It is a beautiful afternoon. The kind that makes me want to twirl and dance in a field, go to a fair, eat ice cream, or hang out by the water with good friends. There is a cloudless blue sky, warm sun, and no humidity. A slight breeze, with a hint of barbecue, wafts over me anytime the sun begins to feel too warm. It brings back memories of summers passed, where as a teenager I seemed to never come indoors. In those days we hung out outside anywhere we were permitted, we swam in the moonlight, and basically soaked in the joy of being up and out.
I am driving home from an appointment, with the rest of the day and night ahead of me. My teenager is taking a local class and after the class, I will transfer her to a party. I basically have until midnight to myself (with a few minutes inbetween as the limo driver) and my favorite weather is the backdrop.
I know that I must take advantage of this perfect summer day, as summer is coming to a close. I also decide that I must be with friends to celebrate the glory of this day and I start making calls. I’m going to be uncharacteristically spontaneous and not let my assumptions that it’s too late to make plans limit me. I choose friends who are single and who I haven’t seen in a while, because I’m feeling nostalgic and they’re the most likely to be free. I leave messages wondering if they are available for a last minute dinner. No one answers.
I arrive home, open all windows and doors and head to my backyard, gulping in the fresh air. It fills my whole body with deliciousness. I plop down on my cushiest chaise lounge, soak in the energy, and gaze out into my yard. I am trying to decide if I should take a walk by myself or call more friends to see if they’re available to walk with me. My mind is racing with ways to connect to others, but I can’t seem to rise from the chair. I love this weather so much and I don’t want to leave it for a second.
Then suddenly my thoughts plummet toward my automatic, negative default. It’s the countdown to Empty Nest Syndrome. This is what it’s going to be like every day when my daughter leaves for college in two years. I am so lonely. I don’t have enough of a social circle. I am doomed. This is my forever. I have to enjoy this glorious moment and so many future glorious moments alone.
Wait, what was that? ‘This glorious moment?’ I’m having a glorious moment? Wow, I am, aren’t I? I’m experiencing a glorious moment. And that’s when I remember that each moment describes who I am and gives me the opportunity to decide if that’s who I want to be. And I don’t want to be Lonely Woman. I want to change this default thought.
And while I’m thinking of my future and my forever, let me call upon my Future Self to see what she thinks. The most powerful meditations I have ever done have included meeting myself 20 years from now.
I think about how peaceful and serene my Future Self is at 69. I think about where she lives and what she does to fill her days. And I realize that she chooses to live in a home with so many windows as I do. She chooses to have a deck and yard as I do. When she sits outside in her yard, she basks in her luck of being surrounded by greenery and nature on all sides, as I do. She listens to the birds and insects humming along and smiles. This is her reward for getting through a complicated life like a champ. Complete peace and well being.
I hear a sound that pulls me out of my reverie. Two bunnies playing on the side of my yard. There are chipmunks playing tag a bit beyond them. I feel like Snow White (or is it Cinderella?) The sun suddenly peeks out from between the leaves of the trees at the exact right angle and I am bathed in warmth. I put on my favorite music, I lean back in my lounge, and I am filled with true joy. I stay like that, feeling completely fulfilled. I don’t have to wait for 20 years before I feel the serenity. This can start now; I don’t need anyone else at this moment. This moment, my moment, is perfect and I am grateful.
My phone rings. One of my dearest, long-time friends saw I called but couldn’t hear what my message was. I explained that I’d been in her neighborhood for a meeting an hour ago and had wondered if we could meet but now I’m home. She says that she’s in a store that’s around the corner from my house! We haven’t seen each other in a year. She cancels the plans she had and 15 minutes later my beautiful friend is sitting on my deck with me and we are catching up and cackling with laughter, just like old times. I really feel that I had to understand and own that I am perfect and fulfilled as I am, and don’t need anything else, in order to receive this gift.
She stays until it’s time for me to pick up my daughter. In the car to get my daughter I am so tickled by how things worked out. I think about how happy I am. As I’m waiting in the parking lot, I wonder what I’ll do now to stay awake until this party is over, on this work night.
A text bings. A new good friend is saying hello. A friend who happens to be free tonight, lives near my daughter’s party, stays awake later than I do (always a bonus to have a late-night partner in crime) and would be happy for me to come and hang out. Wow! Really? Yay!
A few hours earlier I was in my default negative-thought cycle of ‘I am so lonely and will always be lonely.’ By the end of this day, I have realized that I am creating the lifestyle I crave. And I know that I am surrounded and fulfilled by people who are dear to me and whose company I really love!
When I think back to the change in my mood, as I was sitting on my deck earlier, what is striking to me is that the only thing that changed was my thought. Everything else in my world stayed the same. I experienced the exact same moment as both lonely and not lonely at all. I realized my thought was limiting me, and not serving me, so I searched for a new thought that could also be just as true, and that would raise my energy level.
We all have these negative thoughts that we return to by default. They might include, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m scared of being abandoned’, ‘I’ll always be poor’,’I’m a faker’, ‘No one will like me’, or ‘I’ll be alone forever’. Perhaps at one time, these thoughts protected us from possible failure, embarrassment, facing ourselves, or putting ourselves out there. But any thought that limits us, is not our Truth. There is another, more empowering thought that will allow us to thrive and will be even more true.
Try to notice when you’re defaulting to your limiting thought, the one that doesn’t serve you well, and know you don’t have to live with that thought. What are other possible ways to look at your situation? Ask yourself if this limiting belief is absolutely 100% true. Try another thought that makes you happier. You can change your story at any time, even if it’s just by trying a slightly different font.