Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Are You Lonely? My Reflection!

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle, Ed.D

I just thought that I will share this reflection. It's my response to a question that was posed in a network group for women after sixty. The host posed a question regarding, loneliness and whether you are lonely. I took the challenge to respond to this question because it was only a few days before that I was speaking to a woman about being alone and being lonely. In that discussion, I shared with her how I met an elderly gentleman whom I have known for many years, and he was telling me that he was lonely; I guess realizing that I lived alone, he assumed that I needed his company to pass my time and day. In responding to the host's question, I shared this note. 

This is a very interesting topic and its a real social phenomenon that I see existing in both men and women in this age group. However, I do not experience loneliness, although I have lived alone for a while. When I was a younger woman, I lived alone with my daughter  as a single parent and during that time, I also never experienced loneliness. I have been living in Canada for more than two decades, and when I was younger my daughter lived with me. As time went on and she got married, I moved in with her and her family  my son-in-law and older grand-son. She did not want me living alone. I have since had another grand-son who is five and my life with them is so happy. I really feel that I am living a life of abundance and bliss.

I enjoy living in an intergenerational home. There are so much to do. I find great pleasure in cooking and sharing my many favorite dishes with my grandboys and my son-in-law although I am not the primary dinner maker. They enjoy what I prepare and I love that.  I particularly love when my younger grand-boy wakes me at 6:00am and asks that I make his breakfast. I will often ask him "where are your parents?" and he would say "Gammy, they are still asleep". I will then ask him, "what do you want for breakfast? and on his reply, I will get up and prepare his breakfast and prepare mines as well and have a sit down of two and enjoy his company, conversation and breakfast  well that and more are the benefits of living in an intergenerational home. 

There are always people around me with whom I can talk with, things to do, and opportunities for sharing. They also value what I do and is happy that their gammy is an academic with a doctorate degree  and that I am great at research, project development, radio hosting, computer-based technologies and social media. Their friends are also very proud to know, Matt's Grandma. I will often meet my grandson's friends during his birthday parties and sleep-overs; so I know all the boys in my first grandson's class. I don't think that getting older is an index of whether one experiences loneliness. I believe it has to do with our psycho-social development; our sense of self and our self-worth  our feeling of belonging.

I have never felt lonely in my years of living  some people call it selfish if you can spend alone time with you. Earlier in my life, I enjoyed the silence, only being in tune with nature  the chirping of the birds in particular  that's one of the joys of the Caribbean. Today on my sabbatical, I enjoy the many infectious radio programme, and you will often hear loud music emanating from my home throughout the day. Funny, music does not distract me as years gone by. 

Recently, particularly during my last sabbatical in the Caribbean, I have met a lot of people whom I have known throughout the years who are in their early sixties who complaint of being lonely. I guess that I do not feel lonely, because at the end of each day before bedtime I create a calendar showcasing what I want to do the following day if God permits me to have another one of those precious moments  if I awake in the morning. On being granted that special day, I make the best of it. I follow through with my plans for the day; and I always have something to do or places to go. 

Some of the things that I look forward to is gardening — potting, pruning, and I also love visiting agricultural shops for their latest flora finds; and right now I am working on preparing a kitchen garden. It's my first real attempt at creating a kitchen garden. My plans are to first start with some herbs, a few holes of tomatoes, ochroes, melongenes and cucumbers: And I am finding new ways to compost, so that I can repurpose the weeds in my yard for my garden. The photograph that is included in this reflection illustrates me in one of my most blissful moment  an afternoon on the lake. Although I sat there alone the environment was so all embracing, and though alone the photographer was there with me also. She was my precious daughter. She insisted that she joined me on the lake that day so that she could capture my blissfulness and inner strength and she did.

I also spend time researching, writing and journaling  I am working on a few books, and right now I am editing and designing a woman in business journal that I published in December. It is an online publication and it's in it fourth year of publication. There goes loneliness. I am always cognitively aware. Maybe that makes the difference in being lonely and happy with you  maybe it's what makes you enjoy and treasure your solitude. I think that we need solitude to continue to be creative and innovative.

I am glad that I am happy in my skin and in my own presence. Yes, I do have friends, lots of them. Come December a friend with whom I worked with as a teacher is celebrating her 65th birthday and her daughter asked if I could write something about our first meeting and throughout the years that we have been friends, so that she could compile a book for her as a way of celebrating her life. I did, and come December 27th I will be at that celebration. Great discussion. I hope I haven't bored you!

My question to you is, are you lonely, whether you live with your spouse, alone or in an intergenerational home? and what do you do to deal with your loneliness? It will be nice to share your experiences or your perspactive on the topic.

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