Self-Discovery, June 2014
From the Publisher - June 2014
“Solitude is pleasant. Loneliness is not.”
- Anna Neagle
I have lost 61 pounds. For 22 months I did it alone. I walked alone, I often ate alone, I went to the gym alone and I liked it. Walking this journey alone allowed me freedom to not have to count on anyone but myself. It eliminated excuses based on others. I had no one calling and telling me they couldn’t walk today or to go on to the gym without them. Taking the time to accomplish this alone actually made me stronger in the process and a much more independent, confident person overall.
I wouldn’t take back those 22 months for anything. I discovered myself in that alone time. It was time I had never had. When I went to Amelia Island for a week in the winter of 2013, I had never been alone for a week in my whole life. It took me 47 years to get up the courage to go it alone. I learned it’s not easy. There comes a time when there’s nothing left to do except sit and ponder whether you even like yourself. We are a country worried sick about sustainable resources, but my question is can we sustain ourselves emotionally? I think this is why we are inundated with busyness. Possibly, the fear of who we really are when we slow down enough to notice is a scary thought. Perhaps not. Either way, it’s worth a gander.
What did I learn in those seven days of loneliness?
1) I learned I enjoyed not having to decide what others were going to eat. This was probably the biggest relief of the week. I ate when and what I wanted, with no one complaining or being disappointed.
2) I learned I’m neater when I’m alone. I guess since it was just me, everything seemed simple to keep up with.
3) I learned I like being around people. One of my favorite things to do is laugh. My children and I are always joking around and cutting up and I really missed that. It was uncomfortably quiet (I don’t watch television).
4) I learned I not only needed, but also deserved, time alone. We come into the world alone and leave it alone, and we owe it to ourselves to stay in touch with our soul in between. This requires time alone.
Have you ever seen the movie Castaway? It’s the one where Tom Hanks is stranded on a deserted island after he is the sole survivor of a Federal Express plane crash. He befriends a Wilson volleyball, he aptly calls Wilson. As the movie progresses Wilson becomes more and more important to Hanks. The volleyball is his sounding board, his comrade, his protector and actually the only thing maintaining sanity from insanity. He talks regularly with Wilson and argues with him, too. Hanks becomes attached and dependent upon Wilson. It’s amazing to see how much a human truly needs the support from others, something, anything…even a ball.
So, after 22 months of basically going it alone, I have enlisted a workout partner. She is my Wilson. I thought I didn’t need her—or anyone. Ends up I do. In late April, I began a workout more challenging than anything I have ever done. I have a trainer twice a week, but the other four or five days, I am on my on to complete the workout. I didn’t ask Tracy to join me for any other reason than I knew she had hit a plateau, just like me. I merely invited her to come to one of my personal training sessions to see if she liked it. From that, we made a commitment—to the workout and to each other.
There is no way I could do these workouts without her. When I think I have run as far as I can, she pushes me to go further. It’s interesting how some exercises are easier for her and others are easier for me. We motivate each other to conquer pain and exhaustion and to get through shaking, failing muscles. As I write, I can hear her voice, “Come on Liz. You got this. You can do it. Just a little more.” And, when she says things like that, I do give a little more. We both have given more than we ever thought two previous fat girls could give. She’s lost more than 65 pounds since she started her journey last fall. I’m so proud of her.
For every time there is a season. There is something to be said for both going it alone and partnering up. The bottom line is doing what is right for you, when it’s right for you. Don’t let anything hold you back from succeeding in whatever you want right now. Alone, together or with an entire team, be strong, stubborn and determined. My trainer says my stubbornness serves me well. Tracy is stubborn, too. That’s why we’ve got this. One of our featured men (yes, a man) this month said, “Starting is much harder than finishing.” There are no truer words than that, thus the most famous advertising slogan in history…Just do it! I know you can. You’ve got this, girl!
Elizabeth Skenes Millen