What a Willow Tree & Roller Skates Have In Common

Willow Tree

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?

Stepping up

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.

Michelle Stimpson_Soccer

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!

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10 Responses to “What a Willow Tree & Roller Skates Have In Common”

  • Lisa Saline says:

    That's a great story Michelle. The one thing I will do to bring out the kid in me is to use finger paints in the bathtub and freak the kids out because I just cleaned it. Thanks for giving me permission to have a little fun.

  • I'm just like you: loved willows and roller skating as a kid. And like you, I have to force myself to be a kid again. Why is that? Being an adult just isn't all that much fun… Unless we let being an adult = silliness, lighthearted laughter, pretending, and the like. Letting our guards down.

    I enjoyed reading this, Michelle. I saw myself reflected back through your words, and I'm grateful.

    PS – did you ever wear feathers in your hair that dangled from barrettes? That was my favorite hairstyle for two or three years. And at the roller rink, the feathers just flowed…

  • Cassie says:

    Megan, as a friend of Michelle's dating back to our elementary school days, I can tell you that she absolutely did wear "feathers in her hair that dangled from barrettes." And for the record, she looked great!

  • Hi Michelle,
    Good for you that you overcame these internal obstacles–and were so heartily rewarded. Being childlike is difficult for me, too. I'm learning through my kids how to be playful and silly. It's a tough process but I'm trying to be "open" to situations as they arise. I forgot about those long red ropes at the roller rink–those were the best!! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  • Yep, the power of being a kid and playing is so therapeutic. It's so important to make time for it!

    Megan and Cassie: I need to come clean. The feathers didn't actually dangle from "barrettes." They dangled from…roach clips! That's how they sold them at the outdoor shop in the late 70's! Oops.

  • SHARON says:

    TOO funny about the roach clips and feathers :)))) ahhh, your words gave me the comfort of being a kid again…….and reminded myself that I have not done anything in a long time to bring that feeling back….wow, what to do???!!!!………..I know! I am going to hide under my comforter like it is a fortress of safety and warmth and eat m and m's!! :)) Sharon

  • SHARON says:

    …………ps what I would LOVE to do is relive THE best slumber party ever, enjoyed with cousin Jane, cousin MaryLee and my sister….back in Indianapolis during one of the Indy 500 weekends….we got to stay at a neighbors house and we told stories and laughed until dawn!! We also gave the traditional "hand rubs" and neck rubs….now that was childhood in Heaven! Sharon

  • Thank you for sharing this story Michelle! It’s amazing to be affected by something so beautiful in nature! We’re looking forward to reading more!


    What a fantastic story! I was just surfing the web because I wanted to see a beautiful willow tree pic….im on the east coast and its cold here and I just wanted to see a pic and came across your website!!! sooo cool and it too reminded me of the skating rink here in my town! Gosh I would love to do that again! Did you have really fat shoe strings for your skates??? I did and pink wheels! Thank you for your story and keep up the great work!!!!

    A fan from Delaware!!

  • Hi Jessica!

    What fun to receive your comment! And I love knowing how you found the site. Ahhh…the power of the Internet. My skates had blue wheels with fat blue laces. Definitely the good old days!

    So delighted and honored that there’s a new ‘fan’ here. Sending love and light to Delaware!

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Michelle Stimpson: Editor/Writer

Michelle Stimpson Hi and thanks for visiting - so glad you're here! This blog is especially for cool people who want to experience joy and live a life of purpose. Welcome!

Here you'll find great stories that will inspire you and remind you that life is good, and there's an abundance of joy all around us. Simply put: When you follow the things in life that make you come alive and bring you joy...the magic begins to unfold.

Start by checking out the "Best Of" page and be sure to consider subscribing above. Thank you and cheers to joy!

Michelle Joy Stimpson
Executive Editor & Writer
Life Coach, LifeShine

Bill Stimpson: Partner-In-Crime

Bill Stimpson Hi! Not only will you see me “show up” in many of Michelle’s stories and posts here, but I also serve as Michelle’s editor, helping her clarify intentions and make her posts shine.

One of the great joys in my life is being involved with this blog! It’s a constant reminder for me to focus on the things that bring me joy. It also feels great to be sharing so many of these joys with you - in hopes that you, too, will find ways to focus on your own joyful experiences.

Here's to an abundance of joy in your life!

Bill Stimpson
Hubby & Associate Editor

The Parent Company

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