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“I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people:  that each protects the solitude of the other.” Rainer Maria Rilke

When you share your home with other people, finding peaceful moments of solitude can sometimes be a challenge.  No matter how much we love our famiy and friends, we all need some quiet time to ourselves every now and again.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have the house to myself for the last few days, and suddenly realize that it’s been several months since I’ve had the chance to sit quietly by myself.  Until recently, I lived alone and spent entire days in quiet solitude, happily occupying myself with whatever little project struck my fancy.  But life has a way of moving on, whether you want it to or not, and I’m learning to adjust to having people around all the time.

I had planned, during these few days alone, to catch up on work that had fallen behind.  Instead, I found myself sitting quietly in the yard, feeling the fresh air on my skin and getting lost in the sounds and smells of a warm winter Florida day.  I find that if I sit quietly for a little while, I begin to actually hear the sounds that escape me when my brain is full of things I need to remember and places I need to go.  When I’m still, I can finally notice the delicate scent of the orange blossoms on my neighbor’s tree, and I have time to watch the kittens playing in the yard.  When was the last time you were able to just sit quietly all by yourself for even a few minutes?

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“When we love something it is of value to us, and when something is of value to us we spend time with it, time enjoying it and time taking care of it.  Observe a teenager in love with his car and note the time he will spend admiring it, polishing it, repairing it, tuning it.  Or an older person with a beloved rose garden, and the time spent pruning and mulching and fertilizing and studying it.  So it is when we love children; we spend time admiring them and caring for them.  We give them our time.”   M. Scott Peck M.D., The Road Less Traveled

I always say that our relationships are our most valuable treasures.  Relationships bring texture to our lives.  Important life events are hollow without someone to share them with, and possessions are meaningless if we enjoy them alone.  We are on this planet to be in relationship with each other, and relationships take time.

If you’re anything like me, your life is very busy.   There is money to be made, and phone calls to make, errands to run and chores to take care of.  There are club meetings, committees, church, rehearsals, leads groups, and countless other obligations eating up your time.   The result of all this activity is that we tend to neglect the very people whose presence in our lives make everything meaningful.  Our kids try to share things with us, but we’re on the phone or making dinner so we shoo them away: “Mommy’s talking — don’t interrupt!”  Tonight, for instance, I’m writing this blog about paying attention to the people you love, but because I’m trying to make my Wednesday deadline, I’m only pretending to listen to Keith on the couch next to me trying to tell me about his day.   When we’re too busy, the people we love most pay the price of our neglect.

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One of the biggest obstacles to maintaining a consistent attitude of gratitude toward life is the tendency to worry.  Worry is a symptom of fear, but then if you’re a worrier you already know that, don’t you?.  Worry is obsessive and addicting.  Once your brain latches on to a worrisome thought, it tends to get stuck there and attract more worried thoughts just like it.  The bad part is that once your brain gets stuck in that worrying mode, you’re sending out some powerful negative energy that is attracting into your life the very thing that you’re worried about.  Worry sets you up for the worst kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

I remember when I was much younger, watching Gone With the Wind and looking down on Scarlett O’Hara with disdain when she exclaimed, “Fiddle-dee-dee!  I won’t worry about that today.  I’ll worry about that tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day!”  I felt superior because I would never be that irresponsible.  Responsible people would be worrying about that stuff TODAY, not tomorrow.  We must face up to our hardships!  We can’t just be in denial!

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