Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2006

Forty-one years ago this evening something happened that changed my life completely. I did not know it then, I did not know it for a number of years.

It was a dark and stormy night. I was twenty-two years old, with an abusive partner, a 15-month-old daughter and was a little over 6 months pregnant. We had purchased one side of a side-by-side duplex, which had been created by dividing an old wooden church in half. The ancient cemetery stones had been arranged in a mound across the street, between the house and the river. It was a move from the city to a small suburb where we felt it would be better for raising children.

The last load of plants and more delicate items, and it was freezing rain, dark and cold. I was frozen, exhausted and hardly able to pick up one more box when a car stopped on the street and a young man got out. He came up to the van and asked if we could do with a hand. It was the most wonderful thing anyone could have done for us right then. He helped us unload, then over the next few months, visited often, babysitting on occasion and hanging out with my husband quite a lot. I found out he lived a little farther up the road and was into motorcycles and the typical things that people were doing in the mid sixties.

Slowly, he saw the abuse I suffered and became more and more comforting toward me. After a year or more of this, he told me that I would not be able to handle the treatment forever and would leave my husband. When I did so, he wanted to marry me. I did not believe so because I had grown up without a father, and was determined that my children would not have to do so.

When I was in an accident a hundred miles from home, he somehow knew I was in trouble and “dropped by” my mother’s place to see what was up. When my oldest daughter passed away at the age of five, three years after I had met him, he was there for me even when my husband went to his brother for comforting and only showed up for the funeral. Whenever I was in need, he was there, never pushing but never going away either.

Finally when my younger daughter was five, my husband threatened her life and the next day, I left him, staying as far away from my friends as I could. I knew there could be a lot of trouble. When my husband hunted me with a gun, I could not even get police intervention, as my husband had not actually shot me. Eventually, I let my friends know where I was, and this young man again took up the task of being my friend with a vengeance. He would sit with me for hours when he knew I was troubled until I could find the words to tell him what was wrong. He brought me flowers; he treated me like I was special, which had never happened to me before.

We were married in August of 1973 and have gone through life together since. It has not all been fun, it certainly has not all been easy, but it has all been worth while. He has understood me when no one else did; he supported me even when he did not understand me. He has saved my life, literally, more than once. If there is good in me it is because my grandparents planted the seeds and he tended the garden and believed in me, allowing me to flourish.

We will spend this evening, like so many other New Year’s Eves, together over a gourmet meal we have prepared ourselves and reminisce about the years gone by and those yet to come, together, always together.

My wish is that each and every one finds a partner who is as loving, kind and devoted as he has been to me.

Happy New Year

Monday, December 25, 2006

Making Christmas

Regardless of whether Christmas is a religious festival or a simple gathering and celebration of love and family unity, the important thing is to celebrate it in a way that brings joy to all involved. Almost all religions have a Celebration around this time of year, and even if one is not religious, my partner tells me that there is a winter festival called Festivus, which is the “Festival For The Rest Of Us”.

After all these years, a set of circumstances and a lot of contemplation brought me to the conclusion that the ability to make Christmas is not built into the genes, it is a learned skill, usually learned in the bosom of a family who makes Christmas as their elders did for generations, with updates on techniques, of course. Those who did not grow up under such circumstances, find it very hard to learn how to make Christmas. They have probably always gone looking for Christmas at friends and more distant relatives homes, or grown up hating Christmas.

For the first time this year, a whole series of stray thoughts fell together to create a picture of how Christmas is made. I have a very dear friend who never experienced really celebrating Christmas growing up, who has a hard time figuring out how to make the Holidays a season of love and joy. He used to get up in the morning and after breakfast, go visiting to find Christmas. Now in his older years, he has found himself in the position of having to struggle with making Christmas.

With no memories of warm caring rituals, such as making special foods and meals, car rides to look at the lights, finding and decorating the tree as a family, or the fun and anticipation of having the family all together at this season, or picking and wrapping gifts he hopes will delight the recipient, he is at a loss as how to start making Christmas his own.

I grew up in the country, in a very financially poor family, however we did go all out to celebrate Christmas in the best way we knew how. We cut and dragged in our own tree, set it up in a pail of rocks and added guy wires so it would not fall over. We made popcorn garland, white tissue paper icicles, tinfoil glitter, and wood and pine cone ornaments, with a few treasured glass ones saved from year to year. We made fruit cake, aged it for 3 months in air tight tins and made cookies and special pancake breakfasts and a turkey for Christmas Dinner, the biggest one we could get so there would be leftovers for weeks. I no longer follow that particular tradition. I don’t believe it matters what the traditions are, as long as they are family traditions, filled with loving memories to be recreated each year along with the current year’s tree, trimmings and new traditions.

When my children were small, we made decorating the house a big deal, with every nook and cranny filled with glittering decorations, saved from year to year. As they grew, the amount of decorating was reduced until now, in my later years, we still do the tree, some table and wall decorations, and a small outside decoration at the door to welcome people in. Even when lights became available for both tree and outdoor use, it did not really appeal to me as growing up there were no lights. We now have lights on the tree, but still do not do the outdoor lights. We do, however always go for a car tour to look at all the outside lights that people put up and when we can, take pictures of the major displays. I always feel like a small child, eyes wide in wonder at all the light and color. I almost have to come home and put Alka-Seltzer in my eyes to calm the optical indigestion of having done so much looking.

In the natural progression of things, the children grow up, move away from home, but come home for the holidays with great anticipation of recreating the magic that was Christmas in their youth. When they marry, they blend the traditions of both families, to begin a new tradition of their own, and often spend Christmas Day with one family and Boxing Day with the other. Then when a new generation of children comes along, the young people begin having their own Christmas Celebration at home with the children, inviting the grandparents to come and participate, seeing the magic and wonder through eyes of children once more. At that point, the older generation has done its work and can sit back, do minimal decorating, minimal cooking then spend extra hours finding just the right thing to tickle the grandchildren on Christmas Morning.

As we age, the other thing that happens is that we lose loved ones from year to year, making Christmas a bitter-sweet time, a time of remembering those who have passed on as well as a time of making new memories for the younger generation. How we handle this will determine how the new generation handles it in future, so even this is an important part of the Christmas Tradition that we make.

Those who have children and do not know how to make Christmas, owe it to the next generation to find out, figure out, look around, whatever has to be done to learn to make Christmas, with new traditions, new rituals, new family processes that can be used to make Christmas for the children. There is a huge buffet of rituals out there to choose from if being totally creative is too difficult. If this is not done, they will not know how to do it when they grow up and the rituals of either hating the whole Holiday season or having to go to their friend’s homes to find the Christmas Spirit are perpetuated.

And that is my Christmas Rant for this year. May you all have a wonderful Holiday season and the New Year bring joy, health and success in all you do.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blessings of the Season

I would like to thank everyone who reads my blog and everyone who has left such wonderful comments. You make it worth while.

May you enjoy the Blessings of the Season and a wonderful joyous New Year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Sister

For the first nine years of life I did not have a sister.
I didn't know I needed one!
Then you came along, all pink, spun gold and blue eyed,
and suddenly I had a sister!
You made me laugh, you made me cry, you even bit me,
and made me carry you when you got tired.
You kept growing and even after I left home
I still had a sister!
You came to visit me and I loved to show you around and show you off,
my sister!
I moved to the other side of the country and went home
to visit my sister!
For years I lost my sister, I didn't have a sister.
I knew I needed one!
Then, when I was at death's door, my daughter took it on herself
to bring me back my sister!
Finally, looking at the cards and gifts she sent me, signed
with love from my sister.
Seeing the ornaments that decorate each gift, like we used to do,
again I have my sister.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More for you, Margie

A couple more pictures for you, Margie. I know what it is like to love a place you can not be right now. Should you come home for a visit, don't forget to let me know and we can meet. I would enjoy that.

A Train Ride

This was written long ago, and as time passes, I understand more and more what my conscious mind did not have the words to express at that time. We can not think about that which has no reality in our minds. Instead we have to find symbols that the mind can accept and express.

I stood at the door, staring out at the night,
alone in the crowd, on the train that night.
The stops went by, the doors closed tight.
My panic rose and I had to fight
the fear that rose in my heart that night.

I felt something wrong, they thought it right
to travel to nowhere, forever in the night.
My heart stood still, I had to alight.
Back again to where it all began,
The doors opened up and I almost ran.

It mattered not that they felt fine
to stay on the train at the end of the line.
I stepped out with a heart so free.
Most of the others that I could see,
Content to ride in the endless night.

The crowd seemed to feel that it was right.
I followed the few who left the train
and felt that all was well again.
We moved along in single file.
I looked and wondered all the while.

The big recycler stood alone.
I walked in and was instantly gone.
I watched and saw, overlooking the train
that it simply all began again.
The choice was mine to leave the train.

I need not ride again and again.
All I needed was to know
and the desire that I should go,
to leave the train and travel on,
to see their fate and find my own.

Monday, December 11, 2006

More On Rivers

Rivers have always played a central part in my life. Even as a small child, when I was unhappy, I always sought out a riverbank, where I could sit and watch the flow carry my troubles away. The first poem I remember memorizing was "Why hurry little river? Why hurry to the sea?" Sadly, that is just about all I remember of it, but the feel of the flow has stayed with me a lifetime. We even purchased our home because we have a little river running along one side of the property. In the early mornings, in spring a mist hovers over the river and I can almost hear the Sidhe riding by just the other side of that wall. Pure magic to me.

The River

The river runs slowly
On it’s journey to the sea.
And the river remembers
About you and me.
I told it my secrets,
The good and the bad.
The river remembers
The glad and the sad.
When life is all over
The tale has been told,
The river remembers
The brave and the bold,
I told the river
My hopes and my dreams
And the river remembers
What I wanted to be.
When my life’s work is over
And memories fade,
You can still hear about me
In the riverside glade.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Revisiting the River That Is My Life

When I was young, a rill only just begun,
I feared the end of my flow, tumble and run.
In my joining with that inevitable shore,
I expected fear, trepidation, regrets galore.
As I flowed wide from shore to shore
The echo and thunder of that great sea
Would strike terror in the heart of me.
Instead I find, near my journeys end
That great ocean has become my friend.
I hear the voices of loves long gone.
I feel the comfort of going home.
No need to hurry, no need to rush,
No need to dally, well not that much.
The regrets of leaving new loves behind
Are eased in knowing again I’ll find
Each and every one held in my soul
Will join me again in another role.


Sometimes I feel like a river, traveling to join again with the sea, but along the way there is so much. I pass through a desert, and I want to share so that the desert may grow green and bloom, but I can affect only a little of it and only for a little while.

I pass over the rocky cliffs of the problems of those I love. I feel their pain, but I can’t smooth the way. The pain is not mine, nor does it ultimately matter but, still it hurts, not being able to make their way a little easier with the knowledge that this too will pass.

Sometimes, I become a very shallow river and fear that I may dry up and never make it home. Those times, I need to withdraw within my banks and remember that the floods will come again. This life goes on until it is over, just as the river goes on until it joins another, then on again, growing, learning and searching for it’s ultimate self.

The events along the course of the river all serve to change, refine and purify it. As such, they are only temporary and should be accepted with tranquility.

The problems arise when the river wants to share its destiny with those it meets along the way. There are few traveling in the same direction and rivers seldom travel with other rivers.
There is great peace in accepting your course, trying to nurture those you touch along the way. But there is also great frustration in not being able to share that peace with others. My course may change, I may grow wider, narrower, deeper, or shallower, but always I am still a river traveling to the next stage of development.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This is for you, Margie

These are from yesterday and I hope make your longing for N.S. a little less since it is very wintery.

To The Ladies of the Club

This is dedicated to all of you who shared your stories with me and helped to write "The Ladies Of The Club".

On the news tonight, I watched a tribute to the 27 women who have died from domestic violence since 1990 in New Brunswick alone. With tears in my eyes, I again beg anyone living with domestic violence to listen to those of us who have been there. GET OUT! You cannot change the situation. You did not bring it on yourself. If you have children, they are also at risk. One woman was shot with her 3-month-old child in her arms.

Please listen to us who have escaped and built new lives for our children and ourselves. There is help out there, there are shelters, there are ministers, and there are policemen. The evil you know is much worse than the unknown you may face in escaping.

Below I am reprinting the original story.


Ladies of the Club

I had not intended to write about abuse, but when I realized how many women I know, including myself, who have been in an abusive marriage and broke free, it felt like a good idea to share what we know. By abuse, I am referring to verbal as well as physical. It is often harder to heal from verbal abuse than it is from physical. Physical wounds will heal; emotional wounds leave sensitive scars for life and sometimes even prevent us from ever forming a healthy relationship with a partner.

Not all men are abusers, in fact only a few are, but there are enough to give all men a black mark. Not all women have been in abusive situations, but there are too many to ignore. Many are still in those relationships for various reasons. There are also instances of men being abused by women, and it is unfortunately much harder to help them because they are even more reluctant to admit to being abused than women are. It had never crossed my mind that there would be instances of women abusing their partners until, a number of years ago I was going home from work. In front of a local tavern there was a rather large woman waling away on her spouse with an umbrella. More recently, a couple that we were acquainted with, had been having a lot of disagreements. It was not until they separated that we became aware that she had been quite abusive. Like most people, this actually came as a shock to me.

Because abuse within families seems to be becoming more prevalent, the harm done to our children must be considered. Some of the increase in violence can be directly attributed to the fact that it is harder and harder to make ends meet. In today’s economy, it is almost imperative that both parents work outside the home in order to provide even the basic necessities of life. The stress that this causes contributes
the sense of helplessness that often erupts into violence against the partner and often against the children as well.

Without the extended family support system that was available in the past, there is often nowhere to turn for understanding and help. Our society is generally judgmental, and anyone who admits that they need financial help to support their families is very reluctant to ask for that help. Even visiting a food bank is a traumatic experience. In the past, the extended family would get together and chip in to help the family in trouble with financial aid, but even more importantly, emotional support, and the children would also visit with grandparents, aunts and uncles, giving the couple a chance to spend quality time without their responsibilities interfering.

In fact this family breakdown can be blamed for some of the increase in spousal abuse that we are seeing. Many of our young women are products of abusive homes, broken homes, or suffered from neglect growing up, leaving us with low self-esteem and a great need for love at almost any cost. As I spoke with other survivors, a picture emerged of a woman who had suffered a childhood bereft of the nurturing necessary to grow into a confident, secure adult. There may have been abuse of the mother and/or the children. There may have been lack of involvement in the child’s life, often because the struggle for daily living left nothing for the family. I noticed a commercial on TV recently that said cooking dinner interfered with spending quality family time. It baffles me how this can be. If the family participates in cooking and sits down to eat together, there is quality time built right in, time to share the events of the day, plan a weekend event, set up homework, discuss problems, whatever needs to be dealt with. This also means that at least once a day, the whole family gathers as a family, reinforcing family bonds that will last a lifetime.

Having already developed low self-esteem and a great aching need for love and acceptance, our young woman is a prime candidate for spousal abuse. It becomes very easy to convince her that the bad treatment is in some way her fault. She also becomes convinced that no other man would want here. She repeatedly suffers in silence, vowing to do better so the abuse will stop. She may consider leaving the situation, but feels that she has no resources and could not possibly make it on her own. This is doubly true if she has children. She feels ashamed for what she has been convinced are her inadequacies as a person. She also believes he is an inherently good man and that if she just works harder to please him, all will be well. She sees herself as having failed in some way.

The abuse escalates with time and she will often show up in the Emergency Department of the local hospital, where she concocts a story about falling down stairs or running into a door. The hospital is powerless to help her because, unless she tells them what happened, their hands are tied. Police are often reluctant to intervene in domestic disputes, partly because they have seen abused women returning time and again to the same abusive relationship. Even if she is lucky enough to find a Women’s Shelter and arrives there after a particularly bad episode, she is almost surely going to go back to him. A few well-chosen words of apology are usually all that it takes to get her to return to the marital home, where it all begins again, only worse this time.

The damage done to any children in the household will last a lifetime. Young girls come to believe that their parent’s relationship is normal, and they will often seek out the same type of man as her father. Boys become inured to the violence and may well grow up to treat their partners in the same way. As mothers in this situation, we are so busy trying to survive that we are totally unaware of the damage being done to our children.

A picture of the abuser also becomes clearer. He is often from an abusive or broken home. He also often has a problem with low self-esteem, and finds the only way he can feel better about himself is to feel and act superior to someone, usually his partner in life. He is often the life of the party; everyone’s best buddy, and a bit of a bully, with a coward’s fear of anyone he sees as stronger than him. He lives a double life, with his friends and acquaintances having no idea what his home life is like. He never learned to actually love anyone, seeing them as possessions instead. The spouse may be a prized possession, but a possession nonetheless. He finds life frustrating and lacks the skills to overcome his lack of self control, or to turn his life around, often believing that his problems are caused by what other people do to him, never his responsibility. He may well also believe he has every right to abuse his wife, and be filled with righteous indignation when faced with anything that questions his rights.

A few years back, there was a petition set up in our local drug store, condemning family abuse. Many men signed it, but there were others who would not even go into the pharmacy as long as the petition was there. Another event that happened around the same time happened in a local family restaurant. The restaurant purchased place mats from the local Women’s Shelter with the name and phone number of the shelter on them. Again some men exhibited that same righteous indignation, ostentatiously turning the pace mats over to expose the blank side. Some even demanded that the place mats be removed before they would even order. Then there were also those who simply refused to enter the restaurant until the offending place mats were removed. I really have no idea as to how to rehabilitate such a man. If he loses his abused spouse, he usually finds another willing victim. In fact some men end up with a succession of partners over their lifetime, never quite understanding why their marriages do not work.

In the past, other men took the stance that what happened inside a man’s castle was none of their business. This is slowly changing, with more and more men condemning abuse of any kind, including animals. The subject is no longer taboo and we are able to reach out to other women who we suspect are being abused, but it is still as hard for an abused woman to believe that she has a right to a better life and that she can achieve it.

I would like to quote from correspondence with the Ladies of the Club, strong survivors all. This article could not have been written without you.

“It has been a long road, I end up just forgiving myself first, and letting go of what tied me to the negativity. It is said to forgive the other person and free yourself – that is hard to do.”

“I try not to put the kids in the middle of things. I’m hoping they see the whole picture eventually, I don’t necessarily want them to hate him or have no relationship with him, but I do want them to realize all the crap he’s done.”

“My bitterness is gone, well most of the time…. but if I don’t rise above it, then I am teaching my kids the wrong lesson…. so I never put them in the middle. Hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

“My oldest saw a lot that she shouldn’t have, that no kid should see. As she got older…she was torn between wanting us to stay together to keep the picture perfect family, and for us to separate while we were both still alive.”

“My girls lived through many years of it with me. I pray they don’t think they can do better in the same circumstances, and make it last forever or more years.” Response “It’s OK. You did not make it OK. You showed that it is unacceptable, and that is what they will remember.”

“My daughter remembers more than any kid should have to even experience, but most of all she remembers that fists and even verbal abuse is not acceptable…it was not acceptable to her mom and it is not acceptable to her.”

“I would look at my little girl and realize I would die if she grew up and accepted being treated like this, like I was, because I did. I was also so scared that my son would grow up and emulate his father…all the pain, all the poverty, all the fears…. all worth it to give my kids a better life.”

“For me, the open wounds healed over, but left very sensitive scars that sometimes still make me react without thinking, and it has been over 30 years. Healing may take a lifetime, but we do heal, and we can have a successful, loving relationship with the right man, who has the patience, empathy and love to tear down our walls and allow us to be whole again.”

“I knew it wasn’t my fault, and I knew I deserved better. My ex came from a severely broken home, with little or no family connections. I thought I could show him what “family” was really like and he’d learn to want to be a better person….. I stayed and stayed, waiting for the time to be right.”

“I was almost relieved when it progressed to physical abuse. Those wounds were visible so I knew I was not crazy….

“I found that I could forgive him much easier when he was a continent away. Ultimately forgiveness is for the benefit of the forgiver, not the forgiven. When we hold such rancor in our hearts, it sours all that we do.”

“If I was writing about abuse, the first and most important thing I’d write is “If you are being physically abused, get out now, don’t wait, no second chances, no thinking twice or waiting for the right opportunity, just get out!’ Too many peoples think they can change someone, or wait for a better time to leave. When you leave in an ambulance, it is not a better time.””

“…. Maybe it will reach someone who believes they are alone, I remember the shock I felt when someone first told me I didn’t deserve to live that way, that I deserved better…I deserved better? I didn’t know!”

Following our sharing of experiences with ex’s, I believe we all dealt with it in the best way that we could, and that is all that any of us can ask from ourselves. I hope by sharing our experiences, we can save some other woman from the same thing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More About My Path

When I began responding to a post in a group by a friend, this all came pouring out so I am posting it here for anyone who is at all interested in how I got to this place in my life.

I believe we each have our own road to travel. We often gravitate to what is most familiar, most compatible to us. Over the years, I believe I have read or studied every major path with the exception of the Book of Mormon, which I read part of then lost the drive to finish it.

In each and every one, I found something that spoke to me, often only a small message and sometimes almost a coming home but none satisfied all of my questions and needs so I ended up being a solitary seeker on the road to enlightenment. I have met so many on paths similar to mine that kept me from being too lonely. Each seeker I meet teaches me something. I hope that I have been able to contribute to their paths as well.

Before I was sixteen, I had read the King James Version of the Bible from cover to cover and re-read much of it. It did not answer my questions and did not provide a good fit. Even sampling a number of the Christian Religions and some of the more obscure Sects did not satisfy my thirst. The closest they came was the Society of Friends and even that was not what I was seeking. Sampling Wiccan beliefs was also intriguing but not for me. In my early twenties, I met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and learned the Transcendentalist form of Meditation. I was off and running. Again it was not the answer I was seeking, but it gave me a tool to use as a light to seek both inwardly and outwardly. I am eternally grateful for that chance encounter. It taught me that so many answers are already inside us, waiting to be rediscovered. I think it was then that I picked up my candle and mirror and began my journey in earnest. The candle to light my feet over the more treacherous passages on the path and the mirror to reflect back the truths that are already inside all of us. We know when we have found a truth because it resonates within us with such a surety that we cannot doubt its veracity. A book called How To Meditate gave me many more meditation techniques, allowing me to reach even farther into my sub-conscious and access long ago memories that I d not even know I had.

It was then that I began research in earnest. A full life with a partner, children and a career did not allow a great deal of time for this but meditation became a first thing in the morning and last thing at night routine. I methodically began reading the holy literature from other cultures and other religions. I came to the Native American Tradition because of a mirror meditation that put me face to face with an ancient Medicine Man, who somehow was also me. A friend from India made me interested in the Hindu faith. A set of books on the world's great religions gave me even more jumping off places. A local branch of Tibetan Buddhism sent me on a search through the Buddhist literature and an ad in a magazine sent me to investigate the Rosicrucian’s.

When I became disabled at the age of 40, I was able to return to the rural life I had always loved with unlimited time to pursue my search for answers, the silver lining behind that particular cloud. Initially, having my career cut short devastated me, but with time I saw the benefits. I am now creeping up on 63 and still pursuing my life long search.

The Native American Red Road, the Jewish Torah, the Wiccan Creed, The Bhagavad-Gita, much of the Buddhist tradition, the Christian Bible, and so much more have all contributed to my path and my exploration of the meaning of life. With the Internet, access to so many more thoughts and thinkers has broadened my search even more.

As a child, I always felt out of place. I also had memories I could not explain and a name that somehow belonged to me. Zareba was that name and it was not until I was in my thirties that I discovered it's meaning. Looking in a very large dictionary, I idly flipped to the back of the book and the word zahriba jumped out at me. It referred to the thorn bush fences built around the nomads’ encampments to keep them and their livestock safe from predators. I have also always tried to provide safe haven to all who find our little time warp, carved out of the hustle and bustle of modern life. When I started teaching, I adopted the name Arachna to teach under. I believe the teachings and not the teacher are important and wanted to try to stay outside the relationship with students to avoid becoming an idol or guru. I also believe that by the time a student understands what the spider means, they have learned all that I can teach. When asked by a friend to try to assist in a group that she felt was in great need of attention, I again did not want to be personally associated with what I was about to do so coined the name Solo Sonder, a loose translation in to French of solitary seeker, which I certainly am.

After arresting in the ambulance on April 6th, and being resuscitated at the hospital, then returning to my life in May, two of my closest sisters of the soul gave me a new name. They told me that I must be as the tortoise and go very slowly so that I may live very long. Now in many ways I have become that tortoise. They gave me tangible reminders for my birthday, one a broach which I pinned on my purse so that when I go out, I remember not to push beyond my endurance, and the other a brass box whose shell opens to hide a treasure inside, which I keep by my computer to remind me that I must get up and move around and that I must rest. There will be time enough for all that I must do before I leave this realm.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Importance of Play

Somewhere along the way we have forgotten the importance of play, laughter and joy. We forgot to see the humorous side of life, the silver linings, the stolen moments, Instead, we see the negative, the clouds, the lost time., the plans gone awry.

Without joy, life becomes a chore, something to be endured instead of something to be reveled in. When was the last time you took a mental health day, gave yourself permission to run away and keep going until the peanut butter sandwiches run out?

When my daughter was young, even though I worked full time, we would take run away days and go for a drive, or to a fast food joint or walk on the beach. Whenever possible, she would meet me for lunch and we would go to a grown-up restaurant. One of my fondest memories is taking a roll of caps for a cap gun and a hammer and sitting on the walkway, exploding them one at a time.

Because she grew up with the idea that it was OK to play to fritter away time, she is still able to do so. It has caused her a couple of embarrassing moments, like playing in the sand pile with her dinky car collection when a car drove up her driveway looking for directions. But even those memories are treasures.

We still pack a picnic, a cooler and go to the end of the driveway and pick a direction. It is surprising how many wonderful places you can find that way. Sometimes we stop at all the yard sales, sometimes the discount stores, sometimes the zoo and sometime a grocery store and a picnic park. It really does not matter. What matters is the playing together.

Our approach to life and the use of time can often mean the difference between a harried, driven workaholic and a well-adjusted, productive individual. Playing exercises the body, mind and spirit. Don’t forget to play and when plans go awry through no fault of your own, remember that it can mean lost time or stolen moments, the choice is yours.