on solitude: 8 ways to hang out with yourself

While I consider myself to be a friendly and social person, I also consider myself to be an introvert.  I thrive on being with people - up to a point - and then I need silence to reflect or simply appreciate without the chatter of others in the background.  It's like a social rest for me - it allows me to recharge, and then arrive refreshed and present when I am with people again.  

Growing up this way, and encountering all sorts of people, I've found:
a)  many people don't know how to be alone
b)  many people are introverts, and are ashamed of it.

But being an introvert is a beautiful thing.  Even tapping into the introverted side of your personality, you'll find that it puts you in touch with the quiet and cerebral part of you - it tunes you into the place of internal knowing that everybody has.  
And, a solo adventure is one of the best ways to spark creativity and new ideas.  It's one of my favorite things to do.  So, I've compiled a few of my favorite ways you can get in some quality time with yourself.

I.  Simple and easy:  Get up, step outside your door, and go on a walk.  Or get in your car, or your bicycle, or motorcycle, or boat, or whatever, and travel to a park you've never been to before.  Walk around, listen - to the birdsong or the stream, take in the air, touch the ground.  Use your senses, and most importantly tell your brain to hush. 

II.  Gather together some art supplies and paint in the park.  I love to go to public spaces and make tiny watercolor paintings, but you can do anything!  Knitting, drawing, sculptures - you name it!  Find a nice tree to sit under, or a beautiful view to look at and let yourself go.

III.  Wake up purely with the intention of treating yourself.  Make a sweet and indulgent breakfast and enjoy it without shame.  Here I made chocolate chip, almond, and coconut pancakes and was so happy to take in the morning light with my coffee and then bites from these fluffy buttermilk things.

IV.  Pack yourself a picnic and enjoy it somewhere outside.  On this day I was working an afternoon shift at the bakery, so in the morning I put together a little salad, put them in my backpack along with a few pieces of fruit, my journal, a blanket to sit on, and a book.  I biked over to the nearby beach and happily enjoyed my food while watching the ebb and tide of the Pacific, or watching the sailboats breeze by.  I was in the best mood when I finally went to work.

V.  One of my favorites: take yourself out on a date!  Dress up, put on something that makes you feel attractive, or fun, or try taking on a new character for the night - then treat yourself to the best date.  My favorite way to do this is to dress up, get a slice of cheesecake or overly decadent chocolate cake and then go to the nearest independent movie theater.  If you've never been to the movies by yourself - I highly recommend it - especially if you find a charming fine arts theater nearby.
On this date I put on my favorite dress and boots, and walked over the bridge to a local bakery and got a hot chocolate and a pot pie, then quietly enjoyed them on the outdoor patio.

VI.  Solo bike adventures where you gather wildflowers to decorate your home!

VII.  Take yourself swimming!  Everybody's got some sort of swimming spot nearby.  Bring a towel, a book, something refreshing to drink, and swim by yourself.  This photo above was taken recently here in Vermont.  It may be one of my favorite days since I've been back.  I dedicated an entire Sunday to this specific dreamy waterfall in Vermont.  I would swim until I'd had enough and then would retreat to my rock nest and read until I was warm enough to swim again.  I even ended up meeting a few sweet people and some pretty cute dogs in the process.

VIII.  Um, ice cream?  Go to your local coop or market and simply buy yourself a tiny pint of a flavor you've never had before.  Take off your shoes and enjoy it somewhere outside, or curl up in your bed with a movie and your favorite flavor.

What are your favorite ways to spend time with yourself?