Scarlette Letter – 8/28/2015

Today was compelling testimony that frequent, vigorous exercise, good food, a leash on monkey mind, and social activity, or connection, fosters a feeling of well-being and happiness.

After a rewarding hike yesterday evening, I took off on a hot, mid-day, ten-mile hike “for lunch”. It feels so good to move and be outdoors. I love hiking with people, but I really thrive when hiking in solitude.

My hike was followed by a Meet-Up event with the women’s networking group I’ve been sporadically active with over the past couple of years. The group organizer planned an evening for a small group of women where she’d show us how to make Venezuelan arepas. I was the only member who showed up, but we had the loveliest of times preparing yummy food, drinking rum infused “batidos” and catching up on stories of adventure, travel, work, and all those things friends chat about.

I came home and felt accomplished, peaceful, content, and happy and watched a Netflix DVD, “Factory Girl”, which, though tragic, and dark, had no detrimental effect on my joy.

Falling asleep was harder than I expected, as I began to make plans for the next day, but, eventually, I succeeded.

Scarlett’s Letter October 12, 2013

What an outstanding and amazing day!

After my evening with Mom last night, and her temporary hearing loss, I was a little hesitant to leave her for the better part of the weekend, but as I only planned on being an hour or so away, and could be back to assist, if need be, in fairly short order, she encouraged me to go. We figured, if worse came to worse, she could call me and speak to me, she just wouldn’t be able to hear me, but I would drop whatever I was doing and be on my way.

My day started early, as planned. I left the house at about 5:00 AM and headed for the river for a fifteen and a half mile run with my running club. If you asked me to sit down and design the most perfect day and setting for a nice, long run, I couldn’t have come up with anything better than what we had today. It was cool to begin, not cold, but cool enough that I hesitated to take my hoodie off. Once we got moving, though, it was perfect. The day warmed as the sun continued to rise above the golden leafed trees. The river sparkled and glinted in the slanted sunlight, reflecting the golden hue of the rays that filtered through the autumn colored trees. It was a good run, and nearly as hard as it sounds, fifteen and a half miles. It was rewarding and I’m confident that my mid-week workouts are benefiting me well.

I made plans with one of my favorite Meet-Up groups, the “Forty-Something Women’s Group”, happy hour and the “Second Saturday” art walk. Obviously, after running fifteen and a half miles I was not happy hour/art walk ready. It would be completely crazy to drive all the way back to Napa, shower, change and drive back to Sacramento for an evening out with the girls, only to drive back to Napa, again. I decided to use one of my abundant “free” hotel reward nights. Our happy hour and art walk event were to focus in the Midtown Sacramento area, so I booked myself a room immediately across the street from Capitol Park, where the State Capitol building resides. Brilliant, I know.

After my run, I grabbed a couple of street tacos at Rubio’s, which were good, but as soon as I headed downtown, I regretted. There are so many fantastic restaurants in Midtown, I could certainly have found something amazing to gnaw on, instead. But, then again, I spent $4 on lunch. I checked in to my hotel and took a nice, long shower. I had the luxury of getting ready as slowly as I liked. I had plenty of time before happy hour and just enjoyed the ritual a girl has in getting all ready for an evening. No one to rush me, no one to sit impatiently nearby knowing better than to rush me. I don’t really like being alone, a lot, but now and again, especially for a “girls’ night” the solitude is replete.

Even with abundant time well spent, I was ready a full hour and a half before I needed to be. It would’ve been tragic to just sit about inside my hotel room on such a splendid Sacramento day, so, I took to the streets. Having lived in this area for thirty some years before my recent return to my hometown, Napa, I’ve seen Sacramento change, considerably, for the better. Today, I decided to be a “tourist in my own town”, a pastime I definitely recommend to anyone, anywhere. I walked out into the warm, sunny afternoon, across the street, with no real plan, direction or agenda. I only knew that at 5:00 PM I needed to be at Zocalo’s a few blocks away to meet up with everyone.

As I meandered down the sidewalk I spotted the rose garden in Capitol Park, and so, I crossed the street and wandered around there for a bit. I don’t know what it is about capitol buildings, but I never cease to be attracted to them. The history, the stature, the architecture, I love it all.

Midtown Sacramento, as I mentioned, has no shortage of restaurants. It is the “it” neighborhood, these days, and full of life. Most of the houses are neat, tidy, landscaped and, apparently, well loved and a source of pride. The few houses that aren’t quite as well kept actually look like they are occupied by the younger, trendier, artsier types, for whom I have respect, admiration and a wee bit of jealousy. Art abounds, here, too. I took it all in, without entering any shops or galleries, I was saving all that for later, with the girls. I just walked.

Since I was in the neighborhood, again, having a history of my own here, and always being attracted to historical sights, in general, and, more specifically, mine, I headed to the site where the Sigma Chi fraternity house had been back in the mid-1980’s. I was a Little Sister for Sigma Chi, the charter year, and have many found, though, perhaps blurry, memories of those days. I wasn’t sure if I’d find the house standing, or replaced with some other structure. It’s been a while. As I rounded the corner, there it stood, and about as run down and beleaguered as I remember it. I was happy to find it there, like a touchstone of my youth. The Lambda Chi house was still standing, next door, though equally dilapidated. Some things, I guess, don’t change, or change more slowly.

At 5:00, I made my way to Zocalo’s to meet the ladies, have a couple of drinks and another couple of street tacos. I spent $4 on food and $20 on two glasses of wine. Oh well, I guess I have my priorities straight! I didn’t settle for the house wine, but, instead, had the Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon, one of my “staples”. Good stuff.

With the “Meet-Up” concept, you go online, find activities that interest you, and sign up for groups that participate in those activities. There are “Meet-Ups” everywhere, nationwide. I belong to several; a salsa dancing Meet-Up, a pole dancing Meet-Up, a hiking and adventure Meet-Up, a women’s wine-tasting Meet-Up and this Forty-Something Women’s Meet-Up, which is my favorite. By far. I’ve been participating as much as I can with my travels, and now the distance I live from the group. It took a few events before I really felt like I fit in, before I was recognized, but that is true of any social group. This group has been, by far, the most welcoming and warm of any I’ve participated in. Now that I’ve been around for a couple of years, even though not always present, I am greeted with enthusiasm and joy, which, of course, is returned in kind. There are always new ladies in attendance, too, and I do my best to make them feel immediately welcome and to get to know them. I do love meeting new people!

There were probably about fifteen of us in all, and after a couple of drinks and a bite to eat, we took to the streets to find art. Second Saturday is a tradition in the Greater Sacramento Metropolitan Area, actually encompassing all of the unincorporated areas, suburbs, neighboring towns and even neighboring counties. The galleries all stay open into the night, many offering music and wine and food. It is a lovely way to enjoy art and to visit different parts of town. Midtown, though, as I mentioned, is definitely the “it” area, these days, so Second Saturday is a bit more of a spectacle. There are people in the streets and in every empty lot, open-air art marts, demonstrations, live music, and all kinds of activity. The bars and restaurants are all brimming full, and, as the weather is perfect, the sidewalks act as added seating areas for most of the restaurants and bars and even some of the art galleries. It is almost carnival-like.

We make our way through one gallery. That’s it. One. Then, somehow, we end up at a Turkish bar/hookah bar, where we had Turkish beer, Turkish wine, and, for most of us, our first hookah experience. It was outrageous fun and I’m glad to have that crossed of my bucket list. I don’t see it as a regular indulgence, but I’m glad to have experienced it, and especially with such a fun-loving group of women. We laughed so hard I think the twenty-something’s that surrounded us were, perhaps, a tad bit jealous!

In our advanced years, at “forty-something”, our energy was beginning to flag a bit. We forced ourselves to one more pub, had a beer, stifling yawns, and decided to call it a night. I think it was, perhaps, midnight, I don’t know for certain. It wasn’t too terribly late, and, as luck would have it, our final pub was two doors down from my hotel. I was so happy to crawl into my king-sized bed and sleep off that fifteen and a half mile run, the wine, more wine, the hookah and the beer.

Morning will come quickly, I’m sure. I have big plans for the day, tomorrow. First and foremost, I’d planned on brunch at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try, the Firestone Public House. In chatting with one of the “new” ladies, she asked where the Firestone Public House was, in relation to where we had happy hour. I told her where it was and that I planned on having brunch there. She will be joining me! I don’t mind dining alone, if necessary, but I am so happy to have company and conversation!

As I see it, in our effort to evolve into the people we want and deserve to be, we have choices. So often I hear folks complain that they don’t have friends available to go do things with, that they spend their free time at home, watching TV. That, I’m sorry, is a choice. There are so many opportunities out there to meet people, like-minded people, to have experiences, to meet even more people. There are as many opportunities to enjoy the sights and the surroundings alone, on occasion, too. Never let being momentarily solitary cause you to feel like you aren’t welcomed in public. I spend more time alone in public places, enjoyably, than I do at home. I relish a public place where I can be around people, perhaps strike up a conversation, have a glass of wine, a pint of beer, a cup of coffee, or just sit and read, write, or dunce around on the internet, all things I could do at home, but that I often find more fun in public. We shouldn’t overlook opportunities to get out of our rut, our routine, our family room and our TV ritual. Be inspired, be empowered, there is life outside the front door, down the street, in your town, or, maybe even the next town over. Just think of all you may be missing by staying home, comfortable in your sweats, catching that show you could just as easily record and watch later, after having gone out into the world to live life. Enjoy!

Only the Lonely

Let’s banish loneliness from the world, shall we? Sounds like some ideal, like something a large non-profit organization might be pursuing, with ads on television and fund-raising efforts, and efforts at raising awareness. I can see the commercials now; silhouettes of singular people, sitting alone, and some catchy phrase to make you feel guilty, pull out your credit card and donate.

I agree. I think loneliness should be banished. But, as with many things, I believe banishing loneliness begins with the lonely. You. Me. Whoever.

Let’s assume you’re lonely. Why? What is it that makes you lonely? Identify the specifics of your loneliness first, then work to solve it. Is it because you don’t have friends? Because you don’t have a significant other? A soulmate? Fine. So, fix it.

If you spend your free time at home, busying yourself with solitary tasks; television, video games, reading, etc., is it reasonable to expect people to knock on your door and seek out your companionship? Probably not.

I once knew a chronically unemployed man. He sat home all day, every day, un-showered, unshaven, drinking pot after pot of coffee, “looking for jobs online”. True, he would, occasionally, submit online applications, usually for the same job with the same company. The result? Still unemployed, with no recent job experience, no new knowledge, stale skills, no network, no leads, and no hope. I used to ask him, “do you expect some employer with a $120,000 per year job to march up your driveway in search of you?” So, what do YOU expect?

Loneliness is a lot like unemployment. In order to find a job, you need to be out there, shaking hands, making contact, making connections, building your network. You need to be active and relevant. You need to be a face with a name and a firm, comfortable handshake and a genuine smile, not a name on an application, a website or social media. You need to be real. The same is true of companionship.

There are more solutions out there than there are lonely people, I’m pretty sure. If you are lonely, get out a pen and a piece of paper. Write down things you enjoy doing; walking dogs, knitting, debating politics, hiking, driving, watching soap operas, wine tasting, walking, running, cycling, cooking, giving back to the community, worshipping, dancing. Now prioritize your list, circle the top two or three items on your list. Now, find a place where people with similar interests go on a regular basis. A church, a volunteer organization, a hiking club, cycling club, etc.

A great resource I use is You sign up, peruse MeetUp groups by interest, sign up for the groups that interest you, and attend some functions. I’ve gone hiking, dancing, running, walking, to happy hour, to concerts, wine tasting, zip lining and I’ve met a lot of folks along the way. The hardest part is showing up to the first function without a “wingman”, but once you get through that, you’ll have several acquaintances and you’ll never be flying solo again. Fear is the only thing holding you back from taking that first step by yourself. Remember what Eleanor Roosevelt says about fear:

“Do one thing every day that scares you” and

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. Do the thing you think you cannot do.”

My point is, loneliness shouldn’t exist if we all take responsibility for ourselves. Which we should be doing, here, and for most things in life. There are 7 billion people in the world, make an acquaintance with one of them, today. Everyday. They may introduce you to another. And another. Now you have a circle of acquaintances, from which friends and significant others may develop.

True, there are people out there, unlikely to evolve, to become enlightened, who will remain lonely because they don’t know they have to power to change their plight, and if you know anyone who fits that description, reach out to them. In so doing you could relieve their loneliness, and yours.

It IS that simple. And if you say it isn’t, you’re just making excuses. The only thing standing in the way is one, singular, lonely person. You. Get out of your way.