Loneliness vs. Solitude: How to Embrace Being Alone

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There is a great difference between loneliness and solitude. Being alone takes on the meaning that you give to it. The difference is in yearning versus contentment. Lonely breeds longing and roots itself in loss. Solitude breeds stillness and is rooted in contentment.

I learned this lesson while living in a small coastal town when I had come home from work one day to find that my boyfriend had packed up all of his belongings. He was leaving in the morning. He was my only true connection in this location. Loneliness washed over me when he drove away the following morning.

I cried and mourned for weeks wondering how I could survive in that town alone. It was one of the loneliest times of my life. My family and friends lived far away and I was on the road a lot for work which left little time to nurture local friendships. No matter what I tried, all I felt was sad and lonely.

One day, I opened my eyes to the lesson that was being provided to me. In stillness, I began to hear my intuition and noticing what my soul had been trying to tell me. My intuitive sense was dulled and I was not practicing the gift that was inside me the entire time.

I started exercising this gift and appreciating the fabric of my soul. And what was once the loneliest times of my life soon became one of the richest times of my life.

Without this solitude, I would not have taken the time to search my soul to get back to myself. I realized my identity was tied to a person and a job and lost my authenticity. I had a choice to wallow or grow.

Embracing the growth was difficult but I learned so much about myself and the differences between loneliness and solitude. Some of the differences I was able to pinpoint were…

Loneliness: Depleted my energy and made me sad. Loneliness was able to permeate since I based my happiness on another. I was in a state of contraction and longing. Anxiety and depression visited more often. Discontentment fueled sorrow and perpetuated the feeling of isolation.

Solitude: Re-energized me. I found that happiness comes from within. Solitude created space for growth and the state of expansion and contentment. Meditation and prayer became daily routines. I began to find comfort in times of solitude because I started to enjoy my own company.

The more I fostered the beauty of solitude, I found peace where I once felt anxious. Learning to tap into my intuition and wait for answers and inspiration reconnected me to my soul and my spirituality had room to blossom.

Through this lesson, I learned to be compassionate towards my loneliness in order to foster the state of solitude. Without a compassionate approach, I may have become stuck and not have welcomed growth. All things deserve compassion and understanding, including mindsets.

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self. – Mary Sarton

When It’s Time to Move On

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When things fall apart, it is hard to find the initiative to get back up and find the space to start or create something new. The important thing is to get back up, even if it takes a lot of time. Making daily efforts to try again seems difficult at first, but after a while the practice of doing creates the momentum needed to move forward. In order to allow growth to take place, movement is necessary.

A body in motion, stays in motion

-Sir Isaac Newton

Some important questions to  ask when there is something that may feel like it is falling apart are:

  1. What isn’t working?
  2. Is there something I can change to make it work?
  3. If I let go and move on from this, what are my next actions?

Be honest with yourself and take time to write out the answers. After you answer the questions, look to see if anything sticks out. Are there common themes, new revelations or is the answer clear and the writing exercise solidified your intuition? Sit with the answers, meditate on the next steps and recognize any closure that needs to take place.

Figuring out action steps can help bring your mind out of the fog but make sure to give yourself the time to process the disappointment. If it is time to move on, it’s okay to mourn the loss. Allow the healing to occur and take an active role by looking forward.

When life gives us a “no” it creates space for expansion. This is a place for possibility and dreaming. The opposite of expansion is contracting. Think about a fist releasing its grasp. This is the action most beneficial for moving on; release and expand. If contracting is happening, it holds on to pain and disappointment. Stagnation can occur and often times, resentment.

Let what needs to fall down, fall. Don’t act like Sisyphus, continually pushing a boulder up the mountain just to push against gravity once more; this was his curse. Whatever is falling apart, does not need to be a curse. Look to see the blessing in disguise. There is something waiting for this to end in order to have the space it needs to enter your life.

Let go and receive whatever may come with open arms, mind and heart. Replace resistance with cooperation. Let things come to you and keep moving forward, one step at a time.

Sabbaticals and Career Breaks: Reflect and Reset

pathWhen you find yourself at the precipice of quitting your job to take a sabbatical or at an unexpected career break, a spark forms inside. There is a mixture of anxiety and freedom marking the start of a very important transition; the birth of something new.

Sabbaticals range in time but they all have a common theme. It is a time to look inside yourself to figure out what you really want to do next. This pause in work creates the space to evaluate, plan and listen to intuitive cues. The time is finally available to sit and think about direction.

This time is a gift and although there is some anxiety because the next step is unknown, embrace the ambiguity. Sit with the question. Allow the silence to be a guide.

I have experienced two sabbaticals in my life. The first one was after my career as an investment banker where I watched the downfall of the market and was plagued with anxiety. I was too young to feel that upset all the time. So, I cashed out everything, including my retirement account and moved away to figure out my next step. The time was spent in a new city, exploring a part of the US I had never seen and taking one big trip with the last of my money to visit a friend in Australia. When I returned, I found a job in an industry I had grown quite passionate about–wine.

I worked in the wine industry for five years working my way from a courier to an account manager where I consulted wine makers on their wine making processes. The job gave me the opportunity to travel all over the world and learn so much about wine. After a few years on the road constantly, I began to feel burnt out. I was home a few days a month and exhausted. My passion had waned and I wanted stability and community more than anything.

I resigned after a couple years of saving and planning my next steps. I was terrified when I handed in my resignation letter letting go of the financial security I had created and worked so hard for. But, my intuition told me this was a necessary move.

My plan was to travel the world and write a book. I had a one way plane ticket to Bali but something told me to keep my apartment. I would travel in spurts. While I was in Bali, all of my plans disintegrated and my true path revealed itself. I resisted and argued with the realization. Knowing that my wanderlust was being put on the back burner broke my heart. But it was clearly the right answer.

I returned home and settled in and signed up for school. I was going to write at home and study to become a life and spiritual coach. This last transition has had its share of doubt, anxiety and ambiguity. However, the biggest difference was the way I approached it.

The key was to trust my intuition and know that the universe was going to provide the path as long as I stayed open and listened for guidance.

During this time, I received coaching from a colleague and truly believe in the importance of a coach during transition. Not only can coaching provide guidance and accountability, it can also open your mind to the universal clues we can’t see when we shut down out of frustration.

If you are going through or thinking about a career transition and would like to discuss coaching, please email me at emily@soulsadventures.com. I offer effective tools to tap into your intuition, explore what it is your really want to do and provide planning tools.

Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on Earth to do with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling. -Vincent Van Gogh

Intuitive Painting: Creativity from the Soul

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First there is trepidation. “I am not creative” the mind tells you as you prepare to step into an unknown realm. There is a blank page sitting in front of you. It is both exciting and terrifying. “What if I make a mistake” your mind once again speaking with doubt.

You are about to embark on an adventure that will take you inward and then into a creative, outer expression. You are about to paint intuitively.

My first experience with intuitive painting was a year ago in a small studio in Costa Rica. I saw a flier regarding intuitive painting in a coffee shop and decided to email the instructor. I didn’t know what to expect as I  walked into the studio. I sat down at a table smudged with paint and I could feel my nerves taking over and took a few calming deep breaths.

For the next hour or so, I painted following her prompts, surprised by what was transpiring on the paper. The most fascinating part was realizing that I was intuitively creative and the meaning behind my art. We sat there and discussed the different elements and the revelations came as I articulated my interpretation.

I realized that I had been trying so hard to reach a place of love and freedom. But I kept going back to the familiar and secure which actually left me feeling insecure, lonely and sad. I  knew I needed to be brave and take the leap I had been contemplating for a couple years. This scared me but also gave me a sense of calm and resolution.

After that experience, I wanted to share what I had learned with others. I started painting more and tapping into my intuition preparing to facilitate workshops and one-on-one sessions. The first workshop was lovely, consisting of 5 participants each with different and unique souls. I gave one set of instructions and what transpired were 5 very different and beautiful paintings, each with lovely revelations.

I am so happy and excited to share this type of creative soul adventure. If you would like to schedule a session or workshop in the San Diego area, please email emily@soulsadventures.com.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” -Albert Einstein