After you’ve been hanging out with yourself for a while, do you ever feel the need for a little separation? Have you ever felt the desire to escape your own presence?

One recent morning while I was sitting with my cat and my coffee enjoying some dark quiet wintery moments before my wee ones were awake, I started to ponder what it would be like if I took a year off of living “Aaryne” style. Putting some distance between me and myself.

It sounds relaxing.

Like maybe living in a retreat for a year.

I’ve chatted with you before about my love of reading juvenile fiction because I prefer to read about flying and magic and pirates and leave the grown-up topics to the grown-ups. I also love to read “how-to” books and books with ideas for improving my days. A current theme in recent years is about “living a year” in various ways – happy, danishly, dangerously, biblically, with less and even with no nonsense. I’ve read about living happy and living danishly. (Does that make you crave a danish right now, or is that just me?) Living dangerously sounds kinda fun and dangerous, but as a mom, I had to give that up. Unless we’re talking about standing outside with the kids to put them on the bus while still wearing my jammie pants hoping no one notices. Or delaying having to make yet another trip to the grocery store to chance being able to find something in the cupboards and fridge to make for the pickiest kids alive to eat. I suspect that dangerous move triggers the same adrenaline surge that would come if I were jumping out of a plane. Maybe even more. In that case, I am a dangerous diva. But I no longer climb a tall ladder with no one home. You might possibly find me on a shorter ladder. I could try living biblically but despite my valiant efforts to make better choices in the latter half of my life years, I’m not sure I have earned enough credits to be accepted into that course.


I do periodically like living with less and enjoy purging on various occasions but I would never ever live a life of no nonsense.

That’s just nonsense.

So, just what would a year of living “not me” look like? What am I really looking for if I lived “not me”? That thought enticed me so I dove deeper into my fantasy as I sat with my cat in those wee morning hours. Would it mean that there would be no chicken wings or Diet Pepsi for a whole year? Shudder. No secret drawer of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? How would I deal with stress? Would I have to give up my love of cute flannel shirts and tie-dye? (Sad face.) What about McDonald’s hazelnut iced coffee? I had to live without it in Wisconsin because McDonald’s stopped serving it regionally. Their reasoning? It wasn’t a best seller and they suggested I try their Vanilla iced coffee. Really.

Would I have to stop publicly calling for the return of big permed hair? Long live big permed hair! Let’s bring it back! Big permed hair for President!

I can hear you thinking that maybe I should give up my long line of questions.

And what about my fantastically witty sense of humor? Would I have to tuck that into my sock drawer for a year?

I can’t see how living without any of those things makes my fantasy more appealing. No no, this is not about living without my faves or punishing myself. That’s just nonsense. It is something different, but what? Something more like a break from certain things about “me”.

Later on that morning, while shoveling the driveway, I realized what I was searching for in my fantasy to live “Aaryne-free” for a bit. (Physical labor has a way of clearing the mind doesn’t it? And making you ache.) I determined that I was thinking of living a year without my big ideas. They find me everywhere and they don’t stop. They can be exhausting. In all fairness to myself though, I do have good ideas, and quite often, great ideas, although maybe too grand at times.

Maybe then I would finish up my photo album project that I left off on a few years ago. And I could finally snuggle up with my cat as she has been asking of me for a year and a half now while I binge watched my Food Network and HGTV library of recordings. Oh, and just think of the time I would have to finally devote daily to take care of me. Yoga and walking and smoothing out my rough summer feet. Stray eyebrows no more! I’m on the bubble, however, about cleaning my home more often. That sounds more like a punishment and we are not going there. That’s just nonsense.

Domesticity can be relaxing but it can be a chore too…(Get it? There’s my witty humor that I do not want to give up.)

So what would I think about to fill up the brain space that my big ideas occupy? I know those big ideas would start creeping in while I was doing yoga. And while I was watching an episode of Fixer Upper, I would definitely get some big ideas.

All righty, let’s dive deeper into this fantasy.

Do I need to be free from ALL of my ideas? Is that even possible? Wouldn’t I just be a jellyfish then? How do I feel about that? What is it about my big ideas that I want a vaca from?

After pondering this a bit, I decided that it is the big ideas that are actually more like callings. The ideas that I cannot ignore. The ideas that I know I am supposed to keep working on. The ones that don’t feel fleeting. Those ideas come with obstacles. They come with a “knowing” that I cannot quit or decide to do something else. I can change direction but I cannot NOT do them. Some of them have been with me for years and I continue to work on them still. They find me if I try to put them on a shelf to debate their worthiness. They are all over the place in topic, yet connected and meant to be together. And when I can’t work on one, there is a different one I can be working on. They peck at me. They won’t leave me alone! Sob, sob, sniff.

I had a small big idea over the holiday break to add three fancy mice to the menagerie of caged pets we have accumulated in this past year. “They are so cute!”, I thought.  They are also stinky and need their cage cleaned ALL THE TIME. I am now three mice over the breaking point.

Me and my small big ideas. And the big big ideas are even more work.

Wow…what would it feel like to put them all on hold for a year? Without guilt. Without hearing the tick, tick, tick of the clock that holds me accountable to my own big ideas. I’m a bit attached to my big ideas but they can be very high maintenance. If we separated for a year, would we get back together stronger than ever and be a dangerous force or would we smile awkwardly at each other, kicking our feet around not knowing what to say to each other? What happens if I get other big ideas while I am taking a break from my regular big ideas?

Now THAT would be living dangerously.

As I finishing up my shoveling, while still pondering a year of living without my big ideas, it occurred to me that, technically, this was just another one of my big ideas.

Let’s call it what it is.

I couldn’t even go one morning without a big idea. And since then, I’ve had a handful more.

Now I feel the need for chicken wings and a Diet Pepsi to handle the stress of living with me.

I do have good ideas.