It was a morning of tearful meltdowns from the four year old I nanny, and an afternoon full of tripping and falling from her two year old sister. The sweltering heat didn’t help, leaving a light sheen on our faces every time we tried to venture outside, trapping us in the house. After much internal debate, the decision was made, and I didn’t care how many times either of them argued: For the safety of their lives and my soul, we were going to the splash park.
I wrangled and wrestled swimsuits on, applied an ozone-melting layer of sunscreen, and we were off, strapped into car seats as necessary: Just 3 girls who really, really needed to have some fun.
“Like climbing a mountain,” I repeated twice, both to my mother on the phone and to myself earlier in the day.
“Life feels hard but good, like climbing a mountain,” I stated while trying to express a satisfying answer to the question, “How are you doing?”
In the middle of a serious season with tough choices, I try hard not to dance the “if-this-then-that” tango that swirls around inside my head, leaving me with millions of possibilities for a future that hasn’t arrived yet. Some days, to combat it, what I need is to stop, breathe deep, and lay in silence. To just be, on the couch or on the bed, to look at the ceiling for ten minutes and pray.
And other days, what I need is to get off my butt, take a stand against my spin-cycle of worry, and play.
I need to run through a splash park with the children I nanny, not just stand on the sidelines guarding the towels. I need to scream and yell and run from buckets of water. I need belly-aching laughter. I need the giddiness of standing in line at an outdoor ice cream stand, just because it’s Sunday night and why not. I need to play pretend and stop in front of a street lined with yellow roses simply to appreciate them, to smell and touch and admire their beauty, because in a world so serious, I need a little more delight.
The art of “recovery”, whether from an emotional week, or time spent tackling tough topics has two sides for me:
One is rest. Real rest, not cheap rest. Real rest involves being quiet, doing only one thing at a time, or better yet- doing nothing. Driving to a body of water just to stare at it as the sun sets. Lying on my living room floor and listening, just listening to a record straight through. Sleep- as much as is humanly possible. These define rest for me, pieces of a puzzle that allow me to breathe, to sit, and to reflect.
But there is a flip side to this, the choice that I sometimes forget to choose.
The other side is play. To laugh, to stop and ask, in the middle of this serious season, is what I need not only rest, but release. When life is serious, it feels as if a well of muck can build up inside me, a dam of sorts that builds and builds until it needs to burst. Letting the gates open, letting the water rush out is healing and helpful, and the best way for me to do that is to be the opposite of serious for a while- to be playful.
So, we try to make the different choice. We go to the beach and swim and joke about what it would be like if we were dolphins. We name the tomato plant and sing to it in the afternoon when getting home from work. And we dance and sing silly and loud, knowing that as sure as the sun setting, play is what we need.
Songs Sang: New Wine by Hillsong
Books Read: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
Books “Road Tripped”: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Audiobook read by Karen Gillan (FREE on iBooks! Yay!)