Lately I have been thinking about belonging, and where we find affiliation in life. With ourselves, family, friends, organizations, we all have places we want to belong.

The rainbow sheep running around the fringe of any pasture, I am keenly aware of my own challenges with belonging. This pervasive sense of not quite fitting in has followed me through life.

These days I am learning more and more what it means to belong to myself and be okay with that process.

The fall seems to have brought about a strange mix of wonderful, creative energy and profound loneliness. It’s not that I haven’t been alone before, it’s that somehow my awareness of the experience has increased.

Yet at the same time there is this beautiful gift of writing and art threading my life as new creative opportunities open. In many ways I know one wouldn’t exist without the other. It is the experience of being alone which pushes me to create, it is the act of creating which requires solitude.

I think there are untapped gifts I’ve yet to discover in this symbiotic mix.

Part of the magnification of loneliness has really come from a loss of someone with whom I felt a deep sense of belonging. I have been unable to sort through whether any of it was truly genuine or if it was simply artifice masked by a very expensive, well made bluster. An excellent copy of the Mona Lisa, which couldn’t stand up to inspection and the penetration of my gaze in the end.

All I know is at the time I felt a deep sense of abidance with another soul, and the loss of this- even it’s imitation- unpeeled a new layer of awareness.

I am reminded of this beautiful quote by Anais Nin,

“He, who had done more than any human being to draw her out of the caves of her secret, folded life, now threw her down into deeper recesses of fear and doubt. The fall was greater than she had ever known, because she had ventured so far into emotion and had abandoned herself to it.”

The fall was great this summer. Autumn has arrived with lessons in healing and integration. It will take time. And that’s one thing my loneliness offers, the gift of time.

And as all this colors my psyche, there is a joyous whirlwind twirling through my head producing lovely words and quirky art, which make me smile. Ideas dance around upstairs, the flight of the butterfly, and I am grateful for the time I have to observe and try and catch the monarchs with the nets provided by paper and pastel.

So as the fall marches on, I have decided I will take my dose of joy and whimsy along with my side of alone and learn to love both.