I won a trip of a lifetime to Queensland, Australia last month and while I felt overjoyed, once the confetti settled down and once I found out I will be alone, panic crept in. My partner – who lives in Australia – cannot join me for the trip as he was also traveling somewhere in Australia at the time. All I had was an itinerary crafted by the Tourism Board during my whole 6 days visit.
“What? I’m going alone?”
“But what if I get lost?”
“It’s been gazillion years since I’ve traveled alone…”
Doubts came creeping in, my old worry wart self had to grab a broom and swept all those negative self-talks out of my head.
“You’ll be fine…”
“Take the time to enjoy experiencing the new place by yourself without having to worry about being a mom or anyone else but you.”
So after carefully explaining to my 9 years old son why his mom is going to Australia (again) without him, I packed my suitcase and flew from Jakarta to Denpasar, Bali before flying directly to Brisbane, Australia.
During the 6,5 hours flight, I checked in with my feelings. At first, guilt was there – guilt from not being able to take my boy along with me. For he also has a deep love for traveling which is something I am proud to say he got from me. The wanderluster bug is in him! There was partial sadness knowing I will be in the same country as my partner but our paths cannot cross. I miss him terribly.
Then it dawned on me.
I haven’t been anywhere alone for eons. Yes, I’ve flown to meet up with my partner in Melbourne a couple of times already without my son. Yes, I’ve traveled a bit with my boy but when was the last time I really travel solo?
I searched through the memory bank in my mind trying to remember when was the last time.
Gosh, I can’t remember…
College? When I went on a night bus ride to explore Yogyakarta by myself.
When was that? Over 16 years ago or so? Clearly, I had the guts to do that and I’ve never been afraid to travel before.
I forgot what it’s like to travel solo and most importantly to be alone.
Life has a funny way to give you something that you desperately need – but usually unaware that you need it. Once I got into my hotel room and soaked the view from the balcony towards the beach, those old familiar feelings returned. That joy of being alone with myself. I was alone in a foreign land with only me and myself.
The much-needed solitary…
Yes, the itinerary planned for me were so much fun. Amazing experiences that I still have to write about but it is in that much-needed solitude that I realized how much my soul needed those days, a break from my busy life.
My schedule as a full time working mom has been crazy, chaotic and messy. My role as a single mom is often times exhausting borderline frustrating with the challenges we are dealing with. I was depleted from juggling so many things at once. Exhaustion consumes me like wild fires. Jack of all trades…I had to push Maureen aside and put everyone else’s’ needs above me.
Yet, as I sat there on the wooden bench in Surfers Paradise, sipping my favorite flat white coffee, watching people passes by in groups the realization came, of how I haven’t really stop and just be in the moment for ages. I was either always on the go or rushing inside my own head thinking of the never ending to do list. There’s always things to do, work to finish, homework to help with, deadlines to meet. It’s like a never-ending cycle.
That day I allowed myself to stop. To just be. To watch people silently. I wonder where that family came from, what’s their stories back at home while they spend sunny days of vacations down under. I watched lovers exudes romance as they strolled down to the beach. My heart felt warm witnessing two elderly couple still holding hands, smiling widely.
Somewhere down the busy Surfers Paradise spot…I strangely found my peace.
I sat and observed the world as it passes me by. I nurtured my tired soul by not thinking about work, not worrying about my son. I listened to my heart. I conversed with my soul. Watching the seagulls pecking around the side walk. Burying my toes in the warm golden sand and soaking up the sun. I found love.
Love of foreign lands…love of traveling…love of exploring. Old familiar feelings returned like an old lover. Wild and burning in desires to travel and to write.
In the quiet chambers of my mind, I re-discover these passions buried deep underneath the layers and layers of life’s responsibilities. By traveling alone, I gave myself a gift I desperately needed. To recharge, to rest, to checked in with me. Allowing Maureen to sit with Maureen. Strange as it sounds, I returned feeling rejuvenate.
As someone’s mother, someone’s partner, someone’s employee, I now realized the importance of finding our own solitude amidst the chaos busyness of our daily life. Sometimes we just need to stop juggling and unearth the real person we really are inside. We don’t need to travel to foreign countries – we just need to travel inside ourselves, to listen to our inner voices, to honor our feelings and to make peace with whatever it is that needed to be sorted out internally.
The gift of self-love really can be found in the most unexpected places. Oh and traveling alone is really not that bad nor scary.
What do you do for your alone time, ladies? How do you nurture your soul as busy mothers?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Maureen Hitipeuw of Tatter Scoops in Indonesia.