Enjoying Some “Alone Time”

Over the years, I’ve taken myself out to lunch. Out to coffee. Out to a movie. 

I’ve traveled a bit by myself, too. A writing retreat. An overnight “Mommy-vacation.” Day-long explorations in San Francisco – wandering through the shops in Chinatown, meandering through Golden Gate Park, eating a crepe in the Haight-Ashbury district. (My husband was in all-day trainings for work. While he sat in a hotel conference room, I took the rental car and explored the city.)

I recently read Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom. 

Ms. Rosenbloom explored four cities – Paris, Istanbul, Florence, and New York – alone. While the book is a reflection of her experiences, it also includes statistical information and academic studies supporting the benefits of solitude and solitary pursuits.

I think sometimes people are afraid to be alone. (And let’s be honest, with so many working and learning from home, alone time is a precious thing.) 

Here are a few passages from the book I’d like to share with you:

“Alone time is an invitation, a chance to do the things you’ve longed to do. You can read, code, paint, meditate, practice a language, or go for a stroll.”

“Alone, we can plumb local markets and examine their wares closely. We can breathe in and relish the flavors in a sauce, or the coolness of a pitcher of cream. We don’t necessarily take time to do these things in the presence of company, particularly during lively conversation. A solo meal is an opportunity to go slow; to savor.”

“Even when the outcome isn’t what we hoped it would be, making the effort to experience something new can still be good for us. It can help us think of ourselves as the kind of people who are capable of taking action…”

“…it can whet our appetite for future risks. These risks need not be major. Simply getting out of our comfort zones – trying a different route to work, introducing ourselves to a new neighbor, speaking up for something we believe in – is important…”

“Each day for a week, plan and take a daily vacation by doing something that you enjoy for twenty minutes or more. The vacation can be something as simple as going for a walk around your neighborhood, or thumbing through a book on gardening. Aim to be in the moment…”

Permission Not to be “Strong Tonight”

Do you have a go-to song?

A song you listen to when you need that extra bit of encouragement? That extra motivation to keep pushing through?

I have those songs, but I also need another kind of song.

A song that gives me permission to just stop. Stop trying to be so strong. Stop trying to hold it all together. Stop trying to keep it all inside.

You can click here to be re-directed to The Mighty to read my personal essay, “The Rita Wilson Song That Helps Me Deal With My Chronic Illness.”

Readers, I’d love to know about your songs? Which songs bring you comfort? Which songs help you? Feel free to share in the comments.

Chronic Illness and an Octopus

Over the years, more and more of my writing has described different aspects of my life with a chronic illness. 

Writing about it is different than talking about it.

But that’s what I recently did.

Julie Morgenlender, editor of The Things We Don’t Say: An Anthology of Chronic Illness Truths, recently spoke with me about my experience living with a chronic illness. Among other things, we talked about invisible disabilities and illnesses, ableism, diagnoses, and octopuses!

You can watch the video on YouTube by clicking here.

Deserving of the “Good Paper”

The theme for the March issue of Sasee Magazine is “Planting the Seed.” 

Some writers might read that and think in literal terms – planting seeds, watching a garden grow, waiting for a flower to bloom.

I took that theme and went a different way. 

I wrote about my second grade teacher, Mrs. Jones. It was she who, all those years ago, “planted the seed” and helped me believe I could be a writer.

Click here to read my essay, “Deserving of the Good Paper’ ” in its entirety.


Tales of a Dad with Attitude

You may recognize the name “Chris Erskine” from his columns in the Los Angeles Times. While I primarily write about “books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability),” Mr. Erskine writes about “the absurdities of suburban fatherhood.”

I recently finished Daditude: The Joys and Absurdities of Modern Fatherhood. This book is a collection of columns, many of which are updated with brief comments by his wife and/or children. 

If you’re a parent and live somewhere in the vicinity of Los Angeles, you’re sure to find many of these tales relatable. But readers of any background will find sentences that make you stop, sentences where you think, “Damn; that’s good writing.”

Let me share a few with you:

“I like how, when you open an old treasured book, the binding crackles like a log fire.”

“The baby is now her obsession. Frankly, I don’t understand it. Sure, his skin is like linen. His eyes as bright as a winter sunrise. But his butt is all diaper. He constantly spits up. He has no visible means of support. All in all, he’s me twenty years ago, fresh from college.”

“Like Santa, the little guy seems to see miracles that no one else sees. He spots something, and his eyes glisten like the crystal of a watch. I worry, sometimes, that he might grow up to be a writer.”

“With each new day, a fifth grader fills more of the world. He’ll add muscles between breakfast and lunch. I see him now stretched out on the couch he outgrew this afternoon, taller than he was five breaths before.”

“Her chestnut hair is thinner now, but she still has those killer cheekbones and the cutest dimple – like an apostrophe – on just one side of her smile.”

“Half Sicilian, Posh has been cooking lasagna since she was three. Her version is seven layers deep, as thick as a good quilt and built with the same care craftsmen put into a Lamborghini.”