Unexpected Gifts of Flying Solo

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Most times when I have a wave of inspiration about something I feel I should write about, I’m not in a place with my laptop to crank it out.  When I am, it feels like I hit the jackpot and words come out so quick like the story is waiting to jump out onto the virtual page.  So when I get an idea and I’m not at my computer, I note it in my phone and by the time I get to my computer — all creativity is gone.  I move on with life and hope when the next wave of inspiration hits me, it’s timed perfectly for my Sunday writing time when my laptop is fully charged and my coffee is the perfect temperature.

In any case, I have a small list of topics in my phone, one of which is about doing things by yourself.  I had several conversations lately with people where they would tell me things they wanted to do but they hadn’t done them yet . . . because they didn’t have anyone to go with them.  I’m not talking about climbing big mountains, achieving life dreams, or traveling across the ocean; I’m talking, these people hadn’t gone to a restaurant or store or mall or boutique or class or gym they wanted to go to because they didn’t have anyone to go with.  This baffles me.  I am actually staring at my computer screen with big eyes in a ‘wha?  huh?  are you serious?’ sort of way wanting to scream “If I waited for someone to go with me every time I wanted to do something, I would literally go 10% of the places I’ve ever been.”  If I see a store I want to check out, I hop in my car and go.  If I see a restaurant I want to try and no one else happens to be around, I drive myself to the restaurant, sit down, eat, and then tell everyone they should check it out too.  All of this I-need-someone-to-go-with-me topic was formerly going to lead to an inspirational blog about “don’t wait for people, just go” or “think of what you’re missing out on” or “who the heck do you think is even judging you if you eat by yourself?  Literally, no one” type of message.  But today I am resurfacing the topic with a slightly different take . . .

I have been going to yoga every Sunday for probably four years.  It’s a free class in Columbus that cycles through new studios every month.  I’ve tried it all – vinyasa, bikram, letting people put oils on my forehead, sitting awkwardly while people chant, doing some form of dance-type of yoga, sitting and meditating, partner yoga.  You name it, I’ve tried it.

Over the years, friends would mention wanting to go to class with me and I have invited some here or there.  But as a former only child and a busy corporate gal — Sundays are just kind of my thing.  I go to yoga, I get brunch, I used to shop (now replaced by writing), and then I come home and face the Sunday night stress all of us working in the corporate world face.  But, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. I do my thing.  I don’t have to wait on anyone, I don’t have to save a spot for someone, I don’t have to worry about carpooling or where the other person parked and all that.

With these things comes habits or routines.  I park in the same spot every week, and fellow yogis out there know how it goes — I put my yoga mat in the same spot every week.  On the rare occasion that someone has taken my spot, I can’t even.  Anyway, for the last couple years I would find myself practicing next to the same lady who is somewhere between my mom’s age and my Grandma’s age.  It started as general chit chat about if we’d had that instructor before or if we knew what studio would be represented that month.  And then it evolved into asking each other where we lived, where we worked, and eventually we learned each other’s first names.

So every Sunday we would come in and put our mats down and ask each other about the one fact we remembered the other person shared the previous week.  We began talking about our husbands or her daughter’s recent education accomplishments.  We became friends and worried about each other if we didn’t see the other person there for a couple weekends in a row.  We eventually evolved to swapping Christmas gifts and phone numbers.

As certain weeks would bring harder life moments than others, we’d briefly share what was going on in our lives and give each other an encouraging word or two before class started and on the walk to our cars when class was over.

One Sunday, around fall of last year, I came in to find her with bloodshot eyes.  She shared with me that her husband has stage 4 cancer and they had just found out.  We hugged as she cried.  Because I did not ask her permission to write this blog, I won’t share her personal stories beyond that, but it is something they are walking through right now in their lives — and something I think about and pray about for her regularly.

So Sundays look a little different now.  I show up for a different reason to that class every Sunday.  I give her a chance to talk about what is going on in the brief minutes we get before and after class, and I will occasionally send her a text message when she crosses my mind.  My interest in yoga comes and goes, but I feel it is no coincidence that God put our mats side-by-side, and Chris is always reminding me and encouraging me of the purpose I have there right now . . . and it has nothing to do with yoga.  It’s about simply being present and listening.

If I only went to yoga when someone could go with me, I would’ve never heard her stories.  I likely would’ve never even introduced myself.  I may not have ever even seen her.  If I wouldn’t have sat down by myself without fearing other people judging me, that connection would’ve never been made.

While I’d like to ask you to pray for my friend and her husband, I’d also like to encourage you to go somewhere by yourself.  There’s a whole world of people and connections to make waiting for you.

Go find your Sunday yoga.