Overcome your loneliness by being alone.

By Toni O’KEEFFE

April, 2022

As a child, I grew up in a loud, hectic, sometimes frenzied Irish Catholic home, buzzing with family gatherings, birthday parties, activities related to my moms real estate business, the daily preparations required for my Dad’s restaurant, the screech of musical instruments being practiced, seven children running-playing-fighting, mom hollering out orders, lots of pets (including my sister Suzie’s pet rooster) cousins, aunts, uncles and friends constantly coming and going.

It was loud and it was busy.

Up until a few years ago, my adult life had also been a constant buzz of career busyness, multiple moves, volunteer work, my boys, their antics and extracurricular activities, house guests, exchange students, lots of pets and a busy social life.

For decades I craved alone time, it never arrived. Then, one day it did.

There I sat on the floor in my kitchen, living alone for the first time in over 40 years. And, I’d never felt so lost, so alone or so sad.

My children were grown, my eldest son had passed away, my marriage had ended, I was retired and had stepped away from community service to manage health issues.

Over the course of my life I had drawn my identity from the many hats, roles and responsibilities I had worn, and the busyness that kept my mind and life occupied.

After decades of being somebody’s sister, daughter, mother, wife, boss, employee, volunteer, now I was, well, I had no idea.

I was exhausted, probably depressed and didn’t feel emotionally able to reach out or connect with anyone, in fact, I didn’t want too.

My little spirit was spent, she needed to rest. She knew we had to turn inward, to feel the deepest sense of loneliness and loss before we could reimagine what our life should be. So, I surrendered. I listened, and let her guide me.

I cocooned myself for several month, slowing growing new wings and transforming the life I had lived over several decades, into something new, different and purposeful.

It was during my alone time that I learnt how to quiet the busyness in my mind and listen to the thoughts percolating in the deepest corners of my soul.

I was able to focus on my health, read a few books, took a lot of walks and did some amazing solo travel. I tapped into creative pursuits that had always been there, but hadn’t been exercised in along while.

Then, I began to remember who I was, I mean, who I really was. To my surprise I realized that I’m more of an introvert than I imagined. I came to recognize and appreciate some of the creative traits and habits I had inherited from my father. I understood what it must have been like for my mother when her career came to an end, her children had left the nest, her husband had passed away and she had to create new purpose and joy in her life. I developed a deeper sense of empathy and gratitude for both my parents.

Being alone taught me that my happiness and my joy is my job. We can not expect our partners or our children or anyone to be responsible for, or be, our only source of happiness. We must cultivate our own interests, hobbies and joy.

Being alone has power. Once we learn how to be alone and be happy, we can better recognize if our life choices are drawn from a place of happiness or loneliness.

My alone time is now something I look forward to. It’s during my alone time that I get to visit the best parts of myself and I remember what it is I’m here to do.

It is in this quiet space that I continue to lay down the stepping stones towards my own growth.

I’ve evolved my perception of loneliness over the past few years into an understanding that ~ Loneliness does not come from not having others around us, it comes from not knowing our purpose, our passions and ourselves.

Alone time, when we use it well, allows us time to think, to recharge, to be creative, to foster self reliance and helps us unearth our authentic selves. It also allows us to re-examine who we want in our lives and the types of relationships we want to cultivate.

I love the quote;

“Not all those who wander are lost”

~ from J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem “The Riddle of Strider”, this quote echoes my own belief that ~ When we wander alone ~ we find ourselves.

When embraced, being alone can be peaceful, healing and healthy. It’s an opportunity to find ourselves without the commentary and expectations of anyone else and, just BE.

Toni O’KEEFFE ~❤️🌹

**artwork ~ The Secret Window by Shawna Erback

Is it time for a social media break up?

By Toni O’KEEFFE

Is social media ruining our personal and romantic relationships?

Are we forgetting how to communicate?

Are adults spending too much time scrolling through pics of their ex, the cute girl or guy from the office or their latest obsession, when they should be spending time building and growing the important relationships in their lives?

Apparently, we are.

One third of all divorce cases since 2016 in the UK, cite “social media” in the proceedings as a cause for disharmony in the relationship. Another survey suggests one third of all relationship break ups “worldwide” are the results of social media behaviour and engagement. 😮

But let’s be clear, it’s not necessarily the fault of social media, it’s the temptation it breeds to be stealth, sneaky, and disengage from real relationships and engage in unfettered behaviour that’s causing the problem.

The ease in which people can scroll and get away with flirting, sexting, viewing, stalking and micro-cheating make it easy to engage online.

This environment also makes it easy for disinformation and conspiracy theory’s to be spread and wreak havoc on our family’s, and our personal and romantic relationships.
I’ll write more about that on another day.

Good communication is essential to good relationships. Our obsession with social media has destroyed communications between partners, parents and their children and caused breakups between friends.

A 2015 poll of adults found that 89 per cent admitted they took out a phone to view social media during their last social gathering. 82 per cent say the conversation they we’re having, deteriorated after they did.
71 percent also admitted to using social media in ways they knew their partner wouldn’t like, e.g stalking an ex, flirting, staying connected to a crush or viewing pics of a cutie from work.

A number of studies also point to a decline in our mental health from over exposer to social media.

Social networking sites are rampant with opportunities for self-promotion and ego-boosting. The number of narcissists feeding on likes, new followers, complementary comments and love emoji‘s from those willing to offer them up to feed their own desires and fantasies, is staggering.

Both the narcissist and those following them (and enabling them) are contributing partially to the downfall of real life communications and relationships.

A study led by mental health research Julia Brailovskaia, showed that narcissism is associated with high levels of Facebook and Instagram use. Her study also shows, the need for popularity and ego boosting can be dangerously addictive.

Of course social media is not all bad. It allows us to stay connected, reconnect and reach out. However, when it takes us away from our primary relationships, makes us mentally unwell, impacts our real world communications, erodes trust in our romantic relationships or is being used to spread misleading information or cause harm, then maybe it’s time for a break.

There is so much information on this topic, so, I’ve posted a few links below which relate to the studies and information I’ve referenced above for those who are interested in this topic.

So, on this happy day-after-Valentine’s-post, I think it’s time for me to take a break, turn off my social media platforms for a bit, and spend some time in the real world.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, real world, rest of the week.

Make the memory

If they ask you to dance, to take a walk, to play, to go for coffee or ask you for advice; make the time, make the memory.

It should never be an inconvenience to
share time with those we love.

Whether it’s your partner, parent, a sibling, your child or your best friend, the day will come when one of you is gone.

When that day arrives you’ll ache for a day, an hour, or even a glance at the one you lost, or, they will be aching for you.
Life will go on for one of you, but it will never be the same.

As you read the words above, who are the people that came to mind, the ones you would ache for if your time together came to an end? Are there wounds to heal or words to say before that day arrives?
If so, heal the wounds and say the words.
Then make the memories beautiful ones.

Toni O’KEEFFE ~ 🌹❤️

If I could sit under a tree with my younger self I’d tell her;

You and every soul who shares this journey with you, is beautiful, unique and amazing. You’re all supposed to be different. So be yourself, love yourself, express yourself and let others do the same. It’s okay to wear two different coloured socks (and I know you want to.)

You’ve got a-lot of ground to cover, don’t waste time staying stuck, overthinking your next move, going back to old boyfriends or reliving the past. Move forward.

You’ll learn more when you listen and observe, rather than being busy making noise. My dear, you don’t know it all.

You’re going hurt some people, not on purpose, still, always apologies.
Some people will hurt you, not always on purpose, still, always forgive them.

There’s a million right ways to do something. It doesn’t have to be your way.

Your happiness is your job, nobody else’s. (However coffee, chocolate and puppies will help)

No matter what, be kind. Your kind heart and positive attitude are the most beautiful things you’ll ever wear.

When you feel stuck, go to the forest, walk around a lake, look up at the stars or sit quietly next to the ocean and, the answers will come.

You’re going to make some big mistakes. Yup, some really big ones. Be grateful, for ALL of them, even the most painful, ugly, messed up ones. Then forgive yourself, take the lessons and move on.

There’s a little bit of whimsey in you, don’t be afraid or forget, to let her out to play.

Enjoy this adventure, it won’t last long. Be curious, explore, have lots of fun and help others do the same.

When this journey is over, make sure you’ve left all your love, your words, your music, your magic, your wisdom and your gratitude out on the field for others to grow on.🌹❤️

Don’t be afraid to get lost

Don’t be afraid
to get lost,

We’re not meant
to stay in
one place.

We’re meant
to roam, to go
on big adventures,

to discover
amazing things
about ourselves
and our world,

to meet people
with different
perspectives
and ideas,

to trip, fall and
get back up,

to make a few
wrong turns
and get lost,

all so we can find
our way home again.

So, Go – Get – Lost.

TO’K~🌹❤️

Organic Therapy ~

When you seek respite
from a noisy mind,
or a noisy world,
go to the forest.

She will welcome you in
and never ask you to leave.

She will embrace you and
offer you sanctuary.

She will listen, comfort you
and calm your tired soul.

She will not judge
or ask you why you came.

She will allow you to sit quietly
and just breathe.

And sometimes,
that’s all we need.

TO’K~🌹❤️

Stop worrying so much about do little ~

Beautiful friend.
Stop worrying so much about so little.

Don’t worry about the ones that left you behind, be grateful for the ones who are still by your side.

Don’t worry about promises not kept or plans that didn’t work out. They weren’t supposed to, they weren’t meant for you.

Don’t worry about the past or be angry, jealous or spiteful about days gone by. Be grateful for the lessons and move on.

What hurt you yesterday, has already begun to heal today. If yesterday didn’t go exactly as you hoped, today the slate is clean, you get to start over.

We’re all magical, messy, mixed up little souls painting lives that are constantly works in progress. So, my beautiful friend, stop being so hard on yourself and stop worrying so much, about so little.

Be gentle with yourself today and every day.
Just relax you messy little soul, just relax.
TO’K~ 🌹❤️

Pain can be a beautiful teacher~

We learn more during life’s painful moments and challenges, than we learn in our moments of glory.

Each stabbing ache, each crushing disappointment, each heartbreak, every loss or painful fall from grace, allows us an opportunity to grow and become stronger.

Whether it’s emotional or physical; pain forces us to slow down, rest and take the time we need to heal.

Getting knocked down isn’t always a bad thing. Pain can leave us humbled, wiser and more patient. It allows us to lower our veil, be vulnerable, more tolerant and compassionate towards the pain we see or even cause, in others.

Sometimes pain itself is the cure for the things in life that hurt us; as it slows us down long enough to evaluate what and who is important.

When pain knocks on your door, let it in, sit with it. Let it show you what it wants you to see, to learn or to grow into.

Pain always, ALWAYS, brings with it opportunities for transformation. Opportunities to wrap yourself in your cocoon, and when you’re ready, to emerge with greater clarity about who you are, what’s important, why you’re here and how you want to live, love, play and BE.

Pain can be a beautiful teacher. Don’t waste your pain on “the pain” use this opportunity as a stepping stone to chart the next chapter of your journey.

Your pain will hurt you, it will also help, heal and lead you.

TO’K ~ 🌹❤️

Your words have weight. Exercise them carefully.~

I dislike and rarely use, the term “The truth hurts.” because, it doesn’t always have to.

Even when we convey disappointing or unpleasant information, we can still use words to reassure, comfort, support, show empathy, motivate, inspire, educate or encourage optimism.

In a world where it’s easy to use multiple mediums to fire off messages filled with emotional backlash and sometimes dire consequences, we need to choose our words carefully.

It’s not always “the truth” that hurts, it can be the mis-truths, the half truth, the lies, the mean spirited intent behind the words or how a message is delivered, that hurts.

Your words can break a spirit or save it, bring light to someones day or shroud it in darkness, can lift someone up or tear them down, can soften a heart or make it cold, deliver tears of joy or tears of sorrow, can influence opinion and evoke emotion.

Our words are little bullets. On average, most of us fire off approximately 7000 of them every single day. (OK some of us may use a few more than that😊)

When eloquently strung together those 26 little letters (if you speak English) can make up words that move us to create, laugh, cry and touch one another in the most profound ways.

Before you speak or send a message ask yourself; have I been kind? have I been sensitive? is the information true? is the information even necessary?

Then ask yourself “Will my words cause pain or discomfort?” If they will, ask yourself how you can be supportive, inspire or encourage optimism, healing and growth?

It’s equally important to be cautious with your silence. Our words when left unspoken, can be just as powerful. The things we do not say or do not ask or do not explore, can send messages indicating we do not care, we’re not interested or we’ve given up. Words left unspoken sometimes create a void others fill with assumptions. Most often, incorrect assumptions.

Other times your silence is exactly what the situation calls for. It says I’m not going to engage in what might be an emotionally charged setting. So rather than using your words, it might be best to listen compassionately to the words of others.

Your words both spoken and unspoken belong to you. Before you fire them off or keep them locked in your holster, consider the impact and the consequences of each powerful bullet.

No work-out routine, diet program, steroid, or sizeable muscle mass will give you more power than the weight your words.
Exercise them carefully.

Toni O’Keeffe~🌹❤️

You don’t have to fit in

Let’s stop telling each other to “fit in”.
We either fit or we don’t.
If we don’t, we’re not supposed to.

If I tried to force my body into a size 0 pair of jeans, the experience would be painful. I’d look awful, I’d be uncomfortable, feel horrible and I wouldn’t be able to move or share my gifts.

So why do we try and make souls fit where they’re not supposed to? or, be things they’re not meant to be?

Our “have to fit in” culture has caused generations of beautiful, creative, intelligent, loving souls to feel less than they are and has stifle their contribution to the world.

The world needs your kind of magic.
Don’t hide the colourful, quirky, woo-woo in you.
If you do, how will your tribe ever find you?

Toni O’K ~🌹❤️