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Craving 100 Years of Solitude

After spending two weeks with my family on vacation, I came home with one overwhelming desire.

I. Just. Want. To. Be. Alone.

Sweet isolation, wherefore art thou?

I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Upon returning from our beach-time togetherness, my 12-year-old daughter locked herself in our upstairs bathroom for hours, rediscovering her toys and herself.

I was totally sympathetic. I think a little personal seclusion is in order on a regular basis to breed creativity, self awareness and sanity.

Only us moms aren't supposed to feel this way because somehow it's interpreted that we're being selfish or uncaring if we don't want to be with our family 24-7. "Do Not Disturb" is distorted to mean detached and disinterested.

Henry David Thoreau had Walden Pond. Today's moms have to be content with an hour or two on their own at Target.

Like prisoners granted parole, we grab our snippets of solitude on grocery runs to Publix, potty breaks, even a few minutes spent folding laundry in silence. There are nights when I actually look forward to washing the dinner dishes because I know everybody will clear out of the kitchen and leave me alone with my thoughts, my dishpan hands and my Pandora radio stations.

Personal alone time should rank right up there on our livin-the-good-life list along with regular exercise and healthy eating habits. Solitude has long been linked with creativity, spirituality and intellectual might.

One ongoing Harvard study

indicates that people form more lasting and accurate memories if they believe they're experiencing something alone. Another indicates that a certain amount of solitude can make a person more capable of empathy towards others. Some solitude has even been shown to help teenagers improve their moods and earn good grades in school.

Emails, texting and instant messaging are making it harder than ever to seek out complete isolation. But even moms with martyr complexes need to recognize that the likes of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and Moses spent crucial time away from the masses.

Solitude, the English historian Edward Gibbon once said, is "the school of genius." Psychoanalysts believe the capacity to spend time alone is the mark of emotional maturity. Mozart said his best ideas came from being alone.

Do yourself a favor today and enjoy your own company. Go on a solitary walk, read a book, shop. Give yourself time alone to put your life in perspective, reboot, unwind, disconnect, think deeply, make up your mind (or find that really great dress on sale from The Webster at Target).

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