I recently stumbled upon a willow tree near my walking path. It reminded me of when I was a kid and I used to love the willow tree in my grandparents’ backyard, where I’d hide amongst its long wispy branches. So a few weeks ago on my walk, I kept feeling a nudge to go over to the tree; to be a kid again and feel its safe protection.
But the tree was far off the path, and the grass was wet from a recent rain, and I didn’t want my new running shoes to get muddy, and on and on including a ton of other excuses.
At about that same time, a good friend had her 40th birthday party at a roller rink. She rented out the entire place for a few hours and we were all invited to join in on the fun. When I was a kid, I was a fantastic skater, and I was excited to see the good ol’ neighborhood rink once again and hang out. As Bill and I were getting ready to leave the house, though, I emphatically asserted myself and said, “I’m just letting you know right now that I’m not putting on skates!”
My reaction about the burden of going over to the tree and my stubbornness about not budging with the idea of skating had me, well, pretty disappointed in myself. I always say that life is all about living…but for whatever reason, I seemed to have a pretty short leash on myself here. However, life is also all about the journey and the learning in the process, right?
In both scenarios, I caught myself. And turned things around.
The payoff was huge.
I made the trek over to the willow tree and invited myself in. There I was, back at my grandparents’ backyard in the summertime. No one could see me or find me there. It felt magical and comforting and for a moment, I envisioned myself in a playhouse with soft walls all around me. I leaned against the center of this magnificent sheltering tree and took a deep breath in. I felt ten years-old again and it was amazing to let myself be that little girl with the long blond locks, crooked teeth, and not a care in the world.
At the roller rink, I smelled popcorn and could almost taste those long red licorice ropes. The lights were flashing, the disco ball was spinning, Michael Jackson tunes were blasting, and I caved. In the next moment, I was sitting on the carpeted bench lacing up a pair of rented roller skates for the first time in 26 years.
Of course it was awkward at first, but after a few minutes it was just like riding a bike. I did great! I was magically transported back to my junior high days when the only thing on my mind was learning new skating moves and hooking up with a cute boy during the “couples” song. Now as an adult, cruising around the rink was unbelievably freeing. Once again, I gave in and gave myself permission to be that kid again.
Who knows why I initially held back from these energizing experiences? Going to the tree felt like “too much trouble,” and I presume that not wanting to skate was all about the fear of falling.
Embracing the joy of the child within
Since then, every day I check to see how my willow is doing. And I am so proud of myself for putting on those dang skates and living it up! These are just a few reminders of how fun life can be when we finally give ourselves permission to live a little and embrace that precious kid inside. It’s an essential foundation to following your joy.
So. What’s one thing you will do this week to engage that child who loves to come alive and play???
Note: Here’s a special guy who does a great job at keeping me on task!