Who else yearns for family-free alone time?


It’s clear to me that a huge part of a Simplicity Quest is letting go.

This summer, with a house full of “teen scene” and girls who would rather walk across hot coals than be seen with their mother at the local pool, I am experiencing a bit more freedom. I’m letting go of my roles as Julie McCoy (Love Boat cruise director for those of you under 35) and chauffeur extraordinaire. Stolen moments alone have been popping up much more lately, to my sheer delight. I was at my dad’s place this past week and I wrote about how it felt. Strangely, just having time to sit quietly and write felt decadent (and necessary).

* * *

How many times have I sat in this same sandy dune, sparkly silver granules blowing in miniature tornadoes around my ankles? It’s an unusally warm day on the Oregon Coast and my shoulders soak in the sun like thirsty plants. I turn my head one direction and the wind blows past my ears, hair whips obstructing my view. I feel a complete part of this beautiful scene. I turn my head the other way and I’m deafened by the whipping gusts reminding me of the difference between California and Oregon beaches in July. As if  this beach is whispering, I’m still a rugged coast, water chilled and erosion beaten cliffs. Pointy beach grass shadows pave the way down to the hardened sand where I wiggle my toes, diving deeper, water seeping up to the top–future makings of drippings for a child’s sand castle trim. I am reveling in island time with no mom duties or schedule bending to fit the whims and desires of beach companions. Me, the steady white noise of the waves and a serenity trickling into my neck and shoulders stand in the center of this summer day, a deliberate release of seasonal frenzy and lingering to-do lists.

A steady gait leads me down the sand, tailwind propelling me with a promise of struggle when it’s time to turn and head home. It’s worth every step towards open, wide beach filled with kite boarders, family football games and shell-collecting children.

I love all of it.

This is my happy place, full of our family’s memory collection of 4th of July parades, 10 foot wide sand castle compounds and naps stolen against resting driftwood logs. It’s such a different experience on my own. I slowly play a movie in my head of all four seasons where I partake in this coastal luxury solo…thinking, writing, creating. Maybe it’s my recent finished read of “Gifts From the Sea”, Anne Morrow’s beachy answer to a “A Room of One’s Own”. There is zero guilt of taking this time alone and I feel free to fully embrace all the magic and nostalgia the coast can bring. It settles in my chest like a heating pad, dial turned up, tingling warm and comforting. Words like rejuventate, recharge and rest (r words are my favorite) pop into my head like a free association game I’m playing with the sea. Is it the crashing waves that drown out all worry and heaviness? Or is it the sand drifts, rolling in vast, airy space that allow me to breathe deeply? I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. Once again I reach for the invisible mason jar to bottle it all up so it can be poured out on my desk in February when the daydreams start…small coastal town ice cream shops, picnic-bound bicycles with baskets, and of course, my beloved Manzanita receding tides.

* * *

Hoping you have time to think in a beautiful place ~ happy August!


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11 thoughts on “Who else yearns for family-free alone time?

  1. This is very timely for my travels! I too decided to book some time to myself this summer. I am backpacking solo in Australia for 3 weeks. I do have a bit anxiety as I have never traveled to a foreign country alone and I will be leaving my partner for an extended period. But he and I both agree that this will be rejuvenating and recharging experience for me also!

  2. I LOVED “Gifts from the Sea”. I think it even may have been a milepost on my minimalist journey. I yearned for her little cottage.

  3. Yes! Yes! I long, I long… it’s so rare! And yet, I imagine the solitude I once had too much of and – as you suggest, let it go — I’m sure one day again, I’ll have so much as to be lonely.
    PS I envy you those West Coast sweet memories.

  4. I’ve been thinking about going on a trip alone, just to focus on myself and my own thoughts. Be able to renew my strength emotionally and spiritually… but so many things in life is stopping me from doing it… work, school, family life… 😦

  5. Ahhh this made me laugh! The “teen scene” is approaching in our rather cosy home and apparently I am becoming a bit embarrassing! I sing, I chant Yoga (quietly though) and I am know to daggy dance. Sometimes with my 12 yo daughter its cool but mostly it appears I’m becoming a bit embarrasing. Oh well! Many years of that to come. I look forward to stepping down as Cruise Director and stealing some moments, alas, I have a few good years ahead of driving and organising.
    Quiet time is good time for me.
    Sara xx

  6. You are so right about needing that alone-time and getting away. It’s nice when the family leaves and you may have some time at home, but the dishes and laundry rise up so quickly to keep you company that the family always comes home too soon. I will daydream through your thick visual. Thank you.

  7. Thanks, Lara. I have my own “teen scene” going on and the time I get to spend alone is precious. We acquired a lake house on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan this year and it has certainly become my happy place. There is something magical about the shore line. I am however having difficulty letting go of the mommy guilt when I spend time there alone. Too many years of being told that time spent on myself was being selfish is hard to undo. I’m trying though. We women need every moment of peaceful rejuvenation we can muster in order to be the strong supports we are in our every day. Thanks for the reminder and so eloquently describing your recent piece of heaven on earth.

    • Your house sounds lovely. Have you ever read “Gift From the Sea”? It’s the ultimate remedy to fighting mom guilt. We HAVE to take our own time to be better moms and wives–this I know for sure 🙂 Best to you!

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