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Solo Solace

sanctuary for soul

By Jessica Amber BarnumPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 11 min read


When is the last time you gifted yourself solo solace “me” time? Where were you? What did you do? How did you feel? What value did you attach to your time alone? Were you truly alone? Not lonely, simply alone. Just you and the sacred medley of your you-ness.

Solo solace is healing for you-ness. How? I shall share my raw authentic stream of consciousness about my experience with it. First, I’ll say I had reasons for gifting myself solo solace “me” time. The depth of those reasons deserve their own story, so for now I’ll say they were my impetus for recalibrating and honoring my multidimensional self. I knew I was “off” and that I wanted to be “on.” Balanced and feeling good. ALL of me. You don’t need to have reasons or an impetus to be alone. Sometimes it just feels good to bask solo in your you-ness, and that’s all you need to know and feel. It’s your choice what you attach to your solo solace “me” time.

The following stream of consciousness is adapted from a love letter I wrote just over three years ago. I had dedicated a whole year to solo solace, and I didn’t know at the time I would now be living “out west.” Funny how the Oneness of the Universe tunes in. And so …

"The Ceremony"

The day you wore your Tuesday overalls

Salamanders wiggled in and out of your pockets

Oshkosh bygosh, innocence for the dessert of the day

And today you stand

In your favorite lacy white, the delicate breath of you

In your jean jacket, your forever tomboy spice

In your red cowgirl boots, pattering to your pulse

In your knowing

That you are the moon’s luster

In the lives of many

And in the seeds of your own art

Wings spread wide over the world

Silver ribbons connecting you, sky and earth

Dangling damsel, who tickles the elements

In the gaze of the candlelight

And salsas the solo flare of the Now

Mother to all, daughter to herself

Tomorrow’s overalls will do just fine as well

When I wrote that poem and had a quaint ceremony to celebrate my independence, healing and identity-blossoming this year, I did wear that lace dress and boots and I did prance around my yard. I slipped on my “wedding ring” and smiled at the sky and bowed to the earth. I imagined a radiant orb of shimmering light surrounding me, and I prayed with gentle yet firm intention that it would soothe and protect me from the inside out. It would be a barrier from the daggers of unwanted and unhealthy energy from the outside and it would be a cultivator of nourishment on the inside. The clear message this light shield emanated was, “I am love. Only love will penetrate this light. I get to decide what that love is.” I have always spoken to Mother Earth, to animals and to the energy of the universe. And I spoke to the Oneness of the Universe more this year than I ever had before.

I became my own guard and hostess of meditative and creative productivity. And I got busy “doing” with swarms of ideas flooding my conscience. I helped start a youth cycling league because I love riding with kids, and I know mountain biking is just so darn good for the head, heart and halo. I wrote/illustrated a children’s book with a student and learned from her how to surrender to art and imagination as the muse of all momentum. I got philosophically and creatively radical with my teaching, witnessing a rainbow of results with students and parents, finally advocating for myself and feeling the surge of “me and my calling” protruding from the earth to sky like a bodacious sunflower. I allowed myself to become too busy, the “to do” list stacked to the brim of 24/7, telling myself that’s when I feel my best. I went above and beyond for colleagues, parents and students, texts coming in late at night and me allowing myself to be available. When I am available for others and they are happy, that makes me happy. I’ve always been that way. Boundaries are important though. You can only be present and available for others when first you are for yourself. It’s an art.

I Am Here.

And what DID I do for me from the inside out? I wanted to learn how to be my own best resource. So I dove deep into the one thing that almost snagged my life from me three years ago. I planned three solo mountain biking trips. I wanted to show life that I am HERE. To prove that I AM here. I was aware that a trickling desperation was at work. I was compensating for almost not being here. Like, “Hey, Life, look at me. I am here. I almost wasn’t. What do I need to do to prove that I am HERE alive now?” Yes, there is a flavor of guilt and shame in there, but within the innermost layer of it all, there is love, acceptance, gratitude and compassion for me, for the situation, for the evolution of my path and for my family and friends who supported me. Life happens and there is magical faerie dust in the messiness of it. So I celebrated and played in this by traveling solo. I found my solace on the trails, in the rustic wonder of what was around the next tree as I dirt-surfed the landscape. I let myself have fun with it. I had my light shield to guide and protect me, afterall. So I got down on my knees and kissed the ground and said, “World, here I am, here I come.”


Sedona. Flagstaff. Santa Fe. Taos. Montana. I was safe and savvy. I had 15-20 lbs. of “just in case’s” on my back and I pushed myself to limits that were at the brink of my smart zone, and I could feel family and friends, Mother Earth and the Oneness of the Universe in full support of me. I joke that mountain biking knobby tread on trail is like a massage for Mother Earth, like I’m giving back to her for her loyal presence every day.

Being out west is a nostalgic orgasm for me. Its cadence palpitates in unison to the beat of my heart, the exasperation of my breath, the craving of serenity in the wilderness. I knew my plan in Montana to ride the rugged elevation-heart-busting 22-mile out-and-back Flesher Pass - Stemple Pass section of the Continental Divide would challenge me, more mentally and spiritually than physically. The possibility of bears or mountain lions pouncing from the shadows had my trail awareness antennae on high. My heart sat in the hub on my conscience (and at times in the pit of my stomach) that entire ride with faith and trust incessantly ticking and urging me to stay present, to keep pedaling so my cowbell would dangle-clang from my pack, to chant the vowels AEIOU to fuel my spirit and honor my Native American heritage, to blink only if the sun was in my eyes splintering through the trees, and to not label any dark lurking anticipatory thoughts as “fear.” I stopped a lot to ponder, listen, “be” and relish. And yes, to pee. The “sassy super squat” is indeed an essential skill when immersed in Mother Nature. And so I promised myself I would recall all those moments when I was back in life’s swing and swept by my mind’s “have to’s” and “musts” and the busy-ness business of my sometimes monkey-brain mindset. The power of recollection is a self-prescribed dose of quantum physics. One can “be” anywhere anytime if the desire, belief and imagination make for a fine and dandy smoothie.

When I finished the Continental Divide ride, I yelped like a vixen in heat. I yowled and hooted, sounds of my maniacal bliss reverberating in the whipping wind. I attempted fatigue-infested wheelies when I saw my car, the only car there, at the Flesher Pass trailhead. And the thought I never expected whispered, “That was your limit, Jess. You did it. You don’t have to prove that you’re alive anymore. It wasn’t about proving, afterall. It was about simply being.” I got it. Mountain biking solo solace-style is a wise sage. Calm and elation battled for space with a flavor of post-ride delirium and humor in my head. And then I stood and faced the sun splashing over Red Mountain --- her highness on the horizon --- and let the wind brush out the tangles of my sweaty hair and pacify my salt-and-tear-crusted eyes and cheeks, and I let gratitude breathe in wisps and whoops, however it chose to. I was alive perched in a hypnotic cathedral of abiding euphoria.

Montana Nostalgia & Heritage.

And then I got to go to our family cabin. The foreplay of my existence magnified, a synchronous next step where my Montana nostalgia is appeased, where heritage echoes eternal love and the Blackfoot River chants in tune with the drumbeat of elk hooves, the aroma of sage, and the steadfastness of the cabin’s logs, the sounds of cousins reminiscing, Aunt Sylvia prancing about in our hearts, in the breeze, in the lupine, in the flapping of butterfly wings atop Pigott Peak, and in the resonance of silence, serendipity and the wildness of things. I was alive. I was alive when I rode my mountain bike solo on our land’s logging roads, when I slept curled up in my sleeping bag with night sprinkling stars and moonlight all over my inner peace, when I dreamed of a loving presence, buoyant and gentle embracing my light shield from the right side of my body as I heard myself say, “I want someone kind to come into my life,” when I woke up at 5:00AM to 21 degrees tingling my nostrils and driving up Alice Creek to see what wildlife was frolicking in the pre-sunrise realm, when I ching-ching-ching hammered nails into wood scraps to make benches, placing them in a tribal circle outside of Aunt Sylvia’s little hut, now abandoned of her presence but not of her spirit, and when I wrote her a letter and put it in her mailbox: “Aunt Sylvia, you have mail. We are all together always.”

During this solo solace at the cabin, where I got to bathe and baptize naked in the river, a goddess dipped in the frigid warmth of wild water’s momentum and music, epiphanies crested the rocks, pebbles and my body, and I realized. I realized how much I love my life. How in the diving deep into productivity, creativity and self-advocacy this year, shielded by light, I also abandoned spontaneity, bountiful ad-libbed time with friends and family as well as with my center. How can you abandon your own core when you’re surrounded by light? Like an apple, sometimes we can brown, tarnish and exhaust from the inside out if the light can’t reach the center. And I realized it isn’t a light shield that protects a person or penetrates or doesn’t penetrate from the outside inward, it isn’t protection at all that’s needed. It is one’s own light coming from the center of our being that is needed, that is both the soul’s aphrodisiac and ignition. The light is already there, it is not something that is created! Like energy, light cannot be destroyed or created, it just moves. Like fire. It goes where the energy beckons it. But we often forget to let our inner light flare, breathe, shine, radiate. THAT is what it means to live with love from the inside out.

Now I know. Now I know why my body had ached all winter, why my breathing was compromised and micro-panic attacks had plagued those moments when I needed to be most present. And so what was I doing? I don’t know. Yes, I do. I guess I got stuck in a flow of busy-ness and control and the mindset of “book every minute so there’s no time to think too much because that might hurt,” and it took an experience, a thought, a dirt-surfed corner over rocks and roots, a dream, an echo of wise words from a friend or family member, the seeds of my own ancient knowing finally watered and sprouting, a mountain bike ride on the Continental Divide near my favorite place on earth to see that the thickets of my off-kilter imbalance is where my newfound balance was born. Was it that I needed to be close to capsizing in hyper-diligence, swallowed by shards of my own ego, to find my alignment, the hub of home and all that’s important?

Quivering Receptivity.

Each of us determines our own purpose, productivity, process, pace and progress in life. Sometimes we forget to add the “pause” to the list of p’s. Pause and introspect and ask, “What’s important?” I paused a lot at the cabin on our land in the Montana wilderness and perceived, received, re-perceived, perceived, received, re-perceived. I believe that is why I had the dream about the “presence” with kindness. My inner light had been birthed and my receptivity was quivering and calling.

For reasons understood and not, I always endure a period of depression when I leave Montana. I return home to Vermont and I am a heap of bellyaches and sadness, of heartstrings snapping in sync with my attempts to resettle back into home mode. It has been four years since I’ve been to Montana and this time was different. Flying solo out of Missoula for home, the coolest airport ever, landing in Chicago and walking to my BTV departure gate, I felt a freedom, a liberation from the tethers and bindings of “you need to’s” and “I need to prove’s” and “I need to do this right’s” and “stay busy to heal your head and heart’s” and “push, push, push the pedals to your limit, FIND your limit’s” and “pressure is power and motivation’s.”

Perhaps it was that I traveled solo a lot this year, discovered that I am my own best resource, amped up my value system, trusted, surrendered, found vulnerability to be the most empowering nativity of all. Perhaps holes were forming and thinning my light shield because the beacon of my light center had flipped its switch at the cabin, perhaps the misconception that “being in control is equivalent to inner tranquility” was receding, perhaps the understanding that life lives when you don’t try so hard. It isn’t about perhaps. Who am I kidding? It’s about I know. I know.

I Am Free.

The post-Montana depression still hasn’t come. I think it’s laid to rest for good. I figure it’s a combination of the collective layers of strength I discovered inside of myself building throughout this whole year where possibility and trust rooted the freedom to be myself without defending, explaining and justifying. I am free now to explore the wilderness of love and life with undaunted courage. Onward I go, dedicated to the sacred medley of solo solace rides and opportunities that provide a sanctuary for my soul. I am my best self because of it. And that’s good for me AND the Oneness of the Universe.


Brainstorm all the ways you can celebrate your own sacred medley of solo solace opportunities that provide a sanctuary for your soul. Embrace aloneness. Love up on your you-ness in cell, spirit and circumstance, and see what you discover. Oooo, an adventure, and another, and … !

Thanks for reading, and for considering a clicked heart, comment, Pledge and Tip if you so choose. See more of my writing and info about me here: Jessica Amber Barnum


About the Creator

Jessica Amber Barnum

I’m a teacher and creator of everything I love! To read and write is to be alive. To read and write with my students is to thrive. To read and write while riding a bike = "Book it on a bike."

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    Jessica Amber BarnumWritten by Jessica Amber Barnum

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