Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Table For One

As a busy wife, mom, employee and ecetera, my spare time it extremely limited and I find that which I call "spare" dwindles everyday. I find it is hard to make time for others, and even harder to realized the time we need to make for ourselves. It has been in the past year that I have hit the "bottom" so to speak of the "barrel" of what I can give out and was forced to realize my own needs and the necessity to take time out for me, by myself, not doing, not going, not accomplishing...but just being still, quiet, and alone.

One of my favorite places to do this is on the pier at my parent's house. Just sitting or laying there, eyes closed, feeling my skin absorb the warmth of the sun's rays. A gentle breeze in the air and a methodical slapping of waves against the pier or the hull of their boat. It is a peace like no other and I can just let my mind rest and it seems as if the sound of the water can speak to me and allow me to meditate on the the weights in my mind and give me a clarity that can't be found by any friend's advice, motivational quote or bumper sticker. As much as I love these moments on the dock, they are very few and far between as it's hard for me to relax when there is so much to do.

I have found that the easiest time I can make for myself is in an hour lunch break during my Monday-Friday work week. I am used to carving this time out for lunch dates with friends to foster those relationships, but have not until recently realized how much my inner person needed me to set a few of these lunch dates aside for myself, without a companion, without a project, errand, facebook status update or a computer in front of me. Up until this past year, I did not understand the person sitting at a table alone, nor would I ever be the one walking into a restaurant by myself to be that person. I used to look at others sitting alone and feel sympathy for them not having anyone to sit and share a conversation with as they ate their meal. If I was eating alone, I was perfectly content opting for the drive thru lane and taking my to-go bag back to my desk. It wasn't until recently that I pushed through the self concious nervousness of sitting alone in public. Yes, it's stupid, but true. I would get nervous to sit by myself, so much in fact that I would have panic attacks that would force me out out of the restaurant with the all too common to-go bag once again. 

Well, somehow I learned to get past the attacks, the nervousness, and the rule in my head that said you couldn't dine alone unless you had no friends or were infected with a contagious disease. I'm kidding about the disease part, but you get the idea. I had this "loser" mentality created in my head about eating alone. I'm really not sure where it came from, but would guess it was probably derived from the unspoken rules of the common school lunchroom mentality we learn as children. No one wants to sit alone and you always want to be sitting at the "right" table with the "right" kids. Well, finally in my thirties, I am able to deconstruct that childhood lie and realize that the table I am sitting at by myself is "right" in every way possible. I have come to realize that lunch by myself can be a luxury of disconnection from everything else around me and reconnection with my own thoughts, a luxury I have mistakenly cheated myself out of for all these years. I'm on my lunch break, off work, the kids are at school, my husband is at work, and for this one hour I can throw off all weights of responsibility to everyone but myself. My phone is normally quiet because it's lunch time and people are busy eating, not texting and calling. In the rare instance that it trys to distract me, I have found this rarely used button that surprisingly turns the phone off so even it can't interrupt this all too important time. I am for this one hour able to slice myself out of the world and have some time to not have to give to anyone or anything but myself and my thoughts. I have found that these alone times are just as necessary to my mind as the food I am eating is to my stomach. I have found solitude, serenity and refreshment sitting at a table for one.

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