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

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 ~🌹❤️

Allowing yourself and others to change and grow

I was listening (okay I was ease dropping) on a conversation the other day.

Two women were chatting about a common “friend”who is constantly changing.

“She can’t stay in one place,” one of them said. “She has changed jobs four or five times since I’ve known her,” the other one commented in that rolling her eyes tone of voice.

I heard phrases like;

“Get her act together,”

“Stick with one relationship,”.

“Her bohemian phase,” and

“She needs to decided if she’s Buddhist, an atheist or something different.”

Hmm, their “friend” sounds a bit like me in my late 30’s.

It appeared they believed those who are constantly changing are somehow broken.

I have a completely different perspective.

I believe we should be constantly changing.

You’re allowed to change your mind or shift your perspective. Especially when it comes to the big stuff. That’s how we grow.

The knowledge, experience and insights we acquire over the course of our lives SHOULD shape and change us.

My God, if I was still living my life based on the insights and experience of my 12 year old self, I’d be a hot mess of jellybeans, acne and mood swings, guided by my crush on Bobby Sherman and a desire to grow boobs.

Like everything on the planet, we’re supposed to change. Those little seeds we come from are supposed to take root, grow, blossom and then we shed our leaves (aka Feng~shui your life) rest, and start all over again and again and maybe again.

You don’t have to stay in a particular mind set, job, relationship or community if it no longer feels right. When we change our mind, shed old thinking and outdated perspectives, it means we’re thinking, pondering and working our brain muscles. It means we’re growing and creating the space for new adventures, new relationships and new opportunities.

I hope you allow yourself to constantly change and grow. And, along the way you let go of the attitudes, beliefs and people that no longer give you life. If you can’t, at least don’t judge the ones that are.

Toni O’K~🌹❤️

Follow your joy.

If what you’re doing, what you have, where you’re at or who you spend your time with, doesn’t bring you joy ~ give yourself permission to let it go.

If finding joy seems hard because you have a mortgage to pay, a family to support, educational goals you want to achieve or you’re caring for someone, change your perspective and find joy in these things and where these things and people will lead you.

If you can’t change your current circumstances you can still;

  • Make self care a priority. There is no one who is more important and worthy of self care than you, no one.
  • Stop worrying and overthinking, it serves no purpose. It takes as much energy to focus on what’s right in your life, as it takes to focus on what’s wrong. However, the affect of focusing on what’s right can have a huge positive benefit on your physical, spiritual and mental well being.
  • Nurture yourself in nature. Learn to be still beside the ocean, in a forest, or sitting on top of a rocky bluff. Listen to the peacefulness and bring calm into your life.
  • Avoid being drawn into other peoples drama/conflict.
  • Manage the internal dialogue in your head. We tell ourselves stories about ourselves that are just not true. Stories such as “I’ll always be alone.” “I’m going to be in pain my entire life.” “I’ll never get fit.” “I’ll always be poor.” “I won’t be happy until this situation changes.” Change the story you tell yourself about yourself.
  • Make plans to do something you’ve always wanted to do, even if that something is still off in the future.
  • Try spending less $ on “stuff” and spend more time making memories and having experiences.
  • Interact with positive uplifting people.
  • Take a break from media and tune into a comedy channel instead.
  • Purge stuff; sell, donate or get rid of things that no longer serve you and your life.
  • Say goodbye to toxic people and relationships.
  • Stop being offended by every little damn thing. You’re not responsible for how others behave or why they do the things they do. So stop being judgmental or worrying that others may judge you. We’re not all on the same path, we’re not supposed to be.
  • Get moving. Physical activity to the degree you’re able, can; improve your memory and brain function, help manage chronic pain, assist in weight management, lower blood pressure and improve heart health, improve your quality of sleep, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and, reduce “life fatigue”.
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Focus on the things in your life that do bring you joy; the ones you love, your pets, your garden, a sunset, creating art, the first sip of coffee as you start your day, a ride along a stretch of open highway, your cozy pillow ( I love my pillow), kissing the lips of someone you love.

Life can feel like a “whack-a-mole game” with crazy, unpleasant circumstances popping up in unexpected places. You can still be happy, and you can still whack those things with a big smile on your face😁.

If where you’re at now is hard, find joy in knowing these challenging days will be behind you one day. You’ll look back on your struggle and be proud that you were strong and got through it.

When I look back over my life, its not the stuff or the pay cheques that brought me joy, it’s simple pleasures and precious moments that have always lifted me up.

You have more power over your current situation than perhaps you realize. Use this power to grow into the best version of yourself by following your joy.

Wishing you a happy, zenny, joyful, sunshine and lollipops kind of day☀️🍭 🤗

Love Toni ~ 🌹❤️