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

Rainy Monday morning ramble☔️

Rainy Monday mornings, the perfect opportunity for rambling reflections☔️.

Outside, dull gray clouds drop rain from the sky, creating small pools of water on my patio. I’m snuggled inside, coffee in one hand, pen in the other and a fire warming my toes. My puppy Bo’ is also snuggled up, enjoying the calm a morning like this brings.

An array of birds are taking shelter in the hedge outside my window, popping out every so often to pluck a worm from the ground and take it back to the nest.

The wind and the chill provide the perfect opportunity to sink into a cozy ponder of thought. My first thought being; I am so blessed and grateful for this life.

The day also provides the opportunity to ask; “What did I learn or observed last week that will help me this week?” Hmm so many thoughts come to mind.

I observed a war that makes no sense. Young men, woman, fathers and mothers, fighting and dying for the deranged ego of a narcissistic leader. What if they all just put down their weapons and walked away, walked back to their homes and families? War is pointless. No one person should ever hold so much power over so many. War teaches us how fragile our lives, our way of life and our planet is. So this week I will live with a more grateful and compassionate heart.

Last week, I observed thousands, maybe millions of people around the world unite to support those in need and those who are hurting. These acts of humanity have reminded me that the human spirit has a huge capacity to care, to help and to love. We’re so much better when we work together. So, I will join others, when I can, to make our world a better place.

I observed the selfish and reckless behaviour of a few, bent on getting their way irregardless of the impact their actions had on others, cause disruption and chaos. Witnessing this type of behaviour reminds me that our actions, even when merely observed, can have a far reaching impact. Someone is always watching, observing and learning, including our children. Our actions can create positive ripples or waves of destruction, the choice is ours.

I observed how little it takes to make myself happy. A few stones collected from the seashore, a paint brush and my imagination, can clear my mind and keep me busy for hours. We don’t always need to have great expectations of ourselves. The best things are often simply things and simple moments, and the calm and contentment these moments bring.

As you start out this new week, I hope you reflect on what learning you will take with you, what type of ripple you create and what behaviours or expectations you will leave behind. Whatever you decide, I hope it brings you (and perhaps others) calm, contentment and peace ☮️.
Love Toni ~ 🌹❤️

Born Free? What?

Individual freedom would imply you are not tied or tethered to anyone or anything. You are free to go, do, say or be whatever you want.

But, that’s not exactly the reality of the world we coexist in. We are individual human threads, interwoven across the colourful patchwork we call humanity.

None of us are completely free, nor will we ever be (well, until, you know😇).
We are connected, whether we like it or not.

When the fabric at one end of the patchwork is torn, it affects us all and there is potential for ALL OF US to unravel.

It’s to our collective benefit ~ whether there’s a war, a pandemic or natural disaster~ to rally and support the piece of the patchwork that’s damaged or suffering. There’s a shared responsibility for “the whole”, to which we all benefit and to which we all have a responsibility. Bee’s get it🐝.

We spend a lot of time espousing our individual freedoms and rights, but not a lot of time teaching children (or ourselves) about our individual responsibilities and interdependence.

Despite what the song says, we are “NOT” Born Free. We are born into a hive that is completely interdependent and reliant on social cooperation. What happens to one of us, affects all of us.


“Bee” kind to each other and this beautiful, sort-of-happy, hive that is our shared home.

Love
Toni 🐝❤️🐝

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.

Stay Real!

Don’t ever apologize for, or be ashamed of, the bits and pieces of you others call kooky or weird.

Honest to fricken Murphy, those kooky, weird bits are the best, most beautiful, unique pieces of you and your happy, colourful soul.

Dance your dance, sing your tunes, blaze trails, light up the sky and bedazzle your world anyway you want.

As long as you’re not hurting anyone,
spread your magic baby!

You my dear deserve to live like the
absolute masterpiece you are.

Toni O’K ~🌹❤️

Waiting

We spend our lives waiting.

Waiting in line, waiting for the right time, the right person, the right place.

Waiting for winter, for spring, for summer and then waiting for fall.

Waiting for days to be warmer, then to be colder.

Waiting for the sun to rise, for the sun to set.

Waiting until we loose weight.

Waiting for our children to arrive, to walk, to talk, to go to school, to leave and then, waiting and hoping they’ll come back home.

Waiting to find a job, waiting to find a better job, then counting the days to retirement.

Waiting until we have money, waiting until we have more money.

Waiting to do the things we’ve always wanted to do.

Waiting for somethings to begin and others to end.

Waiting to find “the one” then, to find the next “one”.
Waiting for the heartache and pain to go away.

Waiting to find ourselves and understand our purpose.

We barely remember the things we’ve been waiting for because the moment they arrive we start waiting for the next thing to show up.

As children we could hardly wait to grow up.
Then as we get older things change.
We want to slow it all down.
We want to hold on to the few precious moments we get with those we love.

We become aware of how fast it’s all gone by. We try so hard to slow it down, to be present, but it keeps moving, even faster now.

Stop waiting and just BE.
Appreciate where you’re at; even if it’s painful.
Be grateful for this moment, this time, this lesson, the joy, the sorrow, whatever it is, BE with it. Be in awe of it and the learning that comes with it.

The day will arrive when you miss where you’re at today. You will look back on the most difficult times of your life and realize these were the most important and transformational moments of your life. They set the stage for the good things that followed.

You will also look back on all those special small moments and wished you had lingered in them longer. So linger in them now.

Don’t wait it all away. BE present with it today.

Toni O’KEEFFE ~ 🌹❤️

We’re at our best in the beginning of our journey and at the end.

Spending time with a four year old or, a 94 year old, reminds us how wonderful it is to play, to laugh, to dream, to love, to observe butterflies and to spend time getting messy eating watermelon, planting flowers or making a campfire.

These wise older and younger souls will gladly take your hand and guide you to the forest or the seashore, as they know these places are extraordinary and make the best classrooms.

Time spent with little people and our elders affirm the fact that naps are necessary, the sun, the stars and the moon are absolutely magical and our beautiful planet deserves to be loved.

They’ll encourage you to be who you are, wear what you want (the more colour the better)and remind you to let others do the same.

Their animated and colourful stories will take you to places you forgot you were missing and remind you that the world is still a dazzling and fascinating place.

You’ll giggle as they whisper secrets in your ear and tell you it’s okay to talk to your cat, dog, bird or other animal because these creatures are wonderful friends and they always listen.

The young and the old teach us kindness, patients, compassion and the importance and beauty in being still when we stop to inhale the essence of a buttercup, tulip or a rose.

Never underestimate their wisdom and the powerful impact they can have on your well-being. Their lingering hugs and the enthusiastic excitement shown when they greet you, is a reminder that you’re awesome and you’re loved.

Human beings are at our best in the beginning of our journey and at the end. It’s during these periods we know what matters and we happily give love away.

The periods of life in between can be confusing. Our minds become overwhelmed and overstimulated by things not really important at all.

We seem to park the wisdom of our early years, somewhere along our path. If we’re lucky we find it again before this amazing adventure ends.

If you’re feeling lost, spending time with little people or your elders can be grounding and humbling. We were them, and we’ll be them again.

Toni O’KEEFFE ~🌹❤️