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

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 ~ 🌹❤️

This dream is for you

I know you feel weak and can not muster the strength to dream.
So, this dream is for you.
In this dream, you are loved.
You do not judge yourself or measure your life or success against the lives of others.
You have let go of behaviours, material possessions, substances and people that do not bring you joy.
You are kind, compassionate and loving to yourself and others.
You feel whole in who you are.
You realize that “IT” all happened for a reason, even if “IT” was painful, it had purpose.
You are able to forgive.
You are healing.
You are happy, healthy, loved, and creative.
Your mind, body and spirit are peaceful and your journey now makes sense.

I dream of you enjoying warm sunny days and star lite nights, away from the glow of civilized chaos, melting into the stillness and healing embrace of the natural world.

If you’ve lost your way and can’t see the road ahead, my beautiful, amazing, soul friend, this dream is for you.

Love Toni ~ 🌹❤️

You’re allowed to stop

By Toni O’Keeffe

You’re allowed to stop,
to rest,
to reflect,
and catch your breath.
Go find your sanctuary amongst the trees, under the stars, next to the lull of moving water or in a field of wild flowers or tall soft grass.
Somewhere tranquil, uncluttered, and away from the noise, where you can surrender to the sound of your soul whispering all that she wants you to know.
You’re allowed to step away from everything that ails you and everything and everyone that demands something from you. You don’t have to explain why, you may not even know why.
Give yourself permission to take a break from all of it and drown yourself in peace.
It’s in this peacefulness that the answers will come.

Toni O’K~ 🌹❤️

Why did we step into each other’s lives?

By Toni O’Keeffe

I’ve often wondered why certain people have come into my life, or why I stepped into theirs.
Some have turned my world upset down leaving me to clean up the rubble and put the piece of my shattered self back together.
Others made my think, made me laugh, made me shake my head, inspired me or loved me just enough and then they were gone.
I have come to understand and appreciate that sometimes we’re meant to step into someone’s life for barely a moment.
Just long enough to leave a small imprint and change each other in ways we might never know.
We walk together from one place and time to another, and then, head to separate shores, knowing with great clarity that we’re profoundly different, although not quite sure how.
Be grateful for everyone that comes in and out of your life. Wish them peace, happiness and love.
Each of these beautiful souls brought you something magnificent, even if it was painful. They helped shape you into who you are.
And who you are, is wonderful.

Thank you for stepping into my world, if only for a moment.

TO’K~🌹❤️

Wisdom is🌹

By Toni O’Keeffe

Wisdom is forgiving ourselves and others, for everything.
Its being comfortable letting go, and letting others do the same.

Wisdom is the gift that comes after each mistake, every heartache, all of our grief, every wrong turn and being grateful because we know the pain is the lesson.

Wisdom is knowing when it’s time to surrender and just trust.

Wisdom is the beautiful, slippery, steppingstones on which we build our lives.

Toni O’K ~ 🌹 ❤️

Sanctuaries

When the darkness of unsettled days block your light, there is always a sanctuary of infinite beauty you can escape to that will lift your spirit and help you heal.

Go to the waters edge, breathe slowly and inhale the sweet, softness of the ocean and exhale the weight of the burdens you carry.

Find a mossy, tree lined forest path to lead you away from your busy days, far from the heaviness of whatever ails you.

Retreat to a rocky bluff and let the setting sun melt your pain and relax your worries.

Gaze into the moonlight and stardust, allowing their glow to light your way and hold your dreams until you’re ready to chase them again.

While you’re at it, climb a ladder into the twilight, touch the stars and let the magic of their brilliance warm your soul.

Nature provides the music, the colour, the awe, the sweet perfume of life, the quiet and the peace that will help you heal.

Before you return to the reality of your world, take a gratitude moment to relish in your own beauty and give thanks for the true miracle you are. Let go of toxic ties and reclaim the grace of everything beautiful that’s waiting for you.

No matter what’s blocking your path or causing you pain, you can always seek refuge in the sanctuaries’ nature offers, even if these tranquil retreats exist only in the deepest corners of your mind.
Close your eyes and go to them.
You deserve to heal❤️

Toni O’K~ 🌹❤️

It’s time to get out of the mud.

By Toni O’Keeffe

Hey humanity,
We’ve been in the mud long enough,
It’s time to be brave,
To find the courage to do what’s right,
To fix what we’ve collectively broken,
It’s time for each of us to do our part,
It’s time to play nice,
It’s time to grow-up.

Toni O’K~🌹❤️

ON MY WORST DAY – I was still grateful.

On my worst day, I woke up, although a part of me wished I hadn’t.

I dragged my aching soul out from under the covers and hauled myself across the room. Life felt unbearable and hopeless. But still, I had a life.

I stepped outside on to the small balcony of my hotel room and let the wind tussle my hair and let the rain kiss my tear stained cheeks and sooth my crippled soul.

My eyes were swollen, yet, I could faintly see the dim, blue, sky hidden behind hazy, grey clouds. Although I could not see the sun, I knew it was there, hiding and helping life flourish.

My heart was broken, but, it was still beating and I still had the capacity to love.

The ache tore through my entire being, paralyzed my body, but, I could still stand and I could still feel.

I gazed out across the steely cold ocean knowing that beneath the surface of the water beautiful things were alive. And I knew that below the surface of my pain, there was a powerful force swimming in the dark that would help me heal.

I closed my tired eyes and was able to visit the corners of my mind where I held the image of every beautiful soul that had ever wandered in and out of my life. I would need them now.

On my worst day, my very worst day, there was still so much to be grateful for.

Even on your worst days, there will be something beautiful to believe in. Be always grateful for those things.

TO’K ~ 🌹❤️