We move through phases in our adult lives when we eat many meals alone, and we’d likely all agree that it has the potential to be a downer. Since it’s universal and inevitable, it merits consideration of how we can transform that time—and all alone-time—into something uplifting and to which we look forward with anticipation. The following is an excerpt from my book, Free Love: Everyday Ideas for Joyful Living. I hope it inspires you to host countless “Parties of One!”
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I was fresh out of a seven-year relationship and stinging. Not like an ant-bite sting. The sting where you can’t sleep, can’t eat, and wonder which way is up and how you’ll go on. I decided the best thing to do would be: Cry to a bartender? Hit the gym? Stay home and feel wretched?
I decided the best thing to do was to fly to Buenos Aires and tango for two weeks.
Of course the trip wasn’t a cure-all…but I’d highly recommend it. I sat in the famous La Biela café, sipping cappuccino during the day and pouring my heart out in my journal. I strolled the phenomenal bookstores of BA. I spent evenings watching extraordinary dancers in the world’s best milongas. I found one of the top teachers there and scheduled a few private lessons.
I almost forgot that I’d been feeling horrible and why I’d flown there, until…
I went for lunch and the maître d’ approached me, saying, “Sola?”
“Not sola!” I wanted to scream. “Party of one! I flew 16 hours to Buenos Aires in the inspiring company of an aspiring milonguera and I’m having a delightful time. I’m with myself!”
“Si. Sola,” I moaned as he led me to the small, pitiful table in the back next to the banging kitchen door that was for the “solos and solas.” I whipped out my journal and wrote a string of scathing insults to that poor man.
When eating meals (and doing anything else) solo, we can find love in that. As Mother Teresa told me, that’s our first job. Recalling her wise words, I began hosting parties of one. I developed some habits that should be our natural response to alone time, but that we don’t often do when feeling alone and blue.
Here are a few tips to kindle your solo-love fire at mealtime:
1. At Home Alone
One of the first steps in finding self-love was to cook for myself. Full meals. Beautiful, healthy meals.
Many will be thinking what I used to think: But it’s a serious drag to cook for just myself.
Treat yourself as you would treat a baby, your best friend, or your lover. Cook gorgeous food and put flowers on the table. Play your favorite music. Eat by candlelight, in the garden, or make a picnic on the living room floor in front of your favorite movie. See if you don’t fall in love!
(But, “I don’t know how to cook,” or “It takes too long,” you say. Keep reading. By the time you put down this book, you won’t be saying that.)
2. At Home with Others
Invite your solo friends for meals often! Even though we encourage ourselves to love cooking and caring for ourselves lavishly, after too long and too many meals alone, it can start to feel like a lonely just one. Single or in relationship and family, if we have neighbors, family members, colleagues, or friends who live by themselves, invite them to dine with you— don’t wait for weekends or holidays. Host parties of two, five, and ten all the time.
3) In Restaurants and Cafes
The next time the host or hostess asks, “Just one?” smile and reply, “Party of One” … and no lousy, lonely two-top in the back corner or noisy nook. Request the table of your choice. Your special party deserves it.
We celebrate everything.
Celebration is our way to receive all the gifts from God.
ALLIE CHEE In 1993, Allie—planning to move to Calcutta—had a one-hour phone call with Mother Teresa that set her off on a different journey-one that led to 50 countries, great adventure, and unexpected lessons on free love. She learned that we don’t need more time, we don’t need more money, we don’t need special skills, and we don’t need to give up anything we enjoy or desire.
We can experience more fun, more joy, more love—we can get our groove back right now with the simplest of activities in our kitchen, at home, and in our communities. The everyday ideas for joyful living that Allie shares in FREE LOVE are waiting for you. So what are you waiting for?
Get your groove on and start spreading the love!