morning walks + how to beat the lonely bug

I live in a subdivision on the outskirts of San Antonio.

Up the road & down aways, is the elementary school where 3 of my kids attend.

It’s only about 1/2 mile away.

The walk there is all sidewalk & once we get out of our subdivision, the road is surrounded by trees & wildflowers. Not the pine trees of the Pacific Northwest, or oaks of the Wasatch Front, of which I’m accustomed, but shorter, more sprawling, bush-like trees & shrubs.

I do the walk twice a day–to take Amalia, my four year old, to preschool at 7:30 each morning, then again to pick her up at 10:30.

I push a double stroller. The girls look at books & I listen to podcasts. It’s a time for me to exercise, to get fresh air, to listen to something entertaining/informative/interesting.

Salem likes getting out of the stroller & runs along side me, or in front, & often doddles along the way.

She picks wildflowers, throws rocks, picks up sticks.

Despite the proximity to the school, I am the only one who walks their kids to school. At first, I found this puzzling. But over time, I’ve realized that walking is unusual to people here.

For example, when I dropped Amalia off at school today, I stood in the school lobby, & waved goodbye to Mali, her Dora backpack strapped to her shoulders. A woman startled me.

“I have just got to commend you!”

Commend me, I thought.  For what? I was eagerly anticipating what she had to say next.

“I can’t believe you walk your kids to school. & every day!”

She went on to explain that though she lived in the neighborhood, & her twins attend the school, she “could never imagine walking every day.”

I was a bit flattered, but not surprised.

Over the months since we’ve lived here, I’m sure everyone who takes their kids to school knows who I am–that crazy lady who walks.

Yesterday, a tattooed man in a truck pulled over to tell me I shouldn’t let Salem walk because he “had killed two rattlesnakes in that area” & I needed to “watch out.” That wasn’t the first time I was advised against walking because of the “wildlife.”

Let me remind you, I’m walking on a paved sidewalk. Not venturing through brush & uncharted dense foliage.

Last week I went to a baby shower of a friend, & all those in attendance were Air Force wives. More than half of those women, will be moving this summer. When I thought about that, & the fact that the reality of military life is a semi-transient one, I was saddened.

Loneliness is something that most people deal with, one way or another, no matter their occupation, age, or marital status. But I think it can be particularly acute for those of us with small children & who stay at home. Double that when you’re a part of profession that requires you to move around a lot & typically live away from any extended family.

Extra efforts must be made to not allow loneliness to get the best of us.

One day, I was down about the fact that it’s just hard to get out & get together with other women. And when I do, we’re often so busy taking care of our own kids that it’s a challenge (if not downright impossible) to have a steady, uninterrupted conversation.

The more I thought about it, though, I began to realize that I was thinking about social interaction all wrong.

I was compartmentalizing, telling myself that I was having little or no social interaction each day because I wasn’t getting what I thought I needed–uninterrupted time, chatting with girlfriends, going to lunch, getting manicures.

(You know, the stuff of single women, or women without kids, or women with nannies. I fit none of these descriptions.)

The reality is, I’m interacting all day long.

With my kids, with Joseph, with nature, with books, with neighbors & even the people at the library or store. I don’t have to limit my interaction to fit a narrow view of what it means to participate in the greater world.

Further, I’ve realized that loneliness is in large part a result of feeling isolated.

There are a few things I do on a regular basis to ease the feelings of isolation.

Aside from my daily walks, which are such a key ritual to staying connected, I:

1) Try to begin my day with a spiritual practice–scripture study, prayer, mediation. Some days it’s nothing more than a prayer, but I have to have at least a moment or two to connect to a higher power & reflect on my faith.

2) This is followed by some sort of exercise.
Yoga is always a good choice for me, because not only do I enjoy the physical aspects, but I get a mental/emotional release from it too. I don’t usually have time for more than 20 or 30 minutes, but even 5 or 10 minutes of breathing or stretching is an amazing way to start my day. Now that our community pool is open & the weather is conducive, I’ll swim laps for 20 or 30 minutes while Joseph is still at home. Then Joseph & I get the kids ready for school (breakfast, dressed, lunches), the boys get on the bus, I get the girls ready for the day, then I walk Mali to preschool.

3) I try to really interact with my kids.
To be present & aware when I’m talking with them. I ask them questions & try to listen to what they have to say. I love laughing with them & catching on to their nuances & subtle facial expressions. Kids are funny, but sometimes I think I don’t pay enough attention to realize the unintentional (& sometimes intentional) hilarity of what they say & do.

4) I call Joseph.
Joseph is very busy throughout the day, so often I can’t talk to him when I want. But it is an unusual day indeed if we go without talking to each other for a few minutes at a time, a few times during the day. We just check in with each other, I’ll tell him what I’m up to, & mostly he listens. I really look forward to our brief, but satisfying conversations.

5) I listen to podcasts.
Some of my favorite are Planet Money, The Moth, Fresh Air, Freakonomics, Coleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Food for Thought, & This American Life. I also listen to the archives of BYU speeches & LDS general conferences. I love how I can fold laundry, do the dishes, or make dinner & at the same time learn from insightful & intelligent people. It totally helps me not feel so alone.

6) I read.
Reading, for me, is one of the best ways not to feel alone. I especially love memoirs or non-fiction, as I feel like the author & I are sitting down for a one-on-one, intimate conversation.
7) I call a friend or family member.
I try to call someone in my extended family or a friend from church at least once a day. Just talking & connecting with someone over the phone for a few minutes is a great way to feel better about life.
8) Have a planned engagement with others.
I’m horrible with play dates. They kinda stress me out. So instead, we often invite friends over for dinner or we meet at a park. I try to do this once a week, but realistically, it happens more like a few times a month.
9) Go to the library.
For me, there is no greater pick-me-up than going to a bustling place filled with people, books, & ideas. And it’s free!  We go at least once a week.
♥♥♥

What’s your list–what do you do to beat the lonely blues? 

 


Comments


  1. Kelly
    on May 30, 2013 at 8:38 pm said:

    Hi
    Why are the walkers the ones considered “crazy”. I think you’d be crazy not to get that extra fresh air and exercise. We live to far from school, but when I drive the 10miles to school, the radio is off and that is a perfect time to talk to the kids since they can’t run off. I stayed home for 10 years with kids and now have a job within the school district. Perfect for me, all the same hours and vacations as my boys.
    thanks for sharing your stories.

  2. Gena
    on May 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm said:

    These are very wise tips, Janae! I rarely feel lonely, but I often have felt isolated since I changed careers/lives. It’s a subtle distinction, maybe, but a powerful one. I think you and I handle it similarly. Much love!

  3. Katrina
    on May 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm said:

    Good post. I would just like to point out that just because a woman has a nanny, doesn’t mean she lives a leisurely life. Our nanny comes when I am at work. I would never dream of having her come so I could get a manicure.

    • Janae Wise
      on May 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm said:

      Ah, of course! Excellent point.

  4. Lisa C.
    on May 23, 2013 at 7:17 pm said:

    You have no idea how much I needed this post today! Our lives have been so hectic and crazy and I have been feeling like I am just flying from one activity and responsibility to the next.

    Breathe….

    I want to say how much I love your blog lately. I’ve been a reader for well over a year now but recently there is a new tone…not sure what it is but it’s different and I love it (loved it before too- but love it more than ever!).

    • Janae Wise
      on May 23, 2013 at 9:19 pm said:

      Wow, thank you Lisa. You’re very sweet. I appreciate such a kind comment. Thank you!

  5. lfwfv
    on May 23, 2013 at 6:04 pm said:

    What a great post, and equally excellent comments! I thrive on being home, having time with just my family or alone. I also find I really enjoy interactions with people when I am “filled up” after having quiet time with family or alone (introvert much? ha).

    I LOVE being a mostly-SAHM. I love being present with my son, chatting with him even those he’s not “talking” in a sensible way yet, enjoying homemaking, etc.. I get my fill of “interaction” by working out of the home for about 10 hours per week, going for walks at the park whenever the weather is conducive, going to grocery stores with my super-smiley-7-month-old that attracts all sorts of people to chat with us, getting together with other moms or friends once per week (though it’s often more like a few times per month), going to church on Sundays, checking in every day with my husband at work via phone or email, chatting with my parents a few times per week via skype or phone, and reading/posting on blogs and forums (I’ve formed many “friendships” over the years via these avenues…like with you!).

    It doesn’t take much social interaction each day for my introverted-soul to feel “filled up”. I used to worry because I seemed to be so content being a “loner”. I have come to accept that being somebody who gains energy by being alone is not a bad thing, and I notice that when I allow myself a lot of family/alone time, I am a much better friend when I am called to be one.

    • Janae Wise
      on May 23, 2013 at 9:27 pm said:

      I think you’re not as much a loner as you may think 🙂

      That said, I get what you’re saying. Plus, you’re an artist, & a good one at that, so your ability to work for long stretches without a lot of interaction with others I’m sure has been to your benefit when it comes to your music.

      I love all the wonderful interactions you have throughout your week. Which is kind of the point of my post–that we have all sorts of interactions, & realizing that fact is helpful in feeling less isolated & more connected with others.

      Isn’t it just awesome to have an adorable smiley baby–it changes everything & people whom you’d NEVER talk to just suddenly open up in sometimes the strangest, yet nice & unexpected ways. One of the many perks of motherhood.

  6. Christy
    on May 23, 2013 at 1:11 pm said:

    I can totally relate to what you are writing here. I used to wonder why I was always the only Mom walking my kids to the bus stop and waving goodbye. It’s crazy, but also makes you realize the impact you are having on your children. You’re teaching them about healthy rituals, the importance of fresh air and nature and connection. Loved this post. Thanks for sharing!

    • Janae Wise
      on May 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm said:

      Thank you, you’re sweet.

      You’re teaching them about healthy rituals, the importance of fresh air and nature and connection.
      SO true! If I ever became the 1st lady, I would make it my platform to get people outside more, doing constructive, creative things. That would alleviate many of the problems our nation is facing.

  7. April
    on May 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm said:

    I don’t have much to add to this post but I just need to say that I love your writing! You encourage me so much to live more authentically-to care for my family, my children, myself more deeply. To open my eyes and *see* things; to *hear* what my children are telling me. I love how your writing makes me feel. Thank you for this blog. TX will probably never be in my future but I sure wish we were neighbors!

    • Janae Wise
      on May 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm said:

      Wow, April, that is in fact, one of those comments I will frame. I’m not deserving of such praise, but it does make me incredibly happy to know I have such kind, thoughtful, & generous readers. Thank you for the compliment.

      (& I know, about the neighbors bit. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could hand-pick our neighbors from all the people we know? Too bad life’s not that simple 😉 )

  8. Michelle Wright
    on May 23, 2013 at 11:30 am said:

    Oh I’m so sad to hear that no one walks where you live. I met some of my favorite friends here in Frisco by walking my son to school. Sadly, he got to third grade and started riding his bike with his friend and there was just no need for me to go with him anymore. Cherish those moments like I know you do.

    Something I started once, but have stopped since I now watch kiddos three days a week, is having a “tea time” once a week or once a month. About 11ish or so have a brunch or a “tea”. You can have regulars, or switch it up a bit. It was fun to have what my husband calls a Hen Party and the little ones could play or watch a Disney movie while the mommies had their “play time”. It doesn’t have to be fancy. We usually sat around my kitchen island and had fancy hot cocoa during the winter or lemonade or the like in the 11 months of Texas summer. 😉 I had another neighbor that would come for “coffee” in the morning. She would sit at the counter and we would chat while I did up the breakfast dishes. Those little moments helped so much filling that adult time I needed.

    You can always road trip to Dallas this June if you need a break in your summer. (We’ll be gone most of July.) We have a couple extra beds and you can even use us as a base to explore the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Please don’t be shy! 🙂

    Aside from all my advice or suggestions I LOVED this post. I get so much from your insight though I never respond. You’ve helped me to realize I’m not taking care of some ME TIME that I so desperately need. I’ve recommitted today to get back to reading and exercising and also spending a bit more time with my spiritual needs.

    Thank you for your words.

    • Janae Wise
      on May 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm said:

      I met some of my favorite friends here in Frisco by walking my son to school.
      I know, one of the best ways to get to know your neighbors & neighborhood is to go for walks, get outside, work in your yard. When everyone stays inside & drives everywhere, it’s hard to do that.

      having a “tea time” once a week or once a month. About 11ish or so have a brunch or a “tea”.
      What a great idea. I need to do this in the fall (too many things going on in the summer). Sounds so fun, & very do-able. Thank you for the suggestion!

      You’ve helped me to realize I’m not taking care of some ME TIME that I so desperately need. I’ve recommitted today to get back to reading and exercising and also spending a bit more time with my spiritual needs.
      Good for you! Your physical/emotional/spiritual well-being don’t run on empty reserves, so you taking time out to fill the canteen, so to speak, is something you won’t regret, & I’m sure you’re family won’t mind either 😉

      We’d like to make it to Dallas at some point while we’re in Texas. Thank you so much for your offer–I will *try* to take you up on it! 🙂 So sweet of you.

  9. Jenny Ramsey
    on May 23, 2013 at 11:07 am said:

    I loved this post. In fact, it’s my favorite of yours ever! I have struggled with this since moving away from Virginia. I think ultimately, even though it’s been a struggle, I have grown closer to my family and closer to Heavenly Father. Thanks for the beautiful post that spoke to my heart. 🙂

    • Janae Wise
      on May 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm said:

      It’s so hard to move, isn’t it? Just when you feel settled in & you start making all sorts of kindred-spirit friends, it’s time to move!

      A lesson, perhaps?
      (For me, I think it’s maybe I shouldn’t wait so long to start reaching out & making friends :)).

      I think ultimately, even though it’s been a struggle, I have grown closer to my family and closer to Heavenly Father.
      & in the end, those are the relationships that matter most. You’re really an amazing woman to see the blessing in the struggle.

      Thanks for the beautiful post that spoke to my heart.
      You’re very sweet, Jenny. Sending lots of hugs your way.

  10. Joy
    on May 23, 2013 at 10:55 am said:

    Oh, I can relate with this post. Which is kind of funny, I suppose, because I am one of those women without kids. But because I work from home, I often wonder if I’m getting a healthy enough amount of social interaction. The fact of the matter is that I created this environment of solitude for myself. When I worked in an office, I was so annoyed by the constant interruptions even though I enjoyed my co-workers. And while I usually work while listening to music, I essentially need silence if I’m writing.

    For a long time I had a lot of guilt about the fact that I work best this way, but recently I gave myself permission to accept this about myself. That I like working alone. That I thrive in this environment. And that balancing this aloneness with regular social time with friends and family IS my version of a healthy balance.

    And I know it’s not real life, but the interactions I have with other bloggers has played a huge role in providing support from other strong, interesting, and smart women in my life. I’m so grateful for the community I’ve been welcomed into there.

    • Janae Wise
      on May 23, 2013 at 1:47 pm said:

      but recently I gave myself permission to accept this about myself.

      Isn’t it amazing how liberating it is when we accept certain realities about our personalities, talents, etc.?

      I’ve realized (& have to constantly remind myself) that I’m never going to be one of those people that plans out every 30 minute chunk of their day. That’s just not me. It never has been, nor will it ever will be. I’m more of a free flowing kind of girl. I do well with general planning, if I get too specific, I freak out because I’m not following it exactly to plan & it backfires.

      I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with working solo. In fact, in creative fields, working solo for long stretches is the one of the best ways to channel creative energy, get fresh & new ideas. Personally, in the workplace I’m one of those that would have a hard time staying on task because I like talking so much. Like you, I do best undisturbed, & need complete silence when writing–although I don’t usually get that in a house full of kids!

      And I know it’s not real life, but the interactions I have with other bloggers has played a huge role in providing support from other strong, interesting, and smart women in my life. I’m so grateful for the community I’ve been welcomed into there.

      I totally agree! I feel like I have dozens of pen pals of all types & from all over. I believe that while it’s not “real life” (ie. face-to-face interaction), it doesn’t diminish the fact that we are connecting through words & ideas. There’s power in that. I’m grateful for my online community & the friends I’ve made here (you included!).