Alone time. It’s much different than being alone. To some, it’s a time to think, to relax, to unwind or to rev up.
To a new mom, it’s 10 minutes to take a bath. To a harried executive, it’s 30 minutes at the driving range.
Alone time is something we covet, not fear.
It inspires us. It rejuvenates us. And it makes us better.
Given some time to yourself and told to spend it doing something you love, what would you do? What’s your independence day?
Over the next several pages, step into the lives of six Stark Countians as they tell us how they spend their alone time. You’ll meet a nature photographer, a painter, a walker, a motorcyclist, someone who practices yoga — and someone who likes to mow the yard for his alone time. Take a minute and enjoy.
For Bill Gould, spending Saturdays at the scenic Cuyahoga Valley National Park with his camera is a time to unwind from his job as a senior financial analyst with Summa Health Systems. The park, the North Canton resident said, is a little known gem north of Stark County that he discovered about three years ago.
“It’s a gorgeous park,” he said, naming the waterfalls, wildflowers, and birds, such as Bald eagles and blue herons, he sees each week. “I like to call it my quiet time. My walk with God,” Gould said. The amateur photographer said that before he got interested in nature photography, he knew that “five birds existed.” He said,“God didn’t create five birds for you and me. He created thousands. It’s quiet time to get in touch with him and enjoy his beauty and creation.”
Gould says his photos are for his own personal enjoyment, but some of his lucky friends and family members get them as gifts on occasion.
THE LAWNMOWER MAN…
When Bob Bazzolli, a busy father of three and systems administrator at Diebold, needs time alone, he heads out to his yard. Mowing the lawn, he says, is his “therapy” — time to think and unwind from a sometimes-stressful job.
“In my job, I work on systems, software, and projects that can go on forever. I may never see an end result,” he explained. “When I’m mowing my lawn, it gets done. I get immediate gratification.”
Bazzolli uses an old-fashioned reel mower on his three-fourths of an acre.
“For two or three hours, I just concentrate on walking a straight line. It’s quiet, no gas. I am the power behind it,” he said. He adds that he sometimes mows twice in one day, going in two different directions to get a criss-cross. “It’s kind of my Y membership, too,” Bazzolli said. “I have a hard time exercising just for the sake of exercising. Something needs to get done as a result.”
As a professional singer and musician who has spent her life working in the music business, it’s not surprising that Marti Jones Dixon finds her outlet in the arts.“I paint with oils,” said Dixon. “And I’m more fulfilled now than at any other time in my life.”
“You couldn’t (paint) on the road, and when we were home, it was long enough to wash clothes,” she said with a laugh.
Dixon says that when she is painting portraits of family and friends, her head goes to a deeper level of concentration.
“It’s like a form of meditation. Time flies, and you go somewhere else,” she explained. “Sometimes four hours will go by, and I didn’t even know it. Even when people come into the downtown Canton studio she shares with two other artists, and watch her paint over her shoulder, she remains in the zone.
“People are very respectful. They just want to watch,” she said.
STRIKE A POSE…
Vicki Schultz is a busy single mother of three and a licensed esthetician. Between work and home, she found it hard to slow down and turn off her brain. It’s through yoga and meditation that she has been able to slow down and recharge.
Schultz said she is able to connect with her inner self, rest her mind, and not feel like she has to be doing something else.
“I find I’m more productive during my busy time because I’m able to turn it off,” she explained. While Schultz credits her two yoga teachers, with whom she attends classes a few times a week, for her ability to meditate and focus, it’s in the evening alone that she practices just two or three poses and mentally winds down from her day. “It’s a different approach,” she says of their methods.
“It enables you to focus — feel the sensations and forget everything about you.”
How does a professional truck driver get some alone time? Don Webb heads back out on the road on his Harley Davidson. The married father of two said he rides every chance he gets, at least once a week, on jaunts through the scenic countryside near Mohican State Forest or around Stark County.
“I’m totally unplugged,” said Webb of why he likes to ride alone. “No television, I can’t answer my cell phone, I feel the wind in my hair. There’s no one to answer to, and I can think 100 percent.”
Webb has had his current bike for three years, but was without one for about five before that. Although he is a self-proclaimed homebody, he says,“There’s nothing like being on the road alone.”
For some people, walking is just a way to get from one place to the other. For others it’s about staying fit. For Kim O’Reilly, it’s almost a religion.
Taking long power walks with different girlfriends each day at different times throughout the week is needed social time for O’Reilly, as well as great exercise, but it’s her early morning walks alone with her dog Billy that she values as her time to meditate.
“It’s time to have gratitude and think about all my blessings,” she said, adding that along with praying, she talks to her close friends who have passed away. “It centers me for the day,” she said.
“Walking makes me feel calm and ready for what I’m walking into at home.”
Her walks usually take her outside her Lake Township neighborhood where cornfields are slowly disappearing.
“I like the early, early morning and finding whatever nature is left by my house,” she said.
HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR YOU
If you find yourself running from task to task and chore to chore without any breathing room, stop! You deserve some “you” time, and here’s how to make room for yourself:
CONDENSE YOUR TASKS If you have a number of errands or chores to do, try to condense them into the least amount of time. For instance, if you have to drive to the bank, supermarket and clothing store, do them in the same trip. You’ll save more time (and gas!).
AUTOMATE OTHERS If there are tasks you can do on the computer — shopping, banking, bill paying — do it. It will save you time from standing in line.
PRIORITIZE Do what’s most important first, then leave the menial tasks for last. If you don’t get to the menial tasks, you won’t feel unaccomplished.
WRITE YOURSELF INTO YOUR DAY Make sure you write some time for yourself into the day — whether it’s a lunch with a friend, an hour to curl up with a good book or 20 minutes to take a power nap.
DELEGATE TASKS TO OTHERS Delegate tasks to others to free up some time for yourself. Instead of cleaning up your children’s playroom, have them clean it. Ask your spouse to do the cooking for the night.
ACCEPT HELP If someone offers to help you in any way, let them help! They wouldn’t be offering if they didn’t want to genuinely help you.
DECIDE WHERE TIME IS WORTH MONEY You often can pay for others to do tasks that are taking up your time, if you decide that time is worth money.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF If menial tasks do not get done right away, who cares? The world isn’t going to end if your books are disorganized. Remember that time for yourself is more important.
LEARN HOW TO SAY “NO” Sure, you’ll help make cookies for the bake sale. Yes, you’ll drive your cousin to his doctor’s appointment. Of course, you’ll help your neighbor carry his old couch. There’s a point where you have to say, “I’m sorry, I would love to help, but I am tied up right now.”
FORCE YOURSELF TO TAKE A VACATION Take some time off — whether an hour or a week — and force yourself to dedicate it totally to you and what you enjoy doing.