots of things that hubby and I did as a couple...but I didn't want him to stop because of me...he enjoys volunteering with the Friends Group at the state park where he's very active...
    In the beginning I hated that lonely time...but now I cherish it...reading, no tv, no noise, no phone...naps whenever...
    I know he's coming home eventually, I just have mini-solitudes...


  5. Yes, solitude is wonderful. Right now, I can see the trees through the family room doors, hear the birdsong and the bugsong, and it is lovely. Even somedays if I only have a few minutes to sit and be still....I cherish it.

  6. I so agree! I have learned this in the past year. It is so recharging! So glad our paths have crossed. I enjoy reading and may have ? about Thyroid; just diagnosed in May with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. I see you have written an article about Thyroid. I hope to find time to read soon.

  7. Hello Dayle...Very nice post and "right on." How often do each of us take time for solitude? Not often enough, that's for sure. Thanks for the reminder of how necessary it is. Susan

  8. I so agree! Coincidentally, I posted today on my recent retreat - a vacation from "the real world". I love all your ideas here for how to find that place of retreat even when we can't take off on a trip somewhere else. Thanks for this reminder on the importance of seeking out much-needed solitude. Blessings!


  9. Your post made me think of a quote from Margaret Laurence's 'Winter's Tales';

    Retreat. . . to the only existing privacy, the only place one is permitted to be unquestionably alone, the lavatory.


  10. Hi Dayle,
    Back when I working those 45-48 hours a week, I would get up an hour early, make a small pot of tea and sit and write in my journal. That little bit of time set the tone for the rest of my day and I was much better able to cope with any trials that were sure to come along.
    Thank you for visiting me today and commenting on my Llort tote bag.


  11. This is a wonderful post/article. I'm one who likes her solitude, although right now I'm getting much more than I want.

    However, I REALLY want to get more of the intentional time that you write of here. I tend to avoid the outside during the summer, and I think (hope) it's nearly time to get back out there.

    Of course, the BEST thing about your post was that gorgeous blue morning hour shot. It was stunning.
    You know... I think I'll make an appointment to be outside tomorrow morning when the sun rises.
    I'm always up. I just don't step out there!!

  12. Dayle - having quiet time alone is vitally important. I also love to arise first and go outside where there is peace and quiet. Because that isn't always possible on weekdays, I enjoy quiet moments in my car. I rarely turn on the radio, but prefer the silence. With a twenty mile drive to work, that time spent relaxes me for the day, I pray, and often God will give me story ideas during those times.


  13. Oh, do I love quiet moments when no one or thing is beckoning me. I love the very early morning hours and long, hot bubble baths. Late nights don't work for me because my eyes close and I fall asleep two minutes after my head hits the pillow... sometimes sooner :)

  14. I choose • Rise early. I too find it the most peaceful hour of the day. I didn't think I was a morning person until I retired in June. I guess not having to get up makes all the difference.


Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle