I had never traveled alone before until last weekend. Espeically somewhere as remote as the desert. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever truly been alone before like that, ever.
Sure I had moments at home by myself. When JP would take the kids to dinner or the park. Hours to myself when the house is quiet.
But I’d never actually truly been anywhere, by myself, for multiple days like that. Where it’s truly just me. No kids, no husband, no friend, no one.
I went to Joshua Tree to get some momentum going on a book I’m writing, but I had no idea it would be such a life-changing experience for me personally as well.
I booked the house on sort of a whim. I hadn’t really talked with JP or anyone about it. I knew if I tried thinking about this logically I would come up with a million excuses why I couldn’t make it work. Not enough time, money, resources, to go around. Taking a trip like this, for just me, felt extremely indulgent. Not necessary.
I think that’s the phrase that really stood out for me. Up until now, I had categorized so many things in our life into “essential vs. nonessential”. What do we HAVE to buy, do, prioritize, in order to make our home, and our family life run smoothly? And for a family of six, and let’s be honest, for all of us really, the list can feel long. Almost overwhelming at times.
So never in a million years would I have categorized a trip like this as “essential”, and yet now I can’t see it any other way.
I think the reason in the past I would have brushed off a trip like this in the past because I didn’t understand or value the importance of true self-care – or better yet, understand what self care truly is.
To care for oneself. Be with oneself. And most importantly, love oneself.
Our society today talks A LOT about the concept of “self-care”, but in truth, it’s just fluff. We joke about runs to Target being an escape or schedule a babysitter to get our nails done or a massage if we’re lucky. Or take a bath when the kids go to bed, and somehow think that’s self-care. Wondering why we’re still exhausted, disconnected, or running on empty.
When in reality, true self-care, only happens with deep self-knowing. An awareness, understanding, and acceptance of who we truly are. From that place of self-knowledge, we can learn how to care for ourselves in ways deeper than nails and target runs (not that those aren’t great too)
But most of us have never had the opportunity to connect with ourselves on a deeper level. To learn about ourselves or even just simply hear ourselves think.
This trip to Joshua Tree was my first time, ever, being alone long enough to truly hear myself think. To block out all the noise and distractions of the outside world so that I could slow down and quiet my mind enough long enough to hear my thoughts.
And I’ll be honest, it wasn’t what I expected.
In many ways, these three days alone were extremely uncomfortable. I found myself pacing the house a few times, wondering what I should be “doing”. Feeling uncomfortable with so much wide open time in front of me. No structure. No plan. Just me and 72 hours of quiet.
There were moments I felt lonely. Wanted to call JP and the kids. And I’ll be honest, even thought about leaving.
My mind really wanted to escape.
But instead, I settled into the uncomfortable feelings. Reminding myself that this discomfort was to be expected. That this feeling, being truly with myself, was new for me. Not looking for someone or something else to dictate my day, my schedule, my needs. But instead to be truly on my own.
It was a really powerful experience.
Looking back now, on those few days, I’m so grateful for the experience. It’s something I will now be making a priority in my life. Just like I do for the health and well-being of so many other people in my life.
Time alone, just me, I now see as a vital role in my personal growth. If I truly want to practice self-love and self-care – it starts with self-knowing. And that only happens when I create space and time to get comfortable being alone with myself.
I know this experience, being in Joshua Tree for multiple days, is something that may not be attainable for many of us. For years, doing something like this felt out of reach for me as well. So I recognize that we are all working with different circumstances.
But in that same breath, while multiple days away may not be in the cards for all of us, we are ALL capable of creating more space to truly be present with ourselves. We are all capable of stepping back, evaluating where our time/energy is going, and make changes. Look for simple ways, starting today, to learn to be WITH yourself more. Taking a walk, alone with no music or podcast. A dinner out, just you, no book or cell phone in hand. A night away.
It may not seem obvious at first, and it will come with having to make some changes (or have some uncomfortable conversations), and most likely your inner voice will tell you how you’re being silly or don’t have “time” for things like this. But I promise you, for someone who waited almost 44 years to be alone for the first time in her life – it changes everything.