I have always loved my own company.
My sister was 19 years older and married and off on her own by the time I was born, so I was raised as an only child.
I have always loved to entertain myself, even from a very young age.
I would sit in my room and play with my Breyer horses and my Tonka trucks with horse trailers and set up make-shift equestrian centers, complete with barns and outdoor arenas filled with vertical jumps and oxers and cavaletti.
I would curl up under a blanket on the couch in the living room with my dog Bootsie and watch Petticoat Junction and Hee Haw and The Brady Bunch. My favorite, though, was Speed Racer, which I had to watch with the sound turned down because my mother wouldn’t allow me to watch it because they “stab people.” I would design an incredibly elaborate race track with those orange sections of plastic track and race my Hotwheels cars for hours until it was time for dinner.
Another favorite pastime during my alone time was sitting cross-legged in the rain under a blanket and a bubble umbrella reading a book. Yes, I’ve always been weird.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents paid attention to me.
My stay-at-home mom would do craft projects with me and catch butterflies with me; my dad would play catch with me in the back yard and go bike riding with me, and teach me how to change the oil or a tire on the car.
But, I always preferred to hang out by myself most of the time.
I don’t know if it is this upbringing or the fact that I’m a 100%, textbook Aquarian – aloof, independent, stubborn, territorial – but whatever the combination, I have always preferred to hang out by myself most of the time.
It is because of this, I absolutely love to travel solo.
I love to travel with my best travel buddy Kelsey, but solo excursions and adventures really get me! I can do what I want, when I want, stop when I want, switch gears in the middle of an activity to some other activity completely unrelated, and no one looks at me like I have three heads. I can take a nap all afternoon and no one is nagging me to “get up and do something.”
Welcome to reacquired independence. Wait!
After my divorce and finding my way back to being comfortable in my own skin and to the place where I had always been before marriage – mentally, physically, financially – I was diagnosed with my second breast cancer. It was Ductal Carcinoma in situ, which differed from the first diagnosis because this time it had not yet invaded the surrounding tissue. Crap! I was just crawling out from under the rock of oppression!
But, it is what it is, and I had thankfully started to re-discover my old self, my independent self, my determined self in the few short months of freedom, and with the help of God and my nieces, I was going to kick cancer’s ass once again!
And not only did I survive breast cancer again, I am thriving and have an entirely new outlook on life.
During and after my first bout with cancer, I was angry. So angry. Angry at God, angry at my genetic make-up, angry at all the junk food I ate, angry that cancer had taken my dad and my sister, angry because I lost everything – my farm, my animals, my cars, my hair, my sanity. Just totally pissed off about everything.
My second diagnosis was so completely different. And, it wasn’t like a conscious effort to have a different outlook on life afterward, it just happened. Like a light switch. I wasn’t angry this time – at all! Sure, I was nervous and scared, and even though I have always been an independent, determined person, the woman I was now with the second diagnosis was much stronger and much more determined. I faced it down with a fierceness I didn’t know I had in me and beat its ass!
That fierceness has carried over into my sense of adventure.
Sure, some of it is a sense of desperation at not knowing when or if my cancer will return – and feeling the need to cram in as much as I can before that happens (read more about that here); but, along with that has come a new, even-greater sense of adventure. I have always been fearless, and had more guts than brains, but even this new outlook was something far greater than even I could have ever imagined. And I can imagine a lot!
The world seems more colorful, more vibrant, more interesting and I want to see it all! Always have, but now it is imperative!
Combine my independence, my sense of adventure, and my insatiable wanderlust, and you have the makings of my first solo cruise.
I had been on two cruises before – one with a girl friend in 2001, and a second with my then-husband and step-daughter in 2012.
But now in 2016, I booked my first solo cruise, and I absolutely could not wait!
I flew to Miami alone, checked myself in on the cruise alone, took up the entire bed in my cabin alone, went out on shore excursions on my own – and absolutely loved every minute of it! My dining room tablemates were lovely and surprisingly included another woman solo traveler, so it was nice to have something in common with someone at the table, other than the standard “happy couples.”
I danced to Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” with our Maitre D’ on formal dinner night, and got “Low” and funky in the dining room aisle with our really cool waiter during casual dining night.
I would wake up in the middle of the night and run upstairs in my pjs to get myself an ice cream cone from the free 24-hour soft serve machine and take it back to my cabin and settle back into my bed with a complete sense of freedom and joy for life.
I pampered myself with massages and mani/pedis in the ship’s spa, played arcade games and bingo solo, and drank Mudslides while laying out poolside on the deck. I showered when I wanted, ate when and where I wanted, and lounged around in my cabin naked – and no one cared! It was amazing!
There were only two downsides.
It was only 5-days long; and I missed my dogs.
And, the itch is looming once again!
With my next “parole hearing” coming up in a month, that sense of urgency is running screaming through my brain! As soon as I find out I’m good to go (read still in remission) for another Six Months, I am so ready to book my next solo adventure and have been searching for the next perfect solo getaway. I’m thinking Thailand, Belize, or maybe even another cruise.