Honoring The Soul’s Need For Solitude And Community

by Judith Rich on May 29, 2009

What makes blogging so satisfying to me is the interaction with you, dear reader.  I’m a group person, a double Aquarian (sun and rising sign in Aquarius), if that means anything to you.   Aquarius, ruled by Uranus, is the sign of the collective.  Uranus, the union of opposites, masculine and feminine; Aquarius, the Idealist.  We Aquarians just want everyone to get along!  We are the original “Kumbayaians”.  Put us in a group and we shine!

Yet writing is a very solitary endeavor.  So here I am, sitting at the well and drawing up what wants to arise, naturally.  And here you are, sitting at the well with me.  I imagine we’re enjoying a nice cup of hot tea, or a glass of iced tea if the day is warm where you are. ( I live in the San Francisco Bay area and it’s pretty chilly here most of the year.)  But it’s YOU that brings me here, for I’m clear, I am here to serve.  It is my honor to do so.

Judging from your comments on opening day, which by the way, was a stellar success, many of you found your way here just in time, as did i.  I’ve been pregnant with this project for nine months (really!) so it’s birth could not come soon enough for me.  My soul is so very happy to have this place to come to each day, just to dip into what’s true, what’s happening, what’s wanting to be seen, heard, listened, acknowledged.

As a speaker, trainer and workshop facilitator, I’m used to working with large groups, with lots of energetic interactions.  I acknowledge those who leave comments here as your input expands the conversation and feeds back to me what’s landing out there.  So thank you!  I’ve also heard from some of you who aren’t quite ready to go public with your thoughts just yet.  Know that’s OK too.  The soul knows when the time is right to speak its truth.

However your comments let me know what’s on your mind, what your soul is wanting and that’s important for us all to know.  What I hear from you so far is that your soul is hungry for nourishment.  So is mine!  My last post, 10 Ways To Nourish Your Soul, is just a dip into that water.  We could come up with 1000’s of ways as each soul is uniquely fed.  I raise the issue to invite you to look into your own to see what’s so for you.

This double Aquarian being that I am,  learning to be human, seeks both solitude and the collective.  I absolutely thrive and require both settings.  Not enough solitude and I get grumpy and out of sorts.  Too much community results in the same.  The key is to listen to the urgings of my soul and surrender to them.  My friends don’t take it personally when I need to leave.  I’m like a racehorse, racing towards solitude when that need arises.  It isn’t always convenient to follow the dictates of the soul, but I’ve found that the price I pay for not doing so, is much too high.

But we’ll often pay a high price for following the soul as well.  It doesn’t let us off easily.  To honor your need for solitude dictates that some things be let go.  Let them go.  But do it consciously and with integrity.  No slinking off, no sneaking out.  Go to your solitude with honor.  The ones you love will understand if you give them half a chance.  You are going to meet your soul.  A sacred pilgrimage!   Webster’s dictionary defines it as an “unfrequented place”.   A ripe place for the soul to emerge!

Just as we need solitude, we need community.  We need to know that we belong somewhere.  We seek our tribes, our people, the ones with whom we resonate, the ones who know us and accept us warts and all.  How good it feels to be in the presence of those who love us to the core, in spite of, and perhaps even because of our imperfections!  To let it all hang out, to be in communion!

Know that we are kindred spirits here.  Know this is a place for learning the truth.  It’s not that I know what’s true for you.    Only you can know that.  But if you come with an open heart and open mind, we all can learn the deeper truths on this path.  This is what juices my soul!

That’s it for now.  Just a “housekeeping note”:  many of you have subscribed to my newsletter, but you haven’t become a subscriber to the blog yet.  You can do that by clicking on the “Subscribe to the blog” button on this page.   A new window will open and you can choose which feed you prefer or you can choose to receive updates by email.  Choose your preference and voila!  You’ll be notified when a new post appears.

My intention is to post here 4-5 days/week.  A Monday-Friday kind of thing.  Wednesday, you’ll find me at the Huffington Post on the Living page.  If you’re not already a reader there, come on over.  I have a partial archive  of my HuffPo articles posted here on this site and the rest you’ll find linked here, just in case you want to read other stuff and get up to speed.  I recommend you read the 10 week series I wrote on Impossible To Inevitable:  Dare To Dream Big, if you haven’t already.  It begins with the post titled, When The Shift Hits The Fan.  You’ll find it here.

Let me  leave you with a question to ponder now and over the weekend.  Please stop by the comment section and let us know what you come up with.

The question:  what is it just the right time for in your life?  What is your soul calling you to- right NOW? I’ll be pondering those questions in a day long workshop with poet David Whyte on Saturday. If you don’t know his work, he’s a brilliant English poet and author who writes from the soul and evokes the same in his readers.  You can find out more about him here.  You’ll be hearing more about him here next week.

Blessings on the path,


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Arithrianos aka Samuel Bonney May 29, 2009 at 11:28 AM

wellness to the well watcher, may you contine with ease and grace to tend to that which needs tending. As one who occosionally draws from that same well, the trick is letting go of the need to be “right” and just say what is there to be said, even if it sounds strange. It is a lot easier to “talk” here is the anonimity of the internet than to talk “live”, so that is why i have not been able to follow the call to return to a more organized community, there is still the fear of sounding like what some might call a kookie new agey space cadet. The problem is i am a kookie new age space cadet in a lot of ways, i have direct experience that make it impossible to be normal. It is the greatest pain in my life now, not being “normal” but with the desire to be. I even was afraid to link my huffington post account to my facebook page, because then, oh my, my friends and family might think i am strange for writing all that, even though i know they already think of me as strange. Why i still care about that stuff i think has to do with abandonment issues from my childhood, i can’t seem to locate the root, though i am looking for it.

Judith Rich May 29, 2009 at 1:21 PM

Dear Arithrianos,
May I just say to you, dear friend, it’s OK NOT to be “normal!” Be who you are and if that doesn’t fit the picture of society or those whose voices you empower, then so be it. The soul has no interest in things “normal”. Quite the opposite, I think!
I’ve never felt “normal”, not in the context in which I grew up. I always used to think I was adopted because i sure didn’t fit in with the rest of my family. I didn’t fit into any of the boxes I tried to stuff myself. It took 3 divorces to get that marriage wasn’t for me. Not that I dislike men. Not at all. Just the convention of marriage. But that’s another subject. I’ve been divorced and single for the past 18 years and never happier in my life. Not normal for a girl whose parents were married for 66 years!
Normal, schmormal! Love who you are, dear captain of the New Age Space Cadets. Those who truly love you, love you for who you are, not how you are. If who you are , just as you are, is not acceptable in your current tribe, you’re in the wrong tribe. Find your people. They’re probably not that far away.
The door is always open here………..

Lillie Gander May 29, 2009 at 1:54 PM

I love the “normal discussion”and I have replaced the word normal with the word “healthy” and find it a better fit. I see what passes for, or what people have strived for and spent to, appear ‘normal’ today or in the recent past, and I’m not sure I care to be ‘normal.”

I love the talk about finding your tribe – I found my tribe, he is my husband (just had our 1st anniversary) and truly I spend a lot of my days being so grateful to have found him and to be with him. We spent years apart after finding each other and know what being separated by circumstances is like after you find your true tribe is like. I believe we spend a long time trying to squeeze ourselves into other peoples pigeonholes and end up hurting outselves and maybe we end up taking up their pigeonholes and there are others that are supposed to come with just the right fit for them!?!?

I have kind of always liked being around people, I am a Gemini; an ENFJ on the MBriggs testing (A Giver). I’ve given in the past until I was all give out to the point of burn out. Now, I’m being nurtured and I don’t know how to handle it – I’ve always been the nuturer, never the nuturee. As badly as I always wanted it, dreamed of it, I’ve not known what to do with it, now that I have it. But right now, I’m forced to sit still and accept a lot of solitude until my tribe comes home at night. At first, I had ants in my pants, now I find myself more at peace with it and realize that this is where God wants me right now so I better pay attention to the lesson that is here for me to learn – to accept being cared for, being loved.

Ridiculous, eh?

Arithrianos May 29, 2009 at 3:15 PM

i know i am not “normal” and i also know it is my ego that wants that anyway, the problem with my last sangha is i found i was too respected and sort of look at as a elder or wise or something even though i didn’t ask for that roll, i just wanted to help, and as you point out the best resource is that well over which i have no ownership or control, so it is frightening to my ego, and i just have not gotten to the point where i want to deal with it i guess, it is not very generous maybe, but it not like i am holding back, it is just i have gone to the internet instead, it is just easier.

Big Fan of Waldo May 30, 2009 at 12:37 AM

Right. When the aquarians sit next to the well, even on a chilly day, it’s not the Ice-T ceremony, but still Kumbayala.

For me it’s the time to let go of painful memories, make a fresh start and live on the hypothesis that maybe, just maybe, everything could work out ok after all.

It’s the time to look into my dreams warts and all. To finally understand why things turned out the way they did. And to jump out of bed in the morning and shout: Day of my life!

Judith Rich May 30, 2009 at 7:05 PM

Dear Big Fan,
Perhaps the question is not “why did things happen as they did”, but rather “What can I learn from what happened? How does it serve me?”
I’m not so sure it matters that we know the answer to the “why” questions of life. The answer to “why” is “because”. Now what?
Look to see how “what happened ” was a purposeful and necessary part of your journey. Everything else is the Ego, trying to justify its existance.

Judith Rich May 31, 2009 at 5:48 AM

Dear Lillie Gander,
In the “for what it’s worth department”, let me just pass along a lesson that took me until recently to get. Learn to receive.
The giver who cannot receive thwarts the giving process, so it’s incomplete. No wonder the burnout!
Energy must flow in as well as out or eventually, not good things can happen to the body.
Meanwhile, while you’re waiting for your tribe to come home, create a life of your own that sustains you. Find what feeds you. Be responsible for that, don’t put it all off on your husband. Or soon, he’ll feel burned out.
Make sense?

gar May 31, 2009 at 12:30 PM

Greetings Judith

Is this energy called chi?

in peace,

Lillie Gander May 31, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Dear Judith:
Yes, everything that you say makes sense. It is a lesson that I am struggling to learn. I am finding it ridiculous that it is DIFFFICULT TO LEARN. It’s good to know that I am not the only one who is a little slow on the uptake in “learning to receive.”

Meanwhile, I have had to ask myself in those days of solitude what do I like to do that nourishes my soul? After working so hard, burning myself out in service to others, I hadn’t developed those interests as well as I should have.

But I am looking, for fear of doing just what you said; putting too much pressure on my husband. I know we maintain responsibility for our own happiness.

Thank you for your response.

Lily May 31, 2009 at 3:27 PM

I have taken the liberty of forwarding your website to my team – 22 men statisticians, underwriters and auditors all are highly educated and overachievers where expectations.

My job as a Risk Manager is so stressful, especially with the downturned economy, only those that met the requirements were retained. It had dramatic impact in our personal and professional lives. We could use some input from an independent observer on how to handle stress and expectations that are sometimes very punitive. I am thingking to incorporate some of your recommendations when we hold our weekly meeting discussing stats, claim reviews, etc.

Already, 100% agree with the proposal.

Thanks as always,

Lily May 31, 2009 at 3:29 PM

I have taken the liberty of forwarding your website to my team – 22 men statisticians, underwriters and auditors all are highly educated and overachievers where expectations ARE HIGH !

Lisa Penny May 31, 2009 at 5:10 PM

I’m finding a remarkable concurrence of my personal discoveries with your blogging topics. I feel like our wavelengths have synchronized in the ether somehow.

I’ve spent the last several months working intensely on my artwork in solitude for most of every day. My community has been limited mainly to short sightings of a busy spouse & teenager. I have fallen out of my tribe, and while I’ve gotten a lot of work done, in the last few weeks I’ve really come to recognize the importance of community.

I need my solitude, to let my mind and heart connect and work out the expressions and complexities of my artwork. But without community, I’ve discovered my mind loses perspective, and will leap to extremes – extreme pleasure with perceived successes, and extreme doubts over those same results.

Lack of community also deprives me of the ideas that come from making connections between events & personalities & opinions. Not to mention that laughing at your own jokes starts to feel a bit insane!

I joined my local art guild several months ago, and today attended a very fun opening of a great exhibition. It’s so exhilarating to find a new tribe, where everyone summons up the courage to put themselves up on the walls for all to see, and we can give each other perspectives and feedback on not just our work, but on our processes, doubts, struggles, and ideas. While driving home, my thoughts were exactly what you discuss in this topic: appreciating solitude & community, and actively seeking a balance between the two.

Arithrianos: I hope you can find a tribe where you can share your uniqueness and heart. Finding my local art guild has been very invigorating for me, but it took a while for me to take the leap and join. I’m sure you can find a community of common interests that will accept and inspire you. It might not be easy, but we’ll be here to back you up!

GFJones May 31, 2009 at 10:29 PM

“what is it just the right time for in your life? What is your soul calling you to- right NOW?”

I believe that I am living my calling. Twenty eight years ago I (semi) set aside my musical aspirations to raise a family with a promise to myself that I would pick it back up when the time was right. In the intervening years I have worked a career and raised three kids and also honed my skills as a musician. Five years ago, I built a small project studio to capture and develop my musical ideas. My kids are musicians and their friends are musicians. Before I knew it I was knee deep in young people involved in building a band or enjoying the music that their friends made. I allowed for one young band and another young musician to become part of the space. As time passed this environment became less about my aspirations and much more about the needs of these young people. This was hard for me at first until I realized that the studio had become bigger than me and that I had to let it go for the sake of the kids. In turn I became a mentor to these musicians and their friends. Mentoring has been the biggest surprise and bonus of the whole endeavor. “You are more of a father to me than my own father.” This has been said to me many times. One young man’s father came to my house and shook my hand expressing his thanks for the changes that he’d seen in his son ever since his son started spending time with my son and family. I was almost embarrassed at the time. I hadn’t given much though to what we were doing under my roof. My wife is in charge of the unconditional love department. I am just a student. In retrospect, I have come to realize that it is easy to deal with other peoples children. We don’t have a lifetime of experience or baggage together. I never condescend to young people. I look upon them as only being inexperienced but fully capable. Human respect. My advice is honest and from the heart. What I have gotten in return is their trust. I value that.

My soul is calling me to sing and dance in the rain. I am no Gene Kelly but I have skills and my soul wants to be heard. The time is now. The youngsters have needed my research and artistic skills less and less as they have grown. I now have time to write and play. It’s highly unlikely that fame and fortune are in the cards but that is not what this is about. This journey is about learning to let go and allow my spirit sing the melody. I have touched on this place a few times in my music over the years. I would like to see how far this can go.

Big Fan of Waldo June 1, 2009 at 12:20 AM

Lily: from what you write I think it is clear that you have excellent leadership, stress management and coping skills. Maybe the next step is to simply get rid of the senior management in your firm 🙂

Just kidding. But seriously: the way your team cooperates is worth a ton of gold and you should make sure your senior management understands what that means. To have an atmosphere of mutual trust even after a downsizing is a stellar achievement, in my opinion.

Big Fan of Waldo June 1, 2009 at 1:14 AM

Dear Judith,
thanks for the guidance with respect to the free-wheeling Ego. It’s in the aftermath of those moments of overheated Ego that we realize the chimerical nature of the Ego, and that’s highly valuable. Because it explains what happens when others get ahead of themselves. It’s how we know that they will fall flat: there really is no Ego other than as a result of past intermediation. And knowing this helps to overcome the need to seek revenge, without unhealthy denial.

In a sense, it also means that telling people that they need to scale back their Ego is almost like a free gift to them. Sometimes they don’t even deserve to be told.

Lisa Rattner June 3, 2009 at 3:33 PM

I am so excited about this newsletter!! It is just perfect Judith!
I am also an aquarian and love being with people but I NEED my solitude. Last year I became very burned out at my job and waited too long for a vacation. I needed quiet time so desperately that I decided to go on a 4 day cruise by myself. I had never done anything like that before and some of my friends and family thought it was odd. I decided to make this cruise whatever I wanted it to be. I packed no dressy clothes, no make up and took off to the caribbean. I chose to remain in complete silence for the first day. My soul was requesting absolute silence. I decided that I would do whatever I wanted in the 4 days and would listen only to my body’s needs. I slept A LOT, stayed quiet, ate by myself (it was a free style cruise), sunbathed, and read an amazing book-Eat,Pray,Love (PERFECT!!!!!). I spoke to people only when I wanted to. I wanted cheese and crackers EVERY SINGLE DAY and let myself have it. I think I looked in the mirror 4 times the whole trip. I wrote in my journal, meditated and gave myself permission to NOT THINK about ANYTHING if I didn’t want to. It was GLORIOUS!!!! I came home a different person. This was such a profound experience for me that I will be doing it once a year. Four days was enough-any longer may have been lonely for me.

Judith Rich June 3, 2009 at 4:36 PM

Dear Lisa,
Wow! Good for you! Way to go, Miss Tiara Sister! I trust you left it home for this trip?
Honor that Aquarian nature of yours. The need for solitude is palpable. Too much togetherness and too little solitude for this Aquarian soul spells trouble.
Find various ways to nurture that need in between cruises.
In between cruises….. hmmmm, I feel an article coming on about that!
Thanks so much for dropping by.
Love to you,

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