So, despite all your efforts to “lock-in” a secure future, the day comes when you have no choice but face the truth: You are alone. You have no family, no close friends, no job, very little savings, and your only means of support comes from a monthly- Social Security- check. There are no phone calls on Mother’s Day...no invitations to Thanksgiving Dinner…and…forget Christmas!
When I found myself in this situation, there was NOTHING I could change except…ME. It took time, patience, rivers of tears, thoughts of suicide, and wasted energy before I developed my “recipe” for living alone…without being lonely.
I truly believe my approach to overcoming loneliness can be adapted to everyone’s situation…whether you are male or female, rich or poor, old or young, physical active or….dependent on a walker or even a wheelchair.
NUMBER ONE: YOU must FIRST be willing to “rise” to the occasion. By that I mean…you must be willing to struggle, to pull yourself out of the depths of loneliness… even when it hurts… before you can begin the long climb upward. For too many, depression begins to feel like an “old friend”. Sometimes it seems easier to just do nothing and accept the familiar. STOP, RIGHT NOW…IF YOU EXPECT LIFE TO “FIX” your dilemma without YOU doing some hard work! NO ONE CAN FIX YOU….BUT YOU.
My solution is designed for people--like me-- who are ready to END the sick & tired feelings of loneliness….for everyone who's ready to conquer the negative feelings connected with loneliness. I want to help every person who's alone--to STOP FEELING LONELY!!!!
TWO: It’s time to look in the mirror and assess your appearance. Good posture tells the world that you’re proud of who you are. If you’re not…then--for now--fake it….but get those shoulders back, tummy in, and hold your head up…like a Queen or a King. AND, SMILE…WITH CONFIDENCE! After a while…you won’t have to fake anything about yourself---you’ll soon be a believer!!!!
THREE: Fix the small things you don’t like about your appearance. Appearance is everything when presenting your-self to others. Start with a great haircut, something that makes you feel attractive. For women, a little makeup works wonders. I won't open my front door unless I have clean teeth, wearing my lipstick, and my hair is brushed. Yes, clean, white teeth are a requirement. If you have dental problems…find an excellent Dentist. If you live on a limited income…find a free or almost-free Dental Clinic…or work out a payment plan with an understanding Dentist. Most Dentists will work with patients, especially those with a significant problem. Don’t forget that Dental Schools always need patients for students to “work on”!
FOUR: Dress in classic clothes that accent your positives. Spend time--but not much money--finding attractive clothes that make you feel elegant. If you don’t know about today's "In-Style-Elegance"…then search through catalogs, dress shops, look at fashions online to educate yourself. I believe in shopping at nearby discount stores, thrift stores, bargain basements, Goodwill, Salvation Army...where you'll find quality fashions at beyond-bargain prices....YES! Some of the smartest dressers I know dress, exclusively, from these places! YOU wear the clothes--YOU make the "well-dressed" statement....and you don't need to share your secret with anyone! And…while your “out and about”…smile, be friendly with everyone, including those on the other side of the cash register. You never know when you’ll make a new contact…a new friend!
FIVE: Start walking, whether it’s around your block, the next block, or the high school track, maybe a nearby trail, or---inside a Mall or a large store like a Walmart Super Store! Hold on to a buggy or basket as you walk... if it makes you feel more secure but…NO EXCUSES! WALK!
SIX: Every morning…search your memory bank for a song…either from your past or near-present. Find a song you can sing out-loud or silently… and start humming it, singing it, and let that song stay with you all day! For me...I pick a favorite hymn some days and...other days...I might sing a song by the Bee Gees like "More than a Woman" from Saturday Night Fever!! Have Fun and Enjoy each song you sing. You can also boogie, swing your hips and body, or move to the music as you sing your song. Remember: IT’S YOUR SONG FOR ONE DAY. TOMORROW, YOUR ASSIGNMENT WILL BE TO START THE DAY WITH ANOTHER SONG AND DO THE EXACT SAME THING WITH THAT SONG…ALL DAY.
SEVEN: Start this very day to be friendly, courteous, and positive with all who cross your path. From the mailman to the grocery man…you strike- up a conversation, ask someone how-they-are or…make a comment about the sunshine…the flowers or the trees…or compliment a person on their outfit, their kindness, or for their time in helping you!
EIGHT: Learn to “lose” yourself in projects. Teach a class, Form a book club, Work in the yard, Decorate your house, Hang your just-washed- clothes on the deck/patio instead of using the dryer. Change your schedule by visiting the local library or volunteering at a hospital, or an animal shelter. DO NOT STAY HOME AND WATCH TV or just “HANG OUT" ON THE COMPUTER”. All day, every day, you must be actively involved with the outside world. Focus on “sharing” yourself with others--- through a smile, a kind word or happy greeting, or by giving a hug or a loving pat to a lost or abandoned animal.
NINE: If you don’t have pets at home…consider adopting a dog or cat...or both. Feed the birds, the squirrels....and all God's creatures that "stop by." My animals, both inside and outside, need me as much as I need them. We give each other love and…a million reasons to face both today and a million tomorrows.
TEN: Learn to love yourself. Compliment yourself when you look in the mirror. Say "I Love You" to yourself....and mean it! Never forget that a “little girl or little boy” lives inside each one of us. Our childhood memories remind us of all the fun times…the times we played hopscotch or jacks…baseball…rode our bikes in the rain…swung from a bag-swing....chewed bubble gum…made mud pies, climbed the Jungle-Jim, loved our baby dolls/paper dolls, funny books, …then went to summer camps to be Brownies, Girl Scouts/ Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts.
Search through your memories for all those good times. Pat yourself on the back for all you’ve learned and accomplished. Shout “HURRAY” for all the good you’ve experienced and shared with others!
Remember all the times you were motivated to succeed. Think about what inspired you; about what gave you hope and promise; about what sparked your dreams. You’re never too old to activate a long-ago dream or make a childhood wish come true. Dreams and Wishes can be modified to fit today’s realities so…never toss them aside.
I AM PROOF YOU MUST NEVER GIVE UP--OR GIVE IN. Remember: It took me forty years to realize my dream of traveling The Great Wall of China so….NEVER-SAY: “NEVER”!!!!!!
Written with love for all.
THIS IS THE SECOND PART OF THE STORY. CLICK DOWN...TO THE STORY DIRECTLY UNDER THIS ONE... TO READ THE STORY'S BEGINNING. THEN RETURN HERE....FOR THE STORY'S CONCLUSION.
Yes, I’d reached my limit. It was time to present “my plan” to those in charge: “You either pull into the next large port, drop anchor, and escort me to dry land or….I fully-intend to jump-off this ship. I’m not crazy or in need of attention. I can-not and will-not spend another night on this floating Merry-Go-Round from Hell.”
When the doctor (from Sweden) suggested they had the right to restrain me; to keep me from “harming” myself by placing me in a “locked” suite for the remainder of the trip, I advised him to “re-think” such a decision. I had no history of mental illness and, I had zero-tolerance for most medications but….I did have a long history as a Public Figure and a Television/ Radio Personality. I was also“well-connected” with people in “high places”. If they doubted me…then allow me to make some phone calls.
The ship’s captain quickly took control of the conversation and assured me that he would find a solution to my problem but….it would take many phone calls. He asked that I be patient and insisted I sit in his “command center” while he began initiating a plan. Nearly two hours later, he directed me to return to my room and pack my bags. He asked that I not say anything to anyone but be ready to leave the ship in approximately 35 minutes.
I had barely finished packing when the captain's assistant knocked at my door. Without a word, he tucked my bags under his arms and ushered me to the main deck. By this time, everyone on board was crowding the ship’s various decks, curious to know why the ship was docking at an unscheduled port.
As I departed the ship, escorted by both the captain and the ship’s doctor, I felt thousands of eyes staring at me, questioning who I was, and wondering why I was being removed from the cruise ship. One thing I’ve learned about life….after years of living….I don’t owe anyone an explanation for WHO I am, or WHY I make certain decisions, or HOW I choose to live my life. I take full responsibility for my actions.
The first sign to greet me when I stepped on solid ground said “WELCOME TO ST. THOMAS”. I learned that the Cruise Line had a taxi waiting to take me to the nearest airport. Thank goodness I had one-less- problem to worry about. The Taxi Driver was happy to practice his English on me and so proud that he could list the names of the three Airlines from America that provided service to and from St. Thomas.
I also learned that, for the next three days, there was only one flight scheduled to leave St. Thomas for the United States and.... it was today! In fact, it was a Delta Airlines Flight, scheduled to depart in one hour for Atlanta, Georgia. Passengers were already standing in line to board the flight and….all the seats were full!!!! I ran from one ticket window to the next, desperate to be placed on stand-by, frantic to find someone to help me. Surely…they could manage to squeeze me in…somewhere. I must get home!
Standing in that unfamiliar airport, surrounded by unfamiliar faces speaking an unfamiliar language and…suddenly….over the loud speaker I heard: “Sally Miller, meet your Delta Pilot at gate number 3 immediately.” I was speechless. People stopped talking to listen, and to wonder why a Pilot was speaking on the public announcement channel. Again “Sally Miller, Miss Arkansas, there’s no time to waste. Come to gate number 3. Your Delta Pilot is waiting, impatiently.”
I grabbed my bags and started running. I knocked into people as I pushed and shoved my way through the crowds. When I found Gate Number 3, a man, handsomely-dressed in a Delta Pilot’s uniform, was blocking the entrance, smiling, and waiting--- just for me!
We grabbed each other and yes, my eyes filled with tears when I realized this boy---now all-grown-up--- was my brother’s best childhood friend from Pine Bluff’s east side. Robert graduated from PB High School in the early fifties, then left to see the world…..and, thirty-plus years later, he’s a Delta Airlines Pilot…. hugging me in the St. Thomas Airport!
Robert took me under his "wing"….found me a seat on his flight…and flew me safely to Atlanta. He also made arrangements for me to spend the night at Atlanta’s Airport-Marriott so I could make my early morning flight…on Delta…back home to Little Rock.
Before leaving me at my hotel, Robert explained that….through the years…he’d “kept” up with me; that he’d watched me on television the night I was in the Miss America Pageant. He said “You were like the little sister I never had and, when I recognized you in the airport and over-heard your tale of woe…I knew it was time to take care of you.” Then, he kissed me on the cheek, said “Sally, I’ll always love you”….and left.
Robert...And, I'll always love you...for taking care of me. I KNOW God made all the arrangements but he placed his trust in YOU to “make it happen.” Thank you both!
Everyone knows it’s impossible to re-kindle a fire---using long-ago ashes. In the early seventies, Bob and I lived near each other in a small Condominium Complex in Little Rock, Arkansas. We started dating and enjoyed each other’s company for several years. Needing more space for my daughters and me….I moved into a house miles from my former condo and, before long, Bob and I were seeing less and less of each other.
There was a point when Bob, six years younger than me, began asking me to marry him but, having never been married….Bob just didn’t seem ready for the responsibility of a ready-made family. My children were fond of Bob; Bob was a fun-kind-of-guy. Yet…Bob seemed too-casual about life…and I wasn’t ready to chance another marriage-mistake.
From time to time, I’d get a phone call from Bob. He eventually moved to New Orleans and, occasionally, when he’d come back to Little Rock to visit family, we’d have dinner together. One day, Bob called to tell me he’d won a seven-day cruise...for two…on Norwegian Cruise Lines for being his company’s Top Salesman For The Year, and he wanted me to join him for the trip!
The Plan: Bob's company would fly me from Little Rock to Miami where I would join Bob and, together, we’d climb aboard a Luxurious Cruise Ship and cruise the waters of The Caribbean for seven days. It was summertime, my daughters were out of school, and my parents agreed to “baby sit” so…I said “yes”. I pictured myself swimming, jogging, writing, reading, and relaxing in the sun but never-once did I picture myself holding on to the ship’s railing, studying the choppy water far below, and contemplating…..jumping overboard.
We’d been aboard the cruise ship for about two hours when everyone gathered for dinner. It didn’t take long to realize that EATING is the biggest “activity” for cruise ship passengers; EATING is the “Main Event”!!!!
When Bob and I were escorted to our table…I was stunned to learn that six people from his company had also won tickets for the cruise and would be our constant companions for the seven day trip. Okay, I took a few deep breaths…relaxed… and accepted that I was now part of a group rather than part of a couple. What I quickly learned….and immediately deemed unaccepted…. was that Bob’s personal and unmarried secretary….who seated herself on the other side of Bob...assumed I knew she and Bob had been a twosome for some time. So….where did that leave me?!?!?
Bob’s explanation was simple: He thought we could renew our relationship during the cruise and that his secretary----who was fun but not interesting-enough to marry---- would “get the message”, probably find a love-interest during the cruise, then turn her back on Bob. It was the craziest, most ridiculous situation I could ever imagine and….it was time for me to go home!
So…for the next 6 hours...I had serious discussions with the ship’s doctor, the ship’s captain, and every official on the ship. They needed to understand that I must be re-located, moved as far from Bob and his group and--- as soon as possible. I never wanted to see Bob and his group at meals, in the halls, or be near them at any events. The ship was large and all I asked of the ship's staff was to keep my path from crossing that of the enemy… for the remainder of the cruise.
The room the staff assigned me was tiny, had no windows, and was located near the ship’s enormous kitchen. For two nights I struggled with sea sickness, deafening noise all around me, and mounting claustrophobia. On the third day, I visited the upper deck, desperate for fresh air and sunshine and… that’s when it hit me. I must get off this ship...now! We were scheduled to make a stop tomorrow but only for refueling; Passengers would not be allowed to leave the ship. I knew me all-too-well; I had to get off this ship and back home, immediately. I'd reached my "limit."
I looked down at the water far below and thought about my only alternative. Yes, it was either JUMP or try to endure another night from Hell. Could I do it…..Would I do it?!?!?!?
Join me here—tomorrow-- when I explain the miracle that happened--- a miracle so unique that only God, himself, could have arranged it. The Angel-- God sent to rescue me--truly had wings. You’ll be impressed when you learn how my Angel was able to fly me, safely, home.
Who knew that I’d be sitting in an old airport, in a town called St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, when an Angel would shout my name—out loud---and—in return, I would reach-out to grab him, hug him, love him, like the long-ago neighbor he used-to-be!
See you tomorrow!
After experiencing several disastrous “blind” dates while attended an all-women’s college near St. Louis, Missouri…I decided not to push my luck a third time. In 1973, when I find myself single again—with children—I was still cautious but, when a trusted male friend called to say that a very-eligible gentleman….with charm, looks, and money wanted to take-me-to-dinner…..I thought “Why Not?!?!?
Okay, I know the old saying “If it sounds too good to be true…” but, remember: I’d been through Hell And Back in a loveless/abusive/destructive marriage that lasted twelve, long years. I needed to believe that the road ahead was worth traveling so…I said “yes”.
My date called to say he’d made reservations for a candlelight dinner on the “terrace” at the Little Rock Country Club and would pick me up at 8pm. The weather was beginning to get hot but nights were still pleasant. I felt sure that my new polished-cotton, designer sundress with spaghetti straps, a full skirt, and strappy heels would be absolutely perfect for outside dining at the Country Club. And….there just might be some dancing, too.
When the doorbell rang, my youngest daughter was close-by and opened the door. I was in my bedroom when she came to get me….and…the look on her face spoke volumes: “Mother, you might want to reconsider going out to dinner with this man. He’s tall, skinny, has on a tank top that shows lots of chest hair, baggy dress pants, and Mother….he’s wearing flip-flops. Worst of all, he has really long toes and they’re covered with curly, black hair! I don’t think you want to be seen at the Country Club….with him!”
By this time, my oldest daughter had met my date…then come to the bedroom to “hurry me up”. The expression on her face matched that of my youngest daughter. Could it really be that bad?!?!? I had no choice but join my date in the living room and….evaluate the situation.
Goodness only knows----what made me think that ...after all these years, luck was on my side? Let me put it this way: Just because someone is Tall, Thin, and Wealthy…doesn’t make him a fashion expert… or a model…or someone with good taste.
The truth was, I didn’t have time to perform a magical “makeover” on my “blind” date…so…I simply told him I’d changed my mind about the candlelight dinner. Instead, I was craving fast food and I just “had to have” a McDonald’s with fries. Besides, my situation had changed and I could only be away from home for one hour. Tomorrow was going to be a very-busy-day and I needed to go to bed early! From the look on his face, I knew he got the message.
Although I was only gone for one hour, I paid the babysitter for four hours but…it was worth-it! My skin itches every time I think about that tank top exposing those disgusting, hairy armpits and that chest-full of tangled and long, dark, curly hair, and----oh!....those ugly-hairy toes in flip-flops!!!!
Now, after all these years, I know WHY certain sights and sounds make me sick and why I feel agitated….even angry...when I’m exposed to certain triggers like: people who are scantily dressed and show hunks of exposed blubbery fat; people who dress-badly and show too-much body hair in all-the-wrong places; people who make obnoxious sounds when they eat, chew, slurp their food!!!! The sounds of people eating drive me nuts!!!! AND.....I have no tolerance for people who chew with their mouths open or insist on talking with a mouth-full of food!
If you….like me….are over-sensitized to any or all of the above….then you have a condition known as Misophonia. People suffering from Misophonia have reactions that can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee. The disorder is sometimes called: selective sound & sight sensitivity syndrome.
Individuals with misophonia often report they are triggered by oral sounds -- the noise someone makes when they eat, breathe, chew, or "slurp". If you want to know more about this rare condition, search Google for the word, Misophonia. One article I read said that most ALL who suffer from this disorder test in the "genius" range. Imagine that!
I learn something worthwhile... every day.
Almost ten years ago, while teaching in Pine Bluff, my hometown, I approached the local newspaper editor about running an eight or twelve-week series of my Great Wall Experiences. I didn't expect money, I simply wanted to share a few highlights from my journey with those who would never travel China’s Great Wall. I thought it could be a wonderful series that might attract new subscribers to Pine Bluff’s only newspaper and increase readership. Best of all, reading how my Great Wall Dream started as a young student... just might motivate a student or two… to believe in their dreams.
After reviewing some of my Great Wall photos and my writing samples, the editor said he was impressed with what he saw and read BUT, unfortunately, the series wouldn't be "timely". Because my journey of the Great Wall had taken place in 1990...and now the year was 2010….it was considered very “old” news.
Excuse me, what is the definition of HISTORY?!?!?!? I was the first woman in HISTORY to travel the entire length of the Great Wall of China. I possess one-of-a-kind photos! I am the First Person to document The Great Wall from beginning to end! My first-ever Facts are historic! HISTORY IS TIMELESS; HISTORY MARCHES IN LOCK-STEP WITH ALL TIME!
I was raised in Pine Bluff; the idea of traveling The Great Wall began in Pine Bluff--- in a Pine Bluff Classroom--- and my dream was nurtured by a Pine Bluff Teacher!!!! I had exclusive, never-before- seen photos of the Great Wall and I was offering the Editor of my home town newspaper exclusive rights to never-before-published photos and written information. But.... I know when it’s time to exit the stage. I also know when I’m traveling on a one-way street---headed in the wrong direction.
After gathering my photos and writing samples, I turned to leave the editor’s office, and that’s when the editor stopped me with a request: I could hardly believe it when the editor asked if I’d stay “a little longer” and be interviewed about my “alleged” affair with Bill Clinton!
Continuing to walk ahead, out the door, and straight to my car…I didn’t stop long enough to dignify the editor’s request…. with an answer.