Alone but Not Lonely is a story of personal growth and change that will inspire any reader to analyze their life. Create the life that you want to live and invite others to share it with you if you choose to do so. Find your alignment and balance. Rediscover who you were truly meant to be, and reclaim the life that you were destined to live as a powerful individual, proudly and unapologetically you.
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Most people tiptoe through life hoping we safely make it to death.
— Earl Nightingale
Ponder that statement for a moment. What does it mean to you? Are you playing the game of life and going through the motions but are not really energized by it? If this is what you are doing, this book is definitely for you.
We hear, so often, that life is too short! Well, that's sort of true. Life is too short. You may not realize and appreciate that until you are middle-aged like I am at fifty-three — although quite honestly, I do not think fifty-three is middle-aged. Maybe it's because I am that age now, but for me the Fifties feel like the new Forties. It's not that I feel old. In fact, I have never felt better about myself. It took approaching the age of fifty for me to think, Holy shit! If I am healthy, then I am halfway there. I realized I had a chance to look at my own personal crossroads.
So I turned my head to the left and looked at the first half of my life. Did I like what I saw? Was I happy with the first half? I was married at twenty-six, and it seemed idyllic at that time. My husband had been living outside of Washington DC. Because I was young and in love and that was where my husband wanted to live, that was where I went — no questions asked. Today, it would be a whole different story. Today, I would expect that we would choose together where we were going to live, but back then, I was still that little girl who was always aiming to please.
We spent too much time focusing on and worrying about money. I think money is a typical trap that married couples fall into. For a couple, finances are a reality. Many marriages dwell on this. Now I know that you can only control what you can control. We had our worries, yet we never truly sat down and faced finances head on. Couples have so many tools they can use — even one as simple as a budget. However, we complained and made no effort to rectify the situation.
Through the fun times and hard times of being young and in love, raising three children, fast forward to my children's young adult phase when my youngest, my daughter, was a freshman in high school and my middle son was a junior. My oldest was already in college, so tuition bills had started. I certainly hadn't planned the timing of my children's births very well. Having to pay two tuitions simultaneously for a long time would be interesting. However, I did take a good look at my life. My first and most rewarding career was motherhood. Absolutely no doubt about it. I loved being a mother and was fortunate enough to be able to be home so I could participate in all my children's activities.
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Have you ever thought about what you would be worth if you added up your hours doing daily chores and obligations. Whether you are a stay-at-home mother, a career mother, or a caretaker of an older parent, just think about how much money you would make if you were paid for it. One of my workshops is called Know Your Worth. It would be fun, from the perspective of a mother, to add up a woman's worth based on her talents as the family's CEO, chef, chauffeur, personal shopper, and so much more. By looking up salaries on various job portals, I found that the average income a woman would make is $100 thousand dollars a year. For example, on www.salary.com a personal chef's salary can range between seventy and ninety thousand dollars. Chauffeur salaries range between forty to seventy dollars per hour. Imagine that!
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Because my husband and I needed to pay two simultaneous college tuitions, I needed to shift gears to the work-outside-the-home mentality. This was challenging but also a common experience for many women. First of all, I needed to find my work and life balance. That was not going to happen overnight after being home for sixteen years. The other challenge was the type of job I would be qualified for. I had a master of science in molecular genetics, but what was that going to translate to? I also wanted to have a somewhat flexible job so that I could still be near my kids, especially after school.
Well, a close friend made my résumé look good, and that's when my journey started. As often as I speak about how my college path would not be something I would ever choose now, I must say that it has shaped the person that I have become today.
So that's what happened when I looked to the left. When I looked to the right at the next fifty years, I thought, Please, God, it better be much more fun in terms of exciting and engaging. It's not that life wasn't fun, but what did I want to do? What hadn't I accomplished? Was I enjoying life? Who, in the hell, was Robin Joy Meyers? She was just me — not his wife or their mom or even that dog's owner — just me! What did I want the next fifty years to look like?
I did know this: I wanted life to be fun, exciting, engaging, less worrisome, and light. I wanted to figuratively and literally drop the excess baggage in terms of my job and responsibilities and maintenance of a big home. I didn't need the big house filled with too many televisions and other material items. I wanted to make every day count. I wanted life to be meaningful. I wanted to feel that everyday I made someone else's life a little bit more positive.
We have all created bucket lists, as I did. Near the top of my list were travel, cooking, and theater. I wanted to see the world, learn about new cultures, and appreciate the joy of life as well as give that joy to others.
Let me break down my story because in order to really share my journey, you need to travel in my shoes for a moment. My story seemed to be saying that to find inner peace I needed to look at my past. I did this by dividing my story into the sections that follow and sharing them. My hope is that by sharing my experiences, you will find my stories relatable and engaging so that they offer insight into your own journey; past, present and future. The sections that present my story start with my childhood, go through my young adult and teenage years, and finish at the age of fifty-two. It wasn't until I was fifty-two that I got it and really owned it. Finally, I recognized that I could determine the path I chose my life to take. My journey was my own story to craft, write and tell. In order for me to give you anything of value, I have had to put peace and closure to each of the four life stages that I present and encourage you to do the same.
To truly find inner peace, you need to make amends with your past by taking time for self-reflection. This will happen as you are willing and happy to embrace being alone but not lonely. I reiterate that this is the part where you really need to let go! Have no regrets and do not say, "I wish that I had done that differently." As I have allowed that process to occur, I have learned a lot about myself, and that is a process unto itself. What has happened is in the past, and if anything, learn from it. If you do not want it to reoccur, break the cycle by being aware of it. Know the triggers and warning signs and understand the mind-set that got you there. It is a huge win for you when you can accomplish this. The awareness and sense of being alive will all begin to factor into the process as you become comfortable with you and recognize your happiness.
So what have I done so far? Well, that's easy to answer! Not nearly as much as I wanted to. I haven't traveled to many places in my adult, married life. I was fortunate enough to travel to Hawaii for our honeymoon, and we were able to take the family to Jamaica and the beach. Although these are wonderful opportunities, not all wonderful things lead to fulfillment. However, because we had three children and no priority to travel, even though it was one of my passions, needs, and desires, it never happened. I always wanted and still would love to live abroad for even one month.
There was always an excuse. Whether it was money, my husband's job, or school, we did not make our family's vacations a priority. In some regards, my kids were gypped. If I was able to go back and give my children advice for their future families, I would tell them to forget the material gifts and to prioritize going on unique vacations during their holidays and the summertime each year if possible. I am sure my kids would have remembered going on them much more than the thousands of Pokémon cards, dolls, or gaming systems that we purchased.
So in my next fifty plus years, I want and plan to travel, especially to fulfill my desire to cook my way through Europe — specifically in Italy, Greece, and Spain. I want to travel with my daughter around the world and across the country, just embracing time. So, how, in the hell, am I going to make that happen?
Let me break down my story, because in order to really share my journey, you need to travel through my childhood, while living at home, to my college years, through my young adult and graduate school life, up until marriage through the present. It wasn't until I was fifty-three that I got it and really owned it. So in order for me to give you anything of value, I have had to put peace and closure on each of my four life stages and encourage you to do the same.
My challenge to you is to reflect on and answer the following quote: "Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?" (Danielle LaPorte)
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As I reflect on my lessons learned, I encourage you to do the same. In summary, here are three important elements to be aware of as you begin to claim your identity and define what Alone but Not Lonely, in all its power, means to you. What is your story?
An important element in finding you and your alignment is to prioritize you and your needs. Women, you have to be the ones to do this for yourselves. No one will offer this to you, so you must know your sense of self.
Begin to shift the negative connotation associated with the word "regret." Instead of looking at regrets as failure, shift your thought process to be kinder and more compassionate to yourself, recognizing that you have grown from that past situation. Remember that no matter how big or small that moment may have been, it contributed to the person that you have become today. Developing the ability to look back and be completely honest with yourself is a huge step forward.
Define Who You Are
As women, life can be busy and full of transitions. We wear many hats, which represent the different roles we play on a daily basis, such as partner, career person, parent, widow, or divorcee. However, remember to always put yourself first. Whatever role in life you are playing at this very moment, the most important role is you, which requires self-preservation. Remember earlier I mentioned my desire to feel alive and not just be alive. Embrace yourself for being you and approach your journey as an exercise in self-preservation.
What happens when you look back at your life? You have to give yourself permission to move forward, acknowledging past, present, and future desires.
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Life Stage #1
(Birth to Age Eighteen)
This first stage covers a large span of years. These years are grouped under the concept of living at home. Looking at this stage can help us see the foundations for some of the decisions we made later in life.
Here is my story and what I learned at this stage. Take a moment to reflect on your own story and what you learned at this stage of your life. I encourage you to ask yourself what advice you would give to the six-year-old you.
Before I start, I need to say one more thing. I hope that you have many more memories of your childhood than I do. I know I had a happy childhood, but I do not have a vivid box of memories. I hope I have done a better job with my own three children in giving them a childhood that they will remember.
My parents were not bad at all. They were fantastic and loving. In fact, my mother and I were incredibly close. With that being said, it seems as if there was always a protective shield around me. Maybe they thought I would crumble under any hardships, which is rather ironic. All families have hardships at some point. Let's be realistic. Overall, I had a relatively normal childhood, but I was very introverted. I was a goody-two-shoes as my brothers would say. I was always ready to call them out for whatever wrong they were committing.
My young childhood was typical of the area that I grew up in. I was very fortunate and privileged to have such amenities as Girl Scouts, horses, theater, and Hebrew school three times a week. My parents gave me a bat mitzvah.
I went to a private school from eighth grade through high school. My private school was interesting. It was incredibly small, and although we were financially comfortable, many children who were much wealthier than I was attended the school. If you compare it to the movie Mean Girls, it was an older version of that. I tried to be a cheerleader and to play sports. I even participated in the theater productions but spent those years scared of my own shadow.
In my senior year, I tried to be social. I was fortunate enough to travel abroad to France with my French class. After four to five years of French, I could order French fries effectively.
I remember senior prom and how all I wanted to do was skip it. I didn't have a date at first, and then I had a date I didn't want. Yet somehow, I went and had an awful time. In fact, I remember calling my mom to see how her night was going because I was so bored with mine. That is when they had pay phones by the bathrooms.
In tenth grade, I was asked to the senior prom by a fun, outgoing, and funny senior. He was absolutely adorable, but that relationship didn't last very long. I blew that quickly. I was afraid to ask my parents if I could stay out late. In fact, the after party, which my kids all went to, was a nightmare for the poor guy and me as well. Let's just say I was immature, and it showed. I share this with you because lets face it. Most of us have horror stories about high school relationships, friendships, or prom. However, in my life this behavior was a pattern and when I realized this pattern only then was I able to acknowledge and move forward.
This is how I lived through my high school years. I certainly didn't come close to falling in with the cool group or any group, for that matter, and spent many weekend nights hanging out at home — not that anything was wrong with that.
I remember my mother, who really was my best friend, would remind me that it was better to have one truly good friend than a roomful of acquaintances. I was always a leader and never a follower. In fact, in my adult life, I have a handful of truly good friends. I don't need a huge group to hang with even now as an adult.
So when I graduated from high school, I went from the New York City area to major culture shock in a place called Hiram, Ohio. Can you imagine it? Take a girl who is already scared to death of life and let her go off to the middle of nowhere to hide some more. Can you guess where this next stage will go?
* * *
I want to side bar this section, because as I told you, this was a fast flashback into my childhood. There's not a whole lot more to tell except this: I had the opportunity to model and be exposed to the fashion and the theater world. My father was in the garment industry and had a showroom in midtown Manhattan. I was in the city at least three times a week as a teenager, and during the summer months, I worked in my father's showroom. That too was a very lonely time for me.
I was in the center of New York's fashion scene. However, my parents didn't want me exposed to that world. Clothing buyers would come into the showroom and ask for the line to be presented. Instead of allowing me to model the clothes, my parents would bring other people into the office or ask the receptionist to do this. I didn't have the guts to beg my father, but I am not sure that would have made a difference or not. I think, in many ways, he thought that he was protecting me. However, looking back, I often wonder if he was actually hiding me.
I had many opportunities but unlike my children, thank goodness, didn't reach for a dream or passion. If I had had the tools then that I have now as an adult, I think I would have suffered less depression and loneliness. I challenge you to look back at your childhood and ask yourself what would you say to your younger self?
* * *
Life Stage #2
(Age Eighteen through Twenty-One)
In this second stage, we are on the cusp of adulthood. Legally, we are of age; however, statistics show that a young adult's brain is not mature until the ages of twenty-three to twenty-six. Some of us have gone to college. Others entered the work world. Looking at this stage can help us see the foundations for some of the decisions we made later.
Below is my story and what I had learned at this stage. Take a moment to create your own reflections from your story and what you learned at this stage of life.
Excerpted from "Alone but Not Lonely"
Copyright © 2018 Robin Joy Meyers.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1. Theory: Understanding the Concept of Loneliness,
Chapter 1 My Story, 1,
Chapter 2 Discovering Your Path, 37,
Chapter 3 Commit to Your Vision, 41,
Part 2. Theory: The Practicality of Getting in Action,
Chapter 4 Unblocking Your Blocks, 47,
Chapter 5 A New Way to Think, 51,
Chapter 6 Specific Strategies to Change Your Life, 57,
Part 3. Making It Personal: Trials and Tribulations,
Chapter 7 Stories about Relationships (Its My Turn Now), 73,
Chapter 8 A Story about Trusting Your Intuition, 85,
Chapter 9 Two Stories about Overcoming Challenges: Yin/Yang, 89,
About the Author, 105,
Coming Soon, 107,