There are many different meanings to “going it alone”.
After our conversation, “Going Going Gone Solo” a couple of weeks back I knew I wanted to explore this subject of “solo” further. There are so many ways women are flying solo and this is just one of them.
I am in awe of women every day.
I am constantly amazed by our strength and courage when we are faced with difficult situations, tragedies and loss. I am bowled over by our creative abilities and our dedication to friends and family. We are problem solvers first and foremost and I believe we can do anything we set our minds to. Our ability to love and to forgive reaches forever, even though as women we can be tested on a daily basis.
I asked my friend Meg, who you may recall penned the incredibly clever and droll, The Laurel Hedge, to write about going “solo’. Meg is smart and funny; she is Australian. Her sense of humour is deprecating but without an ounce of self-pity. Her words so often resonate with me because they tell it like it is; she can describe the rough underbelly of life with a diamond wit and uplifting humour. There is simply something about her.
Meg knows what it is like to go “solo” and so here she is:
In the early days I did a ‘Living Alone’ search on Google looking for some tips & what popped up on my screen took me somewhat by surprise. The list included: learn to use a weapon, take a self-defence class, how to fortify your home as a Single if complete world chaos erupts, get some hobbies & familiarise yourself with the power tool aisle in the Hardware store were not particularly helpful. How to halve a recipe was. However, one little gem from Ms Marjorie Hilliss in her 1936 book Live Alone And Like It had me thinking that this solo life may have something going for it. Marjorie wrote “I know you were worried, but IT IS OKAY to entertain a man alone in your home while wearing pyjamas, as long as they are ‘Hostess Pyjamas’ & not ‘Sleeping or Beach Pyjamas’. ‘Lounging Pyjamas’ are also acceptable.” So thanks to Marjorie I immediately reviewed my ‘Hostess Pyjama’ situation & did an upgrade. Up to this time, they all remain unused.
When my first marriage ended 30 years ago I was 32 with 3 very young children & living alone was a very different process. My focus was on the kids – supporting them financially, returning to the workforce & restarting my career after some time away, school activities etc. etc. But this time around it’s been very different. The focus has been on just me & to be honest, at times I’ve foundered. I’m very fortunate that at 62 I’m still working full-time in a big, demanding job I love & for me that has been the game changer in this living alone caper. I will quite happily admit to throwing myself into my work & filling a few empty life gaps with work stuff. I’m so lucky to have had the best group of colleagues & clients who have cheered my every little win very loudly & have lifted me up on their shoulders on my not-so-good days. Surround yourself with people who are happy to lend their support, will celebrate with you & particularly for me, be happy to listen to my woeful attempts at dating & not offer an opinion on my dodgy choices! I’ve had 4 dates in 4 years & all of them have lasted under one hour. I’m concerned that there’s a pattern emerging!
Early on I wrote a very ambitious list of all the things I was going to do & could do now with my new found solo status. Not many of the items have been checked off. But some I hadn’t added have been & it’s those that have meant the most. I’ve truly loved being able to control all my finances, making decisions & charting my course for the future, so find someone you trust to help you & just do it. I’ve always travelled alone for work & had no problems. But travelling solo for fun has been very different. Last year I had 3 glorious weeks in France, wandering around by myself, with no Itinerary & no particular goals. It truly was a liberating experience & set me free on so many levels. But there were times when I thought to myself ‘Nobody else in the whole wide world knows where I am right at this moment’ & it was a bit scary. So I would text the kids back home, often waking them up – beautiful pay-back I reckon! Or I’d write an Instagram post, receive 120 immediate responses from my lovely Followers & my shakiness would disappear!
The biggest cliché on living alone is that old chestnut Alone Is Not Lonely. Don’t believe it. Most of the time that’s true, but that’s an unrealistic expectation to live with. There will be times when the loneliness invades your solo space, don’t deny it, welcome it in & work with it. It is these times that allow you to reflect & shuffle around the priorities on your To Do List, editing, subtracting, but also, more importantly, adding new ones.
I go to the movies alone, vacation alone, walk around a new city alone, celebrate making my Quarterly Budget alone with a bottle of something special. But I also make sure I call friends & family often, initiate those spontaneous dinners, talk to strangers on my travels & always in elevators & keep those I love close.
Earlier this year my alter ego Millie left me a note on my Instagram page. It was 12 months to the day that the For Sale sign had gone up on my much-loved family home. It read ‘Dear Meg, a year ago today this sign appeared in your life. At the time you thought it was the end of something very precious to you, you were worried about the future & couldn’t see the way ahead. In some ways you were right, but mostly you were wrong. If you’d dried your tears & wandered around the back you would have found the note I left for you. It would have told you that you were about to discover things about yourself that you never imagined & that everything was going to be OK. So you learnt a very valuable lesson that beautiful morning dear girl, signs from me will often appear in places you least expect. Love The Universe’ xx
Being alone will bring you to a place you hadn’t expected to be, but believe me, if you look for the signs & embrace them, you will discover things about yourself that you could have only dreamt about. Accept the changes, take a chance, back yourself, never, ever lose your sense of wonderment & most of all, keep your sense of humour!
Thank you, Meg. xv
image, rodney smith