Going solo

This weekend I checked myself into rehab. Not that kind of rehab. No, I checked myself into a hotel room where I’d spend the next 48 hours alone if I chose. I’d spend time quiet, contemplative. Mostly, I’d spend time doing what I want.

I’ve got a line in my book that says:

Moms fantasize about being admitted to the hospital just so they can get some downtime.

Oh, it’s true. I’ve heard it from too many women for it not to be. And it doesn’t even have to be moms necessarily. In today’s age, we’re all overstimulated, never alone. One thing moms might have a little less of is the (perceived) freedom to do what they want.

You see, self care is simply the act of taking care of yourself. And many times that just means doing what you want to do. Self care doesn’t have to be a massage or a bubble bath. It’s just doing something you want to do. Not doing what everyone else wants to do. Not doing what has to be done.

That’s a lost art in modern motherhood. In fact, I’ve longed dreamed about starting a retreat that I’d advertise with the concept:

Rehab before you need rehab.

I felt myself in a funk. It’s been a high stress year with our move and also with our pending retirement. I’m working on accepting that those things are stressful while also managing my thoughts so it doesn’t get out of control. Big life changes are tough. But I’m tougher. Right? Wrong, at least at this point. So, off to the hotel I went.

This looks like a place anyone could spend some quality alone time, doesn’t it?

When I checked in, I just sat there and stared at the beautiful, clean and quiet room. Yes. This will do nicely.

My friend asked me what I was going to do while I was in Raleigh. Yes, we both love traveling and exploring. This time though, solitude is what the doctor ordered. Stillness. I actually had the vision of a teenage style slumber party with myself. I read books, I watched tv shows, I took long showers, I journaled and I slept in. It was glorious.

My shower didn’t have a full door. Not sure why. But it didn’t.

It’s probably not a coincidence that I’d been reading (and now have finished) Lead Yourself First which is a book about solitude for leaders. Being a mom, I read most things from that perspective. And, I always steal John Maxwell’s quote:

Everything rises and falls on mom’s leadership.

Moms set the tone for the home, they do so much and have so many things required of them. The book spent a lot of time recounting military tales of leaderships and solitude with some business and even a mom or two story sprinkled in. The business and military world recognize the need for solitude for their leaders. The book explains how solitude generates clarity, spawns creativity, restores emotional balance, and in it we find the moral courage necessary to overcome adversity and criticism (Hat tip: WSJ). 

What about in the home? If you’re a mom (or if you know one, ask them) tell me when the last time you were alone was? When was the last time you took the time to reflect and restore “emotional balance?”

In the book, they mention how leaders become overwhelmed by a tangled mass of goals, obstacles, inputs and interruptions. If that isn’t a perfect description of the challenges of motherhood, I don’t know what is. Due to that overwhelm, moms become burned out, anxious, depressed, they over eat, they over drink, they over Netflix and they over Facebook. It’s an epidemic. Modern motherhood is pure crazy.

Is it so interesting to think about what you’d do with a day or a few hours to yourself? I know many moms would say they’d go grocery shopping by themselves. #facepalm. I’m talking about time with no responsibilities, no requirements. Imagine doing that, then imagine how it would make you feel. How would you show up in the world after some time like that? 

If solitude is good enough for our military and business leaders, it’s good enough for moms. Equally valuable and necessary.

Though I’ve been a leader in former careers, jobs and as an entrepreneur, I still read these quotes with the eyes of a mom:
“A leader takes on larger forces (toddlers? after school activities?) than himself. When a leader has clarity and conviction about how to deal with those forces, he feels himself a match for them.”
“An effective leader is the person who can maintain their balance and reflect, when a lot of people around them are reacting.” (yelling & hurrying versus guiding and margin?)
“The point is that every leader has her emotional limits, and there is no shame in exceeding them. What distinguishes effective leaders from inferior ones, rather, is their ability to restore their emotional balance.” (Limits are real & okay, to be effective you need to restore balance. How do you do that? When?)


So there you have it, my argument that you need to go solo. Your turn, answer the prompts in your journal or in the comments:

  • How can you find solitude?
  • How often can take time for yourself?
  • Do you believe it’s necessary?
  • Do you believe you deserve that?
  • How do you think a few hours or a day solo would change your current attitude / state of being?
  • How would you return after time solo?

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