Sometimes we just need to be alone. It’s OK


I went hiking the other day at Red Rock Canyon during a weekend away visiting friends in Las Vegas. One of my favorite things to do is to go hiking by myself. It makes me feel at peace, I feel more centered, and I end up feeling like I listened to my own need for silent connection with nature.

It was while on this hike, that I got reminded that our society tells us it’s not O.K. to do things alone. Being that I am a therapist/coach by profession and I live with my husband and several other animals, I rarely get time alone. This weekend away was to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I arrived in Las Vegas on Friday and met up with said friend and family. On Saturday morning I wanted to get out a do a decent-length quiet hike before all the birthday festivities began  – I was looking forward to taking in the desert air and scenery. The Red Rock Canyon has a 13-mile through road which has multiple trail heads along it. I purposely went to the visitor center to find out which trails may be less populated. I was instructed to head out to Ice Box Canyon trail head about 8 miles up the road. As I drove father away from the visitor center, I did find that the parking lots at the trail heads were less populated. I was excited to think I may be heading to one where I really could feel somewhat isolated.

According to the visitor guide, the hike was to take about 2.5 hours and be of “moderate” difficulty. Sounded great to me! I had water and a charged up phone packed in my bag. I was ready to go! I was about 20 minutes into the hike when I came across a group of people who were on their way back to the trailhead. I said, “Hello”, in passing and moved out of the way for the group to get past me. One of the ladies asked me, “Are you by yourself?” When I told her I was, she let out a sympathetic, “Awwww!” I let her know I was out there alone by choice and was enjoying the quiet and continued on with my hike. About another 20 minutes pass by and I get to a section of the trail with some more difficult rocks to step/climb up and over. I ran into a party of 3 at this juncture. Again, one of the ladies in the group commented to me during a quick verbal exchange, “I wouldn’t come out here alone”. I again, assured her I actually looked forward to this experience and went about my business. It was about 10 minutes later that I came across some rocks that I did not want to venture up and over without help, so I turned around at that point and began my hike back to the starting point.

Both of these exchanges had me thinking as I hiked about our society’s attitudes about being alone. I be no means am a “loner” or even an “introvert”. In fact, I love social interaction and get plenty of it. I do however, enjoy some quiet times alone. Exercise is one of my regular ways to get that fill and when I have time, I love to find local hikes to try by myself. As a therapist, I talk frequently with my clients about finding time for themselves, often framed as “self-care” time. I explore with my clients ways in which they can take some time alone to regroup and touch base with themselves. For some, this can be finding time for a 5-minute mediation in the morning, or carving out 15 minutes during their work day to break away from all the “noise”. On bigger levels, I help them discover what their needs are for personal time alone from others and help them plan that into their life. I think people understand that concept of “me time” or even “self-care” time, but I think something shifts when people think about doing activities alone. I also enjoy beaches, coffee houses (for quiet people-watching) and movies alone, but exercise feeds a lot of my emotional and spiritual needs so I tend to engage in that more frequently. For some, the 2 hour hike I embark on may be the equivalent of getting a massage and their nails done. Which, I assume if the same woman who gave me the sympathetic “Awwww!” in passing on the trail had actually crossed my path at the massage appointment; I don’t think she would have asked me why I went there alone. 

Do you listen to your need for quiet when it calls? How do you connect with yourself when you need to? Feel free to leave a comment! I’d love to hear about what you do when you need to be alone.
P.S. I recognize that hiking alone can be dangerous. Please note that I take appropriate precautions, but I try not to live my life from a fear-driven perspective. No therapists were injured in the data-collection of this blog post

What is lack of motivation holding you back from?

‘I got 99 problems … and my inability to self-motivate is causing every single one of them’

We all struggle at some point in time with gathering up the motivation we need to achieve what we want to.   Is there something you can do differently just one day this week that will get you closer to a goal you have for yourself?  Here are some small ways to make changes:

If you want to save money, but you buy coffee every day: Can you skip the coffee run 1 day this week and leave that $5.00 in your account?

If you want to get a new job, but don’t think you have the time to address this:  Can you search the internet for 1 hour, 1 night this week and decide to email your resume to just 1 place during that hour?

If you want to exercise, but haven’t “found the time”: Can you plan ahead before you go to work 1 day this week and pack your sneakers.  Decide to take a 20 minute walk around your employer parking lot (even if that’s all you have access to) during your lunch hour.

I recognize that these are small and basic examples, but sometimes we don’t realize how small changes can lead to more regular habits.  I’m positive you will feel better when you hold yourself to 1 small change – just for this week!

P.S. When you realize you felt better making the “1 small change”, try it again next week….& the week after…& the week after that…&… Best wishes for success!

A weekend wish for you…

ideas-running-around-head We sometimes have so many ideas, thoughts and emotions running through our heads.  During our work weeks, it can be hard to find time to sort through them, to even feel them or savor them.  Did you have a really great moment this week you want to hold on to?  or in contrast, did you and your partner have an argument you haven’t even had time to process yet?  My wish for you is to take some time for yourself this weekend to sit with your thoughts, hear them, feel them (even the difficult ones) and make decisions about what to do about them.  Then, take some time to tend to yourself and your loved ones.

The Yearly Tune-Up

The start of another new year always feels like we get a clean slate to “start over” or make changes we have been putting off. Everyone runs to the gym, diet product sales increase, people set “New Year’s Resolutions” that they rarely keep. I gave up on setting Jan 1 as a date I was going to change a habit a long time ago. I learned that if the window of opportunity opens to make a change, I should start it then! I encourage my clients to do the same.

Even though it feels like we get a clean slate, we don’t. So, setting aside resolutions, I like to look at the start of a new year (or the end of a year) as a time to take an inventory of where my life is. I examine all aspects of my life: my career path/goals, the quality of my marriage, how I’m maintaining (or why I am) friends and family relationships, and most importantly, how I am caring for myself. If any of these things feels out of balance, I try to attend to them to them. I look at is as my yearly tune-up. The years really do seem to start moving faster as I get older, so sometimes the yearly tune-up seems like it came on fast. This year, I know what aspects of my life need a tune-up and I’m going to address them. Some things I plan to take care of are much easier than others – that’s just part of life. Other things I’m planning will need the support of at least my husband and probably some friends to help make happen – so I guess I’ll be summoning them for support!

How do you view the passing of another year – does it mean something significant for you? Do you have any life rituals you participate in? Anything you feel needs a tune-up in your life? I’d love to hear about it.

” The difference between who you are and who you want to be … is what you do.”