Tag Archives: Solitude

Monday Morning Moment – Isolation and Community

Photo Credit: Jackie Hill Perry, Art of It

After one-and-a-half years in COVID, we all have grappled with a need for social distancing and isolation. What happens then when the diligent pursuit of physical safety causes a loss of community?

None of us want to get COVID or its latest variant. However, we also desperately need community. It is on each of us to make creative and persistent decisions toward going after community. Especially the most vulnerable of us, or we will suffer more than the health impact of COVID [see links below].

The dilemma with isolation is somehow it has brought a social lethargy with it. We are becoming more solitary and our community has shrunk to the lowest and tightest we can manage.

Not necessarily out of fear of COVID, but out of a growing incapacity for community. Real community. “Iron sharpening iron” relationships.

I know I am not alone in the need for such community. We have probably all thought of how altered our relationships have become over the last several months. Not the closest maybe, but especially those that spurred us toward a higher accountability, responsibility or integrity. Those relationships where we are helped to make better decisions or extend kindnesses (especially toward those outside our inner circles).

[Whether introvert or extrovert, we can easily sink down into a solitary life of less. And less is not always more. This less can breed a sort of self-serving life where we gauge our relationships by our own gains and extend ourselves by our own comfort levels. Been there, done that. Ugh! ]

COVID or not, we still need other people, and they need us. Whether on a work project better served with team problem-solving or a family crisis that could use “all hands on deck”. Death and divorce are still happening, but life celebrations are also still with us – all calling for the touch of our community.

In the Wiki fandom Mary Shelley article, we read a fascinating take on the impact or lack of community on the characters of Shelley‘s novel Frankenstein.

In the novel, Victor Frankenstein is a brilliant scientist. He is overwhelmed by a series of losses and the grief, as well as his increasingly unhinged genius, drive him into isolation. He decides to make a human-like creature who would be like a son to him.

It did not turn out well. The creature, because of the rejection and isolation he himself felt, was determined to be a monster.

Both Victor and the creature Frankenstein, throughout the story, are plagued with isolation and a terrible lack of caring community.Photo Credit: Pixabay

The theme of isolation in Frankenstein raises many questions about the role of community and its importance. Many characters in the novel find themselves in isolated positions, and a few suffer grave consequences because of it. Characters suffer from both physical and emotional isolation, although, as in the case of the monster, the isolation is not always self-inflicted. Victor Frankenstein, on the other hand, chooses to isolate himself from his family, his peers, and even the monster he created.

In Frankenstein, horrible things happen when a character is isolated from the others. When Victor’s knowledge and ambition are unchecked by his peers, a monster is created…the destructive power lies not in the monster or his creator, but in solitude. Shelley uses this theme and its manifestation in her characters to pose questions about community, knowledge, and its role in society. Is unbridled knowledge always dangerous, or is there a middle ground? Should one abandon his or her pursuits if they are driving him or her away from a community? 

Shelley makes it clear that there are two different types of isolation: self-inflicted and societal. We see self-inflicted isolation manifested in Victor; he detaches from his world and the people he loves and as a result, everyone suffers tremendously. Rejection from society is demonstrated in the monster’s life. Again and again, he is turned away from love and companionship, which what he has longed for since he was first brought to life.” – Wiki-Fandom Analysis of Frankenstein – Mary Shelley, an Academic Wiki

Of course, this is a novel, but incredibly insightful as a tale of human nature. We need community…we are made for community.

Somehow we must rally during this protracted social experience of COVID. What is your mindset on this and what are your intentional actions toward community and away from isolation? The kind of isolation that eventually diminishes us and our relationships. Please comment below.

In closing, I do want to affirm an Isolation in Community. We may have to deal with social distancing for sometime still. Especially those most vulnerable to severe illness from COVID. For some isolation can’t be avoided, but there is an isolation in community. Where we take steps toward and lean in to deeper community. Even if it isn’t always in person. This takes a different sort of effort, but we know it is possible. Fortunately. For me, it’s actually using the phone for conversations (including Facetime). It’s not stepping out of responsibilities (work or community service) because of a need for social distancing, but figuring out alternate ways to serve, or get a job done. I have also experienced the fruit of it, thanks to your efforts. Our mail is less junk mail and more actual real connections through cards/letters. Thanks for that. Again, please comment below what your experience has been here.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Isolation – Good Therapy

Isolation and Community – Helen Thorne – Biblical Counseling UK

Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions – CDC

Creative Communities Are Addressing Social Isolation – Maryjoan Ladden

Monday Morning Moment – Soundtracks for Life – with Beyond the Guitar

Photo Credit: Tyler Scheerschmidt

Music is as universal as a smile. We understand its impact on our mood, our larger experience, and our sense of belonging. In fact, we unconsciously develop soundtracks for our lives with little effort.

When our children were entering their teens, we would often do long roadtrips, visiting family or heading to a beach somewhere. All three kids had their own headphones on, with their own individual soundtracks for the road. Occasionally, being the parents messing in their lives, we would insist they put away their private listening devices. Then we shared our various personal favorites through the car’s stereo. With differing levels of enjoyment for sure.

It was a bonding exercise of a sort. Or at least a cross-cultural musical experience between the five of us. I wonder if they remember.

My wonderful mom-in-law is visiting us this week.

Over the weekend, we were driving and Dave cued up Alan Jackson’s Gospel country song albums. Sweetly familiar to all of us, even though some of those songs we haven’t sung in a very long time. We all sang along, even our youngest adult son who remembers those songs from childhood (only). It was a lovely experience that wouldn’t necessarily have happened without MomMom in the car.

Memories.

Do you have favorite soundtracks for different times in your life? I know you do. Something nostalgic…or maybe new still? Something that restores you from a dark place or returns you to a happy time or just causes you to get out of your seat to dance or raise your arms in praise?

I sure do. A wide range of music because I’ve lived a long time now. One thing about music for me: for half my life, the soundtracks wouldn’t be instrumental. Music had to have words for me to engage. Marrying a quiet man began the reconstruction of that. If Dave was in the house, strains of big band, jazz, or classical music would always fill parts of the house. Even then, my appreciation for instrumental music just wasn’t happening.

Until our middle child, Nathan, picked up the guitar. He had his high school garage band days, but then honed in on mastering the classical guitar…and my soundtracks for life began to change.

Where words once seemed necessary, the music itself can bring “all the feels”. Especially when we already have the words in our heads, and all we need is just the right rendering of a melody, or harmony, to draw out the memory.

Nathan, at Beyond the Guitar, regularly brings to us his classical guitar arrangements of film, TV, and video game themes. Nostalgia is strong in this guy. When we listen to music that takes us back, we are, more often than not, fortified because we experience both an intimate connection (with our own sense of meaning) and with a social emotion drawing us toward others with similar music memories. It’s a sweet looking back. We don’t stay in the past, of course, but the emotions drawn out by such music refreshes, reconnects, and reorients us.

Speaking of Psychology: Does Nostalgia Have a Psychological Purpose? With Krystine Batcho, Ph.D.

We have various playlists from Nathan’s beautiful, lyrical music, but I will post just a few of my many favorite videos of his below. Including his most recent Tifa’s Theme” from the Final Fantasy video game franchise. No nostalgia attached to this one for me, because I never got into video games, but…The beauty of his arrangement of this gorgeous piece of music stands alone to touch my heart.

Here we go:

Just a few. Thanks for giving me this opportunity to share some of my soundtracks for life…music that lifts our mind and fills our hearts with sweet emotion. Put your earbuds in or turn your speakers up. Let the music flow and wash over you.

Please share some of your go-to tracks in the Comments. Have a soaring day!

We’re Living in a Nostalgia Boom. Here’s How to Harness Its Powers for Good – Julia Holmes (Fascinating nostalgia research)

The Psychology of Nostalgia – David Ludden Ph. D.

Music-Evoked Nostalgia – Ira Hyman, Ph.D.

Worship Wednesday – All These Babies – Raising Up Worshippers – Lullabies – Deb Mills

5 Friday Faves – Solitude, a Culture Wall, Like a Mother – Serena Williams, Our Children, and Food With a Friend

Check this week as done. For us around here, it’s been a week of great highs punctuated by distinct lows. How amazing that we can pray through and lean in to God and each other for the lows…and celebrate the highs, in quiet and in company. Life is good and real.

1) Solitude – Writer, philosopher Zat Rana caught my eye with his article The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught You. Turns out his view of that most important untaught skill is solitude. That ability to just enjoy being alone. Sitting or walking alone. Lost in your own thoughts. Except for a self-portrait for a photography class, you won’t see many signs in my life that solitude is something that comes easy.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Blaise Pascal

The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught YouZat Rana

According to Pascal, we fear the silence of existence, we dread boredom and instead choose aimless distraction, and we can’t help but run from the problems of our emotions into the false comforts of the mind.

The issue at the root, essentially, is that we never learn the art of solitude. – Zat Rana

[My husband who often sits by himself at dawn and dusk to recharge. For him, solitude is something that has come naturally.]

Rana talks about how technology has connected us in a myriad of ways but the connectedness is more virtual than real. – We now live in a world where we’re connected to everything except ourselves.”

“Our aversion to solitude is really an aversion to boredom…we dread the nothingness of nothing. We can’t imagine just being rather than doing. And therefore, we look for entertainment, we seek company, and if those fail, we chase even higher highs. We ignore the fact that never facing this nothingness is the same as never facing ourselves. And never facing ourselves is why we feel lonely and anxious in spite of being so intimately connected to everything else around us.” – Zat Rana

Everything I Have Learned in 500 Words – Zat Rana

2) A Culture Wall – Benjamin Hardy is a writer, organizational psychologist dude. I am reading his book Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discovering the Keys to Success. This week he posted about having a culture wall, and it totally engaged this visual learner. Designed by Gaping Void, this is an art-as-inspiration tool for the workplace.Photo Credit: Benjamin Hardy, Medium; Gaping Void

Looking at Benjamin Hardy’s culture wall got me thinking of the truths that keep me going at work and at home. Coming up with those sayings or mantras, as a team, or family, would be an excellent exercise…and then making the art happen would flow naturally out of that. It doesn’t have to be 20 pictures, like Hardy’s. Even one is a good start.

[Sidebar – Guitarist, YouTuber Nathan Mills, at Beyond the Guitar, in his videos, often features a “nerd shrine” with striking wall art. I wonder what a culture wall would look like in his studio.]

These 20 Pictures Will Teach You More Than Reading 100 BooksBenjamin Hardy

3) Like a Mother – Serena Williams – American tennis champion Serena Williams made it to the Wimbledon final this year. She didn’t win but she played #LikeaMother.  The expression “like a mother” brings all sorts of images to mind…and makes for marketing genius… Two examples are a Lysol commercial and one by Gatorade, the latter featuring Serena Williams.

Here’s to Serena Williams…including a couple of interviews where she and husband investor Alexis Ohanian describe how they met.

4) Our Children – Writer Frederica Mathewes-Green could have been a buddy of mine in college. In those days of the Vietnam War, we were those conflicted ones who wrote our high school sweethearts away in the military and we vocally protested at the same time. The Roe v. Wade decision was very new and felt very progressive to all of us, in those days…the “make love, not war” crowd. I was young and being pro-life or pro-choice wasn’t even on my radar…until after that court case divided us into mostly two camps. Mathewes-Green has written the most definitive piece on abortion and the legacy we are leaving our children in the article When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense.

She writes:

“Whatever your opinion is on abortion, I ask you to read this article. Fresh eyes. Mathewes-Green was around when that court decision was made. She was also feminist, as were so many of us in those days. She is still very pro-women…pro-human.

We expected that abortion would be rare. What we didn’t realize was that, once abortion becomes available, it becomes the most attractive option for everyone around the pregnant woman. If she has an abortion, it’s like the pregnancy never existed. No one is inconvenienced. It doesn’t cause trouble for the father of the baby, or her boss, or the person in charge of her college scholarship. It won’t embarrass her mom and dad.

Abortion is like a funnel; it promises to solve all the problems at once. So there is significant pressure on a woman to choose abortion, rather than adoption or parenting.

A woman who had had an abortion told me, “Everyone around me was saying they would ‘be there for me’ if I had the abortion, but no one said they’d ‘be there for me’ if I had the baby.””

and

“No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.”

Photo Credit: CASA

Her article frames this Friday Fave.  Why “our children” as the heading? When I read Mathewes-Green’s article, she reminded me that our children or our children’s children may judge these decades very differently than our culture has – these decades of thousands of babies not delivered alive. Definitely, if those not delivered alive could speak…those silenced by their own mothers (out of desperation with no one offering to help them in life-giving ways)…if they could speak, we might see things differently today. Thankful for women, like Frederica Mathewes-Green, who provide a call to reconsider and a platform for the voices of all our children.

When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense Frederica Mathewes-Green

Video – 50 Mums – 50 Kids – 1 Extra Chromosome

Tending your Garden – Colleen Searcy

5) Food With a Friend – Don’t you love surprise visits with a friend, now living states away? When I got Nikki’s text to meet up for a lunch this week, it was like a healing balm on my heart. She suggested a restaurant new to me: Mezeh Mediterranean Grill.

How have I missed this yummy place? All the food memories of our years in the Arab world mixed together in a big bowl. Pretty much my experience that day.

Add a long conversation between friends (including one other who joined our happy table)…and it was like Heaven here in Richmond, Virginia. Any such happy occasions come to mind for you this week? Hope so.

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That’s the week. Please comment below on any of these faves of mine or introduce your own… Have a restorative weekend… whatever that means for you and those you love.

Bonuses

Here’s Exactly What to Do If a Tick Bites You – Kate Sheridan

What To Do When You Think Your Life Sucks

I Love Jesus But I Want to Die: What You Need to Know About Suicide – Sarah

The Space Between – Marilyn Gardner

Paris, the evening of the World Cup FinalPhoto Credit: Nikaley Chandler

Tour de France – The Climbers and Rapid Descenders – the stages through the Alps happened this week – so incredibly exciting watching these riders – their toughness and endurance:Photo Credit: Cyclist

Happily Ever After – 100 Wedding Songs for Your Ceremony and Reception – Music Notes

Photo Credit: Jimmy Lee Thompson, Facebook

5 Friday Faves – Summer Reading, US Supreme Court, Patreon, Redeeming Loneliness, and Echoes of Time

1) Summer Reading – Summer lends itself to reading just for the sheer joy of it. Longer days. Breaks from strenuous outside work or play are perfect for picking up a book. Reruns of TV programming are no draw when you can just open a book to another world. What’s on your reading list for this summer?Photo Credit: Max Pixel

Writer Ryan Holiday has his own list to share. I wouldn’t call it your basic beach novel genre but lots of variety and heady content. Don’t be put off by some of the language (sigh…) or the politics. In recent months, I’ve learned a lot in our current political culture… helpful in understanding people and making a difference in a divided world.

2) US Supreme Court – Speaking of a divided world, this was a huge week of happenings in the Supreme Court of the United States.

[The Roberts Court, June 1, 2017. Seated, from left to right: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Stephen G. Breyer. Standing, from left to right: Justices Elena Kagan, Samuel A. Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Neil M. Gorsuch. Photograph by Franz Jantzen, Supreme Court Curator’s Office.]

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Weighty rulings which I don’t plan to discuss here, but your social media pages have fired up with reactions.

Decision Time: Supreme Court’s Major Rulings in 2018 – David G. Savage

Then there was the announcement by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that he will retire. The news should be full of tribute toward this justice and his contributions to Americans, both liberal and conservative. What is instead at the forefront is the joy or anguish, depending on our ideology, regarding who will take his place on the bench? Appointment of the Supreme Court justices was one of the reasons Americans voted as they did in this last presidential election.Photo Credit: Twitter, The Senate Majority

A big week indeed.

3) Patreon – You’ve read about Patreon on my Friday Faves before, but today I wanted to praise the impact it can make on an artist’s career…the impact you can make on an artist’s career.  Patreon is a crowd-sourcing platform, for folks like us to extend support to a creator or artist. If 10s and 100s of us give $1 or $100 per month, we can supplement the income of someone whose craft inspires us. Someone we want to see more of…and enjoy the beauty of his/her creations on a more regular basis.

So how does an artist arrange, memorize and perform a classical guitar piece and then videotape, edit, and publish the piece every couple of weeks (sometimes weekly)? And still provide for his family?

Cue Nathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar. Before he became part of Patreon, his art had to take a backseat to making a living – he taught guitar in a middle school and did hours and hours each week of private lessons with students. Thanks to the support of over 300 patrons, he was able to leave his middle school job. He is not completely supported by those of us who love his work, thus he continues to have private students, but he is able to create.Photo Credit: Patreon, Beyond the Guitar

Listening to his music on Spotify and watching his videos on YouTube are free to us all, thanks to those who support Nathan on Patreon. As patrons, we have various levels of perks, depending on our support. Perks at the lowest level of support include access of his Discord chat channel which allows us to engage with Nathan as well as other patrons, many of whom are also artists, scientists, and various other cool people.

Depending on the level we can get discounts on his sheet music, patrons-only live streams with Nathan, a private Skype guitar lesson, and at the $100/month level of support: an arrangement of a song of our choice. As I write, he is doing a live stream for us patrons as he begins arranging his next song (you’ll see that arrangement posted here next week).

Anyway…that’s what Patreon gives us…more of Beyond the Guitar.

4) Redeeming Loneliness – Blogger and mom Rachel Macy Stafford has posted a piece on the loneliness of being rejected or excluded. It resonated. By the way, if you haven’t felt the sting of rejection or exclusion, don’t be those people who do the deed…unwittingly; unaware. Take time to read the whole but here is part.

Photo Credit: Max Pixel

It’s together for each other that we find strength to ask, learn, and never fold up and disappear.

If that’s not life’s highest lesson, I don’t know what is.

Let me remember it now, especially now, when the world’s collective pain is so deep, so wide, and so heavy.

But there is hope …

Because what we can do individually to heal the world’s collective pain is quite miraculous. We can half the pain by being one person’s person.

With one invitation, we can take someone
From outsider to insider
From outcast to beloved member
From unknown neighbor to coffee companion
From wallflower to life-of-the-party
From shortened life expectancy to 80 years of joy.* – Rachel Macy Stafford

*Am I Invisible? One Mom’s Pain-relieving Response to Being ExcludedRachel Macy Stafford

Why All of Us Need a BarnabasChuck Lawless

Between Solitude and Loneliness – Donald Hall

5) Echoes of Time – Growing up in a small town, driving down country roads was a part of the experience. Old houses with tin roofs, stoops where children shelled peas in summer, and noisy screen doors that let you know of comings and goings. Since adulthood, I’ve lived in cities. The images of the past are comforting and stir memories of grandparents – sitting on their porches, watching for us to pull up the driveway for a visit.

The Facebook page Echoes of Time and the website Countryside Poet are Susie Swanson‘s shout-out to the life of a different era… Below you will find one of her poems and the image that caught my eye this week.Photo Credit: Echoes of Time, Facebook Page

We all need to go back to an old screen door
So we can hear the sound of it slamming some more

And those famous words, “stop letting the flies in”
Not giving it a second thought and doing it over again

Catching fireflies after dark and putting them in a jar
And lying out on a blanket and wishing upon a star

Listening to the whop-per-wills calling every night
The serenading of crickets, a special, kind of quiet

Running through the meadows in the sun kissed dew
Climbing high up in a tree with a better angle view

Can’t you just see those June bugs tied with a string
Or swinging really high on that old, tire swing

Going fishing in the creek with that little fishing pole
Enjoying a hot, summer day at that ole swimming hole

Or riding that old, rusted bicycle with nary a brake
Running through the thickets, never thinking of a snake

Oh the joy of blackberry picking and eating a juicy pie
Worth every chigger but wishing they’d go bye, bye

Playing a good game of softball on a Sunday afternoon
Our mothers waiting supper, hoping we’d be home soon

Running through the broom sage in the cool, fall breeze
Sliding down snowy hills till our hands and feet would freeze

Nary a trail or sapling did we miss, if we had to crawl
And scraping off that beggar lice was no fun at all

We all need to go back to that special, old place
Where all of our footsteps we can happily retrace

And listen to the sound of that old screen door
Slamming, slamming just like before

© Susie Swanson 2018 (posted with permission)
http://countrysidepoet.blogspot.com

Facebook Page – Echoes of Time – Susie Swanson

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These were my five favorites of this week…plus the bonuses below. I wanted to include them somewhere in my Friday Faves, they are that good…so don’t miss them.

Have a sweet weekend, filled with people who speak love to you and hear love when you speak.

Bonuses:

Christian Hospitality in an Age of ‘They’re Not Welcome Anymore, Anywhere’ – Karen Swallow Prior

Rising Tide Startups Podcast – Episode 26 – Ian Anderson Gray – Founder of Seriously Social – on live marketing, imposter syndrome, bootstrapping, and mastermind groups

Ian Anderson Gray

Seriously Social Facebook Page

10 Extreme Bootstrapping Ideas – Christina Desmarais

Thoughts of Every-Day Living – Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901